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Happy 2018!

Happy New Year to Milanisti everywhere! After more than one year of angst, massive changes, surprise successes and devastating disappointments, the new year often resets our jaded and weary hearts with at least a small modicum of hope. And then Milan play again.

Fiorentina 1, Milan 1: Knee-Jerk Reaction

Gattuso has been begging for the guys to react, and today they did. Once. They responded with a goal within three minutes of conceding one. And other than the fact that it was Gigio’s amazing 100th appearance at the tender age of 18 years old, there wasn’t much else for me to wake up for. I mean it was a point, away… that’s so much better than some of the performances we’ve seen of late. But still… sleep… so precious.

Podcast: Still Looking for Answers

The constant turns and twists of Milan’s fate can be difficult to keep up with. We look to every game with hope in our hearts and are rarely rewarded. Off the pitch there is even more craziness, and if you are truly looking for answers, social media is definitely not the place. But as fans, if we stick together and wade through the rumors and critics and cling to reality, we can perhaps find some answers together.

Coppa Italia Quarterfinal • Milan 1, Inter 0: Turn of the Tide

Coming into this match, Gattuso said it was like a World Cup final and that the Derby “could change our season.” Those were bold statements from a coach who has looked more lost than found since he was appointed. And whose team’s results were only marginally better than their performances during his tenure to date. But maybe his words were magic. Or maybe Inter just sucked worse than Milan. Either way, emotionally, particularly in one particular moment, this actually did feel like the turn of the tide.

Coppa Italia Quarterfinal • Milan vs. Inter: Dysfunctional Family Gathering

You know those cousins that you have to see at every family gathering? The ones who spend most of their time crying unless life is going well for them, then they act like divas? Yeah, those guys. So we get to see them again on Wednesday in the Coppa Italia Quarterfinal. Only they have less than they would like to have had to brag about, having lost their past two games in a row. So I guess there will be a bunch of ugly, crying divas at the San Siro. The perfect dysfunctional family gathering.

A Very Milan Christmas

We’ve all seen drunk Santa. A guy who was down on his luck, lost his job, and took a temporary job playing Santa. But when his wife threw him out because she was in love with his best friend, he drowned his sorrows in alcohol. Which got him fired, of course, and now he is sitting in the alley, filthy and drunk and passed out. And that is exactly the shape of Milan this season on this happy occasion. Merry Christmas!

Milan 0, Atalanta 2: Bad Santa

He poses as our coach now, but the former Milan champion is more like a really Bad Santa. We expect him to bring us all of our dreams, but in the end, we’re lucky not to get roughed up and thrown in a dumpster or something. Which is what this game felt like this week. After Bad Santa stole our team’s teambuilding Christmas dinner and forced them into the always ineffective and inexplicably punitive ritiro all week, nearly 46,000 fans at the San Siro faithful added insult to injury and abused not only Gigio, but also the entire team after they failed to rise above the negative abuse from their coach this week. And the result was a painful loss at a time of the year when alcohol is already too plentiful. Perhaps if our Bad Santa had just been a little more jolly and used positive motivation instead of treating our players like children, this painful loss could have easily been avoided.

Milan-Atalanta Preview: Bah Humbug

When I first looked at the Serie A calendar, with the added Christmas fixtures, I was not excited. Not having games around Christmas was a signature of Serie A, and I personally liked it. To play Atalanta on Chrismas Eve Eve was likely going to prove problematic. But now, with where the team are, our new coach, and the enforced and admittedly punitive ritiro this week, it seems like something right out of Ebenezer Scrooge’s playbook. Bah Humbug.

The Long Road to Rebuilding

I am beginning to comprehend
the mystery
of the gift of suffering.
It is true as some
have said
that it is a crucible
in which the gold of one’s spirit
is rendered
and shines.
(from Alice Walker’s “The Long Road Home”)
That poem was written about Mohammed Ali, but it could just as easily have been written about supporting Milan. How many times have I written over the last five and a half years about our suffering, and tried to be optimistic about what the future held? It seems a pointless exercise at this point. And yet not. For we are still looking to rebuild, and in rebuilding there is hope. It’s just that it is a very long road to rebuilding.

