The City Summary (January 23, 2014)

City will face Sunderland in the Capital One Cup final after Sunderland overcame our neighbours United in the worst penalty shootout ever seen last night.

Many City fans had been expecting United to overturn a slender 2-1 deficit and if not for David de Gea’s butter fingers they might have won on the away goals rule and set up the first ever major cup final between the Manchester clubs.

Instead, City fans can put the body armour away and expect more of a friendly day out at Wembley on March 2nd.

City have been given an allocation of 31,580 for this game, with adult prices ranging from £40 to £100. Most season card holders should be able to get a ticket, but those on the League Cup scheme will be rewarded for their loyalty by having first dibs.

You can find ticket prices and criteria at the official site.

Late last night, City again made headlines worldwide when Football Federation Australia announced the club has purchased Hyundai A-League minnows Melbourne Heart.

City have bought a majority 80% share in the club, with NRL club Melbourne Storm picking up the other 20%. Much like the City/Yankees collaboration with New York City FC, this seems a smart move and will enable City to tap into the knowledge of local businessmen.

CEO Ferran Soriano said the intention is to make Melbourne Heart, which is more than likely going to be renamed Melbourne City, into a major player in Australian football. Right now, they sit bottom of the league and have the fourth lowest attendances in the A-League.

Premier League fans will be familiar with their captain Harry Kewell, who spent years in England at Leeds and Liverpool. Former Dutch international Orlando Engelaar and former Coventry striker Michael Mifsud also ply their trade for the club.

Melbourne Heart play their games at beautiful AAMI Park, which seats 30,050 fans. Some will wonder if they might move to Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium, but with a current average attendance of around 10,000, a 50,000+ stadium might be too much, too soon.

City want to revolutionise football and are looking to create a “family” of clubs around the world, who will share the same footballing philosophy and scouting networks, while maintaining strong ties to the local community like City.

No major announcements are planned until mid-2014 and Melbourne Heart’s season is likely to end without too many changes.

Manchester City are now the second highest earners in English football, behind only United.

The annual Deloitte Football Money League was released yesterday and showed that City have overtaken Arsenal and Chelsea this year with record turnover of £271m.

This makes City the sixth highest earning club in the world, not bad for a club that those with heads buried in sand believe relies entirely on a wealthy owner.

These figures should also mean that City comply with the first monitoring period of Financial Fair Play, though the official financial report is yet to be released.

The area in which City lag behind their rivals is matchday revenue, with City’s ticket prices, considered to be the best value for money in the league, and lack of corporate/executive seats making for comparatively low matchday income, despite average attendances of around 47,000 (more than the likes of Chelsea, Spurs and Liverpool who have higher matchday revenue).

The stadium expansion will improve matchday income significantly with many more premium seats to be introduced, along with more standard seats that will include the much talked about £299 value season tickets.

The full breakdown can be seen below (click to enlarge).


City have yet to reveal the extent of Alvaro Negredo’s shoulder injury after he landed heavily against West Ham.

He was seen leaving Bridgewater Hospital in a sling on Wednesday, but the Daily Mail reckons it is nothing serious and he should be back for the Spurs game next week.

Pellegrini should clarify The Beast’s condition at tomorrow’s press conference.

With City playing in the Capital One Cup final on March 2nd, the Old Trafford derby, which was scheduled for March 1st, has been postponed.

United will have that weekend off while over 30,000 Blues travel south to Wembley.

The new date of the match is yet to be confirmed.

Following months of speculation and links to countless clubs, Abdisalam Ibrahim has left Manchester City after 6 1/2 years at the club.

The 22-year-old, who has been fairly outspoken to the Norwegian press about a lack of chances at City, was granted an early release by City, half a season before his contract was due to expire.

Despite links to many big clubs, including Arsenal at one point, Ibrahim has flown to Greece and will join former City youth team-mate Vladimir Weiss at Olympiacos in the coming days.

It’s thought that Olympiacos will loan him out to Crete-based club Ergotelis FC for experience.

Ibrahim made three first team appearances for City’s first team, including a Premier League appearance against Liverpool in 2010.

Best of luck to Abdi on his new adventure.

City have been rebuffed in another attempt to sign Real Madrid defender Pepe, according to El Confidencial.

30-year-old Pepe was City’s number one defensive target last summer, with Pellegrini looking for a high-level defender to add experience to the defence.

With young defender Raphael Varane badly injured at the time, Real wouldn’t sanction the sale of Pepe and that stance hasn’t changed.

City had to settle for Martin Demichelis instead, but with Joleon Lescott on his way out in the near future, City are looking at defensive options.

Both Kurt Zouma and Eliaquim Mangala have been targets, but deals for either are difficult this month. City have been very interested in Mangala, but Porto want around £40m for the young Frenchman, a price City feel is too high.

If a defender isn’t signed this month, City will hold on to Lescott until the end of his contract in June.

In the same article as the Pepe news, El Confidencial had a snippet on Isco. Remember him?

Nasri’s blistering form this season has made the Isco saga easy to forget, but he was one of City’s main targets last summer and was tipped to follow Pellegrini from Málaga to Manchester.

The Spanish publication claims that Isco, now of Real Madrid, is considered “persona non grata” (a very unwelcome person) at City, because he had given the club his word that he’d join, but went back on that when Real dispatched Zidane to lure him to the Bernabéu.

Of course, football is a fickle business and if Isco does ever become available, an apology could quickly change things…


The City Summary (January 9, 2014)

Yaya Toure is the 2013 CAF African Footballer of the Year!

Yaya broke Nigeria’s dominance at this year’s award by being named Africa’s best player for the third year running.

Only Samuel Eto’o, during his prime, has managed to win CAF’s version of the award three times on the bounce before.

Last month, City’s midfield talisman was named BBC African Footballer of the Year for the first time, and has now completed the 2013 double header by winning the CAF award.

Not bad for a “liability”, eh Didi?

At the same awards ceremony, Kelechi Iheanacho was named Africa’s Most Promising Talent on the day his father revealed more information about his future.

Iheanacho, the star of the 2013 U17 World Cup, wore a blue jacket when he received an award that recognised an impressive year for the 17-year-old.

Earlier today, his father James told Sports Radio Brila FM in Nigeria that his son has a pre-contract with City and that will become an official contract when he turns 18 this October.

It also emerged today that Kelechi could be joined not only by team-mate Chidiebere Nwakali, but by the “Nigerian Neymar” Musa Yahaya. City are in the hunt for the 16-year-old and you can read more about that possible deal here.

Manuel Pellegrini is one of four nominees for the Barclays Manager of the Month award, after City went through December unbeaten. Pellegrini’s competition for the award are Jose Mourinho, Roberto Martinez and (try not to laugh) David Moyes.

Meanwhile, three of the six nominees for Barclays Player of the Month are City players. Along with Luis Suarez, Ross Barkley and Theo Walcott, City trio Yaya, Negredo and Kompany are in contention.

Pellegrini has a great chance of winning his first Manager of the Month award in England, but it’s hard to look past Suarez for Player of the Month after he managed 10 goals and 4 assists in Liverpool’s 7 games last month.

Just when you thought City couldn’t get any more dangerous in attack, this man edges closer and closer to his long awaited return…

City have made a £37m bid for Porto and France defender Eliaquim Mangala according to Le10Sport in France.

22-year-old Mangala has been scouted intensively by City for a long time with the player himself admitting the Blues had made a late effort to sign him during the summer.

While City’s interest in Mangala is definite, it’s very important to note that Le10Sport is not a great source and deals a lot in gossip. Think of it like you would the Daily Star.

Despite the unreliable source, a move for Mangala is possible, but would be very expensive. Not just City but Chelsea, United, PSG and Monaco have been linked regularly with the young defender.

City have rejected a loan offer from Inter for Stevan Jovetic according to Sky Italia’s Gianluca Di Marzio.

Inter sporting director Marco Branca asked about Jovetic while in London, but was turned away by City chiefs who plan to use the 24-year-old if he can just get fit.

As we revealed today, Juventus are also keen on “Jo-Jo” and tried to sign him last summer, but Fiorentina preferred to deal with City than a domestic rival.

Jovetic has the ability to be a key player for City, but if it just doesn’t work out the possibility of using him to sign Arturo Vidal or Paul Pogba next summer could be tempting.

City and Arsenal have dispatched scouts to watch Celtic centre-back Virgil van Dijk according to the Scottish Express.

