Saturday, 30 July 2011

Possible 25-man squad

Although the transfer window is still open I have seen a few potential 25-man squads being put out there. Of course players like Ade, RSC, Onuoha, Bellamy and Tevez may yet leave the club so are unlikely to be included in many people's provisional 25

First off here are the rules that need to be followed as I've seen some out there that have completely disregarded these and it makes the writer look a little stupid if they don't follow them.

  1. The Squad must be no larger than 25 players.
  2. No players that were under 21 on January 1st the year of the competition need to be included.
  3. There must be at least 8 'home grown' players within the 25-man squad.
  • A player is considered home grown if he has been registered with an English or Welsh club between the ages of 16 - 21.
Goal Keepers.
01 Joe Hart*
02 Stuart Taylor*
03 Gunnar Nielsen

04 Vincent Kompany
05 Joleon Lescott*
06 Kolo Toure
07 Nedum Onuoha*
08 Micah Richards*
09 Pablo Zabaleta
10 Gael Clichy*
11 Aleks Kolarov

12 Gareth Barry*
13 James Milner*
14 Nigel De Jong
15 Yaya Toure
16 Adam Johnson*
17 Vladimir Weiss*
18 Shaun Wright-Phillips*
19 David Silva

20 Sergio Aguero
21 Edin Dzeko

Players marked with an * are home grown.

One of the first things you'll notice is that there are only 21 places assigned and that there are 11 players classed as home grown in the squad. Then you'll realise that the likes of Mario Balotelli and newly signed Stefan Savic aren't in the list. That's simply because they don't have to be as they're both under 21.

Tevez, Adebayor, Santa Cruz and Bellamy aren't included as they all likely to be gone by the start of the season. The only player that hasn't featured in Mancini's plans that I've included is Nedum Onuoha. I'd still like to see Nedum reconciled with the club but it may possibly be too late for him that after 'that' interview on Soccer AM.

There are a number of players under 21 other than Balo and Savic who may (some definitely will) have game time this season. These may include Dedryck Boyata, John Guidetti, Reece Wabara, Juan Roman, Abdul Razak, Jeremy Helan, and Ryan McGivern.

With 4 places left to fill it also allows for new signings if there are any. It's likely City will sign another keeper as backup and possibly one or two other players before the transfer window closes according to reports.

There's no denying it, that is a ridiculously strong squad that for the most part is still quite young with only 2 players that have reached 30 years old so far. The backbone of the squad are all between 23-26 and are still improving as individuals as well as a team. If that doesn't get you excited nothing will.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Hated or adored but never ignored.

Yesterday was a big day for Manchester City, and as you would expect it produced a tremendous amount of bitter, jealous and hateful ramblings from certain journalists and opposition fans alike. It does seem that whenever City do something impressive there's someone else there to slate them or bring up some rumour in an attempt to put City back down a peg or two.

There's 3 in particular that have gone into print between yesterday and this morning that I'll pick out, and I don't normally do this but they need naming and shaming for the complete and utter tosh that they've produced. Araiz Baqi (SportPulse), Sami Mokbel (Mail Online) and Luke Edwards (The Telegraph), take a bow.

Lets start with the bitter nonce from SportPulse who went with "Manchester City sign Aguero - Football in desperate need of Financial fair play" as a headline. Now far be it from me to be the grammar police but you can figure the kind of intellect we're facing when someone starts to use random capitals in a sentence. You can also immediately feel the bitter hatred simply oozing from a headline like that.

Baqi kindly points out in bold letters that City have purchased Aguero for £38 million and is said to earn €225,000 per week. Thanks for that, I'm sure we wouldn't have been able to read those figures otherwise. And after the usual spiel about his scoring record and past clubs we get down to the good part.

The article goes on to mention the problem Mancini will have in choosing who plays as striker and then lists the players he believes to fill that role at City. "Mario Balotelli, Alex Nimely, Craig Bellamy, Carlos Tevez, Roque Santa Cruz, Adam Johnson, Emmanuel Adebayor, and Edin Dzeko are all players who will be competing" for the striker spot apparently.

Where do you start with that rubbish? Ah yes, I'm sure you've spotted one of the most glaring mistakes here, Adam Johnson is not a striker, never has been and never will be Baqi you fool. Next in line is Alex Nimely, yes he is a striker but the young lad is hardly a first team regular after making one appearance is he? Add to that RSC, Ade and Bellers who are all on their way out of the club and Tevez who is also heading for the exit and that leaves Edin and Mario left on the list to compete with and John Guidetti trying to break into the squad.

