Even before Spain lifted the 2010 World Cup Manchester City laid down their intentions for the new season with three world class siginings, Germany’s young defender Jerome Boateng joined from Hamburg for £10.5M,
then Spain’s David Silva signed from Valencia for a reported £25M and then perhaps the biggest coup was the signing of Kolo’s brother, Yaya Toure from Barcelona for around £20M.
The Blues recouped £5M as Valeri Bojinov made his move to Palma permanent. Martin Petrov who was out of contract moved on and joined Bolton.
With all City’s World Cup stars absent due to an extended break Roberto Mancini took the rest of the squad to Nike’s training base in America for the start of the pre-season, which got underway with a ‘training’ game against Portland Timbers which City won 3-0.
Next it was on to New York and the Barclays New York Challenge. The Blues met Sporting Lisbon and an under strength City side were beaten 2-0.
Another piece in the Mancini jigsaw was added with a £16M purchase of left back Aleksandar Kolarov from Lazio for a reported £16M.
The Blues put out an under strength team again in the final game of the New York Challenge and were beaten 2-1 by the Red Bulls. The States tour moved on to Georgia and City beat Mexican side Club America on penalties after the 90 minutes had finished 1-1.
The tour finished with a prestigeous friendly against Inter Milan which was spoilt by a bad referring decision which saw Vierra sent off in the 21st minute and City’s ten men went on to lose 3-0.
The Blues were still without most of their World Cup players and new signings as they lost again in the penultimate pre-season game, as Borussia Dortmund won the inaugural Ferrostaal Cup beating City 3-1.
At last the Blues fans got to see all their new signings as City beat Valencia 2-0 at Eastlands in their last pre-season game.
Prior to the first League game of the season there was more movement in the transfer market, Nedum Onuoha joined Sunderland on a season’s loan and then Roberto Mancini brought in another piece of his jigsaw with the £24M signing of exciting young striker Mario Balotelli from Internazionale.
The next day City kicked off the season with a 0-0 draw against Tottenham at White Hart Lane with Joe Hart displacing Shay Given with a World Class display between the sticks.
With the new 25 man squad rule Craig Bellamy was deemed temporarily surplus to requirements and joined Championship Cardiff on a long term loan.
Another major signing for the club saw James Milner move from Aston Villa in a deal valued at £24M with Steven Ireland moving to Villa Park and City paying the Midlanders £16M.
The Blues then had to travel to Romania to play Timisoara in first leg of The Europa League Play-off round, and they came away with an impressive 1-0 win with ‘Super Mario’ coming off the bench to score on his debut.
Prior to playing Liverpool on a very wet Monday night the fans first enjoyed the opening of a new match day experience, City Square, and then a more historic event, as Sheikh Mansour arrived at Eastlands for the first time since he bought the club and he was treated to a fantastic display from a City team containing six English internationals. The Blues beat Liverpool 3-0 the best result for the Citizens over the Scousers for 73 years. Back in Europe and a much changed side easily secured a place in the group stage of the Europa cup beating Timisoara in the second leg of the play off round. After the Euphoria of the win against Liverpool the fans are brought back down to earth as The Blues lose 1-0 at Sunderland, Bent scoring in the 94th minute for the Mackems. On the day before Roberto Mancini named his 25 man Premier League squad it is decided that Robinho will not be involved and he is sold to AC Milan for a fee in the region of £22M. Felipe Caicedo is still kept on the books but is loaned out for the season to Levante in Spain. There was a two week break due to Euro 2012 qualifyers and it was an historical moment for City’s young lions as England played Switzerland with no less than 6 Citizens on the field in the Second half, Adam Johnson scored in a 3-1 win. Back from International duty and a blunder from, the so far impressive, Joe Hart against Blackburn at Eastlands sees City have to come from 1-0 down to draw 1-1. It was a good start to the group stage of the Europa League as City travelled to Austria and beat Red Bull Salzburg 2-0, and back in the league it was another clean sheet as The Blues beat Wigan 2-0 at The DW Stadium, a result that saw City move into 4th in the table. The midweek 3rd Round Carling Cup brought a big dilemna for Roberto Mancini as City’s injury list read; Balotelli, Boateng, Kolarov, Adebayor, Wright-Phillips, Richards, Lescott, so the Italian made 10 changes, the young back four were all making their full debuts and unfortunately City were turned over 2-1 by West Brom at The Hawthorns and were out of the Cup. Back to the league and it was the clash of the Billionaires as City met runaway Premier League leaders Chelsea at Eastlands. It was a fantastic display from the Citizens as they won 1-0 and cemented their place in the top four albeit with only six games gone. Juventus were the next visitors to Eastlands in the Europa League and City were lucky to gain a 1-1 draw against a very talented Italian side. It was a third home game of the trot and The Blues beat Newcastle 2-1 to move into an impressive second spot in the league, four points behind leaders Chelsea as we entered another two week international break.
