Man Citys first starting XI after mega-money takeover – and what happened next

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It's over 12 years since Sheikh Mansour's mega-money takeover helped elevate Manchester City into the Premier League's big time.

Since his 2008 purchase, Mansour has comfortably been English football's wealthiest owner – until Newcastle's £305m takeover last week.

But even though the Toon Army's new owners are reportedly worth a whopping £320billion, they face one hell of a task to accomplish all that City have since they were bought by Mansour.

It's easy to forget, and perhaps hard to believe, that current City boss Pep Guardiola's seat in the dugout was once occupied by Mark Hughes just over a decade ago. City have certainly come a long way since their early financial splurges under Mansour.

Here, Daily Star Sport takes a look at City's first XI following their takeover and what life was like before they really started to flex their financial muscles.

Joe Hart

Hart arrived in Manchester a couple of years before Mansour pumped his fortune into the club and quickly established himself as first choice.

He was dislodged by ex-Newcastle stopper Shay Given following his arrival back in 2009, but Hart regained his place under new boss Roberto Mancini.

Under the Italian, Hart played a prominent role in City's iconic title win back in 2012.

Would any of this team get into City's current team? Tell us who in the comments section below.

He followed that up with another league success in the 2013-14 season, along with two League Cup triumphs and an FA Cup winners medal.

Unfortunately for Hart, the arrival of the man heralded as the world's best manager in Guardiola signalled the beginning of the end.

The Spaniard didn't fancy the England ace and he was farmed out on loan to Torino. He also had spells at West Ham, Burnley and Tottenham before joining Scottish giants Celtic this summer in a bid to revive his floundering career.

Micah Richards

Academy graduate Richards famously burst onto the scene by netting a last-gasp goal for City in the FA Cup against Aston Villa – before by dropping the F-Bomb in his post-match interview!

After progressing into the senior ranks, a host of injuries and big-money arrivals prevented Richards from sadly ever fulfilling his real potential in Manchester.

He didn't actually leave the club until 2015 when he linked up with Villa despite making just a handful of Premier League appearances after City's title win.

Off the pitch, Richards has evolved into one of the Premier League's most-loved pundits over the past couple of years.

Vincent Kompany

Despite an influx of arrivals over the years both before and after Mansour's arrival, City haven't made a better signing than Kompany.

The big Belgian defender arrived in 2008 as a 22-year-old prospect and departed 11 years later a bonafide City legend.

Kompany won four league titles with the club and was recently immortalised in blue after receiving his very own statue outside the Etihad stadium.

He departed City to take up a player-manager role at his old club Anderlecht.

But it feels inevitable that there are more chapters to come in Kompany and City's love affair.

Richard Dunne

Dunne has already assured a spot in Premier League history for his spectacular record of eight red cards and ten own goals.

The Irishman joined City well before Mansour arrived on the scene with his billions and spent a total of nine years in Manchester.

It was the influx of talent that was afforded by Mansour's riches that effectively ended Dunne's City run.

He went on to see his career out at Aston Villa and then QPR in the Championship.

Pablo Zabaleta

Zabaleta was one of the final signings City made before Mansour's reign began – and they haven't made many better ones. Zabaleta departed Manchester as a legend after over a decade of service.

The Argentine full-back was a reliable performer in the City teams that racked up two Premier League titles, two League Cup triumphs and an FA Cup win.

After joining West Ham in 2017, Zabaleta was hailed a legend by current boss Guardiola.

Zabaleta spent three years with the Hammers before retiring in 2020 and is now a La Liga pundit for ESPN – although it was revealed in The Mirror earlier this year that Zabaleta had been approached about a return to City.

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“The City Football Group have said they would like me to return in some capacity," Zabaleta said back in March.

“Maybe at the end of June, when my kids have finished school and we have a better picture of the pandemic, that will be the moment for me to decide.

“I spent nine years at City. I liked the people at the club and I would be so happy to go back in some role."

Michael Ball

Journeyman midfielder Ball arrived at City a couple of years before Mansour but ended up departing not long after his arrival.

Ball made a big impact at a young age for Everton before joining Rangers.

The midfielder arrived back in England after a disappointing spell with PSV Eindhoven but a serious knee injury in January 2009 curtailed his Etihad career.

He was left without a club for two years following his release before linking up with Leicester, but he made just three cup appearances for the Foxes before his deal was ripped up in early 2012.

Dietmar Hamann

Former Liverpool ace Hamann linked up with City before Mansour's arrival at the age of 33.

The veteran was handed a three-year deal but made just nine appearances in his final year following City's cash injection.

The German midfielder went on to feature briefly for MK Dons in League One before calling it a day.

Hamann now works regularly as a pundit for various outlets, including Liverpool.

Stephen Ireland

Despite an influx of big-money signings, it was Ireland, who had been at the club since 18, who stole the show for City during Mansour's first season in charge.

The Irish midfielder won the club's Player of the Year award after netting 13 goals in a sterling campaign.

Unfortunately, he failed to live up to his enormous potential and was offloaded just a couple of years later, with injuries blighting his career.

He did enjoy a decent spell at Stoke but for all his talent, he should have been a key part of City's rise to domestic dominance over the past decade.

Shaun Wright-Phillips

Wright-Phillips, the son of legendary striker Ian Wright, was one of City's biggest names prior to their takeover.

City resigned the tricky winger just weeks before the start of the 2008/09 season – four years after his big bucks move to Chelsea.

But Wright-Phillips struggled to hit the heights he'd previously managed in Manchester during his second spell.

He made just a handful of appearances after his first two years back at the Etihad and was offloaded to Queens Park Rangers.

Wright-Phillips ventured out to America with a trio of MLS club's to bring the curtain down on his career.


Brazilian striker Jo arrived just before Mansour's billions touched down in Manchester.

He arrived in a £19m deal back in the summer of 2008 after forging a reputation as one of the top strikers in Russia.

Unfortunately, he failed to live up to that reputation and ended up as a mega-money flop at the Etihad.

He mustered just a solitary Premier League goal before he was shipped off to Everton.

He was finally dumped by the club in 2011.


Brazilian superstar Robinho was City's first marquee signing under Mansour – and he delivered, initially.

He finished his debut season as the fourth-highest scorer in the Premier League after firing 14 strikes in 31 games.

But he soon went off the boil after his sizzling start.

Injuries blighted his second year in Manchester and he was eventually offloaded to Santos on loan before joining AC Milan the year after.

  • Pep Guardiola
  • Premier League
  • Manchester City FC

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