Tuesday, 31 May 2011

The Cesc Fabregas Conundrum...

A common criticism of Manchester City is that their approach to football is similar to a game of Football Manager, and at times if the press are to be believed it can certainly seem that way.  Reports today are continuing to circulate that Roberto Mancini is seriously a considering a move for nowty Catalan and Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas.

The 'story' is clearly based on absolutely nothing concrete and is essentially just hearsay.  The Mirror reckon that Arsenal are so desperate to keep their captain that they would reject the £30million that supposedly Barcelona value him at, somehow the writer of the piece then jumps from that to City offering £50million, a sum which clearly would be accepted by the hierarchy at the Emirates.

I would never question the players ability, he is a top midfielder and would be a fine long term replacement for Xavi at the Nou Camp, but even if there was a grain of truth to such a story, would I really want City to pay £50million for a player that in all honesty I cannot stand.  It would be foolish to suggest that there isn't a place for him in the City midfield, De Jong, Fabregas and Toure has a fine ring to it, but I just can't feel this move would be far to 'Football Manager' for me.
As I have said previously Fabregas is a player of the highest quality, but there is something about him I cannot stand, his behaviour on the pitch irritates me and whilst he has is not one of the worst offenders for moaning and mouthing off, his regularity of doing it still grates on me.  That coupled with the ridiculous price tag just turn it into a deal that I can't get overly excited about.  I suppose in this market where Andy Carroll is worth £35million, £50mill for Fabregas is probably fair but it doesn't mean we should be paying it.

Even without my whole personal problem with the Spaniard, I think the chances of him agreeing to such a move are about as tiny as that of Dimitar Berbatov still being a United player next season.  For whatever reason Fabregas loves Arsenal, and Arsenal loves him back, the Mirror article contradicts itself by pointing out that he has himself stated that he would only ever play for the Catalans or the North London club, but then in the same story they claim a move to City could be in the offing.

Really all signs point towards some more low rent journalism in a tabloid, but it got me thinking that even though he's a great footballer, I hope we don't spend that sort of money on him....

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Rumour Mill - Double Swoop Being Lined Up?

As all City fans will be fully aware, the papers are full of utter nonsense (that isn't just limited to sport) and generally when it comes to transfers you can pretty much disregard anything they claim, especially when it's related to City.  One of the least reliable sources of transfer news is probably the Star, so why am I covering a story from that wonderful newspaper this afternoon?  The simple answer is because if their claims are true we will be onto a great signing.

The paper claim that Mancini is returning from Abu Dhabi after discussing Summer expenditure.  As has already been reported there won't be a huge influx of players during this window and money will be carefully monitored, the reports however suggest that the 2 players who will join the ranks will be Udinese winger Alexis Sanchez and Ajax defender Jan Vertonghen.  It is thought that it would cost the club £30million to secure Sanchez and a further £10million for the Belgian defender.
Sanchez has been a real star performer in Serie A this season and he has drawn plaudits from across Europe for a while.  City will face stiff competition for the players signature, and in all likelihood I think it will cost more than the £30million quoted, Udinese have already rejected a bid in that region from an unnamed club, there is also strong interest from Inter Milan who have made their desire for the player public knowledge so it could be a complicated deal.

He is in my opinion just the sort of player that we could do with, he is predominantly used on the wing and his excellent dribbling ability and electric pace would be a real asset.  Other than the soon to be departing SWP we don't really have a player who has the ability to beat a man using just speed and acceleration and at times I think it has been something we have desperately needed.  It is also worth noting that he is a goal scorer as well managing to notch up 12 goals in 27 appearances helping Udinese to a fine finish in Serie A.

The deal is probably less certain than the Star are making out, but it is clearly one that would be exciting, if we are only to bring in a couple of players this Summer I think a winger should definitely be one of the players we are looking at.
Roberto's second target according to the Star is defender Jan Vertonghen, someone again who has a bright future ahead of him.  The Ajax man has also been linked to Manchester United and Arsenal, but Mancini was present to watch him in person in the Dutch cup final recently, the paper also reports that the manager spoke to him personally after the game, supposedly this automatically means we are in pole position for his signature.

