“Io, Ibra” Book Review

Written by Zlatan Ibrahimovic and David Lagercrantz, “Io, Ibra” sold 500,000 copies in Sweden and it is part of every fourth household there. The latest news from the co-author is that there is interest to turn it into a movie. What was it about?

A story of a ghetto-kid making it big. The American dream accomplished by a Swedish new face from a war-refugee family. A story on how to protect your own and blast everyone else.

Young Z @ Rosengård

It felt a little different than the other biographies because of its age. I heard it was done through interviews and during the read I got a feeling like most questions came from scandals or YouTube (marvelous addition to the stories if you know how to use it). Some might suggest it was all Ibra bragging about his triumphs and coming clean on selected episodes but he also sheds light on hard subjects like segregation, alcoholism, drug abuse and poverty.

At first it looked like a very honest piece to me. Zlatan talking about what happens behind the curtain and showing this to all who have been against him. After finishing, however, it seems like he picked his fights very carefully. He is very strategic as he says it himself. By the end it seems most of the episodes are him just advocating his point of view to set the record straight and punch out his opponents.

Mama said knock you out
Mama said knock you out

But I don’t hold it against him at all. As weird as it sounds it makes me respect him even more since this is like a first person view to the mindset he has. The confidence/arrogance he wears. He shows the attitude that is needed to carry on. Deep down I see a man who understands his faults but plays on his strengths. The most similar thing I’ve read is Salvador Dali’s “Diaries of a Genius”. Similarly, he criticizes everybody else while talking about his own grace although he has earned his spot in the history with such attitude. And if van Basten (another figure making a supportive role in the book) was called Leonardo da Vinci, Zlatan can take the odd-mustached egocentric place in his art.

Artist. Champion. Moustache.
Artist. Champion. Moustache.

The much furored book is everything you wanted it to be. To his followers it was like a bible, to his haters there was a sentence on every page to be ripped out and put into their context or logic. That’s what Zlatan is all about – hard to ignore, polarizing figure, unquestioned champion.

All pictures are from Bring Your Sister which is the best blog/site/place for picture-loving Ibraholics.

Ibra’s Importance

A lot has been said about Zlatan Ibrahimovic since the season ended, various comments and thoughts about his performances, however despite being a divisive figure in many ways, one thing everyone can agree on is that the first half of his season was better than the second, but what should we make of his season overall?

First of all, anyone who considers this season anything other than a success for him should stop reading now. He’s had a good year, and although he was much better from August to January than January to May, he still chipped in with crucial assists during his ‘bad period’

Ibrahimovic’s importance comes not so much the games which he’s won for Milan with his goals, or helped Milan win with his assists,  but his importance was shown by the way he managed to instill a winning mentality in the side, something that was lacking since most of the senatore’s who’d tasted success lacked motivation (particularly against smaller sides and perhaps this goes towards explaining their inconsistency), and most of the younger talented players hadn’t tasted real success yet, this is why Ibra was our most important player this season.

If there was an award for Milan’s best player of the season, I’d give it to Thiago Silva, no doubt he was essential, and he was a rock throughout, for his consistent performances this season, the way he’s matured and his dogged and determined defending, he should win it, and in face, I would actually have Robinho second, ahead of Ibra in third, because I think the Brazilian’s performances are underrated as a result of his erratic finishing (which often leads to people forgetting all of the other things he does so well)

However, if deciding on who’s been the most important, I would say Ibra. This winning mentality has given the side a new-found determination, and it’s not something that’s easy to get. Some games Ibrahimovic dragged the side through on his own (mainly earlier on in the season) and he scored some wonder-goals along the way but the most telling factor that he succeeded in bringing this winning spirit in, are the games Milan won without him.

Near the end, without Ibra, or in big games like the derby, l30nardo was well and truly thumped by Allegri, and that was as a result of (not only) better tactics on Allegri’s part, but also the determination of the players to effectively bring home the scudetto despite the absence of one Zlatan Ibrahimovic

It’s been said that Ibrahimovic and Pato don’t really get on too well, and I’ve heard eyewitness stories from people at games that Ibra acts like a dick towards him amongst others in the warmup and so forth, and maybe this is true, who am I to question these people, BUT I feel Pato has a lot to learn from him nonetheless, maybe not so much on the character front, but in becoming a winner himself, and this scudetto is probably the first step in the right direction for that, and as a player, there are some qualities Ibra would do well to pass on to the duck too.

