How an Abu Dhabi Billionaire is Transforming Not Just City

In the event that Manchester City used to be the club gloating prominent signings on provocative bulletins, nowadays this northern English city's "loud neighbor" is taking an all the more delicately, delicately approach.

In front of Saturday's Premier League derby against opponent Manchester United, it's about the fabulous plan for a club that was once composed off for having "a little attitude."


"It's been somewhat similar to a chunk of ice leaving the water," says Manchester City's main foundation officer, Jon Stemp. "Individuals just see the tip of it."

Given City were playing in England's third level in 1999, the club's rising to English football's top table at first required the procurement of players - a venture of just shy of $1 billion since the Abu Dhabi United Group assumed control.

Inside hours of the club evolving hands, City had crushed the British exchange record for Real Madrid's Robinho. City's exchange strategy was maligned - the new children on the piece were marked oil rich and viewed by numerous as close to a tycoon's toy.

In any case, Sheik Mansour and his group have never dismissed the master plan...

You can win anything with children

"Individuals were measuring the interests in the transient without knowing there was a long haul arrangement coming," Stemp says.

Underneath the surface, more noteworthy arrangements have been brewing as far back as Mansour announced in 2008: "We are building a structure for the future, not only a group of all-stars."

In the heart of the Etihad Campus, profound inside the region of Manchester known as "Sportscity," the 5,000-seater, 7,000-limit Academy Stadium is the sparkling gem in one of the finest youth buildings on the planet.
The Academy Stadium is predominantly used by the Elite Development squad and Manchester City Women. "I like to think of us as pioneers ... not just in England, but globally," says Man City and England Ladies midfielder Izzy Christiansen.
The Academy Stadium is predominantly used by the Elite Development squad and Manchester City Women. "I like to think of us as pioneers ... not just in England, but globally," says Man City and England Ladies midfielder Izzy Christiansen.


In installations against United last season, City went unbeaten in each age bunch, from the Under-9s as far as possible up to the U18s. 

A 9-0 total win at U14 level against the Red Devils will have been especially bothering for a club so pleased with Ferguson's Class of '92 - highlighting any semblance of David Beckham - and the Busby Babes. 

During a time when a significant number of the world's wealthiest clubs' foundations are loaded with a wide range of nationalities, 75% of the players in City's Football Academy are drawn from the Greater Manchester zone. 

All things considered, the club draws in with "the best some portion of 50,000 youngsters in Manchester consistently," as per previous City goalkeeper Alex Williams - now director of club's City in the Community program. 

Indeed, even United illuminating presences Robin van Persie, Phil Neville, Andrew Cole and Darren Fletcher have selected to send their children to the Etihad Campus rather than the Trafford Training Center as of late. 

Stemp permits himself a satisfied grin. "Presently, eight years on, you see whatever is left of the venture arrangement rising." 

The Mission 

Part of the legacy of the 2002 Commonwealth Games, the Etihad Stadium was the "principal block in the divider," as per Stemp. 

From that point onward, City plots its extension as far as "building pieces of eureka minutes," from the change of scourged grounds with the development of the preparation complex, to the improvement of business open doors around the East Manchester site. 


Inside a short distance of the Etihad, remainders of Manchester's mechanical past are still particularly unmistakable - neglected gas holders dab the scene while a waterway runs next to each other with the city's new cable car system.

"East Manchester was all industrial, and therefore the ideal location for regeneration," Stemp tells CNN.
"East Manchester was all industrial, and therefore the ideal location for regeneration," Stemp tells 

Yet, 80 sections of land of defiled brownfield land have been changed without anyone else admitted "grass geek" Stemp and his group; 46 sections of land now involve oversaw grass and wildflower knolls; and more than 2,000 trees have been planted. 

"It was exceptionally forsaken," reflects Stemp, motioning to the work the club has done. "We put our arms around the area and took control of it." 

The last piece in the riddle 

And also the physical building squares, City authorities trust mentor Pep Guardiola is the last piece in a mind boggling riddle. 

"I have undoubtedly about his positive effect," City's head working officer Omar Berrada tells CNN. "We've officially extended the stadium and we think (Guardiola) will bring the potential for proceeded with extension." 


"Kick conveys a society of progress and style of play that will be created crosswise over everything that we're doing here," Berrada says. "I'm certain that will have durable impacts."

