With declining gate recipts, empty seats, and supporters disillusioned with the club, a saviour was needed.
And one duly came: Thaksin Sinawatra, the exiled Thaksin Prime Minister, even with his accounts in his homeland frozen, purchased the financially frought club, after years of spending under Kevin Keegan.
In the same month, 47,000 people showed up to watch the highly anticipated local derby between City and United, which ended in a closely fought 1-0 win to United.
Then June arrived. With Stuart Pearce gone, talk sparked up of Sven Goran Ericcson's immediate arrival. Questions still surrounded whether the takeover would be completed, and whether the supporters would be against his appointment, with their trust split 70-30 against his appointment, largely due to his performance while in the England tenure. Talk still dominated whether it would be purely a legal takeover, and would be juged by the premier league and back in Sinawatra's homeland.
Come July, takeover completed. Ericsson revealed, transfer budget in place, Sven starts spending.
In comes Elano, a brazilian playmaker who plied his trade in the Ukraine, an unknown to many, much a travelled Brazilian International. Geovanni, another Brazilian, Corluka the Croatian, Bojanov the Bulgarian, and Bianchi the 14 goal Italian round out the new roster.
Sven was critised heavily, in particular for buying players he'd never personally seen before. But unbeknownst to City in Sinawatra and Ericcsson, there was a partnership that was now to City fans heaven on earth.
With the millions Sinawatra has and the lure of playing under an esteemed manager like Sven, City have a bright future.
Corluka has been phenonemonal with his work-rate and performances, and Elano has been spellbinding and magnificent. The loan signing of Neri Castillo, the fantastic Mexican who undid Brazil in the Copa America—and who even Manchester United couldn't lure, spells a bright future.
In what only a year ago seemed an unlikely position, City have got the world in their hands.
Chelsea under Mourinho were fantastic, but when Abramovich started dealing in transfers, most notably the Andrei Shevchenko fiasco, it led to his downfall. City must take lessons from Chelsea—and if they are to become great, they must seperate Manager from Chairman. Otherwise City's downfall will once again be their own fault.