Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Could have been worse…but not much!

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a weekend - in the time that we’ve been challenging for the title over the last few years - where every team in the top 3rd (or there abouts) won…and we lost. We’ve lost some ground on a few teams, we’ve allowed a few to catch up and the only way it could have been worse is if we’d have come out of the Chelsea clash with injuries to key players. Let’s be thankful for (very) small mercies.

Can only look ahead...


Determined to make us a more solid unit.
What we need to do now is steam-roller Newcastle in the League Cup on Wednesday night to get it out of our system and then take that renewed sense of belief into our November (and December 1st) fixtures; 5 from 6 of which are at home. With home Premier League games against Norwich City, Tottenham Hotspur and Swansea City along with an away trip to Sunderland, we need to take maximum league points in November / December 1st to make up some ground. 12 points from 12 with those fixtures shouldn’t be seen as unachievable.

Positives from the Chelsea game


We deserved a point before…THAT last-minute incident. In fact I’m not sure too many would have begrudged us all 3 if the reverse had happened at the end.

Good start - ignore the M.E.N.'s comments...
The Manchester Evening News (M.E.N.) gave Demichelis 6/10 and pointed to a few errors. I saw past those and saw a very classy-looking, intelligent defender who was pitched into one of the more difficult games of the season. He did well.

On fire!
 


Aguero too is having a crackin’ spell of form – what a goal! “If only” and “what could have been” springs to mind when I look back at last season’s struggles to find the net far more than we did.

Zabaleta had another good, 7/10 game; Silva was a solid 8 and alongside Nasri they both caused Chelsea a lot of problems on their own patch. I thought Pellegrini’s decision to play a solid, central midfield 3 of Fernandinho, Garcia and Toure was very good and worked well; and all 3 came out of it with good 7/10s. It wasn’t Nastasic’s finest game but it wasn’t his worse either. I think the M.E.N. were a little harsh giving him 5/10; but then again perhaps his part in the pantomime trick at the end didn’t help his cause.

And that leads me on to…

…the negatives


More questions and microscope observations have already been levelled at our – and England’s – Number 1…and I can understand that. It was a howler after-all and, as the M.E.N. pointed out, the latest in about half-a-dozen major faults in the last year for both club and country. After some good displays and notable saves in recent weeks; his confidence will have taken yet another dent.

On a downer...again.

Already we’ve had scrutiny by national TV pundits, wall to wall newspaper coverage on our Joe and an ex-City goalkeeper being interviewed on local television. And of course some will try, no doubt, to ‘raise the eyebrows of the uninformed’ when Costel Pantilimon takes his place between the sticks for our League Cup clash at St. James’ Park on Wednesday; a game the Romanian was always going to start [regardless of Hart’s form].

One (never goes of course) red at work even told me yesterday which keeper City are “after” in January. Can’t recall the name…not interested. Willy something. Whatever…

But another concern for me is also further annoyance. It’s something that I’ve been banging on about since way before the summer transfer window closed. Some players – and perhaps Joe is one of thoseneed, no, THRIVE on healthy competition to keep them on their toes. Perhaps Joe doesn’t see Costel as much of a threat?

Needs a kick; needs competition.

We have it at right-back with Zaba & Micah and PLENTY of competition in midfield / wings and up front. But Clichy’s form and performances have been way below his usual standard this season so far and for me the reason is obvious. What on earth does he have to worry about when all he has behind him challenging is Alex Kolarov?

Perhaps it’s not that simple; perhaps the chopping and changing (through injuries an’ the like) of the central defenders has been a major, upsetting factor also. But for me – and sorry to bore regular readers – it’s also because we are in desperate need to sign a quality left-back to provide the sort of competition Gael, I’m sure, will thrive on and rise to.

Missing in action


Other questions have been niggling at me recently and one of them is surrounding a player I think most of us were drooling to see in action this season. What’s happening with the lack of game time Jesus Navas is getting? Okay, competition for places an’ all that is fantastic – and that kind of strength-in-depth of quality is the making of a top, top side.

Pace to burn!
And, of course, not every game suits; I recall bemoaning his exclusion away at Stoke and when he came on with 17+ minutes to spare I was rubbing my hands in anticipation of him making a real impact. He didn’t.

Not only was this guy going to tear apart and terrorise defences, we were told; he was going to bring into the fore a frustrated Dzeko who was utterly desperate for the kind of service most of us believe he was deprived of under Roberto Mancini. And that’s why I’m sometimes surprised at Jesus’ lack of inclusion on the wide, perfectly formed grasses of the Etihad Stadium instead of Nasri. Just try to recall, if you will, how Navas performed on the opening fixture at home to Newcastle

That brings me nicely on to Edin Dzeko himself. Of course Aguero is in very fine form and although the goals might not be flying in for him in recent games; it’s clear for all to see what Negredo brings to the game. His fine runs, lay-offs, power and all-round positional play is a joy to watch. There’s no doubting that the Spaniard works really, really well with our pocket-battleship Argentinean.

So this leaves Edin, once again I’m sure, contemplating headin’ for the exit door in January (although he has denied, whenever asked, ever wanting to quit the Blues). Nothing has been said of this in the press over the last few days (yet) but I can just see it brewing if things don’t change for the Bosnian very soon.

But he often doesn’t do himself any favours, does he? Just look at the clear chance he missed against CSKA when he was brought on; along with his poor play and terrible touch in general, albeit on a poor pitch that evening of course.

Still frustrated - patience ran out?

We’re only 13 games in (all competitions) and there will be many, many opportunities ahead for the Dzeko / Navas-supply combo to be given a go…I’m just not so sure Dzeko has that much patience left in him.





And if he does go, I wonder if we’ll see someone like Lewandowski come in as a replacement…possibly even a straight / cash-included swap? Sorry John Guidetti, I’ve not forgotten about you (far from it).
Coming in?
 
Despite little niggling, injury set-backs at the beginning of his Manchester City career, I bet Jovetic is a little shocked at his limited opportunities too…

Waiting for another chance. Tomorrow perhaps?

Next up...


St. James' Park
 
I’m sure some of those who are feeling left out will get their opportunity to shine tomorrow night and, so, here’s my predicted line-up, formation and result…

vs Newcastle United:

4-4-2:

___________________Dzeko_____________
 

___________Negredo___________________

 

 
Jovetic__________________________Navas

__________Rodwell_____Milner__________


 

Kolarov____Lescott___Demichelis___Richards



 

_______________Pantilimon______________


Subs: Wright, Zabaleta, Kompany, Toure, Silva, Nasri, Aguero

Perhaps on this occasion my prediction is a bit of, ‘this is what I’d pick’ more than what I think Manuel will choose. But having said that, I don’t think it’ll be far off this.

The goalie is surely a ‘nailed on’ choice for the League Cup; I think he’ll give another run-out to Demichelis too (3 days should be enough recovery time and he needs the game-time in order to gain more fitness). I think Lescott is a shoe-in for Nastasic and, quite naturally, Richards should be able to give Pablo a rest at right back.

Surely…SURELY this is a game for Jack Rodwell and working alongside him; Milner would provide a powerful and hardworking engine room. Surely Navas on the right and I think there’s room for Jovetic on the left. I’ve seen him play there before and it would give Nasri & Silva a rest following their fine, hard-working game against Chelsea – and we need them fresh to destroy Norwich on Saturday!

And with Navas FINALLY supplying the ammo; it’s got to be the (rested) Negredo and (even MORE rested) Dzeko up front for this game.

A powerful bench “just in case” and I think that’s a good line-up. I’ve included Kompany on the bench too; I’m not sure of his current status but I don’t think he’s far off and so if we’re comfortable; it might be worth sticking him on for 20 minutes or so ahead of the Canaries visit.

Lopes - Another opportunity?
Guidetti - Comeback game? Too early?











I would like to have seen a few EDS players in there and perhaps he will give a chance to the likes of Lopes. I was hoping by now also that Guidetti would have been slightly further down the road of a return to fitness and that he too could take advantage of some League Cup games. Perhaps we will see John, if not in this round then (hopefully) the next…

Result? A win for City.

This'll be my last entry for about a week; I'm off to Edinburgh with my wife for a short, 4-day break. Heading off as we are very early on Thursday; I'll actually be missing the Norwich home game! That wasn't good planning...especially having had to endure a full month of away games!
 
And although we're back home in time, I'll be absent for the CSKA return fixture too. It's bonfire night when we play the Russian side and until I design and build a sound-proof box for my dog; we're on dog-calming duty that night. Poor little thing...but I hope he bloody-well appreciates the company and can shut up barking in anger at the fireworks long enough for me to enjoy the game on the telly...
 
