Well, lets see now. Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson walked out of a press conference the other day after a reporter claimed that the top two teams in England were struggling in Europe. He seemed to think that there was something funny about this statement and that the question was ridiculous. Personally, I think the comment hit a nerve and the phrase “the truth hurts” comes to mind.
Lets be realistic here though, there are degrees of struggling. Arsenal don’t appear to be, Manchester United haven’t been as dominant as in pervious years but aren’t losing games, Manchester City are very inconsistent and Chelsea have just been plain awful.
I watched Chelsea on Wednesday night against Bayer Leverkusen knowing that a win secured a place in the last 16 of the Champions League.After a patchy first half with neither team making a huge impression, Daniel Sturridge made a beautiful pas through to Didier Drogba who masterfully curled the ball in to the bottom corner, and that appeared to be that, well according to all the pundits and the commentators anyway. I, on the other hand was not so sure. I’ve seen Chelsea play quite a lot this year and I have yet to be confident in them taking all 3 points after taking a 1-0 lead in a match.
I don’t know what it is. Sometimes its tactics from AVB (Andre Villas-Boas) and sometimes its just plain sloppiness, but one thing is for sure, there just doesn’t seem to be anything happening. Its stale football. Giving away possession with fat too much ease, lazy passing, poor finishing and tiny flashes of good stuff from Sturridge who seems to be the only player on the park sometimes, but he lacks experience right now, all he has is drive.
Now or course, all the people in the know are saying that its time for him to go, or will he be there for long. Questions do need to be asked, but sacking is just not the right way to go. Chelsea are now a team in transition and I don’t think we will qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League and to be brutally honest it would be deserved. Manchester United have not been the force this year in Europe they once were and although I think they will qualify, they have been no where near good enough to show that they can win the tournament.
With problems on the field, AVB has certainly going to have to show what he is really made of in the coming weeks and months. He has boldly stated that Roman Abramovich isn’t going to sack him, and while I can see his reasoning, 13M Euros plus a compensation package isn’t that much for the billionaire to lose if he doesn;t get what he wants. AVB can talk all he wants and for now I trust in him, but the English media will get someone the sack this year and now that Blackburn boss Steve Kean has signed a new deal even in the face of all the “Steve Out” banners and campaigns, the papers might just turn their attention to someone more high profile. Welcome the England Andre Villas-Boas.
Europe is a tough nut to crack at the best of times, but when form isn’t good in your own league, turning that form around in one match in Europe is very hard to do as was proved in Germany on Wednesday.