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San Siro Stagnation: The demise of AC and Inter Milan



One stadium. Two teams both detrimentally capitulating over recent years. The San Siro world beaters have fallen from the heights of football and the two bitter rivals seem to have stagnated at the same point, the lowest point for dedicated fans.

Rewind 115 years or so to December 16th 1889,  two English expatriates created the Milan Cricket and Football team. The Nottingham born pair had no idea the history that proceeded their creation.

Milan’s dominance, ‘Milan’ being spelt in the English way as oppose to the Italian ‘Milano’, started in 1901 where they won their first Italian Championship, donning their famous vertically striped kit. The 3rd and 4th titles followed in 1906 and 1907 respectively.

The next season, a split of viewpoint over signing foreign players led to the formation of Internazionale Milan in 1908. The newest Milan club won their first championship in 1910, whereas AC spent the next 42 years without the trophy, regaining Italy’s most prized possession again in 1951.

The Rossoneri’s 4th title was belittled three years later Inter picked up their 7th title. AC Milan, however, were the first Milan side to conquer Europe as the beat SL Benfica in 1963. Inter followed promptly, with the 1964 and 1965 trophies staying on their side of the city.

During Inter’s European success, a mastery of footballing philosophy was being implemented. An Austrian theory that contained a defense with four fixed man marking centre backs and a creative singular midfielder feeding the wingers was modified by Helenio Herrera.

Herrera, the Inter coach from 1960, added a 5th centre-back as a sweeper. Known as a librero, the 5th man was in a free role behind the man markers to remove any danger caused if the defensive lines were broken. The success of Herrera’s philosophy earned him the title of ‘Il mago’, meaning magician.

AC Milan’s 1960’s were less philosophical but just as successful, a first Coppa Italia trophy in 1967 was the highlight, a European Cup also followed the season after.

Herrera’s era ended in 1968 and the success also dried. The 70’s saw Inter pick up their 11th title in 1971 and another Coppa Italia in 1977. Across the city, a title in 1979 was the beginning of a period of decline for the Rossoneri. A Totonero Scandal in 1980 saw Milan exiled to to Serie B.

Nonetheless, instant promotion was followed by a tragic display in 1981/82 season and they yet again found themselves in Serie B. Another instant promotion was proceeded by a sixth place finish and two years later an outstanding figure in Milano history was first associated with them in 1986, this man was Silvio Berlusconi.

The Italian saved the club from bankruptcy and funded the purchases of world class players such as Dutch trio of Ruud Gullit, Marco Van Basten and Franck Rijkaard. An Italian core partnered the Dutch magic and a 1988 Scudetto win was the reward of Berlusconi’s backing.

As AC grew in stature, Inter found themselves beginning a decline. Inter stooped as low as 1 point above the relegation zone during the 90’s and years of mediocre results were overshdwoed by the success of local rivals Milan and current champions Juventus.

The signing of Ronaldo did little to cover the embarassment. Inter fans blamed their owner Moratti as he did little to create a favourable relationship. Inter’s mediocrity was capitalised upon by AC as they won three consecutive titles between 1992 and 1994.

The 2000’s started as the 90’s ended with Inter continuing their struggle for success, compounded with an 6-0 obliteration to there San Siro rivals in first season of the new century. Milan went to the final of the 2000/02 Champions League only to lose to Juventus. They won the Scudetto in 2003 and reappeared in the Champions League final against Liverpool in 2005.

What proceeded was a scoreline that will go down in history. 3-0 to the Italians at half time, it ended with Liverpool winning on penalties. But, Milan’s most recent stagnation didn’t begin after that as the club managed to override a point deduction due to a match fixing scandal, Champions League remained.

A new generation of stars were being muttered about. Zlatan, Pato and Robinho were and exciting trio but Ancelotti was lured away before he had time to make the trio world beaters.