A repeat of this would be perfect, please, Sam...
 
PS. I promise to try and get some updated photos of the new training complex soon as there have been some real, noticeable changes over the last few weeks. I'll aim to get back down there early November. Most noticeable is the main, 7,500 seater stadium within this complex but other structure to are really starting to come on too.

Additionally, they've now closed-off/re-positioned the main entrance to the East Stand side of the Etihad Stadium itself at the corner of Alan Turing Way and Manchester Road...and there are some construction vehicles there too now. This, no doubt, is the beginning of the work on the bridge that will link the stadium to the training complex. Exciting times continue...

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Defence worries going into Stamford Bridge clash

2 away wins without our Vinny is great…but this is Chelsea away. Early indications were than Kompany would make this match but Pellegrini has confirmed that he is the only injury heading into tomorrow’s clash in London. That worries me.

Analysis


Let’s get straight to it then. If Vinny is indeed the ONLY injury going into tomorrow’s game then who does he pick alongside Nastasic? Surely…SURELY…SURELY he won’t pick the very fragile-looking Javi Garcia again. We got away with it somewhat at West Ham as Allardyce chose not to press us too hard in the middle of our defence for most of the game but at CSKA Moscow we got away with it [in terms of how vulnerable Javi made us look at the back]. We’ll get crucified if we play the makeshift defender on Sunday.

But Manuel seems to agree with a lot of top-flight managers these days in that you can’t have 2 same-footed central defenders playing together - a phenomenon I hadn’t come across until the partnership of Sylvain Distin and Richard Dunne; where it was first emphasised [to my knowledge] just how important it was and how well it worked. And it did.

But is it all that important? I suppose I’ll have to bow to the expert managers’ opinion on that one.

Stamford Bridge
So for the Chelsea game I’m HOPING that he’ll see sense and not pick Garcia and I’m ASSUMING that he’ll stick to his “no 2 left feet” policy…and, therefore, not go with the ever-more frustrated Lescott. So does he go Micah Richards or does he give Martin Demichelis his Manchester City debut?

Probable line-up against Chelsea:

4-4-2:

____________________Negredo_________

 
___________Aguero___________________

 
 

Nasri___________________________Silva

____________________Toure___________

_________Fernandinho________________


 

Clichy___Nastasic___Demichelis___Zabaleta

 
 

_________________Hart________________

Subs:

Pantilimon, Richards, Lescott, Milner, Navas, Jovetic, Dzeko

I think we’ll see Martin making his debut…albeit a very tough one.

Score? We’re capable of winning it but I’m going for a goals and a draw; possibly 2-2. I’d take that.

The Yaya incident


It’s all been said and we’re waiting for UEFA to decide on what action, if any, they’ll take. But I suppose I should at least chuck a few thoughts down.

I’ve got to agree with those who are showing frustration with UEFA for not having cracked this issue already…or at the very least made far more progress than they have. What really annoyed me is the fact that they made the flippin’ players in all Champions League games pass along, in their respective line-ups, an anti-racism pennants. Surely if UEFA are serious about this they could, at the very least, get the crowd to pass along large anti-racism flags in the stands before the KO. I’m betting that if they did, any group of hardcore racist intent on giving abuse during the game won’t be so keen to participate and, therefore, UEFA could identify problem clubs & areas within grounds. It’s a simplistic idea but one that’s better than getting the players – who are probably all on board with it anyway – to hold up token signs.

And once found guilty? Don’t force them to play home games at grounds miles away and don’t force them to play home games at their own ground but behind closed doors. Instead, first of all give them some points deduction from whatever cup competition the incident occurred in and for a second incident? Kick them out of the competition completely! This will, surely, force the Clubs to take responsibility for the behaviour of their own fans; just as Manchester City and other responsible clubs around the world do.

This bugged me a little too…


I don’t know about you but I look forward to Manchester City Manager, pre-match press conferences. I want to hear how training has gone; I wanna hear who’s fit, who’s got a chance of playing and who is out injured. I want to hear about the mood of the squad and, in general, I like to try to gauge the general frame of mind of the Manager going into games.

