By Steve Mitchell
When AC Milan capitulated in Reggio Emilia against Sassuolo in January 2014 it cost coach Massimo Allegri his job and started the dramatic decline of one of Europe’s biggest clubs.
President Silvio Berlusconi and his right hand man Adriano Galliani accused Allegri of losing the respect of the dressing room and opted to replace him with former playing legend Clarence Seedorf who despite a successful early managerial career in Brazil, was unproven in one of Europe’s top-flight leagues. It was an unmitigated disaster and I Rossoneri finished the season in eighth spot, unthinkable for a club of such grand stature.
Seedorf ultimately paid with his job and was replaced by another former Milan playing legend Filippo Inzaghi, who at the time was doing some diligent work with the club’s Primavera (junior) squad. Again the men in power where taking a huge gamble and again that gamble has failed spectacularly and this season, the club that only eight years ago was celebrating its seventh Champions League win, will finish the season in ninth position at best. They currently sit 37 points adrift of champions Juventus.
But it seems a saviour has come along in the shape of Thai businessman Bee Taechaubol who looks set to provide some much needed investment into a club used to challenging for the top honours. So who is the mysterious Mr Bee? Well, he is the proprietor of Thai Prime which invests in struggling public companies and turns them around to become big players in the business world. To list his other business interests would leave one’s head in a spin so let’s just say he is an extremely rich man. Although it is unclear if the 39-year-old will become the majority stakeholder at Milan, his substantial cash injection should provide the financial muscle to help the fallen giants return to where their tifosi believe they should be – The number one team in Italy.
After this weekend’s game against Atalanta, Inzaghi will exit stage left and the search for his successor has already begun in earnest. The fans choice is former coach Carlo Ancelottiwho spent eight years in charge of the club between 2001-2009, winning one Scudetto and two Champions League titlesand who is now surplus to requirements at Real Madrid.Ancelotti was giving nothing away in a recent interview but the Italian press are already declaring that the former Italian international’s representatives will meet Galliani this week to discuss a possible return.
Should Ancelottidecline his former employers offer then next on the wanted list looks to be current Sevilla coach Unai Emery. The 43-year-old has the small matter of a Europa League Final to prepare for before deciding his future but the highly rated tactician has made big hints that he would like to continue his career in Serie A and his track record of rescuing big name clubs that have fallen on hard times is commendable after his four year stint at Valencia included regular qualification for the Champions League despite working for a club with crippling debts.
Another name linked with the (soon to be vacant) manager’s seat at Milan is current Fiorentina coach Vincenzo Montella. The former Sampdoria and Roma striker seems to be near the top of many clubs wanted lists and having guided his current employers back into the Europa League next season, he could still become the surprise choice to take over the reins at Milanello despite recent reports that he could be lured back to former club Sampdoria to replace the departing SinišaMihajlović.
The playing squad is also in need of a summer overhaul and Galliani is reportedly travelling to Madrid this week to discuss the availability of Athletico’s Croatian striker Mario Mandžukić who seems unhappy in Spain and who Milan have shortlisted as the man to spearhead their attack next season. Also on that shortlist is Porto’s highly rated front man Jackson Martinez who bagged 21 goals for the Portuguese club this season along with Zlatan Ibrahimovic who netted 42 times for I Rossoneriin two wonderful seasonsfrom 2010-2012.
AC Milan are aiming high in the transfer market this summer, with the midfield and defence also being strengthened before the end of August. Whoever takes over the hot seat at Milanello has a huge task on his hands but with Mr Bee’s millions behind them this could be a great chance to resurrect one of Italy’s footballing superpowers.