AC Milan Flops at Old Trafford: Time for the Squad to be Dismantled

michael coneyContributor IMarch 11, 2010

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 10: Wayne Rooney of Manchester United battles with Massimo Ambrosini of AC Milan during the UEFA Champions League First Knockout Round, second leg match between Manchester United and AC Milan at Old Trafford on March 10, 2010 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

The dust has barely settled on the pitch at Old Trafford and Manchester United are through to the quarterfinals of the Champions League.

But, something more important than that was witnessed by anyone who watched the game.  AC Milan's current squad's epitaph has been written.

At least, one hopes it has.

Milan were quite simply awful tonight and on current showing, the deadwood must be ripped away and fresh blood brought in to stop the demise of one of European football's most illustrious clubs.

There was surely some hope among Milan fans that they could overturn the massive three-away-goal deficit in Manchester. 

From the opening exchanges of play, however, that hope soon turned to dust.

Sloppy passing and a complete unwillingness of the forward trio of Borriello, Huntelaar, and Ronaldinho to track back set the tone for a horror show.  It was painfully humiliating to watch.

Milan had never been knocked out of the premier European club competition by the English giants—tonight, they were annihilated.

People may talk about the fact that Milan were without their best player this season, Nesta, or their prolific young forward, Pato. 

They may argue that if Milan hd taken their chances when they had United under pressure in the first leg things may have turned out different.

But to put things in perspective, as painful as it is for me to write, the better side won over the two legs.

United were ruthless in their application.  After the early goal in tonight's tie, they were able to dictate the pace of the game.  They simply picked Milan off whenever they felt like it.  The result could have ended up resembling a cricket score.

United has experience and youth in their squad, something that Milan have been sorely lacking in recent seasons; they have plenty of the former, none of the latter.  And this is something that has taken on more relevance in today's game.

It is no longer enough to have bags of experience under your belt. You need young legs out there on the field; you need players who are willing to track back and put in tackles where necessary.

There is a lot of experience in the United side, but that experience is tempered by youth. 

Where Milan had Ambrosini, Jankulovski, and Pirlo, United had Nani, Park, and Rooney.

Nani didn't have a particularly good game aside from one fantastic assist, but he had the energy to continue running, something Milan lacked over both legs of this tie. 

Park was immense, seemingly appearing from out of the shadows to harry and hassle Pirlo and prevent the Italian from playing his game.

Make no mistake, United won this contest because the tempo they played at didn't allow Milan a chance to settle into the intricate passing game.

And for the head to head, look at the two "World Class" players each side supposedly boasted. 

In a similar echo of the Kaka-inspired Milan victory, Wayne Rooney was the star of the show.  Ronaldinho on the other hand, might as well have not been on the field at Old Trafford.

This disparity in play was why Milan were so soundly beaten tonight. 

They continue to put their future in the hands of players who should have been sent out to new pastures a long time ago.

Much has been made of the average age of the Milan side and how this is a detriment to their style of play.  What should be highlighted is the fact that in every single position on the field tonight, Milan came up short.

The modern game demands a level of physicality that the Milan team cannot cope with in its current state. 

When you have an average at best midfielder, Abate, playing in defence, then you know something is wrong. 

When the best player that you can call on to fill in for your best player of the season, Nesta, is Bonera, then if alarm bells weren't ringing beforehand, nuclear bombs should be going off after the mauling you received tonight.

So, to put it simply, AC Milan are in need not of a DIY house, but a brand new and shiny building.

Money has to be spent to reinforce the squad and a number of players must be released.  Jankulovski, Bonera, Ambrosini, and Pirlo must go.

Adequate cover for the centre back position must be bought because whenever either Silva or Nesta have been injured, the Milan rearguard has gone to pieces 

I shudder to think what would happen if they were both out at the same time.  Decent wing backs must be acquired.

Up front, a world class striker must be brought into the fold.  Borrielo and Huntelaar seem good for putting goals past mid-table Serie A sides, but when the big games come around, then they are next to useless.

Milan were easily the most successful European team in the first decade of the 21st century. 

If they had applied themselves better against Liverpool and also in the season they lost out against Deportivo La Coruna in the quarters, they may have equalled Madrid's nine European cups.

If they don't undergo some radical surgery in this year's transfer window, then they will end up being relegated to the list of teams that used to compete for the European Cup.

Here's to hoping that tonight's humiliation will be the wake-up call that those at Via Turati need to revitalise this giant from its current malaise.


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