AC Milan: The team that time forgot

A side in decline?

A side in decline?

Another mundane week of Champions League group stage fixtures has passed and for the most part the natural order has been maintained. Powerhouses like Barcelona, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Arsenal all won. Continental rivals Bayern Munich and Juventus played out an entertaining draw at the Allianz Arena. Liverpool were humbled by an impressive Fiorentina but La Viola are formidable at home. There was one result from Game Week Two though that really stood out. It came from the San Siro where seven times champions AC Milan were beaten 1-0 by the minnows of FC Zurich.

After a lacklustre start to the season under the stewardship of Leonardo, Milan fans are beginning to grumble. With an ageing squad misfiring, and a run of poor results showing no sign of ending, the rookie coach received the dreaded “vote of confidence” from the board this afternoon. For the time being Leonardo should be alright for the simple fact that he is a Milan legend, a company man. Even if he is relieved of his coaching duties will still remain at the club. He was a director before taking charge of the 1st team and if things continue to go south that’s the position he’ll return to.

Under pressure

Under pressure

If nothing else Leonardo will always be the man credited for bringing Kaka to Italy. How he would love to be able to call upon the services of his magical compatriot at the moment. While Kaka is lighting up the Bernabeu alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, his former team mates are finding life much more difficult in his absence. Lying 11th in Serie A, with 8 points after six games, is not a start to be envied. Hopes in Europe were higher after an opening day victory at Marseille but Wednesday’s defeat to Zurich is a new low. It is hard to see where the side goes from here.

The starting XI last night featured eight players the wrong side of 30. Greats of the game like Alessandro Nesta, Andrea Pirlo and Clarence Seedorf still command the utmost of respect on paper from opposing teams. But on the pitch there is little doubt that the ravages of time have caught up with them. Others like Massimo Ambrosini, Pippo Inzaghi and Marek Jankulovski have all had their moments over the years but nowadays those moments are few and far between.

Sometimes known as Calamity Kaladze

Sometimes known as Calamity Kaladze

Likewise Kakha Kaladze, but anyone who saw Georgia’s defeat to Italy in Ireland’s qualifying group for the World Cup, in which he scored two own goals, will know just how much damage Kaladze is capable of causing for his own team.

Young guns like Mathieu Flamini and Alexander Pato, on whom so much has been invested, are struggling in a side that doesn’t play with any pace or purpose. Pato has all the tools to be a superstar but you fear for the boy in the current setup.

Not smiling as much these days

Not smiling as much these days

On the theme of a lack of purpose it is worth mentioning the decline of Ronaldinho, who’s three year drop from the peak of the world game shoes no sign of abating. He didn’t even start last night. When Kaka departed in the summer the airwaves were filled with propaganda telling us all how the buck toothed Brazilian had refound his form. Ronaldinho had left his party lifestyle behind and was ready to take the game by storm again. Alas the early signs in season 2009-2010 are not encouraging. When you can’t command a starting place at home to FC Zurich serious questions have to be asked.

Perhaps it is not surprising that Milan are a team on the slide. The loss of Kaka was always likely to be a major blow but investment from the proceeds of his sale have not been up to scratch. Cover at centre half was always going to be a vital area to consider and the signing of Oguchi Onyewu from Standard Liege was hardly one to set the pulses racing. The US international is not a bad player, certainly a step up on last years fill in Phillipe Senderos, but this is AC Milan we’re talking about here. The AC Milan of Franco Baresi, Mauro Tassotti, Billy Costacurta and Paolo Maldini. When the brittle Nesta breaks down, as he is almost sure to do at some stage, you expect a top class replacement to be on hand. What we have nowadays is Onyewu and that speaks volumes.

Yet to find form

Yet to find form

Another major summer signing was Dutch striker Klaas Jan Huntelaar from Real Madrid. The tall hitman was treated disgracefully at Madrid, unable even to claim a Champions League squad place following an administrative mishap and preference for Lass Diarra. He still managed to score 8 goals in 12 games in Spain and has the look of a player goals will always come naturally to. Provided he gets the right service. In the current Milan team however creativity is at a premium with the San Siro crowd having witnessed only one goal from their side in four home games this season. And it’s worth remembering that one of those was a four nil hammering in the Milan derby at the hands of bitter rivals Inter.

Indeed Huntelaar’s frame of mind cannot have been eased much further considering the knowledge he was second choice behind Edin Dzeko to help soften the blow of Kaka’s departure. Having seen Dzeko in action at Old Trafford last night he looks like the kind of player who can make things happen on his own. Considering the slump Milan are in he would have fitted the bill perfectly and should have been pursued with more vigour. That he continue’s to flourish at Wolfsburg is yet another indictment of Milan’s recruitment policy over the past year. It is also a clear sign that the Berlusconi family are tired of the club and are looking for a suitable buyer.

So are AC Milan the team that time forgot? More than likely yes but there’s still hope. It is only six games into the league season and while a tilt at the title is perhaps a long shot there is enough talent on hand to secure a top four finish. Europe will stretch their resources even further but three points after two games is not a disaster. Defeats home and away to Real Madrid are probable but surely return fixtures against Marseille and Zurich will see an improvement. In the end of course it all boils down to money and if a new billionaire owner can be found AC Milan can start looking upwards again. Until then though scenes like last night are bound to become more common place and for one of the games great clubs that is a sad state of affairs.


2 Responses to “AC Milan: The team that time forgot”

  1. I’m always looking for recent posts in the world wide web about this theme. Thx!!

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