An English team comes away with a Champions League title is a statement that we have not heard that in a while. Since Chelsea won the title in 2012, we have seen an all German final and an all Spanish final. Not since 2008 have we had an all English a Champions League final.
It has been very difficult to find an a consistent English competitor in the Champions League. There are several contributing factors to this situation. Firstly, the English FA is not very supportive of British teams competing in the Champions League. Several other governing bodies reschedule games in order for teams to better prepare and rest their squads. The lack of rest often creates injuries and fatigue, forcing managers to rotate their squad, or field a team of fatigued players. The first step to stronger English competitors is more support from the FA.
Secondly, and probably the most harsh, English teams have not been strengthened enough to compete abroad. This season, Chelsea were the only team that were equipped enough to be able to play in the Champions League and expect success. Manchester City do not have enough depth within their squad to compete both domestically and across Europe. This creates an inability to rotate quality players. Arsenal, in my opinion, don’t have enough talent to compete in either competition. And Liverpool essentially limped through group stages, guaranteeing an early exit. The only team that consistently competed in the Champions League for several seasons in a row was a Manchester United squad, coached by Sir Alex Ferguson. They were always the best equipped to fight on both front by maintaining a squad boasting depth in most major positions. However, we all know how that story has played out, as Manchester United haven’t even been good enough to participate in the competition. For us to be more successful, we must have better, deeper squads.
Finally, successful Champions League teams often have the opportunity to rest players during league games because of the lack of competitive nature of their league. However, English teams can’t afford to rest major players because dropping points in any league games can prove detrimental to achieving league goals. Due to the high level of competition in our league, the lack of rotation severely damages our Champions League aspirations.
But why does the Champions League miss us? English teams bring something different to the competition. Most people believe that the English Premier League is the best league in Europe. Why is this a widely held opinion? Well it can’t be based on talent alone simply because of the lack of results in Europe. No, the main reason that the English Premier League is the best is due to the high level of competition. In most of the major leagues in Europe, there are 1-3 realistic competitors every year for the title. However, in the BPL there are about 67 teams that compete every year with the title as a goal. This typically translates into about 4 actual contenders, but it’s still way harder to be successful. This increased competition creates different attitudes for EPL teams. They look at each game as 3 points for the taking, with draws typically being negative results. This sense of grit is typically carried over into their Champions League games. English teams make for tough opponents because of their competitive nature. They display more will to battle then most of the other teams, typically being the most physical teams in the competition. The Champions League misses English Premier League teams and their physical grit when they get eliminated early on.
Overall, the Champions League is the most illustrious prize in football. English teams should be placing more focus on it. They must build their squads deeper and stronger, and managers must learn the delicate balance of rotations. Finally, England has a whole needs to get behind their teams. There is a lack of support amongst rival fans and the FA as a whole. If all of our clubs and their country as a whole can focus more efforts on the Champions League, we might start seeing British teams battling their way further into the knockout rounds. Maybe soon we can find the Champions League trophy in England as opposed to some other European country.
Contribution by @tyler_strauss_