Football Features

Where are they now? Manchester City’s 2007-08 squad before Sheikh Mansour’s buyout

By Squawka News

Published: 13:28, 7 May 2019

Manchester City only became mega-rich in the summer of 2008 and their relatively newfound wealth has leapfrogged them from an average Premier League side into a European juggernaut. 

On August 4, 2008, Sheikh Mansour bought Manchester City and has overseen a magnificent transformation that has seen the Sky Blues become one of the best teams in England and able to compete in the Champions League.

But, what was happening prior to the Abu Dhabi United Group’s takeover? Sergio Aguero certainly wasn’t getting on the end of a Kevin De Bruyne cross, was he? David Silva hadn’t even heard of a club based in Manchester that didn’t end with United and Joe Hart was… Oh wait. OK, he was there…

So, whatever happened to Sven-Goran Eriksson’s class of 2007-08 who, prior to the money boom, finished ninth in the Premier League? Were they just thrown away like old toys and replaced with shiny new expensive ones? We’ve taken a look.

Joe Hart

Number of league appearances in 2007/2008: 26

Age: 32

Position: Goalkeeper

Current club: Burnley

Joe Hart moved to Manchester City from Shrewsbury Town in 2006 and was loaned out to Tranmere Rovers and Blackpool to further his development.

Eriksson made the England international his number one for the 2007-08 season and the goalkeeper kept that status up until Pep Guardiola’s arrival in the summer of 2016.

The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss wanted a shot-stopper capable of playing out from the back, which meant Claudio Bravo moved from the Nou Camp while Hart was loaned out to Serie A side Torino.

He again left Man City on loan to join West Ham last season and completed a permanent move away from the club in August 2018, joining Sean Dyche’s Burnley.

Andreas Isaksson

Number of league appearances in 2007/2008: 5

Age: 37

Position: Goalkeeper

Current club: Retired

Replaced by Joe Hart for the 2007-08 season, Andreas Isaksson didn’t fancy hanging around at Manchester City too much longer and moved to PSV Eindhoven in 2008. The shot-stopper only made 18 league appearances for City and most recently turned out in Sweden for Djurgardens IF before retiring.

Kasper Schmeichel

Number of league appearances in 2007/2008: 7

Age: 32

Position: Goalkeeper

Current club: Leicester City

Manchester City’s third-choice goalkeeper during the 2007-08 season, Kasper Schmeichel did make seven appearances in the Premier League and was showing strong signs of potential. He started the campaign as City’s first-choice ‘keeper and kept clean sheets against Manchester United, Derby County, Aston Villa and West Ham.

After struggling to pick up enough first-team opportunities, the Danish shot-stopper signed for Notts County in 2009 before moving to Leeds United one year later. He is currently Leicester City’s number one and was a key part of their remarkable 2015-16 season that ended with them lifting the Premier League title.

Vedran Corluka

Number of league appearances in 2007/2008: 35

Age: 33

Position: Full-back

Current club: Lokomotiv Moscow

Used as a right-back or central defender at Manchester City, Vedran Corluka was a star player in Sven-Goran Eriksson’s 2007-08 side and he played 35 games during the campaign.

After leaving the club after just one season he signed for Tottenham and spent four years at the club. These days he is playing his football in Russia at Lokomotiv Moscow and has earned 103 international caps for Croatia.

Micah Richards

Number of league appearances in 2007/2008: 25

Age: 30

Position: Full-back, centre-back

Current club: Aston Villa

Micah Richards showed great potential at Manchester City after bursting onto the scene in 2005 but never truly reached the level the club would have expected.

He did make 246 appearances for the club but moved to Serie A in 2014, signing for Fiorentina on loan. After one season abroad he moved back to the Premier League and joined Aston Villa – though they have since lost their top-flight status after a woeful 2015/16 campaign.

The 2016/17 season saw Richards mostly sidelined with injury and since then he has hardly kicked a ball for Villa’s first team. Bizarre.