2004 was the beginning Inter’s revival as a former player, Roberto Mancini , came to manage the Nerazzurri. He claimed the title during a season AC and Juve were deducted points. Inter won their second Scudetto in the same number of years in 2007. Although, a third consecutive title was not met with as much celebration as Mancini’s men exited the Champions League and Mancini announced his imminent departure. He was sacked after the season.

A certain Jose Mourinho arrived after Mancini, he captured the Champions League with a 2-0 win against Bayern in 2009 and won the Serie by 2 points during the same season. Then they completed the first Italian treble by winning the Coppa Italia. Mourinho was in and out within a season, tempted by the cash rich Real Madrid.

Return to the present, both teams have failed to recover from the loss of managerial greats. Inter have returned to Mancini for inspiration, a team with a spread of experience and youth has a strange, lingering metaphorical smell of average. One step forward, two back seems to be a recurring theme as players such a Kovacic fail to hit the heights expected. Shaqiri and Podolski have dismally unimpressed since their arrivals.

The experience of defensive players seem to hinder rather than age as lapse of concentration still occur. A monotonous pace which is easy to play against, either absorb Inter pressure and countering or simply out passing the seemingly unfit 11 of Inter.

Icardi has been a bright spark and if held onto will help Mancini and owner Thorir maintain hope of future success. Inter have lost club legends in Zanetti, Cambiasso, Samuel and Milito while haven’t replaced the class of Eto’o or Zlatan of which they once ahad. However, the squad is still competitive, while average. A quarter final Euro League place was credited to Inter but they have been surpassed in the Serie A.

AC Milan boast a team of overrated, overpaid rot. Mexes is rash and hasn’t learned from experience. Zapata, Rami and Paletta are neither defensively stable or commanding enough to control the back line. Abate is trying but hindering the progress of a promising right back in Mattia De Sciglio. De Jong seems to have his mind elsewhere, possibly Old Trafford. Poli hasn’t become what was expected and Montolivo struggles for fitness.

Going forward, Pazzini is goal shy, Menez drops deep, probably because he can’t bare anyone else touching the ball with such lack of quality. Cerci is confidence lacking while Suso will require time.

The decline of AC Milan is due to a lack of financial control with wages, Berlusconi’s off field trouble and the fans disharmony with the poor team performances. For Milan to prosper, the Berlusconi era must come to and end, only then will the tension be freed and shackles be released.

Journalism student at the University of Sheffield. Freelance for TheBootRoom.

AC Milan

Victory in Milan, but is this another false dawn for Arsenal and Arsene Wenger?

Arsenal were triumphant in Milan despite their recent miserable form.

Jake Jackman



Photo: Getty Images

Arsenal ended their losing run of four matches with an excellent performance away to AC Milan in the Europa League. This competition has the potential to save the Gunners season and the commitment from every player suggested that they want to go all the way.

They were coming up against a team full of confidence under Gennaro Gattuso. Milan hadn’t lost a match since the end of December. The Serie A club hadn’t conceded a goal in six and had won five of those inside ninety minutes.

These sides came into this fixture in remarkably different form, but football is played on grass and not on paper.

Despite Milan having more attempts, it was Arsenal who created the better chances. They had a couple of half-chances early on before the opening goal.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan has had a hot and cold start to life in a Gunners’ shirt, but he was one of the best players on the pitch in Italy. His goal was emphatically taken as he drove the ball past Gianluigi Donnarumma.

It is important to capitalise when you are on top, especially away from home in European competitions and Arsenal did just that. As the first-half progressed, they continued to create the better opportunities. Both Danny Welbeck and Mkhitaryan had good chances to double the visitors’ lead, but they were squandered.

(Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

In stoppage-time of half-time, Arsenal scored a second to give them a commanding lead in the tie. It was a great move from the team and Mesut Ozil found Aaron Ramsey who coolly rounded Donnarumma before putting the ball into the net.