That's 3 'main' strikers with 2 young lads coming through the ranks once all the players have been sorted. Hardly excessive is it considering United had 4 'main' strikers in 1999 is it?

So where does he go now? The only natural progression is to list City's signings in bold print since Sheikh Mansour took over and jibe that this has only managed to 'buy' a solitary FA Cup. 

"All City could manage with these spendings was a single FA Cup" so gleefully stated before continuing "If such a huge amount of transfer budget was handed over to an intelligent mind, like that of Sir Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho..."

By Christ what is this idiot dribbling on about? The money spent took a side from being relegation fodder to joint 2nd in the league and ended a 35 year trophy drought. And City still haven't spent what certain other teams have, the only thing people don't like is how fast they've been able to spend it. I can guarantee that he wouldn't be complaining if his club (probably the rags) were given an open cheque book like City have. And of course he's conveniently leaving out the ridiculous transfer sums other clubs spent on players over the years. It's total hypocrisy with a massive dose of jealousy on top.

After banging on a little more about City being the footballing equivalent of the Antichrist he then urges FIFA to get control of the amount clubs (he means City of course) are spending because, and wait for it, "Football is about how a Club can achieve glory by team work, not by spending power." And I agree a football team has to show team work to achieve glory, but how many leagues or trophies are won by teams that aren't in the top 3-4 biggest spending clubs in any given league? At the end of the day you can buy as many players as you like but if they can't play together you wont get anywhere. He's obviously not thought this through.

The idiot them witters on about how many 'targets' City have because Mancini has mentioned them in passing at some point over the last 12 months as though we're actually looking at buying them all. Clearly not the case and appallingly misleading.

To end his pathetic tirade the buffoon then calls upon Platini and Blatter to implement the FFP rules immediately "before more damage can be done." Damage done to what? The status-quo that has been in place since the wide commercialisation of football meaning the rich get richer and the poor just look on in despair?

The funny thing about this is that almost every top team in Europe wouldn't be able to get a European licence to play football because very few of them actually meet the criteria in the FFP rules at this moment in time. The person that wrote this article is a total cretin.

Click here to let him know what you think.

Now we get to another Aguero induced piece of diatribe. The Mail Online (the internet version of the Daily Mail) greets you with "City rebellion! Stars seething over new boy Aguero's mega-money deal" using the usual excitable and sensationalist terms.

"Nigel De Jong, Vincent Kompany and Micah Richards are unhappy with the new deals offered them, especially after learning that City a paying a club record signing Aguero £200,000 per week" ... apparently. I wonder how they know that seeing as his signing was only confirmed yesterday evening? Have they spoke to any of these players? Do we have any new quotes from them? Errr no.

At least Sami Mokbel uses quotes from thep layers themselves to back up this nonsense so a little credit is due. Oh hang on, sorry, scrap that last part. They use a single word from and old quote to back up this utter tosh.

De Jong mentioned that contract talks had stopped for now (this was whilst he was on the American tour and the fellows that deal with contracts were already in talks with Atletico and Aguero) and he used the word 'frustrated' once. This is the only bit that has any solid links with a player being supposedly unhappy with this story. Although De Jong said he wasn't worried about the negotiations and he was enjoying playing for the club.  

The writer even states that Richards has dismissed talks he is unhappy with contract negotiations (which he did on Twitter) but that hasn't stopped him being included in the article of players on the cusp of revolting against the Club. And god knows why Kompany is mentioned there's nothing even linking him with the article at all!

And it wouldn't be complete without the trusted old 'source' at the club spilling the beans would it? The good old Daily Fail doesn't disappoint us; "While efforts to bring the club's wage bill into line are commendable, it doesn't wash with the key members of the squad being offered less than half of what some of the top earners...will earn."

Honestly the guy who cleans the windows could have come out with a statement like that. There's nothing revealing, there's no exclusives, there's nothing of any note in what is said. They don't call it the Daily Fail for nothing you know.

Again, here's the link if you'd like to let them know what you think:

And finally we come to the third piece, and I'm not sure if this fellow has actually seen a game of football in his life and just got his information off a Liverpool fan.

"Adam Johnson's move to Manchester City has gone badly for him and England" says Luke Edwards in the Telegraph.

Right from the get go you just know this is going to be one ugly article and hopelessly anti-City when he mentions competition for places at "the Etihad Stadium. Or, as it is known elsewhere, the-most-ludicrously-generous-sponsorship-deal-anywhere-in-the-world-in-the-history-of-the-game-ever."

