After 30 years of waiting, Liverpool were finally crowned Premier League champions, ending Manchester City’s hopes of retaining a title that they so dominantly won last season.
With the season drawing to a close and the crowning of Liverpool as champions, it’s hard not to feel like Manchester City’s time in the spotlight has come and gone.
This may sound ludicrous considering City finished last season with 98 points, nearly breaking their record of 100 points from the season before, as well as having millions of pounds at their disposal with arguably the best squad in Europe, which, is managed by one of the world’s best managers in Pep Guardiola,
However, despite the fact that Guardiola has been rightfully praised for his tactical genius, the Spaniard is flawed when it comes to producing young talent. Guardiola was criticised for his handling of City’s youth after letting the likes of Jadon Sancho and Rabbi Matondo leave the club without seeing any first team action.
In fact, he failed to bring through any academy players and make them fully fledged first team players at both Barcelona and Bayern Munich prior to him taking charge of the four time Premier League champions. This issue has carried over into Manchester with England starlet, Phil Foden and defender, Eric Garcia, being the only academy graduates to see any regular playing time in the league.
This will very soon become a major problem for the club. The lack of academy graduates coming through the system into City’s first team is astonishingly poor when compared to Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea, who have produced a number of young stars recently. As a result, they will find it very difficult to replace their current stars who are aging and moving on from their prime years.
Club legend, David Silva, has departed the club after 10 years at the Ethiad. Key players such as; Sergio Aguero, Fernandinho, Kyle Walker and Nicolas Otamendi are all into their 30s. Belgian superstar, Kevin De Bruyne, who is also 29 himself, spends a lot of time on the treatment table alongside many of team mates. This presents City with the issue of losing a number of their star players to father time, especially some who are already “past it.”
On top of that, the likes of Benjamin Mendy, John Stones and Gabriel Jesus are just not good enough and with the departure of Leroy Sane, City are running low on players that will guide them to success.
Another problem is that City can no longer throw money at the issue. If City lose their ongoing appeal with the Court of Arbitration of Sport, they will be banned from all UEFA competitions for the next two seasons and fined £26.8 million for breaching financial fairplay regulations.
This means, Guardiola’s side won’t be able to buy four or five players for £50 million each next summer as suitable replacements for the likes of Silva and Sane as this could end up in another breach of financial fairplay rules. Therefore, the Sky Blues will have to go through a process of buying one or two players over the next couple of summer transfer windows in order to rebuild their star studded squad, or, produce more young players like Foden who will slot nicely into Guardiola’s system, but that won’t be easy either.
This current situation that City are facing is similar to that of their neighbours, Man United. In Sir Alex Ferguson’s final season at Old Trafford, United won the league title. Despite this, the team was deemed to be lacking in quality and was not seen as a team worthy of a Premier League title.
Since then, the Red Devils have faced a period of transition with four different managers in charge and close to £1 billion spent on players that failed to settle in Manchester. Now, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at the helm, United seemed to have settled with a strong squad of players which includes genuine world class quality and bright young talent and an identity that has seen them push for a Champions League spot this season.
In fact, if things continue the way they are for United, they could indeed challenge and possibly take over their “noisy neighbours” next season as they will most likely have a stronger squad full of energy, pace, strength and talent. This is something City will sorely lack next season with an aging and injury prone squad.
Without the production of quality young players and the ability to sign top stars, things that their closest rivals possess, City will struggle to keep up and teams like Liverpool and United will leave them dreaming of a Premier League title that was once a guaranteed certainty.