Manchester City: The Next Chelsea FC?

It wasn’t so long ago, I was completely outraged by Chelsea FC’s spending. 16.6m for Mekelele. 24.4m for Essien. 19.8m for Carvalho. 24m for Drogba. As a business, the club could sustain a 140m loss on a year because Roman Abramovich was there to bankroll the transfers. This was bad for football. The value of players skyrocketed. The old high water marks were obliterated. Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinze Rummenigge lamented the damage Chelsea spending was doing to European football. Wrecking the balance. Hogging the resources.

Now, with Manchester City as the new fat cat in town, I almost can’t remember why I was so mad at Abramovich.

Last winter rumors of Kaka coming to City abounded. The press figured City’s transfer offer to be as high as 130m. Thankfully it was turned down and Kaka stayed at Madrid Milan, but the fact City were willing to splash that much out on one player is scary.

City have already set a new British record when they spent 32.5m to buy Robinho from Real Madrid last summer. And they were reportedly talking about shelling out 60m to secure David Villa’s services from Valencia last winter. Villa made it clear then he wanted to stay. Now that Valencia is in serious financial trouble, one wonders if an expensive move may be made after all.

With all the money City are willing to spend it is almost refreshing to see them only pay 12m for Gareth Barry (the remainder of his contract was estimated at about 10m when I last wrote about him potentially leaving Aston Villa), but of course the fact they can offer him a meaty salary factors heavily into his move.

As when City coaxed West Ham’s prolific Craig Bellamy away for 14m, the promise of City’s future has its lure for players like Barry.

City are not looking to merely follow the Abramovich model. They are looking to crumple it up into a ball and leave it behind them in the dust, while the rest of us wonder… what were we so mad about c. 2006?

Abramovich’s past transfer coups are dwarfed by the prospects of 130m for Kaka and 60m for Villa. At some point City will make good on such offers. At some point a club is going to succumb to the lure of big money and sell the top class player for the outrageous sum and the glass ceiling (already raised so high by Chelsea) will come a’ tumblin’ down.

With the Abu Dhabi United Group behind City and with Abramovich’s wealth hurt by the global economic crunch, the Russian oligarch is slipping from his status as wealthy arch-villain into a role of, well, normal owner. He is not expected to spend anything near the amounts he dropped on the market in his first years at the helm. As Chelsea’s stars age, they seem like a club again. Not a superclub.

But the Chelsea spending model was largely a means to launch the club as a global brand. This has worked. Even if Abramovich curtails his upside-down business model and allows Chelsea to climb back into the positive in the books without his cash injections, the club is in a position to thrive and remain a force in domestic and continental football do to the exposure of the talent they brought in and the trophies they won since Abramovich took over.

This is now City’s aim. Using big name players and the potential marketing power of having the name “Manchester” at their disposal, City can make their way into a higher level of global recognition.

With no spending ceilings in place, there’s no need for pragmatism for business or concern for the damage the outrageous transfer fees can do to the sport.

The scary question is: what other investors will follow this absurd model? What other clubs will raise the bar beyond belief? And how high will the bids go?

In five years 32.5 for Robinho may not seem so crazy when the figure has been eclipsed by the next Chelsea FC or the next Manchester City. I cringe at the prospect.

33 thoughts on “Manchester City: The Next Chelsea FC?”

  1. A lot of your argument is based on the assumptions of the media hype surrounding City. There may well be one or two marquee signings in future years, but the aquisition of De Jong, Bridge and now Barry indicate that this is a much more pragmatic build up than you may think.

    Yes 32.5 million was a lot for Robinho, but so far this has been a one-off – Berbatov cost United a similar amount and he is all but a substitute. Have you forgotten the absurd signing of Shevchenko already?

    City are being attacked by the media in an extreme manner based on the potential riches of their owners, it’s easy to jump on that bandwagon.

    The Kaka story was deeper than just a 100-million purchase offer and with Perez back at Madrid, I think that one will run and run

    Judge City on the field and not merely by wild press rumour that is based on guesswork

  2. You got there before me. Good research by the author. Obviously knows very little about football. Its not like Madrid was a typo for Milan. Oh also Bellamy was far less than 14m as reported by MH in an interview earlier in the year. You have to stop believing the gutter stories and comments in the tabloids.