Whilst the potential signing of Sanchez makes perfect sense to me, the signing of Vertoghen I find slightly less understandable.  If Toure had been handed a longer ban, then we would be in need of another defender, but the Ivorian will be available again in September, and with a resurgent Joleon Lescott, and a brilliant Vincent Kompany I am not sure whether there is the need to spend £10million on another defender, especially with Dedryck Boyata looking a good prospect in need of games.

I don't mean to take anything away from the Belgian it just isn't a target that particularly appeals to me, a good player, but somewhat unnecessary in a transfer window where we are supposed to be curbing our spending.
Clearly there is also going to be a mass exodus this Summer as well, this £40million expenditure can be evened out by sales claim the Star.  The list of players heading for the exit door is long, Jo, Emmanuel Adebayor, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Craig Bellamy, Roque Santa-Cruz, Nedum Onuoha and Wayne Bridge will all be moved on, with the newspaper claiming these sales could bring in £40million to cover any expenses.  

That figure seems a bit high to me, but I think it would not be unreasonable to say we might be able to scrape together around £25million from the sale of all those.

To be fair to the Star they aren't claiming that either of the players are nailed on, and they aren't exactly new names in the frame.  The acquisition of Sanchez would really not surprise me, but Vertonghen, I may need some convincing.

Friday, 27 May 2011

A Story of Diet Pills and An Indecisive Striker....

There are two stories revolving around City today, firstly we have the six month 'ban' handed down to Kolo Toure, and secondly we go over the future of Carlos Tevez...again!

Toure was, as we all know, provisionally suspended from football in March for failing a drugs test.  At the time it was pretty clear that there was something strange about the whole situation, if you were going to go through the City squad and pick out players likely to fail a drug test, I think Kolo Toure would be a long way down that list.  I suppose we will never know why he felt the need to take diet pills, we are hardly talking Neville Southall or Wayne Rooney here, but for whatever reason he did.

I can't really defend the centre back, surely a professional sportsman would consult his employers medical staff before taking any substance whether the product claimed to be natural or not, but that is now in the past.  The length of ban to me seems entirely fair, especially with it being backdated, however that has not stopped many fans of that other Manchester team harping on about Plug Ferdinand.

The difference is huge, Ferdinand failed to attend a drug test, where as Toure mistakenly took a water tablet.  There is much conjecture about why Ferdinand missed his drug test, and whether it was a conscious decision or not but to me it seems to be a bigger crime to miss a test as opposed to simply testing positive for a totally legal substance which is in no way performance enhancing.  To me the more important comparison is with QPR goalkeeper Paddy Kenny, who received a nine month ban for taking an over the counter cough remedy...

The other interesting thing about this story is how bothered are we really?  Joleon Lescott has been a revelation in the second half of the season and he has formed a really good partnership with Vincent Kompany, I am hoping that when Toure does return he doesn't walk straight back into the first team.

In other City news, Carlos Tevez has maybe, supposedly, possibly rejected a move to Juventus.  There is really nothing else to the story, but that hasn't stopped the Daily Mail claim that this means he will almost certainly be playing at Eastlands next season.  Normally the Mail love to knock City and they generally publish any old tosh about players leaving so it is somewhat refreshing for them now to be suggesting that a player might stay.

The report suggests that Tevez was offered a huge £20million a year, they reckon that the relationship between the Argentine and the clubs Abu Dhabi based owners have encouraged him to stay.  Now, maybe I am sceptical, but firstly I don't believe that this is the end of the rumours about Tevez leaving, and sadly I don't believe that if he does stay, it will be down to anything related to his feelings for City.  The bottom line is that we paid near on £40million for the striker and there is no club other than Madrid or Chelsea that would be able to pay that sort of money, so why should we sell?

For the good of the football club, obviously I hope that the player remains but I can't help but feel there are more twists and turns in this story, so lets not assume its all over yet....

Monday, 23 May 2011

The Vultures Begin To Circle...

Prior to take over by the Abu Dhabi United Group the Summer transfer window was a time for City to shop for bargains, and where better to start than the relegated teams.  Things have slightly changed somewhat, we are now shopping in Waitrose as opposed to the Happy Shopper, but that doesn't mean there aren't some bargains to be found from those teams slipping out of the Premier League.

I thought it might be worth having a quick look over those relegated squads to see if there are any players lurking who could do a job at Eastlands.  Clearly any players that I do think are worth considering aren't being viewed as starters, just extra bodies in the squad to do a job.  

Lets kick off with West Ham:

When you look through the Hammers squad it becomes immediately obvious that their relegation is due to gross miss-management as opposed to any lack of quality, they have some really good players and should probably have finished a good 6 or 7 places off the bottom of the table.  Their prized asset is Scott Parker, someone we were desperate to sign at the same time as Bellers under Mark Hughes. In the end the deal never came off, and to be honest I don't feel we need him now.  Barry, Milner, De Jong, Toure, Vieira (should he stay for another year) all nicely fill that space in front of the defense and I am not sure a big money move for Parker would be overly useful.
Demba Ba, scored goals in a bad team.
There is however one player that I think would definitely be worth considering.  Demba Ba has played really well for West Ham this season, he has managed to score 7 goals in 12 games and that is playing for a team performing really badly.  City could do with another striker should the predicted exodus of forwards occur this Summer and I think Ba would welcome the chance to play for a top club.  His athleticism and aerial ability make him a real handful and I think he could be a real asset off the bench.

What of Blackpool?:

Lets be quite clear about this, Ian Holloway (as much as I can't bear him) did a pretty good job with this squad, I mean it is really average and I struggle to find more than one possibility.  Let's try to avoid the obvious for now however and consider Matt Gilks.  If Shay Given leaves as expected, City will be in real need of a decent back up goalkeeper and I think Gilks has shown signs this season that he could be really solid, the other positive is that I think he would accept the role of backup keeper at this point in his career, so it might be one worth considering.  
Wanted by many...i'm not sure why either.
Other than that it is pretty slim pickings,  David Vaughan has had a pretty solid season and I think he could find a place in the Premier League next time round should he chose to move on, but as we all know the star performer has been Charlie Adam.  The Scot has been the life blood of the Seasiders and he has actually looked a really good top flight footballer.  Whether I would want him at City I am not sure, he has been linked extensively to Spurs and Liverpool and rumours bounce about that the even the scum might move for the 25 year old this Summer.  I suppose he could offer a decent option as backup for Silva pulling the strings, but I can't help but feel there are similarities between Adam this year and Stevie Ireland's one great season.

The final team suffering relegation were Birmingham:

I have to admit, I am so glad to see the back of Brum, there is nothing to like about them in my eyes, McLeish annoys me, their fans grate on me, and they are so massively boring to watch.  Now that I look over their squad, I do find myself wondering how on earth they won the League Cup, there is really nothing there.  Ben Foster is a really good keeper and would theoretically be good cover for Joe Hart but there is no chance of him agreeing to be a back up keeper wherever he goes.  Their squad is very workmanlike and I suppose that is understandable considering their style of play, they are built on a solid defense, and they do have a couple of centre backs that City could possibly consider.
Johnson & Dann...not a glamorous pairing.
Roger Johnson and Scott Dann are probably better as a pair than they are individually, they seem to know each others game inside out and they are the rock that Birmingham tried to build their success upon.  Having said that I am really clutching at straws because I don't think either are good enough for City, but it wouldn't be right to just ignore the Midlands side!


