City will have to wait… again

They didn’t exactly crash out of the competition, but after their game against Borussia Dortmund next month Manchester City will no longer be competing in this season’s Champions League.

Roberto Mancini’s men have once again failed to progress from their group in Europe’s premier cup competition and, as the final whistle sounds in Germany on 4th December, their second campaign with the big boys will officially be over.

Man City needed to win at home to Real Madrid to maintain any hope of qualifying from Group D.  Karim Benzema put Jose Mourinho’s side in front after 10 minutes and it wasn’t until a Sergio Aguero penalty that City drew level.  With less than 20 minutes left, however, the reigning Premier League champions were unable to overcome Los Blancos, reluctantly having to settle for a point that was of little use to them.

They could, of course, put that point towards an effort to ensure they secure third place in the group and drop down into the Europa League knockout stages.  But, unfortunately, not only does the current setup of Europe’s secondary cup competition make it a much less attractive proposition than its big brother, it has actually become a nuisance which supposed ‘big’ clubs will try to avoid at all costs.  As well as being an undeserved consolation for third-placed Champions League teams, it is also unwanted.

Similarly to Man City, Paris Saint-Germain and Malaga have both recently enjoyed heavy investment which has helped to propel them to the upper echelons of their respective league.  When looking at the three clubs, however, City are the odd one out for two reasons.  Firstly, they were the only club who finished last season as league champions but, secondly and most crucially, they were the only club not to make it through to knockout stages of this season’s Champions League.  Heading into their final game, City face unavoidable embarrassment; the only options available to them are continuing their European journey on Thursday nights or finishing bottom of the group.  PSG and Malaga, on the other hand, both have a very good chance of topping their respective group.

Whilst City’s group was arguably the most difficult to choose a winner from, with the unusual occurrence of all four teams actually being reigning champions of their respective country, perhaps their struggle was inevitable.  What will dishearten City fans most, however, is the whimper in which they went out with.  There was no dramatic ending like last season’s Premier League title race, where they fought their bitter rivals Manchester United rivals to the death.

With City stagnating in the Champions League, they have no choice but to wait until next season, when they will once again try to establish themselves as a dominant force in Europe.  As it stands, the club face acquiring a reputation similar to that which has made Liverpool infamous in their quest for that elusive Premier League title.

“Next year is our year.”