Why do we generally not do as well in Europe, even under Fergie?

2 man midfield

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2 in 27 years isn’t that bad when you consider the ban on English clubs after Heysel, the fact it was literally the champions league - I.e you only got in if you won your domestic title, and the 3 foreigner rule which saw us starting a 17 year old Nicky Butt in the Nou camp.

We only started having a fair crack by the mid/late 90s, and we came as close as you’d expect every year after. In knockout football you’re at the mercy of luck, refs, injuries, suspensions and everything in between. Sometimes it isn’t your year, sometimes it is. Also have to remember both times we won it under Ferguson came with huge slices of luck.
 

Hammondo

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We had some amazing squads, at times the best squad in the world, but we were out of date with our football, very British in our style.
 

thegregster

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Excluding the Barca domination that costed us at least 2 Champions League titles, we also seem to just crash out of Europe in disappointing (and unlucky) ways:

2006-2007: We played GREAT football that season with Ronaldo and Rooney finally coming together. Yet we still crashed out against Milan.
2009-2010: We crashed out against Bayern even after leading by 3 goals at Old Trafford, and with a goal on their stadium already.
2011-2012: We crashed out in group stage, then got spanked by Athletic Bilbao. Embarrassing stuff, really.
2012-2013: We faced the hardest 2nd place winner possible in Real. But Nani's red card distracted us from the fact that we missed chances in the opening leg and should have buried them with at least 2 goals.

And this was just Fergie's later years. I was not counting other disappointment like that defeat against Mourinho's Porto, or how that underwhelming Leverkusen prevented us from a dream-like Real-MU final.

Why do you think we are so often disappointed or unlucky in Europe, even under Fergie's management?
No Vidic or Rio in the first game killed us. Total lack of squad depth because of the Glazers.
 

Offside

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Three reasons why we don’t have more titles:

1. Loss of our whole team during our initial excellent venture into Europe
2. Shite goalkeepers during the early 00s and a very gun ho style that the best teams could work around
3. Barcelona dominance during the late 00s

Aside from that our European record is very good.
 

Farmershawn

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I remember during the early Cantona era, we had to field youngsters/bench warmers due to foreigner rule
 

Scandi Red

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In defense of Fergie it did take a while to build a team strong enough to win CL trophies without it being a fluke. During his time as United manager English teams only won the CL/European Cup 4 times. And 2 of which were him. The other two were flukes by Liverpool and Chelsea.

Cups are volatile. That's it really.
 
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united_99

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Well under Fergie we didn’t do well enough compared to who? Even if you take his whole period from 1986 to 2013 - so including the European ban, the reality of only title winners qualifying, etc. - he won as many CLs in that time period as Bayern.

Hell, from 1986 until today (he retired 10 years ago, but let’s still take until today), we won as many CLs as European experts Liverpool.

And if you start the time from 1993/94 (the first time we actually played in the CL under Fergie) until he retired, then only Madrid, Milan and Barca won 1 more CL than us.
 

RedRonaldo

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Because there were better opponents in Europe over that period of time.
 

Tyrion

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Because there were better opponents in Europe over that period of time.
Pretty much. English football is only the top league in recent years (during which we haven't been that good) and the late 2000s (during which we made 3 finals). We're the second most successful English club in Europe and we were the first to win it. Aside from the run of success Liverpool had in the 80s, our record is better than every other English club.
 

stevoc

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Silvestre was literally in Inter's reserves. Inter froze him out of the first team something he admitted himself at the time. We picked Fortune from Atletico Madrid B, Taibi from Venezia (after previously tanking at AC Milan) and Bosnich on a free.
Calling him relegation fodder was harsh was my point. He was a good if not great player, but let's not start a multi-page Silvestre discussion please.

That was a terrible transfer window especially considering that the club racked an extra 60m (big money at the time) after winning the treble.
Yes but there were reasons for the lack of spending as stated.
 

horsechoker

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Because hes a mythical manager who was always expected to perform miracles. When Fergie had the best squad in europe he won the thing. And when he didnt, it should be understandable to not win it.

