Whatever your feelings towards Manchester City and their colossal wealth, I think everyone has to admit that so far this summer, their spending has been, at least on paper, well thought out. They’ve certainly paid over the odds for Barry, Santa Cruz and Tevez, but these players will add some key ingredients to City’s squad. Barry will add some bite and experience to their midfield, while Santa Cruz and Tevez could form a great partnership up front, both hard workers, with Cruz the targetman and Tevez the poacher.
However, with their courtship of Emmanuel Adebayor, you have to think that they’re now starting to indulge themselves just a little bit. Having already spent over £30m on Tevez and Cruz, the necessity to spend £25m more on Arsenal’s unsettled front man is questionable. And with Arsenal fans clearly more than happy to see the Togolese international leave after his attempts to secure himself a big money move to AC Milan last year, you have to question Adebayor’s motives for the move.
And therein lies the problem for me. A good transfer in football is one that is beneficial to both the buying club and the player in question, as it allows the club to improve their squad and the player to further his career. However, I don’t think that Adebayor signing for City would be much good for either party, and that it could be a bad move for all involved. Indeed, I wonder how much Mark Hughes has had to do with this deal, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if City’s Arab owners weren’t behind this one, seeking to sign Adebayor to add another household name to their ranks.
Because although Adebayor has shown that he can be a top class player, City already have a huge strike force. Having added Santa Cruz and Tevez to a squad that already featured Valeri Bojinov, Robinho, Craig Bellamy, Ched Evans, Felipe Caicedo and Benjani (not too mention the on-loan Jo), I simply don’t think that they need a 9th striker, even if that striker is as good as Adebayor. Of course, some of these players may leave, but with Bellamy, Santa Cruz and Tevez having been Hughes’ signings, surely they are his preferred striking options?
And given that new arrival Tevez turned down the chance to continue playing for Manchester United largely because he felt he wouldn’t get enough chances in the first team, you have to wonder what the signing of Emmanuel Adebayor would do to the stability of the squad. When a club comes into money and spends such a vast amount of money on new recruits it is bound to upset the atmosphere of the squad with players fearing for their place in the side. And with nine strikers, all of whom are arguably good enough to play a part, City would have one very unsettled dressing room on their hands.
From the other perspective too, I can’t see how this move benefits Adebayor. Although clearly unsettles at Arsenal, he also has a very high opinion of himself, as we’ve seen with his very public courtship of AC Milan, where he made it clear that he feels he belongs at one of Europe’s biggest clubs. However, the move to Milan doesn’t seem to have materialised and in many ways City have emerged as his only option, but it is an option that relieves him of Champions League football and the chance to perform on the biggest stage in Europe.
So in a footballing sense, I think Adebayor would much rather be moving to Europe somewhere, rather than to Manchester, and I think the only consolation he will take from the move is a massive pay-rise (OK, so when I said I couldn’t see the benefit of the move for Adebayor, I lied). Which means that Adebayor will essentially be signing for Man City simply because they’ll pay him lots of money and he has nowhere else to go. That doesn’t give him much motivation to perform though, and we saw last season just how ineffective an unmotivated Adebayor can be, and I don’t think City’s loyal fans will make him feel welcome if he displays such nonchalant commitment while wearing sky blue.
Overall then, I think this move is representative of all that can be bad about the investment of big money into football clubs. Man City have spent a lot of money this summer, but they have spent it with a lot of sense. However, with such prodigious wealth comes a need to satisfy the expectations of the benefactor who wants to see big names brought to the club. In doing so though, the club may be pushed to bring in players that will not benefit the club in terms of on pitch contribution, and who may indeed upset the off-pitch harmony, which then may impact negatively on the performances on the park.
For me then, this is the first real sign that Manchester City are really starting to overindulge themselves in the face of their massive wealth. Hughes will know that he doesn’t need Adebayor, and yet he may feel pressured to bring him in anyway, knowing that only signings like that will satisfy the owners and the sort of imbecilic fans who have updated the club’s Wikipedia page to list Adebayor, Terry and Lescott as current squad members.
City’s fans will experience much adversity now, given that most fans will feel envy of their financial power but will suggest that in many ways City have ‘sold out’ and are harming football. That may or may not be the case, but City’s fans would not mind so long as the wealth that they will be hated for brings them success on the pitch. The Catch-22 though is that that same wealth also brings with it expectations which may ultimately lead to the prevention of that success, and I feel Hughes needs to learn to balance his squad more carefully to avoid another season of underachievement.
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