On 15th October the sad news came through that City great Malcolm Allison had passed away at the age of 83, it was a fitting tribute therefore that the Blues made it four league wins on the trot by beating Blackpool 3-2, courtesy of another two goals from captain fantastic Carlos Tevez, After eight games City were still in second spot, but were now 3 points clear of the pack and just 2 points behind Chelsea. Four days later an estimated 7,500 Polish fans arrived at Eastlands to see City’s Europa League tie against Lech Poznan, Emmanuel Adebayor scored City’s first ever hat-trick in European competitions as the Blues won 3-1 to lead Group A on 7 points.
With things seemingly going well for the Blues, the fans know not to get too complacent and indeed they were right.
The visit of Arsenal to Eastlands was preceded by a moving memorial service for Malcolm Allison, however the match afterwards saw City down to 10 men with less than five minutes gone as Boyata was sent off. The Gunners ended up 3-0 winners, and to make matters worse Carlos Tevez hobbled from the pitch with an injured thigh.
Without Tevez in the side City travelled to bottom three side Wolves and were beaten 2-1. The Blues display was the worst of the season so far and prompted Roberto Mancini to make a public apology to the City fans.
With a weakened team on display City slipped to a third defeat on the trot as they lost 3-1 in Lech Poznan in The Europa League.
And so with the media applying the pressure to City and boss Mancini, Roberto was happy to have Tevez and Balotelli back in the side for a trip to the Hawthorns to play in-form West Bromwich Albion. The Blues put up a tremendous display with Balotelli grabbing a brace and was also sent off as City won 2-0. Next up was the Derby at Maine Road, the match against Manchester United was built up as the most important Derby for years but it ended up as a bit of a damp squib, ending in a less than satisfying 0-0 draw. Unfortunately for the City faithful the Blues drew another blank at Eastlands, this time in a 0-0 draw against Birmingham.
With criticism from the media of Roberto Mancini’s so-called negative tactics ringing in the Italien’s ears, City went to Craven Cottage to meet former boss Mark Hughes’ Fulham and simply blew the Londoners ‘out of the water’ winning 4-1 with an amazing attacking display not seen for many a year.
City couldn’t quite match the performance at Stoke, but came away with a point in a 1-1 draw.
The Blues secured a place in the knockout stages of the Europa Cup by beating Red Bull Salzburg 3-0 at a very cold and snowy Eastlands. Before another win and another clean sheet as The Blues beat Bolton 1-0 at home and cemented themselves in fourth place just three points behind new leaders Arsenal.
Rather than concentrating on the great win for the Blues the media concentrated on what appeared to be a spat between Carlos Tevez and Roberto Mancini as the City captain was brought off in the dying minutes of the game, The Argentinian had also picked up his fifth booking of the season and would be banned for the next match.
City visited Upton Park and continued their surge up the table with an entertaining 3-1 against West Ham, but yet again Carlos Tevez grabbed the headlines for the wrong reasons as City announced they had received a written transfer request from him, however they confirmed that his request had been rejected.
