Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Milan’s future could lie with Inzaghi clones

July 26, 2012

By Phil O’Connor

Defenders in Italy breathed a sigh of relief this week as Filippo Inzaghi hung up his boots. The bad news for them is that his new challenge is to produce the next generation of Italian goal-hanging greats as AC Milan’s youth team coach. 

Inzaghi was the simplest of goal-poachers, with a bloodhound’s instinct for sniffing out a chance and the cobra-like reflexes to exploit it. He was neither a dribbler nor a passer, and his career-long battle with the offside rule reached ridiculous proportions at times, but his finishing ability was second to none.

Indeed, it’s worth asking if Inzaghi’s greatest talent is something that can be taught – and if it can, is it still required?

 The manic ability of “Pippo” to make run after run off the last defender – and fail repeatedly, only to finally get one right and score – is seldom seen in the modern game, and requires enormous mental and physical endurance.

Even if he can teach the next generation to shrug off linesmen’s decision as easily has he shrugged off defenders, it’s not certain that there will be a place for them in the modern game.

Spain’s successful defence of their European crown was based on a formation with no recognised centre-forward, much less an Inzaghi hanging so far forward.

Few teams have the embarrassment of riches that Spain possess in midfield, and with the wasteful Mario Balotelli up front and few options on the bench, Italy must have wished that Inzaghi was 10 years younger as they lost 4-0 to the Spaniards in the final.

At a time when AC Milan have sold top striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic to raise cash, Inzaghi’s conversion to coach couldn’t have come at a better time. If he can produce even one goal-poacher in his image, they might not miss him so much after all.

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