Not Just Another Year Zero

Milan fans know the drill by now: the new people come in, you get your hopes up, maybe Milan even make a decent showing or come within a point of Champions League. Then Berlusconi fires Seedorf, Pippo, or even Mihajlovic with six games left. Or Berlusconi sells the club to some charlatan. Or that charlatan defaults on his loan to a vulture fund, and suddenly we are left in the hands of said vulture fund. Sporting Director comes in, buys new players to either love or hate, then leaves. Milan fans mourn, become even more angry and entitled, rinse and repeat.

Morals don't exist in this ownership, so neither does Milan

The one dealbreaker of all time would be Maldini. Even the idiots who abused him during his farewell knew that his return to the club could mend a lot of our wounds. Leonardo convinced him of the project, then left after only a season. Year Zero version 12.4 this season saw Maldini convince former Milan legend Boban to give up his influential job at FIFA and come running to help him save the club. In the eight months they have been here, they have done the most to return beautiful football and all things Milan to Milan.

But now, all of that hangs in the balance. And this is not just another Year Zero.


This time is different because we are not owned by someone who loves the club. We are owned by a company whose entire fortune has been made by putting self-interest and the almighty dollar ahead of humanity, decency, or any type of virtues. That they would choose to keep someone on who also has only money as his goal, and is also clearly devoid of virtues like honesty is the most telling part of this three-year project, now over halfway through its second year.

Gazidis isn’t even doing his job, which at least in the past, he was successful at: making the club money. Instead, he has derailed the football side of the club, meddling, going behind the sporting directors, and then lying about it.

Pinocchio's nose grew when he lied, did Gazidis lose all of his hair because he lied?

In doing so, he has also shot himself in the foot, because the football side of this project was the only part that was starting to work, in spite of him. Maldini and Boban had cut the squad size, cut the wage bill significantly, while still bringing in more talent and correcting their singular error of hiring Giampaolo, something they quickly remedied. They had also managed the setback to the sporting side that was Gazidis blocking the transfer attempts last year, like bringing in Ibrahimovic.

It shouldn’t really be that surprising. Gazidis' success was primarily making the MLS and Arsenal projects profitable. The football wasn’t even secondary, it was almost unwatchable. Despite notoriously fighting with Arsene Wenger, who had full control over the sporting side of the English club, and eventually pushing him out and specifically removing that model, he is now reportedly seeking to create that model at Milan, while pushing out the only Milan that is left at the club.

Blocked by Gazidis last year, we could have had Champions League

In spite of being blocked, undermined, blamed, and lied to by Gazidis, Maldini and Boban actually did more to improve the club’s finances than Gazidis himself, who posted record losses for the club last summer. Literally, Milan could have had Champions League if he would have not blocked Ibrahimovic's return, which would have also helped his bottom line. He lost sponsors, spent a lot of money on redecorating Milanello and creating an app that isn’t really all that great, amongst other superficial things. Meanwhile, beneath his not-so-impressive surface, and changing the Italian club’s entire message to primarily English, he secretly reached out to bring in one person, from an entirely different league, to cover the coaching and sporting director positions.

Whatever you think of Ralph Rangnick, who has been heralded for developing young players in Germany, his most prestigious trophy still remains winning the German second division almost 20 years ago. That he could come in, start all over in a foreign country, with a league that has an entirely different and more skilled playing style and tactics, and finish off Elliott’s three-year plan for success is not just naïve, it is just plain foolish. Just stop. Think for a minute. This is not the same as any of the other changes, it is a literal purging of all things Milan from the club.

Unproven in Serie A, never won in the Bundesliga

But hey, Rangnick is learning Italian. I’m not exactly sure why, because with an American vulture fund as owners, a South African backstabber as CEO, there really won’t be anything Italian left in the club besides its location. And honestly, with that ownership and CEO, I wouldn’t put it past them to attempt to change that, too.

Speaking of changes, the agents of Milan players are likely already at work planning the mass exodus of the core talent at the club. These players, many of whom have stayed at the club through so many ownership and managerial changes have got to be sick of being told about projects and staying at a club not even finishing top four or having European football for so long, while their careers get shorter and shorter.

If Gazidis doesn't sell them to the highest bidder, they'll leave for stability and Europe

Why would they stay, when all of the promises made to them have been broken, many repeatedly? They have accepted contracts with low wages, committing their hearts to the club, while being subjected to change after change and no Europe. Many have turned down very lucrative offers from clubs playing in Europe, but they stayed for Milan, they stayed because Maldini asked them to, or Boban. But without those two, why would any of them stay? This is not a project, it is like playing Russian roulette with their lives, livelihoods, and careers. Why would they continue to give everything to a vulture fund, a lying CEO, and a 61 year-old coach and sporting director, none of whom have ever won anything?

We can only hope that none of this happens, but if all of this goes down as expected, then the Milan we have all known and loved is just a name. Gone is the success, gone is the revered Italian defending, the class of the players on and off the pitch, the trophies to be won with beautiful football and amazing coaches. If this goes as reported, then AC Milan will truly just become another football club, void of identity, the trophies at Casa Milan just collecting dust and probably never multiplying.

Makes this nightmare seem like a fairy tale

While fans are eagerly researching Rangnick and trying to justify his imminent appointment, along with a wishlist of players he will bring to the club (which will never happen,) they are missing what is different about this move: Gazidis and Elliott are literally carving out the last bit of Milan from the club. This is not just another coaching and sporting director change. Should this go through, it changes the club forever. This is absolutely not just another year zero.

This post inspired by the music of Garbage’s “Empty”

Our next match will (possibly) be Serie A Week 27 26
Milan vs. Genoa (supposedly)
Sunday, March 8 • 15:00 CET (9am EST) (unless it changes?)
This match to be played behind closed doors by order of the Italian Government

Thoughts go out to all those affected by the coronavirus in any way

Not Just Another Year Zero Not Just Another Year Zero Reviewed by Elaine on 1:19 AM Rating: 5
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