Straight from the dark heart of Italy
Silvio Berlusconi believes that AC Milan are as strong as champions Inter, although the Rossoneri faithful seem less inclined to agree.
A few hundred of the usual suspects 'welcomed' the squad back from their summer idyll with a chorus of “disgrace, disgrace, disgrace” chants - and they weren’t voicing their disgust at Ronaldinho’s extra baggage around the waist.
In fact, the players were the fall-guys for the fans’ real target: Mr Three Percent, as Sir Bob Geldof coined Premier Berlusconi recently.
Vattene (clear-off) read one banner greeting the bemused players as they huddled on the sidelines ahead of the first day of training.
There was no Paolo Maldini to lead them out to face their tormentors, and even the bullish Rino Gattuso seemed unwilling to eyeball the Ultras once they got into their protesting, flare-lighting stride.
Miffed Milan fans gather
The fans will just have to get used to it: Maldini has gone, so has Ricky Kaka and Carlo Ancelotti.
The party is over and it’s time to face up to the fact that the club’s rebuilding programme is going to be slow and somewhat on the frugal side.
In fact, the shindig has been over for some time (when did Milan last offer a competitive challenge even with Kaka in the side?)
An era has ended, and even with Real Madrid’s millions there still isn’t even enough in the coffers to pay the debt collector when he comes knocking for his estimated 60million euro a year.
Berlusconi has been going on about outrageous transfer fees, but he seems to have overlooked the fact that it was his free-spending in the 80s and early 90s that helped to contribute to where we are now.
However, instead of harking back, those dissenters hanging around the training ground should look forward - a young coach, a few new faces including, lo and behold, an American. No, not Giuseppe Rossi, but Oguchi Onyewu.
Now that one slipped under the radar – and on a free transfer as well.
"Never fear, Gooch is here..."
Following in the footsteps of Alexi Lalas, the 27-year-old arrives in Italy on the back of an impressive Confederations Cup and gives the central defence a more imposing feel alongside another heavyweight, Thiago Silva.
The pairing will come in handy when either Alessandro Nesta or Kakha Kaladze succumb to the inevitable of some ailment or other and, praise be, it also means we should never have to witness Giuseppe Favalli at centre-back again.
In true self-help Californian fashion we are already finding something to be positive about and now it is up to those disgruntled Milan followers to move on and get behind their team.
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