City’s First Champions League Win. This Is Their Story

At a point, football pundits and fans were at first suspicious about the Possibilities of Manchester City when they took over in 2008. However, City have advanced to become Europe’s champions over the years.

After defeating Inter Milan by a single goal in the Champions League final on June 10, 2023, City completed a record-breaking treble.

Manchester City can confirm that the Abu Dhabi United Group and Manchester City FC have signed a memorandum of understanding. The due diligence period has now begun.

A Sheikh bought the team, and truth be told, people were just not confident in Manchester City, with even Gary Neville writing in his book, ‘The Peoples’ Game: ‘ City Were A Joke.’

As a matter of fact, there were several criticisms against the current Premiere League clinchers.

City was promised a purchase of Cristiano Ronaldo from United at one point. We will be the greatest club on the planet,’ said Al-Fahim. City had completed the 2007-08 season losing 8-1 at Middlesbrough.

Robinho was their first major acquisition, costing £32 million. For months, Real Madrid had been trying to get him off of the wage bill. Another Brazilian, Jo, would follow for £20m. He would score six goals for City.

Before Sheik Mansour’s takeover years ago, City had made some low-profile signings at £6m a piece: ie. Vincent Kompany and Pablo Zabaleta.

However, the tone had changed by the time the agreement with ADUG was finalized a month later. Al-Fahim had been removed and a new young businessman was in charge, Khaldoon Al Mubarak. Observers of Abu Dhabi politics say this is the moment when the nation’s most powerful man, Mohammed bin Zayed, known as MBZ, started taking an interest.

He is Sheikh Mansour’s older brother and in 2008 was already de facto the most important man in Abu Dhabi, having been named deputy crown prince.

He only formally assumed his position as president of the United Arab Emirates – the confederation of which Abu Dhabi is the richest and most powerful entity – last year, when another brother died. But experts say he has been running Abu Dhabi and, by extension, the UAE for years.

Now that Man City was well-understood, the club was basically in the hands of people who were familiar with the business.

Al Mubarak is seat of Abu Dhabi’s Executive Affairs Authority, the leader arm of the Emirate which prompts MBZ. He also serves as the chief executive officer of Mubadala, Abu Dhabi’s £276 billion sovereign wealth fund.

Sheikh Mansour now serves as its president, replacing MBZ, who previously held the position. Abu Dhabi, which dominates the United Arab Emirates, is run by the two brothers, Sheikh Abdullah, Sheikh Tahnoon, and Sheikh Hazza, but MBZ is the boss.

Meanwhile, Sheikh Mansour was shockingly present at the UEFA Champions League final in Istanbul. The only game he had ever attended prior to attending Saturday night’s final was in 2010.

However, it was evident that the club under his control was serious about business. Al Mubarak himself has conceded the underlying interest in the Sheik Mansour purchase shocked them.

In his book Richer Than God, Al Mubarak told David Conn, when he was asked if Al-Fahim’s tone had embarrassed them: The realization that purchasing a Premier League club is a completely different game was a significant trigger. That was overestimated.

It doesn’t matter if the Abu Dhabi hierarchy really knew what they were doing when they bought City. They before long understood its true capacity. City was the ideal vehicle for global public relations for a developing nation on the verge of becoming a significant geopolitical player.

Because winning the treble was the pinnacle. Al Mubarak was somewhat surprised by the old Carrington training facility. He told Conn:

‘I couldn’t believe what I saw. It was not the level of infrastructure that is the minimum for a top-level club. I remember leaving that trip and going back to Sheikh Mansour and showing him pictures. And he was very straight to say this was unacceptable.’

The new administration reportedly questioned city employees about the location of the personnel department. There were devoid looks all over.

But it would be easier to fix the infrastructure than to change City’s reputation for winning and losing at the same time. They finished the season in 10th place, 40 points behind United, the champions.

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However, Man City did acquire Carlos Tevez from Old Trafford in the summer of 2009. Their ability to provoke was demonstrated by their “Welcome to Manchester” poster, which riffed on City fans’ assertion that they were the true Manchester club and that United’s stadium was in the borough of Trafford.

That September, in a dramatic rivalry, United won 4-3 with a goal in the 96th minute after City scored an equalizer at Old Trafford.

In December 2009, Roberto Mancini was controversially appointed to replace Mark Hughes as manager. They appeared to have qualified for the Champions League the following season, but in the penultimate game at the Etihad, Tottenham defeated them to secure fourth place at their expense.

