On Tuesday night, Manchester City beat Shakhtar Donetsk 2-0 to sit both top of their Champions League group and top of the Premier League table.
With one of the best managers in the world at the helm and some frighteningly talented players in their team, City have been a force to be reckoned with so far this season, with the aggregate score of their last six fixtures reading 24-1.
Were it not for the takeover of Sheikh Mansour in 2008, however, the club’s fortunes could have been extremely different.
Mansour agreed a deal to buy City on September 1, 2008, and we’ve revisited their final starting XI before the club was changed forever – a 3-0 victory at Sunderland 24 hours previously.
Hart was somewhat charmed to come away from the Stadium of Light with a clean sheet, having seen a Pascal Chimbonda effort come back off the crossbar, but the goalkeeper was well on the way to establishing himself as an emerging talent and had made his England debut in the summer.
Given he has not actually appeared for City in over a year and has been sent out on loan twice, it’s easy to forget that Hart is still technically a Blue.
Is it just us or was Corluka terribly underrated as a Premier League right-back? The victory over Sunderland was the Croatian’s final appearance for City as he was sold to Tottenham on the day Mansour agreed the takeover.
Still only 31, Corluka has spent the last five years at Lokomotiv Moscow, winning the Russian Cup twice.
Richard was one of the English players to initially thrive among his more illustrious team-mates when City began to spend big money, and was nominated for the club’s Player of the Year award when they won their first title in 44 years in 2011-12.
But injuries and the form of Pablo Zabaleta saw Richards leave first on loan to Fiorentina and finally Aston Villa, where he remains to this day, despite barely playing due to chronic fitness issues.
Ben Haim is currently at Maccabi Tel Aviv, in case you were wondering.
• • • •
• • • •
Despite his unquenchable thirst for own goals, Dunne had ended the previous season by becoming the first man to win City’s Player of the Year award on four consecutive occasions.
However, 2008-09 proved to be his last campaign in a City shirt before he left for Aston Villa. He retired in 2015 after two years at QPR, and now works as a pundit like everybody does.
There’s probably a joke to make here confusing the left-back with the Michael Ball of musical theatre, but quite frankly we can’t be bothered. We will, however, remind you that Ball won his only cap for England alongside Chris Powell and Gavin McCann in Sven Goran Eriksson’s first match in charge of the national team.
Now 37, the defender retired in 2012 after a season in which he made just three League Cup appearances for Leicester City, and is now set to release an album alongside Alfie Boe next month.
Opened the scoring at the Stadium of Light and developed a strangely brilliant understanding with Robinho, who was signed 24 hours later, ending the season as the club’s Player of the Year.
The 31-year-old – who was bald even back in 2008 – has been reunited with Mark Hughes at Stoke City but missed the whole of last season due to injury.
Signed after less than a day at Bolton, Hamann was typically popular in his three years at City before coaching roles at MK Dons and Leicester, plus a short-lived spell as manager of Stockport.
It will come as absolutely no surprise to find out the erudite and humorous German now works as a pundit.
• • • •
• • • •
The tale of Johnson is extremely sad. Hamann spoke about his young midfielder partner in glowing terms, saying: “Stevie [Gerrard] had tremendous technical and athletic gifts, but when he first came through at Liverpool, his understanding of the game wasn’t what it could have been. He would admit that himself. Michael was different though; he had an innate understanding of the game.”
But injuries and the mental strain of professional football, which Johnson described as “toxic”, saw the player retire in 2012 as he washed his hands of the game.
Fernandes, meanwhile, recently made Eintracht Frankfurt his 10th club.
It still seems strange to think Kompany was at City prior to the Mansour takeover given he went on to become one of the talismans of Roberto Mancini’s title-winning side.
After a couple of injury-hit campaigns, Kompany appears to be slowly getting back to his best under Guardiola this term, although fitness issues continue to hamper his progress.
Wright-Phillips scored twice against Sunderland only days after rejoining his boyhood club from Chelsea. The winger would spend another three years at the club before a poor spell at QPR.
The 35-year-old now turns out for Phoenix Rising FC in the United Soccer League alongside Didier Drogba and, erm, Peter Ramage.
Elano, who we still dream wistfully of, is currently assistant manager of Santos.
Those of you who saw Jo play for City will be surprised to find out he has scored over 150 career goals and earned 20 caps for Brazil.
You will probably be unsurprised to find out he has played for nine different clubs. The striker is now back at Corinthians, where Colin Kazim-Richards plays apparently. Football is weird.
A rare Newcastle positive.
Seven are currently playing in the PL.
Ronaldinho would have been proud.
Would he fit into such a strong side?
More footballers should follow his lead.
We really wish we went on this England trip.
Ryan Garry suffered some incredibly bad luck.
Football is more than just a game.
And we thought the West Ham list was bad…
Chelsea really enjoy the January window.