Paddy Agnew’s Notes from Italy: Problems mount for Milan


No effects, no party. Proper now, up at Milanello, they are operating very low on Xmas spirit. Following AC Milan’s embarassing 3- away defeat to second from bottom Verona on Sunday, the club went into a bah, humbug manner worthy of Scrooge and opted to ban Xmas.

That is, the players have been summoned to an indefinite education retreat at the Milanello education ground “until a date to be decided”.  Rather than obtaining out their very best bib and tucker for the once-a-year Xmas evening meal at the Lodge Excelsior Gallia in Milan on Monday night, the players were packing their wheelie baggage for a protracted remain in the rural silent of Milanello, not significantly from the Italo-Swiss border.

The Xmas festivities this year were always heading to be untypically curtailed for the reason that of the reality that, on the eve of Earth Cup year 2018, Italian soccer for the initial time will not be taking its conventional winter split. Not only will be there be comprehensive Serie A programmes on the future two weekends, December 23 and 30 , but also  two Italian Cup quarter-last ties are thanks to be played future week, on Boxing Day and on December 27 respectively.

What is more, a single of these two quarter-last ties sees Milan pitted against their metropolis cousins, Internazionale, in an unparalleled Xmas metropolis derby that is generating a febrile search for tickets among the Milanesi tifosi. So, all in all, the Milan players (and the Inter types, much too) were hardly ever specifically heading to have a great deal of a Xmas split.

However, immediately after their miserable defeat by Verona on Sunday, the Milan players were basically advised that they would have to remain guiding immediately after university for some intensive grinds. Following all, the fixture list for the future ten times sees Milan experience 3 games which at the very best of times would give them pause for believed but which, in their recent demoralised state, are most likely to prompt serious angst –  namely, house to Atalanta future weekend, the Cup tie metropolis derby on the 27th and then an away tie with Stefano Pioli’s Fiorentina.

Minor ponder that when coach Gennaro Gattuso, appointed at the conclusion of final month, sat down with his personnel and club administrators at Milanello on Monday to analyse the problem, the meeting went on all afternoon. They had lots to discuss, ranging from the recent bad effects to the UEFA ruling of final week which basically observed European football’s governing entire body deny their ask for for a voluntary money agreement that would have briefly exempted the club from the money reasonable participate in rules, with UEFA stating: “(there are) continue to uncertainties in relation to the funding of the financial loans to be paid out back again in Oct 2018 and the money assures delivered by the primary shareholder”.

Offered that new Chinese proprietor, Mr. Li Yonghong had to borrow €308 million from the hedge fund firm, Elliott administration, final April in purchase to close the €740 million invest in of Milan, UEFA’s thumbs down was barely a shock.  That €308 million should be repaid by Oct 2018, at an 11% desire level, bringing the reimbursement to approx. €380 million.  If the club cannot repay the bank loan, then Milan will become the home of Elliott administration. 

UEFA’s ruling was no shock but what could not have been so clearly predicted was a bad seasonal start off which currently puts Milan in joint 7th with Atalanta. So significantly, the change of coach has worked no miracles. In 3 Serie A games, Gattuso has drawn with bottom club Benevento, crushed reduce table Bologna and shed to Verona.  In the meantime, he has also shed to Croat facet Rijeka in the Europa League and, ironically, crushed Verona in a final-16 Cup match, also final week.

You could be tempted to conclude that Verona have forged some sort of spell on Milan. Famously, they have 2 times crushed Milan at house in late period games, in 1973 and 1990, which price tag Milan the title, earning them the knickname, “Fatal Verona”.    When Milan received their cup tie at the San Siro final week, beating Verona 3-, a single or two sage commentators pointed out straight away that it would be a different story when the two teams achieved up once again 4 times afterwards, this time in Verona and this time in Serie A.

So, in fact it proved. Following the match, the hapless Gattuso, probably the Milan determine with minimum responsibility for the current problem, could only comment: “Until the initial aim, we played some great soccer and created lots of prospects, but then, at the initial indicator of difficulty, we collapsed as we have so usually this period. We want to comprehend why we collapsed like that… we never know how to respond when we go guiding. There are no excuses, we designed fools of ourselves.”

Gattuso cannot say it but, in this publish-Berlusconi era at Milan, variables this kind of as money uncertainty, a new club administration, a €220 million transfer marketing campaign that has so significantly not shipped and a fitness education programme absent poorly erroneous are starting to seem like “teething problems” that will not be simply resolved.

However, a acquire in that metropolis derby would do a good deal of great for morale. In truth, maybe the only dazzling light on the Milan horizon this weekend was the information that their metropolis rivals, Inter, obtained it all erroneous in a 3-1 house defeat by Udinese which observed them knocked off the top rated of the table.  At times like this, a tiny schadenfreude is effective miracles.

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