How AC Milan's win over Barcelona highlights the flaws of English football's ambition

Two former Portsmouth players were on the scoresheet at the San Siro last night. With Pompey now on the cusp of relegation to League Two what does it tell us of the fast spending methods used for Premier League success that two players of this calibre once played regularly at a stadium like Fratton Park?

In the past few years at Fratton Park the fans of Portsmouth Football Club have pretty much seen it all. The highs, the lows, crooked chairman after crooked chief executive, big spending and not being able to pay the catering bills but out of all of that mire one of the most astounding moments still has to be when they hosted the mighty AC Milan on the South Coast in 2008.

Goals from Younes Kaboul and Kanu had given Pompey the lead on that wintry evening but with the game seemingly wrapped up a stunning free-kick from Ronaldinho and an injury-time equaliser from Filippo Inzaghi broke the hearts of the Pompey faithful and left Tony Adams cutting a dejected figure.

Nowadays it is very hard to believe that this memorable occasion occurred barely a little over four years ago. Now Portsmouth find themselves still on the brink of collapse and on the cusp of relegation to the bottom tier of English football; it really is one of the footballs unfortunate tales of rags to riches and back to rags again.

During their brief dalliance with the top of the English game Portsmouth featured in two FA Cup Finals; beating Cardiff City in 2008 which led to the tie with AC Milan and a defeat against Chelsea in 2010.

In those fixtures Sulley Muntari (2008) and Kevin Prince Boateng (2010) both featured and if at the time you would have predicted how their careers would pan out in relation to Milan, Portsmouth and the best football team in the world you would have been condemned to a facility.

Because last night AC Milan got their tactics spot on against a Barcelona side enjoying a fantastic season. They shackled Lionel Messi throughout the game and hounded down the ball in their oppositions half; beating Barca at their own game.

Amidst it all were the two goals that made the 2-0 result and the goalscorer’s? Sulley Muntari and Kevin Prince Boateng; two Ghanaian’s and also both former Portsmouth players.

Since leaving the shipwreck that is Portsmouth FC both have gone on to have considerable success elsewhere; Muntari winning the Champions League with Inter in 2010 and Boateng winning Serie A in 2011 as well as being named in the Serie A team of the season.

It is a real indicator of the almost disbelieving and defective aspirations that the people behind the current financial situation at Fratton Park harboured. That they thought they could spend borrowed money on two players who just a few years later would topple Europe’s greatest force; and a timely reminder of just how deeply flawed the ambition at Portsmouth truly was.

image: © joncandy

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