Last night, Manchester United done the co-efficient the world of good with a 3-0 win at home to Saint-Etienne, one of the top sides in French football. However, with Tottenham Hotspur going down 1-0 to Gent of Belgium earlier on in the night, this followed a rather worrying trend for English football clubs in Europe. Being blunt, they aren’t very good in recent years.
With the last three Europa League and Champions League trophies residing in Sevilla, Madrid and Barcelona, respectively, it feels like the Spanish dominance of Europe may continue for a while yet. Barcelona took a real hiding on Tuesday night from the excellent Paris Saint-Germain, but that’s the first big hiding they’ve taken in several years. Other than themselves and Villarreal, who got wasted 4-0 at home by AS Roma, Spanish sides are performing consistently in Europe.
English clubs seem to be hitting a real poor run of European form, though. Liverpool reaching the Europa League Final last year in Basel was a positive surprise, as was Manchester City reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League. Other than that, though, what was there to really shout about on the grandest of stages for English clubs?
Arsenal were once again taken to the cleaners by a top European side, left to wallow in a 5-1 loss in Munich. Manchester City travel to AS Monaco, one of the top teams in Europe and who are in frightening form in front of goal, while Leicester City face Sevilla. If Sevilla were to lose that tie, it would be one of the biggest shocks of the season.
At the moment, it’s hard to see where the change is going to come from. European sides continually appear to be a match for each other, but English teams cannot seem to compete. Despite cherry-picking coaches and players from the same leagues that they keep losing to, English football clubs cannot seem to do anything on the grandest stage.
Ever since Chelsea lifted the Champions League and Europa League, English participation in Europe has been frighteningly poor. Group stage exits and first-round knockout exits have become the norm. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility for Manchester United to be the only side from the nation left in Europe come the end of the month.
Something has to change for English sides to alter their European performance. They’ve all tried hiring and firing the best coaches and splurging on the ‘top players ‘ – maybe the problems lie a little deeper than expected?