Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

There is a cancer amongst Milan fans right now. It started to eat at their souls since around 2011 or so. And now it has metastasized in their brains, and they are no longer able to think clearly, let alone analyze reality, or something. Whatever the cause, with all of the changes and the best efforts to get Milan back on track, their constant abuse online and whistling of players in the stadium is actually holding the club back from getting what all of us want: Champions League qualification. This is why we can’t have nice things.

We hold the final keys to the rebuilding

The cancer began during Berlusconi’s era. After winning our most recent Scudetto, Milan’s parent company was fined €540 million, the largest fine of any company in European history. Because of Berlusconi’s corruption, he could no longer invest in the club, and Galliani actually ended up selling Thiago Silva and Ibrahimovic to PSG and that traitor Leonardo for €70m the following year just to try to balance the books. Likewise, Galliani had been running the club into the ground for years, giving his friend, fellow criminal, and drinking buddy Enrico Preziosi way too much money for mediocre Genoa players and also spending way too much on his “free transfers.” (note: Preziosi has served many bans and paid fines for convictions of “transfer irregularities” and for inflating the prices of players to balance his books, which Barbara Berlusconi also accused he and Galliani of participating in, for which  he actually resigned… for less than a day. Additionally, Galliani was guilty of Article 6 violations in the Calciopoli scandal, but as sitting president of the Lega Serie A, and working for the sitting Prime Minister’s football club, he got off with only a short ban. His actions actually should have seen Milan relegated, not playing in the Champions League and winning it, but again, friends in high places.)

Burn the past players instead of hire experienced coaches

The club declined rapidly. Although Maldini had pointed out after winning the 2007 Champions League Final that Milan had not renewed and brought in young players, Galliani continued to buy midtable level and aging players, paying them high wages and giving them long contracts. For example, after selling Silva and Ibrahimovic and pocketing the money for the club, he replaced them with Acerbi, Constant, and Traoré. This was a notable drop in quality and a perfect example of the extreme decline in quality over the years. He also blocked the return of Maldini to the club as a director repeatedly, though fans begged for his return (even after some fans insulted him in his farewell match,) and the man himself said that his heart belonged to Milan.

Do you still Beelieve?

To make a long story slightly shorter, Berlusconi entertained interested buyers of the club for a couple of years, including the notorious Mr. Bee Taechaubol. During this time Berlusconi had stopped investing at all, until a deal seemed imminent and Mr. Bee convinced him to inject €90m into the club, with Silvio expecting to be repaid that money with the purchase of the club. Galliani spent it very unwisely, investing in players like Luiz Adriano and Bertolacci, and then the deal did not go through. The club continued to decline, with a parade of coaches, including former Milan players, notoriously fired one after the other with worse results. The team was changing a full starting lineup almost every transfer window, lowering in quality each time. The squad was worse, the coaches were worse, and our position on the table was worse. We couldn’t even qualify for Europa League.

Dumping the club on someone without money, Berlusconi's last gift to Milan

Enter Yonghong Li. Well, originally there was a consortium, but the rest of them were wise enough to evade this train wreck. Berlusconi was so desperate to sell, he ignored what every fan and news agency could see: Yonghong Li did not have the money to buy or maintain the club. Silvio, himself a convicted criminal in multiple sectors, had no problems taking money from the Cayman Islands or other offshore accounts, just so long as he got his money. He didn’t care that a significant portion of the purchase was funded by a vulture fund. He dumped his “beloved” club and offered crocodile tears as he watched it implode.

Along with the charlatan Yonghong Li came Fassone and Mirabelli, neither of whom had any experience doing these jobs before. They couldn’t convince Maldini to come back, and Mirabelli’s public feud with Raiola nearly cost us Gigio Donnarumma and saddled us with his now €6 million salary. They immediately purchased €250 million worth of players who were supposed to transform our starting eleven. (It is worth noting here that they did not actually spend €250 million, there were loan deals and deals with split payments and players who later left. But it was still a lot.) Despite most of them being a significant improvement to recent squads, it takes time to forge a team and unity and to be able to win, and that didn’t happen. Mirabelli also recently disclosed that he chose Gattuso to be the coach, despite being offered by ownership to hire PSG’s current coach, Thomas Tuchel. Gattuso himself would have probably made the other choice.