  3. wen did kaka play for madrid ??? if any thing its a good thing players like him come too city because that gives the league more reputation nd tht is wat makes players wnt to come too the premieleague cause they wnna play wid the best also i hope u no his club is spelt ac milan

  4. The only thing I see wrong with the article is that (apart from different player names) this seems like exactly the same as articles written a year ago about Man City. I am glad as a Chelsea fan that after seeing the money at the disposal of Man City, it does not go hand in hand that money buys titles, and I can not see Man City having away days in the Champions league for the foreseable future. This will only mean (unlike some of the Chelsea signings that have signed to play at the top level in Europe) that Man City will only attract players that are after money alone. Good luck to one and all.

  5. Ethan you really said nothing new, nothing true, and your comparison of City and Chelsea does not hold water. They were a Top 5 team, had no youth system, and were (and are) an aging team. We are a long term project (albeit with short term goals), and are being built around a much younger core for sustained success. Chelsea is also Abramovich’s personal Football Manager simulation… our owners are markedly different.

    I won’t judge you on this posting alone, but would be interested to see you respond to the following article:

  6. Cliff, the thing you seem to conveniently forget is that Mark Hughes has never really had a chance to spend any serious money until this summer! Last summer the ADUG takeover was little more than a day old before the transfer window closed and as we all know, the January window is just a farce with clubs not wanting to sell and players not wanting to move.
    Wait until the end of next season before deciding whether money makes a difference to success or not!

  7. yh quester is right im not being funny but crap*y chelsea wer all ready good they wer all ready a champions league team but look at hughes signed last summer (the good ones) robiniho,swp,given and dejong r u tellin me thts good enough for champion league contenders

  8. I’m a Chelsea supporter and what Andy says rings true. What the Press speculate, and what happens are often very different. I was reading about Beckham and the other Galacticos that the press kept insisting we were after. But it was Cech, Carvalho, Essien, Drogba, Robben who arrived (all cost us a lot of money – but they were mostly unknown here). And they’re still performing for us 5 years later. Makelele was the only star, and great as he was, he didn’t sell that many shirts!

    I’m sure Hughes knows what he’s doing, and I’m sure the Press don’t.

  9. At the end of the day Man City arnt the next chelsea. And wont be for sometime.
    In todays current football climate, money outside the “top4” wont bring you instant success. Its now alot more challenging then just to simply -spend millions and win the league – Done!
    Abramovich’s money came along at the perfect time for chelski, when the benifits of champions league football had not completely separated the premiership league into “top 4” “euro Hopefulls” “relagation scrapers” and the rest. Yes the league had its divisions, but the likes of leeds and newcastle still added that bit of unpredictability to the top of the table run in, (plus only two english teams went into the champions league).
    But now its the ” Top 4″, simple! And you no next season it will be the same ” Top 4″ next year and the year after ( and so on) as it has been for a while now.
    This is due to nowadays the very top players demand big money, titles, and european success. Or theyl sulk, and demand a move. simple as that. mid table isnt good enough, no matter how much wages you can offer. (Most top players anyway)
    Man city quite honestly cant attract the Kaka’s, Messi’s, Ronaldo’s of this world(And no Robinho isnt in that brackett yet), because they arnt Man u, or Chelsea, or Liverpool. And they now it as much as me or you, but theyl bid 100m non the less to build the profile of the club. Fair Play to them.
    But itl take 3 or 4 or more years of constant building and progressing to challenge the top four, More players like barry n co, could be the way to go. Steady, experienced, quality players that now how to play, and more importantly how to win games.
    So in conclusion to this rant(which i am writing at work, so technically am getting payed for…..sweet),
    no Man city arnt the next Chelsea.
    Will they be? Maybe…. one day
    Is it good for football? Im chuffed if i know
    but what i do know is that it will take a long time before neatral fans ever realy see man city as a world beating club, if ever at all..

  10. Well i’m glad Abu Dhabi bought Man City, and buying at the moment portsmouth. It will finally get the media of our backs.

  11. god forbid a team get some $$$ so they can compete with the established oligarchy. english football has been professional since 1885, and clubs have been spending outrageously since about that time. attacking abromovich or the arab sheiks is nothing but xenophobia pure and simple.

