Before everyone (including me) loses their shit when we succumb to a late equaliser in what will be a very underwhelming performance its worth remembering how generally uninspiring all our Europa away performances have been over the last decade where we’ve been in very different motivations and cycles with tons of different players involved.
Since the start of the 2011/12 season we have played 27 Away Europa League games (this excludes 4 qualifiers). This period of time covers 5 managers – Redkanpp (3), AVB (9), Sherwood (2), Poch (10), Mourinho (3). You might also be interested to learn that the starting XI of the first of these matches included in the data – 0-0 at PAOK in Sept 2015 included Harry Kane.
Although this has included some stellar opposition – Dortmund (2015/16 – went on to win it), Lyon, Inter, Benfica it also includes fixtures against your punchline Europa sounding IKEA furniture teams like LASK, Qarabag, Asteras, Tromso, Sheriff.
Our record is as follows:
Scored more than twice – 3 (LASK 3-3, Ludogorets 3-1, Shamrock 4-0)
Biggest win – 4-0 v Shamrock
Winning by 2 goal margin – 5
Add to this the ‘sense check’ and what you can remember from watching the game and if your memory is anything like mine most of this merge into one vision of grey, insipid, low intensity football. Coming over such a long period with such different players and managers you’ve got to recognise a pattern and one I don’t see getting much better this evening. Even our incredible 2016/17 team in Peak Poch managed to lower their levels considerably during a period of free flowing winning football domestically to crash out to Gent after a very indifferent performance in Belgium.
Fortunately our home record is very different. In the same 27 games we have:
So I’m reasonably confident that we’ll get through over 2 legs but not expecting anything very exciting tonight. In the context of the last few weeks this could further fuel the negative narrative that’s consuming us but important to be aware of this for wider perspective.