Dear oh dear, jealous much? This guy clearly has an agenda and is of the opinion that Johnson, "once considered a modern day Sir Stanley Matthews" but who's career "has not progressed at Manchester City."

How many England caps did "the new Stanley Matthews" have before moving to City at 22 years old? None. Hardly a glowing record is it? But since joining City in January 2010 he has featured 6 times for England's full international side and become an established Premier League player. He would have featured more for England had it not been for Capello's quite frankly worrying selection process. How is that not a progression for a player? 

Although Luke acknowledges that City fans (rightly) point out that AJ makes more of an impact from the bench he fails to acknowledge how much game time Johnson has actually had, instead making it sound like he is almost forgotten about.

Johnson was missing for a good portion of the latter stages in the season through injury and Mancini openly stated that City missed him. That's hardly anything like being forgotten about is it? In fact AJ featured 39 times last season, around half as a sub, scoring 8 goals in the process. It is no secret that Adam needed to work on his stamina to warrant a regular starting place and that was the only reason why he didn't start more games.

There is no doubt that Johnson has talent but it's hardly City's fault if he was more  interested in going clubbing in the first half of last season prompting Mancini to publicly address the young wingers behaviour (amongst others in the squad). It's blindingly obvious Mancini wants Johnson to become the best he can be, it's up to Johnson to work at it now.

Once again here's the link:

It truly is astonishing the lengths some journalists are going to to discredit City at the moment, and it's not getting any better. The higher up the league City go, the more they seem to revel in taking wildly inaccurate swipes at the Club. All this is without mentioning people within the sport (usually other managers who either see City as a threat to their status or ones jealous they don't have the same transfer funds) who contribute to the ever mounting pile of turd-like objections to what City are doing.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

City Slickers Seal Sergio's Saughtafter Signature.

Today saw Manchester City finally announce the signing of Sergio 'Kun' Aguero from Atletico Madrid. Although Aguero actually confirmed it himself via Twitter last night that he was "already a City player." The highly rated 23 year old Argentinian forward was one of City's main summer transfer targets with Carlos Tevez desperate to head out of the door.

Initially City were wanting to sell Tevez before signing Aguero but with the transfer to Brazilian side Corinthians falling through and no other offers coming in, City weren't willing to take the chance of someone else signing Kun. The deal is thought to be worth in the region of £38m which will be the highest fee paid for a single player at the club to date.

Aguero, who started his career at Independiente, holds the record for the youngest player to feature in the Argentine First Division, a record previously held by his father in-law Diego Maradona. He also won the Golden Boot (scoring 6 in 7 games) and the Golden Ball in the 2007 U20 World Cup.

Sergio apparently got the nickname Kun from his grandparents who believed he looked like Kum Kum, the Japanese anime character. Personally I think he looks more like the original Karate Kid. Any other shouts?

It was reported that Kun had been speaking to one of his countrymen during the Copa America about life in Manchester before deciding on joining the club. Thankfully it was Pablo Zabaleta and not Carlos Tevez. Zabaleta, unlike Tevez, has embraced life in Manchester since his move from Espanyol and is not only now fluent in English but is also picking up a Mancunian twang to his accent. City fans would hope that Aguero shows the same attitude that has seen Zabman become one of the Manchester City's firm favourites, especially last season (2010-11)
Can you imagine what Tevez would have said to him? "Well Manchester, it only has two restaurants for a start. It rains too often too and there's no beaches. There's nothing to do at all. Oh and don't even bother going to the cinema or even trying to talk to anyone because guess what? They talk English! You don't want to have the bother of learning another language now do you?"

Just how the signing will impact on the Tevez transfer saga is yet to be seen but as it stands now City have Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko, Mario Balotelli, and Carlos Tevez who are likely to play. Adding to this, Emmanuel Adebayor and Craig Bellamy are also still on the wage bill, so City may want to reduce the asking price for those two in order to reduce their outgoings.

It will be interesting to see how Mancini goes about picking who starts as Aguero has recently been keeping Tevez out of and performing better than him in the Argentina squad. Even in the Copa America when Tevez was being chosen ahead of him that appeared to be a mistake as Aguero outperformed him when he came on to the pitch.

The domestic league stats for the two are also very similar for the 2010-11 season.
Carlos Tevez                                 Sergio Aquero
31                            Games                                32
2532               Minutes Played                   2676
20                            Goals                                20
127                 Minutes Per Goal                  134
45                    Shots On Target                     55
41                    Shots Off Target                     49
6                             Assists                                 2
83                  Pass Completion %                 77

Of course Sergio is likely to take a bit of time to adjust to a new league and a new team, but the club's record signing certainly possesses all the neccesary attributes to be able to be a big success at Manchester City. He shouldn't have too much trouble settling in, there's plenty of Spanish speaking teammates to get along with while he finds his feet in England.

