Friday, 28 February 2014

Let’s take this one by the throat!

Like a lot of Blues, of course, I’d love to banish the Wembley F.A. Cup defeat to Wigan this coming weekend with a comprehensive win against Sunderland. Although the Wigan result “helped” sculpt the future that saw the arrival of Manuel Pellegrini and the terrific season that we’re now having; that one was a shock…that one hurt a lot.

And it would appear that Kompany has added his words to Nasri’s recent comments – Samir quite rightly stating that Sunday’s League Cup outcome can shape the remaining season ahead; Vinny himself also simply wants to banish the Wigan defeat-demons. I like both of their attitudes…

Confidence…and fears

Heading to my first, (very) long-awaited cup final as a Manchester City supporter against Stoke City in May 2011, I was receiving text messages whilst on the coach from ‘wobbling’ Blues who, most understandably, had that ‘Cityitis feeling’; that foreboding emotion where you just can’t shake the sensation that we were going to press the much-used, blue self-destruct button.

Although I still haven’t fully banished Cityitis from my system – I’m still undergoing treatment after 28, largely long-suffering seasons – I went into the Stoke game almost completely full of confidence. Yeah of course there was a nagging 5% that it might go horribly wrong…but having 95% positivity going into an important game is something that most footballers & sports psychologists would deem a result I’m sure.

So I’m pleased to say that I have that 95% positive feeling once again going into this League Cup final against Sunderland; if our players have the right mentally and are ‘up for the fight’ on the day then we certainly have the personnel to run the Mackems ragged!

Okay, I’ll address the nagging 5% first of all…

A chance that we'll have no Aguero

Okay, so reports - and now Pellegrini's own pre-match press conference - are suggesting that it’s more than likely we’ll see Sergio play some part (at the very least) in Sunday’s game. God knows we need him! And that’s the slight worry – does Pellegrini play him from the beginning and attempt to blow Sunderland out of the water from the very start? Well my, ‘taking this game by the throat’ title is very much suggestive that this should be our course of action.

But the quandary is this…

If he plays our star man ‘from the off’, the Argentinean will, no doubt, want to stamp his authority on the game from the very first second. In other words, he’ll want to run those little legs of his at 120% like he did at White Hart Lane…before his ‘hammy incident’. And that’s my concern. He’s already experience a “scare” in a “high octane” training session


Does he leave his main forward weapon on the bench as a second half impact substitution; hoping to catch-out tiered Sunderland legs and run them ragged in the final 30 minutes or so? My concern with this option is that, should Sunderland get their noses in front with just 30 to 35 minutes left then you can be DAMN sure they’ll be a red & white striped bus or two parked across their half of the pitch…

It’s a difficult one. As much as I want us to bring the League Cup back to Manchester; I want Sergio to be fit for the remainder of the season much more-so.

The Dzeko / Negredo combo

Let’s assume worse case scenarios; that Sergio isn’t going to be risked for most of the game or, worse still, it’s deemed too perilous to play him at all! With the latest news on Jovetic more than suggesting that he won’t make it - having not trained since and that he does have an hamstring issue [it wasn't just cramp] - that leaves us with our worst striking partnership since Adrian HeathWayne Clarke (there might well have been worse pairings; I just plucked that combo out of the air…)

Seriously, these two together do nothing for me (or, sadly, Manchester City) and on the wide, open plains of the Wembley pitch their largely immobile nature (Dzeko more-so than Negredo) will just wither & die.
We would then be SO reliant on our attacking midfield for goals and this leads me on to…

No change of pace or style from the bench

On the likelihood and assumption of Jovetic not being fit to take any part in Sunday’s proceedings and, less likely of course, the same for Aguero; how would we change the game if need-be? Without the more mobile Jovetic & Aguero, just how would we ‘mix it up’ if required?

Well there’s no Guidetti and, up to now, Pellegrini hasn’t plucked an out & out striker from the EDS (and would be unlikely to do so for the League Cup final – would they even be eligible?)  So that leaves us with the only option, which is to pack the bench with attacking / creative midfielders. Step forward once again Marcos Lopes

Sunderland 'reaction' after the Arsenal defeat – a ‘nothing to lose’ mentality

And finally, in this larger-than-planned, nagging 5%...

Gus Poyet has been left REELING at his side’s recent, heavy 4-1 defeat away at Arsenal and hasn’t stopped ‘banging on’ about how a repeat performance can only mean one thing – a similar heavy defeat against us in the final. Huh...let’s hope so!

Sighting that Arsenal play a similar style to us (how very-dare he!); the Uruguayan Manager said he was going to ‘bang heads’ and ‘ring the changes’ in an attempt to get a reaction from his underperforming players. That could prove dangerous.

Having just slipped into the relegation zone of the Premier League, this could prove to be one of those occasions where a struggling team sets aside their league form and, with the shackles off, REALLY have a go at this one with total ‘n’ utter free abandon! If we’re not on our toes right from the off and for the majority of the game…THIS could be our undoing.

But forget all of that! Here’s why I think we’re going to come back with the one & only domestic trophy I, personally, haven’t seen us pick up…

Quality...and 'target number 1'

Simply put, I could just say that we have the much better players [than Sunderland] and leave it at that. But we HAD the better players against Wigan in the 2013 F.A. Cup Final...
But I would also add that we have the better Manager too; one who now has almost a year’s experience in England and, who, has seen the dangers first hand of taking his foot off the peddle in so-called lesser cup competitions.

Pellegrini’s remit from ‘the board’ is 5 trophies in 5 seasons – in his first season; this is one of those trophies and he won’t be treating it lightly I’m sure.

Big stage, big occasion

Although Sunderland have a smattering of experienced players who have played ‘the big stage’ before, our team is jam PACKED full of them! These are often the games where top-quality experience counts, although the old Wimbledon threw that particular rule book out of the window in the 1988 F.A. Cup final against Liverpool...

But I just look at our 'big game players' against theirs and, well, there’s just no contest really.


Of course Sunderland too will have had a nice, long rest and time to prepare themselves for this one - a week without a game is a rare thing in the English football, especially from around 1st December to the end of the season!

But if YOU were connected with Sunderland, would you want Nasri, Toure, Fernandinho, Silva & Navas to have had a full week rest & preparation? That’s not forgetting the others of course but that fully fit ‘n’ rested midfield quintet is quite frightening indeed…and it could prove to be our main attacking strength depending on the afore mentioned forward-line issues.

The Aguero factor!

Setting aside any risks to his hamstring - whether we start with Sergio or bring him on with 30 to 45 minutes to spare – he MUST be the one Sunderland fear the most…and quite rightly so!

I said after his injury away to Spurs that, following his recovering from his PREVIOUS injury; he looked better, stronger, faster. If we get the same again from his most recent rehabilitation then, huh, watch out Black Cats!

v Sunderland's my predicted Pellegrini line-up, formation and subs for Sunday’s final:

Formation: 4-4-2









Subs: Hart, Kolarov, Demichelis, Garcia, Milner, Navas, Dzeko.

I can’t imagine Pellegrini not going with his preferred 4-4-2 no matter which strikers are available; neither can I imagine our manager ‘doing a Mancini’ and playing Joe Hart [after Pantilimon has seen League Cup action from the very start]. I might be completely wrong but I think Manuel will stick Costel in net.

Having also played in every other round of the League Cup I think he’ll give this one to Lescott too. Of COURSE Kompany and Zabaleta will start and I think Clichy will complete our strongest possible back line. Kolarov can provide the alternative of an attacking wing-back change; with crosses and an free-kick-specialist option [to add to Yaya]…

A fully recovered and fit Fernandinho is a very welcome sight and will compliment Yaya extremely well; Nasri & Silva to help the Ivorian explore the wide-open spaces of Wembley to their hearts content.

Crucially…Aguero to start. Negredo is the key here - I think Pellegrini will want Alvaro to find his form and confidence as soon as possible and what better way to do that than hand back his favourite partner in (glorious) crime. With regards to Dzeko, he’s more-often a far better bench ‘impact player’ (when he’s not sulking) than he is from the start of games anyway...

