By Michael O’Toole | Irish Daily Star
In 1995, then moneybags Blackburn won the Premier league on the last day of the season — just like City did last year. The club, funded by millionaire fan Jack Walker, was supposed to push on from there and dominate the Premiership with its highly-paid team of superstars, such as Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton.
But the next season was a disaster, and it culminated with two of the players battering each other on the pitch during a Champions’ League game. It all went downhill from there and four years after being crowned champions, the club was relegated.
Fast forward nine years and, in 2004, Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich brings Jose Mourinho in as Chelsea manager, a year after he bought the London club.
With the oil magnate’s money, the club stormed to its first league title in 50 years.
In May of this year, thanks to the generosity to our Abu Dhabi owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, City did a Chelsea (and a Blackburn) and won the league — in our case after a 44-year wait.
Any City fans who were at Etihad Stadiun when we clinched the title with almost the last kick of the ball in a thrilling comeback to beat QPR 3-2 will never forget that day. Like me, they’ve probably watched Sergio Aguero’s clincher hundreds of times.
But now, as the team starts in pre-season training in a top Austrian resort, we fans are now looking to the future — and we know how vital this coming campaign will be.
City fans convinced more glory is due
We will either collapse in acrimony, like Blackburn, or we will go from strength to strength, like Chelsea — who won back to back championships under Mourinho.
Fans from other teams, understandably sniffy about our newly-found wealth, will probably be gunning for City to implode — for our title success to be a one-off.
But City supporters, who have followed the club through thin and thin, are extremely optimistic about this season — and are convinced we’re on the path to even more glory. The spirited fight-back of the players in the tail end of the season shows they do have an excellent team spirit — even if everyone thinks they are mercenaries.
And, even though we haven’t bought anyone yet, we’ve made the best signing of the season, with manager Roberto Mancini putting pen to a lucrative, five-year contract.
We now have a top manager for the foreseeable future, and we have players like David Silva, Joe Hart, Sergio Aguero, the colossus that is Yaya Toure and plenty of others to drive us forward in England and in Europe.
For the first time ever City, at 6/5 on Paddy Power, go into a campaign favourites, significantly ahead of our nemesis, Manchester United, who are 9/4.
Bookies are usually a good judge of things like this and most City fans will be hopeful that they are right.
Personally, I expect City to come out of the traps really strongly this season. I am convinced we’ll go unbeaten for several weeks at the start and we should win the title by around eight points.
I’m also optimistic that our second foray into the Champions’ League will be much more successful than last year, when we failed to get out of our, admittedly tough, group. Wonder what the odds are of City winning the premiership and Champions’ League?
Don’t rule it out. It might be worth a punt…