x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Thirty years of abject hunger - 'I share it'

Khaldoon al Mubarak has been left under no illusions as to the importance of reviving Manchester City's brief but glorious era.

ABU DHABI // The past three decades have been an era of turbulence for Manchester City. While the red half of the town has filled its trophy cabinet, the Blues have yo-yoed between league divisions. They won their last major trophy in 1976, taking home the League Cup. Ten years earlier they had started a brief period as arguably the best side in England, relegating Manchester United to the second tier of English football in the process.

Khaldoon al Mubarak has been left under no illusions as to the importance of reviving that brief but glorious era. "I don't think I truly appreciated what I was getting into until I got there," he said. "It's very easy when you are sitting in Abu Dhabi and when your knowledge of it is based on hearsay and based on watching football on TV and going to games. "Once you go to Manchester and you are the chairman of Man City Football Club, you quickly realise the importance of that club to the city of Manchester and the people of Manchester, and that passion is not something that you take lightly."

Mr al Mubarak said he shared the fans' hunger for success. "I was really aware of how much people care and their lives are almost connected to it," he said. "This is a team that has had a huge fan base but one that has been very frustrated." Fans in the UAE were optimistic over the club's future, hoping for a top-six finish next season. "Just to be seriously linked with players such as Carlos Tevez and Samuel Eto'o represents a huge shift in fortune," said David Hammett, vice chairman of the UAE Manchester City Supporters Club and a Dubai resident.

"The relationship between the club and its supporters is now closer than I ever remember it being, with the hierarchy keen to listen to the fans and implement their ideas whenever possible. "Beating Liverpool to the signature of Gareth Barry has made the media sit up and take notice of us again, and it's hopefully a sign of things to come. A top-six finish should be attainable this season with the addition of a few more quality players and it would be nice to see us win a trophy or two within the next few years. But we're a patient bunch at Manchester City - we've had to be."

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