JOHNATHAN CLANCY gives his 3 thoughts on Milan’s latest defeat, this time to our hated cousins, Internazionale.
Last night, Milan capped off the first half of the season with a defeat in the Derby Della Madonnina, adding more misery to all Milan fans. At Christmas break last season, Milan had 27 points, beginning the surge to 3rd place after one of the worst starts in Milan history.
This season, the point total stands at 19 as we headed into the winter break. Here are my 3 thoughts/rants.
M&M: I will keep Zapata out of the acronym this week, because he had a decent game and wasn’t nearly as bad as Matri and Muntari. So this week, it is just M&M. I don’t think I will ever understand Matri’s purchase. I won’t even go into that. Life is too short to keep talking about this purchase. Sulley Muntari pulled a “Muntari” and got red carded for throwing a random tantrum. He always seems to completely lose it out of nowhere.
Remember his red last season for grabbing the ref and refusing to let go? Throughout that match and yesterday’s match, you would be hard pressed to find signs of frustration from him. Then, all of a sudden, he does something stupid and just kills hope in general. Was Kuzmanovic being a tool and deserve to be booked for delaying the game? Absolutely. In that case, as a player, you go up and attempt grab the ball. If the opposing player still doesn’t give it up, you let the ref handle it. That’s what he is paid for. But instead, Sulley launches himself like an ICBM at Kuzmanovic and gets himself red carded. Now to be honest, did I like seeing it? Of course. But Muntari is a professional. Get your head together.
The FIGC has handed Muntari a 3-match ban, and I couldn’t be happier to see it. Muntari wearing the Rossoneri shirt is a disgrace the past legends who have donned the beautiful kit. The sooner he is gone, the better.
Lumberjack Midfield: Milan’s biggest weakness was clearly evident during the Derby: lack of creativity in the midfield. Before my second rant begins, I want to make one thing clear. I love Nigel De Jong. He has without question been the best player for Milan this season. Covering for other’s defensive mistakes, keeping the ball with remarkable pass accuracy, and providing continuity and quality in a team that is lacking both. I like the way he plays, and this is rant excludes him.
Now the rest of the midfield. First, see above for my opinion on the classless Muntari. As for Poli, until he proves otherwise, he will be nothing but a serviceable backup ala Christian Brocchi. Poli lacks the creativity, touch, vision, and passing ability that Milan’s midfield so desperately needs. What I like about Poli is his heart. He has a never say DAI attitude. Wait, I think I meant never say DIE attitude, my mistake. But is he what Milan needs right now? No. At time we see glimpses of daft skill, but those are too few and far between. Against the top competition, he has put in shy performances. Milan’s midfield was screaming for a creative force, like Montolivo (the good Montolivo, not the one we have seen for most of the year). When Kaka and Saponara, our attacking mids, have to come so deep into midfield to receive the ball to create something, we are left with Balo stranded up top. Milan kept possession well, but it was all safe passes side to side with no penetration of Inter’s defense. Inter were happy to sit back and defend (as any team does to Milan).
Milan must address this midfield problem if they want to go anywhere this season. Radja Nainggolan has been linked with Milan in the last week, and it appears that he could be joining. While this is certainly a welcome addition, I can’t help to think that the answer could be in our squad already: Bryan Cristante. Teams around Europe seem to understand the quality player we have but Milan doesn’t. Allegri refuses to play him and as a result, he rots on the bench. If this season is tanked, why not play the youth instead of wasting money on transfers or playing Muntari/Nocerino?
Ricardo Saponara: I wanted to write a quick player review of our new Ricky. The Milan #8 made his first start for the Rossoneri in the Derby. What a chance for the kid to showcase his talents. I was avoiding twitter because I was watching the game on replay, so when I saw him walking out of the tunnel, I let out of a yell of “FINALLY!!” I was very happy to see Allegri finally play one of our many talented youth.
Saponara introduced himself to the word with a daft piece of skill, victimizing Hugo Campagnaro. Ricky received the ball right at the midline, turns with his first touch and see a gaps and with a marvelous touch, nutmegs the Inter CB and begins a slaloming run at the Inter defense. The end result was a nicely weighted pass to Balo, whose shot deflected out for a corner.
Throughout the game, Saponara showed signs of class. To me, everything about this kid screams class. His demeanor, style of play, and elegance about him remind me so much of a certain Rossonero in our ranks. Isn’t it startling how much Saponara reminds us of Kaka? Let’s hope that Ricky Jr. can replicate Ricky Sr’s career path.
At times, it appeared that Saponara had disappeared in the match. When you watch the game closer and his movements in particular, there were many times that he should have been played the ball when he checked back, but our midfield decided to cycle it around instead of playing a penetrating pass (see above for my Lumberjack Midfield rant). He likes playing 1 and 2 touch, and several instances he demonstrated this by getting out of tough, close quarters with one touch.
I would love to see this kid get more time. He is young, and certainly has things to work on. His work rate in general could be better as well as imposing his will on the game. But these things will come with time. This was his first real game with the Rossoneri, and he will only get better if given the belief and a chance to play. With Honda joining Milan in January, it is safe to assume that Saponara will be thrust further down the pecking order. Keep an eye on this one though. There’s very little to be excited about Milan these days, but this kid is one of them.
Let me know what you think? Disagree with me? Let me know below or Tweet/Follow at me @JohnathanClancy.