Where Do We Go From Here?

After crashing and burning out of the Champions League on Tuesday, many fans have called for a housecleaning of epic proportions, or at least clearing out all of the players who are not “Milan quality.” Everyone’s got a list, everyone seems to assume that’s all you need is a list. But at least Gabriele Marcotti took the time not only to assess the players realistically, but also to look at their contract situation and potential for staying or leaving. He pointed out that we could easily be “stuck with” a number of these contracts, and thus players, even if all of us agree they need to go. And he also looked at players out on loan who are likely to return to us, too. But realistically, how do we rebuild this squad from here?

Is there anyone who will put out the fire?

Improving the quality of players is the go-to solution fans look for every time things go badly. Lose a big game and everyone forgets that we actually played several games in a row really well. That even with players of this quality, for several games, they remembered how to win. More than that, though, over the last two years we have turned over a massive amount of players and often come up worse for the wear. For example, anyone else remember that the club sold Ibra and Thiago Silva and in the same mercato bought Traoré and Acerbi? And yet that season had better results than the current one, even though the club bought newer, better quality players since then.

My theory is that changing the players is like changing outfits, but changing your clothes won’t cure you of cancer. And that cancer, for Milan, starts with management. Starting at the top with Berlusconi, who has made poor decisions when it comes to Galliani, Barbara, spending, hanging on to a coach when things went poorly, and more. If, as so many people believe, he has used the club for his own political gain, then when his politics got him kicked out of office and the legal system is finally catching up with his numerous legal charges, then it is easy to see how corrupt his judgment could also be with the club.

Those hideous jerseys don't even scratch the surface of what is wrong with the club

Perhaps most telling is his relationship with Galliani and his desire to insert Barbara into the mix and keep the business in the family name. Galliani has made increasingly and notoriously bad decisions when it comes to player transfers, (Matri anyone?) has for years gone after the free transfers and thus increased our wage bill time and time again, and also fought to keep Allegri long past his due date, which further damaged the fitness and mentality of the current squad. Barbara, having been appointed to the board with relatively little experience, challenged some of these things and has offered new ideas, none of which went over well with Galliani or other board members. Too anemic or lazy to make a tough decision between friend or family, Berlusconi unwisely created a two CEO system and divided responsibilities between his friend and daughter.

Furthermore, it is Berlusconi’s meddling over the years that has also created problems, like asking for overpriced strikers or other big name players when it wasn’t financially or otherwise feasible. He, too, despite being a “great motivator,” has done more to damage the image and mentality of the club by his public statements than perhaps anyone else. Undermining the work of coaches, kicking players to the curb – even bandiere, awarding the captain’s armband to a player who hadn’t even been at the club a full year without even talking to the rightful captains first, etc.

Superhero or supervillain?

Galliani has played his part here, too, publicly cursing and abusing players, fans, and other clubs alike, announcing the departure of players or other changes without first consulting them, failing to give respect or notice to players when leaving, and more. He has also publicly insulted Barbara and her lack of experience, and even publicly resigned before being coerced to stay by Berlusconi. He has done more to stir the pot than calm the waters lately, and again, his decision making has been increasingly poor when it comes to the mercato. In fact, people who think our squad is of such poor quality or our wages too high or our contracts too long need to look no further than he and Braida to see where the problem lies. And a lack of funds is not the issue. The €11m we are spending for Matri (to a rival club, no less,) could have been so much more wisely spent this season on players who were available. And now, the day after an epic defeat, rumors have Galliani looking to a 30 and 31 year old for redemption this summer. More players past their prime… but I bet they’re available on a “free” transfer (with excessive wages and long contracts.)

I have said much of this before over these past two years or more of turmoil. But these are the things that need to be fixed before Milan will truly return to winning ways. You can try to lure decent players to a team in a downward spiral, no Champions League next year, and internal fighting more epic and cancerous than a reality show, but in all honesty, we will be lucky to keep the players we have. And if we somehow did manage to improve the squad, we have an unproven coach and a volatile management who could undermine the results at any time, whether slowly and more sinister or publicly and quickly. There are so many problems, it could take a lifetime to fix. But those at the top could also make some hard but quick decisions to set Milan back on the right path sooner.

Is it too late?

But will they? Can they? Not even selling the club is going to clean this mess up overnight. And that brings with it a whole new set of problems. So it is most likely that Milan will walk into yet another transfer market and do the same things they’ve always done. Only that has finally caught up to them and is costing the club its luster and its winning ways. I would personally rather see management look from the top down, because changing the players is truly like a cancer patient changing their clothes. And if cancer was that easy to solve, then fashion designers everywhere would be heroes and a lot of doctors and scientists would be out of jobs. But it’s not, and this Milan have yet to hit rock bottom. The disease runs deep, so there is no quick fix, and no sign whatsoever at the club that they will self diagnose or get the help they need.

Meanwhile, we can talk about players all we want, even hire new coaches until the cows come home, but we will truly be bleeding red and black for a while. So for all of the bandwagoners who didn’t get off of this bus when Ibra and Silva left, this is probably a good time for you to find a new club. For the rest of us, we will need to stick together and stay strong, despite the hemorrhaging of all that we know and love. Until the problems at the top start to be fixed, our hearts will be increasingly brutalized and all that we know and love turned to dust. So the question is really more for us, individually: Where do we go from here? There is no right or wrong answer, just follow your heart.

This post inspired by the music of The Smiths “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now”

Our next match is
Milan vs. Parma
Sunday, March 16 • 15:00 CET (10am EDT)

Where Do We Go From Here? Where Do We Go From Here? Reviewed by Elaine on 2:30 AM Rating: 5
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