So I was particularly disappointed with the press’ questioning of Pellegrini ahead of the Chelsea game. GOD did they harp on too long about the Yaya incident and what on earth were they trying to do by persistently hounding our Manager about his “relationship” with Jose Mourinho? Of course the answer is simple…mischievous headline grabbing. Pathetic!

Pre-match press conference video 2

I couldn’t give a…rat’s arse about what Jose thinks of Manuel or vice-versa and once key questions had been asked of the Yaya incident early on in meeting…MOVE ON!

I want to hear questions like, how is John Guidetti’s road to fitness coming along. How close is Jack Rodwell from being given a chance of first team action…perhaps even pressing the Manager on why, if he is considered fit, he hasn’t been on the bench at the very least in recent games. EDS questions; how does he think things are progressing on that front? Anything closely related to footballing questions would have been good to listen to.

What a wasted 11 minutes or so that was.

Fixtures/results


So, come on (Managerless) Palace; c’mon Villa, c’mon West Brom, c’mon Stoke, c’mon Fulham, c’mon HullAND C’MON CITY!

(Update - 27.10.2013): With all of those teams who played yesterday letting us down, it's most certainly up to us now to get some kind of a result. Tottenham v Hull play today.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Muddy hell!

The build-up to tomorrow’s Champions League game has all been about the state of the pitch…and more recent reports do sound somewhat concerning. Even if, we are told, the pitch starts off in reasonable condition it won’t be long before it ‘cuts up’ quite badly.


Experience


Fernandinho is the latest to voice his concerns regarding the playing surface and he should know as well as most; having spent 8 years playing his football in that country and its ground-wrecking weather affects. Whilst forced to play at the home of FC Khimki whilst their own ground is still under construction; the Arena Khimki, it would appear, could be something of a threat to the wellbeing of our (and of course CSKA Moscow’s) players. Brace yourself for a possible ankle or knee injury…

Update: Manuel is not happy with the pitch at all...

The match


So with the chance of it being played on something that might resemble a recently ploughed farmers field, I’m not even going to try to guess the outcome of the match; rather I’ll simply hope for at least a draw and a clean bill of health for our players going into a far more important game in London just 95 hours later.

  
Possible line-up against CSKA Moscow:

4-4-2:

____________________Dzeko__________


___________Aguero____________________

 

Silva____________________________Navas

_____________________Toure___________

__________Fernandinho_________________

 


Kolarov____Lescott___Nastasic____Zabaleta





_________________Hart________________


Or, alternatively, he could go

4-2-3-1:

_______________Dzeko_______________

 
 

___Jovetic___________________Navas___

________________Silva________________

 
________Fernandinho____Milner_________

 

 
Kolarov____Lescott___Nastasic____Zabaleta





_________________Hart________________

 
with Navas having not played again against West Ham and Jovetic barely making an appearance either; along with the fact that Pellegrini might, perhaps, save Yaya, Nasri and Aguero’s legs for our tough trip to Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
 
Kompany, Demichelis and Rodwell, we are told, have not travelled with the squad and so expect subs to include the likes of Pantilimon, Richards, Clichy, Garcia, Boyata, Lopes & Negredo.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

One down, three to go…


The first of our quartet of away games FINALLY saw us gain a vital 3 points to keep up with Arsenal and Chelsea; as Liverpool and Manyoo gain just a point each at St. James Park and Scaffold Trafford respectively.


Yikes!


That was the word I used in a text message shortly before KO yesterday evening as it was announced that Lescott was on the bench and in his place in the back 4 alongside Nastasic? Javi Garcia! I was nervous and couldn’t shake the memories of our first away game of the season away to Cardiff City

But in fairness to the often-dodgy – and certainly very average – Spaniard, he played well; although it could be argued that West Ham’s 4-6-0 formation didn’t offer TOO much threat to the centre of our defence for large parts.

Sam Allardyce
Sam Allardyce, most people are aware, literally has the biggest head in football - even larger than our very own Vinny! But there was also a touch of the cockiness about his selection against us yesterday - who did he think he was managing, Bayern Munich? Perhaps I’m being a little harsh on him; I’ve never liked him but perhaps he looked at our threat and despite being the home side, expected to cope with us better by swamping the midfield and playing with no recognised striker.