Milner (energy and guile) & Navas (energy, guile and pace) are fantastic options on the bench; Demichelis & Garcia to add a more-defensive calmness should that be required also.

Shame there’ll (probably) be no Jovetic but that’s a strong squad-selection.

Result? The cup will be coming back to Manchester!


Mike Doyle

It’s was great to read that a Manchester City fan from Mossley has started the organisation of a chant of Mike Doyle’s name after 4 minutes of Sunday’s game (the number 4 being Mike's shirt). A fitting tribute indeed to the former City Captain; the last Manchester City Captain to lift the trophy since 1976.

My mate, Rodders, often drank in the same boozer as Mike and spoke with him from time to time. It's thanks to him that I have Mike's Autograph in his excellent book, “Blue Blood”.


 Personal note

So, it’s an early start on Sunday – Mayne coach leaves at 7:30am! Still...could be worse; as the alarm clock goes off at 5:30am to get my wife & I out of bed, most Sunderland fans [those travelling by road at least] will probably be just setting off!

Whether you going to Wembley, watching it on TV or 'tuning in' via any other medium, enjoy and…C’MON CITY!

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Somewhat predictable…but job done

Although I expected the end result to be a little bit more comfortable than a tight, 1-0 win, it was sort of inevitable that both Stoke would be stubborn and we’d be a little bit ‘out of sorts’ after our Barcelona encounter. I thought we looked a little disjointed yesterday.


We’re all scrapping like hell up there!

A comfortable win for Arsenal but, even more extreme than our match; Chelsea JUST managed 3 home points against Everton the jammy so-an’-sos. Liverpool today – C’MON SWANSEA! 2-1 to Liverpool with 25 minutes gone on the clock...
But at least we ‘ground one out’ yesterday; something that potential champions do. At times we looked liked a team who was huffin’ ‘n’ puffin’ against a brick house and they sure will be glad of the week’s break before our League Cup final against Sunderland on 2nd March. The 7 days without a game couldn’t have come at a better time. Good luck in your return to training Sergio – we need you!

Two for the price of one

Once again the Dzeko / Negredo combo didn’t yield a goal between them; once again it looked largely static and ineffective. I suppose Alvaro might still not be 100% after his niggling shoulder injury but rather, I think, he’s sorely missing his Argentinean partner. Get Aguero back and, in my opinion, we get ‘The Beast’ back too!
As for Edin, of the two starting strikers yesterday he probably put the most effort in in fairness to him. But he…just…cannot control the ball half of the time! As for him stopping his own shot a couple of feet out from the goal-line in the second half; that sums him up perfectly.
And with Jovetic getting yet ANOTHER twinge, not only do we need Aguero back even more-so; it shows once again why we should have, perhaps, not sent Guidetti out on loan quite so eagerly. It’s also another timely reminder of why we need to bring in another 20+ goal-a-season striker next season…or even TWO if Edin is ‘eadin’ for the exit door in the summer and Jovetic continues his sickness record-form. It seems crazy saying so after the amazing amount of goals we've scored this season but just look at us with an injury or two up front...
Huh...with us also being desperate for a left-back and at LEAST one, quality central defender; the summer shopping list is already beginning to look pretty big...

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Shame…now let’s get back to ‘bread & butter’

From Barcelona to Stoke Citywhat a come-down hey? Barca were sublime; sadly a real joy to watch at times. But I thought we did ourselves proud; that was certainly no one-sided game and it wasn’t helped by inconsistent refereeing…although I stop well short of how far Pellegrini went [claiming a lack of referee impartiality and experience] the silly man.

No excuses required

The referee was bad…very bad in fact. And having seen the incident again and again (having thought it WAS a penalty on the night) I’m convinced now that it wasn’t a penalty; the fouling contact was outside the box. But rather than not being impartial, the poor-performing referee was simply very inconsistent throughout the game; he didn’t punish a couple of incidents committed by our players either.

