The 2014-15 season had few or no positives, a look at the final Serie A standings should be sufficient look for a club as big as Milan to confirm it. For it to be a repeat, a regression in fact, of the 2013-14 season makes it even less acceptable.
In the aftermath of Clarence Seedorf’s dismissal after a good if not great half season in charge fans were entitled to hope for something better. Pippo Inzaghi’s appointment was a low cost option, he arrived straight from leading the youth/primavera team. The 2014 summer transfer window was another mini-revolution but with little substance. Departures were mainly loans or of the cutting losses variety with the likes of Mario Balotelli and Kevin Constant sold or discarded. A few young players were disposed of too, names like Bryan Cristante and even others like Simone Ganz and Kingsley Boateng were expected to be in the team’s plans but went away. Arrivals were not inspiring and loans like Fernando Torres were high risk and high cost. However in true Adriano Galliani fashion a gem or two made it to Milan (Hint: First name Diego).
The season itself started interestingly enough with a win over Lazio and another goal fest against Parma. Menez racked up goals but soon the season started coming off the rails. Inzaghi’s nominal 4-3-3 was something of an anti-pressing tactic and was often a guarantee of non cohesion between a poor midfield and otherwise often unsuited or non-functioning front three. The defense led by card and error prone Mexes made sure the thankfully superb Lopez was needed often. Later a home loss to Palermo, a forgettable derby, various injuries and Inzaghi’s continued poor selections, (non)tactics and substitutions all but signalled another poor season and increased questions for all involved. A disastrous January arrived and a few window arrivals added little or were not used often even if they potentially could contribute (Suso from Liverpool). The team also set high marks for red cards with 13, further damaging the team’s traditions.
At around the same time the business side of Milan started getting more attention. Aided mainly by Barbara Berlusconi’s hard work progress was made on the stadium front – possibly a 48,000 capacity stadium near the new Casa Milan. Strangely noises about a possible team sale started growing too. Berlusconi had always insisted that he would hold on to Milan until the end. However by early Spring it looked like that he may let go as soon as the upcoming summer. While the team kept falling in the standings meetings and bids by Thai and Chinese interests seemed to be arriving. Thai businessman with little known personal wealth Bee Taechaubol seemed at the forefront of the most serious bid. But just as voices grew and a supposed April 30th deal deadline arrived Berlusconi’s interest seemed to wane. Whether it be for his Italian constituents or more genuine reasons Berlusconi started talking of finding a partner for Milan (and himself) and offered a minority share instead. Pushing to move forward and bringing back glory via a minority shareholder is likely a pipe dream however.
The team includes several expiring contracts or those who should be offloaded. The expiring list includes Abate, Essien, Bonera, Mexes, Pazzini, de Jong and Abbiati. One or two are perhaps worth a new contract. Muntari was supposed to be another in the expiring list but was given an extension last summer. The Ghanaian has one year left but is almost a goner having asked to not be considered in early Spring. Others like Bocchetti and Destro both on loan are not really worth keeping. Zapata and Rami both having recently criticized Pippo Inzaghi are also candidates for departures in the big overhaul that needs to come. The coach himself keeps insisting he can and wants to stay, all in the middle of Galliani’s open pursuit of a successor. The team CEO, whose own job may have been in jeopardy following the expected team sale has become obsessed with the idea of bringing back Carlo Ancelotti. In the end Ancelotti has refused the job and the search shifts elsewhere – watch this space.
So another revolution beckons. The youth were given miniscule minutes in May and offered a very small glimmer of hope. Hachim Mastour, the most highly hyped young player was either injured or sat on the first team bench and his future is not as clear as it needs to be. A new management needs to build and nurture, none of the current people in charge know how. The team must be sold, anything less will be asking for empty promises and at best short term (empty) vows.
Player of the season: Diego Lopez
Worst player of the season: Philippe Mexes