Michael Ball

Number of league appearances in 2007/2008: 28

Age: 39

Position: Full-back

Current club: Retired 

Michael Ball joined Manchester City from PSV Eindhoven in 2007 and was Sven-Goran Eriksson’s first-choice left-back for the 2007-08 season. He left the club in 2011 and signed for Leicester before retiring in 2012 without making a league appearance for the Foxes.

Nedum Onuoha

Number of league appearances in 2007/2008: 16

Age: 32

Position: Centre-back

Current club: Real Salt Lake

Another young prospect, Nedum Onuoha showed great promise at Manchester City and made 16 appearances (mainly from the bench) during the 2007-08 season.

He left the club after eight years in 2012 signing for Queens Park Rangers prior to a loan spell at Sunderland during the 2010-11 season.

Onuoha joined MLS side Real Salt Lake in September 2018.

Javier Garrido

Number of league appearances in 2007/2008: 28

Age: 34

Position: Full-back

Current club: Real Union

Three years Javier Garrido spent at Manchester City, and he was given a decent amount of game time under Eriksson. The defender featured sporadically in the first-team after the Swede’s departure and he signed for Lazio in 2010.

Garrido moved back to England three years later when he joined Norwich City. He enjoyed a spell with Cypriot side AEK Larnaca between 2016 and 2017 and is now playing for Real Union, who play their football in Spain’s third tier.

Richard Dunne

Number of league appearances in 2007/2008: 36

Age: 39

Position: Full-back, centre-back

Current club: Retired 

Richard Dunne was Manchester City’s defensive marshal during the 2007-08 season and played 36 times during the campaign. After moving from Everton in 2000, he spent nine years at the club and played 334 times for City.

He left the side in 2009 and moved to the Midlands, joining Aston Villa before playing out his final competitive games at Queens Park Rangers. He retired in 2015 despite rumours he would move to MLS or the Indian Super League.

Sun Jihai

Number of league appearances in 2007/2008: 14

Age: 41

Position: Full-back

Current club: Retired

A Manchester City cult hero, Sun Jihai spent six years at the club and played 141 times. He was used sparingly during the 2007-08 season and left the following year signing for Sheffield United.

After one season with the Blades, he moved back to his homeland and played for Chengdu Blades, Guizhou Renhe, Chongqing Lifan and most recently for Beijing Renhe. He announced his retirement in December 2016 and is currently the assistant manager of  China’s Under-21 side.

Michael Johnson

Number of league appearances in 2007/2008: 23

Age: 31

Position: Midfielder

Current club: Retired 

Michael Johnson’s story is a sad one. The midfielder showed outstanding promise as a youngster but was plagued with injuries during his short career.

During the 2007-08 season, he made 23 appearances for Manchester City, which was more than he played over the next three years. He was released by the club in 2012 following a loan spell at Leicester City and subsequently retired from football.

Gelson Fernandes

Number of league appearances in 2007/2008: 26

Age: 32

Position: Midfielder

Current club: Eintracht Frankfurt

A strong defensive midfielder, Gelson Fernandes marshalled Manchester City’s midfield during the 2007-08 season and spent two years at the club. He left in 2009 signing for Saint-Etienne and spent the next few years on various loan spells.

In 2013, the Swiss international signed for FC Freiburg before returning to Ligue 1 with Stade Rennes one year later. He is currently with Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt.

Stephen Ireland

Number of league appearances in 2007/2008: 33

Age: 32

Position: Midfielder

Current club: Unattached

One of Stephen Ireland’s better seasons (although not as impressive as the 2008-09 campaign), the Manchester City playmaker featured 33 times and scored four goals and made three assists. He made 173 appearances for City before leaving in 2010 and signing for Aston Villa.

Two loan spells at Newcastle and Stoke followed before the Republic of Ireland international signed for the latter on a permanent basis.

After two years with the Potters, Ireland joined Bolton on a free transfer in October 2018 only for his contract to be cancelled in December without playing a game for Wanderers.

Geovanni

Number of league appearances in 2007/2008: 19

Age: 39

Position: Midfielder, winger

Current club: Retired 

The former Barcelona player signed for Manchester City prior to the 2007-08 campaign and struggled to adapt to the Premier League. He joined Hull City one year later and enjoyed more success, helping their side retain their top-flight status during the 2008-09 season.

After leaving England he has had spells at San Jose Earthquakes, Vitoria, America MG and Bragantino before retiring in 2013.

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Dietmar Hamann

Number of league appearances in 2007/2008: 29

Age: 45

Position: Midfielder

Current club: Retired

Dietmar Hamann spent three years at Manchester City after signing from Liverpool in 2006. He had originally accepted a pre-contract with Bolton Wanderers but had a change of heart and signed for City instead, meaning he was on the books at the Reebok for just one day. He racked up 28 appearances during the 2007-08 season and left the club in 2009.

The Germany international signed for Milton Keynes Dons in 2010 before retiring from the game in 2011. He went into a player-coach role at MK Dons and after completing his coaching badges moved to Leicester as first-team coach.

He was awarded his first managerial role at Stockport County in 2011 but resigned after just four months. The 45-year-old is now a regular pundit and analyst on various media platforms.

Elano

Number of league appearances in 2007/2008: 34

Age: 37

Position: Midfielder

Current club: Retired

A popular Manchester City player during his two years at the club, Elano was blessed with an excellent first touch and natural Brazilian flair. He scored 18 goals in 80 appearances for City before leaving the club in 2009, signing for Turkish giants Galatasaray.

He returned to his homeland in 2011, joining Santos and then Gremio before going on loan to Flamengo. Another return to Santos, which lasted just 11 games, came in between two successful spells in India with Chennaiyin before Elano announced his retirement on November 24th 2016. He has since briefly been the caretaker manager of Santos where he took charge of seven matches in late 2017.

Kelvin Etuhu

Number of league appearances in 2007/2008: 6

Age: 30

Position: Midfielder

Current club: Carlisle United

Signed by Manchester City in 2006, Kelvin Etuhu spent four years at the club but never truly demonstrated enough ability to earn himself a spot in the first team and spent most of his days out on loan.

He left the club in 2012 and signed for Portsmouth before moving to Barnsley two years later and then Bury in 2014.

Etuhu joined Carlisle United in the summer of 2017 and has so far enjoyed a successful spell with the League Two club.

Nery Castillo

Number of league appearances in 2007/2008: 6

Age: 34

Position: Midfielder, winger

Current club: Retired

Nery Castillo was on loan at Manchester City from Shakhtar Donetsk during the 2007-08 season but wasn’t handed too many opportunities after signing half-way through the campaign.

The Mexican featured just six times (and broke his shoulder) and City didn’t exercise the buy-option at the end of the year. After returning to Shakhtar he spent more time on loan before signing for Aris in 2011. He then joined Rayo Vallecano in 2013 but was released just a year later.

Martin Petrov

Number of league appearances in 2007/2008: 34

Age: 40

Position: Winger

Current club: Retired 

Martin Petrov was superb during the 2007-08 season and gave Manchester City great width with his impressive wing play. He grabbed five goals and made nine assists in 34 appearances, overall playing 72 times for City.

The Bulgarian left the side after three years and moved to Bolton Wanderers where he continued to impress. He left England in 2013 and signed for Espanyol before moving to CSKA Sofia, where he spent one season before hanging up his boots in 2014.

Emile Mpenza

Number of league appearances in 2007/2008: 15

Age: 40

Position: Forward

Current club: Retired 

Just the one season at Manchester City for Emile Mpenza, who managed six goals in 29 games during the 2007-08 season. He surprisingly moved to Plymouth Argyle the following campaign before moving to Swiss side Sion after making just nine appearances for the English side.

A spell at Azerbaijani side Neftchi PFK followed before playing out his final days back in his homeland at Eendracht Aalst in 2013.

Rolando Bianchi

Number of league appearances in 2007/2008: 19

Age: 36

Position: Forward

Current club: Retired

Rolando Bianchi’s exceptional form for Reggina – that almost single-handedly saved the club from relegation – gathered the attention from a number of top European clubs. Manchester City won the battle to his signature and he moved to the club in 2007.

