Blog Written by Benjamin Santilli (@BSantilli27):
As Juventus celebrate another Scudetto in 2016, not everyone will be pleased with this past season in Serie A. Perhaps the most disappointed city of all this year is located in the province of Lombardia in North-Central Italy. Since A.C. Milan and F.C. Internazionale won the Scudetto back to back in the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons, the Milan-based teams have struggled to keep up with the surging powers of Roma, Napoli, Fiorentina and perennial champions Juventus.
The last team to beat Juventus in the chase for the Scudetto was in the 2010-11 stagione when Milan and Inter finished first and second respectively. The next year, Milan finished second to the Bianconeri despite the departure of legend Andrea Pirlo who had joined the Old Lady that term. Milan has taken probably the worst hit of the two teams in the last few years but both fan bases can agree that any finish outside of top-class European football is unacceptable. Questionable decisions by the front offices of both teams and in Milan’s case a series of seemingly never-ending injury spells have plagued them. Milan was still sending paychecks to Clarence Seedorf, Filippo Inzaghi, Sinisa Mihajlovic and Christian Brocchi according to Carlos Volcano of Tribalfootball.com until June 1st. Now, Vincenzo Montella will take the reigns with this underwhelming squad. Milan’s payroll is upwards of €101 million with Inter not far behind at €94 million. They rank third and fourth behind Juventus and Roma who dish out an annual amount of €124 and €113 million respectively. The next closest team to Inter, Napoli, is over €20 million less expensive to send out on the field.
The top three teams in Serie A this year were, in order; Juventus with 91 points, Napoli with 82 and Roma right behind them with 80. The next closest team from Milan was Inter in fourth place with only 67 points. That should certainly be a cause for concern. Rossoneri and Nerazzurri fans have a right to question the way their management have used their funds and the quality of the players brought in by the general managers. Adriano Galliani should have to answer for the way he spends the club’s money on players who are ineffective or below the level of quality that they need to be for a top-level organization.
One season is not a cause for alarm but with the astronomically high payroll of the two clubs, there is no reason that either club should not be in contention for the league title year in and year out. You cannot buy a Scudetto, but with players earning over €20 million more than the squads of teams finishing far above them in the standings, it should raise a few eyebrows. Obviously, this pertains more to A.C. Milan fans than Inter but there should be some pressure on the two Lombardian teams to produce more.
With constant coaching changes and looming sales of the club to foreign investors has the club in turmoil. Talks of the sale of the club to Chinese investors by longtime owner and former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi continue to slow the club’s development. Their choice in personnel also has fans scratching their heads. It seems as if they cannot decide whether to form a team or enter a rebuilding mode. They have signed some older players who are well past their prime such as Philippe Mexes and Alex while mixing them together with brilliant youngsters like Mattia De Sciglio, M’baye Niang and Alessio Romagnoli. They have to make a decision as to the future of the club. Will they look to rebuild or patch together a starting XI every week that lacks the togetherness of a true contender? Some of their signings have looked promising such as bringing in Juraj Kucka from Genoa to provide a presence in the midfield, Carlos Bacca from Sevilla and the likes of Giacomo Bonaventura from Atalanta. Just these signings however, do not form a complete team. The aspirations of a good team come first from the front office and trickle down to the players on the field. If a front office slovenly puts a team together then they will play like a team that does not have the fortitude to go and get every game. The front office has to showsthe team that they are fully committed to the team and winning and the atmosphere of proven champions will be felt throughout the club.
Fans have begun to express their displeasure with the way Il Diavolo is managed. There was a petition among Milan fans to not resign club captain Riccardo Montolivo to an extension before he received a new three-year contract from the club. The club also failed to secure a spot in European football through the Coppa Italia where they lost to Juventus 1-0 on a brilliant goal by Alvaro Morata in extra time, which naturally infuriated fans even further. Watching Milan can be difficult, as there often seems to be a lack of inspiration in the side. They are competitive yet seem to fall just short to teams they should never lose to. With 11 losses and 12 draws, you can hardly hope to challenge for a league title.
In the other locker room at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Inter was in the lead for much of the season. A Scudetto title was in their grasp. Juve’s slow start gave them a window to seize the opportunity. They failed to maintain their form and dropped all the way to fourth. “Il Biscione” were in first place longer than any other club besides Juventus who were the eventual winners. Early in the season they traded places with Fiorentina and Roma for first place before they handed the lead over to SSC Napoli who would eventually relinquish the prize to the Bianconeri. The Nerazzurri were unable to keep up with Roma, Napoli and Juventus. Inter and many of the other teams in the league had an opportunity to seize the title this year but poor losses and ties seem to catch up to teams. They left Juventus an opening, which saw them go on an impressive run for the title, and they finished nine points clear of second place. Inter should use this season as motivation to make another run next year and use their taste of first place to propel them to the top of the table again next year. They have proven they can do it and their outlook is very positive. They have a number of prolific, talented young players who are ready to reach the next level but to defeat Juventus, it will require a very impressive, complete season. Inter must not take their foot off the gas and never look back.
Anything can happen in Serie A and it is certain that La Madonnina in Milano is waiting for one of her two teams to bring her another Scudetto soon.