Friday, August 29, 2008
After the debacle that was last season’s fifth place finish this was supposed to be the summer in which Milan finally started to re-build. Lessons learned, was the message coming out of Milanello, and our problems will be seen to.
A couple of months later and, whilst there has been an influx of new players, it is difficult to conclude that whatever problems there were have been solved. Take Philippe Senderos: presented to the Italian media as the solution to Milan’s defensive problems, he is nowhere near that. The truth is that Senderos has failed to develop after a positive first season with Arsenal and his lack of mobility was being ruthlessly exploited in the Premiership.
Much more complex is the move that led to Ronaldinho. Initially it looked like the usual ruse by Berlusconi in an attempt to boost popularity ahead of the upcoming election. That feeling was re-inforced by Milan’s sudden pull out from the deal once Berlusconi got elected. It was only when Barcellona had substantially lowered their demands that Milan went back in.
Whether they really need Ronaldinho or if it was simply a marketing ploy remains to be seen. Ronaldinho remains a very good player but the rush with which Barcellona wanted to get rid of him suggest that perhaps his reputation exceeds his real value.
Another gamble, for that is what most of Milan’s signings amount to, is the return of Andrii Shevchenko. Effectively this is the least risky of all: in Milan he will find a coach and a team that knows how to play to his strengths rather than one unwilling to see how best to integrate him. And, if any motivation was needed, the possibility of beating Jose Mourinho should surely see to that.
Despite all this, the summer had gotten off to a great start with the arrival of Matthie Flamini from Arsenal. Then Milan seemed to get lost in their desire to sign a striker to really look at other problem areas. Defensively, for instance, they are still vulnerable whilst the reliance on Zeljko Kalac a disaster in waiting.
At least in that area they’ve seen the return of Christian Abbiati. Whether the man who enjoyed an average season in Spain with Atletico Madrid and of whom Milan have continuously tried to get rid of in the past can prove to be better than the Australian is, however, the subject of a huge debate.
Key Man: There is a reason why Milan have rejected off-hand all the offers that have been put through for Kaka and that is that he remains arguably the finest player in the world. With Ronaldinho alongside him, Milan fans should be in for quite some spectacular football.
Best bit of business. There might still be question marks over how he will adapt to live away from the lose comfort of the Emirates and an understanding manager like Arsene Wenger but Matthieu Flamini remains the least risky out of all the new arrivals.
Keep an eye out for…Pato. Perhaps the most deserving mention would have been that of Alberto Paloschi but with the young striker now apparently on his way away from Milan, the next choice is Alessandro Pato.