This is what stood out in Round 6 of the 2019/20 A-League season for the right and wrong reasons.
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. In Europe, they failed to impress with a goalless encounter against Belgian outfit Anderlecht.
For a team that last year only just fell 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, it has been less than impressive.
With encouraging performances against the continent’s benchmark, Barcelona, in both the group stage and quarter finals 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.
You just could not find replacements for players of that calibre but it certainly doesn’t help when you don’t make an effort.
The only real signings of note were Giampaolo Pazzini, Ricardo Montolivo and Christian Zapata, but these players 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, even though this is understandable with FFP 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 likes of the perennially rich and successful in 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 FFP regulations.
Hope still remains for Diavolo supporters, as Kaka’s 68 million euro transfer to Real Madrid, was an attempt to balance the books.
The approximately 60 million euros gained this summer is once more an act of financial austerity. However, the future could still be bright for Milan. They were able to build a strong side after Kaka’s departure, and they will feel they can do it again after this latest setback.