FAN ARTICLE by Greg McDonald.
When Clarence Seedorf was appointed as Milan manager in January, he brought fresh ideas, enthusiasm, a new philosophy of play and a new formation. Despite taking on a team that was assembled for a staggeringly small amount of money, few would argue that Seedorf achieved this.
Seedorf’s Milan lost only one of their remaining eleven fixtures, an away defeat to arguably the most impressive team in the league; Roma. This streak included impressive victories against rivals Fiorentina and Inter. But for some reason we kept hearing that Seedorf’s job wasn’t safe, he was working miracles with a team that cost virtually nothing and was constantly quizzed by journalists about his future; Seedorf kept a dignified silence throughout while Berlusconi did anything but.
Both Berlusconi and Galliani never missed an opportunity to dangle Seedorf’s future in front of him. Publically and shamefully courting Montella and Spalletti, who both had enough sense to stay well away, and claiming that rest-home senior citizens could do Seedorf’s job. All to the disbelief to millions of Milanisti at how the legend was being treated with no apparent reason.
So what it the reason for this? No-one knows yet, one thing is for sure, Seedorf had plans, he had a clear vision of how he wanted the team to play, myself and many others assumed that the remainder of the 13/14 season would be seen as a bedding in period, then Seedorf could have a whole summer to prepare for next season, identifying targets, getting his preferred staff in (Crespo, Stam, Kluivert and Davids were all rumoured to take coaching positions), drilling his footballing philosophy (a word he used a lot) into his players. Seedorf also claimed that a large percentage of players were unfit, perhaps a sideswipe at Allegri but an entirely justified one and that he wanted to get rid of two thirds of the squad, a move I’m sure most Milan fans would welcome with open arms.
But all of this comes as a threat, could Berlusconi’s ego handle Seedorf getting so much credit for an up-turn in fortunes? It appears not. Seedorf wanted a young side, an attacking side, Berlusconi says he wants champagne football yet he kept Max “Boateng is a trequartista” Allegri in a job for nearly four years.
That could be one reason, but we all know, the biggest issue is cost. I get the feeling that Seedorf wanted to clean house, get rid of useless players unworthy of the shirt and replace them with his kind of players. To do this would cost money, something we all know Milan have but are unwilling to spend. Not to say that business is thriving because it isn’t, why not? Let’s see.
In the 2002/2003 season and several seasons prior Milan generated more income (£200m) than Barcelona and Real Madrid, the same teams who bought Neymar and Bale last season. In subsequent years Milan’s income generally stagnate while the Spanish duo’s jumped up 20, 30, 40m seemingly each year. The 2012-13 money league shows Real and Barca generate 520 and 480m respectively, while Milan sit at 263m. Just to stress, only ten years ago, Milan had more financial muscle than Barcelona and Real Madrid. So why is it in the last ten years Milan have grown their revenue on and off by 60m while the Spanish giants have boosted theirs by over 300m each? What kind of incompetence possibly occurred to let them pull this far ahead? They can’t blame the economy, that has affected Spain just as much as it has Italy. It’s because while Laporta and Calderon followed by Perez were busy establishing their brands and expanding their stadia, Berlusconi and Galliani were obliviously riding on former glories.
Our first taste of what has now become commonplace at Milan came in the summer of 2006, the best striker in the world Andriy Shevchenko was sold to Chelsea and Milan were outbid by Barcelona for Eric Abidal. I was stunned “why do Milan have to sell their best player?” and “how could Barcelona offer more than Milan?”. Of course it has just got worse in subsequent years, worst of all came in 2009 with the sale of Kaka to Madrid, as long as we had the best player in the world we could still call ourselves a top team, but his sale five years ago signaled the end. Since then we’ve seen the best defender in world leave very much against his own will, and surely the same fate awaits El Shaarawy.
In this time we’ve had to witness the embarrassment of having an entire team that costs less than one top player, let’s break down the cost of a typical Milan line-up from 13/14: Abbiati – FREE; De Sciglio – FREE, Mexes – FREE, Rami – FREE (loan), Emanuelson – 2.5m; Montolivo – FREE, De Jong – 3m; Taarabt – FREE (loan), Honda – FREE, Kaka – FREE; Balotelli 17.6m.
I’m aware that our bench is actually more expensive, (Pazzini, Matri, El Shaarawy and Robinho all cost some kind of money) but the fact is here that a typical Milan 13/14 XI cost just north of 22m. That’s about as much as PSG paid for their janitor. It is also shockingly low compared to the likes of Sunderland, Cardiff City, QPR etc who have nowhere near the income and fanbase that Milan do, it is not fair and the fans have suffered long enough. I’ve seen many people this week compliment Real Madrid’s best player of the season Angel Di Maria and the fact that he “only” cost 25m, still more than a typical Milan starting eleven.
But Milan still earned GOOD money (until they finished outside Champions League places), there is no reason not to have a player in each position that cost, say, 10 million. Look at Roma, in my opinion the best team in Serie A and the best to watch, they planned and scouted who they wanted and paid good, not crazy money for the likes of Benatia, Pjanic, Strootman and Gervinho. Last summer Milan were outbid for Mahamadou Sakho, a player we could have really used, by Liverpool, a team with less prestige, unable to offer Champions League football and lower in the money league than Milan at the time, unacceptable in my view.
My hunch is that Galliani brought back a list of players from his three agent contacts (whom he hasn’t burned bridges with by lowballing) back to Seedorf, I’ll take a stab at the likes of Sculli, Lodi, Parolo, hell – probably Luca Toni being in there! Seedorf thought “are you kidding me? I was thinking more like Maher, Klassie, Siquera” and we know now that it’s Galliani’s way or the highway.
I’ve always been reluctant to say, just sell the club to a Russian billionaire, throw money at it. All I’ve wanted is a plan, a project, something with goals and clear milestones that doesn’t get put on hold after every wobble and patched up with a Matias Silvestre sized band-aid. But the only person at Milan who seems to understand this is Silvio’s daughter Barbara, and it’s still unclear how much power she has, if any. So I say sell the club, can it really be any worse than it is now? Look at Inter, recently purchased by Indonesian Tycoon Eric Thohir, 1-2 years ago they were an even bigger joke than Milan, then in January they signed Hernanes WITHOUT selling beforehand, it was a clear sign of intent from Thohir. This summer Inter have already signed Vidic (okay so that is quite a Milan move) and Thohir expects “a few” new signings in the coming weeks, they guy is clearly working hard to see Inter improve in terms of branding, marketing, worldwide exposure and footballing spectacle and he is getting it done early. While right now I can practically smell Milan announcing the free transfer of Lassana Diarra on August 31st.
So I urge fans in Milan, protest! Let the club know you are disgusted by the treatment of a legend and woeful incompetence for the best part of a decade, and good luck Mister Inzaghi, we’re all rooting for you. But we all know you don’t have a chance of bringing Milan back to where they belong with these two in charge.