 
Recovering - Vincent Kompany
But in doing so they gave us LOADS of time on the ball; FAR too much time in fact to play out from the back. Simply put, they allowed us to dictate the pace of the game. And despite the crowded ‘middle of the park’ we appeared to find all the space we required to pass it around to good effect for the majority of the game; certainly in the first half, although we created plenty of chances across the whole of the 90+ minutes. It should have been more than 3-1.

No, I’m sorry Sam; unless you have players somewhere near the quality of the afore mentioned German side you’re more often than not going to come unstuck playing that system. Thankfully – but not taking anything away from the quality of our own football - we were the beneficiaries of his tactical miscalculation.

I thought the M.E.N.’s player ratings were a little on the low side…here’s mine:

Hart:                7
Clichy:             6
Nastasic:         7
Garcia:            7
Richards:         7
Fernandinho:   7
Toure:              7
Nasri:               7
Silva:               8
Aguero:          9
Negredo:         7

Milner:             7
Kolarov:           6
Jovetic:           On too late to mark…

Looking ahead


Perhaps I’m being a little pessimistic here; perhaps I’m just being realistic. If we get 2 points – one in the Champions League and one in the Premier – and beat Newcastle in the League Cup I’ll be happy with that.

But regular readers will know that if we were to be offered a defeat and a win in our next two games right now, I’d take the victory over Chelsea every time over 3 points in Russia on Wednesday (5:00pm KO BST by the way in case the time might catch one or two out).

We have no injuries following our trip to London; another 90+ minutes under his belt for Richards, Kompany is closer to a return, Lescott & Zabaleta will be fresh and raring to go if needed for CSKA and Rodwell & Demichelis are also ready if/when required.

And yesterday we did all of that without the assistance of Navas, (mostly) Jovetic and Dzeko. Not sure why Navas wasn’t even on the bench but I can’t find anything to suggest he that was injured, fatigued or ill…

Optimism


So 8 games in, we’re 4th (before today’s game of Aston Villa v Tottenham Hotspur), a point ahead of Everton and Southampton, a point behind both Liverpool and Chelsea and within 3-point-striking distance of leaders Arsenal. Goal difference is looking good too; leading as we are with +11. All good stuff!

It’s amazing what an away win can do to supplement your home form – let’s hope we can keep it up!

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Fighting fit and raring to go!


Without actual confirmation from Manuel Pellegrini in the form of a pre-match press conference ahead of our trip to Upton Park, things are looking pretty good in terms of available personnel for the first of 4, back-to-back away trips.


All back safe & sound


In addition to no injury worries or fatigue from international duty to the likes of Hart, Zabaleta, Milner, Kolarov, Fernandinho, Nasri, Silva, Navas, Jovetic, Dzeko and Negredo etc., even better news was that both Aguero & Toure arrived back early; having not been required in their respective country’s last international game. Excellent news indeed as, to me, these two can tend to look particularly ‘sore’ when asked to squeeze in a large number of games in a short space of time. They should be really fresh and ready to attack the Hammers tomorrow!

Despite apparent reports in one newspaper this week that Vincent Kompany would be fit to participate in tomorrow’s game, stronger indicators are that the original date of 27th October away at Chelsea is more realistic.

Game time


It was good to see that both Jack Rodwell and Martin Demichelis got 90+ minutes under their belt for the EDS against Rochdale reserves the other night (Correction update: Demichelis played 45 minutes of this game). This was in 2-2 draw at full time (I think it must have been the Manchester Senior Cup); City winning on penalties.

This completes Jack’s return from injury and into match fitness but it was a pleasant surprise also to see Demichelis so close to a return. It sounded to me the other day as though having Martin on the bench for our Saturday trip to the capital was going to be a ‘bonus name on the bench’ but by the sounds of it he had a really good run out against ‘dale; being chosen to play a defensive midfield role so that he would see more of the ball and would do more running alongside Jack [as opposed to being in central defence].

 

Departures


Young midfielder Abdul Razak has made his loan move to Anzhi Makhachkala a permanent one. Good luck to the lad; sorry that it didn’t work out for him following his move to City from Crystal Palace in 2010.

Alex Henshall has joined Bristol Rovers on loan until 16.11.2013. The left-wing prospect signed from Swindon Town in 2010 also had recently been on loan to Chesterfield and hopefully this’ll be some more valuable first team action to add to his goal of one day breaking into the Manchester City first team.

EDS central defender George Swan has extended his loan at Sheffield Wednesday until 02.01.2014.

