Eastlands finally gets a taste of Champions league football. A billion pounds from Sheik Mansour seems to have finally broken the stalemate at City. The Real Madrids and the Barcelonas will keenly watch the spending from the richest and most hated club on the planet. Ricardo Kaka might not make the same decision if he is offered a similar multi million pound contract. But thats not why City get all the news now. The banner is finally down at Old Trafford and 35 years of hurt ended. While the Champions league adds to City’s lucre, its silverware that counts for the modern footballer. Even with only a diminished FA Cup in their bag, City can now start to dictate terms.
This season started with more questions than answers. Is Mancini the right man for the job? Do City need Mourinho? Are all the players at City “the second tier” of footballers playing just for money? Although all those questions cannot be answered right now, one man who has earned his way to managing City in the Champions league is Roberto Mancini. The litmus test for him begins where his Inter could never get past the knockout stages even when they had the world’s best footballers.
Mancini’s signings this season have largely been a mixed bag. While Milner, Silva and Yaya have been the shining lights question marks remain over Balotelli, Boateng, Dzeko. But one decision Mancini got right was the recall of Joe Hart. Hart is the quintessential shotstopper; tall, agile and commanding. He has justified his selection over the ever reliable Shay Given. The players aside, City also have an established backroom staff. Mancini has an aura of assurance built around him. David Platt is a welcome addition as first team coach. City, though very defensive through the course of the last two seasons will benefit from his attacking instincts at some point of time. Brian Kidd, Mancini’s No 2 has some unfinished business in Manchester after his stint with United in the 90s. And City also have a core of winners and combatants in Kompany, Viera, De Jong, Barry and Tevez that should help them especially through the latter stages of knockout competitions. Looking at their games against Manchester United in the FA cup and Stoke City in the Premier League, Mancini has also instilled some steel into the so called mercenaries. With a good batch of youth footballers coming through, the technical side of things look rosy for the blues.
In fairness to City’s owners, they have also done reasonably well not to hog the limelight this season. With the infamous sacking of Mark Hughes behind them, they have realized that stability is the only way City are going to join the European elite. Gary Cook after his initial PR howlers, really has done well to get City their desired players. Brian Marwood is the calming presence among the City board. His experience with Nike and SkySports should help him understand the footballing and marketing side of where City are heading as well as keep their spending in reins for the UEFA fair play rules.
With all the good work done this year, one thing City shouldn’t do is go on another massive spending spree. The core group of players look well drilled and seem to be gelling together. A Ronaldo or Ibrahimovic like addition will only rock the boat at City. They need one or two hungry potential superstars such as a Pastore or a Sanchez. They also need to be true to their roots and blend in the youth appropriately. But one thing city can do without is pricing the average fan out of their home games as Chelsea have done. With ticket prices rising massively at Arsenal and Liverpool this year, City could do well to maintain their ticket prices and bring some much needed fans by their side. All said and done, the only way for City is up .