Pep Guardiola already seems at home at the Etihad.
Pep Guardiola already seems at home at the Etihad.

Berrada branded Guardiola "the best in the world" within days of his arrival in a reference to the success he brought to his former clubs, Bayern Munich and Barcelona.
The Spanish coach's reputation is also helping lure the world's finest players to Manchester as the club bids to win its third Premier League title in six seasons.

Gundogan

Guardiola's first foray into the market was for Borussia Dortmund midfielder Ilkay Gundogan -- a distinguished Germany international.
"To have this possibility is amazing for me," Gundogan tells CNN. "We have the best manager in the world, and day-by-day I recognize I have made the right decision."
Ilkay Gundogan began his career at VFL Bochum, going on to star for FC Nurnberg & Borussia Dortmund
The 25-year-old may have only been at the club for a matter of months, but he already perceives the investment transforming not just City, but the city.
"Everything is developing really fast. I love the mix between old buildings and the new buildings," Gundogan says.
"Manchester has a real charm."

Breaking the glass ceiling

If the acquisition of players of Gundogan's stature is no longer breaking news for a club that has come so far, Kelechi Iheanacho's breakthrough from the academy shows progress is being made in all departments.
Iheanacho had the Premier League's best minutes- per-goal ratio in 2015-16, scoring on average every 93.8 minutes.
Smashing through a glass ceiling that traditionally has proven so troublesome for young players aiming to make it in the world's richest league, the 19-year-old scored 14 goals in just 11 starts last season -- suggesting he has the mettle to become one of the most clinical finishers in Europe.
With key striker Sergio Aguero serving a three-match ban, Iheanacho could start against United Saturday.
"City were a club on the way up," Iheanacho tells CNN, reflecting on his perception of the team when he joined, shortly after winning the U17 World Cup with Nigeria.
"Coming from Nigeria where I was often unable to afford to watch the Premier League, I'm very proud to be playing here. It has been a great experience coming to Manchester."

Citizens beyond The Citizens

However, in an age of growing discord between fan and player -- as both Iheanacho and Gundogan earn tens of thousands of dollars per week -- how has the club's investment in its future served the rest of Manchester?
Working at Bonnie's Cafe near the Etihad Campus, Sheila Duffy has experienced first-hand the fruits of the area's regeneration -- as well as the potential pitfalls of gentrification.
"We had drugs, street crime, everything like that, and nobody cared because it was derelict," she reflects. "The swimming baths were closed down, the youth club was shut. There was nothing for the kids so they'd be hanging around on street corners."
Duffy acknowledges the "Sheikh up in his helicopter" may not have directly engaged with the man on the ground and his full English breakfast, but she's the first to admit her surroundings have changed dramatically -- a reference to the five and half acres of the Etihad Campus site donated to the local community.
Where the skeletons of Manchester's industrial boom once stood, a sixth-form college, leisure center, and cutting-edge medical institute now preside.
"It was a rough area of the city and now there's certainly a sense of hope ... and I'm a Manchester United supporter!"
A 190m span bridge across Alan Turing way is emblematic of the connection between club and community.

Pep vs. Jose

If the foundations are in place, can City make good on the club's rich promise?
While Iheanacho may be a singular talent, his presence as a youth-team graduate in the Citizens squad currently remains similarly conspicuous.
Promisingly, Guardiola gave 22 young players debuts during his time at Barcelona -- many of whom, from Busquets to Thiago Alcântara, have gone on to enjoy great success.
But there is still some way to go before City emerges from United's shadow in this regard.
Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Gary Neville, Paul Scholes and Phil Neville would all go on to become United regulars having progressed from the youth team under Sir Alex Ferguson.
Since 1940, almost 50% of all Manchester United players have come through the club's youth system. United has had at least one academy player in the squad in every first team game since October 1937 -- a run spanning 3,808 consecutive clashes.
Striker Marcus Rashford, already an England international at the age of 18, looks the latest in a long line set to benefit from that unwavering faith this year -- even if manager Jose Mourinho's commitment to youth has been questioned, and fellow "homegrown" player Paul Pogba required a $100M education abroad.

Except the envious glances toward Old Trafford have stopped.
Converging with its more illustrious counterpart on and off the pitch, City has finished above United in four of the past five seasons, and Mourinho looks like he has quite the job on his hands getting the better of his old rival Guardiola.