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Only the Premier League crown can save cash-rich flops

By Steven Beacom

Since taking ownership of Manchester City in 2008 Sheikh Mansour has spent over one billion pounds in an attempt to make his team the best in the world.

Six years on they aren't even close.

It was bad enough that this season was the first time City had reached the Champions League knockout stages, but to fail so miserably when they finally got there must make Mansour wonder what his highly paid players are doing.

Some might say City put up a spirited showing at the Nou Camp last night against Barcelona. That's sugar coating garbage!

Tell it how it is. City are supposed to be winning the Champions League, not being hammered 4-1 on aggregate long before the business end of the competition by a club supposedly in crisis!

They may have won the League Cup, but if Manuel Pellegrini's men, knocked out of the FA Cup by Wigan, fail to lift the Premier League crown this campaign will be a failure.

Much like Arsenal at Bayern Munich the evening before, when they too trailed 2-0 from the first leg on English soil, there was never any danger that City would surge back to beat Barcelona.

Reason? They simply aren't good enough.

Yes, City created openings but Barca goalkeeper Victor Valdes had only ONE testing save to make all night, pushing away Edin Dzeko's header when it was scoreless.

True, City, then down to 10 men after Pablo Zabaleta's red card, scored late on through Vincent Kompany in their 2-1 defeat, but by that stage the Barca players were wondering who they would land in the quarter-final draw, having watched the magical Lionel Messi take advantage of comical Joleon Lescott defending to break the deadlock.

Even then in injury time Barcelona immediately went up the other end to show who was boss with Dani Alves netting a deserved winner.

The home team should have had more with a goal disallowed for offside when it wasn't, like City they had a clear penalty not given and Messi hit the woodwork.

It wasn't vintage Barca, but it wasn't exactly the crisis club depicted in the Catalan press either with suggestions, following a weekend defeat to Real Valladolid, that Messi was at his 'lowest ebb' and Argentine coach Gerardo Martino would soon be sacked.

All this after Sandro Rosell resigned as president in January over the signing of Brazilian star Neymar with documents emerging that the cost of the deal last May was £71 million rather than the £48.6million as previously stated.

Embarrassingly, Barcelona were then charged with tax fraud. Insisting they had NOT done anything wrong the club still made a "voluntary contribution" of more than £11 million in taxes.

Clearly there are troubles at Barcelona, but as long as Messi's around, there will always be hope.

What City would give to have him?

Another one billion of Sheikh Mansour's money perhaps.

That might just buy his left leg!

Belfast Telegraph


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