Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Watch it Burn


There is an overwhelming idea that throwing money at the fire that is AC Milan right now will turn our fortunes on the pitch to gold. That if Silvio just keeps spending and buying better players, somehow we will just magically transform into a winning squad and live happily ever after. You know, kind of like Abramovic at Chelsea. That’s going well. (There may be a correlation between Chelsea’s acquisition of Marco Amelia and their demise, but that’s for another post.) So if you believe that throwing cash at the transfer window is all this team needs, then I dare you to take whatever hard earned money you have, throw it into a fire, and see if it turns into gold. I’m waiting. Go ahead, throw all of your money in a fire and watch it burn…

All the best players and all the best coaches could not put Milan back together again

Not going to do it? I don’t think Milan will, either, as I said in my previous post. Nearly three years ago, I wrote a piece called “The House that Berlusconi Built.” You should read it, it will remind you of where we were just six months after losing Ibra and Thiago Silva and all of those Senatori at the same time. It will also remind you that there were bigger problems at Milan then, and that those same problems still exist. Both within management, and within Berlusconi’s own house, too. Creating two CEOs later that year was just one more problem to heap onto the fire. The house that Berlusconi built was burning even then. Ironically, very little has changed.

You could also read a post I wrote in June of this year, called "Sacchi’s Milan Wasn’t Built in a Day.” Written before Berlusconi threw his cash at the fire and spent a reported €90m to bring in players like Bacca, Romagnoli, and Bertolacci this past summer. If you read the post, you’ll note that Sacchi’s Milan had a foundation and a core group of players, not to mention a lack of so many of the problems that Milan has now. So with a total now of 70 players out and 56 players in since 2012, still nothing has really changed. We still haven’t stopped hemorrhaging players and started to actually rebuild. So many players come and gone, of varying levels of quality, and yet no gold, no Europe, no trophies. The club is still burning, and with Berlusconi’s desperate complaints about money, and FFP lurking around the corner, I’d say the fire is only getting hotter. Speaking of fire, how’s your cash doing? Did it turn to gold yet? Here’s a hint: it’s not going to. There’s a better way to turn it to gold and there’s a better way to bring success back to Milan, too.

Just because they share a birthday doesn't mean they should share a job

First, you have to put out the fire. You should never leave a fire unattended. But Milan have so many fires to put out, it can be hard to know where to start. Unless, of course, you start at the top. Anyone who has ever studied business or even has a brain knows that no company can be successful with two CEOs. A house divided and all that. Silvio couldn’t choose between a longterm friend who has become very, very bad at his job, and his daughter (read: family name,) who despite her business degree, has very little football experience. When choosing between blind loyalty and blind nepotism, he chose both, when the answer should have been neither. He should have never let Galliani make those positions below him obsolete and make himself so difficult to replace. If Papa Berlu had been tending to his club, he would have been grooming Galliani’s successor all along, then setting Galliani free long before it got to this point.

And what good is it handing your daughter a title when you are just going to undermine anything she does? Oh yeah, this is Italy. Women can’t do anything but smile and decorate things. Perhaps Silvio would do well to figure out just how wrong that stereotype is. Barbara is smart, and if she was his choice, she could probably do some really good things at Milan if he allowed her to actually do them. Like that six page report she wrote about how it was wrong to sell Thiago Silva (but of course, Daddy didn’t listen.) Or when as soon as Galliani resigned, she picked up the phone and called Paolo Maldini to offer him a job (but of course, Daddy reinstated Galliani and Maldini never got hired.) She knew exactly what to do. And certainly those stadium plans were amazing (but of course, Daddy scrapped those.) But screw all of that, I hear there is a new app for the iOS that allows you to have a Milan themed keyboard. Amazing. Now go put on a shorter dress, Barbara, Galliani is about to tell everyone we’ve got to sell our best players. Again.

If everyone smiles long enough, then everyone will believe we're all just one big happy family... right?

But what does any of that have to do with the results on the pitch? Well, we have our fourth coach in less than two years, still paying three of those salaries, by the way. With the merry go round of players, we have no foundation or sense of continuity on the pitch or from the coaching bench. And a captain who should never have been the captain. No “team” in team, if you will, only individuals in between other clubs. And despite the fact that our wage bill is the third highest in Serie A without the quality or results to show for it, and we are still paying Juventus the transfer fee for Matri (even if he is on his third loan since that wise investment,) we're expected to return to the Champions League. That makes total sense, right? People say you have to spend money to make money, but that’s not true if you don’t spend well. And tell me how all of this doesn’t impact the results on the pitch… you know, while you watch all of your cash burn. Just a cursory glance at the situation from the bottom up should give anyone nightmares.

In addition to the most obvious fact that you can’t make a winning team from a revolving door transfer policy with even the best players, there is the mentality. The coach and the players know that they can and likely will be replaced. Probably in the next transfer window, or perhaps they’ll be benched or sacked well before that. Having that thought in their heads already handicaps them in a way that former Milan players (and even many coaches) never were, not to mention preventing any sort of loyalty to Milan. Then they are bombarded with negative comments from Berlusconi and Galliani as well as others in the media (looking at poor Zapata. Just consider the source.) And now, they have the perils of social media as well, everything from the average fan @messaging them hateful thoughts directly to things like “The Birsa Effect,” where social media at large can change people’s perceptions of players and events worldwide and even at the club level. Not to mention the Curva Sud, who have their own agenda. (Spoiler alert: it’s not supporting the team.)

Why build a team properly and buy the right players when you can just descend upon Milanello every Friday to get the wins?

But the fire at Milan burns at every level. Even in the kit room. Galliani’s ex brother-in-law was recently arrested for stealing kits and equipment from the team. No wonder we have that hideous third kit, it was supposed to be a theft deterrent. Instead, the guys have to wear it on the pitch, and that can’t help the mentality, either. Everyone knows that when you look good, you have confidence, while the opposite is also true. And when you are undermined by everyone from the owner to one of two CEO’s to the transfer windows to social media to having your kits and equipment stolen, then it doesn’t matter how much money was spent on you or your teammates, you are never going to win. There is a fire that is burning Milan from the inside out, and throwing money at it is neither going to produce trophies nor gold.

Berlusconi doesn’t seem to worry about things burning. But he’s very quick to remind us how much money he wasted this year, so I’m guessing that he’s not ready to keep throwing his cash into the fire. He’s in a tight spot, though, because if he invests in this mercato, he’s burning his cash and also once again re-setting the rebuilding clock back to zero. If he doesn’t invest money in this mercato, he’s not likely to see a vast improvement in results any time soon, which will also contribute to the fire that is burning at Milan. Particularly if there’s no Europe again next year, another much needed source of cash. Until he finds someone else to spend his money in a way that will actually benefit the club, and/or makes other much needed changes at the top of the club, Milan is going to continue to burn. Would you throw your cash into that fire? I didn’t think so. It’s hard enough as a Milan fan just to watch it burn.


My lawyers have asked me to remind you that any cash that you may have burned is on you. My words were not a call to action, but rather a metaphor to bring home the point of wasting money. I mean fire is awesome, and burning anything is super fun, but you did not hear that from me. Fire safety is important (my lawyers made me type that, too.) Milan Obsession is neither responsible for nor will be reimbursing anyone for any damages or losses remotely related to the burning of money or anything else. Not even for you, Silvio.


This post inspired by the music of Sublime’s “April 29, 1992”


Our next match is
Milan vs. Bologna
Wednesday, January 6th, 2016 • 15:00 CET (9am EST)