The day that Sheik Mansour of Abu Dhabi bought Manchester City remains etched in memory.
One moment, City were about to sink into oblivion under the reckless control of Thaksin Shinawatra; the next, a club employee was blinking hard with disbelief as she faxed a £32million transfer request to Real Madrid for the registration of Brazil forward Robinho.
In the following days and weeks, English football began to wonder if its familiar landscape – one with Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool at its center was about to change forever, indeed it has. Two years on, it is finally threatening to happen. City’s progress to the top of the English game has been relatively slow.
Chelsea did it almost as soon as Roman Abramovich’s money arrived in 2003, finishing second the following season and reaching the last four of the Champions League. Abramovich poured in more than £400m in transfer fees alone since taking over but the club was starting from a position of relative strength in their bid to overthrow Manchester United’s dominance.
It is, and must be said, an increasingly impressive pool of players. Arguably, City now have the most talented and deepest squad in the Premier League. They could now field two teams of internationals. They had 13 players on World Cup duty in South Africa this summer.
But can this squad win the Premier League this season? Certainly, it could. Will it? It’s unlikely. A team needs a tried and trusted core of players if it is to succeed, individuals who instinctively know and understand each other and will drag a team through the difficulties of a demanding season. That is where big teams such as Chelsea and Man United have a upper hand, both have a wide array of players to select from. Both coaches can field different teams in the Champions league, FA cup, Carling Cup and even the Premier league. On the other hand teams such as Arsenal and Liverpool don’t have that kind of core needed to survive in the top flight, hence come mid of the season, half the team is injured, suspended resulting in them not being able to mount a strong challenge to United and Chelsea.
Although they haven’t spent heavily this summer, City’s title rivals Chelsea and Manchester United have that core.Certainly, City should be preparing for the Champions League in a year’s time and they will certainly win the Premier League title some day soon. The big question is can they manage it this season? It remains to be seen. All the best Mancini… I don’t envy you at all.