James Lawton: City's flawed ambition can only drive the game mad

 

Nigel De Jong, Manchester City's Dutch midfielder, has let it be known that he is "frustrated," in his negotiations with his club over the terms of his future employment.

This may not rank highly on any chart of human suffering but some may see his point partly because, in almost the same breath as giving his new team-mate Sergio Aguero a guarantee of more than £50m wages over the next five years, City say the best they can do for him is a mere £80,000 a week, which of course is barely £4m a year.

The main reason, though, is that football has become, essentially and at times, almost exquisitely mad.

So separated has it become from the experience of most normal people, it has almost lost the power to outrage or astound. Most people just juggle the figures and shake their heads.

It has become a place where players even as resolutely functional as De Jong, who, for all his professional qualities, could no more light up a football stadium than double as lead violinist for the Hallé Orchestra, seem to spend much of their time agonising over quite how well they are keeping up with football inflation.

Now that City have become such a byword for the phenomenon, manager Roberto Mancini can only groan at the news that not only De Jong is upset but also Vincent Kompany, who is also being offered a slave-rate £80,000-a-week, and Micah Richards, for whom there is only the scrapings of £65,000, out of which, when you think about it, he could buy no more than four bog-standard Porsches a month.

These rumblings do not fit so easily into the image of mature, upward mobility that City had some cause to be projecting at the end of the season. Winners of their first significant trophy in 35 years when the FA Cup was gathered in at the expense of Manchester United, higher placed than Arsenal in the final roll-call for Europe, City had finally started to play some fully integrated, grown-up football.

However, right on the cue of a new season we have the rumblings of the disaffected, the ritual promises of the latest expensive hero and the increasingly plaintive cries of Carlos Tevez over the family tragedy of his not being able to share with his daughters a perfectly agreeable existence in somewhere like Madrid or Milan.

It is necessary to remind ourselves all over again about the essentially flawed ambition of Manchester City. They have created in their dressing room something that increasingly resembles a culture of ever-rising envy. De Jong, no doubt, is a forceful and effective professional but his own estimation of his worth is unlikely to be shared by most of those who remember him mostly by what appeared to be an attempt to decapitate Spanish midfielder Xabi Alonso in the World Cup final.

Kompany is a fine, consistent defender and Richards is still young enough to be regarded as promising, but for the moment such virtues are once again overshadowed by one of the older truths of football.

It is that you cannot buy success simply at any price. You cannot throw masses of money at players of disparate skill and personality and expect some smooth and seamlessly competitive result.

In the Manchester City executive suite, the belief, clearly, is that Sergio Aguero is worth at least twice as much as any of De Jong or Kompany or Richards. This is an entirely reasonable calculation, but at the moment it seems to offer only one guarantee. It is that City, for all their recent progress, will for some time continue to define the difference between building success and buying insanity.

Life and Style
Social media users in Mexico who commented on cartel violence have been killed in the past
techTweets not showing up or loading this morning, users say
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker