Manchester City Didn’t ‘Buy’ the League

Manchester City

The Premier League season of 2020/21 is coming to a predictable end. The final excitement is resting only on the fourth Champions League spot.  Relegation and the top three have been virtually, if not mathematically, settled for many months with not a shock in sight.

Manchester City, unsurprisingly, received a guard of honour in their match against Newcastle United last week after confirming their title win for the fifth time in ten years, showing that the Premier League is in the most overly-dominated era in its history.  Before the season started, the bookies’ odds-on favourites to win the league remained the same from the multiple seasons before and proved to be correct most of the time. 

Many ask how it got to this stage and many believe it to be a simple answer: money.  With The Citizens being the most financially backed club in the world and being run by football’s richest owner,  it is easy to see why the accusation of Manchester City ‘buying’ the league is so commonly used.  However, maybe it is not so black and white.  There are a lot of factors leading to their success.  Many of which provide fitting counters as to why Manchester City didn’t simply just spend, spend, spend.

Manchester City Did Not ‘Buy’ the Premier League

Crunching the Numbers

In 2008, the Manchester city fanbase could never have predicted the future that their new owner, Sheikh Mansour, had in store for them.  With a net worth estimated to be between £20-£30 billion, the deputy Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates has lavished the blue side of Manchester in riches beyond anything a mid-table team have ever had before. 

His first signing at the club came in the form of one of the world’s best strikers at the time.  The Brazillian striker Robinho cost Man City a cool £32.5 million. The statement was clear: the Sheikh wants success. 

If you look at today’s 25-man squad, Manchester City’s team has been put together with an eye-watering £810.9million worth of transfers. That is almost £200 million more than Manchester United, who are the second-highest spenders in the league. Something quite strange to say, however, is that Manchester City are not the most frivolous with their spending. Their record transfer is their current star man, Kevin De Bruyne, who signed for £55 million.  This is only the eighth most expensive signing in Premier League history, with six of the seven players higher currently playing in the league. 

This, along with many of their transfers, shows a more precise approach to buying players, making sure due diligence is performed by City’s top-class scouting network.  Despite some expensive players finding themselves on the bench, there is not a major player that has signed since 2008 that could be considered a flop. This cannot be said for previous dominating spenders.  The likes of Chelsea and even Blackburn Rovers manage to escape the common accusations of ‘buying’ the league despite they’re financial superiority during their peak. 

Despite the amount City spend on players, it is very rare for any of the team, especially their starting line-up, to lose market value.  Their current squad value is around £100 million higher than their total transfer fees, despite being by far and away the biggest spenders.  The second-biggest spender, Manchester United, have only increased their squad value by an estimated £15 million.  The players brought in by City lived up to expectation and more.  This is unlike many other transfers elsewhere.  All of those players have improved their ability under the man at the helm; the man responsible for one of football’s greatest ever teams.  

Guardiola’s Greatness

Highly considered the greatest manager in the world today, the things Pep Guardiola has done to this Manchester City team and the English game, in general, are astronomical.  It goes far beyond a transfer budget.  Every player under Guardiola becomes a world-beater.  The man management of the Spanish coach has a clear impact on the individual growth of the players, yet this isn’t what he is most praised for. 

Watching this eam at their best is a thing of beauty.  For many years now, Guardiola’s team consistently top the league statistics in passing, defensive and attacking play.  The style of play is controlling, clever football as seen with their average possession for this year being 65%, along with the most passes in the league.  This poetry in motion has been consistent in Guardiola’s previous teams at Bayern Munich and Barcelona.  Since bringing his philosophy over to the Premier League, City find themselves on the verge of lifting their first Champions League trophy.  

So, despite being the big money spenders of the Premier League, it is clear that the club’s goals, mindset and intelligence are even bigger than their bank balance.  The idea that Manchester City simply bought the league is a myth.  The respect that they so rightly deserve is at a minimum, with the popular option being to criticise and vilify.  This is something that is all too common with modern football fans. 

Maybe history will be kinder to Guardiola’s City team, like it has been to the likes of Blackburn and Chelsea.  Whatever your view on how Manchester City won the Premier League, the fact remains.  No other manager in football has been compared as equals to the great Sir Alex Ferguson.  This, along with the incredible backing of Sheikh Mansour and Manchester Cit’s scouting network, speaks volumes of the success made all over the club, not just by transfer shopping sprees.     

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