You could almost recap this season attack in three or four different parts, it was like we watched different Milan teams take shape, partially due to transfers and partially due to injuries and form. Needless to say, it was an interesting season in attack (oh yeah midfielders are also included!).
Usually when you recap and grade something like an attack or even a midfield you take into consideration the formation. Unlike the defense where you most often have four at the back, save the occasional foray into the 3 at the back formations, this year's midfield and attack was a hyrbid of single strikers, dual and triple as well as wingers and three, four or even five man midfields. If you haven't gotten my point you yet, I will put it rather plainly, this year was a hodge podge. The reason I wanted to make that clear is as a reminder that looking at what SES, Pazzo, Monty or even Balo did needs to be considered with the formation in which their success was deployed.
SES - hands down the man of the season for AC Milan. SES for MOTS, how do you like all those acronyms!? When the team needed a spark he was always at the ready, carried the Club in the difficult part of the first half of the season and while he faded a bit late on, he was still instrumental to this team sitting in third. Talk of his sale pains me now, but hopefully management will come to it's senses. It took quite a while to part ways with the Duck, if SES is sold in half that time I will seriously be left to wonder.
Pato - speaking of the Duck he barely deserves a mention here other than to say it was his season to be a hero and he failed it. I remember him for his PK miss against the Viola, and thank him for opening the door for Balotelli.
Balo - a game changer for this team late in the season, he gave Milan that confidence and swagger and other than a loss to Juventus the team was flawless when he was on the pitch. Still has a fair amount of growing up to do, and if this was the old stable Milan I would say it should be no issue, but with management's recent fumblings I worry this may not be the place for him to mature, then again surrounded by friends like Abate, Monty, and SES he may be OK.
Pazzo - the silent assassin with 15 goals in 15 matches, his goal against Barca still leaves me cheering. Nobody really wanted the once Capocannoniere but few are not glad he came. He did everything with little fanfare and helped bury teams when Milan didn't have answer, not the prettiest, the fastest or the strongest but proved that good timing and a little scrappines can make some magic time and time again. GianPippo Pazzini anyone?
Niang - showed flashes of incredible play, but simply couldn't find the back of the net. His work rate and strength however were excellent and his ability to earn key starts over the likes of Robinho and Bojo the Clown in key matches proved his worth. Still very rough around the edges, he has the skill set to be great but now needs the mental ability to go along with it. May improve in a two striker system.
Bojo the Clown - when he moved to Roma I said he was to small and to frail to be a success in Serie A, at Milan he only reinforced my point. Not a striker, not a CAM, this useless Spainard spent more time over complicating play than actually playing. Barca want a King Ransom's for him but clearly were to busy watching Bayern destroy to them to watch Bojo on the bench at Milan. To Malaga or Atletico Madrid with you ASAP, then again Roma may find a home for him, send Destro up when you arrive.
Robinho - like Bojo and Pato, the Brazilian was a MASSIVE let down. In a season where he could have proved he is not second fiddle, and can carry team, he did nothing to dispel those myths. Now we hope he leaves Milan for a reasonable fee. Two season's he was for the unsung hero of AC Milan, now he is an afterthought.
Montolivo - really struggled early in the season to get his bearings, but came on strong with the right mix of support on his flanks in the former of more defensive minded players. This allowed Monty to have a bit more freedom to pass the ball, and have to physically defend less. He still broke up play and filled passing lanes in exceptional fashion, but the freedom key. Unfortunately, I can't see him in any system with DeJong, but that is a separate conversation.
Boateng - being stripped of the name of "Prince" in my opinion, the number ten wore so heavily on him early in the season it made his judgement on when to shoot on goal nearly useless. Instead of proving he could be the man he wanted to be, Milan's Fabled #10, he proved to be a inconsistent and erratic midfielder who when asked to work for the team complained about not being in his proved "spot." I got a spot for you Mr. Boateng, on the same bus as Bojo and Binho. One small compliment, kudos to Boateng for his stand against racism, it all starts with one.
Nocerino - simply couldn't find the form, space or function without his best buddy Zlatan. If anyone owed last season to Zlatan it was Nocerino, and while he had some flashes this season he was exposed for his lack of technical ability and tactical acumen this season. It is true the formation didn't suit his style, and maybe next year it will, but will there be a next year for the 2012 goal scoring machine!?
Muntari - we waited, and waited, and waited some more. Once ready Sulley did exactly what those who support him expected, work hard, score the occasional goal, and be a beast in the middle. Not sure how a guy who completes nearly 45 passes a game with 85% accuracy "sucks" in the eyes of so many Milan "fans" but he will just keep baking humble pie for the masses.
Flamini - the headless chicken proved his worth this season! Could it have been because he was going to be out of contract and was looking to secure a move to Monaco, OL, or Lyon? Or could it be he finally got back to the comfort of the 4-3-3? Either way his four goals at the end of the season were much needed, and his defensive work wasn't to shabby either. More amazing only three yellows and one red in fifteen matches for this disciplinary nightmare!
Ambrosini - in his swan song the 18 year Milan veteran was not even given a proper send off. Not sure what management was thinking but for a guy who came to work everyday and kept his down never complaining, this was a big mistake. Young players like Cristante, Salamon and Saponara could learn from a Senator like Massimo and instead watch a player who gives his all get shown the door? What does that tell you and them about AC Milan...we won't let Massimo Ambrosini go down way, stay tuned!