There has been an inevitability about Manchester City’s journey to the Premier League title since Abu Dhabi petro-dollars began flooding into the club in 2008 but they still required a steady hand at the tiller to navigate them to glory through one of the most unpredictable seasons for decades.
Roberto Mancini was appointed in December 2009 as the man to make realise the dream, knocking cross-town rivals Manchester United off their perch, and the former Inter Milan coach proved himself equal to whatever the job threw his way.
Since taking over from the sacked Mark Hughes, Italian Mancini has endured the initial disappointment of failing to qualify for the Champions League in 2010, suffered criticism over his style of football and even quelled mutiny within the ranks. However, even when making a group stage exit on their Champions League debut this season, there has been no panic at the top.
More than 400 million pounds has been spent on players since Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan bought City as, first under Hughes, they began assembling a squad that is the envy of almost every club in world football.
When Carlos Tevez refused to warm up as a substitute in a Champions League clash with Bayern Munich last September, an act which sparked a stand-off between striker and manager, the alarm bells were ringing.
Mario Balotelli’s volatile behaviour on and off the field also tested Mancini’s resolve, as did a post-Christmas dip in away form that let United back in the hunt. Mancini never took his eye off the ball, however, and his biggest success has been instilling a togetherness and harmony while also managing the expectations of the fans.
As United wobbled, City’s five-match winning streak, including a 1-0 home victory over their title rivals, put them on the brink of winning the league. On Sunday, they claimed their first English title in 44 years in barely believable circumstances with stoppage time goals from Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero for a 3-2 win over QPR.
Throughout a wildly fluctuating Premier League season, among the most exciting in its 20-year existence, one of the great constants has been City’s reliability.