Expectations are running feverishly high at Eastlands, as fans of
Manchester City prepare to welcome a new manager, the ridiculously
successful Pep Guardiola, in the summer and usher in, along with him,
a fresh start.
With Guardiola a firm believer in youth, and some of City’s latest
major signings suggesting a desire to build towards the long-term, the
expiry date of the club’s old guard is nigh. And believe me when I say
City’s squad is old, even if not exactly a bunch of frail,
The last City XI that contested a Premier League game, versus
Sunderland on February 2, had an average age a few decimal places
beyond 29. Of the lot, eight were aged over 27 — 35-year-old Martin
Demechelis led a band of seven born in 1985 or earlier — with two of
Manuel Pellegrini’s three substitutes on the day belonging to that
bracket, too. The men who’ve usually swung titles City’s way —
notably, Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure, Joe Hart, David Silva, and
Sergio Aguero — are either over, or inching ever closer towards, the
dreaded 30. It’s a core City’s ambitious hierarchy simply cannot
afford to rest their dreams on heading into the foreseeable future
and, given the recent acquisitions of lads like Kelechi Iheanacho,
Fabian Delph, Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne and Patrick Roberts,
the direction the club wishes to progress in — a youthful, hopeful
one — becomes all too apparent.
Wait, though. . . the ‘old’ boys aren’t done just yet. No, not quite.
There are still trophies to be won this term on as many as four
fronts, with the Citizens still very much in contention for the Uefa
Champions League, Premier League, FA Cup, and League Cup crowns,
presenting a fine chance for ‘Vincent and Co.’ to garnish the end of
their era with sweet, glorious success, the likeness of which hasn’t
ever been celebrated in Manchester’s blue half.
Indeed, for all City have achieved since their Gulf-inspired elevation
in status, they’ve struggled to do anything outside the ordinary. The
two league titles won — in 2011/12 and 2013/14 — didn’t come easily,
with City laboring to emerge victors in tight, last-gasp finishes over
Manchester United and Liverpool respectively. And when they did manage
a ‘Double’, in 2013/14, the trophy which complemented the championship
triumph wasn’t the esteemed FA Cup, but the lesser League Cup.
Clearly, City, though more decorated and reputable now than ever,
haven’t yet owned a spell of English football in the manner, say,
neighbours United did in 1998/1999, Liverpool in the eighties,
Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ in the early noughties, or as Chelsea
occasionally have since becoming nouveaux riches themselves.
It’s such a statement City need to make before their original project
is torn down to be replaced by Guardiola’s sweeping revolution. If
pulling off a daring quadrupule — a feat no English side has ever
managed, needless to say — seems too daunting for City, the ‘Treble’
(at least United have proved that’s very well within range) shouldn’t
be; at the very minimum, a League-FA Cup swoop would suffice.
Ageing though they may be, members of City’s fading generation do have
it in them to reach those heights, thereby yielding that final,
resounding hurray they owe themselves, the club’s bankrollers, its
fans, and posterity.
By: Sammie Frimpong