Calling this Milan team a finished product is a fool's gamble. I for one am
not yet sold that this is the future state of AC Milan. However, the
progress of late, albeit minor, has returned some positives to the squad,
led mainly by the January transfers.
The biggest and most anticipated arrival was that of Honda, and oddly it has
been overshadowed by the arrival of Adel Taarabt. The Moroccan has been
used in a role he knows, wide attacking midfielder, cutting inside and
preying on the weakest part of the opponent's defense. Honda has also been
used out wide but his natural role as a #10, the teams only true play maker,
is being lost out wide. Lacking the pace and often times over complicating
play in that area, he looks lost and confused and late to the play. Kaka
would be better suited to that position, and a deployment of Kaka and
Taarabt on the wings and Honda central would be a big issue for opponents.
It also helps that the defense has been solidified with the addition of
Rami, and while he lacks that certain poise and finesse we are used to in
center backs. Yes, he is effective but it is just a bit nerve wracking. He
has solidified himself as one of the first names on the team sheet but his
lack of a real partner will cause issues going forward. Personally, I don't
believe the answer to the CB question is even on the roster but this needs
to be addressed at a later date. The defense has also been bolstered by the
balance brought by Essien, and while I don't see the Bison as a long term
solution. If the intent is to attack with four players, then the dual pivot
may not succeed with Montolivo. For the time being it will have to do it,
but the team with Essien versus Montolivo has looked a bit different.
At the end of the day the team has taken a step forward, but it has been
steeped more individual performances than the collective. For those willing
to look at it closely the problems that plagued the team a few months ago
are still on the forefront. Execution on set pieces, injuries, lack of
cohesion in attack, and the inability to win "big" games are still front and
center. I am not sure this weekend against Conte and Juventus will solve
any of the issues, it is a big mountain to climb and there will be plenty of
discussion leading up to it. The hope is that the new boys can make that
climb a little easier.