by Mike Devlin
First, second, first, second – there is a pattern in there that the OCD in all of us love and admire. Unfortunately, in terms of progression as a football club, we’d much rather witness more firsts and perhaps next May we may (may) just get another one.
During his end of season assessment, Chairman Khaldoon appeared to say all the right things concerning what had happened, and what was going to happen. Had City fans been in attendance as he spoke, I’d imagine there’d have been cheers and people raising candles (which we sort of tried to do in the Kippax many years ago, but were informed that they were an extreme fire hazard, because candles can set fire to concrete. Apparently).
With FFP off our backs (and UEFA now having to fight it in court), and Agüero staying put, the chequebook would come out and meaningful purchases would be made. At the time of writing, I’ve no idea who is coming/come in (delete where applicable, depending upon when you are reading this), but I had heard whispers last month that one deal in excess of £50m had all but been confirmed. Fast forward to the end of June and evidently Joe Hart let it slip that come the window officially opening, the Gates of Abu Dhabi would swing open and unleash the beast from within upon the transfermarket. So that was nice.
Flippancy aside – just for a moment – the Summer window of 2015 is likely to be our most important one we’ve ever had. We seem to have hit a fork in the road with two completely different possibilities that lie ahead of us. We can take the easy, and some would say ‘well trodden path’, and go after pretty solid but ultimately uninspiring players that will keep us essentially where we are now, or we can take the rather more difficult route.
That other route, however, will be made much easier if the gloves do actually come off and the bank account is used to its fullest, as it will be akin to driving a tank through European clubs and taking who we want. I do believe we have refuelled that tank and it is raring to get going, but as for whether it will break down or complete its mission, I cannot say.
One thing is for sure, we have an ageing squad and we need to add some players into the Home Grown Quota (as an aside this has become a ridiculous rule, but that is for another time). The Nacho Man has been told he will be named in the first team next season, something I cannot wait to see, and evidently the City hierarchy have their hearts set on getting Sterling. As for Raheem, he has been discussed to death on social media by Blues as to his merits or lack thereof, and whether Liverpool are simply “taking the piss” with his fee. The one thing to remember about him is that even if he ran down his contract, he would still cost upwards of £25m via a tribunal, so Liverpool have obviously calculated he is already worth about that and simply added the two figures together. But then, if Liverpool truly do believe he is worth £50m, why have they been paying him as if he is a £5m player, and only offering a rise when he muttered something about leaving? Tight bastards.
There’s also the matter of de Bruyne and Pogba (neither of which qualify for HG quotas), and all three of them could collectively easily cost £150m, but it could be £150m well spent. Or not, as the case may be.
My fear is that these targets will dilly-dally and drag on, meaning those the club wish to rid themselves of will also drag on – it is bad enough now with some fans complaining about lack of activity, before the window is even open, pointing at Liverpool as a case in point, but then forgetting that all of their pre-window buys were neither wanted by City or indeed any of last season’s top four finishers. It’s easy to buy quick and early when none of the big clubs are interested. Well done, Scousers.
I suppose, at this point, I should nail my flag to the wall and state where we will finish next season, and how well we do in Europe, but I’m not going to. I’m waiting for that tank to get going before I predict the future/make a fool of myself. So to end this I will simply say that we as fans will have little to no influence on who arrives and who leaves, and those in charge are, for the meantime, here to stay, so I must trust that they will do what is right for this great club of ours.
I can only hope they do get it right.
Mike Devlin is the author of Manchester City: The Secret History Of A Club That Has No History which is available Worldwide.