Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Announcement

Due to family-emergency-commitments it's unlikely that there'll be a post-Newcastle United Blog-posting (time is ticking along / not much point) and it's highly likely that there'll be no pre-Liverpool game posting either.

Sorry to regular readers and all for this interruption of service. Will be back as soon as possible.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

The ‘opener’

First of all folks, sorry for the delay in getting out a pre-Newcastle United game 'Blog posting'. Hospital visits and employer issues have somewhat got in the way over the last few days to say the least.

With all of that set aside for the moment, it’s time to get my head around City and footy in general.


Other issues and snippets


Before all things City & Newcastle, there have been a few things I’ve wanted to comment on.

Firstly is the impressive way City are going about their business with regards to securing the players at our club on long-term contracts. What a MASSIVE message that sends out of our intension of building a strong nucleolus; the bedrock of very successful teams down the years. And what a HUGE 'hands off' to vulture-circling clubs...

The slightly improving Kolarov was first to sign a 3-year deal closely followed by Nasri’s 5-year offer and signature. Then came Silva,  Aguero & our Captain and soon to follow their lead is Hart and Dzeko. And although I think he still wants to, understandably see how his playing time situation lies in January, I think there’s definitely an offer on the table for much-needed, in my opinion, (HAHM-ez) Milner.

What’s even more impressive from City is that I understand each and every new contract comes with a much-reduced weekly wage; adding, instead, huge incentive / winning bonuses. These bonus payments are, apparently, excluded from the calculations of F(not so)FP as they are not guaranteed payments (I wonder how long it’ll be before the cheating ******** change that rule?)

All EXCELLENT news though.

More good news – although that might sound cruel – was the sale of Javi Garcia for £12M to Zenit St. Petersburg. The worst of our midfields has gone and together with the sale of Jack Rodwell puts us WELL under the FFP spending limit. With another sale or three – possibly in the form of Micah Richards, Scott Sinclair and John Guidetti – we could even afford ourselves some elbow room in the transfer market before the end of August! There’s even rumour of an Isco loan - watch this space…

Slightly surprising was the news that Karim Rekik has gone back to PSV for another season on loan. Again this might sound slightly cruel but surprising, because, we’re left with Dedryck Boyata instead of the slightly-better Karim. Boyata’s ability and all-too-often mistake-filled game concerns me a lot.

But good luck to Karim and I hope he continues his improvement out there.

In even MORE ‘stuck with Boyata news’ WAS the news that Jason Denayer has moved to Celtic for the season and the Belgian central defender opened the scoring on his debut after just 4 minutes. On hearing reports of his ability – and despite having Vinny, Martin, Eliaquim & Matija – I honestly thought Jason might get retained and used on occasions this season.

But I’m convinced a season away – even if it’s only in Scotland’s Premier League (and yes I did mean that to sound slightly disrespectful) – will do him the world of good.

I hope Bruno Zuculini isn’t prone to feeling dizzy. First of all he was all set – and it had apparently been agreed a while ago – that he was to join Valencia on loan for the season, then he was off to Sunderland, then he was staying here for the season…and now he MIGHT be off to Deportivo de La Caruna. Wherever you end up Bruno, good luck mate.

Definitely not enjoying the milder climes of Spain will be Greg Leigh. The EDS left-back has joined Crewe Alexandra on loan until 5th January 2015. Best wishes to him also.

And the Mangala / London thing explained, apparently…

A little late in commenting on this one…but even as a seasoned football observer I was shocked that we had our first managerial casualty on the opening day of the Football League season in the sacking of Huddersfield Town’s Mark Robins.

However, it has since been quoted that it wasn’t a decision based on the one, 4-0 opening home game defeat but rather the appalling level of football and results in the previous 20 leagues games last season. And, to be honest, I shed not one tear for the ex-Manyoo player who once very bitterly and quite openly mocked us (for a reason I recall irritated me at the time but can’t quite recall now).

But, more recently, Tony Pulis beat Mark to the quickest departure when resigning from his post as Crystal Palace Manager just a few days before the start of the season for a disagreement with their owner of spending (or lack there of).

What a sham! Who next (or have I already missed one?)

Speaking of a sham – recently I stated how irritating Manyoo fans around me have already become and one of those irritations were that they were getting way too overly excited about very average players having a half-decent pre-season in the US.

