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Milan 0, Fiorentina 2: The Greatest Coach in the World


This was supposed to be Ambrosini’s night. His return to the San Siro, his chance to say goodbye and for fans to honor him. And honor him they did. With a heartfelt banner, a round of applause as he took the pitch, and a standing ovation as he left the pitch just after 30 minutes with an injury. He risked everything to be here tonight, and in his words, he said it was worth it. “I just wanted to thank the fans, as I did everything to be here for this game for a thousand reasons. I wanted to come full circle tonight.” But the warm and sincere righting of management’s gross wrong was still overshadowed by one thing: The Greatest Coach in the World.

"Eighteen years of true generosity has carved your name in Rossoneri history...
More than just a greeting, today we give you a proper dedication" --Curva Sud

Normally, I write more of a match recap, but for once, I’d like to focus on the bigger picture, that being directly related to a small box on the sideline known as the coaches’ technical area. Milan’s problems are pervasive, and not easily solved. But there are many teams who have massive problems functioning off the pitch that can still get results sometimes on the pitch. And this is why I am focusing on that little box. Or rather, the man who stands inside of it. He is actually not the worst coach in the world, but will never sanely be accused of being The Greatest Coach in the World, either. But to hear management tell the story, he is The Greatest Coach in the World. Because while people are distracted and laughing at that statement, it’s hard for them to see the dysfunction from top to bottom in the rest of the organization.

The Greatest Coach in the World?

I usually write my reviews quickly after a match, and don’t get to read Allegri’s postmatch comments before I post. But tonight, I thought I would write specifically about his comments. First and foremost, another ritiro was ordered. So Galliani, who left abruptly and noticeably after we conceded the second goal, apparently hurried to ready the slumber party at Milanello. Meanwhile, Allegri spoke, and we were all amazed by his sheer genius:

"This is the worst moment during my spell at Milan, which is why we have decided to have a training retreat. The ritiro is not a punishment. It will help the team to take more responsibility and get us out of this negative spell. The ritiro is not only to prepare for the match against Barça, but also for the rest of the season.”

Not so coincidentally, this is every fan’s worst moment during your spell at Milan, too. What a strange coincidence that you are the common denominator. And what about the big slumber party you guys had a couple of weeks ago? Was that only to prepare for the next two weeks?

This may look like Birsa breaking out the mad skills, but in real life, it was just like this match: an epic fail

“In football the only thing that counts is the result. At times people forget how we got them. The lads cannot be criticized for the effort they put in tonight, but it just didn’t work.”

So… the result is the most important thing. The team is not getting results. If the team didn’t get a result tonight, are we to believe that some magic power prevented them from getting more than one shot on goal, with 18 tries? Or do we just drop responsibility and say “it just didn’t work?”

“Right now things are going badly, we have only 12 points. I am the Coach and the club will tell me if and when they make a decision. There haven’t been any meetings planned as far as I know. I am the Coach and one way or another I’ll find the solution to this.”

Are you just seeking solutions now, 11 league games into the season? Because it seems like you’ve been out of solutions for a while now. Which is why even you know your job is at risk, even if you are naïve enough to believe that they will tell you they are planning to sack you before they let the axe fall.

Where there's smoke, there's fire... Allegri could have pulled Balotelli and put out the fire

As for his substitutions tonight:
"I decided to put on Niang instead of Matri as he could give us more speed and vivacity on the right wing. I put on Saponara because I wanted a more offensive midfielder. It would have been too excessive to have put on a striker."
"Balotelli's booking and ban? I'm not disappointed or angry. I'll just say that everyone has to help this team to improve."

The substitutions were surprisingly astute. But why did you only use two subs before a Champions League game? Why not sub off Balotelli after his failed attempt to win a penalty where he also injured himself? Or before he practically killed Neto and earned another yellow and a suspension for card accumulation that will keep him out of the Chievo game next week? Great that you’re not angry at Balotelli, but don’t you realize that you could have prevented his yellow card?

"We have to be focused, keep quiet and work hard, because what we have done so far is not enough. We have to do better. The last 30 minutes against Fiorentina was embarrassing.”

