Following the sacking of Roberto Mancini, I saw plenty of City fans on various websites questioning the type of people we had in charge of the club. Not Sheikh Mansour or Khaldoon Al-Mubarak: those two are held in special regard for obvious reasons. Most of the criticism was aimed at Txiki Begiristain and Ferran Soriano for the way Mancini’s departure was handled: abrupt, before the end of the season and without giving the fans the chance to say goodbye. However, it is clear that since the end of the season these two have begun to work their magic in the area that was most culpable for our regression last season: transfers.
Of course, most of us mere fans (with the exception of those with the revered ‘in the know’ status) will never know what goes on in transfer negotiations. But it is clear that Mancini had his targets last summer: the likes of Robin Van Persie, Eden Hazard and Daniele De Rossi. Brian Marwood, who was in charge of transfer dealings then, failed to sign any of these: and this arguably was the biggest reason our title defence was so shabby. Following the loss of the title to City, United spent money and strengthened where they needed to strengthen. City, for the most part, didn’t.
That’s not to say our business last summer was completely disastrous: we signed Matija Nastasic, who is clearly one of the most accomplished centre halves in the league at the age of just nineteen, and was deservedly runner-up only to Pablo Zabaleta in City’s player of the year awards, even if the official awards didn’t recognise his achievements. Jack Rodwell, despite his various injury setbacks has shown plenty of promise when he has played. However, it has to be said that Javi Garcia has been disappointing since his move from Benfica. Most City fans thought the signings of Scott Sinclair and Richard Wright were inexplicable at the time, and that instinct has been proved to be correct. Maicon has also proved to be a strange signing, and has certainly made very little impact: certainly not competition for the consistently excellent Pablo Zabaleta.
Contrast that to the first two weeks of the 2013 close season. Despite the lack of a manager having been officially confirmed (although you would imagine Manuel Pellegrini has given the green light for these signings to take place), City already appear to have two top-class players in Jesús Navas and Fernandinho signed, with the promise of more on the way: Isco and Edinson Cavani being the most likely names. Players who will clearly bolster the squad in areas that need improving, rather than second choices who are being bought for the sake of it.
I’m not laying the blame for last season’s failure at Marwood’s door, because I’m not privy to what’s gone on behind closed doors. It’s also not the only reason our title defence was so poor. However, I’ll say that Txiki Begiristain and Ferran Soriano have quickly identified what City need to do to get back on track and mount a better challenge for the title (and the Champions League) next season, and have wasted no time in starting that process. For that reason, I’m even more confident in the people we have running City than ever before, and even more confident we’ll come back even stronger next season.
written by James Halfpenny