Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughBlue Moons rises n' sheee-ines at the Ethiad - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Blue Moons rises n' sheee-ines at the Ethiad - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Blue Moons rises n’ sheee-ines at the Ethiad

The Manchester City revolution arrived in August 2008 when Sheikh Mansour bought into the blue half of the city with some spare dirhams he’d discovered lying around his palatial abode in the UAE.

Sheikh Mansour was no ordinary citizen of the United Arab Emirates, he was a powerhouse in its political system and part of the ruling family, and in an oil rich country, that sort of status brings untold wealth. Mansour was ready to buy into the global phenomenon the premier league has become, and shower a fraction of his vast bank balance onto a club that had pogo’d between the top two divisions, and who even spent a season in the third tier in 1998/99 when at their lowest ebb.

Up until the point Mansour bought the club, City were an outfit surviving in the premier league, but had never, nor were ever likely to threaten the top 4 clubs. The expectation that arrived with the purchase, not only galvanised the clubs long suffering supporters but also made the top clubs sit up and take notice, in particular, their fierce rivals and next door neighbours, Manchester United.

The story of United has been told thousands of times, and since the red revolution 25 years ago, United have been ramming success after glorious success down the throats of their poor relations. like the boastful family flying off to Florida for a fortnight, United didn’t shy away from rubbing their noses in it as City prepared for a soggy weekend in Skegness.  On the odd occasion City did manage a week abroad while United stayed home, most notably the 5-1 drubbing back in 89’, but those days were too few to merit anything more than a raised eyebrow from their wealthier neighbours.

For City, Mansour’s arrival was the equivalent of winning the lottery – goodbye Skeggy, hello Abu Dhabi !!  Add to that the fact 3 years earlier, United found themselves involved in a debt laden takeover which was beginning to stunt their opportunities to spend lavishly on jaunts winning title after title – the brasso was slowly realising its future may lay at the Etihad Stadium and not Old Trafford.

The purse strings needed tightening at United, however they have got used to eating at the top table and the transition wouldn’t be an easy one from prawn to jam sandwiches. While they can still outlay sums of money that the majority of clubs cannot, United find themselves outside of the top two in the premier league when it comes to attracting the real pearls from here and overseas, in both transfer fees and wages.

When United do invest large sums on players they expect big things these days. Gone is the age when they could easily afford to dispose and replace the players who do not live up to their original billing. The prime example at the moment is Davide De Gea, at £17.6m he is a costly recruit, but his form since arriving would have seen United of bygone eras gradually show him the exit door, and that illustrates perfectly the shift in power from red to blue.  If City buy a top of the range car and write it off they can replace it with another one and sell the old one for scrap, if United do the same, they either cut their losses and sell it for scrap or keep it and get it repaired, which could prove costly, particularly if it has lost some of the sparkle that first attracted you to it.

In the intervening years since 2008 when Mansour took over, City have gone from strength to strength, with investment on players touching £500m and an annual wage bill standing at £133m the club’s profile has gone global, people the world over have heard of another team from Manchester.

City are primed ready to take on the best European clubs on the big stage, and find themselves on the domestic threshold that no one on the blue half of Manchester could ever have dreamed less than 5 years ago –  and no one on the red side would dare contemplate, City lifting the premier league title !

We wait to see if they achieve that feat this season, but it appears only to be a matter of time, and If United get themselves up to win it again, you feel it could be the last time for many a year. The trend lines may well show this being the season United and City criss crossed each other on their different paths to the future.

John Collins

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