Of course, put between 20 and 30 men on a training ground and there are bound to be some disagreements. A misplaced tackle, a snide comment and a sly kick are part and parcel. Not everyone in a club can get along all of the time.
For City, their players seem to be coming to blows more often than any other team. Bear in mind that photographers, fans and journalists are usually present at Premier league training sessions so there is no argument for City's inability to keep it behind closed doors. If the same happened at the other clubs, then that too would be reported.
A quick summary of known incidents:
- Adebayor v Toure (training ground fight) - Jan 2011
- Balotelli v Boateng (training ground fight) - Dec 2010
- Toure v Milner (on-pitch exchange) - Oct 2010
- Adebayor v Kompany (on-pitch exchange) - Oct 2010
- Adebayor v Mancini and Tevez v Mancini (dressing room bust ups)
- Bellamy v Mancini - Feb 2010
When Man City became rich, various commentators stated that you can't just throw together a bunch of superstars and expect silverware to magically appear. But that's exactly what City did and despite performing strongly for most of this season, there is a risk that the team could self-destruct.
A successful team obviously needs to have skillful and highly-rated players. But not all eleven players need to be bought at £50m plus. There needs to be the right blend of skill and guile, flair and industry, otherwise it does not work on the pitch or off the pitch.
Why off the pitch? Well if you have a bunch of over-inflated egos at the club there are bound to be clashes. The likes of Adebayor, Toure, Balotelli and Milner were bought for ridiculous amounts of money and are paid astronomical wages. Of course they're going to think they're great. The Man City dressing room is so over-crammed with egos I'm surprised Roberto Mancini can even get in through the door.
I must admire Mancini, he has done well to contain it all, but the frequency of incidents is increasing and there is a fear that he is beginning to lose control of his players. Off the field disputes can easily be covered up for a while, but sooner or later it will seep into performances as team spirit is eroded. The blame can only be pointed at City's poor transfer policy (that being, throwing money at any player that makes a headline). If more thought was put into which players are bought and how much they are paid, there wouldn't be the ego overdose, and there would be fewer bust ups. That said, the bar has been set for City now and fans would be disappointed if the club didn't continue to bring in the superstars. And there, ladies and gentlemen, is the vicious circle that I speak of in the title of this post.
To get out of it, a reality check does need to be made. More care should be taken with transfers and more should be done in terms of discipline. The most explosive characters should be fined, banned or sold. Something needs to be done, otherwise the City 'dream machine' will crumble apart quicker than you can say 'billionaire'.