The English Demise in Europe

by Henry Chard

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

With another round of Champions League fixtures ahead this week, and the recent shocks in the Premier League I began to think about the English teams chances in European competition. It did not take me long to come to the conclusion that our teams have very little chance of making an impact this year. This sadly would continue a trend of recent years in Europe’s finest competition, barring Chelsea’s success of course. You may think it’s a knee jerk reaction but I think it’s been brewing for a few years at least.

Ever since the 2008 final, our teams have failed to compete in the later knockout stages, yes Chelsea fans I’m not forgetting you, I will come to you later. I remember the seasons where the English teams were the teams to beat. We regularly filled the knockout places, with all English ties and winners of the competition, Liverpool in 2005, and Manchester United in 1999 and 2008. Now we’ve been overtaken by other nations and are being caught up by others. It seems as soon as they enter the knockout rounds they are found out all too easily, and that’s even if they’ve made it through the group!

Man City, as we all know have invested massively over the years and have entered the Champions League in the past two seasons. On both occasions they’ve been handed tough draws and been knocked out in the group stage. After the first season you could forgive them for inexperience in European competition, but am I on my own in thinking, with the players and money invested, that they should be capable of at least competing with Europe’s finest?

Man United, they’ve had great success in the competition, and for me have been the most successful since the start of the competition. However, since they last lifted old Big ears they’ve been outclassed by Barcelona in two finals, ok they made the final but the difference in class really showed in those finals. They’ve also failed at the group stage in a very easy draw in 2011/12. Can we see them making an impact this year? Not for me.

Chelsea, I’m sure their fans will be hating me by now. Yes they won it in 2012, and yes the whole point of tournament football is just to win, but how many of you would say they were the best team throughout and deserved it? I wouldn’t. Before their triumph they would often come undone against one of Europe’s powerhouses, which means they are not at that level for me. Last year they failed in the group stages and this year have already lost to Basle. They’ve the best chance of any this year but still won’t come near for me.

Lastly Arsenal. They qualify on a consistent basis, all very admirable, and they always qualify from the group. Once that’s over with they are often easily swept away in one leg of a tie in the knockout rounds. They salvage some pride in the second leg of the tie to make it look like it was close, but let’s be honest the other team is just relaxing after a big first leg win. Will they win it this year? Very unlikely.

So why are our teams not what they used to be in Europe?  It’s very strange considering the fact that they all continue to invest regularly, and continue to have some of the world’s best players in their teams. I think our top teams are tactically naive and don’t adjust when it comes to European football. The Premiership is all about end to end, fast paced, exciting football which the fans demand. In other European leagues it’s a much more slow paced tactical battle where teams are content for nothing to happen but keep the ball for long periods. We just don’t do that over here and its key to European football, and it shows massively in our national team too.

That’s my say on the matter anyway and I’m sure some of you will disagree, and I hope I am proven completely wrong and our teams show that we are still a big footballing powerhouse! But does anyone really fancy an English team this year?


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