Friday, June 26, 2009

'right' way to go?

Ignazio Abate

Massimo Oddo

I don't know how fair it is to say that AC Milan are strengthening the right side of the squad. With the recent additions of Oddo and Abate, the team does appear stronger on the right. It also provides great clarity on how Leo foresees playing this team, next term.

Leo wants to play a 4-3-3. Use a big man in the middle, and play two floating forwards who can assist him in driving the defense into lunacy, by running circles around the defense. Pato, Ronaldinho, and more recently Abate are quite capable of that. Also wing-backs do seem important in this tactical plan. Cissokho and now Oddo, Leo is not mindful of actuating full-backs.

These can't be considered transfers really. Oddo has returned from Munich, where he was quite successful in taking over from Willy Sagnol on the right. It wasn't an auspicious season for the Bavarian giants, as they endured a trophy less season. Oddo left when Zambrotta arrived, for obvious reasons. The incoming
Bluagrana reject was certainly younger and better, and still a part of the Italian set-up. Also, Oddo had just ended a season, that would have made Galliani wonder why he ever brought him back from Lazio. So, Oddo oddly packed his bags, and departed. Now he is back, and looks certain to stay, even though he is being liked by men at Turin. The sad news is, he still has 2 years on his contract.

Ignazio Abate lack of presence in the team has always bewildered me. A young Italian of magnanimous talent should have experienced football at its highest quality, instead of being shipped all across the country to clubs such as Napoli, Sampdoria, Piacenza, Modena and Empoli. He played for Torino last season, and featured quite regularly. Torino did go down, but he did get some much needed Serie A level experience. He is 22, but I wonder if this U-21 Italy player had stayed with Milan during the past few years, how much more of a player he would have become? AC Milan have made the necessary amends by purchasing his other half of the rights that were owned by Torino. Well, it is great that he is back. The question is will he be played? I think yes, he will.

Galliani has targets, and for once, I think 'Uncle Fester' knows what he is doing. Dzeko will most likely arrive, and Cissokho/Santos are also possibilities. We need a CB, but there is still plenty of time for that. August 25, Madrid will be awaiting us at the Bernebau, and they are already looking 3 times the team we are. It remains to be seen, what we can muster up till then.

In other news, Pierre Aubeyamang has been loaned to Lille, and Milan have signed Gianmarco Zigoni from Treviso for 1.2m euros. Nothing much can be said of him except that he is 18 years of age. Now, these are the kind of transfers that wont make a difference for the next 3-4 seasons. Or maybe they never will.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

saved by the teeth

Aly Cissokho

A week ago, Cissokho was almost a Milan player. Today, he is still a Porto player. The reason this is the case is because he failed a medical, and one under bizarre circumstances. His teeth had shown potential problems, that could lead to him having sportsman's hernia! Ok!

When i read that Milan have signed this player for 15m euros, i was furious. Hard earned money from the sale of top players in Gourcuff and Kaka, going for the purchase a newbie who has performed well for the last 6 months?? Exactly one year ago, this French starlet of Ghanian origin was playing for Vitoria de Setubal, a third division Portuguese team. Such has been his ascent, that he displaced the left back in Porto to become the Dragoes main left back. He was the man who made Ferguson quiver in the Champions League, as the Scottish genius had to make Rooney nullify the wing-back's effect. It was here that Cissokho made a name for himself. And a Champions League performance, even if its one in many, is enough to impress the men suited in the Via Turati board. Take Senderos for example.

My dismay, thankfully, was short lived. Milan were hounding Porto to reduce the asking price, and it had dropped down to 12m euros. Good enough, for a highly rated 21 year old, i thought. The second report read, that Milan wanted to take him on loan for a season with an option to buy. That, dint happen. Finally, another report stated that Milan wanted to reduce the initial investment from 7m euros to 4m euros. All three options were short down by the Os Tripeiros heads. Boy, am i happy!

We need a wingback, yes. But I can't deny that there are other pressing needs in the squad. Renewing Ambrosini's contract, holding onto Gattuso, Pirlo and Pato, as well as signing a CB and a striker. Galliani is working overtime, and its not because Luciano Moggi or Gasperini have raised valid questions. Hopefully, signings will come quick, and not the likes of Oliveira or Ibrahim Ba.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

breaking the 'family' tradition


Kaka was more than our best player, more than the best trequartista in the world, more than the highest grosser from shirt sales, more than a brand for AC Milan. And we break the very principles and values that made us a morally superior club than any other in Europe.

Galliani and Berlusconi had given the Rossoneri fans so much belief that the 'Son of Milan' wont be sold, that most fans would've bet their lives on him remaining a Milan player till the end of his career. But things took a remarkable turnaround when AC MIlan accepted a bid of 117m euros from Manchester City for the playmaker in January. Kaka must have received a bigger shock than the fans that stormed the streets of the fashion capital of Italy in protest. The Brazilian had verbalised his dreams of captaining this side in the near future, and this same person was being considered for an amount so outrageous that it could've been sufficient for the purchase of a lower league club. Kaka held his own, after seeing the emotional demonstration of the Rossoneri faithful. But it was gaping everybody in the face that Kaka is sure to part ways in the summer. It possibly had an effect on his motivation, because for the rest of the season, he wasn't quite the same player. And sure enough, Perez came knocking, and Galliani decided to shake hands with Kaka for the last time, for an amount that stupefies me till date. This is because 67.2m euros is barely an amount for one of football's biggest names, who arguably is in his prime at the age of 27. Kaka dint hesitate and moved away leaving behind a cloud of silence and an environment disturbed from fear of what is to come.

Kaka arrived for 7m euros in 2003, nobody would have envisioned shedding tears over his departure to another club. Such is his impact. He won the Serie A in 2004, and was a critical component in the greatest footballing machine on the planet in 2005. His most significant year was in 2007, where he almost single-handedly took Milan to glory in Athens. He was by far the best player in the world then, after which his form took a serious dive. Knee injuries plagued him in the coming seasons, and some rationalists consider this sale as inevitable for Milan, and also one, that could be a blessing in disguise. I am one of them, but before you jump to conclude that i am contradicting myself, let me remind/inform you, that Kaka is my favorite player, and also my role model. No footballer in Europe can compare to his moral standards, and when fit, to his game standards as well. The way he has conducted himself amongst all the praise and moolah that is lavished upon him leaves me in awe of him. When such a personality leaves my beloved club, it is bound to cause some pain.

Some say, Kaka is a traitor, he 'belongs to money'. They safely negate the possibility of the management shoving him out of the door, and I mean shoving him out of the door and not showing the door. Kaka isn't about money, Bosco is. Kaka loved this club, and dreamed of leading this club one day. The patience he showed in this respect is marvelous, as he is the best player and the player with maximum influence on the squad after Maldini. Yet he remained silent, when Ambrosini and Gattuso donned the armband. Kaka couldn't have stayed, as many expected him to. If he did, he would be expected to carry the guilt that he could have 'saved' the club by accepting a transfer. Him leaving to Madrid was mutually beneficial. He left for Milan's sake, but he dint sacrifice his career. As he says so often, if he was to ever leave Milan, it would be for Madrid, and rightly so. Madrid after all, are the bigger club, and why take a ridiculous personal sacrifice by joining a lower club? Kaka always said that he would stay at Milan as long as they wanted him, as long as their objectives and his objectives were the same. So, when the club asked him to leave, when the objectives changed direction, he left. There is absolutely no logic in chastising him for it.

There wont be another
Kaka, or even a 'Kaka-like' player. We have lost the one player who could've filled in the hole left behind by this maestro, as we sold that one player to Bordeaux. The other, has joined Juventus. I can't think of any other who can take over, not just in terms of game-play, but in terms of influence and character. This last month, AC MIlan may have balanced their books, but have lost more than they have ever lost in their history. I am referring to Kaka, Gourcuff, Ancelloti and Maldini. This has signalled the start of a new era, an era that has not brought fear to the hearts of our rivals, but to the hearts of the very people who run this club, and those who support this club.

Monday, June 15, 2009

the lottery

Carlo Ancelloti and Leonardo

Welcome. To my new blog, to a new season. I would like to start with the introduction of a man who could potentially lead us into greatness, or potentially lead us into depression. His name is Leonardo Nascimento de Araujo. Or more simply Leonardo. He has remained an attacking midfielder in his playing days, playing in Spain, Brazil, France and Italy. Quite a productive player, integral, effective and gifted for Milan in his prime, Leo was on his way to become a part of the 'Milan Family'.

Post his playing days, he went onto become a TV analyst, and joined Milan later as a scout cum agent for Brazil. His eye for talent has been unmatched for Brazilian genius. And that has been instrumental in bringing some fabulous youth into this team. He can take pride in the discovery of Kaka, and more recently Pato. And being a scout and agent of the club, he was as good as good can get.

But the shoes he is stepping into, in my opinion is too big for him. A world-class coach is barely replaceable. But it can't get more hysterical than replacing Ancelloti with a 39 year old infantile, who has absolutely no coaching experience. As a matter of fact, when Ancelloti's career was under immense speculation, just weeks before his departure, Leo was taking coaching lessons! One of the biggest clubs in the world, will have a man, who is a novice in man management, handling a team in crisis next season. I know, disturbing!

This is where, people bring in the example of Guardiola. Fellows, Guardiola has coached the Barcelona B team for a year, where he won 25 games, drew 8 and lost 5 giving him a win percentage of 65.79%. He walked into a Barcelona team filled with superstars, and with a President who wasn't going to hold back from buying players he wanted. He played in a league, where it is fair enough to say that there are only 2 teams fighting for the domestic title and the gulf in quality thereon is large enough to drive lorries through. Leo, has none of this. He walks into this post, being presented with a squad of has beens, low on quality and motivation. His President has pulled the plug on funding, and the league is only getting stronger and more competitive.

I am not ruling out the possibility of him succeeding. I am only saying, it is more probable he will fail. Moreover, Anceloti was sacked because he dint adhere to Berlusconi's tactical advices. This clearly shows the role Leo will be performing as he takes over the squad. Did anyone say 'puppet'?

Anyway, I wish the gaffer luck with this new adventure he is about to begin. He isn't only riding his luck, but the hopes of millions around the world. Is he the new Capello, the new Sacchi? Only time will tell.