In the new football, Maldini has been replaced by software

The clash between the two benches in the European match between Inter and Manchester City has attracted many comments. Precisely in the difference between the two coaches – Pep Guardiola, the dazzling storyteller of the British team, and the more modest but ambitious Simone Inzaghi, who succeeded Antonio Conte at the helm of Inter – there is not much reason for the triumph. The very wealthy Saudi-owned English, when it comes to flexibility, we might say, black and blue challengers, voted to defeat by all professional totalizers. The role of leader of a team or sports club is becoming increasingly complex and socially constrained. The romantic figure of Koch, erratic and gypsy, of a few decades earlier, has long been replaced with the image of a genuine mass leader, almost a partygoer, who draws and persuades his people; Today, on the other hand, the invisibility of a professional who joins a complex team, which should combine knowledge and experience that is more specific and far from football tradition, seems to be rewarded.

Hence the decision of the American ownership of AC Milan to get rid of two names, such as Paolo Maldini and his colleague Frederic Massara, glorious and representative of AC Milan fans, but of two actions, technical and sporting strategy. Team in indispensable management of the buying and selling market. Milanese company owner Redbird Fund approached the Italian landscape after gaining significant experience in the American baseball and basketball market, and now aims to transplant into the heart of Italian football the organizational structure that has allowed it to achieve this. Critical successes in the States and even creating a brand – Moneyball – the story of which was even made into a movie with Brad Pitt. Moneyball is essentially an algorithm that analyzes and processes massive amounts of data on all the players, matches, and individual actions that take place in a season, based on which players to buy, sell, and team composition. In short, Maldini has been replaced by a process that fundamentally alters the functions and dynamics that have hitherto characterized a sporting group. Its functions are actually attributed to a digital calculation system managed by superior skills and knowledge, precisely guiding society based on these skills in building automatism.

Apparently these techniques have been used in football not just a few months ago, but for a few decades, let’s say at least three. It’s been 15 years when people on the bench during matches watch more tablets than the game. New businesses are born, new organizational models, whole chains of companies and consultants who work with top management of teams without ever watching a football match. The sign of this hybridization lies in the lowering of the age of players who become professionals, or in any case are optioned by different clubs. Now we’re looking for teen talent: Today talent scouts are targeting 10, 12 year olds. The coach of the national team, Roberto Mancini, has been calling up very young guys to the national team for some years, largely unknowns who have never played a match in Serie A or B. This wave of investment in budding talent is its only engine and the possibility of predicting a combination of calculable factors in a young athlete’s performance is the justification for making judgments on his maturity. In other eras we relied on the nose and feel of more varied characters – true enthusiasts or daring tradesmen or even real knickers – who roamed around to predetermine mythical suburban pitches.

Today not only the methods change, but the whole philosophy of the game. On the one hand, sports – football but also basketball or volleyball – tend to be more physical, with a standardized basic technique, in which ability in certain tasks – speed, vision and spontaneity on the field – can be seen already in the early stages. stage. On the other hand, immediately become the customers of those professionals who direct and orient the endorsement of the athlete to the logic of the market, allowing managers to manage the profitability of investments in sports activity with generally corporate knowledge.

The innovation that prompted Redbird’s top management to abandon Maldini-like image capital was another push toward automation that comes from prototyping new artificial intelligence solutions applied to athletic performance. These are data processing software that combine health-related applications, coming from the highly specialized laboratories with which all companies are equipped, with social-cognitive software that measures an athlete’s development by predicting each stage of maturation. Obviously, these tools also program the environmental and technological conditions in which young people have to work, leaving little room for artistic experiences.

In this scenario, a true organic intellectual like Pep Guardiola, a wizard of sporting techniques, who blends the rules of life with self-satisfied skill and the rules of life with strategic plans based on a reflective career and a better culture confuse what allows them languages. and relationship as head of state, he becomes a force in his own right, finding justification only in distant possessions, such as the Saudi princes who control Manchester City, who are seeking a prophet and a not of the executor. Chinese Suning, Inter’s property, are more similar to the new calculation managers. At the moment they are trying to balance planned investment in European sport with the constraints that government officials in Beijing have suddenly imposed, blocking any desire to diversify into active groups abroad. For this reason they prefer administrative management over competitive management, and after winning but showy coaches like Conte they have reverted to a profile in training, like Inzaghi, accustomed to Claudio Lotito’s Sparagino regime at Lazio.

Now, however, the Moneyball paradigm looms for everything: How does digital prediction apply to football trends? Which profiles of coaches as well as players become functional for standardizing the variables that the algorithm can calculate? We are at a juncture not dissimilar to one that also begs politics: In the age of big data, which party is it? And which leader becomes active? Melonie or Shlain? Football seems ahead: it is consuming the myths of the individual party of Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola and sees shared managers building communities like young Roberto De Zerbi or Alessio Dionici, for example. In the background an old saying of a grandfather who goes out on the twilight road like Jose Mourinho which says: Those who only know about football know nothing about football. But does Chat GPT only know about football?

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