Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Trying to make sense of it all

As the dust settles on September 1st 2008, we are perhaps now just coming to terms with the momentous changes that the club underwent in the space of less than 24 hours.

Thaksin gone, mega-rich owners in and then the 'blockbuster' signing promised all summer heralded a new dawn in every sense for City.

In the ensuing days, plenty has been written and speculated, but central to it all appears to be two issues - the financial muscle the club now has and that the whole fabric of the club has altered now the Abu Dhabi United Group (ADUG) has gained control.

Ultimately, I don't think any of us will bemoan Thaksin's departure (whoever came in) - with the kindest words being said he did the decent thing in selling up. The whiff of scandal was always around which made the situation of him in charge an uncomfortable one, but once it appeared the charges were going to stick (not to mention the vast reserves of money were not available) his being in charge was a more unpalatable prospect as time grew on.

Thankfully, the new owners do not appear to have skeletons in the closet. But what they do have is cash, and pots of it. When your new owners have the financial capability to blow any other club in the world away it is a dizzying prospect indeed.

We have already seen evidence of their intentions, in stating their desire for success and also the bids slapped in for Berbatov, Gomes and Villa, and of course, the ultimate capture of Robinho for a new record of £32.5 million.

There has been plenty of outlandish comments and claims also appearing, and what it has done is changed the focus and outlook of the club. The Abramovich era at Chelsea has not met with universal approval with many of the 'old guard' complaining of the club having sold out and being unrecognisable from the club they once knew.

This is all true of course and the landscape inevitably has changed. Personally, and not just at City, I am uneasy in some ways that football clubs can just be snapped up on a whim by foreign billionaires and operated with such huge debts, but the reality is football has ceased from being a game to being a business some time ago, and now clubs are being run along the same lines as multi-national corporations (which they effectively now aware). The days of millionaires owning Premier League clubs is fast becoming a thing of the past, and to now be on a level playing field in terms of competing is a stunning position to be in.

We know this will led to changes as success is hunted at a relentless pace. As happy as Mark Hughes must be with recent events, the pressure levels on him have just been ratcheted up tenfold with Champions League surely having to be achieved by the 2009/10 season.

I hope though that there is a degree of patience and a realisation that we are still a way of Champions League status and there is not an insatiable demand for immediate success or to hell with the consequences.

Given that money is the driving force in football (and particularly for footballers), it is a heady prospect though as we all speculate on just who could be arriving at the club over the next 12 months. Henry, Fabregas, Torres, Ronaldo. They have all been mentioned by the new owners.

We know however from the recent experience of Real Madrid that simply throwing money at star names and then trying to fit them into a side does not always equate to success, and it will be important to see that a team is built as much as simply collecting superstars.

I don't doubt that success will ultimately be achieved as the new owners want something and they sure as hell are going all out for it. But could there be a price, and perhaps importantly, do we care?

The unlimited wealth of the new owners can now (theoretically at least) add any player at any cost, but could the knock on be astronomical increases in ticket prices, the freezing out of many fans to be replaced by a new wealthier breed?

Will the Academy players who have been nurtured so well at the club and developed into first team players be cast aside as the club stockpiles a bloated squad of costly players?

All possibilities it has to be said, and that City 'identity' so often spoken of could well become a thing of the past, but whilst the memory of 12 months ago is still fresh when we thought Thaksin heralded a new dawn, it really is hard to look at it in any way but positive with us now being on the cusp of a never before seen era for the club.

Ultimately football fans though want success. City fans more than most have been starved of it so given the opportunity to taste this success is something that will be grabbed with both hands - whatever the consequences.

Most will be still be getting our heads around just exactly what has happened this week, and trying to digest it all and contemplate what it will all mean. I popped down to the stadium (or Middle Eastlands?) at lunchtime yesterday and it was a hive of activity with plenty of queues at the ticket office and I don't doubt that the 'Full House' signs will be going up again soon enough as such a buzz and a lift has been created.

It is almost a pity that we have to now wait 10 days or so for the first game to come around, but what a build up there will be to it as we face off against Chelsea, the model I guess for what the new owners are looking to achieve.

There is no doubt though that this is a fantastic opportunity that has been presented, and one which I could never imagined the club benefiting from - and it puts the thoughts we had when Thaksin took over well into the shade as we now contemplate the very real prospect of ending the long and painful wait for a trophy.

