Tag Archives: Manchester City

Manchester City €2.7bn doping – and why it is good for football

Many will disagree with me, but I have no real issue with Sheikh Mansour pumping his billions into Manchester City.

It is his money, he has legally earn it. Why should be restricted as to how he spends it?

The important thing for me is that once he has given the money to Manchester City – whether it be through gifts or sponsorship – that money then becomes Manchester City’s.

Manchester City are very different to Chelsea. They have zero debt. Sheikh Mansour has financed them and does not seemingly want the money back .He has not loaned them, the club does not sit with £2.7bn debt owed to the owner. Chelsea, meanwhile, currently owe Roman Abramovich £1bn.

This means if Roman was to ever leave, the club would be forced to pay off his huge loan, or the new owner be forced to take it on.

A lot of people are pointing out that Sheikh Mansour’s funding of the club infringes UEFA’s Financial Fair Play laws. This is a justified argument, but only works if you think that FFP was legitimate in the first place.

I have had problems with FFP since the day it was proposed.

The theory behind FFP was understandable. It agreed to in principle in September 2009. The aim was to prevent football clubs spending more than they earn in the pursuit of success and in doing so getting into financial problems which might threaten their long-term survival.

But this was just the tagline the clubs already at the top of the tree put towards.

The truth is FFP was invented to stop the likes of Chelsea (and future clubs who get bought by billionaires) breaking the dominance of the established big boys.

UEFA Member Clubs feared that there could be a Chelsea in Spain, Italy and Germany. Clubs with little to no history being bought out by a super rich Russian or Arab who was happy to bank roll that club to success. Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United, Liverpool, Juventus and Bayern Munich led the way for FFP. They were frightened that their monopoly on success could be ruined.

It is the old money / new money that you often see in Kensington when the super rich move in and decide to build an iceberg basement.

Those currently living on the street are against the basements works, even though they have already spent millions on their own one. Once they have their own basement in place, they do not want a new guy moving next doors, building his own one, disturbing the street.

It is the same in football.

The likes of Manchester United, Barcelona and Real Madrid because they were the richest clubs of the time period. The had the owners who bankrolled them to the success that made them a big club. Whether it be TV companies (Sky with Manchester United); Dictators (General Franco and Real Madrid) or companies (Littlewoods Pools and Liverpool).

All of these clubs had, at some point, a wealthy benefactor that has enabled them to become the self-sufficient giants that they now are.

By introducing FFP, they were basically saying “we have had our wealthy benefactor who financed us to the top, we are now going to ban you from doing the same”.

The argument was that a Roman Abramovich or Sheikh Mansour created an unfair playing field, but the truth is the opposite.

By banning these characters putting money into a club, it mean that the already-rich would stay at the top, unchallenged by the not yet rich (Leicester City aside is a one season in a 100 thing). Elite clubs in Europe were basically solidifying their place at the top table but restricting what other clubs could spend.

Whilst Manchester City ran away with the league last season, the Premier League is the most competitive in Europe’s top 4 (I do not count France as a top league).

There have been 4 different winners of the Premier League in the last 6 years; Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City & Leicester City. There have also been 5 different sides to finish 2nd in those 6 years (Man U, Tottenham, Arsenal, Man City, Liverpool).

Prior to Chelsea being bought out by Roman Abramovich, just 2 clubs had won league titles in the preceding 6 years (Arsenal & Manchester United). The money that came in to Chelsea made the league more competitive. It stopped it being a 2 horse league.

A 2 horse league like La Liga – where Real Madrid or Barcelona have won 13 of the last 14 league titles. They also monopolise second place; with 12 2nd place finished in 14 years shared between the two of them. Only twice since 1950 have one of Barcelona or Real Madrid not made the top 2.

FFP was designed to keep Real Madrid and Barcelona at the top. To restrict a Chelsea (or later Manchester City) rising in Spain like they did in England. La Liga is now a boring and predictable league. A two team league. The Sunny SPL.

It would be a lot better if a super rich owner came in, bought a mid size club, and smashed the Barcelona / Madrid monopoly.

Italy is similar.

I remember the glory days of Seria A being a highly competitive league. Juventus, AC Milan, Inter Milan, Roma, Lazio all won the league over a 7 year period. Juventus have now one the last 7 titles. How boring and predictable is that?

And the Bundesliga is no better, with Bayern Munich having won the last 6 titles.

This is what FFP does. It keeps the current establishment at the top by restricting what lesser clubs can spend.

Europe’s elite are basically saying “we have had decades of being the richest club, spending the most. We have had our benefactors come in and spend millions, now we are going to stop you.”

A final thought on this.

FFP was bought in to stop clubs going into huge debt. Manchester United, Juventus, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Liverpool – 5 of the clubs who drove for FFP – have combined debts of nearly £2bn.

Billionaire owners are good for leagues. They break up the establishment. As long as they pump money in and do not expect it to be repaid; then they are a positive.

UEFA’s elite clubs used FFP to try and solidify their place at the top table. The same way they are proposing a European Super League where its founders are immune from relegation.

FFP is working in Spain, Italy and Germany as it is stopping other clubs becoming competitive. It is ensuring the old guard continue to win titles.

The Premier League is the most exciting, competitive in the world. And the only league where we have a mixture of old guard (Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal) and new money (Manchester City & Chelsea)

Keenos

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Transfer fees set to become obsolete?

Twelve months ago a lot was being made in the press about the contract is Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez.

“1 year left, how have Arsenal got themselves into this position” were the cries at the time.

An interesting interview with Arsene Wenger gave a glimpse into what he believed was the future.

With dramatically increasing transfer fees, the former Arsenal boss was of the opinion that the future would see a lot more players winding down their contract and leaving for no transfer fee.

