Garry Cook - a buffoon? A cretin? A duplicitous creep? Or all three? Martin Lipton's Big Lunchtime Read

That Garry Cook. He's a card, isn't he?

Or a buffoon? Or a cretin? Or a duplicitous creep?

But what he certainly shouldn't be is involved with a football club, even one which has outdone Charles Dickens' Circumlocution Office in showing the world "how not to do it".

Watching Cook wriggle like a worm on a hook as he tried to justify the manner of Mark Hughes' sacking was an object lesson in why you should keep the non-football people out of football.

Management speak might do for a pep-talk with the office junior at Wernham Hogg but not in front of the world's media, waiting for you to make the mistake they can pounce on.

And, Cook being Cook, he made that mistake - and pounce they did.

Having denied there had been any approach to Roberto Mancini about replacing Hughes until after last week's embarrassing defeat at Spurs, Cook was forced to hastily change his stance when the Italian simply told the truth.

Then again, the Cookster has a pretty impressive track record when it comes to making himself look a total fool.

There was his attempt to justify City having Thaksin Shinawatra, condemned by Amnesty International as a mass murderer for his treatment of the Muslim minority in Thailand, as the club's owner on the basis that he was "a great guy to play golf with".

Then we had City, a club with a rich history of, well, not that much since a League Cup victory in 1976, going to Milan to tell the club who have won the European Cup on a mere seven occasions, as well as 17 Serie A crowns they had "bottled" the proposed sale of Kaka to Eastlands.

And, of course, there was last month's outstanding effort at the Supporters' Club event, when Cook took to the stage, microphone in hand, to welcome former City striker Uwe Rosler City to "Manchester United's Hall of Fame".

Spectacular stuff, by a man who appears to have no shame, but yesterday's faltering, fumbling and unforgettably awful performance was surely, even by his standards, the low water-mark of Cook's spell at City - so far!

What it all says about City is......well, what most of us probably knew.

Sheikh Mansour and City chairman Khaldoon al-Mubarak believe in long-term, incremental growth as much as the average 15-year-old believes in Father Christmas - if it comes, then great; but make sure you buy me the presents I want first.

For all the talk of the City Project, it was, of course, total baloney.

Just like Roman Abramovich at Chelsea, City's Abu Dhabi owners believe investment should equal return.

Not that such thinking is by itself flawed, especially when you come from a business background.

Chelsea's results under the Abramovich reign, too, suggest it is not unreasonable.

If you speak to members of the Stamford Bridge hierarchy now, they will admit that they went down a particular path because the owner demanded instant success, irrespective of the financial cost.

Indeed, had they not been so determined to satisfy Abramovich's yearnings at the first opportunity, there would have been a more organic approach to the building of the club, with more time and money spent on the long-term recruitment drive rather than the short-term first team fix.

City, now, are in pretty much the same place as Chelsea were in the 2003-04.

Ambitious, determined, with unprecedented financial backing, desperate to break up the established order, convinced that the ammunition has been provided for the right manager to utilise.

The differences, though, are what might be key.

Even under Claudio Ranieri, Chelsea's team were good enough to finish second to Arsenal's "Invincibles". Indeed, their points return of 79 would have been enough to win the title in both 1997 and 1998.

All that Chelsea needed was the right manager. They got lucky, true, when Sven Goran Eriksson turned them down, but even when Jose Mourinho was identified, Ranieri was allowed to finish the season.

Should Mourinho be parachuted in to Eastlands in July, once again, as at Inter Milan, to replace Roberto Mancini, few will be too surprised.

But the City squad he inherits will not be as good as the one he has at Stamford Bridge, making satisfying the money men from Abu Dhabi an even tougher nut to crack than giving Abramovich what he wants.

Hughes was always going to be dispensable, always going to be vulnerable to the vagaries of form and results.

Now, though, everybody has had a chance to see what City are really made of.

Not very nice, is it? But it was never going to be. Garry Cook, the man who sums up Manchester City. I rest my case, M'lud.

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