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Manchester City's European woes continue

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Phil McNulty | 08:28 UK time, Thursday, 25 October 2012

Manchester City's supply of miracles probably ran out on the day they scored twice in stoppage time to win the Premier League. Roberto Mancini should not expect another to save them in the Champions League.

The City manager accepts this is what they need to prevent the torch-bearers for the self-styled "best league in the world" from suffering the chastening experience of an exit at the group stage for the second successive season.

Manchester United failed to make the knockout phase last season and neighbours City are doing an even more convincing job of not making it this year.

Their 3-1 defeat by Ajax in Amsterdam leaves them with only one point from three games, a point most observers could reasonably put down to outrageous good fortune as they somehow got a draw against Borussia Dortmund after losing to Real Madrid in The Bernabeu.

What a humbling 24 hours it has been for the Premier League as blows have been inflicted to its not inconsiderable pride at home and abroad.

Manchester United stumbled and almost fell before coming from two goals behind to beat SC Braga of Portugal while Champions League holders Chelsea were beaten more convincingly by Ukraine's Shakhtar Donetsk than a 2-1 scoreline suggests.

This was merely the starter for the full horror of a black Wednesday when Arsenal were utterly outmanoeuvred on their own ground by the German Bundesliga's highly-impressive Schalke 04 and - most significantly - Manchester City imploded in the Netherlands.

Striker Sergio Aguero was left frustrated on a night when City's Champions League hopes may have ended. Photo: AP

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger faces the club's shareholders on Thursday morning and judging by the amateur financial analysis being bellowed into the media area at the final whistle against Schalke, one matter will rise above all others.

It will be the vexed question of why Arsenal do not spend more, why they continue to lose marquee stars such as Robin van Persie and still refuse to join the real big spenders. They are understandable questions after seven years without a trophy.

Wenger and Arsenal's hierarchy were unlikely to receive an easy ride come what may. The manner in which they were dismantled by Schalke will make the inquisition even more pointed and painful.

Arsenal barely created a chance worthy of the name and once Schalke realised that Brazilian left-back Andre Santos was - and this is not a phrase used lightly - a complete liability, the game was up.

Schalke were, and this will also pain those who continue to champion the Premier League as the great global brand above all others, technically and tactically superior to Arsenal and fully deserved the win goals from Klaas-Jan Huntellar and Ibrahim Afellay gave them.

Consolation comes for Arsenal in the shape of likely qualification for the last 16 but it was not a performance designed to appease or reassure a worried fan base.

While Wenger faces shareholders, Mancini faces old demons and arguably an even bigger inquest after proving once more that he cannot get a handle on the Champions League.

It is true City were drawn in the time-honoured "Group of Death" - but this does not mean manager and players had to hasten their own demise with a series of self-inflicted wounds. This was a group any of the Premier League's quartet would have found difficult. The champions are making it look impossible.

City's failure to qualify for the knockout games last season was put down to the testing transformation of a first season in Europe's elite competition. There can be no excuses for their abject effort this time.

It is now only an outside bet that City will even rise to third place in their group and claim a slot in the Europa League, although whether they want that is another matter.

The added complication is that if City fail to turn what looks like a terminal situation around, their lack of pedigree in the tournament leaves them wide open to the prospect of another hazardous draw should they qualify next season.

There are still games to play and still opportunities to avoid those inquests. On the evidence so far, however, all signs points to an early farewell.

And if that happens, much of the spotlight will fall on Mancini who, despite his successes in domestic competition, has failed to master the intricacies of this tournament. He never got further than the last eight during his successes at Inter Milan and unless the sky falls in on their Champions League rivals this season, it will start to represent a scar on his City record.

Mancini was brutally honest in accepting he prepared badly for the game and seemed to spend much of the night in Amsterdam attempting to correct his failings without ever coming close to finding the answer.

Just reaching the Champions League was an achievement for City last season but there was pride at stake this time after winning the Premier League title. In place of pride has come embarrassment after the capitulation in Amsterdam.

For a team that was based on the solid Mancini template, they have looked horribly vulnerable in Europe and this must be a major concern. Defender Micah Richards hinted at confusion and a lack of tactical understanding from the players when the Italian switched to three at the back.

The more Mancini tries to find the formula that will bring him satisfaction in the Champions League the more it appears to elude him and frustration was writ large on his face after this latest defeat.

There have been moments at home when it has looked like Mancini has put all the pieces in place, a solid defence locked on to a gifted and varied attack by the powerhouse that is Yaya Toure. On foreign soil the effect has never been as convincing and it was exemplified against Ajax.

The whole message of the evening appeared to be a manager and players ill-at-ease in this arena. As a result it is an arena they are unlikely to be occupying for much longer.

Champions League failure is hardly likely to plunge the Mancini regime into crisis but there is little doubt City's Abu Dhabi owners will have been disappointed with events in Amsterdam. They celebrated winning the English league title but their ambition is such that it is certain they wanted a lot more than a group stage exit in Europe's premier competition.

In Mancini and City's defence, winning the Champions League is no quick job. It should be remembered it took just under nine years of extraordinary investment in Chelsea by owner Roman Abramovich before they claimed the crown.

This will be of no consolation to City as they face another early elimination and one of Mancini's immediate tasks will be to ensure the pain of events in Europe does not impact on domestic affairs as they try to retain the Premier League.

Where there is life there is hope - but even Mancini appeared resigned to Manchester City's fate after another dismal Champions League night.

Comments

Page 1 of 8

  • Comment number 1.

    WE were not "dismantled " other than that your live analyse of Arsenals performance was SPOT ON !

  • Comment number 2.

    Man City have a bottomless pit of money BUT they don't have a divine right to perform well in the Champions League.

    It's their second full season in this competition and as a result as a 'team' (individually they do have experience), they're very inexperienced.

    And to be fair, they're in a very tough group! And as a Red I didn't expect them to get out of the group, I even think we'd have struggled!

