A good Manchester City side were swatted aside by Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United in a season in which they'd have expected to come far closer to defending their Premier League title than they actually did. The club's solution? Wholesale change.
Roberto Mancini was fired. Manuel Pellegrini is reportedly inbound. The managerial switch constitutes an upgrade or, at least, it should -- Mancini's glaring lack of motivational skills looks to be one of the prime factors behind his squad's sharp decline last season -- even though it did not meet with a universally positive response from City fans. But while changing the coaching staff makes sense, the transfer policy that the club has adhered to so far this summer does not.
In has come Spain international Jesus Navas, for the cool sum of €25 million plus wages. Shakhtar Donetsk's Fernandinho is to follow, for somewhere around €30 million (nobody seems to have made up his mind on just how much he costs quite yet). These are big, expensive purchases, and would upgrade most teams in the league. But they don't really make very much sense for City.
Neither Navas -- who can be not incorrectly described as the Spanish equivalent of Aaron Lennon -- nor Fernandinho rank amongst the world's elite players. They're in the second tier of very goodness. In lesser sides they'd be (and are) stars. But at City, a team which intends to compete for domestic and European glory, they are, or should be, part of the supporting cast rather than front-liners.
Although Navas and Fernandinho will help the squad, with Navas serving as the true wide option City have been missing ever since Adam Johnson was found out to be distinctly mediocre and Fernandinho serving as a midfielder who is definitely not Gareth Barry, they're not superstar signings, nor are they youngsters with room to grow (Navas is 27, Fernandinho 28). These are stop-gaps, players brought in for a few years to shore up the squad rather than taking it to the next level.
For the amount of money that City have thrown at/are throwing at their new acqusitions, they could have signed a superstar player fairly easily. While it's too early to say just how this summer's market will develop, the likes of Eden Hazard, Javi Martinez and Luka Modric were all available last year for not wholly unreasonable prices. Those are the sorts of names that could catapult City ahead of their competition. The likes of Navas and Fernandinho will merely serve to arrest the club's early decline.