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The Roundtable: Why Are English Clubs Failing in Europe?

After a short hiatus, the FootyFair Roundtable is back. This feature is where we go beyond the headlines and talk to real football fans about current topics or issues in the football world.

Today the group discussed the struggles of English sides in Europe.

On the round table today we were joined by:

Iain (me)

Are English clubs not prepared for European competition?

Juan: If this trend continues, England could lose their fourth Champions League spot.

Hawk: There are too many competitions. A player like Rooney has the Premier League, the FA Cup, the Carling Cup, Internationals, and Europe on top of that.

Juan: I think it's because the best players are more spread out now around Europe, there's more competition. I also don't think the English style works in Europe.

Jay: It's not even English style Juan. Not a single team from the top 4 or even top 6 in the EPL play the same style of football.

Juan: Well Jay, I'm not sure, maybe you're correct. However, whatever the style of play is, it doesn't seem to be successful at the European level. In the past several years, since the "fall" of Manchester United, there hasn't been a consistent English performer at the European level. Sir Alex Ferguson didn't win as many European titles as he should have, but at least he could balance the workload between league and European play.

Luka: People forget that United had a 3 year period in the mid 2000's were they didn't make it to the QF's, so this is nothing new, it's just that the dominance of English clubs from the late 2000's has ended. I still think all these clubs will make it out of their groups.

Iain: The problem with English football now is that clubs are completely favouring foreign signings over developing home grown players, even if the foreign players are pretty average.

For a time English clubs tended to compliment their own youth products, or players signed from lower down the domestic pyramid, with quality foreign signings like Bergkamp, Henry, Zola, etc. Now even basic holding midfielders are brought in from abroad, rather than developing good, young domestic players.

The quality of football in the EPL has been on a downward slope for five years and this has also hurt the English national side.

Parmar: My thought is this, English clubs need to learn how to play "defenfuckingsive" football. They can't go toe to toe with the top clubs from Europe playing run and gun; love it or hate it but they can't. EPL is a very different style of football compared to the rest of Europe and English clubs have a hard time adjusting to the style of play from the get go these days. Like it or hate it and I know I'm in the minority with this, there is NOTHING negative about playing defense first and punching your opponent in the throat with a counter. Fuck we did it all the way through the 2011/2012 CL season. You want to be entertained then say a few hail mary's and hope to god your team can score one more goal than their opponent playing run and gun. You want to succeed and progress? Learn to play sound team defense. That's going to piss most of you off I know, but this is a view I have stated to you guys numerous times and do so weekly via BBM or whatever with some of you.

Jay: Can't disagree Parmar.

Hawk: A win is a win. No one cares how it happens. I sure as hell don't

Parmar: No argument from me Hawk, but you get some people that would rather play run and gun and lose than play defensive and play counter attack football. Then when they get blown off planet Earth they complain. Is is boring football? Sure, maybe. But if my team wins I really don't give a shit. Playing defensive counter attack football takes a lot of discipline to execute.

Jay: Yep, I want to watch attractive attacking football first... but you don't get to playing in the best matches against the best teams without putting in a defensive shift. English teams have jumped into the "Complete Fullback" era and forgot that you need to have a hard working CB pairing as well as a strong midfield to compliment. It also requires a lot of work and back tracking from your attacking players. This is something the Spanish teams do very well. Every player on the pitch puts in a shift and you often see them pressing in numbers. Benito Floro is trying to get the CMNT to do this, he calls it the 5 second press. Basically when you lose the ball, or if an attacker comes into your area, you press and hassle them for 5 seconds before dropping off and letting the next player hassle them for 5 seconds. It often causes turnovers, and definitely expends a lot of energy, but if you instill the work ethic into the players, you can reap the rewards. Barca plays a great pressing game when they don't have possession. It's never long before they retain the ball again.

Juan: I have been critical of "negative football", but I will concede that playing only attacking football is a death knell in Europe. You have to be able to play on both sides of the ball.


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