The Influence of the Man City ProjectPosted: October 11, 2011
What do Paris St. Germain, Málaga and Anzhi Makhachkala all have in common? Well in the last year and a bit all three clubs have been bought by very wealthy investors who are prepared to pump millions, if not billions into their clubs and I firmly believe these takeovers were influenced by both the idea and the success of the ‘Man City Project’ so far.
Let’s cast our minds back to 2008, Manchester City were in the hands of the clueless, shady character that was Thaksin Shinawatra and the former Prime Minister of Thailand opted to sell the club to investors from Abu Dhabi United Group Investment and Development Limited. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan wasted no time in making his intentions known when he helped Man City smash the British record Transfer fee when they signed Robinho from Real Madrid for £32.5 million on deadline day.
Since that day they have made some monumental strides in their aim to become a top 4 side, signing the likes of Carlos Tevez, Yaya Toure, David Silva and Vincent Kompany to name a few. Their mass spending has been paying off though, in the last two seasons they’ve finished 5th and 3rd in the League and are the current holders of the FA Cup.
Now you can see where the influence comes from, because like Man City prior to their takeover, Anzhi, Málaga and Paris St. Germain were all either lingering in mid-table or simply struggling to challenge with the big guns in their respective Leagues.
Now, let’s take a look at the three teams mentioned and the transfers they’ve made since they’ve been taken over by rich owners.
A team with a name that wouldn’t sound out of place in the Klingon Planet from Star Trek, Anzhi were certainly an unheard of club in the Russian League, with the only bit of recognition they probably received was for their unpronounceable name.
In January, Russian businessman and philanthropist Suleyman Kerimov, worth an estimated $7.8 billion took over the club. I think one of the most notable aspects of the recent transfers at Anzhi is the influx of Brazilian panache since Kerimov took over, players such as former Brazil and Real Madrid ace Roberto Carlos, free scoring Atletico Mineiro striker Diego Tardelli and defender João Carlos. They also managed to stun the football fans when they signed PSV winger Balázs Dzsudzsák, a man whose name is only slightly more pronounceable than the team one, who was receiving much interest from a host of top European clubs such as PSG, Valencia and Wolfsburg.
They’re being linked with bigger and better names all the time, and they showed they mean business with their final summer signing, Samuel Eto’o, who immediately became the highest paid footballer on a £10 million per season contract, earning £345,000 per week and to cut it down even further, 60p a second, so in a matter of twelve seconds he is earning one hour of the Irish minimum wage!
Their transfer target list just seems to grow as time goes by, with Andrey Arshavin, Genaro Gattuso, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Robin Van Persie, Neymar, Nicolas Anelka, Nene and a further four unnamed players all on their ‘to buy’ list. It’s not just media speculation either, they are all genuine targets.
Gadhzi Gadzhiev found that the pressure on him was incredible, and it was all to much for him as the manager was sacked after a poor run of games, leaving Roberto Carlos in temporary charge. Although I respect Carlos hugely, I have to question some recent quotes. “We want to make a club the calibre of Real or Barca”. They can try, but I can say right here and now they will never be of the same calibre of either team.
“We are already the best team in Russia and I am serious when I say that.” I think this a premature thing to say, especially considering they’ve won one of their last five games. They (arguably) have the best squad and budget in Russia, but then again so do Shamrock Rovers in the League of Ireland this season, but they’ve been hardly convincing for a team who should be champions elect right now. So I suppose what i’m trying to say is, you may have the biggest squad and the biggest budget, but you also have to be able to manage the team to the best of their abilities, and so far Anzhi have looked far from convincing in the Russian League, lying in 7th place and currently on a poor run.
Will they become a powerhouse in Russia and European competitions?
In their own league maybe, but they never will if they just keep signing player after player, they’ll get nowhere unless they have a settled team, otherwise they won’t even match the success of CSKA Moscow and Zenit St. Petersburg, and regardless of what squad (or squads) they have for years to come, I can’t see them ever being as good as Barcelona or Real Madrid.
Paris St. Germain
The former UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and two time Ligue 1 Champions are hardly a club without a reputation, but they have struggled in the last decade in the league, finishing as low as 13th .
That looks all set to change however, as the Qatar Investment Authority ‘s ownership of PSG saw the club receive an abundance of funds with the Transfer window just around the corner. The marquee signing for PSG has been Argentian midfielder Javier Pastore for a whopping €42 million. He was linked all summer long with Chelsea and AC Milan, but opted to join PSG when they blew any potential offers from Chelsea and Milan out of the water.
PSG have also bolstered their defence, signing experienced Uruguayan centre-back Diego Lugano and Milan Bisevac, another centre back signed from Valenciennes for €3.2 million. Pastore isn’t the only arrival from Serie A, they’ve also raided Italy for Juventus midfielder Momo Sissoko, Palermo goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu and Jeremy Menez from Roma. They’ve been most active within their own League though, signing a number of Ligue 1 players such as striker Kevin Gameiro, another goalkeeper in Nicolas Douchez and highly rated midfielder Blaise Matuidi.
Overall, they spent a €86. 1 million this summer, and even more remarkably they’ve spent €72 million more than Lille, who were the second biggest spenders in Ligue 1 this summer.
So far the big spending has been worth it for Antoine Kombouaré’s side as they recovered from an opening day loss and now sit on top of the table with 20 points. 3 points clear of Montpellier, Lyon and Toulouse who all trail behind on 17 points.
Will they become a powerhouse in France and European competitions?
In my opinion, yes, I think they will. They seem to have clicked since being beaten by Lorient, and it’s encouraging to see star signings Javier Pastore and Kevin Gameiro settling into life at PSG alright, both netting a few goals already. If they can keep the majority of the team they have, they could do well for years to come and even though its early days, I am confident that if they can keep this settled team for next year, they could well make progress in Europe next season with a spot already looking likely for them just 9 games in!
In a League dominated by two teams for the past few years, surely it’s about time another side started to pose a serious challenge to Barcelona and Real Madrid ? Well, that team could be Málaga CF.
Although sheikh Abdullah Al Thani took over in June 2010, the club hasn’t gone on a spending spree of sorts until this summer. Although only two of their signings have hit the €10 million mark, their most noteworthy signing was a free transfer, former Man United and Real Madrid striker Ruud Van Nistelrooy.
Their two big money signings have been top French midfielder Jeremy Toulalan for €10 million and former Villareal midfielder Santi Cazorla for €19 million. Other arrivals include Martín Demichelis, Joris Mathijsen and Diego Buonanotte on loan.
Overall, the Spanish outfit spent €52 million during the summer, and they’ve had a good start to the season, currently lying in 4th place behind Real Madrid. It is also a massive bonus for them to have a well experienced manager in the form of Manuel Pelligrini, who of course managed Madrid before Jose Mourinho took over last season.
Will they become a powerhouse in Spain and European competitions?
I think they can, but I can’t stress it enough, they will only do it if they have a settled team. It’s unlikely they’ll challenge Madrid and Barcelona in the immediate future, but in time, who knows what could happen if they have a settled, quality squad. They look like they will challenge for the European spots, they do have a team strong enough and to have players with La Liga experience like Cazorla and Van Nistelrooy will be vital for them to really challenge.
So, to wrap it all up, I suppose my general thoughts are that in time, all three teams will do well domestically, but European football will be a struggle for Malaga and Anzhi who have very little experience, even Man City are finding their first ever Champions League campaign to be a struggle.