You have to laugh at the coverage of Manchester City's transfer dealings this summer – the insidious negativity, the not-so subtle nuances, the never ending inconsistencies and contradictions – blimey, you’d be forgiven for thinking the media didn’t like the men from the Etihad Stadium.
Perish the thought!
This article isn't a whinge about the omnipresent anti-City bias, it's merely some observations on the general reporting of Sky, the BBC and the shallow red top tabloids.
Sky Sports News’ disappointment that Benjamin Mendy's move from Monaco came in at a mere £49.2m, and therefore NOT a new world record for a defender, was palpable.
The shortfall of £800,001 denied them the opportunity to further play out their chosen narrative of a desperate football club, pandering to the whims of a grossly-overrated manager, hell-bent on buying success.
Sky Sports News’ transfer anchor (or something sounding very similar) Jim White, and his colleagues seem to believe it’s a damning indictment on Pep Guardiola’s ability, that he was unable to extract title winning performances last season, from a quartet of full backs with a combined age of 129 years.
The limitless fuckwittery of the mainstream football media beggars belief that when City do actually address the long overdue upgrade of their ageing defence, they are met with an undercurrent of derision.
But as Sky reluctantly ran Mendy’s £49.2m fee on the familiar black and yellow ‘BREAKING NEWS’ banner, the BBC attempted to redeem the situation, claiming City had paid £52m… a new world record for a defender. So why the disparity in the 'facts'?
Bumping up the figure helped fuel the myth that here was yet another ostentatious display by City, as they continued their ruination of the beautiful game.
Rewind to Kyle Walker's transfer and City allegedly paying anything ranging from £45m to £54m (depending on who you believe) for the England right back. If it’s the latter then City must have already paid a world record fee the week before, so why the excitement?
How do we clear up the confusion? How many world record transfer fees had City actually broken in the space of a few days in July?
The answer is none - but who cares?
The cracked Mirror newspaper – one gets the impression they’re not too keen on City – decided to present Walker's move from Spurs in a whole new light, doubling it up as a £100m deal by including wages, and every conceivable possible bonus payment going.
City fans must hope the malicious Mirror hacks are right – that way it’ll mean Walker and his team mates will win just about everything going for the next five years, with the exception of that Thursday night trophy thing.
As City supporters revel in what was ‘Blue Mendy’, as well as the acquisition of Danilo for £26.5m last Sunday, Sky gleefully announced that City had become the first Premier League club EVER, to spend more than £200m in a summer transfer window...SHOCK, HORROR!
It wasn't intended as a compliment.
With Pep stating that City are still in the hunt for up to another three players - presumably Sanchez, another full back and a centre back - there's every possibility City will go through the £300m barrier – never mind a piffling £200m.
The amount of money being chucked around in the Premier League and the upper echelons of European football is, quite rightly, viewed as obscene by many people.
But, as things stand, City are only doing the 'norm' in an increasingly crazy transfer window.
PSG’s pursuit of Neymar, with a buyout clause of £196m and alleged wages of £500,000 per week - and that’s after tax - is greeted with nigh on wonderment.
If Barcelona’s brilliant Brazilian striker does switch from the Nou Camp for nearly £200m it's seen as a message of intent, a sign of the Parisian club's ambitions.
Owning the most expensive player in the world is a prestigious badge of honour if you're Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester Unted or PSG, so why not City?
Only in football could a business with the wherewithal and resources to buy the best, be subjected to a bizarre form of ridicule, fuelled by the unbridled jealousy of clubs who would do exactly the same, if given the opportunity.
The £92.8m spent on acquiring Bernardo Silva and Mendy looks like good business in a market bloated by revenues from Sky and BT television rights, with an overwhelming majority of City fans trusting the judgement of the club’s owner, chairman and manager.
Under the Abu Dhabi ownership, City have developed a more than viable and sustainable business model, one which produces profits and isn't weighed down with debt and hefty interest charges.
With all the completed and proposed transfer outgoings from the Etihad including Unal, Mooy, Nolito, Ntcham, Kolarov, Hart, Iheanacho, Fernando, Mangala, Nasri, Bony, Delph & Co, City could yet recoup more than £120m in incoming fees.
The net summer transfer spend could conceivably end up being less than £200m by the time the window closes on August 31st – but do City fans care either way?
The Etihad faithful and the club just want the best players possible to compete for, and ultimately win, the big prizes.
They're happy to leave Sheikh Mansour, Khaldoon and Ferran Soriano to look after the balance sheet, while Pep and his players press on and deliver the goods out on the pitch.
With so much money sloshing around, it’s easy to overlook the potential breakthrough of the likes of Phil Foden, Brahim Diaz and Jadon Sancho (if he stays) into the first team squad in the foreseeable future, saving untold tens of millions on future transfer fees.
You can bet your bottom dollar the media won't be falling over themselves to highlight the achievements of the CFA, when City’s emerging talents do cement first team places.
In the meantime City’s fans can just carry on smiling as Pep carries on spending and the ranks of the mass media carry on sniping.
By David Walker
This article is dedicated to Phil Entwistle - a lifelong Blue - who is finally fading after a long and courageous battle with cancer. I’m privileged to call him my friend – even more so that he should regard me as his.
A gentleman and a passionate City man, his watchword of ‘Keep the Faith’ stood us in good stead on many occasions, none more so than as the clock ticked down on that fateful day in May 2012, with City losing 2-1 to QPR.
Like his beloved City, Phil will Fight 'Till The End.