There is hardly a wealth of talent being relegated this Summer, but for me the person that could offer the most to City is Demba Ba.  Even if City keep Tevez, we will only have 3 forwards, the Argentine, Balotelli and Edin Dzeko, if John Guidetti does leave there could be space in the squad for another striker and I think Ba could provide a decent option.

Obviously this is on the assumption that Jo, Adebayor and Bellamy will leave, but they do say that to challenge for honours you need 4 strikers.  City won't be able to bring in a top player to sit on the bench and I suppose it would also remain to be seen whether Ba would fancy that prospect, but I think it might definitely be one worth pursuing this Summer.

Finally, I realise they didn't get relegated, but am I the only City fan that thinks we should offer Wigan some money for Charles N'Zogbia, I really think he could offer us something....

Sunday, 22 May 2011

The Summer Spending Begins!

Over the past couple of weeks there have been numerous reports in the media about City moving for Celta Viga midfielder Denis Suarez.  Since the club was taken over by ADUG we have been linked with a different player every day, but it looks like there really could be something in this one.

Goal.com are reporting that the deal has been signed and sealed, and this is backed up by a message on the Celta website claiming:

"Celta Vigo and Manchester City have today completed the transfer of the rights of midfielder Denis Suarez, who will play for the English club next season....Celta would like to thank Denis Suarez for his efforts and dedication in the past few seasons with our junior team, and we wish him great success in his new undertaking in English football."

There has been no word from anyone at City as of yet, but it would appear that this one must be pretty much done if his current club is reporting it like this.  

Hardly a big name in world football, what do we know about the Spaniard?  Well he is 17, and was very highly regarded in his home country.  Whilst he has not appeared for Celta's first team he has been extremely successful at youth and reserve level, he has also been watched on numerous occasions by Barcelona, Real Madrid and Chelsea.  It is reported that the deal taking him to Eastlands has initially set the club back £850,000 but this could rise too £2.6million depending on performances and certain other clauses.

It could be considered somewhat of a coup that City have signed the player who has been courted by some of the biggest clubs in world football.  Lets not get ahead of ourselves however, I doubt we will be seeing Suarez in the first team any time soon, most likely he will play for the reserves for a while to find his feet, although there is suggestion from Goal that he will join the party traveling to America as part of the pre-season preparation.

If this signing is ratified over the next couple of days it is another clear message to the clubs ditractors that youth development is a vital part of Manchester City moving forward, and that our scouting network is unearthing quality players not just locally but around the world as well, and on a more selfish level, it feels great to beat Barcelona to a player!

Saturday, 21 May 2011

The Invisible Man's Match Preview - Bolton (Away)

Well it's that time of the year again, the final weekend of another season.  Normally the last day for City is a pretty meaningless affair, this year however there is a lot on the minds of players and fans alike, a month ago if offered a 4th place finish and the first trophy for 35 years many of us would have been ecstatic, going into this final Sunday however, that result would be slightly underwhelming.

Roberto Mancini and his team just have to match whatever Arsenal do at Craven Cottage, the target however will be to win, rendering whatever Wenger and his side manage meaningless.  It is a shame therefore that this massive game comes at a ground where City haven't managed a win since 2004.

Trotters - City: Head To Head

Whilst wins at the Reebok have been thin on the ground, our overall form against Bolton isn't too awful, of the last 4 meetings home and away, we have won 3 and drawn 1.  The last 5 away games however have brought a meagre 2 points from a couple of draws and three defeats, lets hope for that first victory tomorrow.

What's Riding on it?

Clearly City have more to play for going into the final day.  The Trotters currently sit 10th and know that a win could move them as high as 8th if results go their way and that would be a good achievement for Owen Coyle and his squad.

The real awards though are with Mancini, securing 3rd place will avoid the very tricky Champions League qualification round and it would wrap up an extremely successful season.

Recent Form

City are currently enjoying a fine spell of results, they have won 6 of their last 7 matches in all competitions one of which secured the FA Cup.  The one defeat coming at Goodison Park in a game that I think most fans have written off from now until eternity.

