Monday, 5 July 2010

New blood and dead wood

Another transfer window in full flow, and once again we see the true colour of Sheikh Mansour’s intentions - and his money. New blood has already been injected into the club for the 2010/11 campaign, but the axe has also been ruthlessly wielded. Its clearer than ever that Mansour is going full steam ahead towards the target of winning the Premier League title. Whether he will achieve that feat is another matter, but he is certainly taking strides this summer.

Mansour’s gold buys Silva (and Yaya, and Jerome)

Within the space of a week the club signed the attacking midfielder/winger/striker David Silva from Valencia and defensive midfielder Yaya Toure from Barcelona. This is not to mention the earlier signing of German full-back/utility defender Jerome Boateng.

Of course all three signings are incredibly positive. Boateng is young, can play across the back four, and is already a full blown German international currently making his name in Joachim Loew’s surprise package team at the 2010 World Cup. The lad seems to have the right ingredients for the rigours of the Premier League – speed and strength – and given his European background will no doubt be handy for us as we mount our Europa League challenge.

Yaya Toure brings fantastic top level experience, and at 27 years old he comes to Eastlands at a good age. Once again we have added to our defensive midfield contingent: Barry, De Jong, Vieira, Kompany and now Yaya, but what is important is that we have added in a positive manner. Clearly this is a signing that will improve our midfield. It might even bring the best out of Barry by allowing us to rest the England midfielder a bit more. If we can hold onto Nigel De Jong though, I think it bodes for a formidable defensive midfield: steel, determination, aggression and now with Yaya, a bit more creativity and getting forward effectively too. But it is the signing of David Silva that heralds the most excitement and expectation. I must admit I thought we’d fall short in our efforts to secure this man’s services. Silva is one of those rare players that can drift between midfield and attack very effectively. Aside from his undoubted talent, which has perhaps been underlined more with the Spanish national team’s Euro 2008 victory rather than his exploits with previous club Valencia, what makes this signing extra sweet is that Silva was a target of Manchester United. Ferguson’s interest in the Spaniard has been well documented, but Silva rejected United’s overtures, saying that he wanted to play in Spain and would only move to Real Madrid or Barcelona. All the more surprising then, that Silva appears to have jettisoned this mindset to join City, and not United, Arsenal (perhaps the obvious choice), or Chelsea. Money has probably got something to do with it.

All three players have of course come for the money, but that is not the whole picture. For Yaya, the romanticism of finally playing in a club side with his brother Kolo must have also represented a strong gravitational pull towards Eastlands for the younger Ivorian. The other motivation of all three must be to play in the Premier League. Whilst I felt that the Premier League’s star waned somewhat last season, these signings show that it is still up there with the best Leagues in the world. That Silva and Yaya have both forfeited the chance of playing Champions League football with Valencia and Barcelona respectively throws more fire on the flames of that position.

Petrov, Sylvinho and Benjani jettisoned, Bojinov sold

Nothing irks me more than a player having a pop at an old club from the moment he has left. The words of Martin Petrov almost caused me to fall off my chair. The winger talked of City’s money and the club bringing in big stars. He went on to say that it doesn’t matter how much money you have if you can’t play as a team. He’s quite right of course, except to say that I don’t seem to remember Petrov being much of an overall team player when he was at Eastlands. An exciting winger yes, but I don’t recall him helping out his full back much.

I’m sorry Martin, but its sour grapes from you. Your real gripe is the fact that you didn’t play as much because we were bringing in better players. Injuries aside, you scored goals when you were in the team, but you couldn’t match Bellamy’s overall contribution to the team, and pretty soon you probably won’t be able to match Adam Johnson’s either. You are 31 years old, have injury prone knees, and were part of a club with a lot of money that wants to sign new talent and you were coming to the end of your contract. Martin – you did a great job for us under Sven and I wish you the best of luck at Bolton, but do us all a favour: stop moaning and get real.

The releasing of striker Benjani and full back Sylvinho also makes perfect sense. Benjani was never a real hit. Harry Redknapp definitely knew the right time to sell back in 2008. Of course, we will always thank Benjani for his winner against United at Old Trafford, but apart from that we didn’t get much return for the fee we paid Portsmouth. A terrible first touch will be my lasting memories of Benjani.

Sylvinho is another one that didn’t really work out. I don’t feel as if he ever got into the rhythm of the Premier League. His baptism of fire in League competition was away at Bolton, and what at baptism it was. We were defensively all over the place in that game, eventually drawing the match 3-3. Sylvinho I feel was more of a product of our new ‘big club’ relationship with Barcelona. I can’t ever see how he was a Hughes signing. Perhaps we signed Sylvinho to cure Robinho’s homesickness and instil a bit more discipline into the latter’s game? At any rate on the surface and in hindsight it feels like a worthless signing.

Finally, it is with a tint of regret that I see Valeri Bojinov appears to be leaving us to join Parma on a permanent basis. I always thought Bojinov was one of Sven’s better signings. He could have been great in the Premier League. Direct, powerful, a real bull heading up the attack. Injuring his cruciate ligaments against United in his first game meant that he never really got going. Once Mansour’s millions kicked in, there was always going to be limited chances for him at Eastlands now, but he deserves to be playing at a good club so I wish him the best of luck in Italy.

Once again, we return to that question

The big question come late August will be whether Roberto Mancini can forge these players into a team that wants to play for each other. The Italian missed out on 4th and was rightly granted a reprieve, but he cannot afford any more big failures. In signing these players (and perhaps we aren’t done yet) the club hierarchy has once again delivered its part, now the coaching staff must deliver theirs. A bad start could see Mancini discarded much in the same way as Petrov et al.

Of course, there is another more haunting question at the back of my mind this summer: the prospect of Stephen Ireland moving to Manchester United. This is a story that refuses to go away. If the signing of David Silva had a catch, then this will surely be it. Thwarted in his pursuit of the Spaniard, Ferguson is rumoured to be focusing on signing Ireland. This is something that must not be allowed to happen. For one, the Irishman is an academy youth product. And for two, every City fan knows that Ferguson will only go and get the very best out of a player that has underachieved massively for the past season. That would surely be a spectre that would haunt us forever.


  1. Anonymous7/7/10 08:58

    Torres next, wait and see

  2. Anonymous7/7/10 08:59

    who sez ?

  3. Personally I think Torres is a long, long shot. Whilst his signing would be a great one, I think we already have many of the ingredients required for the frontline.

    I may be deluded by somehow I still think Santa Cruz has a major part to play in our attack.