Upon the culmination of last season’s 2014/15 domestic Serie A campaign, Inter and AC Milan – two of Italy’s most popular and successful footballing outfits of all time – could only muster up a respective 8th and 10th place finish between them. If such a statement had been made almost ten years ago, most football fans out there would have likely greeted the news as nothing more than a mere joke.
However, the past few seasons in particular just haven’t been kind to Milanese football in general. Both Inter and AC have experienced a dramatic decline in performances, results, and acclaim since their recent domestic downturns, and although neither team will be completely forgotten about any time soon, the foreseeable future for each side remains far from promising at this current stage.
For a club that used to host the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva and Kaka just a few short seasons ago, AC Milan have truly seen the overall quality within their ranks decrease as the last few years have played out. Inter have also ironically felt a similar fate to their inner-city neighbours during that period, seemingly proving unable to replace the likes of Javier Zanetti, Esteban Cambiasso and Walter Samuel once such ageing stars inevitably had to call time on their stint at the San Siro.
So then, with Juventus currently proving the only Italian team left worthy enough of staking a real claim for their nation in the Champions League and what not, just what has happened to Milanese football in the modern era?
Perhaps a number of combining factors are to blame. Back in the 1990’s, Italian football simply dominated on the European stage. Although the current giants of today’s game – Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich – were also up there in terms of success and formidability, the likes of AC Milan, Inter and Juventus ultimately proved the most entertaining, captivating and star-studded of all the best teams operating at the time.
Maybe then, it’s simply fair to say that everyone has their time in the sun, and that all things must ultimately come to pass eventually. Serie A held its place at the top for quite a sustained period of time, but with the emergence of revolutionary Spanish outfits, the constant investment in the Premier League, and the continued watch-ability of the Bundesliga, Italian football seemingly couldn’t ride the wave of endless success forever.
However, such an evaluation simply doesn’t address the overall complexity of this discussion. If Inter and AC Milan eventually saw their fates worsen in light of the increased competition elsewhere – why do Juventus continue to dominate on the European stage today? The Old Lady suffered a far more damaging punishment than their rivals during the Calciopoli betting scandal of 2006, yet the boys in black & white nevertheless remain the strongest Italian outfit out there by quite a distance – despite having to re-establish themselves back in the Italian top flight.
It seems in the case of the Rossoneri in particular, finances have become a distinct issue behind the scenes at the San Siro. Former Italian prime-minister and all round Godfather-esque owner of AC Milan – Silvio Berlusconi – may still have some pretty hefty resources behind him even in today’s climate, but as Italy are currently witnessing a period of increased social austerity in the modern era, the shady AC Milan chairman is hardly in a position to continue splashing the cash on mere football players at the moment.
For fans of the Rossoneri, their plight out on the pitch is just as much political as it is football based. They have therefore been left in a very tricky situation, as their club’s spending power is intrinsically linked to electoral timing and general public opinion above matters exclusively concerned with sport.
In regards to Inter Milan however, the Nerazzurri have seemingly been damaged by poor decision making behind the scenes at the club, as well as some sheer inconsistency in the managerial department. Since Jose Mourinho left the San Siro back in 2010, Inter Milan have welcomed in each of Rafa Benitez, Leonardo, Gian Piero Gasperini, Claudio Ranieri, Andrea Stramaccioni, Walter Mazzarri and former boss Roberto Mancini, to the head-coaches fold without much foresight into the future.
As most of the aforementioned spells ended in near disaster for the Nerazzurri, Inter Milan’s players have failed to pick up much consistency throughout the past few seasons, thanks to the ever revolving managerial door that seems to be afflicting the club’s chances of improving in the league. In constantly altering their foundations and bringing in new sets of players and coaching staff, Internatzionale have ultimately looked a mere shadow of their former selves.
Along with some poor activity in the transfer market and the apparent re-introduction of teams like Napoli, Roma and Lazio near the top of the Serie A league charts, Milanese football has simply damaged itself to a very significant degree.
Without the prospect of foreign investment coming in to save each club from further calamity in the not too distant future, it ultimately remains very difficult to imagine both Inter and AC Milan back among Europe’s best for a good while yet to come – regardless of the overall popularity each club still manages to maintain in the modern era.
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