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English Premier League

Will anyone ever like Manchester City?

The Boot Room

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Sheikh Mansour went to Spain in a Lamborghini
Brought us back a manager, Manuel Pellegrini

If ever there was a chant to characterize the classless ‘big club’ pretentions of Manchester City, the latest Etihad Stadium refrain just about covers it. Wonderwall or Champagne Supernova it is not, but it highlights the attitude shared by owners and fans alike. Ferguson alluded to it during his final years as United manager, labelling them ‘the noisy neighbours’ and it is hard to disagree. Doing things quietly is not the way at Manchester’s second club, and City do precious little to endear themselves to the neutral. Whether it is throwing ludicrous amounts of money at second rate, foreign mercenaries, breaching FFP rules or spending £200m on a training complex to support an academy that has produced one regular first-team player (Micah Richards) in the past decade… You name it, City have done it.

Of course, Man City aren’t the first club to have received huge foreign investment. Chelsea set the precedent in 2003 when Roman Abramovich bought the club. Chelsea spent vast sums on players in the summer to follow and finished 2nd at the end of Abramovich’s first season before securing back-to-back titles. However, Chelsea had already qualified for the Champions League when Russian oil money was first pumped into the club and the spine assembled in that period remained consistent for the majority of the decade to follow; Cech, Drogba and Cole adding to Lampard and Terry.

City, meanwhile, have had a scattergun, chuck-money-at-it-until-it-works approach. For every Silva there has been a Jovetic, for every Aguero a Jo and for every Yaya Toure a Robinho. And football fans, jealous or not, despise it. Why? Above anything else, City are not a big club, nor are they deserving of a place at football’s top table. The vast swathes of empty seats at every home game and poor atmosphere prove it. Players don’t join Manchester City for the prestige of joining a club with rich heritage as they do Manchester United, Liverpool or Arsenal… they go to City to make a quick buck ala, Tevez, Balotelli, Robinho and birthday cake enthusiast Yaya Toure, et al.

The latest managerial speculation is pretty indicative of Manchester City’s place in the football world. Take Jurgen Klopp for example. A lively, quirky, heartfelt, German chap with an illustrious beard and a love of rock music…. If Klopp were on Match.com his tagline would be ‘strong personality seeking likeminded other half with a view to a stable, loving and passionate relationship’. The thought of Jurgen Klopp racing up and down the Eastlands touchline, kicking every ball, agonizing over every tackle and bouncing up and down with youthful delirium against a backdrop of empty light blue seats and passive drawls of “Ciiiiiiteh, Ciiiiiteh” just doesn’t seem quite right. As for the Guardiola rumours? What interest would managerial royalty have in Manchester City? Little, I suspect. Before the Qatari oil money arrived City were, with the odd exception, perennial strugglers with the aim of consolidation; they even spent the late 90’s in the third tier followed by yo-yo years between Premier League and the old Division One.

Since arriving at Manchester City in 2008, Sheikh Mansour has invested over £1bn in the club. One billion pounds. ONE. BILLION. POUNDS. That’s 500 Bugatti Veyron 16.4’s, one billion McDonalds Mayo Chickens with change to spare and enough to provide 7,353 African villages with fresh water for 20 years. Yet, despite the influx of incomprehensible wealth, City appear to be a soulless institution representative of nothing the Manchester community holds dear. A former-industrial, working class city with players from the four corners of the globe, some of whom complain about an absence of respect whenever they don’t receive a birthday cake despite pocketing £250,000 a week? Stop flapping your gums, Yaya and produce the form you’re capable of, yeah? And while we’re at it, Carlos Tevez was even worse – a 3-month strike because he wasn’t getting his own way?!

Stropping over Victoria Sponge and Argentine golfing holidays aside, where is the Mancunian heart? Joe Hart is about a close as it gets… and he’s from Shrewsbury. Sure, the £200m investment in a new training complex complete with a 7,000 capacity stadium for the youth team, 16 outdoor football pitches watered by 8 million-litre underground tank will help, but there are few signs of the current academy breaking through to the first team. For all the talk of longevity and doing things ‘the right way’, Manchester City appear to be remarkably ignorant of how to consolidate as a top level club. What good is bringing in Txiki Begiristain from Barcelona as Director of Football if the signings continue to underwhelm and underperform (ala Fernando, Fernandinho, Navas, Jovetic, Mangala)? What good is bringing in Guardiola’s contemporary, a man schooled in Barcelona’s prestigious La Masia, if the academy shows no signs of being a first team production line? What good is adding 8,000 seats to your stadium if you’ll only fill it when Man United are in town?

For all the oil money and nouveau riche attitudes present at Manchester City there is, at least, one bastion of consistency and class at the club. Vincent Kompany. Despite the constant upheaval of players, some of whom are utterly objectionable individuals, Kompany has stood tall on the pitch and represented the club off it with an elegance, eloquence and decency that belies his surroundings. Joe Hart and James Milner don’t possess the continental suave of their captain, but they don’t seem altogether bad blokes.

Maybe I’m jealous that West Brom don’t have a foreign benefactor? Maybe not. Either way, with £750+ million spent on wages and transfer fees, 2 Premier League titles, 1 FA Cup and 1 League Cup is a paltry return on the investment. Spending huge amounts of money in the search of regular trophies simply rubs people up the wrong way. As such, Chelsea have been usurped as the nations number one love-to-hate club; a hatred that promises to intensify in line with City’s increasing delusions of grandeur.

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West Ham United

Marlon Santos joining West Ham would be ideal solution to defensive woes

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Photo: Getty Images.

There will be a summer of change at West Ham United this summer and with James Collins leaving the club there will be a spot opening up in defence. Reports from Spain indicate that the man to fill it could be Barcelona youngster Marlon Santos.

The Brazilian joined the Spanish giants permanently last summer after impressing for their B team and earning a first team debut in 2016/17 and spent pre-season with Ernesto Valverde’s first team before being sent out on loan.

Now, reliable Catalan newspaper Mundo Deportivo say that West Ham are interested in taking the defender on loan next season after he has impressed in France, playing for OGC Nice, making 27 appearances during his loan spell.

(Photo credit should read VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)

The 22-year-old has also been linked with Leicester but with West Ham believed to be leading the chase, it would be a wise move from Manuel Pellegrini to seal a deal as soon as possible.

Strong in the tackle, Santos would also bring some much needed pace to the West Ham defence. Replacing the likes of Collins and Jose Fonte who departed in January, the arrival of a fleet-footed defender would be a welcome turnaround at the London Stadium.

It may also suggest a change in style, with the former Fluminense youth product known for his ability on the ball, often looking to dribble out from the back to get his team transitioning from defence to attack.

Pellegrini is clearly putting the building blocks in place to build a side in his own image, and bringing in Marlon Santos would be a cheap and sensible addition to fix a major problem area.

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Tottenham Hotspur

Malcom would add another dimension to Tottenham’s attack

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Photo: Getty Images.

After an impressive 2017/18 campaign, Tottenham are already beginning to plan for 2018/19 and are keen to make a statement in their first season in a new look White Hart Lane. One way they may do so is with the addition of Girondins Bordeaux forward Malcom.

Sky Bet currently list Tottenham at 7/2 to sign the Brazilian, just behind favourites Manchester United in the running at 3/1, and such an acquisition would bring an exciting new element to Mauricio Pochettino‘s attacking set-up.

Predominantly playing on the right wing, Malcom may offer more width than many of the options within the Tottenham squad, but much like Heung-Min Son and Erik Lamela, he likes to dribble on the ball and cut inside, offering a direct threat rather than looking to cross into others.

The 21-year-old scored 12 goals in 35 Ligue Un games for Bordeaux this season and whilst not exactly prolific, would help to add goals to the Lilywhites’ midfield and reduce the reliance on Harry Kane.

(Photo credit should read NICOLAS TUCAT/AFP/Getty Images)

He also has some similarities to the likes of Christian Eriksen as a superb set piece taker who likes to shoot from distance, helping to add another dimension as Tottenham look to break down more defensive sides who sit deep in hope of frustrating them.

With huge potential to develop even further, Malcom may not come cheaply but would represent an interesting project for Pochettino to get even more out of him. Whilst he bares many similarities to Erik Lamela when he arrived in north London, if he can avoid injury he could go on to become the player Spurs had hoped to see Lamela become.

His pace and threat would add a much needed option into the Spurs attack, complimenting the playmakers like Eriksen, Dele Alli and Lucas Moura and supporting the goalgetter Harry Kane. Strength in depth is key in Tottenham’s quest for silverware and Malcom would be a step in the right direction to achieving it.

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Newcastle United

Fulham promotion opens up £15m exit for Aleksandar Mitrovic

The Newcastle United star is likely to move away from the club this summer.

Mathew Coull

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Fulham won promotion to the Premier League yesterday with a 1-0 win over Aston Villa in the Championship play-off final. The Cottagers scored in the first-half through Tom Cairney to rightfully take their place back in the top-flight of English football.

It was a tremendous performance and in the summer Fulham will be looking to bring in some new faces to help them stay in the top-flight. One of those faces, will not be necessarily new. Aleksandar Mitrovic has been brilliant for Fulham since joining on loan in January.

The Serbian striker has scored 12 goals since his arrival at Craven Cottage and will no doubt be wanted permanently at the club.

Is this good news for Newcastle United?

There has been plenty of talk regarding the Serbian’s exit from St James’ Park in the winter. Many fans on Tyneside are wondering whether the club should have kept him at Newcastle, considering his goal record in London.

(during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Watford at St. James Park on November 25, 2017 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

However, it is clear that Rafa Benitez is not a fan of the player and the Spaniard certainly made things work without him.

The best thing for Newcastle right now is to sell him and ensure they bring in enough money to cover the cost of his original signing.

Fulham represent their best option to do so. Newcastle want about £15 million for the player, according to the London Evening Standard, which is the fee they paid for the Serbian in 2015.

Fulham will no doubt want to bring him to the club this summer, but would not have been able to bring him to the club had they failed to secure promotion to the Premier League.

The Cottagers can now afford the player and Mitrovic’s price-tag is unlikely to be a problem with the bonus they will receive for heading into the top-flight. Newcastle must be pleased that Fulham earned promotion, as it will allow them the best opportunity to move Mitrovic on without a major loss.

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