Sam Lewis Date:26th April 2011 at 11:09am
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A.C Milan are on the verge on clinching their 18th Scudetto, a statement that can now be uttered (albeit quietly) without fear of jinxing anything, as Massimiliano Allegri’s men secured 3 points at Brescia that sees them go 8 points ahead of second placed Inter.

It has been a long, surprising season this year in the peninsula, full of shocks, ranging from Antonio Cassano’s latest and most violent fall out with Garrone at Sampdoria, and Udinese’s turn around from mid table hopefuls to mini Barcelona, shooting up the table like house prices, and playing sumptuous football in the process.

There have been downfalls, notably  Inter’s season long treble hangover, joining the latest disappointment for Juventus fans, as the Bianconeri head for a second season in mid table mediocrity.

It has been a season of change for many, but the one constant this season has been the Rossoneri’s presence at the top of the Serie A table, peering down at the action beneath them, a position rarely occupied by Il Diavolo, their dry run trophy wise comparable with the great Arsenal drought, nearly 5 years ago since Milanistas celebrated the World Club Cup victory following 2007’s Champions League success.

So it is all the more notable, that the Rossoneri have held onto the top spot for such a long time without relinquishing it, not even once, not even briefly.

It has been season of unbridled domestic success thus far, that sees Milan sit top with the best defence in the league, the joint best attack, and 3 forwards in the top 10 Serie A goalscorers this season (Robinho, Pato and Zlatan Ibrahimovic)

So who have the central figures behind Il Diavolo’s rise to the top this year? There have been numerous, and here just a few:

The Brains: Massimiliano Allegri

The tactician hailing from Livorno has been instrumental in turning the Rossoneri from aged veterans into Scudetto favourites thanks to his tactical nous and his ability to make tough decisions. After Leonardo, Milan’s former Manager, was unable to provide Milan with the grit and fight to grind out results like Mourinho’s Inter, nor the defensive stability  to hold onto them, Milan needed a new tactical direction to lead a  Scudetto charge, and found it in the former Cagliari coach.

Since Allegri’s appointment, the Rossoneri have looked a different side, his favoured 4-3-1-2 allowing Milan to stretch the opposition thanks to the  introduction of a traditional “number 10” behind the strikers, occupied by a combination of Kevin Prince Boateng or Robinho, allowing Il Diavolo to connect midfield and attack with more fluidity than the traditional 4-3-3 allows.

In addition, the reintroduction of Rino Gattuso after his isolated season under Leonardo has added bite to the Milan midfield,  allowing the more creative players to head into advanced positions, knowing that cover is provided.

A steely midfield has been a hallmark of Allegri this year, the January purchase of Dutch Destroyer Mark Van Bommel has given the Rossoneri a new dynamic in the middle, the fomer Barcelona player having both great passing abilities as well as his notorious penchant for the tackle.

Combine this with Allegri’s decision to leave Ronaldinho out of his side despite the Brazilians reputation and wage packet, showed a sign of strength and authority that many Milanista’s did not think Allegri possessed.
Milan head towards their 18th Scudetto, and Il Mister has a lot to do with it.

The Funds: Adriano Galliani

“Uncle Fester” as he is affectionately known, is famed for his wild celebrations whenever his beloved Milan hit the back of the net, and has been Silvio Berlusconi’s right hand man since the Italian Prime Minister first took over the Red Side of San Siro in 1986.

He is Milan’s transfer guru, and the man responsible for Milan’s inspired transfer period, which saw them lay dormant for much of the summer, before bringing Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robinho in the dying days of August, and then in January, brought in the aforementioned Van Bommel for free along with fellow Dutchman Urby Emanuelson from Ajax, Juventus bench-warmer Nicola Leggrotaglie, youth prospect Didac Vila, as well as the jewel of the Azzurri Antonio Cassano.

These buys came in as Milan were staring down the barrel of an injury crisis, and have bolstered the squad sufficiently to stave off Inter and Napoli, and allow them to hold onto the top spot for so long, despite many of Milan’s key players spending a lot of time on treatment table, including Andrea Pirlo, as well as the latest installment of the continued battle between Alex Pato and his legs insistence to stop working at various points in the year.

As a result, the embodied spirit of Moggi lives on in Galliani, and Milanista’s everywhere will be thankful.

The Inspiration: Zlatan Ibrahimovic

20 Goals and 15 Assists. The figures don’t tell half the story behind the mercurial Swede’s impact since his arrival at Milanello, but the fact that if Milan win the Serie A title this year, “Ibra” will have secured his 8th successive title at 5 clubs(Ajax, Juventus, Inter, Barcelona and Milan).

A truly magnificent record for a astonishingly talented forward, who despite receiving his fair share of criticism for his attitude and apparent inability to deliver in high pressure situations, has continued to provide the difference for club after club throughout his career, and the Rossoneri are no exception, Zlatan netting important and spectacular goals in equal measure, ranging from his derby winning penalty in November, to his wonderful volley against Lecce and his overhead kick against Fiorentina.

Wherever Milan have been successful this season, Zlatan has usually been on the scoresheet. And as Milan lead the way towards domestic success, it has been Zlatan Ibrahimovic who has been consistently providing the moments of brilliance for Il Diavolo.
24 Million? Worth every penny.

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