22-year-old Virgil van Dijk only joined Celtic in the summer for £1.6m from Groningen, but his form for the Scottish giants has boosted his value to around £10m.

Finally, here’s a great look at City’s season so far in graphic form from WhoScored.

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Analysing and rating City’s new signings for the 2013/14 season (so far)

Going into last summer’s transfer window, the usual marquee names were linked with City. Cavani. Falcao. Reus. You know the type. So it came as a surprise to many when City director of football Txiki Begiristain opted for slightly less glamorous signings, ones he felt would offer good value for money.

Half a season has passed since then and we’ve had chance to see all five of the new signings in action – some more than others. So how have they fared, taking their transfer fee and expectations into account? Here’s my view.

Jesús Navas
£14.9m from Sevilla

City’s first signing of the summer was speed merchant Navas, one of the few old fashioned wingers left in Spain. Navas had been supposed to join Chelsea when he was 20, but chronic homesickness killed the deal and kept him at Sevilla for years, despite interest from top clubs.

Having overcome his issues, Navas made the big move to Manchester, giving City a speedy and direct winger, something City fans had been pleading for but the type of player Mancini wasn’t too keen on in his system.

Navas made a hit-and-miss start, showing plenty of pace and trickery but delivering little in the way of assists and goals. His assist against United in September was his first in the league, but City career didn’t really explode into life until the 6-0 massacre of Spurs, where he put in a near flawless performance that included two goals and an assist.

Since the Spurs game, whether as a starter or off the bench, Navas has been in tremendous form. In his last four appearances, he has managed three assists and one goal. He has already matched his total number of assists for Sevilla last season, with half of this year’s campaign still to go.

It’s quite amusing really that Navas’ form is improving in the midst of a cold English winter. If any player fit the lazy stereotype of the foreigner who would struggle on cold winter nights in English football, it’s Navas. But he has gotten better as the weather has become chillier!

Navas has been a quality signing for City and offers a genuine “Plan B”, something we had been missing under Mancini. £14.9m for a World Cup and Euro winning Spain international looked a good deal on paper, and has been in reality.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Álvaro Negredo
£16.9m from Sevilla

The £16.9m signing of Spain international Negredo came as a disappointment to those who were expecting Edinson Cavani (£55m to PSG) or Radamel Falcao (£50m to Monaco), as they had were the marquee names on the market and both linked with City.

What some failed to realise is that Negredo had entered his prime in the season just gone and was outscoring many of the big names. His physical presence also made him an ideal match for the Premier League, moreso than his countryman Roberto Soldado who has looked half the player Negredo has in England, despite the two being on a similar level in La Liga.

Negredo isn’t a hard signing to judge – he has been a complete success and proven more than value for money. Goals have come frequently from “The Beast”, but just as important has been his overall contribution to the team and partnership with Aguero. For example, he didn’t score in September’s derby win over United, but was a nightmare for Vidic and Ferdinand, and notched up two assists. He has been a true “system” signing, someone who has slotted in like a well oiled cog.

The longest Negredo has gone without scoring is four games, and one of those was the aforementioned 4-1 win over United where his performance was phenomenal. Before his 35 minutes on the pitch against Palace at weekend, Negredo had scored in nine successive home games, something that has led to him already becoming a cult hero at the Etihad.

If there has been one flaw in Negredo’s first half-season, it is his lack of goals on the road compared to at home. Dzeko has been scoring more away from home, but Negredo’s lack of goals doesn’t mean he has played poorly. His assist for Milner against Fulham is an example of his contributions on the road.

At 28, Negredo is in the prime of his career and probably has 4 or 5 years left at this level. Should he be able to maintain the quality he has shown so far, £16.9m will be one of City’s greatest ever bargains. Cavani and Falcao – who needs them?

Rating: 9 out of 10

£30m from Shakhtar Donetsk

When Fernandinho become the third most expensive player in Manchester City history, behind only compatriot Robinho and modern day icon Aguero, eyebrows were raised. The obvious questions surfaced, such as how good could he be having played in the Ukraine until he was 28? How good could he be having only five caps for Brazil?

Anyone who saw Fernandinho light up the Champions League for Shakhtar last season knew the quality of the player. Up against Chelsea, Borussia Dortmund and Juventus in the 2012/13 Champions League, he didn’t just hold his own against some of Europe’s top teams, but outshone many opposition players.

