Ten years ago Manchester City captivated their Christmas affair and in befitting with the spirit of alms at the club, administrator Sven Goran Eriksson bought drinks for all the 100 agents present.
At addition action about that time, at the Bem Brasil restaurant in Ancoats, Eriksson best up the tab aback an agitable adult from ticketing ordered a canteen of Cristal albino for her birthday. It set the Swede aback £600.
But this was Manchester City 2007 and this was the mood.
After years on the ambit of English football, an £80million takeover by above Thai prime abbot Thaksin Shinawatra had placed City advanced and centre.
Thaksin Shinawatra's acquirement of Manchester City in 2007 was the alpha of a crazy season
The above Thai prime abbot appointed colourful ex-England bang-up Sven Goran-Eriksson
Despite a agitated year, Sheikh Mansour swooped in to accomplish City a superpower in 2008
That summer, Eriksson — rebuilding his acceptability afterwards managing England — had spent added than £40m on eight adopted players. This was a lot for a club that had spent a absolute of £2m on outfield players the division before.
All eight were presented at the aforementioned columnist appointment in July and a antecedent recalled: 'The affair that day was anarchy rather than evolution. It was exciting. We acquainted as admitting we had arrived.'
City had already taken accomplish advanced below the ambulatory Eriksson. They won nine of their aboriginal 14 Premier Alliance amateur — including achievement over champions Manchester United — and that Christmas night at the Aurora Hotel, Eriksson was enthused.
'Thaksin says I'm accepting £50m to absorb in January,' Eriksson told a club employee. As it angry out, Eriksson got annihilation like it.
Shinawatra came in able big money but his £800m affluence in Thailand were frozen
By the end of March, Shinawatra had absitively to sack the Swede with City players afterwards aggressive to bang in protest.
Shinawatra, meanwhile, had bootless to accommodate the absolution of an £800m claimed affluence arctic in Thailand as he faced bribery charges. In the end, the City client was affected to secretly borrow money from above administrator John Wardle to accumulate the club afloat.
By the season's end, City were in disarray, lurching appear administering and, ultimately, into the accoutrements of Sheik Mansour of Abu Dhabi. This is the adventure of a year that afflicted English football.
At his aboriginal agents affair at City in June 2007, Thaksin Shinawatra acicular to a photograph of a dog on a blueprint and said: 'If a dog can bark, good. If it can't case again shoot it.' Those in the allowance acquainted the affinity was appropriate. Thaksin's abettor wore a blubbery atramentous belt annular his waist in which some accepted adequate a gun.
'If you fabricated Thaksin a cup of tea, that guy would be one bottom abaft you to watch what you put in it,' recalled a above City staffer.
Shinawatra was a arguable figure. He had been accused of bribery and animal rights offences in Thailand and ousted as PM by the military. But he seemed to accept what City needed: money.
Back in the summer of 2007, City were a accelerating club with values. City had a accomplished amphitheater and acknowledged adolescence system. Daniel Sturridge, Ben Mee and Kieran Trippier were all in the pipeline.
There were some high-quality summer signings such as Martin Petrov and Geovanni
Shinawatra additionally drafted in three abrupt Thai players to addition City's acceptance aback home
But administrator and client John Wardle badly bare a client if City were to advance on the pitch. A move from the barrier armamentarium SISU — afterwards to buy Coventry City — had evidently been rebuffed and there was alike allocution Noel Gallagher had been approached. 'I would accept been too active aggravating to address B-sides,' the Oasis brilliant said later.
So, admitting red flags aloft by the brand of Amnesty International, City took Shinawatra's money.
The 58–year-old had little antecedent absorption in football and no ability of it.
One of his new lath members, Mrs Sasin Monvoisin, watched Liverpool players abating bottomward afterwards a City bold and asked: 'Are they activity to comedy addition bout now?' But Shinawatra bare publicity if he was to achieve acceptance in Thailand and buying of an English football aggregation was one way to get it. Initially, he seemed aberrant but harmless.
'He was engaging,' one above controlling told Sportsmail. 'He had some absurd account but it was up to us to dissuade him.'
Early on, two pot elephants and some crystals were active below the City of Manchester Amphitheater pitch. Shinawatra again banned the club from cutting their amethyst abroad kit — adage it was a bad colour in Thailand — and accepted Thai masseurs be assassin to amusement a band he labelled unfit.
Things started able-bodied below Eriksson, Brazilian playmaker Elano started the division in accomplished form
That accurate appeal was ignored, but aback three hopeless Thai players accustomed on chargeless transfers to accord Shinawatra some cavalcade inches aback home afore a Christmas election, Eriksson had no best but to comedy along.
None had a achievement of arena in England, but Thaksin swept into the club from the Presidential Suite at the Hilton the day they active to abandoned accord the leash bags of pounds in banknote as a acceptable gift. They were again loaned out to Swiss and Belgian clubs, for whom they played a absolute of six games.
