People have criticised Manchester City’s first summer acquisition, but Jack Rodwell is exactly the player required for the long-term
Manchester City have finally loosened their much used purse strings this summer and signed Everton defensive midfielder Jack Rodwell for around £12 million, with another £5 million in add-ons depending on how many trophies he – and City – win.
The splurge from the Eastlands coffers was overdue to say the least, given that those of us in the football world have become accustomed to the East Manchester club splashing out big transfer fees in recent summers. Up until Sunday though, City were the only club in the Premier League who had not spent a penny in transfer fee’s this summer.
With the purchase of Rodwell, City have changed all that and added a player that is undoubtedly full of promise and potential, but has yet to consistently demonstrate it due to injury problems. The challenge is now upon him to justify the fee paid for him, as is with any player that commands such a fee.
There has been criticism of City – both from in and outside of the club, with City boss Roberto Mancini publicly criticising sporting director Brian Marwood at the lack of summer signings – regarding how they have gone about their transfer policy this summer, some of it just and some of it unjust. They have been frustrated in their attempts to sign Arsenal talisman Robin Van Persie for a variety of reasons. Partly because the player apparently favours to move to fierce local rivals Manchester United, partly because Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal boardroom are adamant they will not sell their skipper to a domestic rival, and partly because of the economic situation that has been forced upon all of Europe’s top clubs by UEFA.
It could well be said that the strike force – comprising of Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez, Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko – is not exactly an area of City’s squad that can be seen as lacking quality and there is arguably no better assembled striking quartet with such strength in depth in the whole of Europe, but City’s failed attempt to sign Van Persie exposes a new truth that is starting to take effect.
Clubs can now only make a £38.5 million loss over three seasons beginning from 2011-12, a massive obstacle for City given that they lost £197 million for 2010-11, a record amount for a football club to lose in just one year. Consequently, with the arrival or Rodwell, we may now being seeing a change in City’s transfer policy, buying younger players who may not necessarily have the credentials to slot into the City-11 immediately – as has been the case with signings like James Milner, Aguero, David Silva, Samir Nasri, Gael Clichy and so on – but has been bought with the future in mind.
With financial fair play regulations from UEFA starting to take effect, Mancini has effectively been operating in ‘sell-before-you-can-buy’ market. Wayne Bridge may have gone on loan to Brighton and Hove Albion on a season long loan, but perennial City benchwarmers Emmanuel Adebayor – who is haggling with City over the fee he should receive from them by leaving the club – and forgotten man Roque Santa Cruz is still on the books at the Etihad stadium, with potential suitors not exactly forthcoming for his services.
City, at this moment in time, do not have the ability to naturally generate the funds that the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona or United do. All three of these clubs have stadiums in excess of 75,000 capacity, along with huge global fan bases and numerous sponsorship deals that help to bring in hundreds of millions worth of currency into these clubs. City have begun to do this, but they are still way behind this trio in all of these aspects of revenue generation and it will take time before they reach these standards.
Whilst the fiscal situation will dominate debates off the field for many moons to come, and this City side may well dominate matters on the pitch for many seasons to come as well. In the curtain raiser for the English League season on Sunday at Villa Park – the Community Shield – against Chelsea, City were professional and ruthless in killing off a team that was down to ten men and they smelt blood in the water and duly punished the European Champions.
It is debatable whether the present City squad needed vast improvements, and the present starting-11 is probably as strong as it possibly can be. There may well be signings to add to the strength in depth of the squad, particularly at centre-back where the talent only really extends to Joleon Lescott and Vincent Kompany, hence City’s pursuit of Liverpool’s Daniel Agger.
In the centre of midfield, shielding the back-four, City have an injury-prone 31-year-old in the form of Gareth Barry and Dutchman Nigel De Jong is in the final year of his contract and is stuttering over agreeing a new deal with the club. Thus, a move for Rodwell does make sense in this respect and, for me, represents a change in City’s transfer policy and the big spends we have become accustomed to over the past few summers are now a thing of the past.
Rodwell is arguably not a player for this present City starting-11, but he is certainly one for the future and could be a permanent fixture in the side for a long time. Mancini recently spoke of the need to sign young players that will become the future of the club, and it looks like the Italian is making good on his promise.