Let's get this straight - we are not going to finish mid table next year, we still may win the league THIS year and fergie is still a great manager. But the club as a whole.... It would be fair to say that for whatever reason, justly or unjustly, the Spanish giants are ahead of us in the global football scale currently. And whilst City do not yet have the global appeal or infrastructure to match us, you could look at our squad and theirs and the unbiased observer would probably say theirs is ahead. Again, this thread isn't about whether it's fair or not, and who has deserved anything, and it's a fair comment that we have still enjoyed success over the last few years, but in terms of our attractiveness to potential signings and in terms of the quality of football we play, standards are slipping a bit. Traditionally we have been a club who created stars rather than buying them, but we were never afraid to splash the cash to supplement the team when needed. Nowadays, whether it's because we can't or simply don't, we seem to be making do, we haven't had many great youth players coming through the ranks other than those be buy, we are reliant on players (and a manager) who are going to be retiring sooner rather than later and questions are being asked of our financial competitiveness as well. What I'm trying to get at here is that in 5 years time, where do you see us? Still near the top of the food chain competing for the league and in Europe every year? Or more of a 4th place team?