Devil’s Advocate: Boban and Maldini’s irresponsibility has thrown fuel on Milan’s circus fire

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan have, over the last few weeks, descended from a group of misfits to a full-blown circus, all because of interviews in the media.

It started of course with Paolo Maldini’s decision to claim that Ralf Rangnick is not the correct man to lead the Rossoneri forward, despite conflicting speculation that the German has in fact already agreed a deal in principle to take over once the season is over.

Then of course came Zvonimir Boban’s interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport during which he blasted CEO Ivan Gazidis for his decision to go behind the backs of he and Maldini in order to agree the deal with Rangnick.

Then, former sporting director Massimiliano Mirabelli stuck the boot in on Maldini of all people.

“To Maldini, who was a great champion as a footballer, he should be asked: ‘What did you do to become a manager?’ He’s like a doctor who didn’t go to primary school,” he told TMW.

Mirabelli even went out of his way to back Boban for his explosive interview and question the courage of Maldini.

“I liked his interview, he was not afraid of anything or anyone. I don’t understand others who are silent on defending their place,” he said.

“Maldini? I would not name anyone, but you have to have the courage to deal with certain things. Boban, unlike others, showed courage.”

Maldini has hit back at the comments as he spoke to ANSA.

“Apart from the fact that every negative comment about me I consider a great compliment, hearing him speak, if I was him, I would avoid references at any level of school education,” the director said.

Now, there are understandably those people who back the former Rossoneri captain for exercising his right to reply, and a lot of supporters will like the fact that he responded with a similarly childish tone.

However, in a period where 90% of the media attention on Italian football is drawn upon the carnage that is currently happening regarding the infighting at Milan, is starting a war of words with a former club employee really the right way to extinguish the flames?

Mirabelli’s decision to question the professionalism of Maldini by claiming he isn’t qualified for his job was admittedly a debatable one given the fact he lasted just a year at the San Siro and hasn’t had a job since, however he is known for running his mouth and has very little respect among the club’s fanbase.

This is something that Paolo was seemingly unaware of, as rather than just laughing the comments off – as he has clearly been able to do in the past – he decided now was the right time to bite back despite the huge climate of uncertainty and paranoia inside the club.

Maldini had to behave as a professional in this situation, and while he didn’t say anything particularly insulting to Mirabelli, it certainly isn’t the kind of statement that eases the worries of a Milanisti fan base who are currently on edge about the goings on at the club.

The bottom line to all of this is that Maldini and Boban are both learning their trade, but they still have a lot of learning to do. Some will forgive them on the grounds of transparency, but there is the right and wrong time to drop grenades. Now is not that time. Ultimately, it will cost the latter his job and the former is also reportedly set to depart, albeit more likely at the end of the season.

The various shots being fired in the media have created yet another unhelpful distraction for head coach Stefano Pioli too, who is just trying to do his job between now and June 1 despite being almost certain that that’s the end of his tenure, regardless of what he achieves.

It appears as though Pioli is the ringmaster watching helplessly as everything around him spirals out of order, and even if he manages to get things back under control and put on a decent show (by qualifying for Europe or even winning the cup) he knows it’s his last hurrah and he won’t be there to enjoy the benefits of his honest work.

Another revolution is on the way though, so someone will be along soon to clear up the wreckage and try and build up what was once considered the best show on earth but has now become purely something for outsiders – and now insiders – to laugh at.

Tags AC Milan Paolo Maldini