AC Milan’s Corner: The Big “MAX” Turnaround

After being criticized on the level of insanity in all his experiments, Massimiliano Allegri has finally responded to his critics. He has not spoken a word of disbelief and has silenced one and all by ending the year with AC Milan on the Summit. Everything he has touched has turned in to gold and with Milan’s plans in the winter transfer window, the Scudetto seems more or less secured. So what has Allegri seen that his predecessors could not??

July 21, 2010 - Milan, Italy - epa02256484 An handout photo, realased by AC Milan Press Office, shows AC Milan's coach Massimiliano Allegri during his first press conference in the Milanello sportive centre, on 21 July 2010, Italy.Alleggri – the Midas touch

The Balancing Act

All of Milan’s previous managers have had a formation fixation. Carlito was a man for the Christmas Tree and Leo wanted to score 5 goals in each and every game with a 4-3-3. They hoped for too much instead of thinking and this led to the downfall of AC Milan. When Allegri came to Milan he was surely backed up with Milan’s summer signing bonanza. No matter how much Galliani is praised but the real pressure is on the manager to play them in the right formation and win at the same time. Max followed on the footsteps of Leo and it clearly did not work out with a three pronged attack. Ronaldinho and Pato were completely out of sync at the flanks and Milan’s attack looked wasteful. To top it up, as and when they lost the ball, the midfield looked so static that Milan inadvertently found themselves losing out on the counter attacks.

Where Allegri scored was when all his so called insane experiments transformed into a blessing in disguise. After trying out all the ingredients, he finally found the right mix and that’s when the 4-3-1-2 was born. He was quick to figure that playing Pirlo and Seedorf together was like mixing Wine with an expired Cola. Due to the Lack of pace in the midfield, Rino, out of his passion, starting going forward to make something happen. His age did not allow him to track back and that caused  the lackluster performance by the defense line.

The 4-3-1-2 strengthened the midfield and Rino recaptured his lost effectiveness. Kevin Prince Boateng has been the find of the season and has excelled in each and every position which he has been offered. With this formation Ibrahimovic has been given the freedom which he missed at Barcelona and his chemistry with Robinho and the Prince has allowed him to score goals and also hold the ball for others to chip in.

The Phase Out

Courage is something that you need to keep a player like Ronaldinho out of the team. Carlito and Leo did not have it in them to go against Silvio Berlusconi as R80 was his favourite. On the other hand Allegri has never managed a team as big as Milan and it was pretty amateur to hope that he would throw the Brazillian out of the scheme of things. This would have led to a lot of bad mouthing as Ronnie is still considered as a legend by Milan faithfuls and the Club owners would not have liked this kind of a controversy just at the starting of Allegri’s tenure. Moreover had Milan lost a couple of matches when R80 was left out, who knows what Silvio would have done considering his disturbed state of mind.

CHICAGO - MAY 30: Ronaldinho #80 of AC Milan waves to the crowd as he is taken out of the match in the second half while taking on the Chicago Fire during an international friendly at Toyota Park on May 30, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
R80 – not in Allegri’s scheme of things?

Allegri gave him a lot of chances and when things were not working out, he gradually started using other options. That’s when Seedorf was played as an attacking mideo. Many termed it as a blunder but again one cannot dispose R80 and Seedorf, a Milan legend, at the same time. This was a master stroke and it turned into gold. Its quite evident that Ronaldinho’s days at Milan are numbered. Allegri can try to avoid insulting the former world player of the year by bringing him on the field in injury time but maybe he wants to extract the full out of R80 before he leaves. Max at his very best.

The Reincarnation

Rino, a guy who wears his heart on the sleeve of the Rossoneri jersey was down and out. He had been mediocre since the past year or so and the Tifosi were on his neck asking him to hang up his boots. He has been given a new lease of life by Allegri. It does not take rocket science to figure out that Rino is not in the team for his passing abilities. He is there to break play, track back and follow the opposition till death. He is not growing any younger, so Max has given him support by making Abate run in tandem with the Italian. As a result both these players are seen following and man marking a single soul. This has given enough exposure to the young Abate and his defensive abilities have nurtured whilst playing with the legendary Italian. He still has a lot to learn though and by including him in the starting lineup, Max has instilled confidence in the fullback to play for a club as big as Milan.

CHICAGO - MAY 30: Ignazio Abate #20 of AC Milan rolls the ball up in his jersey while taking on the Chicago Fire during an international friendly at Toyota Park on May 30, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Maxx Wolfson/Getty Images)
Ignazio Abate – Allegri’s man friday

Flamini after being ignored for the past season was all set to leave the San Siro, but he has been assured of a starting place as Milan look to get rid of Seedorf. It was unfortunate that he got injured again, otherwise Milan could have ended 2010 with more than 36 points.

The Rossoneri are on the right track and hopes from the winter transfer window are at an all time high. Antonio Cassano will be seen sporting the red n black after the winter break. This move will give some depth to the Milan squad and give rise to a whole new dilemma when Pato returns. This has been a tale of revival for the Diavolo and this saga will continue to flourish with Allegri at the helm.

