There are many factors that have contributed to the amazing transformation between the Milan squad of May and the Milan squad of August. Obviously, the addition by subtraction of a number of poor quality of players is one factor. And the actual addition of some quality players is another big one, as well as the massive gesture from management to actually invest in a transfer market again. But the singular most powerful cause of the transformation is Mister Mihajlovic.

His leadership is visible and tangible, and the squad have actively chosen to follow

In his presentation press conference, we saw him use carefully chosen but well spoken language to communicate very clearly but powerfully. And when his boss and owner of the club, former prime minister and billionaire Silvio Berlusconi tried to interrupt him, we saw him stand up to him in a way that was classy but also got the message across: don’t interrupt me. He was powerfully humble in his appeal to the fans, then sealed the deal with a quote from Milan’s founder. This showed he was willing to do his homework and that he cared enough to show respect for the fans, too.

Next we saw him forging the players like molten steel by putting them through punishing double training sessions. But the players didn’t complain, because he wasn’t breaking them psychologically with the hard work, he had already earned their trust and respect. Not only did they gain physical fitness and strength, but their mentality was strengthened, too, and they were becoming a team. And then, after all of their hard work, he invited them all to dinner and paid for it, even though many of them make more money than he does. It was a gesture that ensured their respect.

Neither rain nor stifling humidity nor anything else will stop his training sessions

Then came the friendlies. Shaky at first, then stronger, then with some disappointment, and then even stronger. He gave everyone time to prove themselves, and while he was obviously developing a starting eleven, he was also looking at every player and every pairing. He never apologized for his choices, only encourages players to work harder to earn their spot. Then there started this sneaking suspicion that he was actually considering utilizing some younger players in more than just the friendlies. As in very young. And on Monday, in our first competitive match, he did.

If he didn’t already have the trust and faith of the Milan fans, I think that sealed the deal. That is, for those who were not already able to see the miraculous transformations throughout the rest of the squad. There is belief and unity and hunger that we haven’t seen in a long time. There is also a quality of football that we haven’t seen in a long time, too. Most prominently on display is the ability to actually defend. Not by waiting until the ball gets to the back four and hoping they can work miracles, but by everyone being attentive, passing more clinically, and utilizing possession more effectively.

He's not afraid to give a player a kick in the butt if they need it.

And speaking of effectiveness, how about his press conferences? We win a game 2-0 and he is quick to point out that the players did well and gave up nothing, but also quick to point out that they didn’t take advantage of the other team being on ten men. Not lambasting them or shaming them for their mistakes, nor letting them get too full of themselves for the win, just putting his expectations out there and letting them know that they can do better. He also called out the fans for whistling their own player during a match. He let them know they could do it afterward if the performance was poor, but not during. He’s not afraid to call anyone out, but does it with class, and with the respect he’s already earned by hard work and tangible results.

His "big personality" commands respect, but he never tries to just take the respect

It is early to claim that we will win the Scudetto, and we may not always feel so positive about everything Mihajlovic does. But that is not what this post is about, it is about the massive transformation that has occurred in such short time in our squad, both mentally and physically. That transformation has definitely happened with changes in a number of ways, but Mihajlovic has absolutely been the most powerful force in changing the mentality of the team, the fans, and management. Not only does he say the perfect things, but he embodies those words and has managed to actually do what he said he would, to actually get this squad to execute his ideas. Whatever happens during the season, he is starting us all off with a positive mentality and the good football to justify it. That is a transformation we have all been waiting for.

This post inspired by the music of The Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations”

Our next match is
Serie A Round 1
Fiorentina vs. Milan
Sunday, August 23 • 20:45 CEST (2:45pm EDT)

Transformation Transformation Reviewed by Elaine on 7:00 AM Rating: 5
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