Well I don’t want to say "I told you so" but…

Oh...SO many captions I could add to this!
I TOLD YOU SO!

Van Gall quote from yesterday’s post-match interview: I know in what positions we need better players…” At least he has a better clue than the so-called followers of the club - and that’s why he’s the Manager I suppose.

Right…onto the business of the day!

Newcastle


Now since starting Blue Chews-daze on 23.04.2013 there have been some difficult starting 11s to predict. Even if I do say so myself, however, I’ve done pretty well for the most part.

However, this one must rank as the most difficult of a competitive game so far and so I make no apologies for getting closer to 60% than 100%.

First of all I’m going to compound the issue by suggesting that he break a habit of a (City) lifetime and not start, at least, with 4-4-2. I doubt it very much but if he did; here’s what I think he might do…and why.

4-3-3 / 4-3-2-1 / 4-1-4-1 (read it as you will):

_______________Jovetic_______________

 

 

Nasri___________________________Navas

 
_________Toure_________Silva__________

______________Fernando_______________

 

Clichy___Nastasic___Kompany___Zabaleta

 

 
_________________Hart________________

Why? Well ignoring the back 4 and goalie I just think he’ll be tempted, and I would agree, to try to include Nasri, Silva and pre-season-impressive Navas and with Yaya surely a starting cert also – and with us needing a defensive midfielder thrown in – that would leave room for just one striker (and that’s the mobile and fluid Jovetic over Dzeko for me).

Also, I’m not 100% certain – but I think that it MIGHT be the case – that Aguero will be available on the bench and if not; we don’t have any real striker options from the bench to ‘change the style’ if we needed to.

I also think that, even at home, Nasty Pardew will go for a packed, counter-attacking midfield a-la Arsenal during the Community Shield.

Anyhoo…that’s a real long, LONG shot that is and so slapping myself across the face as I've just have done; here’s what I think Pellegrini will pick for this afternoon’s North East clash.

4-4-2:

____________________Dzeko__________

__________Jovetic___________________

 

 
Nasri___________________________Silva

____________________Toure___________

__________Fernando__________________

 
 
Clichy___Nastasic__Kompany___Zabaleta
 

 

_________________Hart________________

 
Subs: Caballero, Kolarov, Boyata, Milner, Lampard, Navas, Aguero

Hart over Caballero – I’ve not got much doubt at all about that one.

This is something I’ll be saying most of the season – and getting wrong from time to time I’m sure – but I THINK he’ll go for the more defensive Clichy over Kolarov.
 
With the older, World-Cup-legs of Demichelis not being quite ready and Mangala not being chosen also; Nastasic is about the most likely player to partner Kompany, who I think will be ready enough to play in this one and will get chosen.
 
Gone, I think, will be the ‘Clichy covering at right back’ for this one and that Zaba will ‘resume’ ahead of Sagna’s return to fitness (but I could be wrong on all sorts of fronts here).

Fernando to ‘hold’ and, VERY unfortunately for him, I think Navas will miss out on being part of an attacking midfield trio; as it goes to Nasri, Silva & Toure instead.

Jovetic & Dzeko to ‘lead’.

'Sub goalie' picks itself, Kolarov to provide ‘extra push’ if needed and, sadly, Boyata as a the central defensive option from the bench.
 
Milner is at LEAST a ‘bench man’ and I think he might be joined by 'our Frank'; who for me is a naturally fit player and has been training for weeks now.
 
Navas of course and I THINK we’ll have the Argentinean pocket battleship available for ‘the last 20’ if required.

Result?

It’s a toughy that’s for sure but I’m going for an away win; joining Swansea near the top of the table at the end of the day...

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

It’s almost upon us!

If you’re a fan of a team in the English Premier League then this is, indeed, an exciting time. I personally like to ‘switch off’ as much as possible during ‘close season’; something that’s not always possible in a World Cup or Euros year.

But as England waved goodbye to Brazil so very early and in fine, predictable style, I do now feel fully refreshed and raring to go.

