September 1st 2008 and Manchester City were under new control. Sheikh Mansour was the new owner, which he comes from a family worth over £555bn. To put it lightly they had money to spare. His main target was to pull Manchester City out of their neighbours shadow and make them the best team in the world. Sound familiar? Roman Abramovich rings a bell. The difference, the Russian oligarch succeeded.
|Successful times to come?|
Following today’s defeat to Everton, City are now 15 points behind leaders and now-fierce neighbours United. Mancini proclaimed only several weeks ago that “I am the best manager in England”; 15 points behind in the league, I beg to differ. What the Sheikh, along with Roberto Mancini, have managed to do is to only make City a feared contender in the Premier League title, not the dominating force they so ambitiously craved.
Roll back to when the Sheikh bought the club, making a deadline day transfer deal for Real Madrid’s Robinho. He splashed £32.5 million on the Brazilian, breaking the British transfer fee record, previously held by Abramovich for £30m man Shevchenko. What followed from the Brazilian were lacklustre and disinterested performances only for Mark Hughes, then-City manager, to back him. City finished 10th in the 2008-09 season with their neighbours, United, claiming their 18th title. Hughes was eventually sacked and replaced by Roberto Mancini after a series of poor performances from their £100 million summer transfer spend in December 2009. City finished 5th in the 2009-10 season narrowly missing out on a Champions League spot. Some progress from the Sheikhs investment. Not good enough for many outsiders looking in.
Compare that to Abramovich’s first two season as owner of Chelsea: semi-final appearance in the Champions League in 2003-04 season. The following season being crowned as English Champions as well as Carling Cup champions all with a £60 million summer spend by ‘The Special One’ along with the £153 million spend from Claudio Ranieri the previous season. Roman Abramovich has spent approximately £841 million on Chelsea in 10 years and with it has seen success come his way. 3 Premier League titles, 4 FA Cups (becoming the most successful team in the FA in the past decade), 2 League Cups and that Holy Grail of his, 1 prestigious Champions League.
With City spending big in just 5 seasons and seeing little progress, it comes down to one thing: the manager. Ever since Mancini failed to qualify for the knockout stages in the Champions League, I have said that he isn’t the man to make them into the world super-power they so profusely desire. On the European stage the team of lions turn into cubs. 1 Premier League and 1 FA Cup is something that doesn’t quite cut it for a team that have spent so big in little time. Chelsea’s first 5 seasons under Abramovich saw 2 Premier League titles, 2 League Cups and 1 FA Cup. In Abramovich’s 5th season they reached the final of the Champions League, final of the League Cup and were runners-up to Manchester United in the Premier League.
|Roman Empire conquering all.|
Once again, compare this to City’s first 5 seasons under the Sheikh, they have only won 2 major competitions- 1 Premier League crown and 1 FA Cup. For the solution is easy, sack Mancini and bring in somebody that knows what they’re doing. Mourinho? Unlikely, considering he is expected to be back at Chelsea at the end of this season.
Sheikh Monsour has the world at his feet and the pick of the very best. It’s time for him to choose the best, for their hundreds of millions spent, will be rather wasted. Abramovich’s managerial merry-go-round is often criticised but it churns out success- why change something that works? Monsour needs to take a leaf out of Roman’s book if he is to see out his mission.