99-05 why didn't we win the champions league again?

Irwin99

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For such a massive football club, it's fair to say we haven't achieved as much in Europe as we could have done down the years. Along with the likes of Juventus and Inter we're not alone in being a giant club that's underachieved in this respect, but if we look back over the past 25 years or so the Treble team in particular sticks out in my mind as the team could have won more. The 1994 side was stymied by that stupid foreigner restriction rule and the fact that the team was broken up pretty quickly, whilst the 08 team had the misfortune to come up against possibly the greatest team ever assembled in Pep's Barcelona. Why then didn't the Treble team go on to conquer Europe again? The following two seasons were almost embarrassingly easy domestically but we got knocked out of the champions league stage at the quarter finals on each occasion. We never disgraced ourselves (alright, maybe Real Madrid first leg in 03 aside) but we never got close enough. A few possible reasons spring to mind

1. Our transfer policy wasn't as good as it should have been and our defence and squad quality gradually worsened. It's easy to forget that Ronny Johnson played just 39 times in 3 years after the Treble season while we had to rely on Wes Brown, Berg, Silvestre to partner Jaap Stam. Good squad players but hardly world class starters. We never properly replaced Denis Irwin at left back who was 33 when we won the Treble and we never had a settled goalkeeper until we signed VDS. In hindsight, Silvestre was a decent squad signing but we desperately needed a better centre back and left back. Giggs and Beckham never really had a challenge for their positions either as Blomquist never played for us again after 99. The squad option for that role became Luke Chadwick if i remember rightly.

2. English teams were lacking tactical nous in big European games. This one is more contentious but Arsenal's record in Europe was utterly abysmal during this time and there was a feeling that English teams didn't really control games that well in Europe. I'm not entirely sure this is true in our case as we had a lot of players that could keep the ball well and recycle possession but i think we struggled to break teams down. I would have liked to have seen another dynamic winger like Figo and another quick striker like Owen at the club at this time. If you look at the games we went out in it's just dumb defensive errors that cost us and then we couldn't break teams down when they defended deep. Keeping possession was never a problem, neither was workrate or fitness.

3. Bad luck or small margins. Against Leverkusen (02) and Porto (04) we missed glorious chances or were the victim of stupid decisions (Scholes disallowed goal for instance).

Anyone want to offer their argument for why we didn't do better? A mixture of 1 and 3 is my personal opinion. The 99 team with a new centre back, goalkeeper and another winger would have gone a long way to getting us another CL title.
 

charlenefan

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Until Madrid recently no team ever retained the trophy so it goes without saying it's a hard trophy to win and relies on a lot of luck (unless you're undeniably the best team in the world). Our defence was a big problem though as you've already alluded to, while it was good enough domestically it was found out in Europe and wasn't until we got Vidic to partner Rio did it become International standard
 

Irwin99

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Stam with Rio Ferdinand or Sol Campbell would have helped massively. I just watched the defensive errors against Bayern Munich in 01 on youtube. Gary Neville at right back doesn't cover himself in glory, though it might have just been a one off for that game. As I said, stupid defensive errors really cost us.
 

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I don't want to blame it all on this, but luck and refreeing play big part in Champions league. I would say refereeing showed to be more important than tactics over the years.
 
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Amir

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We should have strengthened when we were on top. Instead we lose Schmeichel and didn't replace him properly for years. Johnson and Brown missed the 99/00 season and instead of bringing in a top quality centerhalf - which we needed anyway - we signed Silvestre who took a while to bed in. That played a big part at least in not winning it in 2000, and to be fair our backline wasn't quite up to par in 2002 as well.
 

jojojo

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Lost Schmeichel, struggled to replace him. As good as we were in the treble season, in some ways that final week was our perfect storm of matches - we weren't easy winners of anything, we were last ditch winners of it all, that's a tough act to follow.
 

BluesJr

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Despite our final wins being very fortunate I've always felt we have been a really unlucky team in the CL.
 

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I think Keane said in his book that he felt the hunger wasn’t there like it was in ‘99. They’d climbed the mountain and that was it. There was a sense of finality to it.
 

SiRed

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Great topic for a thread.
We had a world class midfield and Jaap Stam so the backbone was there for a few years of European dominance.
IMO had we had attacked the market aggressively following the treble by bringing in a partner for Jaap (along with Silvestre) we would have dominated for years.
I believe Cordoba went to Inter that summer and Henry went to Arsenal. Both would have been perfect (hindsight)

We do have a romance with the competition which is littered with heartbreak, should have beens, could have beens and ifs n buts. A mixture of luck and not capitalizing when we should.
 

shamans

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Just want to see Scholes hit a volley.
You need a lot of luck for it. Knockout tournaments aren't easy and I also think there wasn't as much awareness back then with how different teams play. Teams cared more about honing down their league strategy.

I mean, did any PL club go far? That's the question that has your answer more imo.
 

SiRed

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I think Keane said in his book that he felt the hunger wasn’t there like it was in ‘99. They’d climbed the mountain and that was it. There was a sense of finality to it.
I still remember Keane's interview after Bayern knocked us out...'' Perhaps its the end of the road for this team im not sure''

Loved Keano so much.
 

SiRed

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It’s cool to have a go at him these days but he’s still the best captain we’ve ever had.
I read people have a go at him on here and cant imagine they ever saw him play -
I was at our first home game after the treble - cant remember who it was against Wednesday or Leeds but he strolls on the pitch carrying old jug ears, dumped it on the center spot for everyone to see, then ran off to warm up. As if to say 'not important now, here have a look whilst i get on with this'
 

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I read people have a go at him on here and cant imagine they ever saw him play -
I was at our first home game after the treble - cant remember who it was against Wednesday or Leeds but he strolls on the pitch carrying old jug ears, dumped it on the center spot for everyone to see, then ran off to warm up. As if to say 'not important now, here have a look whilst i get on with this'
:drool:
 

antohan

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It was very much a transition period. SAF was clear that controlling games (and outcomes) in Europe required a different approach to 4-4-2. What everyone had top of mind was the need for more control from midfield (thus Verón, who actually worked well in Europe) but our defence didn't provide a solid base. We went through several keepers before hitting the jackpot with VDS, same with replacing Stam, leftback was also meh...

Still, with better luck we could have done better in any of those seasons. Still can't believe how Leverkusen kept us out, ball just wouldn't go in. The Porto season and others were also down to fine margins. We were 100% realistic challengers, I'd say as much as in 99, everything just fell nicely into place that season. It happens.

The real shame is that by the time SAF got everything in place to consistently dominate/control in Europe, Barca had decided to change the rulebook.
 

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If we had say kept Beckham, it might have been enough to win us it the year we had a favourable tie (03/04).
 

CognitiveNeuro

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The 1994 side was stymied by that stupid foreigner restriction rule and the fact that the team was broken up pretty quickly, whilst the 08 team had the misfortune to come up against possibly the greatest team ever assembled in Pep's Barcelona. Why then didn't the Treble team go on to conquer Europe again?
There's a lot of talk now that the Zidane Real Madrid treble CL winning team is better than that 08 Pep team. I'd like to hear what people here think about that.

I mean if Zidane's team was better then you didn't lose to the greatest team ever assembled, twice.

I really don't think that United team was that good
 

AshRK

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Luck is definitely one factor. I would go on say we have been one of the unluckiest sides in europe especially during sir alex's reign of dominance.

The other factor that I always feel is sir alex always prioritized the league and knocking Liverpool off the perch.
 

Summit

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I don't want to blame it all on this, but luck and refreeing play big part in Champions league. I would say refereeing showed to be more important than tactics over the years.
The year Porto did us at OT in the last second after having a previous offside goal ruled out still haunts me to this day. We should of won it that year
 

Sir Scott McToMinay

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The transfer windows between 99 and 2001 were an absolute shambles, instead of strengthening we became weaker, I have no idea what were they thinking.

Europe was there for the taking at the time.
 

MancunianAngels

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It was very competitive at the time. Despite that, we were actually quite unlucky against Madrid in 2000 but were outclassed in 2001. The Leverkusen 2002 semi final still stings. Both them and Madrid were for the taking.

I also think the lack of quality in the Premier League harmed us. The two years after the Treble, the League was won on Easter Saturday. It was probably harder to go up a level.

There was also some instability at the time off the pitch (not as much as now like, but still enough to disrupt things).
 

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We should have been finalists in 2002 and 2010, the other times we weren’t good enough. The problem is we never had a lucky break, we had to be the best in England and Europe to win it. We never benefitted from
a Chelsea 2012 or Liverpool 2005 run.
 

