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Blue moon rising: The remarkable rise of Manchester City from 2008 to 2012

Manchester City v Huddersfield Town - Premier League
City celebrate their record-breaking league title
N Praneeth
Modified 01 Apr 2020, 17:29 IST

Back in January 2018, Manchester City were anointed the 5th richest club in the world, generating a revenue of £527.7 million as per Deloitte Football Money League rankings.

The Manchester club spent a whopping €317.5 million on transfers last summer bringing in an array of talent such as Aymeric Laporte, Benjamin Mendy, Kyle Walker, etc. This season also the club has splashed the cash, bringing in Leicester City star Riyad Mahrez for €68 million euros.

The club took the league by storm last season playing attractive football and breaking multiple records, the most notable record being the first team to gain 100 points in a Premier League season. With a world-class manager in Pep Guardiola and an abundance of talent in their squad, City is the envy of a lot of clubs in the world. Let's take a look at the incredible rise of the club from Manchester.

The spending power of City goes as far back as to the 2008-09 season, the year Sheikh Mansour, a member of the Abu Dhabi royal family took over, a move that would change the landscape of English football in the years to come.

The club had just finished 9th in the 2007-08 season, a huge achievement at that time for the club and its fans. The club also made it to the group stages of the UEFA Cup for the first time since 1978. While their rivals Manchester United were winning titles at ease, it was a completely different scenario in the blue side of Manchester. The club was notoriously inconsistent and in fact had been in the second division of English football as recently as 2001.

Middlesbrough v Manchester City - Premier League
Robinho - The first star to arrive at City

With the prospect of European football and their new owners making promises to bring in world-class signings, City fans were having the time of their lives. The new owners delivered on their promise, and the club secured the incredible signing of Brazilian Robinho from Real Madrid on deadline day.

This took the club's transfer fees paid for the season to €157 million. They finished a disappointing 10th in the league (08-09 season) though but did have an adventurous UEFA Cup run reaching the quarter-final stage.

Next season, City improved their strike force with the signings of Emmanuel Adebayor and Carlos Tevez. This meant the club had spent 147 million euros for the 2009-10 season and it seemed to have paid off with the club achieving a 5th placed finish and a Europa League playoff spot.

Not content with their strike force, City signed Edin Dzeko from Wolfsburg. The club also bought in Yaya Toure and David Silva from Barcelona and Valencia respectively. The latter two would play a key role in Manchester city's future successes. By the end of the season, the club had spent €183 million on transfers.


On the pitch too, the club was flying with a 3rd place finish in the league (10-11 season) thus achieving a Champions League berth. This meant it would be the club's second ever appearance on the European grand stage, the first being way back in 1968. The club also won the FA Cup, their first trophy since the European Cup Winners' Cup back in 1969.

Image result for aguero silva and toure city
Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Yaya Toure - the spine of the new look Manchester City

2011-12 was a relatively quiet transfer window for Manchester City with the club spending €91 million. However, it was also the season where they made the most crucial signing in the history of the club. A young Argentine striker by the name Sergio Aguero was making waves with Atletico Madrid in LaLiga and was attracting the interest of a lot of big clubs. However, City was the first to pounce and the rest is history.

Heading into the last day of the 2011-12 season, City were in with a shout of winning the title. The Cityzens were having an impressive season under manager Roberto Mancini with new signing Aguero lethal in front of goal.

They were level on points with rivals Manchester United but had a superior goal difference, meaning that matching United's result on the final day would be enough to clinch the title. City had to face relegation-threatened QPR at home whereas United travelled to Sunderland, already safe and with nothing to play for.

What transpired over the next 90 minutes was nothing but remarkable.

City, as expected, dominated the opening half and finally got rewarded with a somewhat fortuitous goal from Argentine right-back Pablo Zabaleta just before halftime. Yaya Toure played a clever pass through to the right-back who unleashed a weak sidefoot shot which the keeper parried, but the ball looped over and struck the other post before crossing the line. Meanwhile United was up against Sunderland and also led 1-0 at half-time.

The title was still very much in Manchester City's hands but the question was whether they could hold their nerve. The answer seemed to be no when ex-Liverpool striker Djibril Cisse gave QPR a shock equalizer in the 48th minute. A poor mistimed header from City defender Joleon Lescott sent the ball towards his own goal and Cisse was there to pounce, latching on to it and striking a powerful first-time shot at goal. 

There was further drama though, when Joey Barton, formerly of City was sent off in the 55th minute. City fans now expected their side to go on and take full advantage of the extra man, but QPR had other ideas. QPR left-back Armand Traore skipped past City skipper Vincent Kompany and picked out Jamie Mackie at the far post who made no mistake with a brilliant diving header. The ten men of QPR now led in the 66th minute.

City looked stunned and as the clock ticked 90 minutes, it seemed likely that United would win yet another league title. However, a David Silva corner in injury time was met by a great header by Dzeko. It was now 2-2 in the 92nd minute and City had hope. 

2 minutes later their prayers were answered. Sergio Aguero received the ball deep in his own half and played a simple forward pass to Mario Balotelli. Balotelli took a neat touch and turned his marker brilliantly but in the process lost his balance. He still managed to squeeze a pass into space for the onrushing Aguero who had continued his run into the box after his pass.

The Argentine took the loose ball in his stride, skipped past a sliding challenge and struck a fierce right footed shot beating the QPR goalkeeper at his near post. It was 93:20 on the referee's watch and what followed was this unforgettable piece of commentary by Martin Tyler.

City had done it and Aguero had just scored one of the most iconic goals in Premier League history. The club in the shadows of its illustrious neighbours for so long and being branded as "noisy neighbours" by the then Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson had pipped them to the title.

Since then, Manchester City has won the league and league cup double in 2013-14, the league cup in 2015-16 and of course last season's record-breaking league victory along with the league cup.

City fans might be hoping that the club now starts doing well in Europe and looking at their current form, a Champions League title challenge doesn't look too far away.

However, as of now, that sunny afternoon in May 2012 will probably remain the best moment in any City fan's life.

Published 20 Sep 2018, 13:47 IST
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