Football: Sheikh key factor in Manchester City's growth

Manchester city owner Sheikh Mansour Zayed Al Nahyan waves during an English Premier League football match against Liverpool.
Manchester city owner Sheikh Mansour Zayed Al Nahyan waves during an English Premier League football match against Liverpool.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON • Forget the plethora of stars English Premier League champions Manchester City have at their disposal.

Even City manager Pep Guardiola knows he cannot take credit for lifting the club from relative obscurity to becoming giants of the English game.

There is one star that shines the brightest at the Etihad and it is that of the owner, Sheikh Mansour Zayed Al Nahyan, who after his takeover of City in September 2008, has presided over the transformation of the club.

And Guardiola acknowledged that at his press conference ahead of today's home league game against Fulham, hailing Mansour as the "most important person" after the club's latest accounts revealed the Emirati has pumped more than £1.3 billion (S$2.3 billion) into City a decade on.

"He's the most important person to help all of us at Manchester City to make a step in front. They decided and they invest, and after, they choose the right people," the Spaniard said.

"The money is so important but after they choose the right people, from the beginning 10 years ago to make a step forward.

"I was really impressed when I spoke with him. He knows absolutely everything, the team, the way we play, what happens with the club - he's involved."

  • $2.3b

    Amount in Singapore dollars that Man City owner Sheikh Mansour has invested in the side

And after posting record revenues of £500.5 million in a record-breaking 2017-18 campaign as Guardiola's men romped to the league title with 100 points, chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak fired a warning shot that the Abu Dhabi owners will continue to invest heavily in their bid for dominance. "Our journey is not complete and we have more targets to fulfil," he said.

With the mind-boggling figures generated by City and their continued success on the pitch, the club remain hopeful they can come to an agreement over a deal extension for forward Raheem Sterling.

Sterling, who is fit for the game against the Cottagers after withdrawing from the England squad during the international break, is on a contract which expires in 2020.

"Sometimes, these kind of thing needs their own time. (What's) important is Raheem and his people know how delighted we are with him," Guardiola added.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 15, 2018, with the headline 'Sheikh key factor in club's growth'. Print Edition | Subscribe