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  1. #1
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    Manchester City | 2018/19 season

    Guardian writers’ predicted position:1st (NB: this is not necessarily Nick Ames’s prediction but the average of our writers’ tips)

    Last season’s position: 1st

    Odds to win the league (via Oddschecker): 4-6

    At the turn of September it will be a decade since Sheikh Mansour and his billions swept into Manchester, bringing with them a Robinho-suffused tide of optimism and the promise that nothing would be the same again. In the first instance things were wearily familiar, the explosion of optimism when their £32.5m signing cracked in a free-kick on his debut quickly being tempered by three goals from a Chelsea team who, in that first season, would finish 33 points clear of Mark Hughes’s side.

    “We are not going to do crazy stuff but it makes sense for us to build a dynasty,” Khaldoon al-Mubarak, installed as club chairman, said after the takeover had been formalised. The process has been iterative but last season the blocks fell into place and, after such a jaw-dropping procession to their third title in seven years, it seems the first stage of City’s project is complete. Under Pep Guardiola they have played football of a standard unparalleled in the Premier League era, give or take Arsenal’s sides from the early 2000s, and sent records tumbling in the process. The bar has been set dauntingly high and the measure of the project’s next phase will be City’s ability to meet it, then outjump it.

    It is a problem they have had before and that is why this season holds particular importance. No team have retained the Premier League title since Manchester United, in 2009, won their third in a row. City have tried and failed twice so it was worth listening to Vincent Kompany when, early in March and with first place essentially in the bag, the club captain sounded a warning.

    “We have won two titles at this club and both times when we came back there was an edge missing,” he said. “That is why it is so difficult to retain titles. Only special teams can do it and we have to become that special team this time.”

    The biggest factor City have in their favour for the nine months ahead is Guardiola, whose intense and sometimes prickly persona is the by-product of a ferocious desire for perfection. It seemed like a coup when, in May, he extended his contract for two years until 2021; he has never been committed to a football club for this long in his managerial career and appears besotted with an environment that has been purpose-built for him. A lack of internal politics helps: Guardiola has been allowed to work with scant distraction and the benefits have been astronomical.

    So how does one improve the side that has everything? This has been a summer of relatively minor tweaks, and City will essentially go with the squad that was expensively assembled to Guardiola’s satisfaction last season. The exception is Riyad Mahrez, who had been sought in January but arrived from Leicester for £60m in July. Mahrez, the best creative player outside last season’s top six, does not obviously replace anyone in the starting XI but his versatility will prove as useful as his flair.

    If he plays on the right then perhaps Raheem Sterling can be deployed through the middle, or maybe Bernardo Silva – whose exceptional Community Shield showing suggests much more should be expected this time around after a patchy first year – can be used regularly in the No 10 role that might suit him best. It is an addition that makes City more flexible, even trickier to second-guess, even harder to keep up with when Guardiola makes one of those quickfire, mid-game changes of shape that leave opponents flailing.

    Guardiola may still bring in a central midfielder before the transfer deadline, having been foiled in his pursuit of Jorginho. That deal broke down suddenly after the player opted to join Maurizio Sarri at Chelsea; there is no major reason to fret but City do look curiously light in his position, particularly now Yaya Touré is no longer around. The excellent Fernandinho, now 33, may need nursing back after playing an unfortunate part in Brazil’s World Cup elimination; İlkay Gündogan will play a major role while Kevin De Bruyne’s merits hardly need elucidating. Some dynamic back-up could be useful, unless one of City’s innumerable academy products can step up.

    The latter point will be worth marking, too. In contrast to his opposite number at Old Trafford, Guardiola took evident pleasure in leading a flock of youngsters through pre-season and particularly enjoyed a 3-2 comeback win over Bayern Munich in Miami.

    Phil Foden, the gifted 18-year-old playmaker, was involved throughout and the noise around him reached a crescendo when he performed so marvellously in the De Bruyne role against Chelsea at Wembley. The local boy has a real chance to make his mark, perhaps in some of the softer top-flight games to begin with. Guardiola has been criticised in some quarters for diverging from the youth development principles he honed at Barcelona, and a prominent role for Foden would speak more positively for the pathway at a club that have, so far this summer, sold or moved on 24 youngsters.

    In the short term, though, that would merely be the garnish for the owners’ burning ambition: to conquer Europe. A first Champions League win would crown everything City have achieved so far and an improvement on last season’s quarter-final finish, as a minimum, appears obligatory if Guardiola is to avoid a renewal of the scrutiny that dogged parts of his first season. The manager himself could do with scratching the itch: seven years have passed since the second, and most recent, of his successes in the competition.

    City were arguably unlucky to face Liverpool last time around in the Champions League: it is certainly reasonable to think they would have outplayed any of their overseas rivals among an underwhelming field. Real Madrid’s adaptation to a post-Ronaldo era lends an obvious opportunity now and it is not a huge stretch to see Jürgen Klopp’s side posing Guardiola his biggest challenge both at home and abroad.

    That poses another question: what if other opponents muster assaults of the intensity and aggression with which Liverpool motored to that 3-0 first-leg lead at Anfield? That performance set the mould for unsettling City.

    The likelihood is that City will break the spell and, at least, back up last season’s title with another, even if few expect another 19-point margin. Sergio Agüero and Gabriel Jesus will score freely, De Bruyne and Leroy Sané will electrify, John Stones and Aymeric Laporte will continue to mature at the back.

