Saturday, 17 October 2009

Future spending

One interesting issue over our future development is whether we will repeat the mass turnover of players and money seen in summer 2009 in future transfer windows. Mark Hughes said yesterday that last summer - eight new players at a combined cost of £140million - would not be repeated in future windows:
"What people must understand is that our business in the last window was unprecedented. That will not happen again.

"This notion that we will throw money at whatever player, that is not the case.

"We do not feel we need to go into the market to the extent we did in the last two windows.

"It about looking at players for areas of the team that still need strengthening. Those are the ones we will target. It will not be wholesale comings and goings, I can assure you of that."
This suggests that he is broadly happy with the make up of the team as it is now, and that future changes will be at the fringes of the squad rather than to its core. Which, to me, is a relief. And I don't mean that regarding the quality of the team. I think that the current squad will certainly be enough to meet our target of top six this season, and probably even for the stretch target of top four. And with a few big additions in key areas in the next two or three windows (like him or him or even him) we may well be good enough to go and win something.

But that's not quite what I'm getting at. As exciting as the last few years supporting City has been (and I'm counting the Thaksin era here as well as the ADUG one) the constant change in personnel has been rather disconcerting. We signed eight new players (combined cost £40m) in summer 2007, three new players in January 2008 (£9m), seven new in summer 2008 (£77m total), four in January 2009 (roughly £45m total) and then eight for £140m in summer 2009.

There's clearly a problem with this. Being a football fan is obviously primarily about emotional investment in the club itself. Whether it's Carlos Tévez or Carlo Nash you support the players because they play for City. But this does not mean that emotional bonds with players specifically do not exist or do not matter. (Perhaps the only reason I worried about the departure of Richard Dunne was that he had a relationship with the fans with roots in the Joe Royle era, and that without him we were a team of players brought in the last few years.) If we are to turn over the squad every six months we will reach a point where fans barely have any relationship with any of our players.

Take the current squad: of all the players signed under Hughes I have only really taken Zabaleta, Kompany, de Jong and Bellamy to heart so far. (Wright-Phillips is different, being a reacquaintance with an old friend.) As much as I revel in seeing this summer's buys pulling on our shirts and winning us points I'm not yet at the point of being able to embrace them as our own. (Tell me if you feel differently.) These things take time. If we stick with the core of the current squad I am sure that I will grow to love them, and will delight in their successes. But if we buy a whole new team every six months, it won't quite feel the same.

1 comment:

menino azul said...

i agree w/ your sentiments re. zab, de jong & kompany. i get a feeling they really want the shirt & are beginning to get a real feeling for city. although i too was sad to see dunne go-it was the right time.

let's not forget the core of our youth academy graduates headed up by the return of swp. the shining example of ireland (surely a blue through & through and here to stay), the rehabilitation of johnno-a real beacon of hope. as for micah, well he ain't going anywhere fast & seems determined to re-establish himself once more. as for ned, if he could get fit again then the sky's the limit. a future blue captain & real inspiration.

you talk of emotional bonds w/ players & i think of joe hart and his reciprocal 'love' for city. i for one hope we see a return for him somewhere down the line. it may take a bit, but by then he may be the real article!

oh yeah, i'm still holding out for the kid trippier to make a mark in a couple of seasons.

it's probably been said a zillion times-but what a time to be a blue!