City the new Galacticos? No, they're just all good guys
Money can no more buy success than love, but in modern football it doesn't half help. So while Tottenham are as prudent in spending Enic's riches as Manchester City are profligate with Sheikh Mansour's, the balance between the two clubs has almost inevitably swung north.
It is little more than 15 months since, with Peter Crouch's goal, Spurs won what was effectively a Champions' League play-off at Eastlands, condemning City to the Europa League. Yet even by the time last August that Roberto Mancini's club headed to White Hart Lane for the opening League game of the season, they had outspent the London side by six to one. Joe Hart, one of their cheapest acquisitions, was the oustanding individual in a goalless draw that day but by the end of the season, class (or was it simply money?) had told and as they return today after another year of vast investment, it is City who are basking in the excitement of the Champions' League draw. Bayern Munich, Villarreal and Napoli await them; Spurs, who a year ago had just been paired with Internazionale, now have to be content with the prospect of meeting Shamrock Rovers.
Throughout the summer Tottenham have been more concerned with keeping one of their own players, Luka Modric, out of the hands of another filthy-rich club who seem to believe that the notion of financial fair play can wait another window. If Harry Redknapp has wavered once or twice in the face of Chelsea's aggressive bidding for his best player, his chairman, Daniel Levy, has nevertheless stood admirably firm. Only a slight hamstring twinge, it seems, could keep Modric out of today's game and despite having left their transfer dealings very late again, Tottenham expect, before the window closes on Wednesday, to have at least one new midfielder to play alongside him.
Their captain Michael Dawson said after playing 45 minutes of the downbeat Europa League game with Hearts on Thursday: "We're bringing in one or two ourselves. You can't afford to stand still in this market." When he tries to prepare by studying this afternoon's possible opponents, however, the permutations must be bewildering. "When you look at City's strikeforce you just wonder who's going to play," he admitted. "Look at the signings they've made – but also the players who were already there like [Carlos] Tevez. They really have got some squad to start with."
The point is graphically emphasised by the man who will join Dawson in the centre circle before kick-off today, City's new captain Vincent Kompany. "I was training the other day and on my team the strikers were Aguero, Balotelli and Nasri. On the other team it was Dzeko, Tevez and Silva and Yaya Touré."
For Spurs and other challengers, the principal hope must either be that as sometimes occurred last season, City will simply not gel into an effective whole, or that various egos will trip over each other. Unlikely, insists Kompany, who is amused by the label Samir Nasri has stuck on City as the new Galacticos: "They are all good guys, that is the advantage to it. I think they are all good professionals. Everybody wants the best for the team and that makes it easier to get a message across when you think it will benefit the team."
He is an impressive character who seems to have taken in his immaculate stride the howler that presented Manchester United, of all teams, with their late winning goal in last month's Community Shield. About to marry a local girl from a mixed-race family – some red, some blue – he appears, unlike Tevez, to love the city as well as City. "I come from Belgium, the weather is the same, so I won't be complaining. Everybody has a different opinion and I respect that. I know it's not as easy for everyone but I am happy, I like it here and have absolutely no problem in seeing myself living a long time in Manchester. I like Mancunians, I am good here. I feel comfortable here, it feels like home."
It has never done so for Tevez's family but Mancini says they are prepared to make the city their home again, in which case he would seem certain to stay with the club. The latest challenge for the manager, already facing calls to maintain the increasingly positive approach seen in City's first two League games, will therefore be avoiding unrest among whichever of his attacking players are left out from week to week.
The tall Edin Dzeko is looking more like the natural leader of the line, but there is a limit to the number of support players – Sergio Aguero, Tevez, Nasri, David Silva, Yaya Touré, Mario Balotelli, plus the Englishmen Adam Johnson, James Milner and Gareth Barry – who can be fitted in around him. The wage bill is frightening and opposing defenders such as Dawson must feel some trepidation too.
Tottenham (probable, 4-4-1-1): Friedel; Walker, Dawson, Kaboul, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Modric, Huddlestone, Bale; Van der Vaart; Defoe.
Manchester City (probable, 4-2-3-1): Hart; Richards, Kompany, Lescott, Clichy; Toure, Barry; Milner, Aguero, Silva; Dzeko.
Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester City is on ESPN today, kick-off 1.30pm
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