IAN HERBERT: Sheikh Mansour may be the unlikely savior of football

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From day one, reputation and image were the point when Abu Dhabi bought Manchester City. Winning friends and influencing people.

It was all about the Gulf State revealing qualities of sophistication and imagination – that set it apart from Qatar, brash Dubai, or anywhere on Earth you wanted to name.

This brand image would be there forever, well before the time when the oil fields were left dry. In other words, it was never about the money.

And that’s why City’s decision to join the hopeless, greedy group of moneylenders plotting their escape from the Super League was so baffling in the first place.

Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan could well be the savior of English football

Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan could well be the savior of English football

You could see this from a John W. Henry, who has viewed his investments as commodities all his life. Or a Stan Kroenke, a ruthless entrepreneur who took over his local NFL team and promptly sent them to Los Angeles. Or a Joel Glazer, who apparently has little more to do with his time than leaching out other people’s sports clubs.

But not Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan – a person who plowed £ 1.3 billion into City and is still investing.

Admittedly, the man in question has hardly been seen in Manchester. He showed up for a home game against Portsmouth in the Mark Hughes era and was not tempted back.

But the people he has installed on the important functions have more than done the job for him. They have built the best training base, hired the best manager, established the best digital media operation and set up the best player acquisition model. They have provided vital economic redemption for Manchester’s struggling east side and have even built a college there.

After Pep Guardiola's comments (left) condemning the Super League, it appears that the Manchester City boss has the backing of owner Sheikh Mansour (right).

After Pep Guardiola's comments (left) condemning the Super League, it appears that the Manchester City boss has the backing of owner Sheikh Mansour (right).

After Pep Guardiola’s comments (left) condemning the Super League, it appears that the Manchester City boss has the backing of owner Sheikh Mansour (right).

Sheikh Mansour and the Abu Dhabis have built the best training base (photo), hired the best manager, established the best digital media operation and set up the best player acquisition model

Sheikh Mansour and the Abu Dhabis have built the best training base (photo), hired the best manager, established the best digital media operation and set up the best player acquisition model

Sheikh Mansour and the Abu Dhabis have built the best training base (photo), hired the best manager, established the best digital media operation and set up the best player acquisition model

But then the Abu Dhabis found themselves among the football pariahs – despised by the supporters who cherished everything they had brought and who were destined to be remembered as one of the gang of six who stole English football from the people.

There was always a suspicion that they were less convinced by the whole regretful show than the driving, backstabbing owners of Manchester United and Liverpool. It seemed significant that confirmation of their own involvement came after the others on Sunday.

It is perfectly legit for City to now say through Sheikh Mansour that they were sent back on Sunday by a desperate group of scammers to add their name to the European Super League project, determined to take their country before UEFA took their own. . Expansion plans for the Champions League for the next day.

City can also say this boldly, because those clubs have done them no service. They were all co-signers of a joint letter opposing City’s request to suspend their own Champions League ban, which was later rescinded. The rest of the group of six then took the moral high ground.

City was part of 12 founding clubs but is now ready to withdraw from the £ 4.6 billion scheme

City was part of 12 founding clubs but is now ready to withdraw from the £ 4.6 billion scheme

City was part of 12 founding clubs but is now ready to withdraw from the £ 4.6 billion scheme

By withdrawing, City will be able to maintain that position they have been proud of for the past decade – a club outside of football’s restrictive, selfish Estabal. A cabal that, as City has ruthlessly argued at the time, deliberately constructed the UEFA Financial Fair Play system to keep out enterprising, imaginative newcomers like them.

It also means City is continuing the controversy surrounding their handling of those UEFA rules. UEFA found they violated FFP and imposed the ban. The Court of Arbitration in Sport was by no means flattering in withdrawing it.

And somewhere along the way, the joyful city we knew became shrill and angry – rightly so they would say – and at war with those running a sport in which they have shone a light in so many ways.

Pep Guardiola is certainly not in the mood to follow the money and attribute everything to the history of this proud, passionate football club – founded 140 years ago by the daughter of a working-class pastor of an unemployment-paralyzed East Manchester. represent.

Benjamin Mendy showed support for Guardiola by retweeting the club's post about him speaking out

Benjamin Mendy showed support for Guardiola by retweeting the club's post about him speaking out

Aymeric Laporte was another player who supported Guardiola

Aymeric Laporte was another player who supported Guardiola

Guardiola’s comments about the Super League also received support from his City players

Other City players also showed their support for Guardiola after his press conference on Tuesday

Other City players also showed their support for Guardiola after his press conference on Tuesday

Other City players also showed their support for Guardiola after his press conference on Tuesday

“It is not a sport if there is no link between exercise and success,” he said on Tuesday. ‘It’s not a sport. It’s not a sport if it doesn’t matter if you lose. I want the best possible competition. It’s not fair for teams to fight at the top and fail to qualify. ‘

The players feel the same. And the way the City staff put together his quotes seemed significant, too. They were the main item on the club website for the rest of Tuesday. City tweeted them under the words, “The boss speaks out.”

As Guardiola led, so followed his club. Now watch the whole miserable building collapse.

And Manchester City will truly be able to say that they were the ones who helped save English football.

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