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Confessions of a Heartbroken Milanista

Figuring out what to write at a time like this is like coming home to an empty house after the funeral for someone in your family. Still in too much pain to be ready to move on, yet needing something constructive to do so your grief doesn’t consume you. There will be a preview post for the meaningless Novara game to write later in the week, but for today I decided to take a minute to mourn.

This losing thing really sucks.

Most people acknowledged preseason that the Champions League trophy was not realistic for us this season. But then our boys played so well it kinda got our hopes up. And we did make it to the Quarterfinals. Some say the club making it our focus for the season was one sign of how out of touch they were. But when you consider we drew Barca twice and did quite well against them, maybe they just believed more than we did. Unfortunately, the schedule also impacted our other trophy aspirations, but we had a 33 man squad, we could handle it, right? Oh, right. Injuries.

The biggest cause for my broken heart were the injuries. The little ones were already starting to pile up, and then Cassano had his stroke at the end of October. Like when you get the wind knocked out of you, when I could breathe again, I had a whole new perspective. Him just being alive was a blessing and the dreams of him playing again became a distant second. The thought of Gattuso never being able to play again for such a bizarre health problem ripped me to the core. He would come to the games, with those ridiculous glasses, and cheer on his team, but you knew every cell in his body wanted to be on the pitch. It was so hard to watch.

But at least those stories eventually had reasonably happy endings, and served as an inspiration. It was the others – so many others – that gradually ate away at the physical and mental well-being of the squad. Just when we thought we were getting a couple of players back, 4 more would get injured in training or walking down the street or something. And the recovery time would be doubled then tripled, until finally by April, they would just be listed as “indefinite.” Kind of like our chances of winning a trophy, put on hold due to injuries indefinitely.

"What do you mean no title? I carried this team on my shoulders!"

Our boys did everything they could given the injury Armageddon. They fought for every inch of the pitch in every match, even when we thought they didn’t. Allegri was criticized for his squad choices and subs, and while a measure of this criticism is deserved, some of it was simply incredible crisis intervention, his hands were tied. Did he make mistakes? Yes, absolutely. Many are pointing to Thiago Silva’s  reinjury after playing the Coppa Semifinal match as his mistake, but I believe it was the smaller, more sinister mistakes that he has made for 2 years of poor squad rotation and subbing as well as training practices  that led to that breaking point.  But yes, that was our breaking point. You had to know an injury crisis of this magnitude would have one.

The thing about the injuries is that so much of it was out of our control. Cassano coming back was such a heartwarming story, but it also was a bitter reminder of what we missed for 6 months of the season. I would like to say it finally gave us some respect from our rivals and new title holders Juventus, but I am sorry to report that their fans are apparently not capable of it. The trolling and harassment and whining about Allegri’s comments (most of the Juventini I once considered friends talked more about Allegri than I did, and I mention him in most of my posts!) went well beyond unsporting. I was frustrated enough by all of this, then to go to various forums for both clubs afterward and witness the trolling that occurred during our matches on Sunday was incomprehensible. I had my hands full watching our match and occasionally glancing over at my husband’s match, I never would have even thought to troll, especially if we were winning. Which shows me that this was never about the beautiful game, just a personal vendetta to put them back to where they were pre-Calciopoli: the most hated fans in Italy. Which is ironically why they were the victims of Calciopoli. I used to have sympathy, not any more.

With fans like that, who needs enemies?

Since winning, they are proving to be the worst winners, too. They smashed the window of the store of their rival club Torino in their “celebration,” leaving a “30” sign. They hung a Juve flag over the entrance to Milan headquarters just this morning. Disgusting. Less than 48 hours after our win last year, we were still just reveling in our team and the joy that is winning. The only thing worse than a poor loser is a poor winner.

So a quick message to my former Juventini “friends” since so many of you and your kind have showed me personally so much disrespect this season, I have new moderation rules that apply only to you: anything I consider remotely disrespectful to me or my friends or my club that you post here will be deleted. You may also be banned, depending on the weather. Effective immediately and continuing indefinitely. Just like our injury crisis that you never even showed an ounce of respect for. Yes, I’m breaking up with you.

That said, the injury crisis felt like it was out of control, but it was the niggling stupid mistakes we made that was the difference between victory and defeat. We conceded the highest percentage of goals due to mistakes of any club in Serie A. Which was related to the injury crisis, since we had to start the janitor and the groundskeeper at the last minute every third match, but it was the one thing that was actually in our control this season. Heartbreaking, and everyone makes mistakes, but we made just a few too many this year and it cost us big time.

Even the heart of AC Milan was broken

I know I will recover from this season… eventually. I know my heart only hurts this much because I love Milan this much. It just hurts a little extra because of so much being out of our control and the ridiculous lack of sportsmanship that developed with what used to be a healthy rival. There is plenty of talk about this summer’s changes, and in the stages of mourning, I think that may be ahead of where I’m at, personally. But everyone mourns differently. Feel free to talk about whatever helps you mourn. Together, we can get through this and I do believe that changes are coming in the training and medical staff, the pitch, maybe the coach, and definitely the players. So next year, we will have a whole new set of problems. Sunday, let’s enjoy our last chance to see some of our players and show them the respect and love they deserve. But for now, let’s just let our Rossoneri hearts mend a little.

Our last match of the season is
Milan vs. Novara
Sunday, May 13th • 15:00 CEST (9am EDT)*
*Please note the time change

This post inspired by the heartbreak that has been the 2011-12 Milan season