A familiar criticism emerged as Manchester City returned to the glory days of English football, morphing into a reign of domination for a decade.
Just as arch-rivals Manchester United had a near-monopoly on the Premier League title being labelled “boring” in the 1990s, so was the inevitability of the trophy arriving on the other side of the city.
More than half of the last 10 Premier League games have ended with trophies in the Etihad cabinet, four of which have been won in the past five years.
A fan of Arsenal, the main challengers for this season’s Premier League title, has recently gone viral for taking the concept of “boring” a step further, suggesting it’s been a rough ride even for Manchester City fans.
“I think Manchester City are the most boring team ever to win the Premier League. I’m not arguing that they didn’t play well, they played very well,” supporter Say.
“In 2012, they won [for the first time] under [Roberto] Mancini before Sir Alex Ferguson left [Manchester United]we invested in that, there’s a story about that. [Vincent] Kompany scored that header in their game, [Sergio] Aguero moment. Since then, not even Manchester City fans have been involved. ”
Understandably, this view is not shared by Manchester City fans, especially those who saw the barren three years before the league triumph a decade ago.
But the reality of Manchester City is that it will need a period of ‘boring’ domination if it is to become a powerhouse in English football.
Signs of this can be found in the club’s financial results for 2021/22, which show how far a sporting dynasty is built.
The narrative around Citizenship tends to focus on spending, given the spending by Manchester City to secure a place in the elite of English football.
The club’s defence is that, given the team’s level when it was bought by Abu Dhabi United in 2008, substantial investment was necessary to reach the same level as the leading clubs.
Now, however, CEO Ferran Soriano sees it as fully mature.
“In 2008, we set ourselves the goal of surpassing the benchmarks set by others in football; and in doing so, we have also surpassed new standards that we think leading clubs will meet in the time we catch up,” he said. wrote in the annual report.
Added: “Our goal is clear – to one day be the club that sets the benchmark for others. The statistics and results show that in many ways we are starting to achieve our long-term goals.”
This year, more than ever, the club’s actions underscore its status as an established force.
There were no frantic player acquisitions, a handful of first-team players were moved to rivals, and young prospects were sold for a lucrative profit after barely playing a game.
City are no longer looking to emulate the status of other clubs, but clubs from which rivals seek to gain expertise.
Headline financial figures reflect this theme, with the club reporting record revenue of $702 million and a pre-tax profit of $47.7 million.
But more impressive than the growth is the fact that a key part of spending has remained stable.
As online football finance experts, The Swiss Ramble, point out Manchester City’s wages fell slightly by $1m to $405m, which “means they’ve stayed at this level for the past three years”, compared with a $114m increase in United’s wages over the same period.
While Swiss Ramble highlights that other clubs such as Chelsea ($381m) and Liverpool ($360m) are below their rivals and have increased significantly since 2016, the wage platform they reveal matters.
Wages are the biggest cost of any football club, and even the top cannot keep them growing.
A balance has to be struck where it is possible to remain successful but not in any way.
Nor is it necessarily the winning formula shown by United, who have spent more than their rivals of late but remain far from the elite.
But as the saying goes, when you’re at your peak, you’re never more vulnerable and the club must be ready to adapt to new challenges.
Domestically, there is the rapid development of Newcastle United, backed by the huge wealth of the Saudi Public Investment Fund, while at Chelsea, the new owners will continue to re-establish the club at the top of the game.
Now with news that Liverpool could be sold, there could be another group of bosses vying for dominance of the English game.
CEO Soriano seems to appreciate the landscape.
“If there’s anything more difficult than winning, it’s winning again,” he wrote in his annual report, adding that being able to understand that previous success is meaningless when a new game begins requires a rare talent. It takes character, humility and tenacity to win again. “
If opponents’ fans consider this repeated success “boring,” that could be a sign that Soriano’s approach is working.