  12. Hey all: sorry about the Milan/Madrid mistake. It’s no real excuse, but I was down to the wire on my self-imposed deadline today (i.e. get the thing done before leaving for the ol’ day job) and so a pretty bad mistake got through the gates. I know who Kaka plays for. I erred big. I’ve corrected it while leaving the evidence of my mistake.

    As for some of the other good points that have been made in the above comments:

    1) If we don’t know the exact numbers that were thrown at Kaka and Villa, we know it would take a lot to coax those players away. 130m and 60m may be unsubstantiated figures, buy they were printed in various sources. The rumors came from somewhere. We can make an educated guess that City went after Kaka and we can safely assume the money offered was a very high number. It would have to be to draw Kaka away from Milan. City are already being connected with David Villa again. Maybe it’s not 60m, but we can assume they’d have to offer something in the range of what they paid for Robinho at least. And that concerns me.

    You are right. Robinho is the only real outrageous purchase City have made so far. But we know they have the purchasing power and they are seeking players like this to become a top contender. This is enough to raise the question of “are they the next Chelsea?” And I’d like to point out the title of the piece ends with a question mark. I don’t know if they are the next Chelsea. But I see signs that suggest they may well be (or at least they may want to be.)

    2) Even though the spending on the likes of Bellamy, Given, Barry is not anything like what Chelsea paid for the players I mentioned above, City still made hefty moves to gather up proven talent. They used the new spending power that came from the new ownership to stage serious transfer window coups. I think we’ll see more substantial fees splashed out this summer.

    3) City supporters have every right to be optimistic about their future and to be excited about the talent their club can now bring in. I’m not out to pick on City (or Chelsea). What I’m saying is these are warning signs for our sport we should all be wary of. No matter who your club is.

    I don’t expect Chelsea supporters to deny themselves pride in the trophies they’ve won since Abramovich bought the club. As lovers of football though, I feel as though they should raise an eyebrow when the transfer fees climb to astronomical heights.

    Same with City supporters. Being able to spend 32.5 million on a player like Robinho is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it’s fantastic that you can have him at your club. The quality he can bring. The global branding benefits (like kids all over the world wanting a City shirt with Robinho on the back.) But at the same time, you’ve raised the bar. And next time you want to go for a top player, the market has been altered by the higher water mark. My point is, where does it end? We should all be concerned about this.

    4) CelticsBlues,

    The particulars of each club don’t need to be exactly the same for these questions to be asked. The spending alone can stand as the issue at hand. We’ll need to see more big fees from City to know how they are going to conduct themselves with the spending power available. But the differences you mention don’t break the argument for me.

    As for the article you posted: Hey, I totally respect the way City handle and conduct themselves. Again, it raising the bar in the transfer market that concerns me. Robinho’s price alone raises the issue. This summer will tell us if this was a blip or the beginning of a trend.

    I point to my line about being almost relieved that they only spent 12m on Barry. If there’s more of this, I will be happy that City don’t prove to be the next Chelsea. But we have to admit the potential is there and the concern should be as well.

    I pray, 130m and 60m deals don’t materialize this summer. I hope City supporters see the damage they (or even 40m deals) can cause.

    The question has not been answered yet: Are City the next Chelsea? But we’ll know it time. The warning signs are there. And that was worth writing about.

  13. Besides the Robinho signings, you can’t really point to City and say they are making terrible signings, and are just going after the big names. De Jong, Kompany, Given, Bellamy, Bridge…now Barry. Sure you can say they paid alot for both Kompany and De Jong, and maybe overpaid for Bellamy, but they are building a solid squad.

    I think Hughes has one more year to show some serious progress or he is gone. He’s got money this summer, and he needs to add some serious defense to this squad.

    I also agree with whoever said that people are upset that City could upset the top 4. Everton and VIlla are seen as a empty threats, in a way. City has some serious spending power, so people don’t like that they are going to “buy” success.

    Let’s be real here, almost every big team in Europe “buys” success. Sure there are homegrown players, or at least players snatched at a young age, but by and large, every major European team poaches talent from others.

    City’s major draw back is that they are still not an established side. So to get to the point of the article, I’m not sure they are the new Chelsea. Chelsea had Champions League football to offer potential new signings. Were City in the UCL, I would bet Kaka would have made the jump to Manchester.

