Current squad - what work is needed?
#1
This is more of a discussion thread than the speculation-based transfer thread, so bear with me.

It's been an intriguing season - starting miserably but ending, the odd blip aside, very strongly indeed.

The question is what direction does the squad need to go in? Who has served their time and is replaceable now and who do we want to build the team round?

Let's start with the goalie. Abbiati has had, honestly, an excellent season. Quite possibly Europe's most under rated goalkeeper, Abbiati has had such a quiet career - only ever gained a handful of caps and never really made a huge impression anywhere. 3 years out on loan before returning to basically become our first choice. And he's been very, very good this year. However QPR confirm Cesar is moving and there's been strong speculation linking the Brazilian with a return to Italy. If I had to choose between both, I'd choose the former Nerazzurri. World class goalkeeper. But it's not a problem position at all.

Defence kind of is. Our full backs are not by any manner of means the strongest area - DS still has growing and improving to do before he can truly be called a first choice and worthy. Constant has been ok at the back but rather hit and miss going forward and definitely lost form in the latter part of the campaign. Abate is a speed machine down the right but not the most intelligent and very poor in defensive work. We could use one really, really good full back - but they cost.

In central defence Zapata is fine - very good player and had an excellent season - he's one to stick with and word is we're buying him. Mexes less so - wrong side of 30 he's done well enough at the club but is one of these players who never truly made the grade anywhere - very good on his day but something off being truly great. His personal medals list is underwhelming. IMO he is dispensable and could be replaced with a top quality defender to partner Zapata long-term.

Midfield is actually quite good. Chock-full of decent players, it is one good-quality CM or AM away from the finished article. We've got the classy but no-holds-barred enforcer in De Jong and the cultivated playmaker with grit in Montolivo. Add the apparent signing of Poli (an AM) and it's one area looking pretty decent. And if we do buy Bojan as reports suggest, that could sow up the AM/trequartista position fully if the young Spaniard could just finally realise his potential. And bulk a bit up!

Attack - well it's good, and bad. El-Sha was sensation till January but has been dire since then. Zero confidence - and there's been stories linking him with a move to England. Balo is Balo, a monster - been remarkable since joining. No problems there. Pazzini is an impact sub, and very good at what he does, while Niang has a LOT of work to do to realise his potential. Boateng is a great player on his day - more creative than many give him credit for, and has goals in him. He's worth holding onto because when he's good, he's very, very good.

I've also heard of long-term links to Kevin Strootman. Another one, if we secured him, for midfield.

For me though, defence needs a lot of attention. And the only name linked so far (that I've seen) is Kolo Toure. Older than Mexes it's not an inspired choice if he joins.
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#2
I think the defence is ok actually. Yes, of course, if we can add a class CB I wouldn't say no but for me....that is not 1st on the list to fix.

I have actually been very pleased with the fullbacks and I don't think they are high up on the list of purchases this summer. Again, don't get me wrong, if we can improve our squad at ANY position, then yes by all means. But with the limited resources we have, I doubt we can get players that are better then the current ones we have in these positions...yet still improve our squad in the most needed areas.

Which brings me to my next point, which is the midfield - in my mind the number 1 priority for this summer. Time and time again we come up short (and perform like crap at times) because we don't have a midfield to create and run the game. For me that's the number one priority. A player that can create.

The next on the list for me is a RW.

After that, comes everything else that we can get our hands on (within our budget) to be an improvement over the current players.

So if we manage to get a creative CM player; a RW; PLUS replace some of the useless squad players with young talents (or solid experienced players in some cases) then this will be a great summer IMO.

1. Splash on a creative CM
2. Get a true RW
3. Improve any other area with a better player then the current one (this can be a CB, RB, etc, etc, etc............but the only problem is that after we spend money on 1 and 2, chances are we won't have much left to get players that are better then the current ones with the budget left...........and that's OK, AS LONG as we do #1 and #2)

Just my 2 cents.
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#3
So http://www.football-italia.net/34419/ber...an-changes ?

Quote:Milan President Silvio Berlusconi announced in a letter that “there will a complete change in the coaching staff and the club structure.”

This effectively has fired Coach Massimiliano Allegri and could have profound repercussions for Vice-President Adriano Galliani, who always defended this tactician.

The patron was originally meant to have a phone interview with Il Processo di Biscardi on live television, but instead sent a message that was read out.

“There will be a complete change in the coaching staff. We will also, if necessary, re-organise the club structure,” wrote Berlusconi.

The President also implied he ordered Allegri to switch to a 4-3-3 system and credits himself with turning the season around.

“After the disastrous start to the season, I met with the Coach and directors to tell everyone this situation had to be overturned.

“I also specified that the team had to step on to the field with a different tactical set-up, as I have a lot of experience in this area.

“The results were seen straight away, modesty aside, starting from the comeback to draw 2-2 with Napoli. From the relegation zone we climbed to third place, earned yesterday by the skin of our teeth.

