Manchester City have come a long way over the past 14 years thanks to the money of Sheikh Mansour.
Yesterday, Cityannounced the signingof Borussia Dortmund Erling Haaland, one of the most exciting young players in world football for £51million. The transfer is just the latest in a long line of such deals in the Sheikh Mansour era. A recent report by theCIES Football Observatoryestimated City have spent over £1.4bn on transfers since 2012 – the most of any club in the world.
That is the modern era of City, the one defined by the billionaire and deputy Prime Minister of Abu Dhabi. Before then came a very different era of the club. Sheikh Mansour has been the owner of Man City since September 2008.
Before him came former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. That era involved money, but less of it and under a less defined strategy. The result was a mishmash squad of ambitious overseas signings and club stalwarts under the management of Sven Goran Eriksson.
Back on this day 14 years ago – May 11, 2008 – came the jolting end of the Sven era: an 8-1 thrashing at the hands of Middlesbrough. The starting XI from that day at the Riverside Stadium is quite the thing to look back on now. Allow Star Sport to take you on a trip down memory lane.
Isaksson was the goalkeeper to concede those eight goals, including three to Afonso Alves, that fateful day. The Swede was signed by City for £2m on the back of the 2006 World Cup as David James’ replacement. The defeat at Boro was the last appearance of his two-year stay. Isaksson moved to PSV Eindhoven that summer before stints at Turkish side Kasımpasa and Djurgardens in his home country. He retired in 2018 with 133 Sweden caps to his name.
Sun had been at City since 2002, but the 2007/08 season spelled the end of his time with the club. The defender moved to Sheffield United that summer for a season before heading back to China. His 22-year career came to an end in 2016 and he founded HQ Sports, a company which, according to itsLinkedIn page, includes a video social platform and a betting app.
Corluka only spent one season at City and did well enough to move onto Tottenham in the summer of 2008. He stayed at Spurs for four years before moving to Lokomotiv Moscow, where he spent nine years up until his retirement last year. Corluka, who managed 103 caps for Croatia, is now his country’s assistant coach, working with Zlatko Dalic.
Dunne was the villain of the piece against Boro, having been sent off just 15 minutes into the match. Unfortunately for Dunne, that was not a rare occurrence – the Irish defender holds the joint-record along with Patrick Vieira and Duncan Ferguson for the most reds in the Premier League with eight. He left City in 2009 and went on to play for Aston Villa and QPR before retiring in 2015 and going into the media. Dunne remains a club legend at City, holding another record, as the only player in the club’s history to win the Player of the Year award four times.
The Liverpudlian left-back spent two years at City but a serious knee injury and subsequent operation derailed his career. He trained with Wigan and Blackpool without any luck before joining Leicester in 2011 where his career petered out. Ball is now a football agent and consultant and writes a column for the Liverpool Echo.
Ireland was probably the most exciting player of this Man City era. A supremely gifted midfielder, he produced many stand-out moments between 2005 and 2010 at the club. He went to Aston Villa, Stoke and Bolton and stopped playing in 2018. Still only 35, he plays regular five-a-side matches with the likes of Darren Fletcher, Emile Heskey and Nedum Onuoha, but toldBuzz.ielast year that he is not planning a comeback. “The offers I’m getting and the clubs that want me, I’m just not interested. It’s not the level I’d want to play at,” he said.
The Swiss international spent two years at City before going onto play for Saint-Etienne, Sporting Lisbon, Freiburg, Rennes and Eintracht Frankfurt. Now 35 and retired from playing, Fernandes is back where it all started for him, FC Sion, where he is vice-president.
Petrov was one of the most consistent performers for City in the 2007/08 season. The Bulgarian winger spent three years at City after joining from Atletico Madrid. He played for Bolton, Espanyol and CSKA Sofia before retiring in 2014. He now lives in Majadahonda, near Madrid, is a regular at the local crossfit gym, plays in veterans’ matches and does commentary for Bulgaria games.
The Spanish defender spent three years with Man City. He moved to Lazio in 2010 and spent time with Norwich City, Las Palmas, AEK Larnaca and hometown club Real Union before calling it a day in 2020, in part due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Vassell was at City between 2005 and 2009, after his England career (22 caps, six goals) had already been and gone. He never really found much form in a sky blue shirt, managing just 22 goals and nine assists in 124 appearances altogether. He left for Turkish club Ankaragucu and later played for Leicester. Vassell went into coaching upon his retirement in 2016 and is now working as an academy coach at Wolves.
Benjani was signed from Portsmouth in January 2008 but scored just seven goals in 31 appearances for the club. The Zimbabwe striker went to Blackburn and back to Pompey before finishing his career in South Africa, where he retired in 2014. He did his coaching badges in Northern Ireland and is now manager of Zimbabwean Castle Lager Premier League side, Ngezi Platinum. The 43-year-old hasshaved off his trademark hairstyleand looks nearly unrecognisable.
Starting XI: Isaksson, Jihai, Corluka, Dunne, Ball, Ireland, Gelson, Petrov, Garrido, Vassell, Benjani . Subs: Hart, Caicedo, Elano, Castillo, Hamann.
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