Running in Place

I’m not a Silvio apologist. I’m a Silvio realist. First all let’s caption this piece with the caveat that a discussion of Silvio starting and ending with Milan simply isn’t possible. Silvio was one of the pioneers of the methods Manchester City, PSG and other football clubs employ today. All the while, he was arguably onto more important business: running Italy.

He did a poor job in his four stints as Prime Minister. There’s more than enough thinkpieces on his many failures and blind spots in politics – this isn’t one of those. Silvio also ran his own business, which now mostly resides in the form of Fininvest, his media empire. This isn’t to chronicle his exploits, it’s to explain where this man comes from, a former cruise ship singer who has grown into somebody that you just don’t say no to. There’s a Godfather joke somewhere around, but Silvio smoothed over his relationship with Cosa Nostra for decades.

Despite the political failings, and consider since this man runs an alarming portion of the Italian media, Silvio would basically chalk his career up to a win. He’s successful even in the face of overwhelming failure..which brings us back around to Milan – another overwhelming failure of late. The jokes are out in full force again, which to those of you who have been around the block, know this battle is already over.

Adriano Galliani once held the power (or thought he did) to sway Silvio on these decisions to a certain extent. The buffer no longer exists there; and with Silvio publicly spending 150m on improving the team he’s emboldened to feel like his old self again, when Milan actually had some global relevance. It’s not really relevant that the 150m figure is probably an amalgamation of some of the debt financing, general losses (92m last season as Adriano Galliani presented to the board last May) and transfer market.

In reality though, the money was spent unevenly and the glaring issue of the midfield was left to the finesse dribbling and escapability of Bertolacci with the tough-tackling Kucka, who makes Gattuso look like a fine passing machine. There’s one thing in particular that I just can’t get over with this summer market by Galliani, and that is the signing of Luiz Adriano for 8m, along with Mario Balotelli. This is where you can shoulder some of the hypothetical blame on Berlusconi and his classic insistence of 2-strikers. Maybe Galliani thought if he spent the money Berlusconi allotted him Mr. Bee would pick up the slack (just kidding) – that would have been trying to call Silvio’s bluff that this is all you’re getting.

Whatever the case may be – and I don’t think we’ll ever really get a clear picture, Berlusconi and Galliani are toxic together. They’re also inexorably linked and while I don’t think one leaves without the other, it’s clear the one that will survive is Silvio. Galliani consolidated power for years to get the kind of control he has now, to the point Silvio couldn’t remove him, and the dance continues. The offhanded comments from Silvio have been at a high the last few years – Mijalovic is just the latest recipient. This is just how the game is played. Claims that Silvio should hold his tongue fail to appreciate the way in which Berlusconi works, and the backdrop of how he got here.

This is AC Milan, in Silvio’s mind this is HIS excellence. Milan is the reflection of Silvio and he’s frustrated that this side has been showing for so long. It doesn’t matter if he’s right or not because what others feel and think has always taken a back seat in Silvio’s world.

Mr Bee is buying the club truthers are at an all time low. I just don’t see this as how Silvio bows out, and if he does, Galliani would go with him. Eventually it will happen, Silvio isn’t going to go generational on this team, even if Barbara shows the enthusiasm for the job, he seems to undercut her at every turn, making this look more like a time-filler than a real possible transition. Marina thinks Milan is a waste of money and bleeding the family dry, if you don’t have the value of the sport and the appreciation for what it does, it’s true. Milan cost Silvio a significant amount, but as his best-looking PR face it’s always been the cost of business. It used to be his passion, but lately it seems to be a struggle.

Who knows what Silvio intends with Milan? He’s going to do just enough to keep it going for the short to medium-term. It’s too expensive to focus on the football, so they’re going to try to circumvent that as much as possible. Silvio is still spending what he feels is obscene amounts of money and getting results that look… this mess.

Barring radical change, which Berlusconi has been unable and/or unwilling to do, this is just the way it’s going to go. He’ll keep sending out barbed comments to the easiest target, the coach – in the process making the environment all the more intense. Then it’ll just be the “truth” that this job is as much of a hotseat as it has always been. When the heat finally cooks Mijalovic, and it will, the next phase of the plan will become clear again. Onto a new manager! The tallest blade of grass gets cut by the mower.

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.

One Thought on “Running in Place

  1. Jake Rynar on January 17, 2016 at 12:51 PM said:


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