sport news Robinho signing on deadline day in September 2008 marked the start of new Man ...

On the Thursday, Manchester City were in Midtjylland. By Sunday, they were in . Twenty-four hours later, it's fair to say this famous old club were in dreamland.

The 2008-09 season was already in full swing when Sheikh Mansour of Abu Dhabi chose City to be the beneficiaries of his fabulous wealth. His takeover on Monday, September 1 was to transform the face of English football.

It's understood the Sheikh had considered Arsenal, Tottenham, Newcastle and West Ham to launch his ambitious Premier League project. City's long lease on what was then Eastlands Stadium and the ability to develop the land around it made them an attractive opposition, but he was also persuaded that this was a sleeping giant with a strong fanbase.

Robinho joined Mark Hughes' Manchester City on deadline day in September 2008

Robinho joined Mark Hughes' Manchester City on deadline day in September 2008

Not for the first time in their history, City were in a spot of bother. Thaksin Shinawatra's assets had been frozen in Thailand and former chairman John Wardle had to step in to pay the wages in August.

When City flew to Denmark to face Midtjylland in the old UEFA Cup, the mood among staff was one of despondency. Thaksin was expected to implement cost-cutting measures and jobs were in jeopardy.

When they returned two days later, spirits were considerably higher and it had very little to do with a penalty shootout win over the Danish minnows. Word had filtered down from chief executive Garry Cook that new investment was on the way. Even then, nobody ever expected it to happen so quickly.

That Friday, one national newspaper received a call from a Danish journalist. He had heard that City were preparing a bid for Dimitar Berbatov, the Tottenham striker being strongly linked with . The story was swiftly dismissed and the phone went down.

When City won 3-0 at on the Sunday, manager Mark Hughes confirmed that defender Vedran Corluka could be sold before the transfer deadline 24 hours later. A couple of loan deals were also possible, but otherwise it was going to be a quiet day in the blue half of Manchester.

Communications staff were told to take Monday off, meaning club journalist Tim Oscroft was the only one on duty when the phone rang early that morning.

'We used to call it The Batphone because that's the one the press always rang,' recalls Oscroft. 'It was an agency reporter and he said, 'We've heard City have been taken over by the Abu Dhabi royal family and we'd like a comment'.'

Oscroft put in a call to his bosses and discovered that a memorandum of understanding had indeed been signed and takeover talks were underway. Within an hour, there was a statement on the club website.

'At one point Mark Hughes was being interviewed by Sky on the golf course and even he seemed to be wrong-footed,' says Oscroft.

'As the day unfolded it was clear it was happening because there was talk about potential transfers. The three I was told to prepare for were Robinho, Berbatov and Mario Gomez.

'Late in the evening, people were walking around with faxes. Someone was holding the Robinho fax and looking wide-eyed at the figure. At 11.55pm, or maybe even later than that, I got the thumbs up to press the button. I said, "are you absolutely sure?" It was all quite surreal.'

Hughes was asked to list his preferences from a very different shopping list to the one he had been working with up to that point. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar was another big name on it. Hughes put Berbatov ahead of Robinho but City knew how difficult it would be to snatch the Bulgarian star from under United's noses with just hours of the transfer window remaining. Sir Alex Ferguson turned up at Manchester airport to greet Berbatov in person just in case his rivals tried anything.

Sulaiman Al-Fahim, the self-appointed spokesman for the new owners who was quickly ditched for making brash claims in those chaotic first few days, was already talking about a £135m bid for United star Cristiano Ronaldo in the January transfer window.

'United locked Berbatov in a room, didn't they, and wouldn't let him out until he signed!' says City's long-serving club secretary Bernard Halford, now a life president. 'United felt they had to have him and unfortunately they were able to talk him into it. But then you get one and you think, "he's better than yours anyway."'

City focussed on Robinho and Halford was the man who faxed the £32m offer to . 'You're pinching yourself because I'm a City fan who's come off the Kippax as a kid,' adds Halford.

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