It pains me to say this as an Arsenal fan, but for the past three or four seasons if you were to ask a fan of English football who they expect to win the Premier League, they’d probably tell you Chelsea, Manchester United, or Manchester City.
Each of these three clubs feature billionaire owners who treat their managers like every rich kid you envied in middle school and buys them whatever they want.
The following is a recreation of events taken place on or before August 26th 2014
On a lovely summer day in Manchester, England, Louis Van Gaal, newly appointed Manchester United manager knocks on the large red wooden doors of the Glazer family’s office.
“Hello. May I come in”, he calls out.
“Of course you can”, utters a voice behind a vintage leather office chair.
Louis walks light-footedly into the room and approaches the figure behind the chair.
“What did you want to talk about Mr. Van Gaal?”
“Well”, Louis murmurs, “it’s just… I WANT DI MARIA OK. I WANT HIM I WANT HIM I WANT HIM I WANT HIM!”
A chuckle is heard from behind the desk.
“It’s just… Arsenal have Özil… City have Silva… Chelsea have Hazard… I want an expensive world class midfielder too! Please Please Please Please Pleeeeeaaassseeee.”
The chair turns slightly.
“Whatever you want Louis. Here’s £61 million quid. Let me know if you need more.
Louis’ huge smile reflects off of the glossy wooden desk as he jumps in celebration.
“Also… Can I have £12 million to have Falcao for a year too?”
…And the rest is history
Whether you like it or not, financial prosperity has tilted the sporting power structures in not only England, but world football. Arguably no one has profited more from this than the blue side of Manchester, no pun intended – Manchester City Football Club.
Known historically as a club you’d poke fun at your mates for supporting, Manchester City F.C. have consistently challenged for silverware since their financial takeover in 2008. During this time they’ve spent over £700 million bringing in new talent to improve their squad. Robinho, Sergio Agüero, David Silva, the list goes on. Yet, collectively, none of these players have meant as much to their club than one particular signing.
Let’s think back to the FA Cup 2011, the first competition of significance won by Manchester City since their League Cup win in 1976. City had a relatively easy road to Wembley, taking out Leceister, Notts County, Aston Villa and Reading respectively. Two goals in two matches at Wembley were enough to see them win their first piece of silverware this millennium. Both goals scored by one man – their most important player, Yaya Touré.
The Ivorian midfielder/part-time birthday cake enthusiast has missed a total of five games in English competition this season – this, of course, a combination of injury and the annual African Cup of Nations. If you had to guess how many of these games were won by City what would that number be? I mean we’re talking about a roster containing a £26 million Stevan Jovetic, £38 million Sergio Agüero, and £25 million David Silva, just to a name a few. One would think £100 million in attackers should buy you a win or two in the Premier League right? In the five games played without Yaya Touré this season, Manchester City have won a total of zero.
Or in Yaya’s native French, aucun.
As important as his ability to place the football into the back of the net has been for Manchester City, it’s the other areas of contribution that tend to make Yaya’s absence so demoralizing to the club. Yaya’s steel and tactical awareness were definitely missed in their shock defeat to Middlesbrough last weekend, as both goals given up by City were manufactured through the middle of the pitch.
Yes, that Middlesbrough.
A week earlier, Arsenal were able to visit the Etihad and leave with all three points. The last time that happened we were still “poking” each other on Facebook. Defensive midfielder Francis Coquelin, was seen in the eyes of many as the man of the match, and deservedly so. Neither Fernando nor Fernandinho, City’s starting midfielders that match, are really known as great attacking players, thus Coquelin could place the majority of his focus on stopping balls from getting to the feet of Sergio Agüero.
Over these two games Manchester City have managed to put as many goals on the board as they have wins.
Let’s practice our French once more, aucun.
Somewhere in Equatorial Guinea Yaya Touré must be thinking to himself, “Do I have to do everything?”
Yaya Touré changes games, and since Manchester City have become a perennial title contender he’s been their Mr. Reliable. He brings an element of toughness that his teammates seemingly lack, can score eye-popping, vine-sharing goals for fun, and to put it shortly, he’s a winner. With one player being this important to a club you would think they could get the guy a cake on his birthday.