The winter vacation began earlier than expected for Milan, as snow did not permit the much anticipated clash with Fiorentina to take place. The Stadio Artemio Franchi was not fit to host a football match, as the uncovered stands had bore the brunt of the adverse weather, leading to icy and dangerous conditions for the supporters.
Coach Leonardo will have welcomed the postponement, despite the headaches it will cause with fixture pile-up in 2010. He was saved the trouble of having to discipline Brazilian Ronaldinho, who has recently begun to show glimpses of his old form, as the Brazilian playmaker was rumoured to be partying late at night in violation of the club’s curfew. It was reported he would have been dropped from the starting line-up for the match as Leonardo had hinted the Brazilian player was supposedly having fitness problems.
If any of these reports hold true, then Ronaldinho’s presence in Milanello is undoubtedly a double-edged sword as the performances of the player and the team have not been impressive this season. The last thing the Brazilian Coach needs is further unrest in the locker room after having to hear rumours of a bust-up with midfield veteran Gennaro Gattuso, which turned out to be inaccurate as the Azzurri midfielder renewed his contract with the club without any further debates. Latest speculation from the San Siro reveals Dutchman Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is unhappy with his playing time as he bids to represent the Netherlands in South Africa 2010.
Whilst Gattuso was sending all the wrong signals prior to his signing of the extension, forward Huntelaar was being the utmost professional, calling for patience and insisting he will work harder to prove himself worthy of representing the Milan colours. His winning brace against Catania proved Huntelaar was perhaps right in making his statements and was beginning to back them with positive production. The problem is the Coach has barely used the striker since his double against Catania and it does seem he could be leaving as reports of a move to Manchester United continue to grow. The Coach is fond of using Marco Borriello who is, to Leonardo’s credit, better suited to the system employed by the Brazilian. When healthy and fully fit, Borriello is a major contributor to the Rossoneri cause, even if statistics and performances do not necessarily back this up. Borriello will never be the flashy player who can take on one defender after another, but he will certainly hold up the ball and pose aerial threat to opponents.
As Borriello continues to close in on full fitness, Huntelaar has become frustrated and began to voice his concerns about limited playing time. He declared he wants to play in the World Cup and hinted he could leave to secure his place in South Africa. His departure will not hurt the Rossoneri, but actually draw to a close an unsuccessful stint for the Dutchman due to various reasons ranging from his incompatibility with Alexandre Pato, his inability to fit in with Leonardo’s tactics and his glaring lack of form. Leonardo knows he cannot afford to give the Dutchman more playing time at the expense of results. Earlier in the season, the axe was being flashed around Leonardo’s neck as the inconsistent results were causing major discontent amongst the tifosi. The supporters have grown accustomed to success or at least entertaining performances from the Rossoneri, yet the players seemed incapable of delivering either.
Speaking of the coaching situation, Leonardo will certainly be displeased to hear there are some stunning rumours of a meeting between Barcelona Coach Josep Guardiola’s agent José Maria Orobitg and Italian Giovanni Branchini involving a potential move for Guardiola to San Siro. The Coach of the Spanish giants has not opened contract talks with the Catalan side and he might feel he cannot duplicate his record of six trophies won in one year, so it would be best for him to move on. Milan is certainly an attractive destination despite the team’s obvious failings in the transfer market. Leonardo is certainly in a better position now as Milan are through in Europe but speculation will continue to persist until the Coach can push the club closer to bringing in trophies.
The Rossoneri are unlikely to win the league title or the Champions League this season as Inter have an eight point lead (Milan still has a game in hand) while Manchester United will await in European competition.
Milan Club Focus 2009/10
Pre-season expectation – August 18, 2009
Leonardo breathes as Brazilians relieve pressure – August 25, 2009
Kaka returns to the San Siro – August 27, 2009
How to play 4-3-1-2, a lesson from their rivals – September 1, 2009
Reshuffle the current squad, regain the winning mentality – September 4, 2009
International week (Georgia-Italy, Italy-Bulgaria)
Leonardo’s time to react – September 7, 2009
Livorno springs opportunity to end crisis – September 11, 2009
Serie A slides down priority list – September 15, 2009
Leonardo lurches into decision-making territory – September 18, 2009
Off the pitch rumours continue to swirl – September 22, 2009
Old legs cannot win forever, will Berlusconi follow in Della Valle’s footsteps? – September 25, 2009
A powerhouse that no longer strikes fear – September 29, 2009
Time is running out to save il Diavolo’s season – October 2, 2009
A draw as bitter as a defeat – October 6, 2009
The club is not for sale – October 9, 2009
International week (Republic of Ireland-Italy, Italy-Cyprus)
In search of strikers and defenders – October 13, 2009
Berlusconi reiterates he will not sell as the Rossoneri prepare for Roma – October 16, 2009
Brazilian duo see off Roma – October 20, 2009
Rossoneri record famous win in Madrid – October 23, 2009
Leonardo stumbles upon the 4-2-3-1 – October 27, 2009
Two precious points dropped – October 30, 2009
Borriello strikes twice as Milan continue climbing the table – November 3, 2009
A bitter draw after Pato’s disallowed ‘goal’ as Huntelaar emerges unscathed – November 6, 2009
The Rossoneri challenging Juventus for second place – November 10, 2009
International week (Italy-Holland, Italy-Sweden)
Crucial stretch begins as Dzeko linked again – November 20, 2009
Rossoneri continue impressive run – November 24, 2009
Missed opportunity to qualify – November 27, 2009
Huntelaar breaks his duck with a late double to lift Mila to second – December 1, 2009
Season-defining week looms ahead – December 4, 2009
Sunshine glimmers from the San Siro, but those clouds won’t leave – December 8, 2009
Qualification secured after a scare – December 11, 2009
Gattuso to help the aged a little longer – December 14, 2009
Staying away from the market – December 18, 2009
Winter break starts early – December 22, 2009