AC Milan's 2022, Wrapped

With Christmas here and 2022 coming to a close, it is a good time to look back and reflect on Milan's year. Most importantly, this was the year that Milan won their 19th Scudetto, and Pioli's first trophy, celebrated by over a million people in Milano and millions around the world. But there was so much more. There was the sale of the club to RedBird Capital, saying goodbye to Elliott Management. Milan's second season back in the Champions League saw them qualify for the Round of 16 for the first time since the 2013-14 season. Plus plenty of adventure,  all of the drama from our rivals, and enough injuries to shame a zombie apocalypse. So here it is, AC Milan's 2022, wrapped.

Milan's 2022 is wrapped, but 2023 could be a surprise package


Milan were keeping pace with city rivals Inter, starting the calendar year off in second place. They came back from the winter break flying high, winning in both the league and the Coppa Italia against Sheva, but yet another referee disasterclass changed Milan's fortunes completely. The match ended Milan 1, Spezia 2, all due to Serra's grossly negligent refereeing. Milan should have actually won that one. He was suspended, but Milan did not get those points back. The month closed a stretch of 20 matches that saw Milan players miss a shocking 156 appearances, mainly due to injury or COVID. Milan fans were also disappointed by a virtually nonexistent mercato in January, when replacements were desperately needed.


February kicked off with a bang, as Milan won their Derby 2-1 against Inter. That result also put Milan back in the driver's seat, as they leapfrogged Inter into first place on the table. This seemed to vastly improve mentality, and they soared into February, following up that win with a 4-0 decimation of Lazio. Off the pitch, the club announced its first ever butt sponsor (back of shirt sponsor,) increasing the total annual shirt sponsor revenue to €39 million per year. However, February would end with yet another refereeing controversy that saw points robbed from Milan. In the draw with Udinese, the opposition goal was scored with Udogie's hand, yet allowed to stand, even with a VAR review. Milan could have been ahead of Inter by this point, but referee errors kept costing valuable points.

A dream Derby win to turn the tide


March started with a tense goalless draw with Inter in the Coppa Italia Semifinal first leg. But Milan followed that up with a redemption 1-0 win over Napoli in their house, which felt vindicating after the controversial refereeing in the home match earlier in the season. This result also solidified first place once again, a position Milan would maintain through the remainder of the season. Despite some incredibly ugly racial abuse from Cagliari fans, a brilliant Bennacer goal gave us another three points. And to top it off, Milan actually announced a small profit for the first half of the season, with finances continuing to improve in spite of UEFA's new financial sustainability regulations.


April started out bumpy, with a couple of ugly draws against Bologna and then Torino. It took an Easter miracle with a big 2-0 win against Genoa to revive the winning mentality. However, a brutal 3-0 loss to Inter in the Coppa Italia Semifinal second leg proved to be a perfect metaphor for our collective seasons. Milan worked harder, but were robbed by VAR and the referee, plus got more new injuries, while Inter, who incredulously did not receive a single red card all season long, had all the luck and a full-strength squad, too. But that painful loss motivated Milan to finish the Serie A season in style, beginning with a Champions League-qualifying 2-1 win over Lazio.  Oh, and Inter infamously lost their precious "game in hand" to Bologna. Thanks once again to backup keeper Radu. That also helped keep the pressure off of Milan.

Moments like Tonali's late winner vs. Lazio are indelible in our hearts and minds


After that, teams were simply boxes to be checked off, despite the enormous pressure of Inter breathing down Milan's neck and the anxiety of so many injuries and ref decisions gone wrong. One by one, they fell, first Verona, then Atalanta. Inter acted as if they were entitled to win the Scudetto, but the truth was that Milan were the more consistent team, actually. And in spite of all of the controversy and all of Simone Inzaghi's unsportsmanlike comments, Milan played with "fire in our hearts and ice in our veins." In the end, Inter could only hope that Milan slipped up, but they did not. On the final matchday, Milan went to Sassuolo and had a fantastic 3-0 win to claim their first Scudetto in eleven years. The celebrations were absolute beautiful mayhem


After the glory of becoming Champions of Italy, the cost of that victory became apparent. The impending sale of the club was announced, which raised more questions than answers. Ibrahimović had paid the price with his knee, and immediately had surgery, guaranteeing his absence through the rest of the calendar year. The Scudetto had confirmed not only Pioli's work, but also the incredible return of Paolo Maldini to the club and all of his sacrifices to bring Milan back to the top. Unfortunately, Maldini and Massara's contracts were up for renewal, something that was insultingly delayed until literally the eleventh hour. This fiasco, in part due to Gazidis' health and in part due to the sale of the club, also seriously delayed the entire transfer window for Milan.

