Italian Serie A

Published on January 4th, 2018 | by Vieri Capretta


New year bounce needed in Milan to boost struggling city sides

One club in Milan is struggling to hold a spot in the Champions League places while another is watching the action from afar 

With the New Year’s Eve celebrations over, the focus in Italy is on the second half of the 2017/18 Serie A season, and specifically on the Milanese clubs. The past year, 2017, was meant to be the one of the return of AC Milan and Inter at top level, but things have not quite gone as planned yet. Will 2018 be the one when it all happens?

Let’s start with the Nerazzurri, who are definitely in a better position. Currently third in the league with 41 points, Luciano Spalletti was able to regenerate a group of players and take them to top the league after 15 Serie A games, whilst winning in Rome against Roma and drawing in Naples and away to Juventus, without hardly any squad additions from the summer transfer window.

Just before Christmas and New Year’s though, Inter have entered a small crisis, that needs to end as soon as possible if the Nerazzurri want to keep on challenging for – at least – a Champions League spot, the main aim of this season. Losing at home to Udinese and away to Sassuolo, as well as being knocked out by Milan in the Coppa Italia, has broken some of the certainties of the squad. But Spalletti has been clear: he doesn’t want a repeat of recent seasons, when Inter have imploded every time after the first small difficulties arise.

There are 19 games still to play in the league, starting with the tough away game at Fiorentina on Friday, and maintaining this rhythm would see the Nerazzurri return to the top European club competition next season: something Spalletti does not want to miss out on.

Unfortunately, the Champion League is something the other half of Milan will likely have to watch on the television next season. The Rossoneri are 14 points off the Champions League zone, and aside from the Coppa Italia derby have been struggling both under Vincenzo Montella, who was sacked, and now Gennaro Gattuso. All this is despite a massive transfer window, spending over $200 million and being considered by the media as a candidate for the Scudetto.

The club have announced that little will be done in January in terms of transfers, to try and make the most of the players that are already there, as a true starting eleven is still to be found and moulded. Moreover, the directors have shown understanding regarding the true objectives halfway through the season: the Rossoneri will try and win the Europa League and the Coppa Italia, but realistically won’t be able to do much better than sixth in Serie A, looking at the current standings.

Furthermore, managing director Marco Fassone is working to find the money to pay off the loan from American fund Elliot, a loan that was necessary to complete last April’s transition of the club from Silvio Berlusconi to the current Chinese ownership. So off the pitch work will be just as important as that on the pitch.

Gattuso is now called upon to get results, nonetheless. Milan host Crotone at the San Siro to kick off their 2018 and another negative result will further undermine any possibility of turning this season into something decent.

The Milanese clubs both need to accelerate in terms of results on the pitch as soon as possible, to make 2018 the year of the regeneration of Milan.

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A freelance journalist and broadcaster focusing on European soccer and currently featuring on, La Gazzetta dello Sport, Marca in English and more.

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