City has its limits

GARETH WHEELER

, Last Updated: 10:51 AM ET

The Virgin Music Festival on Toronto Island this weekend inspired me.

A bevy of solid British bands had me thinking Premier League soccer, even though the English clubs were on break because of the international schedule.

That's another week of waiting for fans wanting to get a glimpse of the latest transfers in action.

So, sorry to The Kooks; you're solid dudes, but I don't think I can write an entire column on your beloved Brighton -- a League One club -- after it lost 4-1 to Scunthorpe on the weekend.

But I can talk about Oasis frontmen Liam and Noel Gallagher and their beloved Manchester City's intent on establishing itself as a legit contender for the Premier League title.

Manchester City's takeover by the Abu Dhabi United Group has provided the club with a Roman Abramovich kind of cash splash.

In a matter of days, City went from a team in crisis -- from the ownership down -- to the biggest bust-or-boom club in Europe.

It's a welcome-to-the-party moment; the last-minute swiping of Chelsea target and Real Madrid winger Robinho. City showed him the money, and the Brazilian, whose character has been questioned, took it and ran.

There's no doubt that getting a player of Robinho's quality at City is a huge step for the maligned football club. And I love the young nucleus at the back of recent signing Vincent Kompany and emerging powerhouse Micah Richards.

But the rest of the club leaves much to be desired.

An unproven midfield and a lack of depth up front are of immediate concern. But have no fear, the powder blue are reportedly going to try to sign every player under the sun when the transfer window re-opens in January. Some of the names reportedly on their wish list: Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo, and David Villa to name a few.

If that is a pipe-dream, consider the pipe burst. The strategy of throwing millions of dollars in front of random teams to test their resolve on their best players is an insult to the game and will throw the economics of the sport into complete disarray.

Spending money in an ill-advised way because "you have it" rarely goes as planned. City is a team without a winning tradition, without tried, tested and true players on its roster, without a winning manager, and without experienced management. You might as well say they are without a hope.

Until this week, the club was an afterthought in its own city, and any belief that it has a shot at surpassing its cross-town rival in terms of influence and trophies is nothing but a pipe-dream.

The signing of Robinho was more about Chelsea's loss than City's gain. Chelsea had been so confident of plucking the Brazilian winger that the club advertised his jersey on its website. Instead, Chelsea is left with a dearth of talent in the middle, and very few players as outside threats on the wings.

As disappointing as the deadline was for Chelsea, it paled in comparison to the disappointment at Anfield.

Liverpool's summer transfers amounted to signing an overpriced and overrated striker in Robbie Keane, and a bunch of unproven no-names from Spain and the rest of continental Europe. Team leader Jamie Carragher came out and questioned the ownership's understanding of the game.

Whether it was the ownership's fault or not, Rafa Benitez hasn't spent his money wisely, with not being able to land Premier League veteran Gareth Barry as his biggest failure.

All this for a team that has looked average at best at the start of its campaign and has lost its two studs, Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres, through short-term injury.

Both players look like they'll miss out on next weekend's match against champion Manchester United.

Man U looks to have made the most significant signing of the transfer window, a last-minute inking of long-time target Dimitar Berbatov, giving United the out-and-out striker it has lacked since selling Ruud van Nistelrooy.

In Sir Alex Ferguson's system, a player like Berbatov can thrive. The way United moves the ball, Berbatov could be in for a 25-plus goal season.

It looks as if United will remain atop the headlines of the papers in Manchester in terms of substance, while City will be stuck dwelling in the rumours section.

THIS AND THAT

The fact that the MLS let the Toronto FC-Chivas USA game be played Saturday with so many players absent because of international commitments is an embarrassment ... Say what you will about Canada's loss to Honduras on Saturday, but if this team played more friendlies any cohesion issues would be thrown out the window ... Long-term TFC target Darren Huckerby scored yet again Saturday, helping the expansion San Jose Earthquakes to an impressive 2-1 win over DC United. Huckerby has been instrumental in turning around the Earthquake's season. They're unbeaten in eight matches and sit only two points back of a playoff spot ... Anyone remember TFC's expansion record?


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