PAOLO MALDINI has given La Gazzetta dello Sport an incredible interview in which he discussed the state of Milan.
With the exception of the 2010-2011 in which Milan won the title, they seem to have been going downhill since winning the Champions League in 2007 and this year is the lowest point for Milan as they’re out of everything and sit in 11th place.
Many people have spoken about the situation of Milan, with Arrigo Sacchi claiming that “It is a sad moment for Milan and for Italian football” after Milan’s UCL elimination but no one has been as lethal and on-point as the absolute legend Maldini.
“If I watched the game on Sunday? Yes, also the match with Atletico and nearly all of those for the last two years,” Paolo Maldini said in a long interview with the Italian sports newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport, which was posted today. “Inside me there was a mix of anger and disappointment – not for the results, because this is already the tenth or eleventh time this has happened – but because the impression is that they have thrown away all that has been built over the last 10 years.
“Milan have had the good fortune to have had more winning cycles with similar synergies of men – I know how much work there was behind so many triumphs, what it took to build such a beautiful story. To see it all destroyed makes me crazy. What this situation is born from? The departures of so many players with a winning mentality. I believe that success depends first of all on the men. Many of these have passed through Milan in the last 25 years, but how many of those work at the club? None. The history of Milan is Filippo Galli, head of the youth sector. And then there is Tassotti, who I feel could leave at the end of the season. If this happens it would be another huge blow. We would lose another piece of history.
“I hope it is not true that Tassotti leaves. At Bayern and Real Madrid, the legends work at the club. This is the first big problem. Juventus have understood this and have restructured, starting with a solid group of Italians that know how to reach success. It sounds like I’m talking about myself? I know, but mine is not a personal matter. Some might think that I spit on the plate from which I have eaten, but it is not like this. I suffer seeing Milan in these conditions. I have two children who play in the youth sector – one is now on loan at Brescia – I feel part of the club,” continued the legendary number 3 of Milan.
If I agree that the club has spent poorly? The club must declare that they’ve other objectives – they cannot compete with Juve and are not one of the top 10 teams in Europe. A project does not exist – they look at today and not tomorrow. You must buy players functional to the game, and not only free transfers. You can do well once [with this tactic], but not always.
“And then offering a huge contract serves no purpose. But the problem is structural: Milan have many employees, but it is understructured in the sporting aspect. Galliani is a great leader, but he is not at a level to understand the players. It is all him and this is not possible. If you trust the same agents – one in particular – at times you can make a deal, others not.
“At the base there must be knowledge. In recent years, Braida has played a marginal role. First there was Leonardo (former Milan and Inter coach, and the Paris Saint-Germain sporting director) who helped to understand whether a player was suitable for Milan. I remember when Leo wanted me at all costs to be sporting director, Galliani said: ‘it is an outmoded role’. This is not true. If you surround yourself with capable men, there will be fewer mistakes. Pirlo, for example – if the coach comes and says ‘Andrea is finished, I do not need him anymore’, there must be someone at the club who responds ‘this is not true, Pirlo is a legend of the club, he must stay’. This way, maybe we would not have done Juventus a favour.
“Another problem – the Milan of today cannot allow itself not to have a network of high level scouts. Before, they could choose the best, now you need to go and take players functional to the squad. Milan are lightyears behind smaller teams. The management of Galliani has borne fruit for many years? Yes, but the results do not ever depend on a single person.
“Galliani is the man of reference in every field – sporting and non-sporting. The difference is that before at Milan there was a strong group who knew how to manage the dressing room. If someone did not behave right, we thought we could set them straight. Maybe you can think that there was only Galliani, but there was also a synergy of men with the right knowledge, more than the investment of Berlusconi. With the departures of so many players with winning mentality, it has all collapsed.
“Should Galliani stay or go? It is not for me to say. I think when you feel omnipotent, you do not understand that the results were also thanks to others. To win we want ideas, a project and great passion. At Milan, only the passion remains. It is not enough. If Barbara Berlusconi is at a level to lead Milan? I don’t know. It depends on who you surround her with. I do not think she is an expert on football or footballers. How close was I to return to Milan? I’d 2 conversations with Barbara. After the division of responsibilities I was referred to as the successor to Galliani for the technical area, but I’ve not heard from anyone. She wanted me to transmit everything we have talked about so far – I was ready for it, but there was no follow up.
“How much of the situation is the fault of the club? For sure, this situation does not help the players. The problems were there in the past, but they were managed at Milanello by the coach, captain and players. If Seedorf is the right coach? It is logical that he cannot be an expert, he has great courage and personality, but not even Pep Guardiola could do anything.
“It is not Clarence’s fault – there is a lack of clarity in objectives. Perhaps you could have come to the end of the season and taken a more conservative coach, in order to then start well next year. As it is now, there is a risk he will be burned. If I would have sacked Allegri? The situation in the table was bad, but I never thought another coach could do better or turn the season around. If Inzaghi can be an alternative? He has done two years in the youth sector and this is important.
“But a rookie coach must be supported by a strong structure to ensure he does not get burned. Sacchi and Capello were [rookies] at the start, but could rely on great champions. If the squad is as poor as the table suggests? The classification reflects the value of the performances. If I’ve heard anything from my former teammates about a split in the dressing room? No, I have not heard anything and to the voices I think even less, but in these cases exists a strange situation. There is a group that feels bad, finds anxiety, and the performances are affected, and there are other players who are less involved because maybe they already know they are leaving,” added Maldini, who played in the red & black shirt from 1985 to 2009.
“If Milan can win the Scudetto next season like they did in 1999 after finishing 10th and 11th in 1996 and 1998? This Milan is lightyears away from that. To rebuild the squad you need a lot of investment. At that time to start again small alterations were enough. When we won the Champions League in 2007 (by beating Liverpool 2-1 in the final), Galliani said: ‘We do not think of being the best in Europe, it’s not like that’. I had already understood that without a renewal we would start to fall. It was the first step, but the final blow came with the sales of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva (to Paris Saint-Germain).
“How long will it take to see a competitive Milan? It depends on the objectives. I don’t think the fans just want to see a winning Milan. They would like to see a project – the generational change was fatal. If Balotelli is overrated? He is still not a champion. The same goes for Pato. The day I see them put the team on their shoulders and carry them for 90 minutes, then they will be. He has done it at times. I don’t know him, but I get the impression that if he went to Juventus – a team where there are clear ideas, a tough coach like Antonio Conte and a solid group of Italians – he would make the leap in quality.
“However, it is wrong to put all the weight on Balotelli’s shoulders – he is not the saviour of the country. If I’d have agreed to talk to the Curva? I have always hated these things – I have never accepted that some guys younger than me tell me to work harder when I was the one with the most appearances. If you are not satisfied then whistle me, but it ends there. I remember in 2007 when we won everything, for six months we did not have the support of the Curva. Then I got angry.
“I didn’t understand it. If Berlusconi is too absent? The current situation makes you understand that he is not very involved. The Berlusconi that I knew gave different indications from a sporting point of view,” concluded Maldini, 45-years-old.