Business booms in ‘boring’ Manchester City

As Manchester City‘s return to English football prominence evolved into a decade of dominance, a familiar critique emerged.

Just as bitter rivals Manchester United, the near-monopoly of the Premier League title, was branded ‘dull’ in the 1990s, the inevitability of trophies arriving from across town has also been branded a “boring”.

More than half of the previous 10 Premier League campaigns have ended with the trophy in the Etihad cabinet, including four in the last five years.

A fan of this season’s main challenger to the Premier League crown, Arsenal, went viral recently for taking the ‘boring’ concept one step further, suggesting it was hard work even for Manchester City fans.

“I think City are the most boring team to have won the Premier League. I’m not arguing that they don’t play decent football, they play really good football,” the fan said. said.

“In 2012, when they won it [for the first time] below [Roberto] Mancini before the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson [Manchester United]we were invested in it, there was a story about it. [Vincent] Kompany scored that header in their game, the [Sergio] Annoyed moment. Since then, even City fans haven’t been involved in it.”

Understandably, this opinion was not appreciated by City fans, especially those who had seen the barren three decades before the league title victory ten years ago.

But the reality for Manchester City was that they needed a ‘boring’ period of dominance to become a powerhouse in English football.

An indication that this point has been reached can be found in the club’s 2021/22 financial results which demonstrated how established the sporting dynasty is.

Play catch-up

Given the expense Manchester City went into securing a place among English football’s elite, the narrative around the Citizens very often focuses on the expense.

The club’s defense was that, given the level the team was at when it was taken over by the Abu Dhabi United Group in 2008, a substantial investment was needed for it to reach the same level as the leading clubs .

Now, however, general manager Ferran Soriano believes he has fully arrived.

“In 2008, we set ourselves the goal of exceeding the standards set by others within football; and in doing so, to also exceed the new standards that we believed the big clubs would reach in the time it would take us to catch up,” he wrote in the annual report.

Adding: “Our goal was clear – to one day be the club that sets the benchmark for others. The statistics and results show that in many ways we are starting to deliver on our long-term ambition.

This year more than any other, the club’s actions have demonstrated their established position of power.

There were no frenzied player acquisitions, a handful of first-team players were transferred to rivals and young prospects were sold for substantial profits after barely playing a game.

Manchester City no longer sought to emulate the status of other clubs, it was those whose competitors sought to gain expertise.

It was a theme reflected in the financial headlines, the club reported record revenues of $702 million and pre-tax profits of $47.7 million.

But more impressive than the rises is the steady level at which crucial parts of spending were.

As online football financial expert, The Swiss Ramble, underline City wages fell slightly by $1m to $405m which ‘means they have stayed around that level for the last 3 years’, unlike Manchester United wages which have risen by $114m million dollars over the same period.

Although the Swiss Ramble pointed out that other clubs like Chelsea ($381m) and Liverpool ($360m) lag behind their rivals and have risen significantly since 2016, the salary cap they revealed was important.

Salaries are the highest cost of any football club and even those at the top cannot let them grow continuously.

A balance must be found where success can be maintained, but not by any means.

This is not necessarily the recipe for winning as shown by Manchester United, who have spent more than their rivals in recent times but remain at a distance from the elite.

But as the saying goes, you are never more vulnerable than when you are at the top, the club must be ready to adapt to new challenges.

Domestically there is the rapid development of Newcastle United, backed by considerable wealth from the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, and at Chelsea new owners will continue to restore the club to the top of the game.

Now with news that Liverpool FC could potentially be sold, there could be another group of owners vying for dominance at the top of the English game.

It’s a landscape that CEO Soriano seems to enjoy.

“If there’s anything harder than winning, it’s winning again,” he wrote in the annual report, “being able to understand that previous success means nothing when a new competition begins requires a rare skill. And to win again takes character, humility and resilience.

And if rival fans think this repeat success is “boring”, it’s probably a sign that Soriano’s methods are working.

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