What I was intendingng to be a tactics piece, turned into a bit of Boateng piece. I really wanted to talk about the difference in his play and the functional operation in the 4-3-1-2. What made Milan so dangerous, and more importantly Prince so dangerous, two seasons ago was his simplicity and tenacity. He didn't dwell on the ball, he didn't try and do to much, and he was a fulcrum connectingng defense to attack. What happened?
Somehow, following the sale of Zlatan and Silva to PSG, Prince fancied himself a star? A Prince to sit on the throne of Milan's attack. Suddenly everyone was quick to call Prince the new star of Milan before letting his play do the talking. I am a big believer of earning accolades, not giving them, and for a while KPB seemed to be of this mindset, but lately I don't see it. Two seasons ago his work rate was one of the strongest on the team, off the ball runs, and pressure. Suddenly, his head got a little bigger then his heart and performances have suffered. Where he once made simple choices and passes, he is not making complicated choices and giving away possession. Somewhere and somehow he has decided to shoulder Milan's "creative" burden to the detriment of himself and the team.
His first performance of the season against Sampdoria epitomized this. Shooting from all angles, attempting complicated passes, and opting for magic instead of possession. He simplified a bit against Bologna, but he still looks tactically confused, and a bit lazy. So much so, that before the weekend I suggested that maybe he was given a chance to "rest" on the bench. Allegri didn't seem to heed the advice, but the performances still need improvement. What better way to improve on the field then to stop making a spectacle off it. It is never good when players make more news off the pitch then on it, and no accident that KPB started getting into the WAGS and his performances have faltered. I don’t care what strange things players do off the pitch, as long as I A. don’t have to hear about it, and B. doesn’t affect the team. Right now I have too much of both.
I also can’t understand or appreciate this idea that suddenly KPB is our new “star!?” Isn’t that a title earned by performances? Instead I feel some fans have simply elevated KPB because of player departures, it is probably no coincidence that these same fans are the ones who anointed Pato as the heir to the throne, or is it the training table? The point is, stars are made on the pitch, not off it or in the training room. So before Mr. Boateng is anointed the Prince, he needs to earn it in my book.
Unfortunately on the weekend he suffered a hand injury and underwent surgery yesterday to repair the problem; for me, a sort of blessing in disguise. If Allegri wasn't going to bench him, then giving him a minute off the pitch to recover without guaranteed playing opens the door for Urby Emanuelson and reminds “Prince” that his position should not be a foregone conclusion, that the work rate and effort are still required. He was a stellar piece to Milan’s Scudetto season, and a little reminder and friendly competition should bring that out of him once again.