Thu. May 19th, 2022

Tommy Doyle’s loan move from Manchester City to Hamburg reiterated the links between the two clubs, who experienced an enjoyable shared history a little over a decade ago.

In August 2008, Vincent Kompany joined the Blues from Hamburg for just £ 6m. In the next transfer window, a cult hero followed a big club as Nigel de Jong made the same shift for a more inflated £ 18m. In the meantime, a takeover had taken place.

This meant that Mark Hughes’ side knew all about their quarter-final opponents in the UEFA Cup, where the team Martin Jol had a common top in the Bundesliga and was waiting for a memorable draw.

The city is ours talked to journalist and Hamburg fan Dominik Berger about Doyle’s move to Hamburg and his surprisingly influential debut from the bench last week, but we could not help but indulge in a little nostalgia.

‘Do what you do with your Brazilian stuff’

“We saw Robinho play at Hamburg Stadium, which was totally insane at the time,” Berger recalled.

“The Bundesliga was fine, but did not have the big names. Then there was this iconic scene where you had Robinho and Collin Benjamin – a perfectly fine Bundesliga defender, but that was it.

Robinho came to him – left, right, left, right – and Collin Benjamin just took the ball from him. Yes, do what you do with your Brazilian stuff, but let’s play the game! ”

It was a duel that easily summed up the clash of expectation and reality at Manchester City after the takeover. British record signing Robinho spent Christmas 2008 in the relegation zone of the Premier League, and although a satisfactory improvement followed, it seemed that the prospect of big designs falling flat on their face lurked everywhere.

HAMBURG, GERMANY - APRIL 09: Collin Benjamin (R) from Hamburg and Robinho (L) from Manchester fight for the ball during the first match of the UEFA Cup quarter-final between HSV Hamburg and Manchester City at HSH Nordbank Arena on April 9, 2009 in Hamburg, Germany.
Collin Benjamin was very attentive to Robinho during Hamburg’s 3-1 victory

The UEFA Cup presented the remaining opportunity to make an early statement in the new era, and via some turbulent Scandinavian waters demanded penalties to see FC Midtjylland and Aalborg – Hughes’ men had high hopes on the way to Volksparkstadion on 9 April.

Robinho at least managed to escape Benjamin’s attention to set up Stephen Ireland for the opening goal within a minute, and the midfielder continued a career-best season.

From that moment on, it became a terrible night for City. Joris Mathijsen headed the host level and Piotr Trochowski’s penalty kick after a Micah Richards handball put Hamburg ahead.

Paolo Guerrero made it 3-1, and it would have been a much heavier defeat, but for Shay Give’s heroism.

Guerrero’s close-range efforts could have resulted in another battle against anticlimax in Manchester a week later, but it was here that a championship blow from City’s boardroom had a decisive impact on the draw.

‘Available to everyone’

At the end of March, City launched ticket sales for the second stage by lowering prices. In a five-day sale, tickets were £ 5 for adults and £ 1 for under 16s.

“These awards are our way of saying thank you to all our supporters. It’s been a long time since we were able to possibly win silverware and we want to make this game accessible to everyone,” said CEO Garry Cook.

This meant that the defeated Blues returned home to a carnival atmosphere, with the inflatable bananas that became famous by the city faithful in the 1980s, scattered over a large crowd of people.

A young Manchester City supporter watches from the crowd during the match against Hamburg during the UEFA Cup quarter-final second leg football match at the City of Manchester Stadium in Manchester on April 16, 2009. Manchester City won the match 2-1, but Hamburg advance to the semi-finals win 4 -3 overall.
It was a ‘kids for a quid’ night when Hamburg came to town

Hughes’ team started as a train, but Hamburg’s superior technical quality was again evident, and Guerrero’s early goals left them with a mountain to climb.

The turnaround began when City’s most diligent and reliable sherpa, Pablo Zabaleta, won a crushing 50-50 tackle in the midfield (this was the often forgotten midfielder segment in Zaba’s City career). It was an insignificant moment in terms of game flow, but the noise level went through the roof. A capacity crowd collectively said, “If Pablo is not done, we are not done.”

Elano Show

Then a more refined South American talent took center stage. Elano had endured a difficult season under Hughes, but he was simply irresistible to a Hamburg team that could not cope with his playmaking from the right.

Trochowski handled an Elano ball into the box after 15 minutes, and the Brazilian farmer was typically dead-eyed from the penalty spot.

His shot from outside the box felt just as deadly that night, and he struck a 30-yard free-kick against the crossbar with the outside of his right boot before half-time.

MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 16: Elano from Manchester City scores his team's first goal from the penalty spot during the second match of the UEFA Cup quarter-final between Manchester City and Hamburg SV at the City of Manchester Stadium on April 16, 2009 in Manchester.
Elano was, as always, reliable from the penalty spot.

Felipe Caicedo led the line superbly and his quick footwork at the end of Ireland’s pass gave City the lead last night.

Hamburg goalkeeper Frank Rost was rooted again when Elano curled a 25-yard free-kick against the post.

A quick Elano corner caught Rost, but Caicedo was unable to convert with the goal at his mercy, and City continued to flow forward, even after skipper Richard Dunne received another yellow card, but Richards and Daniel Sturridge could not convert late options as decibel levels increased.

City were still hailed from the pitch as heroes, and Berger wonders if it was worth the effort for Hamburg as they suffered a big loss to Nordderby rivals Werder Bremen in the semi-finals.

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“Looking back, it would have been better if we lost to City and then did not get into the next stage against Bremen. It would have been less painful, ”he said.

“It was famous matches, but it would have been better to lose against City.”

Given the great victories and trophies that have followed, it is a bit peculiar that the 90-minute glorious failure against Hamburg remains so fondly remembered by those present.

Maybe it’s because it was that night, a stadium that was inherited only six years earlier, really came to feel like home, the night where everything really felt possible for the first time.

What are your memories of Hamburg UEFA Cup matches? Follow City Is Our editor Dom Farrell on Twitter and join the discussion in the comments section.

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