Khaldoon Al Mubarak: Triple treble a testament to Man City’s dominance
Manchester City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak sees the club’s unprecedented ‘triple treble’ as a testament to the success of City Football Group (CFG) and the ‘incredible’ academy.
In June, Man City claimed a historic treble, becoming the first English team to achieve this feat since arch-rivals Manchester United in 1999.
A dynasty has been created – not just in the first team – but in the academy as well due to the investment from CFG.
Following in the footsteps of Pep Guardiola’s side three-peating the Premier League, both the under-21 and under-18 sides steamrolled their respective divisions for the third and fourth year running. The well-oiled machine dominates from top to bottom.
Speaking about the success of the academy in his annual end-of-season interview, Al Mubarak said:
“So think of that for a moment. A triple treble across all levels or most levels of professional football, within a club. This says it all. It says it all about what we’ve been saying, which is about how our academy continues to produce and to match what we’re doing at the first-team level. And here, the triple treble shows you: this is across the board. And I think this is a testament to everyone in this academy we have. We have an incredible academy.
“We are producing the best football in England, we are producing the best talent in England. And we’re doing it consistently and we’re doing it hand-in-hand with the first team, which is kind of the, I would say, the essence of day one when we built CFA was how to keep the Academy and the first team all in the same place and create that continuity and that togetherness.”
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The smooth transition and clear pathway from academy to first-team was all part of the ‘day one’ promise the chairman alluded to – perfectly illustrated by the meteoric rise of Rico Lewis.
After captaining the under-18’s to glory in 2021/22, winning player of the year in the process, Lewis joined the first-team on their pre-season tour – impressing Guardiola so much that he made his Premier League debut in August 2022 before being handed his first Champions League start against Sevilla three months later – becoming the youngest player in history to score on their first Champions League start at 17 years and 346 days old.
Phil Foden, the most successful alumni of the academy, already has a remarkable trophy haul matched by few players in the world – at just 23 years old.
The England International boasts five Premier Leagues, four League cups, two FA Cups and the Champions League.
Speaking about the importance of giving the youth a chance, Al Mubarak said:
“We have a small group in terms of the squad. But also, we have shown in our academy how we have produced the best team in England or the best teams in England over the last five or six years. Consistently. So the talent is there. We have great players, great coaching staff, and that’s producing players like Rico Lewis, like Cole Palmer and many others. And we have a first-team coach in Pep Guardiola that gives young talent a chance, that has the courage and the open-mindedness to bring them in, give them the opportunity and you have then great examples.
“Like look at Rico Lewis at 18, he’s given the opportunity and he grasps it and I’m very happy for him. But I’m delighted for Rico, but I’m even more delighted for the academy because it’s showing us consistently that we are producing that sort of talent. And then we have a pathway for them, the ones that have and that we see have a pathway towards the first team that they get the chance, they get the opportunities. I mean, how many players, I mean look at Phil.
“Look at Phil Foden coming out from the academy. He is the most decorated player today, probably in English football at his age, at his age. Look at the minutes he’s played and look at the evolution from 17, 18, 19, 20, 21. We’ve been very careful in supporting Phil to get him to where he is today. And we’ll do the same with Rico, we’ll do the same with Cole, and we’ll do the same with all the others.”
The academy has also proved profitable, enabling City to balance the books, helping to record club-record revenues
The club banked nearly £40M from academy sales alone last summer, with Romeo Lavia, Gavin Bazunu and Sam Edozie among those departing the club for significant fees.
Al Mubarak sees other clubs swooping in on their young prodigies as further proof of the academy’s success:
“I think that professionalism, that level of development and then the carefulness, we’re very careful in how we develop these young players and that’s respected by the entire industry, which is why they’re being targeted today.
Why is everybody scouting City players? Well, they’re good, of course, but it’s not just because they’re good. It’s because they know we have a philosophy, we have a system, we have a track record of producing incredible, talented players, champions and that some players end up obviously with us and then in the first team, others end up going and having great careers.”