Are we a giant? If we're not, how close to being one are we?

Discussion in 'Manchester United' started by Dark Savante, Jan 24, 2008.

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  1. Dark Savante

    Dark Savante Member

    Apr 24, 2002
    Become the Tea Pot!!
    I had a quite in-depth conversation with a chappy on the train today. He was talking to a friend and going on about Ronaldo going to Madrid and it being 'a step up' to a true giant of the game. I didn't know the chap from Adam, but couldn't help but interject and surprisingly the fella knew his stuff to a much greater degree than your average ABU spouting imbecile. In fact, he seemed to be very knowledgeable in the short time we were discussing this issue and had perfectly valid counter-arguments to what I was saying.

    To summarise his points.

    1. Manchester United are not feared in Europe and haven't been for years.

    2. Manchester United haven't beaten a so-called peer in a 2-legged KO stage consistently enough to be classed as a giant who can sit at the top of the tree.

    3. Manchester United often look out of their depth when faced with bona fide European giants (he cited Milan and Madrid)

    4. In relative terms, we're no better than a Celtic or Rangers who batter domestic competition season in and season out, but do nothing of note in Europe - this is not the make-up of giant.

    5. Manchester United cannot compete on an even footing with the giants for players and cannot keep hold of their best talent once they reach the maturity that has the bigger guns come calling.

    He was quite adamant about the things he was saying and in many ways I could see his points.

    I personally believe that the only way we'll actively be able to keep Ronaldo is if we can actually win the CL in the next year or two, if we can't I truly believe he'll be off.

    The finances and fanbases weren't really discussed as he was quite assured of his position from an onfield perspective.


    I mentioned Franco and his disgusting regime, he countered with Madrid's 3 CL's in the late 90's and early 00's to our 'paltry' one. I did also mention that these clubs have no qualms about just stuffing their teams to the rafters with foriegn, bought talent... he said you can and do do the same since winning the CL.

    He had to get off a few stops before me, so the convo was cut short, but he gave me a lot to think about in rather blunt terms.

    If you do ever leave this board and read around the forums of the truer giants, you will often see us looked down upon, as a level below, is it warranted? If it isn't, why isn't it?

    What are your thoughts on this subject.

    An open invite for those supporters of giant clubs (Madrid, AC and Barca - in terms of sway and pull it's these three who expect to get any target they want and also have no fears of their top talent actually leaving without being pushed) to throw in their two-pennies worth, feel free to do so even if you don't follow one of these clubs.

    Me personally, I've always felt that we can't hold onto players who aren't of British or Irish extraction and perhaps Northern European. Not just because the Iberian or S>A would have followed or admired La Liga or Serie A when growing, but because, as cited, we do not show impact in Europe that is demanded and expected of a giant.

    Anyway, I hope this can be an interesting discussion.
     
  2. Karloski

    Karloski Member+

    Oct 26, 2006
    England
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    Nat'l Team:
    England
    If it's all down to consistent European success on the biggest stage, surely the same thing could be said of Barcelona, Bayern and Inter.

    The only real giants left would be AC Milan, Real Madrid and probably Juventus.
     
  3. Vermont Red

    Vermont Red Member

    Jun 10, 2003
    Brooklyn
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    During my short time as a fan, I have always felt that United is inferior to the top European powers. My memories of the two legs against Madrid and the four legs against Milan are still fresh. That we actually beat Milan in one game last season sent me into delirium, only for us to revert to form in the second leg.

    For me, it hasn't been solely about results against these teams. Its also been about how we look out of our depth. These matches make me feel like we are miles away from being a European power. I even feel this way sometimes when watching us against European teams outside of the top tier.

    As for other aspects of whether or not we're a giant, I can't help but remember how Ronaldinho toyed with us in order to secure a move to Barcelona. There was no chance that Ronaldinho was going to United, and that speaks volumes about our standing in Europe.

    If we are to reach that next level, we have to be able to stand toe-to-toe with Milan and Barca and Madrid. I'm not saying that we need the results, but the matches should at least look like a battle between equals. Any player going to one of those other clubs right now can realistically expect to have a shot at the Champions League title every year. There's no reason for anyone to believe that when they come to United.
     
  4. Tom Halsey

    Tom Halsey New Member

    Dec 7, 2004
    Yeah, that was my first reaction too.

    And if it's down to success in the last few years... Real Madrid haven't come any closer than we have to winning the European Cup since 2002, which doesn't count as recent in my book.
     