  • Comment number 3.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 4.

    I believe it takes time for Premier League teams to learn how to acclimatise to games in Europe.
    I know that Mancini & many of his players have European experience but he clearly knows that they have to do things different to Premier League styles.
    I'm not a City fan but I think they'll get there in time, provided the owners & fans are patient.

  • Comment number 5.

    group of death but I was expecting more from champions of England

  • Comment number 6.

    #2
    Dortmund finished bottom of their group last season, and are only 4th and 12 points behind already in the Bundesliga this season. In other words they've gone backwards. Ajax, whilst easy on the eye, are no threat in Europe anymore.

    Tricky group, but one City should be able to negotiate

  • Comment number 7.

    Whilst Arsenal looked to be well beaten last night, i've no doubt they'll still qualify due to the lack of talent in the other two teams below themselves and Schalke.

  • Comment number 8.

    a Word or Two if i may;

    Firstly, the treatment of Gervinho buy a certain section of the crowd was a disgrace,
    yes its true, the guy is not quite the real deal, but he worked his socks off, trying !
    he should of course played out wide, where he is very effective.

    as for Santos, he could solve our striker problem

    as for Ramsey ? every time i watch him he flatters to deceive , hes slow, lazy and clumsy.

    Giroud should be loaned out to sunderland to learn his trade, the guy is about as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike

    now then, about a certain Spanish magician called Cazorla, good player he may be, but we should get to carried away with the hype that is surrounding him at the moment , he might have a good touch, but his shooting leaves a lot to be desired.

    Arteta, whats gone wrong with this guy / is his contract up for renewal as well

    Those thinking the inclusion of Wilshire will be the catalyst of better things to come ?
    think again !

    All in all a very poor performance by them all particularly Vermaelen, who's game also seems to have got worse since being promoted to captain.

    on the bright side Gnabry showed some nice touches, even though he was only there for 15 mins.

    a final word about the ref:

    he had a good game but made two big blunders.

    First, Schalke should have had Penalty, no doubt about it, Mannone brought him down
    booking the guy for a dive was out of order.

    Second, Booking Gervinho for falling over, due to body Momentum making him fall, was again uncalled for.

    we will beat Schalke easily in the return leg.

    and finally :

    thankfully I am not a City fan.

  • Comment number 9.

    Whilst Ferguson is obviously a good manager, some of his choices of players is very odd at times. Carrick at CB is a pretty rubbish choice considering how bad he was against Everton a while back, surely a much better bet would have been any one of the youth team CBs who are pushing for a place??

    Andre Santos is terrible and definitely not a Champions League standard player in any way shape or form.

    Man City have done roughly what most people would have expected of them to be fair, apart from they got lucky against Dortmund, who are a much better team despite the loss of Kagawa and Sahin (NB i said team not group of players). Tactically i find Mancini pretty amateur, finishing with 4 strikers in a game where you have been outclassed so much isn't really going to help things when the other team is dominating the midfield.

    Chelsea couldn't ride their luck any longer at this stage and i feel that DiMatteo will get found out soon, in the premier league they can overpower teams with the amazing attacking talent they have but at this level they will come up against much better drilled teams and get exposed.

  • Comment number 10.

    Well of course City weren't going to get out of this group, everyone who knows about football knew that the second they were drawn with Real and Dortmund. What has surprised me, and I can't be alone here, is the manner of their performances. Falling apart so readily under pressure by Real, when they were in a strong position, and getting absolutely pulverized at home by Dortmund. Then last night I don't think they played that badly, but when Ajax turned it up just a little with their quick, competent short game, City just couldn't deal with them, it's usually City who do that to other teams.
    If Ajax did that to them so easily, how do they expect to fare against Barcelona?

    And if you want to win the CL odds are you'll have to face Barca at some point...

  • Comment number 11.

    You just can't compare Man City's recent journey to Chelsea's. The starting point was different for, er, a start.

    Anyway, what will be difficult at Arsenal's AGM? They make money, which seems to be their raison d'etre. Job done. They believe that they play the prettiest football. (They don't.) They believe that FFP will help them win things. (It won't.) And Wenger believes they have a good transfer policy. (They don't.)

    But, how are Man City making such a mess of this?

  • Comment number 12.

    Have to agree with #6

    Whilst undoubtedly the trickiest group, it shouldn't be this much of a problem for Man City. Mancini must be hoping for a Europa League berth at this stage, can you imagine trying to tell one of Tevez /Balotelli they will only be playing in Fa Cup matches and the odd subs spot in the league this season. Not even a Capital One Cup run to keep them going.

    Having said that I am surprised at Arsenal and Chelsea's results. Celtic were unlucky at Barca.

    Did bring a wry smile to my face after all the pointing and gesturing at Man Utds defensive frailties and "shocking" midfield, they still go the job done. Granted it was only Braga, but 3 wins from 3 and the combination of other results in the group makes for pleasant reading, a win in Braga and the last 2 games can be used for the likes of Wootton, Buttner, maybe even Powell if he shakes off his dead leg.

    United will need to improve in the knock out phases but have to say I am enjoying the 3-2s much more than 90 minute 1-0's

  • Comment number 13.

    BBC - Any chance we can introduce a filter for these blogs? There were 735 comments on yesterdays 'Eventful Braga game encapsulates Man Utd's season' of which 186 were Eduard_Streltsov_Ghost and derwaldmann bickering (at least ESG is a United fan as opposed to derwaldmann who got slightly off-topic with his childish rant about gloryhunting fans).

    These blogs can be quite readable with lots of good points - the problem is you have to skip through a lot of baiting, arguing and nonsense to get to them.

  • Comment number 14.

    Mancini graciously takes the blame and so he should. He is an average manager at best who seemingly forgets about the wealth of riches at his disposal.

