Hello fellow Gooners – How did it feel to have an Arsenal-free weekend?
Sadly enough, I almost enjoyed the peaceful, serene couple of days that the League Cup Final offered. Almost but not entirely as I like the Arsenal and football too much to enjoy this kind of weekends.
Anyhoo…I had to give myself a long, hard look into the mirror before writing this blog.
The reason for that? Because I am about to write some sweet lines about fellow Italian businessman, politician, narcissistic, egocentric, histrionic Silvio Berlusconi.
It’s a complex exercise for an Italian young man as Berlusconi often represented the worst face of Italy, abroad, and his antics while prime minister have had many people like me holding their heads in total shame.
Before that, however, Silvio Berlusconi was a successful – although controversial – executive and the perfect owner of AC Milan.
He bought the Club in 1986 and drove them to the summit of world football within 3 years, always pushing the coaching staff and players to pursue success through beautiful football and local youth talents.
When I see the clueless board we have at the Arsenal these days, I think back at how Berlusconi showed great knowledge and bravery in appointing inspirational but unproven coaches like Arrigo Sacchi, Fabio Capello, Carlo Ancelotti, Alberto Zaccheroni and Massimiliano Allegri. Each of them has revolutionized the face of AC Milan and some, like Sacchi and Ancelotti, the face of Italian and European football.
Despite all his unforgivable flaws and sins, the man has a deep knowledge of football and knows how to pick his men and keep them on their toes. Often happy to publicly challenge his coaches about tactics and team selection, he had several arguments with each of his aforementioned employees but always knew when to take a step back and let them work their way.
He convinced Sacchi to move from a very Dutch 4-3-3 formation into the most successful 4-4-2 ever elaborated. He pushed Zaccheroni to at least give a try to the 3-4-1-2 formation that would include Croatian legend Zvonimir Boban and eventually win them the league. Finally, he watched Ancelotti very closely until he found the way to field as many 10s as possible at the same time, paving the way to the Christmas Tree formation that made Ancelotti an European great.
On the other side, he knew when to shut his mouth quite precisely: he did not go for a fight with Fabio Capello over Ruud Gullit’s position and defensive duties. He silently accepted Carlo Ancelotti veto over Rivaldo, Ronaldinho and Redondo starting games regularly. He also reluctantly supported Allegri when he made Andrea Pirlo surplus to requirements to his frenetic, pressing-oriented 4-3-3 formation.
Berlusconi, together with directors Adriano Galliani and Ariedo Braida, created the perfect environment for coaches and players to explore their limits and fulfill their potential. Unlike our current board of directors, those guys constantly showed great competence and unbelievable passion (look for Galliani reactions on YouTube) as well as unmatched drive for success, which resulted in some drastic decisions when things did not go as planned.
To some extent, every employee at AC Milan was constantly under scrutiny and had to prove he was worth the job – another thing we’re desperately lacking at the Arsenal, where none seems accountable for anything.
AC Milan successes over the years prove how important – vital, I would say – it is to hold the knowledge within a football Club and have a clear organization from top to bottom, regardless of the size of the Club itself.
Unless something changes upstairs, we look destined to a chaotic, unclear transition from Arsène Wenger and his deus-ex-machina figure to a more modern and better-shaped Club structure, where a manager does not have to take care of everything but can concentrate on football only.
I am not very optimistic about changes happening on the board at the Arsenal, how do you feel about it?
Thirty-something Italian, currently in Switzerland. Gooner since mid-ninties, when the Gunners defeated my hometown team, in Copenhagen. Twelve years ago I started my own blog (www.clockenditalia.com) after after some experiences with Italian websites and football magazines. Debate, don’t insult or you’re out.