European football has played a big part in Manchester United’s history. Despite this, the club has arguably underperformed throughout the history of the European Cup and Champions League. For all their success, should United have won more than three titles? Can they shock the experts and claim a fourth at the end of this season?
The current state of play at Old Trafford and beyond
The last few years have been a roller-coaster for United. Despite spending huge amounts of money on massive names, they have struggled to perform when it matters. Very few people would consider them as anything like the favourites to win either of the big two trophies once again. This is reflected in UEFA Champions League betting where they are huge outsiders.
In the eyes of many punters and bookmakers, the current favourites to win the competition are Manchester City, PSG, Chelsea and Bayern. These teams all have immense quality running through their sides, but there is a route to the later stages for the likes of United. For all the inconsistencies, they have proven they can compete in the biggest games. This might eventually be reflected in some updated Champions League tips. Can the Red Devils pull off a huge shock to win the competition?
Not building on the success of 1999 and 2008
The one criticism you could have of Sir Alex Ferguson’s trophy-laden 26 years at Old Trafford was not building on the successful European campaigns of 1999 and 2008. After winning the competition in dramatic circumstances on both occasions, United should have strengthened in key areas. Most famously, when Peter Schmeichel left in 1999, United brought in Mark Bosnich who many fans saw as not really up to the standard of the legendary Danish goalkeeper. The replacement struggled with injury and only lasted a season.
Whilst they still dominated the English game, United often struggled to perform at their best in Europe. Very few people will forget Real Madrid’s dismantling of the team in 2000. This ended the brief hold of Europe’s main competition. Aside from a semi-final appearance in 2002, it did take the club a few years to compete again with the best.
What do they need to dominate Europe again?
This answer often depends on who you ask. Many fans point towards the Glazer family ownership of the club. They would argue that since their last final appearance in 2011, too many people within the club have been happy to simply qualify for the competition rather than challenging for the big title. After the club sold Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid in 2009, they were again linked with some of the world’s best players but ‘only’ signed Antonio Valencia, Michael Owen and Gabriel Obertan.
If you want to play for Man United, you’ve got to sign a contract. On this day in 2009 Michael Owen signed. pic.twitter.com/wN8kPHfSHz— . (@michaelsallen91) July 3, 2016
Others would point out that United have spent large amounts of money, but they lack a clear strategy and playing style. They would suggest that they need a world-class coaching staff before they bring back past glories. Whatever happens, it promises to be another fascinating period in the club’s rich history. Can they finally become Champions of Europe for the fourth time?