In the last few decades, Manchester City Football Club has been transformed from mediocre to magic courtesy of heavy investment from the club’s owners. However, good recruitment and, of course, excellent coaching have also played a key role in their rise as a football club. They have been the dominant team in the English top flight in recent years.
Here is the story of all of Manchester City’s English top-flight title triumphs:
The early league titles
We have to go all the way back to 1937 for Manchester City’s first-ever English title. However, they had won the Second Division title in 1899, which saw them make their first appearance in the English First Division.
Unfortunately for the men from Manchester, they followed up their 1937 title victory with relegation to the Second Division. It was an extraordinary season, though, as the Citizens went down despite being the First Division’s top goalscorers.
City had to wait over 30 years for their next top-flight title, as the Citizens once again claimed the crown in season 1967/68 under the late great Joe Mercer. A 4-3 victory over Newcastle saw City pip city rivals Manchester United to the title on the last day of the league campaign.
The arrival of the Abu Dhabi United Group transforms the club
The arrival of the Abu Dhabi United Group in 2008 as the club’s owners changed the fortunes of Manchester City. In the years leading up to the takeover, City had been in poor shape both off and on the pitch. At one point, City was plying their trade in the English third tier, it had gotten that bad for the Citizens.
The club’s owners didn’t hold back with their investment strengthening the squad and bringing in a host of big-name players and head coaches. The biggest statement signing came when the Citizens broke the British transfer record to bring in Brazilian international Robinho from Brazil for a fee of around £32.5m.
The team gradually improved, with better results on the pitch. City qualified for the Champions League for the first time since 1968 in season 2010/11 after finishing third place in the table.
Things got even better in season 2011/12, as Manchester City won their first Premier League, with Italian head coach Roberto Mancini at the helm. In typical City fashion, they had to make it hard for themselves.
The title was won ahead of rivals Manchester United on the final day of the season, a day that has gone down in English football folklore. City only had to beat relegation candidates QPR at the Etihad Stadium on the season’s final day to claim the title.
However, things didn’t go to plan, as the Hoops took a two-goal lead. The dismissal of former City midfielder Joey Barton helped City’s cause, no doubt. They headed into injury-time 2-1 down and seemingly the title slipping away after United had won 1-0 at Sunderland. The Red Devils players and staff were even celebrating at the Stadium of Light, believing they had won the title.
Then things took an incredible turn, as City striker Edin Dzeko equalised for City in the 92nd minute. There surely wasn’t enough time for another goal, was there? On 93 minutes 20 seconds, the ball dropped to Argentinian striker Sergio Aguero, who fired home past QPR goalkeeper Paddy Kenny, which sent the stadium into delirium. The game was restarted, but the referee’s full-time whistle went soon afterwards to confirm that City were English champions.
The words of Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler ‘I swear you’ll never see anything like this ever again.’ are very apt because it is unlikely that we will ever see anything like the ending to a title race like that in the Premier League again.
City finished second place the following season, however. A 1-0 FA Cup final loss against relegated-Wigan Athletic led to the club’s hierarchy sacking Mancini just a few days after the defeat.
The new head coach Manuel Pellegrini won both the Premier League title and the League Cup in his debut campaign as City boss. However, the Citizens’ form dipped slightly in season 2014/15, when they could only finish second place in the table. In season 2015/16, City produced their lowest finish since 2010, when they finished fourth place in the table.
However, Pellegrini guided Manchester City to their first-ever Champions League semi-final in 2016. It was not enough for the Chilean to retain his position, though, as, in February, City announced that they would be appointing former Barcelona head coach Pep Guardiola as their new boss for the 2016/17 season.
The Guardiola years
The arrival of Guardiola as City boss was greeted with great excitement by everybody involved with the Citizens. After an underwhelming debut campaign as boss, the Catalan boss led City to their second Premier League title in season 2017/18 while breaking several records in the campaign, such as the most points in one Premier League campaign. That season Aguero wrote himself into the City history books by becoming the club’s record-ever goalscorer.
The following season Guardiola’s team once again won the Premier League while also retaining the League Cup, which they had also won the previous season. Things got even better at the end of the season, as City completed the domestic treble by winning the FA Cup.
City experienced a slight blip in season 2019/20, as they finished as runners-up to Liverpool in the Premier League. However, the Citizens returned to reclaim the English top-flight title the following season, ending a massive 12 points ahead of bitter rivals Manchester United, who finished in second place.
The same season City reached the Champions League final for the first time. However, the men from Manchester suffered a 1-0 defeat against Chelsea, with Kai Havertz scoring the only goal of the game.
City defended their Premier League crown in season 2021/22, winning the title by just a point ahead of Liverpool. Just like back in 2012, City went two goals down on the final day of the campaign, this time to Aston Villa, while needing a win to claim the title. However, in an incredible five-minute period, City scored three goals and held on to retain the title.
City set up for more glory in the future
In the last decade, Manchester City has become one of the major forces in not just the English game but also on the European stage. Head coach Pep Guardiola signed a contract extension in November 2022. The club’s hierarchy is likely to continue investing in the club’s fortunes, and they are set up for even more glory in the future.