The Lombardy giants are getting closer than ever to sacking Zvonimir Boban, a true Milanista whether he’s on the field or in the corporate offices.
The Elliot Management, who took it upon themselves to steady the eternally sinking ship that is Milan, is set to press the restart button once again and offer fans what we should now call another false dawn.
It was only last year when the world saw legendary players Zvonimir Boban and Paolo Maldini take charge of the club’s sporting matters with key emphasis on player recruitment. A lot of crucial movements were made, players were signed and those who didn’t understand the project were sold.
That revolution or whatever you may want to call it was always going to be a process. Marco Giampaolo was brought to the San Siro and was given enough time to implement his philosophy. Both Maldini and Boban backed the manager till the end when it had become clear that it wasn’t working out.
Stefano Pioli was brought over to paper the many cracks that had been ruining this once-proud institution. The veteran tactician’s arrival coincided with a decent return to form.
This got fans dreaming again with Boban leading the charge alongside his former teammate. As a player, Boban always gave his all to the Milan cause and even when he retired, he was always there to protect the club’s interests whether it was as a spectator or as a pundit.
It was no different when he replaced the Milan colors for a corporate suit and jacket. The Croatian always gives the impression of a man who knows what he’s doing and for a good part of last year and this year that has been the case.
Sadly though, Italian football has a proclivity to make decisions that would even make a non-football person gobsmacked. Former Arsenal supremo, Ivan Gazidis, who happens to be the executive of Milan, is the man behind this. Gazidis enjoys an excellent relationship with the Elliot management family and this is perhaps the reason why in this war of attrition between Boban and Gazidis, the latter is more likely to be the winner.
Banking on his rather forgettable experience at Arsenal where the club struggled to win anything of note for almost a decade, Gazidis wants a Milan team that would buy young players and sell them for a huge profit. Boban and Maldini on the other hand, want to bring about a certain balance in the recruitment policy by fielding young and promising players alongside proven performers.
While one can understand why Gazidis wants to make the club profitable, the way he went behind Boban’s back to entice Red Bull executive Ralf Rangnick is a very unprofessional way of handling things. And that is why Boban said what he said.
And the way Rangnick was approached also irked former players and presidents. Former Italy international, Christian Vieri for instance, has given his full backing to Boban and Maldini.
“Boban did the right thing,” Vieri told Italian TV show Tiki Taka.
“Gazidis went to talk to this other coach when it wasn’t his job. Who even is Gazidis? What does he do at Milan? Boban and Maldini are meant to have that role (…) Boban couldn’t just shut up and take it. You need guts in life, to be a real man, and Boban is that. I wouldn’t say he was fired (…) What happened is that one was cowardly and went behind his back, the other is not a puppet, he has character and says things to your face.”
Coming back to Milan’s insistence for yet another revolution just one year after another one had only begun, one must think about the direction this club is taking. While Ralf Rangnick is one of the most respectable recruitment experts out there, the Austrian would still need a lot of time to actually do something about the club’s glaring issues.
How can Rangnick steady this ship in a few months where Boban – a man who had the Milan DNA – failed to do in the same amount of time?
While Boban is pretty much nearing the end of his time as the sporting director of Milan and Maldini is likely to follow suit, perhaps it is time for the likes of Gazidis and the club’s owners to take a long, hard look at themselves in the mirror.
Is Rangnick going to solve all the club’s problems? Is bringing Ragnick to San Siro going to be more than just an ego boost for the club’s CEO whose record of success would never land him a gig at a prestigious club like Milan if the owners had any inkling of what it means to be a Milanista?