We’re all guilty of it. Getting carried away that is.
As City’s players and entourage – including Messrs van Wolfswinkel, Fer et al – enjoy BA’s in-flight entertainment en route to the US West Coast it’s all too easy to cast ourselves in the role of QPR fans.
This time last summer – off the back of Mark Hughes’ solemn promise that the Hoops would never again find themselves in relegation trouble – those from Shepherds Bush were basking in the glow of a glut of expensive and high-profile signings.
Thanks to the very deep pockets of Tony Fernandes, Hughes embarked on the trolley dash of the century with eleven (that’s eleven) new faces pitching up at QPR’s training ground for pre-season.
In no particular order I give you, Junior Hoilett, Park Ji-sung, Samba Diakite, Robert Green, Ryan Nelsen, Andrew Johnson, Fabio, Jose Bosingwa, Esteban Granero, Sam Magri and Stephane Mbia; all serving as collective proof that, true to the owner’s word, he was on the cusp of turning “… a raw diamond into a diamond…”.
For good measure, throw into the mix – one sacked manager later – the mid-season acquisitions of Loic Remy, Christopher Samba and (almost) Peter Odemwingie and there you have the most salutary lesson possible that despite the best of intentions and the thickest of cheque books nothing in football comes with a cast iron guarantee.
Similarly I can distinctly recall the buzz of excitement that emanated from that small town in Suffolk in 2001 when George Burley persuaded – amongst others – a Nigerian international by the name of Finidi George that Portman Road was the place to be.
While not wishing to dampen down anyone’s parade – there’s no doubt this is just the best time to be a City fan – it is worth a gentle reminder that others have been here before and it’s ended badly.
But with one subtle difference.
Neither QPR, ‘that lot’ nor others who found themselves in a similar boat had a David McNally overseeing the whole caboodle.
And that’s why it feels okay to revel in what’s happening at the moment.
The Hughes summer spending spree was – to outsiders at least – borne of the scattergun technique; the one where you bring in as many big names, big egos and big reputations as possible in the hope that by chucking them together in the same team they’ll click. They didn’t click.
When said approach is accompanied by pay packets containing zeroes to make your eyes water then it HAS to work, and which is why the Welshman is now an ex-QPR manager (good luck Stoke).
City’s approach hopefully differs because those on the shopping list are there because they fit the City mould. Not because they’re ‘a name’ and they look impressive on paper but because, courtesy of Ewan Chester’s scouting reports, they provide a certain something that Chris Hughton has identified as missing from his current crop.
Sounds easy but of course is quite the opposite; the refusal of Ola Toivonen and Toby Alderweireld to be wooed by McNally a timely reminder that while we perceive ourselves as ‘massive’ others – particularly on the continent – are still struggling to comprehend this. One suspects both would have left their agents to do the declining given the fearsome reputation deservedly bestowed on the best CEO in football.
While Leroy Fer may have looked happy enough while enjoying his lunch in Yellows, what the picture didn’t show was the McNally half-nelson that finally made up the Dutchman’s mind. (JOKE).
Talking of which… at the time of writing Neil Lennon is reportedly shuffling around his desk a piece of paper that says ‘Gary Hooper: £4million – take it or leave it by 5PM. DM’; the Daily Record reporting that City’s seven month quest for the striker to be nearing its end-game with the McNally/Hughton patience finally showing signs of running out.
Despite reports in some Sunday papers that the former Scunthorpe man was veering toward a more lucrative move to QPR (ironic eh?), the Scottish papers are today reporting Norwich to be his preferred destination with some suggesting a City player moving in the opposite direction could be a part of the deal on the table.
For their part, Celtic are clearly hoping to hold out for the highest bidder and are not keen on accepting a cut-price fee for a player who has just one year left on his contract.
An interesting one and perhaps for once, in Celtic CEO Peter Lawwell, McNally has met his match. With both seemingly intent on playing hardball this one looks likely to go the wire, with 5PM today looking to be make or break for the deal.
As one messageboard contributor wrote earlier today: ‘I wonder if he [Hooper] will go down as the most widely spoken player never to actually play for us, at least since Dean Windass?’
Time will tell.
In McNally we trust.