    Still City will have to go for it now which may nullify Mancini's tactical ineptitude and the overly cautious apporach that prevented them winning the league the season before last and almost blowing it last season.

  • Comment number 15.

    I was working last night and missed the game, when I saw the score I couldn't stop laughing. A good result for Football in general to see the money bags lose to a youthful team which has been nurtured from its academy. Taking last seasons fluke by Chelsea aside, results in the CL for the English sides over these past few years have been awful and the final nail in the coffin for the argument that the Premier League is the best League in the World when it clearly isn't.

  • Comment number 16.

    @14

    I actually disagree I think Mancini is a good manager, he just seems to lack conviction sometimes and can't always change his team to get it right when it wasn't right at the start, but no manager gets it right every time.
    It's very harsh to take away from Ajax what was a very solid controlled performance, they didn't lose it when they went behind, and Eriksson had a terrific game.

  • Comment number 17.

    Second, Booking Gervinho for falling over, due to body Momentum making him fall, was again uncalled for.

    -----------------------------------------

    Ha, an interesting take on one of the most pathetic dives in the history of football!

  • Comment number 18.

    #17 Weallfollowunited

    Whilst I only saw a brief clip, it certainly looked like Gervinho managed to turn his head to look at the ref BEFORE he'd even landed!

  • Comment number 19.

    I little bit of humor

    I see a blue moon fading ( at least in champions league)
    I see trouble on the way
    I see manger getting sacked (if he's not gonna retain league)
    I see bad times today

  • Comment number 20.

    This issue around Arsenals finances. Would Arsenal fans still have been watching if Wenger had come out and said "Building this stadium will stop us buying significant players and we'll likely have to sell our best ones, but when FFP rules come into force we'll be a major force again"

    He couldn't do that of course because people wouldn't have filled the stadium.

    I would feel aggrieved if I was a Gooner that the club has lied to me. They may come good again in the future but the last 7 years and the next 3 are bare. I would be asking questions because you've not had the truth.

  • Comment number 21.

    @18 WFU

    bored/ nothing better to do than troll the blogs ?

    he fell over, due to be fairly challenged and lost his balance, he did not " look " for the penalty, your confusing 40000 plus fans shouting for it, very similar to what happens at OT on a regular basis.

    neither was a " dive " neither deserved to be book for simulation , however the rest of the country Wellbeck needs special mention when it comes to " dives "

  • Comment number 22.

    @15

    That's a completely ludicrous statement, in the last 8 years only the 09-10 season didn't see an English team in the final. And in that time 3 different English teams have won it, the 2 Milan teams have won it, and Barca has won it 3 times.

    Hardly awful results from the last few years, so I don't know what you're on about.

  • Comment number 23.

    I would say the AGM today would be a chance for supporters to express their deep dissatisfaction with how the club is being run. How it would be better for Kroenke to step aside and Usmanov to take his place with David Dein brought back. How, after 16 years and 7 years of sod all, it is time for the manager to be moved aside and for a younger coach to come in with a fresh approach and new ideas.

    Instead it will be a tame affair as the majority of Arsenal fans have had their expectations managed to such a degree that everything is rosy. It's pathetic and as an Arsenal fan of over 30 years it sickens me to the core.

  • Comment number 24.

    Got what we deserved really..not impossible to get out the group but highly improbable! Oh well not that long ago we were in the 2nd division so not gonna be too upset by it if we go out....just glad to be in it in the first place

  • Comment number 25.

    It was another abject performance from City and their manager in Europe. That said, none of the English sides have been good in this competition so far, it would appear that a successful style in the Premier league does not lend itself to the Champions league any more.

    For some reason, City do not press the opposition in Europe as they do in the premier league. Effectively, they are giving better players more time and space to play. Its bizarre. They have shown far too much respect for the opposition and have been brutally punished.

    They have also shown a deeply engrained weakness for closing out a game. They create many chances but don't take them. The fact is they have been in winning positions in both away games and have lost.

    The Defence is shocking this year and the changes in formation and personel aren't helping that. They also have a new Italian coach who is in charge of the defence, Angelo Gregucci. He doesn't speak any English which might explain a lot.

    Because of their seeding and bad luck in the draw, it is a tough school. I doubt any of the English sides would progress from this group. But the reality is the players just haven't performed, it is that black and white.

    People will say there is no team spirit or fight. That is just ignorance and laziness. If that were the case they wouldn't have won the league last year, or beaten West Brom from a goal and a man down.

    It seems rather unlikely that Mancini 'didn't prepare properly' for such a massive match. He is probably just protecting the players. It does however seem foolish to change the style and formation that was so successful last year.

    They need to shape up and do it very quickly. Otherwise they will not win anything this season and Mancini might well be looking for another job.

  • Comment number 26.

    MANCINI WOOOAAAHOOOOOO....... for the sack haha then pep or the likes to come in and spend more....

  • Comment number 27.

    13.
    At 10:31 25th Oct 2012, socrates_says wrote:

    BBC - Any chance we can introduce a filter for these blogs? There were 735 comments on yesterdays 'Eventful Braga game encapsulates Man Utd's season' of which 186 were Eduard_Streltsov_Ghost and derwaldmann bickering
    _______________________

    Sounds like you have too much time on your hands if you bothered to add up the amount of posts from those two...

  • Comment number 28.

    Utd fan here.

    Citys performance has been appalling in the Champions league this season so far. In my opinion they played far much better last season than they are doing this season. It means Mancini did not learn much from last seasons experience he has failed tactically and his team despite all the talent cannot just cope with the continental game.

    To me the problem is the manager, he has a dismal record in Europe and if City fail again next season and fail to win the league it will be time up for Mancini.

    On English teams I think Man Utd are also not good enough this season we might make it out of the group phase but maximum might be the quarter final, Chelsea are also not strong and history does not favor previous season winners to win it the next season, Arsenal also might be quarter finals. It means a barren year for English teams this season unless we see another Chelsea style miracle.