“I have already called for tomorrow a complete revamp of the coaching staff and, if it were needed, a more efficient and complete re-organisation of the club structure.”
Squad list showing age, country and contract end date
http://www.milanmania.com/ac-milan-squad-list
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#4
Biscardi says he has it on tape, the club denied it ... silly mess.
Squad list showing age, country and contract end date
http://www.milanmania.com/ac-milan-squad-list
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#5
Berlu got to be kidding about him being the mastermind in changing to 4-3-3.

After stuff like that, which high profile coach/manager would want to come in and lead Milan?
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#6
We need reiforcement this summer, but we need to clear out areas where we've currently got too many players.

Amongst the keepers, I wouldn't change anything. Abbiati's still reliable and he can provide another year of leadership for us.

Amongst the fullbacks, I'd stick with pretty much what we have with Constant, Abate, De Sciglio and Antonini. Should Antonini leave, he'll need replacing.

With the CBs, I'd make some changes, though nothing too drastic. I'd keep Mexes, Salamon, Zapata, Zaccardo and add one new quality CB (maybe Ogbonna). After seeing Zapata and Mexes showing their reliability this season, I wouldn't rush the transition in defence.

Midfield is where we need a lot of work. Those I'd keep are Montolivo, De Jong, Muntari, Flamini, Cristante and Saponara. In addition to these guys, I'd like to see us draft in good ball playing midfielders. Poli would be a nice addition if rumours are true, with maybe another big signing (at the expense of Boateng), someone like Strootman being quite interesting.

In attack, I think we have most pieces already in place. Balotelli, El Shaarawy, Pazzini, Niang and Petagna are or should all be confirmed for next season. I'd add 1-2 new players here, with Cerci being a nice option as he can play RW very well and another who can add depth to our attack.

In total, this gives us 26-27 players in the first team squad, a pretty good number imo.

As for outgoing players, I'd say:

- Bonera: Zaccardo's with us now and has effectively the same role.
- Yepes: Probably retiring.
- Didac: Clearly has no space in Milan.
- Ambro: I think he could go West Ham with Montolivo becoming a new captain.
- Nocerino: Under performed this season and will want to play.
- Traore: Almost never played, seems pointless keeping him.
- Urby: He lost any space he had at Milan and it would be best to move on.
- Boateng: He's a tactical problem for us, as while versatile he seems unable to excel in any particular role at Milan. He'll bring in a substantial sum of money to invest in our needs.
- Robinho: Clearly wants his return to Brazil and lacks motivation at Milan.
- Bojan: Whilst a decent player, he doesn't justify spending 15m on him. If we can get a cut price for him (say 5m), plus still make a decent addition like Cerci, I'd reconsider.
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#7
I thought I'd resurrect this thread as given our start to this season and our performances in general, I think the club have to seriously look at where we're headed in the long term and as always I would like to read opinions. This isn't just the current squad, or the development of our youth, but things that we need to do in general in order to proceed into the future. The key areas of focus for me are:

The management

I think the management have the biggest responsibility to steer the club in the right direction. Imo, this stems from running the club from a business perspective, but also being strongly involved in the footballing aspect.

From this, I want to see a strong culture being built at Milan. I've said this numerous times in other threads, but for me this is critical to the development of our play. Take Ajax (the system we're using as an example), who for around 40 years have now focused on highly technical football developed on pressing and the concept of total football. They may not be the power they were, but they still develop youth talents on these fundamental principles.

Barca are the same, building from La Masia for 30 years and having a very distinct culture at the club. Even Roma, who have been building since they were taken over haven't enjoyed much success, but have stuck to focusing on playing attacking and enterprising football with coaches like Zeman, Luis Enrique and now Garcia, all of who have reputations for attacking football. I have no doubt that this streamlined focus on attacking football (both in player purchases and choice of coaches) is something that they're finally starting to see some results from.

Our history, from the time Berlu took over was to focus on attacking/dominant technical football developed from various concepts of pressing football. It started out from Sacchi, but then continued throughout our success all the way until the end of the Ancelotti era. Since then I feel we've somewhat lost our identity and while I hoped Allegri might be able to give some identity to our football, I feel he's not succeeded and it's up to the management to rebuild/regain our culture.

I also think we need more focus on development of other areas, particularly the technology we use at the club. Physical preparation, injury prevention and general focus on getting the most out of the players must be invested in. This imo means exploring the latest technology in physiotherapy (something I'm not convinced we've done in a while) to looking to going into minute detail, like Barca who prepare tablets with vitamins and minerals catered to each individual player.

I won't go into the development of the business side of things, I think most already know some of the things we need here, particularly regarding the stadium.

The Coaches

The coaching staff, from the senior squad right down to the lowest level of the youth must have a consistent approach. This imo comes with the development of the culture at the club, but also in terms of sharing information and training methods. I'm sure this must happen to some extent, but I must say questions must be raised when hearing coaching staff (Inzaghi and Allegri) simply don't get on and fight.

