They have been the dominant force in English football over the past decade, winning the Premier League six times in 11 seasons between 2012 and 2022. But for the 128 years that preceded the Abu Dhabi United Group’s takeover of Manchester City, theirs was a mercurial existence, embracing plenty of lows as well as some memorable highs.
This Telegraph Custom Gift Book details the club’s history from 1892 – 12 years after their formation as St Mark’s. It includes reproduced match reports, articles and iconic images from the newspaper’s archives – making it the perfect present for every City supporter. From Gorton to Guardiola: the best of times, the worst of times – it is a tale of two Citys.
Order now for £63 and save 10% (RRP £70) when you use the code SKYBLUES10. Free standard shipping included
Features of the book
Recipient’s name embossed in silver on front cover
Personalised message on the inside title page
Dimensions: 15in x 12in
Dark green leatherette cover
A tale of two Citys
From Gorton to Guardiola: the best of times, the worst of times – it is a tale of two Citys. Manchester has experienced two Trebles in the past quarter of a century, and they illustrate how its footballing landscape has changed.
In 1998-99, while the red half of the city celebrated winning the Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup, the sky blue half had to make do with toasting the more modest feat of promotion from the third tier. Exactly 20 seasons later, it was Manchester City who were celebrating an unprecedented achievement, having become champions of England, FA Cup and League Cup winners.
The seeds of that transformation were sown on transfer deadline day in September 2008, when two important pieces of paper were signed. One bore the name of Robinho, a Brazil striker bought from Real Madrid; the other sealed Sheikh Mansour’s takeover of the club. Robinho’s arrival delivered less than had been hoped for and he left after 18 months, but the Sheikh remains and City no longer win the game’s prizes only once in a blue moon.
In recent seasons, City’s biggest domestic rivals have been Liverpool, and when The Daily Telegraph first reported on the club – during the 1892-93 season – they were also facing Merseyside opposition. City were still called Ardwick AFC at the time and it was Bootle, not Everton or Liverpool, who they were playing. Ardwick 7 Bootle 0 was the scoreline and the paper’s man in the stands observed that the home side “had all the best of the game”.
The name Manchester City was adopted in 1894, as were the team’s sky blue shirts, and promotion to the First Division was won five years later. It marked the start of a proverbial rollercoaster ride: relegation in 1902, promotion in 1903, the FA Cup in 1904, relegation again in 1909 before an immediate return to the top flight. City’s narrative had been set.
Mercer and Allison
As they yo-yoed between divisions, their neighbours were winning their first two league titles in 1908 and 1911. City had to wait until 1937 to be crowned champions and their second league title, in 1968, was overshadowed when United became the first English winners of the European Cup. That was unfortunate for City, who Joe Mercer and Malcolm Allison had turned into the most attractive side in the club’s history.
An unlikely couple, the avuncular Mercer and the flamboyant Allison had bought the legendary trio of Colin Bell, Francis Lee and Mike Summerbee (although the entire side cost only £200,000), while the likes of Mike Doyle, Neil Young and keeper Joe Corrigan came through the ranks. The chemistry worked, City dazzled, and after winning the league they added the FA Cup in 1969 FA Cup and European Cup-Winners’ Cup in 1970.
But Mercer and Allison’s relationship deteriorated – the latter had his eye on being in sole charge – and they had no more success, even when Mercer finally quit and Allison briefly took over. He returned for a second spell as manager in 1979, and broke the British transfer record by paying £1,450,000 for Wolves midfielder Steve Daley, who made 48 appearances before being sold to Seattle Sounders at a loss of more than £1.1 million.
Famine and feast
The rollercoaster was off again. Relegation came in 1983, 1987 and 1996, followed twice by promotion but the third time by that further descent into the third tier. Of seven seasons between 1995-96 and 2001-02, six ended in promotion or relegation, and managers came and went like buses – five occupying the hot seat between August and December 1996.
It is a very different story now. Not long after City’s acquisition in 2008, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson described them as his club’s “noisy neighbours”. But since Sergio Aguero’s famous goal against QPR in the closing seconds of the 2011-12 season clinched their first Premier League title, it is City who have had more to shout about.
Manuel Pellegrini managed them to that success and Roberto Mancini was in charge when they regained the title in 2014. That year the club’s ambitious plan to replicate Barcelona was outlined in The Daily Telegraph’s pages. Central to it was the appointment in 2016 of Pep Guardiola, under whom their tally of top-flight titles has doubled to eight.
Overseas stars such as David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne, Vincent Kompany, Aguero and Erling Haaland have been central to their success. But Guardiola’s teams have won more than just trophies – they have won admirers the world over for playing football of a quality surpassing any English club before them. The noisy neighbours are here to stay.