Title Contenders or Pretenders

Money is doing wonders in the world of football. After Roman Abramovich took over Chelsea FC in 2003 and invested hugely in the club creating champions of the perennial pretenders, other individuals have followed his lead. Chelsea are now a club that is known and respected in England and across the globe. But their dominance couldn’t have come without Abramovich’s money, hence the team’s being dubbed Roman’s army.

Having seen the success stories of Chelsea, independent individuals and companies have invested huge monies in football, taking over modest European football clubs and turning them to national contenders, and then European contenders. One of such clubs is Manchester City.

The club was taken over by Sheik Mansour and the Abu Dhabi royal family of UAE in 2008. Huge sums of money was expended by the new owners to turn the credentials of the club around and make it an European powerhouse. That summer the transfer market was agog with their outrageous transfer bids for the best football players. They only got Robinho from Real Madrid, and their experiment commenced.

Subsequent seasons saw Adebayor and Kolo Toure leave Arsenal and join the Club. Carlos Tevez cross the Manchester divide and became a City player angering United fans to no end. Yaya Toure joined the wagon from Barcelona, still the team had more bark than bite. And so the money continued to flow ceaseless, the revamping of the clubs image a work in progress.

A new manager (Roberto Mancini) was employed to lead the club to greatness in the the place of sacked Mark Hughes whose team continued to churn out modest results. Mancini brought Mario Balotelli to the Eastlands, City’s dwelling place. Together they endured a torrid affair and season.

Finally, the club won it’s first trophy, the FA cup in 2011, with the winning goal coming off the boots of Yaya Toure. Three long years had passed, but the club now had the clout to attract the best footballing stars in the world. And their money makes them a beautiful bride to be courted. And so the influx of stars during the previous transfer window was no surprise. The players who went have been labelled mercenaries, but who can blame them. City had upped the ante and wanted to compete for honours.

With City gelling at the right time, currently leading the premiership table with a five-point lead ahead of United, handing United their biggest home defeat; City’s credentials skyrocketed. From then on the debate has been, can City go all the way and win the English Premier League upsetting the established powerhouses like United, Chelsea and rank outsiders Arsenal? We will have to wait for the season to unravel.

What City can do to help themselves is to take each game as they come. Continuously grind out results against weak, medium and strong opposition. Be unfazed by the creds of the teams they play locally and in Europe, and maybe then, maybe come May, we would witness a new champion of the EPL, a la chelsea. But till may comes, one has to wonder is City really a title contender, or a pretender that’ll crumble when the season thickens. Time, and games played will answer that question.


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