Another false dawn for City?
Manchester City fans aren’t used to breaking the British transfer record, but that was the headline that turned up after pub closing time once the Robinho deal had been completed. Despite what we might have feared, it wasn’t just the effect of the beer either.
The new owners, Abu Dhabi United Group for Development and Investment, immediately impressed supporters by trying to snub United, which showed intent even if the last-minute bid Dimitar Berbatov did not succeed. Beating Roman Abramovich and Chelsea to Robinho, though, really showed financial muscle.
Great news? Well it would be for most clubs. But those who have suffered through City’s if-you-don’t-laugh-you’d-cry history will not be counting chickens yet.
The last few days have typified the often farcical nature of the club — from seemingly flat broke and relying on short-term loans from directors, with an owner accused of human rights abuses in Thailand, to the richest club in England in just a few hours.
This is a club that spent most of last season in the top four, only to lose the last match 8-1 to mediocre Middlesbrough; that spent the last few minutes of the 1995-1996 season wasting time to play out a draw when actually they needed a win to avoid relegation; and that, on its return to European competition in 2003, managed to go out to Groclin Dyskobolia despite playing Nicolas Anelka and Robbie Fowler up front.
Supporters haven’t yet forgotten those, or last year’s Thaksin- and Sven-inspired false dawn. A rosy glow from City’s nouveau riche status, the marquee signings and third place in the nascent Premier League table hangs over Eastlands.
But will this one last?