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Stop blaming Manchester City’s money for YOUR club’s failings… Stefan Ortega was a free transfer!



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This week, Amos Murphy basks in the glory of Stefan Ortega’s wonder save against Tottenham and why it highlights Manchester City are more than just big-money signings.

It was the nightmare everyone had imagined unfolding in real time. Five minutes left on the clock and Heung-min Son is bearing down on goal.

What unfolded felt like something out of a fever dream. Instead of the ever-reliant Son slotting into the bottom left-hand corner, his shot was saved. 

The man responsible: Stefan Ortega Moreno. 

Manchester City’s unassuming back-up goalkeeper who was brought into the club during the 2022 summer transfer window and the man who may have just helped the club to a fourth Premier League title in a row. 

Prior to Ortega’s arrival, City had endured a wretched relationship with back-up goalkeepers under Pep Guardiola. One-time No.1 Claudio Bravo had shown glimpses as Ederson’s understudy, but his successors Arijanet Muric and Zack Steffen left much to be desired.

That’s all changed in the two seasons Oretga has spent with ManchesterCity. No longer is there a sigh when Ederson drops out of the team, instead – for some – there’s an added sense of security. 

For starters, the German (76%) boasts a higher save percentage in the Premier League this season when compared to his Brazilian (67%) counterpart. And while the sample size is skewed considerably in Ortega’s favour, there is a general consensus that the 31-year-old is a superior shot-stopper to Ederson. 

Lucky Manchester City. A back-up goalkeeper who could easily start for most – if not all – clubs in the division. The free-spending football-ruiners must’ve splashed millions on his signature… right?

Not quite. The lesser-known Ortega joined from relegated Arminia Bielefeld at the end of his contract with the Bundesliga side. He cost City nothing in transfer fees. While there was tentative interest from elsewhere – Bayern Munich rumoured to be keen – it was City who took the gamble on the free agent and are now reaping the rewards. 

Of course, the pull of joining City played its part, as well as Ortega likely bagging a healthy weekly wage. But going amiss in the conversation surrounding City’s latest title charge is the genius of their operations. 

It was something on display at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium when Son was one-on-one, with City’s title hopes hanging by a Stefan Ortega thread. 

And yes, City have access to finances other clubs can only dream of, but as pointed out by Guardiola this week, the Blues aren’t the only side to have spent big – looking at you Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United. 

There are some legitimate criticisms levelled at City, but acting as if their recent success isn’t a by-product of Guardiola’s brilliance is foolish, and in truth, an excuse for the failings of big-spending clubs across the league.