MANCHESTER CITY’S appeal is about more than just staying in the Champions League — it is about stopping the break-up of their brilliant squad.
Make no mistake, the outcome of their legal challenge against the two-year Uefa ban is so important. It could impact what happens at the Etihad Stadium for years to come.
If they don’t win, it will dictate the future of the manager and the players.
It could knock them back years. Big- name players have joined City expecting to play in the elite of European football.
Without that they will surely look at other options and they will have plenty.
The same applies for anyone they are hoping to sign in future.
City’s squad is at the stage where they have to bring in more players this summer than they have needed to for a long time, if they are to mount a challenge again.
To be able to get to a position where then can compete with Liverpool they need a freshen-up, definitely.
The Champions League is the carrot City can dangle in front of the best players, which they need in order to challenge again.
Without that what can the blue half of Manchester offer to win the race for their signatures?
They won’t just be able to throw huge salaries at players and hope that will be enough. As we now know, financial fair play will have an impact on that.
If the appeal goes against them City could find they are in a position where their best players — the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva — will be looking to move on and they will find it impossible to get replacements of the same level.
That’s why this appeal needs to be heard quickly.
They cannot plan for this summer without knowing what the situation is.
It’s not just the players that City need to be worried about. It is an identical situation with Pep Guardiola.
Their Spanish manager’s contract runs for one more season after this, and unless they sack him, which I don’t think will ever happen, I see him staying for that season.
But like his star players who want to be playing in the Champions League, he also wants to win it again.
One of the main reasons he was brought in was to lift that trophy.
It hasn’t happened as yet, so taking it away from him makes it very similar to what the players might feel.
He wants to compete with the elite.
It’s little wonder why City will be throwing everything they have got at an appeal in an attempt to be successful.
DON’T GO CHANGIN’ – KEEP ON WINNING
NO ONE can halt Liverpool’s march to the title but now is not the time for Jurgen Klopp to start taking things easy at home just to strengthen their defence of the Champions League.
With only five wins needed to be crowned champions of England, the easy thing would be to say the job is done domestically and to focus team selections on making sure they are at the strongest for the defence of their European crown.
But there’s no need to stop what is working so well. They are relentless, on a roll — don’t change that focus now.
The standard of football they have shown, the attitude and desire, that only comes from one person and that is the manager.
They are of the mentality of winning the next game, whether that’s in the FA Cup, Champions League or Premier League. The focus coming from the manager is ‘we try and win our next game’.
You have to turn up for games expecting to do things right, do the things you have been doing all season. The performances will then take care of themselves.
You can’t turn up half-heartedly and expect to win football matches at elite level.
I do think they want to go the season unbeaten.
With this team and with this manager, they are capable of very special things.
To go this season unbeaten would be something very, very special.
I wouldn’t bet against them doing it now.