  5. Dark Savante

    Dark Savante Member

    Apr 24, 2002
    Become the Tea Pot!!
    Bayern and Inter weren't mentioned and I think Barcelona are a wild-card, they have the prestige of having a history of the greatest players passing through their club and they also have massive pull in the market, much more than Inter or Bayern, in fact, only Madrid and AC have as much in terms of status and not just buckets full of money. Clubs and players often take cuts to go there - if we went head-to-head with them for a player, we'd have to pay a lot more.. things like that.
     
  6. Dark Savante

    Dark Savante Member

    Apr 24, 2002
    Become the Tea Pot!!
    There are many clubs where the term giant is rather ambiguous, Real Madrid is not one of them. They are the de facto giant club of the game, unfortunately. It's impossible to argue otherwise.
     
  7. Invincible

    Invincible Member+

    Mar 28, 2004
    Sanctuary
    I've thought about this many times and it was the inspiration behind my "What will it take for us to dominate Europe" thread. I, as a Manchester United fan, the whole time I've spent as a fan have felt inferior to the Real Madrids and Ac Milans. In the early 2000s I admired Real Madrid and hated them in equal measure...they were just a step above the rest in every single way. Casillas, Hierro, Redondo, Carlos, Ivan Campo, Raul, Zidane, Ronaldo, Anelka, Makelele, Figo etc etc, all working in harmony to regularly dismantle anyone in their way.

    I believe we'll never be considered a real giant until we win more than 4 Champions Leagues while beating teams like Milan, Real, Barcelona etc on the way. I mean Real Madrid have 9 Champions Leagues for goodness' sake. Not only that but the way in which they won those titles. Things like that fire up people's imaginations and endear clubs to the memory. I would be quite willing to sacrifice the Carling Cup(sic) and Fa Cup by sending out youngsters in both those tournaments to focus on the League and Champions League. The Fa Cup means close to nothing to me, and I just can't explain why. There's something about a team winning a Champions League that just adds that extra luster to their name.

    Aside from winning the CL though, the Real Madrids and AC Milans have other advantages. Weather, for one, and two, footballing cultures more forgiving of skilled Latin players, or skilled players who don't want to deal with some profanity spewing muscle bound oaf constantly hacking away at their legs. Foreign players who come here have to deal with a culture not very welcoming to players that go down easily or foreigners who constantly skin their homegrown British boys I mean what blue collar bum fan enjoys watching Johnny boy Smith who's 'full of running' get turned inside out by dirty diving cheating Marco?

    Since we as a club obviously cannot offer weather, or a forgiving footballing culture, we must offer unbridled success, and that's something we can offer....domestically. We need to translate that into Europe and I feel the only way we can do that is to sign truly exceptional players. I think Fergie realizes this and that's why he is signing exceptional foreign talent, and only keeping the exceptional British talent. No more average guys like Luke Chadwick etc. In the key positions like goal keeper, center of defense, central midfield, and all attacking positions we're loading up on highly skilled players who can bring it on the world stage with the odd unknown(Manucho) and a few 'good' players who could still do a job for us(Simpson until he develops more, Brown, O'Shea, Fletcher). I believe if we are to truly conquer Europe more regularly we must focus on the exceptional, then once we have them, build a system to go up against the big boys, and beat the big boys.
     
  8. sdotsom

    sdotsom Member+

    Manchester United
    Mar 27, 2005
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    We need to beat some of these clubs on a regular basis before we could be in the highest tier of clubs around Europe. Since winning the CL, we've been taken apart by Madrid twice, Milan twice, though we have beaten Juve. However, we are not feared in Europe, it's simple as that. We can dump on Roma, Lille, etc., but our record against the powerhouses isn't that good.

    And to put it bluntly, we only have 1 European Cup in the last 30 years.

    We are a big club in terms of money, finances, etc. but we are not yet a giant.
     
  9. Tom Halsey

    Tom Halsey New Member

    Dec 7, 2004
    I would agree, but the guy you were arguing with seemed to be citing recent successes/failures.
     
  10. Dark Savante

    Dark Savante Member

    Apr 24, 2002
    Become the Tea Pot!!
    More about sway and pull in terms of RM, their latest regime and its cannaiving with AS etc can unsettle any club or player in the world. No one else can do that, says a lot about them.

    Even AC and Kaka' have been bothered by it. No one can do the same thing to them as many players see them as the pinnacle of the game.
     
  11. Twix

    Twix New Member

    Apr 28, 2007
    We're a domestic giant for sure, but we're close to being a bonafide european giant.

    Looking through history, if the top tier of European giants are Madrid, Milan, Juve, Liverpool, Bayern and even Ajax to some extent, then we're definitley on the second tier with Inter, Barca etc..

    IMO, to be a giant, you need a period of consistent ground-shattering dominance. Di Stefano's Madrid is considered one of the best teams ever, not because they won the league x amount of times but mainly because they won 5 european cups in a row :)eek:). The same could be applied to Cruyff's Ajax team, and Van Basten's Milan team, and Beckenbauer's Bayern team. They were considered the elite in the era because they beat the best around, and they beat them frequently. If we truly want to be considered a 'giant' then we have to fix up and beat the big boys.

    IIRC the last 5 or so times we've been knocked out in a 2-legged tie, the victor has gone on to the finals which shows we've been on the brink of dominating Europe for a long time. This need to change soon. 9 league titles in the past 15 years is incredible but 1 CL title in the same time period is more than disappointing.
     
  12. Tom Halsey

    Tom Halsey New Member

    Dec 7, 2004
    Yes, I agree, I'm just pointing out that I don't necessarily agree with some of the guy's arguments.

    To answer the thread title though: the term "giant" alone is ambiguous. If you make worldwide support a category for it, then we are a giant, and if you don't, we're not a giant on any other basis.
     
  13. johno

    johno Member+

    Jul 15, 2003
    in the wind
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    Nat'l Team:
    --other--
    To be honest, I think United aren't very close to being regarded as a giant of the game.

    For one, as a giant, you don't rely on individual brilliance. You have a set way of playing that becomes recognizable and feared. European opponents probably planned ways to combat Raul/Zidane/Carlos triumvate all year long just to have a chance against Madrid. Milan have had a very compact, reserved but deadly style of play for quite some time and they have the greatest amalgamation of talent (that stays together) in a midfield in a long time.

    Apart from the style and being able to impose it on your opponent no matter the stage, its the pulling power of the club AND the pull of the league. England isn't seen as a glamourous league in the least. Now, I'd take United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal against any big four in the other leagues (but I might lose :)) and I think fair comparisons can be made, but the Premier League still isn't respected as La Liga and Serie A are.

    Until we can win a couple more CL titles and do so in a period where Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal dominate the competition and possibly win a title or two, we won't be a giant.

    If Lyon were to win the CL twice in 3 years it wouldn't make them a giant. The argument would be that they coast in the league and then concentrate on the CL, much like we bash Liverpool. A true Giant does indeed coast in the league, knowing that their depth and the fear that opponents hold for them virtually guarantees them a top 2-3 spot every season. A Giant steps up and plays its best football on the biggest stage and I think United are only just beginning the post Keane era.

    United's period of greatness will have to come when (if they stay together) Ronaldo, Rooney and Tevez mature fully as a trio. At that stage we'll have a solid and united backline achored by perhaps the best defender in the game at that stage. The midfield will be minus Scholes and Giggs but perhaps will include a mature, settled and confident Carrick with an effervescent, but cutting edge Anderson. Who knows, but few, very few great teams had more than 1 or 2 stage 1 players, still rising. We need more considered, structed play from the entire team before we're anything close to dominant in Europe the way Milan are now and the way Madrid were in the 90's and early 2000s.
     
  14. yikchi

    yikchi Member

    Aug 11, 2004
    Garden State
    The fact that I act like we won the CL when we beat Milan in the 1st last year tells me that we are not at Milan's (or RM's) level yet.

    I think the physical nature of the league, location of the team (Madrid and Milan vs. Manchester) , the fact that English fans are less accommodating to South American's and Iberian players, language barrier, and the nasty nature of English press, etc... prevent us from getting the top notch player.

    The PL can attract players from Scandinavia, Holland, Africa and Asia, but will always lose out the to players coming out of S.A. to Spain and Italy. Unfortunately, the top-top player in the world always seem to come out of S.A. instead of other parts.

    We got Nani partially because of Ronaldo, and the Brazilian twins has mention Ronaldo is their idol and that's why they want to join us...etc. Winning the CL with this foreign will help in tremendously in recruiting new talent.

