Mancini is right - Manchester City must spend big again

More millions for Mancini please!

It's scarcely believable but with teams like Paris St Germain and Chelsea throwing the money around with impunity, Manchester City need to strengthen once more, argues Ralph Ellis

"If City are to be more than just a one-hit wonder; if their fans are to have a lasting era of glory rather than just one dramatic Sunday to remember; if Sheikh Mansour wants a long-term return on his mind boggling investment; then they have to make a fresh statement of intent."

There's an old saying in football that as soon as you stand still, you start going backwards. In Italian, at least according to Google Translate, it's "Non appena si ferma di iniziare andando indietro". But I suspect Roberto Mancini will be able to give you a far more accurate version in his native dialect.

I was lucky enough to be at The Etihad Stadium on the final day of last season and there are many images that endure in my mind: the stream of disgruntled fans walking out early because they'd come to see their team win the League and thought they'd blown it; the moment I laughed at the absurdity of ten-man QPR somehow surviving yet another attack, and realising one of the big, burly men leaving was going to punch me before he thankfully thought better of it; and then the sheer, unbridled joy all around at the moment when Sergio Aguero scored the most dramatic goal of the Premier League era.

But the other lasting memory came from an hour or so after that incredible piece of football drama. It was of Mancini, arriving in the interview room, organising a glass of champagne for every member of a packed press conference - and then talking not of what he'd just won but of how he needed to move the club forward to keep winning.

We assumed it would signal the start of a significant transfer market summer. Yet here we are, less than three weeks from the opening day of the next Premier League campaign, and when you check - and double check - the list of completed transfers during this window under Manchester City there is just a big fat zero.

Mancini wants Robin Van Persie and so far hasn't got him. There are rumours that he is squabbling with his football director Brian Marwood about the lack of incoming deals. Meanwhile every week sees the newly crowned Champions linked with other players. The latest today is of a £13m bid for Liverpool's Daniel Agger. But so far none of them have actually happened.

You might think it doesn't matter, that City's expensive squad is good enough already. And certainly that's how Betfair's market views it, making Mancini's team 2.3211/8 favourites to retain the title. But without fresh impetus that may not be so simple. Every side in the game's history that established an era of winning titles did it by continually adding one or two players per season.

Mancini has told the pressmen who have travelled to Kuala Lumpur for the club's pre-season tour that he wants three or four, if he is to both retain the Premier League trophy and make a genuine challenge in Europe.

"I don't think we can play for the Champions League with this squad, so for this reason we have to buy," is his verdict.

City are currently 8.88/1 third favourites in the market for the European Cup behind Barcelona 4.3100/30 and Real Madrid 4.77/2. Holders Chelsea are as long as 16.5 to retain the prize.

You can probably understand the stance being taken by Marwood and his boss Sheik Mansour. How much money do they have to throw at their "project" before it is enough? The answer, and Mancini knows it, is that it will never be enough because there is always somebody else waiting to spend more. At the moment it seems Roman Abramovich, finally lifted by the thrill of winning Europe's top prize, is looking to go again, while Manchester United won't stand still with Sir Alex Ferguson at the helm.

Then when you look abroad at the likes of Paris St Germain in France, and Anzhi Makhachkala in Russia, there are plenty of people ready to drive a coach and horses through UEFA's new financial fair play rules.

It all means Mancini is right. If City are to be more than just a one-hit wonder; if their fans are to have a lasting era of glory rather than just one dramatic Sunday to remember; if Sheikh Mansour wants a long-term return on his mind boggling investment; then they have to make a fresh statement of intent - beating Manchester United and Juventus to land Van Persie should be just the start.

So if Manchester City's manager can comfortably recite that phrase about standing still in both English and Italian - well he might like to know that Google Translate will turn it into Arabic too!

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