We played well against a very, VERY good team (regardless of Jose’s interfering & ill-judged comments about the current Barca team). And regardless of whether it was a penalty or not; it was a sending off. So 10 men against Barcelona - having gone 1-0 down with the resulting penalty - and no-one would have seen anything other than an inevitable defeat. But even THEN we had our chances to pull ourselves back into it! We – and the players – should be very proud.

Will we have a chance in Camp Nou? Well of course there’s always a chance and I think we’ll be stronger in the second leg too. But even with (hopefully) a fitter Fernandinho, Nasri and Aguero available it’s probably not quite enough to pull it back.

One quick work on the fan mosaic last Tuesday night. Well done City for the effort (and well done those City fans for coming up with the idea). I’ve personally never been involved in one of those before (well perhaps once but I can’t quite recall the detail nor occasion) but…I didn’t think much of it; it could have been a lot better don’t you think?

I’m sorry to sound critical but nearly every other one I’ve seen have looked MILES more impressive, including the more-recent one at Arsenal when they hosted Bayern Munich...

Was it the floppy, black-bin-bag-like material used? Were a lot of fans not holding them up correctly? The Champions League cup in the West (Colin Bell) Stand looked like it had been drawn by a child and “Blue Moon” in the North (Family) Stand sort of looked more like “Blue Hoon” at first glance! I’m not sure what the design was in my (East) Stand – I still can’t quite make it out from this video. Is it the moon?

Let’s move on…

v Stoke City

Straight to it then – predicted line-up time:

Formation: 4-4-2 (4-4-1-1)









Premier League – Hart to start.

I think he’ll go with the (surely now) recognised strongest back 4.

A good, 70+ minute workout for Fernandinho is just what the Doctor ordered; Nasri’s first start since his return is likely and Yaya & Silva complete the creativity in the middle.

I think more than likely he’ll stick Jovetic up front with Negredo; I think even Pellegrini can see what most of us can about the Alvaro / Edin combo…

I don’t think he’ll stick too many defending players on the bench on Saturday but this might be partly influenced by the sheer number of decent, more-attacking options he’ll have at his disposal in this must-win home game. Kolarov & Demichelis should get a pitch-side view along with Pantilimon but after that; the mid-week rested Milner and Navas, who’ll probably ‘drop’ to make way for the David / Samir combo.

Alongside that lot should be Dzeko and…AGUERO (see update below)! For some time I had secretly ‘penned in’ our Argentinean battleship for this game and there are now murmurs that he might well make an appearance from the bench against The Potters. There might be a good argument to keep him clear of the team that holds a reputation for ‘clogging’ the opposition but hopefully by the time he DOES come on [about 75 minutes] they’ll have been run ragged so much they’ll be too knackered to even attempt a silly lunge.

Update (22.02.2014 - 5:49pm): Pellegrini states that Sergio Aguero is not quite ready and might resume full training in mid-week ahead of the League Cup final.

Result? Hughes will certainly have them organised and ‘fired up’ for it but in the end, it should count for nothing - an eventual & comfortable home win.

Monday, 17 February 2014

So…it’s the ‘big one’!

Regular readers should know that I currently hold this competition as 4th preference out of 4 behind 1st-place Premier League, 2nd League Cup (‘cause I’ve never seen us win it) and 3rd place F.A. Cup; because it’s a prestigious cup and a possible domestic treble should excite ANY Premier League football fan!


…I hope that no-one sees my 4th-positioning of the Champions League as either disrespectful [to the highly-regarded competition], lacking ambition or perhaps even just crazy talk! Rather I believe that we are a growing Football Club & team and haven’t quite reached the level of Barcelona, Bayern Munich or Real Madrid to mention just 3 giants of European football. We’re getting there…and we WILL get there quite soon I’m sure.

And of course if we DO get past Barcelona over the 2 legs I will be as ecstatic and as proud as I possibly can be. Progress further or, dare I suggest, even WIN the competition and I’ll be over the blue moon and far, far away!

