Saying Milan has an embarrassment of talent in the midfield is a bit of overstatement. Sure when you look at the players you see Rino, Pirlo, Kaka, Seedorf, Flamini, Ambro and now Dinho you have to say wow. But when you really investigate a little further you tend to lose a little bit of that optimism.
Rino and Pirlo are the heart and soul of this team and midfield, but since 2006 have been suffering from a strange ailment that I can not even begin to describe. It is not laziness, and it is not even all that much a lack of form, the real only way I can described the way those guys are going is slow motion, it is almost like their reactions and movements are behind or not on par without everyone else. Whatever it is behind this strange ailment, be it fatigue, age, and just plain complacency, it needs to be shaken quickly to make this team strong again in the center of the pitch.
Ambro played extremely well last season and if he finds himself in the midfield or in the defense, he will play with the same passion and heart he has shown in the past few season. The nice thing is both Ambro and Rino will have a breather when Flamini is in the game. The former Arsenal man is a new addition who had a great season at the Emirates last season and is very capable of keeping up that skill and class. The Frenchman is nice mix of Rino’s toughness and real midfielders touch and will make a nice supporting addition alongside Pirlo to take pressure of the playmaker. There is one thing to be said about Flamini is that he is relatively new to the quality players season and he will need to continue to grow and get better at the San Siro to have real quality success.
Onto the attacking midfield front, and Clarence Seedorf, there is not much I can say about Seedorf other than the fact that he has been a loyal soldier to the cause and has shown that he can still play at the highest level when needed. He has gotten a bit finicky in his old age about playing time and location, but he will have to but that behind him in an effort to mesh with the Brazilian duo he shares his position on the pitch with.
Kaka and Dinho are both big question marks for Milan this season. I am not worried about Kaka’s form, but more about his knees. He will continue to get fouled this season and he will have to play with some grit and toughness to stay healthy and continue to lead this team in the attack. His Brazilian teammate is a bit of different story, his injury problems seem to be behind him but Ronaldinho needs to find the heart and desire to play football the way he once did. I can only hope Kaka’s calming persona can have a positive effect on Dinho regaining his ability and form.
Much like on defense, Carletto has a luxury of resting players and keeping players in top form in the midfield. Finding a comfort zone between two players out of the front three mids of Kaka, Dinho and Seedorf is an important task for Carletto, while he also strives to get Pirlo the support he needs on each side to do what he does best, create.
We all know what happened yesterday, and the reaction has been all over the place. I have heard joy, anger, disappointment, and just plain don’t care from many of you both here as well as family in the boot. Sheva has not come off the best seasons of his career and his inclusion into this squad can not be a starting role from day one. This does however give Milan a bit of breathing room in the striker department that is a bit of a crapshoot given the personnel.
Pato proved his ability last year, but he also showed his inexperience time and time again. He did not work well alone up front, but in fact seemed to excel when paired with a partner. I am sure Carletto saw and understood this and would welcome the likes of Sheva and Borriello to play alongside Pato in circumstances were Milan need to score goals. As Pato progresses he can do so at a more reasonable pace, with much more reasonable expectations in this coming season.
Borriello had a phenomenal year at Genoa and scored some real quality goals from all areas of the attacking third. One has to believe that if his form is where it left off that he can only improve with a better supporting cast, but that is the same belief that was applied to Gilardino when he arrived. Borriello will have to do his best to not duplicate his predecessors failures, which is not that easy of a task considering that Gilardino’s failures seem to be as much his fault as they were Carletto’s.
That leaves us with Pippo and Pippo Jr., Paloschi. Pippo is what he is, and playing as a sub will be a good role for him as his career seems to be coming to a close. But his experience and knack for the net will welcomed this season, especially if he can find the groove he finished last season with. Paloschi on the other hand seems to be the odd man out and his age, and inexperience may warrant a loan now that the depth chart is a bit more crowded ahead of him. I am not saying that Paloschi would not play well and give 100% for the Rossoneri but his playing time may be few and far between and it may best he is sent on loan to play regularly and possibly return following a break out season like the one Borriello enjoyed last campaign. Paloschi, for me is the heir apparent, to Pippo and he will get his chance when Pippo hangs up the boots, but should play as much as he can until then.
Depending on Carletto’s formation be it the Xmas tree or two strikers, Milan for once in a very long time seems to have a wealth options and depth. But it is time for Carletto to be a coach and leader and make choices not by name and history, but on form and ability. Play the best eleven, in the best situation to give this team a chance to win time and time again. This may mean benching Sheva, Rino, or Dinho and if that in fact is his choice he needs to be confident in it, defend it, and hope that it works on the pitch. He no longer needs to shut down on D or play 4 holding mids with the lineup he has, and I hope he sees this potential the same way we do.