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Can Manchester City qualify for the Champions League?


After another summer of big money spending – and who believes they are anywhere near finished! – the pressure is on Manchester City boss Mark Hughes to achieve an absolute minimum of qualification for the UEFA Champions League during the 2009-10 campaign. Although many will feel that City should be looking to challenge for the title, with a number of strong teams in their way, it may prove a bridge too far for what will essentially be a new team.

In fairness, it is a little premature to assess the chances of the City team to breaking into the top four, but we can at least consider whether or not they are on the right lines.

Backed by the endless cash supply of the Abu Dhabi group, City have spent an unbelievable amount of money, with £18m striker Roque Santa Cruz becoming the latest player to check in at Eastlands this week. The goal is simple – to establish City as one of the most powerful clubs in Europe and in doing so, make the Manchester City shirts one of the best selling soccer jerseys in the world.

Breaking into the top four – let alone winning the title – will be a huge ask however. It has been done before, just ask Chelsea and Roman Abramovich. However, it is questionable whether or not City are yet at that level. For one, even with the huge amounts invested under Claudio Ranieri, it wasn’t until the arrival of a top, top manager in Jose Mourinho that the Blues were true contenders for the title. A good manager can add 10-12 points a season by influencing games with tactics and substitutions. That Mark Hughes has the Mourinho midas touch currently seems more than a little doubtful.

The other major difference is that Chelsea had top, top players. In Peter Cech, they signed arguably the best goalkeeper in the world. In Didier Drogba, one of the most powerful and fearsome forwards in world football. And in John Terry and Frank Lampard, they had an English spine to the team and players who would be welcome in any of the worlds top football sides.

It is difficult to imagine any City star – including the recent high profile signings such as Santa Cruz and Gareth Barry – walking into the top four of the Premiership sides. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how much money you spend – if you don’t add real quality, you don’t have any god given right to win football matches.

Currently, City don’t have any players in their team with experience of being part of a top four – let alone Championship winning – Premiership side. That guys like Barry, Santa Cruz, Given, Richards, Ireland and Bellamy are good Premiership players is in no doubt. But to break into the top four, Manchester City are going to need to add real quality – someone who will make the kind of impact that Fernando Torres made at Liverpool, transforming the club from a team struggling for fourth spot, to a side genuinely competing for the title.

The seemingly inevitable arrival of Carlos Tevez will help improve City’s stock, but they must look to add real quality in the shape of an Eto’o, a Villa or someone along those lines. Without a genuine world class superstar in their team, City will be nothing more than an also ran in the Premier League and they might find that the football shirts they had hoped to sell in their gallons take a little longer to fly off the shelves than expected.

Written by Danny Watson, a professional sports writer who blogs about football news.

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  1. bnh22

    June 26, 2009 at 11:07 am

    im a city fan and ive bin going to watch them all my life , watching them losing every week then going into div-2 we have had some hard times ! but to be a blue makes my life! we have the best /true fans we’ve struck with them throu hard times! even in div-2 we had 30,000 at home every week so that shows you wot a team we are and the support we have ! and NOW i realy do think this is OUR TIME! we are building a fantastic team with a great manager (mark huges) a young fergie we are going places and i believe that if we can get tevez and/maybe eto and a few defenders then we SHUD be pushing for top 4! i can see city giving it a real go next season! aim for the title ! we have a realy good side who can score alot of goals !! so if i had 2 put money on it then i would say THEY WIL MAKE THE TOP 4 NEXT YEAR!!

  2. Chris

    June 25, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    I think City could just finish in the top 4 with some goos signing and a bit of luck. People don’t understand the transition that we went through from Sven to Hughes. Certain players were rebelling with the tough training regime that Hughes introduced. Players were very worried about being replaced in Jan. When the Jan window passed and they realised Huges wasn’t going to replace the entire team overnight they relaxed.
    Next season will be completely different. Expect at least 6 new players.
    Barry, RSC, probably Tevez. Maybe Lescott, Etto, Toure and another defender.

    The team could possibly be. Given, Zabaleta, Toure, Lescott, Bridge, SWP, Ireland, Barry, Etto, Robinho, Tevez, RSC, Elano, Petrov, Company, De Jong, Bellemy, Onuoha, Richards, Bojinov etc.

    Fairly strong team, plenty of choice and strong bench.

    You have been warned!