The towering striker didn’t settle in England, criticising the country’s eating and drinking culture, and despite only being at the Sky Blues for one season, he pined for a move back to Italy.

Luckily for him, his performances were so dreadful City were happy to oblige and he was loaned out to Lazio in January 2008 before signing for Torino in the summer. He managed just five goals in 25 games for City and signed for Italy’s ultimate sleeping giants, Pro Vercelli, in February 2017, making them his final club before his retirement.

Georgios Samaras

Number of league appearances in 2007/2008: 5

Age: 34

Position: Forward

Current club: Retired

Another Manchester City striker flop, Georgios Samaras was brought to the club in 2006 but barely featured during the 2007-08 season. He made just five appearances and was loaned out to Celtic in January and then signed permanently in the summer. He spent six years in Scotland and scored plenty of goals, but craving a little bit more Premier League action he returned in 2014 and signed for West Brom.

Once again he couldn’t quite cut the mustard in the English top flight and via Rayo OKC in Oklahoma signed for Spain’s Real Zaragoza in early 2017. Five months later he would move to Turkey with Samsunspor.

In October 2018, Samaras announced his retirement after a 16-year football career. He’s currently the vice president of Greek Super League side OFI Crete.

Benjani

Number of league appearances in 2007/2008: 13

Age: 40

Position: Forward

Current club: Retired 

After reportedly missing two plane rides to Manchester, Benjani was unable to sign for City before the January transfer window but a move was completed one week later.

After impressing at Portsmouth the striker made 13 appearances during his first half-season with the club and scored three goals. He left the club in 2010 and signed for Blackburn Rovers but his poor performances led to his return to Portsmouth shortly after.

In 2012 he moved to South Africa’s Chippa United before playing out his final games at Bidvest Wits.

Valeri Bojinov

Number of league appearances in 2007/2008: 3

Age: 33

Position: Forward

Current club: Botev Vratsa

Valeri Bojinov signed for City in August 2007 and in the same month was ruled out for five months due to a knee ligament injury that he picked up when playing against Manchester United.

After the set-back, he struggled to settle into the side and was used sparingly during his first year in Manchester. Injuries were a continued theme throughout the Bulgarian’s stay in Manchester and despite being at the club for three years he only made 12 appearances.

His colourful career has seen him play for Parma, Sporting Lisbon, Levski Sofia and Ternana since and Chinese side Meizhou Hakka. He is currently with Bulgarian outfit Botev Vratsa. What a career.

Daniel Sturridge

Number of league appearances in 2007/2008: 3

Age: 29

Position: Forward

Current club: Liverpool 

A youthful Daniel Sturridge was lurking in the shadows during Manchester City’s 2007-08 season. The striker played just three games for the side after breaking through the academy ranks in 2006.

He spent three years at the club but made the move to Chelsea in 2009, where he played 96 games and scored 24 goals. The England international struggled to impose himself as a first-team regular at Stamford Bridge and he moved to Liverpool in 2013.

Felipe Caicedo

Number of league appearances in 2007/2008: 10

Age: 30

Position: Forward

Current club: Lazio 

Manchester City signed Felipe Caicedo from Basel in January 2008. He went on to play eight games during the 2007-08 season but failed to find the net.

He was loaned out by City for the next three seasons before leaving the club permanently in 2011, signing for Lokomotiv Moscow. He moved to Abu Dhabi-based side Al Jazira Club in 2014 before returning to Europe and signing for Espanyol, then joining Lazio in August 2017.

Darius Vassell

Number of league appearances in 2007/2008: 27

Age: 38

Position: Forward

Current club: Retired

Darius Vassell was once among England’s main men in the attacking department – he was taken by Eriksson to the 2004 European Championships but scuffed a penalty during a shoot-out against Portugal – and netted 77 goals in nearly 400 career games.

Vassell spent eight seasons with Aston Villa, before earning a move to Manchester City where he made 27 league appearances during the 2007/08 season.

Vassell was offloaded to Turkey shortly after, before returning to England to join Leicester City. The striker was without a club between 2011 and January 2016, when he finally announced his retirement from the game at the age of 35.