Epic celebrations for a completely improbable Scudetto win


The most painful losses of the transfer window were Franck Kessié and our captain, Alessio Romagnoli. They had been with the club five and seven years respectively, but more painfully, both left on free transfers. There was no time to mourn, however, as the guys returned to training at Milanello, and then went to Köln, where they won the Telekom Cup. There was an Austrian retreat complete with a bicycle tour, along with friendlies in Hungary, Austria, and France, all in July.


After an epic months-long media saga, Charles De Ketelaere finally arrived at Milan just ahead of the new season. Along with Divock Origi signing on a free, Adli and Pobega joining from loans, then the late signings of Thiaw, Vranckx, and Dest, Milan's mercato was considered relatively modest. There was also the painful loaning of Daniel Maldini to Spezia to give him more playing time, along with a few other young players to other teams as well. The new season kicked off with strong home wins against Udinese and Bologna, interspersed with concerning away draws to Atalanta and Sassuolo. Whereas Milan's away record had been their strength the previous season, they ominously dropped four points in two matches to start this season off. 

Another Derby win in 2022 was just that much more delicious


September kicked off with the closing of the sale of the club and a farewell to Elliott Management's control of the club. Kind of. On the pitch, the schedule was relentless. Another epic 3-2 Derby win over Inter got the month started, then it was time for Champions League. First a draw away to surprise Salzburg, then a win at home over Dinamo Zagreb, with our first away win in the league sandwiched between. With Leão controversially suspended, Milan suffered an important loss to Napoli to snap their 22 match unbeaten streak and close out the month. Not the way they wanted to go into the international break.


That break hurt Milan so much, too. At one point, there were nine players injured. Rebić and Origi had been injured a lot, but Florenzi's season came to a halt when he was seriously injured at the end of August and had to have surgery. Over the break, we saw Theo Hernández, Maignan, Tonali, Calabria, and Kjaer also picking up injuries. That is how Milan started the run of huge games, losing 3-0 to Chelsea away in the Champions League, then again 2-0 to them at San Siro, albeit with some very controversial refereeing yet again. However, there was the big 2-0 win at home to Juventus in between those matches. They dispatched Dinamo Zagreb 4-0 in Croatia. And Milan actually won all of their other league matches in October, until Halloween. That 2-1 loss away to Torino was simply a horror show, and some very unnecessary dropped points. Oh yeah, and there were the Ballon d'Or awards for Leão and Maignan, as well as a slew of individual and team awards for Milan, players, and staff throughout the year. 

At least injured players can still be in team photos


After an intense October that was overscheduled with matches, Milan kicked off November with another convincing 4-0 win at home over Salzburg to qualify for the Round of 16. The 2-1 win over Spezia was bizarre, with Giroud sent off for a second yellow for celebrating his winning goal, and Daniel Maldini scoring against us. Such a painful win. Theo Hernández was also suspended for the next match, and without both of them and so many injured players, that one ended up a disappointing goalless draw with Cremonese. More dropped points. But for the final match before the break, Milan pulled off the 2-1 win over Fiorentina to keep us in second. Milan had nine players called up for their nations for the incredibly controversial World Cup. Meanwhile, it turns out that Juventus are actual criminals, or at least their directors seem to be. A very bizarre ending to November. 


As if the sale of the club was not enough change for one year, Ivan Gazidis also stepped down as CEO as his contract ran out, so Giorgio Furlani, lifetime Milanista and now former Elliott Fund portfolio manager took over head of operations of Milan at the beginning of the month. After about three weeks off, most of the players returned to Milanello, and then were off to Dubai for a warm weather training camp. Losing friendlies to Arsenal and Liverpool, but missing 12 and 15 Milan players respectively, the guys also enjoyed some desert fun before returning home. Milan also celebrated its 123rd birthday by renewing with Emirates, a deal worth €30 million per year for three years, more than doubling the previous shirt deal. Milan's shirt sponsor deals are worth €55 million per year. 

Milan qualified for the Round of 16 to continue writing their story in the Champions League

Last year at this time, there were plenty of positives, but this year was monumental in the rebuilding of the team. And even though Milan have dropped some points in the first part of the season, there is hope for 2023 with so many important players returning from injury. We will definitely need Ibrahimović back if there are tables to be flipped. Pioli has already hinted that Milan do not "need" reinforcements in January. This hint is very likely, given they will have a hard time making room on the roster for any new players more than anything else. But at least we can say that we are still Champions of Italy. And while other clubs are having serious issues with integrity, our club remembers what it means to be Milan. Now if Santa will just grant some simple wishes, then 2023 should be even better. Succede solo a chi ci crede (only those who believe succeed.)

This post inspired by the music of Diana Krall's "Christmas Songs"

Our next match is a Friendly
PSV vs. AC Milan
Friday, December 30 • 18:00 CET (12noon EST)

AC Milan's 2022, Wrapped AC Milan's 2022, Wrapped Reviewed by Elaine on 2:45 AM Rating: 5
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