The Growing Gulf Between Manchester United and Other European Giants

The exit of the Manchester big two from the Champions League have left many in a state of shock and still lingering numbness. Manchester United with their pedigree and illustrious European history were expected to breeze through the group stage with Benfica being the only other team of note in the group. Whilst City with their Arabian ATM (Sheik Mansour) and marquee players were also expected to do very well.

Well surprise, surprise. Both giants of the English game are now destined for the Europa League, a destination that really should have come at no surprise. Manchester United have been abysmal for quite some time and both Basel and Benfica exploited their shortcomings with relative ease. The failure of United to beat either team at Old Trafford is the main reason why their European games for the rest of this season will be played on Thursday nights instead of Tuesdays or Wednesdays.

This United outfit lacks cutting edge and guile in attack and as such pose no terror to opposing teams, even when playing at Old Trafford. In their last 14 games United have only scored 3 goals in a game on one occasion and this was against Aldershot Town — one of the worst performing teams in League Two. Of the other 13 games they could only muster a single goal in 9 of these encounters, not the kind of form to get you into the last 16 of the Champions League. In fact, it will not win you the Europa League either.

Roberto Mancini and his merry millionaires have now realized like Roman Abramovich that the Champions League cannot be won solely on the basis of financial power. His team, were only just beginning to find their European legs only to have them kicked out from under them, but they will be back next season all the better for the experience and playing in the Europa League will no doubt do them a world of good as they continue to gel as a team whilst playing in European competition.

The exit of both teams also brings into question the standing of the Premier League vis-à-vis the other major European leagues. Is this merely an isolated case of the football blues or could this be a sign of a greater malaise settling into the English game? Only time will tell. What is however evident is the growing gulf in class between Manchester United and the other European giants. We got a mere taste of it earlier this year at Wembley courtesy of a merciless Barcelona. And on the basis of current performance I would dare say that Manchester United are now a cut below Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Juventus, AC Milan and, of course, we already know they are a cut below Manchester City.

32 thoughts on “The Growing Gulf Between Manchester United and Other European Giants”

  1. Not sure how this case can really be made when Man Utd played in the Champions League final last year. Chicharito’s spotty inclusion in the first team is 1 factor that contributed to the thinning of their squad and hence their exit from the Champions League.

    The untold story this year in the Premiership is that United have already had significant injuries (Cleverley, Vidic, Chicharito) that have taxed their depth.

    Have Man City had a major injury this year?

  2. Not the end of the world. Seasons come, and seasons go, and some will be better than others. as a United fan of many generations, i take this with a grain of salt.

    Many of my friends and co-workers that are also united fans (due to the success of the club) are still weeping and some even stated to me that they were looking for another team to support. It’s all so crazy to me that some people just cannot handle defeat.

    In my own opinion, if you can watch them win, you MUST be able to watch them loose. It’s a part of the game. You don’t have to necessarily like it, as it does hurt everyone, but defeat must be felt in order to succeed further. We will be back, i can assure you of that.

  3. Agree with Ufuoma here. Could you explain on what grounds Juve is a cut above United? Not even in Europe, although yes, first in Serie A by two points. Is the Serie A as good as EPL? I don’t think so.

    And how did Milan do against another EPL club in last year’s Champions League? While true they are in the knockout round this year going through over a Czech and Belarussian team isn’t exactly high time to celebrate for a club like Milan.

  4. but manu couldnt make it playing a romanian and swiss teams, and judging by milans two games agains barca, they are better than manu currently;and juve beat milan so juve over manu, look at the squads juve beats manu in a bunch of spots, rb, cbs, cms, one st, and gk

  5. $hit happens. We should have qualified easily from our group but we didn’t and have nobody to blame but ourselves. Just remember what the team went on to achieve after the last time this happened.

    Only a fool would write us off this year in the league, by Sunday evening we can easily be within 2-3 points of city. I’d even dare to say City and there fans maybe the only team NOT writing us off yet. At the end if the day scoring 3-4 goals a game is great but you get the same amount of points for a 1-0 win. Having a better Goal difference is nice but when was the last time the league was actually decided on that, Arsenal in the 88-89 season?

    Right now citys in Pole postion and are playing good football but I’d be More than happy to go into our game against them in April 2-3 points behind. If we strengten the mifield in Jan we will beuch better in the second half of the season. Interesting times ahead for the city of Manchester

  6. seems like an over reaction to a very small sample size. Any time a big 4 club has the slightest slump we get the sky is falling responses. This year alone the demise and doom of Arsenal and Chelsea had their 15 minutes now it’s Man U. I think the rest of the world is getting better but that hardly suggests the de-evolution of Manchester United- they still are quite good and are just as likely to win the EPL as not.

  7. This is part of the reason why there needs to be a salary cap. No sense in overpaying for players if they are essentially worthless, right Fernando Torres??

  8. “Manchester United have been abysmal for quite some time” – the same Manchester United that won the league and got to the Champions League Final last season? The same Manchester United that thrashed Arsenal 8-2 earlier in the season? The same Manchester United who were collecting all the plaudits for their young players earlier in the season? The same Manchester United who have featured in 3 of the last 4 Champions League Finals?

