Once the kings of both Italian football and European Football the Italian giants AC Milan, “The Immortals” are nowhere close to their past glories. Having last qualified for the UEFA Champions League in the 2013-14 season, AC Milan supporters certainly miss their glorious past. However, some signs of rejuvenation have been seen this season.
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The glorious past
AC Milan is an Italian club based in Milan that was founded in 1899. They were the first Italian club to qualify for the European Cup in 1955. The Italian club won the European Cup for the first time in 1963, making them the first Italian side to win the cup. Since then they have been named the kings of Europe on six different occasions.
1988 was a very important year for the club. AC Milan had won the Scudetto for the first time in 9 years. The club was rescued from bankruptcy just two years ago by Silvio Berlusconi. Berlusconi purchased the dutch duo of Van Basten and Gullit in 1987 along with Rijkaard in 1988. AC Milan won their first European Cup in 20 years in 1989 and successfully defended it in 1990, the feat which took another 27 years for it to be repeated, this time by a Real Madrid squad.
Between 1989 and 1995, the Rossoneri appeared in 6 European Cups, winning three of them and reaching the finals 5 times.
Between 1991 and 1993, AC Milan were unbeaten in 58 games-an Italian Record.
For the first time since the days of Johann Cruyff at Ajax, an innovative, radical, and yet practical way of playing the game was achieved by Arrigo Sacchi. He devised a 4-4-2 system which was characterized by zonal defending, high pressing, and high defensive lines.
“Arrigo completely changed Italian football — the philosophy, the training methods, the intensity, the tactics. Italian teams used to focus on defending — we defended by attacking and pressing.” — Carlo Ancelotti
From 2000 to 2010 AC Milan has won 2 UEFA Champions League and a Seria A title boasting a strong squad consisting of the likes of Kaka, Pirlo, Nesta, Maldini, Inzaghi and many more.
The days to forget
Although the Rossoneri were still a side to fear in the 2000s, their slowly aging core was about to bring catastrophe to the club.
In the 2010-11 season under the management of Massimiliano Allegri, AC Milan managed to win the Scudetto because of the contributions of some key players such as Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva. It all spiraled downwards after that with the signing of players such as Balotelli and Kevin Constant to replace Zlatan and Thiago Silva who were sold to PSG at the same time.
2013-14 was the last time the Milan side played in the Champions League.
Frequent changing of managers and owners left the club financially poor and vulnerable and their supporters devoid of hope. Whatever money the club had was being splashed on the wrong players and managers who were incapable of reaching the heights that the Milan side is used to.
Multiple consecutive bad campaigns in the Seria A and a long absence from the Champions League meant that the club failed to attract Elite players and hence the team lacked leaders in the squad.
It seems as AC Milan are so obsessed with trying to catch up to their past glories that they are chasing success without a proper plan and have lost tons of money in the process.
A possible rejuvenation
This season under the management of Stefano Pioli, AC Milan have reconstructed themselves and are looking like their old selves again. The Rossoneri are the only team in Europe’s top five leagues still without a single defeat since the reopening of football from lockdown. They are on a 24 game unbeaten run, out of which the Italian side has managed to win 19, drawing only five.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been crucial for the Rossoneri with his age-defying form. He now has 7 goals from 4 games in the Seria A, which makes him the top scorer in the Seria A at the moment and in the process has also taken AC Milan to the top of the table.
Contributions from the likes of Hernandez, Calhanoglu, Kjar, Leao, and other have also been key in the recent rise in form for the Milan side
Although a recent rise in form is a big inspiration for the players and the supporters, they also are aware of the fact that there is a long way to go. We as supporters are desperately waiting to see AC Milan play like their former selves and with the likes of Juventus, Inter Milan and Atalanta all aiming for the title, a fourth contender in the form of AC Milan will definitely make the League more interesting and exciting to watch.