FEATURE: Txiki Berigistain Arrives

Shaun Rudden

City have announced the appointment of Txiki Begiristain in a “Director of Football” style role, taking over player recruitment and contract renewal duties from Brian Marwood, who has essentially been relegated to overseeing similar duties for our new and improved Academy.

This isn’t a surprising move for a number of reasons. First of all, there’s the past relationship between Txiki and our new CEO, Ferran Soriano at Barcelona. Both were responsible for the background work whilst the Catalan giants clocked up 19 trophies throughout the tenure of former manager Pep Guardiola, so it seems only right that they once again had the chance to recreate that success.  Secondly and probably more importantly, if rumours are correct, then Marwood may have proven that he is out of his depth in such a high profile role when he failed to land Roberto Mancini’s top transfer targets this summer. Say what you want about Garry Cook but he got the job done when it came to securing top signings. Vincent Kompany, Carlos Tevez (who can forget the embrace on the doorstep of the Etihad?), David Silva, Yaya Toure, Kun Aguero – all down to Cook’s work. Even Gareth Barry said he was sold the vision by Cook.

Something was wrong this summer, however. As reigning champions, I was expecting a couple more marquee signings at the start of the window in order for us to mount the assault on Europe. It didn’t happen. Hazard went to Chelsea, De Rossi stayed at Roma, Martinez moved to Bayern Munich, and Van Persie went to United. Even our supposed Plan-Bs were opting for alternative destinations as Lavezzi and Ibrahimovic signed on for PSG. To put it bluntly, I think the blame lies with Marwood. He continually lost out on the big names and so the panic ensued resulting in rash buys in the last few days of the window.

Thankfully though, Soriano seems to have addressed this almost immediately and has persuaded the powers that be that the role which Marwood occupied was in fact a two person job and in bringing in his old mate, City have secured the mastermind behind the appointment of the greatest manager Barcelona have ever had. Not only that, but Begiristain also brought the odd superstar to Cataluña, most notably David Villa, Thierry Henry, Samuel Eto’o and Ronaldinho. Therefore, as it currently stands, it seems as though we once again have an authority figure that can stand his own in the market and bring in the right players for the right price.

The only unproductive factor that this appointment brings is that the rumour mill is once again in full swing. The sewing circle that is the British media are already touting Pep Guardiola to take over once he returns from his sabbatical in the summer, following our shocking European campaign, which still isn’t over but would take a miracle bigger than the one we saw on May 13th to revive. Let’s be honest: Mancini hasn’t done himself any favours so far this term in terms of unimpressive displays and comments to the media regarding certain players, but the same could be said for last year (Bayern Munich away for one) and we went on to win the Premier League title. Currently, we stand one point away from the League leaders and we’re the only remaining unbeaten team. Granted the cups have been a disappointment but we should give Mancini the chance to build on the foundations that he’s laying here, sacking him would be a backwards step as we’re not going to become world beaters overnight. Our project is about long term stability and you don’t get that from sacking the manager who ended the clubs 35 year trophy drought and followed it up by bringing in the first title win in 44 years.

From what I can see, Txiki’s appointment is another exciting chapter in our evolution, perhaps it’s a few months later than we needed but it’s certainly got me eagerly anticipating January in the hope of a marquee signing to boost the ranks as we enter the business end of the season. Chances are that this will more likely happen in the summer, but this time I feel that it’ll be at the start of the break where we’ll be conducting most of our dealings. Anyway, it’s another top-class appointment to be proud of, especially considering that Chelsea have been rumoured to have had his contract ready to be signed for the last 6 months or so. Bienvenidos a Manchester, Txiki y buena suerte.

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