Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Striker talk

One injured, one maybe on the move and one possibly coming in? Most talk has been about ‘up front’ in recent days.


Hot topic


As temperatures once again sore in Manchester, the hot topic seems to surround issues in the striking department. Sadly, one of the subject matters is an injury to Alvaro Negredo - last time it was a lengthy shoulder injury (followed by a huge dip in form) and this time it’s his ‘Beckham bone’; having fractured his 5th metatarsal. This, apparently, will keep him out for about 2 ½ months. By my calculations that would see him return around about Hull City away / Aston Villa away.

So, then, it would seem slightly bewildering to read more persistent rumours about John Guidetti perhaps (still) moving out. On loan, fair enough; and it will please City fans to see that the more recent, stronger rumours linking the unlucky Swede with a Premier League stay at Southampton.

So, with one out of action and one possibly moving out, I suppose it wasn’t going to be long, nor a surprise, to see strikers being linked with a move to the Etihad. What WAS surprising though was the player being touted around. 36-year old, ex-Chelsea (and half-a-dozen others), Ivorian striker Didier Drogba.

According to The Star (I know (groan)), “Pellegrini believes” Drogba to be an option for him…so, presumably, some journalist actually did some serious work and has spoken to him or someone else from M.C.F.C. to find this information out. Yeah right…

But let us just entertain, for a second, this possibility…and, firstly, let’s just look at it from a John Guidetti point of view.

You see your colleague get an injury that sees him out for a 5th of a year. Initially saddened by the news for your workmate; I’m sure, in this business, you then secretly rub your hands and think, ‘Right, this is my chance’.

Next minute your being asked about the possibility of moving 225 miles away while a player 14 years your senior might be stepping in to lend a hand instead of you. Not a nice feeling I bet.

As for Didier himself, I think it would be a great move for us. Not a move I would EVER have expected…but a good one nonetheless.

Basically, he bangs goals in wherever he plays and at whatever level he plays at. Absolutely clinical in front of goal and experienced in all competitions; the player fresh from a season at Galatasaray would also be, I’m sure, a calming influence on Yaya Toure.

Upsetting John aside it certainly makes sense to me for several reasons. But, as always, time will tell about whether this is just another lazy piece of journalism (putting 2+2 together) or whether someone out there has actually done some serious sleuthing for once.

And in the middle…


James Milner is being linked further with a move away from City; this time Liverpool are apparently glancing not only at Micah but may be adding the determined, Yorkshire battler to their ‘wish list’ too.

And with further links to both Angel Di Maria and, once again, Isco - following a Real Madrid ‘clearing of the decks’ ready for them to bring in James Rodriguez - OUR James might just now be looking at his situation even closer and may well now push for a short move up the M62.

He might want to ‘hang fire’ a moment though; the midfield department might just become a little more roomy.

With the injured Negredo now going nowhere it’s being suggested that Javi Garcia tops the list of outgoing foreigners and with Jack Rodwell still, surely, set to depart also; even WITH the recent introduction of Fernando there will be slightly more elbow room for Milner.

I for one hope he stays…but equally I’d love to see us bring in Di Maria or Isco in support of Drogba.

I’ve been saying it for a while now; don’t be surprised to see City pull some kind of attacking / creative midfield option out of the bag before the end of August.

Next up?


AC Milan on Sunday in the Guinness International Champions Cup in the US (KO 4:00pm BST, 11:00am EDT) where more of the World-Cup-latter-stage, City players will join the squad.

Pablo Zabaleta, however we are told, will be given a much deserved, extended break following his World Cup final appearance (and very lengthy domestic campaign); being allowed to return to training just a week before the start of the season! Over to Bacary

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Bits ‘n’ bobs…

Players staying, going, wanting to stay and a player who can’t seem to decide whether he wants to arrive! Jeeeeze…bring on the start of the season!


Staying…probably


So all is well in the land (and head) of Yaya Toure. It was never about money; it was never about prising a move away from the club (giving his ‘orrible agent a fat wedge of cash) and, perhaps, it wasn’t even about cake. The flippin’ “R” word has been mentioned in this latest ‘turn around’ (Respect if you had to ask) and he wants to put it all behind him. Good.