  • Comment number 29.

    #23 charlie

    It would be a chance to ask Kroenke what his intentions are.

  • Comment number 30.

    They really can't sack Mancini, ain't gonna happen. New manager = new players and they can't afford it (from an FFP viewpoint as well as the squad limit)

  • Comment number 31.

    29.At 10:57 25th Oct 2012, MrBlueBurns wrote:
    #23 charlie

    It would be a chance to ask Kroenke what his intentions are.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    lol - he's called Silent Stan for a reason mate!

  • Comment number 32.

    City inexperienced in europe? Dortmund only took part in their first champions league last season for years so this is also a very inexperienced german side. Ajax although regular competitors in europes premier competition now cannot compete with the spending powers of the City's of the world.

    We're just using excuses here for a team who ultimately think they can just turn up and win games. They may be English champions but they need to earn the right to be arrogant. Real Madrid have an arrogance about them which stems from years of success, City seem to think they have a right to win games because they spend a fortune on players and have won exactly 1 Premier League.

  • Comment number 33.

    Oh and a major factor nobody seems to get is that City have built Champions League success (relative of course) into their profitability projections. Without the extra games and prize money, FFP is really going to hurt in a year or so

  • Comment number 34.

    @30 Davejug1

    There is also the dilemma of who would want to take over at this point in the season. No top European manager would because it is likely their team will still be in the CL. Man City are not going to appoint one of the usual suspects when a Premier League job comes up so Mancini will probably get the rest of this season to win the title. If they don't I think he will be replaced in the summer and the new manager will get a big pot of cash.

  • Comment number 35.

    #21
    Well if Welbeck does then so does Gervinho.

    Absolutely pathetic attempt to con the ref. Ask yourself this, if he just 'lost his balance' why did he appeal for the penalty?

  • Comment number 36.

    More telling I think. Is that neutral fans of English football no longer care how any team fairs in the Champions League. Chelsea and Manchester City represent the death of football. Could not care less.

  • Comment number 37.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 38.

    "What a humbling 24 hours it has been for the Premier League as blows have been inflicted to its not inconsiderable pride at home and abroad"

    What a load of nonsense. One bad champions league round doesn't show premier league brittleness any more than one wonder goal makes a player world class. The media drive me up the wall when it comes to comment on Euriopean football.

    If the premier league teams romp through the first rounds of the CL, it shows the financial muscle in football and demonstrates the gulf in class, cliche, cliche etc. etc. If the alternative happens, then it demonstrates the poor quality of the premier league and it becomes a humbling experience etc. etc. cliche cliche cliche.

    Phil, why jump to a premature conclusion with so little evidence. Surely, a deeper analysis would point to factors such as European teams gaining more consistent experience and the diversity of players across the leagues. Perhaps you'd look at the physicality of the premiership taking it's toll on the top players as they adjust to playing 3 games a week again. Maybe it's a case of top teams over rotating in an effort to stay competitive on all fronts.

    Proper analysis, not broad brush sentiment please!

  • Comment number 39.

    #37
    The comments of a faceless troll don't really hurt anyone pal.

    Gervinho dived, end of.

  • Comment number 40.

    14.... you are spot on, as I wrote yesterday, underneath the superficial "this is the greatest league in the world" bandwagon, all 4 english teams have failed in the 13 matches between them so far in Europe (Chelsea's loss to Athletico is relevant given how Juventus and Shakhtar troubled them) to represent this so called glorious greatest league.

    But for United's indomnitable spirit, it would have looked like a bus crash for all four teams. But thats what you get when you create a league that is nothing more than a cashcow. Money can bring lots but what it hasnt brought is all the home grown talent. Other countries not blinded by the cash are catching up and that is going to be a big problem for the so called greatest league.

  • Comment number 41.

    "In Mancini and City's defence, winning the Champions League is no quick job. It should be remembered it took just under nine years of extraordinary investment in Chelsea by owner Roman Abramovich before they claimed the crown."

    It also took 8 managers, in the form of Ranieri, Mourinho, Grant, Scolari, Hiddink, Ancelotti, Villas Boas and Di Matteo, with Di Matteo being the one who brought him the trophy.

    Only 3 of those 8 managers managed to make suitable progress in Europe with Chelsea (Mourinho, Grant, Di Matteo). I have the feeling the same will happen with Man City. Also, if UEFA Financial Fair Play is going to be put into place soon, the Chelsea's and the Man City's of today will be in trouble, because they spend a lot more than they make. Man City will not be able to do what Chelsea did, because of this.

  • Comment number 42.

    Arsenal
    Players played out of position = an unbalanced team, which = certain defeat against half decent opposition who are balanced as a unit.

    City
    A team fit for purpose, that purpose was winning the premiership, maybe no one told Mancini, it was a Champions League game. Team pick wrong, tactically wrong. Will they learn? NO

  • Comment number 43.

    #40
    But they'll more than likely be three english teams qualifying for the knock-out stages still.

    One English team is also played 3 won 3, is that failure?

  • Comment number 44.

    You have to take into account the quality of this group I doubt any English club would qualify from it.

    In truth City have spluttered all season and this was waiting to happen.

    City did have the better chances but never took control of the match and the defence in the 2nd half was poor.

    Garcia should make quite an improvement when he returns to protect the defence.

    Good comments at #2.

  • Comment number 45.

    Only signed in to say a big hahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!! to the guy who thought Gervinho's sniper collapse was merely losing his balance!! hahahahahahahahaha!!!!

    Leaving your leg in to win a penalty/free kick is clever and has been around for years, this diving malarky is sickening to watch, and we go blaming foreigners when we have numerous culprits and naive refs that 'fall' for it!
    Needs cutting out and I think the ref last night got both at Arsenal SPOT on. Good man

  • Comment number 46.

