Analysis – Inzaghi risks same fate as Milan predecessors
Posted on 01/24/19 6:22 PM
Inzaghi, in his first senior coaching role, is likely to suffer the same fate unless the board, led by club president Silvio Berlusconi, get their act together.
Berlusconi’s daughter Barbara, a club director, recently gave an interview to the Mediaset cable channel in which she lauded La Liga champions Atletico Madrid for achieving success without spending vast sums of money.
“Atletico Madrid are a demonstration of how, without infinite financial resources, you can obtain exceptional results in football by having a good project, good planning and an efficient network of scouts,” she said.
For many critics that is exactly what Milan have failed to do in the last few seasons.
The floundering seven-times European champions have been left standing by domestic and international rivals who have better youth programmes, better scouting and clearer philosophies of how to run their club.
Two years ago Milan came to the inevitable conclusion that, like the rest of Italian football, they could no longer compete with the financial muscle of clubs from England, Spain, France and Germany.
After finishing second in Serie A in 2011-12 they decided it was time to balance the books and sold talismanic striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and key defender Thiago Silva to Paris St Germain.
Other long-time servants also left, including defender Alessandro Nesta and tough-tackling midfielder Gennaro Gattuso, and the club hailed a new philosophy based on finding and developing talented young players.
Allegri, who won Serie A in 2010 in his first season in charge, managed to haul them through what was supposed to be a transitional campaign in 2012-13 and, after a late surge, they finished third to scrape into the Champions League with a young squad.
President Berlusconi wanted to replace Allegri at that point and bring in former Netherlands playmaker Seedorf but was persuaded not to after the fans stood by the coach.
But, having promised youth, Milan then went and splashed out 11 million euros ($14.98 million) on 29-year-old journeyman striker Alessandro Matri who failed to settle and was loaned out to Fiorentina in January.
Slovenian midfielder Valter Birsa was signed from Genoa as a free agent while Brazilian Kaka returned to the club after four injury-prone years at Real Madrid in a classic case of what Italians call ‘minestre recaldati’ (reheated soup).
In January 2014 Milan plucked 31-year-old Michael Essien out of Chelsea’s reserves.
Results were dreadful and Allegri was fired the same month following a 4-3 defeat at lowly Sassuolo.
Seedorf was then persuaded to end his footballing career with former club Botafogo to take charge of Milan where he spent 10 years as a player. The club heralded the start of a new era but, despite climbing the league to finish eighth, the Dutch coach never seemed to be forgiven for a 5-1 aggregate defeat by Atletico in the Champions League.
Rumours started flying about his future in April and the inevitable happened on Monday.
Former Italy great Paolo Maldini said recently that he had sensed a decline was about to set in back in 2007 when Milan won the last of their seven European Cups.
“When we won the Champions League in 2007 I told (chief executive Adriano) Galliani that we weren’t thinking about being the best in Europe,” he told Gazzetta dello Sport.
“I knew that without a rebuild a decline would start. That was the first step but the final blow came when we let Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva leave.”
The fact that Inzaghi, who as a player made the most of his technical limitations to win 57 caps for Italy, was formerly in charge of Milan’s under-19 team may be a sign the club are finally thinking in the long term.
However, they could just as easily go out and buy a string of injury-prone players in their late 20s, leaving Inzaghi to pick up the pieces and pay the price when it all goes wrong.
($1 = 0.7345 Euros)
(Editing by Tony Jimenez)