The match…


Hoping that I’ve not tempted fate by suggesting that we look in fine fettle going into a much long-awaited Premier League game tomorrow, here’s my predicted line-up and subs:

4-4-2:

____________________Negredo__________

___________Aguero____________________




Silva____________________________Navas

_____________________Toure___________

__________Fernandinho_________________
 
 


 
 

_________________Hart________________

 
Subs: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Demichelis, Milner, Nasri, Jovetic, Dzeko

  • I’ve just got a feeling that Pellegrini might save the more defensive and slightly more experienced Zabaleta for the CSKA Moscow game on Wednesday evening; giving, in Micah, the more attacking defender (even though it’s an away game) the chance to overlap with Navas on occasions. If that’s the case, West Ham had better have a very strong left-side!
  • I don’t like sticking Siva on the wing – personally I think he does much more damage through the middle and can sometimes be underused when out on the flanks. But away from home I suppose we have to protect the back 4 a little with Fernandinho sitting a bit deeper and we can’t afford not to play the in-form and somewhat rested Yaya. Sorry David, it’s left-wing for you tomorrow I believe…and sorry Nasri; it’s the bench for you I think.
  • I can’t see him not going with Aguero and Negredo up front and with, hopefully, Navas bombing down the right (I don’t think we’ve seen the best of him since the Newcastle game) they should lap up the supply!
  • Jack, I’m sure, will be very disappointed not to have made the bench if Manuel goes with this line-up but that’s simply down to such a strong, available (and sensible) substitutes line-up.

I just hope that Pellegrini doesn't 'do a Stoke' and weaken the team too much ahead of yet another Champions League game. If he doesn't, it should be a win for City...

Coming along nicely…


The development site of City’s new training academy across the road from the Etihad is really starting to take shape now and so I’ll pop down there again soon to take and post some more pictures for you all (I’ll make sure I take better batteries for the camera this time…).

Thanks as always for reading and for those who can get to watch tomorrow’s 5:30pm (BST) kick-off, enjoy the game!

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

‘Proper football’ break nearly over…


Okay, so the ‘England thing’ is quite exciting I must admit – a win tonight and my country’s national team is through to the World Cup Finals; anything less and it’s probably the nervy play-offs for Roy’s men. And whatever your national team may be, I’m sure your sense of pride and interest in footy has seen you take an interest to whatever degree. And why not. However, although I’ll be watching England v Poland tonight, I’m already looking forward to West Ham United v my very own Manchester City on Saturday (5:30pm KO BST).

 

So what’s been happening to our lads?

 
Micah Richards: More rumours that he’s a little frustrated with a lack of first team opportunities at City and, therefore / similarly, England too. No recent quotes from Micah on the subject and the same list of suspects who are apparently lining up to take him off our hands have been joined this time by Newcastle United, so I’m not paying any real attention to it all.
 
Edin Dzeko: Bagged a couple of goals in 12 minutes for his country as they beat Liechtenstein 4-1; leaving them joint top of their group on points with Greece.
 
Alvaro Negredo: Scores a diving header in Spain’s narrow 2-1 win at home to Belarus, leaving them 3 points clear of France in their group.
 
Joe Hart: Our apparently dodgy and evidently arrogant (according to ever-so humble Roy Keane) keeper could do nothing to prevent Montenegro’s only goal against England in a 4-1 win for the home side at Wembley. James Milner had to settle for a 3-minute plus injury time cameo when Tottenham’s exciting-looking Andros Townsend was picked ahead of him. Steven Jovetic was the pride of the visitors with a very fine display against the group leaders.
 
Other City players played for their countries and did their part, I’m sure… J
 

What else has been going on Blues-related?

 
STILL staying…
 
Presumably having been asked by their respective, national press whilst away on international duty; both Aguero and Silva have reiterated…AGAIN…that they are happy at Manchester City and won’t be leaving any time soon. Tune in next international break for more of the same…
 
Going…gone, no hang on...still here, staying, going…what?
 
I was quite shocked to read that Crystal Palace are very much considering a move for Manchester City midfielder Abdisalam Ibrahim in January. Why so shocked? Well, I’m positive that I read a few months ago that he was unhappy at his lack of first team chances at City…and a mutually-agreed ‘separation’ had been successful.
 