Verona 3, Milan 0: Battle Weary

One only needs to look at the fans of the two clubs to see why Milan lost this one. On Wednesday, after Milan fans had worked themselves into a tizzy for nothing on social media, the Curva raised a banner against their own player and viciously insulted him, then whistled him every time he had the ball. Miraculously, with 9,000 “fans” like this in attendance, Milan were able to take out an uninspired Verona in the Coppa Italia. Then on this day at the Bentegodi, Verona returned the favor goal for goal. While Milan fans were shown turning their backs to the players in protest, Verona fans were ridiculously loud for the entire match, singing and chanting in… what is that called again? Oh yeah… support of their team. It literally wore me out half a world away, they were so loud for the entire game. And so between Milan fans turning on their own when the wind changes and the Verona fans creating a nonstop cacophony of support for their team, I think Milan simply were battle weary.

Verona-Milan Preview: Birthday Lunch

To celebrate the 118th birthday of AC Milan, Hellas Verona have invited us to a very special lunch date. It will be held at the Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi, with thousands of fervent Verona fans. However the only eating will be some humble pie if Milan fail to bring home three points. After defeating this same team 3-0 in the Coppa Italia on Wednesday, it would be quite the party foul if we don’t bring three points home with us as a party favor.

Coppa Italia • Milan 3, Verona 0: Common Sense

This should be a happy, joyous post about winning a match by three goals, keeping a clean sheet, and progressing to the next round of a competition no one cares about. Happy that Gattuso stuck with the 4-3-3 and not only did it completely pay off, they are really starting to come to life again. I should be thrilled that we kept a clean sheet, particularly considering the abuse our own fans gave our keeper. And for what? Rumors. Things people claim in the media blow up into things people believe in social media. And then they act worse than the people they claim are stirring things up. Yeah, this match would have been really joyful if people just had a little common sense.

Coppa Italia • AC Milan vs. Hellas Verona: More Guarantees

Every year, people say that no one cares about the Coppa Italia. But this year, Milan needs to care about every single game. With such a disappointing start, the mentality is so fragile, and every game counts just for mentality alone. Thankfully, we are going into this match after a win, largely due to a change in system from Gattuso. And after seeing the massive difference it made on Sunday, Gattuso has said that he will stick with the four man backline, as it provides “more guarantees.” This is so heartening to hear after Montella’s obsession with the three man backline, but winning a Coppa Italia match that no one cares about will provide still more guarantees.

Milan 2, Bologna 1: Winter Renewal

It was simply magical. Gattuso, atoning for the sins of himself and Montella, humbly switched formations to the 4-3-3. And Milan was richly rewarded. Instead of the stale, increasingly less offensive game that cost Montella his job, or the dead, incredibly defensive way Gattuso had the team play in his first two matches in charge, we finally saw signs of life again in a team many had left for dead. With a massive 21 shots, seven on target, poor Bologna didn’t stand a chance. And when the snow started falling at halftime, it was as if the whole night were a winter renewal.

Milan-Bologna Preview: A Fool’s Hope

In The Lord of the Rings, Pippin asks the wise Gandalf, “Is there any hope…?” To which Gandalf replies “There never was much hope. Just a fool’s hope.” The same could be said for fans with Gattuso. His coaching record is poor, he’s completely inexperienced in Serie A and Europe, and his behavior record has actually interfered with him being able to coach. Those who blindly thought that merely changing coaches would bring results to Milan have been shown to be fools already, with the games away toBenevento and Rijeka. However, Frodo and Sam were successful even when all hope seemed dead. So maybe there is a chance for us Sunday night after all. Even if it’s just a fool’s hope.

