Mancini, Meet Machiavelli

December 14, 2011

Political Theory

On Monday, December 12th, soccer giants Manchester City and Chelsea faced off for the first time this year.  An undefeated Manchester City (managed by Roberto Mancini) felt confident going into this game; however, the results yielded a different outcome.  At the end of the 90 minute play time, the score was 2-1…Chelsea’s victory.  But what makes this so important?  Great teams lose all the time, right?  Well, Manchester City isn’t just a great team, they are the best team…THAT MONEY CAN BUY.  This last summer, Manchester City spent over $121 million bringing in who they considered to be the best players in the world.  However, this spending spree seems minuscule when compared to the team’s overall worth of $1.86 billion (over $400 million more than #2 Real Madrid).  City’s reckless spending would be equivalent to the Miami Heat bringing in Kobe, Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, Dirk, and every other all-star player in the NBA.  The real question here is…was it worth it?  In some ways, it is hard to say no.  Manchester City currently sits in the first place position in the Premier League, having only lost 1 game.  However, there is more to this apparent success than meets the eye.  Today, Manchester City started a lineup featuring as many superstars that could fit in an 11 man squad.  While Chelsea is also a star-studded team, manager Andre Villas-Boas benched the teams most expensive player, Fernando Torres ($66 million), and played the lesser known Daniel Sturridge ($4.6 million).  Chelsea could have played a team that somewhat paralleled the value of City’s but chose to use play a real team rather than a conglomeration of superstars.  The result here ended in a victory for Chelsea.


But City’s misfortunes don’t end there.  In the soccer world, the universally most revered trophy of them all come from a victory in the UEFA Champion’s League final.  Having earned a spot in the Champion’s League last year, Manchester City was anxious to flex their newly purchased muscles in front of the world.  However, City’s dreams were shot down before they could even take flight.  Having been edged out by Italian Club “Napoli” in the group stages of the tournament, Manchester City left the world stage with their flashy price tag ripped and torn to pieces.

This is not a new phenomenon in sports.  We see it happen to the Yankees over and over again.  We saw it happen when the Red Sox failed to make the playoffs this last season.  We saw it as the Miami Heat’s dream team failed to bring home a Championship trophy.  Regardless, of these recent tribulations, the fact remains that Manchester City is still the team to beat.  Their wealth may not have bought them a ticket to the UEFA League Championship or a free pass against Chelsea, but their purchased strength has kept them in first place in the EPL since the season’s start.  As City successfully chases their hopes of winning the EPL, Roberto Mancini must certainly believe that the ends justify the means.



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2 Comments on “Mancini, Meet Machiavelli”

  1. rmwells3 Says:

    I think it’s important to note that a great team is more than the 11 man squad that featured for manchester city. It takes a 22 man roster because the soccer season is the longest and most enduring on the human body. Most of the top teams have to enter 4 or 5 tournaments that play over the course of the week as success is measured by the number of trophies you win and the greatest success if you win the UEFA Champions League. In other words, these guys sometimes have 2 games per week which is physically impossible no matter who you are. And so managers decide to rest their players for less important games. Manchester City had a strong starting lineup last year, but decided to make a complete team in this past off season.

    Mancini decided that the only way to succeed was to go out and buy all the talent that he could in hopes that it would pay off in wins and trophies in the long run. He is banking on the success of his team as justification for his spending–a definite Machiavellian trait.

    However, I think that reasonable spending would be nice and would like to think that reckless spending can never be justified. I hope Manchester City continues down its most recent downward trend.

  2. akmcoy Says:

    While Man City may be the top team right now, it’ll be interesting to see whether or not their plan works. We’ve seen this trend all over sports lately, from the Yankees, to the Philadelphia Eagles, to the Miami Heat, and to the Boston Red Sox. The interesting thing is, more often than not we hear about these superstar teams falling short of their respective championships rather than seeing them winning it all.

    Look at the recent championship teams: Green Bay Packers, St. Louis Cardinals, and the Dallas Mavericks. None of these teams were created through massive spending in free agency… They were smaller market teams that put together the most cohesive unit of athletes. By no means am I saying this method doesn’t work, as the Miami Heat are still the favorite for the NBA Championship, the Yankees and Red Sox are still dominant, and Man City is still the team to beat in soccer. It will however be interesting to see if their absurd spending is justified with a championship. Maybe they will show soccer is different than these other leagues, and be the first star-studded team to win it all in the past few years.

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