Milan’s quest to repeat as champions of Serie A fell short due to a number of reasons, in particular the injuries which affected the squad and the demands of European football which drained the players.
The Rossoneri must address the following key concerns in order to be successful next season in Italy and Europe:
a) Ibrahimovic Factor: Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been in fine form since his move from Barcelona prior to the beginning of last season. The fact the Rossoneri appear to be too dependent on his scoring and performances is another testament to his talent. However, depending too much on the Swedish star’s scoring and skills means teams can counter Milan by focusing on the temperamental striker.
b) Ineffective Attackers: Robinho scored a disappointing total of 6 goals in 29 matches in Serie A. That is unacceptable when talking about a forward who plays for a team competing for the championship. Antonio Cassano managed 3 goals before he was sidelined following the heart procedure. Cassano still managed to provide his teammates with 9 assists in just 15 matches played in the Italian league. The Rossoneri must sign an attacker who can take off some of the pressure from Ibrahimovic.
c) Alexandre Pato: The Brazilian striker has played in only 11 league matches this season. In the last three years, Pato has played in just 59 out of a possible 114 league games. Please refer to this article on Pato written back in March 2012.
d) Squad Quality: Milan might have a big squad but many of the bench players are either past their best or they have been mediocre in recent years. The Rossoneri must focus on getting quality players as opposed to just signing or keeping players to maintain a bigger squad.
e) Defenders: The defensive line is in need of reinforcements, in particular younger and upcoming quality defenders. Some of the veterans must be replaced as Gianluca Zambrotta and Mario Yepes can no longer perform at a high level on a consistent basis. Even the once reliable Alessandra Nesta can no longer be counted upon to perform consistently in both Serie A and the Champions League. At 36, Nesta is nearing the end of his career and he has managed to feature in just 16 league matches this season.
f) Veterans: The Rossoneri can be considered as one of Italy’s and Europe’s most experienced teams yet with savvy veterans comes old age and a number of concerns such as fitness and injury doubts. Gennaro Gattuso barely played, featuring in just 5 league matches, while Clarence Seedorf and Massimo Ambrosini played in just 18 and 22 Serie A games respectively.
Milan must sign a proven scorer and add some quality defenders as well as some talented midfielders to replace the older players such as Mark Van Bommel, Filippo Inzaghi, Yepes and Zambrotta who are all well into their 30s. Without taking the necessary steps to support Ibrahimovic and adding younger, promising and skilled players, the Rossoneri will struggle to meet next season’s challenges in Italy and Europe.