Saturday, 25 August 2012

One In, One Out in Winger Switch

It is probably reasonable to say that Adam Johnson never totally fulfilled his potential at City, after being given countless opportunities to impress he has now been shown the exit door.  I doubt many City fans however would show any animosity to the 25 year old, whilst he may never have been a top performer he has played his hand in all of our successes in recent years and for that he should be thanked.  As with all transfers we have no real clue as to how much we got for the winger, but reports seem to suggest it is somewhere between £12M and £15M and when you consider we signed him with an outlay of only £7M I believe it is a good piece of business, and one of the very few times that we have managed to turn a profit on a player.

I hope that Johnson is more settled back in his native North East and that with more consistent appearances he can make a real impact for both club and country, and it clearly doesn't mean much but I do wish him all the best in his future career.

With Johnsons departure appearing a close certainty for most of the Summer, the name Scott Sinclair has been suggested numerous times as his replacement and according to reports this morning it is only a matter of time before that deal is completed.  Welsh media  outlets are suggesting that a deal of £6.5M had been accepted by Swansea, and on top of that he was not part of their squad that took on West Ham at the Liberty Stadium.  

Theoretically the deal could move just as quickly as the Rodwell one did; I have the distinct impression that this transfer has been in place for a while and that it was just dependent on Johnson sealing his move.  There could however still be issues to be ironed out, personal terms may still need to be agreed and then there is the medical meaning it could be Monday or Tuesday before it finally goes through.

So what do we actually know about Sinclair? Well here is a bit of a potted history of the 23 year old.  The winger began life at Bristol Rovers, but was soon snapped up by Chelsea where he first came to the attention of most football fans, in all truth he barely made an impact there and was instead loaned out to a string of different clubs, mostly in the Championship, where he did manage to improve his game.  His first sustained spell of Premier League football came during the 2009-2010 season which he spelt on loan with Wigan, he fared reasonably well and demonstrated his searing pace and dribbling ability without really setting the league alight.  The following Summer he moved to Swansea for around £500,000 and it was there that he really began to make a name for himself.  He fired the Swans to promotion in his first season scoring 27 goals in 50 appearances, a pretty impressive feat due to the fact that he played most of those games on the wing.  He was a regular last year for them in the Premier League, and although he was less prolific, he still managed to notch 8 goals.  His form saw him selected for the Team GB football team this Summer and he has also been capped numerous times at England under-21 level.  His last appearance (and goal) for Swansea came last weekend in the clubs demolition of QPR at Loftus Road, the same team he could make his City debut against next weekend.

What would the signing of Sinclair mean for us? It would mean a totally different option in the way we play and that can only be a good thing.  Many people have said to me on twitter than in terms of ability this isn't an upgrade on Johnson, but there is more at play here.  The main attribute that the 23 year old possesses is his pace, he isn't just quick, he is ridiculously quick and that isn't something that we really have in our attacking unit, so he gives us something entirely different.  He is equally comfortable playing on the left or the right, and is more than happy to run at defenders and that always causes panic amongst opposition ranks.  The other important factor is the fact that he has learnt his game mostly at Swansea, a club that play in a very similar style to us, that hopefully should limit any problems he has adapting to a new club.  

The other major fact is the fee, selling Johnson for £15M and signing Sinclair for £6.5M to me signifies a really good bit of business, but lets not get ahead of ourselves, he won't be an automatic starter, but he has a much better attitude, a better work ethic and will be more willing to fight for a place in the team than Johnson ever was, and on top of all of that, he's dating one of Corrie's finest, a match made in heaven!

Friday, 17 August 2012

One Mad Week All Wrapped Up In One Place!

Well its been a hell of a week really, who said it was going to be a quiet Summer?  In the space of 6 days we have one a trophy, signed a player, entered negotiations for 2 more, seen the end of the longest transfer saga of the year, and finally appointed a new CEO.

I suppose the best way to approach this is simply to take it one issue at a time, so first all, the trophy!  Now of course if we had lost to Chelsea last weekend I would be referring to the Community Shield as the over-glamorised friendly that it is, but we won, therefore I am claiming it is somewhat of an achievement.  There is no need to dissect the game in any great detail as you will all have seen it live or at least the highlights, but there were a few things of note.  I suspected all preseason that the 3-5-2 we deployed was just to make use of the players we had available to us at the time, but the fact we used it on Sunday does suggest to me that we may see it get a run out as the season begins.

Using wing-backs would certainly utilise some of our players well; Kolarov down the left is much more suited to playing that role as opposed to an out and out full back, and on the other side Richards would prosper in the position, as would Zabs and Milner.  My only worry is that we are a bit short on central defenders, if Kolo Toure is moved on we are left with just Lescott, Kompany, Savic and at a push Rodwell and Richards to fill in, so using 3 players in that area could be a challenge unless further reinforcements are sought over the coming weeks.  As an attacking unit we were dominant throughout and even if Ivanovic hadn't seen red for his poor challenge on Kolarov I am sure we would have come through to win the game, and if it weren't for a particularly awful miss from Aguero at the end it would have looked a more impressive margin than it actually was; 3-2 suggests it was a close game, it really wasn't.

On the same day as the blues decamped to Birmingham, we also made our first signing of the Summer and it came out of nowhere.  News broke late on the Saturday evening that we were making an approach for Jack Rodwell, and no more than 16 hours later it was all signed and sealed.  Now, Brian Marwood may have come in for some criticism recently (unfair criticism in my opinion), but the fact that noone got any wind of this deal in the previous weeks suggests to me that he is at least doing something right.

Some raised highbrows and suggested it was an uninspiring arrival, that certainly isn't something I agree with.  At £12M (with future incentives), it is a fairly low risk deal by modern standards, and one that is definitely worth taking.  The former Everton man has bags of potential and has been blighted with injuries, but with our excellent medical set up I am sure we can get him firing on all cylinders.  Whilst he may not be a regular at the moment, Gareth Barry is not getting any younger, Yaya Toure has the ACON again and it would appear De Jong is on the way, it was therefore an important area to strengthen and with Barry and Toure to learn from I am not sure he could wish for better mentors.

Last week I wrote about our potential signings, well the ones in the press, I was ambushed with news of Rodwell days later!  According to the papers, moves for 2 of those continue a pace, whilst the 3rd, well, the 3rd is Robin van Persie.  The Dutchman has this morning been confirmed as a Manchester United player, something that has seemingly been coming for weeks, from our point of view though there are a couple of interesting factors at play.  Firstly, I am not being revisionist, but I simply don't see that United need van Persie, obviously he is a top player and will score a lot of goals this season (should he stay fit), however I would have been much more concerned had they strengthened in areas that they genuinely need to improve such as their central midfield.  If they had gone out and spent that money on a Yaya Toure type I would be far more worried about the threat they will pose.  Secondly, is the fact that it seems we were never actually in for the player, refusing to meet the price that Arsenal put on his head; that clearly demonstrates that the club are viewing FFP as something they must deal with, as opposed to taking the PSG/Chelsea approach.

As for further in coming players, deals for Daniele De Rossi and Scott Sinclair are definitely in the offing.  The Italian has been high up on Mancini's shopping list for a long time, and I suspect he is the man the boss wants more than any other.  According to Sky Sports his agent flew into England yesterday to discuss a package that would tempt him to leave Roma, whilst the papers today reckon we are willing to pay around £27M to secure his signature.  Clearly that is a huge amount of money for a 29 year old, but if he helped deliver another Premier League title, and perhaps a Champions League at some point I am sure we can all turn a blind eye to the fee and wages.  Last week it was a bit of a pipe dream, but now it seems like an agreement could actually be reached, watch this space.

As for Sinclair, well that is a really strange one. It appeared to have gone very quiet until today when there are more reports, admittedly in the gutter press, that the English winger is closing in on a move to Eastlands.  With the signing of Rodwell, it does appear that we are focusing on acquiring young English talent, and the wide man definitely fits into that category.  The sun reckon £5M will convince Swansea to sell the youngster who has recently turned down a new deal in South Wales; at that price I think it is definitely worth pursuing, we would bring in at least triple that by selling Johnson who would become surplus to requirements and we'd be adding some much needed pace to the squad at the same time.

