Milan first sought to build their future with Clarence Seedorf. As ill-advised as the appointment seemed, the Dutchman did manage to do himself credit. But with the club’s management increasingly reported as in two minds about his suitability, his reign grew untenable, until it was terminated on Monday. By then cast out, it’s difficult to fathom how acrimonious the split has become with the club legend.
None of this seems to have deterred Filippo Inzaghi, who replaces Seedorf in the dugout. Two years after bidding farewell as a player, the former striker will now get a first-hand taste of the crushing pressure at Via Turati. The 40-year-old faces a thankless job laden with brutal expectations. Little on Inzaghi’s CV, apart from a spell in charge of the Primavera, conventionally suggests that he is ready for the undertaking.
A good place to start for a young Coach immediately thrown in at the deep end - a formula that ultimately ended with Seedorf’s demise - is to rectify his predecessor’s shortcomings. Seedorf was a clever man, albeit not a practical choice steering a dressing room of egos that needed cutting down to size. His tactics and coaching methods, including some whimsical training and pre-match routines, quickly wore out their welcome within the squad.
The onus is on Inzaghi, once noted for his larger-than-life personality during his playing days, to become the stabilising figure his club needs. Starting out with a receptive head will reinforce his standing amongst his new charges, while being assured enough not to be swayed by the tactical fads usually served up by President Silvio Berlusconi will be key. But judging from all indications, Inzaghi’s appointment is already proving to be an endlessly more popular one.
What may help further establish the Rossoneri as the surprise package of next season are the club’s semi-significant transfer dealings. Where once Massimiliano Allegri and Seedorf had to work constant miracles with squads that were bare to the bones, Super Pippo can actually count on some technical depth. Though big money additions are non-existent commodities these days, Milan have worked behind the scenes to acquire some shrewd bargains.
Adriano Galliani’s solid if unspectacular imports may not capture the imagination, but they can serve to close the gap with Italy’s top outfits. Amongst the most crucial is Alex to fulfill a prime need at the back. The former Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain stopper is fittingly nicknamed The Tank, and brings crucial international experience to shore up the backline.
Jeremy Menez, Alex’s teammate at Parc des Princes, also arrives to have a second crack at Serie A. Inzaghi’s input was apparently vital to bringing the winger to Milanello, after he met the free-agent to persuade him of the move. Periodically moody and troubled, the former Roma reject’s flair nevertheless makes him worth Milan’s trouble. Featured on one wing, and with the returning Stephan El Shaarawy on the other, the club have the makings to become heavyweights upfront again.
Using foresight and careful planning, Milan can emerge greater than the sum of her parts. There is optimism that Adil Rami and Adel Taarabt will soon finalise their stints at the club, after the pair of January loan reinforcements proved they are of the required calibre to star at San Siro.
There could be more about this side than meets the eye. Milan are presented the opportunity to build some momentum next term, working the element of surprise to their favour for an assault on the European berths. With the spine of the team last seen starting to exhibit a form of competitiveness and mental resilience again, Inzaghi could just be the man to finish the revival Seedorf begun.