Written by Dave Black @cm9798
Welcome back to Milan in 1996. I set about trying to reverse their disastrous season and so far, I’d give myself a B+. October was bittersweet for us. Our home form continues to keep us afloat. Our Champions League campaign has picked up momentum. We’re still in the Coppa Italia. This is all good. However, we lost the Milan derby, got humbled in Vicenza and we haven’t won an away game since September 29th. Thankfully, our next game is at home to Roma.
Although we are second you’ll notice Roma are nowhere to be seen. They are actually 13th, a disappointing season that plumbed new depths in their recent UEFA Cup exit to Middlesbrough. Star striker Abel Balbo is injured, but oddly Brazilian centre half Aldair has 7 goals in 14 games. A 19 year old by the name of Francesco Totti is filling in for Balbo, I don’t think he’ll amount to much.
Simone is in great form at the moment. He was man of the match in the Champions League win over Juventus and he picks up where he left off with two headed goals here. Savicevic also weighs in with two, though goal machine Aldair briefly has us worried. 4-1 probably flatters us but if the front three are clicking, I’m all for it.
Panucci will be missing for a month. We get a lot of injuries.
Napoli managed to win 3-2 at Fiorentina so we’re still chasing. We actually play Napoli next in the cup replay. If the first game was dull, this one certainly wasn’t.
We’ve drawn Ancona, the only Serie C team left in the competition, in the quarter finals. That could have been worse.
Bologna is our next destination as we attempt to correct our dodgy away form. We get the first goal for a change as Davids scrambles one in from a corner. Savicevic goes off injured and we can’t find a second goal despite spurning a hatful of chances. I await the sucker punch that never comes. It’s a win!
Three months out for Savicevic is definitely not a win. He’s got 16 assists to his name already. Added to his seven goals that means he has played some part in 23 of our goals which is exactly half of our overall total. His replacement, George Weah, only has one goal. But away to group whipping boys FC Croatia is probably as good an opportunity as you could hope for to kickstart your season.
A dull first half is soon forgotten when Maldini heads in a corner. Baggio curls in a second and the icing on the cake is supplied by Mr Weah when he rams in a rebound from a free kick. An easy win and two away wins on the spin. Our spot in the last 8 is secured.
Atalanta are the visitors to the San Siro and that means future Serie A legend Filippo Inzaghi lining up against us. They’ve seen the future and signed Otto Konrad from Salzburg – who would in fact move to Roma in real life.
The last thing we need is another key creator to go down. But a bruised thigh takes Roberto Baggio out of the game after just six minutes and means we’ll be without him for two weeks. Sigh. Luckily he’s replaced by French International Christophe Dugarry, our strength in depth is scary really. Anyway, Simone’s 11th of the season and a Boban free kick has us on the road to three points before that goal machine Weah seals the deal.
A good day is made even better by news of Napoli’s loss at Juventus. No shame in that of course but it does mean we are back in top spot.
Yet another cup game now and the Coppa Italia Quarter finals are over two legs. Why? Seems a little unnecessary. Costacurta whole heartedly disagrees and gets sent off after two minutes for a dangerous challenge. That’s a bit stupid but the fact my players’ bones are made of chipsticks is starting to wear thin. Davids is the next to go, pulling a hamstring and facing a month out. We’re 3-0 up by the time Dugarry tears his ankle ligaments. That’ll be a couple of months off. We win the match but it’s more of a war. We’ll see them for the 2nd leg next month but I might be better served putting out the reserves.
I’m awarded manager of the month for November. That’s probably fair, we have been excellent. We have somewhat of an injury crisis though and our next game is Napoli away. If we’re going to hold on to top spot we’re going to have to find a way of not playing Jesper Blomqvist.
We managed a 0-0 draw at Napoli in the Coppa Italia game so the same here would be the perfect start to December.
I’ve reverted to a 4-4-2 as I am down to two forward players in the absence of Dugarry, Savicevic and Baggio. At least the divine ponytail will return in about a week, the other two won’t been seen again in 1996. Boban and Eranio are on the wings with Albertini joined in central midfield by young Ambrosini. It might work.
It bloody is working. Weah and Simone combine for the opener before our flying Liberian is wiped out by goalkeeper Di Fusco. It’s a red card and when Weah converts the penalty, the result looks secure. However, it’s soon 2-1 and Desailly sees red for throwing an elbow. We manage to shut the game down with a series of defensive moves but a win is a win. An important win.
That’s better. The squad is in tatters but we’ve opened a small lead at the top. The squad is at breaking point and I can see why Fabio sought pastures new. On the other hand, it’s a resilient set of lads who have gone the month of November unbeaten.
Join me next time as we cross over into 1997. We’ve kept the treble hopes alive but our physio is busier than ever. See you next week.