Wednesday, 22 July 2015

v Roma: What we learnt.

That was probably one of the best pre-season warm-up games I’ve ever seen (or can recall). Despite the inevitable and most understandable high-number of substitutions by both sides; both Roma and City were ‘well up for it’ in going for the win.

Many positives

Getting straight to it then, what I learnt was…
  • The kids are alright! From that performance Kelechi Iheanacho is every bit the striker I thought he was [whenever I’ve had the privilege to watch him] and had hoped he was. Determined, intelligent running, a really good finisher and mature beyond his age. He’s one of our 4 (3?) first team strikers this season. I thought both Bruno Zuculini and Manu Garcia grew into the game and improved a lot before being substituted; perhaps Garcia looked the slightly more accomplished of the two. Jason Denayer looked every bit the player I had heard of; very confident and cool with the ball and certainly liked to break forward, as well as defending with fervour. Marcos Lopes was a menace the whole time and was very strong on the ball. Any more performances like that and he should be a ‘bench man’ more often and at the very least this season. Brandon Barker was another one who grew very quickly into the game when he came on after the break. And grew he did; with some fantastic link-up play and skilful footwork. Another confident lad. And having never seen much of him I was delighted with the performance of “right-back” James Horsfield who had a terrific game both in defence and attack-support down that flank. More often a central midfielder for the EDS; he proved just how versatile he is. Similarly a late showing for midfielder George Evans who came on as centre half for Vincent Kompany. Alongside Denayer – and in a very young defence by this stage – George & Jason performed superbly well under the cosh from a pressing Roma side. Enes Unal didn’t see too much of the ball but that was down to a then-pressing Roma side who were looking for – and got – a late equaliser. Seemed to play deeper that Iheanacho [who pressed Roma’s back line the whole time] but, as I say, was perhaps forced to do so a little.
  • Willy Caballero didn’t convince me too much. I’ve stayed away from being critical of the Argentinean since his arrival last summer because I’ve seen so very little of him; and can’t understand [for the same reason] how anyone can be. However, he looked a little flat-footed and slow to react at times yesterday. Might be just pre-season rustiness…
  • Bacary Sagna did quite well before the interval; particularly with some telling attacking-support play as we were on the 'front foot' for large parts of the first half.
  • Raheem Sterling had a very good debut and surprised me personally with left-sided forward role, which gives us more options that I was already counting. Good finish for his goal and was very lively in his link-up play with his new colleagues – looked like he’d played with them for a year or more!
  • My player of last season, David Silva, was sublime! He looks raring to go already and with the addition of more flare players in Sterling (and perhaps more to come?) he should shine even brighter this season…if that’s at all possible!
  • The lads from Porto didn’t exactly have poor games yesterday but neither did they do much to convince me otherwise that they’ve settled in yet with their City teammates. There were still some ‘flappy moments’ in defence when Eliaquim Mangala was alongside ‘our Vinny’ and perhaps it’s me-personally missing Fernando for doing a quiet & effective job sitting deeper in midfield; while the players ahead of him with a more-attacking agenda are getting the limelight & plaudits. I’m hoping that’s what it was yesterday and if so I hold my hands up...
  • We still need a left-back! Gael Clichy was okay again but – and it starts [from me] already – we looked flaky & exposed again when Mr Kolarov replaced him…and then, of course, there was his penalty shot that he blasted WAY over the bar!
  • Samir Nasri and Jesus Navas each had particularly lively 45 minutes and both Samir and Yaya Toure looked to have a happy demeanour (worth mentioning of course).
  • The corners and crossing in general seemed to have improved.
  • As suspected, it looks like Manuel Pellegrini might be considering this fluid 4-5-1 come 4-3-3 for the coming season. That’s fine - it’ll need a lot of fitness [to track back / counter attack] and will require one of our defensive midfielders to be right ‘on blob’ for most of the season. Will that player be Fabian Delph?
  • Edin Dzeko & Stevan Jovetic look to be on their way out.
  • Joe Hart for penalty taking! What a shot into the ‘top left’! Not to mention his great mind games and performance in between the sticks (go find a video on the WEB if you’ve haven’t seen it…)
  • We’re going to be in for, as fully expected of course, a season of ‘boos’ from mindless morons. We can expect it from Liverpool & Villa fans with regards to Sterling & Delph respectively but what the ffffff…lip was that all about in Australia at the beginning of the game and whenever Raheem got hold of (or stood on) the ball?!
T’was a good game; good end result but, much more importantly, a very good performance in general from the lads (and a fitness workout of course).

One more signing? Two? Three? FOUR?!

Okay…even though we might be off-loading both Edin & Stevan very soon (plus one midfielder?) I can’t see us bringing in another four or even three players in-addition to Delph, Partick Roberts & Sterling. But here are my brief thoughts on the final 6 weeks of the summer transfer window with regards to our very own Manchester City.
1. I’ll say again…we need a flippin’ left-back! I can only HOPE that we’re in the market for one (and Kolarov’s performance yesterday might have just highlighted this to the Management team) because I would hate for all our hard work in-building a more attacking midfield threat to be undone by glaring gaps and silly mistakes on that side of our defence. We have to remember too that other Premier League teams at least are strengthening THEIR sides and may well have some new attacking right-sided options to test our left-flank even more this season…
2. One more, additional attacking / creative midfielder / (left) winger to ‘complete us’ across the middle please. I think we can forget the Paul Pogba thing for this season at least (and probably for the next 5 or 6 seasons) but the Kevin de Bruyne thing just won’t go away will it? In fact this morning - and despite more “He’s going nowhere” talk from Wolfsburg – rumours have intensified that we are closer to agreeing a move for the ex-Chelsea & Belgium midfielder / winger.
3. Or are we in for Isco as WELL as Kevin? Well we were always in for Sterling, de Bruyne AND Pogba if we are to believe reports. As well as increased speculation about de Bruyne; reports this morning suggest also that we are stepping up for - and are closer to getting - a deal for Real Madrid’s, David Silva-like, Spanish playmaker.
4. Are we going to go into the season with Aguero, Bony, Iheanacho & Unal as our four strikers (although I can see Unal going out on loan)? If so then fine; I can see us relying more on our attacking midfielders / wingers backing-up a loan striker most of the time this season anyway. But with Enes likely to be given a season somewhere to mature further and with, in fairness, Kelechi being untested at Premier League level; if there were to be another addition then don’t be TOO shocked if we were to go in for WBA’s Saido Berahino (or A.N. Other).
So that’s it really. Mourinho has apparently already started whinging about our spending (I can’t be a**ed looking for the report / video - I’ve just been told) and I have, unfortunately, already half-caught footage of ‘the broken robot’ (van Gall if you needed to ask) attempting to talk to the press about their further spending on additions to Manyoo’s squad.
It’s the sort of thing you have to put up with in the ‘beautiful game’ that I am now [less than 3 weeks away!] starting to get the excited butterflies for once again…
Hyperlinks won't be completed on this [now-old] piece...


  1. Willy is from Argentina mate.

    1. Oh dear! I knew that too - can't think why I put Brazilian.

      Thanks for the 'heads up' on that typo - amended now... 8- )