The younger ones among us only know Manchester City as a title contender in the Premier League and current Champions League finalists. But that has not always been the case. Once there was the Big Four, followed by the rest. But then Thaksin Shinawatra paved the way for the SkyBlues to the top.
Thaksin Shinawatra is the type that journalists and neutral fans would like. One of those crazy club owners with grandiose ideas, great ambition, a lot of money and little patience. The Thai was first a police officer in his home country and then a successful businessman who also made a steep climb in politics and even became prime minister. In 2007, however, its reputation was not in great shape. He was accused of corruption and was deposed by the Thai military. So what he needed was good publicity.
How do you get that?
For Shinawatra the answer was obvious: by buying the traditional English club Manchester City for almost 100 million euros.
Manchester City: Shinawatra with a strange inaugural appearance
Indeed, City later made the leap to the top. And the way was paved by Shinawatra too. But not as many expected in the summer of 2007. Because what followed was one of the craziest years a club can ever experience.
It all started in June 2007 when the new club boss in Manchester introduced himself to the staff. Shinawatra put a picture of a dog on a board and said, “If a dog can bark, fine! If it can’t bark, shoot it.” With that the fronts were already cleared, the owner had made it clear how he was pursuing his goals. Matching this, his bodyguard who was present wore a belt, in which some people actually suspected a weapon.
According to Daily Mail A former employee described the Thai man like this: “When you brewed tea for Thaksin, he would stand one step behind you to check what you poured into it.” And a former member of the club’s leadership described the Sportsmail: “He was totally committed. Many of his ideas were stupid and it was up to us to dissuade him.” That didn’t always work. For example, clay elephants and crystals were buried under the lawn at the City of Manchester Stadium during the summer. Shinawatra got rid of City’s purple away shirt on the grounds that it was an evil color in Thailand and wanted Thai masseurs to take care of what he considered to be the “unfit” team.
Shinawatra also caused a sensation on the transfer market. City invested almost 78 million euros in new players in 2007/08. A huge amount when you consider that the club had spent less than a tenth of that on new signings the year before. In addition to clever transfers such as those from midfield engine Elano or winger Martin Petrov, which were threaded by the athletic management, there were also the transfer requests from Shinawatra.
He brought three unknown Thai players to England for free. After all, there were elections in the home country and a good press couldn’t hurt. The pretty talentless trio arrived in England, was welcomed by Shinawatra in the presidential suite of the Hilton and received thousands of pounds in cash as a welcome gift. The players were eventually loaned out to Switzerland and Belgium, where they played a total of six games.