Yaya added that he wants show the fans, at least, who, he’s said, have always been good with him and his family; that he’s ready to stay next season and show that it will be a pleasure to enjoy the campaign ahead and try to win [the league] again next season.

I ‘get’ that he might still feel a little sour towards the club for them not OFFERING him the chance of staying at home [after the West Ham game] with his terminally ill brother and it’s clear now, looking back, that his head was a mess around about that time. I’ve said this before; try to recall how tetchy he was getting on the field towards the end of last season. I must admit that, at the time, I wasn’t aware that he had a very, very sick brother and so, now, I fully understand and feel very sorry for him and his entire family.

In Seluk, though, he has a poor advisor in my opinion and like so many other footballers, Yaya seems easily influenced by his agent “friend”. Deep down the Ivorian is an emotional lad (I can say “lad” of a 31-year old at my age) and he was going through a very personal and emotional time towards the end of last season.

‘Cake gate’, however, may rumble on; with Seluk ‘signing off’ with the words,

“I hope now everybody will have a  friendly relationship. I hope his next birthday they will celebrate together”.

 
Weirdo…but just so that we don’t have to go through this joke of a situation again – something that annoyingly seemed to take the shine off our double-winning season – then for everyone’s sake, City, get that order in at the bakers now!

Negredo is staying! He has to now, he said it on #ask on CityTV. So why won’t the rumours go away? Please rumour mongers…you go away!

Wanting to stay, but…


Not surprisingly it’s James Milner’s turn to have his say. I was bracing myself for it. Not surprising because not only is he out of contract next summer and can start to speak to other clubs from January 2015; but the ‘never gives less than 100%’ and MUCH improved, English, 28-year old can count himself very unfortunate not to get more games for the Blues last season.

There are good shouts from some City fans as to why we needed to bring in Fernando when we HAVE James at the Club…there are even better shouts from Blues who question how the HELL Javi Garcia can get selected ahead of the Yorkshire man.

I certainly agree with the latter and the player himself; James believes that his best position is central or slightly withdrawn / deeper midfield and looking at the central options we have now; he must wonder how on earth he’s gonna to manage to get enough game-time.

He’s decent enough on the right wing and certainly offers us something different to the speedy Navas. But please, City, don’t play him on the left. I watched him try and try (as he does) on the left-flank last season but it just doesn’t work for the most part.

Good luck James. I hope you stay and I hope all of your fantastic efforts result in more minutes on the pitch than last season. I hope too that you sign a new contract and give us your best years ahead.

The ‘Wanting to stay, but…’ category also includes Matija Nastasic. He’s never asked to leave as far as I’m aware but, as with Alvaro, the rumours just won’t go away.

Ahead in the pecking order of last season’s injury-prone-defender would appear to be Vincent Kompany, Martin Demichelis (and Eliaquim Mangala?) and with Karim Rekik having a shirt ‘number change’ and featuring high in pre-season so far (and counting as home-grown); it does indeed appear that the very promising Serbian may indeed be surplus to requirements at the moment.

 
What a massive shame that would be because I think we all remember with considerable excitement his first season in a City shirt; where the 19-year old looked composed and very accomplished in his Premier League debut season.

I understand the need to focus on the ‘home grown rule’ and I understand too the need to raise funds it we are, indeed, looking to bring in another body before the close of the transfer window. I’d just hope we could do that without having to sacrifice this kid.


Going


There’s been no more (real) mention of it…but I don’t think it’ll be long before we see Micah Richards, Jack Rodwell and Scott Sinclair depart. All English players it won’t go unnoticed of course.

Yeah we’ve had the persistent link with Liverpool about Micah and the predictable link with Everton for Jack. And with Swansea City ‘selling’ [and swelling the coffers] at the moment I don’t think it’ll be long before we see, yet again, a link to his former club for Scott Sinclair; who did his ‘shop window display’ no harm at all by scoring in a 2-1 win against Hearts last night (Kolarov with the other goal from the spot late on after the Scottish side equalised).

Javi Garcia? Well it’s all been said before of course but I’d be slightly surprised and disappointed if we weren’t able to ‘cash in’ on him in the summer. Surely…SURELY that would make sense when considering the situations of both Nastasic and Milner.