What happened after Fergie shouldnt be mentioned. We were bad in all comps not only europe.
I've been thinking about how weird it is that arguably the worst 2 squads under Abramovich at Chelsea won the champions league twice while United have only won it with their best ever squads.

Liverpool 2005 was pretty bad too but it was a one off.
 

devilish

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Calling him relegation fodder was harsh was my point. He was a good if not great player, but let's not start a multi-page Silvestre discussion please.



Yes but there were reasons for the lack of spending as stated.
Silvestre was talented but he was incredibly raw. There was a reason why inter signed him and why he ended up in the reserves. He was the sort of signing (and fee) that a relegation fodder would risk upon/buy.

That squad was young, hungry and only needed 3-4 half decent players to repeat its feat (gk, lb, cb and lw cover). There was no reason why the filthy rich treble winners would go full pawn shop route.
 

tenpoless

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I've been thinking about how weird it is that arguably the worst 2 squads under Abramovich at Chelsea won the champions league twice while United have only won it with their best ever squads.

Liverpool 2005 was pretty bad too but it was a one off.
Knock out competitions are like that, there's always the element of surprise while the league is more about consistency which makes it more predictable.
But still I wouldn't say we didn't do well under Sir Alex in CL unless if he had a squad year after year like Pep. He's done well all things considered. Chelsea winning it twice was very lucky... and to be fair they also played like underdogs which helps in knock out comps I suppose. But it is what it is, there will always be a winner. If you have the best squads though, you are expected to win it. City last season for example, if they didn't win it then you can say they didn't do well. There's no excuse anymore, squad depth and quality wise. Similar to United in 2008.
 

Gabriel Djemba-Bebe

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The years we didn't win the Champions League were years if we admit it we didn't deserve to. The closest was possibly 06/07 but our players were all quite young that season and we were decimated with injuries at the back
Had we not been fecked by a shocking offside call vs Porto then, in all likelihood, we would've deservedly won the Champions League in 2004. Our route to the trophy would've been Lyon, Deportivo and Monaco.
 

Ole'sgunnarwin

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Had we not been fecked by a shocking offside call vs Porto then, in all likelihood, we would've deservedly won the Champions League in 2004. Our route to the trophy would've been Lyon, Deportivo and Monaco.
Maybe but we were pretty awful in the league that year. First half of the year we were good but when Rio got suspended, we looked quite poor.
 

Pronewbie

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English football wasn't as strong in the 90s to mid noughties. Later on when Fergie cracked the code he had the misfortune of coming up against shocking refereeing decisions and a revolutionary Barca team, otherwise he could have easily added another 1 or 2 CLs IMHO.
 

padzilla

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The window after the treble was badly managed for some reason. Instead of strengthening the first team we just tried to add to the squad and it cost us. Signings like Fortune, Silvestre, Taibi and and Bosnich were just not good enough to keep us at the top of the European table. Fortune and Silvestre were decent servants but hardly the cream of Europe.
 

RedIan

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Completely disagree we didn't do well in Europe under Fergie. Not forgetting it took Fergie 7 years to finally win the league at United after a 26 year drought. When we were finally good enough to qualify. We were up against some amazing teams, prime Real, Barca and Bayern.
He got to four finals and won two. We also won Cup winners cup under SAF.

Shock horror we lost some football matches against Europes elite teams. “Crashed out” is an emotive description. .

Post Fergie we haven't had a team good enough to go far in the champions league, some years we havent qualified to enter. we have made two UEFA finals winning one. scant consolation but still success in Europe.
 

el3mel

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While we didn't win it that much under Ferguson, we weren't a pointless club in CL like how we're now. We used to reach advanced stages all the time and other big teams had to put efforts to beat us. When we were knocked out early it was a sight to behold. Now we're just a nothing team that anyone can get one over us if they just tried. Completely different.
 

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Because we're Brexit FC and want nothing to do with those dirty peans'.
 

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CL used to be such a great comp because the PL was an up and coming league and you’d hope to get these amazing two legged ties with giants like Juve, AC, Inter, Barca, Real, Bayern…nowadays it’s basically PL clubs + Real + Bayern, it’s a lot easier to win and a lot less exciting to watch because you can visibly see year after year these other clubs falling away.

