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“Milan can do it if we believe, because we don’t fear any team in the world, not even Manchester United. On the contrary, it’s the others who must fear us.” Silvio Berlusconi has been delivering fantastical sound bites of this ilk in the sporting and political domain for over 24 years now, however  as Milan’s subsequent 7-2 drubbing over the two legs back in April proved, his words are starting to sound more than a little empty.

The Berlusconi effect has elevated gli rossoneri to one of the best football teams in the world, providing football fans with tactical innovation, style and success in two different eras to cement their legendary status. Consequentially modern Milan fans have become used to and even expectant of success, citing it as a quality that is “part of the Milan DNA” rather than an honour achieved through hard work, intelligent management and a little luck.

Now as the cloud of arrogance surrounding this club starts to subside, all that is left is ironic embarrassment, perfectly embodied by the phrase “the most successful team in the world” sprawled across the official website and at one point even embroidered onto the breast of the famous red and black jersey. If that isn’t a sign of insecurity and living on former glory, I’m not sure what is.

However has this tragic decline coupled with Berlusconi’s increasing apathy in the clubs fortunes signaled the fall of a once proud giant, or is it actually simply the hot air surrounding one of the greatest political stunts finally bringing a team back to their rightful place?

In the formative years of the Serie A Milan won the title three times, 1901, 1906 and 1907. After this period though, the red and black half of Milan became a dormant force, not challenging for the title until the post second-war period.

Nonetheless, lead by a certain Swedish trio nicknamed “Gre-No-Li”, the rossoneri dominated the 1950’s, before Nereo Rocco’s Milan of the 1960’s made it’s name in world football by winning the European Cup twice and the Intercontinental cup as well.

Yet even this extended period of success could not cement Milan’s status as “Italy’s” premiere team as they were relegated twice in the following period between 1970 and 1985, and were reduced to a team that focused on winning the Coppa d’italia.

This can conclude that unlike Juventus or Inter that were consistently near the top in every decade, Milan were more of a”nouveau” success story that enjoyed a period of triumph amidst an everyday reality of being Italy’s 3rd club.

This ascertainment rings true even today when looking at other facts that give teams status. Firstly Milan were the third team to obtain the hallowed star on their jersey in 1979 (Juventus 1958, Inter 1966). Milan are the third most decorated team in Serie A with 17 titles, Inter have 18 whilst Juventus are way out ahead with 27. Milan have spent 77 seasons in the top flight, fourth behind Roma and Juventus equal on 78 seasons, and Inter on 79 seaons.

And finally, the total number of points that Milan have amassed in the history of the Italian league is also – no prize for guessing correctly – third behind Inter and Juventus.

Team Pts Pld W D L For Agst Diff 1st 2nd 3rd 2win pts 3win pts
Juve 3625 2544 1343 721 480 4381 2482 1899 27 16 10 3407 4750
Inter 3606 2582 1280 736 566 4344 2638 1706 18 13 14 3296 4576
Milan 3434 2522 1209 759 554 4140 2567 1573 17 15 17 3177 4386

Looking at these statistics, It’s clear to see that Milan has now returned to its historical place behind Inter and Juventus. Ironically the only statistic that Milan beats both teams in is in finishing 3rd and Milan may even continue this trend further by being the third of these teams to sign Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

So, the success of Milan between1986 and 2007 has stretched the expectations and ambitions of this proud club and its fans way out of proportion. Now, the Berlusconi machine has finally ran out of air and the cracks cannot be paved over with a big signing of a former champion anymore. Milan must face reality, lose the arrogance and adjust their expectations rather than live on former glory. Otherwise they face making the same mistakes of the postRocco period and post Capello period.

Berlusconi’s era has made Milan more than any other team into a political beast. Flamboyant achievements have been exaggerated whilst limitations underplayed. The football cycle of success is for the moment moving away from AC Milan, perhaps it’s time for a little humility too.

Qasa Alom

Broadcast Journalist. Writer for Serieaweekly, subtitled online or anyone else daft enough to want me. These are my thoughts (even the clever ones)

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  • Payman

    This so called article is filled with envy of the greatnest of Milan and ignorance. For your information: Milan is the most winningest team in the international world having won more international titles than any other club, including Real Madrid, Man U, Barcelona. I’m not even going to mention Juve and INter as they are both way behind Milan in that aspect.
    Milan won the European Cup with more consistency than any other team.
    2 in the 60s, 1 in the 80′s, 2 in the 90′s, 2 in the current decade. Real on the other hand won the bulk of their titles in the 50′s when the European Cup was still in its infancy and let’s not forget it that Real are the team of the King of Spain after having been for decades the team of the Dictator Franco, so they can spend freely as they have an unlimited budget. Guess you didn’t know that hey?
    Did you know that Milan is the only team in the history of Serie A to have been champion undefeated in 1991-92 season? How about that Milan are the team with the most number of games undeafeated, without a loss in all competition, from May 1991 to April 1993 or a total of 58 consecutive matches? Which is still the world record in world football. How come you didn’t mention that? Did you even know that? Either you didn’t know or you were too envious.

    Once could go on and on about all the great things about Milan you forgot to mention either due to sheer ignorance or just envy and jealousy as it shows by your tone of your piece that must be either an Interista or a Gobbo.

    Anyways, next time you dare writing something about Milan, take the time to do your research properly and for the sake of your readers, specially if you wrote on a popular place, please be more objective and leave your hatred and feelings of inferiority towards the most successful club in the world aside.

    As always, FORZA MILAN E INTER MERDA!!!

    Cheers,;)

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