Dai Dai Dai: An Existential Cleansing

I know management never ends well, but does sacking a manager usually feel this way? Allegri’s tenure at Milan has been aging into a senile old man that just yells at the television camera and gets confused when there are too many things going on in the room at one time. He came in this young coach, untested yes, but with a fair bit of optimism. Maybe it was just the Zlatan talking and Allegri was more than happy to ride the wave, but come January/February the first problems appeared. Young coach, he’ll figure it out, he got the benefit of the doubt. He erred again, and again, and let’s be honest many times in many arenas.

The problems went far beyond his bench, however that was an easily solvable problem for Berlusconi who realized this before even appointing Allegri. When he was being unveiled, Berlusconi didn’t comment on Allegri’s coaching, he spoke on his physical appearance. Throughout his tenure, Allegri was a punching bag that he would beat so many ways by so many over his four-year tenure that he generated a sympathetic movement who swung in the other direction, believing he was hardly accountable for what were seen as minor problems initially. Reality lie somewhere between the two ultimates, but even to those sympathetic to his cause, Max Allegri’s firing represented a sort of existential cleansing that AC Milan needed but avoided like a five year old taking a bath.

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Firing Allegri will not solve the problems of Milan. The squad still needs to be cleared out, the wages of several players need to be moved on for real progression of the squad to take place. Silvio needs to pump some cash in for new players additionally, not Galliani-loans. Silvio traditionally does this for new managers, especially projects he wants to succeed (even Allegri got Zlatan + Robinho). The commercial revenue isn’t where it should be for a club of Milan’s European pedigree. The stadium revenue needs to be looked at, and a new location is apparently in the bidding stages. All of this needs to be fixed, regardless of a manager.


One of the more common metaphors has been that Allegri has been dangling by a string, but he’s really been in the same situation since he had the spine of his team sold out from under him after failing to secure the second consecutive scudetto.  Allegri was only on a two-year deal, and after clinching a Champions League birth on the final day of competition after a contentious penalty late in the match catapulted Allegri into a decision that had to be re-made. If he failed to make the Champions League there was just cause to send him packing, and it was more than just a thought as Silvio Berlusconi reportedly reached an agreement to free Clarence Seedorf however the operation in total cost more to buy out Allegri and assemble the staff than Milan were willing to pay.

Max stayed the summer, despite a leaked statement that was a scathing inditement of his competence as well as patience as Berlusconi dragged the ordeal on for several days only to come to the conclusion (as Allegri agreed he revealed in Gazzetta dello Sport) that Max would leave at the end of his contract. This delay cost Milan an entire season, in reality. It’s unrealistic to expect anything in the Champions League against a very strong Atletico Madrid side while the Coppa Italia offers an Allegri level of equivocation, and Milan may need that piece of PR in the end.

What does happen now is that the back room moves going on behind Allegri’s are even less hidden. Take the brown bag off the bottle of liquor. Barbara Berlusconi is in charge now, that much is clear. Her statement left no doubt what was coming in the morning for Allegri, dooming him to a night of hell on live television, “It’s necessary and urgent that we make a change. We can’t tolerate that our fans watch these unacceptable performances.”


Which brings me back to the original point about the vitriol in this sacking. Perhaps it’s because it’s a midseason move, one that Milan tries to avoid, but even as such, Allegri’s firing retains this feeling that it’s about a little bit more than just results based. Maybe it’s the fans who never forgave him for being unwilling to adapt to Andrea Pirlo and letting him leave to Juventus. Perhaps it’s the failings of the organization that Allegri only makes worse through his own incompetencies and shortcomings that is causing the problems. But again, I still think it’s about more than that, I think its a sort of cleansing of a generation of memories and most importantly 2 Champions League titles. Somebody had to erase the chalkboard.

Now Silvio sits atop a house divided: Barbara is now his right hand, and Galliani slowly being edged out, although Silvio has ensured this transition won’t be as sudden as a resignation. Barbara will get the credit as being the one to pull the trigger, and this may indeed be the first of many actions designed to show her dominance over Galliani. Finally Allegri’s luck ran out, and no amount of rapport with Galliani would save him. Even as Galliani is left lamenting the human way that this all ended for Allegri, on some level, Milan needed this sort of cathartic to the saga. The exorcism of the devil ends up being done by a Berlusconi, just not the one we thought. And it feels like the first step to fixing the problems at Milanello. Maybe that’s why this feels so different.


