Saturday, 27 May 2017

Possible / definite ‘outs’…and possible ‘ins’.

The season has finished, so let the ‘rumour madness’ shift-up a gear or three! Huh...we've already signed one player!

Set to leave? Chances out of 10…

Type of movement: Sale or loan
Chance (in my opinion): 5/10
Comment: Even ‘steadfast Pep’ might admit that this fella just isn’t suited for the Premier League. The player himself might just want to get the hell out of here! 50/50 on this one; just can’t tell…

Name: Joe Hart
Type of movement: Sale
Chance (in my opinion): 9/10
Comment: Big shame in my opinion – our best player in the 2015/16 season and a rock for City for years! Still young enough to learn Pep’s footwork demands but I suspect there’s something of a ‘personality clash’ thing going on here too. Hoping for that 1/10 chance of a ‘change of mind’ but I very much doubt it…

Type of movement: Release
Chance (in my opinion): 10/10
Comment: I had a feeling he might have done enough in his time covering for Claudio Bravo to stay on our books as a covering keeper for one more season. He’s done very well indeed ‘in my humble’. I then thought that, if not, then he might stay on in a goalkeeper coaching role. Neither is happening as he’s now been told he can leave…

Type of movement: Release
Chance (in my opinion): 10/10
Comment: From what I know, Tosin is upset at his lack of progress towards first team action and from what I’ve been told by those who have seen him this season; it’s showing ‘big time’ in his game. A once-promising player who I was excited / hopeful about every time I saw him; it now looks to be coming to a frustrating end at City for the young lad.

Type of movement: Release
Chance (in my opinion): 10/10
Comment: Need much better & younger now. The French defender has often spilt opinion; personally – and for most of the time – I felt much safer with him in there rather than Aleksandar Kolarov. Has had some very poor games with some ‘howlers’ at time but was, for the most part in my opinion, a ‘Steady Eddie’. A professional player who I applaud as he heads out of the exit. He has now been told he can go.

Type of movement: Sale
Chance (in my opinion): 3/10
Comment: As with most players - and as I suspected would happen - the Serbian improved under Guardiola. Still not a very good defender but, weirdly, seemed to better whenever he covered on the left-side of central defence. His already decent long-distance passing got even better last season too and I suspect our manager will keep him around for another season before being allowed to leave on a free in July 2018, where he’ll then be 32-½ years of age.

Type of movement: Sale or, possibly, another loan
Chance (in my opinion): 10/10
Comment: Once tipped by both Marc Wilmots and Ronny Deila as having a very bright future indeed – even to the point of being Vincent Kompany’s natural replacement at international level! So just what has happened to the soon-to-be 22-year old (on 28th June)?

Type of movement: Sale
Chance (in my opinion): 10/10
Comment: I wonder if the scout who advised us on this Frenchman is still employed ANYWHERE in the same role? Best debut I can recall from any City player and then…oh my God! He looked like a ‘Nervous Nelly’ who was FULL of errors! What a very expensive failure Mr Mangala has been…and to think he left us on tenterhooks for so long in a ‘will he or won’t he sign’ saga that seemed to drag on and on and on…

Name: Pablo Mari
Type of movement: Release
Chance (in my opinion): 10/10
Comment: Wasn’t this something to do with Pep Guardiola’s agent brother, Pere? Whatever…

Type of movement: Release
Chance (in my opinion): 10/10
Comment: Best free transfer ever...or does that go to Ali Benarbia? Either way the ‘cost nothing’ right-back from Arsenal has done very well indeed since he joined us on 13th June 2014. Has had some injuries but always seemed to bounce back well with 53 appearances in 3 seasons being testament to that; baring in mind the competition he had for that position (coming up next). Age (turned 34 in February 2017) never seem to diminish decent pace & power that he displayed when he first joined us. Solid defender and a real professional. Has been told he can leave.

Type of movement: Release
Chance (in my opinion): 10/10
Comment: It’s all been said in recent weeks about what a City hero & legend he is. As for the decision regarding his departure from City? Yep…he’s slowing down now and as with the left-hand-side of our defence, we need ‘younger & faster’ now. Said a “333 appearances goodbye” in our last home game and has already signed for West Ham United on a 2-year deal. The Hammers’ fans should love him!

