Manchester City & The Big Four

9 By Ian  |   The Ball  |   July 14, 2009  |     11

The cross-Manchester transfer of Carlos Tevez continues a summer of insane spending by the blue half of the city. It’s not necessarily over yet, either. They remain on the tail of John Terry and are also in talks with Emmanuel Adebayor. At a time during which the more established clubs above them in the table seem to be standing still in the transfer market, it’s not unreasonable now to argue that Manchester City pose a very real and present threat to one of the Champions League Four, though whether their behaviour in the transfer market is a good thing football remains much more questionable. Indeed, it could be argued that their recent tendency to throw money about like confetti is, at a time like this, obscene.

Over the last few months, a bewildering array of players have arrived (or, in the case of Shaun Wright-Philips, returned) to the City of Manchester Stadium. There remain weaknesses in their team, most notably at the centre of their defence, although this is being obviously addressed in their pursuit of John Terry and Everton’s Joleon Lescott. On the whole, though, for all of the talk of madness surrounding the club, their recent signings have, broadly speaking, made sense. Shay Given is one of the Premier League’s better goalkeepers. Carlos Tevez has proved himself at West Ham United and Manchester United, as well as for Argentina. Gareth Barry has, broadly speaking, been a consistent performer for some years in the Premier League. None of the recent batch of City signings could recently be described as “gambles”.

And all the while, the Champions League Four remain in a state of relative stasis. Manchester United have now lost Tevez and Ronaldo, and missed out on Benzema and Ribery. Liverpool brought Glen Johnson from Portsmouth but lost out out Barry. Chelsea are still sweating on John “Mr Chelsea” Terry’s latest apparent demands to speak to Manchester City, and Arsenal’s Chief Executive Ivan Gazidis stated last week, in an interview that seemed to be effectively telling Arsenal supporters to stop expecting the club to spend a lot of money this summer, that “Simply spending money does not make a team or guarantee success”. There probably hasn’t been a better time in the last four or five years or so to try and crack that particular hegemony.

Still, however, doubts remain over City’s credibility to launch a sustained challenge for the Premier League trophy itself. The coaching staff – Mark Hughes, Mark Bowen, Glyn Hodges, Kevin Hitchcock and Eddie Niedzwiecki – looks too inexperienced, and question marks remain over how secure Hughes’ position will be if City don’t have a barnstorming start to the season. A change of manager would mean upheaval that may be a step too far if the title is to be won. It should also be remembered that we do not know for certain that a place in the top four will be enough for the free-spending owners. The possibility of instability behind the scenes at Manchester City remains in the background, in a way that it is unlikely to at Manchester United or Arsenal, though this could change at any point in the season.

The tantalising prospect of someone breaking the Champions League Four, however, remains. Manchester City’s spending may be unsustainable to the point of lunacy but, with the new football season now only a month away it might at least make a change if they can launch a sustained challenge for the championship. We may not, however, find out whether this is a sustainable route to success for some years. Manchester City supporters would be best advised to enjoy the good times while they last.



Ian began writing Twohundredpercent in May 2006. He lives in Brighton. He has also written for, amongst others, Pitch Invasion, FC Business Magazine, The Score, When Saturday Comes, Stand Against Modern Football and The Football Supporter. Ian was the first winner of the Socrates Award For Not Being Dead Yet at the 2010 NOPA awards for football bloggers.

  • July 14, 2009 at 11:02 pm

    pj rosler

    we had an average gate of 28000 in the third tier/div! i say lets sign them all and let the blue moon keep on rising ! God is a blue and thank him i dont have to pick the team! cmon city our time is NOW!

  • July 14, 2009 at 11:15 pm

    Gervillian Swike

    When Chelsea hit the spending a few years ago, they already had a decent team fighting for honours, and were then directed by a superb manager with a proven track record. I remain unconvinced about Mark Hughes. He’s been a manager for maybe eight years now, and not really shown any indication that he’s the goods. For all the glamour of the famous win against Italy, he presided over the worst Wales run in history (which, as you can imagine, was some “achievement”); his record at Blackburn was decent but way behind what is expected of say Moyes or O’Neill; and City were poor for most of last year. Most of the signings and potential signings outlined above are around the thirty mark on huge wages, and his coaching staff don’t inspire confidence. I suspect City’s inevitable rise will be under someone else.

  • July 14, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    Gervillian Swike

    More pertinent – why are people queuing up to plough millions and millions of pounds, on which they surely can’t expect a return, into British football teams? What’s in it for them? Abramovich with Russia and a high profile team like Chelsea, whom he watches at nearly every home game, I can just about understand; the Glaziers making a mint on leveraged debt put on one of the most famous clubs in the world before inevitably selling it on at a profit (and likewise Gillet and Hicks at Liverpool), well it’s unsavoury but it makes financial sense to them; but the others…? Throwing money at clubs for which they have no affinity, no chance of seeing their investment turn into profit, what could possibly be their motive? I just don’t get it.

  • July 14, 2009 at 11:38 pm

    Wigan Blue

    Possibly the wrong title – maybe “Manchester City and the rest of the big four…”

    When you have a team (ah yes, the big unknown), but nevertheless, a team (for the sake of argument) with massive funds available, without any debt, atop the Premiership, winning everything in Europe, winning the World Club Championship, perhaps the guys who bought the club to promote their small nation may take their foot off the pedal. That may be their motive…

  • July 15, 2009 at 12:55 am


    Manchester City supporters would be best advised to enjoy the good times while they last.
    Just wondering how long a TRILLION dollars (and going up by half a million a day) last? possibly longer than the ire being expressed by jealous fans of other less fortunate clubs.

  • July 15, 2009 at 11:09 am


    What a joke circus the Premiership has become.

  • July 15, 2009 at 11:38 am


    To be honest I can see Everton breaking into the top-4 before Man City though.

  • July 15, 2009 at 11:43 am


    Gervillian Swike wrote: ‘For all the glamour of the famous win against Italy, he presided over the worst Wales run in history (which, as you can imagine, was some “achievement”)’
    What a ludicrous statement. Hughes took Wales to the play-offs for Euro 2004, increased attendances hugely and generally had them playing entertaining, cavalier football.

  • July 20, 2009 at 1:44 am


    In his last season at Blackburn, it is worth remembering that Hughes did manage to lead them out of all three cups in home ties against FC Larissa (2nd leg at home), Coventry City and the Arsenal Youth team.

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