x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Allegri needs cool head to weather Milan derby storm

Referee Paolo Valeri should have brandished a red card to the AC Milan coach for his attempt to bully the official during the 1-0 defeat to Inter.

AC Milan's coach Massimiliano Allegri, right, rgues with referee Paolo Valeri during the 1-0 Milan derby defeat to Inter. Stefano Rellandini / Reuters
AC Milan's coach Massimiliano Allegri, right, rgues with referee Paolo Valeri during the 1-0 Milan derby defeat to Inter. Stefano Rellandini / Reuters

Max Allegri seems in desperate search of alibis. AC Milan's head coach looked around the San Siro on Sunday and saw few.

There were some empty seats for the derby against Inter Milan, a reminder that season-ticket sales among Milan fans are at a 25-year low. Milan's president Silvio Berlusconi was absent, away at Vladimir Putin's birthday celebrations in Russia. Taunting banners held up by Inter fans referred to the procession of stars who have recently left Milan.

One of those, Antonio Cassano, now of Inter, caused Allegri to lose his cool within three minutes of the start. Cassano's reacquaintance with the red and blacks, in his new blue stripes, would be caustic and controversial. When Cassano earned an Inter free kick close to the Milan technical area, Allegri claimed the player had exaggerated the foul and advanced so close to the referee Paolo Valeri to shout out his feelings, the pair were almost nose to nose.

The official might have red-carded Allegri, who later cited poor refereeing in his assessment of Milan's 1-0 defeat. Yet it was Inter who finished the match with 10 men. Valeri meanwhile was reportedly confronted in the tunnel by a Milan player and an executive.

Allegri, whose two seasons in charge of Milan have been mostly distinguished by his dignity and self-control, had set the precedent for such behaviour with his attempt to bully Valeri.

It was an ignoble gesture, not one of a man who needs to exude and impose authority in testing times.