First, tell the readers of Just Football a bit about yourself.
Well, my name is Frank Tigani and I currently live in Brisbane, Australia.
How did your love affair with AC Milan begin?
My love affair with Milan was a rather peculiar development in a family that largely followed the black and white stripes of Juventus. However, as a young and impressionable nine year old, I instantly fell in love with Milan after watching them triumph in magnificent fashion against the more fancied Barcelona in that famous Champions League final of 1994.
This love for the Rossoneri only further grew when my childhood idol, Roberto Baggio, moved to Milan in 1995.
And what inspired you to create your own Milan blog?
Basically, the reason I created a blog for AC Milan was because my family and friends were sick of listening to me go on and on about Milan all the time. I had so many thoughts and opinions, I thought I may as well start a blog.
The idea then grew, with the idea l could create a website that was 100% Rossoneri: fully dedicated to Milan and solely made for Milan fans so Milan fans all over the world could discuss and debate all matters Milan.
Being based in Brisbane, Australia, which is short of not only Milan fans but football loving fans in general, soon made my blog such a great means of connecting with like minded people.
What’s your assessment of Milan’s season so far?
Milan’s season has been an absolute rollercoaster ride for us Milan fans.
It started miserably, with Milan languishing in mid table after seven rounds. But it eventually picked up and Milan were soon steadily climbing up the table. Despite a few poor results at the end of January, which included losing to Inter for the second time this season, Milan have done very well in the league.
Though it still comes as a surprise to see Milan in with a great chance to win the title, for even though results have been largely impressive, some performances have not been and there are still a host of issues affecting the side.
Milan’s Champions League campaign was largely a disaster. Losing at home to FC Zurich was definitely one of the low points, however, the trouncing by United at Old Trafford was definitely the lowest point of not just this season but of recent years.
However, it was not all doom and gloom in the UCL. Milan’s impressive win away to a Real Madrid side that included our former star Kaka was a moment to remember for any fan.
Overall it has been a relatively successful campaign. Given the players in the squad and other issues surrounding the team, Milan have done better than expected. Plaudits must go to our rookie coach Leonardo who has done a great job.
In your opinion who have been the team’s 3 standout performers and why?
Without a doubt, Milan’s three best players this campaign in order are; (1) Alessandro Nesta (2) Ronaldinho (3) Pato.
Many might argue the order that I rank these 3 players. But Nesta deserves his position. He simply is an indispensable member of this team and plays with great consistency. More than any other player, Nesta is the one player Milan miss most when he is absent. For this reason, there are grave concerns amongst Milan fans about the sides’ ability to bring home the Scudetto.
Ronaldinho is also an indispensable player, however, his performances have been relatively inconsistent. When on form he’s virtually unplayable. But Ronaldinho has struggled for consistency this term and has in numerous matches gone missing. The Brazilian remains, however, Milan’s main creative force and without him our attack becomes near obsolete.
Like Nesta and Ronaldinho, Pato has also been great this season. However, his performances have not been all that consistent. Nonetheless, Pato’s finishing ability is second to none and for this reason he is Milan’s top goal scorer this year. Without him Milan simply struggle to score.
Most football fans, and particularly bloggers, think deeply about their club. What are the key issues facing Milan right now, both on and off the field?
That is true, bloggers do think deeply about their club. I could write 1000 words on the issues facing the club if not more, but basically it comes down to lack of money and poor management while on the field. Its the lack of quality and depth in the current squad that is a major problem.
Money and Management definitely go hand-in-hand. Poor management means financial backing is hard to come by. The fact Milan were so successful throughout this first decade of this century makes this such a tragedy. Though, Calciopoli has perhaps had a lot to do with this.
On the field, Milan’s issues only continue. The squad is in dire need of youth and quality. Too many players have been held on to that are either not good enough anymore or far too old, or both. Injuries sustained by two key players, Nesta & Pato haven’t helped: Nesta is out for the remainder of the season. Pato is expected to be out for a couple of weeks.
The loss of such key players is a major blow to Milan’s title chances and once again we’ll have to rely on the older legs of Inzaghi and Favalli in the coming weeks. This is a concern.
Against earlier expectations, AC Milan are now well in the hunt for the Scudetto. Do you think Milan can rip the Serie A crown from Inter’s grasp?
The fact that Milan are very much still in the hunt for the Scudetto is itself remarkable.
Leo has done a great job with a side beset with problems and now Milan find themselves in the best position in years to win the Scudetto.
I believe that Milan can beat Inter to the title. Inter have been stumbling of late, whilst Milan have been gaining ground on them. With Inter still distracted by the Champions League, Milan have an advantage as the Scudetto is their only focus. Despite this trend, it remains to be seen how much Milan will miss Nesta.
