A ma­jor tri­umph on and off the foot­ball field

▶ Why we should all cel­e­brate Manch­ester City’s English Premier League ti­tle

The National - News - - OPINION -

It is 10 years ago this sum­mer that Abu Dhabi United Group bought English foot­ball club Manch­ester City. And on Sun­day came an early an­niver­sary present when City se­cured the English Premier League ti­tle af­ter Manch­ester United, their near­est ri­vals in more ways than one, suf­fered a sur­prise home de­feat against the divi­sion’s bot­tom side, West Bromwich Al­bion.

It is the third time in that decade that City have won the ti­tle. But this one feels dif­fer­ent. Be­cause of the size of the mar­gin (they still have five league games to play and, if they win them all, will be­come the first team to top 100 points in an EPL sea­son). Be­cause this her­alds a more suc­cess­ful era for the club even than the trophy-laden ten­ure of Joe Mercer and Mal­colm Allison 50 years ago. Be­cause of the beauty of their play, which has won ad­mi­ra­tion from foot­ball fans re­gard­less of af­fil­i­a­tion. And be­cause this, per­haps un­like the pre­vi­ous ti­tles won un­der ADUG’s own­er­ship, feels like the pre­lude to many, many more.

The Manch­ester City project is about much more than sil­ver­ware, how­ever. In Manch­ester it­self, the club is play­ing a part in re­de­vel­op­ing the pre­vi­ously de­pressed area around its Eti­had Sta­dium. Here in Abu Dhabi, it sup­ports a flour­ish­ing foot­ball school of­fer­ing boys and girls the chance to im­prove their skills – and their health. Only this month, The Na­tional re­ported on a spe­cial two-week camp for boys in Al Mirfa, a re­gion in the west of the emi­rate where recre­ational op­por­tu­ni­ties are thin on the ground. And the story is the same in City Foot­ball Group’s many other out­posts, be it Mel­bourne in Aus­tralia, Yoko­hama in Ja­pan or Mon­te­v­ideo in Uruguay.

So hats off to man­ager Pep Guardi­ola and his team for a re­mark­able achieve­ment on the field. And con­grat­u­la­tions to the club for ev­ery­thing it is do­ing off the field.

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