By 90Min
March 14, 2018

Manchester United kissed goodbye to their chances of landing a second European trophy in as many seasons following Tuesday night's dismal elimination from the Champions League at the hands of Sevilla. But rather than simply a blip, this has become the norm at Old Trafford.

Since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, United have only been beyond the last 16 of the Champions League on one single occasion. That was the high point of the short lived David Moyes era when United scraped past Olympiacos over two legs in the 2013/14 season.

After a fairly impressive group stage showing in which they finished top and unbeaten having hammered Bayer Leverkusen home and away, Moyes' team had a nightmare in Greece in the first knockout round and were trailing 2-0 on aggregate ahead of the second leg at Old Trafford.

A Robin van Persie hat-trick, sealed in the 51st minute, spared the blushes that night, before United were put out at the quarter-final stage by Pep Guardiola's Bayern Munich.

And that season is as good as it's been at the elite European level for years.

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In Ferguson's final season in charge, United went no further than the last 16 after losing 3-2 on aggregate to Real Madrid. A controversial red card for Nani in the second leg at Old Trafford when United were leading the tie 2-1 proved decisive.

A year earlier, United didn't even make it to the knockout rounds of the Champions League and had to settle for the Europa League after finishing behind Benfica and Basel in the group stage. And, having beaten Ajax in the last 32, their secondary journey ended in the round of 16 after being played off the pitch in two legs against a vibrant Athletic Bilbao.

The 2011 Champions League final against Barcelona seems an awfully long time ago now.


Post-Moyes, United weren't even in the Champions League in after Fergie's 'Chosen One' had led United to their worst league finish since 1989/90 in his 10 months in charge. That meant Louis van Gaal had no European football to contend with in 2014/15 and United duly returned to the Champions League the following season after finishing fourth in the Premier League.

Van Gaal couldn't match Moyes at a continental level, though, and United were once more dumped into the Europa League after scraping together just eight points from their six group games and finishing behind Wolfsburg and PSV Eindhoven. The emergence of Marcus Rashford was a plus, but United were soon knocked out of that competition as well.

Stuart Franklin/GettyImages

Another poor Premier League season in 2015/16 meant no Champions League football for Jose Mourinho when he arrived to take over from Van Gaal. The Portuguese went on to mastermind a Europa League triumph, the first in United's history and the only major trophy the club had never previously won. And it was actually only that victory which brought a return to the Champions League after yet another sub-par Premier League season.

Mourinho, the Champions League master after wins with both Porto and Inter in the past, could do no better than his predecessor at United and failed to match Moyes. Who knows what 2018/19 will bring, but United are long overdue a run to the latter stages.

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