However, as much as I’m looking forward to all things City (and domestic footy in general) there are, inevitably, things that are gonna get right up my nose in the season ahead. Here, then, a quick look at both the exciting and annoying things that lie ahead…


Things to look forward to 2014/2015


Seeing an even-more solid-looking City team following the introduction of an additional, class goalkeeper; a well-sort-after central defender, a top right-back, a very good, coveted defensive midfielder and, in general, just far better quality and more competition for defensive places. We now have a squad that could easily field two VERY good teams!

Similarly, seeing an even BETTER Pablo Zabaleta this season…now with added ‘can have a (deserved) rest from time to time’.

A stronger push in the Champions League. With the improved squad, better ranking and added experience in this competition we SHOULD be able to push on a little better than last season very creditable effort. We’re still a little way off the likes of Barca, Bayern and Real but we’re getting there…

Seeing a fully fit and raring-to-go Stevan Jovetic. The “new signing”…


Seeing the completion of the Academy site.

Seeing us lift another trophy this season. Not sure which one but I’m confident again of some silverware in 2014/15.

The atmosphere at home to Leicester City. The last time we met at the Etihad in one of the cups their fans were terrific! I just hope we can raise our game from the stands not just for that game but in general...

Seeing how the likes of Leicester and Burnley cope in the Premier League. I personally hope they both survive. As for QPR, I hope they go crashing right back down (after taking points from Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manyoo of course).

Watching Butt Head, Slapped Arse and Whinger take pot-shots at each other while ‘The Engineer’ sits back cool as a cucumber.

Things NOT to look forward to 2014/2015


Hoping we don’t regret our decision not to bring in a quality left-back. Clichy LOOKS to be back in for – with a good pre-season – and so here’s hoping…

"He's a good boy; he's a good-good boy..."
Slimy 'arry Redknapp in the Premier League; twitching his way through far too many irritating, sound-bite interviews.

"Everyone listen to me!"
Joey Barton hacking his way through everyone’s midfield…and his ‘everyone look at me’, endless, ENDLESS opinions and comments.

Manyoo being far better than they were last season.

Er...whatever.
Manyoo fans getting far, FAR too annoyingly excited after a year or more of being thoroughly miserable. It was nice while it lasted.

Yeaahh...o-kayy
It’s already started around me; everything from chest-thumping, overly-aggressive, anti-City rants to getting WAY too excited about apparently revitalised, very-average Manyoo players having a decent pre-season on their US tour. Huhhhhh...really?

Harry Redknapp (again).

Hearing and seeing the words “King Louis” over and over and over and over again.

Having to, probably, listen to the away fans sing “Happy Birthday” (or something similar) to Yaya Toure at every, single home game.

Having to listen to Van Gaal speak. His robot-version impression of Sean Connery is already starting to irritate me a little.

Joey Barton (again).

Regretting my decision to drop out of, for the first ever time, the League & F.A. Cup schemes. Something had to give ‘cash wise’ and I’ve chosen to follow a cup that we’ve not yet won. But it will be difficult sitting at home knowing there’s a home game being played just down the road…

Putting TOO much effort and emphasis on the Champions League; so much so that it badly damages our Premier League defence.

Seeing both Sergio Aguero and Vincent Kompany almost inevitably ‘pull up’ in pain from time to time.

Home?
Seeing our lads playing in a Coventry City-style home kit.

Arsenal / Manyoo
Seeing our lads playing in an Arsenal / Manyoo-style away kit.

Ball boy
If it turns out to be true; seeing our lads playing in a 3rd kit that makes them look like Wimbledon ball boys.

Yaba-yaba-yaba - more coffee please - yaba-yaba...
(Drum roll please…)

He barely said a word for YEARS but now…you just can’t shut him up! Paul Scholesdulcet tones will be “gracing” BT Sport this season…as well as him being a columnist for The Independent. Wonderful – another one to swell the ranks of the already jam-packed contingent of either Trafford or Merseyside reds; giving us their ‘wise words’ on Radio, TV or in the newspaper whether we want them or not. When not at the game it’s gonna be another season of watching the TV with the sound turned down whilst listing to Radio Manchester. Don’t forget to pause your radio for that 7-second, DAB time-lag if you want to do the same and ‘synchronise’ during the 90 minutes…

Whatever the joys and irritations of the season ahead, I’m sure it’ll be a good one over all.
 
ENJOY!

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

A slightly belated Community Shield review…

…life sort of got in the way again last night and again earlier today.

