Manchester City’s dramatic title victory was the most breathtaking finale to a Premier League season in history but the record books show more than just a Blue Moon rising. The reality is City are not the first team to try to break the top flight’s often predictable mould and supplant Manchester United as the dominant force in domestic football.
Since the Premier League began in 1992, only 5 teams have gotten their hands on the trophy but despite the implication that it’s an honour which is neatly shared around, the reality is few teams have ever sustained their own period of dominance for very long while City’s archrivals Manchester United have remained competitive throughout. City fans will begrudgingly admit it’s an admirable achievement but given their own improvements both on and off the field, is this the start of a dynasty for the Blue half of Manchester?
Clearly City have had the financial resources to compete with, if not trump their rivals when recruiting new players so they already have a distinct advantage in the race for the World’s top stars. They may not have brought any new faces in so far this summer but the potential for the best talent joining the Etihad Stadium is there for all to see and the only stumbling block may be a combination of the new Financial Fair Play Rules and a lack of genuine historical pride. After all if Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak has his spending curbed by the need for sustainable business models then his team will need to find other ways of attracting new stars, especially if they are in direct competition with their rivals for a certain player. There needs to be an attractive plan in place to persuade prospective suitors their future lies at Eastlands and this is where they may struggle to convince players of their worth when compared to others top Premier League teams. Manchester United have global appeal thanks to an extensive trophy cabinet and Chelsea have recently won the UEFA Champions League while building a title winning reputation over the last decade. Should these teams enter the same race for a player, City may find they lose out once they cannot offer higher wages than the rest.
The other concern is the picture painted by Arsenal and more damningly Liverpool’s demise as it’s all too easy for teams to lose their reputation when on field matters do not play out as expected. Both teams had their own eras of dominance and yet it’s now been 7 seasons since Arsenal last won a trophy while Liverpool have seen their title record eclipsed by United and have still failed to really challenge for the Premier League. Even Chelsea have suffered through an inability to maintain their success so how can City look to further their own progression given the problems experienced by their rivals?
For starters they must ensure they continue to challenge for trophies and especially the League title year on year. While Arsenal have an element of pride associated with their style and philosophy their fans still get frustrated when their season is effectively over in mid March. Further any aspiring players will feel their futures lie elsewhere and while City may have capitalised on the Gunners struggles by snapping up the likes of Kolo Toure, Emmanuel Adebayor, Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy in recent seasons, these players may not be as inclined to join them if the club is unable to pay them higher wages as it currently does. While it remains to be seen how influential the FFFP will be for teams, it will certainly prevent the big spenders from wilfully drawing up expensive contracts just to outbid their rivals.
It will mean City must take solace in their on-field achievements and build toward a sustainable model if they’re to rival United’s all conquering dynasty. Arsenal have made strides to ensure their future is secure but the North Londoners have failed to find the right balance between youth and experience while teams like Chelsea and even Blackburn Rovers have bought their way to the title but failed to invest in their future. Once their winning team starts to fade away they’re left with little to show for their success so must start again from scratch and in Blackburn’s case it was too little too late while Chelsea have shown this season they’re going to spend big once more to replace the core of the team built by Jose Mourinho. This could well leave them suffering through the same transitional phase that has seen the likes of Arsenal lose their best players just as they reach their peak.
These concerns have rarely affected Manchester United because the Red Devils have ensured they compete for the best players and develop their youth team, all while competing for trophies both at home and abroad. It’s a worthy achievement that City must aspire to follow if they’re to create their own dynasty for as we’ve seen before, a failure to ensure ones future means present triumphs are merely a distraction from impending difficulties.