Man City has been the dominant force in English football for a decade. Now, they’re looking to build a superclub in Newcastle. Here is how they can do it.
The manchester city fc is a football club based in Manchester, England. The team plays in the Premier League and has won the league title six times.
Amanda Staveley (left), a part-owner, has said that the new owners would adopt a “patient” approach.
Newcastle United’s contentious £305 million purchase by a Saudi Arabian-backed group has made them one of the world’s wealthiest teams, but they will still need a “revolution” to thrive.
Mike Rigg, the former Manchester City technical director, was charged with overhauling the team when City’s Abu Dhabi owners finalized their purchase in 2008.
With many supporters hoping for world-class players to arrive in the next transfer windows, how can Newcastle – and the Saudi Public Investment Fund, which now owns 80% of the club – prepare for future success and avoid the pitfalls?
Rigg outlines his six stages for establishing a team to challenge the current elite in an interview with The Sports Desk podcast.
1. Quickly develop a new attitude
Rigg, who had previously worked with manager Mark Hughes as head scout at Blackburn Rovers, joined Manchester City soon after the Abu Dhabi acquisition.
Hughes was already stationed at City, but Rigg had to establish a new scouting network. In chief executive Garry Cook, new chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak, and, seven months later, football administrator Brian Marwood, he had the support of a well-established staff.
“The chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak was a game changer,” Rigg says on the podcast The Sports Desk.
“He had a three-pronged attack: what was going on on the field, what was going on off the field, and ownership leading from the front.”
“During an international break, he walked into Carrington’s training field and changed it in ten days.” That instilled in everyone the belief that we all needed to do the same, and he provided me with the tools I needed to start building my team.
“So I assembled a scouting squad, and we set out to devise a plan in which we had targets for every position on the field, regardless of whether we needed them or not.”
“Our scouts were assigned to particular nations, and their mission was to ensure that we learned about the greatest players, their agents, and their clubs, as well as which clubs needed to sell, which teams were willing to negotiate, and which agencies were interested.”
“It was simpler to recruit players like Nigel de Jong and Craig Bellamy at first, but it was tough to pursue individuals who didn’t want to come to Manchester City at the time. One of the issues that a team like Newcastle will confront is this. It’s all well and good to have a roster of great players, but if they refuse to come to you, you’re just a busy idiot pursuing an unattainable goal.”
Former manager Mark Hughes (left) and former chief executive Garry Cook talks with Khaldoon Al Mubarak (middle) (right)
2. Ignore ‘pay day’ gamers and promote the ‘new narrative’ instead.
Newcastle may now lay claim to becoming the wealthiest club in the world.
However, Rigg, who has previously worked as a technical director at QPR and Burnley, as well as a former head of talent management at the Football Association with Gareth Southgate, believes Manchester City’s success is due to their pay structure.
“At the time, we were talking to a number of players who would have been at great Champions League teams, and they’d say, ‘yes, we’ll come to City, but you have to give me four times what I’m being paid now,’” he recalls.
“We turned down a number of players because it was all about money, and if you bring in guys on outrageously high salaries relative to the rest of the team, the current players would want a pay raise.”
“The second part was talking to the players and agents about what we were willing to put together.” Mark Hughes and Garry Cook excelled in this area. We weren’t talking about preserving a heritage like Manchester United; instead, we were talking about creating a new narrative.
“It was about giving people ideas for the Etihad Campus training facility, it was about talking about the kinds of players we wanted to recruit and when we wanted to sign them since not everything was going to be done in one transfer window,” he said.
“Every step of the way, Khaldoon and Abu Dhabi backed up the narrative we were attempting to sell them.”
3. Relocating to Newcastle is not a problem
Top players may be able to sign lucrative contracts with Newcastle, but would they or their families feel at ease in the city compared to London or Manchester?
“I’ve never had to persuade a player to come to Manchester,” says Rigg, who helped City sign Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure, and David Silva.
“That wasn’t a topic we ever discussed.” We’d hate it if they didn’t want to visit because Manchester lacked restaurants and fancy stores. If the conversation was about their lifestyle rather than their football plans, it never really went beyond the first step.
“Newcastle is a fantastic city with an international airport for those that need to travel.” It isn’t Russia or the United States, where flying from one location to another takes four hours.
“If players desire pleasant weather, they should go to other nations. They’re coming to play in the Premier League in the United Kingdom.”
According to Rigg, Carlos Tevez’s acquisition in the summer of 2009 had an impact on other players.
4. Prepare for game-changing signings.
Because the 2008 September transfer window was still open, Manchester City was able to make a statement signing as soon as the takeover occurred. Just.
City signed Nigel de Jong, Craig Bellamy, Wayne Bridge, and Shay Given in the January transfer window after adding Brazilian striker Robinho on deadline day.
They recruited Carlos Tevez, who had been on loan at Manchester United, Emmanuel Adebayor, Joleon Lescott, and Gareth Barry the next summer, then Toure, Silva, Mario Balotelli, and Edin Dzeko the following season.
“Signing Carlos Tevez placed City on the map because it made us the ‘noisy neighbors,’” adds Rigg, referring to a phrase used by Sir Alex Ferguson at the time.
“He had a huge effect not just in terms of exposure, but also on the training field, where he really upped the bar.”
“When we bought guys like Yaya Toure from Barcelona, other players would look at us and think, ‘Manchester City is serious about business.’
“We were also developing the academy and investing in the women’s squad at the same time. It’s not simply about purchasing top-tier players and hoping for the best. It’s all about total change across the club.”
5. Owners must have faith in their employees to do their tasks.
The acquisition of Newcastle has sparked a lot of discussion regarding who will be in charge of the club. It was a major element in the Premier League’s approval of the transaction.
After being granted complete authority to manage his department, Rigg believes it is critical that employees be trusted to perform their duties.
“I’d see Khaldoon a couple of times a year, and he used to participate in the five-a-side games at the training field, and he was a good player,” Rigg adds.
“The executives that established that connection with Khaldoon were Garry Cook and Brian Marwood, and I spoke with them on a regular basis.” But at no point did Abu Dhabi start instructing us where we were heading or what we were doing with players; they were always supportive and believed in us.
“We had to deliver and be transparent, which necessitated a great deal of preparation and board presentations. Although not every player would succeed, there was no intervention.”
Former manager Roberto Mancini predicted that winning the first title will lead to further success, and that is exactly what happened when Stoke won the FA Cup final in 2011.
6. Be ready for potholes on the road.
Manchester City’s success has made it far more difficult for Newcastle to reach the top four – and even win the Premier League – than it was when City was taken over 13 years ago.
Newcastle, on the other hand, may be beginning from a lower position than City.
“Manchester United and Liverpool will not be able to maintain their current levels of success. It will be a problem since it is not an evolution but a revolution “Rigg adds.
“However, these will be exciting times for everyone; for the supporters, for the people within Newcastle, for the Premier League, and even for the other teams.” I’m sure many of them will lament the fact that this has occurred, but I’m sure they’re all secretly pleased since it strengthens the Premier League’s position and attracts some of the world’s best players.
“I recall when [previous manager] Roberto Mancini initially came to Newcastle and gathered everyone in the dining room at Carrington and said everything will change once we won the first trophy – and he was right.”
In 2011, they won the FA Cup against Stoke City, and a year later, they won their first Premier League championship.
“It won’t be about winning the Premier League overnight for Newcastle; it’ll be about the stages along the road,” Rigg adds. “It’s doable; all it needs is time, money, and a strategy. You may put a lot of money into it and it still might not work out unless you have a plan.”
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