From a shrug of the shoulders to almost frantic screams of “crisis!” - I heard it all in one post-match radio ‘phone in’.


Reaction


It doesn’t surprise me any more to listen to the over-reaction of so many footy fans following a defeat; even one after such a meaningless game as the one last Sunday afternoon at Wembley. Doesn’t surprise me but still disappoints me when I hear it from some seasoned Blues.

One fella phoned Radio Manchester and first announced that he’d been following City for 48 (it could even have been 58) years…and then went on to say what a bad result it was and that it doesn’t bode well for the season ahead etc.

What?!

Eight major players missing and we are to judge the season ahead on that?! Jeeeze…

Thankfully a few Blues had more of a balanced and realistic view and one added,

“Let Wenger enjoy his Community Shield while we enjoy ours at the end of the season”.

Similarly others added that this will all be forgotten in a few weeks if / when Pellegrini’s choices on Sunday pay dividend and we get off to a ‘flyer’ in the Premier League.

The negatives


Yeah of course there were some negatives but certainly nothing to get in a flap about.

  1. Dedryck Boyata. The lad has never convinced me and although brief appearances last season saw him mostly fill in a right back; the lad is far too full of errors and just doesn’t look like a comfortable defender whatsoever. I was shocked to the core when he got a new, 2-year contract; something that screams, “Home-grown decision” and nothing else. He was – and is – poor. As one post-match caller stated, “Even Bolton Wanderers sent him home [from loan] on the bus…”

  1. Samir Nasri. He called the Arsenal fans stupid (and rightly so for their persistent berating of him for daring to move to a club that had a far better chance of winning trophies) but, in my opinion, his interview and comments was ill-timed. He was ALWAYS gonna get ‘the boos’ from the North Londoners but he stoked the fire…and it backfired. He had a below-par performance and (I hope temporarily anyway) if affected his corner taking. They weren't quite as appalling bad as Joey Barton’s (remember them?) but every single one he ‘threw in’ were low and flat. Poor game over all and rightly replaced at half time.

  1. Edin Dzeko. I can’t believe I’m having to start so early on this enigma once again after finishing the season in fine form. Even Pellegrini appear frustrated with the largely immobile one. After his little by-line “chat” with his manager he made one, powerful and, for him, quite pacy and strong run down the left; something that’s not his forte and he did really well. But in the centre of the opposition’s defence…his place of work…he did often cut another frustrating figure for large parts. And this is the man on the brink of signing a new, 5-year contract…

  1. And finally…the manager. The first 3 minor criticisms are all pretty ‘much of a muchness’ really. I don’t think we’ll see Dedryck pull on a City shirt this season apart from, perhaps, a League Cup game or unless we are really, REALLY desperate. As for Samir; well he’ll have far more good games than he will average ones I’m certain. And Edin will, I’m sure, continue to frustrate but will still finish on around 20 goals; carrying on his trait of scoring at vital times in vital games. But Manuel sometimes worries me with his rigidity. I’m not a football manager and have never even considered taking a coaching badge. But, having seen what Arsene Whinger bought and didn’t buy before the Community Shield even I had a good idea that he would play 4-5-1 come 4-6-0; with a marauding, largely attacking midfielders bombing forward in waves. I also know Yaya’s strengths and know that his weaknesses include his lack of quick-turn mobility…and that he gets frustrated when outnumbered by the oppo. I also have a memory and, therefore, know that, a-la Bayern Munich, if we try to go against a 4-5-1 / 4-6-0 with a 4-4-2 – especially one that has another largely-motionless figure in ‘the 11’ (Dzeko if you needed to ask) – we get completely overrun and crumble under incessant counter attacks; where our strikers are left to observe the game pass them by from afar. And that’s just what happened last Sunday. What’s slightly worrying is that having NOT apparently foreseen this, our ‘Engineer’ was then far too slow to do anything about it and should, in my opinion, have gone ‘like for like’ before changing personnel. He should, for example, have brought the far-more-mobile Stevan Jovetic into central midfield or out wide-left; allowing Samir to come inside to help stem the tide and bolster midfield. Please learn some foresight and flexibility for the season ahead Mr Pellegrini, hey?

