Manchester City’s rivals have to plan for a title tilt in 2025 when Pep Guardiola has gone.
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Just wait until Pep leaves
I hate to sound defeatist but those teams with serious aspirations of winning the Premier League, don’t bother. Quite frankly, nobody is touching Pep. Best manager with unlimited funds and a winning recent history meaning the best players want to join. Fair play Liverpool did their bit but its all reverted back to norm. Liverpool aren’t going to improve now with their ageing squad.
The best bet for the likes of Chelsea, United, Liverpool, Spurs, Arsenal is to play the mid-to long game. Pep will be gone in 2-3yrs and we saw what happened when Fergie left, it can spiral. So get that average age of the team down and aim for the 2025 season and hang in there until then. And from what I can see the likes of Arsenal and as ridiculous as it sounds, United are going to be best placed to capitalise.
Pick your battles boys because there really should be no shame in not being able to topple a team that can easily win 15-20 games in a row. Not even a draw!?
Yes City are utterly dominant and it is ‘boring’ from a competitive aspect to seee the title wrapped up already. But I don’t think the money alone is the defining factor. The amount invested will always mean they are competing at the top and, at the very least, top 4 and a last 16 place in the ECL. But don’t forget the Guardiola factor. I would argue that when he leaves, City will have a jolt back to the mean or at least become a tad more ‘mortal’. I hesitate to make the comparisons, simply because I don’t think City will make quite such a mess of the succession, but I do think it will be comparable to when Fergie left United. The club, after all, is moulded around Guardiola’s image and personality. I am sure they have plans and systems in place to not be quite so reliant as United were on Fergie, but it will make a difference to their style of play and points accumulation because any other coach will be a ‘lesser’ coach by simple comparison.
Secondly, your article made the point about Liverpool and Chelsea not being quite as good as hoped/promised/expected, almost lamenting their inability to keep up the standards. To that I say ‘good!’ Look at historical records and teams, even at the top of the table, can lose plenty of games over the course of the long hard slog of the season. It keeps them within reach of the rest of us plebs. Having three teams who slaughter all before them and end on c.95 each is not great, no matter how we might find the title race itself entertaining. It means they are kept honest, they have to work for their points. It means there are plenty of occasions when the pond scum below 6th place have their day against these behemoths.
Man City will, hopefully, rejoin this coven as and when Guardiola leaves. It is all interconnected. Basically, for the sake of competition and general all round ‘fairness’ I hope he b*ggers off elsewhere soon!
Rob (and I say that as a huge admirer of what he has brought to the game as well), Leicester
Manchester City have not been lucky; they just don’t whinge
There’s a developing narrative that City have been lucky what with injuries, covid, etc. Klopp has been whinging about the size of our squad, Tuchel too. It’s just the latest fatuous stick with which to try and beat City with. These claims just don’t bear scrutiny. Having sold Torres and, well, let’s face it, it’s highly unlikely that we’ll ever see Mendy again, City are down to a 17-man squad now. Liverpool have a 22 man squad, as do Chelsea and United, a 24 man squad, and obviously all four clubs have the youth to stick in there too….which is what City have been having to do because, without any whinging or whining, City had four teenagers on the bench against Chelsea with barely 60 minutes playing time, between the four of them. Chelsea’s bench contained Jorginho, Mount, Hudson-Odoi, Werner, Barkley, Niguez and Loftus-Cheek, each and every one is a full international for their countries. City HAVE been heavily impacted by Covid, we just chose to get our heads down and bear with it, play the youth, if necessary. Do those other clubs not possess under 23 and youth players they could have played?
However, Chelsea? Whinge and whine.
Liverpool? Whinge and whine…and throw a little of the dark arts in there, too. Now, the odds of a false positive LFT test are 1000/1 (DoH statistic). Liverpool declared SIX false positives at the same time. Now, I’m not a betting man so would anyone out there care to inform me of what the odds of that scenario are? And THEN tell me that there’s absolutely nothing underhand going on?
It’s not just Liverpool though (that’s a little concession to all you foamers out there) because there are a lot of clubs who are gaming the system now (Arsenal, anyone?). TBH, it’s more than a little distasteful, it needs clamping down on, hard, now.
Look, people are getting a little frustrated as to how City just keep rolling on, I get that. However, I firmly believe that it’s down to attitude and mindset. By whinging and whining, it sounds like these clubs are looking for excuses, to deflect from their own ineptitude and oh so dreadful circumstance. Both Liverpool and Chelsea have dropped a lot of points recently to teams that they really shouldn’t be dropping points to. That’s not City’s fault, is it? City have developed this mental fortitude, this ‘can do’ mindset, this “we will not be beaten” attitude, that has come from within, from our manager.
