ABOUT eleven months ago, all milanisti got a bitter taste on their mouth. AC Milan had managed to catch up with Inter and Roma for the scudetto race, and they still were in the Champions League. The team led from the bench by, back then coach of Milan, Leo certainly didn’t had as much support as our current coach Max Allegri, but still he had some fire power in his ranks with Ronaldinho performing quite well with Antonini on his side and Pato in attack.
After the horrible, shameful and depressing elimination of the Champions League last year, it seemed that everything started to go wrong for Leo, and so for our team. We lost the race we just got into by losing 18 of 33 possible points after our european elimination and were almost at risk of finishing in fourth place behind Sampdoria led by Pazzini’s and Cassano’s striking partnership.
Now, everybody calls him a Judas, a traitor or many other things. I’m not critizising, I’m guilty myself but that’s just how everybody else feels. However, right now we are in a position where we can actually see from a spectator point of view what went wrong last year, because as I see it, it might all be downhill for Inter right now. But it’s not all related to Leo’s inexperience. Inter has showed signs of fatigue throughout the season : injury plagues, irregular performances… We are witnessing the decay of Inter’s old generation, like ours started to decay right after that 07 champions league victory.
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It took us 4 years to realise that Gattuso, Ambrosini, Pirlo, Nesta, Inzaghi and many others wouldn’t last forever, and instead of doing a smooth transition we are doing a last minute remodeling right now. Now this wouldn’t be a problem if players were tradable cards and we weren’t attached to them, but it’s a hard blow for any milanista to start the next season and realise all of a sudden that all our champions left from one day to another. It’s hard enough that Inzaghi’s and Nesta’s career are almost over, add to that the possible departure of Gattuso, Ambro, Pirlo, Seedorf and Jankulovski and you are up for a pretty sad farewell party. Zero is the number of 07 champions we would have at our disposal, and it has been showed more than once this season that their experience is crucial in some matches.
Never mind all the injury problems we’ve had this season, never mind our european elimination this year. There’s still a chance to make a smooth transition. Keeping some key players will be fundamental to create an atmosphere proper for teamwork to develop. But other players need to be bought as well, specially young ones and let them form a cohesive team, grow together and bond with each other as well. Everybody who has ever played football at least once, knows that playing with people you really don’t know can be confusing and awkward as well. It’s better to have a wall made out of bricks and cement rather than bricks only wouldn’t you agree ?
Let me ilustrate my point with two examples, of teams that are top teams but have different styles.
Cohesive teams : Barcelona and Arsenal. These two teams are teams where the younger players get to really know each other. If you see both squads, their starting eleven is mostly based on players that have played for many years together. Sure Arsenal have not won anything yet, but keep in mind this very important factor : their age avezrage is about 3 or 4 years younger than the other big clubs in England. You don’t like Arsenal’s example ? Well there’s also Borussia Dormund with a team with an age average of 23 years old, but if you see them perform they play as a block, they think like they’re one, they are one. They build bridges. If any of their players can’t play or isn’t available they can replace them without compromising too much their style of play. They have options, this takes a few years, it can’t be done form one day to another.
Non-cohesive teams : Real Madrid, Chelsea and more recently Manchester City. They are football clubs that spend a lot of money, on high class players but they still can’t achieve their goal, at least recently : winning the Champion’s League. Why ? they are a group of talented players that don’t really know each other, or they don’t always get along. They build skyscrapers. If Drogba, Lampard, Xabi Alonso, Ozil, Silva or Tevez do not perform well, it’s likely that their teams won’t as well. There is a certain lack of chemistry.
So in order to make a smooth transition, patience is needed. Unlike Thiago Silva, Pato, Abate and Boateng haven’t reached their potential yet, give them a few years and add a few young players in the mixing bowl ( Astori, Mvila, Criscito, Taiwo, Beretta, Verdi Merkel etc. , you name them) and we will have a strong squad that will surely be in the race for both the Champions league and the scudetto, and not once, but many times. Look at our present champions : Seedorf, Pirlo, Nesta, Gattuso, Shevchenko, Ambrosini, Kàka, Dida and Inzaghi. They all developed together. Most of them were in their mid or early 20’s when they arrived at Milan and grew to know each other.
The question is : “Is Berlusconi patient enough to build a solid squad, or is he going to take the fast lane and build an unstable one ?” , ” Will he build bridges or skyscrapers ?”
By Francisco Vasquez, Rossoneri Blog
good one bruv
i think i agree with you ,the young ones should be integrated into and the old ones sacked if only milan wants to succeed like barcelona ans real madrid ,they have allowed the young more playing time to play and its helping them now.ac milan should also learn this from them ,.than to keep old men whose performance is just average.Galliani like cheap and old players too much if possile he should be sacked for another CEO whose will focus on young and energetic players for the next generation.seedorf ,ambrosini,oddo,jankuloski,zambrotta,are all old and cannot preform to expectation or to milan… Read more »
a very nice article, i hope milan should take this back ground not to build skyscripers.
Love this article!
My thoughts exactly.
