Disaster Strikes Manchester City & United!

The world was dumbfounded at exactly 22:30 Wednesday night as Manchester United and Manchester City both failed to advance from the first Round of this Year’s Champions League!

Manchester United: last Season?s Runners up to Barcelona (just 6 months and some days ago)

Manchester City, the World’s richest club, littered with world class,talented and expensive players. Both failed to qualify from relatively weak groups. United beaten to it by Basel of Switzerland and City by Napoli of Italy, who were appearing for the very first time in the Champions league. Unbelievable!

Sir Alex Ferguson’s response was, to demand that his players come to terms with their shock Champions League exit immediately and use the disappointment as motivation to achieve in the very near future.

Whilst Roberto Mancini’s response was:”We are disappointed, that is normal? he continues: “We wanted to go into the second stage and now we can do nothing, It is my opinion next year, that if we play Champions League, we will do better.”

He summarizes it up by adding “the Premier League is the priority. We also have the Europa League, FA Cup, and Carling Cup. I think that if we are lucky with not a lot of injuries in the future we have a team that can play in all competitions”.

Very Interesting, revealing and quite defining responses from two of the most (probably) influential coaches in the World; today.

What are the implications or connotations of this (sporting) disaster to both teams and what does it tell us?

Some questions do come to mind:


When the Two teams that are  dominating, quite easily, the most spectacular and the best league in the world, fail to reach the second round of the Champions league, one wonders; is the Premier league that strong this year or at the moment?

Manchester United are defending champions of England and in my opinion did not lose the ticket to qualify yesterday, but rather at home to Basel when they lead by 2 goals, only to concede 3 goals  in quick sucession and were very fortunate to get a last gasp equaliser by Ashley Young to draw that game. In a group that had Benfica of Portugal and Fc Otelul Galati (coached by my erstwhile FC Koln Team mate Dorinel Munteanu), not qualifying is Alarming!

Manchester City likewise were outdone by a motivated, young and relatively unknown Napoli side, they actually had chances to qualify and some sloppy team defending cost them. In a group that included only one European Powerhouse, Bayern Munich, completed by the relegation fighting Villarreal from Spain, You definitely must ask questions!

Fortunately for England, Chelsea and Arsenal qualified to save face. Worth noting that Chelsea also  faced iminent elimination, until the last group day spectacular performance by a Didier Drogba led attack gave them qualification over Valencia. Arsenal qualified but not in a sovereign manner, struggling at times!



When the new, young and free scoring United team, version 2011/2012 kicked of this year?s campaign with resounding victories (most significantly the 8-2 drubbing of Arsenal and the 3-1 victory over Chelsea at the Stanford Bridge) we all hailed them as the team of the year. Why shouldn?t we? they just put 11 goals past two title contenders.

However when City came calling and beat them by a Lawn Tennis score line at the Old Trafford, 6-1 ,doubts set in for us and United. Many immediately thought City had arrived and to be able to demolish united in this manner, they were on track. Surely they were going to go far this year!

The reality that has dawned on us all now, is that these teams (Arsenal & Chelsea) were really not at their bests when they played and lost woefully, to a then very solid Man United team. Amongst others they were  riddled with so many internal problems that have since come to light. Arsenal & Manchester United are better now. Proof? They qualified from relatively more difficult groups into the next round of the champion?s league than United and City.



Defensively, both teams have to improve.And quickly at that. At the highest level that they play, to be able to control games, attack effectively and win titles, your defense, especially the central defense and the defensive midfield has to be very solid if not water tight; this was missing lately in the two Manchesters lately. Compared to the conquering Manchester teams of the past, Barcelona of the previous year,Mourinho’s Inter Milan, Capello and Sacchi’s Ac Milan, these teams had water tight defenses and this gave their strikers liberty to attack.

The two Manchester?s have to improve on their defence. United conceding 5 goals in two confrontations to Basel of Switzerland (with all due respect) even with a makeshift defence says it all.



Need I say that city probably has the largest concentration of world class talents in the world (enough to have talents like Carlos Tevez kicked out of the team, lead the league with 5 points cushion and still be in the running for 4 titles come May 2012, but they are in my opinion still yet to ?Gel? like a real team and tactically have to improve. This was so evident when they played away to Bayern Munich.

United use of numerous pullouts to try to break the crowded Basel defence yesterday without the presence of a very tall and imposing central striker also leads one to ask questions about this preferred choice of finishing touch by the Red Devils.



The elimination of these two spectacular teams will leave us now with a very spectacular battle for the Premier League, FA Cup and who knows maybe even the UEFA league. Early Elimination from this year’s champion’s league means more or less 20 million Euros gain for these two giants, from the possible 70 million Euros more or less. So a win of the UEFA League, the Premier league or & the FA cup could be a shock absorber at the end of the season, financially.

This in some way will definitely guarantee us full engagement,excitement and result seeking performances by both Manchester’s. I really would not want to be in their way,as a team this year.

The fact also that United has lately been unfortunately ridiculed with injuries, and they suffered another major one again yesterday(with Vidic’s injury) might not only explain their dip in form but also be a good thing for them that they have one major competition less to stretch their “thin” team  size at the moment.

In a football season, one must expect a dip in form at one point, unfortunately for united at the champions league level it arrived at a very wrong period, But they must get their act together and very quickly at that, because the most important period in the English Premier league is the December and early January period, when there are multiplications of games in a very short time frame. Lack of good form during this period and they might as well kiss the the premier league title goodbye.

Same goes for City, they are yet to suffer a real dip in form and should this unexpected elimination get to them and provoke a slide, they might see United, Chelsea and why not Arsenal get back fully in the title race and maybe even overtake them.

In summary, I do believe that it was catastrophic that these two teams were prematurely eliminated, but victory is not solely meant for them and other “big” teams like them! ,Teams like Basel or Napoli also do deserve a taste of such victories!  it is scenarios like these that will get more people watching games on TV and in stadiums. Unpredictable winners in soccer can only better the fun of being a spectator.

How both teams react to this setback will definitely define their football season.



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December 13, 2012 8:15 pm Published by

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