That clubs would offer shorter term deals to players 2 to 3 years, a player would do his time and move on.

It would provide security to the club – knowing that if a player signed a 3 year deal he was likely to see it out – and security to the player – knowing that if he fell out of favour, he could spend a year away on loan before moving on.

For those scoffing at the opinion, writing it off as a way Wenger justifies the clubs handling of the Ozil and Sanchez contract situations, let’s look at those contracts set to expire within the next 2 years:

Manchester United

2019

David de Gea*, Anthony Martial*, Juan Mata, Ander Herrera, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Luke Shaw, Matteo Darmian*, Antonio Valencia*, Ashley Young, Andreas Pereira

2020

Marcus Rashford*, Nemanja Matic*, Eric Bailly, Marouane Fellaini*, Lee Grant

*Contract contains option for a further year

Arsenal

2019

Aaron Ramsey, Danny Welbeck, Nacho Monreal, Petr Cech, Stephan Lichtsteiner

2020

Laurent Koscielny, Carl Jenkinson

Manchester City

2019

Vincent Kompany, Eliaquim Mangala, Brahim Diaz

2020

Raheem Sterling, Sergio Aguero, Ilkay Gundogan, David Silva, Fernandinho, Fabian Delph, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Phil Foden, Claudio Bravo

Tottenham

2019

Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Mousa Dembele, Fernando Llorente, Michel Vorm

2020

Christian Eriksen, Vincent Janssen

Chelsea

2019

Cesc Fabregas, David Luiz, Olivier Giroud, Gary Cahill, Lucas Piazon, Willy Caballero, Robert Green

2020

Eden Hazard, Willian, Cesar Azpilicueta, Pedro, Marco van Ginkel, Ethan Ampadu

Liverpool

2019

James Milner, Daniel Sturridge, Alberto Moreno, Lazar Markovic

2020

Adam Lallana, Joel Matip, Nathaniel Clyne, Divock Origi

If you disregard the guys expiring in. 2020, you could easily build a competitive team with players whose contract expires in 12 months.

De Gea

Alderweireld Kompany Vertonghen

Milner Herrera Fabregas Shaw

Martial Ramsey

Giroud

I do not think transfer fees will become completely obsolete in the future. Teams will still want to sign players under contract. But what will happen is the majority of transfer will be free, or loan deals, and fees for players under contract will become astronomical.

The future could be upon us.

Keenos

Things about to get a lot easier for The Arsenal

Unai Emery was handed a horrendous start to Arsenal’s new dawn the Premier League fixtures were drawn.

Manchester City and Chelsea. The last two champions. Winners of 4 of the last 5 Premier League seasons.

It was always going to be a thought start, and Arsenal have ended up with the results that many expected.

Two defeats from the opening two games.

Prior to the opening day game of the season, Arsenal had beaten Manchester City just once one 7 games – that FA Cup Semi-final.

Arsenal have not beaten Chelsea at Stamford Bridge since 2011 – when Robin van Persie scored a hat trick.

So anyone expecting 6 points from the opening games was deluded.

There was hope.

City and Chelsea both had a lot of players at the World Cup, and Chelsea had a crisis summer with a new manager coming in late. But the hope did not materialise as Arsenal lost both games.

Against City, Arsenal struggled; but every side is going to struggle versus the Champions.

The Chelsea game had a lot more positives about it.

Whilst we were still shaky at the back; we were electric upfront and could have scored 4 or 5 if the players realised it was not rugby and you have to put the ball under the bar.

Matteo Guendouzi continued his fine start to an Arsenal shirt. A physical presence in the midfield, he shows nice passing to get alongside defensive prowess.

The same old faces were the ones to late us down again.

Petr Cech could have done more with two of their goals. Hector Bellerin ran out of steam on the right, and Granit Xhaka was poor in the middle. The game passes Mesut Ozil by.

It is time to make a decision on Cech. He has had a rough first two games and does not look comfortable playing out of the back. With new signing Bernd Leno waiting in the wings, it is probably time for a swap.

As for Bellerin, I feel sorry for him a bit.

On another day, if the finishing was better, he would’ve come away from the game with a hat trick of assists. Instead he was horribly exposed towards the end, with Chelsea’s winner coming from his flank.

The problem is under Emery’s system he does not have the cover of a winger. He is expect to defend and attack, and it is draining.

Mauricio Pochettino up the road uses his full backs in a similar way, but he rotated them almost every game.

If Emery is to ask his full backs to bet up and down the wing every game, he is going to have to expect them to run out of gas.

In Stephan Lichsteiner Arsenal have an experienced, dependable right back who surely needs to come in for Bellerin, even if it is just for one game.

The middle of the park is a bit of a concern.

Xhaka was horrendous, but Emery played down taking him off at half time by saying:

‘It was a tactical decision because he has the yellow card also.

‘I think we don’t take risks with this yellow card and also to give the chance to another player in the match.’

On came summer signing Lucas Torreira and alongside 19-year old Guendouzi they looked an ok partnership.

The concern when playing that pair is neither is a good a passer as Xhaka, and you feel we might have trouble transitioning the ball from defence through the midfield.

I would like to see Xhaka alongside Torreira, but also think Guendouzi has done little wrong to lose his place.

It is a conundrum and it might take a few games to work out where our best pairing is.

8 of the next 9 fixtures are a lot more comfortable than the 2 we started the season with. These will go a long way to showing the progress Emery has made with this time.

I am not too concerned with the start we have made.

The truth is Man City and Chelsea was always going to be a tough first 2 games.

Had Arsenal played the likes of Fulham and Newcastle, we’d probably be top

Plenty of positives to take. Still expect us to be top 4.

Keenos