And the long, on-going saga of poor John Guidetti moved into another chapter the other day; being linked this time with a move to Russian side Dynamo Moscow. I STILL harbour hopes of seeing the Swede make it at City but if he is deemed surplus THIS season; then I share the wishes of most other Blues who would like to see him given a full season on loan in the Premier League.

Although he didn’t, for whatever reason, get many minutes for Mark HughesStoke City; surely the likes of Aston Villa, Burnley (where John has played and scored before but not in the Premier League), Crystal Palace, Everton, Hull City, Leicester City, Newcastle United, Queens Park Rangers, Southampton, Sunderland, Swansea City, West Bromwich Albion or West Ham United would be interested in his services for a season? They could do far worse.

But, and I’ve said this before, if we do loan him for the season we should put in a ‘January recall clause’ just in case he’s either not being used or we hit a winter striker crisis.

Gone


 
According to Transfermarkt.co.uk at least, we parted company with Luca Scapuzzi on 1st July 2014. Recently on loan with Siena, I also found a very small story dated 20th June 2014 stating that he’s currently seeing a knee specialist.

Gone and, sadly for him, certainly forgotten – I think I can recall 2 appearance from the young Italian brought in by Mancini.

Arriving?


He had his medical – we all saw the photographs of him in Manchester – and then…what? Nothing. Nothing, that is, until recent rumours circulated that it’s his GIRLFRIEND who is stomping her feet with regards to wanting to move to London instead of the cobbled streets of Manchester.

 
But fear not Blues, the only London Club who were apparently interested in the French defender’s services; their Manager, Jose Mourinho, has recently stated that their summer spending is over.

Sorry future Mrs Mangala…

Really?

 
Well I’m not sure where we’d get the cash from but we’re being linked, not for the first time, with a move for the recently-injury-plagued-striker Falcao. A wonderfully talented striker who was, undoubtedly, attracted to the cash of AS Monaco but, for whatever reason [aside from injuries], it just hasn’t worked out. Apparently he was in talks with a move to Real Madrid but they have stalled for some reason. So, predictably, the rumour machine was then cranked up and as well as Liverpool and Manyoo (and not Chelsea for once) we’ve been thrown into the mix as pursuers.

With Liverpool apparently wanting to spread their Luis Suarez £75M around the team rather then splashing it on just ‘one big star’ - and with Manyoo apparently pursuing Edison Cavani - this, apparently, has ‘left the door open’ for us to ‘step in’.

But I say again, how are we to afford him and not break our £49M spending restrictions imposed as a fine under F(not so)FP? The sale of Micah, Jack, Javi and Scott alone probably won’t be enough to secure a player who will, I’m sure, be valued at around £40M+. Perhaps that’s why the rumours of Nastasic & Negredo just won’t go away…

Stop the merry-go-round, I wanna get off!

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

£34.1M

Yesterday the Manchester Evening News published a piece about the need for City to off-load some players. This, basically, was partly to do with the need to downsize the ‘foreign contingent’ and partly to allow some breathing room with regards to our spending restrictions following our FFP punishment.

 

So I got the calculator out…

 
In relation to any pursuit of Ross Barkley, the article states that City were once put off by Everton’s valuation / asking price and so I thought, why; how much were they asking and how much cash could we possibly muster?
 
After the (fee-paying) purchases of Fernando, Zuculini, Caballero and Mangala we will have overspent the £49M allowed by £0.9M…and so we now HAVE to sell. But I wanted to look at the realistic sale prices of those who are most likely to leave us before the end of August.
 
First of all, I’m forgetting two of those “possibles” for now. Unless he comes kicking and screaming on the manager’s door for a move I’m just not entertaining the idea of Alvaro Negredo leaving us in the summer. Unless he WANTS to go so badly, of course, why the ‘eck would we possibly want to let him go?
 
As for Yaya Toure, I’m simply hoping for a ‘kiss and make up’.
 
So…
 
- £0.9M plus £12M for Javi Garcia, £7M for Scott Sinclair, £7M for Micah Richards and £9M for Jack Rodwell. That leaves us with £34.1M to spend if we are to remain within the FFP punishment rules. So, I say again, how much do Everton want for the young England international? Surely that would be enough plus some spare to get him a taxi from Merseyside?
 
And I’ve been quite conservative with some of those valuations of our players - I can see us getting a few quid more for Garcia at least and, perhaps, Jack Rodwell could command double figures too. But then again I can see any possible suitors wanting to pay a smaller lump sum for Jack; adding further instalments dependant on appearance due to his injury record.
 
