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Man City Finish Transfer Window Back Where They Started

Manchester City supremo Garry Cook 924676 Man City Finish Transfer Window Back Where They Started

When the financial and managerial reins to Manchester City Football Club changed hands early on this season for the second time in fairly quick succession on both fronts, this time with the Blues having instantly catapulted to the top of the world football rich list, everyone’s attention immediately turned to the January transfer window. What already looked a fairly competent side on paper, it was thought, was mere months away from becoming a sure-fire threat to retain its UEFA Cup spot – and not via the Fair Play rule this time.

Fast-forward to the past 30-odd days, and the verdict? Yeah, not so much.

While City did make a handful of sensible moves – Nigel de Jong in from Hamburg and only putting Jo out on loan to Everton being probably the best among them – it appeared at times that the Blues, a club with suddenly more money than they’d know what do with…well, didn’t.

Several bids for Blackburn striker Roque Santa Cruz, one of first-year City manager Mark Hughes’ former charges, were turned down by the Ewood Park club, and who could forget the audacious (and ultimately fruitless) bid in excess of £100 million for AC Milan midfielder Kaká, which Hughes seemed particularly gung-ho about until the very end and which club executive chairman Garry Cook had the gall to accuse the Italian giants of “bottling it” on a deal that would have paid Kaká the obscene sum of £500,000 a week at Eastlands and in turn set a potentially dangerous precedence where footballers’ pay, especially in a global recession, is concerned.

The Kaká narrative is what the January window should (and will) be most remembered by in the blue half of Manchester, especially as, much like with City’s successful bid for Newcastle and Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given, it was one that would have sent the wrong message to those players in the Blues’ current lineup. Throwing the two transfer targets together for the sake of argument, bringing in both Kaká and Given would have been seen as replacements for Stephen Ireland and Joe Hart, arguably City’s two best players so far this season.

The transfer window has left Hart especially unlucky. The 21-year-old keeper has been a rock for City since coming back from loan spells in 2007 at Tranmere Rovers and Blackpool, rarely if ever putting a foot wrong since taking over the starting job at Eastlands. What’s more, Hart is arguably the reason City are still alive in Europe, having made two saves in a penalty shoot-out at the end of the club’s UEFA Cup qualifier at FC Midtjylland back in August, a shoot-out that City really only made it into by accident after a late own-goal from the Danish side gifted City what at the time was a largely undeserved shot at reaching the competition’s first round proper.

Bearing that in mind, while City are bringing in another reliable goalkeeper for what is believed to be in the vicinity of £8 million, something will invariably have to give there. Hart will likely not remain a candidate for a regular spot in the full England squad any time soon if he’s playing the understudy at his club team, and it therefore seems inevitable that either he or third-stringer Kasper Schmeichel – who at one stage looked a solid prospect for an international call-up for Denmark or possibly even England as the Danes haven’t yet capped him – will be on their way out in the summer.

With what we know about what has transpired over the last month and change, then, it’s hard to look at City’s dealings in the transfer window as anything much better than one step forward and one step back. The Blues did manage to shore up a couple of their shortcomings so far this season, but at what cost? City stand to lose one if not two solid goalkeepers come the end of the season on account of lack of first-team playing time, and they’ve loaned out for more or less the same reason a player they had spent a reportedly estimated £19 million on to another Premiership side that’s still in with a shout to be back in the fold for European football again next season.

Then again, if the new signings fail to help steady the ship, how other clubs in the Premier League’s top half are getting on will be the least of City’s worries.

9 Responses to Man City Finish Transfer Window Back Where They Started

  1. Charles says:

    So they're going to lose two goalkeepers who aren't as good as the one they got in. They loaned out a guy who wasn't of any particular use to him. They failed to sign Santa Cruz for a ridiculous price that wouldn't have been worth it. And they didn't get Kaka.

    I'm not sure what “success” would have looked like, unless it was to get the entire Spanish national team, plus Kaka and Messi.

    I think it would be useful for all articles and opinions about Man City to state upfront what they think the plan for the club over the next two years ought to be. Over the window I heard constant mockery of them for just getting regular old players like Bridge, Bellamy, etc. I also heard constant whinging over the idea that they were going to unsettle the whole world of football by trying to swoop in and buy Kaka.

    But those two complaints are opposite of each other. The only conclusion I can draw is that people are looking for an excuse to make fun of them and will seize on whatever explanation seems most convenient.

