ABOUT eleven months ago, all milanisti got a bitter taste on their mouth. AC Milan had managed to catch up with Inter and Roma for the scudetto race, and they still were in the Champions League. The team led from the bench by, back then coach of Milan, Leo certainly didn’t had as much support as our current coach Max Allegri, but still he had some fire power in his ranks with Ronaldinho performing quite well with Antonini on his side and Pato in attack.
After the horrible, shameful and depressing elimination of the Champions League last year, it seemed that everything started to go wrong for Leo, and so for our team. We lost the race we just got into by losing 18 of 33 possible points after our european elimination and were almost at risk of finishing in fourth place behind Sampdoria led by Pazzini’s and Cassano’s striking partnership.
Now, everybody calls him a Judas, a traitor or many other things. I’m not critizising, I’m guilty myself but that’s just how everybody else feels. However, right now we are in a position where we can actually see from a spectator point of view what went wrong last year, because as I see it, it might all be downhill for Inter right now. But it’s not all related to Leo’s inexperience. Inter has showed signs of fatigue throughout the season : injury plagues, irregular performances… We are witnessing the decay of Inter’s old generation, like ours started to decay right after that 07 champions league victory.
It took us 4 years to realise that Gattuso, Ambrosini, Pirlo, Nesta, Inzaghi and many others wouldn’t last forever, and instead of doing a smooth transition we are doing a last minute remodeling right now. Now this wouldn’t be a problem if players were tradable cards and we weren’t attached to them, but it’s a hard blow for any milanista to start the next season and realise all of a sudden that all our champions left from one day to another. It’s hard enough that Inzaghi’s and Nesta’s career are almost over, add to that the possible departure of Gattuso, Ambro, Pirlo, Seedorf and Jankulovski and you are up for a pretty sad farewell party. Zero is the number of 07 champions we would have at our disposal, and it has been showed more than once this season that their experience is crucial in some matches.
Never mind all the injury problems we’ve had this season, never mind our european elimination this year. There’s still a chance to make a smooth transition. Keeping some key players will be fundamental to create an atmosphere proper for teamwork to develop. But other players need to be bought as well, specially young ones and let them form a cohesive team, grow together and bond with each other as well. Everybody who has ever played football at least once, knows that playing with people you really don’t know can be confusing and awkward as well. It’s better to have a wall made out of bricks and cement rather than bricks only wouldn’t you agree ?
Let me ilustrate my point with two examples, of teams that are top teams but have different styles.
Cohesive teams : Barcelona and Arsenal. These two teams are teams where the younger players get to really know each other. If you see both squads, their starting eleven is mostly based on players that have played for many years together. Sure Arsenal have not won anything yet, but keep in mind this very important factor : their age avezrage is about 3 or 4 years younger than the other big clubs in England. You don’t like Arsenal’s example ? Well there’s also Borussia Dormund with a team with an age average of 23 years old, but if you see them perform they play as a block, they think like they’re one, they are one. They build bridges. If any of their players can’t play or isn’t available they can replace them without compromising too much their style of play. They have options, this takes a few years, it can’t be done form one day to another.
Non-cohesive teams : Real Madrid, Chelsea and more recently Manchester City. They are football clubs that spend a lot of money, on high class players but they still can’t achieve their goal, at least recently : winning the Champion’s League. Why ? they are a group of talented players that don’t really know each other, or they don’t always get along. They build skyscrapers. If Drogba, Lampard, Xabi Alonso, Ozil, Silva or Tevez do not perform well, it’s likely that their teams won’t as well. There is a certain lack of chemistry.
So in order to make a smooth transition, patience is needed. Unlike Thiago Silva, Pato, Abate and Boateng haven’t reached their potential yet, give them a few years and add a few young players in the mixing bowl ( Astori, Mvila, Criscito, Taiwo, Beretta, Verdi Merkel etc. , you name them) and we will have a strong squad that will surely be in the race for both the Champions league and the scudetto, and not once, but many times. Look at our present champions : Seedorf, Pirlo, Nesta, Gattuso, Shevchenko, Ambrosini, Kàka, Dida and Inzaghi. They all developed together. Most of them were in their mid or early 20’s when they arrived at Milan and grew to know each other.
The question is : “Is Berlusconi patient enough to build a solid squad, or is he going to take the fast lane and build an unstable one ?” , ” Will he build bridges or skyscrapers ?”
By Francisco Vasquez, Rossoneri Blog