Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Dunne departs

This afternoon the club confirmed that Richard Dunne has left City, after nine years and 345 appearances, to sign for Aston Villa. Having recruited two new centre-backs for a combined price of almost £40million, Dunne's position in the first team was lost. And once Nedum Onuoha's future at the club was affirmed with a new five year contract, it was clearly untenable to have the club captain as fourth choice centre half.

And so the City career of our greatest servant since Ian Brightwell, if not of the whole modern era is over. A man brought to the club by Joe Royle who saw off not only Royle himself but also Kevin Keegan, Stuart Pearce and Sven-Göran Eriksson. He represented a rare pillar of stability in an unstable decade, forming a defensive partnership with his predecessor as captain Sylvain Distin which was the only thing which saved us from relegation under both Keegan and Pearce. Four consecutive Player of the Season awards - the last in 2007/08 - demonstrate that he was the one consistently good player in a period otherwise defined by mediocrity - after the fading of Ali Benarbia, before the arrival of Elano.

Stability, consistency, leadership, bloody-mindedness - the sense that, for once, the cliché about running through flames for the badge was true - these were Dunne's qualities. More than almost any other player to have made a significant contribution in recent times - Gerard Wiekens or Kevin Horlock excepted - he made the very most of his abilities. Had things been different he certainly could have played another four or five years for City and forced his way into the top ten all time most appearances.

But, as with everything else connected with City, this all change on 1 September 2008. From that point on Manchester City and Richard Dunne's paths started to diverge. For Sheikh Mansour merely staying up was not enough. Nor was making the most of one's talent. Once MCFC embarked on its new enterprise, it was clear that effort and experience were not enough. Necessary, of course, as they are to any successful football club. But nowhere near sufficient: what was now needed was excellence. And, as heroic as Dunne has been for City, real excellence always lay just beyond him. When Mark Hughes decided to bring in two new centre-halves this summer who combined Dunne's effort and experience with excellence of their own - in the £14m
Kolo Touré and the £22m Joleon Lescott - the ending was writen.

He is, then, the highest profile casualty of the new regime so far. Richard Dunne symbolised the MCFC of the 2000s like no-one else. Not just for his 300 appearances, his captaincy and his four Player of the Season trophies - but because he embodied the spirit and achievements of those years - passionate and determined but never excellent. But what are ADUG, Garry Cook and Mark Hughes trying to do to City if not to cast off and leave behind the mediocrity of those years? Dunne was no longer the one man stopping City from going down, but was one man slowing down our going up. And so, to move the club forward, to leave behind the unsuccessful past, to detach City from its past mediocrity, Richard Dunne - the greatest symbol of pre-ADUG MCFC - had to go. He now takes up his rightful place alongside Horlock, Shaun Goater and Uwe Rösler in the pantheon of departed heroes. The ADUG revolution rolls on regardless.


Andor said...

"Dunne was no longer the one man stopping City from going down, but was one man slowing down our going up."
Well said. And over all a very good summary.

Anonymous said...

jasnikfreyaglad to see the back of the donkey hope hes useless for villa and scores an og against us next month,sorry but no time for sentiment where we want to go

jennifer brown said...

Jennifer says. Unlike the despicable person before me, I agree with everything you wrote regarding Richard Dunne. He was City through and through, and I along with the vast majority of Manchester City fans would like to wish him all the very best for the future.

JPB said...

No more of that, Jason.

Anonymous said...

and wheres that comment gone about my mother

Shropshire Blue said...

Well said. I hope he gets the reception he deserves when he visits with Villa, and a few renditions of 'he's here, he's there...'.
A true servant of the club and it's fans, not the other way round like many players.

Wigan Blue said...

In practically every case where an own goal or a red card occurred, Dunney was attempting to cover for one of his colleagues who'd gone missing (and in at least one case, obviously didn't care).

If he had a consistent fault, it was that of abrogating responsibility when he got the ball out of the immediate danger area - he gave the ball a hoof and didn't care where it came down. It may well be that Martin O'Neill can convince him to look up and deliberate for a second before making those clearances. And if he can, he'll just have bought one of the best centre halves in the Premiership.

Good luck to you Richard. You'll always be welcome at the COMS as far as my friends and I are concerned.

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