    Only once, in a final season at Barcelona during which he felt burned out, has Guardiola failed to win consecutive titles with the same team. City’s aim is that he will not have to feel the associated sense of emptiness again. “We’re here to help build a sustainable club,” Al-Mubarak said in 2008. “I think we’re going to have a blast doing it.” He thought correctly and the fun is unlikely to stop any time soon.

    https://www.theguardian.com/football...premier-league


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  2. #2
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    Manchester City's Kevin de Bruyne is having tests on a right knee injury suffered in training on Wednesday.

    City said the extent of the injury suffered by the 27-year-old Belgium midfielder is "not yet known".

    In 2016, he missed 12 games after injuring his right knee during an EFL Cup semi-final victory over Everton.

    De Bruyne was City's player of the season last term, scoring 12 goals and providing 21 assists as his side won the Premier League and EFL Cup.

    City, who began their title defence with a 2-0 victory at Arsenal, next play Huddersfield at home on Sunday.

    They then face matches away to Wolves and at home to Newcastle before an international break.

    Their fifth match of the season is at home to Fulham on 15 September, with their first Champions League group game to take place on 18 or 19 September.

    City broke several records in 2017-18, including reaching 100 points, winning 32 matches and scoring 106 goals.

    Speaking to BBC Sport in a wide-ranging interview to be broadcast during Football Focus on Saturday (12:00 BST on BBC One), De Bruyne said City "will never have a season like last year" as they attempt to become the first Premier League champions since 2009 to retain the title.

    https://www.bbc.com/sport/football/45200783


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  3. #3
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    There has been a "shameful silence" over ongoing criticism of Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling, says a leading anti-racism campaigner.

    Lord Herman Ouseley, chair of Kick It Out, has called for football's leading bodies to tackle the concerns.

    Ex-Arsenal striker Ian Wright told BBC Radio 5 live on Monday that criticism of Sterling is motivated by racism.

    Lord Ouseley, in his weekly column for The Voice, suggested the winger could be "driven out of the English game".

    Sterling, 23, has faced frequent media disapproval, most recently for a tattoo of a rifle on his leg but also for purchasing clothes from Primark and buying his mother a house. He was also criticised over his World Cup performances for England in Russia.

    During the tournament, Sterling wrote a blog post for The Players' Tribune in which he said he no longer worries about the media "picking on him".

    In his column, Lord Ouseley, who founded Kick It Out 25 years ago to tackle racism and discrimination in football, asked the Football Association, Professional Footballers' Association and League Managers' Association to join the organisation in speaking out.

    He wrote: "Where is the FA on this? Where is the Premier League on this? Where are the PFA and LMA on this?

    "Where are the voices of the leaders in football on this? Are they happy to see a young black talent driven out of the English game because he is vilified unreasonably and unjustifiably while the governing bodies maintained a shameful silence?"

    Bobby Barnes, deputy chief executive of the PFA, told BBC Sport that Sterling should be celebrated rather than harshly treated because of misconceptions in the media.

    "He's a young lad who should be held up as a story of success against adversity," said Barnes, pointing to the respect that the winger has from Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola and England boss Gareth Southgate.

    "It's a shame there isn't more talk about a young man who has come to this country and built a great future and made a wonderful contribution to the clubs he's been at."

    The FA told BBC Sport it spoke to England players before the World Cup regarding concerns over racism in Russia. It said it wanted to make sure players felt they had the backing of the governing body should they need it, and that those support networks remain in place.

    Lord Ouseley added: "The 23-year-old is successful and well-off by anybody's standards - the red-top sniping at him does smack of resentment towards a young, black man from humble roots, as if he's somehow not entitled to enjoy the fruits of his hard work, talent and dedication."

    He wrote that Sterling may have been cast as a "pantomime villain" - with criticisms of his on-field performances meant sincerely - but asked whether there was a "racial undercurrent" to the media coverage.

    Lord Ouseley added: "Ian Wright has spoken out and I applaud him for it. We at Kick It Out will speak out too - how many influential figures in the game will join us?"

    https://www.bbc.com/sport/football/45196259


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  4. #4
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  5. #5
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    It was the look on Mark Hughes’s face that lingered in the memory. His first press conference since that seminal day – 1 September 2008 – when Manchester City came under the ownership of the Abu Dhabi royal family. Hughes was behind his desk in the manager’s office, trying to make sense of it all, and occasionally looking up to the whiteboard where Robinho’s name had been added to his team for their weekend game. Robinho? No words were necessary.

    Everything was very different at Manchester City back then. The greeting at the main entrance came in the Glaswegian accent of Jim Corbett, a former bombardier, in the hut he had decorated with posters of Ricky Hatton, rather than the welcome you can expect today from a small battalion of security guards, with their walkie-talkies, blazers and dangling earpieces.

    City did not even include a trophy cabinet when they moved into the Commonwealth Games stadium in 2003. All their collectables, including a porcelain cow, were stored in a dimly lit room and nobody should be surprised that when Vincent Kompany arrived with the most fortuitous timing, 10 days before the takeover, he can remember the dressing-room toilet did not even have a door. The groundsman, Lee Jackson, will tell you City were so skint he did not have enough white paint to do the lines on the pitch.

    And, despite everything, there was something rather endearing about City in the years before the money, when it was Manchester’s other club. “Manchester City has long been perceived as a ‘friendly’ club,” Mark Hodkinson writes in the book, Blue Moon, that offers the most insightful account, going back to the late 1990s. “In stereotypical terms, United is your out-of-town hypermarket, faceless, homogenised and shamelessly avaricious, while City is your friendly corner shop, all ‘how are you?’ and ‘nice-to-see-you’ love.”

