Newcastle picked up a 2-0 win over Sheffield – thanks to a bizarre moment in the second half.
Italian giants AC Milan have endured a shocking start to the 2012/2013 season. They lie in 11th place in Serie A, some nine points off the pace in the race for the Scudetto and five points adrift of rivals Internazionale in the race for Champions League qualification.
Lowly Bologna and Sampdoria have inflicted demoralising defeats at the San Siro in what has been one of the Rossoneri’s worst starts to a season in recent history.
The recent derby loss to rivals Internazionale who themselves are on the rebound and rebuilding only goes to show how far Milan have fallen off the pace.
In Europe, they failed to impress with a goalless encounter against Belgian outfit Anderlecht, while their win in Russia against a rusty Zenit St. Petersburg was fortuitous to say the least.
For a team that pushed the old lady all the way last season only to fall just short of delivering back-to-back Scudettos for the first time since the 1992-93 and 1993-94 triumphs, when the likes of Gullit, Rijkaard, Van Basten and Maldini were gracing the San Siro.
With encouraging performances against the continents benchmark in Barcelona in both the group stage and quarter final bouts last season, there was much optimism about Milan’s hopes of delivering an eighth European crown, the last of which was won in Athens five years ago.
How things have changed. Massimiliano Allegri could not have fathomed the departures that were to occur in the summer as a number of key personnel called time on their careers in the red and black.
Club stalwarts Clarence Seedorf, Alessandro Nesta, Gennaro Gattuso and Fillipo Inzaghi, who all represent the heart and soul of the club departed. If that wasn’t already enough, talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic, defensive behemoth Thiago Silva and star Antonio Cassano were all sold.
They couldn’t find replacements for players of that calibre, but to be fair they didn’t even really make an effort. The only real signings of note, Giampaolo Pazzini, Ricardo Montolivo and Christian Zapata, were never going to be adequate enough to stop the inevitable slide from happening.
Having built a team in the post Kaka era that was capable of winning the champions league again, the 2012/2013 season was supposed to be a fruitful one. Yet, Milan are left to rue a mass exodus of epic proportions and a transfer policy that favours austerity and frugality – understandable with Financial Fair Pay regulations looming large over European football.
However, one feels with the financial muscle being flexed by the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City and PSG as well as the the perennially rich and successful teams such as Real Madrid and Barcelona, it will take some time before Milan are back to challenging for silverware at home and abroad as clubs look to comply with the FFP.
Hope still remains for Diavolo supporters, as Kaka’s 68 million euro transfer to Real Madrid was indeed an attempt to balance the books. The approximate 60 million euros gained this summer is once more an act of financial austerity, but having shown that despite Kaka’s departure it was able to build a powerful team, Milan will feel they can do it again after this latest setback.