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By Beth Kelly from Chicago, IL
What Next for Manchester City?
Manchester City fans have been on a roller coaster ride since Sheikh Mansour took control of the club in 2008. An owner with unlimited resources and a rapacious appetite for success was just what the doctor ordered for the blue side of Manchester, and the £33 million signing of Robinho made it clear that the Sheikh was happy to dip into his deep pockets. A spending spree followed that was unlike anything that had ever been witnessed in the English game, and the 2011 F.A. Cup final saw the Sky Blues lift their first silverware since 1976.
The joy of City fans only intensified the following year as the side clinched their first title since the 1960s on the last day of the 2011-12 Premier League season. Adding to their exhilaration was the bonus that Sergio Agüero’s injury time winner against QPR had dashed the cup from the lips of their crosstown nemesis. United were on the field at Sunderland celebrating their twentieth championship when news came through that the Argentine had scored.
One could be forgiven for thinking that City fans must be pinching themselves to make sure that they are not dreaming, but rumblings of discontent are starting to be heard around the Etihad. Mansour has spent over a billion pounds assembling a squad to challenge Europe’s best, but some experts feel that the team will require a complete makeover in the coming seasons. The problem is age, and many of Manchester City’s most important players will soon be on the wrong side of 30. The team is built around its formidable spine, but Vincent HYPERLINK "http://www.espnfc.com/barclays-premier-league/story/2391390/man-city-captain-vincent-kompany-may-miss-man-united-derby-clash"Kompany, Yaya HYPERLINK "https://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/blogs/pitchside-europe/should-manchester-city-drop--uninterested--yaya-toure-for-the-manchester-derby-095229168.html"Toure and David Silva will all have to be replaced in coming transfer windows.
While that may not seem like much of a problem for a team with unlimited funds, UEFA’s financial fair play rules have changed the way that clubs can spend. Teams must now spend within their means, and club revenues limit the amount that wealthy owners can throw around. City have raised eyebrows with sponsorship deals from companies associated with the Sheikh that make little financial sense, and UEFA’s president Michel Platini is on record as saying that such deals will be closely scrutinized in the future. City have already seen the size of their Champions League squad reduced because of FFP violations, and continued noncompliance could see the side banned from the tournament completely.
Adding to the challenge facing City is the financial muscle of their main competitors. Paul Pogba is seen by many as the heir apparent to Yaya Toure, but clubs with far higher revenues like Manchester United and Real Madrid have also been linked with the Juventus star. Outrageous wages have been the tool used by City to lure top signings away from their more glamorous competitors, but paying top dollar for talent has not always proved successful. The club spent $25 million to bring Emmanuel HYPERLINK "http://www.theguardian.com/football/2015/mar/16/emmanuel-adebayor-tottenham-spurs-premier-league"Adebayor in from Arsenal in 2009, but his reported wages of £170 thousand per week made the Togolese striker difficult to move on when his on field performances failed to live up to his paycheck.
The biggest challenge facing City is their perceived lack of pedigree compared to the European football elite. Top players will often take less money if it means that they can line up for Bayern Munich or Barcelona, but Manchester City do not have that type of allure. The club has taken steps to address this, and enormous investment has been made on facilities designed to develop and nurture young players. However, none of these players look likely to break into the first team anytime soon.
Manchester City have attracted a great many American fans in recent years, and NBC Premier League or Dish Latino packages mean that these new fans can watch any EPL game involving the Sky Blues. However, City fans in the United States and elsewhere must be wondering if the FFP rules will send their roller coaster plummeting once more.