Manchester City are, we’re told, the world’s richest football club. They harbor ambitions of winning…well…everything that Manchester United just won in the last 12 months. But where’s the beef? The players that City are buying – or trying to buy – are more UEFA Cup qualifiers than Champions League winners.
Exhibit 1: Craig Bellamy. A ‘mid-table’ player with Newcastle, Blackburn and West Ham. A brief stint with Liverpool was unsuccessful (I had forgotten all about it!).
Exhibit 2: Wayne Bridge. An accomplished left-back, but hardly the Roberto Carlos of his generation.
Exhibit 3: Roque Santa Cruz. Another firm bid that has yet to be converted. Santa Cruz had one good season for Blackburn (last year) and one good season for Bayern Munich (which was, unfortunately, spread over the course of calendar 8 years).
Exhibit 4: There is no Exhibit 4. Two firm bids on hold, one left-back in the bag.
If City want to break into the top-4, they’re going to need a different calibre of player than the one they appear to be pursuing. Sure, there are rumours of 100 million pound bids for Kaka, but they are just rumours at this point.
But why not buy Ashley Cole instead of Wayne Bridge? Why not Torres and Rooney instead of Bellamy and Santa Cruz?
One explanation is that City’s owners are content to tread water for the rest of the season and make big changes over the summer. Another is that they have been hit by the credit crunch, or become quickly disillusioned somehow.
What do you think is going on at City?