    From my perspective, they signed a couple good players (Bridge, Given, and de Jong) who will provide significant improvement. They may have slightly overpayed but only on the order of a few million total.

    Jo is a sunk cost. They're never going to get all that money back no matter what they do. He clearly wasn't working in their squad, and given the wealth of other attacking talent they've got, there wasn't any legitimate reason to put him in the team and hope he could play his way back to quality. So they loaned him to a team who will almost certainly give him match time. If it goes well, maybe they can sell him and recuperate some of the cost. I'm not sure what else they're supposed to do.

    Sure, they had a lot of things they tried to do, and they didn't succeed at all of them. But can you really make a case that the things they did do won't help the team? I can't.

  2. Hardy says:

    Charles, excellent post. Not sure who you support, but if you are from the outside looking in, it's about time more people shared your views.

    How can bringing international footballers into the club be deemed standing still? Bridge > Ball, De Jong > Hamman, Given > Hart and Bellamy > Benjani/Jo/Caceido. In fact, we have improved all over the park.

    So we went for Kaka and didn't get him, yeah really funny that. Oh, we paid over the odds for Bellemy, so what. We could have sold Defoe for 12M and bought him back from 20M six months later: Pure Genius.

    The fact is: we could not win. Failure to buy Kaka was deemed 'funny' (although I suspect some people do laugh when they are scared), we buy good pro's at slightly inflated prices and this is funny too.

    Everybody knows it's very difficult to get players in Jan, even more so when you've got money to burn but don't wanna be mugged off. However, I note that Valencia, Bayern and Arsenal are far from getting into the CL next year and are all collectively skint. Come August, we'll see who is laughing.

  3. Charles says:

    I support Reading and have no particular interests one way or the other about Man City. Though the way the old firm is getting so angry about their “nouveau riche” position almost makes me want them to do well. At the very least, as a neutral I'd love to see Man City, Everton, Villa, even Spurs (remember when they were the next big thing) consistently challenging at the top.

  4. Burt Reynolds says:

    poor Joe Hart…what's a 21 year Keeper to do? Keepers have long lifespans and his future with England is not going to get any dimmer. If he takes his notes, the addition of Given can only help him, much like Guzan is probably benefitting from Friedel at Aston VIlla.

  5. dioforce says:

    Gotta be honest, I wrote an article with the alternate viewpoint and I find it much more convincing, naturally. Sorry for plugging but I'm beyond caring:

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/118909-man-c

  6. kkfla737 says:

    Interesting that my buddy Martin Rogers with Yahoo! Sports thinks City was perhaps the biggest winner in the transfer window getting Bellamy, DeJong and Given. He rates all three players highly.

  7. Matthew Semisch says:

    They are going to be helpful signings – It wasn't my intent in the article to deny that. I just think that Hart especially is being really hard done by with the Given signing.

    Yes, he (Hart) is only 21 and will have loads of chances at getting back into the England fold playing for other clubs, but on merit it shouldn't have come to this. Is Given a quality goalkeeper? Absolutely, but by the same token, Hart hasn't deserved to have the proverbial rug pulled from under him.

  8. thadw says:

    Joe Hart has not done a lot wrong but the fact is City have been leaking far too many goals, many of them pretty soft–even though our central defenders are all highly rated as individuals. I think the idea with Given is that he will get them better organized and be a more commanding presence, giving everyone more confidence.

    I'd give City overall mixed marks. Bridge and De Jong were good signings, perhaps even inspired in the latter case. Bellamy will do alright as well. But not getting a target man in was a failure, no matter how you cut it. It was Hughes's top priority at the start of the window, and he didn't fill the need. It's incredible to me they didn't come up with a plausible alternative to Santa Cruz, especially when a player like Heskey was on the market.

    I don't want to hear any moaning from Hughes about the like of a target man up front the rest of the year. I do think Caicedo should get a chance to fill that space, that kid's got a future.

  9. Matthew Semisch says:

    Charles-

    You bring up excellent points, and I do think that the players that City DID bring in will help the team, but I have to respectfully disagree about Jo. I'm not really sure if there had been anything going on behind the scenes there (player being in the manager's doghouse or something like that) or if it was just Hughes being under the impression that Jo just wasn't hacking it, but I still think that he has the capability to make it work in the long-term. Fingers crossed that we'll see signs of that from him while he's at Goodison.

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