It was with some degree of frustration I read comments from Alex Ferguson compelling his Manchester United team to be the first team to retain the Champions League title. I mean, of course, technically he is correct – since the competition, amusingly dubbed Champions despite allowing the top four of our league into it, has borne that name, nobody has achieved that. However, a certain team with which readers might be familiar did, of course, win the European Cup and then retain it.
Indeed, we’re not the only ones either. Real Madrid won the first five of them, Benfica the next two. Internazionale won two on the bounce in 1964 and 1965, Ajax have a hattrick from 1971-1973, as do Bayern Munich immediately after. Liverpool were prevented a hattrick, but still retained the title in both 1977 and 1978, with Nottingham Forest of course also laying claim to a retention, winning in 1979 and 1980. Even at the end of the eighties Milan snagged the trophy in 1989 and 1990.
Just as domestic football seems to believe that the sport didn’t exist before the emergence of the Premier League, it seems a 1992-93 cut-off is also being applied to European football too; it’s true that our game has been irrevocably changed due to the changes in these competitions. Indeed, I read an article today (ironically, by a Liverpool supporter – who I don’t often find an accord with!) which lamented these changes – and I agree with that. But I would expect better of Ferguson to summarily deny the existence of the European Cup as a comparable entity to the Champions League.
For a start, you had to actually win your league to get in it (or win the competition itself, of course). The new farce of a ‘Champions’ league means that some teams still have to go through a qualification process even if they do win their league. It’s a brazen and crass example of what has gone so so wrong with the beautiful game. So anyway, bugger off Ferguson and stop talking tripe (although thanks for extending Lee Martin’s loan to us! 😀 – I would consider a full retraction of any criticism if you were to let us keep him!).
Filed under: Thoughts