Fernandinho’s price tag worked against him in his early days as a City player, with some unfair criticism of him. He wasn’t perfect at first and was very prone to picking up yellow cards, but his performances weren’t as bad as some made out and in the games he was average in, his midfield partner (Yaya Toure) wasn’t any better.

His stellar performance in the Manchester derby, where he made United’s £27.5m signing Fellaini look like a pub league player, started to win the doubters over, but it was in the second half of October that his adjustment to English football seemed to end and he moved up a level.

Fernandinho has become not only one of City’s best players this season, but one of the Premier League’s best players. A good site for player performance stats, WhoScored, has him down as the 8th best player in the league so far this season, higher than any other summer signing in the Premier League.

Fernandinho combines what both De Jong and Barry brought to the team, but offers so much more, such as his ability to join in the attack. He played a box-to-box role at Shakhtar and has had to adapt to a more disciplined holding role at City, but more and more we’re seeing him surge forward and it’s a sight to behold, with the Brazilian’s creativity allowing him to pass between the lines and create chances.

One gripe about Fernandinho is, or was, his lack of goals. He’s wasted some good chances in front of goal, but his brace against Arsenal including one peach of a goal has started to remedy that.

A potential worry is that Fernandinho has spent many years in Ukraine, a slower league with fewer games. No player has started more games than Fernandinho (24 starts) this season and City run the risk of burning out the Brazilian in his first season experiencing the intensity of English football.

Many would rank Negredo as the signing of the season and there is a strong case for him, but I give the nod to Fernandinho. Partnered with Yaya Toure, he has moved City’s midfield up to the next level, something that has also benefited us in the Champions League.

Rating: 9.5 out of 10

Martín Demichelis
£3.5m from Atlético Madrid

City’s failed pursuit of Real Madrid’s Pepe led to a late scramble for defensive reinforcements in the summer window. They opted for the experienced Demichelis, who had been named in La Liga’s Team of the Year playing for Málaga under Pellegrini.

At 32 (now 33), Demichelis was obviously a short-term solution and the intention was likely for him to act mainly as a backup, as he would have at Atlético Madrid behind Godin and Miranda.

However, injuries to Kompany and Nastasić have meant Demichelis has played regularly for the Blues. Before his recent injury, he had completed 90 minutes in twelve successive Premier League and Champions League games, only being given the night off in a couple of Capital One Cup matches.

Demichelis hasn’t been a mega-hit signing like Negredo, Navas and Fernandinho. But neither has he been the disaster the faux pundit Alan Hansen would have you believe. At times he has struggled with the pace of English football and makes mistakes, but his reading of the game is impressive as is his forward thinking passing. He is also a threat in the opposition box from corners and free kicks.

Overall, he has been a solid signing, about what you’d expect from a 33-year-old who cost £3.5m. Having to play so many games at his age can’t have been easy with the ferocious pace of English football. He has adjusted to English football much better than £6m flop Stefan Savić did, and with so many injuries in central defence this season, has proven decent value for money.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Stevan Jovetić
£22m from Fiorentina

There is an unwritten rule in football that when you sign players in a bulk, at least one of them has to be a disaster. Jovetić would be the closest to that so far, but to call him a flop, misfit, disaster or any such moniker would be unfair. To receive such titles, you surely have to fail on the pitch, something Jovetić hasn’t even had the chance to do.

Of all the summer signings, the Montenegrin excited many City fans the most. A versatile and technically gifted attacker, Jovetić joined City on the back of an excellent season at Fiorentina. One, I might add, that was mostly uninterrupted by injuries.

His first half-season at City has been ruined by injuries, though. Bizarrely, some in the media are ignoring this and pretending he is some kind of misfit who just can’t get a game. This isn’t true, of course, and we have been left frustrated by the many setbacks keeping “Jo-Jo” out of the City team.

Jovetić has played just 187 minutes for City so far, in that time scoring a brace against Wigan in the Capital One Cup, a tantilizing preview of what we can expect. He was also outstanding in the summer friendly against AC Milan. And during one of his spells of fitness, he outshone Rooney in the “number 10” role in the World Cup qualifier between England and Montenegro.

Jovetić is now training again and seems very close to a return. Pellegrini has spoken of his hopes for Jovetić and City believe he can be like a brand new signing in January. Fingers crossed he can put his injury hell behind him and show us what he is capable of.