Europa League: Rijeka 2, Milan 0: Lifeless

Zero shots on goal. Zero. And only seven shots total. Despite the fact that the stats say we had 67% possession, this little Croatian team dominated Milan for 90 minutes. And very rightfully won, too. In fact, they probably should have had more goals. Gattuso said Milan have a mentality problem. But it’s much worse than that. Tactically, physically, and emotionally, our team was lifeless.

Europa League • HNK Rijeka-AC Milan: Bottom Feeders

With literally nothing to lose and nothing to gain, Rijeka host Gattuso’s European debut on Thursday. If that goes anything like the bottom of the Serie A table’s Benevento match, then we have plenty to fear. Milan are top of their group, guaranteed to advance, and Rijeka are the bottom of the group, guaranteed not to advance. Which means that all they have to gain is our misery and humiliation at the hands of the team at the bottom of our group. That’s what bottom feeders do… thrive off of the trash that fell to the bottom.

Benevento 2, Milan 2: Hexed

The writing was on the wall. Benevento with their perfect failure record, just waiting to be broken. Milan having just downgraded coaches, playing away and ready for the slightest change in the wind to drop points to the team at the absolute bottom of the table. And we almost managed to take all three points in spite of ourselves. But with a little help from Mariani, Le Streghe brewed the perfect and most unbelievable spell and conjured their very first Serie A point at the death. At the cost of Milan’s dignity. It definitely feels like we were hexed.

Benevento vs. Milan: Spellbound

Gattuso censored, tactful, and sporting as usual

Podcast: Lowered Expectations

With the long overdue yet surprise sacking of Montella and the unfortunately predictable promoting of Gattuso from the Primavera squad, fans are dealing with yet another change at the club. And not a change for the better. Despite making a coaching change to improve results, management have chosen a coach who is least likely to do that. It seems the club have lowered expectations.

Shake It Up

Montella’s time was limited, we’ve known that for a while. But ever since reports came out that Gattuso would be their go-to guy if Montella was sacked, fans became much less excited about losing the frustrating, mediocre tactician. Ambrosini, Gattuso’s former teammate, has suggested that sometimes chemistry can overcome experience in a team. That was really kind of him to say that about his friend. But it’s about as realistic as finding a pot of gold on the way to work tomorrow. Even Fassone and Mirabelli aren’t promising results, they simply claim that this is the change needed to shake it up.

Milan 0, Torino 0: Montella’s Last Stand

Some people go out in a ball of flames, others go out in 90 minutes of mind-numbing frustration. Montella did not do the first. But after over 51,000 fans watched this side “dominate,” yet draw to Torino, Montella was finally sacked. The irony of Montella being sacked after facing Mihajlovic is not lost on me, especially with the direct juxtaposition of quality and spending on players, but the result being level. And we can’t say we didn’t see this coming, either, especially since Montella had so many problems just even matching up his clothes.Still, with the lack of action on management’s part to date, it was nevertheless a bit of a surprise to find out that this was Montella’s last stand.

Milan-Torino Preview: Sitting Bull

For those of you familiar with American history, you’ll recognize the name of Sitting Bull. He was a Lakota spiritual leader who inspired victories for his people such as the Battle of Little Bighorn, aka Custer’s Last Stand. Well the Bulls of Torino also have a spiritual leader whose name you will recognize: Sinisa Mihajlovic. And he has led his people to 9th place on the table, just one point behind Milan, despite having missed his star scorer, Belotti, for a while to injury. And yes, that is the Belotti that Milan fans wanted this summer. But he’s back alongside the unpredictable Ljajic, the underrated Iago Falque, and our former Niang. Together, they create a formidable attack that any team should be wary of, especially if their coach is like Sitting Bull.

