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AC Milan: House Targaryen

The Boot Room



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The utter state of the club currently is bewildering, run like an outdated pub with a ponderous owner who still plays Jim Reeves on the boom box and secretly sells Gin in the backroom as if it’s the 1930s and prohibition is still in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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AC Milan

Victory in Milan, but is this another false dawn for Arsenal and Arsene Wenger?

Arsenal were triumphant in Milan despite their recent miserable form.

Jake Jackman



Photo: Getty Images

Arsenal ended their losing run of four matches with an excellent performance away to AC Milan in the Europa League. This competition has the potential to save the Gunners season and the commitment from every player suggested that they want to go all the way.

They were coming up against a team full of confidence under Gennaro Gattuso. Milan hadn’t lost a match since the end of December. The Serie A club hadn’t conceded a goal in six and had won five of those inside ninety minutes.

These sides came into this fixture in remarkably different form, but football is played on grass and not on paper.

Despite Milan having more attempts, it was Arsenal who created the better chances. They had a couple of half-chances early on before the opening goal.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan has had a hot and cold start to life in a Gunners’ shirt, but he was one of the best players on the pitch in Italy. His goal was emphatically taken as he drove the ball past Gianluigi Donnarumma.

It is important to capitalise when you are on top, especially away from home in European competitions and Arsenal did just that. As the first-half progressed, they continued to create the better opportunities. Both Danny Welbeck and Mkhitaryan had good chances to double the visitors’ lead, but they were squandered.

(Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

In stoppage-time of half-time, Arsenal scored a second to give them a commanding lead in the tie. It was a great move from the team and Mesut Ozil found Aaron Ramsey who coolly rounded Donnarumma before putting the ball into the net.

The first-half performance from Arsenal was one of the best that supporters have seen this season. They were better all over the pitch and showed the work rate that they had lacked in previous weeks. Milan pushed in the second half, but they couldn’t penetrate the Gunners’ defence.

Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi were both excellent. Arsene Wenger will be hoping that both are returning to their best after some uncharacteristic errors in previous matches. The centre-back pairing made eight ball recoveries and were always in the right position on Thursday.

Patrick Cutrone is a teenager with a big future, but the young striker had no luck out of the Arsenal defence and that will encourage the manager.

Another player to emerge with credit is Danny Welbeck. The ineligibility of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and the injury of Alexandre Lacazette means that the Englishman started the game up front for Arsenal. It was a huge opportunity for him after being pushed down the pecking order at the club and he took it with both hands.

The Englishman worked tirelessly and caused problems with his movement.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Although his final product wasn’t great, he was a constant threat and led the defensive effort from the front. Welbeck will never be a leading Premier League striker, but he is effective in matches such as this one. He deserves more opportunities during the run-in.

It would be too soon to get carried away for Arsenal fans. There are still questions regarding Arsene Wenger and the work rate of the players, but this was an excellent performance that finally provides the club with positive momentum. They have had a miserable few weeks and the supporters can get excited about their team once again.

When the draw was made, a lot of supporters checked their expectations when it came to the Europa League. Milan were the overwhelming favourites, but Arsenal have taken a dominant position in the tie and should be able to finish the job in London.

If they can do that, they will move into the quarter-final stage. Although it will be difficult to win it, they will have as good a chance as any.

There have been many false dawns for Arsenal in recent years and this could be another one. That said, it takes enormous character to go away to a huge stadium like the San Siro after a poor run of form and win comfortably.

Considering the criticism that they have had for their lack of desire, few would have thought the Gunners to be capable of a result like this.

It is now up to Wenger to prove that he can get this level of effort and performance out of his players on a regular basis. The Frenchman remains in a difficult position with no margin for error. If he is going to keep his job, he needs to finish the season strongly and win the Europa League.

It won’t be an easy challenge, but this performance and result will give him hope that he can upset the odds to claim his first European trophy.

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AC Milan

Patience required at AC Milan after a slow start to the season

The Boot Room



AC Milan’s new board will have to exercise some patience early in their reign. The Italian outfit have four wins and four losses so far in the Serie A, leaving them in tenth position with minus one goal differential. It is certainly not the start that was hoped for but it was not out of the realm of possibility.

The transfer activity during the summer, sparked by a change in ownership, led to plenty of excitement and intrigue around the Rossoneri. AC brought in 10 new first-team players during the summer and a majority of those regularly start.

The lack of cohesion has been clear in the biggest games of the season so far, all of which have been losses. Sampdoria, Lazio, Roma and Inter have beaten Milan. The one positive from that is that only one of those games, against Roma, was at home.

We mentioned during the summer that Vincenzo Montella would be the most under-pressure manager in Europe. The pressure on the hot seat has definitely been turned up to 100 after the late defeat in the Milan Derby.

