It was a nightmare, it really was. For the thousands of Rossoneri fans present in the San Siro last Saturday, and for the millions more watching the game at home, that scoreboard right there, presented the most horrifying picture one could paint for a football fanatic—a humiliating derby loss.
That scoreboard, however, of the most one-sided Milan derby in recent memory, isn't the only reason Milan fans were so heartbroken. Almost everything that could go wrong...did! There was a red-card, a penalty, lack of creativity, lack of leadership and direction, flawed team selection and tactics—you name it.
One might put a majority of the blame on Gennaro Gattuso. It was him, who gave away the penalty, and later it was his aggression that got the better of him and earned him that red card. (The fact that Samuel Eto' fell to the ground faster than a granny on skates, may kindly be ignored here.)
Coach Leonardo will probably be everybody's target too. His selection of Marco Boriello ahead of Klaas-Jan Huntelaar made little sense, as did his tactics during the game. Some say his lack of experience did him in, while others say that he just isn't the same presence on the sidelines, as say...Carlo Ancellotti.
And then, as usual, one can come down to the slow defenders, Ronaldinho's lacklustre performance and finally crack a sly joke at the average age of the Milan roster and call the Rossoneri a retirement home.
Fans start losing faith, while experts start scripting odd prophecies about how Milan are doomed for eternity, and how this loss spells failure for Milan in the Champions League!
What everyone involved needs is a reality check.
This is the same team that reaped high praise, just a week ago, after they defeated Siena 2-1. The same people who are getting blamed today, were the heroes of that victory.
Yes, AC Milan lost the derby, and lost it badly. Some mistakes were made, there were some bad performances. But that is it. This defeat is NOT the snapshot of the entire season.
AC Milan just had a really bad day, on the same day when Inter were having a really good day!
Coach Leonardo is rebuilding this Milan team, in hopes of taking them to the same heights of glory which has made this team the most successful club in the world, and that takes time. Whatever he lacks in experience, he makes up for it with his deep understanding of the game and the mutual relationship of trust with his players.
All he needs to do, is to take it one game at a time and get his tactics right. Put his positive approach into practice. And start with either Inzaghi or Huntelaar up front, and not Boriello.
Those who make fun of Milan as an "old age home" perhaps may not be aware of young Ignazio Abate (who has made it to the Milan roster for the Champions League) or Gianmarco Zigoni (who has got a call from the under-21 Italian squad recently) or may be ignoring the fact that when Kaka or Pato arrived here, they weren't at all in their thirties or forties!
Fillipo Inzaghi and Alessandro Nesta, both legends, may have lost their pace but are still sharp and are great assets to the team. And while Seedorf may not be able to shine for the entire game, he showed last Saturday, that even against a mighty opposition, he can still play well.
No doubt, Gattuso should have shown more responsibility. But it was perhaps his passion and not aggression that got the better of him. How many times has this same passion for Milan been praised by the Rossoneri fans!
Just how bad is the situation at Milan?
It'd be delusional to say everything is alright here, but in all fairness, things aren't really all that bad...
Talk about defense, and young Thiago Silva has formed a solid partnership with Nesta, with the likes of talented Onyewu still waiting on the bench.
Fullbacks have not given their best performances yet, and have been a weak link. Lack of genuine pace going forward coupled with lack of devotion to their defensive duties has made Milan vulnerable at the back. But both of them are experienced internationals, and won't need Leo telling them where they are going wrong.
Milan have one of the toughest and most respected midfield in Europe. The quality of Andrea Pirlo, the ruthless aggression of Gattuso, and the commanding presence of Matthieu Flamini paints a satisfying picture, from the Rossoneri perspective.
Arrival of one of the most feared strikers in the world, Huntelaar, has sharpened the Milan offense. The golden triangle with Pato playing next to "Hunter" and Ronaldinho playing just behind them, is as good an attack gets, mind you.
"Hunter" didn't play the first game due to suspension. And as Milan were down to 10 men, owing to tactical compulsions, Huntelaar had to come on in place of Ronaldinho, late in the second match. So, really, Milan hasn't unleashed this trio in the Serie A; when they do, Milan will look a lot different.
Ronaldinho's form has been a topic of great debate. While it is true, that he is not the same magician he was at Barcelona, he is improving, and is comfortable working under Leonardo. He has the support of his teammates and we saw flashes of his old brilliance in the first game.
No doubt, Milan have a tough season ahead. In the Serie A and in the Champions League, both. But it's rather hasty to write them off just yet.
Many times the Italians have been written off, but they have only emerged stronger and better. And there is no reason why the Rossoneri can't do it this time too.
Milan have the players. These players are motivated and hungry. All they need to do is put this loss to Inter behind them and look to win their next game against Livorno.
One win is all it takes to make a new beginning.
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