Saturday, 6 August 2011

Wesley Sneijder linked with shock Manchester City move

Wesley Sneijder  
Wesley Sneijder
Reports in Italy suggest that Inter Milan and rumoured Manchester United target Wesley Sneijder could be on his way to Manchester City in a shock 36m euro deal.

The Dutch star is playing for Inter against AC Milan today in Beijing, but could then jet to Manchester to sign for the Blues, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

However, City are thought to have distanced themselves from the speculation.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Decision time looming for Manchester City man Shaun Wright-Phillips

Shaun Wright-Phillips 
Shaun Wright-Phillips
First Bolton, then Wigan, now Sunderland. If Shaun Wright-Phillips does decide to call time on his Manchester City career, he won’t be short of offers.

Wright-Phillips has largely been cast to the fringes since Roberto Mancini replaced Mark Hughes in December 2009, but there is no doubting the winger’s talent.

He has proved that much during City’s pre-season programme, scoring a couple of sweet long-range strikes in wins against Club America and Vancouver Whitecaps.

And when the Blues moved on to Dublin last weekend, he netted a classy volley to set up a 3-0 victory over a League of Ireland XI, before teeing up Adam Johnson for a late goal as Inter Milan were beaten by the same score.

Wright-Phillips’ joy at playing for City is obvious. “I’m working hard and I have no intention of going anywhere else,” he said recently.

But deep down, the winger – who turns 30 in October – knows that he may have to move on.

For although he made it on to the US tour – an achievement in itself given that Craig Bellamy, Emmanuel Adebayor, Wayne Bridge and Nedum Onuoha were all left at home – Wright-Phillips is unlikely to be a regular starter at the Eithad Stadium this season.

Mancini is fully aware of the Academy graduate’s feelings for the Blues. Paradoxically, Mancini feels that love for City may yet be the reason that Wright-Phillips has to move on.

“He has Manchester City in his blood, but he’s still a young guy and it’s not easy for me to leave him on the bench all the time,” Mancini said.

The indications are that if the right offer came in – for the club and the player – then the winger would be allowed to go.

A proposed loan move to Bolton fell through in January, although manager Owen Coyle has continued to be linked with a deal.

Coyle may be forced to step up his efforts to lure Wright-Phillips to the Reebok after South Korean Chung-Yong Lee and Tyrone Mears both suffered broken legs during pre-season.

Wigan chairman Dave Whelan publicly declared his interest in Wright-Phillips last month, while Sunderland assistant manager Eric Black did nothing to dampen speculation of a bid of their own on Wednesday.

Wright-Phillips' agent Wayne Lindsay told the Journal: “There has been an enquiry from Sunderland about Shaun.

“There is no secret that Manchester City are prepared to let him go if an offer came in and it was the right offer so I would guess it is now up to Sunderland whether to follow up that initial interest.”


Wright-Phillips has a year to run on the City contract he signed in August 2008, when he rejoined the club from Chelsea for £9m.

When he returned to the Blues, he said it felt like a homecoming. Despite being a Londoner by birth who was on Nottingham Forest’s books as a teenager, Wright-Phillips’ heart has long been at City.

Having joined the Blues at the age of 15, he became a trailblazer when the club’s youth set-up was restructured under the watch of Jim Cassell in the late 1990s.

When he made his debut as a substitute in a League Cup win at Burnley in August 1999, Wright-Phillips was the first graduate of the new Academy to make the senior team.

The relationship has not always run smoothly since. He could, perhaps, have handled his 2005 departure to Chelsea better. Having stated previously that he did not want to leave City, he then did a U-turn.

And after his return to Manchester, his decision to reject a new contract offer early in 2010 was exacerbated by his father Ian unwisely saying that City were ‘mugging him off and treating him like a youth-team player’.

Wright-Phillips, wisely, has decided since then to get his head down and work hard.

His attitude has impressed the demanding Mancini, but this has not been reflected in terms of starting appearances.

The winger has made only five Premier League starts since Mancini took over, none of them since a 1-1 draw against Blackburn last September.

Being left out of the 18-man matchday squad for May’s FA Cup final win over Stoke was, he acknowledged, a particularly difficult blow to take.

A man with the honour of having played for City in three different decades desperately wanted to be a part of the side that ended their 35-year wait for a trophy.

But even if the odds are against him becoming a Blues first-team regular again, he is not ready to give up just yet, as he revealed during the US tour.

“Since reporting back for training, I have really got my head down and given 100 per cent,” Wright-Phillips said. “I haven’t spoken to the manager. But it has gone well for me and I will never give up on City.”

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Roberto Mancini board battle for Samuel Eto’o

Roberto keeps fighting to continue spending  
Roberto keeps fighting to continue spending
Roberto Mancini is facing an uphill battle to convince City’s board to bring Samuel Eto’o to the Etihad Stadium in a straight swap for Carlos Tevez.

Argentinian striker Tevez, 27, was set to return to Carrington today – but has now been given extra time off and will be back on Monday following his post-Copa America break.

Blues officials value Tevez at £50million, and believe that he is worth significantly more than Inter Milan striker Eto’o, who turned 30 in March.

It is understood that the City board are extremely reluctant to consider a swap deal, particularly one that would see them receive a striker with a limited sell-on value.

The club hierarchy have also privately indicated their unhappiness at the prospect of doing business with Eto’o, who showed little enthusiasm when he was offered a move to Manchester in 2009.

Eto’o, then with Barcelona, exasperated Blues officials by dawdling over a contract offer worth a reputed £180,000-a-week after tax.

City got so sick of waiting for a response that chief executive Garry Cook made a public statement declaring that the club were pulling out of the deal.

Since then, Eto’o has declared an interest in moving to the Premier League – for what would be a final bumper contract before retirement – with Mancini interested in  a deal.

Inter, for their part, are keen to sign Tevez, who declared last month that he wanted to leave City. However, the Blues have yet to receive a bid, and see no urgency to sell if they do not receive an offer matching their valuation.

Mancini has not always seen eye-to-eye with City’s board on transfer policy, stating at the start of the summer that he wanted more control, and it is understood that this has led to tension behind the scenes.

But the club hierarchy have endeavoured to make it clear to him that they have to be more careful with their spending in order to ensure they fit in with UEFA’s pending financial fair play rules.

The rules, which will govern clubs playing in UEFA competitions, will allow clubs to lose a maximum of £38.5million over the next two seasons.

Clubs who miss that target, though, will escape sanctions – such as a European ban – if they can show both a downward trend when it comes to losses and that their overspending has been caused by commitments on wages and transfer fees made before June last year.

Those caveats do give a degree of leeway to City, who lost £121m in the 12 months up to May 31 last year – but still mean that it would be unwise to repeat the spending sprees of recent summers.

Meanwhile, new signing Sergio Aguero – who was not expected to make the starting line-up for Sunday’s Community Shield clash with neighbours United – was forced to miss an open training session at the Etihad Stadium yesterday due to a stomach bug.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Balotelli hit by team-mates' kipper prank

Mario Balotelli has been done up like a kipper by his Manchester City team-mates after they left rotting fish in the back of his car while the team went off on a pre-season tour.

Premier League - Balotelli kipper prank
The controversial Italian striker has wound up just about everyone in Manchester with his antics ever since arriving at the club last summer, which have included throwing darts at youth team players (because he was "bored"), racking up £10,000 of parking fines, inciting manager Roberto Mancini to throw a suitcase at him, and winding up Yaya Toure on the training ground
But The Sun reports that his fellow City stars got their own back by putting a sports bag full of kippers behind his car's passenger seat just before they all headed off to the US for a two-week training tour.
The 20-year-old returned to his car after returning to England - and was almost knocked out by the overpowering stench when he opened the door of his £150,000 Maserati.
"Mario had his head in his hands," the paper's source said. "The smell nearly made him sick. It was revolting.
"There were flies in the car and the leather seats in the back had rotting fish all over them."
The fishy reek is apparently so bad that the car is expected to be a write-off - not that the superstar will struggle to buy a replacement on his £100,000-a-week wages.
The prank could yet backfire on Balotelli's team-mates, however: the Italian is apparently determined to get his own back.
"He has absolutely no idea who is responsible as he has wound up so many of his team-mates over the past year," the Sun's source continued.
"It won't put an end to the pranks, though. He's already formulating plans for revenge."

