Sunday, May 25, 2014

Falling Behind


With Real Madrid winning their 10th Champions League title yesterday, and more poignantly with former Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti guiding them to la D├ęcima, it became even more painfully clear how far Milan have fallen behind. Milan have seven Champions League trophies, and Real Madrid now have ten. While it made me proud to see the Milan logo proudly displayed on the pre- and postmatch graphics talking about clubs with the most titles, it was also painful, because we are so far away from earning another one. And not just losing ground in Europe, in Serie A and in general.

Like seeing your ex-girlfriend, even hotter and happier with your best friend


Milan will play their first season without Europe since 1997-1998 this year. So at best, if miracles happen and we qualify for the Champions League the following season, we have at the best a very slim chance to add an 8th Champions League Trophy in 2016 at the earliest. But those are like parting-of-the-sea kinds of miracles. When you consider that Real Madrid spent €100m in transfer fees alone for one single player and Galliani is meeting with Valencia this week to haggle down a €7m transfer fee for one player (which we agreed to when we took him on loan,) you’ll see a bit of disparity. Nevermind the clubs like PSG and Manchester City, recently hit with sanctions for non-compliance with Financial Fair Play (FFP) but who are still spending strong. PSG, for example, after raiding Milan’s two best players and all of Serie A, are reportedly paying Chelsea €50m just for David Luiz’ hair. Sideshow Bob is going to wonder where he went wrong.

But when there are teams with owners who are willing to part with their wealth and invest in top players, it really does make a difference. Just ask Atletico Madrid. All of the heart, determination, and hard work they put into this season only got them to the first 90 minutes of the Champions League Final. Their wage bill and transfer budget are a ridiculous fraction of city rivals Real Madrid, and sadly, that money for top players is what made the difference in added time. Money sometimes is everything.

Kaka and Seedorf know what to do, but will they be allowed to stay this time?

People say that Milan have no money, and while it is easy to look at Berlusconi’s alimony payments, legal fees, and investments, he is still a billionaire. A billionaire whose wealth has gone up 10% in spite of all of his woes. A billionaire who if he was willing to invest even 1% of his wealth, no, not even that much, in the club he claims to love, it would pay dividends in success, trophies, and… wait for it… financial returns. Meaning he would get most if not all of his money back, an investment with returns. You know, like it used to be when he tried to actually be gracious to the fans and fill the stadium and buy top players and win trophies? People cling to this notion that he is still our sugar daddy, but he has really just become that grumpy, stingy old man that shouts randomly at people and spits at anyone who tries to help him.

If Galliani’s level of shady behavior wasn’t made evident by the Calciopoli evidence, especially the newer evidence that didn’t make it into court because of the statute of limitations, then his reputation as the penny-pinching transfer guru should tell you something about him. We as fans have been the beneficiary of good deals and bad, but if you’ve noticed there are far more of the latter lately *cough*Matri*cough*. Not only that, but his reputation has hidden the fact that these deals actually cost more than ordinary transfer fees because of recurring wages and bonuses built into the deals that allowed us to get them so cheap. Which means we have to sell them prematurely and has basically snowballed into the financial situation we are in. So he is not the hero people have made him out to be. Add to that his inability to look ahead and plan for the future, as pointed out by Paolo Maldini, amongst others, back in 2007, who noted that there were a lot of aging champions and no youth set to replace them. In this way, we are so far behind, it’s not even funny. No coincidence, then, that 2007 was also our last European trophy.

The trophy room is unlikely to get any new additions any time soon

But sure, let’s gloss over all of this and promote the 15 year-old phenom, Hachim Mastour to the first team. I’m not sure if that was a public relations move or a for sale sign, but why don’t we just use his non-appearance in a single game as more fodder to potentially fire a promising new coach and Milan legend who actually lifted ol’ Big Ears with the club? Because all of that makes so much sense. Or sign a nearly 30 year-old poor to mediocre keeper on a free transfer to play backup to our oft-injured almost 37 year-old keeper and talk about loaning out the 21 year-old keeper we bought, apparently to warm the bench and play with our Primavera team. Because he won’t be ready for a starting position for a few years at best, if ever, especially without playing time at a decent club.

Atleti showed the world this season that money isn’t quite everything, though. A squad of decent but very affordable players and a coach with heart can win their league and fight for a Champions League title in the final with one of the wealthiest clubs in the world. So don’t tell me that it’s about not having the transfer money, Galliani. And don’t cry to me about how your family can’t afford to invest in the club anymore while your wealth increases, Berlusconi. Milan have fallen behind because of your lack of vision, your gross negligence, mismanagement, and more. Resting on one’s laurels never won any more awards, and just saying that Milan are “the most successful club in the world” (which is not even true anymore) without doing something to keep it that way doesn’t keep a club growing and winning. So my advice to Milan fans is to go to Casa Milan and visit the trophy room. It will only cost you €15, which will help pay for the 3m tall replica of the Champions League trophy in the middle of the room. Because that’s the only European trophy Milan will be seeing any time soon.


This post was inspired by the music of Rammstein