Major shake ups have occurred in world football over the past week. Manchester City, which was previously making headlines for losing the FA Cup to a now relegated Wigan and axing coach Roberto Mancini, have diverted the focus to their new partnership with the New York Yankees, creating New York City FC, the 20th MLS franchise. Meanwhile, in Spain, Atlético Madrid ended their 14 year winless drought against their wealthier crosstown neighbors in the Copa del Rey final, which also effectively ended the tumultuous tenure of José Mourinho at the helm of Real Madrid. It seems that while the major European leagues are all but over, the summer headline drama is just beginning.
Let us start with the more recent news coming out of New York. Many had foreseen the announcement of a Manchester City-controlled club based in New York City, but the partnership with the Yankees was a bit of a surprise. It also may turn out to be a major factor in getting a new stadium built within the five boroughs. Although NYCFC has indicated they won’t have a problem playing in a temporary home for the first few years, the club will eventually need to find a site within the city to construct a soccer specific stadium. The Yankees have already stated their stadium is a possible place to play, but expect them to take the lead on what’s sure to be a political battle to get a new arena built.
The Yankees-City partnership has unsurprisingly drawn a lot of criticism, but it’s the type of monumental announcement that will make the rest of the world take notice. For all the talk of MLS playing favorites, the inability of the Red Bulls to fill their arena, and other cities being more deserving of a franchise, it’s hard to see how any other move would’ve helped increase the profile of the league more significantly. More importantly, the Manchester City brass seem committed to building a powerful football club from the ground up, with plans for an academy to mine the talent in the New York area. Despite that, the club will surely be attractive to stars looking to make their mark in the United States, and it will be very interesting to see which big name player signs first for NYCFC.
Moving to Spain, it was a historic win for Atlético Madrid that left José Mourinho trophyless in 2013 and left Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez little choice but to announce Mourinho’s long predicted departure. Pérez claimed in his press conference on Monday that the Mourinho era was not a failure, but many will disagree. If Pérez and Madrid get their way, Carlo Ancelotti will be announced as the new manager soon. The Italian’s rumored shopping list includes Edinson Cavani, Arturo Vidal, and Marco Verratti, while Pérez looks to be after Gareth Bale and Isco. Atlético, on the other hand, look set to lose Falcao to whichever club pays the big bucks for him, and could be targeting Aston Villa’s Christian Benteke as a potential replacement.
While the on-field action is winding down, activity off the pitch is heating up and it looks to be an exciting summer. From New York to Madrid, the change is underway.