When news broke that City were now The Richest Club in the World, their delirious fans were interviewed outside Wastelands. The general consensus was us lot down the road had been doing it for the past couple of decades, so why couldn’t they? Buying success.
The difference with Chelsea’s money or City’s money is that it’s new, not earned, but given. When United broke record transfer fees it was because we had earned our own money. A worldwide fan base, prize money, and transfer sales.
The summer we bought Eric Cantona for £1.2m, we made sales of £1.9m. When we paid £7m for Andy Cole, we made sales of £12.2m. When we paid £3.5m for Sherringham we sold Sharpe for £4.5m, and so on.
Still, managing money and the responsibilities that come with it had been a gradual process for our club, learning how to behave and what to do. City, with their sudden burst on to the money map, have not had this time to learn, and it shows.
First, they shamelessly offloaded their captain, Richard Dunne, who was one year away from his testimonial in a bid to “balance the books”, or at least that was the reason they gave him. Given that they had spent £250m in transfers over the past two summers, Dunne surely had to know the £5m they recaptured from his sale was neither here nor there.
“All he wants is big-money players,” Dunne said of chairman, Garry Cook. “He doesn’t understand the core loyalty of the club and where it begins. They told me they have a certain amount of money they have to recoup each season to make things look better on the books. I could understand if I was being sold for £200m, it might make sense, but it was a bit strange really. It just needed people to be honest with me. I was getting phone calls from people saying Garry Cook was trying to sell me behind my back, two months after me going to him and saying if he has any problems to come and deal with me. I’m disappointed with people who say one thing and then do the other. I’m not going to cry just because the club wanted to sell me – just don’t do it behind my back.”
The fact that Dunne is enjoying some of the best form of any defender in the league this season makes the situation fairly amusing, given how shit City’s new £40m defence in Toure and Lescott has been. Regardless, Dunne being happy at his new club doesn’t change that City shamelessly booted him out, arranging the deal behind his back, and couldn’t be honest with him about the reasons.
The latest victim of City’s classless behaviour since the money came rolling in is former Manchester United legend, Mark Hughes. The man the fans were chanting was a “Munich bastard” during some points of last season, most notably away to Everton, found out he’d lost his job through the press and not from the club. Hughes’ replacement had been picked out weeks before and despite telling Sparky his aim was a top six finish, a position City currently fill, got rid of him a week before Christmas.
The foolish Garry Cook tried to defend this decision in the press conference that followed, but just looked flustered and out of his depth. If there was footage of Cook welcoming Uwe Rosler in to the “Manchester United hall of fame” I imagine he would still look less awkward than he did trying to defend the indefensible, before stopping the press asking any more questions about Hughes.
The cost of forcing Dunne out has been a crap defence, conceding more goals than any other team in the top half of the table. What will the cost of shafting Hughes be? Losing key players like Craig Bellamy and Shay Given, who have been appalled by their club’s behaviour? In all honesty, probably not, because there’s no way either of those players would earn even half of their current salary at any other club in the world, so they’re not going to leave City on principles, regardless of how angry they are with the club.
Our manager has spoken out about the way City have behaved and has looked to the red spirit of our former players.
“It was unacceptable behaviour,” Ferguson said of City’s handling of Hughes. “It doesn’t matter whether you have lost twenty games or two, there is a way to treat people. For some reason Christmas seems to bring out the worst in directors. I do not know how you can do something like that. From Saturday morning the rumour mill was working and Mark must have realised it was his last game. It was a terrible position to be in. I think everyone was shocked. I spoke to Mark the next day and I could tell he was suffering. I spoke to him about Steve Bruce, who was fantastic after the game. In football you have disputes with managers from time to time, but what Steve Bruce did was defend an old team-mate. They were both part of that great team of the ’90s and they all stood by each other – their loyalty to each other was fantastic. That team would fight for each other and that’s what Steve Bruce did. It was like he was saying, ‘that’s my team-mate you’re talking about’.”
Keano is right, Hughes should have stayed well clear of that classless mob. Now he’s tarnished, if not totally destroyed, his reputation amongst United fans, the club he played at for 13 years, and only has a place in the dole queue to show for it.