Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Kaka: City to ram raid United and what next for Hughes?

The news that Kaka has turned down moneybags Manchester City should be welcomed by football, it was the right decision for the game. It was the right decision for Kaka who says there are more important things in life than money.

True enough, we know that money talks where the beautiful game is concerned as has been demonstrated already this week with the signing of Craig Bellamy, but the proposed Kaka deal was on a completely different level. Reports that originated from Silvio Berlusconi's own media empire, claimed that City were to set to smash the world record transfer fee by doubling it with an incredible offer of £108m.

Then we come to City's reported wage offer to Kaka of £500,000 per week - the source of these headline grabbing figures? No surprises here, because was once again it was Berlusconi's Italian media outlets. One theory mooted is that the figures were leaked so that if the deal collapsed the publicity surrounding it would make the AC Milan owner look good. It was a win, win situation for Berlusconi.

Fancy footwork and money issues aside by the AC Milan owner, the most interesting aspect of City's failure to sign Kaka will be the ramifications for Mark Hughes and the club's new owners.

Manchester City are well used to humiliation, it has been this way for over 30 years, but for their Arab owners it must make for a rather unpleasant change - and in the full glare of publicity. City, we have been led to believe, were going to smash all records - those hopes, whether the figures are true or not - have been left in tatters.

The man under the most pressure following this massive humiliation is Mark Hughes, because make no mistake, no matter what is said by Gary Cook; City's hierarchy will find it hard to accept failure having come so close to pulling-off a shock transfer that had the football world talking. Someone is going to take the blame and according to reports, City are blaming Milan for "bottling it", that is the situation at this juncture, but it is likely to change once the dust has settled.

Perhaps worse still, the damage has been done regarding future transfers because having reportedly offered to double that record fee, other clubs will be expecting at least double the market value of any future targets, which is precisely what happened with Craig Bellamy and West Ham.

Ignoring the money issues, what will happen to Hughes? Again, if we are to believe what we are told, some of City's Brazilian stars are less than happy with the Welshman's management style - no doubting that in the days and weeks ahead, this will be cited as part of the reason behind Kaka's decision to turn down City. That is that the manager was part of the problem. Further to which, Robinho has walked out of training, amidst talk of him returning home to Brazil to suck his thumb...

I feel a tad sorry for Hughes he has become little more than a pawn in all of this. The City manager has been trying his level best to convince a largely unbelieving public that he was party to the decision to buy Kaka.

Let us for a moment go along with this tale and that we are sat around our imaginary City transfer table in the Blues war-room; "So then Hughesy, who is on your shopping list?" opens Executive chairman Gary Cook, "Bellamy, Parker, Santa Cruz and what about that lad Kaka at AC Milan"? reply’s the Welshman . That would be a comedy sketch worthy of Paul Whitehouse's Fast Show, because it's a bit of a stretch from Bellamy to Kaka, even the most diehard City fan would surely admit that.

Clearly the problem here for both owner and manager is one of ambition. Hughes is probably the right manager for City; he has realistic targets and ambitions for a mid-table club like City. While steadfastly striving for success, the Welshman is plotting a very different path to that of his impatient owners who clearly want to see some trophies in the cabinet prompto.

The media have been reporting all along there's two possible future teams at Eastlands; one being picked by the manager, the other by the Arabs. From the moment that comedy spokesman told the world that if Ronaldo was worth £70m then City would offer £120m we just knew that there would fireworks and probably trouble ahead.

Furthermore, following Kaka's humiliating rejection, City's Arab owners might well reflect upon their decision to buy a second-tier English club, albeit on the cheap, because as I pointed out at the outset, it is hard enough for United to attract the world's best players' to Manchester, let alone City, as the song goes "City, Manchester City nobody knows your name".

Mickey taking aside, buying City is no longer looking a like a good deal, because no matter how much money Abu Dhabi United throw at this problem it isn't enough - they may well reflect that they have bought the wrong club.

As for Kaka, he has reportedly let it be known that he likes United and Arsenal and of course both clubs can offer regular Champions League football. Nonetheless, it is highly unlikely that Kaka will be coming to play in England, not at this stage of his career at least anyway. More likely he will end up in Real Madrid's team in the not too distant future.

As for Hughes and City's new owners, I suspect that if the Welshman was on borrowed time before the events of the last 24 hours, it will only hasten his likely departure. The Arabs will no doubt come to the conclusion that only Jose Mourinho is capable of attracting players’ of the calibre of Kaka to Manchester City.

Whatever happens, City have been tainted by Kaka's rejection. The die has been cast, any player who joins the Citizens from this point onwards will be dubbed as nothing more than a mercenary - because there is no realistic hope of glory – which is often cited as the reason for moving by the really top stars.

No doubting there will be talk of trying to buy United players, but I do not see Ronaldo or even Tevez signing for City, though the latter must be a possibility due to the nature of his ownership situation. For this reason, United fans cannot rule out a dramatic City ram raid for Tevez. I just hope that the Reds' can come up with the right deal that will see the Argentine signing for the Champions long-term.

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