Whatever the exact figures are I’m confident that we’ll have enough to spend on an attack / creative-minded midfielder if Pellegrini wanted to. And should Yaya be on his way then, of me, it’s gotta be either two coming in or one hell of a stellar name (with the funds available from the sale of the Ivorian and most of the afore mentioned).
 

Canny

 
Manchester City have been very clever in the rejigging some of the players’ contracts. Samir Nasri, for example, has signed a new, 5-year deal that sees his weekly wage come DOWN. The reason? Apparently they’ve loaded it up with many ‘incentive payments’ and, as it turns out, incentive bonus payments don’t count towards wages for FFP rules because they’re not guaranteed payments. Very cute City.
 
I’m sure more City players will be now put on these types of contracts and it won’t be long before other teams follow suit either. However, I bet it won’t take UEFA long to catch on and change the rules…
 
But it seems we’re not the only canny ones in the area.

I’ve recently been scratching my head as to why Manyoo think they can spend, spend and spend some more and [seemingly] be exempt from the FFP rule. As it turns out, all along they’ve had lined up one hell of a MASSIVE kit deal with Adidas worth a whopping £750M over ten years!
 
I won’t go into the details of what, exactly, the deal will see the sportswear company do at the club. However, one analyst has stated that with other club sponsorship deals already in place; this season alone will see the Stretford team pull in £140M! Put another way, sponsorship alone could see Manyoo spend their reputed £200M on players this summer and, in effect, will only have spent £60M before income from other sources.
 
Drat, drat, and thrice drat!
 
Someone at the club deserves a pat on the back and a bonus that’s for sure. As much as it pains me to say it, “well done them” - they are now RIGHT back ‘in the mix’ long term once again…
 
 

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Jitters?

How times have changed, hey? 20, 15, perhaps even just 10 years ago City fans used to get nervous about whether they were going to see their team survive an often relegation-threatened season or, similarly, whether they would attain promotion.

But in recent days I've read comments from Blues who seem to be getting rather nervous about the campaign ahead…and some other sources seem to be backing up those ‘wobbles’.


So what’s the concern?


Well I think it boils down to this, the other title-challenging Premier League teams appear to be concentrating a lot of their early spending efforts on strengthening their attacking midfield and striker departments; making them a far more formidable force next season.

Although Liverpool will be losing one hell of a striker in Luis Suarez, they’ve brought in Adam Lallana and a very shrewd signing, in my opinion, in Rickie Lambert. And WITH that £75M gained from the sale of ‘Mr Bitey’ you can guarantee that they’ll be spending a large chunk of that on at least 2 more creative / attacking options.

Liverpool pushed us all the way last season; you can bet they’ll push us even harder this time round.

Does one signing make a difference? Well in Alexis Sanchez I’ll answer that by saying that Arsenal have now put themselves RIGHT in the mix of the title chase. They still need to add strength to their defence and perhaps need an out & out striker (I see Sanchez more of a goal-scoring, creative wide man) but they now have a formidable attacking midfield at their disposal.

If they can keep them fit (often an issue for The Gunners' midfield) then the likes of Ozil, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Cazorla AND Sanchez marauding forward ahead of Arteta, Wilshere and Ramsey is one hell of a formidable midfield!

Last years F.A. Cup winners are now in serious contention to add to their silverware this time round.

And then there’s Chelsea of course. In my opinion they already HAD the most attacking midfield options in the Premier League last season and so what do they go and do? They add ex-Arsenal and Barcelona player Cesc Fabregas to their already-swelled ranks. Even better than Arsenal; they have an unbelievable array of attacking, creative talent in their ranks.

Up front they also added the threat of Diego Costa and although they also have Lukaku, Ba and Torres in their striking locker, I fully expect them to target another 'front man' before the window closes.

And what about Manyoo? Well they’ve spent in the region of £60M on just 2 players so far and although you can’t class either of them as an attacking threat as such, England left-back Luke Shaw and Spanish midfielder Ander Herrera do have their creativity attributes and will certainly ‘chip in’ with assists.

