With just ten games left to play in the Serie A this season, Inter Milan are on the verge of winning the title. Should Inter hold their nerve and win the Scudetto, they will prevent Juventus from a historic ten-in-a row.
It will also mean that Juventus will not be crowned champions of Italy for the first time since the 2010/11 season.
It was Inter’s city rivals, AC Milan, that were the last team to win Serie A before The Old Lady’s reign of dominance.
Heading into the 2010/11 season, there was a lot of uncertainty surrounding AC Milan, as their incredible side from the early 2000s was being disbanded and trophies had alluded the club.
Fabio Parente, President of Milan Club Dublin – the official supporters group of AC Milan in Ireland – remembers those feelings of uncertainty.
At the end of the previous season Leonardo was sacked and then he joined Inter. It felt like the management was kind disbanding the team of champions that we had in previous years
The disbanding of one of football’s greatest sides had been going on for quite some time. Shevchenko left for Chelsea in the summer of 2006, Paolo Maldini retired in 2009 and Dida was sold in the summer before the 2010/11 season.
Several players that had won those Champions Leagues in the decade prior were still at the club such as Pirlo, Gattuso, Nesta and to a lesser extent, Inzaghi. However, it was the introduction of some new faces that helped boost this Milan side.
Robinho, Mark van Bommel and Antonio Cassano added an extra spark to the team.
When they leave, [there is] always something that they say that makes this club special. The supporters…the stadium…the magic of the team, that [is something] you cannot really find anywhere else
“[Van Bommel added] the personality, the experience and charisma that was missing in that midfield. Cassano did bring a lot of the fantasy that we were missing”, said Fabio.
One signing in particular was a true statement of intent from Milan that summer. Zlatan Ibrahimovic was signed from Barcelona for €24 million. A steal at the time. The Swede also managed to find the back of the net 14 times in the league that season.
Ibrahimovic signed for Milan a second time in 2020 and is the link to previous triumphs for Milan’s current group of players. Ibrahimovic is not a player synonymous with loyalty, so it means a lot to Milan fans like Fabio that he has returned to their club.
It makes you understand that AC Milan is a special family compared to other teams, because people are willing to come back. I also remember that Shevchenko came back. If you go back to the[old] days, Gullit came back a few times.
The 2010/11 season was one to remind the Milan faithful of that magic. In his first season in charge, Massimiliano Allegri returned the Scudetto to the red half of the San Siro. As with any title winning season, results against a side’s closest rivals are remembered most fondly.
The Old Lady and Inter
“We did win versus Juventus in Turin with Gattuso scoring, which is quite weird because he’s scored maybe one or two goals in his whole career”.
Gennaro Gattuso netted just nine times for Milan in 335 appearances. His volley on the edge of the area that squeezed under Buffon that season was goal number eight and probably his most memorable.
That season, Milan also did the double over Inter. Inter had won the previous five Serie A titles and the past three derbies. The first was a scrappy 1-0 win thanks to an Ibrahimovic penalty. Watching the highlights on YouTube, it has all the hallmarks of any classic European derby.
Superstars left and right. The referee being crowded by players of both sides at every foul. Ibrahimovic and one of football’s pantomime villains, Marco Materazzi getting stuck into one another from the first whistle. Tempers flared all over the pitch and Milan finished the game with ten men when right-back Ignazio Abate received his second yellow on the hour mark.
The second meeting between these two would not be as close, but the drama would remain. Fabio remembers this season as the last great showing of Alexandre Pato and this Milan derby was his pinnacle. With not even a minute played, the Brazilian had slotted home a loose ball inside the box. He would have his second by the hour mark and Antonio Cassano would wrap up a dominant derby win.
Allegri had previously managed Cagliari, so the Milan job was a big step up. However, his managerial prowess was evident in his debut season.
You could see the confidence that the team had, the confidence that they had in way they were playing and the confidence they had in their coach. It was giving you [confidence] also.
AC Milan DNA
For Fabio, the only downfall from that season was the team’s poor performance in the Champions League. Crashing out of the Round of 16 to Tottenham Hotspur. For many fans, reaching the heights of European football is the ultimate goal.
“I think the AC Milan DNA has always been closer to Europe as opposed to the Italian league”, said Fabio.
“Imagine that, we are at the end of the season and we are battling for both Serie A and the Champions league. If, I have to [choose] one victory only it would be be the Champions League”, he continued.
The ultimate goal for many Milan fans is to finish in the top four and become a regular in the Champions League once again.
The current Serie A season is the closest fans have seen to a new champion being crowned in almost a decade. Even if it comes at the expense of Inter winning, a new champion is an overall positive for the league.
“I would prefer, personally, that Inter wins instead of Juventus just to stop the dominance. It’s making the Serie A boring, from a competition perspective”, said Fabio.
Ultimately, a competitive Serie A would improve the overall quality of the league and Fabio hopes that this will allow Milan to return to where they once were.
I am quite confident that if we manage to get in the Champions League for two or three years in a row, we will be able to start buying best players again and recover the gap with the top the top clubs in Europe.