Tuesday, May 10, 2011

City Celebrate, But Fourth Is Underachievement

Man City's James Milner (centre) is congratulated by team-mates after his cross was turned into his own net by Tottenham striker Peter Crouch
City players celebrate the first step to an empty achievement.
47,000 supporters crammed into the City of Manchester Stadium celebrated in harmony, as a Middle East based oligarchy enjoyed a first moment of success. It is about time.

When City were taken over by a group of rich Arabs in September 2008, talk was that Manchester City would be winning the title by now. A statement issued just hours after the takeover stated clearly that "Manchester City would qualify for the Champions League in the 2009/10 season." Well, a year later they finally have, and I can't help but think that the Abu Dhabi United Group may well have been disappointed, had they learned in 2008, that three seasons on from their purchase, the club would only just have sealed their first qualification for the Champions League.

Earlier today, commentators and fans alike saluted City for "achieving their pre season goal," however, it must be said that a team only eying fourth spot, yet boasting players of the caliber of Tevez, Silva and Yaya Toure, has a major lack of ambition.

City chairman Khaldoon Al-Mubarak
City have spent massive amounts of money over the last five transfers windows, purchasing a myriad of players, many of whom already have World Cup and Champions League medals locked safely in the trophy cabinet. Why is it then that City are willing to accept fourth spot? It is something deep lying, innate in the fabric of the club. For years, City have played second fiddle to their hated rivals United, happy to feed on scraps and glorify derby wins, even if the final table still saw them ten places below the Red Devils. Truth be told, the Sky Blues have yet to develop a winning mentality, the urge not to settle for second best, or in this case, fourth.

For a team that can afford to send players like Emmanuel Adebayor, Craig Bellamy and Roque Santa Cruz on long term loan deals, and park one of the best goalkeepers plying their trade in England on the bench, it is simply unbelievable that City are able to accept anything other than title glory. On Saturday, the Citizens are likely to have a cup final triumph trumped by their hated rivals, as Manchester United gear up for the confirmation of their nineteenth league title at Ewood Park. Then, and maybe only then, will City realize the lack of depth to their achievement. Last year, when Tottenham secured top class European football, Redknapp was rightly lauded by all corners of the footballing world. For a team like Tottenham Hotspur, with no billionaire showering the squad with hundred pound notes, reaching the Champions League is a tremendous achievement, but for City, it should be a disappointment, a mark of a season wasted.

Hark back to that momentous day when Manchester City Football Club, were relieved of controversial owner Thaksin Shinawatra, and offered the full financial support of one of the richest men to roam the Earth. City were instantaneously inserted as title contenders, as well as a likely destination for some of the world's finest. Would City fans on that day, preparing for the signing of a wave of world stars, have expected City still, three years on, to be anxiously holding on for a Champions League spot? Did the club which so audaciously attempted to sign Kaka, seriously expect to have to make the Brazilian wait for top level European football?

City this season have stifled and frustrated, inspired and mesmerized, all in equal measure, lacking the confidence to take the game to United on home turf, but still having the balls to let Mario Balotelli put on his own bib. With that in mind, it is fitting perhaps, that a season which had promised so much has ended with the most popular consolation prize, a place among Europe's elite, about a year overdue.

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