But I have to keep a sense of realism and if ploughing ALL of our efforts into this competition then scuppers, in any way, our chances of domestic silverware – especially having done SO well so far this season – I will be as sick as David Moyes after the final whistle of most Cold Trafford games this season.

So how DO we stand a chance of beating them?

A question no doubt MANY managers & supporters have asked many times before. Well we certainly won’t do it by playing a straight 4-4-2 and sticking a largely immobile striker up front that’s for sure.

On the night of the home game against Bayern, ANYONE with a footballing brain (and I’m assuming our engineering manager simply forgot to charge his brain up that day) who looked at the pre-match team selection will have had the same, foreboding feeling. We were simply stationary & overrun and by the time we’d picked ourselves up for a late rally like a dying, cornered tiger; it was all too late.

Please don’t make the same mistake Manuel…

This is what I’d play:

4-5-1 / 4-6-0:











If we get a Dr Jekyll and not Mr Hyde performance from our defensive unit then that’s a solid one. Pellegrini might well go for the more Champions League-experienced Demichelis; my first thoughts were to go for the Argentinean [instead of the Brummie] for that very reason. But after the fine display against Chelseaand providing they’ve all recovered well enough of course – I'd be tempted to ‘stick’. There's an argument to go with Kolarov. Alex does, in fairness, give us that fast, counter-attacking option, which can be a potent weapon when playing the high-ball-possessive Spanish side.

The more advanced players in this set-up are experienced, fast, creative, mobile and have counter attacking abilities. I’ll be honest though, before the Chelsea game I’d stuck Milner in place of Garcia. Milner, I believe, would provide the added potency of being able to run backwards & forward all night long; tackling and generally harassing & ‘mopping up’ where necessary. But I just hope that lightening can striker twice - if Javi can produce another fine, ‘protecting’ role once again then great!

Experienced, mobile and with the support of the fluid, midfield behind him; Stevan has goals in him of course. A good choice if we are to play with one striker in this game.

Need a change? We can stick the bullish Negredo up front and stick Milner on to, perhaps, hassle them into a rare mistake later on.

Will Pellegrini go with this? Well, probably not…and so here’s my predicted line-up:

4-4-1-1 / 4-5-1:










Subs: Pantilimon, Clichy, Lescott, Fernandinho, Garcia, Milner, Dzeko

Still a strong-looking team selection and it still has that fluid-mobility about it in midfield. It perhaps lacks the protection the likes of Garcia or Milner would add but if he plays Jovetic more as an advanced midfielder rather than a secondary striker; that, at least, will keep their supporting midfield busy.

Pellegrini just likes his 2 strikers…and I think he’ll ‘go for it’ early on; packing the bench with more-defensive players should we have our noses in front in the second half.

It’s a tough one to call personnel & formation wise but one thing is for sure; our players will need plenty of chicken, pasta and energy drinks before this game!

Should be a great night – I’m really looking forward to it - and it’ll be interesting to see how the planned stadium card-mosaic will go!

Result? A narrow home win!

Wherever you may be…ENJOY!

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Superb! So proud of ‘em.

City were the better team; City deserved the win. Those were the sensible and sobering words from ‘the becoming tiresome one’ after the game. I’ll go with that.

Breaking it down

The official attendance was 47,013. I thought it was 47,014 myself – did Pantilimon have a save to make? He scooped up a few from the ground and in the air but that was about it. Easy day’s work for the BIG man. 6.5/10

Will the real Gael Clichy please stand up! Actually, I don’t care who the real Gael Clichy is as long as the one we saw a White Hart Lane and at the Etihad yesterday keeps the other one well out of the way. He was excellent yesterday. 8/10

If Lescott gets dropped too many times between now and the end of the season he won’t be the only one who will be disappointed. He might not look pretty on the ball at times…BUT HE DEFENDS! And he does it pretty well too. At the moment, he’s the best one we have to play alongside Vinny. But will he play against Barca? Watch this space…  Yesterday though? 8/10

Often the shortest descriptions are given to those players who produce superb displays. Vinny was superb yesterday. 9/10

Zabaleta. Which title is the more appropriate, Mr Dependable or Mr Consistent? Either way both are meant as huge compliments. 8/10

Security! SECURITY! Who was the imposter wearing the Javi Garcia mask? Wow! I don’t want to go overboard but by his own (very low) standards he was immense yesterday! He was intelligent in his positioning; covering and protecting the back 4 left, right and centre. He made his presence felt for once in midfield and passed well. A never thought I’d ever see 8/10. Well done him!

