Europe's Biggest Under-Achieving Clubs: Barcelona Falling Short, PSV Lose Again
Welcome back to the latest version of the list nobody wants to feature on: the biggest under-achieving clubs in the European game.
We're including a couple of new teams this time around, after PSV's nightmare stretch extended and several big names from the top five leagues continued to disappoint—both over the past week and during the season as a whole.
Manchester United in particular suffered a horrid week with a defeat and the sacking of their manager.
6. AC Milan
AC Milan put together another win at the weekend to record a fifth straight league victory—a 3-0 triumph over relegation-threatened Livorno.
The points move them up into seventh, in the midst of their best run of form this season, yet such is the nature of their disappointing year that they are still well below the Champions League places and even from challenging for the Europa League.
It's better, but Milan need so much more.
Barca did at least get back to winning ways in La Liga after coming from behind to beat Athletic Bilbao 2-1, but that came on the heels of a Copa del Rey final defeat against arch rivals Real Madrid.
Having missed out on Champions League success already, a domestic cup would have at least provided some consolation, but even that was missed out on.
Barcelona are up to second, but Real have a game in hand. With fixtures running out, it looks likely Barca could end the season in third place, trophyless and certainly achieving below what was expected of them.
Props to Stuttgart for coming up with a big win over in-form Schalke at the weekend, giving them a bit of breathing space in the relegation fight.
Stuttgart now have a four-point advantage over Hamburger SV, who occupy the relegation play-off place.
It's still been a season of struggle, and they'll need perhaps another couple of points, but that should at least enable them to begin rebuilding for another season in the Bundesliga.
Valencia's season of inconsistency came back to haunt them again at the weekend, where they needed a late equaliser to salvage a 1-1 draw at struggling Osasuna.
While a top-half finish is assured, Valencia's eighth-place standing is a considerable drop from challenging for Champions League places last term and finishing third the season before.
Valencia have only won two of their last nine league games, an indication of their troubles this term.
2. PSV Eindhoven
PSV's season had been clearly split in three up until a month ago: a good start to the campaign, a wretched run of form from October to December, and finally a great run of results up until March.
A sequence of eight wins in a row has been well and truly laid to waste of late, though, with three defeats on the spin looking likely to cost them an automatic Europa League place for next term.
PSV lost 2-0 to rivals Feyenoord at the weekend and have conceded eight in those three defeats, failing to score twice. They lie fifth in the Eredivisie.
1. Manchester United
Sacking a manager is never a nice thing to have happen at your club, but this time it could be seen as the brightest spot in Manchester United's season.
Another disappointing defeat was suffered at the weekend, 2-0 away to Everton, leading to David Moyes being axed after less than a season in charge.
United continue to flounder in seventh place, and they are six points off Spurs, who occupy a potential Europa League position and have lost 11 times this season—not exactly the stuff of reigning champions.