Five Talking Points from Manchester City’s Summer

Here’s Ciaran Murray, who you should follow on Twitter, giving us a run-down of the five major talking points from the summer so far.

1 – The Civil Engineer

“You can shove your Pellegrini – ‘cos we’re sticking with Mancini – shove your Pellegrini up your arse.”

In retrospect, not a great idea for some of the City faithful to break that catchy ode out at Wembley with rumours rife that Mancini was to be sacked. Sacked he was, and replaced he was with former Malaga manager, Manuel Pellegrini.
Pellegrini arrived in Manchester to a muted media fanfare and has carried on in this manner: aloof, reserved and understated. He is the breath of fresh air City needed following on from the end of Mancini’s tenure. I, like most City fans, wasn’t sure Mancini’s sacking was necessary and I certainly felt it was handled dismally but dressing room unrest combined with an abrasive approach and standoffish manager was hurting the egos of City’s playing staff. A change, it seems, was needed.

I saw a video on City’s site the other day where Pellegrini was saying something and the players were laughing. Laughing! It was that nervous laughter you do when someone older and wiser makes a little wisecrack and you don’t know how to act, but laughter nonetheless. Quite a glorious sight when you look at how Mancini could be with his squad. Samir Nasri says Pellegrini asks the players things like how they are and about their home life. Minuscule little touches in the scheme of things but the evidence is there to suggest the players are relishing life under the new manager and a happy, tight-knit squad off the pitch should therefore impress upon it. Kompany, Navas, Dzeko, Negredo, Jovetic and Rodwell have also been on hand to bestow compliments on the civil Chilean.

Aside from the warmth in his personality, he brings with him a brand of attractive, attacking football and has been spending pre-season instilling his philosophy into the players. I can’t wait to see how his teams line out when the Premier League returns.

2 – Welcome to Manchester

At the time of writing (late July), City have signed Fernandinho, Stevan Jovetic, Jesus Navas and Alvaro Negredo. Four signings. Last year, on the last day of August, City panic-bought five signings – with only Matija Nastastic proving to be a success on any level. City have acted quickly this time round, a lesson presumably heeded from Mancini’s criticism of last year’s transfer activity.

The signings brought in haven’t been of ‘marquee’ stature. Instead, the City camp has pitched on a smaller, more sensible patch. They haven’t gone for eye-catching, headline-grabbing players who’d ultimately be ill-fitting in the current squad. Instead, Pellegrini has gone after players designed to merge seamlessly into the fold. He has identified frailties and attended to them.

We cried out for width last season and it seems our prayers have been answered with Jesus Navas. Yaya Toure’s sluggish reluctance to defend, Gareth Barry’s lack of speed and attacking flair and Jack Rodwell’s unfortunate injury problems, combined with the end of, “Throw De Jong on and push Yaya up front” with Nigel’s departure – these central midfield issues have been tackled with Fernandinho. Lack of goals? Two strikers purchased: Jovetic – a could-be Kun and Negredo – a more physical, deft version of Edin Dzeko.

With the manager keen for two players for every position and last season’s difficulties addressed with the new recruits, City are looking very healthy indeed. Rivals are embroiled in transfer ‘sagas’ and in some cases it seems there is no end in sight. City are relaxing with their new boys flourishing in pre-season. I hope Mancini is proud.

3 – Farewell from Manchester

I don’t think there is a City fan that’s unhappy with the arrivals into the Etihad. On the other hand, I don’t think there are too many unhappy with the players who have departed, either. Five senior players are now off the wage bill, four of whom left over from the excessive spending during the Hughes era. Maicon is gone, Kolo’s now a Koppite, Wayne crossed the Bridge to Reading and Roque Santa cruised off to Malaga (where he was on loan last season and thrived – under Pellegrini). These four players, if truth be told, won’t be missed really but one departure was a little harder to face…

Carlos Tevez. He drove defences wild. He drove too fast through Macclesfield. He drove a fair few 250 yarders off Buenos Airean tee boxes too, I’m led to believe. He was a genius, an artisan, a magician. He was one of the best football players I’ve ever seen pull on the sky-blue shirt. His departure to Juventus, although par for the course, is still quite difficult to accept. He created some breath-taking moments, scored some unfathomable goals and worked tirelessly every single time he was willing to cross the line onto the pitch to play.

He was a hugely significant player for the Mansour era Manchester City. From the (now painful to think about) ‘Welcome to Manchester’ bill-board designed to aggravate Manchester United, to being the captain who lifted the FA Cup in 2011 – City’s first trophy in 35 years. Carlos enjoyed an extremely eventful time at the club. For me, however, although his attitude on the pitch was unquestionable, something about Tevez didn’t fully sit well and I never felt he belonged. Or at least he didn’t want to fully belong.

He handed in transfer requests, he criticised Mancunian restaurants, he refused to fucking warm up at 2-0 down against Bayern Munich in the Champion’s League. He played golf for half a season, he never ever attempted to learn English and he seemed eternally involved in a personal war of attrition with certain figures at Manchester United. Despite the obvious skills set he possessed as a football player, his off pitch antics were a hazard that always threatened to drive a wedge between him and the fans.

I’ll never forget what Tevez brought to City but we don’t need a pantomime villain anymore and I feel it’s a case of Juventus: Welcome to Tevez. I hope Turin’s Argentinian restaurants are up to scratch.

Thanks for still being here after, “Roque Santa cruised…” by the way!

4 – Isco Fever

I’m not going to dwell too long on this as I’ve said my piece on this transfer ‘saga’ but I feel it necessary to mention it here as it was a huge talking point earlier in the summer. In fact, for a few days, it was the only thing any supporter of Manchester City was talking or thinking about. There was a week where I thought of nothing else. This kid with a sublime first touch, an eye for a pass and the ability to run at players and to score great goals was surely going to arrive from Malaga. Asked was he hoping to follow Pellegrini to City, he replied with, “I wish”. We couldn’t wait for him to get here.

Zinedine Zidane, in a plot I’m sure was stolen from C. Montgomery Burns, swooped in and turned Isco away from the idea of joining Man City. Word has it Madrid offered Isco’s father 10 million Euros if his son decided to join them ahead of us. Excellent. If that is true, that’s just the most unbelievably dirty tactics I’ve ever heard of. I’m glad City didn’t stoop to those levels (despite feeling so attached to the idea of Isco joining that I was half expecting him to write me a personal letter of apology.)

That’s been a major talking point of the summer, too. City have chosen not to be held to ransom over signings. If a player doesn’t want to come, a rival is employing said dirty tactics or a club (Napoli) is making ludicrous monetary demands, City are calling them out and moving on. The lavish Mark Hughes era Manchester City may have worked a little harder and more publicly on transfers but invariably would have been embarrassed when these targets failed to materialise. City aren’t a laughing-stock any more in this way.

The Isco saga should teach City fans a lesson that we should be all too familiar with by now. Expect the unexpected! Nothing is done until it’s done. Those who were singing, “Let’s all have a disco, Silva Navas Isco. Let’s all have a party Aguero and Cavani Yaya Yaya Yaya” – I’m talking to you. We don’t do arrogance very well as it always comes back to bite us in the end. We’re City and nothing goes exactly as it we plan it to (See – 13th May 2012).

I never wanted to have a disco anyway.

5 – Moysey Neighbours

Unsurprisingly, I don’t really like to get involved in the goings-on at Manchester United. They do their thing, I do mine. I’ve some great friends who are reds and I like to leave them to it. Just over there, supporting United and doing United supportery things. I avoid United news and gossip as much as possible, too.

However, something’s changed. All doesn’t seem that rosy with the Reds and it’s making for gripping viewing. Since Ferguson stood down as manager, it doesn’t feel that Man United are the cool, calm and collected force they always like to appear to be. David Moyes needs signings and I can feel a vibe from United fans on Twitter or Facebook that patience is wearing thin. Moyes said in 2009 that Man City’s public pursuit of Joleon Lescott was, “disgraceful.” Last week, he said, on Cesc Fabregas, “I couldn’t tell you if there will be another bid. I never said at any time I knew we would get him. We will take stock and consider what we are going to do next.” Hard to beat a little hypocrisy now and again. A third bid for the Spaniard is expected imminently.

Moyes is in a difficult position here as the signing of Fabregas would serve two purposes. Firstly, he would be seen as a midfield string-puller filling the void left behind by Paul Scholes. Secondly, he is the kind of big name marquee signing that will remind people how huge Manchester United are and that David Moyes is as much of a draw as Alex Ferguson was. Good luck with this, lads.

Wayne Rooney isn’t making life easy for Moyes, either. He feels, “angry and confused” by the behaviour of the United management and Jose Mourinho, in an act that David Moyes will surely find disgraceful, has declared how much he would like Rooney at Chelsea. City have signed 4 players who are all embedded into the club during pre-season, have I mentioned that? Moyes is desperately trying to bring in signings and the future of one of United’s best players is still up in the air. Hope you’re enjoying the new job, Dave.

Oh and whilst I’m here a #FF for @ManUtd. Truly one of the funniest accounts on Twitter. Designed by Manchester United, Old Trafford.

Manchester City’s season begins on Monday 19th August at home to Newcastle United. Should bring about a cure for the Summertime Blues. Sergio Aguero’s breath-taking debut against Swansea was during City’s first game of the season – also a Monday night game. City went on to win the League title that season so it’s a good omen. Just imagine…

This is how it feels to be City.

written by Ciaran Murray

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