Club Focus - Milan - Pirlo keeps Milan within touching distance of leaders Lazio
Milan secured all three points in Parma thanks to a wonder striker by Azzurri midfielder Andrea Pirlo, who scored one of the goals of the season up to this stage. Despite the victory, the Rossoneri are yet to perform to the best of their ability as Ronaldinho has not hit top form while Robinho continues to struggle. The positive news for Coach Massimiliano Allegri is the goal's scorer was someone other than Zlatan Ibrahimović after weeks of murmurs that the Rossoneri were growing dependent on the big Swede and could not score without him finding the back of the net. The results have so far left the Rossoneri just two points behind leaders Lazio and level on points with city rivals Inter.
The main concern remains the status of Robinho, whose lackluster performances have become the main topic of discussion in papers, editorials, blogs and other media outlets. It is evident Robinho is lacking in confidence and can only get back to his best by scoring his first goal for the Rossoneri. His recent misses against Ajax in Europe highlighted the tough period the Seleção star is going through but also increased speculation as to whether the Brazilian can excel in Serie A after failing to shine in the English Premier League. It is unclear whether Robinho is having issues settling down in the peninsula or if he is finding it difficult to build an understanding with his teammates. However, for those who argue Robinho might be feeling isolated and perhaps unable to express himself freely at Milanello, the answer is there are enough Brazilians with the Rossoneri to ease his transition to Calcio. Thiago Silva and Alexandre Pato are both part of the current Brazil set-up while Ronaldinho played for Brazil for several years prior to his exclusion from the 2010 World Cup.
The clash with the Ducali witnessed Alexandre Pato's return to action from injury and saw the Rossoneri keep a clean sheet to confirm them as the top division's second best defensive line behind Inter. Pato's return was great news but there were fears over goalkeeper Christian Abbiati and full-back Luca Antonini. Abbiati might be back once the international break finishes as he needs about two weeks to recover, and Antonini underwent surgery after fracturing his nose and should be back in a week's time. Milan's main issue remains creating the necessary understanding and harmony amongst the players, in particular the attackers, in order to challenge for honours this season. Another concern is in midfield where injured skipper Massimo Ambrosini, goal hero Pirlo, veteran Gennaro Gattuso and Dutchman Clarence Seedorf are all over the age of 30 and approaching the twilight of their career. Some might argue Pirlo can still deliver but the reality is he can do so in interrupted fashion and has not shown the consistency expected for a couple of seasons. Kevin-Prince Boateng is being gradually introduced to the starting line-up but for all his effort he still lacks the savvy and know-how which defines the game of seasoned veterans Pirlo and Seedorf.
With Milan the results dictate the direction the ship is headed, in the sense Coach Allegri's future will continue to be debated until the Rossoneri go on a solid run of wins which can confirm them as serious contenders both in Serie A and in European competition. The club's performances up to this point do not justify the late flurry in the transfer market which brought Ibrahimović and Robinho to Milanello prior to the market's closure. President Silvio Berlusconi is eager to break the monopoly of the Nerazzurri and has sanctioned those big name additions because he wants the club to entertain the tifosi as opposed to just winning. Berlusconi must be disappointed because Milan have not impressed and cannot be compared to the likes of Barcelona in terms of entertainment despite boasting Ibra, Pato, Robinho and Ronaldinho as well as Seedorf and Pirlo, all of whom can change the course of a game with a deft pass or a stunning strike.
The Rossoneri are not lacking in talent but it must be said Allegri has yet to heavily influence the team as he does not appear to have introduced anything new or different since taking over from his predecessor Leonardo. In fact, the Rossoneri have now a better and deeper squad at the disposal of Allegri so it will be interesting to see how long Berlusconi will remain on the sidelines before he starts to interfere with the club's tactics by leading the criticism against the Coach. Once again the results must keep going in Milan's favour in order for Allegri to remain safe while a string of bad results could easily force him out.