Whatever happens, this new era is likely to be one hell of a ride, with so many positives to look forward to, and who knows how it will ultimately turn out.

But whilst we are on that ride, I guess we are going to just sit back and enjoy it whilst it lasts.

vote it up!


Anonymous said...

Look around the websites Danny, and you'll see that the main concerns of all the City fans are twofold. First, the future of the Academy, and second, whether or not City will lose its soul.

As to the first, it's really out of our hands. Our new owners have said that they want the purchase to herald a new era of sporting greatness for the principality of Abu-Dhabi, with the Academy to be used to bolster the aspirations of their young people. So far, so good. MH is going to HAVE to use some of our graduates, at least until January, and hopefully much longer if they can cast a big enough shadow.

As far as the soul of the club is concerned, that's down to us. WE are the soul of the club, and I'm damned sure you can never change us. Of course there are going to be many newcomers, but what I would say to them is "Welcome Aboard - join in our philosophy". And if they do, then thats great. If not, we will just have to fall back on our old strategy of "taking the piss". We can do that in spades.

At long last, an 'old' season ticket (any dated 2007/8 or before) is going to be given the respect it deserves.

Other than that, we'll just have to wing it - we've done that for a long time too !!

Anonymous said...

I still cant believe it and wont believe we signed robinho until i see him playing for us with my own eyes only then it might register in my brain, as for the new owners im still sceptical i know they spent 32.5 million but any half rich guy could do that as a 1 off so until i see them spending bucket loads i wont believe it because i am a city fan when all said and done they make you a little like that. As for wigan blue spot on mate we are the soul of city and nobody will change that unless they pay us then i might have to jump ship lol.
P.S. I will see how much money they have got next year when i see how much season ticket is.

Anonymous said...

Maybe this is how a lottery winner feels.
The old comfortable world where we were kept in our place has been shattered.
The joy in understanding that we are the richest club on the planet takes some swallowing.
After 42 years I had given up hope we would win the League again before I died but not now.
What a football club, I would have followed them through the gates of hell but guess Instanbul will be near enough this season

Anonymous said...

I do share the concerns of City fans worried about the future of the Academy, but even with an Academy which has regularly produced bucket-loads of first team players, we are still in search of our first major trophy for 32 years.

The reality is that without serious investment in to the football club over the coming years that first trophy would likely prove to be tantalisingly out of reach. City need serious investment to give us, the fans, the European football, the cup finals and yes, the silverware we all crave.

Only 2 years ago we spent less than £1 million in the transfer window, so whilst acknowledging that we have invested recently, we are still playing catch up to those who've regularly been dining out on the Champions League gravy train.

The loyal fans will have first refusal on tickets for all the big fixtures which lie ahead and it will be just reward for those who couldn't have dreamt of days like this when travelling to Bloomfield Road and Gigg Lane to marvel at the likes of David Morley and Gareth Taylor.

I echo the sentiments of Wigan Blue regarding the fans being the soul of the club. New and lapsed fans are welcome of course, but I feel that the onus will still be on the hardcore to generate the atmosphere within the stadium to make Eastlands a fortress to be feared for years to come.

At this stage we have won nothing but at last there is hope, and all City fans must be enjoying that feeling.

Let's get behind the players (whoever they are) and enjoy the journey.

Keep the faith.

Arthur Lager

Kevin said...

I agree with Wigan Blue that we are indeed the soul of the club.

To touch on the second worry most supporters are buzzing about, hampering out prestigious academy.

One thing I look at is our current boys playing in the squad. We have two that are world class and can hold their own in events such as the CL. Of course I am talking about Micah and SWP. These two are a true testament to our academy and should be featured in the squad in the future.

That said I have tremendous faith that Danny Sturridge will develop into a world class striker. It would be a shame if we bought up whomever (insert best striker in the world etc...) and Danny rode the bench into mediocrity, or worse, ended up somewhere else. Johnson and Evans both have good potential too. Evans has lots of time, and Johnson, currently a permanent fixture, probably will continue to thrive in our current system.

I am afraid of buying up the World XI, to me, that would be losing our identity as a club. But, football has become a capatalistic industry. Hopefully the owners give Mark Hughes the reins and don't pass any intereference.