When the peasants were kings... for less than a year

Gattuso inexplicably wound up being one of the best things to happen to Milan in years, with probably the best record of any Milan coach since Allegri, although that is a very low bar. Despite his opening match being a draw to Benevento, who had zero points at that time, with an equalizer scored by their goalkeeper, the results eventually came along with grinta and a unity that the team had not seen in some time. He also got the longest period of time on the bench at Milan that any coach had seen since Allegri, which is very notable. Unfortunately, after nearly two years at the club, and finishing just one point shy of Champions League, Gattuso and the club parted ways by mutual consent this past June.

When Yonghong Li defaulted on his payments and Elliott Management took over ownership in June of 2018, everything reset again. They brought in that lecherous Leonardo as Technical Director, but Elliott’s plan to rebuild the club also brought back Paolo Maldini as a director. Leonardo famously (and expensively) brought in such young, promising talent as Paqueta and Piatek, but without carte blanche from ownership, he slithered away back to PSG in June of this year. That meant another reset. Although Maldini had been back at the club that year, he was only a director, and not the one to decide who the coach should be or which players to buy.

Here today, gone to a rival team and asking to buy your players tomorrow

Maldini was appointed Technical Director over the sporting area of the club in June of this year, and convinced fellow Milan legend Zvonimir Boban to leave FIFA and join him as a director. Ricky Massara was appointed sporting director. In their five short months at the club, they resolved Berlusconi and Yonghong Li’s FFP issues by forfeiting the Europa League this year, cut the squad size to 25 and slashed the wage bill by €25 million in one transfer window. They also continued to bring in young talent for low wages, such as Theo Hernandez.

Granted, they also gambled on Giampaolo, which in hindsight was a big mistake. But in all fairness, all of the available coaches that were better were snatched up during that period of time between Leonardo’s resignation and Maldini’s appointment, as well as while waiting for UEFA, to see if we would play in two or three competitions this season. As with all mistakes, the most important thing is how you correct the mistake. And they did that by turning to a sure thing, Pioli, with a lot more Serie A experience. He may not win trophies with us, but he is well on his way to rescuing this very young squad from the suffocating mentality and weight of years of abuse and neglect of the club by management, multiple owners, and the fans.

We asked for Maldini back, now we should support him... for at least a year

This is where the fans come in. There is a bizarre phenomenon of hate and entitlement from Milan fans. They have accumulated all of these years of abuse and disappointment and now react to even imaginary problems as if their lives are in danger. It’s as if all of this pain is one aggregate beast instead of individual events and people, and they blame the new guys for the old pain.  There is an inconceivable amount of anger that they direct at the owners, management, coach, team, players, and each other for the most innocuous things, things which rarely raised an Ancelotti eyebrow when the team was actually really poor and things were not looking to get any better. Their hate is cumulative, while the players, management, and owners are relatively new.

This phenomenon may be a form of PTSD, no joke. When we experience trauma, it can cause our brain to kind of short-circuit and react to new, non-traumatic events as if they are that same trauma. Whatever the case, it is so very, very difficult to be a Milan fan. We have been through so much for so many years, and those of us who haven’t walked away seem to be experiencing this Milan-induced PTSD.

50 years of supporting Milan, at least when the criminals and degenerates chose to

The hate is not brand new. For years now, on Twitter, some of the people with decent followings began to abuse other people. First it was rival fans, then it was each other or just anyone, really. And when I say abuse, I don’t just mean anger or harsh words. I mean racism, sexism, and other hate and bigotry. They worked in packs, like animals, attacking individuals and accounts with abandon.  They called themselves “Milan Twitter,” and everyone knew who they were and to tried to stay on their good side and clear of their delinquent behaviors. Then they coined the term “The Banter Era,” justifying their crimes by using a word that they clearly did not know the definition of. What they did was not playful nor friendly at all. At some point, as their accounts were suspended, it became a source of pride to do something so heinous that Twitter would shut them down. Then they would just make new accounts and do the same thing over again. And over and over and over. Their narrative jaded Milan fans’ outlook on the club, and their behavior was replicated and tragically became the new normal. For example, the time when Donnarumma and his family received death threats during contract negotiations. It was criminal, and it changed the narrative from what actually happened to this warped view, and Donnarumma was in tears more than once because of the abuse from that warped narrative from social media.  Milan class was officially dead, and Milan fans became the new scourge of Serie A fans. Yes, even worse than Juve fans, who were racist and violent in the stadiums and absolutely reprehensible online.

