Will Manchester City's Summer Excursions Cost as Much as They Earn, Again?

Phil KeidelContributor IIFebruary 5, 2014

Nothing has been the same for Nastasic since he went down in Hong Kong.
Nothing has been the same for Nastasic since he went down in Hong Kong.Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

Manchester City will spend the summer of 2014 accumulating more passport stamps. This is both great and terrible news, depending on your point of view.

The club announced recently that they will participate in the 2014 Guinness International Champions Cup, according to Jon Arnold of the Sporting News:

Both Manchester United and Manchester City will take part in the preseason tournament, as will their English Premier League rival Liverpool. Both big clubs from Milan also are in the field, with Inter and AC Milan also joined by American-owned Roma. Spanish giant Real Madrid and the largest club in Greece, Olympiacos round out the field.

The tournament will run from Jul. 26 through Aug. 4, according to the Cup's website. Per Arnold's report, matches will take place in a dozen American venues, including New York/New Jersey and Miami. Not surprisingly, many of the tournament sites are current or future Major League Soccer cities.

As an American fan of world football, this announcement is exciting on a personal level. Matches will be played in three cities within easy travel distance of my home (Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and New York/New Jersey).

Even if the matches are not played with league intensity, the quality promises to be exceptional given the strength of the sides involved.

As a Manchester City fan, though, this news is not particularly welcome. The last time City took the pitch away from Europe, things did not go very well.

City boss Manuel Pellegrini did secure the first trophy of his tenure when City beat Sunderland for the 2013 Barclays Asia Trophy in Hong Kong.

In doing so, though, City sustained a loss that resonates even now.

My colleague Rob Pollard wrote recently and well about City defender Matija Nastasic's shocking fall from first-choice centre-back to chancy substitute.

Only Nastasic knows how he feels today, but the deterioration of his form and the terrible ankle injury he sustained on a "killer pitch" in Hong Kong last summer—in a meaningless matchsomehow feel connected.

Nastasic was not fit for the beginning of the Premier League season and made his league debut against Hull City in the Sky Blues' third match of the season. By then, City had already lost three points at lowly Cardiff City (who are presently in the drop zone).

Soon thereafter, Nastasic's fingerprints were on City's loss to Aston Villa. The free-kick Nastasic conceded to Andreas Weimann was converted by Leandro Bacuna in a match City lost by a single goal.

CIty are still feeling the effects of Nastasic's horror error at Stamford Bridge.
CIty are still feeling the effects of Nastasic's horror error at Stamford Bridge.Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

But where Pellegrini really seemed to lose all trust in Nastasic was after his nightmare misplay with Joe Hart that cost City all three points at the death at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea in October.

And there was Nastasic again this week, playing a skittish, almost scared game against Chelsea at the Etihad. Fellow centre-back Vincent Kompany felt the brunt of one of Nastasic's vaunted slide tackles in one of City's numerous defensive scrambles in the box in the 10th minute.

Kompany came away unscathed, but imagine the recriminations if he hadn't.

Do we know that Nastasic's preseason injury and the time he lost in training had an adverse effect on his play early in the season? No.

What we do know is that Nastasic entered this season as a presumptive fixture in the City XI and he is now behind the thoroughly average Martin Demichelis on the depth chart.

City's desire to project its brand globally and develop new streams of revenue is no secret. Given their Financial Fair Play concerns, per Ian Herbert of the Independent, such efforts are probably quite necessary.

Still, City are in a dogfight with Chelsea and Arsenal at the top of the Premier League table—instead of running away with the league—in large measure because of the handfuls of points they dropped with Nastasic playing as though he was on roller skates.

City's summer proselytizing has thus become its pearl of great price.