CL days are bittersweet for me. I shut myself off from the outside World, no blog, no phone calls or txts, and no real visits to the sites I frequent. I trudge around all afternoon as the anxiety builds and I rush home to watch the match, often times even neglecting to eat. Instead I grab some Heinken and get right on board and this day was no different…
I wrote and rewrote this opening paragraph numerous times and I am still torn at the general direction of this post. Usually it is these posts that act as my therapy and allow for me to clear my mind of all issues from the match, but instead of writing I keep looking at the remote control and pondering a restart of the game because the hopeless fool inside can’t help but feel we deserved more here.
I can rue close calls or missed goals, but in the end it doesn’t get to the crux of the issue; this game was ours and we didn’t take it. Manchester United is not this invincible beast that the media machine makes them out to be, in the first twenty minutes or so our Milan showed quite the contrary.
What I can’t get over is the complete night and day performance of the starting eleven of our squad. How can a player like Pato or KJH even look his teammates in the eyes after a performance such as the one they displayed! Lazy doesn’t even begin to tell the story, at times yesterday it seemed that Milan were playing with nine men, there were instances where the ball was in the Milan defensive third and even Dinho was back to grab a mark or try to win a ball back. Where were Pato and the Dutch statue? Not even in the picture, seemingly marking Johnny Evans!??! How can you sit by and watch guys like Ambro, Bonera, Antonini, Nesta and Silva work so damn hard and you don’t
even track back a run or try to win a lost ball. For EFF’s sake these lazy bums didn’t even think to pester a CB, Johnny Evans, who was more than happy to give the ball away on THREE occasions, instead it was Dinho who was everywhere and anywhere and often times going at it alone.
Sure you can say it was a tactical choice to leave those players high up the pitch, but there is no Coach on this entire planet who would fight with a player digging for the ball and tracking back. Say what you want about guys like Borri, or even Abate and Becks who played wide right in the past, at least I know with those guys I won’t get a primadonna who looks gassed when he hasn’t run an inch, it was a shameful disgrace. At this point I am so infuriated I don’t even want to discuss KJH anymore, PERIOD, and Pato shouldn’t see the pitch with a telescope against Atalanta, time to take a hard line here. When the rest of the squad is giving it everything they have, the lack of effort needs to punished.
Now that I have ranted, raved, and vented, I can move on to some more serious issues. Losing Antonini, who was having a great game was a shame, and not having a back up capable of pace, when pace was really all we needed, is a problem. ManU saw the issue, SAF exploited it and the rest is history. So while some have asked why not Flamini or Janks or even Zambro, your guess is as good as mine? Flamini was probably to risky, but Zambro or Janks right? As for the ManU goals, the Scholes one was flukey and lady luck was in favor of ManU yet again, despite smiling on the Rossoneri for the first goal. The second goal I have to fault Dida, he saw the cross, but he didn’t press it hard, he was in GK no man’s land, plain and simple. While I don’t think that ball was savable, and Bonera should have been facing the other way, Dida must challenge the cross! It was in his area and any keeper will agree. With that said he should have lost his job from Friday, and now it has to be a must.
Credit to the rest of this team, Seedorf included, for fighting and clawing to the final minute and giving Milan a chance at Old Trafford, albeit slim, needing to win by two goals. But on a day where Ronaldinho was at his best challenging players, pressing the ball, and running, with Pirlo doing the same, it pains me to know that the performances of a few(two) so dramatically affected the end result. So we are stuck once again staring at a seemingly insurmountable challenge, and while my hopes are slim, I hope it opened Leo’s eyes to the players willing to fight for the cause on the biggest stage, and those willing to slop around. What I have learned from Leo in this match is that he needs to be more decisive and not let players flounder, as extreme as it may have been would anyone have argued with a Flamini for KJH/Pato sub at half with a 1-1 game? Probably not, and it is games like these in which he needs to trust his gut and make the move, until then we will continue to be capable, but never earn the result.