I feel that in inventing excuses as to their failings, Chelsea and Liverpool have imbued their teams with a softer attitude, a losers’ mentality, if you like. An ‘It’s ok to settle for a draw because it’s not our fault’ outlook. That’s not going to win the title now, is it? Under early Mourinho and early Conte, Chelsea didn’t have that attitude, they were utterly formidable. Under Klopp, a couple of years back, Liverpool were invincible, they didn’t have the attitude they do now and that’s because they were unable to maintain their own momentum, which they had done previously.
In essence, look to yourselves, look in the mirror, do you like what you see? In all honesty, is YOUR club doing the best it can? If the answer is NO, then, to be honest, give it a rest, huh?
Just trying to help
Levenshulme Blue, M19
PS. Please, can we all stop with this narrative of poor little Chelsea too? A distinctly iffy (where DID that fortune come from?) billionaire rocks up, twenty odd years ago now and blasts the Premier League to smithereens and has done ever since. Now, they’re trying to paint themselves as some sort of helpless, innocent little club, like Southampton (please, no offence meant) when they are patently nothing of the sort. Helpless, in the face of the City monolith. It’s absolutely dishonest and disingenuous. Stop it, just stop it.
A one-horse race is hella dull
In response to Ian King’s piece first you should try and establish what entertainment is, it is an activity that holds attention and interest of an audience and Man City do not I believe meet that requirement. They are a brilliant football team managed by the best coach and supremely well administered club, but they are not entertaining.
The two Manchester teams played on Saturday, Utd games was the more entertaining game and they have been throughout the season. You remove the turmoils of Man Utd this season and you probably would have no content. Also as previous mail pointed out remove Klopp and you wouldn’t have had any competition to City for the last five seasons.
Man City have turned the EPL into a farmers league like PSG and Bayern. Ian states that it is for other clubs to match City, I think it will only come about when City drop off. This is the most dominant team in the history of English league football and it’s boring to watch as there is no interest in watching one horse races, unless you backed it of course.
Gary in Wiltshire
Liverpool can afford to pay Salah
On the question of Salah’s wage demands Dave LFC goes through a longwinded portrayal of Liverpool as the wholesome local corner shop unable to compete with the new Mega Supermarket down the road. Let’s have it right though, Liverpool can afford to pay Mo the wage he’s asking for, and quite easily too, but they don’t want to. Your attempt to equate him in the lower bracket of world-class players is pretty funny, ‘The Pharaoh’, ‘The Egyptian King’, ‘The Pyramid Pele’, ‘The Desert Dalglish’, Liverpool fans seemingly have no problem aggrandising the man right up until he wants fair pay. Like it or not (and you really should like it) Salah is in that upper most top bracket of world star, he’s as good as Messi, Ronaldo, Mbappe etc and definitely as influential for Liverpool as they are for their respective teams.
I don’t disagree that Chelsea, City, PSG, and even United have had an adverse effect on the transfer market but let’s not forget Liverpool aren’t too removed from doing the same. £75m for a CB, £65m for a keeper. You might say these are the times we live in but you’re still participating and what about £37m for Andy Carroll? In 2010 that was a massive fee and certainly had an adverse effect, perhaps not on the very top fees paid for the best players but you guys made is acceptable to pay stupid money for the bang average.
The Boston office of Liverpool FC obviously don’t want to pay him the money but given the current market he’s worth it. So if he leaves please remember it was your own management team that made that decision. Don’t blame City or PSG, it’s the club’s choice to let your best player leave.
But can they afford to pay everyone else too?
Just a quick one on Salah’s contract debacle – If I cast my mind back to Gini Wijnaldum it was a similar story. A player wanting to stay put and in his mind not asking for an absurd amount, but rather, an amount which reflects his value in a team which was recently the best in England, the best in Europe, and the best in the world (according to the trophies).
I think the main concern is the knock-on effect – like they have now at United with Bruno (and highlighted in the dick-swinging email by Mike). If we up Salah to 450k per week, what about Mane, Van Dijk, Fabinho, Henderson, Firmino, Alisson, to name a few. Won’t they be standing with cupped hands at Klopp’s door asking for parity or at least a similar amount? And won’t those be fair requests? I love the little Egyptian but at some point it becomes more viable to sell him than to offer him a huge salary.
Or do we go the Gini route and not extend terms and then Mo leaves on a free?
Wik, Pretoria, (sell Salah buy Bukayo seems the prudent move), LFC
…Seamus points out that Liverpool are the fifth highest earning club in football, so should be able to afford Salah’s salary.
Well, he has a point, but the counter is that no. 1 in the most recent Deloitte list that puts Liverpool fifth is Barcelona, the ultimate example of what can go wrong if you splash too much cash around.
The other example that comes to mind is, sadly, Manchester United. You can dig yourself a hole by, for example, paying Anthony Martial £250k a week when Bruno Fernandes is on substantially less.
