Mark Hughes and Manchester City: Landing Robinho Shows New Ambition

illya mclellan@illya mclellan @illbehaviorNZSenior Analyst ISeptember 2, 2008

Manchester City have operated in the shadow of their immediate rivals at Old Trafford for some time now. In fact, not since the late sixties and early seventies have they enjoyed any sort of success to rival that of their local neighbours.

This means that it is they and not Manchester United who are often referred to as "the other Manchester team."

Perhaps in the past the club could have been accused of a lack of ambition when it came to building a side that could really make an impact on the league, or in European and national cup competitions.

I think with the activity that has been taking place in the last year or so, these days could finally be over.

After a reasonable showing in the league last season, including winning both matches of the Manchester derby, they were sitting in a position to really challenge for a European spot, but ended up finishing a disappointing ninth and had a dismal last few games—including a good old fashioned thrashing at the hands of Middlesbrough.

Interestingly enough though, they still made the UEFA Cup through the Fair Play system, which will give them invaluable experience of continental football.

After they sent Sven-Goran Eriksson packing, many wondered who would come to fill the manager's role, one that now looked so demanding.

If Thaksin Shinawatra has achieved anything as owner of Manchester City, it would be that he restored the belief the club seemed to be lacking in their right to challenge the domination of Alex Ferguson and Manchester United.

The outcry from the fans at the Swede's sacking was actually a testament to the lack of ambition the club as a whole had been guilty of.

Imagine any of the top four team's fans making a public outcry over the sacking of their manager if they had had such a finish to their season.

I don't think it would have happened.

Though Thaksin is rumoured to be as corrupt as a South American policeman, he definitely has the ambition and drive to go with it. City's fans and players should really be thankful that he injected this new life into the club.

This ambition has led to him bringing Mark Hughes to fill the managers role, a man many believed would eventually be the boss at United. A young manager who had a successful playing career for the Red Devils, he brings enthusiasm and a winning attitude to City that his fans should really take note of.

As a player he never gave up the ghost, shown in last gasp goals he would score and his fighting spirit. As a manager he has turned Blackburn Rovers back into a strong side with ambition of their own—which his successor Paul Ince can only benefit from.

He has now brought the Brazilian Robinho to the club, a star with world wide appeal and the skills to match, who along with several other signings—including the returning Shaun Wright-Phillips—will make City a club that many teams will think twice about how they will cope with the threat posed.

This signing came out of the blue as City snatched the player from under the noses of Chelsea, who were even selling shirts with the players name on in a disastrous PR move that was possibly one of the reasons the deal fell through. These shirts will now be collectors items until such time as Robinho actually goes to Stamford Bridge.

This signing is a massive coup for a club that are beginning to look as though they will  mount a serious challenge to the established "Big Four".

With the recent take-over by the Abu Dhabi Group the club are more financially sound than they perhaps were after their mediocre opening day performance at Villa.

Manchester City's new found ambition is admirable, as there are many clubs that are content to sit in the top flight year after year without actually doing anything.

They themselves were a club that were guilty of this for a long time.

But now, perhaps this could be the season that City finally win a major honour, for the first time since 1976.

They have the manager, and the players as well. I think the most telling thing for this club, however, is that they have the ambition to go with these things—because at the end of the day you achieve nothing if you do not first believe you can achieve something.


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