Well as if all of that wasn't enough, we also have a new CEO!  The man who has stepped up to replace Garry Cooke is Spaniard Ferran Soriano, who comes to City after a spell with Spanair (which went bankrupt!) but more importantly a highly successful period at Barcelona.  It seemed 12 months ago that he was ready to take on the role, but after his airline went under the club appeared to cool on him.  After further investigations though it seems he has been deemed worthy of the position, and he seems like the ideal fit to me, he saw huge success on and off the field during his time at Barca and made the club huge amounts of money, something that will be extremely useful for us with regards to FFP.  The only issue left is whether he brings in his own man to replace Brian Marwood, something that has been mooted in the press, but either way it is great to now have a permanent CEO, not to belittle John McBeath who was doing the job on a temporary basis, but it seems better to now have someone doing the job on a permanent basis.

So there we have it, its been a pretty mental week and the football hasn't even properly started yet.  Hopefully we will get off to a winning start on Sunday, personally I can't wait for the season to get underway again, and not just because it will start to put an end to the rampant rumour mongering in the newspapers, journalists up and down the country will actually have games to write about as opposed to just writing spurious claims that they hear in the back rooms of pubs up and down the country!

Thursday, 9 August 2012

City Transfer Special Spectacular!

There is increasing amount of worry and fear spreading throughout the legions of City fans out there, and quite frankly, I believe they are getting themselves worked up over nothing.  That isn't to say that I believe no strengthening is required, clearly we could do with some extra cover at the heart of the defence, and someone to lessen the blow of losing Yaya Toure to the African Cup of Nations, but I do believe those signings will happen before too long, but we just have to be patient and bide our time to ensure that we only do deals that are right for Manchester City, and avoid caving into the demands of the selling club.

A whole myriad of different players have been mooted as potential signings, and the newspapers are having a bit of a field day whipping up whatever hysteria they can, so which of these have a chance of coming off, and which are just made up my the work experience kid at the paper.  My thoughts on that are below:

Scott Sinclair: It was rumoured over the weekend and into this week that the Swansea winger was close to completing a £8M move to Eastlands, these claims were quickly quashed by the powers that be at the Liberty Stadium, but it still seems a possibility to me.  Debate has raged over whether the Englishman is an upgrade on Adam Johnson, but for me that is slightly missing the point.  Sinclair is quick, extremely quick and that is something that we have a total lack of in our squad.  Whilst he may not be the first name on the team sheet, he would offer something different, and something that our other winger simply doesn't.  I'd probably prefer Victor Moses personally, but would not be disheartened if we were to make a concrete move for the former Chelsea man.  His signing would signal the end of Adam Johnson at Eastlands and that could possibly make him a key element in any chase for Daniel Agger, but more on that later.  I can see Sinclair at City, he wouldn't cost the earth and he would provide a different threat, Mancini seems keen on adding a decent winger as the chase for Eden Hazard proved, we missed out there, and this is clearly a bargain basement alternative, but for me, it's worth a go.

Transfer Likelihood: 8/10

Daniel Agger: Again this could be another case of identifying a 'cheaper' alternative to a highly desirable player.  I have made no attempt to cover my admiration for young Spaniard Javi Martinez, however with the European Championships and then the Olympics, any move to secure the Bilbao man has proved difficult.  It appears that is now dead in the water, and Agger is being viewed as the man to strengthen our defence.  Whether the Liverpool defender is better than Joleon Lescott is cause for debate, but one thing is pretty definite, he is better than Savic and Kolo Toure.  He would be a good addition to the backline, and would make us much less reliant on Kompany, currently we are one injury away from a defensive crisis, the capture of Agger would change that.  Perhaps the 2 biggest drawbacks are the fee and his injury record.  He may initially have been identified as a more affordable option than Martinez, but after seeing our £18M bid rejected that is perhaps more debatable.  Word coming out of Liverpool is that they want £27M for the 27 year old, or alternatively, £23M plus Adam Johnson.  Personally, at those prices I think we should walk away and go back to the Spanish option, but with Johnson perhaps looking surplus to requirement as time passes there could be the possibility of a deal being done here.

