Never have Milan had a worse start to a season in Serie A since their promotion from Serie B in the early 1980s. Despite winning the Scudetto just three seasons ago, the same club seems to be in need of extreme changes and head coach Max Allegri is only the tip of the iceberg.
Club president Silvio Berlusconi alongside director Adriano Galliani have been sponsoring the team throughtout the sales of players starting with Kaka and Yoann Gourcuff in 2009-2010, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar in the following season, Marco Borriello the one after, and most notably last season when they sold Alberto Paloschi, Alexandre Pato, Thiago Silva, Antonio Cassano and Zlatan Ibrahimovic leaving the side with no real experienced leader. While the players who joined the club were signed on free transfers, loans or exchanges with other clubs such as Ricardo Montolivo, Sulley Muntari, Bojan Krkic and Cristian Zapata. Eventually Milan finished with just enough points to snatch the third place from Fiorentina only thanks to the January signing Mario Balotelli.
This season, a late comeback is the last thing one could expect from Milan to do. Mario Balotelli saved them last season alongside an in-form Stephan El Shaarawy but this time around the problem seems bigger than ever. Kevin Prince Boateng was sold to Schalke while reinforcements were made in the attack by the likes of Kaka and Alessandro Matri, the two were added to an already overcrowded and malfunctioning attack. The defense was inexplicably left with many poor names; Adil Rami was signed but only for the second part of the season. Reducing costs seems to have affected the Milanese club quite too much.
After only 11 weeks of Serie A, the Rossoneri stand 19 points behind league leaders Roma and 16 behind Napoli and Juventus who currently occupy the Champions League spots. Exactly two weeks ago, they achieved a draw against Barcelona and their fans seemed happy with the point they grabbed against one of the best teams in the world but two weeks on, they played three league games grabbing just a single point from a draw against a club that is suffering just as them, Lazio. Losses against Fiorentina and Parma gave the club more reasons to sack Allegri but Berlusconi does not want to pay the salary of two head coaches in the same season if the new coach won’t be taking the club into the Champions League next season.
Kevin Constant is playing at left back this season and he seems to be the Achilles heel of the club. Before joining Milan, Constant had never played as a defender but Allegri had a different say in it. He placed a player unproven with a big team in the left back position along with Urby Emanuelson, once an attacking midfielder. Allegri insists on the duo not because he believes they can improve or because they have a specific role in it but because besides Mattia De Sciglio and Ignazio Abate he has no real full back.
Matias Silvestre, an Inter flop was brought from their rivals, yet another transfer involving the two Milanese clubs to show that rivalry between the two means nothing; it is all business and scrapping survival for Milan. Philippe Mexes and Cristian Zapata are good players but they should be questioned in terms of their aerial abilities; Milan have conceded more headed goals than any other team in Serie A and with Milanlab an abandoned institute the starting defenders will definitely miss out on several games throughout the season.
Up front Mario Balotelli is no longer the same Balotelli who saved Milan last season, the moody striker seems to have lost his appetite to fight for a lost cause especially with opposing fans constantly putting pressure on him. He has picked up more yellow cards (5) than he has scored goals (3) this season. His partner El Shaarawy seems to be carried away by doing commercials and appearing on tv than on focusing on the club. The players themselves do not seem that concerned with their situation. Long gone are the days when players used to lose limbs to Milan’s cause, today’s captain Ricardo Montolivo among many others seem to be afraid to stand in front of a free kick in a defensive wall as they would rather concede a goal than be hurt a little bit for the sake of Italy’s most prestigious club on the international stage. Milan have been conceding from set-pieces ever since last season and things did not change this time around. When defending a set-piece, they very often lose the opposing player they are marking or due to a lack of communication they leave a player unattended. There is a complete lack of concentration and the players definitely seem to be distracted. Adil Rami’s arrival in January will definitely help in aerial challenges and set-pieces but it may be too late for Milan get into the Champions League when he starts playing.
Things have not reached a dead-end. Milan are hoping to keep Allegri until the end of the season and then start the revolution by replacing him with either Clarence Seedorf or current primavera coach Pippo Inzaghi . Paolo Maldini will be expected to return to the club in a team manager role to help give Milan a direction. In addition, Barbara Berlusconi is hoping to get Roma’s director Claudio Fenucci out of his contract with the capital club and appoint him in the place of Adriano Galliani. Such moves are definitely needed if the club wants to regain a small part of its pride and dignity but with no real investments in the team the new staff can only do little to improve the squad. Financially, the club needs to find a solution before it’s too late. Perhaps the Berlusconi’s should step aside just like Massimo Moratti did at Inter, a sacrifice done by a family for the sake of the club. Milan should be preserved among Europe’s best because of its history and impact in the game, only time will tell how the Berlusconis will address their problem.