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Man City join Europe's top table

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Phil McNulty | 02:05 UK time, Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Eastlands

Manchester City's ticket to a seat at Europe's top table has not come cheap at more than £350m - but entry into the Champions League may provide the missing link in their plan for global domination.

City rarely provide pleasure without pain for their followers and the 1-0 win against Tottenham that sealed their place in the Premier League's top four only arrived after spells of torture for their fans and Roberto Mancini.

The coach was elated at the final whistle, having, in all likelihood, secured his job for next season after spending £127m last summer and keeping a promise made in adversity at Liverpool on 11 April that he would deliver Champions League football and a place in the FA Cup final.

And Mancini and City's landmark moment may prove to be the start of a shift in European football's landscape as they exert their financial authority on its biggest club tournament.

When City's Abu Dhabi hierarchy embarked on the scorched earth transfer policy to transform Eastlands, they could offer their intended targets anything that their hearts desired - except Champions League football.

The great lure for the very best was not within their grasp, although it did not stop City attracting players of such proven Champions League pedigree as Yaya Toure from Barcelona and World Cup winner David Silva from Valencia.

Now the gap in City's CV has been filled and the opportunity to join Europe's elite group means this fiercely ambitious club is unlikely to arrive quietly through the back door. The win against Spurs ensures all the boxes are ticked when it comes to presenting their case to world-class players.

Indeed, Harry Redknapp, who sampled the intoxicating taste of the Champions League as Spurs reached the last eight and conquered Inter and AC Milan along the way, has already revealed: "They tell me they've got one or two players signed already who'll blow your brains out."

And they may be needed. Tottenham's experiences this season serve as a warning that exertions in Europe can take a heavy toll at home if a squad is below strength.

City looked jaded themselves as, has so often been the case under Mancini, they crossed the line with little to spare, surviving a 20-minute spell in the second half rooted to the edge of their own penalty area.

Mancini punches the air during City's win over Spurs. Photo: ReutersMancini punches the air during City's win over Spurs. Photo: Reuters


There was irony in the manner of victory. It was the second season in succession that Peter Crouch has sealed qualification for a team at Eastlands. Last season, his strike in the right net ensured Spurs made the Champions League at City's expense. His own goal at the same end on Tuesday ensured the reverse was true this time around.

Even the return of Carlos Tevez, keen to press his claims for a place in Saturday's FA Cup final against Stoke City at Wembley after a month on the sidelines with hamstring trouble, was not without its stresses. Mancini, understandably, was not keen to use such a defining fixture as a public fitness test for the Argentine. But this did not sit well with the player, who appeared to vent his frustrations in his coach's direction during one of several lengthy warm-ups.

Tevez eventually made a lively 12-minute cameo against Spurs, including stoppage time, but the impression his relationship with Mancini is fragile remains. Whether Tevez will figure significantly at Wembley, or even be at City to play in next season's Champions League, is still a matter for debate, too.

What is beyond dispute is that City's arrival in the Champions League completes phase one of the mission undertaken by the men from Abu Dhabi when they took control of Eastlands from Thaksin Shinawatra in September 2008.

City have qualified for Europe's major club tournament for the first time since 1968 and will make their bow in the Champions League, testimony to the speed of their development in the last three seasons.

The next stage is tangible success and silverware - and City have the chance to secure that on Saturday, although Stoke have the sort of weaponry to inflict serious damage.

Money has been no object, either for Mancini or predecessor Mark Hughes, in the search for the formula that would thrust City forward on to the world stage. There may be plans for a more cautious approach given Uefa's Financial Fair Play regulations are looming on the horizon but the temptation to respond to their latest elevation in status with another show of strength in the transfer market will be great.

Such a policy has its risks. For every Toure, Silva and Adam Johnson, there has been a Robinho, Roque Santa Cruz and Wayne Bridge, while the £52m spent on Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko has yet to yield a meaningful return.

Nigel de Jong has proved a great success, while a major priority this summer is likely to be securing moves away from Eastlands for the trio out on loan - Bridge, Emmanuel Adebayor and Craig Bellamy - to free up space and finance for new faces.

City can train their sights higher than ever before - and that is likely to mean more spectacular deeds as opposed to careful consolidation.

Mancini has reportedly attracted interest in his services from Juventus but it is hard to see what "La Vecchia Signora" could offer him that City could not, other than a return to his native Italy.

He has the foundations of an outstanding squad but this is still very much a work in progress. City are not yet pleasing enough on the eye for a team that has had so much money lavished on it and plenty inside Eastlands on Tuesday were expressing their frustrations with Mancini's approach during a tense second half.

There were no complaints at the end, however, simply a heady cocktail of elation and relief as City took another step on the road mapped out in Abu Dhabi.

"I think it's very important for my job," said Mancini. "But, first of all, I'm happy for the supporters and the people who work at this club. This is for them because, after many years, Manchester City can play in the Champions League.

"When I arrived here, I said that City could become one of the top teams in Europe in two or three years. City have everything to do this but we've got it because the players want to play in the Champions League and they deserve to play in the Champions League.

"It's a relief. I'm happy because it was our first target and I have to thank the players. They did a fantastic job. We deserve it because we have been in the top four all season."

And such is the scale of ambition at Eastlands that City are unlikely to be content with mere qualification - the newcomers to the biggest stage in European football will use the summer to shape their impact on the Champions League.

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Comments

Page 1 of 5

  • Comment number 1.

    money cant buy you love.. but it can BUY you a place in the champions league.

    sorry City, but youre not my cuppa

  • Comment number 2.

    I predict that City will win the premiership next season, runners up Liverpool, whilst Man United, Arsenal and Chelsea will decline.

    Someone new is going to have to drop out of the Champions League top four.

  • Comment number 3.

    What a dilemma for those ageing mercenaries during the summer ....city or chelsea....hmmm.....

  • Comment number 4.

    Was this the most disappointing way to qualify for Chsmpions League football or is it just my idea?

    Are City making the wrong transfers for the status they already have or is it also my idea?

  • Comment number 5.

    I predict that City will win the premiership next season, runners up Liverpool, whilst Man United, Arsenal and Chelsea will decline.

    .....................................................................................................

    Predicting or hoping?

  • Comment number 6.

    I just can't see City putting on an entertaining show like Spurs did in Europe...

    I'm curious who Spurs fans would like to see joining the club in summer?

  • Comment number 7.

    With that amount of money and squad, City should be actually in top 2 , min and qualification for CL must be a given. Spurs have blown their chances and Harry should take blame for not having plan B and not playing Cudicini for last 4-5 games.

  • Comment number 8.

    It is all well and good City qualifying for the Champions League this year, maybe next year and they year after, but from then on they aren't going to be allowed into the Champions League because of the financial restrictions coming into place. I'm sure City's wage bill is already astronomically over their income for the year and by signing even more players on even higher wages this is only going to get bigger and even harder to get down by time the 2013 season comes into play, is this not right?

  • Comment number 9.

    Negative Tactics, Dull Football, Outrageous amounts of cash - this is surely a bittersweet qualification to the Champions League. Tottenham were lauded last season, but they achieved qualification based on merit - City simply through money at it. At least Chelsea were consistent top 4 finishers when Abramovich showed up.

  • Comment number 10.

    Morning everyone.

    Expecting a few comments on Manchester City's style and plenty of their fans around me were frustrated with what appeared a very passive approach for long spells in the second half.

    You can contrast that with real elation at the final whistle though and it was good to see fans who have spent so long looking at their neighbours enjoying the Champions League stage getting ready to savour their own opportunity.

    It is a purely personal opinion, but I would love to see a team containing such obvious talent play with a little more freedom. Mancini can counter that by pointing to a place in the Champions League for the first time.

    Also thought that comment from Redknapp about City having already lined up signings that will "blow your brains out" was intriguing. Clearly no intention of standing still, as we would expect from a club of such ambition.

    Let's hear how City fans feel today, what do you think needs adding in the summer, and of course from Spurs supporters. How do you view your season now?

  • Comment number 11.

    @9 How boring is you usual statement?

    Every team in the Champions League spends Millions of pounds (Spurs squad included as they spend pretty big) Man U transfer fee's are huge as are Chelsea's... only arsenal really dont spend mega bucks....but they win nothing! You forget we were in the old 2nd division with a crumbling stadium not that long ago so bitter sweet it is not...ok we accelerated our position by spending big over a shorter period than the others (except chelsea) but the fact is they all spend big! Your view is very short sighted and purely trying to take away what is an excellent achievement by a club with big ambitions...are having ambitions so wrong? I would suggest sir that you wind your neck in!

  • Comment number 12.

    So Peter Crouch helps Spurs get the Champions Leauge, and this season he helps City get to the Champions League, what a nice chap!
    To me City dont seem to have much of a "team" its more like 11 great players, and I think they will need to work on becoming more of a "team" over the summer to be a success in the Champions League. Im sure they will probabyl qualify and do pretty well in the groups but I cant see them winning it or getting to the last few teams.
    They dont need to buy anymore players but I have doubts that they will do.

  • Comment number 13.

    City remind me of Chelsea a few years back - grinding out results with very little entertainment value.

    Unfortunately however, that approach does bring success.

    Maybe when they have a little silver under their belts the pressure will ease off and they can play more often with the flair we see on occasion.

  • Comment number 14.

    4. At 08:19am 11th May 2011, Football_UK wrote:

    Was this the most disappointing way to qualify for Chsmpions League football or is it just my idea?

    Are City making the wrong transfers for the status they already have or is it also my idea?


    The thing with Manchester City is it's all part of a programme.Firstly they get the big money owners to buy them the players to get into the CL.Now that they have done this they can offer decent wages and CL football,which should lead them to creating a side good enough to win the PL.

    Mancini is a good manager that always comes across very well when interviewed and has got his club to the first of their targets.

    Any qualification is never disappointing Football_UK,I'm sure you were just as pleased to keep your CL status at Un**ed a few years back when you finished outside the top 2.

  • Comment number 15.

    @10

    I would also like to see a little more flair and confidence and what have you but 3 points had never been so important as last night! the win was far more important that attacking flair....having said that if we play like that in the CL proper we'll be taught a very quick and embarrassing lesson...little bit of both needed in the CL me thinks!

  • Comment number 16.

    Would I be wrong in saying "if Spurs had a decent striker, City wouldn't be allowed to progress to top level, on yesterday's performance"?

    Would I be wrong in saying had the season had a few matches to be played more, City would lose top four spot to Liverpool?

    Are there City fans out there who were not praying for the match to end, as soon as the second half started?

  • Comment number 17.

    Well done City, but Mancini hasn't got a great record in European competitions. Take this year's Europa - they should have walked it.

    I don't think this is down to the players too much either - it's Mancini's management. At Inter they were exactly the same - boring, apprehensive and without a spark.

  • Comment number 18.

    @11

    I completely agree that it is a massive, massive achievement for a club to qualify, and, being a Chelsea fan, I also feel frustrated when opposing fans seem to think that money buys victory (not the 11 players on the pitch). However, I was just trying to compare this with Spurs' qualification last year who did so with driven attacking football. City on the other hand have tended to use dull, defensive football to get there (including yesterday against Spurs), as well as a sudden massive influx of cash.

    Of course so many Champions League teams spend millions and millions to support their campaigns- it's just that no other squad that I can think of spent so much in order to qualify in the first place.

    Of course it's not bittersweet for City fans- but as a neutral, I'd have to say I would prefer an attacking side representing England.

  • Comment number 19.

    Football_UK ..... your probably right on all 3 statements there but that fact is...they dont...there isn't...and the whistle went.... bla bla bla CHAMPIONS LEAGUE!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 20.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 21.

    @18 Well put like that cant argue too much... Just hope we do open up and play some quality football! look at Man Spew... not the best players in the league but boy do they play good football (cant believe i just said that) All about a winning mentality and team work.... Maybe a cup win on sat will instil a little confidence in our undoubted ability!

  • Comment number 22.

    @11

    I think what Billy was getting at - and what a lot of people are getting at - is the mercenary nature of both the club (Man City) and its players. I can't, off the top of my head, think of anybody who isn't a Man City fan who is happy about their approach to success.

    Yes, you're right, other clubs have had similar approaches. Chelsea also "bought success" (and provoked a similar reaction in fans). Spurs have had a revolving door policy on managers (although your arguments about 'spending big' don't wash here - whilst Spurs have spent, they have done it entirely within their means thanks to excellent accounting. This is in stark contrast to Chelsea and City and, to some extent, Man U).

    Billy's first point, however, was the more important. The football on display from a team on home soil trying to get into the Champions League last night was awful, and it appears to be their (Italian-inspired?) tactic to keep everyone in defense against a team they feel is a threat. As a Spurs fan I came away disappointed last night not because we had not kept our hopes alive (our recent form had pretty much ensured that anyway - I'd come to peace with that), but because of what would be on display in the CL next year. It was somewhat depressing.

    As for Spurs' season? Like I say I'm disappointed, but at the same time I know it's been a fantastic season. It's easy to forget our team has been plagued by injuries (particularly in defense) and, in retrospect, it's difficult to believe we were even in contention for CL football considering the form of our strikers. Even though there's no CL football next year, it still seems quite positive, and I'm looking forward to seeing what we do in the summer.

  • Comment number 23.

    I think City fans deserve their good fortune and I am sure they will enjoy Champions League just as much as Spurs supporters did. I would just be a little concerned if I was a City supporter with Mancinis tactics, I thought last night they were extremely negative. The stats showed Spurs having 64% possesion against Citys 34%, these figures actually back up how the match was played. I final question when City played Everton on Saturday non of their subs warmed up at half time, This is the first team I have seen whos subs havent warmed up. I would be interested to hear from City fans is this the norm.

  • Comment number 24.

    Dangles1301

    Actually if you'd bothered to read the article on Dzeko properly, it's thrust was that the goal justified the faith that Mancini placed in him, not his transfer fee.

  • Comment number 25.

    All the best to the City fans who've supported their side through the long bad times. They more than most, deserve this, ridiculous spending or not.

    As for Spurs, I'm not surprised, they won't even be in the Europa next season. Their form since being out of europe has been more relegation than top 4. I've always thought that Harry Rednapp was overrated as a manager. Shame for their fans, but as an England supporter, anything that keeps him away from the managers job is good news to me!

  • Comment number 26.

    I think Man City can count themselves lucky Spurs had such a good CL run this season as they struggled in the league after big European nights and that ultimately cost them a place in next years tournament.

    Man City will will be a third pot team, get one big European club and another with good CL experience and go out in the group stage.

  • Comment number 27.

    @22 Spurs Century

    do you not think though that given our woeful record against spurs and the prize at stake we were entitled to be a little nervy... it was proper squeaky bum time for the whole 90 mins. Yes we were the home team and should have showed more ambition but we needed 3 points and got it (well you did actually but wont complaint)

    Having said all of that I think your achievement last season far outweighs ours and for that I take my hat off (and yes your managed very well financially) It's not the fans fault though and given our turbulent history we'll take what we can get

  • Comment number 28.

    4th place achieved with ultra-cautious football and a pile of money that allows them to bid for (but not necessarily get) any player in the world. No thanks, that's not for me. Would rather have seen Spurs or Liverpool in Champs League for entertainment value.
    A word of caution. Barring complete meltdown by Arsenal, City have only made it through to the qualifying stage of the Champions League. If there is one team capable of messing up their big chance and ending up in the Europa League instead, then surely it is City !! Who would be laughing then ??

  • Comment number 29.

    @26 Andrew

    TRIPE! find something intelligent to say or dont bother

  • Comment number 30.

    £127m to gain one place (with difficulty) in the premiership. That is not a success! They should be challenging the title with that much money like chelsea did not long after Roman's arrival. As a Spurs fan I'm frustrated at missing out. Harry needs to sign a good striker and two decent defenders for next season. I feel our squad became stretched this season due to the number of crocks we were carrying.

  • Comment number 31.

    So Spurs fail to get into the Champions League as widely predicted and, with the forced sale of a number of their players in the summer, they won't qualify for it next season either.

    It will be even more embarrassing for them if Liverpool pip them to the Europa League place but then Harry Redknapp has always been an over-rated manager in my opinion. No doubt he will be the next England manager though as we seem to love failures in this country.

  • Comment number 32.

    If City have got signings lined up 'that will blow our brains out', then they're going to find themselves spending their way out of European contention once UEFA's FFP regulations come in.

    Looking at their hardly-full ground last night, let's assume there was a total attendance of 40,000.

    Then assume that City continue to proceed with their affordable ticket policy (which is commendable), averaging out at £20 a ticket.

    Assume an average of 1.5 matches per week throughout the course of a season (generous).

    £20 x 1.5 x 40,000 = £1.2m / week

    With the money City are (supposedly) paying the likes of Yaya Toure, then gate receipts barely cover the wage overheads for 6 or 7 of their current key players, let alone a buying and paying the wages of a squad deep enough to compete at home and abroad.

  • Comment number 33.

    Phil you are correct, what a great feat by Man City to qualify for the champions league. I mean when you've spend over £350million to get 4th position with 2 games to go is a tremendous achievement. well done!!

  • Comment number 34.

    A couple of points I would like to make: to those who criticize City - or indeed any other club - for attempting to 'buy success', I would point out that the alternative is a dull and predictable Premier League/Champions League where the same, big clubs dominate year in year out. The idea that in this day and age it's possible to somehow build a European Cup winning team up from nothing using only fresh-faced lads from the local estates (a la Celtic in the late '60s) is clearly fiction. Next season promises to be possibly the most exciting Premier League ever with at least six teams posing a credible challenge for top spot. And one way or another it's access to money that has brought this about - either generated by huge worldwide marketing such as Man United enjoy, or the massive personal investment of a Sheikh Mansour.

    The other, not especially original point I would like to make is this: is there honestly any fan out their who would not like to see world class players coming to their club as the result of some ludicrously wealthy individual splashing the cash?

    Fianlly, I do agree with to see who would like to see City adopting more positive tactics. For me, Mancini's approach is too firmly rooted in the classic Italian 'score in the first five minutes and then defend for your lives for the next eighty-five' football of the '80s and '90s.

  • Comment number 35.

    "blow your brains out"

    as eloquent as ever from good old droopy.

    Makes me wonder who this could be? I'd say only Messi or Ronaldo could be that shocking considering the wealth they have available.

  • Comment number 36.

    16. At 08:38am 11th May 2011, Football_UK wrote:

    Would I be wrong in saying "if Spurs had a decent striker, City wouldn't be allowed to progress to top level, on yesterday's performance"?

    Would I be wrong in saying had the season had a few matches to be played more, City would lose top four spot to Liverpool?

    Are there City fans out there who were not praying for the match to end, as soon as the second half started?

    --

    Would I be wrong to say that you are a biased Manchester United fan?

  • Comment number 37.

    2. At 08:17am 11th May 2011, dogeared wrote:

    I predict that City will win the premiership next season, runners up Liverpool, whilst Man United, Arsenal and Chelsea will decline.

    Someone new is going to have to drop out of the Champions League top four.

    ------------------------

    On yesterday's (and at the weekend's too) perfromance, dream on. It's cost free and you don't have to pay weekly wages.

  • Comment number 38.

    Is Peter Crouch one of the "... one or two players signed already who'll blow your brains out"?
    He probably left old Harry wanting to, at least.

  • Comment number 39.

    Good luck to City and their fans. No pouring anything on their bonfire from me. I hope they make a real go of it - imagine a united vs City CL final! Wouldn't that be something? My only very slight criticism is this - for a team with limitless wealth couldn't it be possible to play a bit more expansively, a tad more attractively. I understand why teams like Stoke play the way they do - because they can't afford to buy spectacularly gifted players. But City can, so why don't they?

  • Comment number 40.

    As a 30 year old Spurs fan then I can honestly say this has been the most entertaining season I have known for Spurs since 1986/7. The victories and performances have been top class mostly and although the last month seems to have taken its toll, I have enjoyed it immensely.
    Congratulations to City, over the course of the season then they have been more consistent than us and deserve the 4th place.
    The interesting point for me is how the Spurs board react this summer. Time and time again I have seen promising signs from Spurs only for them to evaporate when our best players are sold to 'bigger' clubs. Gazza to Lazio, Klinsmann to Bayern, Sheringham / Carrick / Berbatov to United. With Bale, Modric and VDV attracting interest from around Europe, I really hope that Daniel Levy/the board manage to stand firm and keep our best players. Admittedly the players themselves have to want to stay as well, which was part of the reason the above players left.
    If we start the season having retained those 3 in particular then I am very hopeful we will be in with a shout of getting back into the top 4 (especially if we are not playing in the Europa League next season).
    Additions - keeper, centre half, striker

  • Comment number 41.

    Money can buy you a place in the latter stages of The Champions League quite easily, but it can't buy you the trophy. Ask Mr Abramovich.

    If you look at the teams that win the Champions League, they have a pedigree and a history and a certain je ne sais quoi. Something money definitely can't buy. Ask Mr Abramovich.......

  • Comment number 42.

    I am a Manchester United fan, for 23 years.
    Credit where it is due, congrats to City for qualifying for CL pre-group phase.As someone pointed out above, you have to get to CL to attract better players and eventually, hope for a pleasing to eye style of football to evolve.
    So well done in getting past the first hurdle.
    Only time will tell what impression City make among the Euro "elites", but it'll be hard to follow in Spurs' footsteps.
    p.s. I still think City would not win any major trophy and that ticking banner at OT will go on and on.

  • Comment number 43.

    Can the Premier League have James Milner back please? And Adam Johnson. Stop taking clubs' talismanic, exciting players and making them play 'football' only half of the time. Ruining the league

  • Comment number 44.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 45.

    @swindon blue

    Yes I can totally understand that it was a big match for both teams - and generally in those cases games tend to be boring!! Very few teams these days go out with attacking football in those situations, and perhaps that's tactical naivete when they do, almost like a poor boxer trying to win with one big punch. Impressive when it pays off. But what happens to the attacking verve City show against lower-positioned teams as soon as they start playing a team they're concerned about? Suddenly it's backs against the wall. I'd be lying if I said I'd prefer wonderful, flowing football at the expense of trophies, but there does need to be room for both.

    In truth it's great that the traditional top 4 is beginning to waver, so any other team getting in there is great for football. You're right, it's not the fans' fault, and you support your team through thick and thin (having seen some of the drudgery exhibited by Spurs in the late 90's/early 00s I have a pretty good idea what you mean), and you've every right to be jubilant at getting into the CL.

  • Comment number 46.

    I had to read the BBC football headline twice - I thought it said "We can watch the euro elite - Mancini"!

  • Comment number 47.

    Whats the point of commenting on here, its full of bitter, resentful, jealous fans. We simply don't care what anyone else thinks of us, just as you wouldn't care if it was your club.

  • Comment number 48.

    The Phil circus has started all over again.

    12 months ago Phil hailed the arrival of 'Arry at the high table of European legendary coaches. I urged caution stating that although 'Arry's team had qualified for the Champions league, 'Arry had not won anything in European football. So trying to include 'Arry's name in a list including, Trapatoni, Sachi, SAF, RB, JM, Don Fabio etc, was premature.

    Now Phil wants us to believe that ManCity is about to take its 'rightful' place among Europe's Elite. Well the truth is that even Chelski, with all of Roman's billions have not won anything yet in Europe. The European cup is a bit like the world cup. A team that has never won it before finds the going very difficult in the later stages, just ask the dutch, who have been to 3 finals and not winning even once. So the teams that have won the champions league tend to repeat the habit. Just ask RB. He took Valencia (0 wins) to two finals, failed on both occasions, and then took LFC (5 wins) to two finals and won once.

    So once again I urge caution, that until ManCity have actually won the Champions league, it is premature to hail their arrival at the high table.

  • Comment number 49.

    A lot of very bitter and worried fans of the "established elite" on here this morning. Never mind we'll enjoy the moment nonetheless. Last night was agony but it seems the only way with us. We really need to try to chase down third if possible as that would really help with any procurement policies in the summer. Of course we will buy again, but let us never forget that this is what certain teams have been doing for many years. Now for Stoke and getting that monkey off our backs.

  • Comment number 50.

    @phenomstruck

    You fancy Stoke for Saturday then?

    I'd like to agree, but I just think City will have too much for them on the day.

  • Comment number 51.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 52.

    I am glad for the city fans who have waited a long time for this but I agree with what @26 Andrew said- its not beyond the realms of possibility for City to get a decent European team and get knocked into the Europa League. - Remember Everton in 2005?
    Remember that City were knocked out of the Europa League this season by Dinamo Kiev? Suppose City get drawn against them in mid August, when English teams are just finishing pre-season and the Eastern European teams have been up and running for 2 months?
    Just a thought...........................

  • Comment number 53.

    Red lion

    Rafa Benitez only took liverpool to the champions league final. I think you will find the manager of Valencia was Hector Cuper.

  • Comment number 54.

    Mr Chelsea

    I think you also need to look at players' experience.

    The reason United's 'average' side have - let's face it - strolled to the final is because of the sheer number of players that have played multiple seasons in the Champions League: VDS, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra, Nani, Carrick, Giggs, Scholes, Rooney.

    Knowing how to handle yourself on that stage counts for an awful lot. For that reason, I'd be surprised if City lifted ol' big-ears in 2012.

  • Comment number 55.

    "blow your brains out"




    Blimey, they are signing Cashly ?

  • Comment number 56.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 57.

    Good luck to them. All this buying their way to the CL league and only signing mercenaries is just old now. Only a miracle would get a team without huge spending power to the latter stages of the CL these days and just because City have more spending power than the others it somehow makes them the devil. Massive hypocrisy as far as I'm concerned.

  • Comment number 58.

    @ 14, jacksofbuxton
    & 36, Magic Hatter,

    Actually I was one of the first non-City fans who predicted City would join the Champions League and I said that in these blogs at the end of the last Premiership campaign (and was in the receiving end of some cute stuff from fellow United supporters in the process). But I never expected this comedy. Because, if you are pleased by the way City handled the last two matches (Everton and Spurs), I don't know what I can add really to that.

    It's not that I don't want to see City at the top four. Not few times I praised City for bringing Yaya Toure, David Silva to England and keeping Tevez in England (no matter what all United fans who follow strict, club guidelines said and keep saying).

    I'm wondering of one thing though: City produced a disgraceful performance, at home, in front of 60,000+ fans of theirs, without even being under any sort of pressure: City only needed 3 points to qualify, assuming Spurs will win all the rest of their fixtures, one of which is at Anfield.

    When your club is under so much pressure, under these circumstances, welcome to next season's Premiership where you will find out what pressures Champions League and Premiership hold together, having teams like Liverpool and Spurs lurking under your throat to take your position.

    City are playing one match per week, for some long while now and, even under such circumstances look like seeking an opportunity to implode. Am I wrong?

  • Comment number 59.

    Mr Chelsea

    True. We have had easy opponents (Chelsea aside, who weren't 'easy' as such). But what has characterised a lot of our play in the CL has been calmness under pressure - especially from Giggs and Carrick - and that is something that really only experience can teach.

    I mean City couldn't be calm at home under pressure from a fairly ragged Spurs side. Constantly giving the ball away in the second half. How are they going to cope in one of Europe's "cauldrons"?

  • Comment number 60.

    58. At 10:19am 11th May 2011, Football_UK wrote:

    I'm wondering of one thing though: City produced a disgraceful performance, at home, in front of 60,000+ fans of theirs

    ____________________________________________________________________

    ...in their 47,000 capacity stadium?!

  • Comment number 61.

    2. At 08:17am 11th May 2011, dogeared wrote:

    I predict that City will win the premiership next season, runners up Liverpool, whilst Man United, Arsenal and Chelsea will decline.

    Someone new is going to have to drop out of the Champions League top four.

    ------------------------

    obviously a clueless City fan.

    Chelsea will match City for spending this summer, it seems Arsene has finally conceded that he has to spend some cash to bulk up his young squad. And United are United, always written off at the start of the season yet have finished on top in the premier league 12/19 times, not bad if you ask me.

    City will not win the premiership next year, not with Mancini and his awful tactics, and as for the scousers, i must admit they have been pretty hot since christmas but they are still a long way from winning the league.

    PS, it would make my year if City lose their qualifying match for the champions league!! Humiliation at its highest form!

  • Comment number 62.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 63.

    @ 60, kanchelskis_legend.

    Oh well, the actual number is not the problem in what I was saying so it doesn't make any difference.

    I have to admit though that I was under the impression that the Eastlands stadium was about 60,000 seats and not 47726 (just checked it first time ever)- never been there !!!!

    ..which means that City have another problem to compete for top spots season in, season out - they have the Liverpool problem.

  • Comment number 64.

    They have only qualified in forth. Ask Everton fans if that means your in the "Champions League".

    City have always self distructed at the vital moment, and I wont be at all suprised to see stoke win the FA Cup and then City bow out of the Champions League before the groups after messing up an away leg at Young Boys of Bern.

  • Comment number 65.

    62. At 10:27am 11th May 2011, Mr Chelsea wrote:
    57. At 10:18am 11th May 2011, Bearsridingbikes wrote:

    Good luck to them. All this buying their way to the CL league and only signing mercenaries is just old now. Only a miracle would get a team without huge spending power to the latter stages of the CL these days and just because City have more spending power than the others it somehow makes them the devil. Massive hypocrisy as far as I'm concerned.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    The top 3/4 were pretty much established and running away with it with the help of the CL money. How is it possible to even attempt to catch up with those clubs and not spend money?

    Growing your youth players only to have the big fish snatch them away?

    How can you get a new stadium and start getting the same revenue as Arsenal / Utd? Stadiums dont come out of thin air.

    How can you even think to challenge the likes of Utd/Arsenal/Liverpool and beat them in the league without buying good players?

    ------------------------------------

    My point exactly, how can any fan of the previous 'Big 4' justify singling out City for criticism when a massive cash injection was virtually the only way they would be able to compete?

  • Comment number 66.

    53. At 10:07am 11th May 2011, Edwards 6 wrote:
    Red lion

    Rafa Benitez only took liverpool to the champions league final. I think you will find the manager of Valencia was Hector Cuper.

    ------------

    you got their before me. Ive lost count of the amount of times Ive had to inform liverpool fans of this fact.

    Benitez inherited a fantastic team from hector cuper.

  • Comment number 67.

    32. At 09:01am 11th May 2011, kanchelskis_legend wrote:

    Looking at their hardly-full ground last night, let's assume there was a total attendance of 40,000.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    City v Spurs
    Ref: Dean
    Att: 47,029

    Man City average att 45,820

    http://www.premierleague.com/page/Statistics/

  • Comment number 68.

    "Tottenham were lauded last season, but they achieved qualification based on merit"

    Where does this myth come from?
    Spurs have spent alot of money in recent years, mostly on midfielders that they don't really need. Some on players they used to have such as defoe, keane, and chimbonda. You have to look at redknapp and say surely you should take some responsibility. Players left out out such as Pavlyuchenko and Kranjcar should have been played more over the season. No plan B when they couldn't have Crouch nodding it down to Van Der Vaart, it is not totally the managers fault, but it is not totally the money being spent by city either. There are only four places, someone was going to miss out.

  • Comment number 69.

    They're not in the Champions League yet! They have to qualify if they finish in 4th place, and with their non-existant Euro ranking, they may face a good team. Remember Everton qualified for the CL in 2005, except they didn't because they lost the qualifying round and then went straight out of the UEFA cup too!
    I really hope City trip up on the qualifier after spending all the money they will have spent on players and wages.
    Someone said " now they can offer better wages". Really? Is 250000 a week for Yaya Toure a pauper's wage now?

  • Comment number 70.

    @ 65, Bearsridingbikes,

    Saying that United, Arsenal, Chelsea (and until recently Liverpool) were running away with qualifying to Champions League with the cash it brings is one bank of the river.

    The other bank writes "Spurs knew money is coming their way due to qualifying for Champions League football" but didn't take any advantage of that, didn't buy any strikers, preferred cheap alternatives in defense and we all know the consequences.

    Of course it's a risk to spend when you know that you have around United and Arsenal who earn a lot via their well established commercial activities, grounds, etc and you also have Abramovich and Sheikh Mansour around. But if you don't take the rish, the writing is on the wall.

    What I'm saying is United, Chelsea, Liverpool, even Arsenal until 2005(?) have been taking this risk all these years, so it's a cheap argument, really.

  • Comment number 71.

    I think the word 'achievement' needs to be used pretty loosely here. I appreciate that City fans have every right to be very happy at finally seeing some success but I don't believe Mancini, 90% of the players or the club hierarchy deserve any credit for what they have 'achieved'. Sorry but if someone turned up at my club and threw 350 million at a totally new team, paid them astranomical wages, we got handed a marvelous new stadium, and promptly won a cup and finished 4th I would not feel I was watching the same club. Such is football these days I suppose. Can't we just turn the 'Champions League' into a 'League' so the artificial franchises of City, Chelsea, United, Real Madrid et al can all just play with each other and leave the rest of us football clubs to compete on the field and not just with our bank balances.

  • Comment number 72.

    I agree, United fans are a joke suggesting that City are buying success. Look at some of the signings they've made in the last 10 years!


    1 Dimitar Berbatov £30.75 million
    2 Rio Ferdinand £29.1 million
    3 Juan Sebastián Verón £28.1 million
    4 Wayne Rooney £25.6 million
    5 Ruud van Nistelrooy £19 million
    6 Anderson £17.3 million
    7 Owen Hargreaves £17 million
    8 Antonio Valencia £16 million
    9 Nani £14.7 million
    10 Michael Carrick £14 million

    Give it a rest!

  • Comment number 73.

    No doubt there will be many detractors and nay-sayers about Man City finishing in the top four. Sadly, most of those that take that attitude will do it loftily and from a point of pure jealousy and no little lack of understanding about how football works.

    Still, well done Man City. Took you a while but that in itself is no bad thing and has demonstrated that the owners will be here for a little while yet.

    However, as Chelsea have demonstrated, it takes more than hard cash to realise dreams. I quite like Vincent Kompany in the post match interview last night. I think the interviewer asked about money and transfers. Kompany really didn't seem interested and I think his answer was akin to 'i'm just a footballer and all I do is play the best I can'.

  • Comment number 74.

    No matter how much money city have they will never be able to buy fergie time...

  • Comment number 75.

    #65 - I think the way Gary Cook conducted himself last season has a lot to do with people's distate for the way City have moved up. You can't get anywhere without investment but not many fans like it when a club moves forward solely on their owners wealth rather than combinations of commercial activity (sponsorships, partnerships, endorsements etc), merchandise sales and attendance. Were City like United (forget the debt as were are looking at revenue streams) Liverpool, Villa, Spurs or Arsenal in the way they operate not many would object but City & Chelsea are disliked as they are spending way beyond anything they could bring in without their owners personal wealth). Also the way they handled the transfers of Barry, Milner, Lescott, Kaka and Tevez and then coupled with Gary Cook bragging about reaching the Carling Cup Final (and then being beaten in the semis) didn't present the club in a very good light

  • Comment number 76.

    #72 ChaddyTOwl

    Cue the predictable responses from Man U fans that it's spent from 'money they've earned'.

    Anyway, it would be interesting to compare money spent by clubs, rather than figures such as turnover and profit. Some clubs may spend more money simply because they have more money to spend, that doesn't make it money well spent.

    Wouldn't be definitive but it would be illustrative of 'competition'.

  • Comment number 77.

    #75 PSB

    I think it's quite nit-picky and almost lazy to try and see Man City through the prism of Gary Cook. (Though on that note, I found it amusing when the commentator said that 'Gary Cook would be proud'. To my mind, he should be pleased not proud. What has he got to be proud of?)

    Anyway, it's a tired old argument you perpetuate that and is easily dismissed by thinking about capital investment, how the status quo benefit's the teams that were 'big' at the right time etc etc

  • Comment number 78.

    £380m net spend since the new owners came in.

    Yeah well done City.

  • Comment number 79.

    I agree, United fans are a joke suggesting that City are buying success. Look at some of the signings they've made in the last 10 years!


    1 Dimitar Berbatov £30.75 million
    2 Rio Ferdinand £29.1 million
    3 Juan Sebastián Verón £28.1 million
    4 Wayne Rooney £25.6 million
    5 Ruud van Nistelrooy £19 million
    6 Anderson £17.3 million
    7 Owen Hargreaves £17 million
    8 Antonio Valencia £16 million
    9 Nani £14.7 million
    10 Michael Carrick £14 million

    --------------------------------

    Yeah, in ten years! City spent a similar amount in a season and a half.

    I don't begrudge City any success though, I realise for that club that in order to catch up to the top four quickly they had to spend money to achieve it.

    What I don't get is City fans claiming United have done exactly the same thing, which is simply not true, we have spent within our means and off the back of our own success, City and Chelsea have spent large sums in a short amount of time to achieve success.

  • Comment number 80.

    @70
    The other bank writes "Spurs knew money is coming their way due to qualifying for Champions League football" but didn't take any advantage of that, didn't buy any strikers, preferred cheap alternatives in defense and we all know the consequences.

    ---

    A little harsh on our defense. Woodgate, King and Gallas are all players who have been rightfully lauded, whilst Dawson is an excellent player who has thankfully stayed right under the radar. Gomes is a good keeper despite his occasional fluffs (which HAVE cost us points, no doubt), and Cudicini is equally good back-up.

    I can't place my finger on where our defensive problems have come from. Injuries are partly to blame for sure (on more than one occasion we've been exceptionally fortunate to get a central defensive pair on the pitch). On occasion the defense has also been absolutely superb and has held steadfast (often despite Gomes' attempts to gift the other team!), other times it's buckled under practically no pressure (see the FA Cup game vs Fulham). It's a conundrum, and good luck to Harry to solve it.

  • Comment number 81.

    #80 SpursCentury

    Has there been a keeper who has made as many basic mistakes as Gomes this season?

    Everyone knows that Woodgate and King are injury prone, that's not a conundrum.

    Gallas is a good signing, albeit short term.

    Also, given that Defoe has rarely convinced at international level, what was there to think that he could put them away in the Champions League (though I accept he has had injury problems this season).

  • Comment number 82.

    Attendance 47029 Eastlands capacity 47726 - 98.53% full

    Granted it was not 100% full however Eastlands wont be filled with tourists so can live with 98%


  • Comment number 83.

    Congrats to City on 4th place. About time Manchester had two top teams flying the flag at home and in Europe. The supporters can now have some proper banter. City will no doubt find success, but my trump card is that even if City were to win the league every year from next season, it would be 2029 before they could pass us. Na....i'll never see City win 18 titles in my lifetime.

  • Comment number 84.

    As a cynical United fan I could say that this is probably the most expensive champions lague place in the history of the game. To add some perspective City are still likely to finish in a position United have finished higher than every season since 1992. Money clearly does get you into the champions league (and cup finals) but after that its a different story. If you look at how much Chelsea have spent and are still spending just to keep challenging for the title and CL (and they were already in the CL) it brings home the size of the investment required.

    And City have been spending for a few years now, that wage bill must be racking up. Their owner may stoll be spending for fun but year on year he'll start to ponder how sustainable it is, the same as with RA at chelsea who had a brief experiment with sustainability at the start of last season.

    What the CL will do for City is attract more top quality players. But the task of learning how to play in the CL (and keep qualifying for it) and getting the consistency to challenge for the premiership is still massive.

  • Comment number 85.

    Someone posted about City being a disliked team now. As a Liverpool fan I am very happy for city and truely wish them well in the Champions League when/if they get past the tricky qualifying. I have had great respect for city for the way their fans still flocked in numbers to watch them each week whilst in the 2nd Division. If getting to the CL by a sugar daddy is the reward for the loyalty of these fans when they were in such a bad position then who can begrudge them that.

  • Comment number 86.

    Here is the Deloitte's Money League standings for the English clubs only:

    1st Manchester United
    2nd Arsenal
    3rd Chelsea
    4th Liverpool
    5th Manchester City
    6th Tottenham

    So the top six richest teams in England fill the top six places in the English Premier League. Does any one see a connection here?

    You need lot of money if you want to try and buy the English Premier League title, regardless of where the money comes from.

  • Comment number 87.

    My understanding is that they are not there yet. Many a slip twixt cup and lip, and all that.

    They will have to negotiate the qualifying round and look how Spurs' participation was in the balance for a while against Young Boys.

    But I accept that they will probably make it....

  • Comment number 88.

    yes mancini, your limitless pot of gold really can see you match the european elite, such style. city fans wont care but that team will never gain respect and if ever you do win a league title or champs league they may aswell hand u a plastic one.

  • Comment number 89.

    86. At 11:07am 11th May 2011, Magic Hatter wrote:
    Here is the Deloitte's Money League standings for the English clubs only:

    1st Manchester United
    2nd Arsenal
    3rd Chelsea
    4th Liverpool
    5th Manchester City
    6th Tottenham

    So the top six richest teams in England fill the top six places in the English Premier League. Does any one see a connection here?

    You need lot of money if you want to try and buy the English Premier League title, regardless of where the money comes from.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Not sure what that says about NUFC, who are only just a little further down the rich list?

  • Comment number 90.

    CITY ARE ACHIEVERS, UNITED ARE CHAMPIONS....

  • Comment number 91.

    City's biggest problem is that of retaining CL status next season... look at Spurs, Everton, Newcastle and even Blackburn during there first CL season. It is not the holy grail it seems if it means the extra games destroy your league campaign. Particularly with the resurgence of Everton and Liverpool this season, next year 4th will be harder, and all this will be meaningless if the don't remain in the top 4.

  • Comment number 92.

    @ 80, SpursCentury,

    I actually like a lot the way Spurs play the game. Still:
    Woodgate- long term injury
    King - adorable player really but can't even train the poor lad
    Gudicini - unfortunate freak accident

    A team playing the brand of football Spurs are playing, perhaps, should have a more solid defense (?)

    And what about strikers? Having two of the best wingers in Europe, in Bale and Lennon but not accompanied by a striker couple who can make the difference?

    It wasn't criticism but didn't Spurs have to get a player or two, to have more chances for stability at the top, since they secured extra income out of playing in Champions League?

  • Comment number 93.

    Why do people just assume that Spurs will now have to sell all their best players - its not like we're a regular champions league team!. We've had ONE season in it, that's all, and we didn't even spend the money we got so the club will carry on as usual.

    Spurs have been terrific this season, and would've finished in the top 4 again only for injuries - having to play the entire season without our first choice defence, losing huddlestone for 4 months and bale for at least 2 months, defoe was out a while too - the strain of playing in the champions league, our clown goalkeeper, and the fact that our strikers have not earned their money at all this year all make reaching the champions league quarter-final and still be challenging for a top 4 spot at this stage of the season a great achievement.

    There is more than enough evidence to convince the players that the club is going in the right direction, and while the other top teams play in Europe next season Spurs will be a dark horse for not only the top four, but the title as well.

  • Comment number 94.

    #84 whatbill

    It may well be that Man City's wage bill could come down now, or certainly not increase.

    In the past they have had to offer stupid amounts (Robinho £170k pw, Toure £220k pw) to compensate players for not being in the Champions League. If they can get rid of the deadwood that Phil McNulty mentions, it is quite possible that the replacements will not be as expensive in terms of wages. Couple that with the increase in turnover that will now come and, as with Chelsea, things are going in the right direction.

  • Comment number 95.

    9. At 08:23am 11th May 2011, Trotskyboy100 wrote:
    Tottenham were lauded last season, but they achieved qualification based on merit - City simply through money at it.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    You've got to be joking!

    City may splash crazy money on players, but let's not pretend that Spurs' lavish spending on their squad over the years wasn't the main reason for their top 4 finish last season.

    £16m Modric
    £16m Defoe
    £15m Bentley
    £14m Pavlyuchenko
    £12m Palacios
    £12m Keane
    £10m Crouch
    £9m Naughton & Walker
    £8m van der Vaart
    £8m Gomes
    £8m Bassong
    £8m Sandro
    £7m Bale
    £7m Jenas
    £7m Woodgate
    £6m Kaboul
    £5m Hutton
    £5m dos Santos
    £5m Corluka
    £4m Dawson
    £3m Assou-Ekotto
    £3m Pienaar
    £2m Huddlestone
    £1m Lennon
    £1m Kranjcar

    TOTAL COST: £192m

    One of the main reasons behind Spurs' recent ''success'' has been the depth and strength of their squad - just look at how much money they spend on squad players!

  • Comment number 96.

    Good luck to City next season...shame Harry and Spurs missed out they gave ot a really good go...to be honest they are a bit like Arsenal good to watch but can they win anything...City now look like an Italian side...pretty dour...as for the comments about the decline of the top three I would not hold my breath...maybe if Wenger goes there will be a gap but I see same fight next year for last slot 4th City, Liverpool, Spurs... and personally I hope Harry gets back into Europe...If Mourinho joins City we can all pack up and go home! LOL...

  • Comment number 97.

    @93


    If you threw in moaning about ref's and bias you would sound just like an Arsenal fan.


    All teams have injury's over the course of the season, you cope and get on with it.

  • Comment number 98.

    88. At 11:08am 11th May 2011, Meido wrote:
    yes mancini, your limitless pot of gold really can see you match the european elite, such style. city fans wont care but that team will never gain respect and if ever you do win a league title or champs league they may aswell hand u a plastic one.

  • Comment number 99.

    oh great so now the borefest called man city will be in the champions league next season. hope they go out as soon as possible. cant bare to be bored while watching football would of prefered spurs to be in 4th at least they were entertaining.

  • Comment number 100.

    @81 MrBlueBurns
    "Has there been a keeper who has made as many basic mistakes as Gomes this season?"
    Perhaps not. He gets a lot of attention for it, and I honestly don't know whether that IS because he makes more than most. Other keepers have made a bunch of gaffs, too, and Gomes has pulled off some world-class saves as well. Unfortunately there's no way we can realistically tell how he rates if you compare those two.

    "Everyone knows that Woodgate and King are injury prone, that's not a conundrum. Gallas is a good signing, albeit short term."
    How short term will Gallas be? Is he going to lose interest again, or be happy here, or run out of steam? And you can't provision for losing two players for practically an entire season no matter how injury-prone they are. Look at Rio Ferdinand. It happens.

    "Also, given that Defoe has rarely convinced at international level, what was there to think that he could put them away in the Champions League (though I accept he has had injury problems this season)."
    When has Defoe been given a legitimate chance at international level? Comparing club to international football in England is a fool's game. Rooney is an automatic selection, even when he was awful. Players like Defoe and Crouch are fringe, and even when they're absolutely slamming them in for club rarely get a look-in because of the favourites. But I've already said on this page that our Strikers have underachieved, and will agree with anyone that says that is where our team needs improving.

 

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