    But City were also a club that dipped in and out of crisis, with a finely tuned reputation for magnificent failure, usually in comical circumstances. Their final game of the 2007-08 season was a nine-goal thriller at Middlesbrough. The problem was Middlesbrough scored eight. The wind howled, the curtains trembled. Kompany can also recall wondering why there was no coffee machine at the training ground. “We can do you a cup of tea,” he was told. But coffee? No, pal, not at this club.

    City were football’s Slapstick XI and the idea they were about to become the richest club on the planet felt rather perplexing for those of us who had covered their bleakest times and remembered Sir Alex Ferguson listing United’s rivals, in order, as Liverpool, Arsenal and Leeds. City tended not to get a mention unless Paul Hince, the chief sports writer and long-suffering Blue, was there from the Manchester Evening News and Ferguson wanted the latest from “the Temple of Doom”.

    Yet here we are, 10 years to the day, and maybe it is easier to understand now what Hughes meant about City wanting to be “bigger than the Big Four” (albeit with him not lasting too long under the new regime). Maybe Pelé was being a touch harsh when he said Robinho “needs serious counselling” for choosing City. Perhaps we journalists should not have sniggered when Garry Cook, City’s accident-prone chairman in those days of change, told us they would, in time, be the top team in Manchester. Cook came out with that line when the Premier League and Champions League trophies were United’s possessions, with Cristiano Ronaldo about to win his first Ballon d’Or and an advert for MUTV showing a skip outside Old Trafford, filled with empty cans of silver polish. It turns out Cook knew more than us, after all.

    Bernard Halford, the club’s life president, was there on the night everything changed, as the man who signed off the Robinho deal. “The papers went through at 10 minutes to midnight and there were fans outside, driving around the stadium, beeping their horns,” he recalls. “For City to spend £32m on a player was unheard of. A year before that, we’d have expected the entire team to cost £32m.”

    Halford’s association with City goes back to 1972 when he was appointed as the club secretary. He has worked with 22 managers (excluding caretakers), the last being Manuel Pellegrini, been through five relegations, five promotions and, pre-2008, toasted one solitary trophy. He is 77 now and better qualified than anyone to talk about the transformation of Manchester’s football landscape.

    “The biggest thing that tells you what we’ve become is when you’re in your car. I used to drive from Royton, where I lived, to Maine Road and I’d count how many shirts or scarves I’d see. Kids on zebra crossings, walking to school, that sort of thing. Red or blue? United or City? They outnumbered us, considerably. Not now, though. Now it can be 10-0, or even more.”

    Not everything has run as intended since Sheikh Mansour added the club to his portfolio. Cook’s 83-page blueprint pledged to turn them into “the Virgin of Asia and the world” with their own line of energy drinks, City-branded Mini Coopers, scooters, telephone cards, designer clothing stores and a chain of City Eating fast-food restaurants.

    Those plans never took off and – no apologies for repeating this story – Cook’s greatest moment came early on, discussing transfer targets with the new owners on a crackling telephone line from Abu Dhabi to Manchester. A comment about “it’s getting messy” was misheard and Cook immediately fired off a £30m bid to Barcelona. Apparently, he heard the instruction, amid all the excitement, as “let’s get Messi”.

    Likewise, perhaps you remember Sulaiman al-Fahim, Abu Dhabi’s equivalent of the old Harry Enfield Loadsamoney character, who fronted up the takeover and talked about making a £135m bid for Cristiano Ronaldo, as well as going for just about every other superstar footballer who might be available. Ronaldinho, Thierry Henry and Fernando Torres were all namechecked. “Ronaldo has said he wants to play for the biggest club in the world, so we will see if he is serious,” Fahim said.

    To give them their due, Abu Dhabi quickly realised it needed a different approach. Fahim was sidelined and, PR-wise, City have got more right than wrong on the upward trajectory, featuring three Premier League titles, one FA Cup, three League Cups, 11 trips to Wembley, Sergio Agüero in the 94th minute, David Silva, Yaya Touré, Kevin De Bruyne, the 6-1 at Old Trafford, Carlos Tevez and Welcome to Manchester, Pep Guardiola and the Centurions, Mario Balotelli and Why Always Me?

    As anniversaries go, not everyone will wish to celebrate. Critics will question whether the mind-boggling amounts of money have been good for the sport as a whole. Abu Dhabi’s human rights record will conjure up headlines of a different kind and, as long as that remains the case, there will be misgivings about the people at the top of the empire.

    At City, though, the most prominent banner inside the stadium is to thank Sheikh Mansour and, though Robinho stayed only 15 months, it was the Brazilian’s signing that made the rest of the football take notice. City gazumped Chelsea in the process, making it the first time Roman Abramovich had ever been outmuscled in the transfer market. There was also a late attempt – unsuccessful – to hijack Dimitar Berbatov’s move from Tottenham Hotspur to Manchester United.

    “I remember it [the takeover] being announced on television with all the transfer deadline news and, the next thing, we’ve signed Robinho,” Kompany says. “As soon as he’s there, you’re looking at him and thinking: ‘OK, he’s extra-terrestrial.’ He would make us look silly doing keepie-ups with rolled-up socks. We were like: ‘OK, when can we head it?’ But then you start measuring yourself up against one of the best players in the world and you think: ‘You know what, I can do it.’ It was important to have a player like this within our team and it raised the profile of the club.”

    And, yes, Kompany can also report that it is possible now to get his brew of choice. “It was like one of those television makeover shows where they are building stuff and then there’s the big reveal. We went away for the international break and they changed everything at the training ground. I don’t know how they did it so fast. Next thing you know, we had this massive coffee machine come in from Nespresso. I think it was used so much it needed to go in for maintenance after two weeks. I said: ‘I told you coffee would work here.’”

    Those pitches are leased now to Bury of League Two. In the old days, City trained at Platt Lane, in the heart of Moss Side, where the local drunks would gather by the fence to shout abuse as the players jogged by. Now, there is a village-sized training ground opposite the Etihad Stadium and, as Halford says, it is a “buzzing area” full of new opportunities.

    “It’s beyond a football supporter’s dream, Alice in Wonderland stuff, and it’s not just the football team, it’s everything the sheikh has created for the city of Manchester,” Halford adds. “We’re top of everything – community schemes, job creation in what was a deprived area, our training ground, our academy. It’s not just a snowflake on the river, it’s long term.”

    And the next 10 years? That perhaps is the era that should frighten City’s rivals the most. “You can only see more pots on the shelf and, before long, the Champions League,” Halford says. “That would be the ultimate dream. And when we’ve won it, we’d say: ‘We want to win it again next year? Can we do it again? And again?’ We want to be up there with the great Real Madrid and Barcelona sides.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/football...P=share_btn_wa


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  6. #6
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    During All Or Nothing, Manchester City's recent documentary, there was a revealing contrast between the intensity of manager Pep Guardiola on the training pitch and the coolness of the club's boardroom, where Txiki Begiristain plotted his next move in the transfer market.

    Swivelling in his white leather chair, City's director of football gave the impression that he was several moves ahead of his opponents.

    Having Abu Dhabi owners, who have spent approximately £1.4bn on players alone during their 10-year reign clearly helps, but the former Barcelona director is keen to impress that it's money spent well.

    In a rare interview, he tells BBC Sport why some people cannot be trusted to spend money wisely, why City won't tear up the team if they don't succeed and why they are not yet feared in Europe.

    Txiki Begiristain welcomed £60m Riyad Mahrez from Leicester in the summer, taking Pep Guardiola's spending to £536m since he joined the club in 2016
    'We want to win this race. We need to do it fast'
    "You can give money to all kinds of people.

    "There are people who work and they do well and they spend all the money, and for nothing. They enjoy life for three or four years.

    "Then you give money to people who want to do well. Of course, they have to run and do it quick - but they spend the money and it stays there. Then you see the project, the philosophy, the way to work, a way to play. Once we get success doing it this way, we know that it is going to stay here forever.

    "It is true that we have spent a lot of money - that is because we want to move fast. We want to win this race. We need to do it fast. We need to spend the money.

    "The other clubs got there because they have been spending money for 50-60 years. They have been signing the best players in the world, spending a lot of money that Manchester City could not spend."

    Manchester City players during a training session
    City won the 2017-18 Premier League title by a 19-point margin over Manchester United
    'You don't need to change 11 players every year'
    "I know we cannot win all the time but that is the target. Everyone coming to this club has to know that we are here to win.

    "Not winning is a failure. Of course, it is going to happen. We are not here to think: 'We won the league last year, we will win it again in three years.'

    "The club stays; the people do not. People need to be successful, otherwise others will come. They are not coming here just to enjoy life - they are coming to fight to win.

    "We know if we don't win, it doesn't mean everyone will be out. If you fight, if you play well, if people are happy, if the idea is good and the idea works, then you change a couple of pieces in the squad and you are back again.

    "You don't need to change 11 players every year. You need to change two or three.

    "If you win, you need to bring someone in to create competition. If not, you have to improve some pieces, but the idea stays and the work is there to try and win again."

    Are European clubs intimidated by coming to the Etihad?
    "Not yet. We need to face those kinds of games. Getting to the semi-finals of the Champions League is the main target. Having the experience of playing in semi-finals helps you get to the finals.

    "We have to become a winning club. It doesn't mean we have to win the Premier League for the next 10 years. It means we have to fight for the title - really fight, be there.

    "If you do that, you know you are going to fight for the Champions League. It is a matter of getting the experience to play in those games: that game to win the league; that game to win the semi-final of the Champions League. You need time for this.

    "We are getting there. It is closer than we think. What happened last season helps now to become one of the favourites for everything. This is the pressure.

    "It is not only about the players you have. It is also what the club means for the opponent. If you go to [Real Madrid's stadium] the Bernabeu, you are playing against 11 players but you are also playing against the stadium, the history, everything. That history, that stadium, those players, affects everything - the opponent, the referee.

    "The only way to become one of them is to always be a winning club."

    Do you plan to get more young Mancunians in the team?
    "We are already working on it.

    "The City Football Academy is a signal from the owners that they are going to be here for a long time, that they believe in this city and this club, and that project has a long life.

    "There are two ways of finding talent. One is to look in the elite development squad and find who is coming through, who are the big names for the under-16s and under-18s. The other is when scouts come with names but they need to see the level we have here at home.

    "If someone is coming they have to be better than what we have in the under-16s. One of the key things in our strategy, in all ages, is to try to bring in the best talent in the world.

