I can't help but feel the season previews from the last few years are the same. Expectation are always high, but the Club's methodical way of waiting until the last minute of the transfer season to solidify the roster always perplexes me a bit. As a blogger I sort of wait and wonder, will the market really be closed before the season starts? Can I write a season that doesn't get up ended before match 2!? Probably not, but trying is half the battle..
The start of this season will be more crucial as it will set the tone and build the confidence to go forward. With a young team Max will be vigilant. Watching for more than just output, but confidence and chemistry. We may see wholesale changes both in tactics and formation, and it may be hectic at the onset.
It's no secret, I don't love the 4-3-3. It's porous, it can be beat on the counter, and without the correct personnel can be a bit of a balance of nightmare. So when Fester came out in early summer and boldly claimed Milan would be looking to return the 4-3-1-2, it was magical. The problem is talk is cheap, and without the CAM to fill that hole, the 4-3-1-2 is pipe dream. Sure, Boateng wears the #10 but his CAM skills are lacking, and without Ibra to pull the strings he was exposed for a rough and tumble guy who can show flashes of brilliance but lacks the consistency to truly make a mark. The reality is he isn't going anywhere but the CAM is still MIA.
Sure we brought in Saponara, and frankly I have high hopes for the kid. But putting the weight of the World on him in that role could prove detrimental. The Honda move still looks plausible, but every day seems to lean the leverage in that deal to CSKA, then again Fester has surprised us. The real move of the summer for me though will be Poli! He has shown his willingess to do it all, and his silky touch and ability to truly go box to box will be a plus for this team when he finally settles in. Not to mention a full season of DeJong should establish the Dutchman as the real deal or just another hype man.
Defense remains an issue and we have talked at length about the reasoning behind not reinforcing. The reality is without a solid defense this team is not a Title contender. Now I am not writing the eulogy already, but measured expectations in this season are much more important than the last one. The team is younger, and with that comes growing pains, the kind that may find you mired in a Europa League battle come February and March if you are competing in two or even three fronts. If not this team could gel and surprise a lot of people, but my goals this season are more about progress than about results.
Of course I always want my team to win everything, but the truth in that statement is more fanboy blindness, than supporter measured expectation. We are not the biggest spending Club in Europe, not even in Italy and while money doesn't win Championships, the right spending can help to that goal and Milan is simply not there yet. Yes, it is improving, and a plan and team is being forged before our very eyes but that is not enough. With a new season comes new challenges, new heroes, and new opportunities. With a new season also comes new failures and new disappointments. It is all a matter of perspective and for me this season is one of realistic and grounded expectations. Can we finish top three, of course, will we?? I guess you have to join us for the ride.