I think it is first very important to mention that Udinese is a quality team. They are VERY talented and well coached, and purchasing any player from that team now and in the future would be a positive move for Milan and any club for that matter. When a squad contains a core of strong Italian players and a handful of contributing stranieri, you suddenly have a recipe for success, and in the past few seasons Udinese have been an injury or two away from really breaking into the top of the table. In fact Marino’s vision for his club reminds me a bit of our very own Milan, who have since lost their way and continue to pay for it in the results column.
Before I review the players, I want to mention a few observations. On the weekend we defeated a lower tier Bologna squad by a single goal. Having watched that match and seeing that Milan truly dominated the match in almost every aspect, one would think that same possession style of play would translate against Udinese and the goals would eventually come?! Wrong, East to West play and few quality chances on goal seem to be the new recipe for failure. Counter attacks are still Milan’s kryptonite which is a an unfixable problem until we really revamp the wing backs.
Another thing I noticed is you, the readers’, attitude! Some of us are still pressing on and enduring what is going to be a long and trying season, but last time I checked this is still our AC Milan, and if you want to jump ship now, then by all means go ahead, many of us have endured worse times and I guess this is how you separate the men from the boys so to speak…sorry ladies…but the last thing this team needs as a whole is abandonment of fans! We know the Dinho fans would be gone sooner than later, but the rest of need to pull it together for the good of the squad, and we all know misery breeds company so if this is not a solid support structure for future failure, than I do not where else we can turn…other than booze…but you get my point.
Now the player breakdowns…
Storari – Keeping us in games with solid play. If he plays this well when Abbiati returns, a GK controversy could be brewing!
Oddo – At fault for the goal, and many of the other mistakes of the night, can play here and there but is not reliable for long stretches, Abate should displace him sooner rather than later as the starting RB.
Zambro – Being moved to the left permanently will only speed up his decline. Was lost for most of the match and his crosses were bad to worse. LB is our most glaring hole, and at this point just roll the dice and play Antonini and see what comes of it!
Nesta – Old reliable, plain and simple.
Kaladze – Anytime he doesn’t score an own goal I take it as a small victory, pleasantly surprised with his contribution as of late.
Flamini – The French future of our midfield is looking more and more like the future of our bench. Absent for long stretches and really unable to get into the game. To many poor speculative shots and his tackling is as bad as Rino circa 1999. He needs to improve plain and simple, the red was also UNACCEPTABLE.
Pirlo – Average, the over the top ball seems to be the new pass of choice and frankly it sucks. He has been moving nicely into the attacking third but the final ball is not coming from anyone or anywhere, so he is partially at fault. He needs a break, but who fills his shoes in that part of the park?
Rino – Solid, not much more you can ask from him. Then again, everyone could play better right?
Seedorf – His third straight game and it showed, play him in the important and give Dinho a run out in the rest? He still made plays when needed but when he tires and slows down so does the pace of the attack. So much for fast attacking football from Leo!
Pato – TERRIBLE. He is being double teamed and has no answer. His decision making skills seemed to have regressed and though he puts himself in great places I find myself screaming pass when he shoots or shoot when he passes. It is no longer an excuse to say he is young and learning, he has had two season and is nearing 20, he needs to step up his game.
Pippo – He is what he is, if he scores we love, if he doesn’t he gets subbed, and in this case it went from bad to worse with the entrance of KJH who I will not review to save the embarrassment.
Dinho – His supporters will say something to the effect of, “He changed the offense and was making great passes, but no one stepped up to finish them.” I say sure he made great passes but if he was so influential, great, stellar, why did Milan not draw equal? Let’s be realistic here, yes he made some good passes…we still lost…
Abate – A welcome change of pace and smart move by Leo when we needed attack, but he spent more time covering for Oddo in the defensive third than he did attacking. Love seeing him on the pitch though and he really is a player we can come to rely on in the future.
Leo – Tactically we are still getting it wrong. To many long balls, not enough movement in the channels between opposing CBs, and no really invention on the pitch. The last one is not his fault, but the rest can all be worked on in training. For all the hype of beautiful football, at this point I would say it is no more beautiful than what we had with Carletto, he can still right this ship, but will he? Someone called into question his subs, I will give him credit on those. He made the moves he needed make based on fatigue, but unlike his counterpart in Milan, Jose Mourinho, Leo lacks the bench to “throw strikers” at a problem like a deficit.
Will preview the weekend game shortly…