Many wondered what Milan were getting out of the deal when they handed Antonio Cassano plus €7.5m cash to Inter in exchange for Giampaolo Pazzini. He had scored only five times throughout all of last season, beaten only by Diego Forlan in the number of open goals missed, and only ever really shone at Sampdoria. The 3-1 win at Bologna showed precisely what the Rossoneri were getting – a Pippo Inzaghi style poacher.
SuperPippo was beloved by Milan fans and mocked by everyone else for his lack of technique, style, ability to stay on his feet, grace or understanding of the offside trap. The reason the supporters adored him was that if they needed a scrappy goal to turn the tide of a difficult game, then he was your man.
Pazzini’s hat-trick at the Dall’Ara was pure Inzaghi from start to finish. He earned and converted a ludicrous penalty in which he was clearly the one pulling Niccolò Cherubin’s jersey, falling only when he let go. Pazzo was then at the right place at the right time, firing in when goalkeeper Federico Agliardi fumbled a simple cross. Finally, he did the classic Pippo trick of turning someone else’s shot into his moment of glory, redirecting Antonio Nocerino’s effort with his heel. It wasn’t pretty, but my word it was effective.
Perhaps this is what Milan needed after a year of Zlatan Ibrahimovic attempting to score from every inconceivable angle and Robinho running into some sort of anti-goal forcefield in the six-yard box. Like Inzaghi, Pazzini will at times be frustrating and even annoying, but if he can stay in love with the goal, then it'll pay off. Nigel De Jong also reinforces the midfield, but let us not get ahead of ourselves and think this team is worthy of a Scudetto challenge. The weaknesses in defence remain and by the looks of it the injury crisis has not been solved either. I agree with Massimiliano Allegri that the best he can do with the side at his disposal is aim for the top three in Serie A and progress to the Champions League knockouts.
My only worry is that one day a teammate will go to hug Pazzini during his trademark goal celebration and he’ll accidentally poke his eyes out.