Mo Money Mo Problems

by Neil Sherwin

The acquisition of David Silva is a clear statement of intent from Manchester City in the run up to the new Premier League season, but the constant spending could do more harm than good in the long run.

It’s not often that a mid-90s rap song gets me thinking about football, but that’s exactly what happened while I was listening to Notorious B.I.G.’s popular classic. The line that stood out was “It’s like more money we come across, the more problems we see”, and instantly I realised how incredibly apt this is for Manchester City.

Before the initial flood of cash back in 2008, City were the token yo-yo club having just come out of a spell that saw six promotions and relegations in seven seasons. They flirted with the odd superstar (Nicolas Anelka, Robbie Fowler) as well as former superstars (George Weah, Steve McManaman, David Seaman) but for the large part were made up of your average run of the mill Premier League or Championship footballer.

Fast forward two years however and it’s all change at the City of Manchester Stadium with some of highest paid players in the world competing against each other just to make the first eleven.

The David Silva signing looks all fluffy on the outside. He’s 24 years of age, a regular in arguably the best international side in the world, and has been courted by some of the top clubs around, yet he has joined a club that has never played Champions League football. “I want to say that I always hoped to come to Manchester City and I am excited about my future there,” he said upon completing the move. “They are a club with a great future with fantastic players. I want to be an important player in Manchester City’s history.”

He has said all the right things of course, but did he really want to come to dreary Manchester? Or was it the case that Valencia were in the position to sell and City were the only club to put up the money to meet the valuation of the player? The signing could potentially do more harm than good as it will undoubtedly unsettle members of a squad that is chock full of talent and egos in equal measure as competition for places becomes even more intense.

Silva is still in World Cup action and won’t join his teammates for a few weeks, a situation that fellow new blue Jerome Boateng also finds himself in. The defender’s move from Hamburg was confirmed on the eve of the tournament and big things are expected from the 21 year who has been a key figure in his nation’s run to the semi finals.

Last season’s second choice goalkeeper Stuart Taylor has left the club after his contract was not renewed, and that appears to give a clear indication that Joe Hart will be returning to the City of Manchester Stadium to battle it out with Shay Given for the number one shirt. Hart can count himself unlucky not to have featured for England during the World Cup following a superb season on loan at Birmingham City, and he may even begin the new campaign as first choice with Given still recovering from a shoulder injury sustained against Arsenal in May.

The signing of German international Boateng adds to an already impressive selection of young, athletic defenders. Vincent Kompany, Micah Richards and Nedum Onuoha are all under the age of 24, and are joined by captain Kolo Toure and Joleon Lescott as options for the two centre half positions. Throw Pablo Zabaleta and Wayne Bridge into the mix and you have plenty of options, though question marks remain over Bridge’s future with strong rumours indicating that City are ready to make a move for Lazio’s impressive Serbian left back Aleksandar Kolarov.

In midfield, Kolo’s brother Yaya has joined from Barcelona, and is rumoured to now be the highest paid player in the league. Dutchman Nigel De Jong had a solid first full season in the Premiership and put in some superb individual performances with the home clash against Chelsea a particular fans’ favourite. Aging Frenchman Patrick Vieira has been retained, while Gareth Barry, Kompany and Zabaleta are also well capable of filling the holding midfielder role.

Further forward, Stephen Ireland could be on his way out having failed to recapture his blistering form of the 2008/09 season when he was voted the club’s Player of the Year. Still only 23, Ireland has plenty of time on his side, but it is clear that he doesn’t really into Mancini’s system and, as much as it would be a shame to see him leave, it would be an equal disappointment to have his undoubted talents go to waste. Another man with a big year ahead in terms of his career is Michael Johnson. Labelled, somewhat unfairly, the ‘New Colin Bell’ in some quarters, ‘Jonno’ has been blighted by injuries over the past three seasons. Having recovered from serious abdominal issues, he began to find his feet again last season before a horribly unfortunate cruciate ligament injury meant more extended time on the sidelines. Thankfully his rehabilitation is coming along well and every City fan has their fingers crossed for him as he has the potential to be one of the standout midfielders in the league.

