Can Manchester City win the Premier League?

August 3, 2009

Fuelled by millions of petro-dollars from the apparently bottomless pockets of their Abu Dhabi owners Manchester City have spent the summer accumulating what is beginning to look, on paper anyway, a squad that will challenge for the title.

Significantly, the players bought by manager Mark Hughes are tried and tested in the Premier League which augurs wells for City’s chances of shaking up the established pecking order in English football.

Opposing managers must have watched with a growing sense of awe and no doubt a little envy as Roque Santa Cruz (Blackburn Rovers), Carlos Tevez (Manchester United), Emmanuel Adebayor (Arsenal) joined to form a formidable looking strike force while defender Kolo Toure (Arsenal) was recruited to beef up the back four and England midfielder Gareth Barry signed from Aston Villa.

Consider the likes of Robinho, Craig Bellamy, Shaun-Wright Phillips, Wayne Bridge and Micah Richards, who were all part of last season’s team, and City already boast arguably the strongest squad in the Premier League with the transfer window nowhere near closing.

But can they win the league? Are the new recruits going to bridge the 40-point gap between champions Manchester United and City last season or eben the 20-odd extra points they will need to challenge for a Champions League spot.

Aston Villa manager Martin O’Neill certainly thinks so.

“City might not be favourites to win the league, but they should be,” O’Neill said last week. “They have as good a chance as anybody of winning it.”

Vast riches are no guarantee to silverware but as Chelsea proved when Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003, factor in a coherent transfer policy and an astute coach and anything is possible.

It did not happen immediately at Stamford Bridge and it wasn’t until a year into the Abramovich reign that Claudio Ranieri was sacked, Jose Mourinho recruited and Chelsea won the league for the first time since 1955. Another title followed as Chelsea became the dominant force in English football for a while.

Man City are a similar size club to Chelsea, both in terms of support and history.

They have not won the league since 1968 and you have to go back to 1976 for their last major domestic silverware when they won the League Cup.

Should they fail to end that long wait this season Hughes would almost certainly pay with his job. There can be no excuses from Hughes this season. He has been given all he wants and no manager will be under the spotlight more than the Welshman.

It would be a major surprise if City are not challenging in or around the top four before long this season, though. Arsenal look particularly vulnerable to the new threat from the North West, while even champions Manchester United, minus star player Cristiano Ronaldo, will be keeping a close watch across the city.

Buying success may not be popular, unless you support the team in question, but it has been done before and watching City’s progress will be fascinating this season.

Just spare a thought for the other clubs who clawed their way to the fringes of the top four in recent seasons such as Villa and Everton.

O’Neill summed up the mood. “I’m deflated by it,” he said last week. “You think, ‘Well, you got quite close last year and suddenly another club has just stepped over you’. It kind of punctures you.”

So what do you think? Are Man City title contenders?

PHOTO: Emmanuel Adebayor (R) of Manchester City is challenged by Thomas Sweswe of Kaizer Chiefs at Loftus stadium in Pretoria, July 25,2009. REUTERS/Denvor de Wee


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It is true that the signings are all tried and tested in the Premier League but I think that also shows the limits of their manager – with that budget he could have swept up some of the quality from Italy and Spain – he surely could have done better than Santa Cruz for that money for example.

I do have to object to your defintion of City as a club with a similar history to Chelsea – City have a much more successful past in terms of results and also fan support. Remember when City went down the leagues and they still kept gates of around 30,000 while Chelsea’s days in the old second division weren’t marked by the same loyalty at all.

City produced quality players throughout the sixties, seventies and eighties – Chelsea fans recall Peter Osgood and, well, that’s about it isn’t it?

Posted by Simon Evans | Report as abusive

Yes, They Can. But under 1 condition though…
Change the manager… hire the top manager in the league

Posted by Fu Ng | Report as abusive

Tevez will be successful no matter which club he plays for, he is a great player. it was hard to imagine the starting striker of Argentina could not start for a club team last season. Chemistry b/w Robinno and Tevez is the key. Can’t wait to watch City plays United.

Posted by Jim Namgyal | Report as abusive

the only way Manchester City could ever win the league would be if they bought every single referee in the epl

Posted by ed | Report as abusive

Yes man city will win the league by at least 6 points just look at the squad i wouldnt be surprised if they do the doublw they will be nice and fresh every week as there is no european football and will all be fighting for places man city will be the new power in english football like it or not money buys success as proven before and city have lots of it…watch this space…

Posted by kenny | Report as abusive

I’m not too sure if I agree with anyone here. Like everything in life, money helps and within the premier league you will struggle to survive without it. However, for a team to work, they’d have to gel. Ok, Chelsea proved it can be done for a couple of seasons but it’s not going to work for everyone. Man City have bought quality players and on paper they should crack the top 4 in the league but I doubt it.

Posted by Brendan | Report as abusive

Interesting opinions on this, though it makes me mindful of Inter in the mid-late 1990’s – Ronaldo, Vieri, Recoba etc, rediculous spending yet they won pretty much nothing. They have to get past three things: Liverpool, Chelsea and Man U. Arsenal will probably fall by the wayside, good as they are.

There will be no team spirit and Hughes will simply be juggling massive egos who have no loyalty to their club. Wait until the January window when three or four players are openly trying to engineer moves to ‘a bigger club’ because Sparky et al don’t appreciate them and their brilliance etc.

So, will Man City win the League? No. You can buy Champions League football, you cannot buy the Premiership.

Posted by Adam Kitching | Report as abusive

they have the capability to win the league but it depends on how quickly the players gel together. doubt that this year will be their year, possibly in the next couple of years if the sheikh continues to invest.

Posted by wllmhll | Report as abusive

Boy i’d love my team to be in Man citys position, What seems like a bottomless pitt of money Qaulity players joining every week and playing in arguablly the best league in the world. A couple of problems though, NONE of the new players actually care for the team they are playing for as long as they get paid. which tells me you’ll never get the absoloute best out of them. For these guys money comes first, i for one don’t blame them. Another stumblling block is the manager, sorry Mr Hughes but as far as i’m concerned the £18m spent on an average striker like santa cluase would of been much better spent on a top class manager what has mark hughes as a manager ever acheived. Not a lot is the answer. I think Man city will do better next this season they won’t win it but if they do get a champ league place i don’t think hughes will be the manager for that campaign.

Posted by A Glasgow Rangers Fan. | Report as abusive

Personally I’m still not sure if City will have what it takes to go and win the league. Bouncing up to those heights straight from last season not winning anything is a big big ask. City have a good manager in Mark Hughes, but with the stature they are at now, it does not make sense for them to keep him. The key to a team winning trophies is not based on how much money you have, it is based on something a lot more important than that, the backroom staff. It took Chelsea a long time with all their money to become a success, but when signings were not enough, they changed the backroom staff and rose to success. Even then it goes to show that money doesnt always mean success, even with all the money Chelsea spent they only just managed to steal the title from the likes of Man U and Arsenal.It therefore goes to show it is all about the backroom staff. Who would of tipped the likes of Hull to survive the league last season, yet small fractions in the first half of the season were tipping them to win the league! And then look at Fulham, they surprised many with the results they got and their final position in the league. Money doesnt buy success. I have been a Newcastle United supporter all my

Posted by Mickey | Report as abusive

Simon Evans – So Chelsea can only look to Peter Osgood as a famous past player can they?

Ron Chopper Harris
Charlie Cooke
Terry Venables
Jimmy Greaves
Peter Bonetti
John Hollins
Kerry Dixon
Pat Nevin

To name a few, no I didn’t need to google it either – to say Chelsea have no history is laughable.

Posted by KG | Report as abusive

No Way. Man United, Liverpool and Chelsea have teams that have played together for a couple of years and that team spirit will be fueled by the possibility that the upstarts could pull the rug from under them. Do not underestimate Wenger or O’Neill – even though O’Neill says that City can take the League.

Posted by rahulandrew | Report as abusive

they might have robinho, adebayor, gareth barry, tevez, santa cruz, etc. but they havent been together for long enough and they need a new manager. i think either chelsea, arsenal or liverpool will win this year

Posted by alex | Report as abusive

Being a proud Welshman and a city fan means that Hughes has my backing…Taking a Welsh team made up of very few superstars and getting them confident enough to beat Italy’s fantastic team proves that he can make a team gel and have belief in themselves to achieve. Money asside if the team believe they can win…then they will win…will we win the league?…I don’t think we will this season but top 6 has to be a must with the view to the long term…. I would still like to see another defensive signing before saying we were on paper favourites though… compared to our rivals across the way with rio and vidic in the defense…. it’s by no means a given that city will be the top team in manchester.. but never the less fingers crossed

Posted by Welsh Dragon | Report as abusive

I dont agree with the comments that Chelsea do not have a history. Chelsea have not won a major like Manu, Liverpool have done before. But after Roman bought the club then club history has been tranformed from nothing to winning ways. This makes chelsea feel buoyant. I agree with few that everybody cannot be like chelsea. Mancity can be better, not by buying the talented top players, but they have to have a gud manager who influence the team to glory. I wonder how Hughes manages big players like Robhino, Tevez, barry, ade…. Bec money cannot win everything. To win not only money is required but the right players and a man who can inspire the team to topple EPL the big guns is essential.

Posted by chethan | Report as abusive

Don’t go hard on Hughes…anyone can manage man city with that quality…i wish i was a fan of city. It is time we start hearing from others no wonder christiano left… he knew what was coming. And not to forget all the players mark bought are unselfish!

Posted by sillace | Report as abusive

yes we can, i support man city now because of the wise purchases they have made. their manager is good enough to take them there.the pair of tevez/robino/adebayo can tear any defense in the premier league

Posted by evaristus agoha | Report as abusive

These days in football everything is possible.I personally think we can win and this will be possible only and ONLY if we play as a TEAM!

Posted by manchester city | Report as abusive

Can they win the league? I don’t think they can. With a somewhat weakened Arsenal, however, I do think they have a fair chance to brerak into the top 4.

The problem with spending so much and bringing lots of new players in is that it takes those players time to gel and throughout the season there’s always the chance of unrest at not being in the first 11.

Posted by | Report as abusive

I feel sick at seeing the profligacy of Man City as I did with Chelsea and now Real Madrid. I believe we need new rules in football to stop this kind of distortion of the game. If all the best players are bought by just a few completely financially unconstrained teams we end up with a permanent fix of football(until finaly Abramovic or the Sheikh get bored of their toys!)
I don’t blame Man Utd, they are a massive Club with a history, ok they are what they are partly because of the sympathy and emotional support following Munich but that’s not wrong like the showering of dubiously gained money simply to buy success.
I don’t care if Chelsea or Man City win anything because generally I will always see the team in a higher moral place like Everton or Villa as the real winners.
We need to limit the impact of greed and spending in football but it’s easier said than done.

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