Sadly familiar headlines floated around the peninsula after another disappointing week in Milan’s 2014-15 concluded following a 1-0 loss to Atalanta. The Rossoneri displayed their mental fragility with a defeat despite dominating most facets of the game. Once again, a ‘provincial’ side managed to beat the great Milan, who are looking more pedestrian with each passing result.
The headlines? Reports of ‘crisis meetings’, with CEO Adriano Galliani visiting the first team before the first - and certainly not last - ‘summit’ of 2015 at President Silvio Berlusconi’s Arcore household with Coach Filippo Inzaghi, reminiscent of the discussions that took place prior to Clarence Seedorf’s dismissal and Massimiliano Allegri’s before that.
These panicked sessions, the tactic-by-committee focus groups, are symbolic of both the growing inability of the club to affect real change with its failing football team other than in-match gripes had over risotto and wine, and the outdated perception of Milan from its ownership – that losses against Atalanta and Sassuolo are shocking enough to hastily toss around terms like ‘crisis’.
The crisis has already happened - this is just further fallout. That Milan are falling to better prepared teams, regardless of prestige, appears to be surprising no-one except the people who it should faze least – Galliani and Berlusconi.
The President’s rage was almost laughable, reportedly thundering: “It is unacceptable to lose to teams with wages five times less than ours.” Is it not more unacceptable that Milan’s wage bill is so high for players of such low quality? Or how about we examine how ‘unacceptable’ the disparity is between Silvio Berlusconi’s worth and Milan’s market expenditure? An alleged €4m January budget for a team whose big midfield addition is the fitness of on-loan Chelsea reserve Marco van Ginkel is the part that is tough to take. The budget being set by a man worth an estimated €9bn is even tougher.
Meanwhile, Berlusconi references the lack of Champions League football for the financial black-hole, hoping daughter Barbara’s continual efforts in moving Milan toward a new stadium and sustainable growth draws closer on the horizon, despite doing little to aid it.
That Silvio was reluctant to move away from San Siro despite its draining effect on club resources is another example of the stagnant nostalgia that prevents progress. The 2012 sales of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva among the departure of key veterans who were poorly replaced have taken the heart away from the club, now a devil without a soul. Perhaps the next big sale should of the club itself, if non-existent investment is a continuing factor.
Meanwhile, judgements are passed on the efforts of rookie Coach Inzaghi, who after a positive finish to 2014 is, rather unsurprisingly, looking like the beginner tactician he is. Rumours of secret meetings with Luciano Spalletti are undermining Press reports that were prevalent during the dog days of Seedorf, and Allegri before him.
The idea that a simple change of Coach is enough to propel Milan back to glory is a preposterous notion - Arrigo Sacchi himself would struggle to produce results when the Rossoneri are relying on the ghost of Michael Essien in midfield while Daniele Bonera - now injured – is considered a telling loss to the team’s defensive organisation, if there was any to begin with.
With immediate improvement against Lazio ‘expected’ by management, a rousing chorus from Berlusconi to the squad before the match-up against the Biancocelesti should be expected. Sadly, the only boost Milan fans will receive from any announcement their President makes now will be a speech that begins with: “I have decided to sell Milan.”