As we arrive the end of 2019, it’s typical habit to look back at the highs and lows of the footballing world throughout the past 10 years.
For many believed elite clubs across Europe, the 2010s have been considerably complicated.
Most of us will look back at Manchester United’s abrupt downslide following the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013 or Arsenal’s inability to convincingly challenge at the top of the Premier League table, as feasibly the heftiest deterioration of the decade.
Maybe some of the free thinkers will point at Parma and Rangers who both were almost completely out of the top flights, while former La Liga regular challengers Deportivo La Coruna are now slugging it out at the bottom of Spain’s second tier.
But perhaps the most serious fall-off over the last 10 years across Europe’s top five leagues is undeniably that of AC Milan.
Milan came into the decade as one of the Europe’s most dreaded teams; competent of challenging both in Italy and in Europe.
But in their last league game of 2019 (decade ending) — an outing to their high-flying rivals Atalanta — the Rossoneri ran-out 5-0 losers; a result that keeps them securely in mid-table as we head for 2020.
Despite the fact that the current season is a nightmare for the once gigantic club — they’ve already fired an head coach this term, while their main gunman Krzysztof Piatek has sweated for goals — it’s their overall slump from grace in recent years that is more distressing.
In the last five years, they’ve been no where close to Champions League qualification places with an average league finish of 7th, with the littlest position being the 10th they finished in 2014-15 season.
In stark contrast in the past decade between 2000 and 2009, AC won the Champions League two times — in 2003 and 2007 — while they qualified for Europe’s main competition eight times.
Putting aside the Champions League qualification, Milan’s trophy total over the last decade is miserably meager.
Their last League title came at the beginning of the decade back in 2010/2011, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic championing them to their last title as top scorer that season while the likes of Alessandro Nesta, Gennaro Gattuso and Clarence Seedorf all played important part before they were each eventually phased out of the team.
The likes of Davide Calabria, Patrick Cutrone and Manuel Locatelli have all followed the keeper from the club’s youth side, although only the Italian right-back still at the club, with Locatelli moved on to Sassuolo last season while Cutrone joined Wolves in the summer.
For added substance, the newly retired Riccardo Montolivo — who captained Milan for the best part of the decade after joining from Fiorentina in 2012 — lifted just a lone trophy during his time at Milan; the Supercoppa Italiana in 2016, which is tantamount to the Community Shield in Italy.
Recent big-money purchases have also failed to produce the desired results.
It’s all the more fatal when you notice Milan are the world’s 5th biggest spenders throughout the last decade, with only Barcelona, Man United, PSG and Man City ahead of them in terms of net spend.
Italian defender Leonardo Bonucci was signed from rivals Juventus for a club record fee in 2017 but failed to settle in Milan and has returned to Turin, while Lucas Paqueta and Andre Silva have failed to justify their hypes as the second-coming of Kaka and Rui Costa, despite their outrageous fees.
In fact, Milan’s spending has been so huge in recent years that they had to withdraw from this season’s Europa League due to financial constraints, brought about by careless spending from their former owners.
Milan’s problems on the pitch, their frequent change of managers, and their hefty unplanned spending have all reflected their issues at the very top of the club’s hierarchy.
Since 2014, they’ve had three different owners — former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, shady Chinese consortium Sino-Europe Sports and the holder American-based Elliott Management, with the help of former Arsenal CEO Ivan Gazidis — along with numerous sporting directors.
This season, Elliott and the board claim they’ve ‘rescued’ the club from bankruptcy, although their financial situation is far from being helped by their failure to get things right on the pitch.
What’s all the more worse for the Rossoneri’s passionate fan base is the change in form of their bitter rivals Inter, lead by former Italy and Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, who are currently challenging and presently leading Juventus at the very top of the Serie A table.
With their smart signings combined with Conte’s winning mentality, the future looks a lot brighter on the blue and black side of Milan.
Of course, with the club no longer financially crippled and with the promise of a new stadium in the pipelines, the following decade could see the good times return to the club.
The Doubting Thomases of their fanbase would counter that they couldn’t get anymore worse.
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