Journalist Luca Serafini has produced a detailed account of what he thinks led to Paolo Maldini’s sacking, stressing the importance of the collective moving forward.
Around a fortnight ago we wrote about how stability could be Milan’s biggest weapon heading into next season given that the club seemed to have a solid management in place, with obvious gaps to address but with some order and continuity to everything.
However, all of that has been thrust into uncertainty after the news that both Maldini and Ricky Massara have been sacked from their role as the technical and sporting director, meaning a new era is about to begin.
Serafini spoke about Maldini’s sacking in his weekly column for MilanNews and provided an in-depth assessment of what has taken place not only over the last few days, but the last few weeks, months and years.
“From June 2013 to June 2023 are 10 years, just over 500 editorials every Friday on MilanNews. Many more than half written in a climate of uncertainty, descriptive of a technical downsizing, of vanished ambitions: articles filled with anxiety and melancholy,” he began.
“Today’s is among the most painful, divided between a feeling of affection, esteem, admiration and gratitude for Paolo Maldini (and Riky Massara) and a raw, inescapable realism with a broad perspective, beyond the very borders of Milan.
“I don’t have the time (nor the desire) to discuss the details that emerge like scorpions, the rift between the media and the fans lined up a little here and a little there, as if it were a question of alignments…
“They say and write that the rapport had also cracked with Pioli, that Pirlo’s name would come around, that on the market he signed one good player and the rest were not, that the 2022 market and a fifth place transformed into fourth by the Juventus points penalty were decisive.
“The traps seem to have been scattered everywhere, like in a minefield, yet until Sunday the 4th, peace and harmony seemed to reign at least in Milanello. I don’t know, but I certainly don’t believe the last two arguments: a club draws up multi-year financial statements and the one from 2020 to today is extraordinarily positive.
“From the point of view of raw numbers, even the 2022 campaign was not a failure, because the sole rise of Thiaw’s card settles the accounts of the others who have made little or nothing. And it is well known that when you go hunting for young people, the results depend on a thousand factors.
“The truth is that the ideological and strategic gaps had become unbridgeable. On the one hand, Paolo had long been asking for greater autonomy and wider choice possibilities, on the market and beyond; on the other, the ownership goes straight in his way.
“They reached a crossroads, a turning point in profoundly different directions. Maldini has never made a secret of it, not even publicly, just remember the interviews after the Scudetto and after the semi-finals of the Champions League.
“Prods that were not appreciated not only for the utterances themselves, but for the consequent unmasking of distant philosophies.
“The times and methods have been bitter, for all of us and you who have lived, are living, a romantic football, made up of values and passion, attachment and history. A few lines without a handshake, goodbye and thank you.
“This certainly hurt, but beyond the cold and bare form, the substance of a marriage that no longer had life, no longer breathed, remained.
“We start all over again, with a different and more solid foundation than 3-4 years ago, for the team and for the work that is done around it. We start all over again with the hope that the straight path will be taken: technical and functional reinforcements, according to the plan.
“In these hours, depending on the perspectives, the #out hashtags are unleashed: some Cardinale, some Pioli, some Maldini himself. In the face of extremism, I always wonder what the alternatives might be.
“It also applies to these not only emotional reactions, which spring from deeply wounded souls. If we talk about ownership, the European panorama – this is what I meant by ‘beyond the same borders as Milan’ – has by now been clear and defined for a long time: the clubs are in the hands of multinationals, foreigners, investors, funds, Arabs, oil companies.
“Each with its own culture, its systems, its objective which is naturally the business. Affection and history are becoming an intimate heritage, a bit like the fate of San Siro: it’s our life, it was our life, but one day it will be gone. A day near or far.
“The lies about its meaning, its artistic or architectural value, are purely political: San Siro is a structure that cannot be renewed, just like the ‘family’ courses of Italian football clubs. Berlusconi, Sensi, Moratti, Mantovani, the Della Valles… they no longer have citizenship and where a president puts his face forward, like Lotito and DeLaurentiis for example, the dialogue with the fans is conflictual.
“In recent years, from Serie A down, more owners than players have changed, this is another fact. I understand the Rossoneri players, like many of us and you, who are displaced and embittered. The professional has the duty to go ahead respecting his obligations.
“After the turnaround on Monday 5 June, the responsibilities for the owners and management have increased exponentially. At all levels. We’ll see where their efforts lead.
“We will need compactness and unity of purpose that seem crumbling these days. What remains, as always, is Milan: we will continue to talk about this. I remain a convinced and fervent Christian despite the many murky stories of the Church.
“Goodbye and thank you Paolo. My old bond with your father and the admiration for your large family have made me unbalance a lot in recent years, about your role and your passion: I don’t deny anything.
“Thanks also to Ricky Massara, prepared, polite and kind. Good work and good luck, to you and to those who stay. What remains, as always, is Milan.”