Identify the positions that we are weak in now. Think back to the positions that we were weak in three years ago when Bobby Manc left. Has anything at all changed? In my opinion no, aside from us being worse off.
Navas, Negredo, Fernandinho, Jovetic, Demichellis, Caballero and Zuculini. Pellegrini’s first, Txiki Begiristain sanctioned, foray into the transfer market. Players that all, in their own way, Zuculini aside, have made an impact at the Etihad, positive or otherwise.
The second summer’s activity was restricted due to FFP. That did, no doubt, have a massive impact on the plans that Pellegrini and Begiristain would have made previously. Eliaquim Mangala and Fernando. Were they ever destined to significantly improve a title winning side at the cost of the clubs entire, yet drastically weakened, budget? Are our weaknesses still the same? I’d say so, if not growing somewhat. Enter £28m Wilfried Bony, joining Stevan Jovetic and Edin Dzeko as expensive subordinates to Sergio. Frank Lampard’s stay had been extended, only highlighting further our need to spend in the middle of the park.
Nine months ago I boarded a flight to Porto with my girlfriend to visit her family. Whilst boarding I recognised another passenger, Txiki Begiristain. For the duration of the flight my mind was analysing the reasons for Txiki’s trip to Porto and subsequently his previous visits to my girlfriend’s city.
Knowing the Porto squad reasonably well, as well as the weaknesses in our own squad, I made a hopeful assumption that he was there to tie up a deal for Porto’s then left-back, Alex Sandro. A high quality left-back. About bloody time.
Given that Begiristain’s previous trips to the city had been somewhat ill-fated, I hoped that it could’ve been a case of third time lucky. Unfortunately, the reality of the situation was that Txiki wasn’t in Porto to bring Alex Sandro back with him.
Instead of bringing us a quality left-back, something that we have been crying out for an eternity for, he met football super-agent Jorge Mendes to agree terms for Nicolas Otamendi. Otamendi, La Liga defender of the year and another expensive high profile central defensive purchase that would ultimately mean the promising academy product, Jason Denayer, would have to spend another season out on loan despite having signed a new contract with what felt like an opportunity to play in the first team.
Did we need him? In my opinion, no. Could the money have been better spent elsewhere? Absolutely. The same positions that we were weak in at the beginning of Pellegrini’s reign are the same positions we remain weak in now. Like the other massive European clubs that we seek to compare ourselves against, have we consistently sought to buy suitable players that could get into any team in Europe? I can only count two. Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne, some four years apart. Is that the buying strategy of a club that has identified its key weaknesses and sought to address them? Are these not the same problems that Roberto Mancini complained of throughout his final season in charge following a summer of recruitment which bears a striking resemblance to the one following our most recent title win?
The only parallel I want to see develop now, is that of the impact Pep had when he took over at the Camp Nou when working alongside Txiki. Oh, and a couple of full-backs, please.