Milan’s season began with a bold proclamation. Owner Silvio Berlusconi told Ronaldinho that, with Kaka gone, it was up to him to lead the team and reclaim his status as best player in the world. While he isn’t quite there yet, the Brazilian has reversed two years of decline to become an integral part of the Rossoneri.
Much of the credit must go to the man who replaced Carlo Ancelotti at the helm of the club: Leonardo. Many were sceptical when Milan opted for a ‘boot-room’ appointment – the ex-Milan midfielder had served as a scout and executive, but had no experience as a coach.
After a bumpy start to the season – three wins from their first eight outings – they picked up, but they've not won in the last three, including a 2-0 defeat to rivals Internazionale. Milan are subsequently third in Serie A, 11 points behind leaders Inter and two adrift of second-placed Roma, but with a game in hand on both teams.
As an ‘insider’, Leonardo has tried to maintain the continuity of the Ancelotti regime while providing some much-needed tweaks. The result is a veteran side that looks familiar in many ways but which, due to Kaka’s departure, is no longer as reliant on one superstar. Like his predecessor, Leonardo is open to changing formations, but his preferred option is 4-3-3: a formation made possible by the fact that, in Marco Borriello, the club now have a genuine target-man leading the line – something they haven’t had since the days of Oliver Bierhoff a decade ago.
Borriello would be the first to tell you he’s not a superstar. But he is, nevertheless, very important to Milan. After a career marred by injury, he's finally seized his opportunity. Borriello is usually flanked by Ronaldinho and Pato. The former has lost a bit of pace and, while he can still beat defenders, usually lacks the acceleration to get away from them. Yet he’s still a threat at set-pieces and his ability to