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Yaya Toure: Manchester City on Red alert

RED LETTER DAY: Yaya Toure after his FA Cup goal against Manchester United  
RED LETTER DAY: Yaya Toure after his FA Cup goal against Manchester United
A smile creeps over Yaya Toure’s face as he’s asked about yet another trip to Wembley. He jumps in as soon as the famous stadium is mentioned.

“I like it there,” he says with a smirk, as flashbacks of winners against United and Stoke play in his head.

City will make their third trip to Wembley in less than four months when they line up against United in Sunday’s Community Shield.

If Toure stopped playing tomorrow his exploits in England’s national stadium alone would make him a City legend. Scoring the only goal in the FA Cup final to end a 35-year wait for a trophy ensured that.

But instead of setting his sights on a hat-trick of Wembley winners when the two halves of Manchester collide in north London on Sunday, Toure is more interested in laying down an early marker in the Premier League title race.

“If it is possible it would be fantastic to score a third at Wembley, but the most important thing is that the team win,” said Toure.

“There are other players who are more likely to score than me, but it does not matter as long as the team wins.

“We will have to be strong against United. We will have to be 100 per cent to have a chance against them because United are a fantastic team.

“United are very important, very strong and it will be very tough on Sunday.”

The Ivorian midfield enforcer added: “The most important thing is not that I score another goal there – it is that the whole team prove to our fans and everyone else that City are coming.

“We have to show United that we are here and we want to win the trophy for the fans. We have to make a statement from the start. We have the Premier League straight after United and then the Champions League draw.

“We meet United on Sunday and we will need to play very well to start the season off well.”

City’s summer has been dominated by the circus surrounding Carlos Tevez’s second transfer request.

Tevez saga

With a move to Brazilian side Corinthians dead until January at the earliest, the saga could yet drag on until the transfer window shuts on August 31.

But Toure is confident that, should the Argentine striker get his wish and engineer a move away from Manchester, the Blues will have more than enough firepower in their ranks to cope with his loss.

Roberto Mancini has given Edin Dzeko the chance to stake his claim, picking him from the start in four of the five pre-season games, while Sergio Aguero has arrived from Atletico Madrid on a £38m transfer.

And Toure pointed to the pair as evidence that City still have plenty of goals in the dressing room – with or without Tevez.

“We are getting some good players, important players, returning to their best,” added Toure. “Edin Dzeko is in good form, we have signed Aguero, who is a fantastic player, so we are getting better and better. Aguero is a fantastic player. He is so smart, so clever.”

Just like Wembley, Toure has fond memories of playing in the Champions League against the Reds. Playing as an emergency centre-half, he was part of the Barcelona team which beat United in Rome two years ago.

The 27-year-old is now looking forward to his first crack at the competition with City.

And while he insists qualifying for the Europe’s premier cup competition remains the priority next season, he admits he’s got a more than a sneaking suspicion that City will end the campaign with some more silverware.

“We are going to have to fight to show people that City are going all the way to the top,” said Toure. “The most important thing is you have to play 100 per cent.

“The club is signing players. We want to be in the top four again this year. We will have to work hard to do that and win a cup.  This is the first time we are playing in the Champions League and that is as amazing for the fans as it is for the players. We have to take it step by step.

“The league this year will be very hard and we will have to improve a lot, but then I think this will be the year for us.”

Monday, 1 August 2011

Inter Milan 0 Manchester City 3

ON TARGET: Mario Balotelli  
ON TARGET: Mario Balotelli
Manchester City's promising pre-season form continued against Inter Milan with the Blues running out comfortable winners in Dublin.

Mario Balotelli put City ahead on the stroke of half-time with a bullet header.

After the break Edin Dzeko - who had already had one effort controversially ruled out for offside - slotted the second before Adam Johnson scored the third after some fine work by Shaun Wright-Phillips.

City will now turn their focus to next Sunday's Community Shield clash with Manchester United.

Glimpse of future

Blues fans were treated to a brief glimpse into the future in this game.

It was a future in which Carlos Tevez had got his way and escaped Manchester, but it was also one where humbling Europe’s elite is the norm and not just a pre-season highlight.

And if this is what the future holds, then it can’t come soon enough.

After fielding a second string against an Airtricity League XI on Saturday, former Inter boss Roberto Mancini recalled the big guns as he finalised his plans for the small matter of another Wembley date with United on Sunday.

The game came too soon for Sergio Aguero, who last played in the Copa America 15 days ago, Gael Clichy wasn’t risked after picking up a slight knock and Tevez won’t be back at Carrington until Thursday – if at all.

But apart from that trio, the team picked to start at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium won’t be a million miles away from the one that walks out at Wembley in a week’s time.

And if the performance is in any way similar, the Dublin Super Cup won’t be the only silverware City pick up before the Premier League kick-off.

It was by no means a weak Inter team. Julio Cesar, Christian Chivu, Dejan Stankovic, Goran Pandev, Wesley Sneijder and Samuel Eto’o – the core of the side that finished second in Serie A last season – were all present and correct.

The Blues, however, were too strong, too quick and too well organised.

City could have been 2-0 up inside the first 20 minutes but on both occasions the linesman raised his flag to bring a premature end to the Poznan celebration.

And for all Edin Dzeko’s bustle and David Silva’s brilliance, the goal, when it came, was as simple as it was deserved.

It might have come sooner had Cesar not pulled off a wonderful save to stop Mario Balotelli’s fierce effort finding the top corner. But from the resulting corner Aleksander Kolarov swung the ball into the box and Balotelli rose highest to thump his header past his old team mate.

It was scant reward for a first half in which City had seven shots on target but it took just one in the second half to double the lead.

Silva, deliberate and dazzling throughout his 80 minutes, slid a simply wonderful pass through Inter’s static back four to allow Dzeko a simple finish. It was a timely reminder from the big Bosnian that Mancini doesn’t necessarily have to look elsewhere if he is forced to replace Tevez’s goals.

Johnson then tapped home the third in stoppage time after Shaun Wright-Phillips had done all the hard work.

City could yet meet Inter when the draw for the Champions League group stage is made in Monaco on August 25. If that strange twist of fate does occur, the three-time winners of Europe’s premier cup competition – and the last team to knock out standard-bearers Barcelona - won’t send shudders through the City dressing room.

In the match programme, Yaya Toure challenged City to match the standard set by his former employers during the club’s first season in the Champions League.

“We obviously have a way to go to match those teams but it is our aim,” he said. “But with the ambition the club have shown and the way we are improving as a group, I think other clubs are now starting to take notice of the new Manchester City.”

On this evidence, the day Europe’s heavy hitters are forced to sit up and take notice of the new team sat at the top table will come sooner rather than later.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Life is tough for youngsters at Manchester City - Mee

Ben Mee
Mee has represented England at U-19, U-20 and U-21 levels
Burnley's on-loan defender Ben Mee says being at Manchester City can be frustrating for younger players.

The England Under-21 international has joined the Clarets on a season-long loan in a bid for first-team football.
The 21-year-old told BBC Radio Lancashire: "It's a frustrating being around the first team but never getting the chance to show what you can do.
"I've got two more year's on my contract at City, but I don't know what's going to happen."
Mee, who became Burnley's first summer signing, added: "I'm going to be 22 by the time this season finishes and I've been at City a long time.
"It's up to them what they plan on doing but I don't think they're going to stop buying players anytime soon."
Mee captained Man City to the FA Youth Cup title in 2008 with a 4-2 aggregate win over Chelsea
Mee is a product of Manchester City's academy but has made just one senior appearance - against West Brom in the Carling Cup in 2010.
But he impressed during a loan spell at Leicester last season, making 15 appearances.
"It's been like that for a couple of years but you've got to take those knocks and come back stronger.
"You've got to try and do your best like I did last year and hopefully will do this year."
Mee has been joined by his Manchester City team-mate Kieran Trippier who has also agreed a 12- month loan move to Turf Moor

Saturday, 30 July 2011

There's more to come: Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini targets midfielder and winger after Sergio Aguero swoop

Roberto Mancini  
Roberto Mancini
Roberto Mancini has hailed Sergio Aguero as the man to help fill the Manchester City trophy cabinet – but he insists that, if he gets his way, the Blues' summer spending isn’t over yet.

Mancini has splashed out more than £50 million on Aguero, Gael Clichy and Stefan Savic this summer. But he says that if his team are to make an impact in the Champions League next season, Aguero can’t be the last new arrival before the transfer window shuts on August 31.

“Aguero is here because we think he is a top player and he can have a big future at the club,” said Mancini.

