The 3 Reasons Why UEFA Won’t Come Down That Hard on City for FFP

On Tuesday morning (15th April), City fans woke up to this article on the Telegraph website.

It was to report on the news that UEFA are meeting to discuss FFP and identify those clubs that are currently in breach of its conditions. Personally, I believe those conditions to be fundamentally flawed, but that’s for another post.

According to the report, City will be punished for posting big losses during the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons. Initial rumours of a transfer embargo were quickly dismissed, whilst the other potential outcome of a ban from UEFA competitions was also speedily put down.

Many believe City will be hit with a hefty fine. Although the irony of fining a club for spending too much appears to be lost on UEFA, the Blues are just a year or two away from breaking even, have invested huge sums on the stadium and have built an academy that’s the envy of any sports team in the world; are our owners really that bad?

However, I honestly believe the punishment really won’t be as severe as some hacks would have you believe. And this is for three reasons:

  • Paris Saint-Germain
  • Platini (Laurent, not Michel)
  • Qatar

Paris Saint-Germain

UEFA don’t like what City have done. Platini (Michel, for the moment) has always took a disdain to English clubs like us and Chelsea coming along to upset the established European order.

But, PSG have made it awkward for both UEFA and their president. Whatever punishment they give us, they’ve got to give to them. They’ve spent huge sums on players like us, whilst playing in a league that doesn’t generate anywhere near the same amount of TV and prize money as the Premier League. In short, their books and balance sheets will probably make them wince more than ours.

If the French club hadn’t risen to prominence as they have done in the last couple of years, I reckon UEFA would throw the book at City. So why wouldn’t they want to touch the Parisiens? Well that’s for the other two reasons..

Platini (Laurent)

This is the son of Michel, the bastion of morality and fairness in European football. It just so happens, though, that Laurent works for Burrda Sports, a sporting brand owned by the Qatar Sports Investment (QSI) group. And who do they own? Paris Saint-Germain. You can read about it here.

This is a huge conflict of interest. Would Michel really sanction a big punishment that would affect the people who employ his son?

Then there’s the third reason…

Qatar

The country that PSG and their owners want to promote with their successes on field. It also happens to be the nation that FIFA infamously handed the 2022 World Cup to. Can you honestly see the world’s football governing body allowing its European subsidiary to unsettle Qatar and the people that controls its football interests in any way? Let’s face it, they’ve got bigger fish to fry where that’s concerned at the moment (slave labour, air conditioned stadiums, accusations of bribes for votes, I could go on).

In short, City have nothing to worry about. Sure, we might get a fine. But don’t expect it to be one that burns any major hole in our coffers. Our lawyers and board will make sure of that, whilst we can also thank PSG, Laurent Platini and Qatar for well and truly tying UEFA’s hands.

Is having a just few English players really worse than having a collection of bad ones?

Whilst posting a status on Facebook last week that was intended to merely have a cheap laugh at the expense of United fans in the wake of City’s 3-0 derby win at Old Trafford, something unintentionally ground my gears.

The post was a link to the article in the Manchester Evening News that showed how the Reds’ starting XI in the game cost more to assemble that the Blues’, the club that football fans with an embarrassingly narrow mind will have you believe are the only ones that spend serious money and are generally ruining football. But that’s for a different blog post entirely.

One of the United fans that took my bait threw a couple of points back at me. But it was one in particular that really struck a chord: the “well we’ve got more English players than you” argument.

It’d be a valid enough point if those English players were world beaters. Alas, they aren’t.

It would also carry some weight if all those English players were products of United’s academy. Again, they aren’t.

I found it difficult to find the right place to start with this, so I’ve tried breaking down it into a couple of areas.

Is bragging about how many English players you've got really important if they're woefully average and overpriced? Image thanks to http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/01919/jones2_1919963c.jpg

Is bragging about how many English players you’ve got really important if they’re woefully average and overpriced? Image thanks to http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/01919/jones2_1919963c.jpg

For a kick off, why is having lots of English players seen as the morally correct thing to do? Yes, nurturing local talent in academies should be something that all clubs should strive to achieve. In my personal opinion clubs should have a quota limiting the amount of players they bring in from abroad and into their academies.

But why play them in your first team for the sake of it? Take the likes Joe Hart or Wayne Rooney. Both City and United identified these players at Shrewsbury and Everton respectively as they could see that they had the potential to be great players in the future.

Rooney’s rise was quicker, whereas Hart’s stock rose during a loan spell at Birmingham. He established himself as City’s number one during his first game back up the M6.

Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Tom Cleverley- they’re woefully average. They play Premier League, Champions League and international football collectively week in, week out, and have done so for a number of years now. Have they developed into players that could get into the best sides in Europe? No, they haven’t.

