Expensive signings, new facilities and player discord: how it feels to be inside a football club takeover

Asia's Tech News Daily

Manchester City wanted to make a statement with the signing of Robinho in 2008 – GETTY IMAGES

Gareth Barry was wavering when he sat down inside an Abu Dhabi hotel with Mark Hughes and Mark Bowen to discuss his potential transfer from Aston Villa to Manchester City in the summer of 2009.

“He didn't really want to come,” said Bowen. “And I just said, ‘Listen Gareth, this is like a big juggernaut that’s going to keep flying along. Mark and I are on it. We might fall off but you’ve got to just get on, and stay on for as long as you can, because you will win trophies’.”

Bowen was proved right on all three counts. The juggernaut that he had tasted over the previous 10 months did prove unstoppable. He and Hughes were themselves soon unseated. And Manchester City have since accumulated 13 trophies.

The memory of being aboard that ride on day one – September 1, 2008 – has also been rekindled following the extraordinary past fortnight at Newcastle United.

“The Manchester City academy had a golf day,” says Bowen. “Myself and Mark were on a buggy and his phone was red hot. The new owners wanted to make a statement. They had a figure of £35 or £40m. The three names were Robinho, Dimitar Berbatov and Franck Ribery. Mark would have a conversation, we would drive onto the next hole, and it would be, ‘We have got bids in for all of these players’.”

Robinho was famously signed from under the noses of Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea but there was soon then also a very different but even more significant statement of intent.

Hughes had told the chairman, Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, that some of the facilities at the club’s training base were not fit for purpose. The first international break loomed and, to the surprise of the club’s staff and remaining players, they were told to keep away from the facility.

“It was like an episode of Changing Rooms – they literally remodelled the training ground in 10 days,” says Simon Wilson, who was then head of performance analysis and would go on to become the City Group’s director of performance analysis. “Everyone came back and were just, ‘Wow. I want to be here. I better raise my standards’. It was what they called a ‘build and fix phase’. Anything broken they fixed. Anything needing to be built they built.” This extended to revolutionary performance analysis. “We were like kids in a sweet shop,” says Wilson.

Etihad Academy – OFFSIDE

City group director Simon Pearce had explained to staff the culture in Abu Dhabi. The emphasis was on delivery first, talking second. It meant casualties but also an excitement and creative tension ripping through every building. “You were suddenly seeing your club changing every day,” says Bowen. “What would I say to anyone at Newcastle? Lap it up. Enjoy it.”

Yet with change comes also discomfort, scepticism and tension. New power bases are formed. Relationships are being forged. Jobs are lost as well as created.

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink had scored 70 goals in the three seasons before Abramovich became Chelsea owner in 2003. And then suddenly in came two new strikers in Hernan Crespo and Adrian Mutu. “My experience was of great excitement, but also a lot of uncertainty,” says Hasselbaink, now managing Burton Albion. “You are obviously thinking about your future. ‘Am I going to be part of this?’ Claudio Ranieri said that I could go, but I didn’t want to. I got my head down. I was top scorer the next season. You have to be mentally strong. It wasn’t easy. With a lot of players comes friction.” Ranieri would famously call himself a “dead man walking” during that 2003-4 season despite finishing second in the league and reaching the Champions League semi-final.

Overseeing dressing-room change can also be hugely challenging. Queens Park Rangers were taken over by the Malaysian businessman Tony Fernandes shortly after winning promotion to the Premier League in 2011. “Some players who got the club promoted were still on a Championship contract,” says the striker Jay Bothroyd. “Players came in on much bigger contracts. Players knew that and didn't like it.” Having eventually lost their jobs at Manchester City – finding out on the morning of a game against Sunderland in December 2009 – Hughes and Bowen were the indirect beneficiaries of the ownership change at QPR. The problems they found, however, were just as Boothroyd had described.

“There are no secrets in the dressing room – and the players know the sort of numbers others are on,” says Bowen. “That’s fine if that player comes in, hits the ground running, and produces. But sometimes you can bring in a top player who might take a little longer to settle. Jose Bosingwa had a Champions League winners’ medal in the draw. He didn’t exactly hit the ground running. You can hear the voices around the training ground: ‘What’s he doing? He’s picking up this amount of money. It’s a joke’.”

QPR experienced some dressing room discontent after Tony Fernandes became its big-money owner – GETTY IMAGES

Existing staff, especially those who embody the culture and values of the club, are crucial. Les Chapman became Manchester City kitman in 1997 and was there during the days when they had sunk into the third tier of England football. He was also still there by the time that City were collecting multiple Premier League titles almost two decades later.