  1. A quick 5th one. Having paid so much and given their precious time the day before a ‘school night’ the City fans should have been rewarded with a far better performance from the those chosen to wear the City shirt in a fairly big,  ‘curtain raiser’ of a game. Shame on them really…

The positives


  1. Despite only getting 6/10 from the M.E.N. I thought Gael Clichy had another decent game on the opposite side of his natural defending position. Especially considering the persistent waves of Arsenal attacks. It’s good to see him ‘back’.

  1. Matija Nastasic. I thought the Serbian looked, once more, is usual solid and calm self. A good 7/10 performance that should be read as 8/10 when considering the afore mentioned tactical error and that he had the young Boyata next to him. Talk of moving him on is absolutely baffling to meand that won’t be the last time you’ll hear that from me…

  1. Fernando looks really up to the challenge. As much as it can be a joy to watch Sergio Aguero glide his way through opposition defences to score a screamer, it is wonderful to watch a player who utterly thrives on tacking the opposition and getting the ball back. I did mention this before we signed him; I am a little nervous of his tendency at times to ‘two foot’ the ball away from his target but as long as he times them right then he should be okay. Seemed to tire a little and stop chasing after a while but that is MORE than understandable when you consider the position his manager put him (and Yaya) in with his tactical naivety.

  1. For Navas read, “Navas unleashed”. Whether he’s getting his frustrations out after missing out on the World Cup at the last minute through injury or whether the player famous for being travel / homesick is now REALLY settled in Manchester / England I just don’t know. What I do know is that he’s looking like he’s found the handbrake and has finally released it. One particular telling run occurred in the second half following a lovely bit of misleading skill; where he left his pursuer trailing before dinking in a lovely cross that almost lead to a City goal. If he’s also added better crossing to his revitalised armoury then what a new weapon we have as well as…

  1. …Steven Jovetic! Most of us said it; get this fella fit and firing and it’ll be like a new signing this season. Simply put, “he is” and “it is”. Decent speed, lively skill & trickery, very determined and hungry for goals. What more could you want?

  1. David Silva. Whether on from the start or coming off the bench this little magician changes the whole aspect of our team and, very often, the game. We needed him desperately on Sunday and although we didn’t score, he gave Arsenal food for thought and they ‘fell back’ for large parts of the second half. What a pocket-sized maestro we have in the Spaniard – If only we could get Isco to work with him in the seasons ahead and, with age on his side, eventually continue in that role for City for many, many years to come…

You may notice a lack of negative or positive comments regarding Willy Caballero. Well to be honest I thought there was a bit of unnecessary, negative frenzy surrounding the Argentinean keeper (from all corners - including City fans).

Was he at fault for the Giroud goal? Erm…ffffff…perhaps a very little bit. I SUPPOSE it wasn’t exactly a ‘top corner’ goal. But it was a hell of an unexpected and fantastic strike and I think any criticism of Willy takes the gloss off a fine strike from the Arsenal player to be honest.

As for Michael – pipsqueak voice – Owen (I’m DEFINITELY watching BT Sport games with the sound turned down in future) and his repeated slating of our keeper for delaying in coming out to close-down Sanchez in the first half when Caballero made a perfectly-timed tackle with his legs to prevent a goal well, huh, there you have it…

Summary


Disaster? Huh…FAR from it.

Concerns for this coming Sunday; a Sunday fixture that DOES count? Well nothing other than the defence really; particularly the centre of it. Just how close to match fitness ‘the late arrivals’ are we will never know until the last hour before the game I’m sure. Pellegrini likes to keep things very close to his chest and so I doubt we’ll even find out who’ll be available for selection during the pre-match press conference on Thursday / Friday.

And that’s fine – keep both us AND nasty Pardew guessing until the very end I say. I just hope we don’t have to play Boyata…

Bits ‘n’ bobs…


Bruno Zuculini to stay and NOT go to Valencia or Sunderland? Those are the latest rumours…

Why no John Guidetti on the bench at Wembley? “I don’t know” is the simple answer…other than he has been linked, again, with a return to Feyenoord; possibly on a permanent deal (with Juventus monitoring the situation). With Sergio being ‘fragile’ as he is; that would leave us very thin ‘up top’ in my opinion. Devante Cole and / or Jordy Hiwula to step up?