17 Responses to “AC Milan’s Corner: The Big “MAX” Turnaround”

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  1. prakhar says:

    Great stuff.

  2. Parth Pandya says:

    Nice piece. Definitely Allegri has done a job worth a notice. His rise has though has been coincided with an undeniable fall of the city rivals which has made his life more comfortable sitting in the hot seat offered by Berlusconi and Galliani.

    I most certainly do not happen to agree with the Gattuso part. I am one of the biggest fans of Rino and will always be thankful for what he has done for Milan and Italy. But I think his time is up now, that said, I do not indicate he needs to hang up his boots. His experience counts for much and he thickens the squad with his presence. But it’s time both he and Ambrosini stop being considered in the prime scheme of things.

    Both lack pace and momentum to track back and drop deep enough to provide cover for full backs – an area of highest concern for the team. The two positions on the Left and Right side of the midfield should be reserved for Flamini and Boetang respectively – two players with the maximum work rate in the present squad.

    Milan have a happy headache to have in the trequartista position as they have a luxury to choose from Seedorf, Ronnie and a prospective inclusion Antonio Cassano. Assuming Ronnie stays, with proper rotation in this position, Allegri can produce maximum results.

    Strasser and Merkel are proper covers to the first choice midfielders and can gradually reach to the potential to start the big games. Important thing is Allegri keeps rotating squad in a way no one is ostracized and at the same time the hard found harmony remains undisturbed.

    It is in best interest of legends like Ambrosini and Gattuso to play a role that another living legend Del Piero performs at Juventus. Both can make their presence felt by playing a stellar role in situations when a lead is to be defended.

    Things look more better than worse for the moment but this squad has to deliver in Europe. Spurs will be the first Acid test and things will get more and more difficult from then on. It will be interesting to see how potent Allegri’s men are when contesting at the highest level.

  3. @Parth.. Disagree on Rino.. considering that Seedorf surely has to leave and Ronnie is surely out its not possible to just leave these legends out of the squad at one go. What does the manager want to be- a makeover king??
    True that Merkel and Strasser are possible replacements but if Milan starts dropping points with these replacements then Allegri might even get killed..So if you look at the bigger picture its highly unlikely that the boys will be tried in the first team. Allegri is on the path that leads to Scudetto. I don’t think he would make wholesale changes.
    and back to Rino, I feel he has the biggest responsibility of Sobering down Cassano on and off the feild. By himself he is a liability but with Abate around he is a handful..

  4. Purushotham says:

    being a rossonero myself,i have been lovin this transition…

    but the big question remains: When will Allegri start playing the youngsters?? Strasser, Merkel, Verdi,montelongo,Odumadi???

    To me the real acid test would be Gareth Bale and Spurs come this Feb.

  5. Purushotham says:

    Come Jan, Milan will have Flamini,Thiago, Pato and Rino back from injuries…. certainly sets the tone for an exciting final 5 months in the Serie A….

  6. mojojojo says:


    Ambro has been in good form imo apart from from a handful of games he has been hands down best performer in our midfield

  7. mojojojo says:


    our primavera squad isn’t as good as last year atm strasser, verdi, merkel and fosatti are very much important for the primavera side on the contrary our midfield bench strength is far more one can only hope to see them playing in coppa games

  8. mojojojo says:


    My only complain from Allegri is “late substitutions” even Leonardo used to substitute players earlier than him 😛

  9. Purushotham says:

    @mojojojo: agreed. but allegri could have played them in the final CL game v Ajax,or even against Brescia…then again i guess its only my opinion…

  10. Paul says:

    Allegri will neva try the liks of merkels and strassers!! they r nt worth 2 b included in a Milan line-up. he has don a gr8 job and Milan will win the league. dunno about Spurs and bale though:P

  11. Arvind says:

    I think the biggest reason for rise of AC Milan has been a Spaniard named Rafael Benitez. While Milan has improved from last season, the reason why they are on top is that Inter fell off the cliff under Rafa. So instead of watching the cross-town rivals fight to the finish for the scudetto, the race is all but over (thanks to Ranieri for keeping the interest alive).

  12. redNblack_blood says:

    @nick.. “Scudetto seems more or less secured” really??? we still have to play 2 crucial away games i.e at Turin and Rome.. i would hold onto my horses for the time being… its going to be a close one as far as i see it.. JuBe is looking good, they might give us a few more jitters..

    p.s. loving what the fat goblin did to Inter :)

  13. Purushotham says:

    quote: loving what the fat goblin did to inter :) unquote

    look who’s now at Inter :(… leo a confessed rossoneri… biggest wtf moment for me as a milan fan….

  14. @redNblack_blood:.. Well if you must know.. “more or less” signifies “uncertainty”.. I am not really sure why there is a disconnect.
    Anyways Milan was fielding the 4-3-3 when they last played Juve and it was certainly not the right scheme. The revival started when we played Bari and beat them 2-3 and since then Milan has been on top of their game.
    @Purushotham: It is indeed.. after being associated with Milan for such a long time, its disgusting to say the least
    P.S- Lamela is almost a Rossoneri:))))