After Carlo Ancelotti left to Chelsea in the summer, the AC Milan board took a chance with Leonardo, who played himself to legendary status amongst the Rossoneri fans in mid 90’s. On the pitch, Leonardo was one of the most intelligent players in his era, but he’s still unproven as a coach.
The AC Milan hot seat was probably the most unattractive one for the top coaches in the game, as the squad is very old, a laughing stock amongst football fans as “the old folks’ home for footballers”, so appointing Leonardo was probably the only right decision the board could make. Appointing a former player, who’s only recently retired worked for Barcelona with Josep Guardiola, so why not for Milan?
It all got off to the worst possible start, though. Milan didn’t win any of their 8 pre-season matches and they suffered a humiliating 0-4 defeat by rivals Inter in only the 2nd round of the new Serie A season. The last straw for Silvio Berlusconi and the rest of the blue suits at Milan was the 0-1 home defeat to FC Zurich in the Champions League and the disappointing 1-1 draw with Atalanta in the league. Leonardo was gives the dreaded vote of confidence and press speculated he had only 2 games to save his job – at home versus AS Roma and away versus Real Madrid.
You’d have to say the Brazilian legend has come through the test with flying colors. At the weekend, coming from behind, Milan beat Roma 2-1, with Ronaldinho showing glimpses of the genius he once was, something he never did under Ancelotti. And on Wednesday they managed to win the glamour match up with Real Madrid 3-2, where the awful 1st half of the match was like a tactical move to slumber the star strutted Madrid side, who struggled to over come the shock after Pirlo equalised the match 1-1.
It will be seen if these two great results will be the fundation of a successful era under Leonardo. To his luck, the Serie A this season looks to be like the most competitive one in recent seasons with Milan not far away from entering the title race. The win at Santiago Bernabeu blew the situation wide open in the Champions League group C, which Milan actually are now leading with 6 points. Lack of goals has been the main problem for AC Milan under Leonardo, but after hitting 3 past Casillas and nothing yet decided in neither competitions the Milan board and fans most want to win, his job is safe for now.