Donnarumma and his brother were insulted here, because of Mirabelli

The biggest problem with fans overreacting and lashing out in anger and abuse of everyone in the known universe is that it impacts the team. Pioli spoke about it when he first took over, and other coaches have spoken about it, too. Some of the players are very active on social media, and they do see the words that fans spew like venom. The whistles and protests from the Curva and other fans directly impact the players, and even the game itself. Now, entitled fans in the stadium whistle players whose names are called that aren’t even in the starting lineup, as well as obviously those who are definitely playing. They whistle them off, too, regardless of performances. I remember times when players made best of Serie A or Europe lists statistically for performances where their own fans whistled them off. How? Everyone else sees a good performance, but Milan fans see only misplaced anger and hate. At one point four or five years ago, some fans even blockaded the parking garage at the San Siro, not letting players of either team leave, and threatened the players with sticks. It actually has nothing to do with football anymore.

How is this sport? Who died and gave fans the right to abuse, threaten, intimidate, or even whistle before they even set foot on the pitch? This is beyond unhealthy, it is morally wrong.

The protests get more entitled and less relevant to what is happening

The very fans who claim they want Champions League are destroying any progress this team is making with mentality. They are sabotaging what they claim to want most, and are unapologetic and entitled instead. What used to be deviant and criminal behavior has become the norm amongst Milan fans, and ironically, it is now the biggest obstacle to Milan returning to glory. Especially because there is a snowball effect when people act like this.

So… instead of waiting for the one player or coach or event that will change this team (haven’t we had more than enough changes already?) why not try something new: support your team. As the fickle and abusive Curva Sud even once said: fans support the team “in good times and in bad.”

I feel like the "always" should be changed to "most of the time." but whatever

It’s an old school concept that is so ingrained with scientifically proven evidence that it is actually the very definition of a fan: someone who supports a team.  It is one thing to criticize a player (“Traoré played terribly today.”) It is another to abuse (“Traoré needs to leave this club. He needs to die.” Or #TraoreOut)

If you are wondering if what you say positively on social media and in the stadium does work, try these:
Offer only support to players during the game. Meaning only positive remarks (no whistles, boos, abuse or criticism.) This includes on social media. It’s only 90 minutes.
• If you must criticize outside of that 90 minutes, then criticize fairly, don’t abuse or blindly hate.
• Use the Thumper rule: “If you don’t have somethin’ nice to say, don’t say nothin’ at all.”
Stop enabling the haters on social media. If there is an account or two or 50 that keeps abusing the players, management, ownership, etc., then unfollow. Even if they have funny memes or gifs. What we read influences how we see the club and the game, and your follow supports their hate… which is damaging your club.
Say positive things. When someone scores an amazing goal, makes a great tackle or block or dribble, point it out. The more positives we acknowledge, the more the perspective and mentality changes around the whole club. For fans, players, management, and even rivals.

We control the narrative. We control the destiny.

Start with those things. If you can overrule the PTSD for long enough, you might see that the club really is rebuilding. We got almost everything we wanted at the club: Maldini back at the club, young and talented players, and an owner that is loaded. If we can ride this out until we can get a good coach and reinforce the team a bit more, we have a strong chance of returning to glory, possibly even sustaining it with this young team. But like everyone has said, it takes patience. And that is where we, the fans, come in. The ball is now in our court. Will we as fans destroy this fledgling greatness that is right under our noses? Or will we nurture it with fair and just comments, good behavior on social media and the stadium? We actually can do something to help Milan return to glory. The mentality is ours to make or break. And those who continue to break it are why we can’t have nice things.

This post inspired by the music of Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name Of”

Our next match is
Serie A Week 14
Parma vs. Milan
Sunday, December 1 • 15:00 CET (9am EST)

Why We Can’t Have Nice Things Why We Can’t Have Nice Things Reviewed by Elaine on 2:09 AM Rating: 5
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