The Big Sheik Up…

4 09 2008

This week has been one of the most unbelievable in footballing terms for a long long time. As new owners aquired Manchester City on Monday, they immediately agreed to fund bids for various players worth around the £30million mark. On Monday, long time Chelski target Robinho was the first arrival at what has quickly become known as “Middle Eastlands”. He arrived for £32.5million. Other offers for players such as Berbatov and Torres were soon made known too (Torres was apparently subject to a £50million offer). The new owners have quickly upset footballing circles, circles based in tradition and history.

As they plan to revolutionise football, I am left wondering quite what the appeal of Manchester City is. Yes, they have a brand new stadium (one less thing to worry about – look at the mess Liverpool are in with regard their prospective stadium), and some very good youngsters, but aside from that, were City really going anywhere? They got a new owner just a year ago, but Dr Thakshin’s dodgy finances have meant he has quickly reliquished power to the oil-rich buyers from Dubai. It is easy to forget, but City were in the Championship (or Division 1) as recently as 2002. There are more established clubs in the Premiership to pick from (Everton are crying out for investment as Moyes has struggled to finance players this summer). Manchester City just seems such an odd choice. I don’t get what the appeal is.

Then there is the knock-on effect this will have on the club. As I already mentioned, Manchester City have one of the most promising youth set-ups in the country. They have already brought through players such as Shaun Wright-Phillips, Micah Richards and Michael Johnson. There are others who have immense potential too. What will happen to this policy (of which I am in favour) once the best players in the world are brought to the club for stupid amounts of money? Will they be forced out to find other clubs? I think they will be left with little choice.

Then there is the manager. Mark Hughes (of whom I am a huge fan) is one of the best young managers in the league. But if he fails to match his employers ambitions with silverware, he too surely will be on his way, to be replaced with someone with more managerial clout (Jose Mourinho is still hot footballing property, don’t bet against a return to England for the self appointed “special one”). The best players, after all, need the best manager.

There is a short-term nature to this. If the man at the helm fails (as happens – Mourinho couldn’t deliver the Champions League despite huge financial backing) then they will be sacked. It’s a simple formula really, but one which is potentially very disruptive both to the players and to the fans. I have always maintained football clubs need consistancy, but this formula does not allow for a manager building a team, and a squad. It gives him a short-term goal of ultimate success, but nothing more permanent. In the long-term, this will put prospective managers off the job, simply because they are more realistic than the prospective employers.

So there are exciting times ahead for City, yes, but there is also a feeling of suspicion on my behalf. The Chelsea revolution has stalled, despite appearances, Manchester United have shown that money doesn’t necessarily buy success (compared to Chelsea they spent little – until signing Berbatov for £30million – this summer). City fans will be hoping that the same thing doesn’t happen at Eastlands. I fear it might, to the detriment of football as a whole.

There is much more I could add with regard to the huge sums of money involved in the game now, but that’s a different point for a different time.

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