Camilo José Cela was once asked to present the plot of a good novel. He replied: “A man and a woman love each other. Final point. With some talent it comes out The Charterhouse of Parma”. Luis Aragonés was also asked something similar about his job and he gave that definition: “Win, win, win and win again…”. In literature and in football, mediocrity is a swamp from which it takes time to get out when the mud is knee-deep. Barça measures these days on the sports and emotional map how long a journey in the desert can last like the one on which it has embarked. Fall, hit bottom and rebuild. “The only thing missing is to win again”, said Laporta in the locker room. A small detail in football, only comparable to Stendhal’s “talent” for writing The Charterhouse of Parma in 1839.
Italy is a pedagogical instruction manual on how to go from being a champion to a Nobody in a very short period of time. Especially when you lose your shine and stop winning. The recent history of AC Milan serves to understand how long and suffocating that transition between the sporting and emotional dunes of a team can be. The rossonerosFor a long time, undisputed kings of Europe, they have not reached a Champions League final for 15 years. Almost the same time they took to win the last four. Everything always ends and begins with a name: a player, a coach or a president. And the person responsible – for the good and the bad – was, to a large extent, Silvio Berlusconi, one of the characters that emerged from that chiaroscuro between two centuries and who now intends to return as President of the Republic at the age of 85.
When Il Cavaliere donned the red and black scarf, the club was bankrupt and had passed through Serie B. Its previous owner, Giussy Farina, rented Milanello for weddings and baptisms. In 1986 Berlusconi bought it from the Farina family for 20,000 million lire (10 million euros), won five Champions Leagues -of the seven it has- and built several teams that marked an era with Sacchi and Capello as conductors. That Milan even threatened Real Madrid’s historic hegemony in Europe. But the team linked its fate to that of its president, plagued by political, sexual and financial scandals. And he ended up sunk in the mud.
The decline of rossoneros -and that of Berlusconi- marked a downward curve throughout Italy (moral and sporting). When the Milan of Gullit, Rijkaard and Van Basten dominated Europe, the Italian league was the mecca of world football. But the calcium was dragged by that ballast and that of a group of businessmen who got tired of their toys or, directly, broke them. Today Milan appears again, with some fatigue, to the elite. He is second in Serie A, two points behind Inter -with one game in hand- and is trying to build a new team full of youngsters. But today the club is owned by a vulture fund, more aware of the accounts than the results, and clings to the fading light of an old star like Ibrahimovic.
In the universe of desert crossings, almost everything has already been invented. Rule number one states that the maximum number of exponents of the last golden age should be called to green the laurels. And if possible, sit one of them on the bench. The rossoneros They handed over the command of the team to Leonardo, Seedorf, Inzaghi, Gattuso or Brocchi. And they also got Maldini back for dispatches. The returns of Koeman, Xavi, Laporta or Alves are little compared to Milan’s attempt to revive its glory. They are different models, but nothing has worked at all this time. The Lombard club has raised only one Italian Super Cup in 11 years and continues to only aspire to compete and be brave in the big events, as Laporta would say. The journey to win again can be very long.
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