“Sergio is a really top player because he is young, but he has also scored a lot of goals. I think he can score more goals for us and help us win trophies.”

He added: “If we want to compete with all the other top teams in the Champions League we need other players. We need one midfielder and one winger.”

That could change if Carlos Tevez manages to engineer a move away from the Etihad Stadium. Mancini believes he has the strike force necessary to challenge at home and abroad next season – but only if Tevez stays.

“At the moment Carlos is a City player,” said Mancini, who will come face to face with the want-away striker when he reports back to Carrington on August 4.

“Carlos is an important player for us but I don’t know what can happen.”

He added: “A top squad needs to have four good strikers because this season we will play in the Champions League, FA Cup, Carling Cup and the Premier League.

“Aguero can play with Edin Dzeko, he can play with Mario Balotelli and he can play with Carlos. We need to have four strikers and at the moment we do. If Carlos stays, I’m happy.”

Aguero spoke to Tevez before making the move from Atletico Madrid, but says he doesn’t care if he stays or goes.

“I spoke to Carlos,” said Aguero. “He’s a good friend. I will adapt to the team either way. If he’s here, I’ll adapt and play with him.

“We are good friends and we have played together in the national team. Of course it is down to him, whatever he wants to do. I just want to concentrate on playing here.

“I’m very happy to be here,” added Aguero, who revealed he canvassed opinion from father-in-law Diego Maradona before agreeing to the £35 million switch.

“I’m enjoying my time with my colleagues. I’m looking forward to starting playing and moving forward, that’s what we all want to do.

“They are a great team with great players and I think I am playing with one of the best English teams. There are many things that can be achieved. I always play to win titles and hopefully I can do that here.”

Meanwhile, Tevez’s hopes of escaping Manchester for Milan have been dealt a blow after Inter manager Gian Piero Gasperini dismissed suggestions the Nerazzurri would look to discuss a move when the two teams meet in the Dublin Cup this weekend.

“There’s no need to discuss what is happening in the market at the moment,” said Gasperini.

“We are all aware that the media is interested in what is happening off the pitch.

“But we are here to play a match and continue our preparation for the matches to come. As with any great player there is always a lot of interest. It’s normal that big clubs talk about important players.

“The transfer window is still open but what is important is the reality of things, and the reality is that Carlos Tevez is with Manchester City.”

Friday, 29 July 2011

'I can't wait to start playing': Sergio Aguero puts on Manchester City shirt after £35m signing

Sergio Aguero can’t wait to rip into Premier League defenders after his record £35million move to City.

The Argentine ace completed his signing on a five-year deal last night with a promise to be as hard-working and effective as Carlos Tevez, the man he was bought to replace.
City have still to receive an acceptable bid for Tevez and Inter Milan have denied they are in the market for him.
But the Blues still expect him to leave in the next 12 months and Brazilian outfit Corinthians – whose £39.4million bid was turned down last week – say they will launch another bid in January.
Aguero has netted 102 goals in 234 games for Atletico, spread over five seasons, and believes that the pace of the English game, and the quick pitches, will suit him.
“I don’t think I’ll have too many problems settling into the team,” he said. “I’ll obviously be doing my best to do what the manager asks and try to work the way he wants me to. Of course he will know how he wants to use me.
“But once I’m out on the field I will get to know my way around. I’m sure I will be fine. I’m going to be relaxed about it.
“In terms of technique the leagues are similar, maybe the game is more physical in England and there is a greater emphasis on tactics in Spain.
“From what I have seen on TV there is a high level of skill here and the football and surfaces are very quick.
“Personally I like it when the pitches are quick because when I commit a defender they can lose their footing more easily and that can only be a good thing.
“It’s quite different but I need to wait for my first game, go out and do my best and find out for real what it’s like because playing is not the same as watching it on TV.”
The other concern among City fans is whether Aguero may not settle in Manchester, just like Tevez.
But, significantly, the 23-year-old consulted Pablo Zabaleta about life here, and the man with whom he won Olympic gold in 2008 has a different view of the city, and the club, to unhappy Tevez.
 “Zabaleta has told me all about the City players and it’s all very positive,” said Aguero.
“He has told me it’s a happy squad so when I get the chance to meet up with my teammates I’ll be able to see exactly what they’re like. I’ve only heard good things about them and can’t wait to get to know them.
“Zabaleta spoke really positively about the club.
“When we were talking I asked my agents to do everything they could because this was a good club and I’d always wanted to play in the Premier League. It’s a good club and it felt right.
“I don’t like very hot weather so on that side of things I’ll be OK.
I’m sure I’m going to enjoy myself here and life will be fine.
“Zabaleta has told me about a place where you can buy Argentinian meat so once he’s back he’s going to show me where it is!”
Aguero will wear the number 16 shirt which he also wears for Argentina, and he promised to be every bit as hard-working as Tevez.
The City skipper has scored 52 goals in two seasons with the Blues, but it is his incredible work-rate which, allied to his ability, sets him apart.
Says Aguero: “My style has always been to fight to the death for every ball, give 100 per cent in every game, be concentrated to the maximum in everything I do, movement, running off the ball, winning the ball back and scoring goals.
“I’m not a player who can do everything but I still have plenty to offer.
“I saw the FA Cup victory and I think that we are a team that in future will be fighting every year to win major trophies – and let’s hope it can be quite a few major trophies.”
He says he is also delighted to be linking up with old La Liga adversaries Yaya Toure and David Silva.
 “They are great players and I have played against them in the past but now they are here in a team which right now is one of the biggest teams in England. I am lucky to be playing alongside them.”
Aguero was linked with United earlier in the summer, but now is looking forward to the prospect of playing against them, possibly in the Community Shield a week on Sunday.
City’s fitness staff will assess his levels, and he will talk with manager Roberto Mancini before the club decides whether he joins them on the flight to Dublin for this weekend’s Super Cup.
But he should be available for the curtain-raising clash with United, and says: “I think it’s a clasico as we say, or a derby game over here, a game that every fan want to see. People can’t wait for the day of the game to arrive.
“So of course there has to be a winner, but I love the experience of playing in this type of game but at the same time you need to be entirely focused because you know it’s such an important game.
“All the better if it is us that wins, then everyone is happy.
“They are always difficult games, they are great when you play in them and let’s hope the fans enjoy them.”

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Carlos Tevez future hangs over Manchester City as Sergio Aguero jets in

Carlos Tevez  
Carlos Tevez
As Manchester City prepare for the final stop on their pre-season tour, the action on the pitch may yet be overshadowed by developments off it.

The Blues jet out to Ireland on Friday for the Dublin Super Cup, kicking off the tournament against an Airtricity XI in the 51,000-capacity Aviva stadium on Saturday, before a date with Roberto Mancini’s former charges, Inter Milan, 24 hours later.

With the £38m deal for Sergio Aguero  all but tied up, all the talk surrounding City is likely to revert back to Carlos Tevez.

The wantaway Blues skipper won’t even be in Ireland – he’s been told to report back to training on August 4– but his City future is still mired in uncertainty. 

As talented as Tevez undoubtedly is, a £50m price tag and a monstrous pay packet is steadily narrowing the list of potential suitors.

Real Madrid and Barcelona  do not appear to be interested and a projected £40m move to Brazilian club Corinthians collapsed at the 11th hour last week.

Inter Milan sporting director Marco Branca has already ruled out the San Siro as a possible destination once.

But with a lack of alternatives, the Nerazzurri again find themselves at the head of the queue.

Branca said earlier this summer: “Tevez is a great player, a great character, but absolutely no.

“His salary means it is out of the question. The market is crazy at the moment and it is hard to compete.

“He is a great player but a move for him is out of the question.

“We have to organise our finances for the financial fair play rules in the next two years.”

But in Dublin, the money men from City and Inter will come face to face for the first time this summer.

Money men

And depending on how keen City are to rid themselves of an unhappy player, Branca could yet change his tune - with the prospect of a sensational swap deal with Inter’s Wesley Sneijder also a possibility.

Tevez’s agent Kia Joorabchian, meanwhile, is publicly staying calm.

 “This is Carlos Tevez, one of the best players in the world,” he said.

“We are not overly worried. He wants to leave but is still a City player and we will respect that.

“We’ve just got to wait and see who comes in next for him.”

But behind his poker face, even Joorabchian will know that this weekend represents the best chance for Tevez to get his wish to leave without facing the indignity of returning to Carrington with his tail between his legs.