  3. robert hughes

    June 25, 2009 at 11:37 am

    this is one of the worst written articles I have seen in ages.
    reasons why:
    -citys aim is NOT to sell shirts but to become the worlds stongest side. (and in doing so being an advert for abu dhabi)
    -Chelsea were ALREADY a top four side when they were bought
    – the aim for next season is TOP 6 NOT top 4/ win
    -chelsea BOUGHT cech they didnt already have him
    -City dont yet NEED a world class player as our aim is to finish in the top 6 and a “world class” player such as david Villa (who has never played for a really top club) will only upset the team.
    – we dont claim to have a “god given right” to win football matches and we are clearly making buys that benifit the team instead of, as you the ‘journalist’ imply, randomly splassing the cash.

    so wtf are u on about u yankie dumbass

  4. Lyle

    June 24, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    I think Man City will struggle again this season and not make it in to the top four. Europa League should be a definite, but top four will be too tough.

    Which of the top four would Man City replace? Arsenal? I just don’t see it happening this year.

    Chelsea is in trouble in the near future though, I think, but will hold it together for one more season.

  5. allen the reds

    June 24, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    dear dave..

    i do not know that u are really idiot because u said that the top four teams worried about manchester city.. as i know man city juz a group of boys that only know to kick a ball instead of skill and quality.. so pity because i do not think that man city will qualify to champion league.. they only will fight a europa cup with everton, aston villa, tottenham, west ham and perhap fulham haha..

    • Dave

      June 27, 2009 at 5:51 am

      Allen the reds,

      your reply says it all really. Can you actually read and write. Silly man.

  6. Morgan

    June 24, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    Bishopville Red – nice work playing devil’s advocate. Bottom line, money can’t buy happiness and this team still has alot to prove off paper.

  7. Blue Manc

    June 24, 2009 at 6:15 am

    i dont believe at the moment we can get into the top 4 but if we make a few more class signings then im sure we will. I do believe though that we are not far off from the top 4 like many make us out to be. We need to get are away form right because last season it was shocking but im sure we will do much better this season and without the uefa cup adding about 15 games to our season i do feel we will easiy finish in the top 6 and with a few more signings maybe top 4

  8. Stu

    June 24, 2009 at 5:29 am

    This is a shabby article at best. NO players with experience of being in a top 4 side?! Neglecting the fact that the Danny seems to have totally forgotten Robinho’s existence (Which is suprising given his current form in the Confederations), Bellamy was a first teamer and Champions League player for Liverpool.

    ‘Without a geniune world class superstar in their team” – Laughable. You know who I’m talking about. The same former Real Madrid first teamer who Barcelona are seemingly trying to poach right now. Barcelona, you know, best team in Europe and all that.

    There are many articles on many blogs, including this one, that claim City should build slowly and sustainably before buying big. This article seems to contradict with many bad arguements

  9. dageeza

    June 23, 2009 at 11:47 pm

    waited all my life for this…

  10. Ryan

    June 23, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    Just you wait ’til you see Sparky’s new 3-0-7 formation, we’ll be top of the table for sure.
    As a City fan I honestly don’t see it, I would love it but to me we are more an Aston Villa type side. Also I’m a little bummed that a couple of my favorite young kids appear to be leaving, with Sturridge and Hart both being sold. Makes sense but still makes me sad.

  11. mcfc

    June 23, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    a list of players leaving city a full team with subs!
    rb-Danny Mills,
    cb-Tal Ben Haim,
    st-Ched Evans,
    rb-Shaleum Logan,
    cb-Glauber Berti,
    maybe leaving:

    that would leave us with a first team of (players we currently have) but add to these players anotehr 6 quality players and we have very good chance of getting into the top4

    cm-m johnson,

    • SSReporters

      June 23, 2009 at 7:16 pm

      Chelsea now has Sturridge. Check the BBC’s website.

  12. City till I die 12345

    June 23, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    I agree this is a project for 4 seasons however if push our luck I feel we can push arsenal out the top four but to achieve a team to do this it means goodbye to dunney and maybe richards we also want a team full of people who want to work for the team like Ireland and unlike robinho so it means less robinho signings and more kompany if you ask me if we can break into the top four soon I would say yes,Hughes needs to get it right for us to do well by changing tactics and players Hughes could turn us into a real world class team.please comment

  13. Tyson

    June 23, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    Manchester City have one of the most important things nobody seems to give them credit for.

    His name is Matt Hughes and he is a competent intelligent manager that was under the toolage of probably the greatest manager of all time.

    When you combine a competent individual like Matt Hughes with a lot of money you do get results.

