Going to spend the next five days previewing the season, lots to talk about and while I sprinkle news in here or there depending on the silly season happenings and musings, the tentative Agenda is as follows:
Part III: Midfielders
Part IV: Attackers
Part V: Expectations
We all know who the hero and leader of this midfield is. He didn't put on Rino's #8 as a tribute, he put that number on as a sign. He will lead not by a legacy, but by example. His goal's last season were epic but more importantly his work ethic was sublime. He would have played every match had Allegri let him, and this season he needs to be just as strong, just as tenacious and just as prolific, our season may depend on it. Saying Nocerino for Captain is no small statement, but if anyone has earned that right, it is him. A stalwart and a sure fire starter, the question is who steps up and matches his intensity this season?
Many came out in spades to complain about the low risk signings of Constant and Traore, but I for one actually like both moves. Constant had been a consistent performer for Chievo just a season ago, and his ability to play all three midfield roles will be a key for Allegri as the injuries last season were difficult to overcome. He has a decent work rate and a strong passing range, depending on which role he is deployed in he may be a pleasant surprise. Traore on the other hand has been met with the disdain even worse than the signing of Muntari last season, more on him later, but if he can contribute as much as the Ghanian did in Milan's time of need he will be worth every penny. Muntari served a large slice of humble pie to his detractors, funny those same folks didn't learn a lesson. Almost as versatile and tenacious off the ball, Troaore does have his work cut out for him tactially and technically, but he appears to have the skill set to be a player in Allegri's three man midfield needs.
Montolivo deserves a bit more of a discussion and one focused on his tactical deployment. He is not the CAM everyone was hoping for, but he may be the answer in front of the defense. While he doesn't have the defensive stature of Van Bommel or Ambrosini, he does have an elegant passing range that will link the defense to the attack and free up his RM and LM to do the dirty work, should Allegri trust him with that role. If not I would expect to see Ambrosini to retain his role with Muntari helping out upon his injury return. The forgotten man is Flamini, and while he took a deserved pay cut to stay at the San Siro, unless he went to some summer tactics camp, he will most likely continue to be used sparingly, but still a decent bench option.
The CAM role remains a toss up with KPB showing little to no effort or progress this Pre-Season. It is his role to lose, and with Urby being a true jack of all trades, Prince needs to be on top of his game. He has a choice, he can play hard and be the man he was in the Scudetto season, or he can join the exodus, the choice is his and his alone, but working a bit harder and stop letting his off the pitch excursions ruin his on the pitch efforts would be a good start. Either player proved capable in the crucial CAM role for Allegri's 4-3-1-2, but it matters little to me who earns the starting role. In a perfect scenario Allegri could turn to KPB as the #10, with Urby and Nocerino alongside Montolivo, but if this summer has taught us anything, there is no such thing as a perfect scenario. We don't need flash, we need industry and grinta, and the players most willing to provide that deserve to start.