It is a good time to be a Manchester City supporter at the moment. Billionaire owner, plenty of money, a good young manager, quality players coming into the club and Darius Vassell heading out. Yet surely the question must be asked what happens if it all goes wrong?
The big transfer rumour this week concerning City is that John Terry would like to talk to them. This was followed with Chelsea (not John Terry) denying it. Terry would be an astute signing but it is difficult to see, money aside, why he would want to sign for Mark Hughes’ men. Terry has always seemed to have Chelsea blue running through his blood. To be seen in a City shirt would be an odd sight. Whether they get Terry or not, it is heartening to see City linked with some actual defenders, it seemed at one point that their starting line up next season would be Shay Given, Gareth Barry and nine strikers.
A major problem the Citizens are going to face next season is keeping everybody happy. How do you fit Carlos Tevez, Robinho, Roque Santa Cruz, Craig Bellamy and probably Emmanuel Adebayor into the same team.
Keeping Craig Bellamy happy is not the easiest job at the best of times. The signing of Adebayor looks like being an interesting one. If they really do sign him, what exactly was the point of spending £17m on Santa Cruz? It smacks of a lack of direction in City’s transfer policy and it’s a lack of long term planning that could ultimately prove to be their downfall.
Another worry is what happens to their excellent youth policy? In the past few seasons Micah Richards, Daniel Sturridge, Michael Johnson, Joe Hart, Nedum Onuoha and Stephen Ireland have all made the step up from City’s youth side. Only Ireland is likely to play a major role in their squad next season. Hart has had to go on loan at Birmingham just to get a game and Sturridge thought he would have a better chance getting into the Chelsea team. What hope is there for any young talent when they see the door to the first team blocked by an expensive foreign import?
It is a surprise to some that Mark Hughes is still the manager of Man City. He did a decent enough job last season but he does not have the experience of working with the egos that the City dressing room will now contain. If by the January transfer window Hughes does not have his team at least challenging for a Champions League place then surely he will be out the door. The new owners do not seem the type to accept even relative failure.
Is it even realistic that City could finish in the top four next season? There will of course need to be a bedding-in period for the new signings. Some will do well, some will undoubtedly flop and some could do a Robinho – excellent at home, invisible away. As mentioned above they really need to improve their defensive options. They will not have any trouble scoring goals but their Champions League qualification ambitions may rely on them bringing in a couple of top quality centre-halves.
In the past, City has always been a favoured team of many a football fan. Being in the shadow of the most successful team in England had won them pity points. Their relegation to the Second Division and subsequent run back to the top flight won them admirers. Their loyal fan base has been praised for being just that. Even under Sven Goran Eriksson they were seen as a Newcastle for the 2000s, a team you could support when yours was not playing. However in the coming season they are going to face as much vitriol as their red neighbours or the Abramovich-led Chelsea…..if they are successful. Whether they will be is going to be fascinating to find out.
Can anyone guess what the Man City starting line up will be come the end of the August transfer window? The more imaginative, the better. Send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org