ALMOST ten years ago, Abu Dhabi United Group, led by Sheikh Mansour and his family, bought over Manchester City and sparked one of the biggest revolutions in the history of the Premier League. They made their intentions clear from the off when they smashed the British transfer record in 2008 by signing Brazilian forward Robinho for over £34million, a statement that suggested they were going to dominate English football for years to come.
This afternoon, City are 90 minutes away from clinching the Premier League title in a campaign that has saw them drop just nine points in a season where Premier League Tickets are easy to purchase by going to footballticketpad.com for the best seats.
In the 31 games so far, City have scored a whopping 88 goals, an average of 2.83 per game, as they’ve blown their rivals out of the water under the management of Pep Guardiola. Having had tremendous success at Barcelona and Bayern Munich, Guardiola now has his sights on a similar domination in England and can cap off a dream campaign by clinching the title with a victory over their fiercest rivals, Manchester United.
Having ploughed billions into the club, the Abu Dhabi United Group expect nothing less than constant success – but has their first decade saw the club fulfil their potential?
Whilst it was never going to be an overnight turnaround to take Manchester City from mid-table mediocrity and, sometimes, relegation material to being the top dogs in the country, the fact they’ve only taken two of the previous nine titles since the rich men from Dubai waltzed into Manchester is somewhat underwhelming given the outlay on the team.
Those two titles, won in 2012 and 2014, were both clinched on the last day of the season, albeit the 2012 one was one of the most dramatic in football history thanks to Sergio Aguero’s famous last minute winner against QPR ending a 44 year wait for the title. Those stats emphasise that, until this season, they’ve found it difficult to properly stamp their authority on the English game despite spending over £1billion over the course of the last decade. In addition, the club have won the FA Cup once and the League Cup three times.
This years title, whether clinched today or at a later date over the last seven games, will take their trophy haul to seven, which is the same as United have won in that period and just one trophy short of the eight won by Chelsea, who added the Champions League to their domestic haul. When you look at those stats, City have done well when you consider they had went 35 years without a trophy prior to their FA Cup win in 2011.
Whilst they have had massive spending power over their rivals for the last ten years, it hasn’t given them the divine right to win the title and the fact that they will “only”clinch title number three in ten years emphasises the competition they have had in that time, in particular from United and Chelsea. It also shows that the transition from mid table mediocrity to being the dominant force in England was a long term project rather than immediate success, and the owners have been patient with their managers over that time with Guardiola being just the fourth manager in that time. Compare that to Southampton, who are on their fifth manager in just five years, and it shows that City, who once had a trigger happy reputation, are prepared to give managers time to get things right.
Of course, Manchester City’s ambitions stretch further than the domestic scene these days and success in the Champions League remains the long term goal. Wednesday’s 3-0 defeat by Liverpool in the Quarter Final first leg shows they still have a long way to go before they are considered contenders to lift Club Football’s most prestigious prize although it’s not beyond the realms of possibility for this City side to overturn that deficit to progress to the Semi Finals. Even if they don’t overhaul Liverpool this year, it’s still a big improvement on their first two Champions League campaigns in 2011/12 and 2012/13, where they finished bottom of their group on each occasion, and they will be a genuine contender to lift the trophy over the next few years to come.
For now, Manchester City will be more than content by clinching a third Premier League title against their fiercest rivals at the Etihad this evening. Whilst United are striving to ensure they finish second despite the continuous media outbursts from José Mourinho, the “noisy neighbours” are planning the best Saturday night party possible by rubbing their rivals noses in it in the process.
The first decade under the Abu Dhabi United Group’s ownership has seen steady progress by Manchester City as they lay the foundations for greater things. Under Pep Guardiola, the next decade is one they will expect to be utterly dominant both at home and across the continent as Manchester City seek global domination.