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The Libero - Man City are a striker away from the title

Published: 28 Jul 2010 - 08:32:46

It seems inevitable that Manchester City's seemingly bottomless vaults of cash will bring them honours: surely it's just a matter of time before the Abu Dhabi United Group's money pays dividends on the pitch and in the trophy room.

Of course, money isn't enough on its own - a shrewd manager is needed to first identify the players to bring in and then gel them together before any benefits can be reaped in terms of results.

And then there is the problem of actually enticing players to the club. True, in today's football world, money talks louder than any old fashioned values such as loyalty, but still the club's history, standing and ambition has to be sold to any potential big-name signings.

And in the last couple of transfer windows since Eastlands became Middle Eastlands, that has been exactly the problem facing first Mark Hughes and then Roberto Mancini.

City simply haven't had the kudos in world football to ensnare the top, top players; Kaka is the first, most obvious name that springs to mind, but there have been others too, among them Cristiano Ronaldo, Didier Drogba and Ronaldinho.

The lack of Champions League football, off the back of what now can only be described as an epic barren pitch in terms of silverware, has clearly affected City's pulling power. Put simply, it has been difficult to convince the world's best players that coming to the blue half of Manchester is an attractive proposition, even with the offer of riches beyond most people's wildest dreams.

So the players that Hughes and Mancini have brought in so far have been far from world-beaters, despite price tags that would suggest otherwise (Craig Bellamy (£14 million), Wayne Bridge (£10m), Roque Santa Cruz (£17.5m), Joleon Lescott (£24m), Emmanuel Adebayor (£25m) and Gareth Barry (£12m) to name but a few).

The one truly world class player who did take the bait (and the cash) was Robinho (£32.5m), although that hardly turned out well, did it?

Shay Given (£5.9m) and Carlos Tevez (£25.5m) have turned out to be great signings, but so lofty are City's ambitions - and deep their pockets - they should be bringing in the absolute best to deliver instant results.

Perhaps part of the problem has been the perception that City's bubble may burst at any time, that Sheikh Mansour will soon tire of this little hobby and turn his attention to a new plaything. Lack of stability can, after all, be a major turn off. But it has now been nearly two years since the takeover and within that time, despite a managerial changing of the guard, City seem to have matured as a club.

They're still flashing their cash around like a child in a sweet shop - because they can - but there is a definite perception that City are now a more serious prospect.The fact that Alex Ferguson got in a few digs towards the end of last season says a great deal - he knows City are now back on the radar and it may well be a long while before they disappear again.

But something is still missing. What City need to really kick-start their renaissance proper is the big bang we've all been waiting for since the Arabs arrived. And it's getting closer and closer.One big signing, most likely a striker, for that is where they are most in need of an upgrade and where the biggest impact can be made, is all it will take for City to become serious contenders.

Should, say, Fernando Torres decide to take the plunge, like the domino falling at the head of a queue, the rest will surely follow. Who would not want to join a player like Torres at a club with real ambition, pots of cash to back that up, a great fan base and a manager who seemingly knows what he's doing?

Already this summer, there have been indications that such a situation is close to becoming a reality. Champions League winner Yaya Toure spurned the advances of Manchester United in favour of City, while the Blues seem to be ahead of their bitter rivals in the race to secure the signature of the highly-rated Mario Balotelli.

Not quite yet the superstar names that are needed to spark a shift in power from United, Chelsea and Arsenal to City, but nevertheless, the signs are there.

And should City capture that one player to light the touch paper, like other top quality players, trophies cannot be too far behind.

READ THE LIBERO EXCLUSIVELY AT FOOTBALL.CO.UK EVERY WEDNESDAY

DSG


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FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:the libero
Libero (noun): 1. Versatile, ball-playing defender given licence to roam. Expected to break up opposition attacks while instigating counters. Role patented by German legend Franz Beckenbauer. 2. Versatile weekly football columnist, aka journalist Mike Hytner, given licence to write what he likes. Expected to file every Wednesday. Not nearly as talented as his boyhood hero Der Kaiser.

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