Type of movement: Sale or another loan
Chance (in my opinion): 10/10
Comment: A club partnership signing who has never pulled on a City shirt so far (unless he's bought one from a shop).

Type of movement: Release
Chance (in my opinion): 10/10
Comment: For this one, read the Luke Brattan one again...but this time I'm not sure Anthony has a contract with us beyond June...

Type of movement: Sale
Chance (in my opinion): 8/10
Comment: I’m sure Pep loves his energy, versatility, determination, professionalism and the fact that he adds to his 'English quota' of players. What he won’t like is what he sees on a regular basis on the training pitch and behind the scenes otherwise, which is a player plagued by niggly injuries that appear to hamper him every other month in a very ‘stop-start’ career and season just gone. Shame…

Name: Fernando
Type of movement: Sale
Chance (in my opinion): 10/10
Comment: The Brazilian / Portuguese (take your pick) had a few wobbles and errors in him when he first started but became increasingly solid with time. With those seemingly telescopic legs of his, that’s exactly what ‘The Octopus’ was for us most of the time…"solid". Always good to chuck him on to 'see-out games' whenever we needed to hold on to a scoreline; I often felt safer with the ex-Porto man ‘sweeping up’. But we need much, much better now as we strive to progress as a team & football club and I think Pep will have already decided to advertise his availability.

Type of movement: Sale
Chance (in my opinion): 10/10
Comment: Exactly NOT the type of player Pep wants anywhere NEAR his team! Having said that, at one stage, in August 2016, I thought otherwise; as the French midfielder / winger turned out…and did really well for us! BAGS of talent but also BAGS of bad attitude too, which often lead to very inconsistent periods throughout most seasons with us. As I say, not the type of player our manager wants hanging around the place…

Type of movement: Release
Chance (in my opinion): 10/10
Comment: Could never fault his pace, energy, desire and willingness to ‘track back’…but he frustrated the HELL out of most who watched him; with his lack of ‘end product’ and finishing ability. Pep appeared to like him though and, in fairness to the Spaniard, he did okay for the most part when asked to play in a wing-back role. I actually thought he might…just MIGHT have earned himself a 1-year extension contract to act as a covering-squad player next season but he has been told he’s free to look for another club.

Name: Nolito
Type of movement: Sale
Chance (in my opinion): 10/10
Comment: Just hasn’t worked out, has it?

Name: Yaya Toure
Type of movement: Release
Chance (in my opinion): 4/10
Comment: A club fall-out (or at least with his puddled agent), then trained hard, got lean, came back into the side and did really quite well…even exceptionally well in certain games! Decent chance, then, that we’ll be singing his same for another season? I think so...

Type of movement: Sale
Chance (in my opinion): 10/10
Comment: Has been loaned out more times than a crazy golf club! I recall quite clearly the ‘buzz’ and general excitement when we signed this Argentine from Racing Club de Avellaneda but, like many and as is often the case, it just fizzled.

Type of movement: Sale
Chance (in my opinion): 2/10
Comment: Rumours of him leaving in the summer of 2017 never seem too far away and, for some reason, I’m often asked by Manyoo fans why I think that is (I think they want him). My answer is always the same, which is that under both Roberto Mancini and Manuel Pellegrini I had often heard that he wasn’t the best on the training pitch in terms of effort. I get that – if you’ve clearly got natural ability (and he has) why would you feel the need to put extra effort in? But remember that period when he couldn't shake off thigh injuries? Remember how he had to change both his eating and training habits to get over them, which often included extra time on the training pitch and coming back from close season earlier than other players? And wouldn’t it 'pee your teammates off' seeing you waddling around while then ‘pound the turf’ on the training pitch? Well I think that’s what appeared to be wrong when Guardiola first arrived; when rumours were abound that the pair had fallen out. Where Roberto & Manuel gave him a little leeway, Pep said "No way". Since then, I think the Spaniard has got the Argentine on board and we’ve seen a real consistent spell of late…along with a notable increase in ‘ground covered’ on the pitch. Result? I think both are now ‘happy chappies’. Can’t see him going in the summer but if he DOES, we’ll need to bring in TWO quality strikers in July / August!

Type of movement: Sale
Chance (in my opinion): 10/10
Comment: What went wrong?! Sparta Prague – Played 59, Scored 22; Vitesse – Played 65, Scored 46, Swansea City – Played 54, scored 26 (some in the Premier League). Manchester City – Played 36, Scored 6 and finally Stoke City – Played 10, Scored 2 (both in the same game). I’ve heard some City fans call him lazy but I disagree. Even for a fella with a big, big frame I thought he put himself about a lot; dropped deep and 'put in a shift' for the team. But, in-between both injury & illness, he just lost his shooting radar somewhere; often ‘snatching’ at shots in desperation. Calls from a lot of City fans, at the time, were for a ‘strong fella’ up front and we got one who was banging 'em in for The Swans...but he just didn’t seem to fit in with the style of football we were playing at the moment nor today.

Type of movement: Sale or release.
Chance (in my opinion): 10/10
Comment: If you’ve only played 14 games for Chesterfield on loan since the end of January, scored just once and are out of contract in 12-months’ time; then I don’t think Pep is going to linger too long in his decision making. I hope he finds his feet elsewhere soon.

Type of movement: Loan…possibly a sale.
Chance (in my opinion): Loan: 5/10. Sale: 8/10.
Comment: I honestly didn’t think for once minute I’d be including the Nigerian in this piece…and, equally, I honestly thought this would be a key season for the striker under our new, Spanish boss. And without knowing for sure, I’m confident his ‘goals to minutes’ ration has continued to be good this season. However, the 20-year old just couldn’t find his feet most of the time; with balls appearing to ‘ping’ off his shins or getting trapped under his frantic feet. With another top striker sure to be coming in over the summer I, personally, would like to see him go out on loan to another Premier League club for a season (somewhere like AFC Bournemouth? Everton? Swansea City? Newcastle United?) and, hopefully, then come back a better player. But I’ve just got a nagging feeling that he’ll be used in some kind of ‘makeweight’ in a deal to bring a wanted player in; possible a deal involving an Arsenal or Tottenham Hotspur player. West Bromwich Albion are apparently interested too.

Other possibilities:

Cameron Humphries (loan or sale)
Like Tosin, I have liked the look of this youngster...but he only has one year remaining on his contract and has seen very little action in the first team.

Jose Angel Tasende (loan or sale)
Possibly a little lightweight? Could be one of those who just doesn’t make the grade at City.

Manu Garcia Alonso (loan or sale)
Not sure – not seen enough of him but appears to have played plenty on loan at NAC Breda.

Aaron Mooy (another loan or possible sale - wanted man I'm sure)
Heard very good things about this hard-working Australian on loan at Huddersfield Town. I wonder if Pep will get him back to have a look at him or perhaps loan him to a Premier League side and monitor him that way for another season (that COULD be Huddersfield themselves)?

Patrick Roberts (another loan)
Similarly – and at a similar level as Aaron Mooy has been playing in the Championship – I’ve heard excellent reports from the Scottish Premiership about this young, English right-winger / forward on loan at Celtic for 1-½ seasons. Before we confirmed the passed medical and agreed fee of £43M for Bernardo Silva , I WAS going to say that Patrick could save us a packet if we’re considering bolstering our attacking midfield / wing department in the summer. And at just-turned-20, he would have provided very good competition for Sterling; possibly increasing Raheem’s consistency at the same time with the even-younger England man ready to step in should his form dip. Still...surely we can’t let this one get away from us - another loan but this time to the Prem perhaps? A Sterling replacement in 2018/19 if Raheem doesn't improve?

Even if only half of that lot go, that’s some serious incoming revenue both in terms of ‘player sale fees’ and players coming off the wage bill!

Coming in?

Right…basically, I’ve listed players who we’ve been linked with over the last 12 months who I personally DIDN’T think was just wild, speculative ‘paper talk’ and, therefore, stood little chance.

Regardless of contract lengths (listed for your information), I’ve gone for players linked with us in positions we need or might need and that Pep might very well be interested in-having in his squad.


Red contract dates indicate that the player’s contract is up within 2 years.
Grey, italic is a player who is ‘heavily contracted’ at his current club.
Black is somewhere ‘in between those’.