The signing also seems to have excited laughing boy Micah Richards as he tweeted "Aguero I pray! Tevez Balotelli Dzeko Ouch! City are back"

Aguero spoke exclusively to
WelKun to Manchester Sergio.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

What's next for Vladi?

At the end of the 2010-11 season Vladimir Weiss (21) stated that he had spoken to Mancini and was given the impression he would spend another year on loan to hone his talent playing on a regular basis.

He had a mixed time in his season-long loan with Rangers (both on and off the pitch), ultimately lacking the consistency that hampered his inclusion in City's 1st team. The early indication was that a team in Spain, possibly Espanyol, would be the Slovak's next destination. But would being sent to Spain really be of any help to him at the level he's at when it comes to playing in England?

There would be definite benefits to it as Spanish teams focus much more on technique than English clubs tend to do, and the pace of the Spanish league would mean he would get more time on the ball than he would in England enabling him to develop that side of his game.

But here's my point, Vladi is already technically adept. If you've followed City for a while you will know that this lad has always been very good on the ball but has always lacked the end product, that final ball into the box on a regular basis.

In the first game of pre-season against Club America it looked like we had the same old Vladi (albeit with a few more tattoos), bags of pace and dribbling ability that ran down a blind ally and got tackled before delivering a ball into the box. But in the second half he slowed his game down a little, took a second or two to look up and did make quite a few outstanding passes. He also did this against Vancouver, showing that when he holds back from just belting down the wing he does possess a good range of passing prompting me to even consider he could play a similar role to David Silva given a little time.

Weiss was certainly one of the stand-out players of the US tour for City with his pace and energy. We still have the Dublin Super Cup to play in yet so if he is involved he may impress enough to stay with City this season. But if not and the loan option is explored, where would offer Weiss regular and competitive game time needed for his further development?

Firstly I would prefer him to stay in England. He not only has pace but he has acquired a good deal of strength over the last year or two so he has the attributes to be able to cope with the physicality of the English game. That being the case I would have chosen a club in the Premier League, but which one?

Bolton Wanderers would be high on the list of preferred suitors. The last two seasons have seen Owen Coyle's side play some attractive football whilst utilizing a couple of young players from other Premiership clubs (Jack Wilshere and Daniel Sturridge). Coyle does seem to have a knack of getting his players to up their game and before becoming Manager of Bolton he won promotion from the Championship with Burnley which in itself was a fantastic achievement.

This will most likely not happen now as it appears as though Coyle is set to sign Chris Eagles (a player who greatly improved under Coyle's management) from his former employers at Burnley. So who else is there?

How about Aston Villa? They've just lost Ashley Young to Manchester United and Stuart Downing to Liverpool and although they look to be in line to sign N'Zogbia from Wigan that still leaves them short of one wide man. My only problem with this move though is that I don't think McLeish would be the right man to improve Vladi's game any more than it has done and give him the confidence to push on.

I know I've said I'd prefer him to go to a team in the Premiership if he was to be loaned out, but there's another team in the North West I think would be good for him. Burnley. No stop laughing, bare with me on this. Burnley are almost certainly going to lose Chris Eagles, possibly the most creative player in the squad and he will be a big miss for them this coming season.

Vladi can play the exact same positions as Eagles, but is quicker and I'd say he's also stronger then the 25 year old. I'd hazard a guess at him being a sure fire starter for almost every game and although it's not the Premiership I'll stick my neck out and say it's better overall than what he was playing against in Scotland.

Then there's the factor of Eddie Howe being the manager there. Howe is touted as one of the best young managers in the football league at this moment in time after gaining promotion with AFC Bournemouth in 2010. Although Howe's ability to nurture young and aspiring talent has yet to be really tested, Vladi has the necessary talent already and just needs regular competitive games and a manager with enthusiasm to boost and keep his confidence high and bring the best out of him. I believe Burnley and Howe can offer them both as they strive to get back into the Premiership.