    "We start with English players, but then at 16 we can bring some talent in from Europe, so they have to compete with the English talent. Then when they are 18, we can bring players in from all over the world.

    "I have to work for the next two seasons. You see the squad - who is coming down, who is coming up, which positions. We have very good people but you have to be ready.

    "Some of the young players can get unbelievable offers from other clubs. You have to understand who wants to move, who wants to stay and what the risk is of losing players.

    "You always have to be working on new talent coming. See the market - who is finishing his contract, who is not.

    "There are three months [in the transfer window] that are unbelievable. Everyone is working, trying to find new talent."

    https://www.bbc.com/sport/football/45344917


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  7. #7
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    Manchester City and their sponsors manipulated contracts to circumvent Uefa's Financial Fair Play regulations, according to Der Spiegel.

    The German news magazine claims it has seen internal documents which show that City officials discussed how to wipe out a £9.9m shortfall in 2013.

    Der Spiegel also reports that City owner Sheikh Mansour provided monetary supplements to existing deals with sponsors in Abu Dhabi, where he is part of the royal family, to invest more money into the club.

    City say they will not be commenting on the claims, which come after initial allegations about the club and FFP were published by the magazine on Friday.

    La Liga president Javier Tebas made a similar claim last year, with European football's governing body Uefa responding by saying it was not investigating City, who have won the Premier League three times since Sheikh Mansour took over in 2008.

    Uefa found City had breached FFP rules in 2014 and the two parties reached a settlement, with City paying a £49m fine - £32m of which was suspended - while their Champions League squad was reduced for 2014-15.

    Der Spiegel calls the settlements "weak" and claims Uefa "wasn't even entirely aware of the degree to which it had been deceived".

    Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini with the FA Cup in 2011
    City won the 2011 FA Cup under Mancini - but he was sacked three days after they lost the 2013 final
    Italian manager Roberto Mancini was sacked in 2013, just after City had failed to defend their first Premier League title and lost the FA Cup final.

    Der Spiegel reports that, in an internal email, City's chief financial officer Jorge Chumillas wrote: "We will have a shortfall of £9.9m in order to comply with Uefa FFP this season. The deficit is due to RM termination. I think that the only solution left would be an additional amount of AD sponsorship revenues that covers this gap."

    The email also allegedly presented details of the contracts that would be adjusted, with Der Spiegel claiming that Etihad, Aabar and the Abu Dhabi tourism authority all paid more than had been agreed at the beginning of 2012-13.

    Der Spiegel quoted another internal email, sent by club executive Simon Pearce in April 2010, regarding an annual £15m deal with investment company Aabar.

    It read: "As we discussed, the annual direct obligation for Aabar is £3million. The remaining £12m will come from alternative sources provided by His Highness."

    City representatives have said the Abu Dhabi-based companies are independent sponsors.

    https://www.bbc.com/sport/football/4...source=twitter


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  8. #8
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    Superb today against Manchester United.

    So good to watch, so many options. If one or two of their players are having a bad day, then others raise their game.

    It'll take an awesome effort to beat Man City to the title.



  9. #9
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  10. #10
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    I'm not a big fan of the Premier League these days but I always try to watch Man City if they are on tv.



  11. #11
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    Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola says he has been assured by senior figures at the club that they will not be banned from European competition for Financial Fair Play irregularities.

    A series of allegations were made in Der Spiegel last month after what City said were "leaks" and an "organised attempt" to smear the club were passed on by the Football Leaks organisation.

    Reports this week suggested the claims could lead to City being banned should Uefa decide to take action, and a senior figure in European football told the BBC the entire credibility of FFP is at risk if Europe's governing body and the Premier League do not fully investigate the allegations.

    However, after speaking to City chairman Khaldoon al-Mubarak and chief executive Ferran Soriano, Guardiola does not think the club have anything to fear.

    "We will not be banned, no," he said.

    "That's what I think because of what my chairman and my CEO have explained to me and I trust in them.

    "If it happens, because Uefa decide that, we will accept it and move forward."

    Across four days of allegations in Der Spiegel, City were accused of using owner Sheikh Mansour's own money to inflate sponsorship deals, using a third party, Fordham Sports Management, to offload image rights in order to reduce their wage bill, and, in the case of former manager Roberto Mancini, paying him more for his role as a consultant to Abu Dhabi club Al Jazira than he was getting from City as manager, excluding bonuses and incentives.

    The European football source, who did not wish to be identified, said the fact the allegations came via the Football Leaks organisation and, according to City, were "purportedly hacked or stolen" should not prevent a thorough investigation to discover whether historical allegations are true and, as importantly, if breaches are being committed.

    "Uefa and the Premier League have got to ask all the questions," said the source. "They cannot make it easy otherwise credibility in the whole system will be lost."

    City were fined £49m for FFP breaches by Uefa in 2014 but were refunded £33.4m three years later after meeting the requirements of those initial sanctions.

    In an exclusive interview with the BBC earlier this month, Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin said FFP rules needed to be more "robust" and admitted they were "weak" in certain areas.

    The source said they accepted getting hold of all the relevant documentation would not be straightforward but that it should not be a deterrent to doing everything possible to establish the full facts.

    Uefa has said it would reopen FFP investigations on a case-by-case basis if there was evidence of "abuse".



    https://www.bbc.com/sport/football/46490230


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  12. #12
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    Awful result today for City.

    The heat is on.

    I feel Pep is making too many changes to the team every week.