On the pitch, City’s galaxy of stars should be no match for a representative side from the Irish League.

Their manager, Damien Richardson, has said as much, while a 7-1 mauling by United this time last year is hardly evidence to the contrary.

Inter, on the other hand, will offer a far sterner test and perhaps a glimpse of what City can expect during their first tilt at the Champions League.

Former San Siro managers Rafael Benitez and Leonardo might have done their best to destroy the treble winners Jose Mourinho bequeathed them but Inter aren’t short of world class players, with or without Tevez.

President Massimo Moratti has so far managed to bat away United’s pursuit of Wesley Sneijder to the point where Sir Alex Ferguson said he never had a ‘real interest’ in the Dutchman.

Moratti even turned his nose up at Malaga’s new money – acquired after investment from the Qatari royal family.

Their summer transfer activity has instead centred on two other South Americans, Ricardo Alvarez and Jonathan

City could face Inter when the draw for the Champions League group stages is made in Monaco on August 25.

And with both sides committed to sending their first teams across the Irish sea, Sunday’s Dublin Cup finale will be a early barometer of who is up to the rigours of the biggest club competition in the world.

If nothing else, Mancini will want to avenge a 3-0 defeat to Inter in Baltimore last year.

It won’t be lost on his star-studded squad that the game represents a last chance to make a case for a starting spot at Wembley against United in the Community Shield on August 7.
City fans making the trip to the Emerald Isle may yet get the a first glimpse of Aguero, their new Argentinian idol.

Intriguingly, City’s official squad announcement for the tournament included strikers Mario Balotelli, Edin Dzeko, John Guidetti, Andrea Mancini ‘plus one other’.

All eyes will be on Dublin to see whether Mancini has invited his new best man to be his plus one.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Nigel de Jong tells Manchester City team-mate Mario Balotelli: Don't throw it all away

Nigel de Jong and Mario Balotelli  
Nigel de Jong and Mario Balotelli
Mario Balotelli needs to change his ways or risk wasting a world-class talent.

That was the strong message from City stalwart Nigel de Jong after the young Italian added another misdemeanour to one of the longest rap sheets in football.

Balotelli was substituted by his angry manager Roberto Mancini after casually trying a spinning backheel to score when clean through on goal against Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday.

Mancini warned Balotelli he will spend more time on the bench unless he cleans up his act, dismissing the player’s claim that he thought he was offside as ‘streetwise’.

De Jong knows what it is like to be on the receiving end of adverse publicity.

His unpunished kung fu kick on Xabi Alonso in the World Cup final last summer and his subsequent leg-breaking tackle on Hatem Ben Arfa led to a witch-hunt in the Dutch media and a temporary ban from playing for his country.

But he hinted that his teammates are losing patience with Balotelli’s outbursts, which are detracting from his obvious talent.

“It is frustrating and he has to iron out those issues otherwise it will be a waste of his talent,” said de Jong. “He has to realise that.

“We have had a good two and a half weeks of training and he has played a couple of games well.

“He is coming across strongly in training and progressing every day, but he has to remove these kind of moments from his game.

“His team-mates are here to help him but at the end of the day he’s his own person and he is the only one who can change his ways.”

 “Everybody tries to help him, not only me. Everybody is trying but it is on him to change himself.

“He listens but he has to realise it’s up to him. It’s not on anyone else any more.”

Balotelli is well-liked by his teammates, but his oddball ways ‘take some getting used to’, as Shaun Wright-Phillips once said.

De Jong agrees, but says he has never seen anything quite like the showboating which would have been more at home in Hollywood, 15 miles from the Galaxy ground.


De Jong said: “I’ve played with some strange characters in the past so I have seen a couple of those things but it’s the first time I have seen that.”

Balotelli had an angry exchange with Mancini, and threw a water bottle at the ground as he sat on the bench, a staff member having to retrieve it as it bounced onto the pitch.
He also disappeared, with his shirt over his head, up the tunnel and did not re-emerge for the second half.

De Jong believes the 20-year-old is repentant for his actions, saying: “He must think like that.

“That’s the normal way, asking yourself: ‘Why did I do that?’ But that’s for him to learn from and realise that something like this will not be accepted, either by the team or the staff.

“You’ve already heard the manager’s statement about Mario, so that’s for us to follow. It’s important everyone is on the same page and everyone has the same focus and that we remain strong as a group.”

Balotelli had already shown the positive side of his character, having a strong half-hour in which he showed a good understanding with David Silva and rolled in a penalty to give City the lead.

And de Jong said the level of his talent should not be forgotten amidst the controversy.

“He’s a very talented guy and he has all the right attributes to be a world-class player,” he said. “Everyone is always talking about the negative things but, as a football player, he’s one of the biggest talents.”

And, based on his own experiences, de Jong says Balotelli must ignore the flak, get his head down and try to impress everyone with the good things he can do on the pitch.

Talking of his arbitrary five-month ban by the Dutch FA for what they perceived as persistent violent conduct, de Jong said: “At that time everything was so up and so down.

“Everybody knew what happened but that’s life, that’s football, the main thing is you have to remain focussed and do your business on the pitch.”

“I don’t even know I got criticism. I heard it from some people but I didn’t read everything so, to be honest, half of it I don’t even know about.

“You just have to keep your focus and show what you can do.”

Monday, 25 July 2011

Mario Balotelli back in the spotlight: LA Galaxy 1 Manchester City 1 (City win 7-6 on penalties)

SPOTLIGHT: Mario Balotelli scores for Manchester City before he was hauled off by Roberto Mancini  
SPOTLIGHT: Mario Balotelli scores for Manchester City before he was hauled off by Roberto Mancini
New season, same old Mario Balotelli for Manchester City.

Just when it seemed we would get through a whole pre-season tour, in the mad world of La-la-land, southern California, without any incident, Balotelli came up with something.

What on earth he thought he was doing when he was clear through and attempted a fancy spin and backheel, when a simple finish would have sufficed, the devil only knows.

But, friendly match or not, his manager was less than pleased.

He strode furiously along the touchline and ordered James Milner to get stripped for action.

Balotelli was hauled off, after half an hour, and exchanged furious words and gestures with his gaffer as he walked off.

With reserve keeper Stuart Taylor trying to calm him, Balotelli had another fit of pique and hurled his water bottle to the ground. It had to be retrieved by one of the City staff as it bounced onto the pitch with the match continuing.

Balotelli is a complex character, not as daft as his actions mark him out, and he often needs a guiding hand as much as he needs a kick up the backside.

Whether he took the description of an exhibition match too literally and thought it was a licence for frivolity and showboating, we don’t know.

But Mancini needed to send out a clear message that there can be no stupidity this season, on or off the pitch.

That was a shame because City had bossed the first half, and David Beckham – an anonymous spectator as the Blues passed rings around the MLS team – had his words rammed back down his throat.

He had claimed, days before the game, that City will never surpass United, a clear attempt to curry favour with Reds fans ahead of his match against them for the MLS All Stars in midweek.

But it angered City fans, who booed his name when read out, and was made known to the City players.

Rumous that he is planning a sequel to the old film, called “Offend it Like Beckham”, are not true.

It was not the reason Mancini played such a strong team from the kick off.

After two pre-season games of mix-and-match, he wanted to start building towards the start of the season.

Yaya Toure was not risked after damaging his ankle against Vancouver six days earlier, but it was a powerful line-up nonetheless.

It showed form the off as City were simply too slick, quick and well-organised, even for a team which is in the middle of its season.

Davis Silva was key man, buzzing around, enjoying the Mediterranean climate of 73F and constantly opening up the Galaxy defence.

But the dangers of pre-season games were only too evident when Gael Clichy banged heads with Hector Jimenez five minutes in, and then whacked his head on the ground.

He jumped to his feet but his knees buckled, and teammates anxiously called for help.

But he’s made of stern stuff for an ex-Arsenal player and carried on until half time when he was taken off as a precaution.

Silva and Balotelli looked a good combination while it lasted, and the Italian showed his better side to carve the opening for the opening goal on 20 minutes.

He and Micah Richards linked down the right and when the full back powered for the by-line he was tripped by Bryan Jordan.

The penalty was delayed while Richards received treatment but Balotelli feinted and rolled it in casually to open the scoring.

But that was it for Not-so-SuperMario as he raced onto a through ball and should have just finished clinically.

