BREAKING DOWN THE MALDINI-RANGNICK WAR OF WORDS
Rumors that link Ralf Rangnick to a new role within the Rossoneri are no longer a novelty. The German has been heavily linked with AC Milan since January, with theories from just about each and everyone chiming in on what Rangnick can bring to an institution whose glory days have been dead and gone for years. What we don’t know yet is the formula he will bring to forge his influence on Milan. Will he adopt a role similar to his RB Leipzig days where he was in control of everything in a manager and sporting director hybrid role or will he settle for limited power in a coaching role? Recent speculation also suggests something completely different with Rangnick taking only the sporting director’s role and bringing in Julian Nagelsmann along with him to take over the job on the sidelines. What’s for sure is his words from a recent interview have ruffled a few feathers at CASA Milan- in particular, the club legend and now sporting director, Paolo Maldini.
What did Rangnick say?
Rangnick, in a recent interview to German media outlet, BILD was open about his current and ongoing negotiations with Milan, expressing his concerns around the move and spoke out about the current COVID-19 crisis and how the uncertainties of the current situation factor into the move.
“I can’t exclude it (the Milan move) completely. Milan asked me about my availability, I advised Red Bull and there were talks with my agent,” Rangnick told Bild. “After the contact, the coronavirus outbreak arrived, and more important issues arose. Milan and the Lega have other things to think about.”
Why did Rangnick’s statements infuriate Maldini?
The former Milan skipper, who has always behaved in an exemplary manner slammed Rangnick and reacting in a manner that would lead one to think it was some sort of a personal insult. There are a few considerations to look into on Maldini’s behalf. Is this more than just a spat? Is this Maldini on his way out the door and a mere misdirected outburst at something that is seemingly harmless?
Despite the fantastic work done in the transfer market with shrewd signings such as Theo Hernández and Ismaël Bennacer, the signing and sacking of Marco Giampaolo after 7 games could prove to be Maldini’s final nail in the coffin. The season had barely started, and the squad was facing changes in formations and styles of play which they never really got over. A poor season with some less than impressive results could be enough for the Elliott Hedge fund to part ways with the ultimately Milanese hero.
So, with all this going on and the current climate the sport and the world finds itself in, you can understand a reaction, considering the unprofessional manner in which Rangnick cut straight to the chase had infuriated Maldini. The fact that the former Schalke boss was so candid about his negotiations with Milan rubbed Maldini the wrong way, considering the fact that the latter is a believer in keeping such discussions confidential, especially considering the fact just about anything is concrete in the footballing world since the coronavirus outbreak.
Maldini had some choice words for Rangnick in an interview with ANSA, “Having never talked to Rangnick, I don’t understand on what basis his statements are based, also because I have never been told anything by the owner.”
“Some considerations in my opinion, however, must be made. The German coach in fact, speaking of a role with full managerial powers both in the sporting and technical areas, invades areas where professionals work with regular contracts.
“So I would have some advice for him, before learning Italian, he should review the general concepts of respect, as there are colleagues who, despite the many difficulties of the moment, are trying to finish the season in a very professional way, putting the good of Milan to their professional pride.”
To say Maldini is unhappy with the German coach’s interview is a case of barely scratching the surface.
Where do the fans stand on this?
Milan fans have been left gobsmacked by their sporting director’s outburst and have struggled to understand why Maldini would speak out like this, considering his former colleague Zvonimir Boban was sacked earlier this year for that very reason. Many of the Rossoneri faithful are torn between his lack of professionalism and his right to an honest opinion. Some fans struggle to differentiate the Maldini in a suit in a directorial role and the Maldini in a red and black strip, donning a white armband. It’s the worst possible dilemma for any Milan fan because Maldini is the ultimate club legend.
It’s been rumored however that the club knew about what Maldini was going to say, which adds to the confusion even more. Unlike Boban, Maldini’s outburst wasn’t against the club and without their knowledge. The plot thickens.
A Milan fan’s take on the situation
In my opinion, Maldini is simply trying to protect Stefano Pioli and the players from yet another managerial blunder, trying to deflect the attention away from the main issue which is Milan and their need for some clear and consistent direction. To say this season has been anything but disappointing would be an understatement and Milan do not need any other problems off the pitch to sink the club even more on the pitch. There are people still working at Milan despite all the rumors and Maldini is merely shielding them. Rangnick’s words may not just have upset Maldini but also Ivan Gazidis and the club. Why approve those comments in Rangnick’s direction otherwise? It’s rumored Rangnick has since apologized to the club since his interview.
Rangnick to Milan seems like a done deal and if he is to take up the job as the manager and sporting director, it will likely lead to Maldini’s dismissal. Surely Rangnick needs Maldini just like Maldini needs Rangnick. One brings knowledge and experience of the club and Italian football where the other has the expertise of being a manager and a sporting director at a club like Leipzig that have seen a transformation that is all down to a long-term vision and systematic planning. You can see the influence of Rangnick in the overachieving RB Leipzig who are currently 4th in the Bundesliga, three points behind Borussia Dortmund in 2nd. RB Leipzig have only failed to qualify for the Champions League once since their promotion to the top tier.
This is exactly what Milan needs, a successful project with an experienced professional who is given the tools to create a new legacy at the club. Too often, the Rossoneri have acted in a reactionary and impulsive manner, taking them light years away from the respected, feared and incredibly successful institution they used to be.
Maldini in my opinion needs to be there, as part of the club’s past, present and future.