I also think there should be a focus on individuals development in training. I've noticed during Allegri's time at Milan that young players breakthrough at the club, but then very rarely after making the jump do they actually progress and mature, sometimes falling into obscurity (e.g. Merkel and Strasser). Based on the idea that El Shaarawy and Niang haven't matured much over the past year, seemingly learning little to develop their game to be more complete players, in addition to the infamous Pato interview a couple of years ago criticising the lack of direction from Allegri, I think we need to place more emphasis on teaching our young players more in the game.

This isn't a slight on Allegri, who I think has done well to bring through youngsters over the years and has definitely improved from the other years since Berlu took over, but I think this comes to the focus at the club. Basically, I think the club want to focus on young talent, but at the same time want to be competitive, leaving coaches in the awkward position of trying to bring through youngsters, but trying to rely on older players to keep us competitive with the other big teams. Right now, I'd say lets focus almost solely developing these young players we have, teaching them to become the best. This might mean accepting obscurity for a year or two, as they almost certainly will struggle to be consistent, but the potential reward is far greater. It also gives us a far more focused goal to work towards.

Upon hiring coaching staff, I think the management must ensure they are in tune with our culture. As I said, I think from the top our goal in approaching games should be to dominate opponents with attacking football founded on a pressing game. Roma are the example I used earlier who I think express this well, as they focus on hiring coaches with an attacking philosophy. Barca, who I regularly return to as examples given their success also do this. They built foundations based on Cruyff's influence developed from Total Football. Guardiola played under Cruyff and developed a similar philosophy, while learning a lot from others, notably Bielsa who he's got huge admiration for. Vilanova worked with Guardiola to develop their game and took over when he left, while Martino now is a "disciple" of Bielsa's. It's evident that Barca focus on getting coaches who are all not just linked to each other, but also share similar philosophies in football.

Finally, I think player training and preparation needs to be looked at from our coaches. Currently, Italy is still a little behind other countries in Europe imo as there's still a huge focus on muscle growth and strength. Problem is that while this made sense in the past, when referees would let a lot more go in matches and attackers had to deal with rough manhandling all the time, now the game has shifted to an almost "non-contact" sport. Essentially, there seems little reason to focus on muscles and strength when there's little room for physicality. Instead, we should look at what teams in Europe are doing, which I think is far more focused on short quick movements and stamina development. Barca and Dortmund are two of the best examples I can think of in this regard.

Players

In the short term I don't think we'll find much success. We need players who are technically gifted, mentally strong and professionals. To get these players, you need money as most top clubs will want them.

Our focus should be twofold therefore imo. I think the first focus should be on youth. We have some technically very gifted youngsters, who are serious about reaching great heights with Milan and seem to have the right mental approach to succeeding. This means giving opportunities to these youngsters in the first team, even at the expense of more experienced and potentially more consistent players. This focus should be to help them learn what's necessary to reach the top.

This leads to another point, which is strict guidelines (note, not necessarily rules) should be given to players about their attitude when working and their lifestyle. I recently rewatched the Maldini movie and Sacchi mentioned that on his return to the club in 1996, he would regularly see players going to restaurants at 11:30pm the night before a match. Over the years, I'm certain this has only got worse. The club have the make sure the players who they bring in have the character and professionalism to live lifestyles which are necessary as athletes. If players are regularly found to fail in this regard, they shouldn't be at the club.

The second focus we should have is prioritising how we buy players for immediate success. Players shouldn't be brought on reputation or ability alone. I'd say their attitude and mental strength are more valuable, even at the cost of ability. Our current squad on paper is one of the best in Serie A, many arguing we should be competing at the top with Napoli and Juve. However, we're seriously prone to mistakes, tactical indiscipline and lapses in motivation. All the ability in the world is meaningless unless the right attitude is applied and quite frankly, often the mentally strong and disciplined side will beat the individually superior one (e.g Dortmund vs Real last season). We have lots of gifted youngsters, but lack the foundations and mental consistency in the group.

Anyway, I could go into more detail about specific development of the squad, tactics and players we should get, never mind how I think the club should be changed as a business. However, I think this post is long enough, with some key fundamental I think we need outlined above.

I'm aware that many have lost faith in the management, thinking they're not taking the best interests of the club when making decisions and therefore thinking this discussion is pointless. However, I would like to see what fans want, where they want us to head within the boundaries (i.e. financial constraints) we now find ourselves in. It's unlikely much will come from this discussion, but without some hope it would be pointless even discussing Milan.
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#8
Star 
5 easy things to do:

(1) Sack Allegri, because he is a dumb loser.

(2) Make DS as a CB. I mean more like a Maldini & Thuram role, who could play both as CD and Fullback.

(3) Take captaincy from Montolivo and give it to Abbiatti.

(4) Make Poli and regular starter & Constant a regular Serginho type sub for crossing

(5) Pray Pray Pray Pray Pray ............................................
Argentina will win the World Cup 2022
Formerly mzk57
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#9
Good article as usual, Dev. Okmilan

Zeekay's thought of turning DS into a CB is quite interesting.
aka xudong
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#10
That to-do-list made by zeekay actually makes sense and better be implemented.
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