Belfast Telegraph

That's football - Hodgson

England manager Roy Hodgson does not believe Premier League clubs' failure in Europe this season is symptomatic of a wider malaise.

Manchester City's exit to Barcelona on Wednesday night meant there was no English representation in the Champions League quarter-finals after Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool all fell by the wayside at various points.

That has prompted many to start questioning has gone wrong but Hodgson said it was just part of football.

"I don't think it's endemic in any way that we've had teams going out. It is just one of those things," he said.

"Manchester City came up against a top-class Barcelona, Arsenal were fantastic in their second game against Monaco but weren't able to turn around a first-leg performance they weren't happy with.

"Chelsea and PSG were unbelievably close in the two games - nobody would have complained should Chelsea have gone through instead of PSG.

"This is a fact of life, these things happen sometimes. There will be other times when all of our teams get through and we'll be saying 'We were a bit lucky because the opponents were just as good'.

"It's a very high standard of football. I feel sorry for the club mangers going into these games because it seems we underestimate the quality of the teams in some of these other leagues. There's no God-given right.

"The fact the Premier League is a great league and we do have great teams and do have great players doesn't necessarily give you the right to win matches against other teams from other countries.

"Unfortunately, this particular year, we've experienced that once again to our cost."

Hodgson did admit, however, that it was a trend which could not be allowed to be repeated too often for fear of the Premier League losing one of their four Champions League places.

"They won't want that to happen but, unfortunately, it's a fact of life that if you want your four places, you have got to get the points to keep your status high," he added.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger was in almost total agreement with Hodgson.

"I think that the quality of the Premier League is very high and the physical demands are extreme," he said.

"But I am not in the mood today to analyse too much what was wrong for English football.

"I don't think there is a lot wrong, we just have to now focus on our next targets.''

Other managers have also had their say with QPR boss Chris Ramsey confident the Premier League's stock is still high.

"Not making it to the last eight is a blip for this country because over the past few years we have got to the latter stages, but now and again this happens," he said.

"I still think this is the best league in the world and where everyone wants to really come and play.

"I think the state of the game at the moment is healthy."

Newcastle head coach John Carver, who is currently having to manage an extensive injury list, believes the physical pressures on players may have had an influence.

"We have such a demanding league and when we go into the European games we get found out because of the demand of the Premier League," he said.

"Those demands aren't the same in the Italian and Spanish leagues."

Crystal Palace - and former Magpies - boss Alan Pardew agreed.

"The schedule is tough in the Premier League and the quality in the division makes it tough for the top teams," he said.

"Our top teams have lacked the cohesion of past years with the exception maybe of Chelsea - the PSG game could have gone either way.

"All three teams (who reached the knockout stage) gave a good account of themselves but all three are out and that will concern them."

An extended run in Europe gives English players more experience of facing top-quality opponents, and Hodgson admits it would be a concern should those opportunities be diminished by continued failure in the Champions League.

"It is important, I think everyone can see that," he said.

"I was really pleased to see (Danny) Welbeck starting against Monaco and I thought he played very well in the game.

"It's great for me when I see our players doing that and, of course, I'd like it to happen as often as possible, but also I have sympathy for the managers because the margins are so small.

"Two of the teams went out on away goals, so that shows how close we are. B ut this season it's finished and I'm hoping that next September our teams will be strong again and come March, with France (Euro 2016) coming up, our teams will go through from the last 16 and our players will have some important quarter-finals and semi-finals to play."

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