  13. #13
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    I think, the Palace result was timed perfectly - just before January window. Now, Pep can ask for another quarter billion - another CB, a DM, a winger and may be a false 9 as well, and yes 3rd GK. And, this guy allowed to leave Sancho!!!!

    I feel, Pep is caught in his own trap - this is his squad:

    GK: Ederson, Bravo
    RB: Walker, Danilo
    LB: Mendy
    CB: Kompany, Stones, Laporte, Mangala, Otamendi
    Mid Field: Gundogan, KDB, D Silva, Fardinandinho, Delph, Zinchenko; Foden & Diaz
    Wingers: Mahrez, Starling, Sane, B Sliva
    CF: Aguero, Jesus

    Most of these players are coming from top National teams and if they don't start in League games, almost certainly they'll lose their National spot; therefore Pep is forced to rotate squad and keep everyone happy.

    This is a brilliant lesson from the best - SAF. His MU used to fight for 5 trophies every year and played over 70 games a season. Also, most of his squad were starters for National team, hence they used to play additional 10-12 International games - add to that air miles. So, SAF had a sweet problem - he had to maintain a strong, robust & healthy squad, at the same time he had to manage a happy squad.

    He had all the money to spree, and I don't think any player ever would have declined SAF/MU had he really went for him desperately - but, SAF didn't go crazy. He found a brilliant solution - his match day 14 were the best players in world for his system, coming from top soccer nations, and he was never shy to spend top dollars for those players. But, after that he didn't hire top players from established International soccer giants for his bench, rather he used to look for brilliant individuals from weak soccer nations - players who were individually brilliant, perfect for his system and players who where certain to start for their national team, even semi fit or sitting whole year on MU bench.

    Players like (no insult) Yorke, Bosnich, Johnsen, Ole Gunner, Berg, Giggs (brilliant, but from Wales), Quintin Fortune, Roy Carroll, Darren Fletcher, Denis Irwin, Park Sung, O'shea, Howard, D'jemba were his back-up squad for years and he'll always have several local English fringe players - players who were fan of ManU, but not good enough to be ambitious for an England cap, but proud to wear MU badge.... no wonder, he ran every team crazy in last 10-12 weeks of EPL and last 10-12 minutes in every game, because he had a fit, happy and motivated squad to run for the extra yards, and they were winning to keep that motivation high. He was a master of rotating his squad - there is a rule that one has to play at least 10 games to receive a winners medal (of EPL), and at average his squad took 29-30 medals every year, because he'll give most of his players at least 10 games.

    What Pep is doing is playing FIFA Soccer Manager at Sheikh Mansoor's credit .... most of his squads are too self obsessed, often striving for game time and they are hired guns, not SAF's desperate worriers. His squad is so good that, even at 60% efficiency, they should win 100+ points in every season, but lots of unhappy soul there, and lots of greedy souls who at their prime opted to enjoy lots of Mansoor's money for warming bench.

    I still back ManCity to win EPL, still 20 games left and so far LFC had been extremely lucky on fitness grounds - no key player has been out for long for such a slim squad where one Milner has so far played in 4-5 positions including LB, RB & CB ... last was right winger. I don't see us keeping this tempo going with that sort of high octane game for a squad where 7-8 players are starting almost every game. In last 6-7 years almost every time Team leading table at X-mas has gone to win the EPL, only team failing to that was FSG's Liverpool. Even if we win at Ettihad on new years' fixture, I won't back LFC to win EPL - may be 4 points with 10, max 12 games to go and we are out of FA Cup, may be CL as well; then it can happen.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by MMHS View Post
    I think, the Palace result was timed perfectly - just before January window. Now, Pep can ask for another quarter billion - another CB, a DM, a winger and may be a false 9 as well, and yes 3rd GK. And, this guy allowed to leave Sancho!!!!

    I feel, Pep is caught in his own trap - this is his squad:

    GK: Ederson, Bravo
    RB: Walker, Danilo
    LB: Mendy
    CB: Kompany, Stones, Laporte, Mangala, Otamendi
    Mid Field: Gundogan, KDB, D Silva, Fardinandinho, Delph, Zinchenko; Foden & Diaz
    Wingers: Mahrez, Starling, Sane, B Sliva
    CF: Aguero, Jesus

    Most of these players are coming from top National teams and if they don't start in League games, almost certainly they'll lose their National spot; therefore Pep is forced to rotate squad and keep everyone happy.

    This is a brilliant lesson from the best - SAF. His MU used to fight for 5 trophies every year and played over 70 games a season. Also, most of his squad were starters for National team, hence they used to play additional 10-12 International games - add to that air miles. So, SAF had a sweet problem - he had to maintain a strong, robust & healthy squad, at the same time he had to manage a happy squad.

    He had all the money to spree, and I don't think any player ever would have declined SAF/MU had he really went for him desperately - but, SAF didn't go crazy. He found a brilliant solution - his match day 14 were the best players in world for his system, coming from top soccer nations, and he was never shy to spend top dollars for those players. But, after that he didn't hire top players from established International soccer giants for his bench, rather he used to look for brilliant individuals from weak soccer nations - players who were individually brilliant, perfect for his system and players who where certain to start for their national team, even semi fit or sitting whole year on MU bench.