    There are some areas of the team that clearly need sorting out, but “abysmal for quite some time” doesn’t fit right with any of the above. De Gea is still developing, but shows that he has great potential. Jones and Smalling are destined to be England’s central defensive partnership for years to come. Cleverly when fit is another destined to be a mainstay of the national team. Ashley Young has looked very comfortable in a Manchester United shirt. Rooney is recognized as the only true World Class player in the country. Chicarito and Welbeck have bright futures ahead of them. There will be some freshening up of the squad without doubt, but you have the spine of a very good team with the players mentioned here

    Club in crisis? United have been written off many times before and always come back stronger

    1. Now you bloody know what it was like for me and many other Arsenal fans. But we struck through it and look at where the Gunners are now. Also just accept that Man U have been below par lately…
      6-1 to Man City
      a few 1-0 to teams that should have been easier,
      knocked out of the Carling Cup
      knocked out the Champions League in group stage

      They have definitely went below expectations

  9. OMG United are not bad because Chicharito is injured , its because since Scholes left their midfield is terrible. Chicharito is hype, he is just a poacher. He never contributes to the flow of the game, he just is a tap in artist. Fergie is going senile too. I mean he had his best player and best goal scorer, Nani and Berbatov on the bench vs Barcelona in the Final. and Jose won’t be saving your butts either because he is well settled where he is at.

    1. That’s because of that what he is: a poacher. The poachers are basically target men, they contribute to the flow of the game through their positioning, to force defenders to concentrate of them.

      1. Taylor, poachers are like Andy Cole and Gary Linker they have the knack of being in the right place at the right time and have good movement of the ball and mostly score a close range.
        Whereas as target men are more like Nial Quinn, Peter Crouch or Emile Heskey strong players that are looking to get the ball mostly in the air for a flick on or to catch the opposition unprepared with a header at goal they also are able to hold the ball to bring other into play with strength. Chicharito is a poacher for me nothing wrong with that if he turns out to be a good one like the two mentioned above. He did well in his first year but the second year is always harder as defenders know more about you.

  10. United are awful, as awful as I have seen them in a long time. I’ve been going back and forth with a good college friend of mine from Sweden who is also a huge United fan. His reaction is : “In SAF we trust, this is a young team, you are a Liverpool fan so shut up!” I told him that Rudolph with the Big Red Nose has lost the plot (or the owners don’t have the $ to spend for much needed quality reinforcements).

    This has nothing to do with the average age of the team. You cannot win anything with the likes of Smalling, Evra, Rio, Evans, De Gea, Park, Fletcher, Carrick, Wellbeck, 72 year old Giggsie, Jones, and Chicharito (the last one: his limitations as a footballer-can’t pass, awful first touch-are getting exposed in his first full season for the club). The team won the Prem title last season on inertia and thanks to Berba’s 20 plus goals.

    There’s zero creativity in midfield, defense has been pathetic (no more VDS to make amazing saves and keep the team in every game), and having Rooney in awful form for about 2 years now certainly hasn’t helped.

    We are in mid-December and United has played two (2) good games this season: Tottenham and Arsenal at home (caught both sides in a bad moment). Even the Chelsea 3:1 win at home is deceiving as Chelsea missed several absolute sitters to turn the game around in the first half.

    Unless the owners spend big for solid and proven players and leaders on the field, things will and can get worse.

    I still feel like teams in the Prem bent over and go home happy if they lose 0:1 to United.

    Heck, if City beats United come January 7 for the FA Cup, United are facing a certain 0 trophey season in early January (Europa League doesn’t count; and, no, they won’t win the Prem title. Even if City drops a point here and there: there is a vast gap in quality between the two sides this season).

    1. Chicarito is a typical finisher. have you ever watched Jurgen Klinsmann, Ian Rush (especially Rush, since you’re a Liverpool fan) , Salvatore Schillaci, Paolo Rossi or Careca play ? They are basically pure strikers, pure finishers. They might not be able to pass, but they were very good in their positioning.

      Other than that, I agree that United hasn’t played very well this season. There’s something missing in this team.

    2. “Defense has been pathetic”??? In the league they’ve given up 14 goals, 6 in one game against the noisy neighbor. Four of their last six games in the league have been 1-0 wins. That is not a pathetic defense.

      The CL campaign is really as simple as that 3-3 draw at home against Basel. They went with a less than strong team, had a bad defensive night, and paid for it. Yes, they should have won at Basel but that game at home was a bigger shock to me by far. They had the second best GD in their group, one loss, and they still went out. As someone else said, small sample size and a little bad luck can lead to scary looking effects that don’t really mean too much. Besides Real and Barcelona, I don’t think any team failing to make the knock out stages would come as a huge shock this season.

      It is clear that injuries will be a problem for MUFC. And I never expect Rio to play for more than a month straight without some injury cropping up. I just hope that other teams besides Chelsea can lay some league losses against City so the title race stays tight into the new year.

  11. What’s this article about. Just repeats what happened on Wednesday night. Then throw’s in a list of European teams!

  12. Now that Manchester United is in the Europa League, would anyone join them like Wesley Sneijder? I know Inter Milan are qualified for the Champions League, but would he sacrifice the CL for the Europa League. I can imagine Neven Subotic coming to play for the Europa League after Dortmund failing to make it in the Champions or Europa League.

  13. One blip and suddenly we’re f**ked. Talk about a kneejerk reaction.

    Let’s not forget last season we were in the CL final and Premier league champions, with a squad that was arguably weaker.

    Is this a typical reaction from an American?

  14. Can anyone explain how MAN C and MAN U have to go into Europa league? I don’t get that. Is that for this year or next? Not for next year right? Next year the top four of premier league still get into Champions league right? Is that because they got knocked out in group stage?




    1. Man United and Man City will be entered into the next round of this season’s Europa League, where they’ll join Stoke (and maybe Fulham and Spurs). It’s because they got knocked out of the Champions League. Yes, it’s strange, but that’s the way UEFA has set it up.

      The Gaffer

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