Another round of the Champions League is over and things have gone from bad to worse for Premier League giants Manchester United. Their miserable start to the 2023-24 EPL season appears to have spilled over to Europe’s premium club competition.
On Wednesday night, FC Copenhagen piled on the agony for United as the 13-time Premier League champions came a cropper 4-3. The defeat puts them in a precarious position. They are at the bottom of Group A with three defeats in four games. While mathematically they can still qualify for the last 16 but if truth be told it’s nothing short of a Herculean task. Their remaining two games are against Galatasaray and Bayern Munich, who have advanced to the next round having registered four wins in four games with a 2-1 victory coming on Wednesday against the Turkish side.
The tragic phase United is going through evokes sympathy even in non-United fans. They have always been a massive name in English as well as European football but for the last 10 years, since the departure of Alex Ferguson, they resemble like a drunk man trying to walk straight. Since Ferguson walked off into the sunset, United have brought on five full-time mangers, two caretaker managers and one interim manager. The club’s American owners, the Glazer family, have failed fans. It’s a top-to-bottom failure by all accounts.
This season, United have lost five times in the Premier League in their 11 games so far. They are nine points behind leaders Manchester City who are eyeing a their 4th successive title this season. For now, the only consolation the Red Devils can have is that they are at least faring better than Chelsea, another powerhouse of English football struggling at present, three points further adrift. Struggling teams often use the Champions League or the Europa League as a platform to repair their image among fans. Take Liverpool, for example who finished fifth last season in the domestic league but went on to play the Champions League final where they lost to Real Madrid in a close encounter.
Currently, to all intents and purposes, United don’t appear in the run for the either trophy. It’s a terrible phase for fans, especially those who have witnessed the club’s glory days particularly in the nineties and the noughties.
For a year, the takeover saga hasn’t helped the club either. The only person to have benefited from the developing situation appears to be manager Erik ten Hag, for the owners were getting the flak for everything chaotic at the club. But a bit of the spotlight has moved over him in the last month or so. Fans and experts have been equally unhappy about the way he has managed the team for the large part of his stint at the club. The future doesn’t look great presently and at this rate they may not be part of the Champions League next season.
In other results for the English clubs, Newcastle United are also having a lacklustre campaign. The Magpies, like the Red Devils, are at the bottom of their group with two losses in four games. Tuesday’s 2-0 loss against Borussia Dortmund has set their campaign back badly. Their remaining two games are against PSG and AC Milan, and going forward they really need to up their game.
In total contrast to ManU and Newcastle’s poor show, other English clubs in the competition Manchester City and Arsenal are enjoying top positions in their respective groups. The Blues beat Swiss side Young Boys 3-0 on Tuesday to advance to the next round, boasting four wins in four games now. Meanwhile, with three wins in four games, including Wednesday’s 2-0 win against Sevilla, the Gunners look good for a place in the next round with Lens and PSV lined up next.
From an English football point of view, City and Arsenal’s success in Europe so far will be appreciated but the ManU wound is too big and painful. For the game to continue flourishing in the United Kingdom as well as Europe, it’s paramount that the Red Devils stay a major force or else it will be total chaos for all parties concerned.