Torrid Time Will Do Rafael A World Of Good
It did not work really well, did it? Rafael da Silva, on the back of encouraging performances in recent weeks (most particularly at Arsenal and Aston Villa) was entrusted with the task of handling Ronaldinho at the San Siro. The youngster failed, quite spectacularly in the first half and one shaky moment in the second cost us another goal.
Rafael did not have the guts or the courage to face his countryman and too often he looked to be hiding in the middle, keen to avoid being exposed on the right of the defence. But Sir Alex says it's all part of the young Brazilian's education.
'Ronaldinho has always had a great talent. His game dropped away for a year or so, but he is back to his best now and he was a handful for a young player like Rafael,' said Fergie.
'The reason I played him was quite simple, though. Namely, that we have invested in a great future with him and we were not going to stop the rewards of that because we were playing AC Milan.
'He has to learn and, against Ronaldinho, he will have quickly discovered that this is the real world.
'He made some mistakes, but he won't make them next season. He will eradicate those mistakes because the boy is an outstanding talent.'
He most certainly is: he's got all the attributes to become a top class player but he's got work to do on his positioning and his courage. He simply cannot disappear in a big game like this, even though United eventually emerged victorious - but our path to success could have been much smoother had Rafael shown some balls.