Europa League: AC Milan 5, Austria Wien 1: Déjà vu

We knew coming into this match that we should come out on top. Not just because we beat Austria Wien so handily before in their house, but because they were plagued with injuries. After Bonucci challenged Milan fans to show up to the San Siro, about 18,000 fans did. I don’t know what everyone else was doing, because it wasn’t Thanksgiving in Italy. But maybe they knew that Milan would win in spite of themselves, capitalizing on Austria Wien’s mistakes and trying not to make too many of their own. They missed out, though, because the game was kind of a spectacle, even if the scoreline was more like déjà vu.

Europa League • AC Milan vs. Austria Wien: A Milan Thanksgiving

Europa League • Milan-Austria Wien Preview: Blitzkrieg

Bonucci sent a video message to the fans the other day asking for their support on Thursday because Milan can secure our place in the next round with a win vs. Austria Wien. And I don’t know about you, but I do whatever Bonucci asks me to do because he’s Bonucci. (translation: badass.) But it made me realize that after defeating them 5-1 in their housein September, Milan can be decisive on Thursday, even with our questionable performances of late and Montella’s woeful tactics and lineups. So I’m hoping for a blitzkrieg, or “lightning war” directly translated. It’s a swift and powerful, often surprise attack which is meant to guarantee victory in a war. So basically the opposite of how Milan have been playing.

Napoli 2, Milan 1: Puzzled

You know when you are watching someone trying to put together a puzzle and you see how the pieces fit, but they don’t? No matter what, they can’t put it together. That is what it is like for Milan fans watching Montella’s lineups and tactics. And one cannot help but feel that if he could just put those pieces together, this team could actually win more games. But if it’s not Montella, or his beloved Tweedle Dee (Montolivo) and Tweedle Dum (Borini,) then it’s that damned VAR. No explanation at all for its random usage, I only know that it sucks to be on the wrong end of its misuse. Needless to say, this game left me puzzled.

Napoli-Milan Preview: Adding Insult to Injury

It’s been a tumultuous season so far. The injuries are starting to stack up, too, despite the new physical trainer, Mario Innaurato, finally being made official midweek. Then you add the woes of Italian football by not qualifying for Russia, sacking Ventura, and everyone calling for Tavecchio to resign, and it’s been a tough week. But just when you thought the pain was coming to a close, Milan have a trip to the San Paolo tomorrow to face the league leaders, who are in great form. It’s like adding insult to injury.

Inconsolable Loss

I never thought I’d see the day when Italy failed to qualify for the World Cup. And just when it seemed that they were finally losing the shackles of the aftermath of Calciopoli, when Serie A was on the rise again in Europe. It is devastating for Italy, its players, and its fans worldwide. Some say it is a wake up call, an opportunity for change. But if anyone has ever survived a natural disaster, they would tell you it’s not a wake up call. It’s traumatic and devastating and life will never be the same. And for me, this failure to qualify is also those things. It’s an inconsolable loss.

Montella’s Panic Attack

Montella’s comparing this summer’s player purchases as “a new wardrobe” and then, ahead of his 15 th competitive match this season, admitting he still needed to find “which trousers go with which socks” was completely unnerving. Fourteen games played, and he still had no idea who his best eleven were. Unbelievable. It was even more unnerving than his formation choices and reasoning. But amidst all of this is the complete mystery of how he chooses his attack. Not just by formation, but by performances and goals scored. And the fewer goals we score, the more flustered and bizarre his choices seem to be. It’s like he’s having a panic attack.

Triple Threatening

It’s not news that Milan have been struggling. Nor is it news that the injuries are starting to accumulate. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, the first game of our third competition is only about a month away. So take the tactics, the mentality, the travel, the fatigue and injuries, and multiply it times three, because Milan’s results are about to be triple threatening.

Sassuolo 0, Milan 2: Saving Montella

In unhealthy relationships, there is often the person who is causing the problem, and then there is the person who enables that person and feeds the dysfunction. Both are unhealthy, both contribute to the problem. This match highlighted that, because Montella, again going with the 3-5-2 and his mismatched “clothing,” had his dysfunction covered by the team and their win. Like the best of enablers, their performance not only produced three much needed points, but also contributed to saving Montella.

