Everyone loves the underdog. However, when the underdog becomes the richest club in the world…not so much love. Yet at one point, every club that now holds a major position in world football has received massive financial support. How do Manchester United and Real Madrid continually grace the ranks of top flight football? The answer is money. You might say “good youth players, good scouting, or just a traditionally strong squad”- yet what does that all boil down to? Money.
You might even argue that it’s the “fans” who make a team great. Seeing a sea of committed supporters year after year is what really makes a team successful. Yet there is a difference between the turnout at a Scunthorpe United game as compared to the turn out of an Arsenal game. This is for various reasons: city population, stadium size and the general societal class of it’s supporters. Yet again, what difference is there between North Lincolnshire and London? Money.
This is not to say that money can buy success. Money cannot buy success. Manchester City’s purchase of Robinho or Real Madrid’s purchase of Kaka or even Cristiano Ronaldo can attest to this. Furthermore as the Beatle-esque saying goes: you can’t buy love (or Champions League football, or devoted support from fans). So why then do I believe that Manchester City will win our hearts and our attention? Simple – they are the heroes in this story.
For the last 15 years, the dictators of English football: Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool have held their reign. During this time many have come close but few have succeeded. It’s not that the Big Four are necessarily “evil”, rather it’s more so an issue of being notorious for success. While every team in the Premier League has a “chance” at success, it’s only a select few who have a relative shot at it. True, Bolton could easily upset Chelsea in an important game, and true, Tottenham continually come close to or land in the Champions league. Yet time and time again, they as with Bolton, do not have the ability to sustain their efforts.
Sooner or later, the Big Four will resume their reign. This is what makes Manchester City so special. Every once in a Blue Moon, a team will come within shouting distance of the Big Four, and while most get turned away, some have the potential for an upheaval, even a revolution.
It takes a lot to become a hero. First, there must be an underdog status. Not simply that the club in question has spent time with a low ranking, but more so that a club with “massive potential” has spent time in this position. Think of a hero who spent years being made fun of or a hero who had the power to change but refused to use it. This is Manchester City. Even before the injection of their recent capital, Manchester City were the club among all clubs who certainly carried the potential to be in top class European football but for some reason were not.
Second, the hero needs to have potential. Every major league in the world has it’s fair share of impressive teams, and yet a team like Newcastle never really stand a chance at being a major threat for Chelsea. They might lose a game or two, but they will never lose continually. Why is this? Because Newcastle doesn’t have the potential. Don’t get me wrong, I am actually a supporter of Newcastle. They are a grand team. However, if it came time for me to choose a team to “save the world”, as a hero, I wouldn’t choose Newcastle – they don’t have the potential to go up against the dictators who rule the land.
Manchester City’s potential can be measured in many ways. First and foremost they have world-class talent. With the likes of Carlos Tevez, Joleon Lescott, Kolo Toure, Gareth Barry and the recent signings of David Silva and Ya-Ya Toure, Manchester City have the talent and depth of any world class team. And with time still left in the current transfer season it will only strengthen and gain potential.
Beyond this, City also have an unprecedented amount of youth players and previously unrecognized players who are coming to fruition in their reserves and first team. Players like Nedum Onuoha, Micah Richards, Alex Nimely and Vladimir Weiss will only have short time until they become stars in the world of football. Academy graduates like Stephen Ireland and Shaun Wright-Phillips are an example of this. Furthermore, Manchester City’s potential extends to players from other clubs as well. Take Carlos Tevez for example. At Manchester United, Tevez was a second class striker – condemned to follow behind Wayne Rooney. And yet, once he joined the better half of Manchester, City didn’t just allow him a starting position – they gave him potential to grow. Tevez is in the top rank of the best strikers in the world.
Another example is the recent transfer of Adam Johnson. While Johnson preformed well at Middlesbrough, it was nothing to be amazed of. And yet upon arriving at Eastlands, AJ has blown past all of our expectations. Why? Potential. When a player with massive potential meets a club with massive ambition – amazing things will happen. A few months ago Adam Johnson was a second rate midfielder at an unthreatening club – and until recently, he was even a strong contender for a position in England’s World Cup squad. Thanks to Manchester City, Adam Johnson is destined to become an English legend. And this is because of potential. Finally, the hero must have ambition. Not just any ambition – unfaltering, unwavering, diehard ambition; “I want to change the world” ambition. The kind of ambition that everyone calls “crazy”. The kind of ambition that makes others wonder if you’re really the hero or the enemy. Ambition can be a confusing thing but in the world of European football it’s the essential catalyst behind winning. Money can certainly buy players, and players can certainly have potential, but without this unique form of raving ardor – no success will be seen.
In due time, Manchester City will become the hero of the English Premier League. Some may scoff at the likes of a zealous club with bottomless pockets but it’s all a matter of perspective. It’s all a matter of whether or not you see the club as the hero or the enemy. And frankly, it’s all a matter of chance – will the stars align for Manchester City? Only time will tell, but for now, I am happily entranced by the heroic ambition of the Blue Revolution.