Business as usual for United on pitch

MANCHESTER - While the green-and-gold-clad fans clamour for change in the boardroom it is very much business as usual on the pitch as Manchester United march towards a third successive Champions League final.

Such was the ease with which they crushed AC Milan 4-0 on Wednesday for a startling 7-2 aggregate success that the fans were left with nothing else to do in the second half but go through their repertoire of anti-Glazer chants.

Even David Beckham joined the cause, though the former United favourite now playing for Milan later played down his decision to pick up a green-and-gold scarf by saying: "It's just the club's old colours, it's nothing to do with me how the club is run."

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United fans have taken to wearing the old colours in protest at the level of the club's debts under American owners the Glazer family.

As Beckham and his Milan team mates flew home to Italy to face a media mauling, United and manager Alex Ferguson were basking in the warmth of another superb victory.

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Ferguson described last month's 3-2 first-leg San Siro win as a "landmark game" - United enjoyed their first away win and away goals against Milan - and Wednesday's 4-0 thumping underlined the shift in power.

While seven-times champions Milan look very much last year's model, United are now into the quarter-finals and chasing a third successive final appearance. They have a generally young and buoyant team and, with Wayne Rooney in unstoppable form, they fear nobody.

"To beat Milan 4-0, not many teams have ever done that, it's a fantastic night for us," Ferguson said.

With Real Madrid also going out on Wednesday via a 2-1 aggregate defeat by Olympique Lyon, the door seems to be opening for United.

"I'm surprised by the Real result but European football is very tough now," Ferguson said. "English clubs have done very well in the last few years and I think they will be there (in the final) again."


United beat Chelsea on penalties in the 2008 all-English final in Moscow to win the trophy for the third time and second under Ferguson but he is still stinging about last year's loss to Barcelona.

"That final was a game we should never have lost," he said of the 2-0 defeat in Rome.

United have lost Cristiano Ronaldo since then but with the improving form of Nani and Antonio Valencia feeding a ravenous Rooney the team hardly seem to have suffered.

Rooney's double on Wednesday took his seasonal tally to 30 and if he remains fit then United will take some stopping.

Ferguson said the England striker was "just sensational" and added: "The present team has got tremendous athleticism and endurance in the wide positions and that's an advantage."