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Milan 0, Roma 2: Disbelief

It was unimaginable that a team with Champions League aspirations would lose three of their first seven matches, even if they were a new team with so many new players. It was impossible to think that a coach who was under fire would wait until his team conceded two goals and a player asking to be subbed before he made a single change. So difficult to understand how a team like Milan would play a game that was so much improved to recent matches against their toughest opponent yet, and then implode in the space of eight minutes to drop three points. At the final whistle, I think everyone was in a state of disbelief.


In a crowd of almost 62,000, there were a lot of famous people: Totti, Baresi, Barbara Berlusconi, Galliani, Gattuso, Cafu, Oddo, the injured Conti, and of course most importantly, the incomparable Jovan. And Milan stepped up to reward their attendance. The match started off very physically, but also with quality plays on both sides. There were also errors made, things as simple as slipping or taking someone down clumsily or more consequential errors like Calhanoglu’s first yellow in the 33rd, which even he forgot about. Of course the most egregious error was Roma’s “white” kit that was cream/off-white across the shoulders, then white for the body. Not only do white and off-white not go together, it looked like they ran out of white fabric and were too poor, so color-blocked the off-white. So wrong.

The first 70 minutes were a proper battle. There were shots, Milan would take 17 with only three on goal. And Roma would only take 11 shots, but with a more clinical six on goal. There were fouls, there were moments of brilliance on both sides. Speaking of moments of brilliance, check out Andre Silva’s highlight reel. You know, the expensive striker whom Montella never plays in Serie A? Especially look at the 12th minute, how he takes the ball away, and the 64th minute, when he completely schools Bruno Peres. Silva had a fantastic game in only his second start in Serie A. Surprising that Kalinic is the striker who has so much Serie A experience, it looked completely the opposite.

Not even a great performance will see him get more playing time

But our world came crashing down when El Shaarawy created a chance for Dzeko, who did not disappoint and scored in the 72nd. 1-0 Roma. To Milan’s credit, they did not shy away after the goal. But in the 75th, Kalinic was shown on camera asking to be subbed. Still waiting for Montella to do something after conceding and having an injured player, in the 77th, Florenzi scored from a rebound of a Nainggolan shot Donnarumma had impressively parried away. 2-0 Roma. Still nothing from Montella, but Di Francesco was able to make a sub in the 78th. Finally, Montella subbed Kalinic off in the 79th. And apparently, that was so unbelievable, Calhanoglu forgot he was on a yellow and made a foolish challenge to get himself sent off for a second yellow in the 80th. And Montella would only make one more sub in the 84th.

Montella is supposedly supported by the team and by Mirabelli and Fassone, despite losing three of seven Serie A matches with so much money having been spent this summer. But Montella is not in favor with the fans. And not just in times of loss, either. Heavily criticized for his formation choice, lineups, and late subs, I would say that it was the latter that was so incredulously unbelievable on this night. Look at what occurred before he subbed: a goal conceded, Kalinic asking for a sub, another goal conceded, and a Roma sub made. His subs should have started around the 60th, that is a normal timeframe, but they never do, no matter what is happening on the pitch. And he let the game slip through our fingers while he did nothing. He doesn’t even seem to know the definition of reaction, or what an impact sub is or can do for a team. He rotates the squad like a ferris wheel from game to game, but then makes everyone play 90 minutes. A healthier way to rotate would be to sub from the 60th minute on to give more people consistent appearances, but shorter appearances to help prevent injuries.

Rising above the criticism, but still more defensive errors in this system that still doesn't fit

The game was actually really exciting, and lost in the result is the fact that a beleaguered Milan pinned Roma back for 70 minutes and actually got more shots off. But eight short minutes of defensive errors and a manager who was apparently paralyzed is what determined the game, and that is so disappointing. I don’t know what Montella can do to win back the fans, as he has slowly and consistently dug his grave with them from early in the season. I know we are told to have patience, but patience is accepting things that happen. It is not patience to expect us to continue to accept his lack of accountability for his poor decisions, or the unnecessary results that go with. In a game that looked like we could certainly pull off a draw, we ended up with a loss. And that leaves me in a state of disbelief.

This post inspired by the music of EMF’s “Unbelievable”