Manchester City and Chelsea have provided some of the biggest talking points in football in recent years, with their hundreds of millions of pounds thrown at teams for some of the world’s best players. This weekend, they faced each other on the pitch; and for the third time in a row City defeated the champions.
But, ignoring recent results (bear with me), with City aiming to perform an act similar to Chelsea’s (in which they catapult themselves to the Champions League and silverware); where do the differences still lie?
I don’t think many argue that on paper Chelsea outclass City. It isn’t a massive margin, but when players like Drogba, Essien, Cole, Malouda, Terry, Lampard and co. are in top form, no-one really expects anything but a defeat.
Essien is, in my opinion, the best all-round midfielder in the league. He can attack, but his defensive abilities (in a midfield role) are superior to pretty much anyone else’s in world football. Couple that with Lampard and you have yourself the best central midfield partnership in the league.
Now look at City’s team. I’m not going to sit here and deny they have top quality in places too, with Tevez and Adebayor amongst others are top-drawer footballers. They’ve spent unbelievable amounts, but with it they’ve managed to secure people like your De Jongs, your Milners, your Yaya Toures. Sure, the Toure brothers have both played in the Champions League, but are they really the top brass City lack; like Essien or Terry?
And yes, I realise Chelsea haven’t won the Champions League either, but the point remains. The players at Stamford Bridge are, on the whole, a class apart from those at Eastlands.
Then we get onto the topic of managers: Ancelotti and Mancini. Both new to the English game, both Italian, both have managed in the San Siro in their previous jobs. But who would you rather manage your club? Would it be the man who has never won Europe’s top prize, or would it be someone who’s been to four finals, winning one as a player and two as a manager?
Of course, City have more money than Chelsea; just as they have more money than any other club in football. But in the recent words of Ancelotti to Mancini, “I’d rather have my team than your money”. For now at least, he’s right.
Make no mistake about it, the gap between City is smaller and they do show that on the pitch; but I’m afraid sometimes the place they have to show it is in both the league table come May… and their trophy cabinet. The Citizens’ next step would be Champions League football, which I for one feel they will have earnt by May, meaning next season they will be at the top table with Europe’s elite.
They need to win something within a couple of years though, to help lure some of the very best. Why didn’t Kaka come to City, while he was at Milan? Because City were just a club with money, without the squad, silverware or standards of the top clubs he could have gone to, like Chelsea.
That Kaka saga was a couple of years ago now; but does that point remain?