I hope you all had an excellent few days of holiday so as we prepare ourselves to return to work and before we get back to the business of the winter break I want to participate in one more obligatory year end ritual, the dreaded list of the decade. I want to put a bit of a different spin on it though and chose the five most influential people involved with the Rossoneri this decade. If you agree great, if you don’t then let’s see your list and we can discuss. Look forward to your thoughts…
1. Maldini – I think we can all agree on this one. We honored him weekly, we discussed him incessantly, and I frankly miss him dearly. But in the end his commitment to Milan following WC02 gave us seven years of impeccable service with two CL titles, one lost final, a scudetto, a Club World Cup, and a Coppa Italia…not bad in the twilight of a career. In fact that kind of trophy haul eludes more than a Captain or two in Serie A for the entirety of a career, not just a decade. My one knock on Maldini, and yes he may be my hero but I can say my peace, but in the end I sometimes get angry thinking about the lack of a true successor to his throne as the King of Milan. Sure management didn’t provide an heir, but his legacy as a Captain was not that of a “Godfather” like his predecessor Baresi, but there is still time to fix that by taking on a role at the Club when he is ready.
2. Kaka – He worked his way onto the scene in 2004 and soon became a monster in the attack. Leading Milan to some of their most successive years offensively the Club and Serie A have ever seen! While his partnership with Shevchenko was magical, he really blossomed in 2006 and then in 2007 he arguably put in his Capo Lavoro to carry Milan to the CL final and an unforgettable night in Athens. That run provided this amazing highlight, and now as he ply his trade for Madrid, he is almost as sorely missed as Maldini before him.
3. Carletto - This one may bring up some debate, but the argument ends with this. In the better part of the decade the man had 234 wins, 100 draws and ONLY 79 losses. Granted some of the losses are more ingrained in our brains than the wins, but his success at Milan is second to none. When you pause and consider the years that Sir Alex has been at ManU and consider how many fewer Carletto was at Milan, then his record and trophies become even more impressive.
4. Shevchenko – Some people call him a traitor, others a legend, but 127 goals in 208 appearances and the fear he struck in the hearts of tifosi across Italy, especially Inter and his influence becomes very clear. What is often not said about Sheva was his value to the locker room and training ground, there were matches when Maldini was removed or not playing and Sheva was bestowed the armband, a feat that is truly special considering the legends before him. If you are in the traitor camp this video may help:
5. Leo – I struggled with the last one, but then I considered this simple fact. Without Leo Kaka couldn’t be number two on this list. So as Leo starts his own legacy as Coach, and hopefully his newest jewel Pato can mature to the height of Kaka before him, there may be a chance that ten years from now Leo is even further up this list. While I didn’t believe he was the man for the job he has shown two amazing character traits this season: resiliency and accountability, so while others may have cowered from the Milan post, he stepped in and has exceeded expectations. In my opinion his legacy will be cemented in how he handles January and February, but we will talk more about Leo this week for sure.