Thursday, September 4, 2008

I never thought I'd ever say this, but ....

Now the reality of the proposed takeover has finally sunk in I'm left with this curious thought:

I really hope that City don't spend the sort of money that's currently being talked about.

Don't get me wrong, I love the thought of being able to compete with - and occasionally out-bid - the likes of United, Chelsea, Barcelona and Real. And I certainly don't have a problem with the idea of "buying success". With the odd exception (like Clough's Forest side), I believe that success in football has usually come via the chequebook. When City won their first ever trophy, the 1904 FA Cup, the club were being bank-rolled by newspaper magnate Edward Hulton jnr and were widely regarded as brash, free-spending upstarts. The 1937 title-winners were an expensively assembled side whose only Manchester-born player was signed from United, and it's easy to forget that Mercer's all-conquering team was the product of some pretty expensive purchases for the time (£42,000 for Bell, £35,000 for Summerbee and £60,000 for Lee).

But my concern right now is whether assembling an All-Stars XI side in a short space of time would be the wise thing to do. Even before the deadline-day excitement I was getting a bit giddy about our prospects for this season. Watching the 3-0 win at Sunderland, it wasn't just the way we knocked the ball around and created chances that was making me wonder about of a Top 4 finish. The way we celebrated the goals, and the beaming smile on Shaun Wright-Phillips' face, suggested that this side was really starting to bond.

But what is going to happen to that team spirit if the players believe they're going to be replaced in a few months' time? Will the likes of Dunne, Petrov and Elano now be wondering where exactly their futures lie? And what about the younger players? On Sunday, Hughes announced that Johnson would be signing a new contract "over the next 24 hours", but that's all gone quiet and Hart still hasn't signed a new deal. Evans and Sturridge (whose contract expires next summer) must be wondering if they'll ever play for City again after January, while the kids currently in the academy must now seriously doubt whether they'll ever start a first-team game.

And spare a thought for Shaun Wright-Phillips. After three wretched seasons on the periphery of the Chelsea team, he returns to the club he clearly loves with four seasons of regular first-team football and fan adoration to look forward to. Is he now fearing his Chelsea nightmare is about to repeat itself? I'm also wondering what Vincent Kompany is thinking right now. "Chelsea came in for me a year-and-a-half ago, but I refused, although I could have doubled what I had at Anderlecht," Kompany told Sky Sports in 2006. "But I am not crazy, I saw enough examples of others. "Chelsea are a factory. I do not doubt my qualities to make it at Chelsea, it is possible to still go there later. "But I would rather never go to Chelsea, than go at a bad moment."

Maybe I'm just developing a mild case of City-itis - that unique ability some of us have to look on the gloomy side. Certainly, assistant manager Mark Bowen isn't expecting a sudden flood of players, telling the BBC:

"It will be a natural progression over the next year or so with a number of players coming in. There will be an aspiration for the players but others will fall by the wayside - but that's the way it's been at Chelsea and Manchester United over the years.
"We want to give the players stiff competition for their places and if you have got real quality throughout the club that can only be for the benefit of the team."

But I do wonder what Mark Hughes really thinks about recent events. There was an interesting piece on Guillem Balague's website about the Zabaleta signing, that revealed the thoroughness of Hughes' homework before he signs a player:

"Hughes was taking lots of notes throughout the game and asked me all sorts of questions about the player, wanting to know absolutely everything I knew about him," Balague revealed.

Having to wait a full day before he gets to speak to a new signing will certainly be a new experience for Hughes. Okay, he's a young manager (and seemingly a very smart one) and can no doubt adapt to the new circumstances. But I think my point is that there's a smart way to go about things, and a not-so-smart way. And asking a manager what players he wants then pulling out all the stops is clearly the smart way to operate.

Yesterday Al-Faim insisted that Hughes will be making transfer decisions from now on, though as Al-Faim isn't the one who'll be writing the cheques we'll have to wait and see on that one.

But hey, if Sheikh Mansour decides he want to assemble his FIFA '08 All-Stars XI, so be it. Given a choice between that and a return to the hope-sapping misery of the Pearce era I'll take the Fantasy Football option in a shot.

But in the true spirit of this club, I reserve the right to at least find something to get angst-ridden about.

~ In case you haven't seen it, this YouTube take on events really made me laugh.


Paul said...

I'm with you 100% on this one. If ever there's a club that can feck up this situation its ours.

And I was full of hope after Sunday too. And still full of hope. Even Cook just mentioned the Academy a few minutes ago on TV and I don't think he was talking about the girls school.

Falastur said...

I also agree with you, but I think our lack of CL football will be our saving grace. I foresee a number of stupid-money bids on all kinds of players, but I really don't see us picking up many players for it. When that happens, I think the owners will (hopefully) realise that reputations need to be built up and go on Hughes' assessments instead, and I trust him to choose decent players who will not just flush out the current squad and force them into the reserves. I don't see us breaking the big 4 this season, and I think that will give us two or three years to make a name for ourselves "the right way" as football goes, first. In the meantime, hopefully the new money will guarantee us constant UEFA Cup play until we can crack the CL places, which should make us a more attractive proposition in the longer-term as we build ourselves up.

Big G said...


You have chronic Cityitis. Get a grip. Other than my wedding day and the birth of my kids, Monday was the best day of my life. You moan all you want, but after 35 years of standing in the shadows of United and mumbling "Man City" apologetically when asked what team I support, I for one am determined to enjoy myself with this now. Im sick of being a loser, its time to be a winner and time for us to be proud of City. Thank you Drs Thaksin and have changed my life and Im going to enjoy it!

Anonymous said...

It would be worthwhile considering purchasing a feeder club on the similar line of the Barcelona B
team thus the players gaining league experience instead of loaning them out.
Where does this weeks upheaval leave Tal Ben Haim and "Super agent"Pini Zahavi ?

Anonymous said...

what will happen to the Thaksin dream of academies on the four continents and the agreements with
the 4/5 clubs?

Blue Harv said...

Funny, I have mixed feelings about this whole takeover situation. But it didn't stop me becoming a season ticket holder again after a couple of seasons coming and going to games as I pleased.

As far as buying a feeder club is concerned, I couldn't agree more. And if our new Arab paymasters want to become genuine City legends they know which club to buy and what to do with their tourist infested ground!!