Milan are no longer the club they used to be; they no longer compete in the Champions League, let alone take home the trophy. They are not the powerhouse that dominated European and world competitions. Ruud Gullit, Frank Rijkaard, and Marco Van Basten have been replaced by mediocre players such as Andrea Poli or Keisuke Honda. They are a shadow of their former greatness, a struggling side sitting mid-table in the Serie A.
Which begs the question, what has happened to the Rossoneri? Milan need to change something, and it needs to happen soon.
Where are the Chinese?
Rumors of a Chinese takeover have been spreading for over two years now, and the deal still hasn’t gone through. Bee Taechaubol was the original buyer, but due to a lack of funds, the deal was never completed. A Chinese consortium has been rumored to purchase the struggling club, and only now, after six months of constant delays of a deal which was supposed to take place earlier in the summer, has a date been set for the official exchanging of hands. The deal is set to take place on either March 1st or March 3rd.
These never-ending delays have cost Milan dearly, many questioning the legitimacy of these so-called buyers, pointing to the takeover of rival club Inter as an example of what a deal should look like. Fast, simple, and good for both parties. Instead, the deal has only caused pain. Milan, owned by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, have not been able to make purchases for the last couple of years now, selling off some of their best players such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva and replacing them with the mediocre side that we see today. As much as it pains me to say this, Milan are no longer the Champions League caliber side; they are a team that looks lost.
We’ll see if the Sino-Europe group will complete the acquisition of the club; the Chinese are rumored to be ready to pour €150 million into this summer’s transfer market. These are much needed funds that need to be spent wisely, unlike the failed purchases of Allesandro Matri and Robinho.
Riding the Coaching Carousel
Milan need to stick with a coach. Their firing of Sinisa Mihajlovic was rash, but Vincenzo Montella seems to be a good fit for the club. For far too long, the team has lacked a solid coach, constantly switching formations and tactics as the sackings kept on piling up. If they don’t allow the coach to get a good feel for his team, to build a relationship with the players, to gain the trust of his side, the simple truth of the matter is that they won’t get the results they’re looking for.
The Aeroplanino has gotten good results out of a lacklustre Milan side, but the luck has started to run out, and the Rossoneri have dropped from 3rd to 7th after a string of poor performances. Prior to Milan’s win against Bologna, which was not entirely deserved, they had not won any of their last four matchups in the Serie A, losing three and tying once. Montella has done the most you could ask for from a coach presented with such a team, and they need to trust him.
Who are the Players?
Milan’s side is average at best. There are couple of bright spots in Gianluigi Donnarumma and Suso among others, but for the most part, the team is underwhelming. Montella runs a 4-3-3 formation, and he has been getting decent results with it. However, the lack of depth in the team and the mental lapses in defense are inexcusable.
The team has also been plagued by injuries and suspensions. Giacomo Bonaventura, arguably Milan’s best and most important player is sidelined for the remainder of the season after undergoing surgery. Gabriel Paletta has already been sent off three times this season, a European record, including against Bologna, where Milan were reduced to “8 1/2 men”. De Sciglio and Antonelli have both been struggling with injuries, and Zapata has been absent for the first half of the season.
Added to this are the lack of new players. Deulofeu and Ocampos were the only two additions over a winter transfer window which was supposed to be funded with Chinese money. Additionally, these transfers were only loans without the option to buy, meaning that even if the signings do perform well, their respective clubs will be able to negotiate the transfer fee. Milan are in desperate need of some reinforcements in the defensive and midfield areas, and without any cash flow coming in, it looks as though Montella’s side will have to suffice for the time being.
Simply stated, Milan need to change; they are no longer a European powerhouse, and they cannot act as though they are. They will need to rebuild slowly, and with the right management, I fully believe they can get back to competing at the top level.
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