    I think City will definately finnish top 7. Otherwise the season is a colossal failure.

  14. man city would have ruined football by now if players with any real talent actually wanted to go there, robinho for 32 million was the biggest transfer rip off considering he couldnt propel them anywhere higher than 10th and now an overrated midfielder in barry for 12 million…atleast chelsea splashed big $ on players that you could argue have been in the top 5 players in the world at their position at some stage since they were bought eg. drogba, carvalho, essien, cech and this season bosingwa the 2nd best right back in the world behind alves. Paying big money for great players is fine but spending huge amounts on average players will ruin football

  15. man city’s signings so far signal exactly where they are on the table, mediocre performances attract mediocre signings. Shevchenko was the biggest flop in prem league history but chelsea paid so much bcoz he was the best striker in the world and had been for some time so you cannot blame chelsea for splashing the cash but man city paid more for robinho and he sat on the bench at madrid half the time.

  16. As for the question of whether Man City/Chelsea and billionaire clubs are ruining football, when I was growing up Liverpool won the league every year, and when I was in my twenties Man Utd did. Whenever we had a decent player coming through, he got sold.

    I don’t understand this myth about football being so much more competitive back then. In the last 40 years Man Utd and Liverpool must have won maybe 90% of the titles. Not really that interesting for the other 90 clubs…..

  17. As of now Madrid and Chelsea are supposedly putting in bids for Kaka in the range of 65 to 80million. Perhaps they should be looked at as negatively? Wishful thinking from a City fan I suppose. They are already global brands and always get the public favor. How much did Berbatov cost again? Almost the same fee as Robinho -so why isn’t Man United accused of outrageous transfer fees.

    Frankly -all of this City hate is just fear and envy. If you’re club could splash the cash you probably wouldn’t mind as much.

  18. ye can’t breed success so ye might as well go out an buy it, i hope city an chelsea are relegated next season with that red sh*te across the park from us, follow a proper club or get a life.

    1. Can’t breed success? City has had (and still does) one of the best academies in England, but now we have the money to retain the quality players we grow like Stephen Ireland instead of having them taken from us by the rags and scousers. Get a clue ya d*ck.

  19. Whats all this crap about ruining football?

    If you don’t like this call for a salary cap on the leagues. Plain and simple. Don’t get upset when owners make large investments and spend money when they can for players. These owners are treating their own clubs like businesses and they can run them as they will – into a championship or into relegation.

  20. Let me also add that not only does the team that is making the purchase benefit from the deal, but the lower teams that sell their players to the richer clubs. They get large sums of money to turn around and use what they want for their own transfers.

  21. the problem is city cant lure big players in and they have a terrible manager, they should of kept sven. It seems like chelsea will have another spending spree soon as their players age, new ones will come in

  22. I don’t get it, why do you even compare Chelsea with Man City?
    Chelsea had won trophies, qualified for the Champions league and were title contenders even before Roman arrived.
    Which was the last trophy that Man City won? huh?

  23. aka stayed at Madrid, funny that! 😉
    Perhaps now football has returned to the ways of old with Real Madri sp[ending more than anyone else will you now hate them or is it that you feel certain teams are just not allowed that kind of privilage?

  24. I say good for City and anyone else that gets a rich benifactor – this is good for football. Seeing the same old teams winning everything is not, give the smaller guys a break. My theory is that you support a club which used to be one of the richest and now you are disgruntled and unhappy because there are other clubs richer than you now and it scares you. You never notice the people who support poor teams comlaining about this issue.

  25. Chelsea are in a dif leage to man city, are you out of your mind!
    I love the fact man city has loads of money to spend causeit f**ks off manu fans like u who have always had it your way.

  26. Just pure utter jealousy man city will without doubt be a force in the premier league that is a fact and one of the top four now are going to suffer this season 2009/10 i dont care what you say its true. We have more ambition than anyone else more money and are more hungry for success. So what wea are spending money havent utd chelsea done it for years so why cant we. 1 last thing will be the bandwaggon jumpers we dont want you stay at your own clubs and just leave us alone we dont want you and to all the man united fans look at it this way every time you fill your tanks with petrol for that long journey up the M6 to stretford from london i would like to thanks you for contributing to our transfer kitty city till i die kenny from manchester….

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *