Graphic found online* Forza Milan
*credit to owner (whoever that may be)
Graphic found online* Forza Milan
*credit to owner (whoever that may be)
With Manchester United manager David Moyes looking to make changes in Manchester one of the options he is looking at is Riccardo Montolivo. Moyes would be willing to part with Shinji Kagawa, who has not featured much under this season, in exchange for the Italian.
In Milan Kagawa would be joining fellow Japan player Honda, of course. Kagawa, 24, has made 9 premier league appearances so far this season and has no goals. Montolivo has played 18 Serie A games this year and is rated at a €15 million transfer, as is Kagawa.
Kagawa was one of many transfer rumour subjects – linking him to Milan – when he was a Borussia Dortmund player and before he left for Manchester in 2012. His United contract runs until 2016.
January’s biggest news of course was the dismissal of Massimiliano Allegri, he had earlier confirmed that December 25th was his last Christmas at the club. His scudetto winning first season stood in contrast to the often directionless tactics and play seen more recently. Ultimately player sales shared the blame but the 4-3 loss and debacle at Sassuolo made any further time at the helm untenable. His somewhat accelerated departure led to an equally accelerated arrival. Clarence Seedorf immediately retired from playing in Brazil and flew to sign a 2.5 year contract to coach the team. Inexperience aside this was a move that was coming sooner and later and was mostly welcomed by fans.
That wasn’t the only change however, Ariedo Braida, officially the club’s sporting director, also announced that he is leaving the club after some 28 years at Milan. During the month Nicola Cortese resigned as chairman of Southampton and at least one outlet speculated that he may have a role at Milan, this didn’t materialize but is one other name to keep an eye on in the months to come.
Seedorf got to work and hurriedly set the team up for seven out of nine possible points in the league. A higher pressure game, a 4-2-3-1, seems to be his favorite but the points (and loss in the Coppa, to Udinese), seem to suggest that the players need time to adjust and Seedorf himself needs time to learn on the job and perhaps get players that better fit his ideas.
On the player front Bryan Cristante played a good 90 minutes early in the month vs Atalanta and calls for his inclusion in the senior squad got a bit louder. Whether there is room for the 18 year old now, in the Seedorf era, seems to have been answered in the negative by the end of January. Mexes spent much longer time on the bench than expected, however relatively little was said about his status on the team. he may still be the first to be sacrificed in the summer and considering his salary will represent a rather significant savings. In the meanwhile though Daniele Bonera proved that he is not a solution or alternative and Seedorf may be wise to rely on Mexes, newly introduced Adil Rami and Cristian Zapata until the summer.
January is a transfer window month of course, plenty of rumours were available daily and plenty of double talk by Adriano Galliani was present too. Every other day featured a denial and ‘our market is closed’ statement. His transfer choices and powers may be curtailed in the future, if he remains with Milan at all. The negatives have certainly outweighed the positives in recent years and it is perhaps a good idea that he does indeed leave, alas this is not a new discussion and his fate may already have been decided one way or another by Barbara Berlusconi.
Cristian Zaccardo was one of the names often mentioned in rumours with Parma and the English Premiership often mentioned, however he remained. A deal to bring Jonathan Biabiany from Parma in exchange or alone on loan fell through as Parma apparently asked for an obligation to buy Biabiany in the summer.
The final tally at the end of January was somewhat underwhelming and even the often stated goal of reducing the squad size was not achieved.
Andrea Petagna (CF) … loan recall
Adil Rami (CD) … loan Valencia
Keisuke Honda (AM) … free CSKA
Michael Essien (DM) … free Chelsea
Adel Taarabt (AM) … loan QPR
M’Baye Niang (CF) … loan Montpellier
Alessandro Matri (CF) … loan Fiorentina
Jherson Vergara (CD) … loan Parma
Antonio Nocerino (CM) … loan West Ham
Another infographic courtesy of NeoMam design agency. Examining social media and fan support this is an English Premier League focused set of statistics. It asks the question which Football Team Has The Most Fanatic Fans?
Which Football Team Has The Most Fanatic Fans [Infographic] by the team at BetFair
It has been a month since reports surfaced that Adriano Galliani may leave or be fired from the CEO position. Fantasy rumour or otherwise that didn’t materialize but it may yet still. The upcoming summer can see moves for Sean Sogliano, currently sporting director at Verona, or as many wish Maldini, in some managerial role or another. It seems that since last month an ambiguous double role featuring Galliani and Barbara Berlusconi has been created to oversee the future of the team and of course that is followed by promises of more involvement by Silvio Berlusconi himself.
What has happened in the past month alone doesn’t seem to point to much change however. For one, M’Baye Niang has been loaned out to Montpellier apparently with an option to buy. While his contribution was minimal he is yet another young player who appears on the squad, is not seen often, and is then shipped out temporarily or permanently. Bartosz Salamon is one other recent example in a long line of players who are inexplicably part of the team briefly. If the argument is that these players are not good enough to feature for Milan one is even more entitled to question the scouting and purchasing decisions a cash strapped Milan is making. How is it that a player signed for free or bought is deemed unusable so soon after he is signed? Is Riccardo Saponara next to follow in the footsteps of Niang and get shipped out, even if for a few months? Does Jherson Vergara have a future on the team? Is he even good enough?
There are many ways to judge the recent performance in the transfer market, there have been ‘interesting’ buys for so called bargains – Robinho and Ibra arguably fall into that category? – but what of them? Some did help deliver one scudetto but are either gone or in limbo. A look at some recent transfers (a good list was compiled on the forums) paints a poor picture of a sometimes highly regarded transfer guru that is Galliani. Didac Vila, Taye Taiwo, Cristian Zapata, Bakaye Traore, Francesco Acerbi are all part of a list that a financially poor team sometimes paid millions for. This is not even mentioning the likes of Alessandro Matri whose poor goal scoring form is only topped (bottomed?) by his inability or unwillingness to hold the free kick wall.
Is this a case of lack of money handcuffing a vice president or is it just a case of changing times and a team requiring another person who spends less time playing the media game.
There are good arguments to make for Galliani moving on and another person with a new and clear objective for the transfer market replacing him. This new person can better deal with the financial reality that is supposedly up on Milan … and he can also decide who the next coach should be too.
Adriano Galliani resigns his post of Vice Presidente Vicario e Amministratore Delegato. He divided opinion, especially in recent times, but he was in many ways the face of the team and his transfer dealings are legend. And of course there is the golden tie … more on the forums
A new direction beckons, but how big a change depends on Silvio Berlusconi and perhaps his daughter Barbara.
Update: Apparently Galliani is staying, at least for now.
Searching for an alternative to the penalty shootout. One idea, presented on the new footballmania section of MilanMania.
The downturn affecting the world economy and to some extent football is putting Milan at risk. After resurrecting the team in the ‘80s Berlusconi’s Milan was a catalyst and part of Serie A and European football’s rise. The story of Milan’s late 20th century successes has been told often and perhaps should not repeated. The reason for this is that reliving it is hindering Milan’s future goals and potential. Silvio Berlusconi and Milan’s management seem to refer to the past publicly and privately more often than is helpful.
When the European economy started to feel the pinch of debt and other economic and political pressures football, of course, didn’t escape the fallout. Football had been riding the financial boom and would inevitably be mired in its fall. However Milan, which for long was considered the pioneer in football commercialization under the reign and ideas of Berlusconi now seems to be the pioneer in its austerity as well. The days when Berlusconi was touting European super leagues and the uselessness of people in the stands at the San Siro (at the expense of those watching on TV) soon gave way to selling players in offers dubbed too good to refuse and coined as a necessary evil to balance the books. Crucially, the money pinching talk came amidst Milan holding on to, if not retaining its status as one of the best revenue generating machines in world football, the EPL stratosphere notwithstanding.
The modern Milan story, which is very briefly told here, started with the Berlusconi purchase of course. Almost unthinkable successes on the pitch with the likes of the Dutch trio and a relative unknown coach followed. It continued into the 90s with famous demolitions of European powers like Barcelona. Milan benefited from (partially) Berlusconi held sponsors such as Mediolanum and moved into variety of other realms with Opel and bwin.be and more recently the Dubai based Emirates Group.
After the departures of Shevchenko and Kaka for large amounts the book balancing hasn’t stopped – it of course was followed by the likes of Thiago Silva leaving to the newly rich PSG. While it may be prudent in small doses the continual departures jeopardize the future of the team for present economic benefits. Sometimes one feels the need to point out that in sports a rebuild takes investment and planning in the present, arguably even more than any other ‘business’.
Of course there is also the issue of having to comply with UEFA’s FFP (Financial Fair Play) regulations. Recent reports published on the UEFA site tout the successes of FFP, even before its restrictions are fully implemented. This is however unlikely to be changing much for the biggest spenders any way, at least not as of late 2013. There are handful of teams that keep spending on the back of mega rich owners while getting access to questionable sponsorship funds in the process. Smaller or perhaps teams one tier below the biggest spenders do not seem to be in line for any benefits that are presumably on offer by the FFP. At most these teams will see their debts reduced but how that mirrors itself on the pitch is not clear and can easily reflect poorly on results.
