Chris Hughton - Premier League remains strong despite Champions League exits
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Chris Hughton has labelled English football's rare Champions League shut-out as a blip.
The Premier League will have no representative in the last eight of European club football's blue riband tournament for the first time since 1996. Clubs from Spain and Germany dominated the quarter-final draw made yesterday after Manchester City and holders Chelsea both failed to qualify from the group stages before Manchester United and Arsenal exited in the first knock-out phase.
Hughton believes the contrasting English success story in the Europa League proves domestic football is not in decline on the big stage.
'No, I don't think so,' he said. 'It is disappointing because Champions League nights are such big, exciting nights and when you look at the status of the clubs left in it then you want English teams to participate. Even from a viewing perspective it is great for the television companies. I think it was just one of those seasons. Manchester United just fell short at this last stage. We have to remember we won it last season, so that is how close the English teams have been recently. 'It is certainly good to see three still left in the Europa. That is a testament of the quality what we have and I can see us coming back strongly again next year. The Tottenham one was an incredible game. To be 3-0 up from the first game and to be pegged back and then go on and win the tie will give the club a great feel.' Hughton won the same competition with Spurs in 1984, but the north Londoners' Inter Milan aggregate win on away goals was marred by fresh allegations of racism directed at Tottenham players in the San Siro.
'The big shame for Tottenham Hotspur is that on a night when everybody should have been speaking about a wonderful game from both teams, I wouldn't say what happened was overshadowed by the events and chanting at the end, but it is certainly getting coverage,' said Hughton. 'Uefa have opportunities to set out their stall and do the work they need. It is not the odd incident, there are so many and they now have the opportunity to stamp down on it in a match of great magnitude between two fantastic clubs. Uefa are the governing body. It is there for everybody to hear with all the cameras. They need to act strongly.'