The sorry slide of AC Milan into the abyss

AC Milan will never be great again unless they make some major changes beginning with a new owner. Current owner, the disgraced former Prime Minister of Italy Silvio Berlusconi, runs the club like his own personable fiefdom.

AC Milan

Source: Getty Images

The other changes should include some serious investment in the playing squad and a coach who is given a genuine chance at some stability, rather than one who is given approximately six months on the bench before being shown the door.

Since January 2014 Milan have had six coaches: Allegri, Tassotti, Seedorf, Inzaghi, Mihaijlovic and Brocchi. The latest, Cristian Brocchi, is a former player of the club who has been in the job less than a month. He was considered to be an astute tactician in charge of the youth team but it remains to be seen whether or not he will be given a proper chance at senior level.


In the early 1980s AC Milan lingered in and out of the Serie B until Berlusconi arrived on the scene in 1986. He must be given some credit but after three decades in charge, it’s time for him to move on. Italy has moved on from his politics and dubious personal lifestyle, and so too has his treasured club, except that it is he who must cut the umbilical cord.

There were other factors too that made AC Milan great. The three magic Dutchmen in , Frank Rijkaard and were a major factor in their transformation to a world club superpower.

The team also was coached by two of the most successful coaches ever in Serie A history in Arrigo Sacchi and Fabio Capello. And finally the squad had the very best players that Italy could ever produce, over somet two decades.

Some were local juniors – others were not – but the names were unforgettable: Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini, Roberto Donadoni, Gennaro Gattuso, Alessandro Nesta, Filippo Inzaghi, Alessandro Costacurta, Demetrio Albertini, Mauro Tassotti, Marco Simone, Christian Panucci, Massimo Ambrosini and Daniele Massaro.

Massaro, who played 15 times for the Azzurri - including two World Cups and missed a penalty in that famous shootout defeat in the final of USA 94, in an interview a few years ago told me exactly what it meant to him to play for AC Milan.

“One of my dreams was to wear the AC Milan jersey,” he said. “I was born and grew up in Monza [near the city of Milan] and I was always an AC Milan supporter. The day I first pulled on an AC Milan jersey for me was like a second coming.”

The question is whether or not any of the current players have ever dreamed about playing for AC Milan?

It’s unlikely that they have because it is dubious that they are still a club with enough aura to attract young players. In other words, it’s not prestigious enough because AC Milan in recent years are nothing more than a mediocre, mid-table club that lack ambition, pride and vision.

However, when the players see a revolving door of coaches it is hard to expect anything better. There’s no job security, tenure or stability but there’s an owner who has publicly expressed a desire to sell to the ‘right buyer’ whoever that may be. The question is, could there be anyone worse?

The most recent coach to last more than a season was Massimiliano Allegri – now at Juventus – from 2010 to 2014 and prior to that there was Carlo Ancelotti from 2001 to 2009. Both Ancelotti and Allegri were successful too to some extent but not quite at the same level of either Sacchi or Capello.

In the Juventus-dominated Serie A of the last five seasons, it is possible to conclude that many other clubs in Italy do not get much of a look in these days. Napoli, Roma and Inter are mentioned in passing when it comes to securing a UEFA Champions League place or as possible outsiders that could dethrone Juventus, but AC Milan are not even on the radar any more. 

The mere mention of their name would once put fear into any opposition and have football supporters worldwide - not just AC Milan supporters – salivating in anticipation of seeing the great side in action.

Under Sacchi the team played some of the best quality football even seen in the Serie A. Attacking, pressing football that was a simply a pleasure to watch. It was the Serie A’s renaissance era after the burden of the defensive catenaccio methods that had lingered for so long. In many ways it was Italy’s equivalent to Total Football.

Capello came along and reinforced the notion of success. A highly impressive player in his own time, Capello took what Sacchi built to the next level. It would be fair to say that no other club in the world at that time had the aura of AC Milan.

Today the team still wear the famous red and black stripes but it’s so far from the glory days that it’s actually quite sad.

When some genius at the San Siro decided to let Andrea Pirlo go because he was past his best, a few seasons ago, it marked the point of no return. It was a watershed moment that highlighted everything that was wrong with the modern day club’s judgement. Safe to say that Sacchi and Capello would never have let him go.

The light at the end of the tunnel is if Berlusconi sells and a line in the sand is drawn. The club need a passionate benefactor who understands the history and pride of the Rossoneri and what wearing this famous shirt means to supporters. 

Milan cannot be allowed to fall any further. The most successful Italian club ever on the international stage needs to be great again - for their own sake and the sake of Italian football in general.

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6 min read
Published 28 April 2016 at 6:43pm
By Joe Russo
Source: SBS