By Anthony Russo
Associazione Calcio Milan, better known as A.C Milan, is one of Italy’s most recognizable clubs. Although recent disappointing seasons have clouded the perception of the team, AC Milan is still one of the most storied and successful football clubs in all of Europe. With seven Champions League titles and eighteen Serie A titles to their name, AC Milan is one of the winningest clubs on both an Italian and European scale.
Fans have seen superstars such as Paolo Maldini, Kaká, Andriy Shevchenko, Pippo Inzaghi, and Ronaldhino all proudly don the Red and Black of AC Milan. Whether it be the inevitable magic derived from an Andrea Pirlo pass or set piece, or the collective sense of stability offered by Paolo Maldini and his remarkable twenty-five career as defensive back for the Rossoneri, fans of AC Milan are bound by a deep and nearly unmatchable love for Italian football.
One of the many magic moments by “L’Architetto,” Andrea Pirlo
The AC Milan Offside, one of SB Nation’s 309 team pages, is a blog dedicated to celebrating the fandom of AC Milan. Akin with the standard formula of SB Nation team pages, the AC Milan Offside is a grassroots sports community – run by the fans, for the fans.
The AC Milan Offside is primarily run by three contributors and a site manager. Each contributor usually writes at least two times a week, focusing his or her work on covering the latest relevant news surrounding Milan. Such stories include transfers, match previews, match recaps, injury reports, opinion editorials, etc. You will commonly find embedded tweets and embedded Youtube videos throughout the article that support the content of the post. Though these contributors aim to stay as professional as possible, their tone maintains a casual and engaging feel to it; posts are neither overly dense nor overly academic.
Despite the casual tones, contributors vehemently demonstrate their knowledge of AC Milan and football as a whole through the content of their posts. Just recently on January 28th, Zito Madu, one of the three contributors, posted a fascinating read: Per me si va nella citta dolente: The state of AC Milan. It is no secret that AC Milan has greatly underperformed in recent years. Similar to that of beat writers, the contributors at The AC Milan Offside do little to sugar-coat the current standing of the team. As these contributors are fans, they too feel the frustration and disappointment that is palpable in nearly every AC Milan fan. An excerpt from “The state of AC Milan:
“Milan are in a state of chaos. The question is which direction do we want to go. The youth movement that was highly touted and used as an excuse for present sufferings seems nothing more than a lie at this point. The youth players are sold off or not given a chance while we continue to play and pay players that have been awful or past it. There would be few complaints if the club announced that we would suffer as the youth are blooded in and developed. Yet, when it came time to hand chances to those players, who obviously have the potential for greatness, they were shirked and discarded.” (link to the article)
The analysis is blunt, yet provides readers with a fair, fan-based perspective of the state of AC Milan. Since Zito Madu is not commissioned by AC Milan, he is able to approach his posts in whatever manner he chooses to do so. Though he may have an underlying bias, this bias would only represent one of a fan that is wedded to his favorite sports club. In my opinion, coverage such as that on SB Nation far outweighs that of ESPN or Grantland, as the main priority for those media sites is to sell headlines rather than to provide coverage simply for the love of doing so.
San Siro, home to both AC Milan and Inter Milan
Coupled with the contributors’ posts is a “Fanpost” section, a section dedicated for site-goers to contribute their own blog posts. Posts on this section can range anywhere from a thorough analysis on formation tactics to a lively discussion plea for a full-fledged firesale of the roster. Comments are encouraged for each post, allowing fans to interact with fellow AC Milan fans across the globe – some posts have upwards of over 150 comments.
The “Fanshots” section is another forum fueled by participating fans across the globe. In this section, fans compile videos, links, quotes, and images that range from a myriad of relevant Serie A news. Though this particular section hasn’t been active in nearly a year, it serves as a great, interactive archive for new fans looking to gain a better understanding of AC Milan.
Ricardo Montolivo, midfielder, setting up before a shot
The biggest strength of The AC Milan Offside is its organization. Even the most casual of internet goers could effortlessly navigate through The AC Milan Offside to find what he or she desires. The home page immediately directs fans to the three latest stories surrounding AC Milan, allowing daily navigators of the site to easily stay abreast on the latest events. Each post is accompanied by a large vivid photograph that serves as an ascetically pleasing introduction to the blog. Directly under the three most recent stories is an archive of contributors’ stories from recent weeks. These too are each accompanied by vivid photographs. A picture is worth a thousand words, and I find that these pictures add a tremendous deal to the presentation and organization of the blog.
A red header on the homepage allows fans to easily explore what The AC Milan Offside has to offer. The header, which includes subsections: Home, Fanposts, Fanshots, AC Milan, Odds, Shop, About, organizes the material in a concise and manageable way. Compared to other blogs that I have read, few can compare to the organized formula that SB Nation adopted as its standard.
Whether you are a casual or die-hard fan of Serie A football, I highly recommend you to visit The AC Milan Offside. Though a marginal understanding of soccer might behoove the reader, the casual yet informative tone of the blog will have even the most casual soccer fan up to date in no time. I have been reading SB Nation team blogs for years, and I strongly believe that there is no better blog site for any team in any sports league. If your team–regardless of whether they are in Europe, America, or Canada; La Liga, NHL, or NBA– is covered by an SB Nation team page, I strongly suggest that you check it out!