Milan defeated fallen giants Juventus 3-0 in a match with no consequence to the Serie A title race yet it served as the proper farewell for coach Leonardo who managed to do well despite the lack of depth in the squad and the limited resources.
The Rossoneri only spent on Klaas-Jan Huntelaar who turned out to be a flop and was unimpressive forcing Leonardo to confine the Dutchman to the bench and use Alexandre Pato and Marco Borriello as his starting duo in attack. Unfortunately injuries had a negative effect on Milan’s season with Pato missing a chunk of the season due to injury along with centre-back Alessandro Nesta who has been sorely missed in recent weeks.
The lack of alternatives to both Pato and Nesta meant the Rossoneri had no chance to compete for the Serie A title and this was evident as the club’s progress was halted in recent weeks with defeats against both Sampdoria and Palermo. Defeating Juve is always a positive thing and a welcome sign but the current Bianconeri players are a shadow of the feared side in the mid 1990s and early 2000s.
Leonardo proved he can remain calm and make the right decisions despite the tremendous pressure heaped upon him and the constant criticism from president Silvio Berlusconi. The tifosi gave the Brazilian coach a tremendous farewell as they chanted his name and held banners to thank him for his efforts. Milan’s management has committed a big mistake by letting the Brazilian leave as he has been part of the club for over a decade in multiple roles and has helped bring in some of the brighter Brazilian talent to Milanello. With every Milan defeat one could see how that affected Leonardo who would cheer on with every goal scored by the Rossoneri throughout the season.
Milan will also need to replace not just the outgoing coach but also some of the veterans who are nearing retirement and must address the status of Huntelaar. The Dutchman will be best served if he is sold and that can bring in some much needed funds which can be used to bring another quality attacker who can hopefully adapt to life with the Rossoneri and meet expectations. The Rossoneri are in desperate need of at least one full-back considering Gianluca Zambrotta and Massimo Oddo are no longer capable of properly fulfilling their role in that position.
In midfield Gennaro Gattuso must be replaced and it is clear Frenchman Mathieu Flamini is not the ideal solution so the club ought to bring in a defensive midfielder to reinforce the squad. Finally, the biggest concern will be the status of Brazilian duo Pato and Ronaldinho. Pato has been linked with a move to the England Premier League while Ronaldinho has had his best season in Serie A and was one of the key players behind Milan’s ability to end the season in third place. Ronaldinho will finish the season as Serie A’s top assist man and has managed to find the net four times in two matches against the Bianconeri. He showed flashes of brilliance in several matches this season and while he has yet to return to his Barcelona form, the Brazilian managed to end the season on a high and produced a series of convincing performances during this campaign which merited a recall to the Brazilian squad headed to South Africa 2010.
The summer will be a crucial period for the club to make the necessary adjustments and bring in a qualified coach. The rumours point to either Mauro Tassotti or Filippo Galli taking over and while this means the Rossoneri will look for their former players to lead the line, this move might backfire as not every former player can become a decent coach.