A successful Manchester City side bolstered by local English talent is an ideal worth pursuing, writes Desmond Kane.
After a weekend when Noel Gallagher appeared on Match of the Day, it is perhaps poignant to recall a time when Manchester City were the quintessential English club. When Oasis and Gallagher ruled the world, City were Champagne Supernova without much champagne.
The mid-90s was a moment in time when Franny Lee was chairman and gone-but-not forgotten English managers like Brian Horton, Alan Ball, Steve Coppell and Frank Clark were doing the rounds at the old Maine Road as City yoyoed between the Premiership and the old First Division. And even the Second Division.
Money has enabled City to desist with the requirement to buy British if the standard isn't good enough.
A bottomless pit of resources funded by a billionaire owner from the Gulf region have provided City with the finance to hire talent from within and outwith this part of the world. For such a club, the richest in the world, only the best will do. Nationality does not come into it.
When City walk out to face Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 match on Tuesday evening a year after taking the same steps against the Catalan side, some within City will view it as the ultimate ambition for the English club. Not winning the Champions League trophy, but the organisation, infrastructure and brand awareness that Barcelona have built up.
It is almost like a football version of Ripley's Game in one club trying to be somebody else. That is no bad thing. Just an observation.
Barcelona are what City want to be. They have a culture and an identity that fits well with City's owner Sheikh Mansour, a figure who continues to be progressive in using football as a vehicle to promote his other main business interests. Namely the tourism and good name of Abu Dhabi as a place to do business and holiday.
Imitation is the best form of flattery, but the pursuit of perfection is not limited to acquiring fresh players.
It is only two years since then Barcelona president Sandro Rosell apparently lamented City's very public pursuit of his club's best brains.
City recruited their director of football Txiki Begiristain and chief executive Ferran Soriano from Barcelona. When Barca visit the Etihad Stadium, both will support a home team with only two English players. Goalkeeper Joe Hart was plucked from Shrewsbury Town in his formative years.
"Manchester City have indeed launched an offensive to lure a number of people away from Barcelona," said Rosell. "We're talking about people at all levels of the Barca structure, not just players. Their attempts have been unsuccessful, though, as our employees are happy here. There have been contacts, but we have a fantastic group of people and nobody wants to go."