AC Milan: The Beginning of A New Era

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Eighteen Serie A titles, Five Coppa Italia titles, Seven UEFA Champions League titles, Five UEFA Super Cup titles and many other titles!

There is no gainsaying that the name of AC Milan has been boldly written in the history of football- both domestically and internationally.

The Rossoneri have, for many years in the past, proved to be a one of the biggest team in Europe. However, the success of this trophy-laden San Siro side has been hugely dented in recent years.

After the team won the Seria A title in 2011, the management had a big responsibility to replace the ‘old legs’ with new ones.

The brilliant Pippo Inzaghi, who was already 37 years old, needed to be effectively replaced; while the energetic midfield duo of Gennaro Gattuso (33 years) and Clarence Seedorf (35) was due for replacement.

The always-composed Andrea Pirlo left for Juventus at the start of the 2011-12 season- and eventually led his new team to the league title; and veteran stars Clarence Seedorf, Alessandro Nesta, Pippo Inzaghi, Gennaro Gattuso, Mark Van Bommel and Gianluca Zambrotta were also allowed to leave a year later.

AC Milan seemed to cope quite alright after the exit of the lynchpins though.

Milan reached the quarter finals of the Champions League and finished second in Serie A, which in itself was seen as an underachievement – having won the Serie A the season before.

But, they still managed to snatch the SuperCoppa Italia which was their only silverware that season- a consolation, you may want to say.

In fact, Ibrahimovic, who was then a player of the Rossoneri was the Serie A’s top scorer that season, netting 28 goals.

Ibra was Milan’s first choice striker and he duly delivered

Things were going to be better; a Milan fan might have believed. But, the diminishing process of this great club had just begun!

In July 2012, one of the best strikers in the world, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva, arguably the world-best defender as at that time, departed for Paris Saint-Germain for a combined £49 million ($75 million).

“Without Thiago Silva and Alessandro Nesta, Milan have no reference points in defence.

“Ibrahimovic, meanwhile, wins you 10 games a season on his own. If I was Allegri (the then manager of the team), I’d have trouble sleeping”, former player and manager Caesare Maldini said; as reported by Football Italia.

Ibrahimovic led Milan with 35 goals in all competitions while Thiago Silva was rock solid

Indeed, many AC Milan fans have had trouble sleeping in the years that follow. Finishing in third place the next season, but drastically slumped to 8th, 10th (their worst finish since 1997) and 7th positions respectively in the following seasons.

Their struggles were not limited to domestic football alone, they also had big problems in the European competitions.

When the Rossoneri won their seventh European Cup in 2007, Milan were five ahead of Barcelona and only two behind Real Madrid; however in the next 10 years that followed, Real Madrid have extended their lead to four while Barca have clawed that to two.

AC Milan celebrate after beating Liverpool 2-1 in the UEFA Champions League final in 2007

In 2014, the Italian side failed to qualify for European tourney for the first time in over a decade and as if that was not bad enough, they failed for the next three seasons.

Truly, the red stripes on AC Milan’s famous shirts could no longer conceal the bleeding- there was fire on the mountain!

”We want to create a team which will last through the ages, with class, heart and style; courageous at home and abroad, spectacular and capable of winning international trophies. Remember, he who believes, wins,” said the charismatic 50-year-old Silvio Berlusconi, when he was unveiled as the new owner of the Rossoneri.

In April 2017, a heavy-hearted Berlusconi brought down the curtain on the most successful era an owner has ever seen in this game; a whooping 29 trophies in 31 years!

He sold the club to Rossoneri Sport Investment Lux in a £630m deal which saw the Chinese-led consortium take a 99.3% stake in the club.

Few months later, AC Milan fans had something to cheer about. The club qualified for the Europa League after a 3-0 beating of Bologna.

AC Milan cruised to a 3-0 win at Crotone in their opening Serie A game of the season

“We could have done better, but this is a new beginning. Now we have to work to aim a bit higher”, said manager Vincenzo Montella after the victory.

Perhaps, an Europa League qualification shouldn’t cause Milan to jubilate, given their status. But this is a Milan side that has badly missed the European football since, maybe, just maybe the celebration was worth it.

Few days into the summer transfer window and the resuscitative process began. One, two, three…ten major signings have been so far by the Italian side. Add one more player…and a new football XI have been bought by Milan!

The club equally made one of the best deals of the summer luring Leonardo Bonucci to San Siro from Juventus for a paltry £35m – that is far more than the £23m Milan spent the previous summer – taking their total summer spending spree to £160m.

And to top it all up, Gianluigi Donnarumma, agreed to sign a new five-year deal worth £5m-a-season.

The season began with a pretty much assured 3-0 win at Crotone.

Slowly, but surely, this is the beginning of another era.

 

Article written by Adesuyi Adeola.

Adeola is a burgeoning football writer and broadcast journalist

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