    I’m a United fan and all I can say is I have so much admiration for Matt Hughes and his down to earth, intelligent approach to football that I hope City do well.

    At the end of the day though maybe it won’t be next year or the year after but with the amount of money City have at their disposal they are eventually going to be a force in football to be reckoned with.

    Just ask Real Madrid and Barcelona what football means in money. Those two teams are pretty much a selection of extremely expensive players bought up from various places in the world to perform.

    Money talks loudest.

    • SSReporters

      June 23, 2009 at 6:12 pm

      His name is Matt Hughes? Did they fire Mark and hire his imaginary brother?

      No they won’t make the CL.

      And in all this Setanta talk Daniel Sturridge is off to Chelsea.

    • robert hughes

      June 25, 2009 at 11:41 am

      a hell of alot of Barca’s first team are homegrown, you can only truely say that of real

  14. Gabe

    June 23, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Aight I see a lot of red sorry arses already crying their heads out on City’s bad fortunes…woowooo easy there 1bl debt future division II :-).

    I think silverware (FA Cup or Carling Cup) and a top 4-6 finish is doable with this team. Add Lescott and another CD and we are in top 4 business.

    For eg. try to lure Gallas out from Assnall??? Try to see if Kompany fits there better then Dunne??? There are a lot of possibilities, and I am sure Hughes has not stopped here.

    As for Sparky…I agree with the quote that a manager wins or loses 10-12 pts. Hughes with his inability to see that Richards and Dunne were redundant last season lost 10-12 pts.

  15. dom

    June 23, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    Hang on Danny,
    This is a project.

    The next objective has always been agreed to be top 6 this season..
    That will continue to keep our profile higher and trigger further progress , with the added allure of European footy.

    Stop trying to set City up for a fall by naming immediate objectives that no-one connected to the club has named.

    Lazy journalism

  16. Pete

    June 23, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    I think top 6 is the “minimal requirement” for Mark Hughes to still have his job after Christmas i.e. Man City have to be in the top 6 be4 Christmas to keep Mark Hughes his job. Several players will be key to help Mark Hughes in that, and I think soon-to-come Tevez would be the most key player here, as Tevez could be the key man to push the whole team to challenge for glory.

    1 step at a time. Man City just have to focus on winning the next EPL game one at a time. Consistency is always the key. If they can keep up the winning momentum, and the team spirit is high that the players feel that something big is going to happen and push themselves even more, not only top 4 is possible, but the EPL title as well. Winning the EPL is a big surprise and nobody, no pundit would expect that. But if everything clicks for them, even if there would be blip of low form (which is normal) but still pick themselves up quickly, I don’t see why not up their target and go for the title.

  17. dave

    June 23, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    You only have to look at teams like Liverpool and Arsenal to realise they have to more or less buy bargain basement in order to get players, that from a position where there squads are not that strong either. ManU have to constantly scout South America for bargain buys and Chelsea cant buy a drink at the moment.

    The point is that none of the top four are improving out of sight. Can you see United being a better side without Ronaldo and Tevez. None of the top 4 will be better than they were the season just gone. The point again, is that City, with their purchasing power, and we all know that money makes a difference, will get there. It make takes another 3 windows, but you only have to read the nervous posts on most of the websites, to realise that the fans of Manu, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool are worried, very worried and they should be.

  18. mancityalerts

    June 23, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    …and another thing – the banks are gonna call in the Rags debt and leave them where they started; a Newton Heath scrap heap. All aboard the Skylark.

  19. mancityalerts

    June 23, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    Limbs? …I’ll stake my Pullitzer Prize on the glorious Manchester City wiping the floor with the lot of ya. Youre all doomed, Sheikh Ya Money is here. Sky Blue berets and Uzi’s for the Revolucion.

  20. !!BLUE MOON!!

    June 23, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    Manchester city WILL qualify and I know it dudes!!!

  21. pjc 75

    June 23, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    danny watson if your a professional sports writer(as if) if i were you i would find a sport i know something about !!! Tosser.

  22. Si3D

    June 23, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    I think this article is getting way ahead of itself. Our ambiton for next season is top six and slowly establish a presence into the top four. It may not happen for another 2 – 3 season but the ambition is there. As long as stability stays at the club and hughesy stay’s on, then I can see this being possible. Do we have a side capable of top four? Hell no. But do we have a side to break into the top 6? Oh I think we do.

