A bizarre event in Italy went unnoticed by all but the most seasoned European football correspondents. Thanks to Gabriele Marcotti for picking up on the farewell provided for Paolo Maldini by Milan’s Ultras over the weekend.
Paolo is probably one of the most respected left-backs in the history of the game but that seemingly wasn’t enough for some. Instead a banner was unfurled on the Curva Sud stating “Thank you, Skipper. On the pitch you were an infinite champion, but you failed to show respect towards those who made you rich.” Certainly not a snappy banner.
Those provided by Club and fans at the Bridge have improved dramatically in recent years. But “Born is the King” or “Pride of London” seem a bit, well, brief in comparison. How about more detail in future? One for Malouda could read “Thank you for your impressive performances of late. But were you just worried about your new contract? For the first half of the season you ran like a 12 year old posing in his PE lesson and pretending to be out of breath.”
Or for Peter Cech: “Thank you, goalie, for some fine performances. On shot-stopping you were immense but on command of the area and organising your defence you failed to reach the standards of 2004-06. Room for improvement but still a reasonable 6 out of 10 for the season.”
The Ultras failed to hold back in their assessment of Ancelotti. Not only do they expect a departure but their end of term report was decidedly mixed: “Thank you and good luck, but we won’t forget that you also made many mistakes.” What?! Just think what they would have made of Claudio Ranieri during his spell at the Bridge. They could have produced a banner containing a whole thesis on his quite random substitutions and tactical alterations during any match.
This is particularly apposite in Cup Final week. You may want to start grannie sewing your banner early in order to match the output of the Rossoneri …