A lot has been said and done about Ibra this season, he’s split many people’s opinions, and I think it’s a shame that some people will fail to give him recognition, either out of spite for people who they feel give him too much, or simply because they don’t like him, but whether you think he was our best player or not this season, it’s clear to me that Ibra is very much like some of our senatores…. he’s a champion!

Two Champions

By Hefin Davies

Seedorf – A Trophy Collector Who Could Have Been A Midfield Icon

I have been very much intrigued and disappointed by one of the most respected names in European football, Sir Clareance Seedorf. Yeah, he got knighted last month for his on and off the field achievements. Seedorf has been playing for Milan for more than a decade and he rarely missed a game due to injury, a physical phenomenon that collected the highest number of caps for the Diavoli among the non Italian category.

Whenever he is shown on TV commentators scream about his 4 CLs with three different teams achievement. Fair enough, he won them but there is more than what meets the eye. He is one player who had every single characteristic of a great midfielder. When he was at his peak he had power, strength, footballing brain,  every inch of his body is filled with footballing skill, he can play joga bonito or your scrappy midfield game, he’s versatile and can instantly fit any system. If an alien recommend me a body to create/adapt/evolve a new generation football player I will surely put Seedorf at the top of the list.

Seedorf Lotto Ad

But the irony is that if my young nephew asked me about the greatest midfielder I ever saw or loved, without any hesitation I would say Zidane or scream Rui Manuel César Costa again and again because he made me cry. With all his qualities Seedorf doesn’t make me sit on the edge every single moment when he is on the field even though he is very much capable of doing that. Ah football of the 90s I miss you.

Seedorf was a young prodigy at the great school of Ajax FC where he won a CL title in 1995 against us and got transferred to Real Madrid via Sampdoria where he feasted on a couple of league titles and another Champions League. I don’t have much thoughts on his days as a Blanco and I wouldn’t comment on it except that he won a lot yet he is not considered anything there. Then he transferred to Inter Milan, endured a not so good time at blue side of Milan and finally in 2002 he became a Milanista. Under Carlo Ancelotti he was a part of that great squad, one of the most versatile and greatest teams of the last decade, a formidable defense boasting some of the greatest names in football history, with Dida, an attacking force of Sheva, Pippo and Crespo. But the real strength was that beastly, godly, aesthetic midfield because it was adorned with two supreme number 10s: Rui Costa (at his twilight) and Seedorf, Kaka, class A destroyer Gattuso, solid Ambrosini, lightning wingback Serginho and a technically gifted Pirlo who was castled in deep midfield and could distribute the ball in his heyday as well as anybody (I am not a fan of Pirlo because he hasn’t done anything worthwhile after opponents started chasing him out of his comfort zone). That team was built to fight on any terrain against any opponent, anytime.

Sadly, we underachieved a lot and I still hold some grudge towards our former coach big Carlo; such a nice man but he lacked that killer instinct to unleash reign of fire on anything and everything in Europe. I don’t want to be ungrateful for 2 Champions Leagues and one Scudetto at a time when it was infested by the Juve – Inter court referee duel, but a dropped CL in 2005, the Deportivo debacle and Europa League doesn’t make make me too happy. I digressed from the original subject, but you can’t blame me because I was always enchanted by that team.

So here is Seedorf, who seems to play decent football when we are in the semis or finals of a major championship. Some call him a Big Game player; others, like me think ‘it’s about time Clarence, it’s about time’. If you follow him day in and day out like me or the Curva Sud you know how bad, frustrating and infuriating he can be all year long, lacking mobility, dedication or intention to stamp his authority on the game. I was never angrier than when he was the laziest player in that infamous Maldini farewell game against Roma. For a player who wears number 10 and starts every single game for one of the greatest clubs, he has been mediocre to hapless week in and week out for many campaigns.

