Losing It

Milan are losing what we hoped was a strong grip on a return to Champions League for next year. Lost, too, are the hopes and dreams of Milanisti everywhere. But also completely lost is Gattuso. All along his journey as first team coach, he has struggled with tactics and systems and lineups. For a while, Milan survived on his grinta alone. The players swore their allegiance to him and their work ethic showed, even when the results didn’t come. But when the going got tough, he became more and more stubborn, until he lost not only matches, but also lost the team. In desperation, he’s thrown the whole team into ritiro… again. It’s so obvious that he’s simply losing it.

From bad to better to bad again

First, there was Benevento. After everyone was shocked that Gattuso was chosen to replace Montella, Gattuso gave Benevento their first ever Serie A point in a draw where the goalkeeper scored the equalizer. It disappointed even his most optimistic supporters. But it was only the beginning. Even though it seemed very evident that tactics were not his strong point, he slowly infused his trademark grinta into the team. Slowly but surely, with many bumps in the road, he gave this team something they hadn’t had in years: an identity.

There were glorious victories, even though the football was often terrible. There were injury crises, possibly from his tough training sessions, yet from those kinds of trials came some of our strongest runs. Even the most skeptical fan had to give him credit for what he was doing with the team. Milan finished sixth on the table again last season, but statistics showed that without Montella’s complete collapse earlier in the season, the team under Gattuso would have finished higher. That was enough to have him confirmed for this season, and it was difficult to argue that he shouldn’t have been, particularly when there weren’t a lot of better, affordable options. This season had its ups and downs, but was arguably one of our most impressive seasons in years. We were as high as third this season, just over two months ago, yet now we will be lucky to maintain seventh.

When times were better

Everyone always said that he would max out. That he might get us to the Champions League, but probably not much further. And he nearly did. Well technically, he still could, if all of the results for all of the teams above us in the next four games go our way. But that would include our results. And he has clearly lost his team at this point, which is why the team are in that good old useless ritiro again. When he put the team in ritiro near the beginning of his spell as coach, it didn’t work either. So if this is the end of the road for him, as everyone speculates, it’s a fitting bookend to demonstrate how he has and has not grown as a coach. Everything we thought he accomplished is unravelling and his desperation and stubbornness are doing the same for him now as they did in the beginning. Only this time, he likely won’t have more time to prove himself.

So painful to watch another legend go down

The biggest crime is that in the middle, he gave the team not only an identity, but hope. He kept the team calm through yet another change in both ownership and management, and managed to keep the team focused through so many more changes in the squad and all of the off the pitch drama. He started as a joke, then turned the joke on all of us in the most beautiful of ways. His press conferences have always been refreshingly honest, but lately, they make me sad. Because along with our Champions League hopes and dreams, he has lost the team and lost his way. He’s lashing out at players and trying to grasp for straws to find someone or something else to blame. But in the end, it has always been his stubbornness and unwillingness to change his ways that cost him (and us) everything. Sadly, the coach that no one believed could proved us all wrong and then proved us right again. Not only are Milan and all of us fans losing all of our Champions League hopes and dreams, not only will we likely lose one of the surprisingly best coaches we’ve had in years, but Gattuso himself is losing it.

This post inspired by the music of NIN’s “Hurt”

Our next match is
Serie A Week 35
Milan vs. Bologna
Monday, May 6 • 20:30 CEST (2:30pm EDT)

Losing It Losing It Reviewed by Elaine on 8:34 AM Rating: 5
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