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August 11, 2010

2010-11 EPL Previews: Manchester City

Gross

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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The Stretford End





20 Comments


  1. whizalen

    the only reason why I watched the 2nd half of that game was b/c I was too baked to get up and get the remote. Very similar story to the 2005 Champions League Final actually.


  2. Keith

    missing a transfer out:

    Stephen Ireland, Aston Villa (expected- Ireland was in talks yesterday, and is expected to be announced tomorrow or Fri.)


  3. Ryan

    Adam Johnson for Rising Star perhaps?
    Other than that, I’m shockingly in pretty close agreement with TSE here. I usually think experience is one of the most overrated features to evaluate when analyzing a team, but I honestly think it could be the thing standing between City and a trophy this season. I wouldn’t be shocked to see us atop the league in January, or even a little later, but I just don’t think we’ll quite have what it takes to hang on.

    Related news, City reveals Europa League squad. No David Silva, Bellamy, Ireland or Jo.


  4. cjdomer04

    @Ryan: Which of those guys qualify as “Developed at club” and “Developed in country”? There are only 23 on the roster, so I would assume that means they can’t actually satisfy the 4/8 home grown rules.


  5. Ryan

    Ah, might have jumped the gun a bit on the Europa League thing. I guess that squad is just for the upcoming legs v. Timisoara. Squad for the rest of the competition is due on September 1st.


  6. Ryan

    @cjdomer: I don’t know the exact rules for the Europa League squads, but my guess would be that Richards, Logan, Michael Johnson, and Shaun Wright-Phillips count as developed at the club. As for developed in England, there’s more than enough English players on that roster.


  7. Outside Mid

    Possible prediction omission: chances The Scarf remains as gaffer by season’s end if Citeh hit a dry patch like Sparky did last term with the string of draws.


  8. Duke Silver

    Maybe I’m crazy to ask this, but who are the “great” players on Citeh? Unquestionably they have a lot of talent and their depth of very good players is impressive. But who is a match winner in the vein of a healthy Torres, Drogba, Fabs, etc? Maybe Tevez? Johnson in another year or two? What am I missing?


  9. James T

    @Duke
    Not so much a singular “great” player, but an amalgam of guys who can be “great” either separately or as a team. Tevez merits the “great” tag at present.


  10. Ryan

    Oh, and on the TACTICS! front, Mancini went with a 4-2-3-1 in the only preseason fixture where he had the full team at his disposal, so I think we’ll see that against Spurs on the weekend.


  11. Duke Silver

    @JT – Ok, I can get on board with that. I think Citeh are going to be one of the most intriguing teams this year. I can see them finishing just about anywhere in the top half of the table.


  12. @Ryan: I saw that, but since he has so many players and options, I’m not prepared to call any one formation out yet. I suspect we’ll get 4 or 5 through the season.
    @Duke: That’s exactly the problem with Citeh. They have all of these players who can be great. But will they when put together?


  13. And I rate Tevez above Torres the past 18 months. You have to.


  14. Anonsters

    Sorry, but you can’t call a team great until they’ve achieved great things. You can say there are a lot of great players, or the team has great talent, but it’s not a great team until they prove it. Barca had a great team 2 years ago when they won the whole world. Maybe this version of Citeh will be great. Maybe not. We’ll see.


  15. Ryan

    @Anonsters: Who called them great?


  16. Anonsters

    @Ryan:

    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?


  17. Ryan

    @Anonsters: Oh okay. I read that question as asking if this could be great. Same thing as JT, TSE, and myself all seem to be wondering. Not exactly calling them great right now.


  18. Ryan

    Oops, this team*.


  19. Anonsters

    Right, but my point still holds. It’s not a question that’s answerable before it happens.



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