But there is this aspect of him which is known only to us Milanista’s and which is so unique in this guy. Push him to the limit and he will deliver, as soon as he sniffs a title he goes for the jugular. In the 2007 CL semifinal against Bayern Munich he combined well with Kaka to bring us closer to our 7th Champions League. When Ronaldinho was brought to Milan, Seedorf wasn’t the indispensable partner of Kaka anymore so what does he do? Play a screamer of game against Inter in the derby in Pirlo’s role, where he adapted and excelled like a true star. When asked about his completion with Ronaldinho, he claimed he is much more of a central midfielder. After he fought back for his starting position when Dinho was out nursing a knee injury we started to see the usual Slowdorf back in games.

Seedorf Schooling Cambiasso
Seedorf Schooling Cambiasso

He is one player who has kept his place even with so much transition in the coaching position. Ancelotti loved him, Pirlo and him were his boys. Carlo overlooked their mistakes and burned Gourcuff for them, after all the coach won titles with them. Then came our caretaker coach, Leonardo, who had a rough time with Zambrotta and Gattuso but Seedorf the charmer was still unquestioned. Then the field marshal (ahahha) Allegri was given command to bring trophies, who is the coach with the lowest bias, who favors consistency and hard work over anything. Seedorf had a tough time regaining his starting position, but he managed it well. Being his last year of contract, he stepped up big time in the final half of the season and made up for the disastrous first leg against Spurs with a resounding second leg. But it was not good enough for another CL run. That was the day we saw the rise of the majestic Dorf. He started to be one of the influential players in midfield, he surprised me with his dogged performance and ability of holding the ball even under heavy pressure, a few effective tricks here and there, wily through balls and free kicks. He became one of the creative outlets of this solid Milan midfield. With every passing week he started gaining respect and love from Milanistas. Milan fans are so fickle at adoring their heroes; one good game and everything is forgiven, even the skeptic like me is thrilled and pumped up after his strong showing although I know a contract form him means more of that inconsistent Seedorf. But I hope he leaves Milan as a hero or we resign him at a lower wage and keep him on the very edge. He recently poked Milan for not assuring him another two year contract. Aah Seedorf, you are such an interesting player.

I never mentioned that Clarence is too old (around 35) and we never had enough cover to provide him some rest and it’s not his fault that he starts 30 odd games every year and he is bound to have many bad games at this time of his career. These are valid points but the fact of the matter is that he rarely plays with conviction. He is a mix of a champion and a culprit and he has complete control on whom to summon and when. Champion summoning usually happens when he is near some personal (contract / starting line-up) or team (Champions League / final half of the season only if you are top of the table) glory. He is a man who doesn’t settle for mediocrity (according to the Clareance standard), like CL qualification, farewell games, cutting down the lead of the opponent. He is capable of playing great games unlike many other yesteryear heroes such as Andrea Pirlo who works 10x more than Seedorf yet italian is not capable of putting up a show against tough opponents, able to stamp his authority on a game or entitled to the world master or controller or a hard game. Pirlo has digressed into a sniper who is able to deliver few lethal shots once in a while and the team should make them count. Seedorf can take the game by the scruff of the neck to unleash a masterful show whenever he wants. I think he has figured out everything; he wants trophies and to keep playing and anyone or anything that comes in his way will be shown who he is (like the lioness when somebody attacks the cubs). He will even take a pounding to prove that point. A great player who could have been the greatest, but I am delighted to have him at least this year because he has been so good.

Maybe I am writing this post to reduce the guilt I have for ridiculing him day in and day out for all those sub par performances but when great memories are revisited he will always be remembered for the part he played and that evergreen blissful smile.

Seedorf Smiling
Seedorf Smiling - Courtesy UEFA

One thing I have to admire is his statesman like demeanor (except for kicking water bottles when he was subbed for Pato in 2008 – see what I did there). He always calms agitated players: Gattuso screaming at Poulsen, Gattuso having a go at Pato. Always there to talk with officials, mediating or soothing a highly volatile situation.