Sassuolo-Milan Preview: Salt in the Wound

With Sassuolo in 17th place, hovering just above the relegation zone, one would think that this would be an easy win for Milan, even playing away. But nothing is easy at Milan right now, and our performances have spiraled back downward rather than the brief improvement that we were seeing. Add to that our weariness from traveling and playing on Thursday in the Europa League, and this is not looking pretty. Not to mention that Sassuolo are both Milan killers and also the abysmal coach killers. With so much stacked against us, it’s impossible to see how a loss wouldn’t just be salt in the wound.

Europa League • AEK Athens 0, AC Milan 0: Black Hole

I literally fell asleep watching this game, and it was a far more worthwhile activity. Having watched every painful minute after waking up, I feel like my brain and soul were sucked into a black hole. Like that 90 minutes was 90 years of my life that I’ll never get back. Even worse that this match was played at the very stadium where we won our last Champions League Final. It was like if you went to an amazing venue to see a world famous rock band, and then the next time you were there, you saw a group of 75 year-olds playing accordions and falling asleep during their own songs. Yes, it really was that bad.

Europa League • AEK Athens vs. AC Milan: Into the Fray

After an action-packed but scoreless draw at the San Siro two weeks ago, Milan head to Athens for a battle of the best of group D. Milan are currently top of the group by two points, but that could change with a defeat tomorrow. With only one win in our last six competitive matches, Milan also need to get back to winning ways for morale purposes. But AEK are a tough team and not easily disposed of. Certainly they kept us off the scoreboard last time. So Milan are heading to Athens and heading into the fray.

A Milan Horror Story

It was a dark and stormy night. After having changed ownership and then spent over €200m to buy a whole new starting eleven this summer, Milan were precariously perched at eighth place on the table. In their first 11 league games, they had lost a shocking five of them, making fans cower in fear. And every time they lost a match or played poorly, there were unholy voices whispering, nay screaming incantations of fear and dread regarding the club’s financial status and future. It was enough to make fans’ blood curdle.

Milan 0, Juve 2: Trick or Treat

The Halloween tradition of trick-or-treating has really become a way for children to exploit their neighborhoods for free candy. But the origins were that the children would receive either a treat or perhaps a trick – a prank or something undesirable. This match was closer to that version of Haloween. Juventus got their treats, and Milan got tricked into keeping their coach despite yet another poor result.

Milan-Juve Preview: Please Make It Stop

Despite a midweek win away to Chievo that was still underwhelming as far as performance, it feels like we have been hit by a bus… and then a train, a tank, and maybe impaled by a rocket. Between the poor morale and the even more poor performances, this is not the game we’d like to play this week. But here we are, facing Bonucci’s ex-club, but without Bonucci. Just please make it stop.

Chievo 1, Milan 4: When Donkeys Fly

You’ve heard the phrase “when pigs fly,” but almost equally unbelievable is when donkeys fly. At least that’s how it worked out for Milan. After a long string of poor performances but sometimes getting results, then a string of improving performance without results, Milan’s luck finally switched when facing the Flying Donkeys.

Chievo-Milan Preview: Grounded

Donkeys are not the most feared species on the planet. However flying donkeys are another thing altogether. And Chievo’s flying donkeys come into this match flying high in seventh place on the table. If Milan were playing as well as Montella deludes himself into thinking they were, this wouldn’t even be an issue, and we would also have a much higher spot on the table. However reality is very different from Montella’s perceptions and Milan are instead 11th on the table and plummeting. So Chievo are flying high and Milan are simply grounded.

Milan 0, Genoa 0: Dismissed

In a must-win game, Milan played a very stale stalemate with the 17th place Genoa. Most will argue that we drew because we played 65 minutes on ten men. However Milan took 17 shots with seven on goal, and still failed to convert. So it’s not as if they didn’t have their chances. But if we continue to play like this, our Champions League hopes will be all but dismissed.

