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Milan’s Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day is an American holiday since 1887 in which the weather conditions at the time that a groundhog emerges from his burrow on that day are believed to predict either an early spring or six more weeks of winter. While I do not condone reaching into the burrow of a large rodent and dragging him out in front of a bunch of people who may have already been drinking at such an early hour for a silly weather prediction, this holiday also inspired a beloved film by the same name in 1993. In the film, Bill Murray plays a character who lives and re-lives Groundhog Day over and over until he learns some important life lessons. Much like that film, I feel like Milan are stuck re-living the same hellish nightmare over and over, and we may continue until we learn our lessons.

His team's Groundhog Day cycle involves healthy balance sheets and a steady flow of trophies

So many lessons ignored. Since the beginning of the Berlusconi era, unchecked spending led to players we couldn’t afford to keep, a ginormous wage bill, and the subsequent sacrificial sale of the expensive players. It was a vicious cycle, one that had to end, and when Berlusconi stopped spending at all, it hit the club’s fortunes and bottom line like a train wreck. Had management started with a sustainable business model instead, Milan could have had trophies and financial stability. You know, like that club whose CEO is a marmotta? (Italian for groundhog.)

Another lesson which former Milan coach Allegri tried desperately to pound into our heads was injuries. He kept injuring our players to try to teach us that we needed depth in our squad, not just a starting eleven. And what a teacher he was in this area. While Milan have overall been much luckier with injuries since he left, our current injury crisis is like Bill Murray’s nightmare starting all over again with the alarm clock. Only Galliani never pays any attention to that alarm, because he’s too busy saying we’re “fine as we are.”

Our Groundhog Day loop is so complete, we are trading one bald CEO for another

Scouting and transfer policies have been questionable for some time. In 2007, Maldini discussed with Galliani that there was no “renewal” in the squad. But Galliani ignored it, kept players long past their expiration, and was more likely to get a washed up old player on a free transfer than promote from our youth academies. In fact, it took Galliani 25 years to promote his very first player, De Sciglio, from our youth teams. 25 years. He didn’t promote a single player from the youth team until the money was running out. And even though we have a plethora of youth players now, is it a lesson learned? Or an act of desperation? Certainly Cutrone’s recent promotion seems more the latter rather than the former.

So the question is: have Milan learned their lessons? If the sale of the club ever happens, will these painful lessons over the years have been enough to teach us? Or will we enter a new cycle of nightmares? While we as fans all want this movie to end happily, the actions of Sino Europe thus far give no indications of success, particularly when you look at the Groundhog Day-esque saga of the sale of the club itself. If we are truly trading one set of neverending nightmares for another, then it’s going to be way more than six more weeks of this long winter. Set your alarm and prepare to re-live these same horrors over and over, because Milan’s Groundhog Day is just beginning.

This post is inspired by the music of Us3’s “Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)

Our next match is
Milan vs. Sampdoria
Sunday, February 5 • 12:30 CET (6:30am EST)