With no money left at the club, the urgent need for a takeover was utmost in the minds of the board during the summer. There were three options they were considering. Francis Lee had proposed that City should sign a deal with Galileo, who were an American hedge fund, who would then spend three months trying to find a buyer in USA. The second option was an offer from a consortium headed by former City defender Ray Ranson.
The third was from former Primeminister of Thailand, Thaksin Shiniwatra and despite accusations of corruption charges against him in Thailand the board decided on Shinawatra’s bid, and although the deal stalled slightly due to him having his assets frozen in Thailand, a deal finally went through on 21st June 2007 with an £81.6M buyout. And with just a few weeks until the start of the campaign Sven-Goren Eriksson was announced as City’s new manager to bring some success to City with Thaksin’s three year plan.
In his autobiography Sven talks about his appointment. “I had never heard of Thaksin Shinawatra before he bought Manchester City for £80 million… Later I was told that he had been prime minister of Thailand. One day I was contacted by Jerome Anderson, an agent whom I had met before. Thaksin had consulted him on his purchase of City, and Anderson had put up my name as a candidate for manager. Now he wanted to see me in London.
We met at the Hotel Leonard. I went without an agent. Anderson represented the club. Manchester City wanted me as their new manager. Was I interested? Of course I was. Manchester City was a classic English club with a large supporter base. It was always said that in Manchester more people were City supporters than United supporters. It had been a long time since City had been a top team in England, but that was going to change With Thaksin’s help. A substantial amount of money was available to spend on new players
I Said yes immediately. I negotiated my own salary. it was nowhere close to what I had earned as England manager, but it was still good.The job was exactly what I had hoped for. l signed a two-year contract. …I was the new Manchester City manager, and the first non-British manager in the club’s history.”
With all players back fit from their International duties it was back to winning ways in the Premier League as City saw off an in form Aston Villa outfit with a 1-0 victory. This was to kick off a 6 game unbeaten run. The blues earned a draw in a six goal thriller at Fulham and then in a team which contained 8 changes City marched on to the fourth round of the Carling Cup with another 1-0 home victory over a brave Norwich side.
Sven had managed to broker a 1 year loan deal with Shaktar Donesk with Castillo so anxious to join City that he paid most of the loan fee out of his own pocket. The Mexican forward would be available for selection in 2 weeks time once the January transfer window had officially opened. The Blues were unbeaten over the Christmas period as they drew 1-1 at Aston Villa . 2-2 at Eastlands against Blackburn and then put up a great defensive dispaly again at Eastlands to hold off Liverpool in a 0-0 stalemate. City had not won away in the league since the first day of the season however all that changed in the first game of 2008 as they travelled to St James’ Park and completed a double over Newcastle with a 2-0 win. The Blues made it three clean sheets on the run three dys later as they earned a replay in the F.A. Cup 3rd round drawing 0-0 at West Ham. City then met an Everton side challenging them for one of the end of season European spots and it was Everton who came out on top winning 1-0 at Goodison Park. City now sat in 7th place in the Premiership however they and the 3 teams above them all had 39 points. West Ham travelled to Eastlands four days later for the F.A. Cup 3rd Round Replay and a single goal from Elano saw City in to the fourth round however there was some bad news as Castillo making his home debut fell awkwardly in the first half and cracked a small bone in his shoulder meaning he will be out of action for approximately six weeks. The Hammers were back at Eastlands four days later for a League game and an under performing City side were lucky to gain a point against West Ham in a 1-1 draw leaving City seventh in the Premiership.
Not only did the result give City the bragging rights in Manchester it also moved City into equal 5th with Aston Villa and Liverpool with a two week break ahead as City now had no involvement in the FA Cup. Two weeks after the great win at Old Trafford City were brought back to earth as they were beaten 2-0 at home to European challengers Everton , then they failed to score again at home dropping another two points in a 0-0 draw against Wigan before seemingly putting themselves out of a spot for Europe by going down 2-0 at relegation threatened Reading . And so City lay in 9th position with only the top 5 places automatically qualifying clubs for Europe and 6th place giving a further chance in the Inter Toto Cup it seemed City would have to look to next season for a European place. So with nine games left City gained there first home win in five games as they beat an in form Tottenham 2-1 moving them within two points of the elusive sixth place the Blue’s fans were still hoping was achievable. European hopes were soon checked as City failed to Beat relegation threatened Bolton at the Reebok in a turgid goal-less draw. And then worse to come as a trip to another club fighting relegation ended in a 3-1 defeat to Birmingham .
I was wrong. I don’t remember what was said at the meeting, but it was nothing productive. When I left I knew that there would not be a following season for me with Manchester City. When I saw Tord and Hasse, I told them, ‘We’re going to get fired”. Clearly the players weren’t aware of what was going on and put up another good team performance, that saw the blues win 2-1 at relegation threatened Sunderland .
And so the season was over and City finished 9th on 55 points and although they missed out on a European place via their position in the league, lady luck shone on the Citizens as they gained a UEFA Cup place via the debacle that is the Fair Play League.
Richard Dunne was named City Player of The Year and Sven flew out with the team to Thailand where an inexperienced City side lost 3-1 to The Thai League Allstars before flying to Hong Kong where they lost to a South China Invitational XI again 3-1, with Thaksin donating City’s match fee to the China Earthquake Fund. Sadly Dr Shinawatra was not as charitable with Sven though as on the 2nd June 2008 he announced that Sven would be stepping down as City manager. With much speculation as to who would be Sven’s replacement, two days after Eriksson’s departure it was announced that Mark Hughes had signed a three year contract to take over at Eastlands and plot City’s European adventure in the 2008/09 season.