The City Summary (October 31, 2013)

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Stevan Jovetić was assessed by City’s medical staff today after pulling up with a calf injury against Newcastle. There is no word yet on the extent of his latest injury, but he is a major doubt for the weekend clash against Norwich.

Jovetić has struggled since arriving from Fiorentina, not because of the fierce competition in the City squad as some would have you believe, but because of constant injury niggles keeping him out.

His only 90 minute performance against Wigan in the Capital One Cup, where he scored twice, showed just what he can offer to City when fit. Pellegrini certainly knows what “Jo-Jo” is capable of.

Pellegrini on Jovetić (September ’09): “I watched Fiorentina play in the recent playoffs and Jovetić impressed me. He will be a revelation.”

There is breaking news this evening from Göteborgs-Posten in Sweden that John Guidetti will return to action on Friday for City’s U21s against Norwich U21s. This hasn’t been confirmed by City yet, but the information is said to come from former player Jens Fjellström.

Guidetti is fit again after a long knee injury that followed a potentially career ending illness, and confirmed it himself on Twitter yesterday.

Between absences, Guidetti scored 6 goals in 7 games for City’s U21s last season, showing the potency in front of goal that made him a hero while on loan at Feyenoord.

In yesterday’s City Summary after City were linked with Galatasaray goalkeeper Fernando Muslera, we said to expect many other links to follow with Joe Hart struggling. A day has passed and you can now add another to the list…

The Metro today reports that City will dispatch scouts to watch Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster (25) in the coming weeks. Forster has made a good impression for Celtic in the Champions League and is Hart’s main contender for the England number one shirt, so it’s an ‘easy’ link for the tabloids, much like Jack Butland last season.

Fernandinho’s dream of playing for Brazil at the World Cup next year is in danger of collapsing after Seleção coach Luiz Felipe Scolari again overlooked him for the latest national squad. Fernandinho had been hoping for a call-up, especially after adjusting well to a more disciplined and defensive role at City than the one he played at Shakhtar, highlighting his versatility to Scolari.

There is still time for Fernandinho, but it may just be a case of Scolari not rating him, much like Capello with Micah Richards when he was in excellent form during City’s title-winning year. Fernandinho has been one of City’s stand-out players lately and certainly better of late than Liverpool’s Lucas Leiva, who has been called up.

Matija Nastasic was recognised by French national newspaper L’Équipe today when named in its “Stars of Tomorrow” leading piece. 10 young players from across Europe were selected with Nastasic one of just two defenders alongside Real Madrid’s Raphaël Varane.

Nasty has had some wobbles this season, perhaps a case of ‘second season syndrome’, but it’s easy to forget he only turned 20 in March and remains one of Europe’s most promising young defenders.

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Joe Hart on a back page? That’s a new one. It’s “D-DAY FOR JOE” according to tomorrow’s Daily Star, with Pellegrini ready to make his mind up on who will start in goal against Norwich.

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If you missed them earlier, check out our articles from today on Pantilimon’s future and City’s pursuit of Brahim, one of Spanish football’s most exciting teens.

City chase Brahim, the young jewel of Spanish football

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Although it may be hard to believe looking at City’s expensively assembled first team squad, youth development is one of the club’s main priorities and the spectacular City Football Academy site, which is fast taking shape, is ample proof of that. The club is in particular very optimistic about the younger groups, with the largely Mancunian under-13 and under-14 teams winning national championships last season.

Developing young local players good enough to play for the first team is a serious priority within City’s corridors of power, not to mention something City fans would love to see.

But like any top club in this day and age, City are also aggressively pursuing the best young talent from across the globe. Many foreign starlets have been signed up in the past few years, including several Spanish youth internationals like Manu García, Pablo Maffeo and José Angel Tasende, who have all recently joined.

Another young Spanish player linked with the Blues has made headlines recently and he is Brahim Abdelkader Diaz.

Brahim plays for Málaga in Spain and is a diminutive 14-year-old playmaker considered to be one of Spanish football’s “young jewels”. There have been predictable comparisons to Messi because of his small frame and extraordinary skill, so it should come as no surprise that Barcelona also want him.

Barcelona have in fact been pursuing Brahim for a couple of years now, going as far as to introduce him to Messi, Xavi and Iniesta, but Málaga rejected an offer from Barca last year.

Enter City. Looking to add more wunderkinds to the ranks, Txiki Begiristain has made contact with Brahim’s agent, Pere Guardiola. Recent reports from Spain indicate that Brahim and his parents have verbally agreed to join City, but this has yet to be confirmed. If there is truth to that claim, City must also strike an agreement with Málaga, and a formal offer has yet to be made to them.

Málaga youth chief José Manuel Casanova claims City are not the only English club interested, but Txiki’s good relationship with Pere Guardiola, brother of former Barcelona manager Pep, could help see off interest from domestic rivals. You can’t rule out Barcelona, though, who remain interested in Brahim and will make further efforts to add him to the prestigious La Masía talent factory.

How good is Brahim? You’d have to ask those who watch him every week, but he is so highly regarded by scouts that Barcelona believe he could be in their first team by the time he’s 16. These video compilations offer a glimpse of just what all the fuss is about.

Pants – a new deal

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Costel Pantilimon finds himself in a ‘very strong’ bargaining position this morning.

Common knowledge the 26-year-old is out of contract at the end of this season.

It’s not clear, however, purely from a business point of view, why improved terms hadn’t been offered up to this point, simply to realise cash on a present asset?

A rapidly depreciating asset which could now be put in the first-team shop window for all to see.

City are caught in a ‘stick or twist’ situation.

Pantilimon’s supposed mindset was to walk-off into the sunset, next summer, grabbing a tasty signing-on fee somewhere else.

Pellegrini needs to know where both player and our board are currently at.

The January window is coming and ‘Pants’ is holding all the aces.

 

 

 

The City Summary (October 30, 2013)

City are through to the Capital One Cup quarter finals after beating Newcastle 2-0 tonight at St James’ Park. It wasn’t a vintage performance by a City team featuring many fringe players and some who have had fitness problems. Both Jovetić and Micah, who have been plagued by injuries, were substituted off with new problems, though neither looked in major discomfort.

City could have been 2-0 down at half-time, but improved in the second half and after the match ended 0-0, took control in extra time. Dzeko had been sulky and anonymous in regular time, but came to life when he set up Negredo for the opener, then finished off a great move involving Silva (who made a big difference after coming on) and Milner to wrap it up.

Newcastle: Krul, Debuchy, Haidara (Dummett 45, Ben Arfa 81), Anita, Williamson, Yanga-Mbiwa, Sissoko, Tioté, Cissé, Shola Ameobi (Cabaye 67), Gouffran
Subs not used: Remy, Elliot, Obertan, Sammy Ameobi

Manchester City: Pantilimon, Richards (Zabaleta 83), Kolarov, Rodwell (Silva 64), Boyata, Lescott, Navas, García, Dzeko, Jovetić (Negredo 10), Milner
Subs not used: Hart, Nasri, Fernandinho, Demichelis
Goals: Negredo 99, Dzeko 105

Attendance: 33,846

City have the easiest quarter final draw on paper after drawing the only team outside of the Premier League, Leicester City. This could be tricky, though, as Leicester will be at home and could be in “cup final” mode like so many underdogs are against City. They are 2nd in the Championship and sent Fulham packing from the Capital One Cup yesterday, so Pellegrini will have to be careful not to underestimate them with his team selection.

It will also be a big day for Leicester keeper Kasper Schmeichel who will face the club whose academy gave him his start in football. Kasper made 10 first team appearances for City in all competitions before leaving for Notts County in 2009.

UEFA’s disciplinary body today dished out their punishment to CSKA Moscow after racist taunts from their fans were aimed at Yaya Toure. CSKA will have to played their next Champions League home game against Bayern with one section of the stadium closed.

CSKA rarely sell out the Arena Khimki and even against City there were thousands of empty seats, which begs the question: how exactly are CSKA being punished?

If they’re charged with racism a second time they will face a fine and a full stadium closure for one game. Only if it happens a third time may the punishment really start to hurt, with a points deduction or exclusion from European competitions then considered.

City worked hard to get CSKA punished for the obscene monkey chants aimed at Yaya, but received very little help from people in Russia…

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City are keeping tabs on Galatasaray and Uruguay goalkeeper Fernando Muslera (27) according to Turkish-Football.com with the player admitting his childhood dream was to play in the Premier League. Galatasaray president Ünal Aysal admitted that they could accept a high offer for a goalkeeper who has kept 32 clean sheets in 80 appearances for the Turkish giants.

Muslera is an impressive goalkeeper and his club value him in the region of £20million so he wouldn’t come cheap if City decided to raid the club now coached by Roberto Mancini. Expect him to be one of many keepers linked with City, though, if Joe Hart’s form doesn’t improve.

City have welcomed Swedish twins Jacob & Marcus Ejerblad, both 14, to Manchester for a trial. The teens from Sunnersta AIF will train with the U15s and could turn out against Newcastle this weekend. Jacob, a central defender, and Marcus, a midfielder, told the Swedish press that they are excited to have such an opportunity.

It wasn’t so long ago that City had twins from nearby Norway, Tom and Kim Skogsrud. Those two didn’t make the grade at City and moved to Rangers in Scotland before heading home to Norwegian second division side Sandefjord Fotball.

City are again on the back pages tomorrow, but Joe Hart has mercifully been given the day off. And rare as it may be, the Daily Star are spot on.

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If you missed it earlier, we posted an exclusive teaser of City’s financial report that is due before the end of the year. Ferran Soriano and Tom Glick are doing an outstanding job on the financial side and expect City to break into the world’s top five money-making clubs soon.

Those “sugar daddy” jibes will soon become obsolete with City on course to become a self-sustaining juggernaut in the coming years.

City – big announcement

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City’s annual accounts are imminent and one discreet briefing on Tuesday put it like this…”The penny is about to drop, in a very big way!”

Perhaps the true financial terms of our Etihad sponsorship are about to become that much clearer?

Soriano has certainly hinted our losses could again fall by half, which brings us well within FFPR, after exemptions.

Of more interest will be the magical turnover figures…

Zaba – Silver not good enough

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Pablo Zabaleta has revealed the pressure the team are putting on themselves this season.

The blues right-back is set to be rested tonight at Newcastle, with Micah due to get another run out.

But Zaba says: “Last season hurt us. We finished second to United and lost the FA Cup Final and this club cannot accept silver medals.

“The manager always tells us that we have the squad to challenge for everything and that he will always try to put a strong team out to win every game.

“The experience against Wigan has made us more focused. This time the manager has told us that we must aim to win all four competitions that we are in.”

‘This club cannot accept silver medals’ – we’ve come a long way, blues, eh?

 

 

The City Summary (October 29, 2013)

It was again Joe Hart’s name on most of the back pages this morning, the treatment of City and England’s number one even more brutal than usual after revelations that he could lose his place on a regular basis.

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Pantilimon will start against Newcastle in the Capital One Cup as he would even if Joe was in peak form, but a decent performance is likely to see the Romanian keep his place for this weekend’s clash with Norwich. Incredibly, Pantilimon has yet to play a single minute of Premier League football in over 2 years at City, but his chance may arrive on Saturday.

Hart, meanwhile, doesn’t think he should shoulder all the blame for the Chelsea catastrophe.

On a brighter note, Micah Richards is edging closer to a new contract after revealing he loves life at City and want to spend the next ten years of his career at the club he joined as a 14-year-old.

Micah has been seeking assurances from City about playing time and keeping his options open since the new contract was offered in early summer, but is expected to sign a new long-term deal before the end of the year.

Losing Richards would have been a blow to City as he is the only academy product currently able to command regular game time when fit. City have serious intent to give the team a greater homegrown feel in the coming years, with more academy graduates making the step up.

Yaya Touré is City’s sole representative on the shortlist for FIFA’s 2013 Ballon d’Or. Marca speculated yesterday that both Yaya and Aguero could be on the list, but Aguero missed the cut. Aguero didn’t have his best season last year, with injuries interrupting it, but if he keeps up his current form will surely be a candidate next year.

Yaya will play no part in tomorrow’s Newcastle game after flying back to Manchester from the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, where he was appointed an ambassador for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

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Marcos Lopes will miss out on a rare first team opportunity tomorrow after picking up a minor injury at the worst possible time. Lopes made a big impression in the last round against Wigan and would have hoped to do likewise against stronger opposition.

Newcastle will be missing defenders Fabricio Coloccini and Stephen Taylor through injury tomorrow night, while Alan Pardew is considering leaving out star men Yohan Cabaye and Loic Remy with Newcastle hosting Chelsea in the 12:45pm kick-off this Saturday.

Probable teams for tomorrow’s Capital One Cup match (7:45pm kick-off, Sky Sports 1):

City: Pantilimon, Richards, Demichelis, Lescott, Kolarov, Garcia, Rodwell, Milner, Jovetić, Navas, Dzeko
Newcastle: Krul, Debuchy, Williamson, Yanga-Mbiwa, Santon, Anita, Tiote, Sammy Ameobi, Sissoko, Marveaux, Cissé