Milanisti were not always pessimistic by nature. Those old of us to remember a club that was on the brink of bankruptcy had within a few years of Silvio Berlusconi’s reign become the dominant force in world football, to this day arguably the greatest team there has ever been in the sport. We also learned from watching neighbours Inter that the influx of Chinese cash doesn’t necessarily promise success.
The mood among fans is mixed at the moment. There’s no doubt that signing star names like Andre Silva, Mateo Musacchio, Franck Kessie and Ricardo Rodriguez in the space of a fortnight is earth-shattering – and the summer has only just begun. Andrea Conti seems determined to push through the move from Atalanta, too, and Mino Raiola is fast losing contenders for Gianluigi Donnarumma with which to threaten the club hierarchy.
The elements are all there for us to dream and dream big, but there’s that nagging voice at the back of some minds: is all this just too good to be true?
With the repeated delays in the takeover, question marks over Yonghong Li’s actual financial clout and the involvement of a US hedge fund to push the deal through, one can be forgiven for feeling a little uncertain. The Financial Fair Play plan presented to UEFA had to be withdrawn and redesigned for an October deadline, adding to concerns over how all these huge transfers are being funded.
There’s more to it than that, though. As we saw with Inter, a selection of great players does not necessarily make a great team. Vincenzo Montella might not have Berlusconi breathing down his neck with unwanted tactical suggestions anymore, but he’s still a long way from a Coach with proven abilities to challenge for the top three. He hasn’t particularly worked with big egos before and the chronic lack of transfer funds last season made a measly sixth place seem like something to celebrate. How will Montella and Milan deal with the pressure of expectation that inevitably comes with an improved squad?
At least Massimiliano Mirabelli and Marco Fassone are getting most of their moves in early, giving the sense that they’re following a blueprint of a team rather than just throwing a bunch of available players at the Coach – again, naming no Inters. Montella will have time to work with them from the start of pre-season, which is even more important when entering the preliminary Europa League rounds in July.
My concern is that the extent of the revamp means the side will take time to gel, and that’s something a club that spent this much money can ill-afford. How long before there’s talk of a more prestigious international manager getting ready to knock L’Aeroplanino off course?
We’ve suffered through years of austerity in which Adriano Galliani cobbled together a squad from loans, free agents, has-beens and never-weres. Perhaps all this is planned out and won’t just be coming from a ‘magic money tree’ that will disappear within a few months, plunging us into further despair. Maybe we can still believe in hope, after all. It’s an increasingly difficult message to resist, even for natural born pessimists like me.
So let’s give this new Diavolo the benefit of the doubt and see where it takes us.