Milner. In for Navas he never let down (does he ever?). Energetic and a real pest to Chelsea. 8/10

Maestro performance from Silva once again. Just utter class. 9/10

When he’s ‘on blob’ Yaya is simply unstoppable and yesterday he got better and better and the game went on and Chelsea faded. 9/10

Jovetic. If ONLY he’d taken part in a full pre-season with Manchester City and, of course, hadn’t have had a series of injuries and illnesses. We’re really starting to see why so many were after the Montenegrin forward. Mobile, skilful, creative and a goal scorer. The full package really. 8/10

Some very good play from Dzeko yesterday; his control was much better than we usual see from the frustrating one. Still need to impose himself a little more but a solid and creditable 7/10

BANG! Nasri is back. 8/10

When you’re a fading, tiring team how daunting must it be to see Navas coming on? J Put Chelsea further on the back foot. 7/10

Not much time to rate but he put himself about as though he wasn’t shoulder sore. Good to see Negredo get a run.
56% possession, 14 shots to their 3; 6 on target to their none.

Not good to see…

…the sore-losing Chelsea fans. Fighting with Police/Stewards and trying to get to the City fans in the corner of the East Stand towards the end of the game and after the final whistle. The Police and ground safety officials were well prepared but it’s sad that they had to be.

Great to hear…

…that we didn’t give Mourinho centre stage (for the most part) until the very end of the game…where we than gave Jose verbal hell! It was most pleasing to remind the ‘slapped-arse-faced one’ how dull his team can perform at times.

Well-done Uwe!

So pleased to see Uwe Rosler steer his Wigan Athletic side into the quarter finals with a brilliant away win at Cardiff City. The Championship team – the current F.A. Cup holders need I have to remind any Blue – apparently had 5 ‘first teamers’ out too; with ‘ineligible to play’ loanees and injuries!

Wouldn’t it be great to have a City v Uwe final at Wembley? A great reunion with the former Maine Road hero…and revenge over the pie eaters! J

Sunderland are through; Sheffield Wednesday & Charlton Athletic are still to play following a postponement [due to a waterlogged pitch]. Everton v Swansea City, Sheffield United v Nottingham Forest and Arsenal v Liverpool complete Round 5 this afternoon. I hope Arsenal win; on their ‘off day’ they’re more beatable than potent Liverpool at the moment.

Pull a beatable team out of the hat at home in ‘the quarters’ and then it’s all there for the taking! With the semi-final being played at Wembley these days; it makes the semi feel more like the final itself in many ways. That being the case, it truly does become a kind of ‘one off’ to focus all your efforts on.

Wembley 3 times in one season (indeed in just 2-½ months)? Jeeze…I suppose it's very possible!

The draw for the quarter final is at 3:30pm (GMT) and can be seen live at and on ITV. Update (16.02.2014 - 3:45pm): Wigan Athletic at home next...

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Blown away! Let’s do likewise to Chelsea.

Double layers on, soup flask filled, rucksack packed. We had the radio & TV on and I was phoning City’s automated line every 10 minutes or so. All indications were that the Sunderland game was on and so we set off in the car…and got 4 streets away before turning back. The radio EVENTUALLY informed us that the game had been called off; Kompany’s own Tweet confirmed it seconds later. Just glad I hadn’t travelled from Sunderland

Two ways of looking at it

It was APPALLING conditions; the worse winds I’d experienced since my hill / mountain walking days...


