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End of Season Report Cards: Mids and Attack

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So in the last report card post we created a new grad, one lower than an F, that grade an Oddo. Right now this entire team would get an Oddo for its performance stateside, it's search for a manager, and the lack of transfer plans for the offseason. Let's hope none of the attackers are midfielders see the dreaded Oddo...

Rino –a stalwart in the Milan midfield should have excelled in the 4-3-3 for his ability to cover space and support Pirlo in the midfield line. For those three there was little change from Carletto’s three man midfield in the XMAS tree, instead Rino regressed, he looked slow and awkward and his red card against Inter, which almost seemed in spite of Leo, has still not left my memory banks. Could have been a leader but instead a figure on the bench, he brings a veteran presence off the pitch but on it is another story entirely. He somewhat resigned himself to the bench later in the season and contributed when called upon but anything higher than a D would be a legacy mark.

Flamini – For a brief spell this season he looked to become the new Rino in the midfield. Tirelessly covering ground, getting into the attack, and linking well with Pirlo. But like Rino of ten years ago the Frenchman has a penchant for terrible tackles, needless bookings, and the propensity to run aimlessly all over the pitch with little to no direction or regard for his marking duties. The only problem is ten years ago Rino was closer to 20 than Flamini is, and the inconsistency at this point makes him more of a liability than an asset. Seemed to play better with consistent playing time but his confidence seems to be made of the same material as Nesta’s lower back. A C probably sums up Flamini nicely, hopefully he has a strong WC in the absence of Lass and he is better for it.

Ambrosini – The new Captain certainly played like it at times, but seemed to be plagued by the lack of balance in the 4-3-3. When Leo deployed two DM’s alongside Pirlo, Ambro was a monster but when Seedorf played, Ambro’s age became clearly evident as he ran out of steam in the 65th-70th minute covering for the other “fantasy” type players who don’t need to defend!? Ambro worked admirably hard and certainly earned the armband, but asking anymore of him would be a crime with others around him not shouldering the load. A well earned, hard worked B is in order.

Pirlo- Much like Ambro, Pirlo went the way of balance. With two DM’s Pirlo did everything he is supposed to do: control tempo and link the defense to the attack. Without DM support he was basically another lost midfielder wandering aimlessly never able to get far enough forward or back to make a difference. What made Pirlo so dangerous was his ability to switch play and rake balls across the pitch, with Milan being left side dominant Pirlo suddenly played in only one direction and the team suffered. He, like the rest of the midfield, contributed little to nothing in goals, so the maestro earns a D. Once again Lippi has made a master choice making him the centerpiece in South Africa.

Beckham – The match against Genoa where he played in the right wing of the attacking line was his capo lavoro, but seemed to bring value in a position that no one could make their own in the absence of Pato. His cause was noble and he showed that in his work ethic, had Ronaldinho taken a page out of Becks book the left flank of the pitch at San Siro would have been worn to dirt! Too bad Becks doesn’t get to go to South Africa, but his time at Milan gets him the B that would have probably sealed the deal for Don Fabio.

Seedorf – Seemed to invigorate the attack when he came in off the bench, the problem is when he started he was checked out physically by the 60th minute. The only player on the team willing to shoot from distance he scored some nice goals because of it, but at times he appeared selfish to better his own cause than that of the team. There were times when Leo could have deployed him behind two strikers to spell Ronaldinho, but this never happened and Seedorf continued to be used out of position at the expense of balance. Not so much his fault, but anything more than a C would be to generous.

Pato – A youngster with injury problems is worrisome enough as it is. A youngster incapable of getting fit following a rash of injuries is even more troubling. What Milan needed from Pato was to emulate Kaka and play in the same style, slaloming towards goal with the ball at his feet and putting pressure on opposing defenders. Instead we were shown a player who cannot pass, and worse cannot seemed to make the simple determination of when to dribble and when to pass. A regression? I don’t think so, he seemed to excel early wide right, but playing lazy and disinterested isn’t a stretch. The Duck gets a D, and for me at least he needs to get back on board with the cause, or he can ship out.

KJH – The only reason the Dutchmen doesn’t get an Oddo is because he scored some goals and was horribly misused wide right. There is no doubt in my mind he and Borri can make a great tandem up top with some work and cohesion, but instead the Dutch “goal machine” (trying scoring so many goals in Italy Klass!?) and former “Galactico” (I use the term loosely) was weak on the ball, weak in the air, never moved, and resembled a traffic cone in every sense of the word. He gets a D merely because he earned three points for the Club against Catania.

Pippo – Another player misused by Leo, he was mind bogglingly not chosen in favor of KJH in the home stretch. When he was used he seemed to support the attack nicely, but it was often in losing causes or to remove the static Dutchmen. It was an indifferent season for Pippo and with an indifferent C.

Borri - Borri and Ronaldinho will probably polarize many of the fans on the blog. He scored 14 goals and some of them rather spectacular, but this notion that he “misses sitters” can’t seem to go away. Can someone please define a sitter for me? Is it a goal that you should have scored regardless of defensive marking, pressure on the ball, proper foot, body position…the list is endless, but this guy was often so deep in the neutral third his scoring chances were off long runs with two markers with no one moving CB’s out of the middle. The 4-3-3 is a solid formation but if the all the strikers in the front line don’t carry their own weight so to speak, everyone will suffer. Shipping him out is not the answer, but I am not here to change your mind. He gets a B in my book, only because 20 goals was possible, and that he seems to check out mentality at times which is unacceptable.

Ronaldinho – Well here it is. Some would go as far as calling him the best player on the team, this is a disservice to Tiago Silva, but even if I entertain the notion of Ronaldinho being the best player it merely makes him the best player on a third place team. Even his best effort couldn’t deliver the “goods,” he is a nightmare for balance and his 5-10 “samba style” passes per game don’t negate the amount of work needed to cover for his lack of defense. When he rolled up his sleeves and worked hard it showed, but when he was sitting on his large bottom looking for a call it wasn’t long before Milan were behind on the score sheet. Simply put the team was built around Ronaldinho and this was not a positive for any of the other nine outfield players, and while he showed flashes of brilliance they did not supersede or mask his shortcomings and the balanced the 4-3-3 begs for and thrives on. I will give him a B out of respect for his assists, but even his “best effort” this season would get him any higher.

Just a reminder, these marks are merely opinion and are not by any means fact. I hate to have to explicity state that, but it seems that this is forgotten at times...