Past few weeks around these parts has been an interesting place with the blog divided between two schools of thought. The first being that the team has noticeable flaws, but the progress made last season is a building block towards a better the future. The second school of thought is of the more doomsday variety, whereas despite last season’s success the team has not significantly improved and while we may still be Serie A favorites we will be thrashed, mutilated, and embarrassed in Europe. We are to old, to slow, to static…I think you get the point, so with that we draw the proverbial line in the sand. Those who believe in the team and the plan put in place, and those who don’t, I for one am a firm believer, for a myriad of reasons.
The first and most important reason being our Coach, Massimo Allegri. What Allegri did last season, en route to a Scudetto championship, was prove that the team was stronger than the parts. Disregarding the unbalanced formation of his predecessor and instilling a defense first 4-3-1-2. This gave Milan the best defensive record in Serie A, a trait of almost all Italian champions, but also a sense of resiliency that conceding goals was not an option. What he is also did was instill a belief in the attack that even if a goal was conceded this team could get it back. 14 goals from Zlatan, Pato, and Robinho and just as the team was being called Zlatandependant, or lacking creativity, in came the likes of Cassano to help earn points that seemed out of reach. I think it is safe to say Allegri gets it, and while he still may not have the personnel he craves, he can make the tough choices and still put the team in a position to be successful.
The second reason is one that wavers from time to time, but he comes in the form of a golden tie wearing balding old man, some call him Fester, but in respectful terms it is none other than Adriano Galliani. While teams like Man City and Real Madrid simply write the fattest checks, it is Galliani who still practices the tried and true adage of negotiation. Sure it leaves the fans a bit restless, but last season’s magical final week of the transfer window reaffirmed that he is one of the best in getting smart deals and more importantly cheap deals. There are no secrets, Milan can’t match dollar for dollar some of the teams out there, be it because they have no money, or because they are preparing themselves for a changing transfer game where money isn’t always the answer. In Galliani, we have not only a fan of the Club, but a man who makes the right choices, even if they are not always the first or favorite choice. We may not have the players we need when as this post goes up, but have some faith and a little patience to see what comes in the next two weeks of the window. The mere fact that we are changing our policy on veteran players, signing them to one year deals, and making them prove themselves as they get older is a sign of things to come, and the end of silly deals like those for Massimo Oddo and Daniele Bonera. Times are a changing, and it’s for the better.
The last reason is simply history, and while history should never be an indicator for the future, or even a ticket to some sort of entitlement, it is Milan’s history that simply gives me hope. I have now witnessed two successful phases of AC Milan, 89-95 and 99-04, with a brief flash in 07. In the same sense I have witnessed two dark ages 95-99 and 07-10. In all of these phases I noticed similarities, such as the players being used to move the team forward, who are affectionately referred to as the Old Guard and were used in both rebirths. I have also noticed differences from successes to failures, wrong Coaches, wrong players and awful transfers. The point I am trying to make, is being a Milan fan for me has been cyclical, and while I am not naive enough to say I know the next cycle will go like this or that, I do have a bit of hope that we are on a upswing and one that met with some patient and reasonable expectations will lead to success in the next few seasons. A Scudetto in 99 was matched with a CL in 03, a Scudetto in 04 was met with a CL final in 05 and win in 07. Our most reason Scudetto may very well get a partner in the cabinet, but it won’t be instantaneous. Will we win the CL this year? Probably not, but notice I didn’t say absolutely not, I still have some faith that the right draw and the right opponents could give us a decent run, but I am also pretty sure you don’t give the CL to Barca before the season starts, there are still some games to play. I also believe retaining the Scudetto should be priority number one coupled with a Coppa would give Allegri a nice little treble after the SuperCoppa win.
In the end, have a little faith, success is not an instant result, it is something that is nurtured and takes time to develop. I hate to do this, because I believe everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but if you truly believe the players are not good enough, our management is that poor, or our Coach is not deserved of some faith, then maybe, just maybe this team is not for you. I don’t say that lightly, but if you saw what many Milan fans endured in 96 in 97, mid table finishes horrific football on the pitch, and losses that made you cringe. What you would see now are not problems, but the growth of something new, something exciting and something to be enjoyed. We just won the Serie A title for the first time in seven years, we are entering the season as defending Champions, that alone should be a rally cry because the season will be long, and maybe fruitless at the end, but that is no reason to cry about the Club and where it stands, it should instead be motivation to achieve the next cycle of success. In the end though you make your own choice, and from the comments of late many already have…but at least you know where I stand.