By 90Min
September 09, 2018

The bigger they are, the harder they fall. 

Every club goes through bad patches, but in football - certain brands require certain standards. We all know football clubs go through cycles, but some big names have continually struggled to escape their current predicaments.

From poor investment to 'transitional phases,' here are six giant clubs who are currently stuck in a rut...


Manchester United

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England's most decorated club are currently going through a period of minor turmoil on and off the pitch. Finishing second in the Premier League last season was a commendable achievement in the post Fergie era, but the style of football played under Jose Mourinho left many fans underwhelmed.

This season has started in rather worrying fashion for the Red Devils, with consecutive defeats to Brighton and Tottenham leaving them struggling in the Premier League table, albeit early on.

Mourinho has cut a frustrated figure, having allegedly clashed with the club's executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward regarding his desire to bring in additional defensive backup during the summer transfer window, while rumours over Paul Pogba's future continue. 

Manchester United have endured quite the hangover since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, but rarely has their manager ever cut such a pessimistic figure before the season had even started.


AC Milan

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Juventus may be the dominant force in Italy at the moment, but they still can't come close to rivalling AC Milan's European record. With seven European Cups to their name, the Rossoneri boast a continental pedigree bettered only by the mighty Real Madrid.

However, those past glories seem a distant memory in recent times as Milan have slipped off the pace. This will be the fifth consecutive year without Champions League football for Milan, who lack the ability to attract the finest talent, a strength that once made them into such a feared side.

With former stars Gennaro Gattuso, Leonardo and Paolo Maldini all back at the club in senior roles, there is a sense that Milan are rediscovering their identity. It's still too early to tell whether they've recaptured that spark, but a late winner against Roma has certainly lit a fire.


Arsenal

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Once perennial title contenders, it's been a long time since Arsenal seriously challenged for the Premier League crown with title challenges that capitulated becoming an all-too regular occurrence at the Emirates Stadium. Two consecutive sixth place finishes put the nails into the coffin of the Wenger era at Arsenal.

It will take time for new manager Unai Emery to remove the Wenger mindset from his players, After losing his first two matches in charge against Manchester City and Chelsea, he's managed to grab two consecutive wins, not wholly comfortably. Juggling improvement in the league with a Europa League campaign is added obstacle that will make this season a baptism of fire for the Spaniard.

Arsenal's problems extend to off-field matters as well. Stan Kroenke recently moved to become the club's lone shareholder, angering fans who feel he's responsible for many of the club's problems in the last 10 years. 

A turnaround on the pitch would help to quell some of the rising discontent off it.


Hamburg

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Last season, 55 years after the formation of the Bundesliga, Hamburg became the last original member to be relegated from the German top flight. Yet as shocking as this fall from grace seems, it had been coming for a while.

Hamburg was a powerhouse of German and European football back in the late 1970s and early 1980s. They captured three Bundesliga titles between 1978 and 1983, and they ended a period of English dominance to lift their only European Cup in 1982/83, beating Juventus in the final.

Those glories have not been replicated in the modern era, with no European football in nearly a decade. Twice in recent years they staved off relegation in a playoff against a second division side, before finally succumbing to the feared drop in May. 

A 3-0 defeat in their very first 2. Bundesliga game showed that a return to their natural home in the top flight may prove to be no easy feat.


Newcastle United

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Newcastle's honours list may not be that of a massive club, but in terms of the support and the expectation behind them, few can rival the Magpies. Yet even when things are going well, Newcastle never seem too far from chaos.

In the mid 1990s, Newcastle enjoyed their most memorable period in recent memory, finishing second in consecutive seasons, as they famously pushed Manchester United all the way with some swashbuckling football. They remained a Champions League club into the 21st century, but those days seem a long time ago now.

On paper, with the right ownership, Newcastle should be challenging the 'big six' for a place among Europe's elite. But quite simply, as long as Mike Ashley remains in charge, Newcastle United will always struggle to compete with clubs that invest and support their manager properly.


 Sporting CP

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It's often said that the Portuguese Primeira Liga is a three-team league, but Sporting CP haven't held up their end of that bargain for a while now. You have to go back to 2002 for the last time they won the league, as Porto and Benfica have become the dominant duo.

The last nine years have been particularly rough. Sporting have finished in the top two only twice, won the Taça de Portugal just once, and repeatedly come up short in European competitions as well.

Worse was to come at the end of last season when Sporting fans invaded the club's training ground with violent intentions. 

A shaken Sporting lost the Taça de Portugal final days later, and many of their players (including stars Rui Patricio and Gelson Martins) subsequently cancelled their contracts with the club, citing fears for their safety.


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