Sports letter: Match United

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Sir: The theory that the gap is now closed between the English and Italian football leagues because of Manchester United's exploits in Europe surely requires more English teams to prove it. The rest of the Premiership are years behind Manchester United when it comes to seeking top European honours and only United have the measure of the best Italian sides.

It's no coincidence that Italian teams feature in two of the European finals with the others all reaching the latter stages of their respective European competitions. Bar Manchester United, it seems there are a different set of English clubs venturing into Europe every season and getting knocked out.

As novices, they end up either feeling their way around or attacking with naive bravado. United, however, with their valuable travelling experience and a squad which is large enough and talented enough to cope with crises, have evolved to be able to impose their tenacious and refreshingly hungry brand of play on opponents who come expecting a game of chess-like football.

However the absurd number of games in which players are expected to perform in this country will have to be cut severely if they are to maintain the fitness and relish for the game that is essential for competing in Europe.