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Is Failure Just Around the Corner For AC Milan?

Posted by David Schiavone Wednesday, November 25, 2021

The weekend’s fixtures in Serie A produced a number of exciting matches, fantastic goals and thrilling performances. One such game was AC Milan’s 4-3 victory over Cagliari. The enigmatic Ronaldinho produced a mesmerising second half performance, Pato scored a wonderful goal, Seedorf seemed back to the Clarence of old, while Dida once more defied the ‘donkey’ tag to churned out a string of impressive saves. Such behaviour has prompted many Rossoneri faithful to claim all is well at Milanello and a serious Scudetto challenge can be mounted. I would recommend an air of caution because it wasn’t that long ago the San Siro side were in crisis.

Those of you may remember the breath of fresh air Leonardo brought to AC Milan, a new young coach with different ideas, a new way of thinking. You may also remember the very same coach who looked inept, at a loss to change a side that looked worn, tired just plain too old. Week 2 heralded the early arrival of the Derby della Madonnina or the Milan Derby to you and me. An optimistic Milan arrived ready to do battle with the Inter juggernaught, and instead of going into battle with a magnificent roar, nothing more than a silent whimper could be heard as il Biscione suffocated its prey with a masterful display, the final score 4-0.

Disappointing results against Livorno, Udinese and Bari were to follow; these were accompanied by dismal performances. Ronaldinho looked disinterested as he did all of last season, more likely to be seen partying in Paris than playing football in Milan. The culmination of this crisis came in the Champions League when Swiss minnows FC Zurich arrived at the San Siro. The result was a disaster, humiliating for the great AC Milan and Leonardo as a coach. But was this a turning point?
Since that fateful night on the 30th September 2009, the Rossoneri have gone on a 10 match unbeaten run in all competitions. They have moved from 12th in the Serie A standings to 3rd, only 2 points away from Juventus in second place, they even occupied second place on Sunday, if only for a few hours.

This resurgence can be attributed to a number of factors, first and foremost Leonardo has ditched the 4-3-1-2 formation in favour of a more attack minded 4-3-3, playing Ronaldinho and Pato, left and right of a target man striker, namely Borriello. Seedorf has found his role in midfield, creating chance after chance for the front men. Credit must also go to the Thiago Silva-Nesta foundation this forward line is built on. Nesta in particular has been superlative this season as a whole, he may be 33 and a frequent visitor to the Milan physio, but you cannot take away his effervescing class.

The results do speak for themselves, winning away in Madrid, dispatching highflyers Parma and dominating Lazio for the most part. However in my mind there is a lingering doubt that AC Milan can keep up this miracle of miracles. Everyone has written them off as a team of pensioners unable to cope with one game a week never mind two. Yet these doubters have been proved wrong, thus far at least.

My main issue lies in the squad and is related to the arguments made by many a few months ago. The team has many flaws, it is slow, it is ageing and the personnel are past their prime. These problems do not go away, they are only being managed better by a young coach who is learning at a swift rate. How will Gattuso, Nesta, Zambrotta, Oddo, Jankulovski, Inzaghi, Pirlo et al cope in February three quarters of the way into a gruelling season? What if the stars, Ronaldinho, Pato or Nesta are injured for a prolonged period?

Milan may be on a high now, but it only takes a couple of negative results then it is back to the drawing board and a so-called ‘crisis’ ensues once more. To all you Rossoneri, be optimistic but don’t believe the hype.

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