The first-half performance from Arsenal was one of the best that supporters have seen this season. They were better all over the pitch and showed the work rate that they had lacked in previous weeks. Milan pushed in the second half, but they couldn’t penetrate the Gunners’ defence.

Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi were both excellent. Arsene Wenger will be hoping that both are returning to their best after some uncharacteristic errors in previous matches. The centre-back pairing made eight ball recoveries and were always in the right position on Thursday.

Patrick Cutrone is a teenager with a big future, but the young striker had no luck out of the Arsenal defence and that will encourage the manager.

Another player to emerge with credit is Danny Welbeck. The ineligibility of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and the injury of Alexandre Lacazette means that the Englishman started the game up front for Arsenal. It was a huge opportunity for him after being pushed down the pecking order at the club and he took it with both hands.

The Englishman worked tirelessly and caused problems with his movement.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Although his final product wasn’t great, he was a constant threat and led the defensive effort from the front. Welbeck will never be a leading Premier League striker, but he is effective in matches such as this one. He deserves more opportunities during the run-in.

It would be too soon to get carried away for Arsenal fans. There are still questions regarding Arsene Wenger and the work rate of the players, but this was an excellent performance that finally provides the club with positive momentum. They have had a miserable few weeks and the supporters can get excited about their team once again.

When the draw was made, a lot of supporters checked their expectations when it came to the Europa League. Milan were the overwhelming favourites, but Arsenal have taken a dominant position in the tie and should be able to finish the job in London.

If they can do that, they will move into the quarter-final stage. Although it will be difficult to win it, they will have as good a chance as any.

There have been many false dawns for Arsenal in recent years and this could be another one. That said, it takes enormous character to go away to a huge stadium like the San Siro after a poor run of form and win comfortably.

Considering the criticism that they have had for their lack of desire, few would have thought the Gunners to be capable of a result like this.

It is now up to Wenger to prove that he can get this level of effort and performance out of his players on a regular basis. The Frenchman remains in a difficult position with no margin for error. If he is going to keep his job, he needs to finish the season strongly and win the Europa League.

It won’t be an easy challenge, but this performance and result will give him hope that he can upset the odds to claim his first European trophy.

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AC Milan

Patience required at AC Milan after a slow start to the season

The Boot Room



AC Milan’s new board will have to exercise some patience early in their reign. The Italian outfit have four wins and four losses so far in the Serie A, leaving them in tenth position with minus one goal differential. It is certainly not the start that was hoped for but it was not out of the realm of possibility.

The transfer activity during the summer, sparked by a change in ownership, led to plenty of excitement and intrigue around the Rossoneri. AC brought in 10 new first-team players during the summer and a majority of those regularly start.

The lack of cohesion has been clear in the biggest games of the season so far, all of which have been losses. Sampdoria, Lazio, Roma and Inter have beaten Milan. The one positive from that is that only one of those games, against Roma, was at home.

We mentioned during the summer that Vincenzo Montella would be the most under-pressure manager in Europe. The pressure on the hot seat has definitely been turned up to 100 after the late defeat in the Milan Derby.

Montella’s side came from behind twice to equalise, yet another mistake cost them what would have been a well-earned point. Part of the problem is that the Italian head coach is yet to settle on his best team and formation.

Injuries and lack of form have played a part in that but the manager has not helped his players. The key player, where form and leadership is concerned, is Leonardo Bonucci. It was considered a huge coup for Milan when they stole arguably the best defender in the league from the champions, Juventus. However, the new captain has disappointed so far.

While a period of acclimatisation is expected for any player, Bonucci’s quality suggested an immediate upgrade would be on hand for Milan’s defense. Nonetheless, taking on the mantle of leader, without the likes of Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini beside him, has proven tough so far. He also hasn’t been helped by Montella’s formation tinkering and having to line-up with different defensive partners.

For Montella, a settled side, with or without a plethora of newcomers, would perform better in the long run. Milan have a number of options in defense and midfield but it is in attack where the focus will be, come January.