The lifting of the FA Cup will have done an awful lot for the morale and belief in the City camp and at the time I thought it not unlikely that the side would win their final 2 games thus securing 3rd.  Even taking the cup success out of the equation our league form is pretty impressive, ignoring the blip at Everton things seem to be improving winning 5 of our last 7 outings.

Goals have been coming from different people as well, something which is particularly pleasing, I wonder what odds you could have got on the only City goals against West Ham being provided by Nigel De Jong and Pablo Zabaleta.

Bolton on the other hand are struggling, their season so far has been good but lately they have began to falter.  They have lost 4 successive games in the league, and lost 6 of their last 8 in total, at home however things are slightly better as they have managed to win 5 of their 6 at the Reebok, probably the most notable of which being against Arsenal.

With there being little to play for however their patchy form might hurt them against City who know that they need to win really.

Who Could Hurt Us?

 Daniel Sturridge - Since he moved on loan from Stamford Bridge the greedy toe-rag has managed 8 goals for Bolton, leaving him only 2 behind Johan Elmander who has played the whole season.  City fans know all about the threat that the striker carries, he possesses electric pace, great trickery and an excellent left foot.  He may also feel he has a point to prove, although that would be strange since the club did everything in their power to keep him.  His desire to spoil the City party will be strong and I expect him to be giving it his all, hopefully the traveling support can help him further question his decision to quit Eastlands for the Stamford Bridge dugout.
Who Can Hurt Them?

Carlos Tevez - The Argentine is in pretty good form after his superb double against Stoke on Tuesday night, he also looked to be approaching full fitness again after a somewhat rusty performance in the cup final.  He has a great scoring record against Bolton, he sunk them at Eastlands earlier this campaign and he tortured them at the Reebok last season scoring twice in a 3-3 thriller.  If certain rumours are to be believed about this being his final game for the club, I think he will do all he can to ensure victory for the club that have paid his huge wages for the past couple of years.  His understanding and interplay with Silva could be too much for Bolton to cope with and I firmly expect Tevez to get on the score sheet.

What of the all important score line then, well to get straight to the point I am going to go for a 2-1 win for City, I think it will be incredibly tight and a pretty nervy affair but I expect Mancini and his team to come through with the required 3 points for a 3rd place finish.  Having said all that, I don't think Arsenal will get more than a point at Craven Cottage anyway so I think we will do it with points to spare.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

My Top 3 City Games

The life of a Manchester City fan as you will be fully aware is full of ups and downs, during my years following the club I think I have been put through every emotion and that in many ways makes the whole experience even more fun.  Looking back over the years there have been some real highlights and that brings me to this post.

When I decided to launch this website, I thought an interesting thing to consider would be my favourite ever game.  That task soon turned into a far bigger challenge than I originally thought, so I decided to make a top 3, because who doesn't enjoy a list?

Many games came close, the demolition of Arsenal with THAT Adebayor goal, the 4-1 mauling of Manchester United, and maybe even my first ever game at Maine Road against Leeds.  I think however that the ones I selected represent my most memorable, but clearly this is up for debate.  Without further ado, I present my three most memorable City games:

Blackburn Rovers V Manchester City - 7th May 2000 - Ewood Park

I remember this game as if it were yesterday.  Me and my dad had even considered going to Blackburn to sit on that hill overlooking the ground hoping to be part of the promotion party.

The previous year City had somehow secured promotion out of Division 2 under the leadership of Joe Royle.  A season of stabilisation was expected to follow, however that wasn't the case.  With essentially the same team that had been promoted the previous year, Royle lead the Maine Road club back to the top flight.

Shaun Goater become even more of a hero that season, and his goals blitzed a path through Division 1.  City had flown through the season and needed just a single point from a very difficult trip to Ewood Park to secure automatic promotion back to the big time.

