AC Milan 2-3 Manchester United: 8 Key Observations

Classic European nights. When we complain about the stifling dominance of the Big Four; when we curse every transfer that sends a promising young player from a lesser club to the Big Four; when we ponder proposals such as debt-to-revenue restrictions, foreign player quotas, and playoffs for European places; when we talk about all these things, we are talking about the promise of classic European nights like Tuesday night at a raucous and roaring San Siro. Some observations:

  1. For those, like me, who have not followed Serie A this season, rumors of Ronaldinho’s reemergence proved true as his side-steps, dummys and darting runs gave Man United no end of trouble in the first half. Nineteen-year old Rafael will have much to ponder before the second leg should he get the chance to start again.
  2. Not a news flash, but the match gave further proof that Manchester United’s defense is in shambles. Poor communication, poor tackling, poor clearances, poor marking, poor closing, Man United was guilty of it all. Nemanja Vidic’s absence was glaring. Patrice Evra looked like he had been shot in the back as he attempted to clear Goldenballs’ free kick; which produced Ronaldinho’s goal. Last season, defense was Man United’s greatest strength during their dominating run to the Champions League final. In the first half last night, Milan played like a young Colin Farrell, penetrating at will. Man United were quite lucky to only be down by one before Paul Scholes’ fluky equalizer in the 36th.
  3. Man United’s defence may have been awful, but Rio Ferdinand showed he may be on the road to recovery with his stoppage of a rampaging Ronaldinho in the 19th minute. Caught one-on-one, Rio got all of the ball as Ronaldinho tripped to the ground a moment later. Ronaldinho knew he was beat fairly as he only gave a half-hearted shout for a foul.
  4. Nani, Nani, Nani. No, no, no. It got so bad that his own mates were chewing him out, most notably a visibly disgusted Wayne Rooney. Nani’s “crosses” don’t deserve the term. They were more like releasing hummingbirds into the wind. Or balloons let go by giddy children on a breezy spring day. His “crosses” are perhaps easier understood as tributes to Norman Foster’s Wembley arch.
  5. Rooney had so much space as he headed his second goal, even Nani could have bagged it. Daniele Bonera and Alessandro Nesta played that sequence like they were statues better suited for display in Milan’s Castello Sforzesco museum.
  6. Man United’s change kit of a plain white shirt accented by random stripes paired with blue shorts and white socks is a bore. The chevron that goes across the chest of both their red and blue shirts is striking and oddly absent from this white shirt. I’m of the belief that Manchester United’s change shirt for European games should be blue whenever possible, in honor of 1968.
  7. The tale of the tape for the managers entering the game favored Sir Alex Ferguson’s 36 years of experience against Leonardo’s nine months. Man United weathered the early storm well. Substitutions had real impact. Antonio Valencia came on for an inept Nani in the 64th. Within 2 minutes he lofted a perfect cross for Rooney to head home. Big bossman Clarence Seedorf came on in the 72nd for a largely invisible David Beckham. Seedorf’s audacious and stupendous back-heeled goal in the 85th gave a new intensity to the game’s final minutes and gives Milan hope for the second leg at Old Trafford.
  8. The second leg at Old Trafford is not until March 10th. This new gap between legs, implemented this season for the first time, allows us to watch more of the games in this first knockout round. Man United won the first leg, but Milan definitely have the firepower to answer the challenge. With both Milan and Manchester United displaying such ineptitude on defence, it should be another scorcher.

18 thoughts on “AC Milan 2-3 Manchester United: 8 Key Observations”

  1. Are you some kind of idiot? The Manchester United third kit this year is none other than their away kit from last year. They wore it dozens of times last year. For Christ’s sake, they wore it in the Champions League Final last year against Barcelona! Gaffer, where do you find these knuckle-dragging morons!?

  2. And before anyone slags me off, my only point is that if one of the “key observations” in a column is about one of the teams’ kit, it probably shouldn’t be pulled squarely out of the author’s ass.

    Oh and by the way, Man Utd’s away shirt this year is black, not blue.

  3. I follow Serie A Ronaldinho has seen a re-emergence. Ronaldinho is quite a unique player because you never know what he will do with the balll and compliments the entire team.

    Uniteds patch up defence worked wonders given the circumstances and that last match AC Milan are really going to come at United.

    If United had shut them out when it was 3-1 they would have likely won the match and the second leg before it happened. Right now their going up against one of the best striking sides on the planet with the sensational Dinho… boy its going to be a tough night at Old Trafford…

    1. Wow, did you watch the match? Ronaldinho was spectacular for spells throughout the evening, he clearly led Milan’s dominance in the first half when United were obviously at 6’s and 7’s at the back.

      Only the genius of Wayne Rooney was able to extinguish Milan’s dominance in possession and attack. I truly think we’re in the midst of witnessing greatness in one Wayne Rooney. His ability to place his team on his shoulders and charge forward can only be compared to other players such as Ronaldo, KaKa’, Messi, and the lot of ‘em.

      This is special, to perform how he did in a big game, away, and as bad as United were playing in that first half-absolutely inept- he’s truly elevated himself to Ronaldo-esq circa last year and in some ways has surpassed him.

      Good stuff Coachie

      1. I have to agree the fact that Dinho was silenced was due to Rafaels good defending otherwise the man is in the form of his life.

        The past few weeks he has been a scary, scary man. He took apart Siena a few weeks ago by scoring a hat trick. Its going to be a very tough tie for United if he shows up in that form and United don’t have their defensive marbles together.

  4. A bit off topic here…… but anyone know why the “UEFA Score Ticker” is placed left-center (practically center!) of the screen???

    It is so annoying to have players blocked by this ticker that I would think should be on the far left or far right of screen (although far right was used by Comcast HDnet.) In one instance Beckham was going for a corner kick and all I could see was the ball, as his body was blocked by ticker.

    Loved the HD, but I guess I am picky when I want to see as much of the field as possible.

  5. Rooney was brilliant. The defense was never there. Even Rio looked lost at times. Fergie was right to yell at Evans “pay ****ing attention”. Nani was trying to play like Ronaldo. Carrick was a rock in the middle until he got stupid and kicked the ball away. Fletcher, however, was nothing but superb. His passing and tackling enabled Rooney to find open spaces. Should be a good match in a few weeks but United to confirm their place in Europe. Let’s hope we can have Vidic and Giggs back in time.
    Who should United go after in the off season?. We need to strengthen the defense?.

  6. Of course everyone blames the defense, but I wonder how many other teams would be able to cope with having their primary CB pairing only play together FOUR times all season. If you are going to slate United’s defense, then you have to slate Milan’s inability to finish. Huntelaar and Pato both had clear chances to score and they did not take advantage. Also, think Leonardo made a mistake by starting Beckham over Seedorf.

  7. @Grant, such passion over shirts should be commended. I said that the white shirts were a bore, not that they weren’t worn last year. I apologize for my mistake over their second kit, meant to describe the blue chevron.

  8. From 3 – “Caught one-on-one, Rio got all of the ball as Ronaldinho tripped to the ground a moment later.” I thought the replay showed Rio kicking Ronaldinho’s trailing leg out from under him, and was lucky not to have received a foul (though, I believe it was outside of the penalty area).

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