There are countless options up front, and while Carlos Tevez and Emmanuel Adebayor are the obvious choices, the likes of Roque Santa Cruz, Jo, Felipe Caicedo and Craig Bellamy all cost a pretty penny. Bellamy is the most likely to feature after a great season last year, and he will find himself competing with Adam Johnson, Shaun Wright-Phillips and , of course, David Silva for the wide berths. All of this comes before even mentioning Robinho who has been on loan at Santos in his native Brazil. The former Real Madrid man had an excellent World Cup, and gave a timely reminder of his undoubted talents. It’s unlikely that he will remain at City for much longer, though he will always be remembered as the signing that really made the football world sit up  and take note of the blue half of Manchester.

With so many big names you often find yourself forgetting about the home grown talent still coming through the club in abundance. Last year Dedryck Boyata, Greg Cunningham and Abdisalam Ibrahim all made appearances in the first team and gave a good account of themselves. Vladimir Weiss picked up some important experience while out on loan at Bolton Wanderers, while Shaleum Logan also has Premier League experience with City.

The problem with having so many hugely talented players is that they all will want to play, but there are only eleven starting positions. Will Yaya Toure be happy to, for want of a better cliche, warm the bench on a cold Tuesday night in the middle of December? I’m sure his weekly cheque for over £200,000 will soften the blow.

It will be interesting to see how Roberto Mancini handles the big decisions….if he’s around for long enough.

11 Responses

  1. City can buy whoever they want, but they can only play eleven players at a time, and by my last count that leaves a lot of unhappy players, never mind blue moon rising, I think there may be trouble ahead.

  2. MisoSoup says:

    As a student, I used to live in one of the streets next to Maine Road and used to get free tickets to watch City from a newspaper photographer friend. So I have a soft spot for City. But this moster they are morphing into is unrecognisable. I think it is a bit sad and that it is going to end in tears.

  3. fulafalonga says:

    ‘The line that stood out was “It’s like more money we come across, the more problems we see”, and instantly I realised how incredibly apt this is for Manchester City.’

    So what exactly are the problems? Competition for places among extremely talented and well remunerated individuals, and the ensuing bruised ego that the dropped player will experience. Well, that’s ONE problem, and boy, that’s a big one isn’t it? That club must surely be wishing they had a few more bad players to make things better.

    Other problems? None that you can identify. Zero. Nada. Go back to listening to crap 90s rap music, you desperate idiot, and see if it will gift you more sharp insights into something “incredibly apt” to write about.

    1. Neil Sherwin Neil Sherwin says:

      Of course it is a big problem. Harmony within a squad is essential. Look at the Manchester United side of the 90s – they were lads who grew up together and were mates off the park as well as on it. They played for each other and there was no animosity. They reaped the rewards for it.

      There are egos aplenty in the City squad, and we’ve already had Robinho head off to Brazil, while the clash between Mancini and Bellamy is well known. The squad is now filled with even more talented players who will want to play each week. you can’t honestly believe that they will all be happy not to do so.

      The other issue of course surrounding these owners is what happens wehn they get bored of their toy and move on to other things? Leeds spunked money right, left and centre, albeit on a lesser scale, and ended up in the doldrems and are only now recovering. City will not be able to sustain such a high wage bill if the worst happens.

      I’m sure you would agree that any sort of administration would be a disaster for the club, not to mention the breach of players’ contracts.

      If you would like to bury your head in the sand and tell yourself that City are in a win, win situation then by all means go ahead.

      By the way, I’m a City fan you will have to excuse my scepticism. When you’ve been on the rollercoaster for as long as we have then it’s only natural to look at the negatives.

      1. fulafalonga says:

        All fair points, some of which I agree with totally and some of which might be worth my time arguing about if I had more of it. But are these “problems” now? No. Your posting is poorly written, lazy conjecture. My point about the device you use so you can conject your head off stands: (“It’s like more money we come across, the more problems we see, and instantly I realised how incredibly apt this is for Manchester City”). There are no “problems” right now. Why not wait until there is one and then you can let your instant insight run wild with, say, a lyric from The Queen is Dead and point at Tevez/Bellamy/Adebayor/ or whoever has spat the dummy and say: “See! See! Morrisey! How incredibly apt!” I too am a City fan — since 1970, City’s Australian summer tour minus Lee and Bell (in Mexico) and Summerbee (home injured), and including a couple of stints I spent over there in the 80s and 90s watching them — so I know all about cynicism. Just give them a chance to fail, mate. No need to jump in there and egg them on. Surely there are other things to conject about on a World Cup down day than City’s inevitable eventual downfall. How about something surprising, like this: Ronaldo is a dad. I wonder how that happened.