“If we signed a player in the week, and he was playing at the weekend, you had to get his measurements, find out his preferences and get all the kit ready,” he says. “I think we signed seven players in three weeks at one stage under Sven [Goran Eriksson]. The more new players, the more work. I loved it.

“And you suddenly had this great diversity of cultures and backgrounds. If we were signing a guy from Spain, I’d ask the Spanish lads for one or two swear words in Spanish.

“More big players started coming in and they had all their idiosyncrasies. It wasn't just a T-shirt, slips, shorts, socks and sweat shirts any more. You had tights, compression shirts, snoods, gloves, rain jackets.

“I used to cut a piece of foam out from the medical equipment that Mario Balotelli would use as his shin pads. He just put anything down his socks. Peter Schmeichel had a new kit for the warm up, a new kit for the first half and new kit for the second half.

“By the time I left City in 2015, we had 17 staff getting changed on matchday alone – sports therapists, scientists, masseurs, doctors, a full time set piece coach. I did all the staff kits as well. I did it on my own for eight years. I think there are four kitmen now. It needs it.”

Newcastle can also expect huge change in how they are perceived externally. Micah Richards says that opposition players would constantly tell his City team-mates that they would be in league three without their ‘oil money’. There will be a large queue of wannabe players, agents and executives forming outside St James’ Park with pound signs in their eyes.

What can Newcastle fans expect now their club has been bought by Saudi Arabia’s PIF? – ACTION IMAGES

“The whole world knows you have been taken over,” says Wilson. “All the prices in the transfer market are a bit higher. You want to move as quickly as you can, under the radar, so you have made strides before you get blocked off.”

Kevin Parker, secretary of the Manchester City Supporters’ Trust, says that there is even an adjustment for the fans. “One of the first songs that City fans would sing was ‘City is going down with a billion in the bank’,” he says. “Our thought process had been, ‘Typical City’. Francis Lee would say that City could win cups for c***-ups. It was in our DNA but that’s changed completely.

“I’m happy for the excitement this will bring Newcastle supporters. Everybody deserves the right to dream. The moral responsibility is with the people who sold Newcastle and the people at the Premier League.”

Internet Explorer Channel Network
Asia's Tech News Daily
News Related


Families could miss out on thousands via unclaimed inheritance - are you due windfall?

A huge 7,090 estates remain unclaimed, figures obtained from the UK Government’s treasury solicitor shows. The median amount of inheritance received by individuals is £11,000, data from the Office for ... Read more »

Trump media venture unveils forecasts, regulatory inquiries

FILE – In this July 24, 2021, file photo former President Donald Trump smiles as he pauses while speaking to supporters at a Turning Point Action gathering in Phoenix. Trump’s ... Read more »

I'm A Celebrity viewers convinced campmates are breaking the rules by wearing make-up – but did you spot it?

I'M a Celebrity viewers are convinced some of the campmates are breaking the rules – by wearing make-up. Fans have flocked to Twitter to share their thoughts, with Frankie Bridge ... Read more »

The staggering amount women need to save to match men's retirement funds exposed

Pension provider Scottish Widows has said women need to nearly double how much they save for later life every month to bridge the ludicrous savings gap. The report found women ... Read more »

School officials could be charged in deadly Michigan shooting: prosecutor

Michigan school officials could still be charged for ignoring multiple red flags ahead of the deadly mass shooting at Oxford High School, the local prosecutor warned in a new interview. ... Read more »

Supreme Court pulls up Railways for not protecting its property & acting against encroachers

The Supreme Court Monday pulled up the Railways for not acting against encroachers on its land in Gujarat, where a railway line is scheduled to come up, and said they ... Read more »

Omicron: 3 more international travellers admitted to LNJP Hospital in Delhi

Three more international travellers — two COVID-19 positive and another suspected case — were admitted on Monday to the Delhi government-run Lok Nayak Hospital’s special facility for isolating and treating ... Read more »

'Stealing a living', 'On fraud watch' - Many Leeds fans blast star who's 'not good enough'

Many Leeds United fans have slammed Jack Harrison for the role he played in the club’s recent 2-2 draw with Brentford. © Provided by This is Futbol Jack Harrison After ... Read more »

Diogo Dalot praises Manchester United manager Ralf Rangnick

Diogo Dalot has lauded the early impact of new Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick after victory over Crystal Palace. Rangnick took charge of United for the first time in ... Read more »

