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Reflections on the Champions league

The great Jock Stein once remarked, after his Celtic side had deposited Leeds out of the European Cup in the semi-final, that those outside England do not share the high domestic assessment of English football clubs.

I thought of this remark last week when Manchester United were beaten at home by PSG and Liverpool easily held by Bayern. However after last night’s 3-3 aggregate result Manchester United join Spurs , probably Manchester City and possibly Liverpool in the quarter finals.

It took some 10 minutes to decide the penalty revealed by VAR. This is far too long.

I would like to see a maximum of 5 minutes and, if it’s not possible to adjudge after that, a verdict that VAR was inconclusive and the original decision should stand. Football’s greatest asset as a spectacle is its continuity, you do not see putts lined up for ages for example.

I see the converse argument of getting the decision right, Hernandez’s blatant hand ball for West Ham against Fulham would have be overruled for instance.

With Real Madrid (winners in the last 3 years) eliminated, we are definitely seeing a realignment. PSG are out too and Juventus could join them having to overcome a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Atletico Madrid. Ajax, conquerors of Real, were three time winners in the 70s.

Liverpool have England’s finest record in the European Cup but they achieved this by playing Scotttish, Irish and Welsh players who were not treated as foreigners whilst continental clubs were limited to three overseas players.

The Busby Babes never troubled Real Madrid in their pomp in the 50s whilst Fergie’s United never establish domination with three straight wins.

So it seems The Big Man – aka Jock Stein – got it right.

About Rex Mitchell

Rex Mitchell is a Brentford supporter from childhood. This has not prevented him having a distinguished Fleet Street career as a sports reporter and later deputy football editor. A widower, Rex is a bit of a bandit golfer off his official handicap of 20 and is currently chairman of his local bowls club. More Posts