Ederson Moraes                  Contracted to June 2023 
Gianluigi Donnarumma      Contracted to June 2018 
Jordan Pickford                    Contracted to June 2020 
Jack Butland                         Contracted to June 2021 

Left-sided defenders: 
Alex Sandro                          Contracted to June 2020 
Danny Rose                          Contracted to June 2021 
Theo Hernandez                 Contracted to June 2017 
Juan Bernat                          Contracted to June 2019 
Faouzi Ghoulam                  Contracted to June 2018 
Benjamin Mendy                 Contracted to June 2021 
Marc Cucurella                    Contracted to June 2017

Right-sided defenders: 
Benjamin Henrichs             Contracted to June 2020
Mario Gaspar                        Contracted to June 2023…and last signed extension on 11.01.2017 
Joao Cancelo                       Contracted to June 2021 
Serge Aurier                         Contracted to June 2019 
Kyle Walker                          Contracted to June 2021 

Central defenders: 
Lucas Hernandez                Contracted to June 2022 
Virgil Van Dijk                       Contracted to June 2022 
Ben Gibson                           Contracted to June 2021 
Leonardo Bonucci               Contracted to June 2021 
Dan-Axel Zagadou              On youth contract 
Holger Badstuber                Contracted to June 2017

Julian Weigl                          Contracted to June 2021…and last signed extension on 21.12.2016 

Wingers / Forwards / Strikers: 
Alexis Sanchez                    Contracted to June 2018 
Lionel Messi                         Contracted to June 2018 
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Contracted to June 2020 
Alexandre Lacazette           Contracted to June 2019 
Antoine Griezmann             Contracted to June 2021 
Kylian Mbappe                     Contracted to June 2019 
Bernardo Silva                     AGREED TO SIGN 5-YEAR DEAL ON 26.05.2017 (officially 01.07.2017)

Thank you, as always, for taking the time to read. I won’t blog-post at the slightest suggestion of a possible new signing over the crazy, Summer transfer window but might ‘stick one on’ occasionally over the coming weeks.

Until then, have a great break from footy wherever you are, whatever you’re doing and stay safe.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Ratings & ‘empty seats’ stats for the 2016/17 season.

Season over, how did our players & fans do…and how did Manyoo fans do too?

My player ratings.

Claudio Bravo:                      4.5/10
Truly, truly awful and even improving a little before his injury doesn’t get him an “average” rating of 5.

Willy Caballero:                     8/10
“Mr Cup man” turned “rotated with Claudio” turned “full cover for injury” got better and better and better as the weeks ticked by. In the last few weeks, he looked a completely different keeper from the one we first signed!

Gael Clichy:                           7/10
Some errors but “Steady Eddie” also put in some very good, notable displays too.

Aleksandar Kolarov:            6.5/10
Still some terrible defensive displays but almost forgotten about amidst far more accomplished ones. Appeared better when asked to cover on the left of central defence and his long-distance, cross-field passing at times was a joy to watch.

Vincent Kompany:                8.5/10
“If only” was on the lips of almost every blue I spoke to about ‘our Skip’. Once he was fully over his appalling list of injuries (some unrelated to others) he not only put in some superb performances that seemed to get better the closer we got to the end of the season but he was clearly responsible for improving the ratings of his fellow defenders. Simply brilliant and would have been challenging for player of the season had he’d been fit for most of it.

Nicholas Otamendi:              7.5/10
Earlier on in the season there were still some wobbly displays that reminded us of his earlier displays not long after signing – being caught out of position and mistiming some rash challenges. But he improved…and then improved some more with Vinny next to him.

Bacary Sagna:                       7/10
Appearances seemed to decline as the season went on, partly through injury, but this fella rarely lets us down…and he didn’t again.

John Stones:                         7.5/10
Over-the-top criticism from pundits had me scratching my head when he made a couple of clangers. He was heading for a decent 7/10 but before the injury that ruled him out of the last few weeks, he improved significantly in my mind to earn a very good, extra-half-point. With Vinny or A.N. Other next to him next season, he can only improve further with age & experience. 

Pablo Zabaleta:                     8/10 
The emotion of such a City legend set aside; this battleship at the back for us produced some very, very good performances (even when asked to do a job in midfield); made more impressive by the fact that most City fans thought he would have struggled / slowed-down a lot this season. But, similar to a certain Ivorian midfielder, although his legs were ‘going’ a little; he looked leaner & shaper in many ways. Never does - and DIDN’T - let us down whenever he played.

