Written by Luke Marsh
AC Milan fans were once in dream world every season. A top four finish after top four finish. European football every season with a serious weight of expectation on their shoulders is what every club dreams of, isn’t it? This is all once upon a time, as far as the Rossoneri are concerned, which has saw them fail to qualify for any European tournament for the third season in a row. Milan are second in terms of being champions of Europe, winning the throne to the title seven times, only one behind giants Real Madrid. Not bad, right? AC Milan are renown for absolutely dominating the 1990’s, which saw their squad include the likes of world stars such as Dutch maestro Marco Van Basten and which was for many years managed by Fabio Capello, remember him? AC Milan were feared amongst many in Europe and the San Siro was seen as hell to many teams visiting, especially fellow teams from the Serie A.
‘The Milan Lab’ as it is well known is the metaphor used to describe AC’s incredible ability to get the best of players who appear to be past their prime. Names such as Paolo Maldini, Fellipo Inzaghi and David Beckham all spring to mind. Amongst this, Milan went from boom to bust within the space of one whole season. In 2011, Milan started their season with the likes of at the time in many people’s eyes the best striker in the world in Zlatan Ibrahimovic, along with the likes of the skillful Robinho, and rising star Alexandre Pato. With now Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri in charge, AC were a very solid unit.
This squad saw Milan reach the quarter finals of the Champions League and finish second in Serie A, which in itself was seen as an underachievement but they still managed to snatch the SuperCoppa Italiana which was their only silverware that season. Milan’s highest gate that season was just 1.900 spectators, which in terms of the size of the club, is a borderline disgrace.
The season after, Milan’s turmoil begun. The double sale of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva to PSG for some that would argue was for peanuts, was only just the beginning. Owner Silvio Berlusconi was demolishing the club inch by inch and Milan ended up from playing Clarence Seedorf in the centre of midfield to having to persuade Chelsea youngster Marko Van Ginkel on loan. In the most remarkable clear-out in recent memory, the Rossoneri sold or released many of their heroes in 2012-13’s transfer windows. World Cup 2006 heroes Alessandro Nesta, Inzaghi, Gianluca Zambrotta, Massimo Oddo and Gennaro Gattuso were all released of their duties, some would argue club and national legends, all flogged as if they were nothing. To add to Milan’s miseries, highly rated youngster Brazilian striker, Pato departed to his homeland in January ’13. Milan lost a game in the 13-14 season 4-3 to relegation fodder Sassuolo, which cost Allegri his job. Despite being victim to Burlusconi’s games and money grabbing antiques, he was a goner. In the very season, Milan finished an embarrassing 8th and their average attendance was 39.000 at home, which says a lot in terms of confidence of the fans in the owner and how things were proceeding. Milan’s woes would only continue from there. Signing’s such as Mario Balotelli were expected to make the San Siro a fortress again, but it never really worked out. They even tried to bring club legend Kaka back, to bring some confidence back into the camp. That also failed and he went to America. This was indeed Milan’s most embarrassing period since their relegation from the Italian Serie A in the 1979-80 season. They have since failed to qualify for Europe and have failed to finish in the top 5 since their famous clear out. The only real glimpse of hope they had in their squad of note was young prospect El Shaarawy, but he was the flogged off to Monaco on loan.
In more recent times, however, Milan are starting to look like a recognisable force, again. Their recent victory over bitter rivals ‘The Old Lady’ Juventus has brought a lot of attention to their progress. Young manager Vincenzo Montella is a brilliant Italian prospect and has been given the opportunity of his life to bring the jigsaw back together at the San Siro. They have some thrilling young players coming through, one of note, Gianluigi Donnarumma, who made his debut AGED 16, and is already being labelled ‘the next Buffon’ in Italy. Milan currently sit third in Serie A, and are well above arch rivals Inter Milan. Things are starting to look up for Milan finally, they have their out and out goal scorer in Carlos Bacca, who chose Milan over heeps of interest including Barcelona. Are Milan well and truly back? They will be aiming to be back into Europe as soon as possible, as that is where they certainly belong, we all remember that famous night in Istanbul, especially our Liverpool readers.
Will AC Milan become a force again? Let us know in the comments below!
featured image by olaszmelo