The Premier League can be split between the Haves and the Have Nots – and Manchester City, West Bromwich Albion’s opponents on Sunday, are certainly in the former category. In fact they Have more than most.
With Arab billionaire backers, money is no object and no player in the world is completely out of their reach, as their capture of Robinho from Real Madrid and their audacious attempts to prise Kaka away from AC Milan have proved.
But with the limitless resources comes unlimited expectation and City manager Mark Hughes is under pressure to produce a side that is not only capable of challenging the top four, but of winning major honours.
So far, Hughes has not been able to do that and his position has been questioned in some quarters. However, Albion boss Tony Mowbray, who faces very different pressures, believes Hughes shouldn’t be judged for at least another year.
“From what I can see, there is only Robinho and Craig Bellamy who you can call big money signings made by Mark,” he said.” Jo and people like that came before Mark and a lot of the players are Sven Goran Eriksson’s signings.
“They seem to me to have a fantastic record at home, despite their defeat last week, but a very poor record away from home and that suggests to me they don’t have the balance quite right in their squad for both occasions.
“Ultimately, good players win football matches and they cost a lot of money. If you have lots of money to spend then go and buy some good players and win some matches.
“Bellamy and Robinho have won them enough games so they are comfortable in the league. They have no threat of relegation and if they have a good run they could probably finish seventh and that would be okay.”
Albion are seven points adrift of safety with six games to go and while survival is not mathematically impossible, defeat on Sunday will leave them with an insurmountable task.
Mowbray admits that while City’s finances make most of the sides in the division look like paupers, Albion have struggled to compete with the majority of clubs financially and accepts they have not been battling on a level playing field.
“We played Portsmouth last week who, with due respect, only get 20,000 gates but they have Peter Crouch and David James. They did have Jermaine Defoe until the last window. They have Sol Campbell, Distin, Kranjcar.
“It is not as if they don’t have any footballers who cost lots and lots of money with huge Premiership salaries. That is Portsmouth, never mind Man City.”