This is a story of a football team that once was an absolute giant. AC Milan were the poster child in Serie A and UEFA Champions League. It is shocking to see how a prodigy of a team has been dethroned from the elite stage. Almost a decade ago the Milan side was star-studded and regularly won silverware. The last 5 seasons were quite bad as they are no more regulars in the Champions League and they last won Serie A in 2010-2011 season. So what went wrong in there?
Milan was still a side to fear in the early 2000s but their aging core slowly stopped to deliver. As a result “The miracle of Istanbul” happened where Rafael Benitez’s Liverpool snatched the UCL trophy away from Carlo Ancelotti’s Milan. Though Milan won the 2007 UEFA Champions League by beating Liverpool they never really looked the same again. Many of the big names got transferred or decided to hang up their boots and that brought a huge impact on the team. Legends like Paolo Maldini, Kaka, Cafu, Alessandro Nesta, Andrea Pirlo, Clarence Seedorf, Gennaro Gattuso, Filippo Inzaghi, Andriy Shevchenko were quite influential and this sudden change of their absence created a huge void.
After the 2009-2010 season, Milan sacked their manager Leonardo and appointed Massimiliano Allegri. Allegri helped Milan to win the 2010-2011 Serie A title with a mediocre squad where he didn’t get much help from players apart from the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Massimo Ambrosini, Thiago Silva, and Kevin-Prince Boateng. But after that, it went downhill again. Milan brought Mario Balotelli and Kevin Constant to replace Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva who were sold to PSG that summer. But they failed to fill in their shoes. Season 2013-14 was the last time when they last played Champions league football and it doesn’t seem like that’s going to change next year.
Milan are drastically failing to consolidate a suitable project or implement any possible strategy to improve their playing style regardless of the manager at the helm. They have appointed 8 coaches till now and no one’s strategy or philosophy seemed to be working for them. The only exception was Gennaro Gattuso and if only winning percentage is the concern here then Vincenzo Montella also did a decent job and delivered the Supercoppa Italiana by beating Juventus which was Milan’s first and only silverware since 2011-12 season. Both Montella and Gattuso did deserve more time to deliver positive results. Instead of that, they had to go out the back door.
Money worries have also been a constant threat to Milan. Since Silvio Berlusconi left the hot seat after an incredible 25 years span, 3 different owners came and bought shares of the club but their fate hasn’t changed. Most of them were declared bankrupt and they couldn’t deal with the situation and they left. This whole scenario made the club financially unstable and furthermore whatever money they’ve got they splashed it on wrong players who weren’t nearly suitable for the club.
Lack of elite players in the squad brings negative impact and every time Milan tried to reinforce they failed to match up with the quality of the players that already left the club. On top of that elite players always attract and have huge impacts on young and growing talented players but here Milan failed to bring in quality and promising players who can help Milan to build on a project. These youngsters could help to build a core group of players like Arrigo Sacchi or Carlo Ancelotti had and they can eventually decide the club’s future in the long run.
Multiple bad campaigns in Serie A and a long absence from Champions league automatically decreased Milan’s chances of winning a silverware any time sooner. They haven’t been that successful in Coppa Italia either. Considering the post-Allegri era as a transition phase there is not any positive intent shown in the gameplay and it is only in regression. Only Gennaro Gattuso showed some signs of taking the club back to it’s glory days but with him gone now, Milan are slowly taking a step back again. Adding to their woes the absence of any prestigious silverware in the trophy cabinet generated debts for the Milan owners and sponsors and as a result, Adidas broke the deal and decided not to manufacture the historic Rossoneri kit again.
For a significant amount of time, Milan have no proper sports director or chairman to shape up the whole project and this cost a fortune. For the last 4 seasons, the club has been moving along a directionless project without any clue and this reflected on the football team’s performance. Arsenal’s former chief executive Ivan Gazidis was appointed as new Chairman on December 1, 2018, and a significant change in the result was noticed. Milan finished 5th in Serie A in the 2018-19 season which was their best result in the previous six seasons. But despite this, Milan missed the Champions League spot and the vicious cycle has started again. They find themselves in 11th position after 11 games in Serie A this season. Just not good enough,
AC Milan are so obsessed with trying to win silverware that they are chasing success without a proper plan. They are investing a ton of money on players who aren’t equipped to help them make a comeback as a bonafide giant of both Italian and European football. Now Milan are lacking a leader and a strong character both on the field and locker room. That’s evidently making them quite a shadow of their past glory. Once a ruler of both Italian football and European football “The Immortals” are nowhere near their past glory and they are slowly losing the stage and relevance completely.
Written by Dipankar Mazumder
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