And, somewhat ominously, the team from Stretford are supposedly wafting away with impunity a hand at the FFP rules; and have another £140M to spend in the next 7 weeks. You can bet that we’ll see some exciting and dangerous attacking midfielders, wingers and forwards joining the team from M16.

Tottenham haven’t spend yet – I’m sure they will soon enough – but with the ex-Southampton manager now at the helm be sure to see a much improve Spurs side this coming season.

As for us…


Well there’s the continued doubt about whether we’ll have the goal-scoring, creative, attacking threat from midfield that is Yaya Toure. If he DOES decide to pack his bags then it won’t be lost on Manuel Pellegrini and the other City officials just how many goals and assists he’ll be taking away with him and, so, I’m certain that we’ll be in the market for a replacement should it come to that.

But all that would take time; Yaya isn’t due to join his colleagues in the USA for nearly another 2 weeks and there’s a fear circulating that he may not show up. So…chuck in a period of tracking down a possible AWOL player and a resolution meeting or three and it doesn’t leave too much time to secure an alternative.

Amongst the growing ‘feelings of dread’ was one City fan who posted a comment to the effect of, City were letting us down with regards to not getting enough business done early (as promised, he added).

Then we had Ladbrokes; whose online headline read, Man City’s transfer apathy makes them most likely top-4 fall guys”.

And if, like me, you’ve been listening to Talk Sport over the last few weeks then it may not have passed you by either; that amongst all pundit-talk of who is going to win the league this season we haven’t been mentioned once…not even as a possible chance-afterthought.

“Letting us down”? “Transfer apathy”? No top-4 finish? Not even in contention?

You don’t have to look too hard to see that there’s serious, mounting concern about the season ahead with regards to the defence of our title. Just have a look here (2:00) at the reaction and answer this young City fan, Logan, gave when asked about the season ahead.

But is the doom & gloom justified?


Well I can certainly understand some of those concerns to some degree. It’s never good to watch your rivals ‘splashing the cash’, especially when it comes to buying flare, goal-threat-type players.


We're doomed!
But to those who are feeling the wobbles - and to those who have already written us off - I say this. Do our rivals see danger in OUR creative/attacking players? Of course they do. And the likes of Samir Nasri, Yaya Toure, David Silva, Jesus Navas, Stevan Jovetic, Alvaro Negredo, Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero are a stable team with great experience of playing together. Last season’s additions of Navas, Negredo and Jovetic now have that ‘year under their belt’.

For more reassurance I also say this. The team with the second best defensive record in the league last season have now added a quality, experienced keeper in Willy Caballero; a very good and experienced right-back in Bacary Sagna, an excellent defensive midfielder in Fernando and we’re about to spend in the region of £32M for a class, solid partner for Vincent Kompany in the form of Eliaquim Mangala.

Huh…our challengers will NEED all the attacking prowess they can muster!

Not only should the centre of our defence be far more formidable but the competition in goal and at right-back should see an even BETTER Joe Hart and Pablo Zabaleta. Zaba, in particular, should be boosted simply by the fact that, unlike last season, he can now get occasional, well deserved rests…and in Sagna we will have more than competent cover.

The signing of Fernando (or F. Reges as his shirt will display) also changes the dynamic of our midfield. It will, for example, give Fernandinho greater licence to go forward or, on occasions, will allow us to play the ‘Ferd’ pairing as a defensive duo when games necessitate.

We should be a VERY solid unit next season.

Fear not Blues. Yes I think that retaining the title will be very, VERY tough next season (especially with a stronger push in the Champions League I’m sure) but we are still very much a ‘heavy weight’ in the Premier League make no mistake.

Having said that – and even WITH Yaya staying and, hopefully, happy to perform to the same levels as last season – I still think our attacking/creative options should be bolstered before the end of August.

I know we’ve got the Financial (not so) Fair Play to consider but with further sales of, I’m sure, the likes of Micah Richards and Jack Rodwell etc., we could rustle something up. And now that we appear to be getting the centre of defence done ‘n’ dusted soon, I wouldn’t be surprised if City did pull something out of the hat in the attacking/creative department by 31st August.

A ‘quick word’ on the new home kit


“Ordinary”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

More words on the home kit


The controversial shorts...

Yeah it’s neat / smart enough…but that’s where the compliments end for me. I don’t particularly like the collar and the complete absence of white is just wrong. It's very disappointing.

