AC Milan's 5 Biggest Regrets over the Past Year
2013 is a year fans of Milan will hope to quickly forget, bringing as it did one of the worst periods in the history of their club. That Mario Balotelli somehow managed to lift the ailing giant into a Champions League berth last season was perhaps the only bright spot during that tumultuous 12 months.
The former Manchester City star netted 12 goals in 13 appearances to clinch the third and final qualifying slot, but it still took some controversial refereeing on the last day to seal their place. Those heroics masked some deep flaws in the playing squad and the management of Milan, both of which have undergone major transformations this term.
Clarence Seedorf’s arrival in January appears to have drawn a line under that tough year, the transformation in attitude and approach evident every time the team takes to the field under the new coach. It was certainly visible this past weekend as, despite losing 2-0 to Juventus, there were many positives for the men in red and black.
Those will certainly be needed as they move forward, seeking solutions to the problems which have already seen them lose nine times this season, once more than in the whole of 2012-13. That form has led to a 17-point gap between them and third-placed Napoli, meaning Milan’s chances of returning to Europe’s elite competition next term are all but over.
Over the following pages we rank the club’s top-five regrets over the past year, so please let us know if you agree or disagree with the choices.
5. The Adriano Galliani-Barbara Berlusconi feud
Appearing more like a WWE storyline than the boardroom issues of one of the world’s most prestigious football clubs, the ongoing feud between Barbara Berlusconi and Adriano Galliani is hugely regrettable. Their spat led to the Vice-President—who has been at Milan for almost 28 years —stating his intention to leave the San Siro giant back in November.
They have since announced an agreement on how to share stewardship of the club (h/t Yahoo Sport), with Galliani now only responsible for the sporting decisions. That leaves the owner’s daughter in charge of business matters, a necessity as the Rossoneri seek to compete in today’s modern environment.
Neither party came out of their petty row looking particularly dignified, and both must hope their working relationship remains far more professional in the future.
4. Signing Alessandro Matri
It made no sense to anyone looking on as Milan agreed to pay Juventus €11 million for Alessandro Matri this past summer, securing a return home for the player who grew up in the Rossoneri youth sector. Not only had he been a bit-part player for the Bianconeri, but it meant the San Siro side all but paid for the two-time champions to bring Carlos Tevez to Turin and turn a profit.
It only got worse for Milan as the striker struggled to make an impact, netting just one goal in 18 appearances, quickly moving on to Fiorentina when the transfer window opened in January. With defensive reinforcements desperately needed, that outlay on an out-of-form 29-year-old is impossible to justify.
3. The Injury Woes of Stephan El Shaarawy
In the early part of last season, Stephan El Shaarawy was undoubtedly the single most important player at Milan, netting no fewer than 18 goals before the winter break. Since then however, the 21-year-old striker has suffered a number of injuries, limiting him to just eight appearances in 2013-14.
Still yet to find the back of the net this term, getting him back on form will be vital to the club’s fortunes, and could be a major factor in Italy’s World Cup hopes this summer.
2. The Manner of Massimo Ambrosini’s Departure
The mishandled exits of a raft of veteran players in recent seasons had left many club legends—Andrea Pirlo in particular (h/t FourFourTwo)—very bitter and angry at Milan. Fans hoped Milan had learned that these iconic names deserved better treatment, but were once again left embarrassed as captain Massimo Ambrosini was shown the door.
After spending 18 seasons in the famous red-and-black shirt, the 36-year-old found out he would be leaving when Adriano Galliani announced that fact at a press conference in June (h/t FootballItalia). "I would have preferred it if the decision had been communicated with more care,” said a visibly upset Ambrosini a few days later (via Yahoo Sport) in perhaps last summer’s biggest understatement.
1. Continuing with Massimiliano Allegri Last Summer
For much of last summer, it appeared Massimiliano Allegri would become the new coach of AS Roma. The Giallorossi had endured their own difficult campaign in 2012-13 and viewed the beleaguered Milan boss as the solution to their problems.
Eventually, they would appoint Rudi Garcia instead, and the former Lille man has transformed their fortunes, turning the capital club into title challengers almost overnight. Rather than jettison Allegri however, the Rossoneri continued with the coach who had led them to the Scudetto just two years earlier, a decision that must now be their biggest regret.
The 46-year-old appeared completely unable to arrest their slide as the new campaign began, losing to Hellas Verona on the opening day and never recovering. With four wins and a draw in the seven games since his departure, the club’s management must look at their form and wish they had acted sooner.