What It Means to Win Again

For brand new Milan fans, perhaps they wouldn’t understand. But for Milan fans who have been around for five, ten, twenty years or more, that title means everything. Having seen a Milan play in Champions League and perhaps even win it, then be saddled with Galliani’s trash signings and retirement-aged free transfers is like watching a family member suffer a terrible tragedy or illness and be reduced to a patient in bed, possibly in a coma. For years, each season, each mercato, we clung to any sign or hope from management or in the transfer windows, only to have those hopes dashed  again once the team took to the pitch. But this time is different. This time, Maldini is back at the club, and he is providing a much-needed salve for our long-term wounds. Of all of the people in the world, he especially knows what it means to win again.

The expectation

Maldini was already playing for the senior team when Berlusconi bought Milan. It didn’t take long before Berlusconi’s vote-earning spending brought Milan from recently promoted from Serie B to the age of champagne football and helicopters. The trophies soon followed, and Maldini quickly became a part of the team that made history. A team that created the expectation of winning.

Milan would go on to smash records and win everything. All along the way, those Milan teams were responsible for creating the expectations of Milan class, of beautiful football, and of course, winning. Maldini was at the heart of everything those Milan teams came to be known for. And after playing under the tutelage of one Franco Baresi, he would become the captain of that Milan team. He personally stood for everything Milan did, and no one wanted to win more than he did.

Our bleak reality

However, even before he retired, the team started to unravel. He had noticed two years before that and even told Galliani that they had not renewed, brought in younger players. After he retired in 2009, the decline was swift. I would say that 2012 was the year that it really changed. That was when all of the senatori retired and Ibra and Silva were snatched up by one Leonardo and hauled off to PSG. With a lack of funds to spend and a CEO/Sporting Director/Head Scout/omnipotent and untouchable being in Galliani, Berlusconi’s champagne football turned quickly into vinegar football. It was difficult to swallow and left a bitter taste in your mouth.

After nearly completely running the club into the ground, Berlusconi sold the club to some guy from China who didn’t have enough money. All the while, Maldini watched his beloved team fall hard, falling farther away from everything Milan stood for, everything he sweat blood for during his entire career. Fans suffered, too, remembering everything the club had come to represent. Who knew, then, that it would be a hedge fund to come in and rescue the club? But bringing Maldini back to the club was the one piece of the puzzle no one else ever would or could do. And like a magic wand, a healing balm for our Milan souls, he brings with him all of the qualities Milan had lost along the way.

The return of happiness

That is why it means so much to fans to win again. We watched the club be abused and mistreated, and we watched the terrible football that came along with it. We suffered and we bled red and black for all of those horrible years. And we will still suffer through whatever we must now as Milan still must improve to truly get back to winning ways. But Maldini believes in this project, and Maldini is part of this project. After all of the pain and suffering we endured, we know we are finally on the path back to our Milan heritage. The heritage of winning.

This post inspired by the music of INXS’ “The Devil Inside”

Our next match is
Serie A Week 4
Cagliari vs. Milan
Sunday, September 16 • 20:30 CEST (2:30pm EDT)

What It Means to Win Again What It Means to Win Again Reviewed by Elaine on 11:59 PM Rating: 5
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