A Year with Milan

As fans, many look at our position on the table and think that this year was a complete waste. But actually, it was a year of so many changes, and in many ways, Milan are actually in better shape as a club, even if we are in a lower spot on the table. One of the advantages of having a blog is that everything about Milan is documented, good and bad. So for today, I present “A year with Milan.”

Looking to the future

The year started off with some failures (losing to Juve in the Supercoppa,) and some successes (drawing Napoli in the league, then beating them in the Coppa Italia.) We reinforced in January with the likes of Paqueta and Piatek, but our good form (and mentality) came to a screeching halt with a soul-stealing Derby loss in March.

Everything was downhill from there, although Milan had seemed almost certain to finish top four early in the year, we finished one point shy of a Champions League spot. One point. There was also the ridiculousness of Acerbi’s jersey, and the pervasive racism that haunted Bakayoko and Kessie thereafter. As if that wasn’t enough, Gattuso left by mutual agreement, and Leonardo left, then snaked back to PSG to plot to steal more players from us.

Hard to say goodbye

The summer brought immense changes. We finally resolved our FFP issues with UEFA, after Elliott Management’s lawyers and Milan hierarchy agreed to forfeit the Europa League this year. Maldini was promoted to head of the technical area, and brought in Boban from his job at FIFA. While they have since been highly criticized by short-sighted and small-minded fans, they cut €25m in wages and brought in great signings like Theo Hernandez and Ismael Bennacer, all on low salaries. They decreased the squad size and their moves largely made sense, creating a young, cohesive squad unlike any we’ve seen in years. They also brought in some guy called Ricky Massara as the sporting director, but it’s not like they had a lot of choices there.

The biggest and most costly error was the coach they chose this summer, Marco Giampaolo. But honestly, there weren’t really any better options at that point, either. They kept their faith in him as long as possible, despite his bizarre “tactics” and  his unwillingness to integrate new players into the squad. Many actually criticized them for sacking him too soon, not looking at the table or the long-term damage to the mentality of our young players. However, Maldini and Boban made the right choice to bring in the experienced Stefano Pioli, who has steadily improved the team’s mentality with consistent tactics and lineups.

Don't forget the return of Bonera

After meeting Juve pace for pace in November, but still dropping three points, Bonaventura’s return to the starting lineup and his spectacular goal helped us draw with Napoli.  We gained a few points on the table, things seemed to be looking up, and then we celebrated Milan’s 120th Birthday. Maybe that was the pressure that crushed our young team, but closing out the year with the soul-stealing massacre at the hands of our neighbors in Bergamo was not what I asked for this year for Christmas.

Something I had asked for Christmas for many years, and finally got this summer, was the exit of Montolivo. No more getting coaches fired, whining about playing time, then watching goals roll past him and more. That might have been my personal Milan highlight of the year. Well actually, my personal highlight of the year was the Milan love shared with my son when he was in the hospital for 11 very long days this summer. In a year where Milan fans became the worst version of themselves, it was one bright spot of hope for their collective humanity.

They say you can never look back, but Ibra doesn't need to

I fear the hype around Ibra’s return may lead to more fan misbehavior, but he certainly brings hope and a level of awesomeness that no one else could at this point. Despite the Milan curse of players who have tried to come back to Milan and failed to do nearly as well, his return brings closure to the rift in Milan’s history that was opened up wide when Galliani forced him out in 2012.

This year was a year of ups and downs, long-term it may lead to more ups, but short-term it may feel like more downs. Certainly ending on such a sour note can only be washed clean by good things from the start of the new year. Ibra’s return seems like it could be one of those good things. Let’s hope that the Mary Poppins of Football™ brings only good things for 2020.

Happy New Year!

This post inspired by the music of AC/DC’s “Back in Black”

A Year with Milan A Year with Milan Reviewed by Elaine on 11:48 AM Rating: 5
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