    Players like (no insult) Yorke, Bosnich, Johnsen, Ole Gunner, Berg, Giggs (brilliant, but from Wales), Quintin Fortune, Roy Carroll, Darren Fletcher, Denis Irwin, Park Sung, O'shea, Howard, D'jemba were his back-up squad for years and he'll always have several local English fringe players - players who were fan of ManU, but not good enough to be ambitious for an England cap, but proud to wear MU badge.... no wonder, he ran every team crazy in last 10-12 weeks of EPL and last 10-12 minutes in every game, because he had a fit, happy and motivated squad to run for the extra yards, and they were winning to keep that motivation high. He was a master of rotating his squad - there is a rule that one has to play at least 10 games to receive a winners medal (of EPL), and at average his squad took 29-30 medals every year, because he'll give most of his players at least 10 games.

    What Pep is doing is playing FIFA Soccer Manager at Sheikh Mansoor's credit .... most of his squads are too self obsessed, often striving for game time and they are hired guns, not SAF's desperate worriers. His squad is so good that, even at 60% efficiency, they should win 100+ points in every season, but lots of unhappy soul there, and lots of greedy souls who at their prime opted to enjoy lots of Mansoor's money for warming bench.

    I still back ManCity to win EPL, still 20 games left and so far LFC had been extremely lucky on fitness grounds - no key player has been out for long for such a slim squad where one Milner has so far played in 4-5 positions including LB, RB & CB ... last was right winger. I don't see us keeping this tempo going with that sort of high octane game for a squad where 7-8 players are starting almost every game. In last 6-7 years almost every time Team leading table at X-mas has gone to win the EPL, only team failing to that was FSG's Liverpool. Even if we win at Ettihad on new years' fixture, I won't back LFC to win EPL - may be 4 points with 10, max 12 games to go and we are out of FA Cup, may be CL as well; then it can happen.
    I think also that Pep's philosophy and playing style is not conducive to rotation even if the whole squad is tailored and trained to play that way. The short passing triangles and patterns of play need a consistent plying XI to familiarize themselves with the system.

  15. #15
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    Not signing cover for Fernandiinho and Mendy was a big mistake by City.

  16. #16
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    Irresistible Manchester City scored nine goals as they thrashed Burton Albion with an incredible display of attacking football in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final at Etihad Stadium.

    Gabriel Jesus scored four, with Kevin de Bruyne, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Phil Foden, Kyle Walker and Riyad Mahrez also scoring against Nigel Clough's beleaguered League One side.

    Headers from De Bruyne and Jesus made it 2-0, the Brazilian tapped in a third and Zinchenko's curler put City four up.

    Jesus added two more headers, with Foden, Walker and Mahrez scoring further goals.

    This was the first time in more than 31 years that City had scored more than eight goals in a single match - they beat Huddersfield Town 10-1 in a second-tier league encounter in November 1987.

    It means City have scored 16 goals in four days after thrashing Rotherham United 7-0 in the third round of the FA Cup on Sunday.

    The second leg, merely a formality, takes place at the Pirelli Stadium on Wednesday, 23 January, with the final at Wembley Stadium on Sunday, 24 February.

    City, the Carabao Cup holders, are set to meet either Tottenham or Chelsea in the final, with Spurs leading 1-0 after Harry Kane's penalty gave them a first-leg victory at Wembley on Tuesday.

    Hours stuck on the M6 to witness a 9-0 loss... if they even got there - Burton fans' night to forget
    'Of course we're in the final' - Guardiola on 9-0 first-leg win
    Relive Manchester City's win over Burton Albion as it happened
    City kill the tie off in 37 minutes
    Before the game, Guardiola called the tournament "a more local competition" and said "everybody is happy to win but no-one is sad to go out".

    However, the Spaniard still named a strong team that included De Bruyne, Silva, Mahrez, Sane and Jesus, with starts for 20-year-old goalkeeper Aro Muric and Spanish centre-half Eric Garcia, on his 18th birthday.

    It only took them five minutes to break through with De Bruyne's header, and Sane almost added a second but fired into the side netting.

    But three goals in a seven-minute spell in the first half took the tie away from Nigel Clough's side.

    Gabriel Jesus
    Manchester City have won the League Cup five times in their history
    Jesus got his first with a header after Sane's effort had been parried by goalkeeper Brad Collins, and the Brazilian tapped in from Sane's cross to make it 3-0, with the goal given after a video assistant referee check to see if he had been onside, which he was.

    Zinchenko got his first City goal when he looped the ball over Collins from the edge of the penalty area, with Mahrez denied a fifth when the Burton goalkeeper tipped over his effort.

    City did not let up after the break as Jesus completed his hat-trick when he headed in from Silva's cross, and the sixth goal was scored by Foden, following up after Collins had denied Jesus.

    But the Brazilian grabbed his fourth of the game three minutes later, with a tap-in from Sane's low delivery.

    Walker made it 8-0 with a side-footed finish and Silva hit the outside of the post, although the ninth was not far away as Mahrez bundled in another goal.

    City had a chance to get a 10th but Zinchenko's header was saved on the line by Collins.

    City have won this competition in three of the past five years and their 2018 success was Guardiola's first trophy in English football. With City playing eight matches in a hectic January, Guardiola will now have the luxury of resting some players for the second leg.

    Burton - ninth in League One, 51 places below City - were playing in their first major cup semi-final, and around 3,000 of their supporters had tickets for the match at Etihad Stadium.

    However, numerous traffic incidents caused tailbacks on the M6 with only one of their 31 fan coaches at the ground an hour before kick-off.

