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Manchester City's history has been long and full of ups and downs in the shadow of hometown powerhouse rivals, Manchester United. Long regarded as little more than United's "noisy neighbors," City has now fought their way to a top four place in the Premiership table, securing a Champions League berth and validating them as a powerful force in modern football.
Which is why it's so hard to believe where they were just thirteen years ago.
Manchester City was a founding member of the Premier League in 1992, but struggled for their first several years. In 1996, they finished bottom three, and were relegated to the second tier. In 1998, they found themselves facing a second relegation, and fell to England's division two. It was the farthest that any former winner of the European trophy had ever fallen.
To call Manchester City "obscure" would be as much of a crime, given their history, as it would be to say the same about Leeds United, so including them on this list was a bit of a debate. But it was what they did after falling that far that made them worthy of a spot.
Unhappy with the position they were in, and surely sick and tired of hearing the word "United" uttered throughout town, Manchester City hired new chairman David Bernstein to bring a unique financial vision to the club. With the discipline he brought to City's pocketbook, the club were promoted back to the second tier in their first attempt, and then back to Premiership only two years after departing.
The turnaround proved to be a little to quick for City to handle, as they endured another relegation the following season. But again, just one season later, City battled back to Premiership, this time for good.
The rest is history, as Manchester City was eventually purchased by the Abu Dhabi United Group, who immediately brought world-class talent to the club. In 2009-10, they finished in fifth, losing a top-four spot to the Tottenham Hotspur in the final league match. But, in 2011, those two clubs reversed positions, this time with Tottenham in fifth, and City earning another shot at European glory.