From Celebration to Relegation
Saturday night was one of the greatest nights of my life, as I watched my team, AC Milan, lift the Scudetto, having been crowned Serie A champions for the first time in 7 years. Amidst the champagne and tickertape and fireworks and the tears of joy, there was a player who could have been part of a team now at the opposite end of the spectrum, Antonio Cassano.
Cassano started this year wearing the blucerchiati uniform for Sampdoria. Together with his strike partner, Giampaolo Pazzini, their team had achieved Champions League qualification this year. The season started well, but then Cassano got into a spat with team owner Riccardo Garrone and insulted him in front of his fellow teammates.
The incident proved too much for Garrone’s pride, he refused to forgive Cassano and saw to it that he was frozen out of the team. When the incident was brought before the courts, Cassano was allowed to be sold in the January transfer market on a free transfer, and Garrone was left with only his pride. And a team that was already starting to slide down the table.
But that wasn’t the only mistake he made. For some reason, Garrone also sold off striker Pazzini in the January market, and switched coaches at a precarious time, too. This left a team that was both depleted and emotionally deflated. Having watched Garrone’s treatment of one of their own, I cannot imagine that the players were particularly inspired by their owner. And having lost their dynamic strike force in Cassano and Pazzini, their results really began to suffer.
With one game left in the season, Sampdoria were officially relegated on Sunday. From European contenders to Serie B all in the course of one season. Now that it is official, Garrone has publicly apologized, claiming that he will make them great once again. But it is much too little, much too late for me. Where was this humility when he was personally overseeing the destruction of this beloved club?Continued on the next page