In an extremely revealing interview, City’s Chief Executive, Ferran Soriano, has spoken at length about all matters concerning City. Speaking in New York where City are currently on a post season tour the former Barcelona Chief Executive outlined his vision for City.
It is well known that City are hugely ambitious and Soriano believes that the club’s success is not just down to winning on the pitch although he admits that that is where it starts. Everything from the youth set up to the commercial side of the club is imperative, according to Soriano. See what he has to say on silverware and transfer targets, club culture and the commercial plan below:
In the grand scheme of things, if we look at the next five years and I could plan now, I would say I want to win five trophies in the next five years. That may mean we win no trophies one year and two in another, but on average, I want one trophy or title a year. That is the Champions League, the Premier League or the Cup.
If next year we don’t win, but progress our football and get to the semi-finals of the Champions League, finish second in the Premier League and lose the FA Cup Final again, that will be fine. That is because we will have progressed in the way our football develops. Roberto (Mancini) wasn’t set targets about winning titles, I can assure you. The target was to improve in the way we play football, so the target for the next manager will be exactly the same.
On Club Culture
You can’t go to the market every year and buy the most expensive players. That’s not to say we won’t be signing expensive players – we will. But the objective – the vision – is to have a team where there at least half of the players will be City players. A ‘City’ player will be like Joe Hart, who has been there a while. They love the club and can be the core of the squad. So that when a young boy or a marquee signing comes, he knows there are some people who are going to tell him ‘this is City, this is how we play, this is how we behave’. They are the core of the team.
So, the vision is that we will have at least half of the team at this core and we will be adding players every year as we need them. The players might come from other clubs, continents, cultures, but we have to have stability in the culture and the way we play.
On the Commercial Operation
We are catching up [with Manchester United] very fast. One of the things which has changed in the last few months is that we have totally changed the commercial organisation. We have an office in London now and we are very successful. When I started at Barcelona in 2003 our revenue was 123million euros and United’s was 251million. After three years our revenue was higher than United. So we are second to none, our revenues will increase and we are not worried about the financial fair play rules.
Look at the record – already City are number seven in the rankings. I’m using the example of Barcelona not because it was the best in the world but because I was there so I can talk about this. When we started in 2003 we were number 13 in the revenue ranking. We hadn’t won a trophy in four years and our biggest star was an Argentinian player by the name of Javier Saviola.
Starting from that standpoint, three years later we were number two. So certainly it can be done. However, it all starts on the pitch – football is not about marketing, it’s about playing and winning so if we don’t win on the pitch, there’s no good marketing strategy that is going to take us where the others are.
It all starts with winning on the pitch and if we can win in the 93rd minute on the last day, that is fine. But I’d rather prefer winning with a bit more time and a cushion and to do this we have to be consistent in delivering good football.
We want to get to a point where you go and watch a City game and you know the team is going to perform consistently and you know what kind of football you are going to watch. And let me say something positive about United here – this is what they did this season, You could be more or less impressed about how they played but you have seen their performance in the Premier League and it has been consistent. So we want to be as consistent as they are at developing better football, as quick as we can, and then the revenues will come.
We are at the closing phase with several of them – but the closing phase can take one week or three months. There will be changes, and as you can imagine this is not something that’s starts today in the transfer window. We have been working on this for the whole year so we know the positions that we want to improve.
But our aim is to have less and less changes every year. From experience, I know that if you have a winning team you have to change players, you have to bring extra competition, so I think you will find at least two or three new players every year. But we cannot change seven players every year.
On the Manager
We want a manager that is stable but I’m saying also that there are cycles and the managers can change with cycles. I’m not saying the manager should be changed every season, I’m not saying the manager should be changed every time we lose – why the contract if that was the case – but what I am saying is don’t expect City or any club to have a manager for 26 years because that was extraordinary.
It is hard not to be impressed with Soriano. With his record at Barcelona and his unlimited resources at City it is understanble that he has confidence in his vision for the club.
Written by Robert Toole