Whether a move like this could happen is yet to be seen, but there has been a feint whisper that it could be a possibility. And lets look at the positives (as there are very few negatives); It's a short journey from Manchester, Ben Mee and Kieran Trippier (Vladi will know both very well from City's FA Youth Cup winning squad) are already there, the opportunity of plenty of games in a physically demanding environment with the responsibility of providing that creative spark, and an enthusiastic and talented young manager with designs on pushing the team forward. If Vladi does go out on loan, Burnley could well be the best place for him.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Manchester City ruining gaming since 2011

Monday the 18th saw Manchester City  strike a multi-million pound partnership with the largest sports gaming company in the world, EA Sports. This is one hell of a smart move on City's part as it has opened up several opportunities both now and in the future.

The deal (much like the one with Etihad) has been described as "unprecedented in both scale and scope within the computer gaming industry." The deal will see exclusive FIFA12 content distributed through EA Sports and and will also include match simulations prior to the fixtures.

In addition to this EA have done 360 degree 3D captures of ALL of the first team squad which will be seen in the upcoming FIFA12 game coming out on 30th September 2011. EA will also invest in creating "experiential gaming areas" in and around the Etihad Stadium further improving the experience of the City Square and family zone.  

Not only all this but for the first time in EA's history they have produced a 'virtual kit launch for Manchester City's 2011-12 home kit (see below) which features several of City's star players and for the first time City's home ground, the newly renamed Etihad Stadium. And to top things off, there will be downloadable content for City fans when the game is relseased.

I do hope Arsene Wenger hasn't seen this video otherwise we'll be seeing another spittle spewing rant of his at how City's aren't playing fair. I mean how dare City not only take their players from them, beat them to automatic Champions League qualification, Sign a bigger sponsorship deal than them, and have Mancini publicly say that another of their players is good (because Wenger's never done that has he? Oh noooo), but now EA depict City beating the gooners 2-0 in a bespoke piece of footage meant for Manchester City and its fans! Oh how very dare they!

So what does this actually mean for City in real terms? It's fair to say that Manchester City are a rapidly expanding Club in terms of popularity. They're now the 8th most played side on FIFA11 which shows you the level or their popularity at the moment. This deal is set to see City's popularity soar even higher in the gaming community which will ultimately gain more fans for the club and more money through sales of merchandise.

It's a fact of life that the more something is portrayed in a positive way, more people are attracted to it. It's human nature. Young kids get hold of games like FIFA and see the likes of Rooney, Messi, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, and Kaka on the front cover and they think "yeah I'll follow them because they're the best." And who can blame them? They don't know any better. In fact Shrek has been on the front cover for as long as I can remember; and you wonder why so many kids seem to just automatically follow United?

So what if in the near future we had a front cover of FIFA that looked like this?

Or maybe this?

Ok I know it's highly unlikely we'll get a cover without Shrek any time soon unfortunately, but what if it did have a City player on, a World Cup winner like David Silva? I'm absolutely certain you would see the profile of the club sky rocket immediately. I don't hold out too much hope that we'll have a player on the front cover this time round but after this deal, anything is possible. Exciting times eh?

Should we buy a kit even if we don't like it?

I'll start by saying I don't like the new kit, didn't like it when I first saw it and even though it looks better now we have official pictures and it's now on sale, I still don't like it. This blog will divide opinions somewhat as there are fans that will buy the kit no matter how it looks and there are others who wont buy it if it's a dog. The 2011-12 Manchester City kit has definitely divided opinion amongst fans. Some like it, some absolutely hate it, others have yet to pass judgement on it either way.

Before I get into this I know there are varying factors in this but for the sake of the discussion I will assume the supporter is financially stable and able to purchase at least 1 kit a season as well as go to games and so on and so on.

When we first got a glimpse of the 2011-12 home kit there was almost a universal outcry of "oh my god, that's got to be a fake" as we were presented with two poorly lit pictures of two people of an undisclosed Asian origin (one who was sadly a little out of shape and would make an Armani suit look bad) donning the kit around a month before the reveal.

Then we saw more versions on the Internet of just the shirt and we could see it in better detail. Although the shade of blue now looked correct there was still plenty to be upset about for most fans. Admittedly when we got a glimpse of a leaked video it did again look a little better than the pictures we'd seen. But it was still not enough to convince the masses. Some vehemently ripped into it while others took a less aggressive approach and wanted to wait until they saw the players in it or saw it in person before making their mind up.

Here it is as shown on (see right). And  it still divides opinions even now. A recent poll suggested that only 1/10 said they liked it, 4/10 said they didn't like it and 5/10 said they were undecided about it. Out of those, around 2/10 said they'd buy it regardless of whether they liked it or not as long as it was official City merchandise. The remaining numbers said they were either going to wait until they had decided on whether they liked it, or said they were going to buy the away kit, 3rd kit or one of the training tops that are sold by the club. I bet that's not the kind of thing Umbro are wanting to hear after they have obviously spent a lot of time thinking about certain design aspects and how to incorporate that into the kit.

