Top 5 Manchester City players before Abu Dhabi came in with their millions
Looking at the top players at Man City before it became a financial powerhouse in European football
Manchester City have enjoyed a magnificent record-breaking season and the confirmation of them being crowned as Premier League champions came as no surprise to anyone. The trophy is a well-deserved reward for their dominant performances, and they look set to break even more records with 5 games more to play. Manchester United’s shock defeat to bottom-placed West Bromwich Albion ensured that the second-placed team had no mathematical chance left to overtake their local rivals. The Citizens have been widely praised, with many calling them the best team in Europe this season.
But success hasn’t come cheap for Pep Guardiola’s team, as his world-class team almost completely comprises of an expensively assembled squad of top players purchased for high transfer fees. It is undeniable that this wouldn’t have been possible, but for their rich owners – the Abu Dhabi United Group (ADUG).
Acquiring a hard-working but relatively average squad which finished 9th in the league in 2007-08 season, the ADUG immediately sanctioned big money purchases for the team, and have continued to invest heavily in the transfer market ever since.
The ownership change has certainly made an impact as City sealed their third Premier League title under the ADUG in a decade after many years of indifferent results of mid-table and relegation battles, which also saw them drop down to the lower divisions more than once. It is almost unlikely that top talents like Kevin De Bruyne, Ederson Moraes, Leroy Sane and Sergio Aguero would have been playing for the Citizens.
While this piece isn’t an attempt to undermine the quality of players who were at the club before the club saw an upturn in their fortunes, we take a look at the top-performing team members of the Man City squad in 2007-08 season, before the arrival of the ADUG to illustrate the impact of the oil-money in improving the squad.
1) Richard Dunne
The club captain, a solid figure in centre of the team’s defence, and also the official Club 'Player of the Year' for four consecutive seasons, Dunne was a central figure in the pre-ADUG Man City team. But it didn’t take long for the Irishman to realize that he would be dispensable in the new era at the club.
Soon after the ADUG takeover, club’s chief executive Garry Cook was quoted saying “China and India are gagging for football content to watch and we’re going to tell them that City is their content. We need a superstar to get through that door. Richard Dunne doesn’t roll off the tongue in Beijing.”
What happened next?
Despite Cook’s statement, Dunne went to captain the City side in the 2008-09 season and featured regularly. But with the arrival of Kolo Toure and Jolean Lescott in the summer of 2009, a move away from City was inevitable and Dunne joined Aston Villa. He later represented QPR as well before retiring in 2015.