Saturday, August 22, 2009

season preview

The season kicks off today, officially. Hopefully, we are going to forget the horrific pre-season and start anew. Its definitely a season that promises a lot. A lot of fear, anxiety and trouble. Some say that I am being pessimistic. Others say nothing.

Going by the previews of websites I refer to, the implications are more than just implications. The writing, if not on the wall, is certainly up on the sites. Most believe that we will have a sub-standard season, and might finish 5th-6th in the table. Am I one of them? I might be. There are reasons for my apprehensions. Beside a rookie coach, and a hopelessly pathetic squad of players, we are not willing to understand the crisis we are in. We have been to the Serie B and also finished 11th in the league. But those times were different. Football has become more of a business than ever before. And in a time like this, penny pinching clubs can't promise their fans silverware. I was certainly skeptical about the 'City' model. But look at them today! They are one of the strongest clubs in UK. Just two seasons ago, they were battling at mid-table. But with Pres. Silvio around, I don't see many Euros floating about for purchases. If we finish 5th /6th as many predict, we could see the beginning of a fall of one of the greatest football clubs the world has seen. And no, I am not over-exaggerating.

When I look at the fixture list, I see we have a reasonably balanced set of fixtures, until Dec. That is when things will start heating up. In the months of Dec and Jan, we would be playing the likes of Sampadoria, Palermo, Fiorentina, Genoa, Juventus and Inter. Our run in, matches with the one we had last season. Our last few games are against Fiorentina, Genoa and Juventus. And as I see it, it will be during this time that we would battling for that much wanted 4th spot. Our squad is remarkably thin. Considering the quality of our medics at the MilanLab, and also the fitness of our players, we will be struggling half way into the league. I can't comment on Europe, just as yet. The groups haven't been drawn, but to see us in the Quarter Finals would amaze me. Coppa Italia is possibly the only trophy that we could win, but I sense the favorites to the Italian Cup are Palermo and Genoa.

Coming to the players department, there is a lot of pressure on Ronaldinho to step into the illustrious boots of Kaka. He will most inevitably not fulfill those responsibilities. And the sooner Leonardo realizes this, the better it is for him and for the club. It is comforting though, that Leo doesn't expect too much from the has-been. Players to look forward to are Silva, Abate, Pato and Huntelaar. Silva is shaping into one of the finest defenders in the country. Abate has shown a great deal of enthusiasm and quality in pre-season, and I would like to see him in the first team more often. Pato needs to step up and take up a pivotal role in this team. Under Leo, we will see more of him, that I am sure of. Huntelaar is the goal-machine we have waiting for since Shevchenko's treachery. And if provided with the service, Huntelaar won't emulate Gilardinho. The first team is not star-studded, no. But it has the ability to beat any team on the planet on its given day. I am certainly not pleased with the pre-season, who is? And Leo doesn't infuse confidence in me. But only a blockhead could write off this team. I am quite sure that Europe is awaiting to see how Milan will respond to all the criticism that has come the club's way. There are two possibilities in this situation. Either our season would be an utter disaster, or we could stupefy the rest of Europe. Forget the Scudetto, forget the Champions League. If we finish above 4th in the League and compete for Coppa Italia, it will leave me with a pleasant smile on my face.

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