Micah in limbo? Well it’s all gone very quiet for the lad…

Garcia to Zenit? Well unless I missed him I didn’t see him with the ‘suited up’ players in the stands at Wembley. In talks perhaps?

Sinclair to stay? It sort of wouldn’t surprise me with the home-grown rule and the fact that he’s not done too badly at all in pre-season.

Jason Denayer joins Celtic on a season-long loan. That’s a pretty big move for the lad…

David Silva signs a new contract!

And finally…FINALLY!


The man from Porto – he sign!

Here’s a picture of Eliaquim Mangala NOT in a Porto kit or suit jacket just to prove it…

 

Saturday, 9 August 2014

The Community Shield

Glorified friendly or pride and first silverware? I personally think it lies somewhere in between.

And the man who counts most, Manuel Pellegrini, says that, “…it’s not a friendly match; it’s an important game against an important team as Arsenal”.


My opinion


For me this one shouldn’t be dismissed as readily as a lot of modern-day footy fans seem to but, on the other hand, nor should it be taken too seriously if your team loses by a few goals. For me…yes it’s a final ‘barometer check’ on your team before the big KO but you should also look at the personnel available on the day and where they are ‘at’ in their pre-season workout and then take a balanced view at the end of the game.

I also go along with the theory that winning games becomes a habit AND walking up those steps to collect ANY trophy at Wembley in front of thousands in the stadium and millions around the world must give your players a real buzz and lift a week before their first game of the season.

Community Shield
For us, going into this one-off, trophy-winning fixture they’ll be no Pablo Zabaleta, Bacary Sagna, Vincent Kompany, Martin Demichelis, (Eliaquim Mangala?), Fernandinho, Frank Lampard, Sergio Aguero or Alvaro Negredo (Injured) and most of them would, of course, be first choice for our manager in most Premier League games. So yeah…that’s a heck of a lot out and, so, must be taken into consideration whatever the result.

2012 winners



But as one newspaper recently published we have SUCH a good squad – even better than last season – we could quite easily field two VERY good ‘first 11s’ and I totally agree with that.

So, on the one hand it could be difficult to predict my first ‘starting 11’ for this ‘curtain raiser’ but on the other - and with so many players not featuring - it perhaps should be quite easy.

v Arsenal


Formation: 4-4-2

_____________________Dzeko__________

 
__________Jovetic____________________

 

 
Silva________________Toure______Navas

__________Fernando__________________

 

 

 

______________Caballero______________

 

From back to front…

I think our Engineer will want to give Willy his first flavour of playing against Premier League opposition and in an English stadium. What a perfect opportunity.

Experienced and experience
With no Zaba or Sagna the left and right backs pick themselves – Clichy having somewhat surprisingly very good games at right-back in pre-season.

With so many central defenders Matija certainly gets the nod; Karim, in my opinion, is the better of the two in direct competition with Dedryck. Personally I’d like to see Jason Denayer on the bench ahead of Boyata with whom I (still) have concerns about…

Micah to, possibly, be given a final, FINAL bow for the Blues.

The 5th defender...
It certainly is going to be a flimsy defence - as pre-season has proven - but certainly, therefore, a very good workout for both Willy and Fernando. And so…

…Fernando indeed as the ‘anchor’ and I‘ve gone for Yaya to blow an early, post-‘cake gate’ storm from his system - I think his manager will know that he’ll need to ‘get one out of the way’ ASAP.

I’ve gone for David on the left as I’m not sure Samir Nasri has FULLY recovered from a pre-season setback between Scotland and the U.S.; Jesus had an explosive pre-season and easily gets in the starting 11 for me.

In form and good season awaits...
Stevan to continue his predicted fine form and so partners Edin up front; playing slightly deeper with fluid overlapping with Silva and Toure I’m sure.

As well as Joe on the bench Dedryck will, I’m sure, get ahead of Denayer. I was going to go for Sinclair to get another ‘shop window’ opportunity (and he might) but I’ve gone for Pellegrini to possibly give Zuculini a flavour of playing on English soil.

Milner & Nasri are almost certain ‘bench men’ and with no Alvaro or Sergio; John Guidetti is automatic “subs” choice…a word that must haunt him almost as much as “injury”.


