Wednesday, 3 October 2012

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: BIG BOYS AND SMALL FRIES


The Champions League is a huge tournament and as it has grown the need for clubs to fill the empty seats has also grown. The elite clubs have, by and large, been a fixture of Europe's premier competition year on year. The also rans have also been a permanent fixture as EUFA endeavour to prolong and extend their money making opportunities.
Serious talk of elite managers, elite players, systems and tactics is the lifeblood of the serious football fan and there are always fixtures to look forward to and world class players to watch.

Alex Ferguson elevated Manchester United to that elite status so that they stand on equal footing with Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, AC Milan, Juventus and those other clubs that have consistently vied for that trophy with the large ears. Some clubs with their names etched on as past winners can look back with fond recollections and imagine future efforts to add to their haul.

In recent times English clubs have won the Champions league on nights of high drama; Man United in the final moments in '99 and on Penalties in the all England Final, Liverpool coming back from 3-0 to triumph and yes Chelsea in the home of their opponents clawing it back.



Our club with such a great domestic history,is not in the elite, and what is frustrating about that is that we could have been.
The smokescreen of consecutive qualification hides the fact that we have only ever come close to winning the trophy once (possibly twice); these are not the credentials of an elite club.
The Invincibles did not reach this peak but the 2006 side reached the final, by beating the big boys, where selection decisions and fortune cost us. Okay, that's how it went but our club, having tasted that magic should have said 'we will return"

We did not then have the desire or ability to say "let's get back there with the big boys and win it next time". In other words small fry thinking.

I can only surmise that, at managerial and board level there was not sufficient desire and commitment to truly retain a place in the elite. Certainly the stadium was supposedly part of that type of philosophy, but that philosophy wasn't fully embraced. A culture of accepting second best has taken a foothold over the last seven years and it is galling to see those other clubs that are 'Johnny come latelys' and Charlatans win the competition and beat the best en route.

We seem to be just there to make up the numbers year on year and from 2006 we have drifted further away from challenging. If we were a 'lesser' club that would not be a problem; it would be a bit of a bonus, but we are The Arsenal, a club that established itself in the ECL and then conceded that we were not big enough to stay and certain powerful people at the club need to be reminded of that.

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