In today’s Pink Un, City’s Executive Director Zoe Webber says that surviving in the EPL is getting more and more difficult. She admits that because we have no owner investment it makes it even harder. But she is wrong… it makes it impossible.
She also hinted at player sales this summer, not a surprise but perhaps getting us ready for a bigger exodus than we want.
Only the owners at Nottingham Forest and Brentford are not billionaires in the EPL at the moment, but both have owners way beyond Delia and Michael’s wealth. To put the whole thing into context, Newcastle’s owners are nearly 30 times richer than Manchester City’s! That is what we are competing against.
Our two recent EPL excursions have resulted in 20 and 21 points – proof if it were needed, that we’re not even close.
The first season in the EPL under Daniel Farke I will admit had mitigating circumstances, like Covid and a horrendous injury list, but even without those things would we have had enough? I doubt it.
I hope, really hope, that despite Zoe not going as far as saying the word “impossible”, the board and our owners (I prefer majority shareholders) now really do realise that the game is up. Self-funding is like some mythical Arthurian quest, lovely in fiction but in the cold light of reality more of a nightmare.
So will the Attanasio family be our White Knights, riding to our rescue with regular EPL football and a return to European competition?
Probably not, but it will make us more competitive. The family is worth ten times that of Delia and Michael.
It will still be a version of Moneyball but, hopefully, the players we will be trying to sign will be an upgrade on what we have signed over the last few years.
I cannot agree with supporters who say we should have kept players like James Maddison and Emi Buendia. We had absolutely no choice in our present financial situation; the Maddison money was needed for Farke’s massive rebuild and Buendia basically went on strike, but more finances will allow us to keep our good players for longer.
I should stress though that money is now the biggest part of football – arguably bigger than the sport itself – but let’s not forget that Southampton’s owner is a billionaire and yet they are stinking the place out at the moment.
So money is only part of the problem in remaining a regular EPL club. As I have said before, Everton over the last few years have spent nearly the same as Liverpool.
In addition to being funded appropriately, you also need a top coach, a brilliant recruitment team, an honest, inclusive board and, these days, top-class stats operatives.
So with this crossroads we have arrived at – back in the same position we were in 2017 – where do we go from here? Promotion this season now looks like a forlorn hope.
As I said in reply to Martin yesterday, David Wagner must be given the players he needs to play his way. Will it be 4-2-3-1? Or a 4-3-3 that reverts to 4-5-1 when we don’t have the ball?
This was a massive reason why the recruitment of 2021 went wrong. The signings that summer were obviously for a 4-3-3 setup, but did Daniel Farke want that? As a coach at Norwich, he played 4-2-3-1 for 90% of his time, so why the change?
And who will Wagner want here?
I would give both Kieran Dowell and Onel Hernandez new contracts but let those determined to go leave the club and build with those that want to be here.
I would try to keep Andrew Omobamidele, Marcelino Nunez, (who may do a Vrancic and improve next season now he has a season under his belt) and Gabriel Sara.
I’d let Max go if that is his wish with our blessing, and Sam Byram as well because of his injury record.
Then start searching for the Grant Holts, the David Fox’s, and Wes Houlihans of this world as we have done in the past, especially now that German players are not realistic targets. Thanks, Brexit.
Three coaches have failed to get any consistency out of this squad, so to me it is time for Stuart Webber’s time at the club to come to an end.
I am sure he has worked hard at delivering what he promised, regular Premier League status, but even he must admit he has failed. He couldn’t ever win in my opinion because of the financial situation but instead of being honest with us he has picked fights with local journalists and fans and caused the biggest fracture between the club and the fans since the days of Mr. Chase.
The £66 million loan set against parachute payments was another gut punch for all the supporters. It costs a fortune to travel and attend away games nowadays and the club’s attitude to those hardy souls is absolutely dreadful. It is a wonder the club hasn’t blamed them for the inability to get automatic promotion as they did with the relegation last season.
So, a big summer lies ahead. Time for a new sporting director and a new majority shareholder and hopefully this discord between the club and local journalists/fans can be repaired, so we are all on the same page going forward.