What he did was disrespectful to the hosts as well as just downright profligate. It is doubtful he would have done it in a training game – or if he had, he would have faced the censure of his teammates.

That took some of the steam out of City as Balotelli had been a danger, and Galaxy looked suitably encouraged.

They drew level on 53 minutes as Mike Magee let fly from 25 yards and the ball dipped over Joe Hart.

With beckham subbed at half time, the Californians stepped up a gear and Hart was flinging himself around the goal for a double save.

Sub John Gudietti spooned a great chance to win it, and so we went to penalties.

Joe Hart was the hero as it went to sudden death, making a couple of great ssaves and then smashing in the winning penalty.

CITY: Hart, Richards, Kompany (Savic 61), Lescott, Clichy (Kolarov ht), de Jong, Barry (Weiss 76), A. Johnson (Guidetti 82), Silva, (Wright-Phillips ht), Balotelli (Milner 30), Dzeko (Suarez 87)

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Sport Football Roberto Mancini Roberto Mancini frustrated by Manchester City's reduced spending

Roberto Mancini has been frustrated by Manchester City's wish to rein in spending. 
Marina Del Rey, Los Angeles. Roberto Mancini, in shorts and trainers, looks even more tanned than usual, the product of several weeks back home in Sardinia. The sun is shining here in California, too, and Mancini is already talking about wanting to return next year.
And yet it is clear there is something troubling him. This, in essence, is supposed to be the season when all that spending of Abu Dhabi's oil riches was meant to leave Manchester City in a genuine position to challenge for the prizes they covet the most. The remit was always to win the Premier League but it is a little shake of the head, a blowing of the cheeks, when Mancini is asked whether this is the point in the process when City can be considered potential champions in the making. "At the moment we are not ready to play for the title."
He qualifies this by pointing out that he may think differently in the coming weeks – if, that is, the club are able to lure Sergio Agüero from Atlético Madrid and find a way of persuading Arsène Wenger to part with Samir Nasri.
For now, though, this is a slightly downbeat Mancini, pensive even. Manchester United have already spent £50m this summer, after winning the league by nine points last season. City, in contrast, have adopted a new line of conservatism that is not entirely to the liking of their demanding manager.
"It's been difficult," he says. "United and Chelsea don't need to buy six players. They need only two or three and they are OK. But for us, it's different."
He wanted five, possibly six, new players, but has come to realise that will now not happen. "We have signed [Gaël] Clichy and [Stefan] Savic but we have also lost players as well, like Jérôme [Boateng], like [Patrick] Vieira."
The frustration is clear. "When you start pre-season you need the players [in place] because now is the only time you can work well with the players for three or four weeks." He made this point at the end of last season to the chief executive, Garry Cook, and the football administrator, Brian Marwood. The timescale has not been met and Mancini feels he "can be disappointed about this".
Could more have been done behind the scenes? "Always. For a team like us, it's important to move quickly, to move [for players] before the end of the season. If you move before, then you have no problem in June and July. You have the players for pre-season. If you don't, then you lose 20 or 30 days with them."
The backdrop to this is that, by his own admission, Mancini's relationship with Cook has been troubled at times over the past few months. This is the only time he has addressed the matter and his take on it is that "maybe we had a different way ... I think this way, and Garry another way, but this is normal when you work with other people. We have all the same targets – we want to win. All of us want to win."
He says there is a "good relationship" now but it is here, for the first time, that he also admits he wants more control within the club, over transfers, over the medical side, over player contracts and other issues.
Sir Alex Ferguson, after all, once said that a manager should have more control than anyone else at a football club. "I agree with him," Mancini says. "He has been at United for a long time so, for him, it is easy. Maybe, for me, it's difficult because I have been here only 18 months or so. But maybe I need to have more control of the other situations. It [the club] can improve that way. Maybe if I win the Premier League this season it will be different."
These could easily be construed as the early shots of a power struggle – or, at least, one that is potentially in the making. "It's very important," Mancini continues. "It's important for the manager to have control, over the players, the medical staff, the other situations. If the manager loses it's the manager who is sacked, so I think the manager needs to take every decision. If he makes a mistake, he pays for it."
They are comments that are unlikely to go down brilliantly at the Etihad Stadium, or in Abu Dhabi, where the club's chairman, Khaldoon al-Mubarak, is acutely aware of the occasional tensions between Mancini and Cook but has the attitude that all these matters should be kept behind closed curtains.
Mubarak summoned Mancini to Abu Dhabi at the end of last season to explain, alongside Cook, why the manager would not be given the financial backing of previous transfer windows. Mancini was irritated in the extreme and there was a feeling at the top of the club that the Italian was not fully taking into account the Uefa financial fair-play rules – though he says that is not true. "I know them very well. If these rules are in football we need to respect them."
What is clear is that the regulations have affected City more than any other club in Europe. In previous windows City would have happily paid over the odds for their main targets but when it came to Alexis Sánchez, newly of Barcelona, the new, more cautious City chose to pull out. "It was difficult [missing out on him]," Mancini says. "But the market is difficult. There were two or three other teams after him. We couldn't do it."
Agüero has now replaced Sanchez as Mancini's primary target. "He can score a lot of goals for us. Agüero, for me, will become a top striker. He is 23, he can play as a first striker or a second striker. He has good technique. He could play with Carlos [Tevez], or [Edin] Dzeko, or [Mario] Balotelli." Mancini is nodding to the sound of his own words. "I really think that now is his time."
He also thinks Dzeko and Balotelli will be better equipped for their second seasons in English football. "Dzeko improved a lot in the last two months of last season and Mario was the same. They will be OK. After a year in the Premier League they will have improved a lot. They are good players."
There will, however, be no reprieve for Craig Bellamy and it is here that Mancini demonstrates that, behind the smile, this is a man who budges for nobody. "We already have three strikers," he says. "I think it will be difficult to have a player who can play only once a month. I don't like this."
And Tevez? Where will he be when Swansea City arrive on 15 August? "Carlos is still a City player at the moment. He should fly back to Manchester at the start of August, before the Community Shield. He is still an important player for us."
It is difficult, however, for Mancini to be certain, especially as the Argentinian does not even return his manager's telephone calls.
Will Tevez play for City again? "Yes." But surely, after everything that has been said and done, not as club captain? Mancini smiles knowingly, as if he takes the point. But this time he says nothing.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Manchester City's Carlos Tevez in talks with Inter Milan

Carlos Tevez and his family on holiday in Sardinia  
Carlos Tevez and his family on holiday in Sardinia
Carlos Tevez has met an Inter Milan official while on a family holiday in Sardinia.

City have not given permission for their star striker to talk to the Italian club but it is unclear whether the meeting was by chance or the precursor to a possible bid.

MEN Sport exclusively reported that Inter were interested in doing a deal for Tevez earlier this week, and were planning to explore the possibility of a swap deal involving Dutch midfield star Wesley Sneijder.

That received a cool response from City, who would prefer a straight cash deal in order to fund the impending purchase of Sergio Aguero.

But Milan is one location which Tevez has repeatedly mooted as a possible destination, as he feels his wife and family would feel more at home with the Italian language and culture than in Manchester. He spent a week in Milan in April, having treatment on the hamstring injury which ruled him out of the FA Cup semi-final, raising eyebrows at the time that a switch to Inter might be on.

And several Italian newspapers reported that a £30m bid from Inter had been turned down by City later that month, although the Blues denied it.

Asked about the latest on Tevez, manager Roberto Mancini said from the team hotel in Los Angeles: “At the moment, Carlos is still a City player, like yesterday, and like three days ago. We will see what can happen but for us he is an important player.

“Carlos wants to leave to go to Argentina or another country for his family. Only for this have the club said he could go, because we respect his reasons.”

Mancini also did not want to be drawn on the issue of captaincy, with it likely that Tevez – if he is still at the club at the start of the season – will have the armband removed and given to Vincent Kompany.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Manchester City need to avoid Arsenal’s pitfalls, says midfield legend Patrick Vieira

Patrick Vieira takes on youngsters in a game of football at the East Los Angeles Boys and Girls Club 
Patrick Vieira takes on youngsters in a game of football at the East Los Angeles Boys and Girls Club
City need to keep winning trophies – or run the risk of becoming, like Arsenal, wimps of the Premier League.

That warning came from the Blues’ new football ambassador – and old Gunners warhorse – Patrick Vieira.

The 35-year-old, who retired after City’s breakthrough season, believes the current Arsenal team is a better footballing side than the Invincibles who he skippered to the title in 2003-04 without losing a game.