    #41 Zee Zee Top

    I think I am right in saying that for FFP purposes, Chelsea's financial results for 2010/11 showed a loss of £7m. I believe criteria is losses of £45m over a three year period are allowed.

    If correct, Chelsea are ok.

    (And this assumes that FFP will work and will be applied.)

  • Comment number 47.

    43.
    At 11:20 25th Oct 2012, Weallfollowunited wrote:


    #40
    But they'll more than likely be three english teams qualifying for the knock-out stages still.

    One English team is also played 3 won 3, is that failure?
    ______________________________

    It's like England in internationals though.

    For English clubs getting to the knockout stage of the CL should be as straighforward due to seeding (Man City being the exception) as England qualifying for the World Cup. So far English clubs have made heavy work of progressing to the knockout stage as England are in World Cup qualifying.

  • Comment number 48.

    Some of the 'songs' on here are truly embarassing...one has brackets in predicting the future haha.

    we were awful truly poor, went 1-0 up and thought we had won the game, Ajax's 1st was a good move the second was zonal marking from a corner and the 3rd was a deflection, make of that what you will.

    it is half term after all isnt it? the kids are out...

  • Comment number 49.

    42. Londoner in exile returns

    what team would you have picked and what tactics would you have used?

  • Comment number 50.

    #48 signori

    Are you somehow suggesting that your manager and players should go back to school?

  • Comment number 51.

    The fact of the matter is this. City have a pretty low co-efficient score. They are always going to be in Pot B until their co-efficient increases. The only way they can do this is by either getting out of difficult groups or if they don't actually taking the Europa League seriously. I reckon if they do get knocked out and win the PL and Europa League, which isn't a far fetch at all, they might get enough points. Whether or not UEFA have rules saying that 4 teams from the same country can't be in the same pot (can't remember that ever happening before), City have to do well in Europe before they'll avoid such groups in the CL.

    But weren't Dortmund in Arsenal's group last year? I remember them being pretty woeful to be honest and they haven't changed their style of play. They lost perhaps their best player over the last few years (Goetze has been injured a fair bit) in Kagawa to us (who's signing I believe is a good one) but they look like they have upped their game a lot more.

    And this isn't a dig at City, but it looks like they haven't. Which is strange because they have all the talent, but their setup seems all wrong. Their most creative players (Toure, Silva etc) need to be on the ball as much as possible. Drawing comparisons with United from Tuesday night, as soon as Kagawa came infield and Rooney dropped a bit deeper, we looked far more comfortable in possession and dictated the game from 25 mins onwards pretty much. Naivety in Europe cannot be an excuse for any English team.

  • Comment number 52.

    #47
    We haven't made heavy work of qualifying, and Chelsea and Arsenal are still well placed to qualify despite a bad result this week. Whether English teams have enough to win it this year I have my doubts but that remains to be seen. A lot can happen between now and the knock-out games.

    City should have ( and to be fair still can) got through this group, they've got no excuses.

  • Comment number 53.

    City are more or less a new team. You can't even compare them to Chelsea, who by the time the russian came along, actually had a half-decent side. There is no way they would have won the premiership without his investment, but they were already in the champions league without his money and also had previous (around the 2000 season if i remember rightly - 2 very exciting CL knock-out games vs Barca) history. City on the other hand didn't even win one single major trophy for over 30 years and weren't even close to doing so for a very long time. So you can't compare the 2 in any way at all. And whilst they have done well to win the league as quickly as they have (ok, with that kind of money Huddersfield could make a return to the top of english football, but thats another debate.....), you can hardly call them settled. And to win the champions league you need more then just talent (of which city have plenty), you also need a settled and experienced team - experienced in the sense that the team have grown together to a certain extent. And that is just not given at the moment. Add to that the fact that they are in a very difficult group and I'm not entirely surprised that they are struggling.

    They also have not really faced a domestic battle at the highest level either....Of course they showed great spirit turning around the game vs QPR, but the league generally has lost a lot of quality over the last 3 - 4 years.

    Arsenal who then had Fabregas, Nasri and Van persie have lost all 3 of them and whilst they have started buying players, none of them bar Cazorla looks like they've got the quality required at the very highest level

    United have refused to buy a midfielder for around 5 years now and lets face it, whilst you can't really replace Ronaldo, you get the impression that they didn't even try doing so

    Chelsea until around 18 months ago had the same team as 3 - 4 years ago and it is a simple fact that regardless of quality you need to make reinforcements. Asides from that some of their players are ageing somewhat....They have now done something about that and if they gel properly they will have a team that would have easily won the league last year


    So when people wonder why the english clubs don't look the dominant force it's no wonder why in my view - the top clubs have all made a step back. Although I don't understand those questioning everything....Arsenal and Chelsea will probably qualify for the next stage and United most definetely should after the start they've had (dogdy performances, but with 9 points well on track)

  • Comment number 54.

    27. BaggiosPonytail:
    "Sounds like you have too much time on your hands if you bothered to add up the amount of posts from those two..."

    If you click on someone's name, all of their posts come up, in sets of ten. You only have to count the pages - it probably took two minutes. I do have an A in GCSE maths though.

    .

    Regarding the tiresome 'best league in the world' nonsense, Spain and Italy's teams didn't exactly cover themselves in glory this week either.

  • Comment number 55.

    it comes down to midfield. cl football is a lot more complex and subtle than english domestic football. they need to buy 1 cb, replace balotelli, and up to 3 central midfield players who are technically and tactically on a much higher level than gareth barry. you can win the epl being strong, powerful and efficient in midfield, the cl requires a bit more finesse and class.

  • Comment number 56.

    Ajax, the team of Johan Cruijf, Seedorf, Davids, Sneijder, Van der Vaart, Nigel de Jong, Patrick Kluivert, Marco van Basten (All youth exponents) Jari Litmanen, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Steven Pienaar, Maxwell, Klaas jan Huntelaar, Luis Suarez and i can give you 100 other names. They never stop giving us excellent players!

