Manchester City - Lack of Ambition?
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Lack of Ambition?

Is anyone else concerned about the direction the club is going after this weeks comments by chairman Wardle and his business partner, David Makin? Don’t get me wrong I applaud both of these gentleman for the part they have played in reviving the clubs fortunes, however some of the comments attributed to them this week make me feel that the supporters are being taken for a ride.

My first point of concern is the comments regarding the transfer monies received by the club over the last 12 months. I do not have all the figures to hand but an estimate in the region of £30 million should not be too wide of the mark when trying to put a figure on the transfer funds entering the club in the last 12 months. Added to that is the reduction in wages coming from the departures of Anelka, Wright-Phillips, Fowler, McManaman, Bosvelt, Macken and others, an income supposedly 17th best in world football and still the club pleads poverty and insists it must shop in the bargain basement.

Apparently, if you read the comments attributed to Wardle and Makin, project MCFC is coming along nicely. Everyone, it seems, should be happy that we are in the Premiership and should applaud the lack of ambition on the basis that we accept that we cannot compete before the season has started. If we accept that all is rosy then 15th in the Premiership can be packaged as a success and on that basis we’ll all renew our season tickets and throw more of our hard earned money watching mediocrity.

Sadly for the club, it now seems as if large numbers of supporters are beginning to see through the façade and are refusing to renew their season tickets, hence the need to go public and try and put some spin on what has been a pretty atrocious season.
Prior to the first ball of the season just finished being kicked, Mr. Wardle went on record as saying that the club had no need to sell Shaun Wright-Phillips whatsoever. The financial situation was under control and funds were not needed from the sale of any players to service any of the club’s debts. Shortly after those comments Shaun Wright-Phillips was sold to Chelsea for £21 million.

Before I comment further, let me make it quite clear that I do not blame Mr. Wardle for selling Shaun Wright-Phillips. Once the player had made clear his intention to leave, the club was duty bound to get the best possible fee for him which they did. What does concern me is that this week both Mr. Makin and Mr. Wardle are claiming that a large sum of the Wright-Phillips money was used to repay prior spending by the club. Excuse me but wasn’t that the same Mr. Wardle who claimed, not 12 months ago, that the club had no need to sell its prize asset? I’m sorry but something doesn’t quite add up, either the truth was not coming out before Wright-Phillips was sold or the club are now backtracking because they have seen the cost of failing to invest in replacing your better players.

It was also claimed this week that some £8 million of the SWP money has been used for the purchase of new players. Again I would argue that the club is using a little poetic license and not telling the whole truth about why it is failing to invest in the first team. Once more I return to Mr. Wardle’s comments after the Wright-Phillips sale, namely his comments that the purchase of Cole and Vassell was not funded by, nor relied upon, the sale of Wright-Phillips. Taking those two players out of the equation there remains January’s signing, Giorgious Samaras, as the only cash purchase to date since Wright-Phillips’ departure. Reports suggest that the final figure of £6 million is in fact dependant on a number of clauses and that closer to £4 million was City’s initial outlay. Again if this is indeed fact why are Wardle and Makin being economical with the truth, apart from the need to address falling season ticket sales.

I accept that the ‘Anyone at City can do no wrong’ branch of the supporter’s club will take me to task over my questioning of two people who owe the supporters nothing at all. However in my defence it is not that the board will not invest in players that concerns me rather the mistruths that are generated in order to make everything look rosy. The club finished the season in relegation form because of its policy of asset stripping and failing to replace those assets it removed. Although not a fan of his methodology, it is easy to understand Joey Barton’s assertions that he wishes to see the direction the club is taking before signing a new deal. Why would any player want to stay at a club that does not enter every competition with the intention of winning it? Consolidation may be the club’s goal but it is beginning to find the cost of falling ambition; falling attendances.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

The journalist

Writer: Andy Leggott Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Tuesday May 23 2006

Time: 6:31PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

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Top article Andy. From an outsiders view it looks to me that the next couple of years or so will be tight on the purse strings at Maine Road... sorry COMSTAD. Your excellent youth policy will bring in some dosh no doubt. If you want to know about lack of ambition look down the M6 to Villa Park. Now THATS lack of ambition!
Report Abuse
23/05/2006 18:39:00

If we hadn't sold SWP our debts would have gone up, we'd have made a loss and would have no money for new players for several seasons to come. True we didn't NEED to sell to get Cole and Vassell but the fact that we did was very helpful. If we had sold SWP and spent all the money on players the same would happen. As it is, we sold SWP, spent on players and used the rest to cover short-term high-interest debt and to balance the books so we're in profit. This will lift the value of the club and give the impression of stability to players looking for a club to move to. If we can run at a profit year on year then we start to look like a safe bet for investors. I don't imagine you're one of the people who whinge on about Alistair Macintosh not being able to find investors. Well some have - some people want us to go out and find business men with a few tens of millions burning holes in their pockets who'll invest in the club. But wait, they say, you're making a loss, why should we invest? It doesn't look like you're very well run... What about players coming in "oh - well we're losing money hand over fist, eventually our creditors will call time on us and we'll go bankrupt... but we're very ambitious" - no.... On the other hand, we are where we are. What would be sensible right now is to announce to the world just how big our transfer budget is. That way everyone knows just how much to inflate the prices of our potential transfer targets... no hang on that's how Bernstein used to do it when he was spending other people's money... Wardle's playing his cards close to his chest. Just as last year when he was "not selling Shaun" this year he's "not looking for investment" and not letting on what our transfer budget is while saying "ooo we're skint, if we buy any players they have to be on the cheap". Any players offered contracts will be given the real low-down and not the claptrap peddled to the press (and us) by the board. It's a sacrifice we have to make, in return for some decent unexpected signings (potentially) the smokescreen over our true financial position.
Report Abuse
23/05/2006 19:43:00

well there is Paul Dickov to signal our intentions ....... that's where City are shopping ....... yes Wardle has done a splendid job to date but u tell me where the replacements are for Anelka, SWP, Bosvelt, Tarnat, Fowler ..... ffs even Macken ....... The board has signalled its intent with its refusal to replace the players it sold ...... it said it is happy with Premiership survival despite claiming a five year plan of top 5 five years ago ....... no ambition ....... slow take up on ST's ..... no surprise
Report Abuse
23/05/2006 22:13:00

Psycho's actions over the next few weeks will tell us exactly what ambitions the Club has. With the drive and commitment he shows for the Club I think he will be the first one down the road if the same isn't forthcoming from the Board.
Report Abuse
24/05/2006 09:15:00

I totally agree with every word in Andy Leggott's piece, indeed I was thinking of writing to the board making broadly the same points, I'm now curious to know however whether anyone from the board has had sight of Andy's excellent article and if so what was the response. My response to uptoeleven is that they at one point say that the club is 'in profit', then almost immediately contradict themselves by saying that any potential investors would say 'you're making a loss, why should we invest? My impression is that a small coterie of board members exists who are quite happy with mediocrity as long as they are in charge, and that SP whilst being a high profile name during his playing day's is inexperienced as a manager and therefore doesn't have the clout to demand more money for players; why is such an inexperienced manager learning his trade at a Premiership club anyway? I'll leave people to make their own minds up about that. Furthermore I remember attending the AGM in 2003 when shareholders were assured that Alistair Macintosh was, and I paraphrase, scouring the world for investment, 3 years on and nothing-even though we have a great ground, with large crowds, a huge fanbase, a 'name' manager, the challenge of having United just outside of Manchester,and an apparently a healthy turnover from merchandise, a tempting enough prospect for most potential investors I would have thought. I'm left wondering that if City can't afford Ousmane Dabo's wages then perhaps they should also be examining Macintosh's wages. Preferred
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01/06/2006 14:26:00


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