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The fallout from the recent games
26.5 || webmaster

Author: Shafin Nasr

Milanís form in the last few weeks has been uncharacteristically shaky. First came the defeat against Siena, then a couple of close calls, then the crushing defeat to PSV in the second leg of the Champions League semi finals and finally, the loss to Juventus which has given a distinct advantage to the Bianconeri in the race for the Scudetto. Milan needs to learn something from all this. Fatigue and some bad luck definitely played a part in these results, but these games painfully exposed a deeper flaw in the setup: Milan lack pace down the left side. On the right side, Cafu provides surging runs down the flank, Gattuso wins the ball and Kaka provides the creativity. The main problem with the current Milan team is that we lack a player to provide pace and creativity on the left side of midfield. Rui Costa is not the same player he used to be and Serginho and Seedorf have been less than satisfactory. Clarence Seedorf, though a technically gifted player, lacks the pace needed to contribute to the fast breaks Milan rely upon and his form has been rather inconsistent. In the context of the Christmas tree formation, Milan needs a player to fill in on the left side, behind the lone striker. Ideally we would love to have Ronaldinho in that position, but more realistically, Milan could look at Robben or Duff, one of whom could be on the way out if Chelsea manage to sign Joaquin or Shaun Wright-Phillips. Other possibilities include Robert Pires, Valenciaís Vicente,Wesley Sneijder, Simao, or even Jose Antonio Reyes (who is more likely to go to Madrid however). We also need a long term replacement for the great Maldini. The captain is as magnificent as ever but surely even he cannot go on forever. Ashley Cole is an excellent option, but will probably cost too much. Monacoís Patrice Evra is my most favored alternative. Therefore, the Milan team which I think would be ideal for next season is: Dida, Cafu, Stam, Nesta, Maldini (Evra), Gattuso, Pirlo, Seedorf, Robben/Duff, Kaka, Shevchenko (in a Christmas tree formation); for the conventional 4-4-2 formation, the same team would be retained but Seedorf would be left out and another striker brought in, Crespo or Gilardino perhaps. Of course, this means that some players will have to be sold off: Serginho, Rui Costa and Filippo Inzaghi should be on their way out. Tomasson is an uncertainty; he probably wonít be too happy being last in the pecking order if Gilardino comes in.

Milan have reached a crossroads this season; for success to be sustained over the next few years, some team rebuilding is required. With Costacurta and Maldini possibly retiring soon, and Cafu soon to be on the wrong side of 35, Milan would have to beef up the defense. In addition to Evra we could also look at Chiellini and Bonera as possible long term prospects. Rino Gattuso has been linked to a move to Old Trafford, which would be unfortunate indeed; he complements the creativity and speed of Kaka and Cafu very well and it is very hard to find a player with his determination and spirit. The only real replacements I can think of are Essien or Makalele. Finally, I would like to address rumors of Shevchenko being sold to Arsenal (in a swap involving Pires and cash) or Chelsea. Like any other fan I feel strongly against it: the man is in his prime and he is an icon at Milan and I canít really see who is going to fill his shoes. Gilardino, who is a possible signing for next season isnít quite mature enough and Crespo has a different style of play. It would be much better to offload Inzaghi and allow Gilardino to develop fully with Shevchenko as his mentor. Crespo would be a valuable foil.

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