As we reach end of 2019, it’s common practice to look back at some of the highs and lows of the footballing world over the last 10 years.
For many so-called elite clubs across Europe, the 2010s have been somewhat difficult.
Many will look back at Man United’s sharp decline following the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013 or Arsenal’s failure to really compete at the top of the Premier League table, as perhaps the biggest downfalls of the decade.
Maybe some of the hipsters among you will point to Parma and Rangers who both threatened to completely drop off the face of the earth, while former La Liga challengers Deportivo La Coruna are now fighting it out at the bottom of Spain’s second tier.
But perhaps the most severe drop-off over the last 10 years across Europe’s top five leagues is that of AC Milan.
Milan came into the 2010s as one of the world’s most feared clubs; capable of competing both domestically and in Europe.
But in their final league game of 2019 — a trip to their high-flying Lombardy rivals Atalanta — the Rossoneri ran-out 5-0 losers; a result that keeps them firmly mid-table as we head into 2020.
While the current campaign is nothing short of a nightmare for the once mighty side — they’ve already sacked one manager this term, while star striker Krzysztof Piatek has struggled for goals — it’s their overall fall from grace in recent years that is more alarming.
In their last five seasons they’ve been no where near the Champions League qualification places with an average league finish of 7th, with the lowest point being in 2014/15 when they finished 10th.
In stark contrast in the previous decade between 2000 and 2009, Milan won the Champions League twice — in 2003 and 2007 — while they qualified for Europe’s premier competition eight times.
Even when you put aside the Champions League, Milan’s trophy haul over the last decade is pathetically small.
Their last Scudetto came at the beginning of the decade way back in 2010/2011, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic leading them to their last title as top scorer that season while the likes of Alessandro Nesta, Gennaro Gattuso and Clarence Seedorf all played key roles before they were each gradually phased out of the team.
Things have been a mess ever since, with the pulling power of Paris Saint-Germain claiming both Zlatan and key defender Thiago Silva in 2012, while goalkeeper Gigi Donnarumma is the only notable addition from club’s academy to the first-team.
Davide Calabria, Patrick Cutrone and Manuel Locatelli all followed the keeper from the youth side, although only the Italian right-back remains at the club, with Locatelli sold to Sassuolo last season while Cutrone joined Wolves in the summer.
For further context, the recently retired Riccardo Montolivo — who captained Milan for the majority of the decade after joining from Fiorentina in 2012 — lifted just a single trophy during his time at San Siro; the Supercoppa Italiana in 2016, which is Italy’s equivalent of the Community Shield.
Recent big-money signings have also failed to produce the goods.
All the more damning when you consider Milan are the world’s FIFTH biggest spenders over the last decade, with only Barcelona, Man United, PSG and Man City above them in terms of net spend.
Italy international Leonardo Bonucci was signed from Juventus for a club record fee in 2017 but failed to settle in Milan and has since returned to Turin, while Lucas Paqueta and Andre Silva have failed to become the second-coming of Kaka and Rui Costa, despite their cost.
In fact, Milan’s spending has been so large in recent years that they had to withdraw from this season’s Europa League due to financial irregularities, brought about by careless spending from their former owners.
Milan’s problems on the pitch, their conveyor belt of different managers, and their large 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 directors.
This season, Elliott and the board claim they’ve ‘saved’ 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 upturn in form of their bitter rivals Inter, lead by former Juventus and Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, who are currently challenging 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.
Cynics among their supporters would retort that they couldn’t get much worse.
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