Unprofessional Foul


August 11, 2010

2010-11 EPL Previews: Manchester City


Official Name: Manchester City Football Club

Nickname: The Citizens, Blues. City. Derisively: Citeh, Manchester Arabia.

Home Colors: Sky blue and white

Trophy Case: European Cup Winners’ Cup (1970); Football League Champions (1936-37, 1967-68); Division One Champions (2001-02), Division Two Champions (1898-99, 1902-03, 1909-10, 1927-28, 1946-47, 1965-66); FA Cup (1904, 1934, 1956, 1969), League Cup (1970, 1976), FA Charity Shield Winners (1937-38, 1968-69, 1972-73)

2009-10 League Finish: Fifth, with a loss on Cinco de Mayo to Spuds sealing Citeh’s Europa League fate. A few dodgy results in the weeks leading up to that match made it tough for City to break into the top four.

2009-10 Average Home Attendance: 45,512

2009-10 Cup Finishes:
League Cup: After Carlos Tevez hit the “Eff You Brace” in the first leg of the semifinals against Manchester United, City couldn’t hold the lead and lost 3-1 in the return leg to crash out.
FA Cup: In the Fifth Round, Citeh drew at home with Stoke before falling out on two extra-time goals in the away leg.

History: Manchester City have always been the more blue-collar club (pun intended). Originally formed as a church side, the club became Ardwick AFC in 1887 and Manchester City FC in 1894. The club was closely connected with the Freemasons in the early days.

Citeh were, as much as it pains me to say, the first club in Manchester to win silverware, taking the 1904 FA Cup over SF Bolton (even then they were SF).

Over the past century, the team has had more downs than ups, but they did have a real good run around the end of the 1960s and beginning of the 1970s, winning most of their silverware.

Over the past two decades, however, the Citizens have fumed in the shadow of their neighbors to the west. The club was a publicly traded company until Thaksin Shinawatra, the former prime minister of Thailand, bought the club and took it private. The Thaksin era was short and a bit wild, with money being spent but a lot of controversy surrounding the owner.

In September 2008, a group from Abu Dhabi bought the club, and the spending spree began. Now, Manchester City is touted as the richest club (by cash available) in the world.

Also, the supporters sing the oddly melancholy “Blue Moon” as their anthem. I never got that one other than the color connection, and I can’t find a real explanation.

Team Legends: Citeh are one of the few sides to have retired a number. They no longer give out No. 23 after the death of Marc-Vivien Foe during a 2003 Confederations Cup match for Cameroon.

Among the legends for the team include Mike Summerbee and Colin Bell from the team’s great run in the 1960s, Paul Lake from the 1980s and Nial Quinn from the 1990s. No, I do not include Craig Bellamy on this list yet.

Yo mama so fat she was floating in the ocean and Spain claimed her for the new world.

Gaffer: Roberto Mancini.

No, not the UF commenter.

Mancini came to the side midstream last season to replace Mark Hughes. While things got a little better under the Italian, to be honest, he didn’t do much to improve results. Maybe this is his season.

Mancini was an assistant to Sven-Goran Eriksson at Lazio earlier in his career, but don’t hold that against him. He had stints at Fiorentina and Lazio before becoming the head man at Inter and winning three Scudettos and a number of domestic trophies.

However, his inability to win the Champions League led to his ouster – and his replacement by Jose Mourinho.

Also, he likes scarves.

Transfers In:
Alex Henshall (undisclosed, Swindon Town)
Jerome Boateng (undisclosed, Hamburg SV)
David Silva (£24m, Valencia)
Yaya Toure (£28m, Barcelona)
Aleksandar Kolarov (£19m, Lazio)
James Milner (expected, Aston Villa)
Mario Balotelli (expected, Inter Milan)

Transfers Out:
Paul Marshall (free, Walsall)
Martin Petrov (free, Bolton)
David Ball (loan, Swindon Town)
Gunnar Nielsen (loan, Tranmere Rovers)
Javier Garrido (£2.5m, Lazio)

Key Players:
Wow. Where to start with this category. There isn’t one key player for Citeh. There are myriad questions about playing time, tactics!, Robinho’s status, the size of the squad, the chances of cohesion. This is a crazy team. If you have to look at key players, Tevez must keep his performance up. The center of defense must be better than it was last year. Will Milner get the games and the ability to work in that crowded midfield? When you have 35 players and two starters at every position, it’s difficult to pick key players.

When it comes down to it, though, the big splashes coming in are David Silva and Yaya Toure. How will they fit into the star-crossed side?

Rising Stars: By the same token, there isn’t a ton of “youth” on this side. Sure, some of the players are young, but this is a side of stars. There isn’t a place for a young player to move into the lineup. It just doesn’t work that way at Eastlands.

Stadium: City of Manchester Stadium. Also called Eastlands, it was built for the 2002 Commonwealth Games and replaced Maine Road for Citeh.

Tactics!: Mancini is Italian, so the focus is often on defense. After Robinho went in the tank last season and with Emanuel Adebayor hurt, City played a 4-5-1 with Tevez up front. At the rate he was scoring, it worked out pretty well. But you’ll also see some 4-4-2 when the team wants to push forward more.

Question Marks: Back a couple weeks ago, a blogger on a site we hate called the L.A. Galaxy better than City. No way. But the follow-up question from one of his Twitter followers was legit: Is this a great team, or is it a collection of great players who can’t mesh?

This team feels more like the early buy-it-all Chelsea than Chelsea did. I wonder if Mancini has the temperament to make this all work. Are the players willing to sit in a rotation? How will Citeh deal with the homegrown rule? Can City really make a run to Champions League football and challenge for the title?

Prediction: My answer to the last two questions is yes. This team has too much talent to finish fifth or worse. I think they challenge for the title in the middle of the season, but they fall out of contention late because they can’t close the deal. Look for Citeh to make the Europa League final, the League Cup final and finish third in the EPL.

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