Will Manchester City dominate European football?

Mansour will be hoping to put his thumbs up a lot more next season in EuropeIn recent years it’s been a struggle for Manchester City to recapture the form of the late 60’s and early 70’s. From those of the ages of 14 and below, many will believe that the Sky Blues have little antiquity about them. But here’s a history lesson for you, under the management of Joe Mercer and Malcolm Allinson, City captured the League Championship, the FA Cup, the League Cup and the European Cup Winners’ Cup in what was the most successful era of the club’s history to date.

This was at a time where the maximum wage rule in football had just been abolished. And Sheik Mansour definitely took full advantage of this act. The sixth most powerful man in sport bought City in September 2008, and invested £750m into every area of the club and £1 billion into the area around the City of Manchester Stadium.

Love them or hate them for their brilliant turnaround in fortune (no pun intended), it was to be expected of City to dominate the game since their takeover. Since 2009, they have taken spending in football to an unprecedented level, spending over £100m in the summer of ’09 on Gareth Barry, Roque Santa Cruz, Kolo Toure, Emmanuel Adebayor, Carlos Tevez and Joleon Lescott. OK, so the squad didn’t gel instantly and City were known as the club with all the money but no success. But nevertheless, they did finish 5th last season and gained a Europa League spot.

Since then, they have captured the signatures of Jerome Boateng, Yaya Toure, David Silva, Aleksandar Kolarov, Mario Balotelli, James Milner and Edin Dzeko. Quality players, little chemistry. I don’t blame Roberto Mancini for getting a little dizzy with his spending, for him the sky is the limit. But these are players from different nations all brought together from a variety of leagues. It’s like trying to make a quality meal from foods out of all the different food groups – the requirements to make it successful are all present individually, but throw them all together and they just do not function. The squad is much improved however, and Mancini has showing traces that City are a side capable of dominating European football – they reached the quarter finals of the Europa League and beat arch rivals Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-final, in what will be their first FA Cup Final for 30 years.

It is a time of optimism for the club. They should really beat Stoke in the FA Cup final. But then what’s next for Mancini and his men? Well, next season’s Champions League is definitely in their sights. And so too will be the Premier League. I think that they can mount a challenge to remove United from the throne and it’s great for English football that the Manchester derby has intensified to the extent where no team is guaranteed to win. We were shown this last Saturday, where City fully deserved their win. Their counterparts were without spearheads Sir Alex Ferguson and Wayne Rooney and needless to say were ahead in shots and possession statistics, but unlike City didn’t take their chances and created their own problems when Paul Scholes was sent off.

There are a few issues standing in the way of Manchester City and success, one being Mario Balotelli. The Italian striker has caused nothing but problems since his arrival from Inter Milan, and he’s the sort of player that isn’t afraid to let those around him know when he has issues. This could hinder the group cohesion, which is something Mancini will be sure to look at. Aside from the ‘Bibotelli’ issue, if, over the summer, City can build that chemistry, we could be looking at a club beginning to do big things in football. It’s been a tough few years for fans who have conjured a new celebration known as the ‘Poznan’, in which they face the wrong way and jump up and down as a unit. City themselves have been jumping up and down the league table, but now is the time for them to reach the top and stay there. From great power comes great responsibility, which could be a problem for Mancini if he doesn’t meet immediate expectations from supporters and the board as he has the power to transform City into one of the biggest clubs in Europe.

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