The man commands respect for his character. I see him as a Milan director in the future if he doesn’t run for UEFA, FIFA or the US presidential role. Thanks Seedorf for all those bittersweet memories. I will not forget you. Have a great future, I will not miss you as a player but I will surely miss your smile.

Mark Van Bommel – A Dutch Tank With An Italian Philosophy

Mark van Bommel
Mark van Bommel

Mark van Bommel brings extreme reactions from every single football fan. His critics have mostly been those on the receiving end of things, while his supporters have close ties with the teams he has played for – PSV, Barcelona, Bayern, the Dutch national team, and now Milan. For the rest of the world he is a thug or a disgrace for the sport which might have stemmed from the analysis of Sky pundits having a direct impact on the fan base in south East Asia and India. So this is a post dedicated to all the fans that enjoy continental football and its diverse style. I hope you folks stop for a minute and read this without any bias.

Milan has been struggling for a long time in midfield, even though we have a battalion of defensive midfielders who pack a lot of aggression but with little tenacity. With the shrewd business of gold tie Mr. Galliani, we brought a world class anchor in place of technically gifted but physically frail Pirlo. I am not a big fan of Andrea and Ancelotti’s deep lying midfield position covered by aggressive midfielders, but I will leave that topic for some other day. Milan’s policy of bringing in old washed up champions may look very cheap and pathetic from outside but I am all for hard working, dedicated professionals – regardless of age – who add some value to the starting line-up. Over the years this has given me the opportunity to admire, watch and like some world class players whom otherwise would have gone unnoticed in my book. For example Stam and Beckham who hail from Manchester United, a club that brings the absolute worst in me in footballing philosophy. Then there was the ever smiling Cafu who joined us at the ripe age of 34 and played for some good years. So I was very much excited for MvB’s transfer especially when our most consistent player of the past couple of years, captain Ambrosini, was sidelined for rest of the season, leaving Flamini, Gattuso and Strasser for the job.

Flamini was not ready to give up his EPL style and as large as Gattuso’s heart might be he can’t compensate for his small stature, which plays a huge role in the aerial game as an anchor. He is an aggressive ground soldier and excels in that role, there is no point in retraining an old pitbull. So we were looking for an Ambrosini type of player and from out nowhere on the last day of the winter mercato our vice president brings in the captain of Bavaria, who in the past year has captained his teams to both a Champion League and World Cup final and without a shadow of a doubt was the most important player of those teams. So what conclusion should I draw? A Dutch team dragged to final by an anti-footballer; he achieved something similar to the great Cryuff. I am not naive to compare an absolute football master to MvB but you cannot ignore his effectiveness for your prejudice.

When he came and played a few games I realized how good he was. He is a leader of men, who tries to impose his will on the game and like a true traffic police man directs the flow with so much authority. His best act is the legendary stop sign – when he puts that up no opponent moves. If they have the testicular fortitude for violating that rule they end up paying some hefty fine in the form of a clean tackle, bruised ankle, a shoulder push or maybe a red card for Milan. With two godlike but mild CB’s, there wasn’t enough aggression towards the opposite number 10 trying to breach our defense, but with the coming of MvB, I can sleep peacefully knowing that we won’t concede unless the Boss personally thinks otherwise (see games against Palermo and Bari).

People following him since his Barcelona or Eindhoven days say he doesn’t do anything special these days and that he is simply the van Bommel of yesteryear, but I decided to watch his performances with zero animosity. So I am enjoying this phase of the Scudetto race, a solid defense protected by an insane destroyer, the Boss, and the entire thing masterminded by a prudent Italian tactician. Like every championship team we are building from the back and we sure have a hell of a war head with Cassano, Ibrahimovic, Pato, and Robinho. So we only need a set of technical CMF’s (Pirlo and Seedorf have served Milan well over the years, but it’s time for some fresh blood) to finish the entire product and we are ready to rumble again.

