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.
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