Is it Alive? or Milan-Empoli Post-Match Comments

Let’s start from my perspective as a fan. I’ve supported Milan since I was a child, which today served as a reminder of how long ago that was. When I first started supporting Milan, there weren’t the readily available communication methods that exist today. It was an isolated experience – sitting in a room by yourself and hopefully having the right channel on TV.  Sure, big matches warranted group viewing, but even those of my friends with Rossoneri inclinations struggled to share my interest in the away trip to Bologna in the middle of the winter.

What that meant was that both the victories and the defeats were containable. You walked out of the room and it was over. There were the shared experiences that I wouldn’t want to compartmentalize though – 2005 was the single worst bar-going experience I’ve ever had, and the pain of that day still is the most acute pain I’ve felt as a fan. I won’t forget that.

But what’s going on with Milan now is a perfect storm in the making. All they need is George Clooney and one more hurricane of chaos to sweep through Milanello and you get the feeling it all might fall apart. With full mindfulness to the regrettable Milan sides of the late 90s, today’s Milan side is the worst I’ve seen in my lifetime. I have to go back and ask those who were around in the early 80s, and before that the 50 year trophy drought to get a sense for the historical badness we’re muddling around with. Will this side get relegated? Probably not in today’s game, where finances are so integral, although this Milan side will certainly challenge that with their misallocation of funds seen by everyone but a few inside Casa Milan.

This post isn’t to talk about how bad Milan is – you know because you’ve seen them. I’m writing this because it hurts again. Seeing where Milan are now and the denial of the situation blows me away. Milan’s propaganda accounts sell nostalgia like it fills the seats at San Siro. And it might. I traveled to Milan in 2013 to spend a week immersed in the club and the culture of the city around it. I won’t be going back anytime soon. Because you can sell me the greatness of where Milan has been, and you can show it to me with all the t’s crossed and i’s dotted with the new museum, and I’ll enjoy it. I did enjoy it, I had a lovely time in Milan. But in order to get people to want to come back, you have to show them something new. I’m not going back to look backwards again at the same things five years later. I want to see steps forward, and where the club intends to go.

Part of me thinks this might be an existential crisis of the club brought on by Silvio Berlusconi. The two-CEO plan is Silvio’s idea of a timeshare. His daughter wants to run things. His right-hand man has been running things. What to do? Why not both? Part of me wants to believe Adriano Galliani just represents the “old” way of doing things. Same agents, same business plan, same market acumen, same team structuring. But to view it that simply discounts the great things Galliani brings to the table, and the connections that only he could make happen. Issue with him is that since he first pushed Leonardo into the path of an oncoming bus, he’s broadened his role. No DS. Less scouting, or let’s call it “more localized scouting”. He did more, because, “Who the hell do you think built these three cycles of greatness? Who?” It got to his head. And at some point along the lines, I think Galliani got drunk on success, and finally came back down to earth. Maybe Silvio’s financing had always covered the deficiencies that Galliani always had, or maybe it really was a downfall. But one thing seems to be happening, and that’s Galliani’s “day-to-day” operations – the sporting side – seem to be just that: day-to-day decisions. Barbara on the other hand, seems so out of touch with the realities of building a team that it almost seems unfathomable for her.

Which luckily, I think she realizes, and she wants to, you know, hire people to help. Maybe other people with differing opinions might be able to solve these complex issues that the club faces. But that’s hopelessly optimistic on one hand, and someone with the knowledge and experience of Galliani isn’t just “replaced” without some drop off in certain areas. To marginalize Galliani is to deny the important role he plays in so many aspects of the Milan and Italian scene. I don’t understand the view that things will magically be solved by Sean Sogliano, Paolo Maldini and company, but at this point it hurts not to see them get the chance.

We tried changing the coach. We tried changing the players. Now there are only a few things left to change. We change the management. We change the owners. Realize when you ask for a change in ownership, or management, what that means though. Silvio Berlusconi was a great owner for the majority of his tenure. Adriano Galliani was the best in the world at what he did for over a decade. Let’s be real, Milan fans – you got lucky with Berlusconi and Galliani. It would be naive to think that you’re entitled to the same just because of the name on the shirt. Asking for transition is a huge risk, and it needs to be understood that the wrong owner will set the club back even further, and a poor choice for CEO/DS or whatever position you want to call it, will prevent the squad from competing as well. It’s not just a simple wand flick and everything is solved.

I think the pain of seeing Milan like this has driven many fans to cry out for new everything, and they may be right. But the reality is that at least for now, things are going to remain exactly as they are. But you get the feeling we’re nearing the breaking point. Social media exists now. Waking up at 4:30 to watch Milan draw Empoli is no longer an isolated experience, and as such, the collective experience is something that has to be taken into account. Milan’s attempts at mitigating that collective experience have been abysmal, and downright offensive at times. They don’t seem to get it. It’s like your crazy-uncle running a twitter page: occasionally something decent comes up, but the rest of the time you just hope he doesn’t embarrass the family name too much in a public forum.

While Barbara’s star appears on the rise and Galliani’s seems to be setting, it’s not over yet, and there’s still a complicated road ahead. But more than anything else, I think the pain of seeing someone stuck is what’s at play with Milan. Yes, being bad is terrible and bad seasons aren’t supposed to feel good. This isn’t just a bad season though; this is a bad season with no direction nor advancement from previous years. This is watching the world age and grow up, while Milan stays in high school, trying to get blackout drunk every weekend and sneaking into R-rated movies. Do something! Do anything but what you’re doing.

I sat watching Milan play Empoli with apathy. I didn’t care if they won or lost. Draw? Alright. The color had been drained from the room. Milan is losing the luster, or maybe I’m losing the passion. That might be why part of me wants Milan to do anything to gesture towards the larger problems, even if it’s something in the wrong direction. I’m just poking the body with a stick trying to see if there’s any life left inside. I’m hoping there is. Just show me those sketches for the stadium half a decade away until everything feels alright again.


Follow me on Twitter @PDAcquaviva

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.

2 Thoughts on “Is it Alive? or Milan-Empoli Post-Match Comments


  2. Well fucking said Pete…well…fucking… said…

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