Atalanta picking up a 5-0 win over AC Milan was one of the worst results for the Rossoneri in recent history. The strange thing is that it wasn’t a surprise, as the performance reeked of a rather pedestrian mentality. Defensively, Milan were all over the place. More than anything else though, it was a sign of how the decade has been and it came in their last game of the decade.
Perhaps it was meant to be. Coming against a side that has had probably the best decade in its history, Milan were shown a mirror that has been held in front of them for seven or eight years now. It was a contrasting decade and the game stood proof of that.
Milan were pretty clueless at the back. Franck Kessie lost the ball as many as five times in the game and had probably the worst game of his Milan career. Andrea Conti was dribbled past four times, losing the ball once. Ismael Bennacer had an unnatural game too, also getting dribbled past four times and dispossessed once.
More than this, it was a lack of effort that stung the Rossoneri. There were times when Atalanta players were walking past the Milan defence as the likes of Papu Gomez, Josip Ilicic, Ruslan Malinkovskiy, and Mario Pasalic were enjoying themselves. The manner in which Conti allowed Gomez to walk past him for the first goal was only a sign of things to come.
Rafael Leao had no service as Suso and Hakan Calhanoglu came up with disappointing showings. It was a definition of how they’ve been for Milan – blowing hot and cold but poor when the need arises. It was very predictable for them.
But more than anything else, it all showed how Milan have players who aren’t good enough and this was true for many of the players on the pitch on Sunday. Recruitment and planning have been very wrong. It isn’t about the manager – it is about the people who run the club and make the decisions about incomings or outgoings.
It has been the story for the club since Massimiliano Allegri left. It has been the case for them ever since they first came across financial issues back in 2012. They lost multiple key players and it has been a consistent downfall since.
Allegri won them their 18th Scudetto title in 2012, but fast forward to today and Milan are in the second half of the table. Careless running of the club by multiple owners has left it in a lurch. The lack of planning because of that has been running riot and this has meant a constant change in managers.
The recent sacking of Marco Giampaolo was also a sign of a lack of a plan. The Italian was brought in during the summer and the world knew he would bring a new brand of football. It was always going to take time. When performances dipped, Milan took reactionary measures- another decision that is costing them this season.
They’re now left with Stefano Pioli- the sort of manager that many were against the very day he came in.
The fact that it has become a habit is a sad sight in itself. The club deliberately didn’t take part in the Europa League because of financial issues. They want to get their finances right before playing an extra competition. They also recorded the club’s highest financial losses recently.
Ricky Massarra has been a very good sporting director over the years, but Paolo Maldini gets criticism for what he is doing – he isn’t really a sporting director now. It is a case of square pegs in round holes – something that is replicated onto the pitch.
And as the club enters a new era, things look bleak. This is a club with a huge history that has been spoilt by the greed of careless owners. The only positive is that for a club as big as them, there is always some hope.