Only the last 30 minutes, really? Everyone was playing out of position and rendering themselves ineffective. What were we doing with the ball for 50% of the entire 90 minutes? Embarrassing is that you don’t have better answers for what went wrong, let alone have a solution yet to a team playing worse than last year with an improved squad. That’s embarrassing.

Dai Dai Dai is not getting results

“When things go badly, there are many causes. The team cannot play as badly as they did tonight. We did little in attack, even if we were punished by a long-range effort that was deflected.”

So if you speak the language of the Greatest Coach in the World, 18 shots is doing nothing in attack. Granted, Fiorentina scored 2 goals with only 4 shots, but taking 18 shots is not nothing. And Mister Allegri, please stop whining about the long-range deflected goal. Muntari got nutmegged in the wall, and Milan conceded. There was still more to be done to prevent that, like not conceding the free kick in the first place.

The Curva protested the clubs decisions in the mercato, citing poor decisions for our current results

When asked about the fans protest of the mercato, The Greatest Coach in the World had this to say:
"It's only normal that the fans protest after a defeat like this one. What I have to say to the fans? I can only thank them as they always support us."
“It’s not an issue of the transfer strategy, it’s that we suffered a lot of injuries. I thought we had found the way after Udinese and Barcelona, but with Parma, Lazio and above all this evening we seem to have lost it again.”

Seems like an odd thing to say, that it’s all the fault of injuries, because if we had reinforced with a defender, for example, when injuries hit, we wouldn’t be forced to play a center back pairing of Zaccardo and Zapata, for example. And you might be the only one to think that Milan had ever found their way this season, by the way.

“It’s normal that we have to change something and this week we’ll have time to work on that. I will work on our starting formation. The more experienced players have to help us to rise again."

We have to change something, so you are going to do the same thing you’ve been doing – rely on your most experienced players? Has it ever occurred to you to maybe try something different? To trust the less experienced players?

Allegri left quickly after the whistle... as many fans wished he'd just keep walking

“Are the players still behind me? The players shouldn’t be behind me, they should be behind each other and work together as a team. It’s my job to indicate them in the right direction.”

Exactly. It is YOUR job to indicate them in the right direction. And you have not been able to do it this season at all. Nor have you been able to unify the team to be behind each other or get them to work together as a team. But congratulations, you’ve managed to make them all your BFFs, as Abate said at the press conference, "All the players are behind Allegri. He's a great person and coach." Now if you could get them all unified on the pitch, your job would not be in jeopardy.

When asked if he had talked to Berlusconi, he replied:
"I haven't spoken with president Berlusconi yet."
"I haven't thought about resigning. I will do everything I can to come up with a solution to get out of this negative moment."

While The Greatest Coach in the World is hardly the only problem, he is the problem that is most easily addressed and would most quickly affect results and make an impact on this season. Allegri is not the worst coach ever, despite what many Milanisti say, but he is clearly out of ideas for this team, and I’m not sure he was ever their source of motivation. You've had 3 full seasons plus these 11 matches to find a solution, and have only managed to get deteriorating results with an improved squad. So sorry, Greatest Coach in the World, but your welcome has been worn out for some time now. 

Galliani had a slumber party to plan, I guess...

And to Berlusconi and Galliani, if you want any results whatsoever this year, it’s time to make the change. We are 16 points behind third place, which is not going to be easy to make up, even if we start winning next week and win most of our matches. So even though you screwed up with Ambrosini, you have a chance to stop the free fall now. Because standing behind Allegri means slipping off of the cliff of any sort of success into the abyss of complete failure. After all you’ve spent to improve the squad this past year, that’s like throwing money down the drain. Now how about you pull us out of this nosedive by saying goodbye to The Greatest Coach in the World?

Translations courtesy of @Milanello on Twitter and football-italia.net


This post inspired by the music of Andrea Bocelli’s “Con te partiro”


Our next match is
Champions League Group Stage
Barcelona vs. AC Milan

Wednesday, November 6 • 20:45 CET (2:45 EST)