In fact there’s a bit of a hoo-hah about the lack of white - and one City fan has started an on-line protest. I’ve signed it.

What is that colour where the white should be? Navy blue? Black? Either way it’s just not Manchester City. Here are some good pictures that illustrate the point perfectly.

And, as it turns out, the leaked pictures on the Internet WERE correct and so, worrying, this might be our 2nd strip next season…


Like a poor Arsenal or Manyoo away top...
 
Not the kits of Champions and I’m counting the months & years until our contract with Nike runs out.

Next up…


We’ve got a game today…and it’s live on City’s WEB site! Having already trained there, Dens Park host our first pre-season game against SPL Dundee, 4:00pm KO BST.

Fortunately the KO 'is when it is' as there’s just no competition, is there? Dundee v Manchester City or Argentine v Germany

Now of course it’s gonna be really hard to predict a starting line-up so please allow me some room for a lot of errors. But here goes…

V Dundee

4-4-2:

_________________Negredo________

________Jovetic__________________

 
 

Nasri_______________________Navas
_______Fernando_____Garcia_______

 

Kolarov___Rekik___Nastasic___Richards

 

 
_______________Hart_______________

 

I’m not even sure Milner has returned to the Club for pre-season yet but I’ve stuck him on the bench. I’m pretty sure you’re not limited with regards to subs in pre-season friendlies such as this one and so I’ve included a lot of young players who were recently given pro-contracts, as well as some established EDS players.

Result? A good workout, hopefully no major injuries and a win for City.
 
Thanks for your patience with regards to me posting a blog entry (first for just over a week) and...

 

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Media merry-go-round – Enough to make you dizzy.

I’ve been holding off posting a Blog entry because, well, I’d just be as guilty as the press for spewing out the same, regurgitated speculation.

But a few things do seem to be edging towards the final stages (I’ll stop short of saying "conclusion") and so, here goes…


Heads or tails?


One aspect of the frustrating, revolving stories involve the coin-flipping situation that is Eliaquim Mangala and (or) Mehdi Benatia. We have, apparently, had bids accepted by both Porto and Roma respectively but a move for either would appear to be a long way away from being wrapped up.

Roma, we are told, are unwilling to release the Moroccan central defender until they secure a suitable replacement, which is very understandable.

Benatia himself has, allegedly, refused to travel to pre-season training with Roma. I’ve said this before, do we really want a player who appears to have let last season’s high-praise go to his increasingly-sized head; a player who appears to be treating his club with the utmost disrespect?

Then we have the, ‘I don’t want to join Manchester City defender from Portugal. We are apparently, though, the only club to have had a bid (of around £32M) accepted; with Chelsea & Manyoo just...‘monitoring’ for the time being.

Mangala himself has been quoted as saying that he’d prefer a move to London or, the silly, ill-informed lad, Stretford. So, similarly, I say again; why are we bovering with him?

But bovering we would appear to be and now that France have been knocked out of the World Cup, I’m sure we can expect the picture to become clearer in the fortnight ahead; as Mangala made public a while ago that he would not be discussing his future until France participation in Brazil had ended one way or another.

Apart from his outspoken wishes to join either Jose Mourinho or Louis Van Gaal instead of Manuel Pellegrini, something which isn't going down too well with a few Manchester City fans of course; the French central defender does appear, at least, to be far more level-headed than the Moroccan. Eliaquim has only just turned 23 years of age too and, so, has 4 years on Mehdi.

Of the two I personally hope we get Mangala. But if it starts to look like he’s going to drag his feet and / or repeats again his desires to go elsewhere, then I hope we have options 3 & 4 lined-up to pounce on before too long (see my list of possible alternatives).

As for Chelsea & Manyoo’s interest in Mangala – both ARE looking to strengthen that area of their respective teams. However, £32M+ might be too high even for Chelsea as they continue to spend big on other areas of the pitch, while Manyoo’s interest in Arsenal’s Thomas Vermaelen appears to be increasing; a far cheaper option for the free-spending, apparently FFP-immune outfit from M16.

Not quite there…


The Bruno Zuculini move isn’t happening as quickly as was first suggested. However, there doesn't appear to be any hitches and, we are informed, he should complete his medical in Manchester this coming week.

