Sheikh Mansour and Manchester City Cannot Afford One Thing: Failure

True BlueCorrespondent IJanuary 12, 2011

£27m well spent
£27m well spentAlex Livesey/Getty Images

The wrinkles have been ironed out and the squad investment has been made.

The tools have been bought and are being sharpened, ready for the real fights to come.

Without a doubt there will be massive spending in the future, but it wont be where many people expect.

It hasn't hasn't been without its issues, but Sheikh Mansour's period of ownership at Manchester City is pretty well on target, even though most of the world has tried not to notice.

Let me start by dispelling a few myths and clearing up a few facts for the readers of the "red tops" and the vast majority of football fans who fail to scratch the surface and so miss the detail.

Firstly, when ADUG (which is the company owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan) bought the team, Manchester City were in a truly parlous state.

The previous owner, Thaksin Shinawatra had purchased some middle ranking footballers by taking out loans, guaranteed against the following season's TV revenues, but that wasn't enough.

On at least three occasions a private loan from John Wardle (the man who sold the club to Shinawatra) had made sure that the wages had been paid. These loans were in the region of £1m a time. Those short-term loans were repaid, but it doesn't hide the fact that Thaksin had all but bankrupted the club in a little over six months.

Thaksin also sacked Sven Goran Erickson and replaced him with Mark Hughes, a decision that has perhaps delayed City's more recent rise by two years.

But the Thai businessman had seen the writing was on the wall when the majority of his cash was frozen by the Thai government (and remains frozen). In very simple terms, Thaksin was not rich enough to be a Premier League owner.

What Thaksin did have though was contacts and it was through these contacts that Manchester City were sold to ADUG.

This company was remarkably generous from Day 1. But truth be told, it was generous even before it officially bought the club as it underwrote the purchase of Shaun Wright Phillips, and perhaps other players as well, which enabled the club to start the squad building they knew was needed.

The first big name to arrive at City under full ADUG ownership is the one that most people remember as it truly was a remarkable thing to watch happen. But that was also the wrong man to buy for footballing reasons.

It was, however, the statement that needed to be made for non-footballing reasons.

I think it is worthwhile to take a moment here and ask ourselves, "What investment would it take to make Bolton a contender for the Premier League title and get them into the Champions League?"

That is the same question that ADUG had to answer about City in the run-up to the January transfer window.

The answer of course, is a lot of money and better players (and perhaps a different manager?).

Let's also not forget that at the time of ADUG's early spending Liverpool were yet to implode so violently and Aston Villa were still there in the top five, with Spurs putting pressure on them ahead of City's challenge by at least two years.

So ADUG needed to spend big or stay out of contention.

But that was the point at which they made their first mistake. They were too honorable and stuck by Mark Hughes and backed him and his vision for success to the tune of some £150m.

It didn't work for many reasons, chief amongst them is the fact that Hughes simply isn't, and will never be good enough to win a title.

The players Hughes invested in were too old and too limited by injury.

They simply were not good enough and the Hughes-managed team would very likely have leapt from the 10th place to the top six, but would have been nowhere near good enough to get in the Champions League.

Also, because of the age and injury-prone nature of Hughes' team, even more investment would be needed sooner rather than later.

ADUG saw this too late to save themselves a lot of money and a lot of bad press.

They pulled the trigger on Hughes' reign and got a man of real quality instead in Roberto Mancini.

That change of manager was not perfect. But it was handled no worse than Spurs' appointment of Redknapp or the recent changes at Liverpool. But City lost the PR battle there and that, as well as the Robinho purchase, has stuck in the minds of far too many.

Once ADUG had their own man they also had free run at their own vision.

The money being spent now was (in the majority of cases) spent on young talent.

No more Wright Phillips's and more Adam Johnsons was the order of the day.

Although there are quite a few players kicking their heels during this period of transition, I am sure the board at City see that as a consequence of bad decisions going back two years. In simple terms, they can live with it for now.

The players who have been brought in under Mancini are young, eager and have the very best of attitudes. That means the emerging threat of UEFA's Financial Fair Play Rules have to be considered, but not worried about.

The spending of the last few windows need not be repeated again. It's about adding here and there rather than replacing an entire team.

As I said earlier, what would it take to make Bolton title contenders? The big investments in City have been made, time to tinker now.

The back room staff at City are hugely more capable than they were under Hughes.

It must also be said that away from the coaching staff very few people are appointed by Mancini, something that was not the case with Hughes.

From the kits that City fans can buy, the website that they interact with, the use of social media and the massive investments in the supporter experience with better food and a real family stand, ADUG has made an investment. 

All of it provides the best that can currently be offered and that investment continues.

The Academy is also being developed at a starling pace with many millions already having been invested and many, many more millions to follow.

But the reality of today is that City are now seen as a big name, and that name has quality stamped all over it.

Not that shabby in just over two years.

City are associated ever more with Abu Dhabi and the best companies from the UAE.

These ties to the homeland of ADUG are key to City's future but they are also the reason why City cannot be allowed to fail.

More money will be spent if it is needed. No doubt people will scoff at the idea of Messi playing for City but it may happen in the next five years.

There is more to come as well.

City are to change the way football clubs do business.

UEFA's FFPR are the reason for that and City have the answers.

They are finalising the details of the new training centre, which will be developed close to the City of Manchester Stadium. It will be the best in the world and cost, some suggest, £100m.

Then there is the stadium itself, which currently holds about 48,000.

The plans are in place to increase that to a staggering final figure of 85,000.

But by the time that capacity is reached the stadium will be the jewel in the crown of an area which will have been changed beyond all recognition.

Best guesses suggest over £1bn (that's billion) will be invested in the area around the stadium in the next five to eight years creating a visitor destination of "international importance."

Once these pieces of the jigsaw are in place, Platini and his FFPR will be irrelevant as the revenue from that investment will be available to the football club.

None of this future development is predicated on City winning anything, but it is true that having a football club like that not winning isn't acceptable.

City will be changing the way a football club does many things and in City's case it starts with changing they way the club is viewed.

So City are already ahead of the game as many now consider them title contenders. Who would have thought that a mere two years ago?


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