Article by Simon Gaskell
Mark Hughes is gaining a growing resemblance to the schoolyard sticker collector. Just when he thinks he has got every one he needs, a shiny one takes his eye and he does not hesitate to indulge himself further. With Emmanuel Adebayor’s acquisition from Arsenal, his collection is complete. If anything, in the striking department in particular, Hughes has over-accumulated. Much like the veteran sticker collector, he may have mistakenly made a significant effort to obtain that which he already has.
In recruiting three £18 million-plus strikers this summer, Hughes has actuated a huge problem for himself. City currently have nine first team strikers, and the sale of Benjani, Bojinov, Caicedo and Evans will not ease the headache. By the start of the season, Hughes will have five strikers who will all expect to start. Indeed, the Welshman almost certainly lured Tevez and Adebayor with a nigh on guarantee of first-team football. However, no matter what formation he plays, Hughes cannot accommodate them all. He may maximise the playing time of Bellamy and Robinho by using them on the wings, though both prefer roles further forward.
Given that Bellamy, Tevez and Adebayor have a history of dissent against managers and Robinho and ‘Sparky’ still share a strained relationship following last season’s Tenerife bust-up, Hughes will need all the man-management skills he can muster to appease his striking corps.
The multiplicity of strikers at Hughes’ disposal seems an obvious oversight and raises questions about City’s transfer policy. The main one being: do they have one? There seems to be no systematic approach. Rather a scattergun approach is at work whereby City vet hundreds of players, go starry-eyed when a big name reciprocates their interest, then feel compelled to sign them out of respect for a time when Adebayor and Tevez would have laughed in their faces.
Who is driving City’s transfer policy? It certainly isn’t Hughes. City’s ‘box-office’ signings have been sanctioned above his head and when asked about Adebayor, he sounded less than convincing, trotting out his staple line about the Togolese international being ‘a player I have admired from a distance for a long time.’
Though they have had nearly a year to get used to their status as the Premier League’s richest club, the novelty has not yet worn thin. City’s fans, management and hierarchy are unaccustomed to the power they now wield and their inexperience is painfully evident by their brazen approach to transfer dealings, and more embarrassingly, their general conduct.
They have pursued their targets with no subtlety, often in a very public fashion and through the media. Indeed, Chelsea are considering reporting Mark Hughes to the FA for ‘tapping up’ John Terry following his insistence to publicly court their player. And who could forget Executive Chairman Garry Cook’s cringe-worthy performance when he accused seven-time European Cup-winners AC Milan of ‘bottling it’ when negotiations for the prospective transfer of Kaka broke down in January?
Even more comically, a City centre poster of Carlos Tevez captioned ‘Welcome to Manchester’, awash with sky blue has been erected, designed to goad their more illustrious rivals.
No-one begrudges them revelry in their new wealth, however City lack magnanimity and without it they will never be perceived as they aspire to be. Their approach to player recruitment and behaviour towards their rivals has been distorted by their new-found power. Without these vital elements as part of a measured, cohesive strategy, they will win few friends and fewer trophies.
About the Author
Simon Gaskell is a blogger from West Yorkshire, England. His main interest is in football, soccer to any Americans, though he is interested in all Sport. He began blogging in early 2009 and continues writing independently for his own enjoyment, though his ultimate ambition is to become a sports journalist.