By Kristan Heneage
If you were to inspect Manchester City’s squad, few have had long careers at the club. It has been a revolution in every sense of the word, epitomized with the sale of Richard Dunne a onetime club stalwart.
Sitting in the top three many of the fans would no doubt hail the investment of just over £1 billion a successful venture. They have real quality throughout the team, Yaya Toure has taken the league with relative ease and Carlos Tevez will no doubt have Sir Alex Ferguson ruing his decision not to take the Argentinian permanently. That is of course if you believe he had such a choice.
So with the short term seeming secured in terms of Champions League football and a squad able to challenge for the title Manchester City will no doubt look to secure the club’s future to avoid the heavy spends that took them to second place.
The problem the club now hold is one that Champions Chelsea held early on in their transformation to title challengers. They had gained a reputation as having a high turnover of players joining and leaving the club, and it was openly criticized by one of Manchester City’s current players.
Going back to June 2006 Vincent Kompany had just joined Hamburg SV for €10m. he had been linked with Chelsea but explained he had turned them down, not wishing to ‘play Russian roulette with my career’. Kompany was not stupid he had seen a handful of young players such as Scott Parker, Glen Johnson, and Joe Cole all join the club and then suffer from a lack of playing time. The Belgian also said: “Chelsea is a factory. If you are number 26 on their pay list, you are number 26 on the field too.”
The players comments were a great insight into arguably the mood of young players in Europe at the time. While many players are happy to sit on a good wage irrespective of how much pitch time they receive, Winston Bogarde being a prime example.
Chelsea began changing their approach by signing players at an even younger age and bringing through their academy, something you can see in their current bench. Jeffrey Bruma, Patrick Van Aanholt, Josh McEachran and Gael Kakuta have all come through the club’s academy, admittedly only one of them actually began their career there the other three being taken from other sides at a young age.
Further proof of the emphasis on youth can be seen in the club’s latest purchase. At £230,000 15 year old Nathan Ake represents a small outlay for a potentially huge gain should the player go on to achieve his predicted potential. Chelsea beat Man City to the youngsters signature something that speaks volumes of the similar policy the clubs now operate under. Surprisingly Man City have a better recent record with producing players. Micah Richards, Nedum Onouha, Joe Hart and the recently departed Stephen Ireland all came through the club’s academy providing a solid foundation.
With the Premier League having announced new rules that require at least eight home-grown players and a maximum twenty five man squad it helps to bring through your own players. Admittedly there are loop holes in the ruling such as U21’s aren’t required to be registered meaning Mario Balotelli and Jerome Boateng gave Man City an extra two squad spaces for this season.
By comparison December saw Man City announce a youngster of their own, Gai Assulin. An Israeli winger who chose to leave Barcelona in the summer after a contract dispute joined the club on a two and a half year deal. He will not qualify as a homegrown player but he comes with an exciting array of Youtube compilations like so many hot prospects before him.
With nearly half a dozen of Manchester City’s players linked with moves away from Eastlands it could arguably be deemed a mini clear out by Roberto Mancini, something that my dissuade future targets from playing the ‘Russian roulette with their career’ Vincent Kompany was so keen to avoid.