At that time, there was additionally a balloon for Saudi Arabia's Nashat Akram.
He was a accurate favourite of Sasin Monvoisin, who was one day apparent bouncing forth the touchline at training cogent Eriksson's abettor Tord Grip to 'just attending at his skills'. Akram lasted a week.
Chain-smoking Croatian Vedran Corluka got bent dispatch by the camera bristles times
Asked why he’d been flashed by the aforementioned acceleration camera bristles times, Corluka said: 'I anticipation it was the paparazzi'
Against this accomplishments of anarchy and eccentricity, City prospered on the field. The eight summer deals had been done by abettor Jerome Anderson and there were some acceptable ones.
Two Brazilian midfielders, playboy Elano and god-fearing Giovanni, were gifted, while Bulgarian accompaniment Martin Petrov and chain-smoking Croatian Vedran Corluka had pedigree.
The latter's arresting was bigger than his active and, asked by the club why he'd been flashed by the aforementioned acceleration camera bristles times, Corluka said: 'I anticipation it was the paparazzi.'
This was agitative area for a club that bare article to smile about. Stuart Pearce's aggregation hadn't denticulate a home alliance ambition above January 1 the antecedent division and City were so far in the slipstream of the absolutely big clubs aback then, it was a admiration they could alike see them.
Sir Alex Ferguson acclimated to alarm City's amphitheater the 'Temple of Doom'. So if the club bought into the Shinawatra dream a little too readily, this abiding faculty of inferiority was, in part, why.
'The abode had a new, blessed feel about it,' said one source. 'We were optimistic.'
At an accident in Thailand, Shinawatra declared: 'Next year Manchester City will be aloof like Manchester United.'
That was never activity to appear so soon, but seemed a reasonable aim. At atomic it did until the money ran out.
Despite some camp goings on off the angle City looked acceptable afore Christmas
To this day, there is cipher from Manchester City, accomplished or present, who will say a bad chat about Sven Goran Eriksson. One abettor said: 'I served 17 managers at that club and he was my favourite. A appropriate man.' His aboriginal column aback his England tenure, Eriksson was Shinawatra's additional aces afterwards Claudio Ranieri.
Fresh from a breach with Nancy Dell'Olio, the Swede was obsessively backstairs about his clandestine activity for abhorrence of abashing his parents. Spooked aback pictures of him examination a Cheshire accommodation appeared in the Manchester Evening News, Eriksson fabricated the Radisson Edwardian Hotel's Valentino Suite his home. At £2,400 a night, it was not cheap.
'It accustomed him to absorb assertive accompany afterwards the apple knowing,' said one City insider.
To that end, Eriksson rarely acclimated acclaim cards, consistently cash. He had a chargeless Volvo he never collection and spent abundant of his chargeless time in his favourite restaurant San Carlo.
Stephen Ireland's pants bottomward moment came a brace of months afterwards he aria about two deaths
Stephen Ireland had a beard transplant, fabricated up the deaths of two grandmothers and asked addition to booty his active test
Eriksson aerial the affection at City. Players begin themselves blockage in bigger hotels on abroad trips and the administrator himself appeared on BBC's The One Show, allowance out at a tea dance. Fundamentally, though, Eriksson was a committed, old-school manager. He would consistently watch the Below 18s and anticipation he was architecture for a approaching with a accomplished band that was not afterwards characters.
One amateur was phoned at the aforementioned time every morning to accomplish abiding he was out of bed. German Didi Hamann was disturbing with the aboriginal stages of a bank addiction. And again there was Stephen Ireland.
In the advance of that season, the adolescent Irish midfielder had a beard transplant, invented the afterlife of two grandmothers to alibi himself from all-embracing assignment and asked a club official if they could acquisition addition to booty his active analysis for him. 'Sven admired Stephen,' a antecedent told Sportsmail. 'But he anticipation the accomplished grandmother adventure was hilarious. He was arrant with amusement about it.'
City's players admired Eriksson and for abundant of the division they responded, finishing eighth.
Captain Richard Dunne recalled: 'On pre-season Sven said: "Have a brace of beers, be aback at 12 o'clock". But we were 'delayed' accepting aback and as we came in we were all aggravating to bastard about corners. Yet there was Tord Grip sitting arena the accordion. I thought, "These guys are gonna be all appropriate for us", and they were.'
City bounced forth below Eriksson through the aboriginal bisected of the campaign, alike if some agents associates were never abiding about the owner. Few could atom a apish quicker than kitman Les Chapman and he took to bathrobe up as Shinawatra at training. One ceremony he appeared cutting handcuffs and — appearance Shinawatra's American-Thai emphasis — said to the players: 'One day this club will be bigger than Mansfield.'
Shinawatra told Eriksson he charge win the alliance and afore one bold told the players: 'You accept to pretend this bold is a Apple Cup final'. Already the aperture was closed, Eriksson shrugged and angry to Chapman. 'Chappy,' he said. 'I anticipate your adaptation of Thaksin knows added about football than the absolute one.'
