So the past few days have featured my positional season previews:
Season Preview Part I: Max Who?
Season Preview Part II: Two Real GKs?!
Season Preview Part III: Oddo’s Revenge
Season Preview Part IV: Midfield Changing of the Guard
Season Preview Part V: The Pato-Borri Show
Today I figured to share one from one of my favorite websites, Calcio-Italia.
Milan must inevitably start every season targeting the Scudetto and Champions League, but with each passing year of the new austerity programme, that seems less and less believable.
Owner Silvio Berlusconi effectively started this economically frugal phase by selling Kaka to Real Madrid and ever since their transfer policy has been dictated by monetary concerns. The patron also insists on dictating tactics, something that drove Leonardo away after just one season at the helm. The fans adored their Coach and have continued protesting against Berlusconi’s leadership into this summer.
The squad remains largely identical to 12 months ago, only everyone is a year older. Nelson Dida’s contract expired, to be replaced by error-prone Marco Amelia as challenger to Christian Abbiati’s gloves.
Andrea Pirlo, Gennaro Gattuso and Massimo Ambrosini haven’t looked themselves for a while now, plus the 4-3-3 system forces Clarence Seedorf into yet another change of position.
The defence has been reinforced with the arrival of Sokratis Papastathopoulos from Genoa and veteran ex-Chievo Colombian Mario Yepes, but the season kicks off with 34-year-old Alessandro Nesta again not 100 per cent fit. USA international Oguchi Onyewu could finally make his debut after a year out with a devastating injury.
When challenging for three different competitions, strength in depth becomes an imperative and this is something Milan sorely lack. Alexandre Pato and Marco Borriello have been plagued by physical problems in recent months, while Ronaldinho lacks consistency and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is only still at San Siro because they couldn’t off-load him over the summer.
Luckily for Allegri, he has a wealth of options in midfield, where pre-season suggests Mathieu Flamini will be pushing for a regular starting spot. Kevin Prince Boateng is a valuable addition following his World Cup exploits with Ghana and can finally bring some pace to the side.
If Zlatan Ibrahimovic does arrive on loan from Barcelona, he could well transform Milan’s prospects, but it doesn’t bode well for the future that such a prestigious side is cobbled together from loans and free transfers.
The difference maker
The Brazilian is at best inconsistent and at worst downright lazy. Leonardo had been able to motivate his friend, but it remains to be seen how he’ll handle working under Allegri. The fact remains he is the creative focus of Milan and his teammates look to him for that spark. When it’s there, Dinho can light up San Siro.
He could be of use to Prandelli
He brings through the next generation in the Rossoneri defence and possibly for Italy too. Antonini was a wide midfielder, but Leonardo helped transform him into an effective full-back who can take on either flank. Due to injuries he has become the regular left-back at Milan and already earned his first call-up for Prandelli’s debut game.
Kevin Prince Boateng
German-born Boateng was among the heroes of Ghana’s 2010 World Cup campaign. The former Portsmouth midfielder was signed by Genoa for £6m and his price-tag could double by the time the loan expires. “I don't care about how Milan brought me here, I feel 100 per cent Rossonero and I have to show that I can play at this level.”
Winner of the Panchina d’Oro as Coach of the Year for the last two consecutive editions, Allegri performed miracles with Cagliari. His 4-3-3 system is entertaining, hard-working and has troubled the top clubs in Serie A. However, he’s known for very poor starts to a season and was sacked in April after a nine-match winless streak.