AC Milan were once one of the most respected clubs in Europe, understandable considering the club were crowned champions of Europe seven times. Not only this, but they are also tied with city rivals Inter Milan as the second most successful team in Italian football, with 18 Serie A titles. Il Rossoneri were the club that once had Van Basten, Gullit, Rijkaard, Ancelotti, Donadoni, Baresi and Maldini in the same line-up.
But where all these fabulous things have gone? The current Milan are nowhere near what was being written above, the current state of the club is, quite frankly, pathetic in comparison. All Milan supporters now are singing about previous glories and old historical moments.
With a team comprised of free agents and failures from other clubs, with a raw coach in the shape of a club’s legend Pippo Inzaghi who’s inexperience has been illustrated on many occasions during the ongoing season. So what, if anything, can be done to bring this once great club back to the days of glory past.
Whilst results on the pitch continue to be upsetting, some concrete decisions need to be taken off it.
Sell the club
It’s blindingly obvious to anyone that Milan is not a current priority to owner Silvio Berlusconi as it was in previous years. The former prime minister is now more concerned with sending appeals to the Italian court system to deal with the plentiful cases he is being sued for, and being more attentive to his political party ‘Forza Italia’.
Berlusconi is no longer spending big sums of cash to sign great names like he used to do in his early years as the club’s president, and, in his eyes, he doesn’t need you to when you read between the lines to discover that he isn’t ambitious towards the club like he once was .
Berlusconi tried to show his support to the team by making numerous Friday visits to the club’s training centre – Milanello, but it didn’t take him much time to realise that these pre-games visits were barely effective, so he stopped doing this season’s habitual visits a month ago.
They say in Milano that Berlusconi is so attached to AC Milan that he would sell all the companies and media agencies he owns but keep the Rossoneri under his ownership, but if he really loves the club to that extent then Silvio must know that his time is up.
If reports are to be believed, there is no shortage of suitors, specifically from Eastern Asia, who are interested in acquiring shares in Milan and it is said that there will be important news regarding this issue post-easter.
The battle to acquire shares in Milan is a two-sided one, a track that leads to a Chinese consortium consisting of several Chinese billionaires that’s being supported by the Chinese government itself as part of a plan to promote football in the country.
Rumours have intensified recently, with Italian news portal Aska claiming that Berlusconi has been quoted as saying that he has sold 75% of Milan to the Chinese in a private meeting, though the news which hasn’t been officially denied through Fininvest – Silvio’s holding company that owns il Rossoneri – like what happened on previous occasions.
Meanwhile, there is also the second track of Thai investor Bee Taechaubol, who currently, according to Sky Italia, has the upper hand in the race in buying shares in Milan. Taechaubol may not seem as wealthy as he was thought to be as he depends on bringing other investors with him. He plans to take control within a year, acquire a 20% with immediate effect, before being a majority stakeholder with 60% of the shares in a deal that could cost him £1.1 billion.
The Thai broker would also keep the two Chief Executive Officers Barbara Berlusconi, the daughter of Silvio, and Adriano Galliani in his first year. Other reports from La Gazzetta dello Sport claim that he decided to respond to the Chinese and raise his offer to acquire 60% of the shares for a figure that exceeds £365M with hiring club legend Paolo Maldini as technical director and Italian financial consultant Victor Dana as a new Chief Executive officer.
Berlusconi’s is now evaluating the bids and his only challenge is choosing the right name who can guarantee investing a lot of money and build a competitive roster that can bring back the lost success and retrieve the fans to this season’s deserted San Siro.
Define roles and hire new sporting director
It has been always said that Milan’s long-time CEO Adriano Galliani is one of the best football directors in Italy and, maybe in the world of football. He is the die-hard Milan fan that cameramen always love to capture his mixed reactions during the team’s matches.
However, the transfer guru has not been the same lately. Galliani has possessed all the directory roles in Milan with the departures of former sporting directors Leonardo in 2010 and Ariedo Braida – newly appointed as Barcelona’s director – in 2013. He has been the man with three roles to accomplish, he is the negotiator, the transfers concluder and the team’s caretaker who always keep an eye on training.
Everyone has his ups and downs, but in Galliani’s case the misses have beaten the hits recently. Most of the 70-years-old CEO’s late signings were mainly free players who are offered massive wages so they would favour a Milan move over other interested sides and faded players with the hope that they can rejuvenate there football career at Milan, things which have harmed the legacy of ‘The Condor’.
Galliani has been always loyal to Silvio Berlusconi, never speaking negatively of him. He takes the opportunity in every interview to praise Silvio and credit him for bringing the Rossoneri all the success the have achieved, and rightfully so. He is probably one of the closest people to Berlusconi, though the apparent thing is that he never talks with president about how, or why the club’s state has gone from bad to worse, which could be another weak point of his.
Galliani also reached a new low recently when he told journalists that he hopes that fifth-placed Napoli or sixth-placed Fiorentina win the Europa League to make it possible for the seventh in Serie A to make it to the European competition. Apart from being embarrassing to say, it went hilariously bad for Galliani when UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino few days later to clarify that this is completely not true.
Some people would ask for Galliani to be replaced, or at the least thing hiring a young footballing mind to work with Adriano, someone who can keep pace with the big evolution of the world of football. Club legends like Paolo Maldini and Clarence Seedorf have been recently linked with directory roles in Milan, but since both are not on good terms with Galliani, it’s unlikely to see such thing happen. Nonetheless, Milan has to find a new reliable sporting director and Galliani has to admit that he can’t do all the work by himself and needs assistance.
Release the incompetents and hire an experienced manager
Many Milan fans hope for a massive clear-out for the team’s senior squad this summer, this should be the same direction that the club follows. Several players in the roster who actually never dreamed about sniffing around the walls of the club are now wearing Milan’s shirt.
Several reports mention that Milan are expected to release most of their players with expiring contracts, with right back Ignazio Abate the only guaranteed player to renew his expiring contract. Il Diavolo will also stand on the situation of the loanees at the end of the season.
Players like Michael Agazzi, Michelangelo Albertazzi, Cristian Zaccardo, Michael Essien and Pablo Armero are examples of the players who are essentially getting paid by the club for doing nothing, plus Nigel De Jong, who still wants more clarity about “what Milan’s plans are to get back to being the great club of the past” before putting pen to paper on a new deal.
Enough with experimental hires regarding the coaching position. Milan have been playing on the fans’ emotions by appointing former club idols such as Clarence Seedorf and Filippo Inzaghi instead of experienced manegers.
Seedorf proved himself to not be a ‘Yes’ man and his ideas weren’t matching with those of Silvio Berlusconi and Adriano Galliani, although the former was the one who chose the Dutch man. This resulted in the sacking of Seedorf after being just six months in charge.
Filippo Inzaghi is another raw coach has been accused of being close to clueless during the whole season, his team has no identity that plays dull football and without the fighting spirit he promised to be one of his team’s characterstics at the beginning of the season. Despite this, Inzaghi never complained about his squad’s situation but always thanked President Silvio Berlusconi for being close to the team.
Neither Seedorf nor Inzaghi were the answer for Milan’s woes. They were put in a situation that they shouldn’t be blamed on, both couldn’t reject such a prestigious job at the beginning of their coaching career, especially if we consider how publicly this two players are admired among all Milan fans.
The management should realise that these hires were never effective and start thinking of choices that meet the club’s expectations and targets if they are really willing to return being the club that was always feared in Europe.