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Sorry, but there’s nothing glorious about our failures

Work meant I only caught flicks of last night’s game out of the corner of one eye. Not that I think that particularly matters this morning: there would be something pretty glib about a treatise on the tactical nuances of how we managed to win 2-0 away but not 3-0.

What is impossible to avoid is the pattern: four times in four years we’ve lost a first leg at this stage by at least two goals. Three of those times it has been at home. Then when you look at the second leg, on three occasions have we recorded what, on their own, would be mightily impressive victories. On all three occasions we’ve fallen a solitary goal short of what would have been unprecedented recoveries in the Champions League.

We leave, every year it seems, with our heads held high.

But supposing you flip the legs: so that instead of the results we did have, we’d beaten Milan 3-0 at home, beaten Bayern 2-0 in Munich, drawn 1-1 in Munich and won 2-0 in Monaco.

Then imagine we’d gone out anyway. Chokers would have been way to kind a description. And yet at least in that scenario we’d have at least been able to say at one point we were in it. That we contested the tie.

Because for all the second leg heroics we displayed last night and in previous years, the reality is that those Champions League records aren’t accidents.

The reality being that all last night’s industry counted for nothing against the idiocy of injury time in the first leg.

One is, of course, only as good as one’s results. But that doesn’t stop one saying we’ve massively underachieved in Europe because in reality we’re well capable of good results against the best sides.

It is a footballistically tragic fact (ie not tragic at all) that the Champions League prize continues to elude a manager who has been an ever present in the tournament’s latter stages for so long. The truth is worse managers and worse sides have won the Champions League than us.

The question is whether the current regime can ever right that. I’d love them to but mistakes they are repeated.

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