Published On: Tue, Nov 12th, 2013

AC Milan Club Focus: Exit Uncle Fester – The end of an era?

AC Milan Logo“I could compare to him Cristiano Ronaldo because as there are players who belong in a different category than their colleagues and even among directors there are those who stand out over others.”

Carlo Ancelotti may be biased after working with Adriano Galliani for over a decade as well as being brought to AC Milan by him, but there will be few people aware of Italian football’s make-up that will disagree with the Real Madrid bosses assessment.

Adriano Galliani, or “Uncle Fester” as he is occasionally referred to by Milan fans globally is known for a few choice things:

1) His hairless head

2) His collection of golden ties that he has worn his entire career in football

3) His ability to rob other clubs of talented or notable players for less than they are worth before selling them for much more a few years later

 But is the third one still true?

As Silvio Berlusconi’s right hand man during the entire tenure of the former Italian president’s ownership of the Rossoneri, Galliani has been the beaming face standing next to the likes of Marco Van Basten, Ruud Gullit, George Weah, Roberto Baggio, Andriy Shevchenko, Ronaldinho and many more famous faces as the Lombardy club built a reputation for the shinier prizes to be claimed throughout the football transfer window (often resulting in the capture of a few shiny trophies to boot).

He has been the grit that has bought the glamour to Milan over a near-30 year period that has brought in as many trophies as it has winters. As time went by funds have shrunk and Adriano has often had to bring in the bigger fish with less bait.

That didn’t stop him bringing in Zlatan Ibrahimovic for nearly a third of what Barcelona paid for him 12 months prior in 2011, nor did it stop him getting Mario Balotelli for some €15 million less than Manchester City’s asking price. Galliani’s tendency to leave deals until the final hours of a transfer window has often ensured that he is dealing with a desperate negotiator, able to bring in talent for less than originally asked for months earlier.

Galliani and BerlucsoniHowever, after several reported backroom discussions following the downturn in results for Massimiliano Allegri’s men who now sit 10th with 12 points, Barbara Berlusconi has pushed her father to change the club’s “business philosophy”, unhappy with the players brought in.

If you believe Gazzetta dello Sport, Silvio has agreed to his daughter’s suggestions and Adriano Galliani could be absent from a Milan transfer window for the first time since 1986.

He would cast aside along with coach Massimiliano Allegri in summer as part of an attempt to revitalize a club that is losing it’s place among Europe’s elite.

But it is the right move?

I detailed every notable transfer Milan have made in the last three years with a ‘where are they now?’ section in brackets. It doesn’t make fun reading if you’re a Milan fan.

Since the beginning of the 2010/11 season, Milan have brought in 36 players (of notable value, I didn’t count the random youth players that cost nothing and didn’t play a game before going to Genoa, or I’d be here forever).

Of those 36, 22 still remain at the club. That’s not bad, right? Well if you take away the players that arrived in summer (six) and the guys that arrived in the January prior along with Mario Balotelli (three, including Riccardo Saponara) that means that 13 players out of 27 who signed before January 2013 are still at the club. That’s less than half.

adriano-gallianiIn short, over the last three years Adriano Galliani has attempted to stall the process of decay by signing the footballing equivalent of sticky tape, hoping that it holds the club together until they can afford a real solution.

Small sum, loan with obligation to buy deals and contracts shared with Genoa mean that the Rossoneri’s squad have lacked stability and have not replaced the quality lost over the last six transfer windows.

Loans for Kevin Constant, Sulley Muntari and free transfers of Bakaye Traore are not the ways to build a squad that has over the last few seasons lost arguably the best striker in Europe (Zlatan Ibrahimovic) by far the best defender in the world (Thiago Silva) the best Italian midfielder of the last 25 years (Andrea Pirlo) and around two thirds of its history in one summer (Alessando Nesta, Clarence Seedorf, Filippo Inzaghi, Gennaro Gattuso etc).

Is Galliani a product of the budget, or is he just spending money badly? While the Rossoneri have not been able to throw around €40m at clubs for their best players like Bayern Munich, Real Madrid or Barcelona, they have received that sort of money from sales and used it to “balance the books” instead of rebuilding the team.

Galliani told press that Balotelli was the replacement for Alexandre Pato, so who replaced Ibrahimovic? Giampaolo Pazzini? Did Silvio Berlusconi tell Galliani that money wasn’t his to spend or did the vice-president want to cover up the fact that he couldn’t bring in a replacement? The fact that Barbara Berlusconi is annoyed at the Milan ‘business’ strategy appears to suggest that either the plan is stupid or Galliani isn’t executing it properly.

There are so many questions surrounding a change such as this that will only truly be answered in time. If a new guy comes in and immediately starts bringing in players of quality that improve Milan as a team and the results pick up, we will know that Galliani didn’t do enough with what he had.

However, if a new guy comes in and scrabbles around with Genoa for squad players and sells every time a decent offer comes in for one of the transfers that have actually worked, then we’ll know the problems at Milan run further than the beaming man who now stands next to Kevin Constant, Sulley Muntari and Christian Zaccardo.

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