Rumour has it that AC Milan patron Silvio Berlusconi was so disgusted with his side's capitulation against Manchester United last night that he rose at half time and switched off his television.
Given that this is the man who made so much political capital out of the Rossoneri's previous successes, this seems - if true - to be something of a dereliction of duty.
But in fact it's nothing new. This season Silvio Berlusconi has presided over the destruction of what was once a proud AC Milan side.
A 4-0 loss is always hard to take, but when it's against a side who were very recently bested 3-0 at San Siro in 2007, the humiliation is even greater. Milan were absolutely and completely outclassed by United. The second half, which Berlusconi apparently opted not to view, was arguably even worse than the first, for the Red Devils were able to keep on racking up the goals despite the fact that they were already comfortably in the next round. By any measure, this was an utterly disastrous result for Milan.
Yet it's one that didn't come as a huge surprise to anyone. United, after their close-fought but ultimately deserved 3-2 win at San Siro, were massively odds-on to progress, and they were also considered likely to grab that early goal through Wayne Rooney. (Both came to pass.)
Sorry - allow me to rephrase. Apparently it came as a surprise to Berlusconi and his right-hand man, Adriano Galliani. After weeks of conspicuous absence from the sporting press - political crises meant that Silvio was more apt to be found in the white paper rather than the pink one - Berlusconi was reported as having said that Milan's problem was that they were not being permitted to play well.
"Milan are a great team..but only if they allow the players to play properly," he informed his dinner guests, according to AGI.
This was hastily denied, but if one listens to coach Leonardo - the apparent target of this attack - one hears that all is not well behind the scenes: the Brazilian reacted with admirable stoicism to this alleged announcement, rather than cravenly apologising for his president.
Leonardo deserves nothing but praise for this. Inexperienced he may well be, but the former wing man has done an admirable job this season with very little by way of resources. His squad lacks depth: it has just two central defenders worthy of the Champions League, with the likes of Daniele Bonera (yes, he's still at Milan) nowhere near good enough to fill the void. Massimo Oddo, meanwhile, is both injured and low in morale, meaning that the dreadful Ignazio Abate is in place. The normal deputy, Gianluca Zambrotta, is little better on current form.
The midfield is talented, but old - all the lip-service paid by Galliani to the development of youth at Milan has conspicuously failed to come to fruition. And up front? Ronaldinho had a superb first leg but what was effectively a 'swap' between Kaka and Ronnie has unquestionably shown Milan to be a spent force in the transfer market.
Indeed, to look at the Milan squad is to see nothing but faded glory. Leonardo is doing a fine job with what he has, while Berlusconi pretends to the public - and possibly himself - that this current band of players are anything other than cannon fodder for the other large clubs. Of course United are weakened compared to last season, but in Wayne Rooney they have a forward greater than Pato, and in their midfield they have an unspectacular set of individuals but an absolutely fearsome combination.
Now, with that said, Leonardo set out his side in a ludicrously ambitious form last night, and showed no small measure of naive idealism in doing so. This was not a good showing from the coach. Yet for Berlusconi to lay the blame firmly at the door of the tactician is absurdly short-sighted, given the paucity of talent and energy he has to play with.
Yet that's all of a piece with Berlusconi, a man who - like any good politician (and that he most certainly is) - will take the credit for the good and point the finger for the bad. The idea of responsibility, in its true sense, is completely alien to him. Whether it's accusing communist rabble-rousers of preventing his side from registering for the Lazio region elections or making snide comments towards his coach, there's always someone else at fault.
This is, as I say, the hallmark of a great politician, but not of a great leader. To identify problems and to act on them is what a man at the helm should do. At Milan, we instead see institutional denial of the lack of investment, the lack of direction, and the lack of pride that currently plagues the Rossoneri.
It's all the more galling when one considers that Galliani was wheeled out not long after 'Leonardo-gate' to in fact state that the coach's appointment was a masterstroke and that anyone who questioned Berlusconi's appointment had been shown to be wrong. This is a definite case of having the presidential cake and eating it too, yet it's with this that Milan fans must contend.
Doublethink and denial in the face of an increasingly desolate reality is order of the day at San Siro. Leonardo is good, yet ungood. The Milan team is great, yet it's losing 4-0 at Old Trafford. Truly Berlusconi, the consummate politician, has taken Milan to their logical conclusion of being a politician's club. And for the fans, players, and Leonardo, that's nothing but bad news.
With Berlusconi showing no intention of selling, despite fan protests, what will become of this legendary club in the next few years?
Those are just a few articles i've been reading about this.AC Milan president Silvio Berlusconi may have landed himself in hot water after making what many Rossoneri fans will probably see as an inappropriate joke following their disastrous Champions League exit last night.
According to Gazzetta, he joked, "The other day a Milan fan told me, 'I am crying for Milan' I replied, ‘Yes, I’m crying too but I’m also the one putting up the money.'"
While the comments were seemingly off-the-cuff, some Milan fans failed to see the funny side of the Rossoneri's recent demise and reports suggest a portion of the Diavoli faithful are becoming increasingly frustrated with their current president.
Berlusconi also failed to endure himself to Milan fans when he admitted today that he turned off his side’s match against Manchester United last night at half-time.
It’s been a pretty depressing 24 hours or so for the Italian prime minister who has also been heavily criticised for having a journalist removed from a press conference yesterday.
BERLU SELL PLEASE!!
We need a leader that can give us money and listen to what the coach wants...not a Berlu!