Transfer Likelihood: 7/10

Javi Martinez: Martinez is a classy player, and a versatile player, and at 23 he has the vast majority of his career ahead of him, that is perhaps why the asking the price for him is so high.  At £32M it would be a huge expenditure on a relatively young player and that is what is believed to have put us off.  The high price tag being placed on Agger however may push us back towards the Spaniard.  There has been no shortage of interest in the defender/midfielder, with strong links being made between player at Bayern Munich and Barcelona.  The Catalan club appear to have dropped their interest and turned their attention to Alex Song, so that could make his signature slightly easier to obtain (not that Bayern Munich won't offer hard competition).  The word coming out of the club is that not much has changed in terms of a move for Martinez, an informal offer was placed, but it was short of the desired price that his club has put on him.  Equally comfortable in midfield and the heart of the defence he would obviously offer a lot, and personally he is the player I would like to see arrive the most this Summer, sadly though, I think the chances of that are getting pretty slim, but if Liverpool refuse to play ball on Agger, you never know.

Transfer Likelihood: 5/10

Daniele De Rossi: Ah, the story that just will never go away.  Of all the players we have been linked with, the Italian is the one that Mancini wants the most.  Like Martinez, he can play at the heart of the defence, but I think the more likely scenario would see him parked in the middle of the field breaking up player and generally making a nuisance of himself.  This isn't the first time that a club has tried to bring the 29 year old to England, our neighbours tried on numerous occasions but never got particularly close to capturing him, with the money on offer from the blue side of Manchester however that could soon change. The word coming out of Roma is positive, they have publicly said that if the player wants to leave, they wouldn't stand in his way as long as they were offered what they deemed a reasonable amount.  De Rossi signed a new deal in January, the cynic in me would suggest that was a way of keeping his price as high as possible, but it would also ensure whatever deal is on the table must be a truly astronomical figure that would most likely see the battling midfielder as one of the clubs top earners.  A few weeks ago this seemed dead in the water, but things are now looking pretty positive, and with Marwood supposedly in Italy, who knows what deals are being done.

Transfer Likelihood: 8/10

Robin Van Persie: The longest transfer saga of this Summer just continues to roll on and on and is showing no sign of coming to any sort of conclusion.  If we were to believe the official words coming out of each interested party this would appear pretty cut and dry, Juventus and ourselves claim that no deal will be done, whilst that lot from the red side of the City are getting frustrated trying to get a transfer sorted.  That would suggest he is Old Trafford bound, only it's never that simple.  Word coming out of Arsenal is that they don't want to sell the Dutchman to United, supposedly they would put £5M onto their £20M asking price in order to ratify a move to their once great rivals making it a deal that the power brokers in Salford appear unlikely to go for.  Where that leaves City is unknown, I don't believe we have walked away like Mancini and others may want you to believe, but at the same time, we are quite rightly standing firm and showing that we aren't prepared to overpay for a 29 year old with a dodgy injury record.  Ultimately this move could still come off, I would suggest that it is make or break time for Edin Dzeko, if he can convince Roberto Mancini he is committed to City, I don't see this happening, if the club have any doubt, we may very well return to the negotiating table.

Transfer Likelihood: 6/10

The best of the other rumours:

Edinson Cavani: Always seemed to be the backup for RVP, but all seems eerily quiet as rumours circulate that Chelsea are considering a move.  I'd love him at the club, but seems unlikely at this point. Transfer Likelihood: 4/10

Leandro Damiao: The Brazilian forward has had a very productive Olympic football tournament and Spurs are sniffing.  We looked at him several months ago and didn't make a move, nothing has changed. Transfer Likelihood: 2/10

Cheikhou Kouyate: The Senegalese youngster has had a good Olympics and was excellent for Anderlecht last season.  We have scouted him before and shown interest, the player himself has suggested however he isn't good enough yet.  Propertied interest from Arsenal however may make us formalise an offer.  Transfer Likelihood: 5/10

We may have left it late, but I can still see a busy few weeks for us in the transfer market.  I can see 3 arriving if i'm honest, and if I have to commit to 3 names i'll go for Sinclair, De Rossi and Agger.  With my track record though, that probably means we'll end up with none of them!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

The Invisible Man is Back for the new Season!

After a very brief hiatus that saw me galavanting around the South cost of France, the blog will be back up and running very soon, so expect new content in the coming days and throughout the new campaign.  Lets hope its as joyful as last time round!