        1. Neil Sherwin Neil Sherwin says:

          I don’t think it’s fair to say it’s lazy. If anything it’s being over cynical, and I make no apologies for that having been let down so many times before with various false dawns.

          I’m 100% behind the club and look forward to us reaping the rewards of having such prestigious owners who are taking us in the right direction.

          However, I can’t shake the thought at the back of my head that it could very well go tits up and we’re left with next to nothing.

          I’m still confused as to why I’m a desperate idiot by the way as I have zero reason to be having a pop at City.

          Thanks though for taking the time to read and reply, I’m glad that if nothing else the subject provoked a bit of discussion.

  4. Callum says:

    Ahh the typically cynical, downhearted mind of a Manchester City fan. I’m exactly the same…

  5. fulafalonga says:

    Lazy because there’s nothing new or insightful you add. Nothing you wrote wasn’t written at the same time last year, and various times ever since ADUG rode into town. You’re just turning over old sod with a couple of added names and moving others around. It read lazy, compared with most of your other postings. Maybe you should stick to tactics. I can’t disagree with you about you being over-cynical. You are, but you can be lazy, too; they are not mutually exclusive. Sorry if I have offended you with an offhand remark. Desperate? Well, you were definitely reaching with the lyrics and the link, and some people would consider hauling up this chestnut with nothing new to add as the sign of someone desperately looking for something to write about. And you can’t be serious about the idiot thing. You follow CIty: of course you are an idiot.

  6. Alan Gillespie says:

    I don’t know if City will ultimately encounter problems or not, but from a neutral perspective their recent activity has been extremely unsavoury.

    They seem to be throwing money about left, right and centre, crossing their fingers that some of it sticks. Millions have already been wasted on Robinho, Jo, Santa Cruz.

    Yaya Toure and David Silva are undeniably good players, but you get the feeling they’re only in it for the money. A couple of years at City will set them up for life, and then they can try to get a transfer to a real football club again.

    What they should be doing is coaching the likes of Hart, Ireland, Johnson, Richards and turning them into world-class players. Instead, you fear these players will ultimately have to move on in order to get a game.

    1. Callum says:

      You say that Silva, Toure et al will just stay for a couple of years and soak up the money and you’re probably right but I have to say that it doesn’t bother me… much. If they stay for a few years and win us trophies, qualify for the CL and generally build the stature of the club before buggering off then i say job well done. Take your money and go wherever you want. To a “real” football club (you’ll have to explain that bit to me as I was always under the impression that City were a VERY real club.)

      The problems only start when the players begin acting like Robinho, Jo or Elano etc. Players will just come for the money but most realise that the way to earn that money and guarentee MORE money is to put in a bit of effort which the Brazilians didn’t do. Then we’re in trouble. I only hope that Mancini is strong enough to tell those players where to get off…

      You have a point with the youngsters that you mention. City still have an excellent academy system (Vladimir Weiss at WC 2010) but apart from Hart the players you mention have sort of already had there chance. Ireland was amazing for one season out of 3. Johnson admittedly was unlucky with injuries but when he finally returned he looked fat, lazy and uninterested. And Richards has never learned to defend…

      1. Alan Gillespie says:

        I’m afraid to say that City don’t come across as a ‘real’ football club any more. They are what is commonly known as a ‘project’. Have been ever since the takeover.

        To me, a real club is one that promotes from within, identifies with its local community and seeks improvement through excellent coaching, tactics and transfer business. City’s scattergun approach to recruitment is unimaginative. Their academy might continue to produce promising players but they’ll really struggle to get any game time.

        I don’t know. I guess it’s more exciting than the days of Darius Vassell and Shaun Goater but it all just looks so artificial and contrived to me.

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