Great signing - Should have been a Blue...
As for Arsenal…well I’ve not looked TOO deeply into their preparations for this one but of the 4 pre-season signings made so far, the HUGE stand out one is, of course, Alexis Sanchez. He will certainly test our softer centre [of defence] and being predominantly right-sided (although he can switch and is versatile); Kolarov will have to forget his stronger ‘going forward’ tendencies for the most part and for once…DEFEND LIKE CRAZY!

Needs to be sharp!
It won’t help whinging Arsene that Thomas Vermaelen has all but left his side; being, as he is, on the verge of joining Barcelona (having had his route to Stretford Rangers blocked by his boss).

They are short, in my opinion, of a couple of defenders (certainly one good centre half) and an out & out striker in my opinion. But, like both us and Chelsea, they have a phenomenal list of players ‘across the middle’ when all fully fit. How close they all are to ‘full throttle’ I just don’t know…

Result? With both defences a little weakened there should be goals aplenty. I’ve got a feeling that it’ll be 2-2 or even 3-3 at full time and will be decided on pens…and going off pre-season I can only hope that they’ve been putting in plenty of extra practice (and that they DON’T allow Micah to take one until the very end if absolutely necessary)…

Update (1:56pm): Bruno Zuculini to Sunderland on loan (instead of Valencia)? That's the rumour...

But will the game go ahead?


The forecast, albeit still being assessed, is looking decidedly dodgy for Sunday to say the least. Ex-hurricane Bertha come tropical storm is heading our way and the once-weakening storm is gathering more energy as it crosses ‘the pond’ and slams into the UK.

The forecasters are still not 100% sure who’ll get hit the worse and exactly what time on Sunday it will unleash its fury. But it will be mid-morning to late afternoon sometime when a large part of the country will get rocked and, for me, there’s a small chance the game could well be cancelled.

I hope not for the travelling fans of course; I’ve chosen to sit this one out for several reasons and, in my place, is my season-card-holding friend and his partner. Pete’s never been to Wembley to see City (or anyone for that matter) and the 59-year old (sorry Pete) is like an excited child in a toy store!

Last February - Hold on to your hats!
And although Wembley does have – and will use I’m sure – the retractable roof; I’m reminded of the last time we experienced very high winds on a match day. If memory serves wheelie bins and fence panels were swirling around in February of this year when the Police, quite rightly, called off the match due to it being unsafe for travelling supporters.

If so, I can’t imagine anything other than a full (fan) refund – surely the game won’t get postponed and played in midweek…

Jack gone…Javi next?


So Mr Injury-prone has left for Sunderland. Although the man himself has said that he wasn’t injured for most of last season - stopping just short of saying ‘I just wasn’t getting games at Manchester City’ but has, sort of, issued a warning to other young English stars thinking of a move to the Etihad – I think we’ve done well to get £10M for someone who clearly does struggle with on-going niggles (or worse).

At just turned 23 time is definitely on the players side and if he can (or has) seen the worst of his injuries behind him; The Black Cats do have an excellent player on their hands and one, who, can play for England many times in the future, fortune permitting.

I say, “Good luck fella”…

So, Garcia to follow Rodwell out of the door? With Fernando, Fernandinho, Milner and Toure at the club you’d flippin’-well think so, wouldn’t you?

Hope so too; even some improvement last season saw mostly 6/10 performances from the Spaniard. Just not good enough and if we can get £12.5M from Zenit St Petersburg then that’s a whopping income of cash from just two players with, possibly, Micah and Scott at the very least to follow soon I’m sure.

Money in the bank / financial fair play appeased or are we lining up, as I’ve been banging on about recently, a bid for Isco or Manyoo-linked Di Maria?

Other incomings?


And what about these (once again) persistent rumours about Falcao joining us…on loan? Not sure what that one’s all about…

As for the never-ending saga that it Eliaquim Mangala, it turns out that it might not be his girlfriend’s living & shopping location issues and that it might not be an extended holiday (for someone who didn’t even make an appearance in the World Cup in a team that came home after the quarter finals).

No, instead the latest story is that it’s been on-going discussions with his hard-nosed, difficult-to-deal-with club, Porto, and our payment details. Apparently we’ve now agreed £30M ‘up front’ with ‘add-ons’.

He SHOULD be arriving Monday…or Tuesday. Huhhhh…