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Who’s to Blame?



Rumors continue to gather like a large storm brewing about Mirabelli’s job being in doubt, particularly with him starting to make public statements defending himself and his work. Despite Milan investing over €200m in the mercato last summer, we can at best only match our position on the table from last year. And despite Montella already being sacked, at this point, fingers are being pointed. With a bumpy start to the season, then a surprising success, followed by a six game winless streak, Gattuso oddly seems to have job security. Particularly since he was just handed a new three year contract with a 1667% raise. Ironically, Mirabelli’s work has come into question not only due to the poor results, but also because it was apparently his idea to promote Gattuso in the first place.

Responsible for failure? Or a scapegoat?

Football is notorious for being unkind to managers. Lose a few games and you are unemployed. The patience with which a club offers a manager varies widely from club to club and from situation from situation. Udinese sacked Oddo this week after 11 straight losses, despite an incredible run of form when he first started. And he started within a week or two of Gattuso. However Berlusconi’s sacking of Mihajlovic with even more games left in the season is still ridiculed as a low point for a club.

After Montella was sacked from Milan in November, he was hired by Sevilla. While doing a decent job in Europe for them, his league results were substandard and getting worse, and a meeting took place this week at Sevilla to determine if he should be sacked. However, unlike poor Oddo, Sevilla kept their faith in him and instead fired their sporting director. And now it seems that Milan may do the same thing. Which truly raises the question:  when a team fails, who’s to blame?

Fans labelled him one of the most important signings of the season, but does Milan consider him expendable?

The obvious answer in this scenario is Montella – he is the common denominator at both clubs. But all jokes aside, should Mirabelli be held accountable for the results this season? Or should Gattuso? Or both? Certainly, there are a number of question marks in Mirabelli’s short Milan resumé. The idea of Montella even before the sale of the club was complete supposedly came from Yonghong Li and Fassone & Mirabelli in the first place. The decision to keep him last summer was certainly from that group, but at that point, it should have pretty much been Mirabelli’s call. And in hindsight, that was not a good idea. The plan to keep him so long this season in spite of results and mentality going down the drain would have also been Mirabelli’s call. And we’re being told now that it was his decision to promote Gattuso, too.

Mirabelli did well enough with the scouting of the new players, but did he do well with the money side of it? And was he too audacious to make so many changes at once? It was largely reported that he specifically did not play well with Raiola, and his public statements about Raiola and Donnarumma ended up causing harm to the image not only of Donnarumma, but of the club. Now their personal vendettas against each other have become petty and cumbersome and entirely unprofessional.  It’s great as a sporting director to have so much knowledge and experience in finding talent, but it’s a huge part of his job to manage relations with agents and other clubs and the media, not to mention to manage the financial piece well.

The triple handshake wouldn't be the same without him

We all wanted this to work out. The idea to return to Champions League in a year was tantalizing, but entirely unrealistic. However, the plan was laid out, and it has failed. Someone has to pay the price, and Milan apparently are looking at the root of the problem rather than the branches.  It’s impossible to say what is better, but if their questions about Mirabelli are based in truth, then I suppose it’s best to fire him now rather than let things… Fester (pun intended.) It’s weird to think that less than a year ago, fans were celebrating the trademark triple handshake repeatedly throughout the transfer window, and one of those three may be unemployed very shortly. With a new sporting director, who says they’ll honor Gattuso’s new contract? What’s to keep him from being sacked on a whim? Shouldn’t he also be accountable for the results? And if Mirabelli failed to meet the unrealistic expectations, then how do we know the next guy won’t, too? It’s the uglier side of football, that when dreams and expectations fail, someone has to pay. But it always begs the question: who’s to blame?


This post inspired by the music of The Cranberries


Our next match is
Serie A Week 35
Bologna vs. Milan
Sunday, April 29 • 15:00 CEST (9am EDT)