The Curious Case of the UEFA Coefficient: Why a nation is rooting for Man City to win the Champions League

Manchester City v Atletico Madrid Champions League

There are three takes on allegiance for an Englishman when it comes to the glorious top-table of club football, the UEFA Champions League; and in deed a mere mild mimicry for the patronizing Europa League:

  • You support the English side in Europe; they are representing the greatest league in existence and, ergo, you.
  • You root for Johnny Foreigner; they are playing your rivals, after all. Why would you change a habit of a life time and suddenly want them to win? Or
  • My own bitter stance: Root for every English club but-for Liverpool…

But why do we root for our English clubs? Has anyone ever given it any real thought?
The answer all links to the illogical coefficient rule that penalizes competitive leagues with multiple fronts in which to cover; I can’t stand this rule as much as I abhor the ridiculous Financial Fair Play rule.

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Financial Fair Play is surprisingly relevant in the way that it is a ‘Monopoly’ or ‘Dynasty’ law that provides an uphill stomp for any potential winners in both the league and in Europe; ‘FFP’, lest we forget, was introduced so as to prevent another Portsmouth from happening, so Manchester City argued when fined for breaching the rule in recent years, not to prevent another Manchester United. This is just one of the new rules brought in to penalise one of the brightest growing clubs.

The coefficient isn’t new, I am not saying that; it’s just that its relevance now is, what with new ‘super clubs’ popping up around Europe which create a blurred concept of the strength of leagues. A lot has been made of the battle of the coefficient with our Italian counterparts that are climbing out of Serie A.

It’s baffling. Juventus are a strong side, no doubt, but they are of the same strength as Arsenal, for example. The exceed in Europe, occasionally, due to their relaxed nature that comes with romping their league each year. When the pressure is off and you can rotate your squad and your schedule is less packed then you do better in Europe, traditionally.

Only an imbecile would argue otherwise. Case in point, Manchester United were at their European best when the league was all but won and they could partner Anderson with Ji-Sung Park for trips to the Emirates. Bayern are of a similar perplexion.

Juventus come out of Italy (Turin to be exact) and do well in Europe due to a number of small advantages over English clubs that add up and UEFA are considering rating their league as better as an end result. I’m sorry but that is ludicrous.

The best clubs in Italy are in the dark ages: AC Milan are missing, Internazionale are attempting something of a Renaissance and the second club, from the capital, AS Roma can only really dream of catching Buffon, Pogba and co.

The smaller teams of Italy and Spain and maybe even, but yet less-so, of Germany, too; would be battered, generally, in head-to-heads with the English. It sounds woeful but English sides tend to prioritize the league as their bread and butter. Europe is a bonus.

So, my waffling brings me to Manchester City. For some reason, I find myself hoping they batter Real Madrid and, if my expectations are accurate, Atletico Madrid in the final.

Simply because this coefficient nonsense drones on. It would be nice to have England back as the capital of European football and to silence the keyboard warriors we find on social media that root for Madrid or Barcelona despite never having been to the Santiago Bernabau or the Camp Nou.

Either way, for better or for worse, I hope Manchester City can capture what English football is all about: being the plucky underdogs. Just, please, don’t rub it in.

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