That’s not even factoring in UEFA are corrupt as feck and even when you talk about Barca, the PL teams probably would have knocked them out if it weren’t for awful ref decisions. People always forget that talking about them but their two CL wins under Pep are mired in controversy.
Think the main factor of that is the PL having so much more money now (especially outside of the top clubs) that players that normally would be carrying a Porto or someone has probably just already been bought by somewhere like West Ham/Wolves etc. There are so many more quality players on the mid/lower table teams in the PL because of it and it's sucked away that quality from some of the more historical clubs outside of England.
 

Son

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While we didn't win it that much under Ferguson, we weren't a pointless club in CL like how we're now. We used to reach advanced stages all the time and other big teams had to put efforts to beat us. When we were knocked out early it was a sight to behold. Now we're just a nothing team that anyone can get one over us if they just tried. Completely different.
We were the Bayern Munich of that day. They don’t win the trophy that often but teams are always scared of them like us back then.

I believe a lot of the bigger funded Prem sides like City and Chelsea can thank United a lot for paving the way in the harder times, we really helped grow the Premier league so much and competed. They owe us a lot of respect.

City are doing it on easy mode now in a climate completely built for their advantages unlike when we did it against the odds in 99’.

We didn’t get the opportunity to cherry pick international talent to this extent . As soon as we found the formula it was a little too late due to huge debt and Barcelona / Pep completely changing the sport.

2010 debt just destroyed us selling Tevez, Ronaldo etc and downsizing everything we’d built on the sports front. That was us done at the top even if we got to one more European final in 2010 we weren’t worthy of lifting the title.
 

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2006-2007: We played GREAT football that season with Ronaldo and Rooney finally coming together. Yet we still crashed out against Milan.
2009-2010: We crashed out against Bayern even after leading by 3 goals at Old Trafford, and with a goal on their stadium already.
Seems a little harsh to characterize either of these two as "crashing" out.
 

El Jefe

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I always felt like SAF figured out Europe completely a little too late. By the time he knew exactly how to go far in the CL year in year out, Barcelona came in and we were in the peak of glazernomics.

The late nineties and early to mid 2000s the CL was extremely pragmatic, particularly in the knockout phases. I felt we went out during these years less because the other teams were better than us but because they were tactically better than us and had a better strategy for winning two legged ties. This is where the belief of SAF not being tactically great originated from and I do think it was true at a point. By the late 2000s however he became tactically very sharp through his experience while still keeping the characteristics of a Manchester United team.

It hurts that we weren’t able to reinvest the Ronaldo money properly to bring in some big hitters because I think that SAF wins us another big one. The first Barcelona loss hurt us and Fergie always rose to challenges but the squad was just not good enough to compete with Barcelona after Ronaldo left.
 

Amir

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Treble period - That was a strange period which mirrors the Glazer post SAF's period in some ways. United could go full spending spree in one season (Stam, Blomqvist and Yorke) only to go full skint the season after despite winning everything. The transfer window following the treble was laughable. We bought Silvestre and Fortune from Inter and Atletico Madrid reserves, we signed Bosnich who was an average goalkeeper and then Taibi from Venezia.
Fergie was only given 15m to spend in the summer of 1998, which got us Stam and Blomqvist. I remember he mentioned in one of his books that we got Yorke by signing him late in the summer using money from the following year's budget. That might explain why we didn't have much to spend in 1999.
 

Amir

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Maybe but we were pretty awful in the league that year. First half of the year we were good but when Rio got suspended, we looked quite poor.
Yep. While we were unlucky with that Scholes disallowed goal, we were pretty bad for three of the four halves against Porto. I wouldn't not have been confident had we met Deportivo or Monaco, who were not huge names but were very good sides. We also finished the league behind Chelsea, so who's to say we would have beaten them.
 

stevoc

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Silvestre was talented but he was incredibly raw. There was a reason why inter signed him and why he ended up in the reserves. He was the sort of signing (and fee) that a relegation fodder would risk upon/buy.

That squad was young, hungry and only needed 3-4 half decent players to repeat its feat (gk, lb, cb and lw cover). There was no reason why the filthy rich treble winners would go full pawn shop route.
Well....