I did fear, briefly, that the release of the news that we were to loan the Argentinean out immediately to either Villarreal or Deportivo La Coruna for the season had put the player off. But I don’t think that 'mini heart flutter' was justified and City will be hoping, I’m sure, that 'Zucu' gets some good European exposure at a decent level before pushing for a first-team place at City. Sounds like a good’n; a high-energy, defensive midfielder with goals in him too.

The ‘N’s. Will N stand for No?


Negredo is going nowhere” (and similar) were the quotes splashed all over the Newspaper advertising boards across Manchester this week. ‘The Beast’ is staying!

 
Then I wake up this morning to news that the player now actually wants to leave and that City will be willing to let him go IF someone coughs up £25M. Rumours just won’t go away that the Spaniard doesn’t like life in Manchester [rather than he doesn’t like the football club he works for].

I hope that’s not the case; a pre-shoulder injury Alvaro was a joy to watch and seemed perfectly suited to life in the Premier League. Besides, with sick-note-Sergio we’d have to scrap like mad to find a replacement for Alvaro before the end of next month; even with the promise of a fully fit and ‘ready to show’ Stevan Jovetic.

Then Nastasic appeared to be drawing interest from Juventus. First it was supposedly an enquiry to loan him for the season, which quickly moved on to a willingness to part with £8M for the Serbian central defender.

 
I don’t see anything in this even when we DO sign partner for Kompany - surely Pellegrini will be acutely aware of our captain’s record of breaking down twice a season for weeks at a time; a player who may be even MORE vulnerable to injury after a very long season followed by a continuing World Cup campaign.

Matija himself will need some careful monitoring too – a mystery leg injury took the whole of last season to clear up; the 21-year old only made it back to match fitness in time to play in a post-season match in Abu Dhabi.

Competition in the Premier League will be even tougher this season and with our owner’s wish to improve in the Champions League this season, we’ll need our full compliment of players.
 
Unless we’re going to have an unhappy Spanish striker on our hands then say “No” to both of these City.

Midfield moves?


Javi Garcia has, once again, been linked with a move away from the Etihad. If true, not only won’t I be sad to see him go – despite some minor improvement last season – I think it makes perfect sense.

Although I’ve just stated the need for a strong squad this season; surely, SURELY we have enough in that position with Fernando, Fernandinho and, in my opinion, James Milner. Napoli are the latest club apparently interested in the Spaniard and the £14M being quoted would come in very handy to strengthen elsewhere or to help with Financial (not so) Fair Play compliance.

If we are to lose a defensive midfielder then we may well be gaining an attacking one in the form of Everton’s Ross Barkley. It’s not the first time the England international has been linked with a move to City and seeing as Manyoo and Liverpool are snapping up young, English talent (namely from Southampton); we would be very wise to do so too.

The move wouldn’t necessarily increase our ‘home grown’ quota though; any such deal is likely to see Jack Rodwell (plus cash) move in the opposite direction. That's the rumour / suggestion anyway. But we’d be getting a 20-year old, well-sort-after, exciting player with a full Premier League season under his belt; with plenty of assists and 6 goals to his name.

 

 

 

 

Not for the first time…


There appears to be scrap brewing amongst several Premier League Clubs for Barcelona winger / forward Alexis Sanchez and not for the first time do the press put us 'into the mix'. Of course we get linked most players these days but it was more than just speculation last time; with Roberto Mancini attempting to snatch him before the Spanish giants signed him from Udinese.

 
Would the fact that our Manager hails from the same country and is renowned for his attacking style of play have any positive influence? I’m not sure. But the fact that we’re being linked with the likes of Ross, Alexis and Angel Di Maria does suggest that we might be in the market for an attacking option of some kind. I'm still not ruling out a revisit of Isco...

Whether all this is in preparation for a Yaya (replacement) fall-out or whether it’s to swell our attacking options even further will, I’m sure, unfold in the next 4 to 8 weeks.

Capacity reduction announcement


Manchester City have identified the need to reduce the capacity of the Etihad – and in particular the South Stand – in order to keep fans safe and dry during construction on that stand.

 
So that work may continue with as little disruption as possible - as well as to keep the Manchester, winter elements at bay - the official capacity next season will drop from 47,805 (for Premier League) to 46,300. Official Champions League capacity shouldn’t be affected and so should remain at 45,500.