Man City – Why Can’t They Win the Champions League?
Every year, the English Premier League seems to be dominated by Manchester City, which has pretty much been the case since they were taken over in 2008 – and billions pumped into the squad. This team has since become the team to beat in England – but what is going wrong on the European stage? It seems that every year, football betting fans are told that Man City is the favourite to win – this year. But, every year they fail. It has become their achilles heel.
Once again, they have been knocked out. In just a few minutes of madness their Champions League dreams were squashed yet again as they bowed out to Real Madrid in the final few minutes of the second leg of the semis. Entering the 90th minute, they were 1-0 up, with a 2 goal lead on aggregate… but by the end of injury time they had conceded two goals, taking them into extra time, with Real sealing the deal with a penalty, Pep’s men faced yet another year of disappointment and failure. But what is the problem? Why can’t they win… they have no more excuses.
Last year, Pep’s squad went into the finals as strong favourites. They were playing the other famous English blue squad, Chelsea. They were above them in the Premier League and most believed them to be the better team going into the match. But they couldn’t get out of the Estadio do Dragao quickly enough after a shock defeat that saw Tuchel’s men claim victory by defeating them 1-0.
That night of despair saw Guardiola offer just the briefest post-match interview. They all piled out stony faced. 12 months later, they still barely talk about the night, almost like it never happened.
It seems that now, at the Etihad, the concept of winning the Champions League fills them with a mixture of desperation and expectation. This immense pressure seems to be taking its toll. Now, the team’s inability to win the UEFA Champions League since being transformed by the financial backing of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan in 2008 has become one of the world’s greatest sporting anomalies.
Can Money Buy Success?
Obviously not always. According to Transfermarkt, this team has spent almost £1.5 billion on transfers since the 2011-12 season. This is more than any other team in the world. They have also employed arguably the best manager and coach in the world – Pep Guardiola, who has had great success with Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Man City. He helped Barcelona to two Champions League titles – in 2009 and 2011.
There is no denying the domestic success of the club. They have qualified for the Champions League for eleven consecutive seasons since 2011. But, despite the financial advantages they have, this year was still only their third appearance in the semi-finals since the takeover fourteen years ago. In this time, Real Madrid has won four times, Barcelona has won three times, Chelsea has won twice, Liverpool has reached the final three times, won once – and has the chance to win again this season. Man United has also reached the finals twice, losing both times to Pep’s Barcelona team.
Time Is Up
No one would expect immediate success after a takeover, as the team needs time to build up, but that time is up. Following Abramovich’s Chelsea takeover in 2003, it took them 5 years to reach the Champions League final and nine years to win. Fourteen years after the Man City takeover, they are all still waiting – and will have to wait for yet another year at least for the ultimate prize.
When being interviewed in 2018, the club chairman made it clear that they expected the team to win the Champions League sooner rather than later. Although he said in the next ten years, he obviously indicated he expected it earlier than that. The excuse made, thus far, is that because the Premier League is such a tough league, they have difficult games week in, week out – which isn’t the case with all Champions League teams.
However, this is highly debatable. Since 2018, the Premier League has been dominated by Man City and Liverpool – with many of the other domestic challenges diminishing due to the quality and depth of the two best teams in the country – and arguably in Europe. The Sheikh’s continuing investment in the squad has made them stronger and stronger, to such an extent where there can simply be no mitigating factors for their Champions League failure.
So, what is their problem? Ultimately, it seems to be a mental block that they just can’t overcome for some reason. They get so close – and then, uncharacteristically choke at the last minute. Whether it’s losing 1-0 to a team they can usually beat comfortably, or conceding 2 goals at the last knockings. Each year, football betting fans pin their hopes on the Cityzens – and each year they fail to deliver. Maybe next time…