Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Steven Beacom: Manchester teams enjoy home comforts but flop on Euro stage

NAPLES, ITALY - NOVEMBER 22: Roberto Mancini of Mancheter City looks on prior to the Uefa Champions League Group A match between Napoli and Manchester City at Stadio San Paolo on November 22, 2011 in Naples, Italy. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

No one can beat Manchester City in the Premier League. Only City can beat Manchester United in the Premier League.

Kings at home, but both could be paupers abroad next month because they may end up in the Europa League, the poor relation compared to the majesty and pomp of the Champions League.

While players skip with joy at the prospect of playing in the continent's glamour competition, the Europa League is nothing but an unwanted slog. Only if you win it does it become worthwhile, but at what cost with that whole Thursday-Sunday programme of games likely to have a negative impact on the chase for domestic glory.

City look certain to have to deal with that problem after Tuesday night's results, and United are in trouble too.

Sir Alex Ferguson's team may be in second place in the Premier League, but generally with just one world class player at their disposal (that's Wayne Rooney) they have laboured this season.

They'll need to improve dramatically on December 7 when they travel to Basel for what is essentially a World Cup final for the dangerous Swiss side.

If Basle brush United aside Fergie's men will be out of the Champions League and supporters of other teams all over the land will be going Boom, Boom!

Due to defensive frailties, which continued in the 2-2 draw with Benfica, they only have themselves to blame for being in this precarious position.

It's the same for City, who at times have looked like little boys lost in their first venture into the big time.

They are much more likely to be eliminated because even if Napoli slip up at Villarreal, Roberto Mancini's men will have major problems beating an excellent Bayern Munich side.

All that money and no Champions League to show for it.

Channel Five beckons for City. Maybe even United.

Top dogs in England, but right now they are also rans in Europe.

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