Wednesday, June 12, 2013

I Wish I Could Quit You


They sold Kak√°, but still kept the other senators on, even if maybe they waited too long to phase them out. Then Pirlo was pushed out. But last year, not coincidentally the same year Milan’s parent company, Fininvest, was ordered to pay the largest fine in European history at a whopping €574 million, they cleaned house. Even still, it seemed like at least some of the senators maybe controlled their own destiny. And while we were still watching YouTube compilations of our favorite heroes, came the Thiago Silva and Ibra saga: selling… not for sale… selling… then sold. As a fan, I really felt like they took the last of my innocence on that one. But I was wrong. This week alone, they pushed Ambrosini out, have openly admitted that El Shaarawy is not secure at Milan, and publicly gave Montolivo the captaincy apparently without even consulting Abbiati first. Despite the fact that the blood in my veins runs red and black, Milan, I wish I could quit you.

The difference? One resigned.

Ambrosini’s agent was very graceful in saying that they knew he wouldn’t be renewed, because if they were going to renew, they would have done so a long time ago. I think we as fans knew, too, which is why I wrote a sort of farewell post to Ambrosini almost two weeks ago. I wanted to make sure he got a proper sending off, something the club were not as thoughtful to do. But it was Galliani’s own words that will forever haunt me on this one: “I apologize to Massimo once again in case we hadn’t already told him the decision.” What the hell? What club doesn’t tell their captain, a bandiera who has been loyal to the club for 18 years, that they are not renewing his contract, until they do it publicly? (Unless you count Juventus’ treatment of Del Piero… but even then, they at least gave him 8 months to find a new club.) So Galliani, you apologize “in case” you hadn’t told him? And what of their reasoning? “At the end of the day age proved more important than emotions.” So did his age just sneak up on you and therefore you had to announce suddenly that he was gone? If age was really more important than emotions, couldn’t you have seen fit to tell him before you told us?

"I could swear that they had my current contact info."

But that wasn’t the only surprise in this announcement yesterday. Abbiati will have read in the papers that his captaincy was publicly usurped, too. “If Christian Abbiati agrees, then the next captain of Milan will be Montolivo.” What the hell kind of management is this? I think there might actually be less drama and backstabbing on those Real Housewives shows. It’s not like Abbiati can refuse this now, because refusing a public announcement like that would make him a bad captain. But he gets screwed over for a player who has only been at the club for a year, when he has loyally served the club for 15 years? (minus a few loan spells) What kind of management does this to their club? What kind of management does this to their players? For a club who as long as I can remember has determined its captaincy based on seniority, this is as underhanded and manipulative as it gets. At least if they were going to do this (which we kind of knew they were earlier this season when Montolivo was given the armband ahead of others for a game or two,) couldn’t they have the decency to handle it behind closed doors and then announce it? Isn’t a player who has been loyal to the club deserving of a simple phone call?

"What more can I do to prove myself worthy of the armband?"

Then on the same day to say that El Shaarawy was not exactly off the market… what is this club coming to? The players give their all. They sacrifice and train and dedicate their lives and souls to the red and black, only to be sold off like pieces of meat to line your corrupt pockets and balance your fine-laden books? To be cast aside after nearly two decades of service, and apparently not even be worthy of a phone call or even a text before you announce? To work and sacrifice for 15 years with no glory, only to have your captain’s armband given away like candy from a clown to a hotshot player who makes more than twice as much as you and gave up his captaincy and loyalty at his last club faster than a gambler can feed quarters into a slot machine? Where is the tradition? The loyalty to players? The loyalty to the paying fans? The so-called “Allegri-case” has nothing compared to any one of these announcements. They seem to be lowering the bar every week. And just when you don’t think they can go any lower, they astonish with a loss of class that is completely unthinkable.

The lack of character, direction, and decorum from management the past couple of years is incredibly appalling. But these latest moves take the cake. Where is the commitment to the shirt, to the Milan crest, to the history, to the fans? We fans save sometimes for years just to make one pilgrimage to the San Siro, only to find that the players who were on the roster when we bought our plane tickets are now at another club, because management cannot manage their finances even as well as us? What about these players who jumped through every hoop, bit their tongue at every poor choice of manager and played in every kind of weather, year after year, only to be treated worse than most employees at a local factory?

"They can't even say that when I'm in the same country? Vergogna."

I am numb with shame. I cannot even believe that this is my club anymore. I do not recognize the classy family that drew me in, that gave me comfort in the shelter of their rich traditions and loyalty. Now we have con artists running the show. Selling Thiago Silva and Ibrahimovic and bragging about how much they saved, promising me that the “champions” they brought in instead in Acerbi and Traor√© would prove their worth. They didn’t. And neither did management. The only thing they’ve proven to me is that they absolutely cannot be trusted. Not with my heart, and certainly not with my club. They are so caught up in the stress of the economy and their own corruption and bad financial mistakes, that they have forgotten the principles that made this club so successful: Loyalty. Family. Class. Ideals that Ambrosini, Abbiati, and El Shaarawy all embody.

We may be well on our way to FFP compliance, but it is not without a heavy cost. Our captain leaves after literally being sent off, being shoved out onto the street like yesterday's garbage. Our new would-be captain watches his armband be handed off to a glory-hunter in the media, and one of our most beloved and promising young players is put on the mercato auction block like a choice cut of beef. Someday, we may win more trophies, maybe we'll have more success in the future. But without the very heart and soul of the club which allowed us to be so successful so continuously, I don’t even recognize my Milan anymore. Unfortunately, without a complete blood, heart, and brain transfusion, I am still a Milanista, I don’t even have a choice in the matter. So I will suffer alongside Ambrosini, Abbiati, El Shaarawy, and all of the other players and fans. But sometimes, after a day like yesterday, I really wish I could quit you, Milan.

This post inspired by the music of Rammstein