I totally agree with this article in principle. Transition takes time it has already started. We do have high expectations in the summer signing, and i am sure more will come in January too. We may lose some of our experienced heroes this summer, but i am quiet sure that all will leave by next summer. Lets keep some of the old ones for now to influence the new and train them, then hold a big farewell party when they leave. With regards to Leonardo, and despite of his lack of coaching experience. He fulfilled a request from Galliani to… Read more »
@milano Q8 In my view Leonardo did great before the break (considering the squad and everything) but after the break thats when he showed his inexperience and stubbornness and Mourinho and Ferguson took him kindergarten, which he should have avoided at all cost, all great records Milan had except for Real Madrid not winning in San Siro was broken in one single year that was hard enough. But then he pushed it further by the 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Manchester United (who wasn’t even at their best). From then on he just went worse and now he is… Read more »
i very much agree with this article, and this issue comes up alot with milan fans discussions, but one thing i would like to point out is while a 5 year, and even a 10 year project, always has to be in place, its something that has to be in the background. AC Milan is expected to compete on all fronts every year.. so yes we need to sign young players, we need to build a team enviroment, and give our players the group and family feel, but also we are not udinese or lazio where we can go 5… Read more »
As a Milan fan, you got your point damn right! I couldn’t agree better, as I too silently have been feeling the same when all the Milan supporters used to shout and post opinions to sell Gattuso, Pirlo, Ambro etc. But at the moment, Milan is doing everything right in the market( except maybe for Didac Vila). Even Keeping Oddo wasn’t that great a mistake as he lived to assist 2 goals against NAPOLI(!!!!) away. How crucial was that!!!! And clearly as u said, hope Berlu have some more patience and not bring in more forwards( the likes of Balotelli… Read more »
Nice article. Milan have a style of selling their young players and then buying old washed up players for cheap. I still cant get over Milan buying Rivaldo, Ronaldo, and Ronaldinho who were already past their prime. Instead of bring back Matri, Astori,Paloschi, Donati-(Whose is a very good underratedd playmaker) and buying players like Barreto(Bari), Hernanes, Criscito, Alexis Sanchez or Honda. These are players we could have got for a cheap price between 2005-2007. As for the Allegri vs Leonardo row- I never rated Leonardo as a good coach. Mr Allegri builds his teams from the defense-offense. Leo builds his… Read more »
Who says Milan won’t buy younger players? They have been doing that. It’s just that Matri wouldn’t even make the starting 11. Astori will return no doubt about it. Donati? No thanks. He’s not worth it at all. Barreto isn’t either. We’re not going to settle for second rate players just because they are young. We need to find the right talent that is young. Like Pato, and maybe Ganso are two examples. We’re doing the right things in the market… making the right moves. And one old player I really have liked is Mark Van Bommel. He should get… Read more »
I see your point but I’m not saying we go the same way as Arsenal, I’m saying that we should have a team structure like them. They have the right players in their squad to rotate or replace players without changing their formation or style. They lose fabregas they have Wilshere or Nasri, even Rosicky. They lose Van Persie, they have Chamakh or Bendtner. Clichy-Gibbs, Sagna-Eboué etc. If we lose Pirlo, Nesta Thiago Silva or Zlatan it’s harder for us to replace them. Add to that the fact that our finantial strenght is way bigger than Arsenal’s so we have… Read more »
You have point, but I’m not so sure. I think we do need our experienced players. Arsenal tends to kick their more experienced players out. Like Gallas. Though Gallas was demanding too much, they should have at least tried harder to keep him. Then they get very inexperienced players that make costly errors in big tournaments. That’ why I love Van Bommel. He’s the ultimate definition of a big game player. He came to Milan, adapted quickly (after a rather unfortunate red card), and started giving cool calm collected performances. We need players like Van Bommel. Players with a tad… Read more »
@Jack – No doubt that Allegri is a much better coach than Leoanrdo from a technical level and experience. I have defended Allegrri when some fans wanted to have him sacked. I do not consider Leonardo as a good coach anyways. I am only commenting on the article with regards to Leonardo. Allegri is getting more support than Leonardo to be honest, but even if Leonardo had that same support Allegri will still be a better coach. The fans were attached to Leonardo to what he has done to Milan as a player and as a scouts man, even after… Read more »
Agreed, Leo is not a good coach but he is in fact one of the best scouts nowadays.
Donati, Matri, and Berreto are average players? In your opinion I’m sure. Wasnt Gattuso an average player when he came to Milan from Salernitana? Gattuso became a star at Milan thanks to Ancelotti. And how about our beloved Pirlo? Wasnt he not an average player prior to starting his career at Milan? Inter loaned Pirlo to Brescia prior to selling him to Milan because he could not break into Inter’s first team.It was Ancelotti who turned Pirlo and Gattuso into stars at Milan as they both were average players prior to coming to Milan! Thanks to Milan they both made… Read more »
Donati and Barreto aren’t the same as Gattuso. They aren’t quality players. There are better Italians out there. I even think Diamanti may be better than Donati and that’s not saying much. Really, I’d prefer Lazzari if we were to go to for a player like that. Pirlo was at Inter before he joined Milan. I’m sure you forgot. But Donati and Barreto are average players. They can’t be compared to Pirlo or Gattuso. You’re making one too many jumps and assumptions. I can name dozens of other young players that just aren’t that great playing for average teams. Just… Read more »