Ian Rush: Man City's problem is disastrous transfer policy, not Manuel Pellegrini
Published 11/04/2015 | 02:30
It isn't just Manuel Pellegrini who is the problem at Manchester City. He may be running out of time at the Etihad and he certainly has to accept his share of the blame for City's underwhelming season.
But when you look more closely at the amount of money spent in the last six years at the club, you get an idea of why they are not pushing Chelsea closer for the title.
Their recruitment policy has had neither rhyme nor reason. Sometimes they have opted for English players: Jack Rodwell, Scott Sinclair, Joleon Lescott, Frank Lampard, Adam Johnson, Gareth Barry, James Milner and Owen Hargreaves.
And it seems as if they have acted with cop-on because my view, and one that is shared by countless others, is that you will never win anything in the Premier League unless you have British players in your team.
But Johnson, Rodwell, Sinclair and Hargreaves barely played. And towards the end of their time at the club, Lescott and Micah Richards were frozen out. Barry was allowed leave. Lampard and Milner have spent plenty of time out of the side, too.
And the result? A team that has been assembled at an astronomical price is in danger of missing out on next season's Champions League.
Now that would be a disaster. Bear in mind the following: City spent £78m this season on new players; £69m the season before; £63m in 2012/13, £78m in 2011/12, £77m the year prior to that and over £207m in 2009/10.
Have they got value for money? Far from it. Too many players, bought for huge prices, have barely figured. The £28m striker, Wilfried Bony, has started just two Premier League games since arriving in January from Swansea.
Wilfredo Caballero, bought for £6m last summer, has started just two league games. Stevan Jovetic, who cost £22m in 2013, has made just 11 league starts. Rodwell got only seven league games under his belt before being offloaded to Sunderland. Stefan Savic, a £6m buy in 2011, got five starts.
You could say 'big deal'. You could look at the fact that Sheikh Mansour has the deepest pockets in the world. You could say money is no object.
But it is. Football's Fair Play laws have forced City to balance the books. And the years when the club allowed expensive players to leave on free transfers have caught up on them.
Remember that Barry, Kolo Toure, Roque Santa Cruz and Lescott all left on free transfers - forcing City to take a massive hit on four players they bought for a combined total of £67m.
And that's before we mention the £20m loss they took on Emmanuel Adebayor, the £5m lost on Mario Balotelli and the £17m dip in Robinho's price-tag when he was offloaded to Santos.
Financial issues aside, the bigger damage has been to the team's morale. This season they have lacked continuity, a sense of belonging.
Funnily enough the years when they did win their two titles, it seemed clear they had players who did have a feeling for the club: Vincent Kompany, Joe Hart, David Silva, Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure, Pablo Zabaleta.
And it may surprise you to realise that the mainstays of their successful teams have proved to be excellent value, Hart costing just £600,000, Kompany £6m, Toure £24m, Silva £26m, Zabaleta £6.5m.
Add in the prices they paid for Martin Demichelis (£4.2m) and Gael Clichy (£7m), and you get a sense that there was a distinct policy to recruit experienced players at reasonable value.
But then you look at their many mistakes. Releasing Daniel Sturridge for just £3.5m seemed to be the biggest one.
That was until they sold Jerome Boateng in 2011 for just over £12m. The German has subsequently won two Bundesliga titles, two German Cups, the Champions League, the UEFA Super Cup, the World Club Cup and then, last summer, the World Cup.
And City sold him.
And why did they let Carlos Tevez go? According to some reports, which City deny, they bought Tevez for £47m from Manchester United. City insist they paid way less. They sold him for just £10m, though, and he has since been brilliant for Juventus, scoring 47 goals in 85 games for my former club.
So when we bear all this in mind, I just can't see how blaming, and thereby sacking, Pellegrini will solve City's problems because their problems run deeper than the Chilean in charge of first-team affairs.
Their problem stems from the fact they don't have the right mix. They need English, Scottish, Irish, Welsh players throughout the heart of their team.
They need it because this is the mix that works - British and Irish complemented by an international flavour.
They need to look at their youth team and allow those players to develop. Build a club, not just a team.
As things stand, if I had a lad who had the choice of joining City, Liverpool, Arsenal or any other Premier League club, I'd tell him not to go to City. He wouldn't get a chance there.
Pellegrini, however, deserves another chance. Yet he knows the next one will be his last.
Why I think Mourinho is extra special
There is a reason why I love Jose Mourinho.
And it stems from the way he always finds an angle to take the pressure off his players.
Think about it. Chelsea are top of the league but are not playing particularly well. They are missing Diego Costa. The pressure should be on them.
So what does Mourinho do? He comes out and says he is even more special than ever before, knowing his comments will attract headlines and take the attention away from his troops, who need just 15 more points to win the title.
"I have a problem, which is I am getting better at everything related to my job since I started," he said.
I agree with him. He is even better than the man who won the Champions League and UEFA Cup with Porto. Better even than the man who ended Chelsea's 50-year title drought in 2005.
Better than the man who twice won Serie A as well as the Italian Cup and the Champions League with Inter Milan. And better than the man who won La Liga with Real Madrid.
He makes very few mistakes. He changes tactics when the pressure comes on at the business end of the season. The swashbuckling Chelsea we saw early in the campaign have gone. The win-at-all-costs Chelsea are here now.
And their success is largely down to Mourinho, a genuine Special One.