Have Manchester City finally entered an era of long term success?

The purchase of Manchester City Football Club by Abu Dhabi United Group Investment’s Sheikh Mansour in the summer of 2008, and the drastic, sometimes almost dream-like new era it has heralded, both now register almost universally as common knowledge for the majority of the footballing world. From the British transfer record shattering purchase of Robinho from Real Madrid, to being the reigning champions of England today, the sheer cosmic proportions of the journey of long-time titan Manchester United’s ‘noisy neighbours’ has been nothing short of extraordinary.

Are Manchester City now equipped with the 'winning mentality'?
Are Manchester City now equipped with the ‘winning mentality’?

But is it enough to be labelled an ‘era’ of success? The very word ‘era’ is, among other factors, characterised by a long term plan involving a slow build toward sustained greatness which does not come without it’s bad times. Local rivals Manchester United had an era of tremendous success under Sir Alex Ferguson in which the team and the club’s philosophy were both gently built to last over the course of more than a decade. Chelsea, who underwent a similar trajectory in terms a change to wealthier ownership, too had (and arguably continue to have) an era of success largely under Jose Mourinho, with the likes of Roberto Di Matteo and Carlo Ancelloti making cameos. But neither of these eras came without struggle and toil, without lengthy bumps in the road that had heads in hands and eye brows scrunched in frustration.

For Manchester City, whether or not an era of long term success has actually been entered remains to be seen. That stoppage time, time stopping goal by Aguero that had the commentator’s voice box dying off from screaming came just three years after Mansour’s acquisition – a dream for the club’s supporters who, in many of their seasons prior, were thankful for a mere top eight finish.

mancitytrainingThough they finished second in the following season, the restoration of their status as England’s best the very year after meant the bump was not too hard felt. With the pace of modern day football already being extremely fast and the age of managerial dynasties coming to an end, it all happened so quickly. Mancini came, won, stayed, lost, left, and was replaced by Pellegrini, who most believe is destined for a similar fate unless success is delivered. This season the club has entered just it’s sixth year after the cash injection, having won two league titles, the FA cup once, the football league cup once, and the community shield once. Is six years enough for the start of an era?

Some would argue yes, especially given that the club fights on even this season as a contender for the premier league. Yet it stands that the men in sky blue remain without serious European accolades. In particular, a Champion’s League trophy continues to evade the club, something that has come to define great clubs in the continent, and more importantly has come to serve as a beacon of an era of long term success.

Moreover, though the shadow of United has shrunk in recent years, their own signings of the likes of Radamel Falcao, Angel Di Maria and Dutch world cup favourites Daley Blind and Louis Van Gaal as manager to reinvent the club as a powerhouse albeit in a different manner to the past points to the fact that Manchester will not be dominated by a single horse any time soon without a fight. Add to this the fact that their training facility has only just reached completion – one which will churn out academy prospects to play alongside purchased talent, which is another sign of long term success – and it suddenly becomes equally easy to argue that within the context of clubs that are regarded as those that have experienced an era of success, City pale in comparison.

European success, academy prospects, sustained domestic success, and perhaps some degree of managerial anchoring – all of these are works in progress which City must see out to truly be counted as within an era of long term success. For now, the fans remain patient for the days when these check boxes are also filled in, and understandably so.

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