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Milan 1, Verona 1: Back on the Blame Game


When a team does not achieve their desired results for long enough, they have several options. One is to take responsibility, put their heads down, and keep on working and make necessary changes to impact results. Another could be to blame others for their mistakes in order to deflect the attention from their own shortcomings. Apparently, we are now taking the latter option. We’re back on the blame game.

Can't blame a strike like that... even Adriano is impressed

When there are ten cards in a single match, the referee becomes a talking point. Whether he made poor calls, didn’t keep control of the match, or thought he was passing out Christmas cards, there simply aren’t a lot of games that deserve that much attention to detail (or lack thereof.) But rarely is there a game in which poor calls decisively and dramatically change the outcome of a game. As in a team dominated and deserved to win, but due to poor ref calls, the other team took three points. No, I have always said that if you want to win, you will win in spite of the ref. And today, Milan didn’t.

The lineups were intriguing. Cerci was dropped like a diseased rat, with the center forward M’Baye Niang taking his spot. Played out of position, still an improvement. De Jong fatefully started his first game since September and wasn’t doing too badly until a clumsy error saw him sent off in the 55th, sending Milan down to ten men. @InfostradaLive reports that this was only his third career red, and his first one since 2006, when he was playing for Hamburger SV. What inopportune timing.

But if you were upset with him for making the singular mistake that unfortunately impacted the team and the game, why not direct some of your anger toward Montolivo, who had a much worse game, losing the ball and straight out passing it to the opposition throughout the match until he was subbed off in the 78th? His mistakes were worse, even if De Jong’s consequence for his one error was more harsh.

Perhaps Bonaventura is the only player channeling the Milan greats from the past

Bonaventura did not get the memo that Milan were supposed to suck in this match, the guy created and took so many chances, it was incredible. And Bacca, of course, scored a screamer in the 52nd to shut the people up who were talking about his form. Too bad the penalty De Jong gave away that was converted by Toni just four minutes later would make his goal less significant.

Also insignificant were Milan’s 57% possession and 17 shots (with six on goal.) But whether that is to blame on the club, the coach, the players, the mentality, the referee, or whatever is up to the individual. The 20 year old Gollini certainly had a massive game, as do all keepers miraculously when facing Milan. The players certainly should have been more clinical, and also should have had a better mentality. Mihajlovic did not succeed at changing much of anything, least of all that mentality, this week after drawing against the 19th place team last week. Luckily everyone gets another chance vs. the 18th place team next week.

Bacca's reaction to learning we'll play our third relegation team in as many weeks on Sunday

But having watched Milan for so long, when playing the blame game, all answers point upward for me. All the way to the top. If I as a fan struggle to wake up at 6am to watch this Milan, would changing a few players, the coach, or even the whole team really make the difference? Because it hasn’t over the last three and a half years. By my count, we’ve sent 70 players out and brought 56 new players in during that time. We are on our fourth coach during that time, too, and yet the problems remain the same. So why is everyone pointing the finger at the ref on this one? You could almost interchange footage from last week’s unceremonious draw vs. Carpi, or many of the other matches this past three and a half years with today’s match, and the result would always be the same.

Let’s stop being ridiculous here. As we discussed on the last podcast, this management are not taking this club anywhere but backwards. The reports of Montolivo’s three year extension, particularly when juxtaposed with Galliani’s bragging this week about chasing Montolivo for 20 years tell you everything you need to know about blaming. It was bad enough when we signed actual former talents like Ronaldinho past their prime, but now we’re hanging on to players who never amounted to anything and treating them like they are Ballon d’or winners. While still drawing to relegation teams. Meanwhile, Berlusconi visits the opposition locker room postmatch, dismisses two years and millions of euros investment from the club (even from his own daughter) and walks away from the most important step forward, a new stadium, as if it was choosing a restaurant. And instead of doing anything at all to move the club forward, he just complains about how much money he spent.

Mihajlovic will probably never get enough credit for walking into a manure factory and trying to play football

I used to believe that the players could overcome all of this on the pitch. I used to believe that the football was the most important thing, something to cling to in light of all of this management horror show. But I’m not sure if I believe that anymore. It’s like watching a beautiful child being slowly and painfully tortured and suffocated, and not being able to do anything to stop it. And being expected to watch it, to enjoy it, and even to support those who are doing the killing. I am so confused, this red and black blood runs through me, but how much are we expected to endure? Montolivo’s extension is like another three years of guaranteed torture, and there is nothing to lead me to believe that it will end even after that.

Blaming Valeri for today’s result is like blaming the weather reporter for correctly predicting a big storm. Today’s result was just another match in a painfully long series of matches where Milan did not dominate and take what was rightfully theirs. And that series is not because of Mihajlovic, De Jong, Montolivo, Cerci, the ref, or anyone else on that pitch today. Or any of the other players or coaches of Milan past. But go ahead, if it makes you feel better to divert the attention away from the real problem yet again, blame whomever you want. Milan are back on the blame game.


This post inspired by the music of NIN’s “Hurt”


Our next match is
Coppa Italia Fifth Round
Sampdoria vs. Milan
Thursday, December 17 • 21:00 CET (3pm EST)