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About Pete Acquaviva

Pete writes about Milan on this blog. Occasionally other things. You would know which of them it is if you've gotten this far.

4 Thoughts on “Dai Dai Dai: An Existential Cleansing

  1. RossoneriFido on January 13, 2014 at 4:08 PM said:

    Thanks Pete.
    Like what you’ve said. We have only saved one problem that is named Allegri. We have many more to solve.
    Will be interesting to see how Milan copes onwards.
    Finally no more Allegri and Forza Milan.

  2. Sambit on January 13, 2014 at 5:04 PM said:

    Very succulent summary, Pete!!!

    The road is long and winding for both Milan and Barbara. For her to truly establish herself, she needs to get the next call correct. Fail and she will forever be in Galliani’s shadow. This is not to say that Galliani is doing badly. His dealings are a sign of the reality that is the present. Cash is tight and always was going to be till Max went. And firing/ paying him off would have just hurt Silvio’s ego. The squad was being strengthened the best it could within its means (except Matri!!!) As you said, Silvio will in all probability open up the check book again this summer as this team needs freshening up and more than anything a new identity from philosophy-coach-players. The one thing that hurt the most about yesterday’s defeat was the way the team reacted to conceding the first one to Berardi. Instead of going and looking to take the game to opposition, we became cautious and tried to protect the lead till halftime.

    As for Max, his main fault was that he became too predictable.

    I don’t think he is a bad coach, but he needed to go last summer without a payoff. That would have been the best way for all parties involved.

    Ciao Max, and all the best for the future!!!

  3. Prashanth Rajan on January 13, 2014 at 5:25 PM said:

    Nice analysis Pete. As you said, this is only the first step in the right direction. The only reason Milan managed to win in 2011 was the reliance on Zlatan and Juve didn’t have Pirlo. Now, let’s hope solid cash is being pumped in and useless players like Bonera, Constant, Nocerino, Muntari, Zapata and the likes are gotten rid of. Hope financially we become more stable and players are played in better positions. [Was it a surprise that Milan played their best last season after Dejong got injured and Montolivo played in the position Dejong is playing in now ?]
    I also hope Seedorf(if the rumors are true) manages to instill some dressing room leadership among the players and shares a good rapport with the rest of the players, being a ex-milansti himself. Stam and Crespo would be great for Milan as well. The problems in the Milan hierarchy seem most troubling though, with a struggle between Galliani and Barbara. Lets just hope we don’t see another Matri, instead sign some 2 really good defenders to complement MDS and Abate. But a good news long overdue – Bye bye allegri

  4. Leonardo Ferrero dà Bergamo on January 13, 2014 at 7:51 PM said:

    Wonderful thoughts, Pete as this was quite an objectively written article.

    I have discussed amongst my peers how Allegri would have been wise to resign after the miracle of having us qualify for Champions League last season. He failed to understand, or rather took on the challenge of pushing a cycle that had already ended in the inception of his 3rd year at Milan; thus placing him out of his depth in a situation that he prepared poorly for.

    With the exodus of Max, we can import fresh ideas and philosophies into the confines of San Siro which will reflect upon a tired mass of fans and even players who seem to have grown disillusioned with a manager to whom they like(d).

    As a team in transition point, Milan remains in the inertia of what we have been trying to achieve in creating a new cycle within the club as a new philosophy in the form of a young manager who has conviction in his ideas, something Allegri quite lacked.

    The direction of our management has been quite poor in the way Galliani has been dwarfed in his role while nepotism takes the form of Berlusconi’s decision in employing a woman without any formal experience in football.

    Yet are the two synonymous? What do Clarence Seedorf and Barbara Berlusconi have in common? Two mentally equipped figures with all the right requisites on paper, challenged to undertake the weight of a 105 year old club in through one of its largest declines, back into the days of glory, yearned.

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