  • Comment number 57.

    FFP ? obviously true to form the ingerlish contingent are sleep walking through reality.

    they have had so much time to prepare the fiddles such a scheme is not, nor will it be, worth the paper its written on.

    As one poster has said I hope Arsenal themselves are not " banking " on such a scheme to bring about a level playing field .

    in any event FFP would not have changed last nights results, unless i am missing something of course.

  • Comment number 58.

    baggiosponytail @34

    One of the problems facing City, the current team is more than capable of retaining the premiership. It looks like an early exit from Champions League and that will only help them in the race for the premiership. But it is where they go from here that will define the future.

    There is also that point we both felt was rearing its head again, implosion, the team has no discipline and fails to respect the management or the club. It almost cost them last season but this time is different because they face more than one opponent when it comes to the title.

    Will winning the title be enough for City? It could go either way because after last seasons title triumph, that was the time City should have said 'thanks Roberto but goodbye' But of course they kept faith in him, even though his weakness was there for all to see.

  • Comment number 59.

    #57 HaHA CharadeYouAre2

    Do you actually KNOW how FFP will work?

    I think it may be you who is sleep walking.

  • Comment number 60.

    why the moaning about English clubs? The champions league is supposed to be the elite competition in football. Its not supposed to be easy!! A few years back, the group stages were a more tiresome process which had obvious outcomes from the draw..Now we are seeing some excitement, its for the good of football surely! Still, the reality is that Chelsea, United and Arsenal will qualify with relative ease.

  • Comment number 61.

    Chelsea may have taken 9 years to win the cup, but I think you will find we were in about 6 semi finals before that, and at least one of those, against Barcelona who had only one shot on target at the bridge, was an travesty and we had 3 good penalty shouts turned down.
    I also believe we have had these panic postings before when Man Utd came 3rd or 4th in their group one year, yet check the facts, by country who has had the most finalists, semi finalists and quarter finalists over the last 10 years of the Champions League. i think you will find England are top 3 at least and may be number 1.
    And Platini's fair play rules will only benefit the big teams in the big leagues.

  • Comment number 62.

    @58. , Londoner in exile returns

    There is also that point we both felt was rearing its head again, implosion, the team has no discipline and fails to respect the management or the club.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Its only rearing its head in your mind..............nonsense.

  • Comment number 63.

    Anyone else notice how evil Shreeves can be with post-match interviews?! Quality but still evil!

  • Comment number 64.

    @56,

    Although you can't knock Ajax for their methods it would be nice if someone on this website would write down a few facts. Not that I would expect someone like Bevan to do it, I seriously don't know why he gets paid, but given that he interviewed De Boer recently you would have thought that a little more research could have been made.

    Fact of the matter is that Ajax more or less have the pick of their entire country. They have trials at an extremely young age for youths across the whole of Holland and whilst I'm sure that the likes of PSV and Feyernoord replicate this to a certain extent (i don't know if they do), Ajax do have an extremely good pick of youngsters - no 90 minute rule there (i think thats been abolished here as well, either way there appeared ways around it, but in England you could not have done what Ajax have been doing for years).

  • Comment number 65.

    #63 11_Giggsy_11_dont_save_606

    Actually, I think Shreeves is becoming a bit of a joke, if he wasn't already. He asks pretty inane questions just fishing for a quote. Most of the time, he gets the bland reply that means we all lose.

    If interviewers just asked an honest open question, I think we would get much more interesting response.

  • Comment number 66.

    #58
    I don't think it's a coincidence that Silva's and especially Kompany's form have deteriorated after getting big pay rises.

    The passion seems to be gone. Last season (less so for Silva past january) both were immense, this season they seem quite happy to turn up, run around a bit and go home regardless of what's happened on the pitch.

  • Comment number 67.

    The big City signings went there for one reason: ££££££££££££££££££££££.
    Success is secondary.

  • Comment number 68.

    @46., MrBlueBurns

    I think I am right in saying that for FFP purposes, Chelsea's financial results for 2010/11 showed a loss of £7m.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------

    Chelsea just a 7m loss? Who are your accountants Del Boy & Rodney LLP?

  • Comment number 69.

    @46

    your figures are wrong, chelsea made £71.9 million loss in 2011 and that didn't include transfers that summer.

    on the subject of city, saying it's a hard group is a cop out, arsenal eliminated dortmund last year, united eliminated ajax (granted from europa league) and chelsea eliminated the spanish champion. city's problem is they always don't play to win in europe, against real they went looking for a draw and against dortmund and ajax they were willing to accept a draw. they thought dortmund would lose home and away to real, they expected to beat ajax at home and a draw with real at home (as they would have already have qualifed as group winners) leaving a winner takes all in the last game. they underestimated the quality of dormund and ajax and are now about to pay the price

  • Comment number 70.

    8.
    At 10:21 25th Oct 2012, HaHA CharadeYouAre2 wrote:

    good honest post.

    67.
    At 11:50 25th Oct 2012, parkthebuskickandrush wrote:

    The big City signings went there for one reason: ££££££££££££££££££££££.
    Success is secondary.
    =-=-=-
    ive always said it, theres a massive difference in buying a team and creating a team.

  • Comment number 71.

    65

    Aye, once in a while it comes off and when it does, he gets a gem. But he does over-do it quite a bit.

  • Comment number 72.

    #68

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2094476/Chelsea-post-68m-losses.html

    BlueBurns, are we missing something? Granted the Daily Mail isn't exactly the greatest paper in the world!

  • Comment number 73.

    Man City have been rubbish all season - i dont see the surprise that they wont get out of this group? its full of quality.

    Shakhtar, i believe, are 12 for 12 in their league this season and while Chelski have also been impressive, a 2-1 result is hardly a shock.

    The Gooners have been poor most of the season with the odd good performance (such as against my beloved Liverpool) so again, not hugely surprised.