It is a day I will never forget, I really felt that City were back, and even though we were relegated the following year.  Royle and his double promotion put impetus back into the club and ultimately got us back to where we belong.

Manchester City V Manchester United & Stoke City - 16th April & 14th May2011 - Wembley

It may be cheating to role 2 games into 1, but I can't really separate these.  The Manchester derby semi-final was probably the highlight of the current season for many City fans, in many ways it was bigger than the final.  Then again seeing the team celebrate the club's first trophy for 35 years was also incredibly exhilarating.

These games have to go hand in hand, I and many others wish it was Stoke in the semi and then the defeating of the reds in the final, but in the big picture I am not so sure it matters.  City lifted a trophy and beat their biggest rivals at Wembley on route and that really is the important thing to remember.

Aside from the first 25mins of the semi-final, City were near dominant for the rest of their cup run.  Toure slamming the ball into the same net twice makes it even more memorable, the fact that both goals were in front of the sides amazing support made the moments even sweeter.

The talk now is that this will be the first of many and lets hope that is the case, but without a doubt, the first is the most important and it is 2 days of my life that I will never forget!

Gillingham V Manchester City - 30th May 1999 - Wembley

I have a friend that I met at Uni who supports Gillingham, and when he found out I was a City fan, he decided to not talk to me ever again.  His reaction only lasted about 20 minutes until I bought him a pint in an attempt to build bridges.  He was so hurt by that game, and I suppose you can understand why.  The Division 2 playoff final for the 99/00 season was rubbish for 80 minutes.  It was a cagey affair and both sets of fans were anxious.

We had made a late season charge into the playoffs, and we probably didn't deserve to be there, but Joe Royle managed to get it together in the 2nd half of the season.  We scraped past Wigan in the previous round to set up a barn storming final at Wembley - but for 81 minutes it was anything but exciting...then it got worse.

Carl Asaba scored in the 81st minute to put Gillingham in front, and then in the 87th minute Robert Taylor (who would go on to play for City) made it 2-0.  The game was over, the Kent club were promoted, thousands of City's fans began to pour out of the stadium, but then in the 89th minute something miraculous happened, and the rest is history.

There is really nothing new to say about this game, I genuinely believe that if City were not promoted on that day in May they would not exist today.  The finances were dreadful and the club was dying, I still get a lump in my throat when I think of that game and especially Nicky Weaver's celebrations come the end of the shoot out.

Everything City have today is built on that goal Paul Dickov scored in injury time, there was really no other choice to round off this list, so come on Blues, lets enjoy it one more time..."...City here looking for an opening, ITS DICKOV AGAIN......'.

There we have it, those are personally my most memorable games supporting this great club, if you disagree or have some other suggestions, why not comment below or join the debate on twitter @thegoatfeeder

Greetings From The Invisible Man!

Welcome to 'Thoughts From The Invisible Man...', I hope to strike a chord with all fellow blues over the coming years, and I really hope that you will get as much enjoyment out of this website, as I hope to get out of writing for it.  I have been a City fan for 27 years, and in all honesty, the highs of the last week and a bit I would never have predicted 5 years ago, there again, would any of us have seen this coming?

My hope is to track this journey that we are now all beginning and hopefully provide some sort of entertainment and analysis along the way.  I have previously written for another footballing website, and some of the features I wrote there I will be bringing over to The Invisible Man, you can expect to find match reports, player ratings, reports on reserve team games and youth team games as well as plenty of transfer rumour and speculation.

Not everything on here is going to be related to City, if Liverpool sign Messi for £200million you can expect to find it covered, if Stockport County resign Barry Conlon however you have may have to look elsewhere for coverage of that.

At this moment in time, I am still working on making the site look as good as it possibly can, so expect an 'optimised' version at some point in the future (that will give me something to do over the Summer break), also if you are on twitter follow @thegoatfeeder and join in the debate.

Well that pretty much wraps up the opening post, welcome to 'Thoughts From The Invisible Man...'.