To understand the full extent of the downfall of the two giants of Italian and European football, let us learn about the city of Milan. Milan is the fashion capital of the world. It hosts the prestigious Milan Fashion Week every year, which is attended by every who’s who of the fashion world. It has significant presence of Alfa Romeo and Pirelli, two of the automobile giants. Home to Armanis and Versaces, it is glamour and sophistication at best. You expect the citizens of this mighty city to be represented in every domain by the best of the best, especially in the global arena of football. They were, until a few a years ago.
AC Milan and Inter Milan have a very long and illustrious past, filled with league titles and UEFA Champions League.The Milan derby played by these is considered one of the oldest, fiercest and mesmerizing rivalry, producing some of the most magnificent moments ever seen in football. Once owned by the two of the most influential people in Italy. AC Milan is still owned by the most powerful Italian politician, Silvio Berlusconi. They share the same stadium, the great San Siro/Giuseppe Meaza, one of the most intimidating and loudest stadiums in the world. Many greats have worn the shirts of either of these two clubs, in some cases for both clubs. Many of you can probably remember the treble of Inter Milan and the thrashing given out by AC Milan to Manchester United. These are teams which produced legends like Andriy Shevchenko and Ronaldo. Playing for these clubs was considered the biggest honour in football. Kaka can still attest to the fact he had the best time playing for AC Milan. Paolo Maldini, probably the greatest defender ever, played for only one club, AC Milan, just likes his father even though he was offered better money by other football giants. The 7 Champions League won by AC Milan, only 3 less than that of Real Madrid shows how good they were. Javier Zanetti epitomised what it meant to play for Inter Milan. Inter were the first Italian club to achieve the treble (Champions league, league title and league cup),not so long ago under the most innocent and truthful manager in the world, Jose Mourinho, against whom there is a giant conspiracy going on. Carlo Ancelloti and Roberto Mancini earned their managerial credentials at these clubs. Ronaldo, the fat Brazilian one, played for both the clubs, and is considered a legend by the fans of both clubs. Zlatan Imbrahimovic, the Swede giant never scared to speak about whats on his mind and never scared to do the abnormal, was at his best and recitent when playing for both the clubs (OH YES HE PLAYED FOR BOTH OF THEM, AMAZING! ISN’T IT?). Kaka won his Ballon D’or playing for AC Milan. I hope, by now, that you get my point that these are magnanimous clubs with goosebump inducing achievements.
Things have gone awry in the last few years. So immensely afield that they are now competing to play in the Europa League. Roots of all their problems lie in the massive spending spree they had in 90s and early 2000. The money spent on players past their prime: Ronaldinho, Robinho, Diego Forlan. In some cases they bought back the players they sold a season or two earlier, for example Hernan Crespo and Andriy Shevchenko, for more than their worth at that time. AC Milan particularly have had a torrid time in transfer market. They had to sell Zlatan Imbrahimovic and Thiago Silva on the same day to the same club. Both these player were arguably their best players in the preceding successful seasons. Nowadays AC Milan has become a feeding ground for fringe players of other clubs. Players like Cristian Zaccardo and Phillipe Mexes. It hurts me to see players like Andre Agazzi and Sully Muntari don the same colours once proudly worn by Dida, Nesta and Baresi. Also loosing players like Seedorf, Inzaghi, Nesta, Ambrosini, Gattuso and Pirlo in a short period of time has hurt them very badly. They haven’t been able to replace these players till now. But they still have some quality players in their books like El Sharaawy, Montolivo and Honda to name a few.
In comparison, the downfall of Inter has not been that bad. They have cushioned the loss of players like Sneijder, Eto’o and Motta by investing in youth players like Mateo Kovacic. But even they are not having the greatest time in the league. Recently bought by Erik Thorir, their form seems to be similar to that of their owner, unpredictable and eccentric. Even the signing of Roberto Mancini, their most successful manager, has not brought much change to their fortunes. Fans have become so disenchanted and depressed due to the performance of these clubs that the attendance has been dwindling with the number hitting the lowest in decades.
Another reason for the downfall is the emergence of Juventus as a giant once more after the devastating effect of Calciopoli match fixing scandal. Juventus has been dominating the league by building a team which has remained unchanged for a few. Also they have struck gold in transfer market with the free signing of Pirlo and Pogba, and also cheap signings of Vidal and Tevez. All in all they have had a sensible and successful few years. Also the emanation of Napoli, Lazio , Roma and Fiorentina from always being the bridesmaid to trying to win the hand of the handsome groom, i.e. the Champions League, has adhered the progress of the Milan clubs.
But all is not lost. A few years out the limelight can prove to be immensely helpful, as proved by Borussia Dortmund, in bring back the clubs to their best. They should stop buying fringe players and start giving youth a chance. Build a team with a core of experienced and talented players. Clear unwanted players who are not good enough, eating a large salary from their books. In my opinion, salvation will occur but not in the near future. Patience is required. Managers should given time to work their team. But who knows what the future beholds. Hope is the only way for now.