    Uniteds defence (with injuries) and midfield has been fairly weak for a few seasons now so again not a surprise they conceded 2. Their attack however is incredible so outscoring the opposition seems the only way forward at the moment until they sign a better DM and maybe a fullback (Buttner looks very poor, i remember reading something on BBC from a person based in Holland saying its a shock United bought him as hes not that good, seems about right?). Evra fading, Ferdy not the player he was, 3 injuries (Vidic, Jones, Smalling) and a shakey keeper leaves a lot to be desired.

    Fergie will get it right though and i expect them to win the league and reach semis of CL. Gooners lucky to get top 4, wont get past knockout stages. Chelski 2nd in league, quarters at best in CL. Man City will get 3rd/4th in the league and obviously wont get out of their group. Mancini is rubbish in my opinion - were it not for Agueros 93rd minute winner last season, he would already be gone.

  • Comment number 74.

    52.
    At 11:32 25th Oct 2012, Weallfollowunited wrote:

    #47
    We haven't made heavy work of qualifying, and Chelsea and Arsenal are still well placed to qualify despite a bad result this week. Whether English teams have enough to win it this year I have my doubts but that remains to be seen. A lot can happen between now and the knock-out games.

    City should have ( and to be fair still can) got through this group, they've got no excuses.
    ____________________________

    Utd have done what they needed to do so far but will struggle when they face a good team in the knockout stages.

    Arsenal will qualify relatively easily but the same thing will apply.

    Chelsea have made it difficult for themselves but if they do progress to the knockout stage probably have the best opportunity to go far in the competition.

    It was always going to be a tough ask for City to make it out of their group and they have been woeful so far. They have absoluely no change of making it out of the group.

    I'd actually like to see English clubs do well in Europe but based on performances last season and now this season I believe Chelsea are the only team who can challenge.

  • Comment number 75.

    @61

    surely you mean " 9 years " to buy the cup ?

    @59 Mr B

    I am well aware of the idea behind the scheme, thats the problem though, its nothing more than a ' scheme ' and if you and others were following events more closely in terms of finances in general and the UK you would have noted the fiddles are continuing, the thieves are still very much at large raking it in.

  • Comment number 76.

    @74

    Should be chance not change.

  • Comment number 77.

    We're all behind Roberto, hope for another miracle but if not just concentrate on remaining champion and hopefully next year we wont be fixed up with another group of death while united get it easy

  • Comment number 78.

    68.
    At 11:51 25th Oct 2012, Sams Town wrote:

    @46., MrBlueBurns

    I think I am right in saying that for FFP purposes, Chelsea's financial results for 2010/11 showed a loss of £7m.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------

    Chelsea just a 7m loss? Who are your accountants Del Boy & Rodney LLP?
    =-------------------

    LOL :)

  • Comment number 79.

    @70 King RED

    Thanks ! at last someone bothered to note my " honest ' appraisal based on what I saw unfold, instead of singling out one aspect and call it a " pathetic excuse "

  • Comment number 80.

    70.
    At 11:54 25th Oct 2012, King Red wrote:

    ive always said it, theres a massive difference in buying a team and creating a team.
    __________________________

    Indeed. Individuals are bought, teams are developed. In Amsterdam yesterday Ajax were a team and City were a collection of talented individuals. Sometimes the whole is greater than the sum of the parts...

  • Comment number 81.

    @66. Weallfollowunited

    I don't think it's a coincidence that Silva's and especially Kompany's form have deteriorated after getting big pay rises.

    The passion seems to be gone. Last season (less so for Silva past january) both were immense, this season they seem quite happy to turn up, run around a bit and go home regardless of what's happened on the pitch.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Well Kompany is not playing as well this season but if a player is not on form does it always relate to their wages?

    When United failed to qualify from a much easier group last season was it due to the United's players caring more about their massive pay packets than the Club?

    Any evidence for this?

  • Comment number 82.

    #69 mwgl & #72 Weallfollowunited

    Well, I think you probably know by now that I don't say things just for the sake of it, I don't make them up and, as far as the financial's go, it was something of a surprise to me as well. But, that is why I ask the question about what people actually KNOW about FFP as opposed to what they think they know.

    For FFP purposes, Chelsea's 2010/11 figures are this:-

    Loss £67m
    Exceptional items £42m (mainly cost of changing managers)
    Adjusted loss £25m
    FFP exclusions £19m (youth, community and depreciation)
    Figure for FFP Loss of £6m.

    Bet that's an eye opener for some on here. It was for me as well. I'm not saying it's 100% accurate but, it includes more than we knew before.

  • Comment number 83.

    77.

    don't think you understand the seeding process, united get easy draws because the qualify of the quater/semi final ALMOST every year, untill city start to qualify for the knock out stages year in, year out, they will continue to get tough groups

  • Comment number 84.

    signori @49

    what team would you have picked and what tactics would you have used?
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I presume you are talking of City. For a start Milner in midfield, an important area of the pitch, especially in a European game. Yes he played there for Villa and did reasonably well but he's at City playing at a level far beyond his capability when it comes to central midfield.

    Dzeko was not the answer, Tevez was more the type of player needed from the start. It needs craft to beat Ajax, people seem to think that this type of team can be 'hammered into submission' those were Gary Neville's words and when he said it i almost choked.

    Tactically zonal marking will not work against a team like Ajax without the players who can play that system.

    Overall Mancini thought a team of big boys would beat a team of little boys, he forgot the craft element.

    The above are just the starting point to why it went wrong.

    If you read anything I wrote before the game, all week i had said this was the game to play and it depended upon Mancini and how he approached the game. Well I cleaned up thanks to the ridiculous approach of mancini.

  • Comment number 85.

    I find it ludicrous that people can make excuses for Man City and compare them to Chelsea, the facts are that they have bought every world class talented attacking player they can lay their hands on at an amazing expense and have had no success in Europe to speak of. Chelsea for all the money spent building our team over the years have never spent so much.