Canada should join diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics: O'Toole

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole is urging the federal government to join allies in a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics, citing ongoing Chinese human rights violations. © Provided by ... Read more »

Capitals place Garnet Hathaway in COVID protocol

The Washington Capitals have lost a third player, as Garnet Hathaway finds himself in the league’s COVID protocol. The 30-year-old forward is expected to be unavailable for Monday night’s game ... Read more »

Soccer-Man City's De Bruyne to start against Leipzig, Jesus ruled out: Guardiola

(Reuters) – Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne will start in Tuesday’s Champions League game at RB Leipzig as he works his way back from a bout of COVID-19 but ... Read more »

Share buybacks by firms globally hit a three-year high

(Reuters) – Companies are generously rewarding their shareholders through share buybacks this year, using higher profits and cash flows as they recover from 2020’s pandemic-induced slowdown. © Reuters/Mike Segar FILE ... Read more »

David Perdue officially announces run for governor in Georgia, setting up primary challenge to Brian Kemp

Former US Sen. David Perdue officially announced his run for governor of Georgia on Monday. © Drew Angerer/Getty Images “I’m running for governor to make sure Stacey Abrams is never ... Read more »

Argos players confront Tiger-Cats fan who allegedly spit beer at them after CFL Eastern Final

After losing their chance to hoist the Grey Cup, the Toronto Argos had insult added to their injury via a mouthful of beer being spit in their face. A Hamilton ... Read more »

Amid rising cases of Omicron, UP government issues new guideline

© Provided by DNA Amid new cases of the Omicron variant of coronavirus, the Uttar Pradesh government has issued a new guideline to all the districts to take precautions and ... Read more »

Street name honour for unloved ‘castle lady' dismays Belgian village

Photograph: AP People of Moorsele say Marie Cornillie preferred her dog to her tenants and would often urinate in the street Cities around the world have been inspired by the ... Read more »

Bitcoin's flash crash crimps year-end bulls

Illustration shows representation of cryptocurrency Bitcoin By Medha Singh and Lisa Pauline Mattackal (Reuters) – A flash weekend bitcoin crash that wiped out a fifth of its value and caused ... Read more »

Biden and Putin head into Ukraine talks with scant room for compromise

1 / 2Biden and Putin head into Ukraine talks with scant room for compromiseUS-Russia summit in Geneva By Tom Balmforth and Trevor Hunnicutt MOSCOW/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Presidents Joe Biden and ... Read more »

Police officers facing jail for sharing WhatsApp pictures of murder victims Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman who they called 'dead birds' were guilty of 'catastrophic betrayal', sisters' mother says

Pc Deniz Jaffer and Pc Jamie Lewis shared WhatsApp photos of murder victims They referred to Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman as 'dead birds' in messages Victims' family members described the defendants as a 'disgrace' to the police  Read more »

Shocking moment a bouncer repeatedly punches and kicks a clubber after throwing him onto the ground as he tries to eject him from the venue

A customer can be seen being beaten up by a bouncer at club in Torquay, DevonIn a clip he appeared to be repeatedly kicked and punched in the smoking area A bystander tried to interject but the security worker continued the brawling  Read more »

Is this FRUIT the trick for weight loss? Traditional Chinese medicine expert goes viral with alternative natural treatments - from a dried berry that makes you lose weight to a pill that 'gets everyone pregnant'

Eastern Philosophy has gained attention online for videos of their various products to TikTokThey sell all-natural medicines that are said to treat acne, aging, weight loss, hair growth, hangovers, menstrual cramps - and even infertilityOne of their products, hawthorn berry, is described as a 'superfood for weight loss in traditional Chinese medicine'  They claim another item, He Shou Wu, helps withhair growth The company also claims that Baifeng Wen - which was made to treat menstrual cramps - is 'getting everyone pregnant' Other products that they sell include an oil used to treat muscle and joint pain and an herb that allegedly reduces aging at a cellular level Read more »

WhatsApp expands its Disappearing Messages feature with the choice for chats to self-destruct after 24 hours or 90 days, as well as the existing seven day option

WhatsApp has extended options for its Disappearing Messages feature globallyUsers can now choose to have their messages disappear after three time periodsIt's also turning on Disappearing Messages by default for new one-to-one chats Read more »

Video: Heavily pregnant Jennifer Lawrence makes her red carpet debut with baby bump in a stunning gold gown alongside Leonardo DiCaprio at Don't Look Up premiere in New York

Read more »

Biju Janata Dal wants Paika Rebellion to be recognized as First 'war of Independence'