United, on the other hand, won their fourth title in as many years. The established system appeared to be safe. City would never genuinely match United while their neighbors’ income predominated theirs. The issue was that both UEFA and the Premier League restricted spending. City’s own emails suggested that they had found a way to limit spending.

Mancini received £1.45 million in salary from the club, but he also received £1.75 million as a consultant for Al Jazira, Sheikh Mansour’s other Abu Dhabi team. Under Mancini, they won the FA Cup for the first time in 42 years after defeating United in the semi-final in April 2011.

They were optimistic the league title would be won the following season. They fell behind 2-1 to QPR on the season’s final day, desperate for a victory.

On Saturday, Edin Dzeko scored an injury-time equalizer for Inter, who lost. Two minutes later, Sergio Aguero gave commentator Martin Tyler’s famous “Agueroooo!” line, and Inter won 3-2. At Sunderland, United had completed the game as champions and waited around to stand by listening to the furthest limit of the City match, marching off having lost the title on goal contrast.

Truth be told, the prevailing club of the period were Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona, maybe the best. When Barca’s new chief executive, Ferran Soriano, arrived in September 2012, that seemed to be the plan.

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A month later, his fellow countryman, former Barca player Txiki Begiristain, who served as the sporting director under Pep Guardiola when Barca won the 2009 treble and two Champions League trophies, followed. In Guardiola’s case, the tripod only required one final leg.

He was available – on a year’s sabbatical in New York – but even with his two colleagues at City, he moved to Bayern Munich in 2013. Soriano and Begiristain nevertheless ousted Mancini in May 2013 and now had two problems: their dream coach was not obtainable until 2016 at the earliest and they had a financial black hole.

According to their own internal emails, the cost of sacking Mancini meant they would break UEFA’s FFP rules. Jorge Chumillas, chief financial officer at City Football Group, wrote:

‘We will have a shortfall of £9.9m. The deficit is due to RM [Mancini] termination. I think the only solution left would be an additional amount of AD [Abu Dhabi] sponsorship revenue that covers the gaps.’

In spite of Mancini’s success, he was fired from City in 2013, and Guardiola was named as his replacement.

According to FFP regulations, contracts and income must be declared at the beginning of the season. Chumillas asked if he could backdate the contracts to appear as though this had always been the plan. Of course, replied Al-Mubarak’s right-hand man, City director Simon Pearce. ‘We can act however we please’.

The Guardiola gap was filled by Manuel Pellegrini. The club would be run in a holding pattern until Guardiola was available, though two League Cups and a Premier League title were won in the interim.

Still, City’s European form meant those sniggers around the continent never entirely died down. Initially they could not get out of the group stages. Then they could not get past the last 16. When they finally reached a semi-final in 2016, the insipidness of their performance against Real Madrid was startling.

The established order still prevailed in Europe. In 2014, UEFA investigated City for FFP breaches. The club were furious, none more so than Al Mubarak. City’s legal counsel wrote that Al-Mubarak ‘says he would rather spend £30m on the best 50 lawyers in the world and sue them [UEFA] for the next 10 years than agree to a financial penalty’. City did settle with UEFA in 2014, paying a fine and agreeing to follow the rules.

In 2016, when Guardiola finally came, there was an initial sense of being underwhelmed. In Europe, Barca beat them 4-0 in the group stages and they lost to Monaco in the last 16. Knocked out of both domestic cups, they were third in the Premier League. But Premier League titles would come in 2018 and 2019, as would four League Cups from 2018.

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City won the top-flight this season but were charged by the Premier League with 115 offences. Only Liverpool and Covid disruption interrupted their accumulation of titles in 2020 before normal service resumed in 2021, 2022 and 2023. A record-equalling FA Cup final win was recorded in 2019, as was the 2-1 win at Wembley over United last weekend.

Commercial success continues. By 2022, City were the richest club in the world according to Deloitte. And City’s ascent has not been accompanied by the celebratory guard of honour Sheikh Mansour and Al Mubarak perhaps imagined in 2008. The club were charged again with breaking FFP rules in 2019, banned from the Champions League and fined €30m.

They overturned much of that on appeal, though they were fined €10m for non- cooperation with UEFA. And then in February, the Premier League charged them with 115 offences, including misrepresenting financial information and salaries to Mancini and to players. City deny the allegations. But losing this case could see them kicked out of the Premier League and stripped of titles.

However, no one will take this Treble away and nowadays it is United and Real, taken apart 4-0 in the Champions League semi-final, who are playing catch-up. How better to put United in their shadow than by equalling their 1999 Treble? That achievement for the ages had set United aside. Fifteen years after being dismissed as noisy neighbours, City are not just United’s equal, they are forging ahead.

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