The BskyB deal fell through in April 1999.

The Club had just spent a record amount in the previous summer. Breaking the club transfer record twice for Yorke and Stam.

The club began construction on a new state of the art training ground in 1999, costing £22m.

The club expanded two stands at Old Trafford over the course of the 1999-2000 season.

And of course Martin Edwards was notoriously tight.

But apart from all that, yeah there was no reason the club didn't spend big in the 1999 summer window.
 

THE ZOL

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Several great points in this thread. Up until around 2002, we couldn’t compete financially with the Serie A and La Liga clubs. The Prem simply wasn’t generating as much money as it was today. I think Sir Alex himself once said that the priority for United every season is the league. This is, of course, a difference in mentality to Real Madrid that prioritises the Champions League.

Without meaning to be harsh to some of United’s loyal servants, the manager wasn’t ruthless enough in terms of getting rid of players who did not match the levels needed to compete in Europe. He kept on a lot of bang average players who didn’t go on to achieve much once he sold them on. Of course, their work ethic and commitment was crucial in the league, but on the big stage in Europe technical deficiencies were exposed very quickly.

A memory that sticks out in my head was Quinton Fortune in on goal one on one with Dida in 2005 and stumbling over himself for a toe poke that went wide.

Tactically we were deficient also. We stuck to very gung-ho flat 4-4-2. Get the ball wide, spam crosses and sustain the attacks. It could overpower teams in England, but in Europe?

Scholes-Keane as a midfield two lacked balance. Scholes had not yet become the deep-lying playmaker he eventually became and was still charging into the box at every opportunity. Keane also was more like a box-to-box destroyer and often departed his position. Better organised teams could play through us and were better at keeping the ball. See how Real Madrid eliminated us in 1999/00 by getting 3 early goals at OT.

The manager tried to tighten the ship with the Veron signing. It was a big feat for us to sign a world-class player from Serie A for that big of a fee. While it did not work out, we switched to a 4-5-1 in Europe. The only issue was that, by now, we were in a transitional phase. Our experienced core of players were entering their 30s (Neville, Butt, Scholes, Giggs, Ruud) while Rooney and Ronaldo were still kids.

2006-2011 - we were genuinely one of the best teams in Europe.

We should have won in 2007, but Kaka was just too good and the only players with experience of the latter stages of Europe were in their 30s. Regardless of our defence being decimated by injuries, we must remember that in 2006-07 we had just gone three years without a league title. It was still Cristiano’s first world class season. We were simply not ready to win the Champions League.

2008 - We dealt with all the previous obstacles holding us back. We spent well in buying Nani, Hargreaves, Anderson and Tevez. We were tactically astute. We were truly the best team in Europe. The fact that Park and Saha didn’t even make the bench in Moscow spoke volumes about how strong our squad was.

2009 - We came up against maybe the greatest club side of all time. We could have put 15 players out there and Barca would still have schooled us. Fletch and Hargreaves were a big miss, sure. But that triangle of Messi, Xavi and Iniesta? You can’t defend against it.

2010 - The manner of our exit was annoying but even had we beaten Bayern, and then the French team they faced in the semis, I’m sure Inter or Barca would have beaten us in the final. We were in the “there’s no value for money” era at this time. The fact we replaced prime Cristiano and Tevez with Wigan’s winger, Obertan and finished Michael Owen spoke volumes. Chelsea did the double over us that season too. We weren’t even the best team in England, let alone Europe. Despite being tactically astute, our player quality was not befitting of a club of United’s stature. I think Sir Alex overachieved here. We were carried by workhorses in Fletch and Rooney. Carrick had an off-season. Our creativity was still heavy reliant on Scholes and Giggs who were into their 30s. The fact that Gibson got so many games spoke volumes. I don’t want to be harsh but Nani and Valencia were not exactly Champions League winning level wingers either.

2011 - We had a fortunate run to the final and Barca were once again just a class above. Once again, I think Sir Alex overachieved given how weak our squad was in comparison to other top clubs in Europe. To think that we started Fabio and Chicharito in a Champions League final!

2012 - Sir Alex showed faith in his squad players in the group stages and we paid the price.

