Sense, unfortunately, is an alien body in the transfer market at the best of times and it is liable to be thrown out of the window on the back of one bad result.
During City’s long winning run and the indeed the long unbeaten run, the biggest danger to the Premier League leaders was that fatigue may eventually catch up with them. Pep Guardiola prefers to work with small squads, prioritising tactical flexibility in his players, believing that their footballing intelligence will be enough to plug holes in the squad and see them through.
And then what of Sanchez? Yes, £35m is a lot of money to pay for a 29-year-old who will be available for nothing in a few months’ time. His requested £400,000-a-week would damage City’s wage structure too. But perhaps both these facts are outweighed by the relief he would offer to a forward line that is beginning to show signs of strain. Having stood firm on Sunday, and for good reason, Monday may see City swallow their pride.
At the other end of the pitch, Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero may be first-choice players playing in their natural positions, but injuries or a lack of alternatives in reserve have left them looking tired. This was Sterling’s 13th consecutive appearance in the Premier League, a run stretching back to late October. He has started all but two of those games. Aguero is Guardiola’s only fit, natural striker.
Money may be no object at the Etihad but it would not be spent for spending’s sake. To do so would set a precedent to other clubs when they sit around the negotiating table with City, who overpaid for several players in the early days of the Sheikh Mansour era and have slowly corrected themselves in the years since.
Unfortunately, small squads do not win quadruples. They rarely go through entire league campaigns unbeaten either and it was telling that the blame for Liverpool’s first goal, scored by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, could be placed on Fabian Delph, a central midfielder that has been forced to fill in at left-back since September.
On Sunday morning, Manchester City’s stance on Alexis Sanchez made a lot of sense. The Premier League leaders were only willing to pay a fair price for a player that can hardly be described ‘essential’ considering their healthy lead at the top of the table and the talent already at their disposal.