Mixed feelings really, none of them good, but the first word has to go to Palermo. On this day they were the better team. Faster, quicker, clinical, and tactically aware, in a free flowing and open game, with two teams confident in attack, it was Palermo that took advantage early in the second half and Milan couldn’t recover. Credit to Rossi for reshaping this team, but the real threat was Miccoli, his pace left Zambrotta in the dust and with no strong solid DM covering in front of Nesta and Favalli, the defense was forced to work.
The Silva injury is far more pivotal than the simple replacement of a CB. Silva does an extreme amount of work, and is always first to pressure the ball in the center of the park allowing Nesta to drop into cover and give some leeway to the mids. Without Silva this pressure is lost, and suddenly space opens in front of the CBs and gets exploited by good teams and opponents.
Milan also fell victim to a horrific display of offensive ineptitude. On a day where Ronaldinho truly shined, the players around him, specifically Pato and Borriello, couldn’t put a foot right. Abate in place of Pato was never going to be a scoring a threat, more an addition of width than anything else, allowing Zambro the freedom to stay back, but even replaced by Pato the attack was poor. It was funny to read the comments and the quick snaps at Borriello not being good enough, or even the hilarious Pato is a “moody bastard” but this fickle mentality does little to solve the problem of fatigue. Some of Milan’s starters were startin their ninth or even tenth straight match. I don’t care if you are 20 or 35, this is an impossible feat considering the amount of games in this time span. If players look like they are playing in cement shoes, it is because they are beat, and there is no other way around it.
The exhaustion issue has to be put on Leo’s shoulders, but the lack of depth is not really his fault, but he can sure make use of more players’ available to him. I am sure there would be little argument if DiGennaro or Flamini were played today and the result was the same, at least we can evaluate their value and performances'. KJH should have been given a run for Borriello in the second half, and it is apparent that Leo does not have the same growing confidence that is apparent on this board. In the end his lack of willingness to switch and rotate in some players cost him today.
It needs to be said that the unwillingness to adapt his formation a bit to cope with the willingness of Palermo to attack did not help either. There are ways to mobilize the 4-3-3 to allow more defensive depth, and it didn’t appear there was any tactical shift from the norm. Maybe it is inexperience, but in the end Rossi showed what experience can do for a coach late in the game, and Leo just doesn’t have it. He will someday, no doubt, I just hope someday is sooner than later. I hope to explore this idea a bit more on Tuesday with a tactics piece.
In the end, there was little positive credit to the Rossoneri, outside of Dinho and maybe Antonini in the attack who linked well with Dinho’s good game, the rest was a wash. Palermo flat out outplayed this team and the unbeaten run is over. No one likes to lose, but this loss brings this team back to down Earth and reminds everyone that there are still issues with depth on the bench and lack of flexibility in tactics, both flaws that can be addressed sooner than later. I can’t hide my disappointment in the fact that Inter dropped two points today and Milan couldn’t close the lead to two in typical Milan letdown fashion, but with Bari most likely ending Ferrara’s time in Torino, all hope is not lost.