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Milan 3, Cagliari 1: With or Without You

Milan are the new Relegation Beaters™. Milan have only won three Serie A matches this calendar year, and they have all been against the three teams in the relegation zone. Today’s match came at an important time, though, as fans and the media have built expectations and disappointments into such a frenzy, one that has greatly impacted the morale of the team as well as fans all over the world. So the decisive 3-1 win was a welcome distraction from all of the rumors and negativity surrounding the club. And they even pulled off the win without the Curva Sud, the fans who claim to support the team but missed a decent game tonight so that they could go get their pedicures or whatever. That’s right, Curva Sud, Milan will find a way to win on the pitch with or without you.

A reason to celebrate, too bad some people didn't come to the party

I had hoped that we would see a decent performance tonight after some encouraging football last week, despite the loss to Fiorentina. So it was refreshing in the 21st minute to see Poli reclaim the ball and dribble it up and give a nice pass to Menez only for Menez to then send it in with a brilliant strike to make it 1-0 Milan. So far, so good. The Curva Sud sure missed a beautiful goal.

However, right after the half, Mexes conceded a goal when Farias schooled him. 1-1 all. But two minutes later, he made up for it. Mexes had an amazing volley that bounced on the ground and then went screaming into the goal, leaving Brkic completely helpless. 2-1 Milan. Brkic had a few amazing saves, even if Diego Lopez wasn’t called upon as much. But the best part is that Mexes’ goal came from a set piece. A corner, even. Too bad the Curva missed that one, too. All the kids at the stadium sure missed out on what the Curva usually bring to the table.

15 goals in Serie A, 8 of them penalties, but who's complaining?

But I haven’t mentioned Tagliavento, the legendary referee who can change games faster than Milan can concede on set pieces. He couldn’t just let Milan win on their own. So in the 77th, when Ceppitelli tripped Cerci up just outside of the area, Tagliavento seized the opportunity and awarded Milan an undeserved penalty. Which Menez stepped up and converted to make it 3-1 Milan. That also gave Menez joint-top scorer title in the league. Bravo, Tagliavento. Too bad you couldn’t completely throw the match, but this was at least the wrong call.

Speaking of the wrong call, the Curva Sud made another one for this match. They chose to boycott the game, something a true fan should never do. You see, a fan, by very definition, supports their team. And when you choose to very publicly and openly not support your team, regardless of how noble the cause, then you are no longer, by definition, a fan.

As for their cause, what they were trying to do was noble, but too little too late, in my opinion. I loved when they let their voice be heard at the team presentation last summer. That was a great venue, great timing, great location, and their open letter was brilliantly written. Their coreo is usually brilliant, their other public statements this year have been absolutely brilliant as well.

The Curva got it wrong like most of Mexes' bicycle kick attempts

But the Curva have a darker side. Remember the Genoa match a year and a half ago? They blockaded the garage, trapping the team busses and players from both teams and threatened our team with sticks. We were all frustrated, but that is criminal behavior. Or who could forget how they disgraced Paolo Maldini at his farewell because of a petty beef they had with him? It ruined the day for Maldini, for the club, and fans of football and Milan everywhere, forever marring history. They are not heroes, they are terrorists.

The cause is certainly deservingI don’t know a Milan fan who doesn’t want transparency from this club, for Berlusconi to clarify his position and to know where the club is heading. Their message yesterday was well-intentioned, well-articulated, and I think that boycotting Milan merchandise is perfect. But when they turned their backs on our team at a time when their beloved Inzaghi and his team needed them most, not only did they miss out on some nice goals, they made the match all about them instead. They left an empty Curva for the kids from 33 different countries who were there for the Milan Junior Camp. They left an empty Curva for those families celebrating Father’s Day with their dads. And they left an empty Curva for the team they claim to support. And they went home empty-handed, too, as no clarity was going to be given there.

There are so many other things they could do to get Berlusconi’s attention, if that’s what they really wanted. Demand a meeting, for one, protest at Casa Milan and the Milan stores for another. I think if they threatened to boycott the team’s sponsors, Berlusconi would take instant note, because we can’t afford to lose that revenue, it’s much, much larger than matchday revenue or merchandise revenue. So very many things they could do if all they wanted was answers and clarity. But they didn’t want only Berlusconi’s attention, and maybe they didn’t even want just the clarity they requested, given that missing a game was not ever going to give them that. They wanted their 15 minutes of fame. After all, Berlusconi himself wasn’t even there, and to my knowledge, no answers have been given (nor will they be given.)

Kinda seems like the games are just beginning, but it's the Curva who lost this round
They hung banners to ensure that their absence was noticed, including one with the #SaveMilan hashtag. That is absolutely disgusting, as it is clearly referring to the recent #SaveParma hashtag. Parma’s players have showed up to play all season long without even being paid, and ours are overpaid, as the Curva cleverly pointed out earlier this season. Parma just entered into bankruptcy, and their current owner is in prison. So nothing like Parma at all. It’s actually too bad that we aren’t playing Parma again this season so that the Parma Ultras could have a few words with our Curva Sud about what that hashtag means and what it means to truly suffer as a fan. Disgusting.

All I know is that not even the ridiculously entitled behavior of the Curva Sud, demanding answers by not showing up, could ruin this win for me. We may be the Relegation Beaters™, and that could literally be our last win of the season, but I watched it. All 90 minutes of it. And then I watched it again. Because it was refreshing compared to what I’ve had to watch of my Milan of late, and because I am a fan. I don’t turn my back on my team when they play. I will raise hell 24/7 about management and more outside of that 90 minutes, and I shamelessly do all of the time. But when that whistle blows, regardless of who is wearing the shirt or what nonsense is going on behind the scenes, I watch my boys in red and black no matter what. Luckily, they decided to win today in spite of the Curva Sud’s foolishness. Because our players actually represent the club no matter what. They will always show up to play, and as they showed today, will even win, with or without you.

This post was inspired by U2’s “With or Without You”

Our next match is a friendly
Reggiana vs. Milan
Wednesday, March 25 at Mapei Stadium