City bounced forth below Eriksson, alike if agents associates were never abiding about the owner
In February 2008, City won a appropriate derby at Old Trafford 2-1. It was City's aboriginal alliance bifold over their neighbours aback 1970 and apparent the 50th ceremony of the Munich air crash.
City and United emerged from a boxy day magnificently. Eriksson and Dunne wrote to City admirers allurement for admiring behaviour and got it. Both teams wore shirts afterwards sponsorship. It was a day that saw Manchester, and absolutely City, at their actual best.
Sadly, abaft the scenes at City the auto were advancing off.
Shinawatra had hoped achievement by a affair favourable to him in the Thai elections at Christmas would see his £800m affluence unfrozen.
The aboriginal bit happened but the additional didn't. The baby-kisser could not get his easily on his own money and this, ultimately, was the game-changer.
In February 2008, City completed a alliance bifold over Manchester United in a appropriate derby
Only a scattering of City agents knew but three times — already afore Christmas and alert afterwards — above administrator Wardle had to accommodate Thaksin £2m so that accomplishment could be paid. Financial Armageddon loomed and football after-effects slipped. Afterwards the derby, City won one in seven and on April 1 Eriksson apprehend in the Columnist that he was to be sacked. It was not a joke.
From March, Shinawatra chock-full speaking to his manager. Afterwards the 3-2 home defeat by Fulham on April 26, Eriksson chased his client about his hotel, banging on Shinawatra's aperture afore phoning a club staffer and saying: 'That s*** aloof won't allocution to me.'
Within all this, there were moments of farce. Kasper Schmeichel was hauled off to Bangkok to pay tributes to the comatose sister of the King of Thailand. One night the adolescent assets babysitter watched Shinawatra sing karaoke, complete with abetment accompanist to beard his bum notes.
Kasper Schmeichel went to Bangkok to pay tributes to the comatose sister of the Thai King
With the clasp on at City, relations were strained. Shinawatra's City-based Thai agents were now operating out of big-ticket new London offices on Park Lane and abhorrent arch controlling Alistair Mackintosh for not closing bottomward growing bone from the fans.
Eriksson was assuredly told by abettor Pini Zahavi that he was absolutely to be sacked and at Anfield, as City absent their penultimate game, supporters accurate their disapproval.
'Oy, Thaksin, leave our Sven alone,' they sang to the tune of Pink Floyd's Addition Brick in the Wall. By again it was too backward and beef was the alone recourse.
Ahead of the final alliance bold at Middlesbrough, Dunne told his bang-up the aggregation did not ambition to play. Eriksson talked his captain bottomward but Dunne was beatific off afterwards aloof 15 account as a division that had amorphous with achievement concluded in an 8-1 defeat. Ireland banned to biking home on the aggregation coach, cogent Sportsmail: 'It was the affliction moment of my career.'
Further abuse followed for Eriksson as he was fabricated to booty City on a post-season bout to Asia. City fable Mike Summerbee declared it as 'shameful'. On that cruise Eriksson was assuredly dismissed, the adverse Mackintosh asked to cull the trigger. Out in Asia, Eriksson was photographed with his administrator yet never already batten to him.
As rumours rumbled abreast the end of the division that Eriksson could be sacked admirers protested
Eriksson went on the absonant post-season bout of Asia area he was eventually axed
I was woken by Sven accustomed two glasses of champagne. I said: 'Boss, what are we celebrating?' He said, 'Life, Kaiser. We are adulatory life'
But in the bathrobe allowance at Middlesbrough he had promised his players they would all adore themselves anyway.
According to those present, there was little beddy-bye taken and little appropriate football played.
During the additional game, City striker Valeri Bojinov sat on the bank bistro Kentucky Fried Chicken while aboriginal one morning in Bangkok, Hamann accustomed at the aggregation auberge afterwards a backward night and fell comatose by the pool.
He was woken by his administrator accustomed two glasses of albino and in his book, The Didi Man, the German revealed, 'I said: "Boss, what are we celebrating?" He said, "Life, Kaiser. We are adulatory life". He added, "You apperceive Kaiser, I like this place. I anticipate I'll appear aback actuality and alive with two women. Yes. I anticipate I charge two admirable women".'
By the end of that summer, one of Shinawatra's abutting advisors, Pairoj Piempongsant, had led him to Sheik Mansour of Abu Dhabi. Shortly afterwards the alpha of division 2008-09 City became the richest club in the world.
Without Shinawatra, would City be area they are now? Was he the vital, if accidental, articulation in the chain? Or would the Sheik accept bought the club anyway?
Whatever your view, Shinawatra fabricated £90m from the sale, has homes in six countries and now campaign the apple on a Montenegrin passport. John Wardle, meanwhile, eventually got his £6m back, still watches City and has a table and bench in the East Stand of the Etihad Stadium. He pays for both.
A new era was coming, the Abu Dhabi United Group would anon access with their millions