x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Adriano Galliani pays the price for lip service

The AC Milan official's apology to his veteran keeper, after he was caught on camera ranting, was much deserved, writes Ian Hawkey.

Adriano Galliani, the AC Milan vice president, was caught on camera talking negatively about his side's goalkeeper. Paolo Giovannini / AP Photo
Adriano Galliani, the AC Milan vice president, was caught on camera talking negatively about his side's goalkeeper. Paolo Giovannini / AP Photo

One of the symptoms of paranoia that afflicts modern elite football, especially coaches and managers, is the fear of lip-readers.

Watch any discussion between a head coach and an assistant as they are seated next to each other in a dugout in the build-up to, or during, a match, and they tend to have their hands cupped over their mouths as they speak.

They do not want the prying television cameras to record the movement of their lips and later interpret what was being said.

Adriano Galliani, the vice-president of AC Milan, forgot this unwritten rule last Saturday, sitting in the VIP seats at Napoli's San Paolo stadium.

TV's prying eye caught his reaction to the opening goal in the 2-2 draw between Napoli and Milan and by the end of the evening his excitable exclamations, mouthed clearly and spoken loudly, were being broadcast, complete with subtitles in case amateur lip-readers were unclear about what he was saying.

It was strong stuff. Some of his words are not printable because Galliani swore angrily as he described the Milan goalkeeper Christian Abbiati.

Abbiati had been deceived, left flat-footed, by the curl of Gokhan Inler's long-range drive. Napoli's second goal would be deflected by a colleague between his legs.

It was not Abbiati's night, which was why Stephan El Shaarwary, scorer of both Milan's goals, dedicated the late equaliser to his goalkeeper. Galliani later apologised personally to Abbiati for his derisive outburst, and said that when he watches Milan he does so with all the pure, irrational emotion of a fan.

He did not, Galliani added, really believe the 35 year old, veteran of 300 Rossoneri games, was as bad as he described.

Abbiati's errors so far this term have been high profile. He was at fault for the Inter Milan goal which settled the city derby.

But he has also suffered for playing behind an ever changing, often makeshift and far from vintage back four.

The keeper who was for so many years the club's reserve - to Sebastian Rossi, to Dida, to Zjelko Kalac - is also responsible for Milan's major lifeline in the Champions League as they go into their penultimate group match at Anderlecht tonight. His superb display at Zenit Saint Petersburg was the key element in Milan's sole victory in Europe so far this season.

Galliani owes him for that, and needs more of the same if Milan's Champions League campaign is not to plunge the way of their forlorn domestic season.

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