Milan-Roma Preview: Showing Up

Last year, at virtually this same time, on January 8th, Milan hosted Roma at the San Siro. They gave up a 2-0 lead after the 87th minute to draw with the Giallorossi, the game that many said was the beginning of our descent into oblivion last year. The parallels between that match and this one are uncanny. Mourinho is suspended again, and last year Milan were missing nine players to injury. With so many freakish coincidences, how do Milan rewrite their story and create a different result on Sunday? By showing up.

As players slowly return from injury, it's time for Milan to show up again.

Someone who will not be showing up again will be Mourinho. People used to think his hysterical, unsportsmanlike conduct was some kind of genius tactic he used to divert the attention away from the team to himself. However, his senseless, overdramatic tirades and actions against referees have become an increasing liability for his team and are more likely to call into question his mental fitness rather than any kind of mental prowess. Unfortunately for Milan, there is precedent in that Roma have played better without him on the bench. Was his sending off against Atalanta last week with only two minutes left intentional? Because the call he so impetuously sought was not wrong, and he seems desperate and naive when he complains about such incidents. Or maybe he just didn't want to be shushed again by Pioli?

Mourinho's New Year's resolution to be better to the refs lasted 88 minutes.

Roma drew 1-1 against Atalanta last weekend at the Olimpico. Then they had a spicy midweek Coppa Italia Derby which they lost 1-0 to Lazio of the "not-racially abusive" fanbase, according to serial racist, anti-semite, and sexist Lotito. For that match, Mourinho lined up: Rui Patricio; Kristensen, Gianluca Mancini, Huijsen; Karsdorp, former wantaway Milan youth player Cristante, Paredes, Bove, Zalewski; Dybala, Lukaku. Despite the three red cards in that match, two of which were for Roma, Mourinho is the only one suspended for this match, as it is a league match rather than a Coppa match. However, Smalling and Abraham are injured and Renato Sanches and Dybala have questionable fitness statuses as of this writing. It is also of note that Bove was hit with a glass bottle in that match, so could potentially be at risk as well. Roma are also missing Aouar and Ndicka, who are at AFCON, as well as Azmoun, who is at the Asian Cup.

In addition to Sportiello's recovery ahead of our Coppa match, Pioli saw Okafor return to training with the group on Thursday. And shockingly, the injury sustained in that match to Gabbia will reportedly not see him miss any matches, as he trained and should be available for this one. That means our injury list is cut down to Caldara, Pellegrino, Kalulu, Thiaw, Tomori, Pobega, and Florenzi. Bennacer and Chukwueze are at AFCON, but Krunić's move to Fenerbahçe should be complete by then, making him no longer a part of our squad. Which makes... wait for it... nine players out for this match (insert Twilight Zone music here.)

Krunić will be linking up with Bosnian teammate Dzeko & Inter, Milan, & Juve reject Bonucci at Fenerbahçe

Things are not going particularly well for Milan, either, with reports that under this management, the squad has actually lost nearly €40 million in value since the beginning of the season. So even though our owner and CEO are actually from the investment banking industry, they are even failing at the investment part of their job. After spending €134 million on new players, the squad was valued at €574.1 million, but now, it is only worth €540.95 million. This is a sharp contrast to growth under Maldini, whose lowest squad value was €327.6 million, and the team was worth €547.25 million when he was fired. Literally, they invested €134 million, and the squad is worth less now than when they fired Maldini. Same manager and staff, same core players, who have actually dropped in value themselves, plus ten new players who were supposed to be more valuable than those they replaced. How does that even happen?

Well for one, after exiting the Champions League Group Stage, Milan were also knocked out of the Coppa Italia midweek. They were not lucky like Roma to draw with Atalanta, as Di Bello made calls that would have made Mourinho's brain implode. At least our match had less racism, no bottles thrown, and fewer red cards. Sure, young players still played, (although it likely also cost the Primavera their Coppa Italia run as well, since their best players were in the first team,) Terracciano got his debut, but all under bitter circumstances. And although Milan are comfortably in third place in Serie A, Pioli has gone from being serenaded each match as "On Fire" to being constantly under fire

Pioli has turned to Abate's Army to try to save this season.

No matter what he does, he is not given credit. Even in comparison to other managers, he did so much with so little for so long and received so little praise for his work. Unlike Mourinho, who legit could be considered to be losing his mind, yet rests on the laurels of a bunch of trophies despite poor result after poor result at Roma, Pioli has had to work hard to be given a chance to manage a team capable of winning anything. And even then, he was not given credit for his work. And he is stuck competing with clubs who have cheated to get ahead, too. Even a manager that is considered a brilliant tactician would struggle to win in this environment. But then again, someone who is considered a brilliant manager never would have stayed this long. Pioli's loyalty may actually be one of his flaws.

The culture of the club has changed so much that this management has already completely lost the fans, but management are so disingenuous that they are unlikely to get them back.. When we played Roma at the Olimpico, there was video of Milan fans racially abusing Lukaku, which is not normal for our fanbase. And after Maldini told the truth about this management and what happened, including how they did not support the team, this management have been cringe-posting to social media trying to prove that they do, in fact, stay until the end of the match and support the team and that they are part of the "family". And now, very specific rumors of plans for a new manager for next season are circulating, undermining Pioli and the team, and the Club have made no attempt to silence them. Very different from when Boban came forward and told everyone about management talking to another potential manager almost four years ago and lost his job for it, and Maldini publicly backed Pioli and condemned the rumors.

He's a god, not a wizard in a fantasy novel.

My point is that the club is losing value, morally, physically, and fiscally, from the top down. The injury apocalypse has seriously impacted our season, as have all of the other changes at the club. Despite bringing in Ibrahimović as an advisor to RedBird to help "open doors," (you know the ones that were shut by sacking Maldini?) and for him to be a motivator to a squad that were also previously well-mentored and motivated, the lack of knowledge and experience of this owner and CEO has been incredibly costly for the club on every level. That has manifested itself directly on the pitch with poor or inconsistent results, particularly against teams that are not in the bottom of the table. So this team are basically starting with a mentality deficit, and winning this one will take something beyond just physically showing up.

This post inspired by the music of Billie Eilish's "Bad Guy"

Our next match is 
Serie A Week 20
Milan vs. Roma
Sunday, January 14, 2024 • 20:45 CET (2:45pm EST)
In the U.S., you can use a VPN to access a Serie A provider elsewhere
For example, sign up for BeIN Sports in Australia or SuperSport in South Africa,
they both use the World Feed commentary for Serie A, which is fantastic
(*and they also do not sponsor Inter's kits)

Milan-Roma Preview: Showing Up Milan-Roma Preview: Showing Up Reviewed by Elaine on 12:30 AM Rating: 5
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