The Manchester Clubs were defeated in the first legs of their Europa League fixtures yesterday. In the case of City, losing by one goal to Sporting Lisbon may have had more to do with their own internal issues than with the quality of their opposition who were well organised and held back only by the resolute goalkeeper that is Joe Hart. City looked tired and out of sorts, and still appear to have problems adjusting to Europe, which given the speed of their progress is understandable.
United however, were outplayed outclassed and well out…everything by a team from Spain called Athletic Bilbao. That United have a one-goal deficit had more to do more with Athletic missing a number of chances than how Alex Ferguson’s men played on the night.
Yes, we have seen the emergence of a new Spanish powerhouse, however, the question has to asked as to what is to become of the English clubs – the Europa League was meant to be Europe’s First Division, well try telling that Athletic who taught the once great European side that was Manchester United how to play with speed, skill and sheer talent.
Arsenal heroics the other night against AC Milan in the Champions League may have been celebrated by the fans, however the truth is they were completely outplayed in the first leg and all Milan had to do was sit back and soak up the pressure for the return fixture at the Emirates.
Robin Van Persie’s miss at the end was not a real reflection of the gap between the two sides.
And Chelsea, who have never really looked like winning the Champions League title ever, have it all to do against Napoli if they are to progress into the quarter-final.
It’s going to take more than getting rid of AVB to come back from a 3-1 defeat here.
Years ago, 2004 if my memory serves me right, a cab driver gave me the low down on the English game. He believed that English football just did not cut it against the Europeans, something you could clearly see reflected by the continued failure of the national side and that those foreign players that were lured by the money to play here lost their vitality so that they never the same players ever again.
Trouble is he was right then, and what he said then is also true today.