    Some of their fans had still not taken their seats when De Bruyne's header put the hosts in front, but the away fans should have been celebrating an equaliser seven minutes later, although Marcus Harness could only shoot over when unmarked 12 yards from goal.

    After that miss, Burton were outclassed by a ruthless City side. Clough's side still created chances, though, and Scott Fraser had an effort saved by Muric and shot just over early in the second half as the Brewers fans were denied the goal they wanted.

    Burton had beaten five teams to reach this stage - including Premier League Burnley and Championship sides Aston Villa, Nottingham Forest and Middlesbrough - but were powerless to stop a rampant City outfit.

    Man of the match - Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City)
    Gabriel Jesus
    Gabriel Jesus has scored 12 goals for Manchester City this season, including five in the Carabao Cup
    'Quality breeds quality' - analysis
    Dion Dublin, former Aston Villa striker on BBC Radio 5 live

    When you have got so much quality pushing quality, you are going to get better performances. Pep Guardiola knows he is going to push Liverpool all the way in the Premier League title race, and this performance shows that he has players fighting for those shirts.

    It doesn't matter to a centre-forward about the opposition. When the ball leaves any part of your body and goes into the back of the net, that is the feeling you work so hard for. Tonight will give Gabriel Jesus a lot of confidence.

    Guardiola's joint-biggest win ever - the stats

    Manchester City have won 13 of their past 15 League Cup matches against sides from a lower division (drawing two), scoring 50 goals.
    City are the first side in the top four tiers of English football to score at least seven goals in back-to-back matches in all competitions since Leeds United did so back in October 1967 (9-0 v Spora Luxembourg in the Fairs Cup and 7-0 v Chelsea in the top flight).

    Manchester City have scored eight goals in a single match in any competition for the first time since November 1987, when they beat Huddersfield 10-1 in a second-tier encounter.

    Their 9-0 victory is Pep Guardiola's joint-largest margin of victory as a manager, alongside Barcelona's 9-0 thrashing of L'Hospitalet during a Copa del Rey match in December 2011.

    Since his League Cup debut for Manchester City in September 2015, Kevin de Bruyne has scored more goals in the competition than any other player (nine).

    Gabriel Jesus has now scored two hat-tricks at Etihad Stadium; only Carlos Tevez (four) and Sergio Aguero (10) have managed more home trebles for Manchester City since their move away from Maine Road.

    Gabriel Jesus (12) has reached double figures for goals scored in all competitions for the second successive season after netting 17 times in 2017-18 - only Sergio Aguero (14) has netted more than the Brazilian for Manchester City in 2018-19.
    'Never scored four before' - what they said

    Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus on Sky Sports: "I have never scored four before in my career; I am so happy for this. We played very well and with respect, that's important.

    "Players like me want to play more, to help the team, and we went out there to win."

    Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola: "The result was good and of course we are already in the final but we have to play the second leg. We will take it seriously. Burton have had an incredible tournament. They have to be so proud, they did so well.

    "Strikers need to score goals, Gabriel Jesus has had chances in the last few games and today he has scored. He is so important.

    "It is not easy to play this type of game against a lower team. We made good runs in behind and we took it seriously. After the second and third goal it was easier, we were faster and quicker.

    "I am off for a glass of wine with Nigel Clough. I know how important his father was for English football, he was a genius. Incredible. It will be a pleasure to share some minutes with him."

    Burton Albion manager Nigel Clough: "We didn't expect anything less with the gulf between the two teams. We thought it could have been more. We didn't too much wrong. With two or three of the goals we could have done more but we didn't do too badly."

    "We have made history in getting this far. It wasn't about tonight, it was about the achievement of getting here. We kept going right to the end, they [the fans] were shouting 'we want 10' and we stopped them, that's a positive for us. Some of the youngsters have had an experience that you can't buy.

    "It's not nice when the goals are going in and you can do nothing to stop it. Pep said 'come in for a glass of wine' and I hope he's got more than a glass. They are capable of doing that to Premier League teams."

    What's next?
    Manchester City return to Premier League action on Monday, 14 January at home to Wolves (20:00 GMT) and then face Huddersfield away on the following Sunday, before the second leg against on 23 January.

    For Burton, they have a home match in League One with Gillingham on Saturday and an away game at Doncaster the following week before facing Guardiola's side again.

    https://www.bbc.com/sport/football/46732982


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  17. #17
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    Manchester City eased past managerless Huddersfield to move back to four points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool.

    David Wagner left the Terriers by mutual consent on Monday with the club bottom of the league, leaving coach Mark Hudson temporarily in charge.

    City, who had netted 19 goals in their past three games, were not at their free-scoring best in the first half at the John Smith's Stadium.

    But the defending champions went ahead in the 18th minute when Danilo's long-range effort deflected in off the head of Christopher Schindler.

    The visitors then struck twice in two minutes after the break to put the game to bed, with Leroy Sane creating the first and scoring the second.

    First, the Germany forward whipped in a cross for Raheem Sterling to dive and head in his 12th goal of the season.

    Then Sergio Aguero cushioned a header for Sane to run on to and finish past Jonas Lossl.

    It was not a vintage display by Pep Guardiola's side but they remain in title contention.

    Borussia Dortmund coach Jan Siewert has been approached by Huddersfield for the vacant job, but he will face a mammoth task to keep them in the top flight if he takes over.

    This was their ninth defeat in 10 league games and the result leaves the Terriers bottom of the table and 10 points from safety.

    https://www.bbc.com/sport/football/46853937


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