Mid 90's Milan - Part Three

Written by Dave Black @cm9798

Welcome back! We’re up to episode 3 of Mid 90s Milan and so far, we’re getting by but only just. Trying to find the right formula for this star studded squad is easier said than done. We are however top of the Serie A table after five games and frankly, that’s all that matters. It’s a home game with Perugia to kick off October – an easy game on paper but they just toppled Juventus, so we can’t afford to be slack. We’re always kind of slack.

Perugia have two names of particular note. Marco Negri sits on the bench – he’d go on to score a lot of goals in his first season at Rangers before injuries curtailed that. They also have an 18 year old Ivan “called me Gennaro” Gattuso who has an aggression stat of 11 and therefore I can only assume is a complete unknown at this point. A rather bigger threat is a certain Massimiliano Allegri. The current Juventus manager is a star player for our visitors and is valued at £7.5m. We best keep an eye on him.

As for us, well I’ve had enough of Blomqvist’s subpar efforts so Stefano Eranio is in. Baggio gets us off to the perfect start, the divine ponytail meets a cross in the fifth minute and everything is good. As usual a second goal doesn’t follow and we are soon pegged back. Just after half time though and future Derby man Eranio gets on the end of a great ball from Baggio and it looks like our usual shoddy approach will scrape us through. Michel Kreek has other ideas though. He bends in a gem of a free kick (the text really sold it to me) and it looks like we’ll have to settle for a disappointing point. Substitute Dugarry has other ideas though. He drives a long range effort home in injury time. If playing poorly and winning is a sign of a good team, we’re unbelievable.

One more game to get through before the International break and we are without Boban, who stubbed his toe. Marcel Desailly has also broken a cheekbone to get himself two weeks off. They join Davids, Maldini and Costacurta in missing the trip to Vicenza. Wow.

Our hosts don’t have the most star studded of squads. They’ve spent £1.8m on Steve Lomas from Man City and he starts in the centre of their midfield. Right. The less said about our side the better. The centre halves are 37 and 36. Coco is a clown. Eranio and Blomqvist are either side of a midfield three. I don’t have a lot of hope for this.

We’re 2-0 down at half time. Vierchowod has looked every one of his 37 years of age. He scored an own goal and nearly gave away a pen. Lomas has ran the game. I need to do…something. Blomqvist has a 4.

What to do? Reiziger comes on to play centre back and Ambrosini, just 18, is on for Blomqvist. It’s soon 3-0 and I just want to go home.

The International break is a chance for us to lick our wounds. Quite literally in several cases. Maldini recovers to play for Italy but he gets injured at the hands of Wales. Another two weeks of Coco.

Still, we’re able to field Costacurta and Boban for the visit of CSKA Sofia in the Champions League. I rather foolishly said anything other than 12 points for the two games against CSKA and FC Croatia would be a failure. Thankfully this is not the banana skin it might have been.

We’re still on home turf for the clash with Sampdoria. Their squad is full of stories. Sebastian Veron (missing his Juan) is a 21-year-old striker, normally partnered by current Italy manager Roberto Mancini. He’s injured which is a relief as he’s a star player. Sinisa Mihailovic is classified as a left winger but still has 20 for set pieces. They’ve spent £1.2m to bring Dunga over from the J League. The Brazil captain is in midfield with Christian Karembeu. We are unchanged!

A tight game is opened up when Savicevic gets taken out in the box and Albertini does the rest. Veron might be missing his Juan but none of his ability as his measured chip levels things up. Savicevic smashes home a free kick and Panucci seals the points. Routine in the end, with the usual mid game struggle.

We trail Napoli on goal difference only but we go up against them next – in the cup. It’s an awful draw for a third round tie. I’m not really sure why Napoli are doing so well, their squad is unremarkable. Ayala and Cruz are a good centre half partnership but their star man appears to be Caio Ribeiro. He starred in the FIFA Youth Championships in 1995 which prompted Napoli to buy him, but he was rubbish for them. Just like this cup tie. It’s a replay. The only good news is that Desailly returned to the starting 11 whilst Davids got 20 minutes from the bench.

That’s big news because it’s the small matter of the Milan derby next. Maldini returns on the day of the game. I don’t care how unfit he is, he’s better than Coco. Inter’s squad is magnificent. Pagliuca is unbelievable between the sticks whilst penalty king Paul Ince lines up in midfield. Zanetti, Berti, Winter, Zamorano, Djorkaeff…the list goes on. They also have Gianluca Festa, which looks like an opportunity to me.

We are nominally the away side as we share the San Siro. I can see we’re in trouble from the first whistle. Ince is unbelievable and Zanetti ends up playing the perfect 10. We’re lucky to only lose 3-2. The front three were barely in the game and that’s a major concern. On the plus side, Davids made a big impression off the bench and Weah, also a sub, set him up. He’s been the biggest disappointment so far.

Well that stings. The last action of October comes against Juventus in the Champions League. We owe our fans not only for the derby shitshow but for losing the reverse game earlier in the group stages. Our task is made easier when Schottel commits a cynical foul on Simone and is dismissed. Albertini blasts the pen over the bar – it’s not my fault, I quite literally can’t select any set piece takers. Desailly heads in from a corner and Simone finishes a one on one. Good. The game is petering out until Del Piero pulls one back and it’s a mad final ten minutes. The woodwork is struck by both teams several times and I’m grateful to Desailly finishing the game with a burst forward from open play for no real reason. We had 23 shots to their 5, 15 on target. Peruzzi is the best but we still beat him three times. I need a lie down.

We are looking well placed to go through but Juventus haven’t done their side of the bargain. They’ve let CSKA make this a three horse race and I have limited time for that, especially as we need to go to Bulgaria yet.

We’re just one point off the top but it’s still fairly early days.

Join me next time to see what November has in store for us. Hopefully we can reclaim top spot and get through in the Champions League but in reality is will probably be more injuries and 4’s from Jesper bloody Blomqvist. Goodbye!