Van Bommel is a very likable man within his teams’ fans. You should see the affection crowds showed him when he danced with the German title in Munich. He never talks or does anything detrimental in training or off the pitch; all his tactics or dark art revolve around winning another inch for the team, by any means necessary to defend the flag, or in the voice of English commentators he is a lionhearted player who is willing to fight ’till death. He is a master in reading the game, having won 7 titles in the Netherlands, Spain and Germany and being now on the verge of conquering another one in the peninsula. He has some coaching badges and his prowess is on display in a live game while he is instructing/guiding inexperienced players. His ability to pick Antonini or Abate from way deep shows he is not just a physical player, he is ready to move forward and control the tempo of the game according to the situation (and he has a bomb of a right foot, which can be unleashed against any team but we Milan for some unknown reason never ever rely on a long ranger). The media is the one who created this image which is costing Milan a lot of cards because he is getting booked for normal fouls. His reputation precedes him in Serie A, not as a champion but as a bulldozer.

For a tough man he does have a true heart. He is loyal to the teams he’s played for and he is so instinctive with his passion. As an example, he showed his Barcelona heart when Madrid was dumped by him in the 2006 CL campaign. He cried like a baby when Bayern sold him to Milan and he feels like home in Milanello thanks to his promptness to learn and adjust along with the family atmosphere in our dressing room, which is under no imminent turmoil even though we pack some of the most volatile elements in the game.

I think it’s time to test the limits by bringing Balotelli. People often compare MvB to Materazzi because they experience the beautiful game through commentary. You should watch the games once in a while without bombastic and over the top biased reviewers. Materazzi is a butcher whose aim is to hurt an opponent regardless of footballing advantage. The Dutch master brings in every single trick in the book to gain advantage which only coincides with the state of play. He is a true professional and plays for his employer. For example, his tough tackling game against Messi and Wesley Sniejder (his ex team mates) show he might be friends with them but that friendship ends when you cross that white line and you don our jersey, an admirable quality.

Every single player who played with him or against him applauds his importance. Ibrahimovic (who you might remember had an altercation with the Dutch skipper) said he is a player I would hate to play against and welcomed him to Milan. Sneijder who was man handled in the derby begged him to join the blue part of Milan. This is a kind of signing Milan needed to help us in the Champions League and gives an opportunity to further groom young Strasser in that role. An experienced leader on the field and a gentleman off the field, with absolute knowledge of the game is a perfect fit in the cynical and tactical world of Calcio. He is not going to hang here as deadwood, he will perform at his best until he can and most probably play as a mentor in the future or leave us to his native place.

With that said, there are a few limitations. His mobility is not world class but far better in his age bracket and when compared to the existing champion senators in Milan. He has to get more adjusted to this team as he has conceded a few goals with Milan showing some communication breakdown while defending in the box.

In conclusion, if you look at him closely without any premonition about his game or style you might witness a master at his very best, reading the game, breaking the opponents’ play, passing the ball to players pushing forward and guiding the troops under extreme pressure. Immovable object with a fair sense of attacking game, I’m in love with him. A true great who oozes Italian style of play (substance over style). I am a self proclaimed samba fan boy but when you witness complete players you can’t stop yourself from admiring them. Complete players with the least of limitations is a dying breed in today’s era. I might think so because I personally rate the football of the last decade any day ahead of the physical play of today.

Thanks to: The Red & Black Forums – for admiring the Boss over their personal hate for the love of Milan, to Cristina who proof read the article and restructured it to something nice (which originated as an incoherent rambling) and to a bunch of DM lovers from Brazil and Scotland. Finally to all the fanboys and fangirls of Boss like fara/sage/wild/fiero/congo.

Video by Cristina.

Gennaro Ivan ‘Rino’ Gattuso – The Pitbull

Through the incidents that occured during Milan – Tottenham I’ll try to catch the essence of the misunderstood player.

How much do you know about Gennaro Gattuso?

He’s a footballer – obviously if you’re reading this you know that much; he’s a World Cup winner – again, if you weren’t born on the 21st century you probably know that too; he’s a two time Champions League winner( you may have caught his heroics on multiple Tuesday or Wednesday nights this century).  He’s also a  patriotic Italian – you may have noticed how passionately he sings his anthem. But what kind of a player is he? Everybody knows he’s passionate, many would say he’s harsh but fair, however a lot of people would suggest that he’s a dirty player like Materazzi – always looking for trouble with the opposition or getting carded every match for fouling like Marco Tardelli. You watched him on Tuesday night and you saw proof how he was going over the line and starting trouble all over the pitch, or did you?