So that's how it stands at the moment, and it's clear that some will still buy the shirt no matter what and that's a good thing if they want to do it. But what of those that don't want to buy it? Should they? Does the buying of said shirt show you are more loyal to the club?

I personally wont be buying it. I honestly feel Umbro have had a nightmare with this kit. The idea behind it is fantastic if I'm honest, but the overall execution of the shirt as a whole is very poor in comparison to the last 2 seasons. Both the 2009-10 and the 2010-11 home kits were greeted with astounding praise by fans on the whole. Not only was the design simple and very classy the material used felt far superior to any of our previous kits.

But should I buy it anyway? Would buying it prove my loyalty to the club? Although some might say yes to both of those I completely disagree. I have no problem with people who want to buy it anyway, but to question a person's loyalty to the club because they don't want to buy it is ludicrous. I, along with many others, have proven our loyalty to the club by sticking with it through the hard times, enduring year upon year of underachievement, and in some cases relegation. That is true loyalty. 

Thankfully it is only a very small percentage of those who will buy it regardless who think that way. It's usually the same people who throw the line "I bet you don't have a season ticket" to others in an attempt to suggest that your opinions count more the longer you've had a season ticket (or card/membership as the case is now).

I actually fear that because of City's new-found following coupled with the wider availability of the shirt that it will sell in record numbers leaving the Umbro designers with a false sense of success. That's not saying those that do buy it regardless are wrong for doing so, I just hope Umbro seriously look at the feedback they've got from it instead of the numbers sold when designing the next kit, which will no doubt start relatively soon.

Am I wrong for not wanting to buy it? I'd say no, I'll just use that money and buy something else from the Club that I do like. It's not as though there's a shortage of things to buy is it? There's plenty of clothing on offer, the Umbro diamond range, sportswear, training kits, as well as the club's other fashion items. That's as well as the away kit and the third kit of course.

Before I leave I'm going to show you a few designs that were suggested by several fans and were developed by Paul 'Hartie' Hart. Let me know what you think of them.
If you want to check out Paul's other (professional) work go to 

Monday, 18 July 2011

A look into the future of Manchester City.

Ok, now I've calmed down I can start to type structured and coherent sentences again I'll restart this blog.

I'll admit just before doing this I was like a 5 year old on Christmas eve having just found his parent's secret stash of Christmas presents. But what got me so exited? I know for a fact fans of other teams wont have reacted to this news with the same child-like enthusiasm as I did, and maybe some City fans wont have either but here it is.

The Manchester Evening News had an article today describing part of City's plans for the newly named Etihad Campus (what used to be SportCity and a large stretch of land included). Now I know we had all heard bits and pieces of what was going to happen but we're now beginning to see those same pieces of the jigsaw come together.

Last season saw the performance of City on the pitch finally come together in winning the FA Cup and finishing 3rd in the league. Today we get a proper look at how City are building for the future.

City have today unveiled their plans for a new training complex. Yes we expected this already as it's been in the pipeline for the last 2 years, but now we're privy to a little more detail on what it will be included in this part of the project.

A view of the Etihad Stadium from what part of the Etihad Campus currently looks like

The facilities will include 16 pitches for the 1st team, EDS, and Academy players to use. Along with these will be included a 7000-seater stadium for the youth and EDS teams which will also be opened up for public use.

It doesn't stop there, oh no, the plans also include accommodation and educational facilities for the Academy and EDS players aged 8-18. This is as well as dedicated pitches, accommodation, a gym and rehab centre for the 1st team. It is believed that a section of the complex, not only the stadium, will also be open to the public.

At this moment in time the Academy is at Platt Lane, and the EDS train at Carrington along with the 1st team. These plans will bring them all together in one training complex and will vastly improve the Club's ability to nurture and develop young and talented players in the future. There is no doubt that the facilities will match if not better those used by the best clubs around the globe.

In fact officials and representatives from City have travelled to the best youth and training set ups around the world in order to come up with what is touted to become the world's best training complex. Just look at what has been happening in the UAE in recent times, they don't do things by half do they? The same can certainly be said of Sheikh Mansour and his investment in City to date so why should that change now?

City's Academy has already produced no less than 30 players who have made a first team appearance in its 13 year existence. Considering how basic the facilities were until recently that's an outstanding number of players. Many are still plying their trade in the the Premier League or lower leagues, and some are still with City fighting for silverware.

