One more than one occasion in the last decade, Manchester City have set tongues wagging by outclassing every single team in the Premier League to become the runaway champions. But in the current season, they have gone a step further.
With so deep a squad that even their third team can challenge the bigwigs, this Manchester City team is a serious contender to be called the best Premier League team of all time. But while they are enchanting everyone with the quality of their football, are they setting the best template for success in the sport?
Exactly 10 years ago, an English team hailing from Stretford in Manchester marked an extraordinary chapter in their rich history. Having secured the Premier League title for the 10th time, cementing their position as the best team in England, Manchester United walked into the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on May 21 knowing they were one victory away from becoming European champions.
Later in the evening, as Ryan Giggs and Rio Ferdinand lifted the gleaming silverware into the rain-soaked Moscow night, the critics of United's invincibility had turned almost non-existent. Few believed that any other team could ever come close to achieving the heights that Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United reached.
However, 10 years down the line, we are now looking at a team that has emerged from the shadows of its gigantic neighbors to erase the memories of the red and white stripes on the Premier League trophy.
A decade ago, as the Red Devils lifted the elusive Champions League trophy in Russia, their noisy neighbors Manchester City were still one of those routine teams that were beaten by the top sides like clockwork. The only familiar names in their squad back in the 2007-08 season were Joe Hart, and a very young Daniel Sturridge.
Manchester City's record in the Premier League till then was abysmal. They had also faced relegation in 1995-96, slipping all the way to Division 2. They had to fight incredibly hard on their way back up to make an appearance in the Premier League again - after six years, in 2002.
But everything changed in September of 2008. The Abu Dhabi United Group, under the leadership of Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan (popularly known as Sheikh Mansour), bought the club.
Their very first action was the high-profile buying of Brazilian striker Robinho (who supposedly claimed he thought he was joining United before putting pen to paper). But despite pumping in a lot of cash and bringing in players like Vincent Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta and Wayne Bridge among others, City still tanked the season, finishing 10th.
Ridicule followed, with some accusing them of being a cheap copy of Roman Abramovich's Chelsea.
But as the next season progressed, their performances improved. With the backing of the Abu Dhabi group, City spent money freely to buy players, as well as a notable coach in Roberto Mancini.
Snatching an agitated Carlos Tevez from their celebrated neighbors was one of the biggest achievement for the blue half of Manchester as they started with an FA Cup victory in 2011. More success wasn't far away as they landed their first league title in 2012 in dramatic fashion, with a stoppage-time winner against Queens Park Rangers on the final day of the season.
In the next few seasons, City proved they were not one-season wonders. Since their first PL title, City have never fallen outside the top four.
With the recent acquisition of the tactical genius Pep Guardiola, they have been going all guns blazing. But while they have showcased some slick, explosive football, are they fair champions of the beautiful game?
A report suggests that Manchester City have spent over 1 billion euros in the past 10 years on transfers. That kind of money spent calls for unparalleled success. Fortunately for them, with the genius brains of Guardiola, City have managed to turn their expenditure into high-performing players, unlike Manchester United and Tottenham.
As things stand, Manchester City's success relies heavily on the money. If Sheikh Mansour had not arrived with that cash, would City would have continued languishing at the bottom of the table?
While Ferguson's Manchester United never shied from breaking the bank to strengthen the squad, their number of exorbitant transfers was almost always minimal. Ferguson's ability to bring out the best from average players like Danny Welbeck and Owen Hargreaves, among many others, was one of the driving forces behind United's continuing success.
United time and again relied on their academy kids, like the Class of 92, to bring success. Not just United, even the likes of Bayern Munich, Monaco and Ajax have promoted their youth to drive their success. But that approach doesn't work anymore.
Money is a significant factor in modern football. And nobody epitomizes that better than the formerly cash-strapped Manchester City who are today playing God-like football.Published 29 Nov 2018, 22:59 IST