Manchester City were not the same outfit like they are now prior to 2008’s Abu Dhabi takeover.
Manchester City were a mere mid-table Premier League outfit back then and not even close to the then ‘Big Four’ ( Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal). They mostly had a number of average footballers, only a few rose to fame after flourishing for the Citizens.
Micah Richards was one of their prized assets who progressed through to the club’s youth ranks. The Englishman, at the age of 17, made it to their starting lineup and became one of the youngest players ever to earn a Premier League debut. He soon impressed with his physicality, pace and athleticism and was handed a senior Three Lions debut against heavyweights Netherlands on November 15, 2006 that made him England’s youngest ever defender- a record previously held by Rio Ferdinand. He deputized veteran Gary Neville remarkably in right back role and was heralded as his long term successor after a stellar show. City rejected a host of tempting offers for their teenage sensation who also became club’s youngest captain ever on 16 September, 2007 in absence of Richard Dunne. He became a first team regular under the then City boss Sven-Goran Eriksson and also earned a regular status for England during Steve McClaren’s tenure appearing 11 times and netting once. mcClaren hailed him highly for his enormous potential stating:
“He is an exciting player, the new breed of player. He is big, strong, athletic, very quick and has got a fantastic leap on him. He has come into this environment and is not fazed.”
But his upsurge did not last long! City’s 2008 takeover resulted in a number of high profile signings. The arrival of Argentine right back Zabaleta (a day before the takeover was announced) jeopardized his starting place and despite being a key contributor in City’s historic 2011-12 Premier League triumph, Micah Richards found himself down the pecking order under Roberto Mancini ever since and the signing of veteran Bacary Sagna damaged his career growth significantly. He became a third choice option for next couple of campaigns and appeared only 9 times in the league. Richards was a part of City’s 2013-14 Premier League winning campaign, but he featured only twice in the league thus missed out on a Premier League winners’ medal.
He was loaned to Serie A outfit Fiorentina during 2014-15 season for regular game-time, unfortunately, he struggled to break into the first team there as well appearing only 19 times altogether. Micah Richards was released by Manchester City at the end of his unsuccessful loan spell ending his 14 years of association with the Manchester giants.
He was then acquired by Premier League outfit Aston Villa on a Bosman transfer and captained them in their disastrous campaign that saw them being relegated to Championship. The once highly rated Englishman is now a fringe Aston Villa player following significance injury concerns and loss of form.
Once hailed as a natural successor of great Gary Neville, Micah Richards’ top flight career might witness an abrupt ending at the age of 29.
Photo by gutsgaming