Soapbox: how City’s Arabian adventure could end in tears

Soapbox
Pete Sixsmith might have been expected to harrumph a lot about the Abu Dhabi billions heading towards Eastlands. But he sees every chance of the City takeover backfiring and cheekily suggests that my friends here in the Gulf should consider the newly unemployed Mr Keegan as manager…..

I am not quite sure if the Abu Dhabi financed takeover of Manchester City is quite the threat to traditional football that many seem to think.

Like Colin, I go back many years, though not quite as far as the days when SAFC were the Bank of England Club and have seen many clubs taken over by rich owners and spectacularly fail to succeed.

The prerequisite of any Football Club owner is that he (or she) knows something about football or at the very least knows how to let someone manage.

Jack Walker appointed a manager and let him get on with it. He was a rich man and could bankroll players like Shearer and Sherwood but player and team selection was left to Kenny Dalgleish.

So, now that Dr Sulaiman al Fahim is the de facto owner of the Manchester Blues (surely their new name), what does it mean for football in England?

It could be a real nail in the coffin of the idea that you build a team that will challenge for honours. Clearly, there are millions of petro dollars waiting to be spent on footballers who will excite the Eastlands crowd.

I can envisage City limbering up for the first game of next season with a line up of Ronaldo, Villa, Robinho, van Nistelrooy, Fabregas, the other (fatty) Ronaldo, Jo, Wright-Phillips, Torres, Dunne and Hart.

Not many defenders in that line up are there. And why should there be? All you need to be a success is the ability to score one goal more than the other. And who would make a perfect manager for this attacking cornucopia? Why, none other than our old friend Kevin Keegan!!

Football has been going to hell in a handcart ever since professionalism was sanctioned in the 1880s. I can imagine that Wanderers and Royal Engineers fans were shaking their heads in disbelief as the arriviste tripe merchants and cotton mill owners of Blackburn and Bolton poured countless shillings into the coffers of Rovers and Wanderers and saw it spent on nippy Scots wingers like Wee Jock McTavish or rock like centre halves from County Durham who rejoiced in names like Tadger Cummings and Elijah Burnicle.

If a club is going to have money pumped into it, let it be City, because we know that it will all end in tears.

The people at the Abu Dhabi United Group for Development and Investment surely have no idea what they are letting themselves in for as they invest money in a club that has entertained us for even longer than Bruce Forsyth.

The game will change. For us, it will not be for the better, but I can remember older people in the 1960s bemoaning the fact that Johnny Haynes was being paid £100 a week and saying then that the game was finished.

What we have now is a different game that will, sooner or later (and I suspect the former), move away from national leagues to a European and/or world model. Our so called Big Four will probably be part of it and so may City.

The Sunderlands of this world may have to be content with not inconsiderable scraps thrown from the rich man’s table. Still, it won’t worry Colin or myself. We’ll be slobbering and dribbling in the Old Journalists’/Teachers’ Rest Homes and concerning ourselves about whether we can make it to the toilet in time rather than if the Liverpool Red Sox can snatch an away win at FC Juventus of Dubai.

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