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Tuesday 24 May 2011

Manchester City’s Transfer Policy

With the silly season about to kick off a quick look back at the recent transfer dealings of Manchester City paints a cunning, yet devious strategy. Dating back to the summer window in 2008, City has embarked on a system of targeted purchases designed to fulfill two purposes. Firstly, to amass a group of talent, with enough quality and experience to allow them to push into the upper echelons of the English Premier League, while simultaneously weakening their immediate rivals.

    It all began with the Robinho transfer from Real Madrid. Sure, Sven-Göran Eriksson had made some moves that started the rebuilding of the club, but he was unceremoniously let go after modest success and replaced with Mark Hughes. Hughes then embarked on this plan. Robinho had raised a fuss about his standing in Madrid, leaving his position there untenable. In the final moments of the transfer window, thinking he was bound for Chelsea, London and his friend, Luiz Felipe Scolari, Manchester City swooped in and foiled his plans, outbidding Abramovich’s Chelsea and landing the Brazilian. The following winter transfer window, they continued picking up Craig Bellamy from West Ham and Shay Given from Newcastle. Can’t be too obvious now, start slow and build some squad depth before making the killer blow, City finished a respectable mid-table 10th place for the 2008-09 season. The following window, summer of 2009, saw them pluck 5 players from rival clubs. Putting the plan in motion swiftly, snatching key and experienced players from their “superiors”. Gareth Barry from Aston Villa (6th place – 2008-09), Joleon Lescott from Everton (5th), Emmanuel Adebayor and Kolo Touré from Arsenal (4th), attempts to pry Chelsea (3rd) and England Captain, John Terry to Eastlands failed but the coup de grâce succeeded, Carlos Tévez joined from cross-town rivals, Manchester United (1st).  

    That winter they went on to grab Adam Johnson from Middlesbrough, not necessarily a rival as they were on their way down, but Johnson was a highly touted prospect, many other teams were interested in his signature. The hard graft was done, as Villa and Everton faltered (6th & 8th respectively – 2009-10), Arsenal (3rd) struggled without their experienced heads. The loss of Tévez unsettled the Manchester United (2nd) fans, fearing for the noisiness of their neighbours; City rocketed up the table, securing Europa League football for the 2010-11 season with their 5th place finish. Their plans essentially complete, the summer transfer window of 2010 was less dynamic; David Silva, Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko, who ended up at City were rumored to be targets for Manchester United and Arsenal, amongst others.  The last minute transfer of Aston Villa’s James Milner and loss of Martin O’Neill tipped the Villans balance and sent them plummeting for the season as City pressed forward. Their achievement in breaking into the top four has them on the precipice of something exciting for all Citizens; Champions League football awaits them next season. Will they splash the cash this time around, or with Financial Fair Play coming into effect, is it time to be more prudent in their purchasing? Was this dirty pool or brilliant strategy? Interesting times ahead as City challenge the established ‘Big Clubs’ in the EPL.

    One interesting aside to this storyline is that for some reason, if this theory holds any water, City decided that Liverpool was not worth disrupting. Perhaps they recognized Liverpool had its own problems (named Hicks and Gillette) that would weight them down, or maybe attempts at luring Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres away were unsuccessful, but either way interesting.

With Arsenal’s season faltering as the close will Wenger be forced away from his ascetic vision of his club?

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