But he says Arsenal were overtaken by City last season partly because the Blues have the right team balance – and Arsenal don’t.

City also train with a ferocious intensity which shocked Gael Clichy after his move from the Emirates and that has been flagged up as one reason why City have out-stripped Arsene Wenger’s side.  Vieira feels there is some truth in that.

While Arsenal have tried to take the Barcelona route, City have gone for a blend more suited to the demands of the English game  so are better equipped to challenge Chelsea and United.

Vieira said: “Since I left Arsenal there are new players, a new generation and maybe a new philosophy, because Arsenal play better football than we used to do in my time.

“They have the passing and the movement, and they are faster, but our team was more physical and responded better to the English game.

“We had physicality, we had creativity, we had everything, and maybe now Arsenal lack the physical aspect of the game.

 “They lost that physical aspect but have gained in the technical aspect. Maybe it’s balance you need to find to win trophies.

“If you look at United, Chelsea and City, the physical aspect of the game is there. The season is really long and really hard with international weeks, and players get tired and perhaps need to work harder.

“The big problem in the last few years has been the physical difference between Arsenal and the other clubs. This Arsenal team play good football and creates chances.

“It is possible to play good football and win, but you need to believe in it. Arsenal believe in it, but they haven’t managed to win it yet.

“Barcelona have shown it is possible but the Spanish league is different to the English league, and in the Champions League how many teams are like Barcelona?

“It all depends on your philosophy of the game. In the end what is important is that when everyone works out who has won what in the last few years, even Arsenal have to believe they have played the best football but in the end they don’t win.”

Wenger is coming under increasing pressure after his six trophy-less years at Arsenal, but Vieira says City will now come under similar scrutiny after breaking their silverware hoodoo last season.

He says: “You can understand the situation of the Arsenal fans They are used to win and haven’t won anything for six years. For a big club like Arsenal it is difficult to go through a season without winning a trophy.

“It is the same for City now. We can’t go five, six years without winning a trophy, and neither can Chelsea or Liverpool because there is so much pressure at those clubs.” But Vieira feels there are exciting times ahead for the Blues – and the fact that they reached the Champions League was one reason why he decided to call it quits.

“This year will be exciting for City to play in the Champions League but it would have been difficult for me with my past injuries and at 35,” he said.

 “We have made very big steps. More than winning the FA Cup, more than reaching the Champions League, it is to believe, and that is what is important after so many years without winning a trophy, to believe that things can happen at this club at long last. We’ve made a big, big step.”

The City of today is a very different animal to the team Vieira used to play against when he was at Arsenal, he says.

“We used to have to have some good games, and we used to score a lot of goals against them. I remember games after 20 minutes when were three or four-nil up and it was easy to play City but I think it has changed now.”

Vieira played a major role in that City transformation, as his wise old head and guiding hand in the dressing room were key in pushing City over the winning line in the FA Cup and in terms of Champions League qualification.

 His new role as a football development ambassador involves community projects and mentoring youngsters in City’s academy.

But he will also continue to impart advice and have an influence on the first team, and one day hopes to move into coaching. “I am really close to the players still,” he said.

“I know them really well and I will be there any time they need something. I’ve been there, had good experiences, this is still a really young side. I’ve got a lot of experience to offer them. So I will be in and around the training ground any time they need me to be there for them.

“For instance, maybe they want advice on what to say to the manager and don’t know how to put it, maybe a player might be a little bit down because they get a red card or is out of the team.

“I know how difficult and frustrating it is to be on the bench because I had that for the last two years of my career. So I hope I can bring that to the players.

“It is important to have experienced  players around clubs because we’ve had different phases in our careers. Maybe it is easier for players to come to me rather than the manager.”

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Fergie’s comments will spur Manchester City to further success says an ambitious James Milner

James Milner does battle Stateside, encouraged by Sir Alex Ferguson’s admission that City are now posing a real threat to champions United James Milner does battle Stateside, encouraged by Sir Alex Ferguson’s admission that City are now posing a real threat to champions United
City's Premier League title hopes have already been given a boost – by Red rival Sir Alex Ferguson.

The United boss said recently that he considered the Blues to be a ‘thorn in the side’ of his team, and tipped the outfit he dubbed ‘noisy neighbours’ to set up a clamour in the coming season’s title race.

That kind of talk is music to the ears of City stars, already brimming with confidence and intent after their FA Cup final victory and the powerful surge into third place in the league.

City midfielder James Milner said Ferguson’s words were an unexpected lift.

“It’s a boost to hear that, you hear positive and negative things said about you, but we’ll get on with our job,” said the England star.

“We know we have to improve as a club and a team but we think we can carry on moving forward.

“You look to improve every year and we did that last year. Now we’ll be looking to do that again. Finishing third was a very good season for us, winning the FA Cup.

“But now we’ll be looking to top that, so a natural progression would be to finish second and really push hard for the title. We think it could be a possibility.”


While the coming season is a big one for City, it is also a vital one for Milner, whose debut season for the club was, at times,frustrating.

After a big start with a fine display in the 3-0 thrashing of Liverpool, Milner failed to nail down a regular place as Nigel de Jong, Gareth Barry and Yaya Toure dominated in his preferred central midfield role.

And even in the wide positions where he has usually played for his country, Milner found the competition at City tough.

But he finished the season strongly, especially when replacing Barry as the roving midfield man, and is looking to make forward strides in the new term.

“It is a big season for me,” he said. “You come to a new club and it takes time to find your bearings.

“But now I want to kick on, get a foothold in the team and prove to people that I’m good enough to be here and in the team regularly. Winning silverware is the only reason why I came here. We did that last season and that showed it was the right move for me.

“You want to be challenging for trophies and playing in the top competitions and obviously that’s the Champions League.

“At the end of your career you look back and you want to see a trophy cabinet full of winner’s medals.

“You want to be able to tell people I’ve won this, this and this. That’s what drives me on. That’s what I feel I can achieve at this club – I want to be the best player I can and win trophies.”

Milner makes no bones about the fact that he hankers after a central midfield position, but he accepts it is part of life at City.

He has good examples around him. It is only recently that Vincent Kompany, double player of the year, conceded that he might not end up in the defensive midfield role he always craved, while Pablo Zabaleta also uncomplainingly  sacrifices personal preference for the sake of the team by playing left back and occasionally in midfield.


“That’s what happens when you’re at a top club like this,” said Milner. “You want to be pushed as a player, you want to improve and that’s what happens when you’ve got competition just to get in the team.

“When you’ve got two or three top class players in each position it’s good for everyone. It’s good for the club, the manager and the players because it really challenges you.

“It will make me a better player watching these guys play and train. You know you have to play well and train well if you’re going to get a shirt on the Saturday.”

With the Carlos Tevez saga rumbling on, Milner adopts a familiar line, saying that no player is bigger than the club, especially these days, as that club can go out and buy a replacement, as City are preparing to do in the form of Sergio Aguero.

“If Carlos goes he’ll leave a big gap,” said Milner. “He’s a top player, we’ve said that before and he’s done brilliantly here.

“It’s between the club and the player what happens with him but if he goes it’s our job to make sure he’s not missed out on that field. What we know is that this club is fantastically run right from the top downwards. The owner is fantastic.

“We know that if Carlos does go they will bring in a player who is top quality as well and I’m sure whoever that may be will be top quality as well.

“You look at the forwards we’ve got here – Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko – and there is top class here already.

“Carlos has shown over the years what a great player he is, but it’s not all about him, there’s quality all over the park at this club now.”

Aguero has already been lined up as a perfect replacement for his countryman Tevez, and that meets with Milner’s approval.

“I do watch Spanish football and I know all about how good he is,” he said. “You hear the sort of names that are being linked with the club and you just feel they will go out and sign the right player to replace Carlos if he does go.

“You’ve got to be a class player to come to this club now. This summer has been quiet but the guys he has brought, Stefan Savic and Gael Clichy, are great players.
We know they will be good signings.”

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Cup glory a turning point for Manchester City – Brian Kidd

Brian Kidd says Manchester City can now collect more silverware Brian Kidd says Manchester City can now collect more silverware
Brian Kidd believes the FA Cup final win could be City’s 1990 moment.

The Blues assistant manager was youth team coach at United when they won the FA Cup in that year to hand Sir Alex Ferguson his first trophy as Reds manager.