I said to my wife at 5:15pm that they’d be crazy to let the game go ahead – why DID they leave it until 6:40pm? I have a work colleague whose husband works at Manchester City and although the roofs of the stands are designed to ‘flex’ and move to some degree; apparently the roof of the East stand was being lifted a whole 6-feet during the extraordinary gusts of winds!

The already-bleak prognosis that I’ve heard from both football pundits and Manyoo fans alike simply goes like this, “Oh they’ll be a fixture pile-up for Manchester City now!”

Frazer - We're doomed!
Really? A one-game rearrangement? Huh…they must be more confident than I am of winning over the 2 legs against Barcelona and progressing, therefore, still fighting on 3 fronts come March / April…

Me? I just see it as some relief really; even a well-timed break! Firstly, the extra rest ahead of another tough clash against Chelsea this evening (I don’t believe Jose one bit when he ‘bleats on’ about leaving so many of his star players out for this one). Secondly, hopefully whenever the rearranged Sunderland game is played we’ll have a fully fit squad to choose from – bad news for them more like…

What’s not to be positive about this postponement?

V Chelsea

I’m not going to change it TOO much from the prediction that I made ahead of the postponed Sunderland fixture and so here goes…

Formation: 4-1-4-1 / 4-1-3-2








From the cancelled midweek fixture those who I think will remain the same are…

Hart, Kolarov, Kompany, Zabaleta, Silva, Toure, Navas, Jovetic & Dzeko.

Those who are in / out from that predicted line-up & subs are…

Lescott drops to the bench for Demichelis; Garcia comes in for Milner (who drops to the bench and replaces Lopes who doesn’t now get in the squad of 18), and Rodwell also loses his place in the squad to the returning Nasri, who might get some kind of run-out depending on how the game is running. Samir MIGHT actually start but I’m guessing not.

Fresher in the mind after the Norwich game might have been the (not-so-good) performance of Demichelis. But now? Well having “experienced” Chelsea recently – and being played in his stronger position tonight – I think he’ll stick with Martin at the back [as opposed to switching to Lescott].

Although just returning from injury; I think he’ll go for Garcia ahead of the slightly more attack-minded Milner. This decision may also ‘unleash’ Yaya a little more to maraud forward from time to time.

I still think he’ll start with Jovetic & Dzeko, although I do this by assuming that Negredo might still be recovering from that now frustrating, very niggley and somewhat lengthy shoulder injury.

I’ll repeat what I said ahead of the Norwich game; the attacking combo of Silva, Yaya, Navas and Jovetic behind a striker SOUNDS like an exciting and effective force. It didn’t work at Carrow Road; hopefully it will at home this evening.

Result? A City win.

Transfer rumours linger after the window closes…

Although we’re now at a level where, of course, we’re naturally going to be linked with almost everyone under the sun, I didn’t think I’d be paying any attention to it so soon after the January transfer window closed. But a couple of things caught my eye enough stare at them a little longer.

Sky Sports claim that Argentinean side Racing Club have stated that they have agreed a deal to sell Bruno Zuculini to us in the summer. Never heard of him; can’t say I know how Racing’s Interim President Victor Blanco normally conducts his business but it does seem to be getting some serious coverage from a lot of sources.

And the bizarre Fernando / Porto story just won’t…go…away! Apparently, having…apparently…signed a new contract with the Portuguese side to 2017, he STILL might be moving to the Premier League and, possibly, Manchester City! Why would we want to sign a player for X-million when we could have got him for nothing not long beforehand?! Oh hang on, Atl├ętico Madrid / Martin Demichelis springs to mind…

Stadium expansion plans approved

Great news. Not sure how long the work will take to complete; I’m guessing that both the North (Family) & South Stands stands will be open for the start of the 2015/2016 season.

I think all I’ll say on this is that we will, I’m sure, not quite fill the whole stadium for Premier League games week in & week out at first. But, as with everything connected with Manchester City F.C., our owners are thinking ‘long term’ and if our ‘upwards curve’ continues; I’ve absolutely no doubt that we’ll fill the 62,000+ stadium for most league games in about 6 to 8 years time.

The empire grows…