AC Milan's Biggest Underperformers This Season
Clarence Seedorf seems to have steadied the ship, but there's an awful lot of work to be done at the San Siro if Milan want to catch up with Serie A's best sides.
It's incredible to think, but in their current state they'll struggle to earn European football for several seasons to come, as even smaller sides like Fiorentina and Napoli can boast vastly superior squads.
There are plenty of people who could be blamed for the miserable year that Milan have endured, but some are more culpable—or indicative of a larger problem—than others.
Max Allegri wasn't the root of all Milan's problems, but for a manager of his experience and perceived talent, he should have been able to turn things around at the San Siro.
No club with the history, support and resources of Milan should be struggling to win games against relegation fodder or be resigned to finishing mid-table. The manager of the Rossoneri has a responsibility to uphold and protect that heritage, and for all that might have happened behind the scenes and out of his hands; it was on Allegri's watch that the club endured one of its worst ever seasons.
Stephan El Shaarawy
Stephan El Shaarawy is puzzling. He's gone from saviour to a shadow of his former self in the space of a season. When Zlatan Ibrahimovic left, it was the young Italian who picked up the slack in front of goal and who inspired the Rossoneri to decent form and a string of wins before the arrival of Mario Balotelli in January 2013.
Injury has largely kept him out of action this year—he hasn't played since the Ajax game in December—but even at the tail end of last season the 21-year-old looked to have lost his spark. Now with nothing to play for, there's no sense in the club rushing him back to full fitness, but it's a shame that El Shaarawy, once tipped to be a leading light for club and country in the coming years, wasn't able to have more of a positive impact on this annus horribilis.
At 36, Christian Abbiati isn't getting any better, and his current best clearly isn't good enough for a club like Milan.
The veteran stopper has been a regular for the Rossoneri this term but hasn't ever looked comfortable. He also has a poor disciplinary record—that last thing a team struggling for goals and for clean sheets needs.
Assuming he still has his job, Seedorf needs to find a dependable keeper for next year's campaign.
Fans were right to question the signing of Valter Birsa. The Slovenian isn't a terrible player, but he's not at the level that Milan should be aspiring to and has struggled to have any real impact since moving to the San Siro.
The 27-year-old has only notched up two goals for Milan and hasn't managed an assist since they played Celtic in November. They're not stats that will worry the defences at the likes of Juventus, Roma or Napoli.
He might have dodged prison, but Silvio Berlusconi's management of Milan in recent seasons has been borderline criminal, and now the club and its fans are paying the price.
The 77-year-old is one of Italy's richest men, but he's been reluctant to spend money recently at the football club, and the squad is now full of mediocre, underwhelming players struggling to keep pace with Serie A's best teams—or Milan's own rich past.
He can fire managers and blame whoever he wants, but as the man in charge, the former prime minister has to take a large portion of the blame for the fact that Milan have been a complete disaster this year.