It seems so long ago that the relatively lesser known club from the blue half of Manchester was taken over by the mega-rich Abu Dhabi Investment Company.
It may have seemed like an unorthodox route taken by a club towards becoming a global superpower in football like the clubs which were already relishing the limelight and hype generated by their fans, on and off the pitch.
But had the same way prevailed throughout the years in football, it would have been a very large setback towards the popularity, interest and global approach in the way it affects lives all over the world.
The traditional top four of the Premier League have since then taken a back seat with clubs like Tottenham, Manchester City and Leicester making the cream of the crop look more diverse than it used to 7-8 years ago.
Post the takeover, City have grown leaps and bounds from being a mid table struggling club to challenging the European elite regularly.
The coup of landing one of the best managers in the world, Pep Guardiola, was a sign of intent shown by the club was a proof that the domestic domination shown in the previous years was not just a one-off and they actually want to excel on the international stage while continuously challenging domestically too.
Chelsea may have won the Premier League recently but the signs of improvement have been shown by City after the horrendous last campaign by ex-manager, Manuel Pellegrini. Maybe not enough to please the critics but the City faithful seems to be happy with the promise of a better tomorrow under a manager who has seen his image getting tarnished by just one trophy-less season after winning 21 titles in the previous seven years.
The “City Football Group” as it is now called, has expanded to various countries and now not just limited to Manchester, although it still remains their primary focus, the growth shown by this group is unparalleled. City now has sister clubs in U.S.A (New York City FC), Australia (Melbourne City FC) and Japan (Yokohama F-Marinos) with partner clubs in Netherlands (NAC Breda) and Spain (Girona CF) where the youth players sent by Man City helped both the clubs secure promotion into the top flight of their countries. Safe to say, This footballing family is strong.
And domestically too, the club has been below par in its consistency but not one season has gone without the owners and club not showing their intent and their hunger to right their wrongs and have brought top talents from around the world. Proven stars and raw talent alike, the budget doesn’t seem to diminish but rather become larger and larger as the window goes by.
In the past three seasons that City have not won the league, they have bought the likes of:
2014/15: Eliaquim Mangala, Fernando Reges, Wilfried Bony, Willy Caballero
2015/16: Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, Nicolas Otamendi
2016/17: Leroy Sane, John Stones, Ilkay Gundogan, Gabriel Jesus, Claudio Bravo, Nolito
Breaking their own transfer record, four times in the process. Clearly, there has been no lack of motive and intent shown by City as it looks to reclaim their foothold domestically and make a mark in Europe.
And it doesn’t seem to stop either with high profile players like Bernardo Silva and Ederson Moraes already signed up for 2017/18 season with the transfer window yet to open.
Another sign of change is the investment in youth. With the best-in-class City Football Academy, a sprawling hundreds of millions on a campus with the best facilities and dedicated to honing the skills of young players in all age groups at city. In recent years, City’s U-8 to U-19, all have excelled in their respective competitions.
City has also made it a priority to bring the top youth prospects from around the world to their academy with the likes of Zackarias Faour, Enes Unal, Patrick Roberts, Brahim Abdelkader Diaz all lured to the club with the promise of better all-round development and a shot at making it to the first team fairly early.
Apart from this, City has also signed players for the first team in the age group of 18-23 and reducing the average age of the squad by a huge 5 years. Sane, Sterling, Stones, Gabriel Jesus, Bernardo Silva, Ederson all falling into this age category and showing that City is not just a short-term project but it has been extensively, carefully and rather expensively built for the future.
Thus making it primed for steady growth year-by-year.