It has been 10 years since Abu Dhabi United Group, owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, took over the reins at Manchester City and transformed the once struggling outfit into a world power.
City are now the established heavyweights of the Premier League and have access to the best talent on the planet with finances no longer a constraint. But 10 years ago, the scenario was drastically different.
Around this time in 2008, the club was in dire straits with serious question marks over their future. But how grim was the situation?
In a new book by Daniel Slack-Smith that reveals the inside story behind Manchester City’s transformation, club icon Vincent Kompany and other important figures talk about how bad things were and how far the club has come.
“I remember going to the toilet for the first time, and it was two cubicles. One had a door and the other one had the door hanging off, almost,” says Kompany about the Carrington training ground in the book, the excerpts of which were published by the Daily Mail. The 32-year-old Belgian had arrived at City in August 2008, just a week before Sheikh Mansour bought the club from ex-Thailand president Thaksin Shinawatra.
“There was a machine with weights where you couldn’t really lift it because there was so much rust on it. There was a punching bag that was half cut through the middle as if someone came in with a samurai sword. You had one glove to punch it, so you could develop an anomaly on one side from working out that way. And it was cold,” he said.
Pete Bradshaw, City’s director of infrastructure and estates, revealed the club’s finances were a total mess. “We had gone through periods where it was challenging to pay the staff. We could not order stationery. We’d bring pens and pencils from home for a while,” he says in the book.
However once the takeover was complete, Manchester City transformed almost overnight.
“We came back and they’d done one of those things you’d see on Extreme Makeovers or something,” says Kompany. “They’d changed the whole training facility. It was all short-term, makeshift, but it looked a million dollars and it was literally two weeks, which was incredible.”
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