Gennaro Gattuso

Graeme Souness called him ‘a dog at best’. Something which couldn’t be further from the truth. Rino is a dog, a pitbull who hunts down the opposition, because he acts like a dog but not in the bad sense of the word – on the contrary. He grew up in the dog-eat-dog world of Calabria. People from social classes like him often don’t learn a lot of manners. They learn how to behave in this world with their conscious. The first rule you learn to avoid getting in to trouble, is to not start trouble. The second rule is if someone causes trouble for you – make sure they never want to cause you trouble again. That is exactly how Ringhio carries himself on the pitch.

All bark and no bite.

Rino is a very emotional character – and vocal too, but his actions are mainly towards the referee and are strictly talk (all bark and no bite). When the going gets rough, he gets rough. Well to be honest he’s pretty rough from the start but he doesn’t deserve a reputation for trying to cause trouble and foul the opposition. He always (as a human being and as a footballer) tries to get the ball. That’s why he is held in such high regard as a defensive midfielder. Steven Gerrard once called him ‘as scary as a kitten’ and I believe the Liverpool captain is right (though it’s an exaggeration of course) But when the opposition starts to put in harsh challenges or fouls, he will respond. Even if the actions are done to his team-mates rather than directly to him – he will respond, because the dog always looks out for his owner.

Now you’re sitting there thinking  you can comfortably tell me he acted like a Mad Dog Tuesday, don’t you? Let’s try to look at the game from his point of view?

Starting with what happened to his goalkeeper on Tuesday – One of his best friends in the team (Christian Abbiati), was escorted from the pitch with a neck splint (pitbulls hate neck splints). You and I saw from television that the challenge which resulted the injury was nothing special – it happens all the time, in fact Crouch accidentally had caught Abbiati’s face even before that. No big deal. But Rino might have not seen it, and even if he did it’s hard to judge on the pitch just as the real villain on the night, Mathieu Flamini, was unaware how rough his challenge was asking the reporters if it ‘was really that bad’.

Minor things like Pienaar handling Gattuso also happened frequently in the first half. This is everyday stuff in football – handling the opponent; a few harsh fouls and few elbows will be part of every game. To someone like Gattuso they will start to set the tone. Especially if he sees his keeper taken out on a stretcher and his striker getting fouled near the area and getting elbowed inside the area without receiving any calls from the referee. Meanwhile we all saw how Gattuso was captaining a ship that just wasn’t in the moment – Milan were tedious, slow and unmotivated and beginning to look frustrated.

The breaking point came with Flamini’s tackle on Corluka. The referee couldn’t red card Flamini(who’s nickname is rightfully Mad Dog) possibly since he felt a debt to Milan for the numerous unpunished fouls on Ibra.. Flamini didn’t know how harsh was the challenge and tried to spark his teammates and the crowd who responded by distastefully mobbing an injured player since he was stopping the flow of their momentum. This episode sent the two sides into full out war. There was no ‘let’s get this done as professionally as we can and let the best team win’ anymore. Ringhio(Gattuso’s nickname which means ‘growl’ in Italian) had his teeth out and was ready to bite.

Graham Poll about Peter Crouch ‘He’s a real pain and he’s getting away with too much.’

It’s evident that Milan got a little motivation from their coach at half-time and possibly their captain. As Zlatan describes Gattuso “If I’m relaxing I know that Rino will be behind me giving me the motivation and adrenaline I need. When Rino doesn’t play, the dressing room is silent and nobody talks. But when Rino is there, he talks to everyone and gives everyone the motivation they need. He arrives with an incredible determination. On the field he’s an animal, without him we cannot do it.” So they came out with a new attitude and a little different game plan. Milan came out for a win and started to penetrate Tottenham’s area. Gattuso was comfortably sitting on the backseat dealing with Tottenham counters. Since the pressure was pretty big the Londoners tried to find their tall forward with clearances and he had to face off with Gattuso. The game was built very physical and so both players were as rough as they could while hands came into play as well. So the same elbow that sent Gattuso’s teammate to the hospital found it’s way to his face and it was time to bite. Crouch was not getting away from Rino at San Siro and he let Crouch know how he felt about the tall man’s shenanigans by smacking him back and then shoving him when the Englishmen tried to tell what he thought about it.

