AC Milan: House Targaryen
Fire and blood.
The above are the official words of House Targaryen, the dragon lords of a Game of Thrones. Traditionally one of the domineering, upper echelon houses in Valyria and Westeros they stream rolled and scorched opposition to their rule riding their dragons Balerion, Vhagar and Meraxes and set themselves up as rulers of the seven kingdoms. Till their dragons died and Robert of House Baratheon rebelled against ‘the mad king’ and killed off the remaining Targaryen’s bar two who escaped, story for another day.
Il Diavolo (the devil), AC Milan of Lombardy, second most successful club in Europe and most successful club in terms of international titles won, with 18 alongside Boca Juniors. Founded by Englishman Herbert Kilpin in 1899, he famously said, “We are a team of devils. Our colors are red as fire, and black to invoke fear in our opponents.”
Winning seven champions league trophies allows Milan to keep a trophy outright, establishing them as one of the most respected and historic clubs in world football. There have been great teams, Arrigo Sacchi’s domineering conquerors of the 90’s, renowned for their guile, panache and x-factor wowed Europe to the title, Il Diavolo at its fiery best. Carlo Ancelotti’s great sides that battered and bruised European elite’s enroute to two titles. From the legendary classy Dutch triumvirate of Van Basten, Frank Rijkaard and Ruud Gullit augmented by the all seeing Franco Baresi, Costacurta, George Weah and Tassoti to Kaka at his beguiling best surrounded by the ever green Paolo Maldini, the pit bull Rino Gattusso, the graceful Pirlo, Seedorf and Schevchenko there have been great teams.
The utter state of the club currently is bewildering, run like an outdated pub with a ponderous owner who still plays Jim Reeves on the boom box and secretly sells Gin in the backroom as if it’s the 1930s and prohibition is still in full swing. Silvio Berlusconi was once a suave, debonair overlord who demanded that his Milan have the best of all the talents around the world; he staunchly upheld the values of Milan as a club, as an institution, he was Aegon Targaryen in his pomp , that was then, this is now. Parsimonious, aloof and not as principled anymore the proud institution which he vowed to keep intact is tinder, and he alongside his hunchbacked, bespectacled butler Adriano Galliani lit the first match. Aegon the conqueror has morphed into Aerys the mad king.
Apart from purse pinching and the institutional neglect, the internal politics threaten to overwhelm and undermine the club, be it the internal power tussle between the brusque and rather pompous Barbara Berlusconi and the jilted lieutenant Adriano Galliani, or the board’s aversion to strong willed characters as manager and never ending search for yes men. The transfer strategy is a farce, the hubris from the sparsely occupied stands on match days is palpable, the team ponderous and clearly on tenterhooks, the manager walking on egg shells balancing a grand piano and a packed suitcase, the nervous energy emanating from the institution is putrid.
Naturally disastrous results follow which only serves to increase the tension, the playing style no longer sublime but gutless, non-daring and safe, an eyesore, an abomination, a black mark. The quality of the mostly free transferred players Grade D at best, in more games than most Milanisti are comfortable with Cristian Zaccardo has been their best player, a player so average average should be named Zaccardo. In place of the dominant: out spoken, thunderous, icy glared and undisputed leader of the team Paolo Maldini, Captain Riccardo Montolivo resides, meek as a lamb, shy as a second rate church mouse and bogged down by the unrelenting, silent waves of pressure that comes with being clad in the shirt, the badge too heavy.
Instead of Franco Baresi stands the petulant yet non performing Phillipe Mexes who gets away with being a thug, an aberration and still dons the shirt like a replica bought for a few liras in a shop at the Piazza Gino Valle. In place of Van Basten, Ruud Gullit, Pippo Inzaghi, Kaka and Zvonimir Boban stand Bonaventura, Keisuke Honda and Andrea Poli. Where Arrigo Sacchi patrolled the touchline with controlled authority stood a beaten down, lifeless, soul less Pippo Inzaghi, the politics of the club sucking the very life out of him, a strand of white hair peeping from the once full and bubbly head of jet black hair.
Viserys Targaryen was killed by Khal Drogo by pouring molten Gold on his head when he threatened to cut out the baby from his sister’s womb and demanded the crown promised to him by the Khal. His sister Daenerys, the last surviving Targeryan emerged from a fire with hatched dragons. Bee Tauchebol, brilliant Thai businessman with a massive consortium backing him aims to take over a stake of Milan and going by his track record, he always leaves institutions better than he found them.
A ray of hope in the bleak, cloudless Lombardy skyline, player investment tops his agenda, restoration to its former glory a close second. Already making the right noises in the transfer market, will Milan make an earth shattering signing to finally make Europe sit up, shut up and take notice of Ac Milan rising from the ashes like a Phoenix to take their rightful place on their shared pedestal with Real Madrid? When whispers reached Westeros that a Targaryen had real dragons they were dismissed, but when Daenerys Stormborn took Mereen and rained fire and terror on her opposers of Astapor. Her ultimate aim? To sit on the Iron throne and be ruler of the seven kingdoms and protector of the realm.
Will Ac Milan return to the top, the cream always rises. As Milan fans oft decree of their beloved club, “Tu sei tutta la mia vitta”, you are my whole life. They hold the honor of being a successful European club very seriously just like the Targaryens hold the Iron throne in high regard as evidenced by the motto, ”la storia siamo noi”, WE ARE THE HISTORY.
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