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Forged in Milan



Identity. Mentality. Grinta. These are all words being thrown around in talking about Milan these days. What was once weak has become strong, and it didn’t happen under some pretty-boy little airplane guy. No, this transformation came from someone who sweat blood for Milan and knows what it is to give everything for this shirt. This team has been forged in Milan.

A random group of players has been transformed into a team... a Milan team

Montella was always a bit of a cry baby. He never took responsibility for his own choices, and he certainly isn’t about to take responsibility now. Although he will take responsibility for Cutrone. That’s so laughable. Did Cutrone get a senior national team callup under Montella? No. Was Cutrone our top scorer under Montella? No. Cutrone blossomed after that cancerous clotheshorse was fired. Montella is also still whining about how Milan should have had more patience and how it was difficult to acclimate all of the new players. You know, the same players that Gattuso got to winning ways within three games? Right.

And therein lies the key to Milan’s current identity. Gattuso was promoted from the Primavera team in November, in an apparent attempt to “shake things up.” I wasn’t just skeptical, I was certain that this would not work. But gratefully, Gattuso has proven me wrong and then some. In our wildest dreams, in a land of unicorns and rainbows, no one could have projected this much success under someone who once terrorized Milano.

Okay, maybe he didn't terrorize Milano, but he did terrorize his opponents

But perhaps we should have. After all, as a player, Gattuso was legendary. I almost forgot how legendary until I went back and read the farewell post I wrote for him six years ago. For someone who was so passionate then, sometimes too passionate, it really shouldn’t be surprising that he is equally passionate now. So passionate, in fact, that he has exceeded all expectations. Not just in the results columns, but also with his lineups and subs and even his ability to change tactics. That’s right, I said change tactics. Whereas Montella changed lineups with every match, but wouldn’t change tactics even when his job depended on it, Gattuso has refreshingly been the opposite. And it has worked.

But whatever tactics and lineups and substitutions have been successful, the biggest gift that Gattuso has brought to the team is to teach them what it means to wear the Milan shirt. All of the players have reported that this was his first and most important function. And on the weekend, we saw what happens when players don’t… Kalinic was left out of the squad for an apparent poor attitude in training. The players listen to him because he’s their coach. They do what he asks because he’s Gennaro Gattuso, World Cup and Champions League winner, amongst other things. Also because fear. But fear is good in this situation. To be fair, he also said he would rip his heart out for his players. It’s obvious that the feeling is mutual.

His tearful farewell was only temporary

Milan are back to winning ways, and all of the credit must go to Gattuso. He has restored the Milan “identity” and taught these players what it means to wear the shirt. He has given them grinta and made them work even harder than before. But he has also taught them to love and trust one another and to play as a team. He has restored the mentality to come back after a defeat or even within a game. They all understand what it means to win now, why every game is important. Because under Gattuso, they are forged in Milan.


This post inspired by the music of “Inno Milan”