© Provided by The Statesman Biju Janata Dal wants Paika Rebellion to be recognized as First ‘war of Independence’ The Biju Janata Dal Parliamentary Party members from Osiha on Monday ... Read more »

Husband of murdered US actress Adrienne Shelly who wrote the movie behind hit musical Waitress makes a documentary about her life - and how she was strangled by a construction worker, 19, in an argument about noise

Adrienne Shelly was murdered by a 19-year-old construction worker in 2006 She posthumously released film Waitress which has been turned into hit musicalLate actress' husband Andy Ostroy says fans of musical have no idea of the linkIs making HBO documentary Adrienne to pay tribute to the life of his late wife  Read more »

Dowry a social evil, but change has to come from society, says SC; refers plea to law commission

The Supreme Court Monday said dowry is a social evil and there is no doubt about it but change has to come from within the society as to how a ... Read more »

Dreirad-Roller mit Hybrid-Antrieb - White Motorcycle Concepts WMC300FR

Das dreirädrige Hybrid-Roller-Konzept für Einsatzkräfte setzt auf revolutionäre Aerodynamik und Elektrounterstützung. © White Motorcycle Concepts White Motorcycle Concepts hat mit dem WMC300FR einen neuen Elektro-Hybrid-Scooter vorgestellt, der speziell als Ersteinsatzfahrzeug ... Read more »

Prince Harry says job resignations spurred on by COVID-19 pandemic 'aren't all bad' in mental health Q&A

The 37-year-old father-of-two, who stepped back as a senior working royal for a new life in the US with wife Meghan, made the comments as chief impact officer for professional coaching and mental health firm BetterUp. Read more »

Astrid & Miyu launches star inspired Elysian Collection in time Christmas

ASTRID and Miyu have launched a new, celestial star inspired collection and we want it all. The Elysian Collection has arrived just in time for Christmas and it's perfect for ... Read more »

Who will win 'Succession'? The actor who plays Frank wants to know, too

"I’m into the journey as much as you," Peter Friedman said in an interview. "I’m being kept on tenterhooks by what these cool writers have in mind." Read more »

SPAC tied to Trump's social media venture receives regulatory inquiries

Signage is seen outside of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) offices in Manhattan, New York City (Reuters) -The blank check firm taking former U.S. President Donald Trump's social media ... Read more »

Pauline Roussin-Bouchard leads LPGA Q-Series while Haley Moore, Sierra Brooks among those who missed the cut

The final stage of LPGA qualifying has a familiar feel to it. Frenchwoman Pauline Roussin-Bouchard, winner of Stage II, is once again atop the board at the midway point of ... Read more »

FA Cup draw live stream: How to watch as 3rd round fixtures revealed

There could be potential for upsets on the cards when the FA Cup third round takes place tonight, with Premier League and Championship clubs entering the competition and joining those ... Read more »

Were Ipswich Town right to sack Paul Cook? Who could replace him?

© Provided by Football League World Championship – Cardiff City v Wigan Athletic Paul Cook was sacked by Ipswich Town on Saturday, in a move that surprised many across the ... Read more »

Corbeanu starts: The predicted Sheffield Wednesday XI to face Pompey on Tuesday night

© Provided by Football League World Championship – Sheffield Wednesday v Rotherham United Sheffield Wednesday travel to Portsmouth tomorrow night in Sky Bet League One in what is a big ... Read more »

Alain Vigneault fired by Flyers amid disastrous losing streak

Alain Vigneault’s second stint in the Metro went far worse than his first. The Flyers fired Vigneault as their head coach Monday morning, according to multiple reports, amid an eight-game ... Read more »

Justice Secretary seeks to bring in video evidence for all rape victims

Justice Secretary Dominic Raab plans to roll out video evidence nationwide in rape cases – PA Video evidence for rape victims will be rolled out nationwide, Dominic Raab has pledged. ... Read more »

Arsenal's striker problem: Should Mikel Arteta stick with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for trip to Everton?

Sky Sports' Nick Wright on Aubameyang: "He really looks to be struggling for confidence. He had five shots at Old Trafford, but there was a real lack of conviction in all those efforts." Watch Everton vs Arsenal on Monday Night Football, live on Sky Sports Premier League; kick-off 8pm Read more »

PICTURE EXCLUSIVE: Emmerdale pub The Woolpack is closed for business

© Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo It was last orders at the bar on Monday as iconic Emmerdale watering hole The Woolpack closed for business after being gutted by ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic