Thursday, May 24, 2007

A bridge too far

I was hoping that I'd be writing about "the joy of six" today. Alas it's "seventh heaven" for AC Milan. But I don't feel devestated. We gave it everything we had but it wasn't enough and luck was against us. These things happen in football. We lost 2-1 having put on a really good display. It's not like we were spanked 3-0.

The first half was great and we played some good stuff. Pennant in particular pinned Jankulovski back on our right wing. Rafa wanted us to go at them from the off. We were in the ascendency and had a few chances. Unfortunately, as has been the case many times this season, we couldn't make it count and failed to put any of the chances away. But the Inzaghi goal was devestating. It was a bad position to give away a free but Pepe had it covered until it took a deflection off Inzaghi's arm. 1-0 down at half time after dominating the half. Sickening. Inzaghi scored again in the second half after recieving a pass from Kaka. Milan were much better after the break, they play well when they have the lead. Crouch came on and did alright but the ref penalised him for being tall. Kuyt scored at the death but it wasn't enough. The ref blew up early but it probably wouldn't have mattered. Milan took their chances, we didn't. At least we got a good match with some good football, unlike the FA Cup final last Saturday. John Giles described it as "enthralling from start to finish".

Javier Alejandro Mascherano was brilliant. Man of the match for me. Kaka had very little influence on the game until the chief was taken off. He might have stayed on and closed Kaka down for the second goal if he hadn't been booked.

The papers are full of players on the way out today. We know that Robbie, Jerzey and Bolo are on their way as they're all out of contract. It now looks like Mark Gonzalez is on his way to Real Betis. I feel a bit sorry for the lad but it didn't seem to be working for him here. He had a few decent games but by and large was underwhealming. I had high hopes for him coming into the season as he was incredible for Sociedad in Spain last year. Sometimes players don't fit in or adapt here and Mark could be a case in point. I hope we get a good fee for him, rumoured to be £5m+, and that he does well for Betis.

So where do we go from here? It's clear that we need more talent in attack. Left wing is a problem position. Kewell is injured too often, Garcia is great in europe but not as effective in the league and isn't a real winger anyway. Aurelio started to look really good before he got injured but he has a bad history of injuries too. Leto is coming in but I don't know if he'll be ready for first team football. I think we're ok on the right wing given that we've Pennant who had a great second half of the season. Gerrard can also play there and do a good job. It looks like Bellemy will be sold although this hasn't been confirmed. I'm hoping that we invest in a top striker. I'd love Tevez or Villa but I don't know if either is likely. I'm sure we'll have a summer full of speculation. I hope that Rafa doesn't sell us all a dummy and sign Darren Bent.

I won't be doing as many posts over the summer as there are no matches. I'll try to do a roundup of transfer news every so often and might do profiles of some players. Onwards and upwards.


Daniele said...

I'm an italian fan of Juventus FC, and yesterday I supported Liverpool watching the match on tv. I'm really sorry for the result, I don't appreciate Milan, as well as I don't appreciate its mentality. I think Liverpool deserved the match. Bye!

Mal said...

Thanks for the comment Daniele. It's tough but I'll get over it. We did ourselves proud but came up short. Fair enough.

JJ said...

Yeah, it was a decent performance but the lack of a quality striker was so apparent. I think as well that Gerrard should never play as a support striker, he would have had far more impact on the right or in the middle.

Not down and out about it which is surprising. Next year awaits... no zenden, no gonzalez, no harry, the purge starts now!

Mal said...

I don't think that we're a world away. A new left winger and a new striker would make us a lot more competative.

Duncan said...

A bit of bad luck (with the free kick) cost us the game really, so you can't blame Benitez. On the other hand, it's a mystery to me why he played Zendon and then Kewell on the left; why he left it so long to bring Crouch on; and other niggly things. The game was there for the taking if the team had shown any real impetus. Milan were sitting on their one goal lead. This comes down to the players, Benitez's atritional tactics, but also, what was the story with the crowd? I couldn't hear any singing on the telly. An anti-climax, I thought... Boo.

Mal said...

I think that Zenden played becase Aurelio is injured, Garcia is injured, Gonzalez isn't up to it and Kewell is just coming back from injury. I feel that Left wing and a striker should be the two priorities this summer.

Mal said...
Gillett and Hicks - make it so!