My initial reaction to the Man City takeover yesterday was simply ‘oh, another one’. The new owner, Dr Sulaiman Al-Fahim, was making the same noises as so many of his predecessors. ‘We’ll break the top four, we’ll win the Champions League, we’ll be the biggest club in the world’.
Of course, we’ve heard this before. Peter Kenyon is always banging on about being the biggest brand in the world, Shinawatra said it, even Al-Fayed said it when he bought Fulham. And look where they are.
But now, it seems that he’s serious, with today’s frankly ridiculous claim that he’ll buy Ronaldo for 135m. Or is it ridiculous? If they offer United that sort of money, the offer will undoubtedly be accepted, and if they flash enough salary around, they’ll get the players on side. After all, Robinho signed, and City aren’t in the Champions League, and nor will they be next season as they don’t have the squad and will be too far behind by January. If I were told that Robinho is now the best paid player in the world it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest.
So is this bad news for Arsenal? On the one hand, City will get stronger over the next few years, so talk of a big five aren’t far fetched. But other than that, it is much worse news for the rest of the top four.
It seems that Al-Fahim is interested in glamour signings, so he’ll be competing with Chelsea for those. Abramovich already has a headstart with his squad, but he is no longer the biggest fish in the pond. Already Al-Fahim is talking about players as if they were collectible Panini stickers, and as the richest kid in the playground he feels he can own them all.
Chelsea buy ready made players, Arsenal invest in youth, United do a combination of both, and Liverpool….well Liverpool aren’t really threatening anyone. With an impatient owner, I can’t see City joining us in developing teenagers, choosing instead to outbid Chelsea for the next star they’re after.
So this isn’t all bad. It certainly makes the Premiership a more obscene place to be, but it is amusing to think that if Abramovich offers a club 35m for a player, Al-Fahim will simply up it to 40m. They will compete in the same market, so to speak.
And realistically, the only player of ours City will be interested in is Cesc, as has already been suggested. And that will never happen, by choice of the player himself.
So, for Arsenal, this changes very little. We can proceed with the same strategy we’ve been following, while watching Chelsea realise they aren’t the bully boys of the Premiership anymore.
And anything that makes Peter Kenyon squirm can’t be all bad.