Former AC Milan owner and president Silvio Berlusconi has criticised the Serie A club’s current management and coach Vincenzo Montella for the way things have gone since he relinquished control in April.
Berlusconi spent over three decades in charge of the Rossoneri before selling up to a group of Chinese investors.
They committed over €200 million to the purchase of 11 new players in the summer transfer window, but back-to-back defeats have left them languishing in seventh place, nine points off the pace of league leaders Napoli and seven adrift of city rivals Inter, whom they meet next weekend.
Berlusconi says there has been a distinct lack of a cohesive plan in his successors’ actions, and he does not believe Montella is making the right decisions either.
“Milan have a place in my heart for the rest of my life and all I want is to see the club at least do well, and this is my biggest regret,” he told Il Corriere della Sera. “It’s disappointing. The team’s not working.
“I don’t understand their summer transfer activities. Never before have a club signed 11 new players. With all that money, couldn’t they have bought a top player?”
Montella is trying to form a new team from the new tools placed at his disposal over the summer, but recent results confirm it is a more difficult puzzle than he might have imagined.
Berlusconi admits he was never a fan of Montella — and did not want to appoint him in the first place — while his team selection and choice of captain has only reinforced his impression that he is not the right man to coach Milan.
“I wanted [Cristian] Brocchi to continue, but I was in bed in hospital, between life and death, and [my family] told me [they were appointing] Montella,” said the 81-year-old.
“Explain to me how players like Suso and [Giacomo] Bonaventura keep ending up on the bench. They are two of the most technically gifted players. How does he expect to get the wing play and the crosses into the area? To score goals, they should instead be making the most of their quality.
“Then the captain’s armband was given to somebody who, for years, has been a Juventus icon. There’s [Riccardo] Montolivo and he should be given the armband.”
Inter coach Luciano Spalletti does not share Berlusconi’s views on the current Milan coach, though. He had Montella as a player at Roma and has followed his coaching career closely ever since, and he rates the 43-year-old highly.
“I know him well,” he told Mediaset at the announcement of a new club sponsor in Milan. “He always wanted the ball so that he could resolve things by himself. Now, he needs the help of others too, but he’s used to being involved in big matches.
“He’s somebody I’ve always admired and I’ve always kept a close eye on what he has done as a footballer and as a coach. He’s a great person with quality and he knows how to do his job. He’s an opponent of the highest order.”
Montella’s future could nevertheless hinge on how the Rossoneri perform in the upcoming derby, after he was recently given a vote of confidence by Milan’s sporting director Massimiliano Mirabelli.
Ben Gladwell reports on Serie A, the Italian national team and the Bundesliga for ESPN FC, UEFA and the Press Association. @UEFAcomBenG.