It was the look on Mark Hughes’s face that lingered in the memory. His first press conference since that seminal day – 1 September 2008 – when Manchester City came under the ownership of the Abu Dhabi royal family. From toilets with no doors and ‘the Temple of Doom’, City have made other top clubs fearful of an era of dominance at home and in Europe.
Yes. Here are the top 8 things that Sheikh Mansour has brought to the Manchester City club in the past decade:
The biggest transformation that City have achieved since Sheikh Mansour took over the club is success on the pitch. Over the past decade, City is level with Manchester United and Chelsea with three Premier League titles, but that’s quite a feat considering where the three clubs were a decade ago.
In 10 years, City have landed three Premier League titles, three League Cups and an FA Cup, although Champions League success remains the ultimate ambition.
Some of the best players in the world:
City sent 16 players to this year’s World Cup, more than any club has in history. For comparison’s sake, there were just four representatives at the 2008 European Championships. More recently, players such as Kevin De Bruyne, Leroy Sane and Gabriel Jesus have been added, and with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in the twilight of their careers, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Etihad Stadium was home to a Ballon d’Or winner in the near future.
Few people would dispute that Guardiola is the best coach in the world, and after an incredible run of success at Barcelona and Bayern Munich, the Catalan could have walked into any top club in the world. The fact that City were able to persuade him to choose Manchester ahead of the traditional European hierarchy shows the power of the project they have started. Guardiola has been given a blank canvas and plenty of money to create exactly the team and club he wants.
New playing style:
Along with the Premier League trophy, last season’s triumph brought a style that appears to be a template for City sides of the future. Guardiola is determined for his team to always play on the front foot. And, he blended his Barcelona passing philosophy with the pace and passion of the Premier League for a hybrid system that brought victories at typically hard places such as Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge and Napoli. Although they came unstuck twice at Liverpool, a record 100 points and a record 106 goals suggest the philosophy was correct, and it’s one that Guardiola will cultivate in England and Europe.
Seat at Champions League table:
The great Joe Mercer side of five decades ago won the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1970, but City have struggled in Europe since. They finally qualified for the Champions League in 2011 but initially found it tough, failing to get past the group stage. But City have started to establish themselves in the competition, and currently they have the longest unbroken run in the Champions League of any English side. They have reached the knockout stages for the past six seasons, reaching the semifinals in 2016, although Guardiola insists the club is still short of European experience.
One of the best women’s teams:
City brought the women’s team in-house in 2014, and since then they have become one of the best in England. The women’s game is growing steadily, helped by the success of the national team, and City have been at the forefront by investing in players and their own stadium. Success has come on the pitch, with the double secured in 2016 before going on to reach the Champions League semifinals the following year.
City wanted to build the best training complex in the game and visited sites from around the world, including those for basketball, softball and American football, before designing the Etihad Campus at a cost of around £200 million. The site is huge, with 16.5 pitches, more than Real Madrid’s Ciudad training complex (13.5), and includes a full-size synthetic indoor pitch. It has cutting-edge gyms, medical facilities and five-star-hotel-style sleeping quarters for the first team. But it’s also a key factor in producing academy players who can move into the first team, with two-thirds of the site dedicated to youth development.
Regeneration of East Manchester:
Manchester has changed drastically over the past decade. But, nowhere greater than in the previously heavily industrialised area in the eastern section of the city. City moved into their new stadium after the 2002 Commonwealth Games and, while other sports were using the area as their base, large swathes of the surrounding area were wasted. The club spent millions detoxifying a huge brownfield site. This was used for coal mining, gas works and a chemical plant. Working with the Manchester City Council, they are building 6,000 new homes and contributing to a new community hub. Many jobs have been given to local apprentices and contracts to local companies, helping breathe new life into an area that was previously struggling, with apartment buildings and houses now going up in surrounding areas.