20 Greatest Manchester City Moments
If I have learned anything writing for Bleacher Report, it is that tomorrow matters more than today, and much more than yesterday.
The vast majority of the content and analysis we produce is forward-thinking, because the match that just ended is over and you probably watched it anyway. It is far more interesting to talk about what might happen than what did happen.
This is why, in my side line as a Featured Columnist for the Philadelphia Phillies here, it matters much more that I know who Maikel Franco is than that I remember who Julio Franco was.
My Manchester City knowledge base is relatively deep and narrow. I know more than I ever thought I might about the current side. But if you ask me who City's centre-back was in 1974, I will need Google to help me find that answer. And so what? When was the last time you needed to know that, anyway?
Still, I welcomed a challenge like this. As with my earlier effort to identify City's 10 greatest players, the process of information gathering necessary to put something like this together is enlightening.
And in the spirit of now being more important than yesterday, these moments will be brought to you in chronological order.
20. Seeds of Manchester City Football Club Planted
Per the Club's website, Manchester City Football Club emanated in 1880 from humble beginnings: "St Mark’s Church forms a football team which would later evolve into MCFC."
It is beyond hilarious to think that today's City, a club awash in oil money and stocked with rich players who may have a better chance of passing through the eye of a needle than getting into heaven, sprung up from a church.
Some City acolytes today might refer to Etihad Stadium as a church, but woe be unto those who worship false prophets.
19. City Win 1904 FA Cup
Have some of that, Manchester United!
Of course, knowing what we know now about City's general allergy to silver, it makes perfect sense that it took over two decades from the Club's creation for a City side to win a trophy.
There is a lengthy write-up of this achievement here, though as ever any historical recitation of events over a century ago should probably be viewed with more suspension of disbelief than scrutiny.
18. City Win 1934 FA Cup
Did I say two decades? Well, in fine City tradition, they showed me. This time it took 30 years for City to find their way back to the top of the hill.
City had lost the 1933 FA Cup final to Everton. Actually, that is sort of an understatement. City had been blasted in the 1933 FA Cup final, losing 3-0 in front of an estimated 92,950 at Wembley Stadium.
City redeemed themselves the following season, pipping Portsmouth 2-1 to win the FA Cup for the second time.
17. City Win 1937 League Championship
You would think an achievement like this would merit more space on the Club's history.
All they give you is this: "Manchester City win the League Championship for the first time."
That's it? No Man of the Match? Nothing?
As I often say, thank goodness for ESPN.co.uk. There I learned that City, after losing a Christmas Day 1936 match to Grimsby Town, went on a remarkable 22-match unbeaten streak. Their draw against Birmingham on the season's last day was academic as they had already wrapped the title up.
16. City Win 1956 FA Cup
City's 1956 FA Cup win was steeped in history even before the match was played. City was backstopped by keeper Bert Trautmann, who played the last 17 minutes of City's 3-1 victory with a broken neck.
Trautmann lived an amazing life. He was a paratrooper in the Luftwaffe and was awarded an Iron Cross. He was captured by British forces and held as a prisoner of war.
In 1949, Trautmann joined City in the face of strong local protest by Manchester's Jewish community. Only intervention by communal Rabbi Alexander Altmann made Trautmann's ultimate acceptance by the club feasible.
Trautmann went on to play 15 seasons for City and made over 500 appearances.
15. City Win 1968 League Championship
In its typically understated way, the Club's history says plainly that in 1968: "The Blues defeat Newcastle United on the final day of the season to clinch the League Championship for the second time."
It is a good thing The Guardian has archives.
From the match report you learn that Mike Summerbee scored first for City, who needed to win the match to assure themselves of the title. Neil Young scored twice and Franny Lee once as City dispatched Newcastle United 4-3.
It was the start of a golden age for City football.
14. City Win 1969 FA Cup
Young scored twice in City's league title clincher the year before, but it was his iconic strike in the 1969 FA Cup final against Leicester that Young is perhaps best remembered for.
Per City's website:
After 24 minutes, Mike Summerbee got hold of the ball on the right hand side, and jinked past a helpless defender to arrive in the box and send a perfectly-weighted ball to the penalty spot, where Young was lurking.
The childhood City fan fired an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net, leaving Peter Shilton grasping at empty air.
So memorable was Young's blast—the only goal of the match—that in 2011, City fans "turned their backs to the action in the 24th minute during an FA Cup tie with Leicester in tribute to Young."
13. City Do the Double in 1970
"City complete a brilliant European and domestic cup double by winning the European Cup Winners Cup and the League Cup," says the Club's website about the Sky Blues' 1970 campaign.
Whereas the Club's history often underplays the side's triumphs, here a bit of modesty was actually appropriate.
City did win two trophies, yes, but their performance in Football League Division One was only ordinary. Tenth in the table, just a touch above a .500 club, City actually spun bare thread into silk doing the double with that side.
12. City Beat Huddersfield Town 10-1
City's 1987 Division Two experience was not altogether miserable.
Three City players grab hat-tricks as Mel Machin's side smash 10 past the bottom-of-the-table Terriers despite Huddersfield dominating the early stages.
Neil McNab opened the scoring before Paul Stewart, Tony Adcock and David White all notched trebles.
The pummeling certainly enhanced City's goal difference, but the Sky Blues were still a mid-table side in Division Two that year.
11. City Are Promoted on Season's Final Day in 1989
City earned promotion back to Football League Division One with a 1-1 draw at Bradford on the season's final day.
Earlier in the season, City had hung a then-best 5-1 beating on Division One Manchester United at Maine Road.
Granted, the highlights for City football in this era were scant.
10. City Debut in Premier League at Night
The Premier League era dawned in 1992. A combination of better play and timely fortune found City in the top division to begin 1992, and City opened their season at home with a 1-1 draw against Queens Park Rangers.
Most notable about the match was that, per the Club's history, it was "the first ever live Monday night Sky game."
Certainly that is a far cry from today's smorgasbord of televised Premier League action.
9. City Win Shootout to Climb out of Division Two in 1999
By the late 1990's, City had once again found themselves on the outside looking in on top flight football. The 1998-99 season was spent in Football League Division Two.
Despite having the division's second-best goal difference, City amassed only 82 points and faced a Wembley Stadium playoff with Gillingham for promotion to Football League Division One.
Per the bbc.co.uk match report, City scored twice in the dying minutes of the match to level the score at 2-2, then prevailed 3-1 on penalty kicks.
City never does anything the easy way, do they?
8. City Return to Premier League with Second Consecutive Promotion in 2000
City completed a remarkably quick journey back to the Premier League with two consecutive promotions by slipping past Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park, 4-1.
"Slipping past," because per the Sports Illustrated match report, Blackburn "hit the post and bar four times" before City composed themselves enough to take control of the match.
"Second half goals by Shaun Goater, Mark Kennedy and Paul Dickov and an own goal by Blackburn's Scottish international defender Christian Dailly triggered a field invasion by the thousands of the City fans who had made it to Ewood Park," recounted the Associated Press report.
7. Abu Dhabi United Group Purchase Manchester City in 2008
The Club's website summarizes City's 2008 thus:
The Abu Dhabi United Group become the new owners of Manchester City. Former Wales, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester United star Mark Hughes becomes the new City Manager. The club break the British transfer record for the second time with the £32.5m signing of Robinho from Real Madrid.
While the Hughes hire and the Robinho signing were ultimately disappointing, they are now historical footnotes.
Nothing has been the same for City since Sheikh Mansour took over. And I mean that in the best sense possible.
6. Carlos Tevez Signs at City in July 2009
Reference to City by United fans as "noisy neighbors" was never more pointed than the day City signed Carlos Tevez away from Old Trafford.
The sky blue "Welcome to Manchester" billboard remains one of the greatest jabs from one club to another in Premier League history.
Now that Tevez is gone, the memory is a bit faded. But at the time, the thought that any world-class player would leave United to play for City was absurd.
The Tevez signing underscored City's intent to play (and spend) with the big clubs.
5. Roberto Mancini Takes over at City in December 2009
There was a lot of celebrating over Roberto Mancini's corpse at the end of his tenure as City's manager.
In December 2009, though, when City introduced Mancini as their new manager to replace the ineffective Hughes, no one could have known the heights Mancini would preside over.
As the next few slides will describe, Mancini took a moribund joke of a Premier League club and drove them to the top of the league in a few short years.
Maybe new City manager Manuel Pellegrini is the right choice now. But Mancini's contributions to City's football history will be better appreciated with the passage of time.
3. City Win the 2011 FA Cup
I cannot improve on the BBC account of the significance of this win, so I won't try:
"Manchester City ended a barren sequence of 35 years without a major trophy as Yaya Toure's late strike gave them a deserved FA Cup Final victory over Stoke City."
In somewhat standard fashion for City, they dithered and dallied for almost 74 minutes before Toure broke free with the ball and slotted a low screamer into the net behind Stoke keeper Thomas Sorenson to secure the trophy.
4. Sergio Aguero Signs at City in July 2011
Fresh off the FA Cup win, City doubled down on their good fortune by committing five seasons and a transfer fee of £35 million to the Aguero acquisition.
At the time it seemed like a lot of money and a fairly significant gamble.
Eventually, though, that move paid off ten-fold.
2. City Annihilate United 6-1 at Old Trafford in October 2011
It may have been just one match in the standings, but the Citizens' 6-1 disemboweling of mighty United at the Theatre of Dreams in October 2011 was a fire bell in the night that woke the Premier League to City's lofty league intentions.
Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko each scored twice for City. Perhaps the most remarkable fact of the match was how, with the match decided, United conceded three times in five minutes to turn a discouraging 1-3 score line into an abject 1-6 beating.
Seeing City score twice in "Fergie Time" was very satisfying for City fans, who could not know then just how crucial those extra goals would be.
1. City Win the 2011-12 Premier League at the Death
As Phil McNulty of the BBC put it, "Manchester City scored twice in stoppage time to be crowned champions for the first time in 44 years as they beat Queens Park Rangers to win the Premier League on goal difference from Manchester United."
Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero saved City from the ignominious distinction of losing the league title to a relegation-threatened, 10-man side at the Etihad.
Aguero's goal will never be forgotten by anyone who follows City.