I have been procrastinating with this post for a few weeks now, I wrote it a day or two after the season, but as I mentioned in an earlier post I haven’t had the ability to push the publish button. The main reason being that by publishing this post I truly close the door on the Milan that I have known and loved for eight years. Yes this may seem a bit overdramatic but bear with me for a moment, and you will see that many of you close to the same age as me; we have been though a lot with this team. I remember leaving for college in Boston, packing my Milan jersey and with it the fear that I would lose touch with my team. Instead I journeyed with this team to Manchester, Istanbul, and even Athens, taking friends along for the ride. Now as I have settled in to a home in Connecticut and have become even more enamored with my team, it has changed before my eyes so drastically that I am left a bit speechless. Sometimes change is good, and it lead to better things, but I can’t help but wish for this season to start again, even with the same result. So I leave you with my final season grades.
(I didn’t grade everyone, only players with significant contributions. Please note this was written two days after the season so many of the transfers had yet to even begin but Carletto had already gone.)
Abbiati – B+
The Milan netminder suffered a season ending injury but up until that injury he was comfortably managing the space between the sticks. In fact there were many standout performances from Abbiati this season and his passion and fire were welcomed. He impressed throughout the league and many even believed he would be the second keeper at the Confederations Cup, but the injury ended that discussion and gave his would be place back to Amelia. He has solidified a place for this Milan team and should be the incumbent at the start of next season.
Dida – A
The man exceeded all expectations, but I never want to see him again.
Zambrotta – B
Yes he has lost a step, but his contribution and consistency cannot go unnoticed. He played week in and week out on the right and left, and next to Maldini was a fixture in the Milan defense. Early in the season he was asked to push forward but with the inclusion of Beckham he played a more defensive role which in turn allowed him to stay fresh and finish strong. He will be a year older come September but his place on the team is his to lose, and having his veteran presence will be a plus.
Senderos – C+
He gave me fits when he played, I couldn’t understand why on Earth he was being given starts in big games, but as he played more and more his presence was less of a nuisance and more of a begrudging consistency. Was he good? Not really, but he was serviceable and in a season where we lacked any form of real CB presence the big goofball really came in handy. He was on loan, and you won’t hear many complaints from me if he leaves, but I can’t help but say thank you for the contribution.
Favalli – B+
This was a tough one. When he injured Abbiati I almost lost my mind, I wanted him cut and banned from the pitch, but when you looked down the roster and noticed no healthy CB’s Favalli took it upon himself to become the stalwart CB next to Maldini and for that I cannot thank him enough. His time on this club should come to an end, but I am scared to think where we would have been without him this season. Many of you may rate him lower, but stop and think how many times you cursed him and then again for how many times you were left pleasantly surprised.
Maldini – A+
Was there any doubt! What should have been a swansong and a say goodbye season for Maldini turned into a dogfight and his contribution seemed to be needed more than ever. Sure he had moments that showed his many years, like most of the defense, but he had moments of brilliance that left me wondering could he go another season? His track down of strikers like Lavezzi, his Zidane style pirouette, and his never ending push forward against Roma was really the best sendoff we could give a living legend. As he leaves he vacates the captaincy with no real heir apparent, and the void will be greater than I have come to grasp at the moment.
Janks – B
He just wasn’t his same venomous self on the flank and his defense continues to decline. He played well in a midfield role when asked to move up, but even then he was average at best. LB is a postion that lacks depth on the squad and Janks should be pressured for his starting role as the summer wears on.
Antonini – D
Expectations were high, performances were not. His game against Udinese early in the season left me salivating, but he progressively got worse, lost confidence, and fell out of favor. An “injury” claimed the remainder of his season but at his age he needs to start producing. His pace is great, and his attacking skills are solid, but his defense needs work if he wants to earn a starting role. Carletto had a short leash for youngsters and Luca was no exception.
Flamini – C+
Harsh, maybe, but it was a tail of two halves for the versatile Frenchman. His first half was a flat out F, he couldn’t work his way into a game and his challenges were worse than a young Rino. His second half saved his blushes and Milan’s. He stepped in for injured players played RB and all the midfield spots and was a real asset down the stretch. He would prefer to not play RB, and if the transfer window goes according to plan he won’t have to next season, but he has certainly earned himself starting consideration for the new season.
