When the Good Just Gets Better

Sometimes clubs will sign a superstar, and you just know that he is exactly what that team needs to propel them into greatness. For example, when Galliani signed Djamel Mesbah in 2012, it was clear that he would change the trajectory of Milan forever. That instant trajectory into success is not common, but it is very exciting to watch. Certainly, in this age of instant gratification, it is the kind of transformation fans expect from their clubs every transfer window. However, sometimes it can catch you by surprise just how much a good team just keeps getting better.

The Curva finally seeing the good in the project

When the Elliott Fund took over Milan, they brought Leonardo back to the club, who convinced Paolo Maldini to return. They laid out a plan to bring Milan back to glory and warned that it would take time. The transformation was anything but instantaneous, as both Leonardo and Milan manager Gattuso chose to leave at the end of the first season. This, despite Gattuso bringing the team to a heartbreaking one point away from Champions League qualification that season, the closest Milan had been in years.

Within transformation, there are often setbacks, and Gattuso's exit was certainly a setback. Maldini was appointed to replace Leonardo as the technical director, and he brought in the legendary Boban to help him. With Massara and some great scouts, they were building upon the core group and the grinta that Gattuso had inspired. Their one misstep was appointing Marco Giampaolo as manager. That was a disaster, and cost Milan's chances of qualifying for Champions League that season.

The force is strong with this one

Luckily, they quickly corrected that error by appointing Stefano Pioli as manager. Wisely building the team each transfer window with young players that would play for the shirt and also low wages, Maldini and Boban invested well. Despite threats of yet another year zero and some very harsh criticism from fans that must drink instant espresso, the team slowly began to improve. 

Then Zlatan happened. Obviously, he was no Mesbah. But he amped up the momentum of progress and provided the experience, leadership and hard-hitting inspiration his teammates needed. Despite COVID-19 interrupting everything, Pioli actually used that time to get to know his players better and build them into a family. 

Forged in trials

Milan became a family that went undefeated for the rest of that season, and into this past season. Without another year zero. Just continuous building. They are a family that  experienced more ups and downs with injuries and more, but at the very last minute, accomplished their objective of qualifying for the Champions League, finishing second in the league as well. 

This mercato has had some bumps as well, with Antonio Donnarumma tragically leaving on a free transfer, as well as the exit of important players like Meïté, Mandžukić, and the long lost Laxalt. And despite losing that other Donnarumma guy and some Turkish snake, Milan have made some brilliant and well thought-out signings that should help this team prepare to compete at a higher level next season. Making both Tonali and Tomori permanent, getting Brahim Díaz on loan for two more years, and signing Giroud, Maignan, and Ballo-Touré will provide some continuity, fill in the gaps and increase the quality.

United in victory

The best part is that Maldini is supposedly not even done yet. There are some young players like Pobega that they may keep in the squad, there will be more exits, and rumors of other signings on the horizon as well. They have already renewed Calabria and are reportedly looking to renew players like Kessié and Theo Hernández as well. Looking back three years ago, this squad has come so far. Even if it wasn't overnight, building a team to be excited about is why we bleed red and black. And also why waiting was worth the wait, when the good just gets better.

This post inspired by the music of The Smiths' "These Things Take Time"

Sending thoughts and prayers to Milan CEO Ivan Gazidis at this time

Our next match is a friendly
Milan vs. Modena
Saturday, July 24 • 17:00 CEST (11am EDT)

When the Good Just Gets Better When the Good Just Gets Better Reviewed by Elaine on 1:32 AM Rating: 5
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