Rating: N/A

There is a lot of skepticism about the “Director of Football” model in England. Most top clubs outside of England have someone in this role, overseeing transfer policy and other areas of the club, but most previous attempts in England have failed badly – Damien Comolli’s £110m spending spree on mediocre English talent at Liverpool is the perfect example of that.

Txiki Begiristain’s work in the summer transfer window (and in other departments at the club) has proven that this model can work in England, as long as you have the right man in charge. And the former Barcelona chief has proven to be the right man.

Rather than go solely for the A-listers (besides Pepe, who Real Madrid wouldn’t sell because of Varane’s injury), he used his knowledge and City’s scouting network to acquire players who have proven to be fully compatible with the style of football City want to play, most of them at good prices.

City were also close to signing Isco from Málaga and chances are he too would have been a great signing, but the resurgence of Nasri means few are still disappointed about missing out on him.

There is nothing scattergun about City’s transfer policy anymore and these new signings have proven it. With the exception of Jovetić, who I’m very confident can be a great signing if he can just stay fit, all of them have contributed something, with Negredo, Navas and Fernandinho making this an undeniably successful group of signings.

The City Summary (November 7, 2013)

Another international break nears and as usual many City stars are being called up to represent their nations.

Roy Hodgson has confirmed that Joe Hart, who we revealed this morning is putting in overtime to win his place back at City, will remain England’s number one. Hodgson, though, admitted he is “duty-bound to look at one of the other two goalkeepers”, so Joe will be rotated in the friendlies against Chile and Germany. James Milner is the only other City player called up for the Three Lions, with neither Lescott or Richards selected again.

Alvaro Negredo and Jesus Navas have been called up by Spain coach Vicente del Bosque for their friendlies against Equatorial Guinea and South Africa, but conspicuous by his absence is the magician David Silva. Silva has been in sublime form lately which begs the question of whether his absence is linked to the knock he picked up against CSKA. Spain are known for resting players, though, so this could be a technical choice to give others a chance.

While most will be able to relax a little with friendlies, Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy have a hugely important couple of games for France. The City duo have been called up by Les Bleus coach Didier Deschamps for the two-legged tie against Ukraine where the winners will be off to Brazil and the 2014 World Cup.

Sergio Aguero and Pablo Zabaleta are both in Argentina’s squad for friendlies against Ecuador and Bosnia-Herzegovina on the upcoming break. We could see the two come up against City team-mate Edin Dzeko, who is in the Bosnia squad that will face Argentina at St. Louis’ Busch Stadium.

Yaya Toure can help send the Ivory Coast to the World Cup when they face Senegal on the 16th in Casablanca. The Elephants are 3-1 up going into the second leg of what is a World Cup playoff and are a good bet to qualify for what could be Yaya’s third and final World Cup unless he prolongs an international career that has been rumoured to end for a while now.

Kompany won’t be called up by Belgium after coach Marc Wilmots admitted it is for the best that he remain in Manchester to concentrate on regaining full fitness. Kompany was supposed to return following the last international break, but setbacks and complications continue to deprive the Premier League of its finest defender.

City have been linked with many goalkeepers of late, but they aren’t all established names. Take Francesco Bardi for example, the 21-year-old keeper on loan at Livorno from Inter Milan and linked to the Blues previously, but now with a little more substance to the rumour.

Livorno president Aldo Spinelli revealed to Tuttosport today that City, as well as United and several other clubs, are watching Italy U21 keeper Bardi “every week” and are impressed by what they see.

Bardi has huge potential, but has been farmed out because Inter have the world class Samir Handanović between the sticks – a similar situation to the outstanding Thibaut Courtois, now in his third season on loan at Atlético Madrid because Petr Cech remains a top quality goalkeeper for Chelsea.


17-year-old Gabriel Almeida quit City’s youth system in August to much press, with reports that he was making the controversial jump to United.

The proposed move to United did not work out as he had hoped, and from there he headed south to London for a stint at West Ham. That too didn’t pan out and now he is heading home.

Almeida has bid farewell to England and signed for Corinthians in his homeland. Good luck to him.

If you missed it earlier, Sheikh Mansour spoke at length about his club yesterday. You can find one of the only English translations of what he said here on the blog.

If Carlsberg did owners…