Within the best writing paper last 48 hours, my favorite EPL team, Manchester City (called Blankcheckster City by fans of other less kick-ass EPL sides) and their scarf wearing, meatball eating coach Roberto Mancini have confirmed their interest in signing [Landon Donovan during the summer transfer window. This comes directly on the heels of MLS commissioner Dan Garber’s announcement that the MLS would not consider selling Landbro under any
circumstances. No matter what Garber has said, it is never a good idea to underestimate the amount of money an Arab oil tycoon is willing to toss around. The signings of David Silva, Yaya Toure, and Jerome Boateng are just the most recent evidence of the ownerships plan to throw piles of money out in the transfer market with hopes of capturing an EPL title. I honestly think the owners of Manchester City wipe their ass with new, crisp hundreds just because they can. As both a City and USMNT super fan, I have incredibly mixed emotions about this possible move. As the only City fan working for “The greatest blog of our time” I am obligated to share this with you. Hopefully, at the end of this piece I will have arrived at some sort of verdict regarding the love triangle that is Landon, the USMNT, and City.
The case for the move:
Basically, it makes a great deal of soccer sense for the boys in baby blue. With the abundance of midfield talent on at the Eastlands, there has been a great deal of confusion about who exactly will see the pitch. With the addition of Donovan, the midfield situation begins to work itself out. Donovan and Silva would represent the attacking minded wide midfielders that Mancini has been coveting during his tenure with the club. Mancini is Italian, and will surely value both Silva and Donovan’s ability and willingness to track back defensively as well. While there have been other wide midfield options on the bench Mancini has not been pleased with what he has seen during training. This is evident by both Stephen Ireland and Shawn Wright Phillips being buried on the bench for much of the last campaign, the sale of Martin Petrov, and the midyear signing of rising English star Adam Johnson. With due respect o Craig Bellamy, his knees have always been a concern. This is especially true with the increased number of scheduled games due to Europa league qualification.
I am a huge Adam Johnson fan; I truly think this kid will be a stud at the international level. TYAC’’s own Guy Bailey raved about his abilities when after watching his development with Middlesbrough. However, Johnson is still a very young and developing talent. With the choice of a player in his prime, or a rising talent, I will take the proven star. With Donovan and Sillva on the flank, Mancini will most likely deploy a combination of Yaya Toure, Gareth Barry, and Nigel de Jong and occasionally Patrick Vieira in the central midfield depending on the opponent. This great depth will allow Johnson to play and develop, will keep legs fresh, and may prevent another late season slide like the one that haunted City last season.
This depth is critical, as it appears that Mancini will not
take the Aston Villa approach and treat the Europa league as another training session. For a squad that has not won a trophy in decades, Mancini will be trying to capture both the EPL and Europa Leauge titles. For those of you out there on the internet who think the Europa League is complete shit, you could not be more wrong. Go try telling that to the MVP of both the World Cup and last year’s Europa league, Diego Forlan. Adding another world class midfielder to an already deep team allows for a great deal more flexibility in squad selection during a week with a Saturday EPL fixture, followed by a Wednesday Europa group play. Finally, the opportunity for Donovan to play European football should not be ignored.
The case against the move:
With the amount of money that my favorite Arab owners have tossed around, you have to wonder how much of this potential signing is just basically some bored dudes who feel like spending more. The cynic in me thinks this may just be a grab for a big name that performed well during the World Cup. Or, could it be a move to draw a larger American fan base to the team? That’s incredibly patronizing to US fans, but possible.
Let me be clear, I do not doubt Landon’s abilities. I have just seen my owners “make it rain” Floyd “Money” Mayweather style on the transfer market so often, it’s hard for me not to think of these purchases as just another form of entertainment. The Abu Dhabi United Group tosses money around the way you and I toss out garbage. (Side note: Mayweather stop ducking Pacquiao. You are just scared he will knock your bitch ass right the fuck out.)
If Donovan does end up with the only actual team in the City of Manchester (fuck those suburban United bitches); who knows if he will see the field as often as he should. I mentioned previously the midfield depth currently on the roster. God forbid he loses his form and Mancini plants him on the pine like he did Ireland and Wright-Phillips. Mancini has shown no problem leaving big name, high price players on the bench. Roque Santa Cruz and Joleon Lescott are a pair that immediately come to mind. As such, the onus will be on Donovan to perform in a high-pressure situation, which isn’t much different from other clubs except that he’s just one big fish on a side full of them.
This, I think, is the critical point. The most important problem with the move are the expectations that Manchester City has as a club, as well as the team’s coach. With respect to Everton super fan and TYAC’s own Neil, the expectations at City are much higher than they are at Everton. If the team does not perform well, Mancini may be left without a chair by week 10. Having that type of tension in a work environment is never good for any athlete. More importantly, Mancini is nothing like the coach Donovan excelled under during his previous stint in the EPL, David Moyes. In the states, very few professional coaches get the label with the moniker “players coach”, or “locker room guy.” That is exactly what Moyes is; he supports his guys and is a large proponent of club player development. Moyes genuinely likes players. Mancini doesn’t. If Donovan joins City, he will be just another tool in Mancini’s bag to play with. That will not be the case with a return to Everton. Making the move back to a club where he is already beloved by fans may be a better move.
The City fan in me would love to have the opportunity to purchase a fresh, baby blue, kit with DONOVAN across the shoulders. I would have to keep the jersey on me at all times just so I could put it on whenever I ran into Neil. At the same time, the Donovan and USMNT fan in me knows there are much better places for him. If not going to Man City means that Landbro will have to spend another year in a league he has completely outgrown (MLS), he should make the jump. However, if there are other opportunities for him in the EPL that do not involve my favorite side, Manchester City is not the place to be.
Puck is the pop-culture guru for The Yanks Are Coming. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He’s obviously been living with TYAC Senior Writer and Managing Editor Jon Levy too long, because he’s drinking the Pacquiao Kool-Aid like it is purple drank. That said, he’s a longtime supporter of Manchester City and knows the club in and out.