MaxiPaxi

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Didn’t take our chances against Leverkusen. I’d say we’d have beaten Madrid in a one off at Hampden Park.
 

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The year Porto did us at OT in the last second after having a previous offside goal ruled out still haunts me to this day. We should of won it that year
Yeah, it was Scholes' goal that was ruled out for no reason. Ten or more years later Nani's red when we had the game under control. Those are just small details that can mean a lot in the space of just few games through the final.
 

Cloud7

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I read people have a go at him on here and cant imagine they ever saw him play -
I was at our first home game after the treble - cant remember who it was against Wednesday or Leeds but he strolls on the pitch carrying old jug ears, dumped it on the center spot for everyone to see, then ran off to warm up. As if to say 'not important now, here have a look whilst i get on with this'
Not to take the thread off topic, but I’ve never seen anyone have a go at Keane the player. He was monstrous for us and everyone (at least what I see) acknowledges that. Keane the pundit is a different entity. That’s the one that chats a fair bit of crap. Doesn’t take away from what he did as a player, just like Scholes the pundit and Giggs the manager are different entities to what they were as players. At least that’s how I view it. I don’t see one as a continuation of the other.
 

antohan

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There's a lot of talk now that the Zidane Real Madrid treble CL winning team is better than that 08 Pep team. I'd like to hear what people here think about that.

I mean if Zidane's team was better then you didn't lose to the greatest team ever assembled, twice.

I really don't think that United team was that good
Nonsense. Zidane's side was a great cup team alright but Pep's Barca was a different cup of tea. Essentially, Real had more quality and were effective when it mattered against teams playing on an equal footing. Barca seemed to be playing a different sport, much like you see what were excellent national sides in 1974 completely lost on the pitch playing the Dutch.

I don't say that from an awestruck Pep is a god perspective. I absolutely hated it, but give me another go at those finals, with the same team but against Zidane's side any day of the week.
 

stubie

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I strongly fancied us to win it in 2001/02 following the signings of Veron and van Nistelrooy. However we suffered in defence following the sale of Stam.

Unfortunately when we looked better the following season we came up short against the best Real Madrid team I’ve ever seen.
 

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Because our central defense was weak. We sold Stam and didn't really replace him until we bought Rio, and it took further two and half years for his perfect partner to arrive.
 

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Because our central defense was weak. We sold Stam and didn't really replace him until we bought Rio, and it took further two and half years for his perfect partner to arrive.
Selling Stam and bringing Blanc in
One of the all time most criminal bits of work.
 

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We were transitioning from being an English attack team to a more European style. It took time.
 

Sandikan

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We would have won at least 1 more if we had of got Shearer from Blackburn at the time.
Would we though?
We got Solskajer instead and he won us the one we did get in that period.
And back then we never struggled going forward. It was the defence like people said up and down this thread that cost us.
 

Irwin99

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The transfer windows between 99 and 2001 were an absolute shambles, instead of strengthening we became weaker, I have no idea what were they thinking.

Europe was there for the taking at the time.
A bit of a theme sadly; after 2008 we sign Berbatov and then the following year Owen, Valencia and Obertan.
 

Irwin99

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Would we though?
We got Solskajer instead and he won us the one we did get in that period.
And back then we never struggled going forward. It was the defence like people said up and down this thread that cost us.
We could have done with another direct winger and maybe have the option to put Beckham centrally. But yeah, defensively it took years before we got a great backline again.

I wonder which left back would have improved us after 99?
 

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It's nit enough to moan about the present now we moan about the past.

Could have should have would have, does it matter? We are a massive club but we have no gid givrn right to win 3 cl in 20 years. There are lots of good teams that didnt even win 1 in 20 years let alone the special treble
 

Sandikan

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It's nit enough to moan about the present now we moan about the past.

Could have should have would have, does it matter? We are a massive club but we have no gid givrn right to win 3 cl in 20 years. There are lots of good teams that didnt even win 1 in 20 years let alone the special treble
Yep. Who cares about the past days, they are gone.
How we get this mess back to contention is the only real thing that matters.
 

Sarni

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We would have likely reached final if Scholes goal stood against Porto but we were not really that good that season. We fell apart after Ferdinand got banned.

We would have probably still lost the final to Real Madrid in 2002 anyway but would have had a great chance against Chelsea in 2009 if they don’t get screwed over by referee against Barcelona.