Then Joe Jordan interfered to protect his team and since Crouch might not have enough character to take on raving Gattuso(70kg vs 76kg). He was having a go at Gattuso as he entered the pitch. I know you’ll say it was only a yard in but he stepped over a crucial line. An unwelcomed guest entered the dog’s yard. What do pitbulls do in this situation? They hunt down the trespasser and bite them even if they give an inch for teeth to reach. They protect their territory at all costs. It’s not about whether or not the intruder is a senior, or an assistant-coach or a Milan legend(all of which are mildly laughable if you asked me) at that moment.

Gattuso won’t give opponents an inch and that’s what makes him as a player. That’s why Sir Alex Ferguson has admired him so much and should he have succeeded signing him on the summer of 2006. I’m confident the outcome of the AC Milan – Manchester United would have been different. Ferguson had to settle for someone else though, while Rino held back everything you could throw at him. Did you notice United only won the first game after Gattuso had to limp off with an injury (Redknapp also seriously thought about going after him after he managed Rino in one charity match: (“Gattuso was fantastic in the dressing room and, because I was  his ‘manager’ on that night against the Rest of the World, I gave it serious thought. But it never quite worked out.”)

What happened after the whistle went was disgraceful. Rino immediatly acknowledged it and apologized. Meanwhile we can’t decide whether it was uncalled for (or not)since we don’t know what words Joe Jordan threw at him. Some might say since he apologized he realized his wrongdoings I should judge him guilty as well but I don’t. I know he felt guilty for losing it and because he let down his team-mates and maybe head butted (hair butted anyone?) Joe Jordan, but does he really regret hitting a guy that was in his face the whole night? Zidane still doesn’t regret his action against Materazzi and it’s not because Rino and Zizou are bad people rather than Zizou’s background on the streets of Marseille Rino’s upcoming in Calabria.


English Media Spurs Milan 2011

It’s amusing to read how (English) media reported the game. Some sources were using terms like ‘assistant coach’ for him to sound like a general – A status you just don’t touch. Meanwhile do people really think Joe Jordan is a well-mannered assistant to Harry Redknapp? Or is Football Weekly’s comment about his job being mostly to wind up the opposition for 90 minutes closer to the truth?

They tried to give him the status of Milan legend since he helped Milan out of Serie B forgetting that he was in the only team in Milan’s history to be relegated for not getting enough points in the first place. Someone went as far as saying Jordan’s career puts Rino into shame… How is that even
remotely comprehensible? Look at all the titles Rino has won for the Rossoneri and Italy? The comment about him being a Wind up Merchant seem more compatible to me, since what help does he offer to a manager who’s tactics were ‘just run the fuck around’.

Other parts of the media reminded us of Joe Jordan’s glory days. Mostly comprising of how he was one of the dirties players of the game who ran around without his front teeth (though no-one was judging him like Rino now, and allow me to point out that this might happen when you run your mouth too much, though I’m unaware of his exact dental history). He was seen as a player to be afraid of, forgetting that the (self)righteous should not be afraid of anything. They glorify a man who helped Scotland to the World Cup meanwhile forgetting the circumstances of how he did it. He handled the ball in the opposition area and somehow convinced the referee that (rather than him) it was a Wales player’s hand and got a penalty for it. Dirty cheat. Speaking of Crouch, what has he done in the World Cup? He has scored a single goal and managed to do that only by pulling the opposition by the hair. That’s innovative but still a dirty move. What has Rino done for his country? Oh, just won some golden trophy in Berlin. How? With performances that will be highlighted as exemplary to any defensive midfielder for years. When you go down to ten men (Italy vs Australia) playing along with Rino Gattuso at his best is like it’s still 11 vs 11.

