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Tactics Tuesday: 4-2-3-1 Fail

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Nobody likes to hear I told you so, and frankly I don't like saying it this early, but we have a right mess on our hands. What do you do with a mess? You poke at it!

Giuseppe Bellini

It started with a "bang" Seedorf came charging in, setup a 4-2-3-1 and Milan wiped the floor with Verona! That is how the "history books" will have you remember it. It is more romantic that way, much more poetic to believe that Berlusconi's knight in shining armor would ride in and change the way Football is played at AC Milan. The reality was not so rosy...

It took a dying PK, a soft one at that, to eek the three points from Verona. A Verona team who is actually quite good, and had Luca Toni been playing, things could have gone much differently. The win papered over the cracks of the same issues Milan had endured all season. Disorganized, disjointed, and poor execution. This was much more evident a few days later as Milan was bounced out of the Coppa Italia by an Udinese team who has had it's share of struggles but looked more the part of a "team." Milan squandered an early goal and the defense was once again front and center in the failure, coupled with a lack of execution and missed chances in attack.

Onto Cagliari where the team looked as toothless as their opponent until Cagliari found the back of the net. The new guy was quick was to make changes, bouncing out of the 4-2-3-1 and throwing attackers at the problem, the result was not one but two goals in the dying minutes, a set piece from Balotelli and corner kick goal meant Milan took the three points in an ugly win. Two straight wins in Serie A, three goals, none from open play, and somehow one conceded. It wasn't pretty but the job was precariously getting done until Torino came to town.

It only took 17 minutes for Torino to break the down Milan's "defense" (I am debating no longer calling it a defense as it shames Maldini, Baresi, Tassotti and so on) and the hard charging Bulls from the North had no problem steam rolling Milan through the middle of the park, it wasn't the wide affair we were used as Cerci had a poor match, but it was effective and showed the gaps in the 4-2-3-1. The center was not strong and the lack of pressing meant Torino didn't have to pass the ball, a weakness for them, they could just rush forward. It took a defender who had not scored in five years to even it up, and Milan got out with a point by the skin of their teeth. At this point you could really start to see the cracks forming, the magic had warn off, and while this match saw Milan's first goal in open play under Seedorf it was not the sort of thing promised from the new Mister. It was not a goal born out of beautiful interchange and passing, it was a goal born out of desperation, a defender shooting with no other option and the ball deflected into the goal. If you were hoping for pretty football, I hope you weren't holding you breath!

Onto the San Paolo in Napoli where few teams can earn a victory. It was against Napoli that Allegri truly cemented his scudetto late in his first season..A much different Napoli in terms of form and function, but a team who as Alex so rightly pointed out, can be an example for a rebuilding Milan. I won't bore you by reliving the mini nightmare of a rather embarrassing and I will get on with the task at hand, which is to state the 4-2-3-1 is not working and I am not sure, personally, how much longer I can stand by and watch it fail again and again with the CL so close.

We have discussed this formation to death and while I look at the roster and see the lack of wingers or balanced midfielders to make the dual pivot a reality I wonder if how this can be sustained moving forward? We have a CAM on the roster in Honda, who has been deployed at RAM. We have a RB in Abate who started the Euro final being used, not at RB. We have a LB in Desciglio who was magical last season, being used NOT at LB. We have a second striker being asked to play LAM and former hero in Kaka being asked to do everything other than what he did best. I haven't even gotten started on the useless of Montolivo anywhere in this formation or that Pazzo and Balotelli are both not flourishing either. Someone a while back said Clarence was here to undue the mess made by Allegri, instead he is making it worse. Somebody get Fester on the phone this mess was made at the top and nobody is going to fix. 4-2-3-1 needs to go but so does a couple of other things...