Academy graduates Shaun Wright-Phillips and Micah Richards at the last home game of the season

Something that hasn't been confirmed yet, but is expected, is the donation of over 5 acres of land to be used for the community and will create what has been described in the past as a significant number of jobs. I'm sure the CitC scheme will have some plans to work with Manchester City Council to improve the local community in that area; Something Patrick Vieira no doubt has an interest in getting involved with.

Today's announcement is just another in a string of announcements since the takeover in 2008 that have cemented Sheikh Mansour's intention of long term investment and his vision for City when he first took over. Many fans of other teams, especially a certain one which I wont mention (but we all know who they are) were quick to say "When the Arabs get bored in two years you'll be in trouble" but this is yet another smack in the gob for them.

City's owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak

What other owners have done what Sheikh Mansour has done and continues to do? What other football club is regenerating 80 acres of land that will not only benefit the club but put a significant contribution back into the community in which it stands? What football club signs a sponsorship deal that not only benefits themselves but actually generates £20m for the local council? Can anyone actually name another club like this? Answers on a postcard (or just a comment at the bottom will do) if you can think of one.

On a side note to this, and as I have already mentioned in a previous blog, the Etihad sponsorship deal looks ever more reasonable when you take into consideration that whenever this huge regeneration project is spoken of Etihad will be mentioned along with it. That is why Etihad were willing to spend so much on the deal.

These proposals have already been accepted by the council but have yet to be submitted to the public. This will happen from Tuesday onwards and in all honesty how can anyone seriously object to any of it? Can anyone honestly object to City and the council creating jobs and funds for the community? No one in their right mind could anyway. Surely it could only be someone bitter about their club having money drained out of it by their owners would stoop so low as to jest and jibe at something like this. Over to you lot at Trafford Friendship, Alliance, Togetherness it is then.

For more detail on the newly announced plans visit

Saturday, 16 July 2011

It's really starting to get to them.

Since Manchester City announced the new 10 year deal with Etihad, thought to be worth £400m, there have been some high profile detractors. The two most vociferous of which have been Arsenal's manager Arsene Wenger, and more recently Liverpool's Managing Director Ian Ayre.

To be honest, they're both pathetic and hypocritical.

Arsene is well known for his selective blindness and unwillingness to admit when he's wrong, and over the last week he's been harping on like an old fishwife about how City are disregarding UEFA's FFP rules and are guilty of what he calls 'financial doping' in order to get more money.

He's been getting all the soundbites in saying things like; "They give us the message they can get around [the FFP rules] by doing what they want."

And; "The credibility of financial fair play is at stake."

Is it Arsene? Is it really? Well, the credibility of the FFP rules are questionable anyway but that has nothing to do with the deal between Manchester City and Etihad. What he's really referring to is that the deal dwarfs that of Arsenal's which was signed in 2004.

"Normally sponsorship has to be at market price if it is to have a chance."

"It cannot be doubled, tripled or quadrupled..."

Why not? As I'll mention later on Liverpool's kit deal has gone from £6m with Carlsberg to £20m with its most recent sponsor, Standard Chartered. If I'm not mistaken Arsene, that's more than tripled, something which you claim shouldn't be done. So where were you when that deal was struck?

That aside, any deal made has to be beneficial for both parties involved hasn't it? And considering Ethad is a company in its own right I'm sure the directors there would decide what was 'market price' or 'fair value'.

Clearly when Arsenal managed to seal the sponsorship with Emirates, both companies got what they thought was a fair deal for the stadium naming rights and shirt sponsorship.

When pen was put to paper the Arsenal-Emirates contract was the largest of its kind, worth £100m. But this was to be spread over a 15 year period, gaining Arsenal a little over £6.5m a year.

This raised a few eyebrows in 2004 and you can see why when Arsenal director Keith Edelman said; "No one in the UK has ever got substantial amounts; maybe less than £1m or possibly £200k a year." And here's the key point; "But it all depends on the level of interest that you get."

So the scope of how big a deal can be has something to do with the "level of interest that you get." This of course is nothing new as the higher the profile of the club being invested in the higher the deal is likely to be.

With the Premier League being the most watched football league in the entire world, with TV revenue and media coverage increasing year upon year you would expect the 'biggest' clubs to attract the better contracts.

An argument could easily be made that Arsenal dramatically undersold themselves considering Liverpool have a shirt sponsorship deal worth £20m a year. Ok Liverpool have been the more successful team over a longer period of time but no one could argue that since the dawn of the Premier League Arsenal have been the 'bigger' team in terms of trophies and honours.

