Most big clubs like Barcelona and Liverpool are on a downward trend in 2022-23… Here’s why it matters
It’s one of the strange things at the top of European football this year: very few clubs (or their fan bases) can look at their current situation, conclude that the future is bright, and reach into the shadows.
Arsenal and Napoli, leaders of the league? Sure, there’s no question about it. Paste them at the top of the list.
Maybe one step below them, Manchester City – they may not win the league this year (unlike four of the last five seasons) and there’s a storm cloud potentially gathering with the Premier League investigation , but they have added a goal scoring machine in Erling Haaland, Pep Guardiola is happy and remains and they are favorites to win both the FA Cup and the Champions League. Also add Borussia Dortmund: the Champions League knockout was disappointing, but they are alive in the DFB-Pokal, they are the Bundesliga leader and they are playing well.
I think Manchester United can be broadly included in that group as well: Erik ten Hag has been a success, they are considerably better than last season, they are likely to qualify for the Champions League, they have won a national trophy with the Carabao Cup (and could win another, the FA Cup) and are favorites to win the Europa League.
The only source of anxiety may be the possible sale of all or part of the club and whether the investment the club needs in Old Trafford and the team materializes. (A friend who supports Manchester United, though notoriously concerned, worries that “we’ll end up with fewer Glazers and even more debt.”)
Beyond that? There’s so much to celebrate, and even the probability of winning a title doesn’t necessarily change the frown.
Gab & Juls brand runaway Serie A leaders Napoli as a ‘machine’
Gab Marcotti and Julien Laurens sing the praises of Serie A leaders Napoli on “The Gab and Juls Show.”
Barcelona is headed for LaLiga glory and may also win the Copa del Rey. And it is likely that they will escape the sanction for the 7 million euros paid to the former vice president of the arbitration committee, José María Enríquez Negreira; they should escape in the sporting field due to the statute of limitations, while in the criminal field, it is because the prosecutors have found no evidence that the funds were used to corrupt the referees. But the stain of the case remains, if only from the waste of the previous administration, as does the damage of being knocked out of the Champions League. More importantly, the “economic levers” of the club president, Joan Laporta, leave a big question mark over the future of the club.
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Paris Saint Germain? Sure, they are likely to win the French title again, but they suffered early exits from the French Cup and Champions League with the highest wage bill in Europe. Lionel Messi becomes a free agent in July, nobody seems to like manager Christophe Galtier, president Nasser Al-Khelaifi is being investigated for an alleged role in a “kidnapping and torture plot”, the Qatari owners have put a part of the club up for sale (perhaps more) and, despite their contract, no one knows where kylian mbappe It will appear next year.
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Bayern Munich could still win the treble, great! They also haven’t been second in the table at this stage of the season for the past decade, and their projected point total of 71 would be their lowest mark in 12 years. They also lost their iconic captain (Manuel Neuer) to an unnecessary season-ending ski injury, and he’s probably doubly cranky that his contract expires at the end of next season, there’s no sign of an extension until he gets fit and his goalkeeping coach Toni Tapalovic, who was also the best man at their wedding – was summarily fired and accused of leaking information to the media.
And by the way, even now that Tapalovic is gone, coach Julian Nagelsmann is complaining about a “mole on the pitch” leaking documents to national newspapers. oh and with Robert Lewandowski gone, the only legitimate center forward on his books is Eric Maxim Choupo-Motingwho turns 34 this week and is, well, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting.
What about Real Madrid? They could still successfully defend their Champions League title, which would be great, but they are 12 points behind Barcelona domestically and, frankly, haven’t played particularly well all season. President Florentino Pérez is 76 years old and if he has heard of a viable successor, that is news to me. The Super League project hangs by a thread. The club may or may not be looking for another manager next season. Seven of Real’s starting eleven are on the wrong side of the 30 and although they already have the midfield of the future in the squad (eduardo camavinga, Aurelien Tchouameni), there will be a great Karim BenzemaShaped hole to fill the front sooner rather than later.
Why it’s game over for Real Madrid’s title run dreams
Gab Marcotti and Julien Laurens discuss why the title race is over for Real Madrid after their 2-1 loss to Barcelona in El Clásico.
Juventus may or may not have their point penalty overturned, which would put them second in Serie A, and they are still alive in the Europa League and Coppa Italia. But they have suffered huge losses in recent years, face multiple criminal investigations for false accounting and misleading shareholders, and have had to replace their entire board. They also lost five of six games in their Champions League exit, and despite a turnaround in results since the turn of the year, few have faith in manager Max Allegri.
Liverpool were runners-up in the Premier League and Champions League a year ago, but they may not even qualify for the Champions League this season. Their projected point total is the lowest since Jurgen Klopp’s first season, they have lost one of the architects of their recent success (sports director michael edwards) and are losing two more (his successor Julian Ward, plus chief data officer Ian Graham) this summer. Its owner, Fenway Sports Group, put the club up for sale in November, before turning around late last month and saying they might just look for minority investors.
Both Milan clubs are in the Champions League quarter-finals, but both managers (Simone Inzaghi at Inter, Stefano Pioli at Milan) are under serious fire and both teams look worse than they did a year ago. Milan appear to be more financially stable than Inter, but neither, so far, is getting what they wanted: a state-of-the-art joint stadium to replace the San Siro.
Atlético Madrid somehow finished bottom of their Champions League group and local institution Diego Simeone have not extended his contract beyond next season.
Tottenham are fourth in the Premier League, the same as last season, but have just witnessed Antonio Conte, their highly paid manager whose contract expires in June, rant about the selfishness of the players while reminding everyone that the club is coming two decades without winning anything. of note. They probably need a new manager next season (again), harry kane he might want to leave (again) and the club remains unofficially for sale (again).
And then there’s Chelsea. Last year around this time they had a billionaire owner whose tenure had been hugely successful, a top-notch front office and a Champions League-winning manager. They are all gone, and despite the new owners spending more than 600 million euros ($675 million) in nine months, they sit 10th in the table. If that doesn’t improve, it would be his lowest finish since the pre-Bosman era (1995-96).
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What is the goal of this exercise? It’s not just about how most of the top clubs in Europe have had a difficult season, be it due to problems off the pitch or poor performance on it, although it’s certainly notable and there could be a myriad of reasons behind it: a World Cup record mid-season, post-pandemic precipitation, small sample size.
Rather, it underlines two things. One is that results, while very important, are not everything. Bayern winning the treble might “rescue” the season, but it won’t solve the centre-forward problem or make Nagelsmann any less paranoid about moles in camp. Barcelona winning LaLiga will not suddenly generate buckets of cash so that Laporta can keep the levers from him. And, of course, PSG’s likely Ligue 1 crown won’t put out the fires at Parc des Princes.
The other, and perhaps more important, is that the success of a top-tier club has more to do with trend and hope than anything else. A bit like the economy, where consumer sentiment (ie how people feel about the economic situation) can often matter more than cold, hard numbers (ie what the real economic situation is), the soccer is about how you feel about your club and management. where they are headed, as well as where they actually are.
For most, in 2022-23, that arrow was pointing down.
The results, especially in clubs that are used to winning, only bring a lot of happiness. And when they go down or when there’s uncertainty, fans get nervous, depressed, angry, or some combination of all three very quickly.