There are two points here. The first is that paying a player as good as Salah that much is a different kettle of fish from paying it to Martial but that giving Salah a reported £400k for five years at the age of 29 isn’t exactly risk free. Not saying he definitely would, but as an ageing player he could well “do a Rooney” or “do a Sanchez” at some point soon and then Liverpool will have the balance of their £100m investment tied up in a dud. Following that, best case scenario is that you end up paying him £200k a week to play for Inter Milan…
The second is that you could give that to Salah, but then Mane will ask for similar, and Firminho, and Van Dijk, and Alexander Arnold, and Karius…. once you’ve raised the wage ceiling, you can’t put the genie back in the bottle. United apparently have four players on over £300k, and looking down the list of their squad, with a couple of exceptions, almost all of their players are overpaid relative to their ability, so very few of them are assets that can be sold and replaced to improve the team. There are a few reasons for that but a key one was the ceiling being raised for the top earners dragging up everyone else’s demands.
Barcelona may have made a series of bad financial judgements, but the fundamental underlying point of the Barcelona example is that even they, the most financially successful club that actually has to earn its own money, cannot keep pace with the level that PSG are able to pay their players (or that Al Jazira Sports and Cultural Club – that great footballing institution – are able to pay to their “consultants”).
Now I’m not saying that FSG can’t invest more than they do (or rather, reinvest more of the profits), I wouldn’t know. But I suspect that they genuinely couldn’t start paying players 400k a week – I’m not sure any proper club can – and not suffer very quickly.
The fact of the matter is that the finances of football just don’t allow clubs that earn money the traditional way to keep up with the trophy clubs for any length of time. Those clubs will increasingly get their pick of the best players with the other clubs left to fight over everyone else.
And finally, yes, looking at the club I support, I am fully aware that their transfer and salary outlay is comparable to the bank-rolled teams (in exchange for a pretty poor return!) but I am not confident that that is sustainable – I think things will get worse for United before they get better.
Spain and economic controls
Based on the morning mailbox, there seems to be some misunderstanding of the situation in La Liga, in terms of clubs not being able to afford to buy new players.
A few years back La Liga brought in new financial controls that are different from UEFa’s FFP and more more stringent. These ‘economic controls’ limit the payroll budget (or salary cap) – with a unique limit for each club. So while Barca have bought players recently, the challenge has been to clear our payroll capacity to allow the player to play. Having said that, Barca have a debt of over €1.1 million. They have essentially been spending based on future performance, and the debt has been going up. So there will be a point, if not already reached, in which the banks or whomever is underwriting the debt says no more – so then no more transfers. Personally, I just don’t see how they can bring in an Mbappé or Haaland in the current scenario. They would have to move a lot of players off the budget and sell for enough to rebalance the debt. I believe the economic control calculation, besides looking at expenses of the playing and coaching staff, also depends somewhat on how a players fee is amortized. Which is why we have seen some challenges for buying clubs when the selling club wants the entire fee upfront.
The reality is that clubs like PSG and City changed the economic landscape – and presumably, soon, Newcastle – like warping space-time, such that it eventually impacts all clubs. Some like Bayern are partially insulated by good governance and, by owning the Bundesliga, scoop up the best players at a ‘reasonable’ price and wage with guarantees of winning the Bundesliga and being in the Champions League. The Premier League has huge broadcast revenues and La Liga, until these economic controls were a magnet for talent. Spanish clubs used the ‘Beckham Law’ – a favourable flat tax rate – to lure players.
But along with the nouveaux money impacting spending across Europe, the Pandemic hit at a time that reduced revenues while the top three Spanish clubs were spending on stadium renewals too. It is no wonder Real and Barca were so in favour of the new European Super League, as they desperately needed the upfront cash payment to offset debt and create an improved payroll budget.
But the bottom line is that while the La Liga economic controls have exacerbated the situation for Real and, more so, Barca, it is still the same issue of spend now, pay later after we become successful, that is digging clubs across Europe – just look at the impact on the Championship. Yet it won’t stop fans (and media) exhorting their club to buy the latest and greatest each time the transfer window opens up.
It was 25 years ago…
Following ‘Duncan dirty Leeds’ about breaking rules and breaking the spirit of the rules, I’d suggest a closer precedent to the current situation is Middlesbrough cancelling a Premier League fixture against Blackburn back in 1996. At the time, there was a virus spreading about the Boro dressing room leaving only 12 senior players available.
Long story (including the PL saying we had just cause for postponing) short, the outcome was a deduction of three points. Why isn’t that penalty being given out anymore? It would certainly stop people bending any rules. Hell, it would even allow Pep to take a winter break and let Chelsea and Liverpool catch up!
Rob G (yes, I am still bitter about this).