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Milan’s Revolution


After the worst start in 70 years, this Milan team has experienced a run of form that seems to have surprised even themselves, to a certain degree. Since November 17th, Milan have only lost one game in Serie A, with 10 wins in 15 league games. All of this while making it to the Coppa Italia Quarterfinals and still playing in the Champions League, including a perfect game against Barcelona. While many have speculated and jumped to conclusions as to how this was possible, I have a few theories of my own. But first I’d like to take a quick look at each match and some of the defining details in their Serie A performances…

This Milan looks very different from recent Milan teams, but costs a lot less, too


November 17th: Napoli 2, Milan 2
This was the infamous match following Berlusconi’s first visit to Milanello in a long time. Following the match, the players said that his words motivated him and that he brought them luck, for which they returned his faith with a huge draw at the San Paolo
Milan Goals: El Shaarawy (assists by De Sciglio and Robinho)
In form: El Shaarawy, Bojan, Montolivo, Mexes, Constant
Referee: Bergonzi – Allowed Napoli players to encroach on Milan’s free kicks twice
Possession: 55%
Milan shots: 28 (5 on goal)
Allegri subs: 76’, 80’, 85’

November 25th: Milan 1, Juventus 0
Berlusconi visited Milanello ahead of this match, the team played great for 90 minutes. Milan’s penalty controversially awarded
Milan Goals: Robinho (PK)
In form: The entire team, especially Constant, El Shaarawy, De Sciglio, Nocerino, Yepes, Amelia
Referee: Rizzoli – called questionable handball to give Milan the penalty
Possession: 39%
Milan shots: 15 (6 on goal)
Allegri subs: 65’, 72’, 84’

November 30th: Catania 1, Milan 3
Alegri played the same formation 4 matches in a row. The Catania goal came from a set piece (header) and Catania played on 10 men from the 59th (Milan also finished on 10 men, but only in stoppage time)
Milan Goals: El Shaarawy (Robinho assist,) Boateng El Shaarawy (Constant assist)
In form: El Shaarawy, Constant, De Sciglio
Referee: Orsato – 2nd yellow to Barrientos, Catania on 10 men for last 40+ min., El Shaarawy’s first goal offside (not called,) Boateng red in the 90th for studs up tackle. There were 7 yellow cards and 2 red cards in this match.
Possession: 73%
Milan shots: 13 (6 on goal)
Allegri subs: 66’ and 93’

December 9th: Torino 2, Milan 4
Berlusconi visited Milanello prior to the match. De Jong out for season injured in the 21’
Milan Goals: Robinho (De Sciglio assist,) Nocerino (El Shaarawy assist,) Pazzini (assisted by Robinho,) El Shaarawy
In form: Nocerino mistake in the 30’ fired up the team, great second half, also the 12th man
Referee: Romeo – allowed play to continue on Pazzini’s goal when Torino player down (advantage)
Possession: 51%
Milan shots: 15 (5 on goal)
Allegri subs:  21’(injury,) 79’, 81’

December 16th: Milan 4, Pescara 1
Pescara’s only goal for themselves was from a set piece
Milan Goals: Nocerino (El Shaarawy assist,) 2 Pescara Own Goals, El Shaarawy (Pazzini assist)
In form: No one?
Referee: Giannoccaro
Possession: 59%
Milan shots: 15 (8 on target)
Allegri subs:  61’, 82’, 84’

December 22nd: Roma 4, Milan 2
Roma scored 3 unanswered goals before Allegri made any changes, goals conceded were a set piece and 3 headers. Both of Milan’s goals were scored after Roma was down to 10 men, one a penalty
Milan Goals: Pazzini (PK) and Bojan (on the rebound from Pazzini’s shot)
In form: No one?
Referee: Rocchi – sent Marquinos off in 78th for a handball
Possession: 55%
Milan shots: 20 (10 on target)
Allegri subs:  56’, 70’, 76’