Kevin De Bruyne:                 7.5/10
Quieter season than the previous…and that’s despite his many, eventual assists. At times, he was anonymous; other times his passing radar wasn’t just broken but it had been completely demolished! Then, in true Kevin style, he found his rhythm and improved so much toward the end of the season it was palpable. Never lacks effort…but what IS that ‘drop-off’ in form - and in some games - that I keep seeing from the red-haired, red faced one?

Fabian Delph:                        7/10
I know he didn’t play much but whenever he did pull on a City shirt season-just-gone, I can find little fault in his displays; some of which were really quite good. What a shame he can’t stay fit ‘cause I think Pep likes him, otherwise, and would prove a real squad asset.

Fernandinho:                         8.5/10
Spoilt some early-to-mid season good performances with some 'old Fernandinho' moments of madness – for a seemingly gentle fella he really does seem to have another [bad / rash] side to him. Then, whether playing in midfield or at right-back, he just switched up a gear or two and really shone with some truly excellent performances.

Fernando:                              6.5/10
Did okay when asked to step in, which was usually towards the end of games. Nothing special but certainly nothing bad from “The Octopus”. 'Often defensively reassuring' is a good way to describe him.

Ilkay Gundogan:                   6.5/10
Mixed performances before his terrible injury that included a ‘settling in’ period following another lengthy injury before he made his move to Manchester…but some moments of real class too as he began to ‘bed in’ (including some goals to his name). Let’s see what next season brings for the German international midfielder…

Aleix Garcia:                          6/10
Of couple of decent, steady displays from the youngster earlier on in the season; looked a little lost whenever he was given a shot towards the end.

Jesus Navas:                         6.5/10
Was heading for a 5.5/10 from me for most of the season but improved towards the end (there’s a reoccurring theme there with some of our players), especially when asked to do a job at right-back before Fernandinho made that position his. Still can’t flippin’ cross or shoot for the most part though!

Nolito:                                    6/10
Only gets such high-a-rating following his early form and goals. After that? We got nothing from his debut season.

Leroy Sane:                           8.5/10
Biggest compliment I heard? As my mate & I were in awe of his gameplay v Crystal Palace he said to me, “Wow! The way he danced through their players, then, was George Best like!”. If it wasn’t for a slow start and a couple of games that just didn’t work for him, he’d have been on for 9 for sure. This is one special, young player…

David Silva:                           9.5/10…and a “*” to go with that!
Simply a footballing genius who gets in my all-time City 11. Great season for the Spaniard!

Raheem Sterling:                  7.5/10
Still has a nagging habit of not making the right decision at keys times - this lets him down badly and is holding him back. To prove that he has to ability & scope to improve though, he still gets a very fine 7.5 rating from me. Could / should have been a lot higher…

Yaya Toure:                           8/10
After the spat came a lean & 'ready for business' Ivorian midfielder who slotted right back into place. Went quiet for a short time but towards the end (there’s that phrase again) ‘the big man’ was back!

Sergio Aguero:                     8.5/10
For the first 3rd of the season he was a little hit & miss and even looked a little sorry for himself and somewhat startled, as rumours surfaced that Pep wasn’t happy with his 'work rate' either on the training pitch or during games. Injury hampered him a little too, once again. But once both of those had been sorted, he hit a run of form both in terms of goals and overall displays that was breath taking at times…and 33 goals in all competitions is an excellent return! Would have got an added star from me if he’d have REALLY played to his ability for most of the season.

Kelechi Iheanacho:               5.5/10
Before the season, I said that this was the Nigerian’s season to shine under his new manager. Stats might still show that he has a decent ‘minutes to goals’ ratio but what a missed opportunity it was for him to show Guardiola what a potential he really is. Everything seemed to bounce off his shins in displays that looked like he was just trying too hard at times. It just didn’t ‘click’ for the youngster this season.

Gabriel Jesus:                       8.5/10…and, like David, a “*” to go with that despite his mere 10 games in a City shirt.
What a player! Has everything, doesn’t he? Pace with the ball; skill in bucket loads, finishing ability with his feet, has scored with his head, GREAT team player / awareness of colleagues around him…and a terrific ‘work ethic’ thrown into the mix too! If he’d have played all season and not got injured for many weeks he would have been pushing David Silva for ‘top spot’ in my ratings for sure.

Pep Guardiola:                      7/10
Gave us that opening 10-games of the season that had us all drooling and rubbing our hands with great anticipation. Took us to the Semi-final of the F.A. Cup and round of 16 in the Champions League, including THAT home game against Monaco (shame about the 2nd leg in France). Brought in John Stones, Leroy Sane and Gabriel Jesus and ‘sorted out’ Yaya and his agent. Finished 3rd in the Premier League in his first season in charge, making us the 3rd highest scorers in the league and giving us the 4th best defence in the Prem (so why were the pundits hammering our defence all season and not the 16 other teams that conceded more goals than us?). Gave us some brilliant football to watch. On the other side of the coin, however, appeared to be a little too stubborn at times and, although wonderful to watch, played a little TOO much nicey-nicey, sideways moves and not enough devastating, more-direct-attacking football until the end of the season. Result? Far too many missed opportunities and home draws and we also didn’t win enough of the ‘big games’ against ‘bigger opposition’. Shamefully ‘binned’ Joe Hart at the beginning of the season and replaced him with Claudio Bravo. Brought in Nolito. All-in-all, a decent but “still learning” season…

Overall team performance:  7.5/10
That final rating is boosted by a good run-in towards the end the season…

Home kit:                               8/10
Sleeves grew on me when I saw it close up.

Away (2nd) kit:                        3/10
Had some maroon in it…but those SOCKS!

3rd (also called “cup”) kit:    -16/10

What the…HELL?!

Empty seats

Empty seats? What on earth am I on about?

Well I don't like to mention "them" if at all possible on my blog postings - I'm just not bothered about 'em. However, regular readers might recall that I chuck this in after the season has finished and the reason for that is quite simple. As we have become more successful in recent years, filling our cabinets with an F.A. Cup, a couple of League Cups a brace of Premier League title trophies and a Community Shield, there has been less and less for a certain team from Trafford to beat us over the head with, as they try to find a crack in our armour to ‘have a pop’ an any opportunity.

Not that I’m bothered about them too much at ALL but, a few seasons back, I began to wonder just what was the gap between the number of empty seats per match / per season between us & them. And do you know what…it’s laughably not that much at all and, in fact, they have had, in previous seasons, more red seats showing than we have had blue ones!

As for the other morons who turn up at the Etihad singing about empty seats and “We’re just a **** Man United”, I won’t even give them ‘blog time’…

So, the result for this-season-just-gone:

Manchester City Capacities:
Domestic: 55,097
European: 53,000

Total number of empty seats in all competitions 2016/17:

Most empty seats during a match:
22,730 v Borussia Monchengladbach (NOTE: This was a rearranged fixture within 24 hours following the postponement of the match due to severe weather conditions)

Least number of empty seats during a match:
+351 v Monaco (NOTE: For the this fixture we actually exceeded the allowed capacity of 53,000 for European games by 351 and, so, there were officially no empty seats for this game)

Manyoo capacity:
75,635 for both domestic and in the Europa Cup

Total number of empty seats in all competitions 2016/17:

Most empty seats during a match:
17,456 v Zorya Luhansk

Least number of empty seats during a match:

So, for the ‘most empty seats during any single game’ category, Manyoo win that one BUT, as I have said, our 22,730 blue seats was at a hastily rearranged game following some of the heaviest rains and the biggest thunder & lightning storm I’ve seen in a long, long time in this country.

Least number of empty seat during a single match goes to us, with our +351 against their 238.

Total number of empty seats all season? We win, as Manyoo had 25,928 MORE empty seats in all competitions as we did last season.

So…when any embittered, Manyoo fan - or a fan of ANY team for that matter - makes themselves look silly with their “Emptyhad” comments or songs, just smile at them sympathetically as I often do. 

News just in / just learnt...

Around the time Manchester City Football Club release an on-line message of solidarity & support following Manyoo’s Europa Cup win and in the wake of the horrendous and very upsetting bomb blast at the Manchester Arena worded, “#A City United; Manyoo players sang, “…why don’t City **** off home” (around 1:17 on the video below).

Classless and utterly obsessed.