With the summer window open for another 50 days, it would be presumptuous to say Manchester City's transfer strategy was intrinsically flawed – but it could certainly do with a kick start.
City's season opener away to WBA is a mere four weeks away and there’s still no tangible evidence of the 'high quality' signings promised by Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak.
The well respected and much admired Khaldoon, is not a man given to serving up sound bites without substance, so City fans need to chew on their frustrations and retain faith in the club’s hierarchy for a little while longer.
As unpalatable and perplexing as City's transfer market inertia is at present, the Etihad faithful would be premature to rush to judgement...they can save that until Tuesday, 1st September.
It’s well documented – at least via social media – that a triumvirate of Paul Pogba, Kevin De Bruyne & Raheem Sterling are City’s primary targets.
Speculation abounds with tip-offs, nods and winks from City watchers, some with genuine connections and access to ‘intel’, while others feed off the panic and desperation of anxious fans by supplying disinformation and fabrications.
It’s akin to a rumour mill where those allegedly ‘ITK - In The Know’ reveal to the world that they ‘...know this bloke who knows this geezer, who’s a friend of a guy who hired this chap to do a job for this gent whose dog goes to the same kennel as this dude who’s the cousin – twice removed – of this woman who reckons she’s the hairdresser to this City player’s wife...and she says City are buying so & so for £45million on Tuesday...’
With the discriminatory, dishonest, unethical, unprincipled and unwarranted (you’re beginning to get a sense of injustice here?) shackles of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations removed from City’s windpipe, Khaldoon and City’s Director of Football, Txiki Begiristain, now have the wherewithal to breathe new life into City’s squad.
The hope is that player investment to the tune of up to £200m in transfer fees, will rejuvenate City, adding quality, energy and desire to a squad that fell short of the mark last season.
With City’s Premier League and Champions League rivals already active with acquisitions of big names and rising stars, the Sky Blues cannot be left wanting this summer, regretting what might have been when September 2nd dawns.
One of the big conundrums facing City is a conflict of who’s buying who and for who? Are Khaldoon and Txiki in charge of the transfers? Does manager Manuel Pellegrini have a large, small or any say at all?
There’s even a scenario – as bizarre is it may seem – that a manager of a Champions League rival based in Bavaria, could conceivably have an input, if there’s to be a changing of the Etihad managerial guard in 2016.
As Pellegrini and Pep Guardiola enter their third and final years of their respective contracts in Manchester and Munich, it doesn’t take Albert Einstein to work out that Pep remains at the top of City’s list to take over next summer.
If the hiring of Guardiola is to be the next stage of City’s meteoric evolution under the ownership of Sheikh Mansour, would the club shell out £200m on players without consulting the man who could inherit them?
A situation of more concern is whether or not City are prepared to splash the cash, to try and regain the Premier League title at the first attempt and progress in the Champions League?
Will City’s hierarchy risk 2015/16 being a period of best endeavours but potentially ‘treading water’ while anticipating Guardiola’s arrival?
City fans have always been comforted by the knowledge that Sheikh Mansour’s commitment to M11 3FF is for the long haul and not a flash in the pan.
Under his ownership and Khaldoon’s stewardship, City have enjoyed unparalleled success.
Naturally, such success has driven supporter numbers and expectations through the roof, well beyond the elevated tier of the extended South Stand and the Etihad’s newly enhanced 55,000 capacity.
The fans cannot be alone in their anticipation of seeing exciting new talent in City colours. With the focus on the likes of Pogba, De Bruyne and Sterling, it shouldn’t be forgotten that City already have truly world class players in Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Yaya Toure.
They have ambitions to win titles, trophies and accolades and they, like the supporters, must see evidence that City are moving forward at a pace to eclipse their rivals.
City waited 44 years to once again be the Champions of England in 2012 with Roberto Mancini at the helm.
Bobby Manc wanted top class reinforcements to defend the title the following season. For whatever reason he didn’t get them and the title was relinquished.
This summer City are already having to play catch up on Chelsea and must beware of Arsenal and Manchester United, both of whom have already made excellent signings.
In a world of billionaire owners and multi-millionaire players only a fool would overlook the complexities, idiosyncrasies and sensitivities that accompany any major football transfer.
The seemingly stalling exchanging of sterling for Sterling deal is a prime example of difficult negotiations, brinksmanship and propaganda – an all England Mexican stand-off!
What you see in the anti-City media, isn’t always – if rarely ever – what has gone down behind closed doors.
Yesterday’s debacle with Fabian Delph can be painted in a variety of colours and mediums – there’s the genuine piece in oils and then there’s the diluted version in water colours.
The Aston Villa skipper’s move up the M6 from Birmingham to Manchester was a ‘nailed on certainty’ at £8m, a decent player who would help City fulfil their home-grown obligations at a very reasonable price.
So what derailed it, why is it portrayed as City being ‘snubbed’ and cited as yet another alleged example of Txiki being unable to close a deal?
After signing a new four year contract at Villa Park and his ‘eloquent’ statement on his loyalty to the Villains earlier in the year, it was a surprise that Delph was so ready to join City.
Fair to say it was an even bigger shock when the England midfielder did a complete U-turn, stating he’d be staying in the Midlands and was proud to captain the club.
Did he consult his dictionary and remind himself of the meaning of ‘loyalty’? Did he 'bottle' the move, genuinely taken aback at the fury of the Villa fans he was about to desert?
Did he turn up for the medical? If so, did he pass it? Did City exercise their usual dignified ‘no comment’ policy on transfer speculation, only this time with magnanimity, even if it gave the media ammunition to seek to undermine the club?
We can’t be sure of the answer...maybe we should ask the bloke who knows this geezer, who’s a friend of a guy who hired this chap to do a job for this gent whose dog goes to the same kennel as this dude who’s the cousin – twice removed – of this woman who reckons she’s the hairdresser to this City player’s wife...
Patience is a virtue but, when it comes to seeing top class signings in City's splendid new strip for 2015/16 the City fans want to see their patience rewarded...NOW!
By David Walker
www.readbutneverred.com @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu