When an Emirati sheikh bought football club Manchester City last year many wondered if money alone would be enough to secure the team top ranking and attract the best players. But its performance in the transfer market and the opinion of fans is that money is not enough to build a strong team.
A poll of AlArabiya.net Arabic readers showed that a majority of the 2985 votes cast in the online poll believe that the Emirati-owned Premier League club needs more than money to attract world-class players.
Twelve percent were pessimistic about its future, suggesting that the club that does not have enough history to build on, while five percent believe that good management with a clear plan would do the job.
The poll on the Arabic website came after the Manchester-based outfit entered the January transfer market with a huge sum of money, trying to sign the best football players in the world.
So far, 2009 hasn’t been a good year for the Abu Dhabi Sheikh-owned club, with many of its bids being rejected and ridiculed by UEFA President Michel Platini, who blasted its attempts to land Kaka for an astronomical transfer fee.
The club offered AC Milan €150 million for Kaka - FIFA’s Best Player of 2007, but the 26-year-old Brazilian showed no interest in their offer.
“How can a guy cost €150 million? For me it’s ridiculous - from a football, social and financial point of view,” Platini told English tabloid the Sun on Friday.
“If you want to buy a plane for €150 million or a boat, you can do. But for a man? For me it’s bad. It’s not possible. But it’s why we have to do something,” he added.
Manchester City also tried to land Juventus and “Azzuri” goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and Valencia’s Spanish international David Villa, but both moves were rejected from the Serie A and La Liga sides.
Illusions of grandeur
Abu Dhabi United Group for Development and Investment bought the Premier League club from its former owner and ex-Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra last September, and from the outset the new owner made it clear he had high goals for the team.
"Our goal is very simple -- to make Manchester City the biggest club in the Premier League, and to begin with, to finish in the top four this season," said Sulaiman al-Fahim, an ADUG board member who represents the group on the Manchester City board.
Since September, Manchester City’s squad has been strengthened with the arrival of Robinho from Real Madrid, Shay Given from Newcastle United, Craig Bellamy from West Ham United, Wayne Bridge from Chelsea and Nigel de Jong from German side Hamburger.
But the club keeps suffering in the 10th place, gaining 28 points from 23 matches. The highly ambitious dream of reaching the UEFA Champions League qualifiers seems unreachable being five points only from the relegation zone.