That set off a landslide of silverware – and now City can kick on from their hoodoo-busting cup triumph.

“Winning something creates expectations and we have to go on from there now,” said Kidd.

“The boss is very motivated. He will look at the players – like Fergie did – and see who is hungry for it, who wants more. I’m certain of that. I think we have got a talented squad and the expectations now will be high because the lads have won a trophy and come third in the league.

“But, having said, that you have got to hit the ground running early on.

“The expectations will be there now, but I would feel that we will be one of the teams to beat in the league next season.”

If last season does turn out to be a turning point in City’s history, Kidd feels that the key moment was not necessarily the cup final victory over Stoke but the semi-final defeat of the old enemy.

“You get into that winning mentality,” said Kidd. “From a confidence point of view, the semi-final against United – particularly the second half when we played well – just gave the players that belief that they could go on.

“Obviously, beating United in the semi-final would not have meant anything if we had lost the final to Stoke.

“But we went on to win it and that was the good part because, for me, it is intoxicating when you win something. You want more of it.”

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Winger saves the day as Manchester City find going tough

Yaya Toure of Manchester City is helped off the pitch after getting hurt against the Vancouver Whitecaps during their World Football Challenge friendly
Yaya Toure of Manchester City is helped off the pitch after getting hurt against the Vancouver Whitecaps during their World Football Challenge friendly

John Guidetti celebrated his new deal with an equaliser and a hand in Shaun Wright-Phillips’ breathtaking winner to spare City’s blushes at Empire Field.

The Blues had been having a miserable evening in a beautiful city, going behind, losing Yaya Toure to a worrying injury and seeing Edin Dzeko fluff an open goal. But second-half sub Guidetti helped to turn that around.

The Sweden under-19 star seemed to be on his way out of Eastlands at the start of the summer, refusing a new deal and seemingly being interested in a move to Dutch outfit FC.

But Roberto Mancini likes the look of the powerful youngster and has it in mind to make him his fourth striker in the coming season.

Including him in the plans for the pre-season tour helped to seal the matter, and it was confirmed on the day of the match that Guidetti had agreed to stay.

He paid back immediately, heading in an equaliser just as it seemed Whitecaps were about to record their third win in three games against the Blues.

City have been to Vancouver four times before, and went home with tails firmly between their legs on three of those occasions.

In 1980, they were tonked 5-0, with former Ipswich hit man Trevor Whymark bagging a hat-trick and ex-Burnley striker Ray Hankin also on the scoresheet.

Gluttons for punishment, the Blues were back the following year and lost 2-0. In the first 45 minutes, it looked like the hoodoo would continue as City laboured on the heavy pitch.

Whitecaps are in the middle of the MLS season, so their fitness was an advantage in such conditions.

The fact that they are bottom of the Western Conference mattered little – they saw the visit of the FA Cup winners, and world’s richest “soccer franchise” as a challenge.

There were fireworks, drummers, barrage balloons and the national anthem before the game and the Empire Field was almost full with 24,074 basking in the sunshine.

There had been a real scare that the game wouldn’t take place as torrential rain had flooded the pitch on Friday, forcing postponement of their scheduled game on Saturday.

A frenzied 48 hours pumping out the water paid off, and the sun came out on Monday to help with the drying out. But the surface soon began to cut up and Whitecaps looked fitter.

Joe Hart was the busier of the keepers, tipping over  a looping effort from danger man Eric Hassli early on.

Vladmir Weiss has seen the opportunity to play his way into Roberto Mancini’s plans and, as in San Francisco, he had a lively opening, not least a driving run which freed Dzeko in space, only for his surprise shot to be palmed away by keeper Jay Nolly. Brazilian Camilo gave notice of his long-range expertise with a free kick which had Hart scrambling to his right and hurling himself full length to turn away. But the Whitecaps midfielder went one better when City were caught out on the counter, his shot deflecting off Stefan Savic to wrong-foot Hart.

The keeper had to be down smartly to again deny Camilo, giving Dedryck Boyata a tough time at right back. City should have equalised on 39 minutes when some lovely constructive football down the left, between Weiss, Ryan McGivern and the overlapping Aleks Kolarov, freed Weiss in the inside left channel.

His square pass set Edin Dzeko up with the goal wide open but he screwed his shot wide. That was just the start of the first half woe for the Blues, as moments later Yaya Toure leapt to challenge for a ball and landed awkwardly on his right ankle.

He had to be helped off and limped down the tunnel, to be replaced by James Milner. The Blues made seven changes at half time, and again Weiss – the only man to play 90 minutes on Saturday - remained on the field. We also saw Mario Balotelli back in action, and if he had been a little closer to fitness he might have made more of Shaun Wright-Phillips’ sparky run and cross.

Stuart Taylor almost gifted the Canadians a second with a feeble clearance which Omar Salgado collected and fired inches wide of the post.

Just when it looked like the hoodoo was striking again, up popped Guidetti, powering home a header at the far post from a corner by manager’s son Andrea Mancini.
And it was Wright-Phillips who won it, after Guidetti had led the charge on the right and fed him. The little winger, who scored against Club America on Saturday, smashed his shot from 30 yards into the far top corner,  a timely reminder of exactly what he can do.

The win puts City top of the Herbalife World Football Challenge table, leapfrogging United and Real Madrid – a taste of Champions League things to come, perhaps?

Monday, 18 July 2011

Manchester City agree deal to sell Carlos Tevez to Corinthians

Roberto Mancini insists Carlos Tevez is still a City player after confirming that the Blues have agreed a deal to sell him to Corinthians  
Roberto Mancini insists Carlos Tevez is still a City player after confirming that the Blues have agreed a deal to sell him to Corinthians
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has confirmed that an agreement has been reached with Corinthians for the sale of Carlos Tevez.
City turned down a £40million bid from the Brazilian club last week, with City believed to be holding out for £50million for a player who finished as joint top scorer in the Barclays Premier League last season with 20 goals.
However, speaking on the club's pre-season tour of North America, Mancini said: "We have an agreement with Corinthians but Carlos now is still a City player."
Asked whether Tevez would now be discussing personal terms, Mancini replied: "I don't know this. I repeat, at the moment, Carlos is still a City player."
He added: "I want to wait. At the moment we are here, we are working with the other guys. We should think about this."
Defender Joleon Lescott admitted he would be disappointed to see his team-mate depart but understood his wishes.
The England international said: "We'll be disappointed if Carlos leaves but it was down to the club and Carlos what was best for each other and they have come to an agreement so I wish both parties all the best.
"Carlos is his own man. Last season he played to 110% every game so none of us will be holding any grudges towards him and we'll wish him all the best if he does leave."
The Sao Paulo club moved for the Argentina striker after being alerted by Tevez's admission earlier this month that he wished to leave City for the sake of his family, with his two children based in his homeland.
Corinthians president Andres Sanchez last week claimed Juventus had entered the race to sign Tevez but insisted his own club would not increase their offer for the wantaway South American.
Tevez's advisor, Kia Joorabchian, revealed a few days ago that a deal with Corinthians was "close", with the player himself keen on a return to the club he previously represented between January 2005 and August 2006.
The 27-year-old, who joined City from Manchester United in summer 2009 and has also previously played for West Ham, is under contract at City until June 2014.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Mancini gives Shaun Wright-Phillips hope of a Manchester City future

Shaun Wright-Phillips’s City career has been thrown a lifeline by boss Roberto Mancini.

The Blues manager has hinted that the 29-year-old winger could play his way back into his plans – if he has a good pre-season in California.
Wright-Phillips is lined up to play a part in the opening match of City’s tour, against Mexican side Club America, in San Francisco tonight.
But it appeared at the start of the summer that Wright-Phillips was heading for the exit, especially with the Blues hot on the trail of Alexis Sanchez.
There was strong interest from both Bolton and Wigan, but no concrete offers for the £7million-rated Wright-Phillips.
Sanchez is on the verge of joining Barcelona, and that could leave an opening for the England man.
Said Mancini: “Shaun is here with us in America and he is working hard.
“We will have to see what happens during pre-season because he has Manchester City in his blood, but he’s still a young guy and it’s not easy for me to leave him on the bench all the time.
“We will see what happens and need to find a solution that makes him happy, but everything is possible.”
The City manager also repeated his desire to see Carlos Tevez stay, even as City denied that they have had a £45million bid from Juventus.
“I’m not sure what is happening with Carlos Tevez at this moment,” said Mancini, who has left the negotiating to chief executive Garry Cook and football administration officer Brian Marwood.
“Obviously I would want him to stay because he is someone who is very difficult to replace, but if he goes, this is football and there is nothing anyone can do about it.”
Mancini has also warned his team that, despite the fans’ euphoria at ending 35 trophy-less years last season, the FA Cup was not an endpoint for the club.
“The FA Cup should be the start for us,” said Mancini, expected to field a mixture of first-teamers and fringe players in tonight’s game at the AT&T Stadium
“I think that for us the most important thing for us last season was that we won the cup. But now it is important to continue to work well, to improve.
“I am very happy with the way we have started this pre-season on this tour. The players are working very well and it is very important that we work like this.
“It is important to have a good confidence going into the new season. We can work with tranquillity here, and I think the mentality of the squad was changed last year.
“But now it is a new season, the past is finished, and this will be a very hard and long season for us.”