    To attract more top players, we need to win the CL...but to win the CL we need to those players... so it's kind of a "the chicken or the egg first" problem...

    I do think we can become the giant if we win the CL multiple times with this group; especially Ronaldo, Anderson, Tevez. If we win the CL with these guys, it will help attract other non-British players to the club.
     
  15. Val1

    Val1 Member+

    Arsenal
    Mar 12, 2004
    MD's Eastern Shore
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    The language barrier has been mentioned, as has the crummy weather. Also, England can't compete with gorgeous women on the beaches or the food. Plus the entire top 4 have to better in Europe as a whole for the kinpin English side to be a giant.
     
  16. Mighty_Mouse

    Mighty_Mouse New Member

    Jun 16, 2007
    All good points. Now does this have more to do with the quality of players or the quality of the coaching?

    While the first part of this is probably true, the bolded part is largely unproven. Most recently for example:

    http://sports.yahoo.com/sow/news?slug=afp-fblesprealmadridronaldofabregas&prov=afp&type=lgns
     
  17. MtP07

    MtP07 BigSoccer Supporter

    Jan 3, 2005
    Sadly, I'd have to agree with points 1-4.

    Point 5 I do not agree with. What players have left us that we did not want to get rid of? I do think we have trouble comjpeting with Milan, Madrid, etc on a lot of the top players, but I think it has more to do with the player not wanting to play in England and wanting to be in Spain or Italy.


    I think we are closer to winning the CL again than Madrid is. Our management is much more stable than Madrid too. I guess I just don't see why Madrid is seen as the 'dream move' that players make it out to be still.
     
  18. SirManchester

    SirManchester Member+

    Apr 14, 2004
    Nat'l Team:
    Germany
    You made a good point. The well remembered great sides all had a core of players that dominated domestically and in Europe, not only for one season but for a number of seasons. The "great" teams all had that as you mentioned. United had that twice (back in the late 60's with Charlton, Best, Law and our 98/99 teaam with Keane/Scholes/Beckham/Yorke/Cole,etc) but couldn't come close to extending that streak beyond that one European Cup success. That's what great teams are remembered for. The same applies to the Madrid team of the 50's, the Milan team of the late 80's/early 90's and the recent Madrid and Milan teams.

    Now, I don't think Madrid has come anywhere close to winning the Champions League since 2002, but they will always be considered first tier because of that history, and the same applies to Milan. DS was correct, Barcelona is a wild card because unlike us, they consistently attract the world's best players and will always garner attention and for the most part be feared when any team is drawn against them. Last season they were in shambles but many still considered them heavy favorites against Liverpool.

    The idea that the Premiership still isn't as respected as Seria A and La Liga holds weight. Also, the idea that South American players are the biggest property in football and their attraction to Seria A and La Liga outweighs that of their attraction to the cold weather of England. This is why we will constantly have to depend on youth, good scouting (there's plenty of young talent outside South America) and dishing out money. For us to change our pulling power we will start having to make the semis at least every season and show that we can compete against Milan, Barca, Madrid, etc.
     
  19. biro

    biro Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    DS, who did this genius you were talking to support?

    And does winning the CL a few times make you a giant? Are the scousers bigger than us? Of course not. Juve have won it twice, so have Barca. Ajaz have won it 4times, are they a giant? No.

    If Madrid hadn't been bailed out by their own government a few years back they wouldn't even exist now. Is that the manner of a giant club?
     
  20. Simply Red

    Simply Red Member

    Feb 15, 2007
    I have been thinking about this as well. I have allways felt we were a step behind Real Madrid and Milan. I feel these two are the top guns, with us, Barca, Liverpool and Juventus being a step behind.

    Reasons:

    England is looked down upon by the general public south of England. England can't compete at the highest level and because of this the PL is looked down upon. The only players ever to be talked about in top 100 best players ever are allways from the WC winning team or at least teams that came close. Liverpool won 4 CL and their players still don't come into these lists.

    Another reason is trophies. You need CL trohies combined with domestic titles. Real has 9 CL and a ton of domestic. Milan has 6 CL and a ton domestic. Liverpool has alot of both, but they haven't been winning consistent since the 80s. Juve has won a ton domestic but doesn't compare to the other two big ones in Europe. The same goes for Barca. And we move into the same group.

