Tuesday, 5 July 2016

The story so far…

So what’s been happening in the 45 days since I last ‘put pen to paper’?


Well, first of all, apart from the Euros, which I’ve enjoyed large parts of (less said about England the better of course) it’s been nice to take a break from footy in order to, as always, attempt to recharge the footy batteries. 


And I’m certainly glad that I did-indeed take the decision not to join the endless merry-go-round of repeated speculation of transfer rumours – I’m sure you wouldn’t have appreciated me churning out the same-old, same-old… 


Other than that, I could sum up the last month-an’-half by saying that after 15 years or more I’ve been getting used to being back on the road, ‘bike wise’, with a new purchase of a power-assist peddle bike; I had a fab and very hot holiday abroad for 10-days to celebrate my 10th wedding anniversary, came back and went to a 40th 24-hours later; where I fell off a trampoline, badly injured my side and other areas, which I’m still suffering with. And then, more recently, I had a VERY expensive finance lesson too; with a week-long-saga regarding both my PC & laptop. 


A bit like the “summer” weather we’ve been getting here of late – a ‘mixed bag’ really.

Chapter 1 - The signing of Ilkay Gundogan.

The signing of an injured player who a lot of us hadn’t really heard of and, who, would miss the start of the season through that very same injury didn’t exactly get the pulses racing of many – if any – Manchester City fans.

However, as many of us did our various on-line research on the player born in Germany with Turkish parents; it soon became clear that we were signing a quality box-to-boxer who had neat ball control and a flippin’ good pass on him. Who would be ‘heading out’ from our midfield as a result, it left me thinking. And having then seen the interview on MCFCTV I personally could see that we were also signing a nice fella and a real grounded one at that.

And…HEY! He plays for the German national team and so can’t be bad at all!

Good age too at 26 in October and should be ready to resume training late August or there abouts.

Chapter 2 – The signing of Nolito.

Having been linked with the player for a number of weeks before we eventually signed him, I of course hit my various research sources. One of these, naturally, is video footage of the player and what struck me first & foremost was the similarity in both stature & style to Jesus Navas.

However, before I panicked myself too much; it was very soon apparent that although the slight-of-frame, 2” taller [than Navas] player from Celta Vigo ‘buzzed around’ a lot in a similar way to Jesus - mostly on the left wing but making many runs inside too - our new signing appeared to have far more about him than our Spanish flyer on the opposite flank.

For a start – and this is very noticeable in comparison with Jesus – Nolito knows how to score a goal! So much so, in fact, 39 goals from exactly 100 appearances for Celta it had TalkSport referring to him as a striker when they were announcing the signing, which he’s not; he’s a left-sided winger / forward.

Aside from that useful attribute of knowing how to find the back of the net he’s got pace, tenacity, energy to burn; he’s creative but also works very hard for the team in ‘tracking back’ and attempting to retrieve the ball when not in possession.

And having seen HIS interview again on MCFCTV; again such a very grounded player who just wants to improve under his manager and work hard for ‘the cause’.

Chapter 3 – A small matter of the unveiling of a new manager.

Every pre-season for the last few (I think it first started with the introduction of Thaksin Shinawatra?) City have held some kind of festival day, whether that’s been in Albert Square, G-Mex (or whatever it’s flippin’ called these days), in the stadium itself or at the fairly new CFA. I’ve never been to one myself – as well as liking that break from football until around mid-to-late July, I find it all a bit…‘cringe worthy’. There’s a bit too much ‘cheese’ about it for my liking, although I’m sure it’s great for the kids & families…

Usually, from the various clips I’ve seen, the main focus of attention – whether that be a new player or the likes of Manuel Pellegrini – will sit there on a stage looking largely uncomfortable; being asked mostly pre-prepared questions and being interrupted by the odd, largely uncoordinated song sung by footy-starved City fans who are desperate to test whether their vocal cords have ceased up over the summer.

This latest one too had a bit of ‘strong cheddar’ about it but our new, highly professional manager seemed to take it all in his stride and came out with some very sensible-sounding plans to ensure that he takes on a squad that’s full of players who want to ‘pull together’ and create a great team spirit.

Two things on that…

1.    You can tell that’s his ‘early ethos’ with the two players we’ve signed already who, as I’ve already mentioned, came across very clearly as-having a good attitude (God what contrast from the first interview I saw years ago with Mario Balotelli, I say with a shudder down my spine).

2.    Secondly, Pep made it clear that everyone already in place at City starts with a ‘clean slate’ but if any player is not on board with that attitude and doesn’t show it from ‘Day 1’, then they can pack their bags (or more likely get someone to do that for ‘em).

Chapter 4 – The unveiling of a new home kit.

At this time of year, I usually to a full piece – often a rant – all about the ‘changing of the kits’. Why a rant? Well to be honest I’ve not been impressed with a lot of kits over the last few years to say the very least.

I am a self-confessed traditionalist when it comes to what our lads (kids and women too) wear; one who loves no navy blue in my home kits and who likes either a maroon or red & black-striped 2nd strip. And if we must have a 3rd-choice kit then a nice, largely white one with flashes of either of the afore mentioned away colours in.

However, that’s not to say I don’t like ‘modern thinking’ or styles of course – I’m not a dinosaur! But I think you can have both up-to-date designs but-by-also using our club’s traditional colours.

So what have we got this season? Flippin’ navy blue AGAIN!

