Following Carlo Ancelotti's departure to Chelsea, AC Milan is a club searching for its dominating identity again and club president Silvio Berlusconi believes he has found the solution in new manager Massimiliano Allegri.'We got him because he's a maestro,' said Berlusconi, who is also happens to be Italy's prime minister.
Allegri has been the Italian coach of the year for the past two years running, coaching unfancied Serie A side Cagliari. Aged 42, this marks the first time he is coaching a major European powerhouse, or for that matter a major club in Italy, seven years after beginning his career in Italy's fourth division.
That is in sharp contrast to Leonardo, last years coach and former Milan player who took up the task as his managerial debut, following Ancelotti's eight year reign. Leonardo eventually left by mutual agreement after the last season following a series of disagreements with Berlusconi. In a season plagued by injuries to big stars at crucial moments, the Rossoneri finished third, 12 points adrift of city rival Inter Milan, who won their fifth consecutive title, and later the Champions League. Still, third was good enough to qualify Milan directly into the Champions League group phase.
"Apart from some lucky people who start at the top, usually you have to work your way up from the bottom," Allegri said. "I consider myself lucky, A lot of coaches don't get a chance like this."
With gifted players like Alexandre Pato, Ronaldinho and Marco Borriello, Milan's attack possesses plenty of potential. Coincidentally, all three forwards were excluded from their country's World Cup squads and appear motivated as a result.
There were no big sales for Milan in the current transfer window, but they did acquire four new players, all of whom can make valuable contributions to strengthening the side, goalkeeper Marco Amelia, defenders Mario Yepes and Sokratis Papastathopoulos from Chievo and AEK Athens. They've also acquired Ghanian midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng, who they got on loan from Genoa (where he moved from Championship side Portsmouth). Boateng, whose tackle on Michael Ballack resulted in the German captain missing the world cup, has generated the most attention.
Milan is also hoping to see more of United States defender Oguchi Onyewu, who had a good world cup, but missed nearly all of last season after tearing his left patellar tendon.
Midfielder Andrea Pirlo also missed most of Italy's short World Cup run with a left calf injury and is still regaining his form. Despite transfer rumors surrounding Gennaro Gattuso, the player decided to stay with Allegri, who he played with at Perugia way back in 1996-97.
While Allegri would be glad to be linked with Gattuso again, he will have to get accustomed to Berlusconi, who reiterated his preference for two strikers at all times, when he visited the opening pre season training session, saying thats what pleases the fans. "I like Berlusconi because he's very direct," Allegri said. He is also pleased with the resources he has and believes that a lot can be moulded out of the present lot of players with great capability and skill.