In Shiekh Mansour’s grand plan to turn City into a world force the chance to rub shoulders with Europe’s finest was a key component.
That isn’t just on the pitch, but at places like the draw itself. The opulent setting of Monaco saw City representatives mark their arrival, chatting and networking with the established elite.
They now have the chance to make their mark on the pitch. This may be City’s first appearance in the European Cup since 1968 but that statistic is only one for the long-suffering supporters.
Many of the players, so expensively imported over the past three years, have plenty of top European experience. This isn’t a City side tarnish by years of under-achievement. Boss Mancini has merely creamed the best of Europe’s talent with the lure of big wages and the expansive ‘project’ to construct a side of fantasy football team proportions – their place near the top of the Champions League betting Is justified.
A front-six of Tevez, Aguero, Dzeko, Toure, Silva and Nasri is stuff dreams are made of – and City are living the dream right now. This is a side that can compete in the Champions League from the off and as such I would be very surprised if they don’t at least make the semi-finals – those who bet on the Champions League take note.
This lavish spending does leave a rather unnatural look about the side, it isn’t one that ha emerged organically overtime. But the players are SO good that doesn’t really matter, and the Shiekh’s determination to keep on spending and the apparent circumvention of the fair player regulations thanks to the Etihad Campus, means that the squad is only going to get stronger.
Barcelona remain the team to beat, their place among the game’s greatest ever sides is secure. But the way I have seen City steamroller the opposition so far this season suggests they could be the Catalan’s club’s greatest challengers. Add to that the fact they City could easily spent another £30 or £40 million in January should they see fit, the project could make that final leap towards its destination come next May.