Manchester City Ambitions: Not for the Faint of Heart

Patrick Johnston@PJSoccerJunkieCorrespondent IMarch 16, 2009

Manchester City has the necessary ingredient to make all other needs achievable—money.  Especially in the face of the global economic culture, there is much to be said about the Sky Blues' current situation.

But the perception of Manchester’s less successful Premiership club is not favorable around the soccer world.  

The audacious attempt at Kaka and purchase of several players in the January transfer market had many saying that the club and its chairman, Khaldoon Al Mubarak, were “ruining” the sport and epitomized all that is wrong with the current status of the modern game.  The black eye that resulted from the whole Kaka affair was handled poorly by the City brass.

At the end of January, in the official match programme before a game with Newcastle, a column by Gary Owen of the Manchester Evening news was almost apologetic in its tone and explanation of why City is justified in its attempts to improve its squad.  

While having no problem with Mr. Owen’s article—which explains that the attempts of “buying” a first-class team have been done by the likes of Real Madrid, Chelsea, and Man United—he justifies Manchester City’s ambitions. 

The fact that the article is in a Man City publication indicates to me that they are feeling guilty about having wealth, or even worse, are concerned about what others will think of them as they make aggressive attempts to fulfill the stated ambition of becoming the world’s top club.

To succeed, they must change the mindset and attitude. So what if everybody doesn’t like them. Many (myself included) would just call them jealous. A natural reaction to envy is scorn and ridicule and it is those who listen to others that usually end up failing. 

Did Roman Abramowich toe the line to make Chelsea a powerhouse while being popular to all?

There are two vital elements which City can buy that will catapult them into a rapid ascendancy: A manager capable of dealing with egos and an on-field leader. And they need to aggressive about obtaining them.

Mark Hughes is a great manager, but he is not ready for a big-four club yet. If the leadership at City is willing to give him time, he could be that manager, but are they willing to wait? 

Across Manchester, Sir Alex took four seasons at Old Trafford to win his first trophy with the club, an FA Cup. It took a full six seasons for him to win his first top-flight title. 

Coincidentally, Hughes was on both of those teams. Does anybody really think that Al Mubarak is willing to wait that long?

It is obvious that Hughes is struggling to deal with the personalities currently in the locker room. 

Robinho’s escape to Brazil and subsequent accusation of sexual misconduct in the English Courts has been a most distasteful distraction to contend with. 

Elano’s reaction to being substituted and his body language as he took his time leaving the pitch in a match at Chelsea (while City was down 1-0!) spoke volumes of the relationship Hughes has with some of his players and the need to change the culture—be it the manager or the clearing out of some players.

There are some managers that appear to be available at season’s end, and if City wants a quick return on their investment, they need to move on one of these men; names like Mourinho, Ancellotti, and Benitez, to name a few. A manager’s price will not be as high as a player’s.

The other vital component that the Citizens need to have in place before it all comes together is an on-the-field leader. A player that will inspire others to perform within the team’s parameters and more importantly, influence them to come to Eastlands.

Their record signing to date, Robinho, is neither. The attempt at luring John Terry was a step in the right direction. The problem with searching these players out, (as with Kaka and Terry) is that there is a reason they are so highly respected to start with—loyalty and character. 

Due to the current economic climate, a player of this magnitude will become available and Man City must be decisive and make the commitment to get this player. 

Of this I am convinced because it still seems odd to see Shay Given in goal for the Sky Blues. Surely if he can leave, then others will soon have the same set of circumstances and City will have the resources to bring them to Manchester. 

While still being aggressive, they are trying to be nice about it. City must do what has to be done and forget about the “public outcry”.  Those detractors could only wish they had the means and resources to bring their clubs to the highest level or even more telling: keep their team on top while not letting Man City join the big boys. 

As the saying goes: “there is no getting to the top without stepping on a few toes.”


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