January 6th: Milan 2, Siena 1
Bojan’s header would make only the 2nd header of the season for Milan, Milan also conceded a header late in the game, the 11th in the season (with the 24th unique defensive lineup in 26 matches in all competitions)
Milan Goals: Bojan (Boateng assist,) Pazzini (PK)
In form: Constant, El Shaarawy
Referee: Calvarese – controversial penalty awarded to Milan in the 79th for the winner
Possession: 60%
Milan shots: 10 (3 on goal)
Allegri subs:  56’, and 63’ (injury)

January 13th: Sampdoria 0, Milan 0
A lackadaisical away performance affected by injuries/suspensions
Milan Goals: N/A
In form: No one? (Montolivo maybe)
Referee: Guida
Possession: 60%
Milan shots: 14 (5 on goal)
Allegri subs:  25’ (injury,) 66’, 88’

January 20th: Milan 2, Bologna 1
Bologna’s goal was an OG scored by Mexes, but overall a very convincing second half by Milan
Milan Goals: both by Pazzini (assists by Abate and Boateng)
In form: Niang, Pazzini, Constant, El Shaarawy, Abate, Montolivo
Referee: Dovera
Possession: 56%
Milan shots: 24 (7 on goal)
Allegri subs:  78’ and 81’

January 27th: Atalanta 0, Milan 1
A fairly solid performance, even if playing vs.10 men from the 60th
Milan Goals: El Shaarawy (Niang assist)
In form: El Shaarawy, Niang, Montolivo, Constant, Flamini – the whole team for the 2nd half
Referee: Gervasoni – showed 11 cards, including 2 to Brivio, Atalanta played on 10 men  for 40+ minutes, Coach Colantuono also sent off
Possession: 60%
Milan shots: 15 (3 on goal)
Allegri subs:  85’ and 89’

February 3rd: Milan 2, Udinese 1
Balotelli’s debut (due to last minute Pazzini injury, Milan win via a controversial penalty
Milan Goals: Balotelli (assist by El Shaarawy & a PK)
In form: Balotelli, Niang, El Shaarawy, the team for the first half
Referee: Valeri – awarded Milan a controversial penalty in stoppage time for the win
Possession: 55%
Milan shots: 22 (9 on goal)
Allegri subs:  67’, 80’, 85’

February 10th: Cagliari 1, Milan 1
Cagliari’s goal from a set piece (header,) Milan earn the point via a penalty. Milan played with no urgency until the last 5-10 minutes
Milan Goals: Balotelli (PK)
In form: Flamini, the rest of the team for the last 5-10 minutes
Referee: Giannoccaro – Awarded Astori a deserved 2nd yellow/red and a penalty to Milan in the 80th
Possession: 62%
Milan shots: 15 (7 on goal)
Allegri subs:  61’, 65’, 80’

February 15th: Milan 2, Parma 1
Parma’s OG would prove the winner in this match. Balotelli got scratched badly, very few calls from refs
Milan Goals: Parma OG, Balotelli FK
In form: The whole team in the second half, especially Balotelli, Constant, Niang, and Montolivo
Referee: Massa
Possession: 54%
Milan shots: 13 (6 on goal)
Allegri subs:  65’ and 87’

February 24th: Inter 1, Milan 1
Berlusconi visited Milanello before the match. Many fault Allegri’s late subs for the draw
Milan Goals: El Shaarawy (assisted by Boateng)
In form: The entire team for the first half
Referee: Mazzoleni
Possession: 57%
Milan shots: 19 (6)
Allegri subs:  81’, 87’, 90’

March 2nd: Milan 3, Lazio 0
Lazio played on 10 men for 75+ minutes
Milan Goals: Pazzini, Boateng, Pazzini
In form: De Sciglio, Pazzini, El Shaarawy, Montolivo
Referee: Rizzoli – controversially sent Candreva off in the 16’
Possession: 64%
Milan shots: 22 (7 on goal)
Allegri subs: 45’ (injury,) 68’, 76’


