After Kevin Keegan’s successful first season that saw us return immediately to the top flight we haven’t looked back ever since, but I don’t think anyone at the time could imagine where we are now in the present day. At the end of the 2002–03 season, which was our last at Maine Road, we managed to finish a respectable ninth but also beat our Manchester rivals United 3–1 in our last ever derby match at the ground. We did however unfortunately lose to Southampton in our last ever game there after 80 years! We of course can’t mention Maine Road, or the new stadium without mentioning the late Stan Gibson who was our legendary groundsman for many years.
The 2002 Commonwealth Games allowed us to move to a new stadium in the 2003 close season called the City of Manchester Stadium. That season we beat Manchester United once again, this time 4-1 in the first ever derby match in the new stadium, but that was one of only a few highs in the following few years. That was good though, we weren’t getting relegated, we were finishing mid-table and getting ourselves established as a regular Premier League team.
As our club progressed and became more established we were taken over by Thaksin Shinawatra and as an owner and chairman between 2007 and 2008 he looked to new managers to take us to the next level up. He employed Sven-Göran Eriksson in 2007 but that didn’t work out and he only lasted a year, just like Shinawatra. Before Shinawatra went though he employed Mark Hughes just a few days after sacking Eriksson.
Then everything changed as there was a new 2008 takeover by Sheikh Mansour in the September. He appointed Khaldoon Al Mubarak as chairman and investment after investment came into the club as well as the community. Investment went into people as well as City signed first team stars like Brazilian Robinho, but it didn’t stop there as they put their plan into place. Girls team were established as well as our women’s team becoming professional with such players like Toni Duggan and Stephanie Houghton who went on to win their double.
Former keeper Alex Williams MBE now has even more to do as he now works as the Executive Manager of City in the Community which is our club’s community programme. Which allows the community to use The City of Manchester Campus facilities which all have under soil heated pitches, flood lights as well as artificial and indoor pitches. Nothing has been left unturned as they seem to have everything covered. With even a community pitch, a community club, a blue pitch with all the kids from aged 9 to 16 wearing black boots only. Brilliant.
Even bigger than that though is the City Football Group – which was established around 2013/2014 to invest in other clubs around the globe like New York City FC, Melbourne City FC, Melbourne City NPL, Melbourne City Women, Yokohama F. Marinos and Club Atlético Torque.
All that is absolutely fantastic, but for the man in the street, the fans that have been supporting our team for years, the new fans that we now have, want to see us winning trophies and we all know how that has gone. After winning the FA Cup in 2011, our first trophy in 35 years, we have gone on to win so much more and of course we all remember that moment in 2012: Aguerooooooo!
All that came about thanks to our Italian manager Roberto Mancini who came in around December 2009 and left us at the end of the 2013. More trophies have followed under Manuel Pellegrini who managed us between June 2013 and June 2016. Now we have Pep Guardiola to take us to that next level, which of course means winning more Premier League titles and hopefully one day the Champions League. We’re getting bigger and better all the time, the development around East Manchester in fantastic and the stadium capacity is now up to 6500 as well. MCFC!
Thank you so much to Charlie for his brief history of our great club, his “The City of Manchester (Etihad) Stadium – part two” and his “The City of Manchester (Etihad) Stadium – part one” are available below: