Milan: Season Review 2012/13

Posted by Sumeet Paul

Stephan El Shaarawy GettyImagesStephan El Shaarawy

With Lazio's win over Roma in the Coppa Italia final on Sunday, another season in Italy draws to a close while a summer full of transfer speculation and Champions League qualifying preparation awaits Milan.

It was a campaign labelled as "Year Zero" in August last year, following on from that tearful day at San Siro in May.

From Pippo Inzaghi's goal-scoring elation, to the likes of Gennaro Gattuso and Alessandro Nesta bidding an emotional farewell to the Curva Sud, the misery was further compounded as the discontent grew following the sales of Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

- Inzaghi happy to coach Milan youth

In came loanees and cut-price replacements, with the early stages of the season suggesting little could be done to ease the fears amongst the supporters. Alexandre Pato was sold despite being tipped to make this his Milan, yet the Curva stood by their team as the Rossoneri embarked on a brave, yet risky, strategy to rely on youth to lead them forward.

Out stepped Stephan El Shaarawy from the shadows of his former illustrious team-mates to lead them through the first half of the season, while the January acquisition of Mario Balotelli ensured the job was completed.

In addition, Mattia De Sciglio was another shining light for supporters to relate to having come through the ranks to claim a place in the starting line-up. There were improvements and setbacks throughout, yet ultimately there is success in a season full of obstacles.

Player of the Season:
While El Shaarawy was a clear winner in your votes in my mid-season review, his struggles after the winter break see him fall short. Balotelli's goals and overall contribution were integral from January onwards, but perhaps a player who remained a constant for the most part of the season deserves this award.

Riccardo Montolivo was criticised in the early part of the year as his inability to lead by example in midfield contributed to the team's overall slump. Yet he grew into his leadership role as the season progressed, as his creativity and industry helped Milan turn their season around.

Game of the Season:
With regards to importance rather than entertainment, two games in particular stick out in memory. Trailing 2-0 in Naples, Milan hit back with a brace from El Shaarawy, which in effect kick-started their season.

They went on to defeat Juventus the following weekend, before losing just two more games the entire campaign. De Sciglio pinpointed this clash as his turning-point of the year, and with the Siena win aside this perhaps takes top spot.

Highlight of the Season:
There is still disappointment that Milan were never in the hunt for the Scudetto. However, considering the turmoil and instability that rocked them at the start of the campaign, finishing third was arguably the best they could have hoped for.

Not only is there a return to the Champions League, but the financial benefits that come with it ensure the club are in a much healthier position both on and off the field and further justifies their strategic decision-making last summer.

Areas of improvement:
Cristian Zapata has been signed on a permanent deal, while youngster Riccardo Saponara will join the club this summer. However, there is still a sense more must be done to strengthen both the defence and midfield, while a young protégée for Christian Abbiati to take under his wing may also be an option.

Overall Score:

7/10. Milan qualified for the Champions League, reduced their wage bill and took huge strides towards becoming a sustainable and profitable organisation. The squad is full of youth, and the club have a clear vision of where they want to go.

Confusion still reigns over the future of coach Massimiliano Allegri, although an answer is likely on Thursday following a meeting with Silvio Berlusconi and Adriano Galliani.

Nevertheless, it has been a successful season given the circumstances, but they still have much to improve upon next season in order to become title contenders and a genuine threat in Europe again.

How would you award the above? Share your thoughts and opinions on the season in general below.

For all the latest Milan and Serie A news, you can follow me on Twitter @italiafooty

ESPN Conversations