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As of this writing, the reports from most sources say that Leonardo will resign today, and that Gattuso will mutually rescind his contract. Two massive moves in a club that desperately needs consistency. Yet if they are both true, they are likely steps in the right direction. And while everyone is talking about what’s next, it’s important to look at why they are leaving, too.

Here today, gone tomorrow

Leonardo
It is no secret at all that I am not a fan of him. He betrayed Milan after 13 years and went straight to Inter to coach, because he was so offended when he was fired for being a lousy coach at Milan. But that’s not all. He also went to PSG and used his relationship with Berlusconi to pry Thiago Silva and Ibrahimovic away from Milan… you know, the biggest reason for Milan’s collapse? I was appalled when he came back to the club last year as director, even if he did bring back Maldini. And as it turns out, I was right to be appalled.

There have been media stories for months about Leonardo not playing well with others. Reports of fights with Gattuso and others, as well as butting heads with Gazidis. After the Milan women’s team finished a very respectable second in their inaugural season, coach Carolina Morace promptly left the club, with no explanations. Until now. It is reported that Leonardo was the reason she left, and that she could return now that he is leaving.

One of these is not like the other

While it remains to be seen (or perhaps we’ll never know) whether the ongoing reported differences between Leonardo and Gattuso impacted the squad’s mentality, the fact that Gazidis did not approve some of Leonardo’s proposed moves in the January mercato seems to be a big part of the reason Leonardo is leaving. Like Lego Batman, Leonardo works alone. No one tells him what to do, and he is always right. We’ve seen it before, and he usually walks away from his jobs disgruntled.

Which shouldn’t surprise, because he lacks that Milan class when dealing with, say ref calls. He’s said some volatile things in his short term as director at Milan, and even overreacts within the games, if you watch when they show he and Maldini sitting in the stands. He freaks out at every call, and Maldini calmly explains why the call is right. So it’s no surprise that a self-important traitor who lacks class and doesn’t play well with others is walking away at the beginning of a project. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, and thanks for Maldini, Paqueta, and Piatek.

When times were good

Gattuso
This one is more divisive. So many fans were just done with the stubborn tactics and lineups, and the system that clearly wasn’t working well. When he lost the team and their mentality disappeared, it was just too much. Mentality was the one thing he was unquestionably good at. But he was always honest. Refreshingly honest. And no one can argue that he gave 100%, even if maybe his 100% just wasn’t enough at this point in our project. It’s hard to say goodbye to another Senatore, even if he had a much better run than any of the others before him.

It also depends on what is considered failure or success. Most fans view his tenure this season as a failure because we missed the Champions League qualification by just one point. We were in third place in February, and it just seems like too many mistakes were made. However, was it really a failure? We are literally not even a year into the new ownership. With all that has happened, fifth place might actually be considered a success.

If our results had equalled his passion, we would have won everything

One has to believe, however, that Gattuso feels he fell short of the mark. He would not be stepping down otherwise, he is a warrior. The reports of him not even taking the salary owed him for the rest of his contract shows that he is all heart, and this was never just a job to him. He loved Milan as much or more as any fan and he only did what he thought was best. To be fair, he surprised most everyone with how well he did, and so even for those breathing a sigh of relief at his departure, there is also likely a tear shed for the loss of one of our own.

Ironically, Gattuso summed up Leonardo back during the 2011 Scudetto celebrations. Strange that they should both be leaving at the same time, for very different reasons. But after they say their final goodbyes, it will be time to look ahead. Will their departures actually steady the ship? Or will they rock the boat that much harder? Who will be asked to fill their shoes? What will that mean to the project? Who will come without Champions League? And can they do enough to ensure Champions League qualification next year? And the biggest question: will the new people that they bring in be enough to convince Maldini to stay on?

Goodbyes are never easy

Despite the impending departure of two key figures in Milan’s project, their exit creates more questions than answers. Whatever relief there is for their leaving, there is always a possibility that what lies around the corner could be worse. If there’s anything Milan fans have learned from the past eight years of decline and tumult, it’s that things can always get worse before they get better. Despite the elaborate fantasies of a world class coach and Champions League glory, the reality is that between FFP and these new changes at the club, no one really knows what’s next.


This post inspired by the music of David Bowie’s “Changes”