Man City can finally dispel long-standing myth with Champions League win

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If some at UEFA had their way, Manchester City wouldn’t be playing in the Champions League final this weekend.

This time last year, City were still banned from the 2020/21 European season for Financial Fair Play breaches, and it took a trip to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to clear their name and overturn that suspension.

CAS ruled emphatically in City’s favour, and in doing so did more than just prove that there shouldn’t have been a case brought against the club.

When CEO Ferran Soriano gave the club’s first official comment on the ban back in February last year, he said that by appealing the charges, City could also start to change the narrative about the way their club is run.

He said: “I am also looking for the end of this process maybe to put a pen under this undertone that we are hearing all the time that anything that we do, any result that we get is based only on money and not on talent and effort.”

If you told a neutral football fan 20 years ago that Chelsea and City would be contesting a Champions League final, it’s unlikely they’d have popped into a bookies and backed up such a prophecy with a bet. Yet in the last decade, or slightly longer in Chelsea’s case, both sides have dominated English football and started to make noises on the continent.

How? Well, much of the success for both clubs has been helped by significant investment from wealthy owners. And many onlookers will conveniently leave the facts there to boost their view that City and Chelsea have simply bought their titles and medals.

In a way, they have, but a) who hasn’t? and b) when they go head to head in Porto, it will reflect two clubs who have invested that wealth far better than most of their rivals. They have the trophies to back that up too.

 

As Soriano pointed out, City are a well-run club with hard working people from top to bottom. Just look at how the backroom staff have been central to all of the Premier League title celebrations. It’s a team effort, and not just on the playing side.

Yes, City have spent money. So have Chelsea. But so have Liverpool, United, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Juventus. To be the best, you need to buy and keep the best players. That requires an awful lot of money.

 

If the CAS ruling helped improve City’s image in European football, then their involvement in the European Super League tarnished it slightly – even if they were first to pull out and haven’t felt the backlash that others have. Now, they have a chance to improve that perception once again, and they only have to look at Chelsea for the benefits of winning the Champions League.

How? Well, much of the success for both clubs has been helped by significant investment from wealthy owners. And many onlookers will conveniently leave the facts there to boost their view that City and Chelsea have simply bought their titles and medals.

In a way, they have, but a) who hasn’t? and b) when they go head to head in Porto, it will reflect two clubs who have invested that wealth far better than most of their rivals. They have the trophies to back that up too.

As Soriano pointed out, City are a well-run club with hard working people from top to bottom. Just look at how the backroom staff have been central to all of the Premier League title celebrations. It’s a team effort, and not just on the playing side.

Yes, City have spent money. So have Chelsea. But so have Liverpool, United, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Juventus. To be the best, you need to buy and keep the best players. That requires an awful lot of money.

When they beat established giants Bayern Munich in 2012, of course there were some accusations of buying their way to glory, but there was also an acceptance that to beat a team like that, you have to be half decent at playing football. Since then, the money has kept coming, as have the trophies, but the narrative of connecting Chelsea’s success directly to Roman Abramovich has softened.

Maybe that will happen with City, should they lift the Champions League on Saturday night. Maybe just getting to the final has helped. Maybe it won’t make a difference at all to those who don’t want to listen.

But if City play as they have for most of the season, even those suits at UEFA who tried to ban them might find it hard not to admire what is simply a truly brilliant football side that deserve to compete on the biggest stage.

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