So why did Arsenal sign such a long-term contract for a stadium and kit sponsorship that worked out at a price lower than other teams in the top half of the table? In 2006 Liverpool were getting £6m a year from then kit sponsors Carlsberg.

This brings me nicely on to Liverpool's Ian Ayre and the recent outburst against City; "They surprised me for a number of reasons," he says whilst in Malaysia to watch Liverpool on a money making tour.

"First I don't think it's consistent. It certainly hasn't happened in Europe where a football club has renamed an existing stadium and it has had real value."

Is this a statement of fact Ian? No of course not, it's opinion of course. I wonder if he had asked any club's and companies involved in stadium naming sponsorships before coming out with this? Probably not, but hey ho, why should that matter?

He then goes on to say that the City-Etihad deal to rename CoMS is "odd because it has never been done before" in the respect that a stadium known by one thing has not had its name changed to something else.

At this moment in time I'll just say Leicester City... There are others of course but this is a very recent example which Ian completely ignored for the purpose of his argument.

Of course Ian Ayre also mentions the amount of money the deal is apparently worth by stating that "There is no benchmark in Europe, certainly in football, that says you can rename your stadium and generate that amount of value."

Once again he is forgetting a very simple but also very crucial detail. It is not just the stadium naming rights that have been sold. Nor does he take into account that the official sum and breakdown of the figures involved have not been released. So how could anyone know exactly what the stadium naming element is worth? The answer is other than City, Etihad and UEFA, no one does.

Again this is all very hypocritical seeing as Liverpool are currently looking into jazzing up Anfield or building a new stadium from scratch. And what would they do if they built a new stadium? You guessed it, you can bet you mortgage on it that they would instantly sell the naming rights.

Are you telling me that if a company came and offered you a supposed record breaking sum of money to sponsor the stadium and change its name you wouldn't jump at the chance? Is that what you're saying Ian? You can hear him backtracking already. Hypocrite.

What amazes me next is that he then clearly presumes that City's legal representatives and financial bods have not scoured through the 91 page document that lists the dos and don't of the FFP rules.

"Is Etihad, Manchester City and Sheikh Mansour a related party?" He asks. "If it is, then it's for UEFA to rule on."

No Mr Ayre, they're not a related party. Etihad is not owned by Sheikh Mansour and although it is owned by his half brother, this still does not fall under the "related party" issue under the FFP rules. "Why not?" you can hear him thinking as he begins to frantically flick through the pages.

I'll give you a hand Ian. Page 81-82 under the heading Related party, related party transactions, and fair value of any related party transactions.

When defining what the term "related party" means, it says it "may include that person's children and spouse or domestic partner, children of that person's spouse or domestic partner, and dependants of that person or that person's spouse or domestic partner."

I could add in the points about Sheikh Mansour's half brother having little to no influence over him or City, no stake in City etc etc which again would prohibit the deal being done, but that would be pointless, as you can see from the above paragraph that the deal does not meet the prohibition through related party contracts.

After his rant Ian Ayre then has the cheek to say; "But it is nothing to do with us."

You're damn right it has nothing to do with you! So keep your nose out at least until you know all the facts, or at least acknowledge the facts that are already available.

Talking of facts; the fact is that the two most vociferous opponents of the Etihad deal are both clubs have an agenda. City have recently overtaken both of them in the league and neither are looking as though they will catch up.

Now I'm not going to be arrogant enough to say that City have more fans world wide, sell more shirts, have more trophies and so on. But Arsenal haven't won anything for 6 years, Liverpool haven't finished above City for the last two seasons, thus not having any Champions League football.

It's looking likely that they will be scrapping for 4th spot along with Spurs next season as neither City, Chelsea or United look set to fall out of the top three places. Arsenal are set for yet another 'transitional' season and Liverpool, despite spending heavily so far, have not landed anyone of earth shattering quality to add to what was a relatively average squad last term compared to the teams that finished directly above them.

Don't you think it's a bit of a coincidence that the two teams than want so desperately to get back above City are the two making the most noise and crying foul over what City have managed to do?

I don't, it's obvious they don't like the fact that they've both been dumped out of their comfort zones by what they consider to be a lesser team. Well I've got a message to Arsenal and Liverpool; get used to it.

City have gatecrashed the party and there's no sign of them leaving it any time soon.

As I have mentioned, the deal with Etihad is much more than the changing of a stadium name. But if you don't know what the deal entails, check out my other blog at this url: