In August of 2008 a big name took over a Premier League club, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed bin Zayed Al Nahyan is the man's name and Manchester City is the football team he took over.
Since that eventful night in August which was marked by City fans donning tea towels and doing an Egyptian walk at Eastlands, oh and the signing of Robinho, Sheikh Mansour has funded the signing of over thirty players costing in excess of £400 million, ranging from Sergio Aguero who arrived for £38million to the likes of Costel Pantilimon.
He's also updated the facilities at Eastlands, changed the kit, replaced Leslie (Mark) Hughes with Roberto Mancini, given the go ahead to a youth facility plan not too dissimilar to that of FC Barcelona, made the dream of winning major trophies a reality and laid down the foundations for Manchester City to become a real heavyweight in world football. And yet despite all of this, us, the fans, have been left standing looking at the changes in bewilderment, these changes haven't only changed the complexity of our football club on the pitch, they've also changed our football club in general, including the fans...
Before Sheikh Mansour and his millions rolled into town, Manchester City was a troubled club. We had next to no regular funds for signings, instability manager-wise and a team of unreliable players but despite all of that, we as fans were happier in a way, we knew we weren't a force in football, we knew we weren't a Man United or an A.C Milan, we knew we what we were, but we were happy with that and we were as loyal back then as we are now but now the atmosphere we had between fellow Blues has gone, our unique atmosphere at matches has been reduced to bare minimals, things have changed, a lot and not necessarily for the better either.
Supporting Manchester City is like being in a family, there's ups and downs, but we're always loyal to each other and that used to be reflected in the way in which we'd greet new fans, we'd greet them with open arms and welcome them into the City family, it wouldn't matter if you were from Oldham or Ontario you were part of the family. But now there's an air of suspicion round Eastlands, we look at new fans with suspicious eyes, closely examining their accents and analysing their motives, “Were you at York away?” is a thought that crosses our minds all too often nowadays, because we automatically believe that any new fan is a glory hunter, a large quantity probably are, but not all of them, how do we know that they wouldn't have been a City fan even if we hadn’t have had a big takeover and won the title?
At matches, the pressure is on us now, we must win every game or we'll be scrutinised in the press and questions will be asked as to why we haven't beaten a team who's goalkeeper's transfer fee probably wouldn't cover what Yaya Toure earns in six months.
Don't get me wrong, I know how lucky my team is and I know that I'm living every football fan's dream. But the dream, the dream of winning things and being a big team, the dream that we thought was simply impossible a few years ago isn't as sweet as we thought it would be and it comes with its downfalls, downfalls which take their toll on the very soul of the club.
In a way, I look back on the old times when our biggest signing would be DaMarcus Beasley on loan in a fond way, perhaps too fondly...