    The likes of Tevez, Aguero, Toure, Company, Silva could walk into the chelsea team even in their present guise so please spare me the sympathy that Man City need time to demonstrate their credentials... The facts are Mancini is not a champions League winning Manager and never will, Abromavich for all the money spent was also the catalyst for our success at Chelsea by knowing when a manager just wasn't going to cut it especially if performances in the CL were poor. Mancini's job is too safe, if a chelsea manager had these results in the CL we would be saying adios and not making excuses that the players need time to get used to playing in a competition most of them have played in and some of them like Toure even won

  • Comment number 86.

    Phil- All the EPL sides are struggling a bit in the CL, because their main focus and main concern is still the EPL. The tactics, player rotation, mental fortitude, etc are all very much geared to PL requirements and even teams like United and Arsenal with years of CL experience are getting caught out. Chelsea won it last year, but arguabley it was their collective will to win, that got them through.

    City as newcomers to the CL have a lot to learn and being English Champions they will find does not guarantee you anything in Europe. Manchini blames himself for the strategy etc, but lets be honest there were some below par performances from a number of City players last night!

  • Comment number 87.

    #81
    In a way yes, I think a few of them thought that some of the teams would be easy victory's and didn't try all that hard and that cost us. Basel at home especially was an example of that, 2-0 up and cruising and everyone switched off.

    Fortunately this season they've learnt their lessons. City have arguably got worse.

  • Comment number 88.

    It was another abject performance from City and their manager in Europe. That said, none of the English sides have been good in this competition so far, it would appear that a successful style in the Premier league does not lend itself to the Champions league any more.

    ---------------------------------------------
    I suppose 9 points from a possible 9 isn't good for you then. Or how about 6 from 9?

    There is no point saying none of the English teams have been good when one of them has got 9/9 points, because if you have maximum points from a group so far then you must have played better than the other 3 teams that you have already beaten. And Arsenal are also in the top 2 places - perhaps they could have played better but they have beaten 2 teams already. Chelsea need to improve but have currently got 4 points from 9 - a situation which isn't terrible - Shakthar have a good home record but they are poor away from home and Chelsea should get 3 points against them. Juventus are tough but not too hard to try and beat, whereas Nordjaelland should be a walkover. Man City are the only team who have really been poor - 1 point from a possible 9 - and there's no point whining about how Man City have a tough group - they had 4 points from their group last year at this stage, and that group had Bayern Munich, Napoli and Villareal.

  • Comment number 89.

    84.Londoner in exile returns

    So you've put Milner in the middle, Tevez for Dzeko and man to man marking for corners and we would have won?

    interesting.

  • Comment number 90.

    As long as Wenger pursues with his hobby of buying average attackers (Giroud, Bentdner, Park, Chamakh, Miyaichi), Arsenal will never win another trophy. He has all that money to spend and no doubt another average striker will follow in January

  • Comment number 91.

    Milner NOT in the middle! apologies.

    i suppose its easy to pick the faults and say what you'd have done after,

    Hindsight is wonderful thing.

  • Comment number 92.

    @ 82

    exceptional loses are still loses and count as loses in ffp, chelsea spend alot less on players that season and go through mangers faster than any other club. ffp staes clubs can lose £35 million a year (120 million euro's over 3 years to be exact) but only for the first 3 years after which they have to break even.

    chelsea are in a much better position than city to meet the requirements still have a long way to go

  • Comment number 93.

    what perplexes me about wenger and giroud is how the latter thinks he is more than capable of an immediate start in the 1st team.

    if it was me i would put the plank in the reserves and let him learn a bit about the english game from there.

    MR WENGER !!

    WE DONT NEED ANOTHER BENDTNER !!!!!! Aka TINA TURNER.

  • Comment number 94.

    #92 mwgl

    The point is, 2010/11 is outside of the reporting period and it assumes that exceptional's don't re-occur. 2011/12 figures are awaited with bated breath. If the loss is 'only', say, £25m then Chelsea will be very much going in the right direction.

  • Comment number 95.

    @87

    I think that is more over confidence and arrogance rather than players just caring about their wages and not the Club.

  • Comment number 96.

    #84
    Regardless of who played and who didn't, any combination of players that City selected should be beating Ajax.

  • Comment number 97.

    only watched the highlights last night and wish i had watched the games to get a true reflection of the performances. looked like arsenal got their a**es handed to them whilst man city were in the game but beaten by a more clinical team? always difficult to tell from 5 minutes of highlights.

    love the exasperation of souness in relation to zonal marking at corners and enjoyed the comparison of first team values - MC £191m, Ajax £2.7m.

  • Comment number 98.

    English Prem teams are not keeping up with the minimum standards of technical skill, stamina & attacking pace / movement. Until they are exceptional in all 3 areas they will fail in Europe.

    Standing off rather than closing down your opponents (effectively letting them have the ball all night) as a "counter-attacking tactic" might make you think the coach is intelligent. It isn't. The best teams around will not allow others any time at all on the ball, anywhere on the pitch. Mainly as they know they want the ball in order to score goals & win. Plus they know the defending team will almost invariably tire faster.

    It's really not a difficult concept.

  • Comment number 99.

    #95
    Agreed, but I think big pay rises won't exactly stop over confidence and arrogance from creeping in. As I said, some of our players had the look of 'we should we walking over these' last season without actually putting the effort in and they've had that kicked out them due to the humiliation of Europa League football. And probably a few hairdryers from Fergie!

    Some of City's players aren't playing like they were before they won the title. It's as if they think they've made it already, the Champions League experience last season should have told them they haven't yet.

  • Comment number 100.

    @ myblueburn

    fair point but chelsea paying compensation to mangers has been a regular thing over the last 6 years, do you think RDM will keep his job if chelsea don't win anything this year?

    like i said there in a better position but still alot of work to do

 

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