Better news followed with the signing of ‘wonder kid’ 19-year-old attacking midfielder and Israeli international Gai Assulin from Barcelona.
With City’s place already confirmed in the knockout stage of the Europa Cup, Roberto Mancini put out a second string side in Italy against Juventus in the final game in the group and City earned a point in a drab 1-1 draw which meant they would win the group and so avoid the rest of the big guns in the round of 32.
On his return from Italy the City boss was confident that he could persuade Carlos Tevez to withdraw his transfer request and hours before the home game with Everton the good news was confirmed that Carlos had withdrawn his request and pledged his future to City.
With the rest of the weekends programme virtually decimated by the big freeze all City had to do was beat Everton and they would go top of the league for Christmas for the first time in 81 years, in typical Manchester City fashion they lost 2-1.
It was to be a very merry Christmas for Blues fans as they beat Newcastle 3-1 at St James Park on Boxing Day and then two days later beat Aston Villa 4-0 in front of a sellout home crowd. The victory guaranteed that both City and Manchester United would end the year atop the Premier League, both teams on 38 points.
The New Year brought another victory, 1-0 at home to Blackpool. Then a great defensive display against title contenders Arsenal saw City earn a point in a 0-0 draw at The Emirates.
The FA Cup 3rd Round saw City draw 2-2 at ex boss Sven’s Leicester.
After chasing Wolfsburg striker Edin Dzeko since the start of the season Roberto Mancini finally got his man as the striker joined the Blues for £27M and he made his debut in an Eastlands seven goal thriller which saw City beat Wolves 4-3 and take top spot in the league, at least for one day before Man United earned a point the next day at Tottenham and moved over City on goal difference. Another Eastlands’ four goal salvo, this time in the FA Cup 3rd Round replay, saw City beat Leicester 4-2.
Despite controlling the whole game away at Aston Villa City slipped up losing 1-0 and slipped to third in the league.
One week later, on the morning of City’s fourth round FA Cup tie, Shaun Wright-Phillips handed in a transfer request saying he wanted to leave the club by the transfer window deadline less than 2 days away, he was not allowed to leave.
On a bog of a pitch City earned a replay in the 4th round tie drawing 1-1 at Notts County. Back in the league and with all City’s contenders to a fourth spot winning Mancini’s men threw away the lead twice to draw 2-2 at Birmingham.
The next day the sad news came from the club that legend Neil Young had passed away after his brave battle with cancer.
There was a tribute to Neil before and during the next home game against West Brom, the team also paid tribute with a great performance which ended in a 3-0 win.
And so to the Derby at Old Trafford, and even though Mancini’s men put up a great display Manchester United ended up 2-1 winners. The Cup competitions then took centre stage as City first travelled to Greece in the Europa League round of 32, 1st leg tie against Aris Thessaloniki, and on a dog of a pitch came away with a 0-0 draw.
Then in the FA Cup 4th Round replay against Notts County at Eastlands the Blues showed their superiority with a great 5-0 win.
The vociferous Aris fans ensured a great atmosphere for the 2nd leg Europa League tie at Eastlands and City played the Greeks off the park, winning 3-0.
Mark Hughes returned to Eastlands for the first time after being replaced by Roberto Mancini, and his well organised Fulham team grabbed a point in a 1-1 draw against a disappointing City side.
It was FA Cup fever again at Eastlands as a depleted Aston Villa side were well beaten 3-0 in a delayed 5th Round tie.
The Club then made a statement to say the FA had informed Kolo Toure that an ‘A-sample’ provided by him has tested positive for a specified substance and that the club had suspended him from participating in all first team and non-first team matches pending the outcome of the test on the B sample.
City needed to get back on track in the league and with a stuttering performance they managed to gain all three points with a 1-0 win over Wigan at Eastlands to stay third in the table.
A poor performance in the Ukraine saw City lose 2-0 in the first leg of The Europa Cup round of 16 against Dynamo Kiev and so faced an uphill battle to qualify for the quarter finals.
