Yalla Shoot News

Yalla Shoot :Football’s biggest brand? Only one thing can stop the Man City ‘machine’ now

Manchester City were often described as the best team in the world, even before the Champions League that had long eluded them gave them a greater claim to that title. It was more contentious when their chairman, Khaldoon Al Mubarak, called them “the No 1 football brand in the world”. The alternative argument is that City are not even the leading football brand in Manchester. But at a point when Manchester United is up for sale and the Glazers want $6bn, it was notable that Al Mubarak described the value of the City Football Group as over $6bn. The picture he painted in his end-of-season address was of financial and footballing success with some of the world’s best executives, scouts and sporting staff.

Certainly, that description applies to Pep Guardiola. And yet this could not simply be the celebration of a transformation, a 15-year journey from a team who were in the relegation zone at Christmas a few months after Sheikh Mansour’s takeover to one who demolished Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, to the situation where Erling Haaland signed a contract and told Al Mubarak he would win him the Champions League. “To show you where Erling is going, this is the beginning,” Al Mubarak said. “And the scary part, this is just the beginning for him.”

In a way, it is just the beginning for City, too: just not quite in the same respect. Al Mubarak said it was “very frustrating” the treble has come against the backdrop of 115 charges by the Premier League. The Emirati promised a “very blunt” response, but only when the legal process has happened. The question of whether these are tainted, tarnished titles will linger; perhaps forever, certainly until a case is finally heard.

Some might argue there is an irony there. Al Mubarak had claimed Sheikh Mansour has given “passion to the club”; that the Champions League final was just the second game the owner had seen in the flesh might suggest he has a different way of showing it but, with his billions, he has been the architect of a rise. But if sportswashing is intended to launder reputations, City instead find their achievements and character impugned.

The issues, however, do not surround the all-conquering 2022-23 season as much as how City got here; how they constructed the platform that took them to such heights and whether the financing that allowed them to build to this point amounted to repeated and deliberate breaches of regulations.

On the pitch, City attract admiring glances. Al Mubarak claimed that, at a Uefa dinner the night before the Champions League final, he was asked what was special about City. “The winning mentality,” he replied, and that is not something that can simply be bought. He reflected on the hunger of Haaland, who reacted to his five-goal salvo against RB Leipzig by thinking he should have scored seven or eight, and the humility of the World Cup winner Julian Alvarez. He talked about how City have executives that rival clubs are trying to hire, and the excellence of their medical staff.

“Unheralded heroes,” he said. There was a point to the praise. There is a misconception that City can call upon a vast pool of players. “We have a high-quality small squad,” Al Mubarak countered. “But it’s not what I think is the perception, which is that we operate with a huge squad; that is not the case.” It is partly Guardiola’s preference but they are operating with around 18 top-class options, some of them very expensive, not a cast of thousands, like Chelsea.

Pep Guardiola holds the Champions League trophy with Al Mubarak

(PA Wire)

“People will throw at us, ‘the biggest spenders’, ‘you have the biggest squad,’” he said. Yet City should have few problems with the Premier League’s financial fair play rules now. “Look at our net spend figures,” Al Mubarak added. In a summer during which they signed Haaland, they made a transfer-market profit, partly because of the departures of Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko, partly because they banked around £50m by selling four youth-team products to Southampton.

There were years of vast outlay. Now City has become a business with revenue streams. “We have a commercial machine that is one of the best in the world,” Al Mubarak said; some may disagree – many of their sponsorships come from the United Arab Emirates, some from companies connected to Sheikh Mansour – but City’s problem is not the present or the future, but the past and how they got here.

For now, they have Guardiola tied up for another two years – Al Mubarak said he was “never concerned” before the Catalan extended his contract – an outstanding team and the opportunity to strengthen it. The outlook should be sunny but there are still clouds on the landscape.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button