MANCHESTER CITY’s two-year ban from the UEFA Champions League might have been overturned, but the critics won’t let the saga close without further snipes. Managers at other clubs, league officials and media commentators have all suggested the decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) was foolhardy.
José Mourinho said it was a “disgraceful decision” and asked why the club has been fined if they hadn’t done something wrong. He felt it signalled the end of Financial Fair Play’s credibility. The Manchester Evening News hit back at Mourinho, pointing to his tax evasion charge in Portugal. They also commented on Jürgen Klopp’s response, noting that he was good at changing his mind. Klopp criticised Paul Pogba’s record transfer fee when Manchester United signed him from Juventus, claiming that when football becomes just about money he would walk away. The newspaper reminded him that Liverpool’s record fee is higher than anything paid by City.
The rivalry between Liverpool and Manchester clearly extends to the media – the Liverpool Echo included remarks made by Jamie Carragher: “Yes, they have gone to court and won, but I don’t think that suspicion will ever go away so I don’t think they have fully cleared their name in the eyes of people up and down the country.”
Klopp told the BBC that he was happy City will play in the Champions League next season because if they lost the 12 games they might play in the competition, the rest of the Premier League would have no chance. He described the CAS decision as “not a good day for football”. A lot of football fans would agree with the popular German coach.
While City had won a technical victory, Ian Herbert of the Daily Mail insisted it was “no moral victory” for the club. Football finance expert Kieran Maguire said City will feel vindicated by the CAS verdict, but suggested a cartel of Premier League and European clubs had tried to impress upon the authorities the ban was valid. “Bridges will have to be rebuilt,” said Maguire.
City’s view is that the current system in Europe is designed to prevent a new name from challenging the establishment clubs like Real Madrid, Manchester United, Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
Martin Samuel of the Daily Mail confirmed that European powerhouses were united in their denouncement of City. “It is a cosy little club, European football’s upper echelons, and UEFA kowtow to it,” he said.
Samuel summed up City’s problem, which is pretty much the same issue facing Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea. “City have no constituency….They are too big and successful to hang out with the old gang, the smaller clubs, the ones who are dictated to from on high. But they are too much of a threat to be received by the traditional elite, either domestically or in Europe.”
Samuel added that rather than celebrate City’s discomfort, clubs like Newcastle, Everton, Wolves and Tottenham should cheer the club’s victory in court, for it hits back at the elite controlling European football. City may be wealthy and may win trophies, but they will always be regarded as “johnny-come-latelies” by the old masters of the game.
It is not just managers and media speaking out against City, La Liga President, Javier Tebas, is convinced they broke the rules and that most of Europe does too. Tebas is an advocate of “justice against state-owned clubs” and said PSG and City have spent more than anyone else in pursuit of success. “City haven’t signed with their own resources like Manchester United, who bring in money through TV or sponsorship. They sign with petrodollars, with money obtained through oil by the owners in the United Arab Emirates.”
Meanwhile, Pep Guardiola is demanding an apology from those that have criticised his club and the CAS decision. TalkSport reported that the City manager has told Klopp and Mourinho to give him a call to discuss their issues. “If they want to talk I’m here. They know my telephone number, but I think we don’t have to discuss a lot because the sentence was clear. All the suggestions that we were lying or cheating, it was not like this. We were clean. We should be apologised to.”
Guardiola hit a raw nerve when he admitted he did not expect other clubs to defend City, but the club had the right to defend itself. “I know for the elite clubs, like Liverpool, United and especially Arsenal, it is uncomfortable us being here. But they have to understand we deserve to be here. If we want to compete with them, we go onto the pitch and try to achieve what they achieved in the past, decades ago, and what we have done this decade.”
Sources: Guardian, Telegraph, Daily Mail, Manchester Evening News, Liverpool Echo, TalkSport, BBC, AS.
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