It really all depends on how players like Inzaghi, Favalli and Bonera perform in the absence of key players. If they perform, then Milan can win it, if they don’t, then Milan wont.
What is the financial situation at the club under Silvio Berlusconi and co? From the outside it appears there are a few problems
It is mystifying Milan is in such financial turmoil given that our President, Silvio Berlusconi, is one of the richest men in the country.
But, as I alluded to already, Milan are experiencing some major financial problems, along with every other club in Italian football.
Despite the problems facing Italian football, Milan’s inability to source sufficient financial backers can only be blamed on the inability of the current management. As I already said, they have failed to capitalise on Milan’s glory days.
Do you think a major overhaul of the playing squad is on the way or needed, and if so which key areas need improving?
I do not think a major overhaul of the club is on the cards, though it is surely needed.
But, even though the squad is in need of a major facelift, sometimes changing things too much can prove detrimental.
Changes will be slow, but they surely will happen soon.
The main areas Milan need to strengthen is in defence. Milan desperately need at least one world class full back, if not two. Also, a better back up player for Nesta and Thiago in central defence is needed. Bonera does not cut it, nor does Favalli and Kaladze who should be sold.
Midfield also needs reinforcement. Gattuso is well beyond his best, as are the likes of Seedorf and Ambrosini.
Who should stay and who should go?
Players that need to absolutely leave Milan are: Favalli, Dida, Kaladze, Oddo, Gattuso and Jankulovski . Either Huntelaar or Borriello should leave too, though probably best if Huntelaar moves on for Milan will get better money for him.
Players that need to stay: Ronaldinho, Pato, Pirlo, Thiago, Nesta and Abbiati.
Dominic Adiyiah showed huge promise at the Under-20 World Cup last year. How is he settling in at Milan?
From all reports, the player has settled in well. He definitely was not short of confidence when he arrived at the Milanello, claiming that he would be to Milan what Messi is to Barcelona.
I hope he is right. He seems to have a good attitude and based on his performances to date, I think he really is quite a talent. I hope he sees some playing time soon.
Milan’s unsung hero this season would have to be either Thiago Silva or Antonini. I will sway towards the latter, for it was at full back that Milan had some real issues earlier on in the season.
For me, Antonini has not received the praise he deserves for his performances this year that have been impressive and consistent. If I were Lippi, I would consider him for the World Cup, no doubt about it.
How do you see the club evolving over the next few years & are you optimistic about the future of the club?
Milan remain one of the biggest clubs in the world, despite the recent troubles at the club and in Italian football in general.
Milan have also been one of the most successful, if not the most successful club of the modern era. For this reason, there will still be many younger players around the world today that will be tomorrow’s stars and that will want to play for AC Milan. And some of them will.
I believe that Milan’s future will be no different to the club’s illustrious history. Though financial matters are greatly undermining the club at present, the fact is that Milan are a great club with a great history and this is something that money cannot buy.
Onto AC Milan Blog. How have you found blogging since you began & what have been the biggest challenges?
The biggest challenge with regard to the blog is making time for it, as it takes up much more time than you’d expect. But the rewards have been great – I have been text-linked in articles written by journalists for Reuters and just recently a piece I wrote was published word for word on Fox News. And then Just Football asked me for this interview. Does it get any bigger?
So the hard work is really paying off – I have been the sole force behind the blog, doing all the design, content and marketing. Then there’s making the time to watch all the games – and of course, I do have a day job.
Another challenge has been standing out amongst all the sporting blogs that are out there. It is not as easy as it once was, but acmilanblog.net has only been online for nine months now with readership steadily growing.
Because I feel that I know my stuff when it comes to Milan, in time I am quite confident that the blog will ultimately be a real success.
What does the future hold for your site?
I do plan to develop other language versions of the site over the next few years, as part of my plans to extend my potential audience and engage with even more fans.
My biggest hope at this stage is to interview a player, past or present, and make an exclusive of it on the blog.
While I have plenty of goals for my site, I really do just enjoy being acmilanblog.net.
What started as just a hobby has become effectively a full time commitment and I have learnt so much.
And, with journalism and media struggling post-recession, what do you think is the future of sports journalism?
I think journalism, professional journalism at least, has been struggling for some time now and not just because of the recession.
I believe that the standard of journalism, especially the kind found in mainstream media sources, has been in a sure state of decline for some time now.
This is why readers have turned to blogs and sites alike because readers want more interesting and alternate views that mainstream media sources sometimes do not provide.
Blogging has democratised sporting journalism, allowing both the blogger and the readers to indulge their passion by being engaged in the commentary of their sport.
If you haven’t already, be sure to bookmark acmilanblog.net, a great resource for any Italian football fan. Do it now. The Blog Files returns later this week.