Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Signs of movement

No real surprises name-wise but talk is gathering momentum about movement both incoming and outgoing at the Etihad.

Having said that, there are rumblings of other names that I didn’t expect to hear too…

Moving out?

Regular readers might not be surprised that I raised a little, hopeful smile when I heard the other day that Roma ‘have agreed a fee with Manchester City’ for the purchase of Alex Kolarov. The reported fee is £9.8M.

I honestly don’t take great pleasure in suggesting that any Manchester City player is poor and Alex, to his credit, has improved a lot under Pellegrini. But his improvements have been 15% going forward and 10% in his defending ability and when you consider the exceptionally poor starting position those improvements came from; well, it’s just not good enough…particularly in the defending department.

Not wanting to list, once again, the glut of obvious ‘taxi for…’ lot as I did not long ago; I will, instead, list a couple in the…‘you can believe it or not’ / ‘shock’ column.

  1. I was a little rocked, I have to admit, when I began to see headlines linking James Milner with an, ‘I want out of Manchester City’ line. Rocked, because, I can quite well understand and imagine that such a fine player at just 28 years of age being a little disgruntled at his (very) limited game time. Even a player far less fit than James is just approaching the beginning of his considered ‘prime age’ [of 28 to 32]…and being English too is sure carrying a hell of a lot more [negotiating] weight in these times of rule changes.
         In short, he holds all the cards here.

And so why shouldn’t he begin to make waves in order to secure a much better deal at Manchester City? And if we don’t bite and listen to what he wants then he’ll be in a similarly strong bargaining position before joining any other Premier League Club I’m sure - and there would be plenty of interest from some of the top sides I’m certain of it.

He must be a little concerned also that we’re in for another decent, defensive midfielder [in Fernando] – I’ve said before that he’d do a fine job sitting deeper in the middle of our midfield if asked.

I am reminded of the amount of times last season – particularly in the last third of the campaign – where local commentators uttered the words, “James Milner must consider himself very unfortunate not to make the starting 11 today; after some terrific performances of late…”

James has come a long, long way since his first season after joining us from Aston Villa; he’s a completely changed and MUCH improved player. And although he’s benefitted not only from better Management under both Roberto Mancini and Manuel Pellegrini; he has learnt a LOT, I’m sure, from the types of players he trains with most days (and plays with less so).

But he’s learnt now - he’s ‘arrived’. And England have a much, MUCH better player on their hands for it. He does hold all the cards and that’s why I am a little concerned that this rumour ‘has some legs’.

Sure he might simply be ‘tub thumping’ for a better contract. But I get the feeling that our Yorkshire Terrier isn’t the type to be satisfied with a big bank balance and very little in the way of first-team football – I might be na├»ve there but I just don’t think he’s like that.

But that leaves just one thing, which is a demand / promise [during any summer negotiations] for more ‘game time’. So for me there’s only one remaining question – is Pellegrini the type of man to respond positively to those kinds of “requests”? If the answer is no, then we could well be devastated by the loss of such a fine, valuable, adaptable and English-quota player in the summer.

  1. Yaya Toure wants to leave Manchester City”. Those are the apparent quotes from Yaya’s agent.

At first I barley blinked an eyelid; immediately thinking no more of this than a mischievous agent hankering for one last big pay-out on the Ivorian…either that or a desperate journalist looking for a cheap thrill.

And so when I read the reasons behind the apparent ‘want away’ I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Laugh – Because Manchester City Football Club officials had, get this…forgotten to celebrate and / or congratulate Yaya on his 31st birthday on 13th May!

But then after contemplating a big belly-gafoor…

Cry – Because I recalled how tetchy and angry he had been in the last few weeks of the season; sighting the fact that he’d been overlooked and unappreciated by footballing officials when awards were being handed out.

He’s a little sensitive and complex is our midfield hero…and that concerns me a little.




Moving on…and moving in?

And so, having now depressed myself with those two, potential departures, I’ll swiftly move on to the gathering pace of some incoming players…


Although there’s not been much mention of him in the last week I still expect Porto’s defensive midfield ‘Octopus’, Fernando, to be joining us. I just wonder, though, whether he might be peering across to his current club-colleague Eliaquim Mangala who, by all accounts, recently told an foreign interviewer that he won’t be joining Manchester City; preferring instead the area of London over Manchester. He wants Chelsea to make a move for him.

I was a little gutted when I first read supposed and actual quotes from the French defender; stating his reasons for preferring Chelsea as, “Because it is London”. Then I was a little irked and thought, ‘Sod yer then; your mistake and loss mate”.

So we’ll see on this one, as even MORE recent rumours are suggesting that Manchester City aren’t giving up on this long-term target without a fight…and the sceptical side of me is also thinking that devious Porto and / or his agent are interfering here; drumming up competition so-as-to raise the price…

I also got over it very quickly because I’d already been reading up and looking at footage of another recently rumoured move for a central defender; one who might cost considerably less cash too.

Now you can take YouTube football player footage with a big pinch of salt of course – some players on there have stock footage of their ‘best bits’ clipped together in a way that would make even Phil Jones look good!

And I’ve been bitten before; most famously footage of Georgios Samaras fooled both me and several thousand Manchester City fans before we signed him from Heerenveen.

But YouTube isn’t all that bad – if it’s a good enough collection of stuff and you are keen to watch the fine details of a players’ ability then it CAN be quite an accurate tool for fans to make some accurate judgements.

That’s why I’m all for us getting this fella, Mehdi Benatia. Here’s some footage…

Quick, good tackler, likes to play it out and pass and, crucially for me, very good with both feet.

For some reason, however, I’ve just noticed that his price has jumped up in the press from a reputed £12M to £25M…and of course Barcelona (remember them?) are now apparently sniffing too. Actually, though, I did think that £12M for a player just 1 season into a 5-year contract with Roma was a little on the cheap-side for the 27-year old, 31-capped Moroccan.

Putting 2+2 together here; perhaps the £12M would be the difference payable as we ‘hand over’ Kolarov to Roma too…

This one has some truth to it I think – particularly with their interesting in Alex – and don’t be surprised to see both Benatia AND Mangala wearing the sky blue of City next season.

Having said that, there’s also the more-recent Stoke City Player of the Season, Ryan Shawcross link. The ex-Manyoo (never played), 6’ 3” central defender was tipped for big things as he was loaned out from Stretford to Royal Antwerp (22 games) but found himself in The Potteries instead. He’s been a regular ever since and has, impressively, been Captain for the majority of his time there.

I can’t say I’ve paid close attention to his actual game play but clearly, at over 200 games in the Premier League at 26-years of age, he’s not bad. Again the ‘English / home-grown factor’ stands out here in the ‘plus’ column. The only thing that’s putting me off a little is his lack of games of his county; both at senior and U21 level. If he is ‘all that’ then why so few…especially at youth levels?

Newcastle United are apparently interested…

It would appear that Bacary Sagna is all but a ‘done deal’. Rumours are that he even had and passed a medical yesterday before finalising a deal to sign for us.

And, apparently, we beat off late and strong interest from Louis Van Gaal / Ryan Giggs. Doesn’t surprise me in the slightest – not only have I been bleating on about us going for this very good, very experience freebie; I’ve had Manyoo fans gritting their teeth in front of me about us potentially obtaining the Frenchman’s signature – they really wanted him too.

Hope we finalise it soon – him and Zaba vying for the right-back slot? Wow!

Speaking of freebies, I’ve mentioned it before but there’s been very little in the way of press links to Ashley Cole. I mention him again because it was looking like Jose was leaving the door open for the 33-year old left-back to stay with the Londoners.

However, this morning the story is that Ashley wants to move on and so if I was Mr Pellegrini - with the England / home-grown thing praying on my mind as well as the left-backs that I have at my disposal - this one SHOULD be a ‘no brainer’.

I’ve just got a feeling that this one COULD end up at Manyoo…either there or abroad. Shame…

That’s it for now. It’s good to see us addressing areas that were of concern to us last season. Not that I’m NOT hopeful of an additional attacking / creative option at some point…and we most certainly need to be addressing the left-side of the defence. But it should come as huge relief to most City fans to see the Club making early in-roads into securing the centre and right-side of the defence, as well as strengthening the defensive aspect of our midfield considerably.

We should be a FAR more solid unit next season…

Quick announcement…

Still without a laptop; I’m going away for a few days this coming Bank Holiday and then again for a week from 7th June. Apologies, therefore, in advance for the reduced number of postings over the coming weeks. I will try as & when possible…

In the mean time, if you’re going away soon too then have a great time…and enjoy the World Cup!


  1. That whole Yaya story has reminded me all over again why I often hate football, and sometimes wish that I could stop following it as much as I do (those ties are proving too hard to break). Whatever the reasons behind it (new contract?), it's a f*cking joke. A mate recently described football as a 'soap opera' and he was spot on - having sh*t like that endlessly all over the back pages is so depressing. Hey Yaya, why not go and tell the kids in the Ivory Coast that £220k a week isn't a sufficient mark of attention/respect?

    1. Couldn't agree with you more! I have exactly the same feelings and thoughts on both football and, in particular, the Yaya thing. Spot on!

      Thanks for reading / commenting.