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Liam Gallagher launches new Manchester City 'Blue Moon' shirt


This is the shirt Manchester City hope will hit the right note with fans.

It should. After all, it features a “soundwave” graphic of supporters singing the club’s anthem “Blue Moon.”

And the FA Cup winners have even enlisted the help of legendary Oasis frontman, Liam Gallagher, the help launch the much-anticipated 2011-12 home kit.

Liam’s new band, Beady Eye, have recorded a version of Blue Moon.
“I’ve been a City fan since I was a kid so to be involved with the launch of a new kit is colossal,” he said. “Manchester City fans are known for having a lot of style and the new shirt looks mega.

“I love the soundwave idea and the Mod-inspired collar looks proper smart.

“Blue Moon is a top tune and has been City’s song for as long as I can remember. It’s been covered by loads of people but the only good one until now was the one Elvis did. I hope the fans buzz off our version and sing along to it at the stadium.”
David Blanch, Senior Designer at Umbro, said: “You can go anywhere in the world and people will know two things about Manchester: football and music. For the new Manchester City Home shirt, we wanted to combine the elements of football and sound in a new and original way.
“Our starting point was the club’s anthem, Blue Moon. When fans are singing Blue Moon, it becomes more than just a song – it’s a connection between the fans and the players. We went into the Stadium to record a section of the fans singing the song.
"From this recording, we extracted an audio clip and created a soundwave graphic which is used within the shirt. One of the most powerful ways in which any fan can positively influence a football match is through sound. We've harnessed that and made it part of the Manchester City's home kit. This is a truly innovative football strip."

Friday, 15 July 2011

Make Kompany captain now

No messing, Roberto. Make Vincent Kompany your captain for next season NOW. Regardless of whether Carlos Tevez gets his wish to leave the club, and no matter how hard he plays if he does stay, the man should no longer be deemed worthy of the armband.

It is easy to dismiss the contribution that Tevez has made in his two explosive seasons at City.

It is no understatement to say that without his 52 goals, his immense work rate and his stirring example, then Blues would not be where they are now, on the brink of the most exciting period in their history.

And those City fans who just want to wash their hands of him, and move on, should do so with respect for Tevez’s contribution.

But as a captain, he is now compromised.

There is little doubt that if Tevez’s wishes – and the machinations of the former used car salesman he has as an
advisor – are thwarted, the player will give his all when he plays next season.

It is in his nature. The Fort Apache fighter in him won’t let him give anything less than everything.

But being a captain is a lot more than playing with heart and leading by example.


He has to be a figure respected by his fellow pros, an ambassador and an inspiration, a man who is weaved into the fabric of the club, and understands precisely what that club is all about.

Tevez, regrettably, is not that man.

Far from embracing City, and Manchester, he has kept them at arm’s length, a man afraid or unwilling to show his emotion.

The thought of him walking forward, at the Community Shield, to shake hands in the centre circle, is absurd given the history of the last eight months.

Kompany, by contrast, has shown the right qualities to lead City on the field and off it.

He is every bit as committed as Tevez on the pitch. Playing in more than 50 games this season, his commitment and ferocious will to win has never flagged.

The fans have roared their approval of him, and voted him as their player of the year.

Players often see things differently, as they witness a side of men which the public doesn’t see – how he conducts himself in training and in the dressing room, and even on a night out.

But the City players voted overwhelmingly for Kompany as THEIR player of the year as well, which – given the extreme respect they have for David Silva, Nigel de Jong, Yaya Toure and Tevez – proves unequivocally just how outstanding Kompany was last season.

Off the field, we see his fitness for the task all the time.

If City win, players are eager to talk to the media, to discuss the merits of the team and their own performance.

When they lose, the candidates for interview thin considerably.

Kompany always fronts up. He knows that he is not just speaking to annoying journalists with their repetitive questions, but explaining himself and his team to the City fans.

It is not the media who deserve answers when things go awry, but those paying supporters, and Kompany recognizes that.


Not only that, he avoids the anodyne quotes if possible. He is thoughtful and intelligent in several languages, and can be brutally honest about himself, while being diplomatic about the shortcomings of teammates.

He also rose to the moment when Tevez was struck down with a hamstring injury just days before the FA Cup semi-final against United. Those few days in April were possibly the most important in the club’s history, and they had lost their talisman.

Kompany laid it on the line to his troops in that Wembley dressing room, and the rest is history.

As for Carlos, perhaps he should take the advice of wise old Joe Royle, speaking on a national radio station the other day.

He suggested that the player, if desperate to return to South America, might stump up a fraction of the £20million he has garnered in wages at City and help pay his own way back to Corinthians and Boca Juniors.

Over to you, Carlos.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Real Madrid back in the hunt for Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez

Carlos Tevez 
Carlos Tevez
Real Madrid have been restored as favourites to sign wantaway Manchester City star Carlos Tevez.

And if Jose Mourinho succeeds in landing the Blues skipper, it would clear the way for Sergio Aguero to come to Eastlands.

Mourinho made it clear on Wednesday he is still in the market for a striker, and it is not thought he will be satisfied with another City man, Emmanuel Adebayor.

And if he gets Tevez, that would place  City in the driving seat to push for Aguero, who is keeping City's top scorer out of the Argentina team.

City firmly rebuffed Corinthians' £35million bid for Tevez, the only offer the Blues have receieved, amid doubts the Brazilians could raise the money.

Corinthians say they are unlikely to make a second bid and City are not desperate to offload a player who has scored 52 goals in two seasons.

Aguero on Wednesday reiterated his desire to leave Atletico Madrid, although he wants to move across the city to Real.

That is being resisted by his club, for political reasons and they feel they will get a better price from City, with the asking price being the £38m release clause in his contract.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Manchester City hit back at Arsene Wenger after financial fair play jibe

OUTSPOKEN: Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger on tour in Malaysia OUTSPOKEN: Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger on tour in Malaysia
Manchester City have branded Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger's outspoken comments about UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules "unfounded and regrettable".

Wenger believes there are major questions for City to answer over their record £300million sponsorship deal with Etihad Airlines.

Although the contract includes naming rights for Eastlands, plus a major input into a yet-to-be-built training facility close to the stadium, in addition to an extension of their shirt sponsorship, it is still not entirely clear how City ended up with such a gargantuan sum.

As Etihad are the national airline of Abu Dhabi, home of Blues owner Sheikh Mansour, there are some who feel the figures have been artificially inflated to help City achieved UEFA's demand to live within their means.

Wenger is one, putting City onto the defensive.

"The financial details of the comprehensive agreement announced last week between Manchester City and Etihad Airways remain confidential and figures being speculated about are not accurate," said a club spokesman.

"Manchester City is a pro-active member of the European Clubs Association and is working actively and with transparency with regard to Financial Fair Play.

"In light of these facts, recent comments about the partnership by some observers are unfounded and regrettable."

This might not cut much ice with Wenger who, speaking on Arsenal's Far East tour, had questioned the validity of Financial Fair Play if City could be allowed to negotiate such contracts.

"It raises the real question about the credibility of the financial fair play," said the Gunners boss.

"They give us the message that they can get around it by doing what they want. The difficulty and the credibility of the financial fair play is at stake.

"If financial fair play is to have a chance, the sponsorship has to be at the market price. It cannot be doubled, tripled or quadrupled. If they bring the rules in they have to be respected.

"He [UEFA president Michel Platini] is very strongly determined on that. He is not stupid, he knows that some clubs will try to get around that.

"At the moment I believe they are studying, behind closed doors, how they can really strongly check it.

"That is his big test.