Toothless Football Player

What do you say to a kid ora drunken friend who wrestles too much with your dog and ends up bitten? ‘You were asking for it’. Maybe you wouldn’t say that to Joe Jordan given that it wasn’t him which wound up Gattuso himself. The dog wasn’t just mad, he was driven mad. His keeper got hurt, he was manhandled by Pienaar, he was almost stud-tackled by Palacios, he had Van Der Vaart in his ear (shouting something we didn’t hear – but judging from Rino’s gesture it was some nonsense) he was captaining a team that needed to show some grit, he had a tough Scot jump into his face – did you say it was all him?

Everybody called Rino names. Names you wouldn’t give to your dog. Butif you knew the real character of the dog, you’d know it’s not his fault. It’s the owner or in this case the circumstances. I’m not trying to justify Rino’s actions, because eventually he stepped over the line too, but I’m trying to make his actions understandable. Next time you see Rino play, look if he’s stirring things up or is it the other way round. Next time you see Joe Jordan on the sideline, watch to see if he’s advising Redknapp or just looking for a way to provoke the opposition. Next time you see Peter Crouch go for a header watch where his hands are – he’s always climbing on the other guy and it isn’t the ordinary fight for the ball you see in modern football, it’s his trademark foul. And next time you hear Souness speak, ask yourself ‘how do his words match up with his actions on the pitch.

Good dog.

Dogs like to play and wrestle, and just like a dog Gattuso does too. He’s your biggest friend, and your most loyal ally. He will stick with you through thick and thin. David Beckham describes him with these words “Gattuso is the biggest character I’ve ever played with. How you perceive him on the pitch is exactly how he is. Before coming to Milan I’d played against him a few times – and he’s definitely one of those guys who you just never want to face. He’s a player you always want on your team. He’s like Roy Keane used to be at United. He’s such a character. And he’s not just like that for one or two days – he’s like it every day of every week. It’s characters like that who make a team.” Pets also make Becks laugh: “He is always at Milanello, and he never wastes an opportunity to joke around, especially with Pato, and a player like him is fundamental in the dressing room. No one makes me laugh like he does.”

Becks also saw him as fair but irritating when he talks about his debut as England captain – a match decided by Gattuso’s goal: “He told me not to dive in the box because we weren’t in a swimming pool. We both remembered this incident. Rino is a player that you do not like much when he is your opponent, as he can be irritating. He is always on you, and doesn’t allow you to do much. I will always remember that match, not only because of Gattuso, but also because it was my first game as England captain.” Gattuso carried the weight of captaincy as well and though some may want to see him stripped of vice-captaincy (Milan’s first choice is Ambrosini at the moment) it’s the manager’s decision who said following:”No, I never thought to take away the captaincy because he took responsibility. He made a mistake but his career shows what a player he is and what man he is. After the game he apologized to the team, to me, and teammates, also remember that he finished the game with 12 stitches in his knee: Rino deserves the armband.”

I know Gattuso. I probably know him better than you. I watch him play every weekend and I can even recognize him just from his running style. My judgment on him is not based on some basic prejudice of Italian footballe or classical defensive midfielders who are expected to play dirty – though my opinion might be clouded by the colours I hold dear to my heart. I don’t know every detail of his life but above everything I’m confident I know the most important thing – how he thinks. Simply because I think in the same way. He starts the game with a spark that is meant to light up his team while it can turn into an inferno. That’s the only way players like him can be – they are on the edge all the time. As H. S. Thompson puts it “The edge, there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over” meaning you don’t get Roy Keane’s dragging captaincy without the occasional red card resulting offence. You don’t get a Maradona without him going balloons once in a while. Gattuso once told Steve Nash ‘if he doesn’t play like a madman he’s Serie C material.’

Maldini is my hero for being perfect – a man very few could be. Rino is a guy like you or me – he’s a Milan fan himself. One of us – RINO UNO DI NOI.

Rino Gattuso Uno Di Noi

Thank you for your time.  I encourage you to watch following videos as well.

A video dedicated to Tuesday night by Cristina:

Another good video showing exactly what Gattuso’s all about / by Esoesgallo/scardanelliscarpe: