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Ian Cheeseman: Forever Blue

As I walked away from the Tottenham stadium on Friday night, I overheard a couple of Spurs fans chatting, after their team had just been beaten by Manchester City thanks to a late Nathan Ake goal.

Just out of curiosity I’ve calculated the transfer fees that were paid out by the clubs for the two starting line-ups that faced each other in North London. By my rough calculations, the Spurs side was assembled for about £325 million and the City side cost around £360. Yes, it’s true that on that basis, City had an advantage, but not by much, by today’s standards.

There are other factors, though, that are often ignored. City keep selling players like Cole Palmer, who went to Chelsea for £45 million, which is more than the difference between those onfield price tags of City and Spurs players at kickoff. City’s lower net spend has been impressive in recent seasons, which shows how well the club is run.

What seems underestimated or ignored by fans, pundits and many journalists is the brilliance of the buying and selling of the club. When Friday’s goalscoring hero Nathan Ake was signed from Bournemouth, I don’t remember there being a queue of other big clubs desperate to sign him. When the Blues paid just £14 million for Julian Alvarez from River Plate in Argentina, no-body had heard of him. He’s now won all the game’s major honours, including the World Cup.

Why did Spurs, United, Arsenal, Liverpool or Chelsea, who all claim to be bigger and more famous than City, not sign him? Surely that wasn’t down to City’s spending power? Phil Foden & Oscar Bobb, who both started the game at Spurs, have come through City’s Academy and goalkeeper Stefan Ortega, who kept yet another FA Cup clean sheet, was a free transfer from lowly German side Armenia Bielefeld.

The City superstar they’re all talking about, Erling Haaland, who wasn’t fit to play at Tottenham, cost nearly £10 million less than Tottenham’s Brazilian striker Richarlison. You’d have though that the clever people who run United, Liverpool, Spurs, Arsenal & Chelsea would have spotted Haaland’s buy-out clause and been more attractive, but it seems little City must have had an unfair advantage; well that’s how those who talk in cliches think.

Let’s give the Manchester City machine and their World beating manager some credit. They continually out think their opponents on and off the field. These days City are second only to Real Madrid in financial turnover and of course continually winning, brings in more and more revenue which can be used in the future.

I can’t deny that City spent big when their current owners took over, which they had to do to close the huge gap to the established top clubs. They had a big advantage due to the establishment of the Premier League and the enormous influx of TV money. Those big clubs had to do something, so they cooked up FFP, under the guise of protecting clubs from spending money they didn’t have, when in reality it was meant to stop huge scale investment buying a seat at the top table.

Today, FFP stops cash rich Newcastle United from becoming another big player while debt ridden United and overspending Chelsea can continue their reckless ways. In my eyes, Manchester City have been near perfect, on and off the pitch, and deserve all the success they are currently enjoying. It won’t last for ever, I’m well aware of that.

Instead of jealously trying to stop City and Newcastle by restricting their investments, they should be looking at the failures of their own clubs. If they’re so well supported, so well loved and everyone wants to play for them, why can’t they match little City? It’s Great to be a Blue!

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