Carlos Bacca is on loan and seemingly on his way out as he does not fit Montella’s style of play. A quality forward needs to be brought in to replace him as newcomers Andre Silva and Niko Kalinic have shared the load so far this season, but the duo only have two goals between them in the Serie A.

Silva is one for the future and a solid enough option but he is playing his first season in arguably the toughest competition for attackers in Europe. If Milan want to meet their goals they need consistent quality leading the line.

According to AC’s sporting director Massimiliano Mirabelli, who spoke to Radio Rossonera, Torino’s Andrea Belotti is still being considered as a target.

While the start to the season has been lukewarm it is not time for the new owners to panic. If Milan continue to win the games they have both domestically and on the continent then the season should be a good one.

The Rossoneri are undefeated so far in the Europa League and should continue that trend to make into the knockout rounds. How far they progress from there is dependent on Montella working out all the kinks.

If Milan continue to win the games they have domestically that should keep them within touching distance of the minimum goal, a return to the Champions League. One would expect that the quality of the likes of Bonucci and Lucas Biglia will help propel the club in the big games still to come.

Milan are now seven points away from a Champions League spot but that does not mean the axe should fall. Montella was given a vast upgrade in quality but, as with any other team in this situation, the new players will take some time to gel.

The board will be watching the team’s progress carefully and will be especially keen on the result of the next big game which is a home visit from Juventus.

At least Milan fans can be assured of one thing, if patience is not a concept for the new board then old favourite Carlo Ancelotti is available. Over to you Montella.

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AC Milan

Could AC Milan be set to make a move for Chelsea’s Diego Costa?

Jake Jackman



Diego Costa

Diego Costa doesn’t seem to have a future at Chelsea, but he has yet to leave Stamford Bridge this summer and time is running out for the striker to find a new club.

AC Milan have been one of the busiest clubs in this transfer window and they have been linked to the Spanish international in recent days.

Chairman Marco Fassone has told Sky Sports that he has spoken with Jorge Mendes about his client:

“We went to see Jorge Mendes; there is a lot you can talk to him about. Costa is a great player but he is of Chelsea. That’s all.”

Antonio Conte will want to see the striker leave the club this summer, as he caused problems last season and didn’t show the commitment that is demanded by the Chelsea boss.

Alvaro Morata has moved to West London, while Michy Batshuayi is showing good form in pre-season.

There is no longer a place for Costa and it would be in everyone’s best interests if he did depart before September.

Would he be a good signing for AC Milan?

The Italian giants are trying to once again compete at the top end of the European game. It won’t be a quick rebuilding process, but they have big finances behind them and their recruitment this summer has been superb.

They have managed to sign several great players, including arguably the best defender in the world, Leonardo Bonucci. There will be a desire to add one more quality player and Costa could be that man.

There are few better strikers in world football when Costa is in the mood. Last season, he was superb for the majority of the campaign as he played a significant role in Chelsea regaining the Premier League title.

He is an intelligent mover and his aggressive style means that defenders don’t get a moment to rest when he is on the pitch.

The 28-year-old is a great finisher with either foot and capable of scoring with his head. Milan will want to add another goal threat to their attack and Costa would be a great signing for them in their current state.

How likely is a transfer?

Chelsea will be keen to sell him this summer in order to bring in funds and get him off the books.

There is no longer a place for him at Stamford Bridge and he could become a huge problem if he were to stay past this transfer window, as he isn’t the type of character to react well to being sidelined.

The club will be pressing for a departure and if AC Milan do have a serious interest, they will have a good chance of signing him.

It would be another significant transfer for Milan and they would improve their Serie A title chances considerably if they were to add Costa to their striking ranks.

He showed last season that he can play a major role in a title-winning side and Milan would benefit from that.

For the striker, himself, it would give him a new challenge and an opportunity to lead the revival of a huge European club. Everyone would be a winner if this did go through.

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