Friday, April 23, 2010

It's Different In Milan. Very Different.

"Agent admits AC Milan contact for Juventus striker Trezeguet."

"Real Madrid, Chelsea go head-to-head for AC Milan striker Pato."

"AC Milan to dump Leonardo, sell Pato and Ronaldinho."

"Huntelaar plus cash offer for Berbatov."

"AC Milan ask Maldini to reconsider retirement decision."

The ordinary me also thought the same what all you scholarly literati are thinking right now, but here's the whole gist of it: these headlines that we all just read were not the proud cover feature of; err.... this is serious. AC Milan, as per their tradition mean business.

I really like the Premio Italiano, not because of the beach-house activity (although that seriously qualifies him to be idolized globally) but for the remarkable work Senor Berlusconi has done as the proud owner of AC Milan.

When Senor Perez was busy spending Togo's entire fiscal budget on building the Galacticos of Madrid, Senor B was developing the famous Scientific Academy in Milan: it's a logical and well-researched tangible form of the vague idea floated by Mel Gibson in the early 90s through Forever Young. Incidentally, the star club of Milan also serves to be, in true Monopoly tradition, the GET OUT OF JAIL FREE card for the star club in Madrid. Proof (s): Redondo, Emerson, Ronaldo, Becks (he wouldn't have moved to LA if Milan didn't have a pre-nuptial of taking the enormous burden of 28% of his wage bill) and almost Ruud (well, he's a greedy Dutchman who wanted a weekly salary unheard of - 40 grand.) It's just a coincidence that the average age of these players in football years was similar to what Tommy's age at 20 would be in dog years. (Tommy is an alias for Senorita B's poodle. To avoid risking legal action, it would be difficult to disclose the true identity).

When the Glazers were unnecessarily waiting for Fergie to waste three seasons on grooming Ronnie, Wazza, Fletch, Park, Vidic & co., Senor B dedicated his energies to humanitarian causes. Proof (s): Jaap Stam, Cafu, Favalli, Vogel, Amoroso. This is, in fact, a model that has recently been very successfully adopted by Tottenham. Their entire team is structured around discards or former reserves of other clubs, which begs the innocent question: why are they called Spurs; shouldn't it be Spares?

When Abramovich was employing the Rent Boys, our beloved Milan was preaching the virtues of loyalty. What can possibly be a more authentic and sacrilegious testament to the Holy School of fidelity than ensuring that every long-serving player in the team continues to play till he announces his retirement out of fear of natural death on the football pitch. Proof (s): Costacurta, Leonardo, Maldini, Sebastiano Rossi, Boban. Forthcoming Attractions: Pipo Inzaghi, Serginho.

When the entire football universe is entangled in transfer wars, not having the first clue of who they would finally manage to lap up within the transfer window, AC Milan have clearly identified the players they want: Joe Cole, Michael Essien, Carlos Tevez, Dimi Bebratov, Stevie G and yes the sublime Lionel Messi shall all be joining AC Milan - in 2022. Of course, these will be free transfers. What an amazing experience it would be for a 35 year old Messi to see the 42 year old Stevie G getting treatment for his arthiritis problem at the Scientific Academy just hours before the crucial European qualifier with Red Star Belgrade.

It is my sincere belief that the Farrelly Brothers got it all wrong: they should have dumped Mary and created a motion picture titled There's Something About Milan. I say this respectfully, because the only club dafter than AC is ironically, but not surprisingly the club that is to them what the noisy neighbors are to the Red Devils: the prized possession of Senor Moratti, the San Siro sharing, Inter Milan. Have you ever heard of two clubs, both European Champions at different times and title holders of Serie A countless times, having a global fan base going into millions for decades and yet sharing the same stadium? Well, welcome to Milan. It's different. Very different.

I have already illustrated my deep admiration for Senor B. You know what? It's nothing compared to how strongly I feel for the Morattis. To translate a famous idiom from the very respectful Punjabi language, AC and Inter share a bond: that of the dog and brick; each of them also believes that he/she is the brick. So while we are at the beautiful relationship that they share, let's look at some of the business that the Morattis have done with Senor B's club. Can you recall an Argentinian called Andres Guglielminpeitro? I thought that you won't know. Let's try again. He was also known as Guly: for fans of Championship Manager 1999-2002, if you ever play the 5-3-2 Attacking formation, Guly is the first player you want. He's just wicked. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case in real life. He strutted his stuff at AC Milan for 3 seasons. Senor Moratti was blessed with some form of Divine Telepathy and resolved to snatch Guly from AC at all costs: AC Milan received cash plus Andrea Pirlo. To be honest, that's not too crazy. Just a season before this, Inter had acquired the services of Coco from AC: in a straight swap deal in which two-times Champions League winner, Clarence Seedorf left Inter. The Dutchman went on to make AC Milan the 3rd club with which he won the most coveted prize in professional football. In true Milan tradition of hospitality and not to be left behind AC, the great thinkers at Inter did not hesitate at all in favoring Madrid either. In fact, AC Milan imitated their neighbors in this respect. Way back in 1996, Inter signed the 30 year old Chilean striker, Ivan Zamorano from Real Madrid for 1 million plus err a 23 year old Roberto Carlos. Is this the end of generosity? Not quite. While, they were on a give-away spree, Inter also successfully managed to sign Fabian Carini (who's he, are you thinking that?) from Juventus. This time the free swap player was Fabio Cannavaro - leaving Inter at 26 years of age.

I'm also deeply in love with the Milan fans - both clubs. Elsewhere, there are exceptions to a certain rule: let's say Paul Ince can play for Liverpool after being a Red Devil, but then there was a stint with Inter Milan (who else?) in between. Or someone inconsequential like Silvestre can move to Arsenal after 9 years at Old Trafford, so that Man United can avoid arranging a testimonial for him in his 10th year. But can you seriously imagine a 25 year old Henry wearing a red shirt displaying the logo of Sharp/Vodafone/AIG just a year after he did a domestic double with the Gunners? How about this? I buy Torres for 33 Million, he scores braces against Everton for 6 years in a row and then signs for them on a free transfer? Not possible? Think again, because Milan is different. Very different. What Torres cannot do, Christian Vieri can. The fans in Milan hate each other quite reminiscent of life in Liverpool and usually pelting the other team's players, breaking the windows of their houses, smashing their cars with baseball bats - these are socially acceptable, mild ways of expression in Milan; it is after all the fashion capital of Italy, hence the population is more evolved. It's actually the Romans, fans of Roma and Lazio that like to stab, particularly during derby games and European matches. The rest of Italy is quite civilized. Well, if constant death threats are a form of civility. However, the day a player of the opposing team, whose children you harassed just a few hours ago, signs for your club, the lovelies of Milan become the living testimony to the age-old adage: to err is human, to forgive is divine. Google the famous players of AC and Inter and you will find out that there are almost 100 footballers who have played for both teams. It's easy. You live in the same city. You play in the same stadium. Just a different shirt. Football transfers were never this easy. Only in Milan.

If you are still wondering about those headlines - why would the average age of 24 in the form of Pato, Ronaldinho and Huntelaar be sold and replaced by a 33 year old Trezeguet, then fret not.

It's different in Milan. Very different.

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