Manchester City: Building a team or just wishing to weaken others?

Mancini will be under the spotlight if he does not gain a Champions League spot this seasonWhen Arabian conglomerate Abu Dhabi United took over mid-table Manchester City in 2008, they vowed to ‘spend whatever it takes’ to make City one of the biggest and best clubs in the world. With promises of high-profile signings and countless trophies waiting just around the corner, it seemed an exciting time for the blue half of Manchester. But almost three years on, despite some undeniably impressive purchases, the trophy cabinet is still as barren as it was before.

David Silva and Carlos Tevez may have been what the blue faithful were looking for, but some transfers have been less than impressive, even less than worthwhile. Roque Santa Cruz, anyone remember him? No? Well it’s unsurprising. After a superb couple of seasons at Blackburn Rovers, scoring 23 goals in 57 appearances, the Paraguayan moved to City, hoping to become an integral part of a new, world-beating team of superstars. It would have been an exciting time for a man whose career was revitalised at Blackburn after it looked he might have retired from football having played bench-warmer for his previous side, German club Bayern Munich.

But what happened? City signed Emmanuel Adebayor and Carlos Tevez in the same transfer window, and with a front pairing like that, Santa Cruz rarely got a sniff. In two seasons, he made just 20 appearances, mostly from the bench, scoring three goals against Scunthorpe and Sunderland, whilst Abu Dhabi continued to fund purchases for more attacking talent, such as Mario Balotelli.

This was all too familiar for Roque, as heavy competition between forwards at Bayern had also limited his appearance stats. After his name was again forgotten at City, with many asking themselves, ‘Where is that Santa Cruz fellow, is he still around?’, Paraguay’s second highest scorer looked for a move away from Eastlands, and after numerous rumours, he decided to return to former club Blackburn in January. Well that was worth it wasn’t it?

Manchester has constantly been on edge, waiting to throw a parade for every new big-name that walked through the doors of the City of Manchester Stadium. Barcelona and Brazil right-back Daniel Alves has been heavily linked with a possible move to Eastlands, after contract negotiations with the Spanish club hit the rocks although he has now signed an extension.

Clearly, City boss Mancini is like a child with an allowance; money burns a hole in his pocket, and he can’t wait to spend £50 million on a big-name footballer. Ok, so the simile doesn’t quite work, but the point stands. This wouldn’t be a bad thing if the players he bought were needed. Daniel Alves would fill a much-needed gap at City at right-back, as Micah Richards, Jerome Boateng and Pablo Zabaleta just don’t provide enough cover for the position. Notice the palpable sarcasm there. What is the point of enforcing England’s new youth training system when managers like Mancini spend overly excessive amounts on new signings whilst blossoming talents, such as Richards, who has undoubtedly been one of City’s star performers this season, look on in horror as their first team status slips from their grasp before they can say ‘Loan Move?’

Whether the Alves rumours are true or not, City have a squad capable of winning the league. The secret behind a team that gels is that the players need time to, well, gel. More players adds more uncertainty as to who will be playing each week, meaning uncertainty on the pitch as players feel the need to be cautious in fear of making a mistake, which could cost them their place in the first-team. When this happens, the City superiors will feel the need to bring in more players, and the whole cycle starts again. It’s a vicious circle.

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