Sunday, 28 July 2013

Taking shape

With 4 signings settling in, the majority of which have swelled our attacking options; focus switches to the defence.

Chinese takeaway

So we leave China and take with us the Asia Trophy. And from the fitness exercise (literally) in South Africa; the team seems to be taking shape and is looking slightly more like the settled side that Pellegrini may start with come Monday 19th August 2013. Having said that, only one of the new signings started in yesterday’s 1-0 win over Sunderland and a slight surprise for me was the early inclusion of David Silva [after his late stay in the Confederations Cup] who had a crackin' game; with several sublime passes to Negredo & Dzeko.

I suppose that I shouldn’t be too surprised either to see Navas on the bench yesterday and, instead, James Milner starting again on the right wing – James is having a fab pre-season. It’s probably wrong and slightly inaccurate to say that Milner is a ‘naturally fit’ footballer; that would suggest that he doesn’t work out / train hard. He just looks so lean, determined (as always) and, in particular at the moment, very sharp. Not that James never impressed whenever he got his chance under Mancini last season. (Yaya, it has to be added, looked on the lean side also for a pre-season...)

But this is what happens when you bring in MORE quality to your squad; the existing players in those positions ‘step up’ yet another gear – that’s why I desperately want us to off-load Kolarov and get better quality competition for Gael Clichy

Negredo, despite a few wayward shots yesterday, looks every bit the player I was hoping for and expected him to be. Despite slightly misfiring yesterday; I know he can be a clinical finisher. And in addition to his well-documented body strength, his run-timing, passing and general interplay with his team-mates is excellent. What a signing!

Fingers crossed

Was anyone else bracing themselves for an injury to one of our players in the two games in rain-soaked-pitch China? I was. Conditions were appalling for both games and although not blamed on the pitch; it finally happened yesterday to Matija Nastasic. Our Manager wasn't, understandably, overly-committing himself to answer when asked about the severity of our young defender's injury but did state that he was, "...concerned".

Defence matters

Hopefully medical scan-results will show nothing to serious to our key central defender when the team back in Manchester very briefly; before jetting off to Germany for the Audi Cup against Mad-Mario & Co.

Should scans to Nastasic’s injury prove bad, it opens up the debate even further about the need for us to sign another central defender. While a lot of sensible Manchester City fan comments suggest that we don’t need to – having Kompany, Nastasic, Lescott and the option of Richards in there too – Pellegrini would appear to differ; as persistent rumours about the same two Portuguese & French defenders continue.

Joleon Lescott would understandably disagree with our new Manager’s apparent opinion and is desperate to find out where he stands in the pecking order. As it stands at the moment (when all are fit), I would put him next in line behind Kompany and Nastasic…and, therefore, not far down the pecking order at all. But even with 2 years remaining on his current contract; bringing in a top-quality centre half wouldn’t be a good sign at all for the player who has rarely let us down and, who, played very well indeed for the most part next to our Captain for a considerable period of time.
Injury to Nastasic? Queue 'time to impress' for Lescott in Germany and, possibly, Helsinki too...

French connection or Portuguese Piri piri?

If it is, indeed, between these two then it’s a no brainer for me. Both look very good and have bags of top-flight experience but…

Pepe: Was 30 in February 2013
Rami: Was 27 in December 2012

Pepe: A rumoured £15M+; Real apparently want closer to £22M
Rami: A rumoured buy-out clause of £7.75M; probably costing us more like £10M to £12M

International Caps:
Pepe: 51 for Portugal
Rami: 25 for France

Notable domestic teams played for:
Pepe: 64 times for Porto, 138 times for Real Madrid
Rami: 160 times for Lille, 53 times for Valencia

Pepe: Prone to explosive, red mist moments. Has missed about 15 games due to suspensions (10 of which were a ‘block-ban’, which affectively ended a season for him). Often gets unnecessarily involved with opposition players; appears easily wound up and has been known to get in trouble for comments regarding officials
Rami: No notable negative incidents

It’s Adil Rami for me…

Leaning left

If we are to believe reports, apparently City have slapped a £6M valuation on our only weak link in the team…Aleksandar Kolarov. This has, apparently, somehow “catapulted” Galatasaray into pole position to sign the left-back come left wing-back, with Juventus (why would they..?) still on the radar for his services too.

I’m boring myself with the amount of times I say that I hope we see the back of this guy sooner rather than later and so rather than say it again, I’m simply going to indulge myself and have a quick, fairly realistic look at who we might get in to replace him as direct competition for Clichy.

If he’s going anywhere, he’ll surely following his former manager to Scaffold Trafford. His chances of more first-team appearance will probably be higher at The Swamp than it would be a City too and so it would seem unlikely that he'll be swapping dark blue for sky blue.

I’d like him though; Gael & Leighton slogging it out for the left-back slot would see both players put in regular 8/10 performances most weeks I’m sure.

Approximate cost: £14M
Chance: With Manyoo’s Moyes sniffing around, 3/10

With a new Manager at Real Madrid and with their interest in signing Gareth Bale, if the Spanish giants are successful in their bid for the left-sided Welsh wonder, then why not make a bid for this fella?

The arrival of Bale at Real would surely see Fabio well ‘n’ truly down the pecking order, with the already well-established Marcelo Vieira there too. And like both Marcelo and Gareth, the Portuguese player likes to attack down the left as well as play as an out & out left back, defender.
I have to question why on earth Real are pursuing the Spurs player for £60M to £100M (depending on what article you read) when they have 2, very fine left backs / left wing-backs!

Definitely worth a punt.

Approximate cost: Aged just 25, lots of top-flight experience and with 4 years left on his contract, probably £25M+
Chance: (if Real sign Bale) 6/10

Marcello Vieira

As above…

Approximate cost: With only 2 years left on his 5-year contact extension but with a whopping 170 Real Madrid and 25 Brazil appearance; at just 25 years of age also, we would probably be looking at £30M+
Chance: (if Real sign Bale) 5/10

Jetro Willems

I’ve liked the look of this guy very much since we were first linked with him in the 2012/2013 Winter transfer window. For his age (just 19 in March 2013), he has a decent amount of experience with 46 games for PSV and 8 for the Dutch National first team.

Looks good – cool in his defending; ability to take on a player and attack, has skill on the ball, can cut in AND fly down the flank and has a very good range of passing along with very accurate ‘crossing-into-the-box’ ability. Pretty much the whole lot really!

Approximate cost: With [young] age on his side and with 3 years remaining on his contract, I’m sure PSV would be asking for £15M or there abouts.
Chance: If we really wanted him, 8/10 (but be careful of a, “we want Guidetti in part-exchange” deal…)

Taking shape also

…is the new Manchester City Academy across the road from the Etihad Stadium.


I intend to stick my camera lens through and over the perimeter fence where possible very soon to give everyone a look at the progress so far.

Watch this space…

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