By Shane Thomas
In a few hours time Manchester City will play Tottenham in a match that will almost certainly decide who will claim fourth place in the Premier League, and with it, a chance to qualify for next season's prestigious Champions League. The lucrative nature of the competition means that tonight's contest will leave tremors throughout English football that could be felt for years.
Manchester City are the richest club in the sport. Owned by Saudi politician Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nayahan since September 2008, City intend to usurp English football's traditional forces to dominate for themselves. To put Sheikh Mansour's riches into context, the day he signed England's Gareth Barry for £13 million, he also sold shares he owned in Barclays Bank, making over £1 billion in the process. So it's fair to say that he's not someone who has pangs of anxiety when the electricity bill arrives at the end of every month.
If City can clinch fourth spot this season, the promise of Champions League football as well as the financial boon it brings catapults the club in the upper echelon of teams. The likes of Real Madrid, Inter Milan & Barcelona no longer become aspirants but rivals. And with the English game currently in a slump, City have the potential to become the dominant domestic force, maybe for years.
But...and it is still a but, it depends on them beating Tottenham. The consequences of the side from Eastlands finishing fourth means that Spurs may only get one chance to mix in Europe's elite for themselves. Fail this time around and they will have missed their window.
The Premier League's top four positions have been a closed shop for years. With Liverpool enduring a wretched season, the door of opportunity has suddenly opened. It's like a lucrative position in a workplace that has unexpectedly become available, and two people are equally desperate to get their hands on it. But to avoid the closed shop nature of the 'Top 4' all over again, it's Tottenham who will need to succeed. Regardless of what happens to Manchester City, Sheikh Mansour will be flexing his financial muscles again in the summer. Spurs will be unable to do so without the guarantee of dining at European football's top table. So regardless of your allegiances, you'd do well to pay attention to tonight's result. The watershed moment in this country's football may not be what happens at this year's World Cup, but what happens at the City of Manchester Stadium at 8pm.
Don't forget to download 'The Greatest Events in Sporting History' Available at http://sportsevents.libsyn.com/