The golden age of Manchester City

The golden age

In parts one and two of this article, I mapped the long trawl through the lower leagues, the Arab takeover and the glory of finally winning a trophy after 35 years of anguish. In part three I take stock of where we are, give the naysayers a bit of a battering and look forward to a hopefully glorious future…

Roberto Mancini for Manchester City

The FA Cup semi victory over United was arguably the more significant result in terms of trends, but it was finally winning a pot after 35 long years that brought me more happiness. Unlike the Wembley play-off, there was no need to cut short the post-match celebrations this time. It felt like the disgrace of the play-it-in-the-corner capitulation against Liverpool had finally been abrogated and the shame washed away. The wheel had turned.

Actually, I thought the tipping point was the injustice of Rooney’s shinner in the league derby at Old Trafford in February of this year. It took that extremely fluky goal to beat us but by then the patterns were in motion. The injustice of that result helped fuel the players at the Wembley rematch. United’s dominance was running on fumes and events like the FA Cup semi and the 6-1 were always inevitable.

The Scottish manager, whose name should never be spoken, has always stated that the seed of his on-going success was the first trophy he won. I think City will say the same, looking back in years to come. Success breeds success and last season’s FA Cup win has started the ball rolling, with no obvious loss of momentum yet.

In our next stage of development, we are starting to shed the mercenaries like Emmanuel Adebayor and Carlos Tévez and meld in the truly world class players like Sergio Agüero and David Silva, to complement that now excellent backline and defensive midfield. Mancini’s team has fused beautifully and is currently expressing itself in goals galore. It is a real joy to watch us play at times and, in Silva, we have arguably the most talented player in the club’s history.

The team also has a winning mentality, with malcontents like Tévez given short shrift. I am particularly sorry to see Carlos act in such an ungrateful and petulant manner but so be it. He is history and my “Welcome to Manchester” T-shirt is now under the kitchen sink, ready to be used as an oily rag. If anything, the fuss has helped Roberto Mancini bring the squad closer together and it has kept the forward players happier with less rotation in Tévez’s absence. It has – perhaps ironically – left Mancini in a stronger position, the opposite of what the Argentinian was aiming for.

At the time of writing, we sit top of the table with a near perfect league record as well as being nine points clear of Chelsea and five points clear of the old enemy. Wins have become worryingly routine at the newly named Etihad Stadium. Away from home, we have routed both of the big teams we have played, including a memorable dismemberment at Old Trafford.

After we lost a meaningless pre-season friendly at Wembley, we were told we had been given a footballing lesson and that United had regained their place at the top of the tree. Well, we returned that sentiment in spades by giving the Rags a footballing master class at the Swamp, playing with a brio that Barcelona would have been proud of. It was a bravura performance for the ages and a sure sign that we will have more tin in the cupboard before long. One moment of pure genius stands out for me from that game. David Silva’s pass to Edin Dzeko for the sixth goal was almost obscenely sexy; the equivalent of football pornography.

If we can steer clear of any injury gluts, we have to be confident we will feature in the title shake-up in May. The Champions’ League is most likely a stretch beyond us this season so maybe we can put in another FA Cup final appearance. One other aim, incidentally, should be to keep the number of verses in Mario Balotelli’s song down to less than that in Beowulf.

Before anyone accuses us of getting ahead of ourselves, this is no house of cards. Abu Dhabi is in with us for the long-term. Arab owners don’t do short-term planning; just look at the nature of their investment in horse racing as an example of their “stickability”. Our owners have invested in order to increase the profile of the U.A.E. and Abu Dhabi around the world and the Premier League is seen as an ideal vehicle for this. They have invested in many other sports and they know their business. They’re here to stay.

As a result of our Arab-funded success, we will soon be joined on the journey by plenty of new Manchester City fans. We should welcome them and not be too sniffy about those who are latecomers or converts. Yes, a few will be chasing success and will depart at the first sign of trouble but I hope most will stay the course. Yes, they will not have shared the same path of pain as us. But we must remember we were all newcomers to the faith once, and, most importantly for me, we must never succumb to the arrogance of those who once were successful.

Do not let the foolish supporters of other clubs tell you that our coming success is meaningless, or that it is empty or hollow. They say it has not been generated “under our own steam” or, even more laughably, that it is not “organic”. That is arrogant, sophistic and hypocritical claptrap of the highest order.

Envy is a terrible thing, you know, especially coming from those who already own so much and have been so fortunate themselves. Yes, we got lucky. So what? Indeed, if anyone in the world deserves a bit of redemption, surely it is City fans given the despair we have endured in the past decade or three. I for one am quite happy to win hollow cups – if they were not hollow, how could you drink expensive champagne out of them?

We are also told by the same idiots that we have no history or class, presumably because we do not sell enough Ryan Giggs duvet covers in Kuala Lumpar. Two top flight League wins, four FA Cups (five now), two League Cups and one UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, as well as numerous runners-up spots and lower League titles, obviously do not count as history. Oh hang on, I forgot that history started in 1992 with the Premier League and nothing achieved before then matters. So, if we are talking shelf life here, perhaps we should collectively agree not to mention the Munich disaster again? Deal.

It is a fact that people – including that Stretford lot – have been pumping money in to football and spending big to buy success throughout its history. We may be taking it to a new level but we are not inventing the wheel here. In my opinion, Abu Dhabi should be welcomed for bringing new money in to football, not criticised.

To argue against the growth of a club is to argue the status quo must prevail, as those with vested interests always do. What else were we supposed to do to gain success in a relatively short time other than spend cash – wave a magic wand? Besides, I would rather we do it this way than saddle ourselves with unsustainable debt. Also, let us not forget about the world class training and development project that is just getting under way opposite the stadium.

Michel Platini
Michel Platini

Michel Platini’s closed shop system – also known as Financial Fair Play – has been brought in to try to stem our progress and lock in success permanently to the big clubs. I envisage us as having just snuck in to that elite group at the last possible moment, in dramatic Indiana Jones fashion, sliding under the Masonic stone door as it grinds shut in the UEFA bunkers deep under the Swiss Alps, stacked with looted gold treasures ready to be plundered.

FFP does have its good points and it will benefit well-run clubs that want to stay within their means. It’s barely hidden agenda however is to ensure no-one will ever again become a giant from being a minnow. For City to allow that door to be sealed shut would betray our own recent history.

There are ways of balancing sustainability against the influx of new money and we must suggest these to UEFA and fight FFP in its current form. Who knows, one day we may be seen as the saviours of football rather than its ruin. We might be able to prevent a franchise system or European Super League. That, however, is a battle for another day.



I sometimes wonder idly, if we had avoided the agonies of the late nineties, would we now be in this enviable position? If Alan Ball had never come to the club, might we have pottered along in the Premier League, staying at Maine Road because of debt, possibly even winning a cup? Perhaps. Would we still have been picked by Sheik Mansour for global domination? That is impossible to know.

If anyone had predicted City’s recent history at the dawn of MCIVTA, they would have been carted off to the funny farm by the men in white coats, or perhaps stoned to death by fellow City fans for being a false prophet. Thinking back to that swearbox in the pub after the play-off final – unbelievable? Well, I have pinched myself enough times to convince myself it is real and I am loving every moment of it.

City being City, I still half expect someone to invent cold fusion and render the deposits of oil buried under Abu Dhabi worthless over night. Failing that, our progress feels unstoppable and any success will taste oh so sweet.

The laughter at our expense has been silenced, so send off the clowns and bring on the blue giants.

The golden age of Manchester City has begun.

This article was first posted as a trilogy in Newsletter-1781, Newsletter-1782 and Newsletter-1783 in November 2011.

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