2013 - while we faced injustice against Real Madrid, I think our aging squad, even had it progressed, would not have been able to handle Bayern and Dortmund’s gegenpressing. In a way, we had become like the Italian teams of the past and it was a total reverse of our problem of the 90s. We were tactically astute and could play on the counter well, but physically we weren’t up to scratch. We were still reliant on Giggs and Rooney had lost a yard of pace too. Kagawa was a tidy player but lacked pace and strength. We relied heavily on RvP, who himself had a habit of bottling big chances from time to time.
 
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Marcus

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Limit on number of foreign players we could field? So United's team for Europe was weaker than the one fielded in the league games.
 

DJ_21

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Our style of play isn’t good enough to dominate Europe. Can’t really go far playing counter attack against dominant teams anymore. We have to be good in possession and able to control games and see games out. We ain’t good at any of them things. Even when winning near the end we make it very hard for ourselves and invite pressure onto us. Need to learn to keep hold of the ball when leading near the end.
 

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We won 3-2 in the first leg. It was in the second leg against Milan that we lost 0-3.
We were running on fumes. Injuries had wrecked us, and we were in a challenging title race with Chelsea. We had to come back from 2-0 down at Goodison Park.

Meanwhile, Milan had the luxury of resting their entire XI in the prior league game. We had no chance.

That's why SAF addressed depth in the transfer window.
 

KeanoMagicHat

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We lost a few under away goals rule in ties that were dead even. I know the rules were the same for everyone but I wonder if we would have won a few more if it had been like today and gone to extra time.
 

Luffy

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The main reason is that many of our players were not good technically. Almost all the South American superkids wanted to go to, and did go to Italy, and Spain. Same for the French graduates from Clairefontaine. Veron coming to United is still a conundrum to me.

We all know what Scholes can do, but most mortals in a United shirt just lacked the silkiest of silky skills. Especially the midfielders.
 

MattofManchester

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We did do well under Fergie though? Perhaps a bit unlucky, but in no way would I say we didn't do well.

If you compare us to Real's dominance, than maybe not, but we were always competitive.

We also came up against some of the best of that era.

After 2010, we'd lost a bit of quality and the game was moving on, so we'd fallen behind a bit.
 

buchansleftleg

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In the Fergie era we tried to play the same "robust" way we were used to playing in the Premier league and we suffered for it with countless dubious refereeing decisions and European teams capitalized on this approach by diving and simulating their way into games. Later on we started to play with more European tempo in those games and it paid off but we ran into the Barca juggernaut.

Players like Hargreaves always looked impressive in Champions league games because he could defend spaces and marshal the midfield areas without having to dive into tackles. Some didn't appreciate him playing for the club but he was tailor made for Europe, as was Carrick.
 

TheRedDevil'sAdvocate

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While we didn't win it that much under Ferguson, we weren't a pointless club in CL like how we're now. We used to reach advanced stages all the time and other big teams had to put efforts to beat us. When we were knocked out early it was a sight to behold. Now we're just a nothing team that anyone can get one over us if they just tried. Completely different.
In the seven seasons between Ferguson's two titles (1999-00 until 2006-07) we won a CL knockout only three times. One in 2001-02 against La Coruna and two in 2006-07 against Lille and Roma. There were seasons we didn't even make it out of our group. When we were knocked out early, nobody gave a feck during those years. Least of all, if you recall, Real Madrid. We were considered underachievers. The difference between then and now is that, these days, people will be surprised if we win a CL knockout (against anybody, not just the big dogs).
 

KeanoMagicHat

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In the seven seasons between Ferguson's two titles (1999-00 until 2006-07) we won a CL knockout only three times. One in 2001-02 against La Coruna and two in 2006-07 against Lille and Roma. There were seasons we didn't even make it out of our group. When we were knocked out early, nobody gave a feck during those years. Least of all, if you recall, Real Madrid. We were considered underachievers. The difference between then and now is that, these days, people will be surprised if we win a CL knockout (against anybody, not just the big dogs).
To be fair United were only knocked out in the group stage twice in 17 years from 1996 to 2013, which I imagine was as good of a record as anyone in Europe in that time.