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No doors in the bathrooms, no coffee, a multi-million dollar debt and more than three decades of failures and sporting disappointments.
That was the reality of Manchester City 10 years ago, when the club citizen, overshadowed in the shadow of his glamorous eternal rival, Manchester United, was close to disappear submerged in financial chaos.
Hence the importance of what happened on September 1, 2008, date in which the investment group Abu Dhabi United, owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, agreed to purchase the equipment that would transform the Premier League forever and football in general.
Overnight Manchester City had become the richest club in the world , surrounded by the immense fortune of its new owners.
That was the beginning of a process that continues to have a strong impact on the world of the ball as evidenced by the historic season completed by the team last season.
And while its present is documented in ” All or Nothing: Manchester City” the series that recently launched Amazon Prime, the platform of online content ( streaming , in English) of the commercial giant, there are four facts that have gone unnoticed about its transformation process during the last decade.
1. “We could not pay the bills”
Before the arrival of Sheikh Mansour, Manchester City was on the verge of financial and institutional collapse.
The club was being dragged by the judicial problems of who at that time was its owner, the former prime minister of Thailand Thaksin Shinawatra, to whom the justice of his country had frozen all his assets .
That had an impact on the sport, as evidenced by the 8-1 thrashing that the team suffered on the last date of the 2007-2008 season against Midlesbrough.
“We were in a desperate situation,” recalls the then CEO, Garry Cook.
” Luck always plays an important role in situations like that and just the Abu Dhabi United group was in the market looking for a football club.”
“The dream we sold him was more than buying 24 players, it was about buying the opportunity to create something special,” Cook told the BBC.
“What we did not realize, as a group, of the importance of what was going to happen and the levels that would reach.”
2. The Robinho effect
It is possible that in his two seasons in England the Brazilian striker has not been able to respond to the expectations generated by his signing for a record amount for the time in English football.
But his mere presence, more than the 14 goals he managed to score, all achieved in his first year, which had a crucial impact as a trigger for the team’s growth.
“We had the capital to buy a player, but we only had 24 hours to do it,” says Cook.
“At the time, the agreement was simply a piece of paper, but part of that agreement was a loan to buy a player that reflected the ambition of what was to come.”
“If we did not get it, it was possible that the purchase would not be completed, hence the importance of Robinho’s arrival.”
The euphoria that generated his signing not only affected the fans, but also affected the players.
“It was surreal because it came out of all proportion of the reality that surrounded us,” recalled the Belgian Vicent Kompany.
“A superstar was landing at a club where one had not arrived at its best in a long time, and we all got the pressure that we had to do well and succeed.”
3. Kaka Objective
In January 2009, in the first transfer window after the arrival of Sheikh Mansour, Manchester City could not persuade the Brazilian Kaka to join the club despite the presence of an offer of more than US $ 100 million , which would have been a record for the time.
“We went for Kaka, which was another declaration of our ambition, but our aggressiveness caused people to stop and think there was something wrong,” Cook acknowledged.
“I wonder if Kaka has taken the time to see the situation differently now and think what would have happened had he signed for Manchester City.”
Months later the Brazilian would arrive at Real Madrid where he had a step with more pain than glory, while City snatched the Argentine Carlos Tevez from Manchester United.
The “Apache” was joined the following year by Yayá Touré and David Silva , while his compatriot Sergio Agüero joined in 2011.
4. It was big
Since then City has won three titles in the Premier League of the seven seasons played and won three League Cups.
A sporting success that has also impacted far from the field as in the creation of an international soccer academy, the promotion of a women’s team and millions of dollars invested in the areas surrounding the Etihad stadium.
“There is pride in knowing that we have never forgotten where we came from,” says Cook.
“Ten years ago the children did not wear the City shirt among their friends because they did not feel proud, now you see the whole city dressed in blue with great pride.”
For something Kompany, who since his arrival has become the undisputed leader of the club, refers to the past of the club.
“It was a club with a lot of history , one of the greats, but I did not have that mentality, it was lost somewhere along the way,” he said.
“Progress has been tremendous,” he concluded without putting limits on how far the club can go.