Why Things Might Only Get Worse For Manchester City
So, where to now for Manchester City?
After what can best be described as a 1-0 hammering by Barcelona last night – where Joe Hart kept the score-line to single figures never mind a single goal – it looks like a trophy-less season is on the cards for Manuel Pellegrini’s charges.
While there’s no shame in losing to a Messi-inspired Barca – the Argentine could have nutmegged a mermaid in last night’s form – this campaign can only be seen as a regression by the Premier League champions.
Help The Aged
But, despite the vast riches at their disposal, things could actually get worse for City. The passing of time guarantees that all teams are ageing, but City are resembling Mickey Rourke compared to Barca’s George Clooney.
Pellegrini’s team last night had an average age of over 29, compared to Barca’s 27. However it looked much worse, like an octogenarian Westerner strolling around Bangkok trying to keep up with his new 20-year-old female ‘companion’.
This problem is exacerbated by the lack of youth in the squad. The bench last night had an average age of over 30, with little talent emerging from the club’s much-hyped academy.
Despite spending over £300 million in the last four years, the side last night contained seven players who played in their first Champions League match over four years ago – with another two on the bench. Their two most recent big-money acquisitions, Eliaquim Mangala and Wilfried Bony, have yet to shine and cost more than Burnley – who beat them on Saturday – have spent in their entire history.
However it won’t be as easy as flashing the cheque-book again to remedy the situation. City have already fallen foul of Financial Fair Play regulations and had to dispense with Alvaro Negredo last summer to free up funds for incoming deals.
Furthermore, it’s hard to identify members of the current squad, barring talisman Sergio Ageuro, that could be sold for the big money required to operate at the top end of the transfer market. It’s Yaya Toure’s birthday in May and it might be best for City to forgo a birthday cake for the Ivorian and cash in on a player who has often seemed disinterested this season.
Barring some accounting wizardry or exploiting their relationship with New York City, it’s hard to see how the club could compete for elite players like Messi, should they ever become available.
Change At The Top?
The pressure is mounting on their Chilean boss and it now seems likely he’ll be replaced in the summer. However, the problem for the City hierarchy is who they could conceivably supplant him with.
It’s more likely Pep Guardiola was in attendance last night to check out possible future Champions League opponents in Barcelona than future employers in City. They also covet Atletico Madrid’s Diego Simeone but it seems more likely they’ll end up with someone like Rafa Benitez to try and improve their performances in Europe.
And that’s if they qualify for next season’s Champions League at all. That defeat to Burnley, allied with the chasing pack’s improved form, means a top four place – never mind a Premier League runners-up spot – isn’t guaranteed.
City have taken just eleven points from their last seven league games, form if replicated over their final matches compared to their rivals would leave them languishing in fifth place. This would ensure they’d avoid another humiliation by Barcelona next season – as they’d be competing in the Europa League.