Pep Guardiola claimed his second place finish in League Two was one of the finest achievements of his managerial career.
The Spaniard’s decision to stay with the club after their triple drop down to the foot of the Football League came as a shock to most.
Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus were among some of the big names to leave for pastures new following UEFA’s decision to punish City for their not-so fair Financial Fair Playing.
City’s fans feared the worst following the exodus of their world class players that ran for the hills but Sheikh Mansour brought the old band back together with: Emmanuel Adebayor, Joe Hart, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Steven Ireland all making their way back to the Etihad throughout the summer.
The gruelling 43 game season looked like a heavy workload for Ireland, who kept Phil Foden on the bench for the majority of the season, despite Pep claiming the youngster was God’s gift to the footballing world following his ten minute cameo in the season opener away at Forest Green.
The curtain-raiser ended 2-2 with Pep’s boys throwing a 2-0 lead at half-time, City’s gaffer blamed Forest Green’s pre-game lentil and pomegranate salad for his side’s second half collapse.
Five straight wins in the League were over-shadowed by the 6-1 loss to Aston Villa in the third round of the League Cup.
The game is best remembered for John Terry’s touchline scuffle with Brian Kidd after Guadiola’s number two called JT a ‘BTEC Richard Dunne.’
City’s manager went on to say the Villains were the best team he had seen play the game and was quoted after the match as being, ‘happier than you can believe’ that his side could manage a goal at the fortress that is Villa Park.
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One of the biggest problems City faced was the lack of fans attending games at the Etihad.
They had the lowest attendance record in the League, despite the stadium boasting three times more seats than any other club in the division.
The lowest point of the season was when Plymouth Argyle brought 234 fans to Manchester and still sold double the tickets the home side could manage for the 1-1 draw.
January came and went and City only managed a to secure a six-month loan deal for Jesse Lingard who had found his niche under Guardiola in League Two.
Three goals and one assist in 12 League games put him in line for the
Young Player of the Year.
The FA Cup looked to be City’s best chance at silverware but a 3-0 loss at Old Trafford saw the Cityzens crash out in the fourth round.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s job was saved by the result, despite the Red Devils finishing the league in 17th, one place above Arsenal who were relegated for the first time in their history.
Two home defeats to Walsall and Leyton Orient looked to halt City’s title challenge towards the back end of the season but Joe Hart turned City’s fortunes round in the penultimate game in the season, saving a late penalty against title-rivals, Colchester.
Guardiola masterminded a final day win against the mighty Carlisle to secure second position and avoid the anxiety-packed play-offs.
Sporting a cashmere onsie, the former Barca coach knee-slid down the Etihad touchline following Adebayor’s last-minute winner.
While there was no silverware, League One and all the riches that come with it left the City manager ecstatic with what he called ‘the greatest achievement of his managerial career.’
Of course the lure of Wigan Athletic proved too strong in the summer for Guardiola and his backroom staff who claimed the project at the DW was like nothing they had seen before.
City spent the following five seasons going up and down between League One and League Two, whilst Pep’s Wigan famously made it to the top four of the Premier League two years later, only for the club to sack Guardiola when they heard Roberto Martinez was once again available.
Now sitting with his Sangria in Southern Spain, the former Champions League winner apparently has his League Two silver medal hanging on the middle of his mantelpiece. The jewel in his already impressive crown.
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