It’s rare to see a football club grant behind-the-scenes access to a television crew, but that’s exactly what Manchester City did earlier this season when ITV4 were given permission to produce a fly-on-the-wall documentary about the goings on at the Etihad.
Inside Manchester City, which was aired this week, centred around the club’s preparations for the league match with Sunderland (postponed due to extreme weather conditions) and the FA Cup win over Chelsea, but the series of interviews with players and staff gave the best insight into the fabric of the club.
City's director of football, Txiki Begiristain, was full of praise for Manuel Pellegrini, a manager he says had made City “happy” again after clear divisions appeared during Roberto Mancini’s final season in charge.
We want to play good football but we also want to be happy when we are working. Manuel Pellegrini always helps us to make things easier and make us happy. We know the kind of football we want. There are some managers in the world who can apply this philosophy.
He [Pellegrini] likes to play attractive and brilliant football and he played wonderful football with his three clubs in Spain.
Begiristain’s comments confirm Pellegrini’s attacking style was a key factor in determining his appointment and suggest that, even if City fail to win the Premier League this season, the Chilean will be in charge next season.
And that style extends to City's youth players, led by head coach of the Elite Development Squad Patrick Vieira, who said: "We want the team to be in possession of the ball, to dictate the game." Vieira firmly believes that in the next "three or four years" City can produce players capable of making the step up to the first team.
Clearly, City are forward-thinking, desperate to become self-sufficient and produce their own players that can operate in a homogenous system rolled out across the club. However, what the programme made clear was that even with the seismic changes brought about by Sheikh Mansour's takeover in 2008, City value their past and seek to continue traditions that define the club.
Rose Woolrich, who has been making tea on matchdays for photographers for over 39 years, is seen as the embodiment of the past, as is Bernard Halford, the former club secretary and now life president who has been at the club for over 50 years. Both were shown in their roles, thrilled to be a part of a football club that has changed considerably in recent years.
Halford, who was the last person to lock the gates at Maine Road and was allowed to lift the FA Cup in 2011 when City ended their 35-year wait for a piece of major silverware, described the changes in the Mansour era as "absolutely unbelievable."
Then there's kit man Les Chapman, who has worked at the club since 1997, and groundsman Lee Jackson, a lifelong City fan, who also remain embedded in City's culture.
They are the heart and soul of Manchester City, and the club have made great efforts to keep intact the important people who played a huge part in the past.
Sceptics will say the programme was a PR opportunity and there may be some truth in that, but what's clear is the club have a strategy to improve in the future, whilst at the same time not forgetting their past.
Rob Pollard is Bleacher Report's lead Manchester City correspondent and will be following the club from a Manchester base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here: @RobPollard_.
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