Man City years behind United in terms of European pedigree

by Charlie Coffey

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

While Manchester City are in one of the toughest Champions League groups in recent memory, their performances have shown that while money may be able to buy domestic success, European pedigree is a priceless commodity.

Just ask Roman Abramovich. He and Jose Mourinho brought Premier League titles and FA Cups to Stamford Bridge almost immediately after the Russian oligarch pumped many millions into the club, but the Champions League title remains elusive to this day. Their best chance by far was when they came a whisker – or indeed a post – away from winning in Moscow, but were eventually beaten by Manchester United.

Sir Alex Ferguson has been playing in the Champions League since it’s conception, and while his tactical approach have obviously matured since it was once described as ‘anarchy’ by then Real Madrid coach Vicente del Bosque, more vital to his success in winning the trophy twice and reaching two of the last three finals is that his players had such experience in the competition.

The importance of this is evidenced by the relatively shaky performances of young, inexperienced defensive players David de Gea, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, a defence that has conceded many more goals without the cool heads of the retired Edwin van der Saar and the often injured Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.

If United currently have just a few players without great Champions League experience, City have many. While United’s poor form in Europe is reflective of their indifferent league performances early this season, City’s struggles on the continent oppose to their domestic dominance. Players such as Micah Richards, Joleon Lescott, James Milner and Sergio Aguero have little experience in adapting to the demands of various European sides, whose tactics and approach they are not so familiar with.

Napoli came to Manchester with a 3-5-2 that is unheard of in England and completely bamboozled a shell-shocked City side. Roberto Mancini will have had experience in facing against such tactics whilst playing and managing in Italy, but some of his players haven’t, and that was evident in their struggles on the pitch.

City offered little evidence in the Allianz Arena that they can outplay a tactically disciplined side such as Bayern Munich. Their only wins in the competition this season have been home and away against Villarreal, who along with Dinamo Zagreb and Otelul Gelati are one of the only sides not to have earned a single point in the group stages this season.

Unless City show much more maturity than they have in the Champions League so far, they will crash out of the competition tonight. They will either have to learn from the lessons they have been taught on the continent this season and come back stronger next year, or they will have to spend many more millions to bring players with the necessary Champions League experience. Given the spending of Sheikh Mansour so far, this is not such an unlikely scenario.

Read Charlie Coffey’s brilliant blog at

Play our free fantasy football and predictor games to win great cash prizes.

Be Sociable, Share!
  • StevieBlue

    So what you’re trying to say is United won it in their first season, no? Well what’s the difference, or is this another, let’s have a go at City for having the audacity to finally be able to buy decent players? Well don’t forget Fergie and the rest at the swamp were there at the right time when Sky came calling. The money cascaded into the top 4, nobody else had the chance to compete with the buying power of those teams…until 2008! Then Platini and the rest of the euro tosspots devised their new system to blackball City. Too late boys, we’ve done all our BIG spending now we can just sign the odd one or two as and when needed.

    The ‘old top 4’ are playing hell because a new kid has come to upset what was a very comfy cartel. Ok City haven’t done too well in their first venture playing with the ‘big boys.’ But look at the group we are in as opposed to our qu1et nei6ours in the easier group, who if they lose against Basel tonight will probably be joining City in the Europa. Now that doesn’t look too bad then does it?

  • lee

    what a pile of crap

  • Mystical Mike

    United fans can’t moan, they have done exactly what City are doing but over a longer period of time. Where were they before the Premier League? Behind Arsenal in trophies won, that’s where!

Previous post:

Next post: