Is Mark Hughes the man to make City a top four team and win trophies? (part one)

With no Premier League games last weekend, it’s a good time to examine the qualities Mark Hughes brings to City and consider whether it looks like being enough to take City into the Champions League and win some silverware.

Firstly, we can consider the positive contributions the Welshman and his management team have made, then we can look at the areas of concern.

Continue Reading

Interview with Khaldoon al Mubarak

In amongst all the derby previews in today’s press are two excellent pieces by City supporting Guardian writer David Conn, where he interviews Khaldoon al Mubarak in Abu Dhabi.

Khaldoon responds to criticism of City’s spending being a danger to football:

“I could accept the argument if we were artificially building up the club through debt”

“That produces a destructive end result; we have seen that happen. But in our case, the club will be in the healthiest position because there is no debt. We have funded it through equity [permanent investment].

“I believe what we are doing is a fair way to inject competition into football, without debt.”

This is confirmation of what we already know, but which a lot of City’s critics choose to ignore. He goes on to respond to the plans being put forward by Michel Platini to curb the freedom of owners to invest in clubs:

“The argument that this is unhealthy suggests that the big clubs, which make the most money, must remain the big clubs, that the status quo must remain.

“Is Mr Platini saying that only Real Madrid and Barcelona have the right to be competitive in La Liga?”

This is precisely the problem with the plans. Platini has always said he wants to make European football fairer, but it seems that the only changes he can get the big clubs to agree to, are ones that don’t threaten them. Hence the ‘financial fair play’, linking expenditure to revenue, is ok for the likes of Milan who have a high turnover. He appears to be playing on these clubs fear of City’s spending to get an agreement to his changes.

There seems to be a denial of the problems these rules will cause in stopping clubs like City challenging those established in the Champions League. The silence from Uefa and Platini on this is becoming increasingly apparent.

Khaldoon confronts it head on:

“I appreciate the argument about having so much money.

“The way I answer it is: Yes, this is a club, but it is a business too, and in business, you are there to compete. And we are striving to build the club the right way, with respect for its heritage, and the fans.”

The second article looks at how the ownership of City is part of the move to promote Abu Dhabi and it’s values. Conn firstly describes how this push is part of the state’s policy. The level of expenditure is awesome, and makes the investment in City seem almost trifling.

Interestingly, the purchase of City was initially a private venture by Sheikh Mansour who is a football fan, but with the global media attention that has followed, City are now viewed as part of the plan to promote Abu Dhabi itself. Could this mean the people in Abu Dhabi will be even more determined to see City being successful and having a positive presence at the centre of world football? It is hugely exciting to think so.

The money being spent on City is still considered an investment, that will prove it’s worth if City are established as a top European club. Then there is the fan side. According to Khaldoon:

“Sheikh Mansour is a huge football fan. There is an enjoyment, a pleasure, which comes from owning it.”

“There is a pure, football, emotional side to it, and a big business side, too. I think what attracted Sheikh Mansour was the great football journey, but also there is a business sense, that we can create a franchise, a business, over years, which will create value and reap a long term return.”

There’s a further two parts to this interview to be published by The Guardian.

Khaldoon al Mubarak interview

The City chairman spoke to Chris Bailey in a video interview on the official site. Whilst the questions were hardly challenging, it was still interesting to hear Khaldoon al Mubarak speaking of Sheik Mansour’s ambitions for the club.

The chairman was clearly unperturbed by criticism of the club’s “acquisition strategy” during the last two transfer windows, choosing to believe the club has invested wisely and that would be borne out with future success.

A determination to make this “project” successful kept coming through, and there was a clear faith in the “leadership team” of Garry Cook and Mark Hughes.

On City’s critics:

“There will always be critics and I know that will only increase.”

“With the ambition we have and what we have committed to the club there will be more criticism.

“It is frustrating but it will only be there because of our success.

“It doesn’t faze anyone here. We are looking forward to proving we can do it the right way.”

On the new signings:

“Every one of the players we have brought in is an outstanding individual and an outstanding talent.

“Garry, Mark, myself, Brian Marwood and the rest of the team have worked very hard in identifying the right targets.”

“Every addition fits exactly with what we had in mind.”

Whether we have value for money is considered “subjective” with the chairman repeating Hughes’ example of Carlos Tevez being of greater value to us at the moment than he was to United.

Possibly the most poignant statement was on the ambition to become one of the biggest clubs around:

“We are trying to build a club to be one of the best in Europe.

“You will not reach the top echelon of European football by not investing. That’s the reality of the business today.”

In his criticism of the Kaka bid, Michel Platini suggested we should try and produce our own version of the Brazilian maestro from local boys in our Academy. Sadly this is guff, as no academy in the world is going to produce a whole team to compete with the moneyed clubs at the top of the European tree.

Worse, a good academy at a club without the finance to hang on to it’s promising youngsters will simply be plundered by others. West Ham have a history of seeing their talent move on to win trophies elsewhere. More recently, Leeds have seen numerous teenagers plucked by Premier League clubs since their financial collapse.

Thankfully, the ambition as well as the money we have from Sheik Mansour enables us to be better placed to retain youngsters as well as make headline signings.

Watching this interview, there can be little doubt that the future has never been brighter for City fans.