  23. JakeBLue

    June 23, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    Sheesh where do you get these ‘journalists’?
    City’s boss. Mark Hughes, has been told that a top 6 finish is required for the upcoming season, that means qualification for the Europa League as a bare minimum, not the UEFA champions league (CHampions league = top 4 not top 6, you see?)!
    It is so dissapointing to read stories like this when as soon as you get into the first paragraph you realise the ‘journalist’ writting the story doesnt actually have a clue what they are talking about.
    If your going to tell pointless rubish made up stories at least have the deceny to get your ‘facts’ right!
    Shame on you

  24. italia7482

    June 23, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    So you dont think ireland would get into a top four side, or given or robinhio or barry?(maybe you forgot how desperate liverpool were to have him only a season ago) and as for no one in the team having top four experience didnt bridge and swp not play for chelsea when they were top four?did bellamy not play for liverpool when they were top four?and if it wasnt for his devotion to newcastle then given clearly would and should have played for one of the top four! roque santa cruz is a champions league winner, how many of the arsenal or chelsea squads can say that? im not having a go as the idea of this article is sound but a bit of thought wouldnt have gone amiss.

  25. Bishopville Red

    June 23, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    You’ve got Barry and Ireland in midfield. deJong? Maybe, but he’ll have to prove it first. The rest of that sad lot are why you were closer to relegation than the title. SWP never recovered from his London experiment. He’s not the player he was the first time around.

    If you can get the Micah Richards of 2 years ago, you’re on to something. Last year’s version isn’t worth the boots he’s wearing. Dunne is just that – done. Bridge? he’s not high priced talent. Just high priced. The rest are the same sad lot that couldn’t get points on the road.

    Good luck boys. You’ll need it.

    • Blue boy

      June 23, 2009 at 3:26 pm

      Poor, poor rag! Hard times coming your way and your more arsed about us?? Tut tut

  26. Sam

    June 23, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    When they get a defence, the answer will be “maybe.”

    Until then, they are nowhere close to Man Utd and Chelsea.

    Liverpool and Arsenal may have similar talent levels but City doesn’t have the kind of coaching or experience of the other two.

  27. Always blue

    June 23, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    Bishopbasher Red, you are just another red who’s prematurely judging what will happen in ten months time. We haven’t even reached the 1st of July yet (the official opening of the transfer window). City will obviously be making more signings yet, including defenders, so try to stop yourself from making a rash judgement. I however believe that City have an excellent chance of breaking into the Champs league positions based purely on the present squad coupled with the prospect of Tevez leaving the Theatre of Screams. Also, it will be very difficult for nited to replace Carlos and the diver’s goals

  28. evan

    June 23, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    ok Bishopville Red why do you say city only have 9 players when they actually have 35 players according to the website without gareth barry or youth team players so please state your point clearer if your going to or are you really actually stupid?

  29. john

    June 23, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    not quite ready we need a season to bed all these new players and get to know each others game i think we will fight everton for 5th the season after is the big one

  30. Vlad The Impaler

    June 23, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    I’m going out on a limb and stating that you should stick to baseball and the kind of football that is shaped liked Stewie Griffin’s head. Clueless yank prick.

  31. manchester blue

    June 23, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    2 midfielders? that would be Ireland, Barry, De Jong, Kompany all of whom would walk into what’s left at Old Trafford Elano may be on the bench

  32. Blue boy

    June 23, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    Zero defenders?? Kompany, bridge, dunne, onouha, zablata, richards? Thats 6 mate! And a midfield of ireland, barry, swp, de-jong, petrov, robinho, plus the likes of weiss and michael johnson if fit!! Not a bad choice if you ask me pal 😉

    • millsymcfc

      June 23, 2009 at 3:17 pm

      i agree 100% mate but we do need some stronger defenders, in my mind, dunne didnt have a great season last season and would be better for the team if he moved on, richards still isn’t 1oo% fit and he seems to be more worries about how ripped his body is rather than defending. onuoha = world class, zabaleta = top class aswell. i don’t agree with danny watson when he sais he can’t see any of our players being able to play for any top four side?????? stephen ireland could do easily, robinho could do easily aswell, gareth barry?? being linked with liverpool last season, roque santa cruz?? being linked with the scum two seasons ago aswell. sturridge??? on his way to chelsea. SWP??/ played for chelsea alreday, won the premier league with them. i think you need to seriously consider the city potential before judging city, danny.

  33. Bishopville Red

    June 23, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    At the moment, they have 6 forwards (should Tevez sign on), 2 midfielders, zero defenders and a goalkeeper, so I’m going out on a limb and stating that they will not burst into the top 4 this year.

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