New Football FanCast columnist Derek Gaffney looks at how Leonardo has turned it around at AC Milan.
After it was announced yesterday the David Beckham would be returning to Milan in January it seems that the regime under Leonardo has gained full momentum!
The season had begun in a post Kaka and Carlo Ancelotti hangover with the club struggling to gain any form despite winning the opening fixture of the campaign.
Fans had become impatient and on the back of two draws in Serie A (Italian domestic top flight), fans followed this up by questioning the appointment of a former Rossoneri legend, Leonardo.
It went from bad to worse as only 4 minutes into the vital home fixture against AS Roma at the San Siro when Milan trailed to a well worked fourth minute opener, the crowd at the game had seen enough and begun to vent their anger verbally.
What happened at half-time must have included several inspiring words from Leonardo as Milan came back to win the game 2-1 with Ronaldinho showing glimpses of his former self.
Surely this was the start of good things to come?
The problem was Milan had to face arguably the most difficult fixture of the season so far next. Away in the Champions League to the expensively assembled Real Madrid in the Santiago Bernabeu (Madrid’s stadium) and when Dida decided to gift Madrid an early lead the result against AS Roma was looking slightly flash in the pan.
Yet again the half-time break showed a resurgent Rossoneri (Milan’s nickname) and Milan stormed the second half and played some attack minded flowing football to boot with Clarence Seedorf, Andrea Pirlo and Alex Pato a joy to watch. (Though surprisingly it seemed Jamie Redknapp had never seen Pato play before)
Milan were on a roll and have since added a Alessandro Nesta late show double win against Chievo and should have taken all three points away to Napoli after holding a 2-0 lead heading into injury time.
You had to watch it to believe it!
An easy stroll against newly promoted Parma with a Marco Borriello double has seen Milan move up to fourth in Serie A and hopefully this could be the return of the european giant under the stewardship of Leonardo.
The addition in January of next year of Beckham (pictured below) will hopefully have the same impact as his arrival last year to the team and as the team slowly adjust to playing 4-3-3 after several years under Ancelotti playing the 4-4-2 diamond formation he now employs at Chelsea, the return to the trophy winning years could be just around the corner for the Rossoneri.
Time as I always say will tell but many positive signs are backing up the return to the good times. The squad have the utmost respect for Leonardo and have now adapted to his methods.
Several key players namely Ronaldinho, Seedorf and Pirlo are beginning to pull the strings and will only get better as the season goes on plus the return from injury of Reno Gattuso will help any major team.
Some tough fixtures face Milan in the coming weeks including the return fixture in the Champions League group stages against Madrid and a tough away fixture against SS Lazio this coming weekend.
But Leonardo has his troops focused and this next couple of weeks could really define a trophy expectant season for a club who only a month ago faced the prospect of an extremely tough and long season of failure.
Good luck Leonardo and hopefully he can guide the Rossoneri to success.