City have assembled a squad that has talent experience genuine match-winners and technical flexibility. No one would bet big against the Treble now STAN COLLYMORE
AS fairytales go, Manchester City emerging triumphant from the Champions League final next month won’t exactly be a match for Leicester’s Premier League title win.
City have spent a couple of billion pounds to hire the best manager in the world and recruit the best striker in the world with a cast to match.
That’s why I thought a lot of the praise they received on Wednesday following their semi-final second-leg victory over Real Madrid bordered on the ridiculous. I mean, let’s face it, City were effectively bought for moments like that one and for winning the Champions League, which is exactly what I expect them to do against Inter Milan in Istanbul.
Still, putting the finances and financing of City aside, as a standalone performance they were exceptional.
They had the game won in the first half and, even though there was a little wobble in the first 15 minutes of the second-half when they came off the bridle a little bit, they were never seriously in trouble of getting reeled back in by Real.
Jack Grealish was excellent and overtook Frank Lampard’s 15-year record for the most chances created by an Englishman in a Champions League campaign.
Bernardo Silva continued to roll back the years, Kevin De Bruyne was brilliant, John Stones moved into midfield again with aplomb, Kyle Walker kept Vinicius Junior at bay and Ederson made saves when he was needed.
Erling Haaland has rightly won all the plaudits this season for the way he has walked into the team and become such a force so quickly. But Wednesday’s win was a reminder that it doesn’t matter who walks into Pep Guardiola’s team, the cast around him is already phenomenal. Over five years, they have built a squad that has talent, experience, genuine matchwinners and tactical flexibility.
And what they delivered last week was a Champions League masterclass of epic proportions.
It was a stunning performance, they are deserved finalists and rightly the favourites, and if they don’t go and beat Inter I will be gobsmacked.
I’ve said before that if they win the Champions League then they will have even more of a run on potential new signings than they already do on the back of their domestic success, the manager they have and the wages they
There is going to be a major incident soon with fans getting on to pitches. announcement 10 minutes before the end of every game stating that any
can offer. Although, unlike some, I’m not too worried that that will only make them even more dominant in the top flight.
Newcastle and Manchester United, if Sheikh Jassim takes over, will have the riches to go toe-to-toe with City and, let’s face it, Guardiola will leave City at some point.
What will happen, is that there’ll be a top three or four that only clubs owned or backed by sovereign wealth funds will be able to break into.
Further afield, I expect a domino effect of Real and Barcelona being bought by nation states as they try to keep up. And there’s a high probability that, if City and other English clubs go on a run similar to the one in the Seventies and early Eighties when the European Cup spent six years on our shores, we’ll see an even bigger push for the European Super League from the legacy clubs on the continent.
And if, say, Liverpool, Arsenal or Tottenham aren’t owned by a sovereign wealth fund then I could well see one or more of them getting involved, too.
Bayern Munich, Juventus, Barca and Real believe they have a Godgiven right to be above the nouveau riche of City, Newcastle and Paris
Saint-germain, and that’s why the taps for the ESL will be turned on sooner rather than later if City and other English sides do dominate as they could.
So City’s success will no doubt have serious implications for European competition in the years to come.
But that isn’t anyone at the Etihad’s concern for now.
Because they have come to the boil at the perfect moment this season.
And no one in their right mind would bet big against City doing the Treble right now.
What we need – and fast – is more stewarding, although that will be harder the lower down the pyramid you go. We also need an fan who goes on the pitch will be arrested. If hundreds do it, arrest as many as possible and others will soon decide not to risk it.