AC Milan Report Card for 2012
It has been a disappointing year for Milan, there is no doubt about that.
Milan surrendered their scudetto to the enemy, and Juve then went from strength to strength in the summer while the Rossoneri went backwards.
A lack of reinforcements and costly sales have left the side struggling to even qualify for next season's Champions League.
It appeared as if Massimiliano Allegri was only maintained this season due to the financial constraints on the club to fire the former Cagliari manager, rather than blind faith from vice-president Adriano Galliani.
It has been a troublesome time for Milan, but there have been some silver linings to the cloud that is 2012.
Let's take a look at the past year for the Rossoneri.
Nigel de Jong: B+
Added some real energy to the midfield and was beginning to really impress until he suffered a season-ending Achilles injury.
Bojan Krkic: C-
Has not really been able to adapt to Massimiliano Allegri's system and his finishing is woeful at times.
Riccardo Montolivo: B+
Beginning to flourish under Allegri and taking extra responsibility during the early season struggles. Could prove to be a real hit for the Rossoneri.
Giampaolo Pazzini: C-
Will tend to score the unimportant goals when the side is already comfortably leading, padding his statistics. But he is ultimately not what the Rossoneri need and should be moved on soon enough.
Francesco Acerbi: D
Terribly short of the class that Milan expect. Barely trusted to feature in league games against Serie A's weaker opposition, despite numerous opportunities for Allegri to choose the former Chievo star.
Sulley Muntari: C+
Suffered a terrible knee injury earlier in the year, but impressed initially when he joined from Inter in January and could prove to be a useful squad player.
Kevin Constant: C+
Another who would never have even been considered during the golden years at Milan, but despite being lambasted by the vast majority, Constant has filled in at left-back reasonably well.
Cristian Zapata: C-
Not really impressed much and seems to be a liability at times (e.g. sending off at Udinese). Would be a surprise if his loan was made permanent.
Antonio Cassano: D+
Bad deal exchanging him and money for Pazzini. Cassano might not be exactly what they need right now, but he could certainly help the side.
Taye Taiwo: A
Sensible sale. Taiwo was very poor for Milan last season and never settled, it is an indictment on the player when Constant—traditionally a central midfielder—is preferred, knowing that Didac Vila was suffering a long-term injury and Luca Antonini is often injured too.
Thiago Silva: B-
Hard to say on this one, the money was great at €42 million, but PSG bagged themselves the best centre-back in world football. Can it ever be a good deal to sell one of the best players in the world?
Zlatan Ibrahimovic: C-
Easier to define than Thiago as the money received was not enough in reality. A bad sale as the great Swede would transform Milan into title contenders automatically right now. Without him the Rossoneri will struggle to make the Champions League next season.
Some will argue that his wages were too high to maintain, but they could have been offset with the sales of Robinho and Alexandre Pato, who will both leave in all likelihood this January anyway.
Alessandro Nesta: D
The Rossoneri legend could easily contribute this season and would still be the side's best centre-back. If Milan knew that they were going to eventually sell Thiago, it is criminal to handicap their defence so severely by letting one of their greatest defenders leave on a free.
Mark van Bommel: B
Probably the right call to sell the experienced Dutchman as he doesn't really provide a lot more than the captain, Massimo Ambrosini. Lacks the bite and energy of De Jong, too.
Clarence Seedorf: D
The side is woefully short of creative ideas and it could definitely do with the vision and composure of Seedorf.
Gennaro Gattuso: A
Definitely the right call to not renew this legend's contract. Gattuso had become a passenger and tended to be a liability due to his tendency to pick up cards.
Filippo Inzaghi scores emotional winner versus Novara
It was a very emotional day at the San Siro, as a host of legendary players waved goodbye to the Rossoneri faithful.
Alessandro Nesta, Gennaro Gattuso, Gianluca Zambrotta, Clarence Seedorf, Mark van Bommel and Pippo Inzaghi were all set to leave the club before the game, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva also played their last game for the club.
With nothing to play for—Juventus had already secured the scudetto—Milan started in a lacklustre fashion and were deservedly 1-0 down from a Santiago Garcia goal.
Mathieu Flamini equalised before the great man, Inzaghi, sent the stadium into raptures with a clinical, trademark finish. Pippo wheeled away and burst into tears, like many Milanistas, including Tiziano Crudeli.
Destroying Arsenal in the Champions League
In a huge Champions League last 16 encounter, Milan hosted Arsenal at the San Siro.
Massimiliano Allegri knew that the second leg was at the Emirates Stadium, so a hefty lead was essential.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic inspired the side, often dropping into deeper areas to pick the Gunners apart, and helped secure a 4-0 victory that proved to be enough to seal qualification to the next round.
Revenge is sweat
Milan faced Juve in a rematch of the bitter game that the Rossoneri claim secured the Bianconeri the scudetto.
Sulley Muntari's ghost goal was avenged, to a degree, when Milan defeated Juve 1-0 this season through a controversial Robinho penalty.
The emergence of the Pharaoh
In the absence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Antonio Cassano after the club sold them in the summer, as well as Robinho and Alexandre Pato's numerous injuries, Stephan El Shaarawy finally came to the party.
Il Faraone has been a revelation and the Rossoneri finally have a young star to cling their hopes on for the club's future.
Muntari's ghost goal and Matri's sucker punch
The lowest point of the year was the Juve game from last season at the San Siro.
Milan were cruising and led through Antonio Nocerino's deflected long-range goal. The Rossoneri thought that they had scored a second when Sulley Muntari prodded home a rebound from a corner, but Gianluigi Buffon clawed the ball back from a yard behind the line and the referee waved play on.
Incensed and possibly shaken by the injustice, Milan allowed Juve to come back into the game, and Alessandro Matri punished the Rossoneri with a late equaliser to maintain the Bianconeri's unbeaten streak and psychologically harm Milan's title push.
It has been an awful year in terms of Milan's success in the Derby della Madonnina.
Inter have held a curse over their city rivals in three derbies, winning all of them in 2012. The Nerazzurri won by an aggregate of 6-2.
The first game was a 1-0 defeat in January with a goal from Milan's nemesis Diego Milito. The second encounter was a killer blow to any lingering title hopes, a 4-2 defeat that displayed many of Milan's weaknesses that ultimately cost them the title.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic's brace had turned the game on its head and Milan led 2-1, only for Milito to complete a hat-trick and Maicon to smash home a blockbuster effort to put the cherry on top of the cake and ultimately cost Milan the title.
Inter's hat-trick of wins was completed this season in a game that might be fatal to Milan's chances of a top-three finish. Milito, again, was the decisive figure for Inter in a 1-0 win.
The old guard say good bye
The Novara game was ultimately a sad day for Milan.
While it was nice to celebrate so many great players' careers with the Rossoneri, the fact that so many departed was a real blow to Milan and severely weakened the side.
Also when you consider that Alessandro Nesta, Clarence Seedorf and even Pippo Inzaghi could still help the side now and would have signed an extension had they have been offered one, it was a day of mixed emotions for Milan.