Manchester City have not always been regular title challengers, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t have any good players before the current era. Here are the top 10 Manchester City players of all time.
10. Mike Doyle
Only two men have made more appearances for City than Doyle, who represented the club on 565 occasions in the 1960s and 1970s. Following promotion from the second tier in 1966, the defender-cum-midfielder made the step up to the First Division with relative ease, as City consolidated in their first season back at the highest level and won the league in their second.
A second piece of silverware followed in the form of the FA Cup in 1969, before a League Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup double the following year. The five-time England international then captained the club to another League Cup triumph in 1976, before departing for Stoke City.
9. Billy Meredith
A handful of outings for Northwich Victoria aside, Meredith split his career between Manchester United and Manchester City. He first joined the latter in 1894 and made 362 appearances for the club in the next eight years, before heading across town to join their rivals. The outside forward still had time for one final brief stint at City after leaving United in 1921, although his second spell brought only 32 outings in all competitions.
The Wales international scored 29 goals as the Citizens won promotion to the top flight in 1899, while he was integral to their FA Cup success five years later.
8. Vincent Kompany
Injuries have disrupted Kompany’s City career at times in recent seasons, but he is still a bona fide club legend. The centre-back first arrived at the Etihad Stadium shortly before the Abu Dhabi Investment Group’s takeover in the summer of 2008; since then, he has made over 300 appearances for the first team and won five major trophies – including Premier League titles in 2012 and 2014. In that time, Kompany’s leadership and character have been equally important to the City cause as his defensive solidity.
7. Alan Oakes
Oakes’ 676 appearances for City is a record which is unlikely to be beaten any time soon. The midfielder made his professional debut for the club in 1959 and did not depart until the mid-1970s, winning the Second Division, First Division, League Cup (twice), FA Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup along the way.
Described by Liverpool manager Bill Shankly as “exactly the kind of player youngsters should use as a model”, Oakes’ longevity and medal haul secure him a place in the top 10.
6. Bert Trautmann
Trautmann is best known for the incredible feat of playing 15 minutes of the 1956 FA Cup final with a broken neck. A collision with Birmingham’s Peter Murphy left the goalkeeper dazed, but he opted to stay on the pitch given that no substitutes were allowed in those days. City held on for a 3-1 victory and, a few days later, doctors discovered that the German had dislocated five vertebrae.
That FA Cup was the only major honour Trautmann won during his time at Maine Road, although he was also named FWA Footballer of the Year that same season. He left the club after 15 years’ service in 1964, having made 545 appearances between the sticks.
5. Francis Lee
When manager Joe Mercer signed Lee from Bolton Wanderers in 1967, he called him “the final piece of the jigsaw”. That proved to be an accurate assessment: in his first season at the club, the forward helped City to their first league title in over three decades.
The 27-time England international scored 148 goals for City, which puts him seventh in the all-time rankings. His record is even more impressive when you consider that he played 330 times for the Sky Blues, which works out at an average of just under 0.5 goals per game.
4. Yaya Toure
Toure has seemed destined for the exit door at the Etihad for a couple of seasons now, but the Ivorian remains a key part of the City squad seven years after joining the club from Barcelona. Often deployed as a centre-half in Catalonia, Toure immediately became a marauding midfielder at Eastlands, assuming a box-to-box role as he powered the team forward from the engine room.
The now 34-year-old’s greatest season in a City shirt came in 2013/14, when he scored 20 league goals – and four more in the cups – as Manuel Pellegrini’s charges added another title to the club’s trophy cabinet.
3. Colin Bell
Up until very recently, there would have been no debate about City’s best ever player: the only possible answer to that question was Bell. The midfielder represented the club in the 1960s and 1970s, winning the FA Cup, two League Cups, the Cup Winners’ Cup and the First Division title during his employment at Maine Road.
In 2004, 25 years on from the ex-England international’s departure, City fans voted to name a stand at their new stadium after Bell.
2. Sergio Aguero
Seven more goals in a City shirt will make Aguero the club’s highest goalscorer of all time. Ever since he netted a brace on his debut against Swansea in 2011, the Argentina international has demonstrated a clinical edge in and around the penalty area that few can match.
Aguero’s goals have been instrumental to City’s success in recent years, while he was responsible for arguably the most dramatic moment in English football history when he struck in injury time against Queens Park Rangers to win Roberto Mancini’s men the title in 2012.
1. David Silva
Silva cannot match Aguero for goals, Oakes for trophies or Trautmann for appearances, but he nevertheless deserves to be known as City’s greatest player of all time. The former Valencia playmaker moved to the Premier League in 2010 and immediately became an important member of the City side, before providing 15 assists as the club won the title in his second year at the Etihad.
Silva’s superb technical ability is what sets him apart from the rest, while his ability to deliver in big games has proved essential to City’s procurement of five major trophies since the start of the decade.
By Greg Lea
Greg Lea is a freelance football writer for FourFourTwo, The Blizzard and various others. Follow his Twitter account @GregLeaFootball for anything and everything related to soccer and more.