Feb  ?, 1994	Criticism of Capello's Milan (Loris Magnani)
May 26, 1995	The decline of AC Milan (Loris Magnani)
July 5, 1995	Capello and international finals (Loris Magnani)

From: loris@zeus.physast.edu (Loris Magnani)
Date: [Feb (?) 1994]
Subject: [Criticism of Capello's Milan]

Poor Arrigo Sacchi. What a beating on the fingers (with a ruler - i.e.,
getting punished like a schoolboy) because he dared to say what is clear
to everyone: this version of Milan is no longer like "that one".  It's no
longer the Milan which at home or away always used to play to win, which
motored like a steamroller over all fields, which in the first half
of a game studied the situation and the adversary with the calm of the
mighty and in the second half, inexhorably shifted gears to destroy the
opposition. At any moment of any game always giving the impression that
they were destined with unerring certainty to succeed.

The coach of the Azzurri is apparently not allowed to remark, possibly with
a bit of nostalgia, that which everybody has noticed: that not even when they
win at Parma in the first leg of the Supercup (this was written before the
second leg...) can this team excite the enthusiasm and inflame the passions
like "that one". And why not? It's the truth. And Milan has botched in
a few months the assault on the Champions Cup (last year's) and the
casually offered Intercontinental Cup. It's among the teams which has
lost the most points with respect to last season: I believe only Atalanta
has lost more (this was written before Milan's last little winning streak,
but the sentiments are the key here, not the details).

The last three games of the league have been concluded with a result that up
to last year was absolutely odd: 0-0. And these very ordinary conclusions came
against teams at the bottom of the table: Udinese, Lecce at San Siro, and
Genoa. The last goal by Milan  in the league goes back to January 2, the day
of the away match at Reggio Emilia, and carries the signature of a player that
Berlusconi has snubbed: Desailly.  The last "doppietta" (two goals in one
game by one player), against Cagliari, before Christmas, is from a rock
of the old guard: Massaro. 

Is there anyone who can call into questions these facts? Sure, Milan is 
currently the league leader and running away. From time immemorial they 
lead Serie A with the exception of a brief parenthesis coinciding with 
the unjust defeat on the field of Sampdoria: Sunday, after the last 0-0 
they have even increased their lead! And, yes, at Genova (against Genoa; 
i.e., the last game that Milan had played when de Felice was writing the 
column) they did hit the post and wasted three easy chances: but even these 
wasted opportunities have a technical significance, they are a symptom of a 
malaise and not just a sign of bad luck.

In soccer, causality is often apparent (I guess he's trying to say that the
results on the field often are due to real choices and not just to luck). We
need to study more deeply, for instance, the coincidence of the worsening of
Milan's play with the more constant use of Savicevic: There exists a type of
soccer-talent (i.e., a great player) who can play exceptionally and
spectacularly by himself, but who complicates tremendously the mechanisms and
schemes of the collective. No one will be offended if I go back to the Sacchian
Milan, citing the case of a non-talent like Angelo Colombo (N.B.- he was the
only player from that starting 11 which had not played for a national team!!):
Technically speaking, he is not worth Savicevic's fingernail, but his
use changed dramatically the face of the team (i.e., its on-field play).
The talent and excellent qualities of Fabio Capello as coach and
locker room leader are beyond discussion. Its a sign of (his) intelligence
also the readiness to adapt his orchestra to the number and level of
his "instruments".  We all know that Milan lost all at once the three
dutchmen, Lentini, and then Boban; they have in the defense a pair of
veterans who are every day more veteran; they had to give up on Rijkaard
when they still hadn't properly found an heir for the awesome Ancelotti.

But I wouldn't want to irritate the priests of the Milan orthodoxy if I
point out that even "that" Milan (i.e. the Sacchian Milan) had to deal
with endless injuries: the first year Van Basten was out; the second
year Gullit; the third a little bit of the first and the other.
It's ironic that the number of injuries is now used as an excuse for
Capello and at that time was used as a criticism of Sacchi's training
techniques.  Who knows why no-one wants to admit, very simply, that
Milan - after a fantastic cycle at global levels both for the results
obtained and for a courageous agonistic mentality - is now slowly, but
surely, re-entering among the ranks, as an excellent but no longer
extraordinary Italian team. Actually following with admirable dignity
the inevitable end of all super-teams which mark an epoch: unfortunately,
not even sporting grandeur is eternal. And who knows why Sacchi -
the obstinate leader of a cultural revolution in our soccer - should not
be allowed to note that which we have all noted, and that is that "this"
Milan does not play like "that one". Let's face it, a team cannot live
on just by signing great players.

Subject: The decline of AC Milan
From: loris@zeus.physast.uga.edu (Loris Magnani)
Date: May 26, 1995

Luis Miguel Garcia Cordeiro writes:
 >Milan is in decline just becouse they lost the champions league final ?
 >Milan is very capable to win the italian league and the UEFA cup next year
 >and return to the Champions league whit good chances to win it .
 >What decline is that you are talking about ?
I could simply say just put in a tape in your VCR 
 of some of the old (Sacchi-era) Milan teams and
compare the style of play then and the style of play now. There was a 
noticeable step down in style of play when Capello took over and there
has been another step down this year.

Or I could say just compare the players on those teams with the players now:

Tassotti in his late 20's     vs.   Panucci      -   what a joke
Baresi in his late 20's/early 30's vs. Baresi now -  no comment
Ancelloti                     vs.   Albertini    -   Oh My GOD!
Gullit in his prime           vs.   Boban        -   no contest
van Basten                    vs.   Simone       -   yeah right
young Massaro                 vs.    old Massaro  -  no comment

Or I could take refuge in statistics (mine are complete only to the fall
of 1990 - the others I have, but not on computer).

Counting a tie as a half-win and a half-loss  we can calculate Milan's
winning percentage in all official games
from the fall of 1990 to the Barcelona game last summer:

        winning percentage  fall-1990/mid 1994 :     0.731
        winning percentage  fall-1994/mid 1995 :     0.598

There is nothing wrong with a team being on top for a few years and 
declining.  It happened to Real Madrid, it happened to Inter, it happened
to Crujiff's Ajax, it happened to Beckenbauer's Bayern and now it is
Milan's turn.   Although I feel Milan is still a GOOD team, they are
no longer a GREAT team.  Unless something radical happens in the summer
as far as players, they will not be great next year so it is unlikely
they will win the Italian league.  EC3 is another story.  You don't have
to be a GREAT team to win that (witness Inter two years ago). 
So they could still win EC3 next year and I would still be right in 
maintaining that they have "declined" since their glory years.

Subject: Capello (was Baggio/Lalas)
From: loris@zeus.physast.uga.edu (Loris Magnani)
Date: July 5, 1995

YahooCReUs writes:

>  So you're not convinced of Capello's managing ability, huh?  Well, he
>has won three scudettos and has won the Champions Cup.  What more does he
>need to convince you?

To "convince" me, all he had to do was win 1 of the 2 following EC1 cups:

Olympique Marseilles  -  Milan       1 - 0
Ajax  -  Milan                       1 - 0

and 1 of the following Intercontinental Cups:

Sao Paolo - Milan                    3 - 2
Velez S. - Milan                     2 - 0

In international finals,  Capello is a very mediocre  2 W   and  5 L

Sacchi was a rather more impressive                   6 W   and  0 L

Winning the scudetto and losing the EC1 is something Juventus used to do...
Milan fans (including myself) have been spoiled by Rocco and Sacchi.
Capello just isn't in the same league.