Milan-Genoa Preview: Hot Water

You have probably heard the analogy of the frogs in a pot. When placed in room temperature water in a pot, they are oblivious to the rising temperature of the water until it is too late and they cannot jump to safety. I feel like Montella and Milan have been starting to simmer in the heat of disappointing performances, and if they don’t start jumping now, it will be too late. Well at least for Montella, he definitely seems to be out of his element and in some very hot water.

Europa League • AC Milan 0, AEK Athens 0: Looking for Answers

Sometimes the result does not tell the entire story of a match. This was one of those matches. Milan had 60% possession, 24 shots and 9 on target, but still didn’t score. They played much better than they had in some losses, or even some wins, but still only got a point. Which opened up a lot of new questions, including many about whether or not Montella is fit for the job and how much longer they will give him. It also left everyone looking for answers.

Europa League Preview • AC Milan vs. AEK Athens: Pitfall

Milan are supposed to be focusing on Serie A. And that’s not going well for us at all. With the poor mentality and even worse performances, how much will Montella and the boys focus on the Europa League? Will Montella give some players a rest that have been playing the majority of the games? Or will he take this opportunity to do some more experiments with tactics? The thing is, although we are supposed to be focusing on the league, we are needing more and more desperately to perform well in the Europa League. And it is at this point of increased desperation that we face the toughest opponent in our group, AEK Athens. It’s a danger that could be overlooked in light of all of the struggles, a potential pitfall.

In Defense of Bonucci

In these days of social media and instant news, even the more respected pundits make rash judgments and generalizations about players, coaches, and games. Especially when there is controversy, a precedent, or a bandwagon to jump on. Bonucci leaving Juventus and coming to Milan was the controversy of the summer in Serie A. But it also created a magnifying glass-like effect on everything he has done since he made the switch. Meaning that whatever he would do, good or bad, would be magnified hundreds of times by pundits, the media, social media, and both Milan and Juve fans. Despite this explosive and unforgiving climate, today I wanted to offer a few words in defense of Leonardo Bonucci.

Inter 3, Milan 2: Snake Vomit

We’ve all seen times in life where the worst person gets away with murder, rape, or Calciopoli. And honestly, between Icardi and Inter, they have probably done all of that and more. But tonight Inter were the better team on the pitch for 90 minutes. And so as Milan fans, we are left cleaning the San Siro of all of that snake vomit before our Europa League clash on Thursday. You know, since Inter aren’t playing midweek at all.

Inter vs. Milan : Sent to Destroy

Kessie was Sent to Destroy

Inter vs. Milan Preview: So Much More Than Three Points

The Derby della Madonnina is more than just a football game, it’s a Derby like no other. This year, it’s even bigger than that. With both teams having been purchased by Chinese owners and hundreds of millions of Euros having been poured into them, the rivalry is even deeper and steeped in investment. Both teams are looking for a top four finish, and this is not just a mere three points in that race, either. So the usual pride and three points are not all that is at stake. With one team’s history filled with trophies won with beautiful football and the other team’s history filled with shame, cheating, and titles that don’t belong to them, the Derby would be fiery enough. But now that there are heavy investments and future success on the line, this Derby is so much more than three points.

A Derby Like No Other

Il Derby della Madonnina is truly a derby like no other. It is fierce, yet it is family. It is fiery but not hostile. We share a stadium, a city, and our beginnings. And yet the two teams couldn’t be more different. In a world where derbies are so many things, this derby stands out for so many reasons.

Podcast: Borini for Captain

Milan are playing poorly, and mentality seems to be suffering. With three losses in seven league matches, everyone is getting stressed out. The players are under scrutiny. Montella particularly is under scrutiny. There have already been crisis meetings with Fassone and Mirabelli. But one solution has been largely overlooked, and this podcast reveals it: Borini for Captain.