But I actually…quite like it. Since it was first leaked many months ago it’s been ‘a grower’ on me…but what a missed opportunity!

What a mean by that is, if only they’d replace the darker blue over the shoulders, on the sleeves and with the stripe down the side with white; it would have looked like a dead-smart-kit with the choice of white socks that they’ve gone with.

As it is, for me it’s just…‘okay’.

And so for the 2nd strip. Not released yet and even the leaked pictures over the last few weeks have yet to reveal the colour / design of the shorts & socks.

However, as is highly likely to be; it looks like we’re getting another dark one – black this time but with burgundy / maroon sleeves and a similar stripe down the side.

As it’s got at least one of our traditional colours in it, I’m closer to liking this more than the home one. However, I don’t understand why they had to make the writing & new badge a God-awful yellow…and I’ll see just how far my appeal goes when I see the shorts and socks.

We’ve got a third kit to come out too, of course. It’s usually called our ‘Cup kit’ these days and this time – assuming the 2nd leaked top is correct of course – it can’t be a ‘standard black’ nor navy blue. That does, however, leave it open for it to be another ghastly luminous yellow or green!

Chapter 5 – We’ve signed others you know…

Did you know we’ve actually signed 5 players already? Well…we will have when one of those has had his 16th birthday.

Benjamin Garre is that 15-year old and is described not only as one of Argentina’s most exciting prospect but also one who once had a trial at Manyoo when he was 14 and who is a ‘midfield playmaker’. Not sure when his birthday is but his main present will be to join a growing football club with a fantastic academy set up…

Someone who IS 16 and who has signed for us is striker Lorenzo Gonzalez. A Swiss national and one signed from Servette U’18s. That’s all I know about him.

Lastly we’ve just purchased a 19-½ year old winger / attacking midfielder who played some part in the Euro 2016 finals. A £1.7M purchase from FC Ufa, Oleksandr Zinchenko has signed a 5-year deal and is highly likely to be loaned out this coming season.

Looks to have very good feet similar to the style of David Silva; spends most of his time on the left wing but has been known to play on the right too and having read a report from an ex-Mancunian who now lives in the region and who studies football in & around Russia; he not only has the ability but work-rate & attitude also to go far (there’s that trait that Pep likes again) and one who might, in the future, turn out to be a more ‘central’ figure up front.

Update (11:53pm - 5th July 2016): Oooops! I completely forgot about Aaron Mooy too, a player signed on a 3-year deal who has already been loaned out to Huddersfield Town for the rest of the season.

And 10 Academy players / club youngsters have all received / achieved long-term contracts with the club. They are…

Luke Bolton                           -               Signed within the club / Academy

Ayotomiwa Dele-Bashiru   -               Signed within the club / Academy

Philip Foden                         -               Signed within the club / Academy

Edward Francis                    -               Signed within the club / Academy

Joel Latibeaudiere              -               Signed within the club / Academy

Iker Pozo La Rosa               -               Signed within the club / Academy

Colin Rosler                          -               Signed within the club / Academy

Jadon Sancho                      -               Signed from Watford as under 15

Matthew Smith                     -               Signed from WBA as under 14

Tyreke Wilson                      -               Signed from Cherry Orchard, Republic of Ireland

Manchester City Football Club – continuing to ruin football and buying all of their Academy players…

Chapter 6 – the continued rumours…

Okay, just a few on this – I don’t wanna fall into the trap of getting bogged down too much with press speculation and, otherwise, silly rumours.

It would appear that as soon as Germany’s participation in the Euro 2016 finals is over, Leroy Sane will pop over to Manchester for the small matter of a medical and put his signature to a £40M transfer in order to fill our right-side of our attack, largely occupied by Jesus Navas at the moment.

And staying on that side, it’s looking quite likely that he’ll be complimented by a Brazilian “right back” in the form of Bruno Peres from FC Torino.

Like many – not least, but not only, the likes of Mangala, Fernando, Fernandinho, Navas, Gundogan & Nolito – I’ve never heard of him 'when first linked'. And I’ve put the words “right back” in inverted commas for a reason.

Having HAD to research the just-turned 26-year old with no international caps to his name at any level, the video footage shows a player who likes to bomb forward; not just down the right flank but also through the middle with great enthusiasm! There were a few moments where he was shown to be tackling but, as I said in an e-mail to a few fellow Blues, if this fella comes then whenever he’s in ‘the 11’ I can’t see too much defending going on that side of the pitch!

It might be a case of…you score 2 or 3 and we’ll score 6 or 7.

If we get him, the rumoured fee is £12.4M for the “defender” come attacking fullback / winger.

John Stones is another one apparently close to a move from the dark blue of Everton to the ‘mixed blue’ of Manchester City. Should it happen; no doubt a whopping £50M transfer fee will be another excuse for all sorts of over-the-top ‘crazies’ out there to obsessively berate another youngster from Merseyside for moving clubs for big money [ala Raheem Sterling if you needed to ask of course].

That’s about it for now – I won’t do another one until there’s more proper news etc.

It’s good to be back ‘tapping away’ - I hope you all had / are still having a great summer (or whatever the season is where you are) and thanks, as always, for taking the time to visit my blog.

Next game:
Friendly v Bayern Munich.
Wednesday 20th July 2016, 7:30pm KO BST (correction made on 17.07.2016).

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