Another objective for the season vanished into thin air last night as AC Milan were beaten 3-0 in the Supercoppa Italiana final against Inter.
La Gazzetta dello Sport begin their analysis of Milan’s current situation by remarking how Gordon Singer was present at the game at the King Fahd Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, but the current own of the club Gerry Cardinale watched from his New York office instead.
Paolo Maldini did not show up in front of the cameras before or after the game to answer what would have been some difficult questions regarding the current moment that the team are going through.
The season so far has not gone to plan. Milan had the duty to try and win the Scudetto against, as holders, but they are nine points below Napoli and a defence can almost be ruled out. At the same time, Milan had a duty to try win both/either of the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana, but lost in both within a week.
The club currently believe that they are on a virtuous path, both on the pitch and looking at the accounts, and therefore the glass is still half full in their eyes. The failure on two of the four fronts will not cause a big bang, but there must be careful reflections, both to examine any errors and to find correctives in the second half of the season.
There is, in particular, a huge watershed that hangs over the Diavolo’s head at this point: qualification for the next Champions League. It is an objective which is currently in reach but seems to become more and more difficult with each bad result, so an improvement in performance is needed.
The competition is fierce yet Milan need to find a way to finish in the top four to secure the €40-50m that the Champions League brings in revenues, otherwise the project would be thrust into doubt.
It is here where the reflections begin, as Maldini and Massara’s last summer market is proving to be increasingly fallacious as the months go on with De Ketelaere’s struggles and Origi’s lack of goals.
Being left without the Champions League would be an economic disaster that this club cannot afford and the microscope would move to Pioli, who was and remains the greatest architect of Milan’s resurgence in the last two years, though he too is now held to higher standards.
Pioli has a lot of trust from the management and the ownership above, but the examination between now and the end of the season also includes him.