I’m sure too that he’d agreed to sign for some Norwegian team on a permanent deal; possibly the one where he’d been on loan recently. So sure, in fact was I, that I hadn’t made it up; I’ve just checked my records and I have indeed removed him completely from my records of our current squad – and I don’t do that sort of thing willy-nilly let me tell you!
 
Oh well, I MUST have got it wrong because looking at City’s WEB site under the ‘Loan Watch’ section, there he is…mentioned on 25th September 2013.
 
'Cover' is on his way back.
 
Having been signed as experienced cover – and as predicted by Manuel Pellegrini at his pre-Everton match conference – Martin Demichelis was back in training yesterday and, according to some quarters of the press, is being “considered” for the West Ham game. I would strongly suspect that he’ll be a ‘bench man’ at the very most for this up & coming match and if that’s the case, I suspect also that at this early stage of his recovery the coaching team and medical staff will hope that he won’t be called on during the 90 minutes. Regardless, it is very welcome news that we should have more cover in that department for the time being at least.
 
Speaking of which, it was a relief to hear that Vincent Kompany’s LATEST injury wasn’t related to the previous hip/groin injury. Instead, it was apparently a thigh strain and he should be in contention for a start away at Chelsea on 27th October.

Now NOT arriving...

...in January is French international, central defender Adil Rami. Having been persistently linked with a move for the Valencia man; he has now joined AC Milan for training sessions in preparation for a loan move to the Italian side in January (with the possibility of a rumoured £5M permanent transfer). I've never heard of a pre-training session agreement prior to a switch of clubs before but I can fully understand it seeing as he has, apparently, fallen out completely with the Valencia Coach.
 

MORE of us are not going to be really here…

 
How the stadium would look from the outside
Only planning permission being turned down is going to stop Manchester City from expanding their stadium from the current (domestic) capacity of 47,805 to around 61,305. With plans to extend both the North and South ends by a total of 13,500, it will take our already-fine stadium to the second biggest domestic stadium in the country…behind only ‘them’.
 
Too much? Well I have to sort of agree with those who say that we don’t QUITE fill our ground to absolute capacity at the moment but, then again, neither do Manyoo! Want the facts? Last season, in all competitions, Manchester City had 45,797 empty seats. Manyoo totalled 51,892 empties for the 2012/2013 season.
 
Looking at records, for Premier League fixtures – and baring in mind how many away fans did or indeed didn’t visit the Etihad for any given game – last season we seemed to fluctuate somewhere between 500 & 800 empty seats per game. Nothing major there of course and, like Manyoo and many other clubs who don’t fill EVERY seat, the reasons are probably wide and varied:
 
- Last minute family domestics or illness
- Holidays (and no-one to give/sell tickets to) and…
- …perhaps break-downs an’ the like on the way to games.
 
These are just 3, very reasonable suggestions that spring to mind. Regardless of football, life is life after all.
 
A proposed internal look at how one of the end-stands would look
 
I fully understand those Manchester City-fan voices of concerns who are asking the question, “Where on earth are we going to find an extra 13,500 people to fill our expanded ground?” And some of those same people make a sensible argument when suggesting that we should only extend one ‘end’ at a time by 6,750. This, I understand, was a first proposal by the Club.
 
However, construction won’t be finished for almost another 2 seasons (August 2015), which is plenty of time to continue the already aggressive marketing of seats; at a cost of around £299+ each with sale-offers of 4 seats each to existing Season Card holders! They know what they’re doing…
 
Sure...in the early years of our new-capacity ground we’re most likely not gonna fill it every week. And, like now, I’m sure they’ll completely shut down those tiers for early-round League and F.A. Cup games; perhaps even certain group stage Champions League matches.
 
But by expanding both ends at once our owners are doing what they do best, which is to plan for the long term. I don’t hide for one second my belief that in 10 years time we will be playing the sort of football, creating the sort of home-grown talent and will be winning enough trophies to easily fill a 61,305-seater stadium most games.
 
And so I say…‘well done’ City and bring it on!
 
I’m gonna pop down to the ground soon to have a close-up look at the revised plans.
 
And ‘well done’ again to City for the decision to keep the away fans where they are; narrowing (from looking at the plans at least) the away fan allocation blocks in the South Stand and, instead, spreading them out by situating them above / below each other over the 3 tiers (see the 'Seat Options' tab in this link).