In 1986, a high-flying Italian media tycoon called Silvio Berlusconi took over at sleeping giants AC Milan. For 31 years, the man nicknamed Il Cavaliere (The Knight) used his extensive wealth to transform a side from one containing players of the ‘calibre’ of Joe Jordan, Mark Hateley and Ray Wilkins, to a team that became the best in Europe, giving us the first real glimpses of superstars like Ruud Gullit, Marco van Basten, Kaka and Andrei Shevchenko.
In 2017, Berlusconi, now looking like a waxwork dummy that had just escaped from Madam Tussauds, finally relinquished control to a Chinese consortium headed up by (alleged) businessman Yonghong Li.
A tearful Berlusconi announced to the world that he’d sold up for €830M, before it emerged (rather like Michael Knighton in 1989 and Spencer Trethewy in 1990) that Li didn’t have a pot to piss in, despite giving Don Silvio the dough courtesy of a loan from US hedge fund Elliott Management Corporation.
It was no surprise when Li, unable to make any of the loan repayments, scarpered leaving the latter to take full control of the club.
Berlusconi however, was ready to hatch a new masterplan, and along with his former CEO and Uncle Fester lookalike Adriano Galliani, took his swag out of town and is now the proud new owner of Italian third division side SS Monza 1912.
After a rousing speech before their first game under his control, The Knight has seen them lose their opening two matches, which did for coach Marco Zaffaroni, who was replaced by former Milan stalwart Cristian Brocchi. (You can see where this is going, right?)
So what will Berlusconi bring to his new club? Well, here are five things we think everyone connected with Monza can look forward to over the coming month.
SINGALONG WITH SILVIO
It’s a little known fact that Don Silvio started life as a cruise ship crooner.
Plans are now in place to re-release some of his old covers on a commemorative CD which will then be played prior to kick-off and at half-time at the Stadio Brianteo.
It’s reported that the songs on the compilation, will be a reflection of his life so expect to hear his own take on classics such as “I’ve got you under my skin”, “Ruby Tuesday”, “Taxman” and “Only Sixteen”.
Silvio wrote the AC Milan club anthem ”Inno Milan” and also penned the official song of his political party, Forza Italia, titled “People of Freedom.”
Now he’s ready to do the same at Monza, with sources close to the club suggesting that the new ditty will be a rework of Bobby “Boris” Pickett’s 1962 chart topper Monster Mash.
It’s believed that Galliani will be on lead vocals, with the current Monza squad providing backing vocals. Don Silvio is hoping it could make Christmas number one in Italy.
LIFE THROUGH A LENS
As a media mogul, Berlusconi has always had his finger on the pulse of popular entertainment, and there are rumours his Mediaset empire is ready to produce a new fly-on-the-wall documentary, similar to the “All or Nothing” Manchester City one now available on Amazon Prime.
It’s likely to follow the same format as City’s, following the fortunes of Monza as they attempt to climb into the second tier of Italian football.
However, with this being a Berlusconi production it will have a slight twist, in the fact that he will be asking members of the 2010-11 Milan Scudetto winning team to replace the current Monza playing staff. Expect to see legends like Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Nesta, Kaka, Andrea Pirlo and Andrei Shevchenko put on the boots for one last hurrah.
There are also strong rumours that the role of current Monza boss Brocchi, will be played by Silvio’s neighbour on Lake Como, George Clooney.
Over the past few years, the Monza players have been used to popping down to Luigi’s for a pre-Christmas pizza and a couple of Peroni’s. It’s expected to be something quite different this year with the new patron reportedly ready to “give the lads a taste of the high-life” at his luxury mansion in Olbia, Sardinia.
Following in the footsteps of such luminaries as Vladimir Putin, Tony Blair and Sabrina (who topped the charts in the late 80’s with her dancefloor smash “Boys, Boys, Boys”) the lads have been told, ominously, to leave their WAGS at home…
LIVING IN THE PLASTIC AGE
Andoni Goikoetxea was nicknamed the “Butcher of Bilbao” for the treatment he dished out to rival players in the 1980’s. His most notable victim was Diego Maradona whom he sidelined for over 12 months after a vicious assault when the little Argentine played for Barcelona.
On a similar theme, Berlusconi, whose youthful good looks can be put down to some top nip and tuck work by one of Milan’s top plastic surgeons, is understood to have promised his players a lifetime discount for themselves and their families if they reach Serie A within the next three years.
The surgeon, who is only ever referred to as “Milan’s scalpel Czar” or rather cruelly in other quarters as, “The Murderer of Milan”, wants to keep his identity secret, claiming that he’s struggling to cope with the amount of clients recommended to him by Silvio. He also firmly denies ever having been within 100 miles of Sylvester Stallone.