The European Struggle

beginning_arsenal_sevilla

Ten years ago, British football teams were regularly finding themselves in European finals. Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal could be seen playing at the end stages of Europe’s elite club competition on a yearly basis. So what has changed in the last ten years? Why do British teams not perform in European competition as they once did? If the English Premier League truly is the ‘best league in the world’ then why are Britain not producing teams who can challenge for the Champions League?

If you look at the very top level of world class players, it has to be said that most of them are playing in La Liga or the Bundesliga. A player considered to be the best in the world these days will always look to play for Barcelona, Real Madrid or Bayern Munich. World class players still exist in the Premier League in people like Sergio Aguero and Eden Hazard. Nevertheless, the vast majority of the best players in the world now play in about three or four teams.

While Celtic usually have a run in European Competition, whether it be the Champions League or the Europa league, Scottish football teams rarely progress past preliminary qualifying rounds. Aberdeen, who have been finishing second in recent years, have failed three years in a row to make it to the group stages of the Europa League and Hibernian who won the Scottish cup last year also failed.

Many British managers put these European shortcomings down to the intense nature of British football and the amount of games played. While many European teams get a winter break between December and January, an average British team will play ten games in that time. However it is also British teams’ inability to get their tactics right that causes their lack of success on the continental stage. British teams seem unable to change their tactics when they are playing stronger opposition, and they concede far too many goals as a result of this.

Arguments about the lack of homegrown players and the competitive nature of the Premier League simply shift the focus from the real problem of teams and managers ignoring the importance of defensive organisation and discipline in Europe.

The vast wealth created by the Premier League is spread so evenly between the twenty teams in the league that the league is always getting more competitive. It is easy to dismiss this as an excuse by the British media to deflect from poor performances. However, when managers of such experience as Mourinho and Wenger claim this puts British teams on the back foot before the competition has started then we may have to look at the way our game is played.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: