The Other Club From Manchester

Posted by Saim Friday, September 11, 2009
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Manchester City harbor ambitions of matching Manchester United. However, they first need to learn a basic footballing fact

Manchester City are better known as the “Other Club” from the city of Manchester. City won the League Cup in 1976 and have not won anything then onwards. They have been relegated twice in three years and even spent their 1998 season in the third tier of English football.

However, last year saw a financial makeover of the club with Abu Dhabi United Group taking over the reins and thus bringing in pots of money. Today, they are among the wealthiest football clubs in the world. They have the money to buy players of their choice and form a talented team to compete with the big boys. But they need to realize that mountains of money can buy great players but the loyalty to the club, the desire to win, the hunger to score goals and the will to play as a team can never be bought. These essential ingredients are brought about by love for the club, the will to be the best and to play for each other.

Seemingly Manchester City do not want to be called as the “Other Club” from Manchester anymore. They want to better their bitter rivals Manchester United. Although the fans of City point out that the world needs another Manchester United, the Eastlands club have never talked about this subject or made any bullish statements to the same.

Yet City do want to be playing at United's level, entering the Champions League every year and putting silverware on the sideboard more seasons than not. So do several other clubs, of course, notably Everton, Aston Villa and Spurs, but City have the money to make it happen. Strangely though, rather than putting together an effective team they have been looking to sign big name players and superstars.

When Mark Hughes joined City his idea was to buy young players who could provide City their best years in football and have some good re-sale value. Yet City seems to have abandoned that equation now. Perhaps he has fallen into the trap of marquee signings to satiate the fans.

They got Gareth Barry from Villa who by the way is an excellent player. But signing a 28 year old player for 12 millions is not exactly getting the best out of a player. The same can be said of the 17 million Roque Santa Cruz. And then they went on a worthless bid for John Terry which echoed the useless speculations about signing Kaka.

Terry will turn 30 next month and does not have much seasons left in him and has never given any indications of leaving Stamford Bridge. By signing Terry, I suppose City wanted to show everyone including Manchester United that they are in for serious business and they can buy anyone. Manchester City wanted a good central defender which Terry undoubtedly is. But they also wanted start signings where Terry also fits the bill. However, very importantly what you need is loyalty for the club and a desire to play which they would never get with John Terry who is through and through a Chelsea man.

Now contrast that with Manchester United’s policy this summer. We sold Ronaldo for money worth more than many clubs in England. But importantly we did not go about looking to splash cash to replace him with a big name because you just do not replace players of such caliber, rather you breed them.

Manchester United are in a much better position than City and many players want to join them. It is because of a history of glorious traditions. It is becasue of a footballing spirit and desire to be champions. Benzema would have loved to be at United but Lyon wanted a little bit more than what United were willing to offer. But we do not lose our head in front of gleaming pots of cash. We could have wrapped up the deal but that’s not the United way of doing it. They might have liked him in his pomp, but it is simply not United's style to lay siege to rival clubs and try to wear down their star players with repeated offers.

Everton may have complaints on United of “robbing” away Rooney from them. But they needed to sell him and he wanted to go. Dimitar Berbatov was desperate to leave Spurs once he discovered United were interested. Forest were looking to sell Roy Keane, Leeds did not know what to do with Eric Cantona and then could not afford to keep Rio Ferdinand and so on.

United have mastered the football fact that City are not even close to realizing, that the more money you spend on a player the more important it is that he should want to join your club. He must be excited by the prospect, and keen to make the step up. If not, don't bother. Gabriel Obertan, Michael Owen, and Antonio Valencia do not think that they will replace Cristiano Ronaldo but they are thrilled and humbled to be a part of Fergie’s new season.

So for now, City may have the cash but they can’t match their humble neighbors in terms of spirit. Perhaps United learned this art over a period of time and City need to learn it now. And then perhaps someday, they can try to become Manchester United. For now, Manchester is still RED.

Article written by Sriram

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