Becks – B-
It is no secret, I like Becks. When he first came on in January he was pivotal in many of Milan’s wins in the resurgent new year. He linked well with Pato and was comfortable on the flank, but as the minutes piled up David’s play declined. At times he was clinical and others he was lethargic, his contribution cannot be denied and he provided a spark when Milan needed it most. His monetary gesture to stay on at Milan was booed by some, but personally I applaud it. Beck’s was screwed by the Galaxy and MLS and put in a position to fail and ultimately eliminate him from national team contention, the man’s heart belongs with his country and he clearly wants to make that squad and he proved that, cheers to Becks. I won’t fight for his return, but I surely appreciate his time with the club.
Pirlo – C
Injuries, struggles, and inconsistency summed up his season. He was off the pitch for Milan’s seven straight early in the season, but was on it for the late run. He is a different player with Rino alongside him and didn’t get to show it this year. Flamini provided some of that buddy system flair, but in the end Pirlo is still struggling. His talent and skill can’t be denied but finding it is that much more of a challenge. On a good day he is dynamic and changes the game, on a bad day he is phantom, he needs to be more involved in the attack and on team littered with ball hogging attackers and a long baller in Becks he seemed to lack a real responsibility on the pitch.
Rino – A
An injury ended one of the best starts to a season I can ever remember from the hard man. He was everywhere, and in Pirlo’s absence it even seemed like he was learning to pass the ball like his pal, but the injury was devastating and it took Milan time to recover. Rino however seemed to recover even faster and seeing him in the final game of the season brought a smile to my face. He is the heart and soul of this team and my pick for Captain, and he was missed when he was gone.
Ambrosini – B
Ambro is the pillar of consistency for me. He is not flashy and at times he can even be a bit raw, but his constant movement, solid positioning, and passion make him a great player. He really stepped it up emotionally in the absence of Gattuso and his play down the stretch really helped Milan and his goals were a welcome addition when strikers seemed to forget how to find the net. I remember him losing his mind against Roma and getting a red card and I was disappointed in him, but as I look back at it he was honoring his Captain and proved yet again why he is important to this team.
Seedorf – D
His performance against Inter in the first derby is the only thing keeping this guy from an F. His play has drastically declined and his arrogance has made it hard to support him. Yes he was a better fit at times as his role was more suited to the players around him, but that is no excuse for slow play, poor passes, and general mistakes that really reflected his decline. Clarence thank you for the memories, but your time here has passed.
Ronaldinho – C
Seven goals early on were a huge plus, but the rest was forgettable. Was he out of shape? Did Carletto spite him? Does he not get along with Ricky? These are all questions we have debated ad nauseam here but in the end the proof is on the pitch, and the play speaks for itself. He seems to have lost that drive to goal that made him so dangerous and his game needs a bit of an overhaul if he wants to be successful in Italy, I personally don’t know if he is the type of person with the self drive to recover, many of you believe he is, but he is the only that can save his career at this point be it at Milan or anywhere else.
Kaka – C+
Not Ricky’s best season. Injuries were a factor and lack of cohesion with Ronaldinho may have been as well, and don’t discount the Man City distraction either. In the end though when he put his foot on the gas he was still the man we all know and love, but those flashes were far less than we are accustomed to. *When I wrote this Ricky was still a Rossonero, and now that he is gone I feel there is more that needs to be added…my first inclination is that management pushed him out, and this apparent commitment to Ronaldinho is the nail in the coffin for me and for Kaka, I believe we are making a mistake here, and yes his play has declined, and yes he is injured more than ever before, but pinning our hopes on an apparent “has been” is far more risky than sticking with Ricky…good luck in Madrid*
Borriello – C-
I thought we had a dynamic duo with him and Pato but injuries made that a pipedream. His lack of contribution hurts and we still don’t know what he can or can’t do for this team. Heres hoping to a quality return, but it has to be fruitful to make this wait worthwhile.
Sheva - F
Not going to get into here, but this was a failure, and his career seems to really have crumbled. Frankly I want to forget this season even happened and continue to remember him wearing the number seven.
Pippo – B
He scores, and he does so in bunches but when his playing and not scoring he is a liability. His role this season was perfect, and as it continues to decrease I hope he can continue to provide goals in a pinch, but he seems to be a ball of nerves from the get go, it will be interesting what the summer brings for the the greatest poacher the World has ever seen.
Pato – B+
Inconsistency keeps this grade where it is. He is class, and his goal against Fiorentina proved that again and again. His performance in the draw against Roma was stellar, but his mistakes are glaring and his tendency to force the issue can be a bit frustrating. He is young and will continue to progress so this mark is more of a jump off point than anything else, Pato will continue to grow and Milan will reap the benefits.
So there you have it, sorry it was such a long time coming. I hope many of you can relate and share your thoughts as well as we close the chapter of “my” Milan and enter was is turnining out to be the most nerve wrecking summer on record.