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Ronaldinho and the Milan Condition

During Sunday’s match, I sat there hoping and praying Ronaldinho would prove me wrong. I wanted him to defy my belief and do the unthinkable. Come into the match, tear up the pitch, make the game breaking pass or shot, and end my skepticism. Instead, I was made painfully aware yet again that the man does not fit in with the rest of the squad. Even if I give his form the benefit of the doubt, his gestures his looks up for the run, and his passes just didn’t seem to make any sense to the other nine guys around him, and I scratched my head and wondered WTF.

AC Milan, under Carlo Ancelotti, has been one of the most indirect team’s I have ever seen. Considering his trophy haul in the CL and on the global club stage this is not a bad thing. Indirect play is just another school of thought, like it’s polar opposite direct play. Depending on style, personnel, and circumstance each style has its benefits and both can produce equally beautiful football. Milan can pass you to death, lull you to death and then bang Pippo, Kaka, or Pato are in on net and a goal is tallied. Ask Liverpool and ManU about that. On the flip side a team like Barcelona is as direct as they come, every pass forward cutting and biting, every run into a danger zone, every player moving with pace, as Sam once said, it is akin to a symphony in motion.

Ronaldinho, made that team the beautiful direct attacking monster, he was on the pitch for some of the most beautiful football I have ever seen when he helped clinically dispatch Milan that year in the CL. Barcelona continues to play directly, even without Ronaldinho, but now he is a new squad with a new system, and to say he has not quite adjusted has been painfully clear. As a player he is very direct, he receives and his first move is always towards goal be it ball under foot or with a quick pass, and this not a bad thing, but when no one around you plays that way, success will be hard to come by.

Now at Milan, he has had to cope with this adjustment firsthand, and at times his body language and motions beckon for movement while his teammates are positioning themselves for lateral passing. Part of me would like to scream at him, you WERE one of the most talented players of my generation and you can’t adapt! You can’t learn to play a more retreated style! But in that same fit of rage where I find myself screaming wait at the TV, I realize that style is what made him what he is. Should we expect him to change or adjust, yes maybe, should we expect ten other players to adjust to him? Frankly I don’t believe so, so here we are an impasse, a fork in the road, a stalemate.

Neither party to this debacle, Dinho or Carletto, have done anything to special to make this work. Carletto probably sees what I see, but he sees it firsthand in training and then again on the pitch. Dinho seems to want to contribute, but lately it seems that he can’t. Is this a divorce waiting to happen, is this the end of the Milan/Dinho experiment. I don’t know, really, but I am left without any ideas, or even a desire to continue to show that he is not what we expected, he doesn’t seem to fit, and not a single sole wants to give in to right the situation. So do we keep rehashing the same old song, or do we hope that parties move on to greener pastures? Again I don’t have answers, but only a TON of questions…