Before The Blues played Reading in The FA Cup Quarter Final the draw was made for the semis and the carrott of the first Manchester derby at Wembley was the prize if City could dispose of Reading, and in a nervous performance at Eastland’s Mancini’s side won 1-0.
The games were coming thick and fast and next up was the return leg of the Europa Cup tie against Dynamo Kiev, and as if the task to get through the leg wasn’t hard enough, the sending off of Mario Balotelli for a petulant high kick out against a Kiev player made it almost impossible, the ten men, however, put up a great performance but fell just short winning the game 1-0 but losing 2-1 on aggregate.
Three days later and it was another tough top four Premier League tussle, as City came off second best losing 2-0 against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, the Londoners leapfrogging City into third place.
Back at home and Eastlands was becoming a fortress, The Blues had won 11 and drawn 1 in their last 12 home games and they made it 12 wins as they thrashed Sunderland 5-0 to keep a six point buffer between them and fifth place Spurs with the North Londoners having a game in hand. The week of the FA Cup semi-final and Roberto Mancini put out what looked like a weakened team at Anfield and Liverpool put City to the sword winning 3-0, and with Spurs winning as well there were now just three points between the two sides, City having a slight advantage with a far superior goal difference. Worst news was that captain Carlos Tevez sustained a hamstring injury early in the game and would miss the semi-final.
The day of the semi-final and the bookies had City down as the underdogs as United were looking to complete a treble, however after surviving pressure from United in the first 25 minutes, City put up an amazing performance in front of an emotional Blue Army of fans to win the game 1-0 with Yaya Toure scoring the all important goal and sealing a place back at Wembley in the Cup final. Back in the league and the push for a Champions League place continued as Edin Dzeko came off the bench to score his first Premier League Goal as City beat Blackburn at Ewood Park.
Nigel de Jong continued the scoring firsts as he scored City’s first in a 2-1 home win against bottom of the table West Ham, a win which saw City cement themselves in fourth place, seven points clear of Liverpool and Spurs with just four games to play
It was a trip to Goodison Park next, to face an Everton side, who seem to have the indian sign over Roberto Mancini, and the Citizen’s bad run against the toffees continued as Everton came from behind to win 2-1.
And so City went into the home game against Tottenham knowing that a win would guarantee them fourth place in the Premier League and a place in The European Champions League Qualifying Round, The Blues didn’t let the fans down winning 1-0 with Peter Crouch scoring an own goal in the same net that 12 months ago he scored for Spurs to deny City a Champions League spot, the result also meant that Joe Hart had equalled Nicky Weavers record of 26 clean sheets in a season. With the Sheikh’s minimum requirement of Champions League qualification now in the bag, Roberto Mancini could fully concentrate the team on the ‘tiny’ matter of the FA Cup final against Stoke.
The 14th May 2011 will go down in history as the day City broke their hoodoo of 35 years without a trophy as they deservedly beat Stoke 1-0 thanks to another Wembley winning goal from Yaya Toure to send a message to the world that City were becoming a force to be reckoned with. The 35 year banner at Old Trafford would be no more.
The week got even better for Mancini’s team the next day as Arsenal lost their penultimate game of the season which meant that if City could beat Stoke midweek they would leapfrog The Gunners into 3rd place with just one game to play.
City claimed another lesser trophy, as Lee Jackson picked up Premier League Groundsman of the Year, and on another perfect pitch The Blues took Stoke apart beating them 3-0 to go third in the league, in addition a Carlos Tevez brace put him level with United’s Berbatov in the race for the Golden Boot award.
The final day of the season saw City beat Bolton at The Reebok 2-0 and seal 3rd place, just losing out to Chelsea on goal difference for second place. Carlos Tevez claimed the Barclay’s Golden Boot, Joe Hart won the Barclay’s Golden Glove award, and Vincent Kompany was City’s Player of the Year, add all this to the incredible FA Cup win and it truly has been a wonderful season for the club and the fans.