Monday August 6 2012
Allegri: 'Fascinating Milan challenge'

Massimiliano Allegri already said this would be ‘Year Zero’ for Milan, as “it’s the start of a fascinating challenge. Kaka? He can play in front of the defence!”

The Rossoneri are forced to adapt after seeing stars like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva, Alessandro Nesta, Clarence Seedorf and Gennaro Gattuso leave the club this summer.

“It is a special year, different from my first two,” the Coach told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“In a way it’s more exciting, as this is a team we want to see grow before our eyes. I can promise we’ll be appreciated and we’ll improve. It’ll be the start of a fascinating challenge.

“Our first objective is to remain among the top three in Italy and therefore qualify for the Champions League. In Europe our target is to get past the group phase, hopefully reaching the quarter-finals.”

Fans were furious at the depletion of the squad with Ibra and Thiago Silva sold to PSG just weeks after they were confirmed to stay at San Siro.

“It’s pointless looking back now,” sighed Allegri. “We will change our way of playing and look ahead. We all have more responsibility on our shoulders now. I do think the team will be reinforced, as a couple of players will arrive this summer.”

The big name on the horizon is Kaka, who could return just three years after his huge transfer to Real Madrid, but where will he fit into the tactics?

“Kaka? He can play in front of the defence, of course!” joked Allegri.

The US tour has been a success so far with back-to-back wins over Schalke, Chelsea and CD Olimpia.

“The team is working well, we’re not at the top of our game, but it’s not important to be there now. I am satisfied with the lads, their intensity, the way they are set out and approach football. We allowed little or nothing to Chelsea, the champions of Europe.

“This is a fundamental year for Alexandre Pato and Kevin-Prince Boateng. They have to take the definitive step up in quality and having more responsibility will be good for both of them.”

It will be tough to replace their top scorer, but Allegri has a plan for the post-Ibrahimovic era.

“Ibra makes the play very centralised, whereas now the football will be distributed in a different way,” explained the Coach.

“At the end of last season we had too many injuries and lost Thiago, while the Champions League elimination was a psychological blow. But that doesn’t mean we should’ve lost the Scudetto.

“Are Juventus set to dominate? Last year the papers said we were going to dominate, that it was a battle between Milan and Inter. Yet Juve emerged unbeaten, so, who knows?

“I think this’ll be a more balanced campaign, as Roma have improved, Napoli no longer have to worry about the Champions League and Andrea Stramaccioni has been doing good work with Inter.

“Juve are the favourites and made some good buys, but you never know.”

Among the players who left this summer, Gattuso was very critical of Allegri’s leadership skills and claimed there was “chaos” in the locker room.

“The rules were never destroyed,” assured the Coach. “In every locker room there are moments of tension, but it’s not as if in the Scudetto season we were all hugs and kisses. There are characters you need to be kind with and others who need to be thumped.”

See the latest Serie A predictions and betting tips with