Yesterday (December 19th), was three years to the day that Roberto Mancini took over the reins at Manchester City.
Taking over from Mark Hughes, whose limitations as a top flight manager have since been exposed, Mancini’s task was simple. Win trophies.
The Italian has succeeded and has brought three pieces of silverware to the Etihad, and in doing so, has ensured that he has kept the owners who have pumped millions into the club happy.
The run of trophies started in 2011, when a 1-0 win over Stoke City thanks to a Yaya Toure strike saw the Blues lift the FA Cup.
I was at Wembley that day—the sense of relief in and around the stadium was astonishing.
Apart from being nearly killed by 10,000 Stoke fans after getting off at the wrong tube station after the final whistle, and then having to walk through them to get back to the City pubs, it was the greatest day of my City life.
However, Mancini will always be remembered for one game and one trophy in the eyes of City fans: last season's finale against QPR.
City grasped victory from the clutches of defeat and Sergio Aguero wrote his name in City folklore with a last gasp winner, after 93:20, snatching the title away from United in the process.
This ended a 34-year long wait for England’s top prize—a significant accomplishment—and now the supporters who had to put up with constant abuse from United fans have become the biggest franchise in world football.
On the pitch, Mancini has improved City as a team tenfold, building a team now capable of competing on all levels. Defensively, they are now a much better unit and with the likes of Vincent Kompany and Pablo Zabaleta to rely on week in week out then things will continue to remain solid.
In midfield when all are fit and firing, there is a good mix of defensive and attacking, with the likes of David Silva, Samir Nasri and Yaya Toure—all world class players—swarming the field.
Up top there is the almost constant presence of Sergio Aguero, especially effective when paired with Carlos Tevez in an all Argentine attack.
It is a very balanced side that could still improve, and if Mancini has his way there will be some wheeling and dealing done in the pending transfer window.
What Manchester City has achieved over the last couple of seasons can be put into context with just one fact: exactly 14 years before the day that Mancini took over, Manchester City was playing against York City in the third tier of English football.
Where they have come since then is remarkable. Obviously without the money that has been pumped into the club, they would not be competing on such a stage, but without money pumped in neither would Chelsea or to a lesser extent, United. Football is just like any other business these days and that needs to be understood by fans across the world.
So here’s to Roberto, thank you for 3 wonderful years and here’s to hoping for many more.