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Such is the speed at which things move in football, Silvio Berlusconi now feels like a relic of the past, a figure from an ancient bygone age who we’ll never see again.
But Milan’s last glory years under his ownership weren’t actually that long ago and anyway: he could be coming back.
This week Serie C was officially curtailed, meaning Monza’s promotion to the second tier was confirmed. Monza were taken over in 2018 by Berlusconi, run by former his former Milan pal Adriano Galliani and managed by former Milan player Cristian Brocchi.
And it doesn’t sound like he’ll be happy with just Serie B, with reports of a €30million transfer war chest to build a side that will go all the way back to the top division.
“They’ve been run like a top-flight side,” said James Horncastle on the Totally Football Show. “They’ve certainly got a budget that would put them towards the upper end of the second tier, so we’re maybe now only a season removed from the prospect of Berlusconi back in Serie A.
“Can you imagine the prospect of Monza going just slightly up the road to play either Milan or Inter at San Siro? It’s going to happen.
“Berlusconi had to play down reports that he’s going to bring in Zlatan Ibrahimovic, whose contract is up at the end of this season. Just imagine that. I think it won’t happen, they don’t have the budget – all of that €30million would have to go on his salary.
“But exciting times to see Berlusconi and maybe Galliani, with his mustard coloured tie, back in Serie A. It would be brilliant.”
Meanwhile, actual football returns this weekend in Italy with the second leg of the Coppa Italia semi-finals, some three months after the first legs, to be played with Juventus facing Milan, level at 1-1, and Napoli hosting Inter with a 1-0 advantage.
Could that lead make Napoli the favourites to win the whole thing?
James Horncastle said: “You look back at the start of this season and their expectations were to challenge for the title, then the team goes into mutiny against Carlo Ancelotti, who gets the sack. And Gennaro Gattuso has steadied the ship since then. They have been pretty damn good when it comes to the big occasion: even before Gattuso they got four points out of six against Liverpool, they beat Juventus and Lazio in the league and Inter in the first leg of this tie.
“The team has really come together and rallied around Gattuso, who had some tragic news last week with the death of his sister aged 37.”
What of the rest? Who does this mean the most to?
“Inter are nine points behind Juve, albeit with a game in hand, but this is another opportunity to show they’re making progress, by winning a trophy for the first time in nine years.
“It’s big for Sarri: they had a chance to win some silverware against Lazio in the Super Cup and they lost that. Sarri is still yet to win a major trophy in Italy, aside from the Serie D Coppa Italia which he won with Sansovino. Juventus are still on for a treble: it’s important for them to come back and get a win…the momentum seemed to be with Lazio in the league.
“Zlatan has been in the headlines, after Ivan Gazidis apparently showed up at Milanello to say the players would be obliged to take a 50% wage cut for their pay in April, and Ibra was like “oh, now you turn up: it’s too late!” So there’s a bit of tension there.”
Alvaro Romeo pointed out: “This is important for Cristiano Ronaldo: he won every domestic title in England, every domestic title in Spain and this is the only domestic title he has not yet won in Italy.”
Finally, James Richardson arrived with a fun fact: “This is not the longest pause between Coppa fixtures ever: I read that in the 1926/27 season…well, they’re actually still waiting to finish those last 16 fixtures because half of them were played, then they reached the end of July and they ran out of time.”
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