Milan and other teams residing on the periphery of the new spending bonanza need to more just balance books. Certainly there is lots to bet and gamble on but taking chances works off the pitch too.
This infographic courtesy of Neo Mam Studios answers the question of the nationality of players involved in the 2013-2014 Champions League.
The German and Spanish dominance is as clear as is the opposite when it comes to the Italian.
Which Nationality wins the champions league [Infographic] by the team at Unibet
About defending Balotelli, I was defending what he was able to achieve with the correct support and showed that he did care about what was going on in the match. Other players simply showed no will or desire to win. I’m not going to defend Balotelli’s attitude, both with diving (although he did have some calls go against him too) and his attitude to teammates, even if I can understand his frustration. I’ve said in my last post that he’s seen as a leader and in that regard, I wasn’t at all pleased with him (I just have bigger gripes with the game at this point).
Agree completely about Nocerino and Montolivo. Montolivo especially disappointed me as he’s now captain and needs to show it.
As for Abbiati, I had thought he could have come out, though I never checked twice. He made enough other mistakes that it seemed pointless bothering to go back to check.
About SES and Niang, I can’t think of a single moment either were influencial in our side. Yes they were deep, but even in the early stages they were anonymous and took up bad positions.
Which is what I want to move onto, our tactical discipline and shape…
Below is a screenshot in the early part of the game, where Zapata has the ball and will pass it through to Poli who cuts it central to Balotelli for a shot. We can see Zapata, in Verona’s half, has the ball. Every player except Mexes (who stayed slightly further back as a spare man) is in shot, meaning the team is tight and within about 30 yards apart from back to front. Unsurprisingly, during these stages we pressed Verona well and it’s clear to see some fairly neat triangles through the side, providing a sound structure to the shape of the side.
Now, here’s another screenshot for the goal. Again, every player (bar the centre backs who are a little further back as spare men with the players within about 20-25 yards max from back to front. A good tight unit, Balotelli has dropped back and to the left, with El Shaarawy correctly filling the gap and Poli is running through into the space in the box. The other players in the shot are all again forming triangles, making for a solid structure. Niang is the one player in the shot whose position I think is wrong, as he’s taken up the same position as El Shaarawy when he should be further out in case the ball comes to the back post.
After that is where everything went wrong and our players lost shape and focus. The image below is at 1-1 when Verona were able to hit us on the break. We can see huge gaps between the fullbacks and the midfield (I’ve highlighted these). Niang was slow getting back here while Poli is completely out of position. Montolivo in this scenario should have come across to reduce the gap with others taking up the space left as we shift positions. The defence is also horrible as it’s completely flat. Abate should be a little higher (at least with the man), as well as Constant, to press early to give a curved line at the back. With Balotelli and SES both out of shot, even if we assume they’re at the halfway line (which I highly doubt), the team is about 40 yards from back to front, meaning it’s stretched and there will be gaps to exploit.
The shot below is Verona’s second goal, where they hit us on the break. Montolivo, as Verona started the break, was already on the right wing to begin with, with Poli, Nocerino, Abate and the rest all caught up front. In this scenario, we’re outnumbered, the defence is completely exposed and the attackers were in the opposition box, meaning we were stretched across 3/4 of the pitch. I would highlight how Verona can hurt us, but there’s no point, it’s clear to see. When you compare this to our shape before the Poli goal (i.e. the first 2 screenshots I took), it’s shocking how badly we lost our shape. Another more shocking thing is I counted roughly 10 seconds from this moment screenshot was taken to the moment Toni scored. Verona during this time managed 4 passes with their attacking players before our players (Nocerino, SES and Poli) started to come into shot. What took these guys so long to get back and help cover, as I took the screenshot about 2/3 into the counter? I won’t take anymore screenshots of our defensive shape after this goal as it was the same occurance multiple times.
The one screenshot I couldn’t get was our attack after Verona got into the game. This is obviously because highlights won’t show these moments as they’re not highlights. However, on numerous occassions I saw Montolivo on the ball with the other players in front on the same line as Balotelli all in a straight/flat line. Quite frankly it was comical, as not only were they completely flat and easily marked, no one moved to give any options.
I put these screenshots here because I want to highlight how different we were in the early stages to later on. I’m still really irritated by this performance, as I simply can’t accept that the players would switch off as they did.