Allegri did not accept responsibility for his part in the early season /fail
I was asked recently if I thought Allegri deserved the credit for Milan’s turnaround, to which I replied no. If anything, he was responsible for a turnaround needed in the first place. Not only for his insane changes in tactics and lineups, but also because morale seemed to be in a free fall. Just before Berlusconi’s first visit to Milan, he reportedly told the players in training “You’re not all here with your minds and this is why we are losing. … If we carry on like this, we’ll end up in Serie B.” Allegri was also blaming the individual errors of the players for all of the losses. His press conferences had grown increasingly scattered, and it seemed that he put the blame in a different spot each week. Perhaps most telling is a quote from Allegri himself from 2011: “A good coach is one who doesn’t make you lose games.”

So it is also interesting that in a reported interview to a foreign magazine in November, one of the players gave his manager’s motivational speeches a 4/10. When asked about his owner’s motivational speeches, he rated Berlusconi 11/10. And not coincidental, I think, that the change in form happened when Berlusconi began making his motivational speeches to the players.

The core of Milan's Revolution

So where do I give the credit for the turnaround? First and foremost to the players. They did what they were asked. They made themselves available for every match. They worked hard, and when they needed to, they worked harder. It didn’t matter which formation Allegri fielded, nor how often they got a start, they kept their noses to the grindstone and worked.

They also endured the criticism of the fans and the media. Even Galliani publicly criticized at least Abbiati (vs. Napoli) and Nocerino (vs. Torino.) The players have shown individual and collective strength and optimism as well as a drive to succeed and to help Milan win. So much youth, yet so much talent. This squad are breaking stigmas and records alike and challenging what everyone thought of them over the summer.

Milan have absolutely had favorable decisions, as well as bad luck for opponents

Secondly, Luck. Not only have so many of our opponents dropped points and endured runs of poor form, a lot of ref calls have been in our favor. If you look at all of the matches listed above, Milan have been awarded 5 penalty kicks, 4 of them decisive in the final score. We were also given 3 own goals by opponents, and a goal that should have been offside (although only one own goal was decisive in that match.) Additionally, our opponents have gone down to 10 men for 40 minutes or more three separate times, giving us the numerical advantage. Call it luck, Karma, referee errors, our opponents’ bad luck, this factor has been decisive in Milan’s incredible run of form this year.

And finally, Allegri. But I still can’t laud him like others do. Had he not coached so poorly for the first three months, Milan likely would never have been in such poor form in the first place. So he looks good by first having made the team look so bad? But to his credit, he has stayed under intense criticism from everyone, especially management. Also to his credit, after going on a lineup changing spree like a woman with her first credit card, he reigned himself in and stuck with the 4-3-3 formation. And while he still continues to struggle with certain parts of the lineup, such as defense, the stability he has since provided has allowed our boys to shine.  There are other factors, of course, but for me, I would rate these three as the most influential, with management coming in fourth with the same caveat as Allegri – they did some good things, but also affected the team very negatively.

After a bizarre first 3 months, Allegri has stayed constant for Milan

Milan’s revolution cannot be credited only to one source. It has been the collaboration of many sources, as well as some unexpected discoveries along the way, like El Shaarawy, De Sciglio, Constant, and Niang. Fans may still miss some of our former stars, but Milan are making history with a squad that is both FFP compliant and competitive. A squad that is now light on experience, heavy on youth, and yet still pulls out the wins, whether by will or by luck. We have a team with heart, a lot of luck all the way around, and a coach and management that are sticking with them, even if they’ve done a bit of kicking and screaming. The only question that remains is how far will Milan take this revolution? Stay tuned through the end of the season to find out.


This post inspired by the music of Prince and the Revolution

Our next match is
Genoa vs. Milan
Friday, March 8 • 20:45 CET (2:45pm EST)