    Another reason has to be the pull of the mediterrainian. Winners of the WC except from Germany is as good as allways come from contries with warm weather. Therefore moving to Italy or Spain has since day one been very popular. These leagues has because of this had most of the giant players of the game. Having the giants players of the game in your league is going to give you extra credit. Real Madrid and AC Milan are the biggest clubs in these contries and naturarly they have had alot of the best ever players at their clubs.

    Another reason is on field. Tactically we loose every game against these teams. The games against Madrid and Milan that VR mentioned was simply emberassing to watch.

    These are the biggest reasons for me that we come in second to these teams.

    But I don't feel we are too far behind. We have the aura of the babes. We have Best, Charlton, Law. We have the pull of 1999 with Becks;). Because of this Ronaldo business we have a greater pull in the transfer marked. We have Rio and Rooney wich probably even has a cirtain pull on Ronaldo to stay. We have Anderson that are one of the most promosing young midfielders out there. We have SAF wich is the Don of all managers out there today. Nobody has dominated the way we have domestic the last 15 years. During a season Old Trafford has to have close to as many visitors as Real and Milan. World wide only Real Madrid can come close as a trademark. We are maybe short in the CL, but we aren't very far of, with a little change of luck it could easely be different. We are big for many good reasons. I don't think any of the big teams will look down at us in the CL this year and with a couple of more CL trohies we will at least in my book be one of the giants. But this goal as a club comes second to going up 19-18 against Liverpool domestic. First things first!
     
  21. sdotsom

    sdotsom Member+

    Manchester United
    Mar 27, 2005
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    This goes with Keano's oft-quoted statement about how that treble-winning team should have gone on and collected some more CLs. Had we been able to win another 1 or 2 trophies, it would have helped solidify ourselves a European giant. Instead we missed out - that has to be one of the biggest regrets of that team.
     
  22. JayBoy

    JayBoy Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    Lewisham, S. London
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    Nat'l Team:
    England
    Hmm... Interesting topic, I'm glad DS brought it up.

    It started to hit me when we were absolutely decimated at the Bernabeu five years ago, the magic of the Real team that night was unbelievable and we've been on a steady decline since then, but we were responsible for cementing our current status as European "has-beens" when we failed to qualify from the Group Stages in 2006. Yes... it still burns.

    The problems we face against teams such as Milan and Madrid start with the coach. As much as I respect him Sir Alex is (hopefully soon "was") still traumatized by the first half demolition we suffered in 2000 at Old Trafford and, like it or not, he is responsible with the horrid, overly defensive 4-5-1's we play against these types of sides. Overly defensive tactics demonstrate too much respect, too much respect means we fear these sides and that kind of mentality is transferred to the players who don't play the game they're comfortable with, and we've got more than enough evidence to demonstrate that point. Roma last season was a clear indication of what happens when we're forced to perform our usual game and boy were the results explosive!. We were all expecting a 1-0 or 2-0.

    We got seven.

    Against the bigger sides we limit ourselves to that tepid game, regressing to a purely defensive farce that allows their players free reign of the park and build confidence, leaves all our fans sweating with trepidation and the Milans, the Madrids and Barcelonas licking their lips in anticipation. But even with all that, after thinking it through, I can honestly say I'd rather see us as dark horses than European Giants.

    I've never been this confident our ability to perform since the days of '99 and you have a JayBoy guarantee that that comment is free from the 'reminiscing-on-glory-days, fooling-ourselves-with-nostalgia' bullsh*t many fans are guilty of spitting. Let the other teams underestimate us. Let their fans anxiously anticipate a tie against us. Let them talk about how shit we are. I honestly believe if we played AC Milan now we'd stifle their play and take them apart, Barcelona we'd easily match them. As for Real Madrid... we'd positively destroy them (damn that's satisfying to say...), but that will ONLY happen if Sir Alex LETS us play our usual game, lets our players know that we're as good as they are, gives our young players the incentive to grow into the expectations we all know they can achieve.

    'Try hard, fail hard, improve, go back, try again, fail again, fail better.'

    It's not gonna happen overnight, but if we play the way we know we can play then it'll only be a matter of time before we're all wiping our collective asses with what they think.
     
  23. Vermont Red

    Vermont Red Member

    Jun 10, 2003
    Brooklyn
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
  24. JayBoy

    JayBoy Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    Lewisham, S. London
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    Nat'l Team:
    England
    What about it?
     
  25. Vermont Red

    Vermont Red Member

    Jun 10, 2003
    Brooklyn
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States

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