Should the cup-tied rule be abolished in the Champions League?
How AC Milan were crying out for the guile of Antonio Cassano or the tough tackling of Mark Van Bommel (who could have replaced Gennaro Gattuso before he lost his head) in Tuesday’s 1-0 home defeat by Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League last 16 first leg.
Both were ineligible having played in the competition for Sampdoria and Bayern Munich earlier in the season.
But if Fernando Torres can spend half a league season with Liverpool and half with Chelsea, why is it so different for cup competitions?
What extra benefit would Milan have by fielding players who played in a totally separate part of the tournament months ago with someone else?
The chances for skullduggery seem impossibly small too. Torres was trying his hardest against Liverpool in the Premier League the other week, why wouldn’t Van Bommel have done the same if Milan had come up against Bayern?
It all seems a little old-fashioned really, even the name ‘cup-tied’ has rings of the 1950s about it. In the modern game where loyalty is limited and players move around so often, the ineligibility rule seems only to be harming one group of people — those that matter most — the fans.
Milan could be heading for elimination in the first knockout round yet again partly because two of their best players have been robbed from their usual ranks.
Cassano would have absolutely loved the occasion on Tuesday but was instead sat in the stands twiddling his thumbs instead of bamboozling defenders.
What do you reckon? A just rule or time for a rethink?
PHOTO: AC Milan’s Gennaro Gattuso (R) argues with Tottenham Hotspur’s first team coach Joe Jordan (L) next to manager Harry Redknapp during their Champions League soccer match at the San Siro stadium in Milan February 15, 2011. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini