Silvio Berlusconi's decision to sign Robinho from Manchester City for AC Milan at the 11th hour of the transfer window may well have inadvertently done Mano Menezes and Brazil's Selecao a huge favor. By allowing Robinho to play alongside compatriots Ronaldinho and Alexander Pato, Berlusconi's surprise move enables Robinho to garner much needed experience playing alongside Rossoneri star Pato, the 20 year old sensation who is likely to shoulder the weight of the Brazilian number 9 jersey. What role will Robinho play at the Rossoneri given its surfeit of attacking talent, now featuring recent acquisitions Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Kevin Prince Boateng? Is Robinho likely to warm the bench and trade places with Ronaldinho as a left sided winger? Or will coach Massimiliano Allegri play all of Berlusconi's cards by featuring an ultra-attacking formation 4-2-3-1 formation with Ronaldinho, Pato and Robinho sitting behind Ibrahimovic in the role of the target man and lone pure striker?
Rumor out of Milan has it that it’s unlikely we’ll rarely see the quartet of Dinho, Robinho, Pato and Ibrahimovic on the field at the same time, since 4 strikers would leave room for only 2 midfielders. And the Rossoneri is bursting with quality midfielders such as Massimo Ambrosini, Rino Gattuso, Clarence Seedorf, Mathieu Flamini and Kevin Prince Boateng. In AC Milan’s 4-0 victory against Lecce on August 29, Massimiliano Allegri retained former coach Leonardo’s 4-3-3 formation but opted for a tighter 4-3-3 that more closely resembled Milan under Arrigo Sacchi, with the midfield and attacking trios clustered more tightly in the central channel of the pitch in a formation that leaves less room for Seedorf and Ambrosini to stray from their original positions and expose room for attacking full backs from the opposition.
Ibrahimovic and Robinho debuted today in AC Milan’s shock 2-0 loss to freshly promoted Cesena. Robinho came on for Ronaldinho in the 56th minute but failed to impress as the Rossoneri encountered a frustrating night featuring a missed Ibrahimovic penalty in the 86th minute and 2 goals by Alexander Pato that were disallowed. Coach Massimiliano Allegri called for more hard work and sacrifice from the entire team and stressed the need for forwards to track back in defense.
Allegri remarked: "This loss will only help us, because it shows that games need to be won on the pitch, with sacrifice," he said. "It doesn't matter how many champions you have."
Robinho may do well to learn from Allegri's advice and follow in the footsteps of his compatriot Ronaldo, who claimed he learned to defend only when he came to Italy and "suffer for a result", as the famous Italian football phrase goes.