In the skew of things today’s game was not all that important. A draw in the UEFA Cup when the club has already qualified is not that big of an issue when you look at it, but put this match into context and the picture is no longer so rosy.
The comments on the last post have been a bit mixed; some of you have an enlightening optimism that is refreshing, even though I can’t quite join that boat yet. I am still on the pessimistic side and today didn’t change my mind. I didn’t have the joy or curse for some of us to watch this match, but when I saw the score sheet it told enough of a story before I read the recap.
Ambrosini scores trademark header, and Milan go into halftime with a lead, but in the 55th minute Wolfsburg draws equal with Cristian Zaccardo of own goal fame in WC 06, forcing Pato to put Milan front again shortly thereafter. A 2-1 lead in in the second half in the past would be a Milan victory, but this team can no longer kill the game in possession and instead chooses to abosrob attacks which more often than not lead to goals for the other team. Senderos is apparently damaged goods and his substitution led to a Kaladaze entrance, which again is nothing to be proud of. His form has been poor of late and asking him to get fresh and jump in only made Milan vulnerable, with his partner Favalli. Janks to his credit has been worked to the bone, and the loan of Oddo is looking more and more puzzling as the defensive injury list looks to be a mile long. Zambrotta who was supposed to provide versatility at the back, doesn’t even look comfortable on his natural right, and Antonini has yet to be given that hard time to find a rhythm or place in the squad. Defensively, we are a nightmare and each and every game is showing this.
Ancelotti did break from the xmas tree, and the two striker system seemed to pay some dividends with a better offensive flow, and an offensive trident to end the match, when you already have a one goal lead is frustrating considering the right choice may have been an extra man in the middle that perhaps Carletto didn’t even have it his disposal!?
Every step Milan takes seems to make the next step that much harder, and now their draw is a bit more difficult considering they have to face a Champions League reject, and mixing it up with a team like Bordeaux or even Fiorentina at this juncture may prove costly. These teams can run you to the ground and Milan is already fairly close to the ground as it is.
As I mentioned earlier, my optimism is a bit lost, and my claims to sell off and build a new may have been premature but the more I look at this team the more I say to myself, “What else can be done?” What was supposed to be a team with solid veteran depth has become a team without a comfortable formation, a coach who seems to have lost his way, and a sporting director that buys players without any real rhyme or reason?
Dinho has played extremely well, and for that I give him credit; however, his inclusion into the squad seems to zap Kaka of his metal. Borriello’s injury came at a bad as time considering that even though he wasn’t scoring goals, Milan was winning when he was on the pitch and his rhythm and flow was starting to come together with Pato. Say what you want about Pippo and Sheva, but they are not the game breakers they used to be and can no longer be considered viable starter, let alone last minute subs. That brings me to Pirlo, who is at his best when he is the nucleus of the squad, but having Dinho or Seedorf close to him seems to suffocate his ability and rob touches from the whole lot. Pirlo was at his best when he had a big striker to serve it to, and Kaka in between him and that big man. That system has not even been attempted yet with Borriello, Kaka, and Pirlo on the pitch. The bottom line is no matter how you line them up, it just doesn’t seem to add up like it should.
I read suggestions as simple as moving Dinho to the middle, push Pirlo to the flank, or play Kaka as a striker. No offense, but this is not FIFA 09, these are real players with real skill sets and comfort zones that seem to be completely out of whack. Milan as a team this season, in Serie A, is among the league leaders in passes completed, possession, and danger zone attacks; however, anyone who watches the squad knows that this has not necessarily been the formula for victory. In fact I though that Dinho and Kaka would be able to formulate a Messi/Dinho type run about, but in fact it has been the opposite with most of their interactions being forced and not as free flowing as hoped.
Lastly, the Carletto system begs for marauding fullbacks, and as a squad Milan lacks any real legitimate wingers. This is even more problematic because it is like going to soccer match with a baseball glove, the tools aren’t there to make the game work. One of the comments I read said Milan are two wingbacks away from being a good team, and maybe this is true, but it still leaves gaps in the middle, and the tough question of how to line up the attack.
Bottom line, my white flag may have been premature, but I don’t see much promise coming from this squad in the current state. Who knows Beckham may add a flank dimension to help Zambrotta, maybe Kaka and Dinho find their way, and or maybe Carletto sticks to his guns and finally finds the perfect eleven. Until then everything is a bit hazy and what was looking like a promising after the Inter victory leaves me wondering if we can hold a lead, beat a minnow team, or just plain score goals when we need to.