Montella’s side came from behind twice to equalise, yet another mistake cost them what would have been a well-earned point. Part of the problem is that the Italian head coach is yet to settle on his best team and formation.

Injuries and lack of form have played a part in that but the manager has not helped his players. The key player, where form and leadership is concerned, is Leonardo Bonucci. It was considered a huge coup for Milan when they stole arguably the best defender in the league from the champions, Juventus. However, the new captain has disappointed so far.

While a period of acclimatisation is expected for any player, Bonucci’s quality suggested an immediate upgrade would be on hand for Milan’s defense. Nonetheless, taking on the mantle of leader, without the likes of Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini beside him, has proven tough so far. He also hasn’t been helped by Montella’s formation tinkering and having to line-up with different defensive partners.

For Montella, a settled side, with or without a plethora of newcomers, would perform better in the long run. Milan have a number of options in defense and midfield but it is in attack where the focus will be, come January.

Carlos Bacca is on loan and seemingly on his way out as he does not fit Montella’s style of play. A quality forward needs to be brought in to replace him as newcomers Andre Silva and Niko Kalinic have shared the load so far this season, but the duo only have two goals between them in the Serie A.

Silva is one for the future and a solid enough option but he is playing his first season in arguably the toughest competition for attackers in Europe. If Milan want to meet their goals they need consistent quality leading the line.

According to AC’s sporting director Massimiliano Mirabelli, who spoke to Radio Rossonera, Torino’s Andrea Belotti is still being considered as a target.

While the start to the season has been lukewarm it is not time for the new owners to panic. If Milan continue to win the games they have both domestically and on the continent then the season should be a good one.

The Rossoneri are undefeated so far in the Europa League and should continue that trend to make into the knockout rounds. How far they progress from there is dependent on Montella working out all the kinks.

If Milan continue to win the games they have domestically that should keep them within touching distance of the minimum goal, a return to the Champions League. One would expect that the quality of the likes of Bonucci and Lucas Biglia will help propel the club in the big games still to come.

Milan are now seven points away from a Champions League spot but that does not mean the axe should fall. Montella was given a vast upgrade in quality but, as with any other team in this situation, the new players will take some time to gel.

The board will be watching the team’s progress carefully and will be especially keen on the result of the next big game which is a home visit from Juventus.

At least Milan fans can be assured of one thing, if patience is not a concept for the new board then old favourite Carlo Ancelotti is available. Over to you Montella.

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AC Milan

Could AC Milan be set to make a move for Chelsea’s Diego Costa?

Jake Jackman



Diego Costa

Diego Costa doesn’t seem to have a future at Chelsea, but he has yet to leave Stamford Bridge this summer and time is running out for the striker to find a new club.

AC Milan have been one of the busiest clubs in this transfer window and they have been linked to the Spanish international in recent days.

Chairman Marco Fassone has told Sky Sports that he has spoken with Jorge Mendes about his client:

“We went to see Jorge Mendes; there is a lot you can talk to him about. Costa is a great player but he is of Chelsea. That’s all.”

Antonio Conte will want to see the striker leave the club this summer, as he caused problems last season and didn’t show the commitment that is demanded by the Chelsea boss.

Alvaro Morata has moved to West London, while Michy Batshuayi is showing good form in pre-season.

There is no longer a place for Costa and it would be in everyone’s best interests if he did depart before September.

Would he be a good signing for AC Milan?

The Italian giants are trying to once again compete at the top end of the European game. It won’t be a quick rebuilding process, but they have big finances behind them and their recruitment this summer has been superb.

They have managed to sign several great players, including arguably the best defender in the world, Leonardo Bonucci. There will be a desire to add one more quality player and Costa could be that man.

There are few better strikers in world football when Costa is in the mood. Last season, he was superb for the majority of the campaign as he played a significant role in Chelsea regaining the Premier League title.

He is an intelligent mover and his aggressive style means that defenders don’t get a moment to rest when he is on the pitch.

The 28-year-old is a great finisher with either foot and capable of scoring with his head. Milan will want to add another goal threat to their attack and Costa would be a great signing for them in their current state.

How likely is a transfer?

Chelsea will be keen to sell him this summer in order to bring in funds and get him off the books.

There is no longer a place for him at Stamford Bridge and he could become a huge problem if he were to stay past this transfer window, as he isn’t the type of character to react well to being sidelined.

The club will be pressing for a departure and if AC Milan do have a serious interest, they will have a good chance of signing him.

It would be another significant transfer for Milan and they would improve their Serie A title chances considerably if they were to add Costa to their striking ranks.

He showed last season that he can play a major role in a title-winning side and Milan would benefit from that.

For the striker, himself, it would give him a new challenge and an opportunity to lead the revival of a huge European club. Everyone would be a winner if this did go through.

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