So why play them? And more importantly, why use them to boast about their nationality? If United had five players of Rooney’s quality, then great; several players that are not only English but that are also world class players, capable of standing toe to toe with their Spanish and German counterparts.

Cleverley is perhaps the exception in the above trio. Not because of his quality (because he really is as average as the others), but because he came through United’s academy.

The midfielder showed potential in the youth teams and then on loan at Wigan, a bottom half Premier League side at the time. By all means bring him back and give him a go. But why keep playing him if he hasn’t really got any better? Why settle for second best? City tried it with Adam Johnson. He looked great at the start, didn’t develop into the player he perhaps should of done and was rightly sold. He’s now putting in average performances for struggling Sunderland.

Smalling and Jones have more to answer for because they were bought by United for heavy fees. The former cost £7 million from Fulham (£1 million more than Vincent Kompany cost City), whilst the latter cost an eye watering £16.5 million from Blackburn! Just let those numbers sink in for a minute.

For their considerable cost, are they the very best players in their position? No. Are they ever likely to be worth their fees? Very doubtful.

So why should clubs spend over the odds for average players purely on the basis of nationality? Wilfried Zaha, a player with zero top flight experience, cost United one million more than Jesus Navas cost City in summer of 2013, a player of the same position but with World Cup and European Championship winners medals in his cabinet.

If an English player is good enough, he’ll get noticed. And he will cost a fair whack, as Rooney did. But they’d be worth it; they’d be good players even if they weren’t English.

Pablo Zabaleta cost City £5 million. If City attempted to bid for someone like Kyle Walker from Spurs right now, how much we he cost? Would he be worth it? Absolutely not. But if you were more concerned of attempting to claim a nonsensical moral high ground based on his nationality…

But I’m not interested. I care most about my club and our success. Of course, as a proud Englishman, I’d love a successful English side, but not at the expense of City.

Giving young English players first team opportunities is important yes, but they need to have that level of natural ability that you simply cannot develop with minutes on the pitch. Otherwise what’s the point.

So the question isn’t why have City got just a handful of English players in their squad, but why has a club like United got a squad filled with very average ones?

Until players like Phil Jones and Chris Smalling cost a fraction of the likes of Vincent Kompany, arguably one of, if not, the best players in Europe in their position, no club should be questioned for having more foreigners in their team.

The problem isn’t clubs like City. The problem is a lack of talent at grassroots level. When it improves, City will have more English players in their team and United will have better English players in their team.

As long as the Reds’ languish in mid-table, their ‘English player’ moral high-ground is meaningless.

 

Eriksson Represents All European Officials and City Must Change To Conform With Them

“This guy is doing my bloody head in” said the old bloke sat behind me at the Etihad on Tuesday evening on at least five or six occasions.

He was of course referring to the man in the middle, Jonas Eriksson. And boss Manuel Pellegrini was clearly irked by him also, as one of the most timid managers in the game lost it in his post-match press conference and insisted that not only did Eriksson cost the Blues the match, but that he had planned to wrong an error he had made against Barcelona in 2012 from the first whistle to the last.

It always sounds like sour grapes when a team loses and fans, players and managers alike proceed to blame poor refereeing. However, there is no denying that Mr Eriksson and his officials had a bit of a mare. The game’s changing moment, Martin Demichelis’ foul on Lionel Messi, was undoubtedly a red card, but outside the box. Dani Alves should have been sent out for a string of bad tackles on City players. And Cesc Fabregas was wrongly ruled offside late on as he crossed to set up a Barca tap in.

Yet none of this is what infuriated the masses inside the stadium. Those are the kind of mistakes that are par for the course, sadly. No, it was Eriksson’s constant blowing up for even the most innocuous of challenges.

This isn’t a trait adopted by just this one referee- it’s indicative of officials across the continent.

Understandly Pellegrini was angry and upset after the game, but he was wrong to suggest that this is just a problem with Eriksson. Annoyingly Gary Neville hit the nail on the head once again when he tweeted this as the fallout began:

nev1nev2nev3

The former United full back was talking about his side’s trip to Istanbul in 1993 where they were defeated in one of the most hostile atmospheres there has ever been on the European stage. United were convinced that the referee that night, Kurt Röthlisberger, was “on the take,” such was his performance and apparent favouritism towards the Turks. Although the Swiss was banned for life four years later after being found guilty of bribery, subsequent investigations found nothing from this particular match to suggest that he had taken a back hander.

The point that Neville was making is that referees are completely different in the Champions League to those that we contend with in the Premier League every week. Every little touch, 50/50 or shoulder-to-shoulder challenge and the whistle will be blown.

This was the case on Tuesday with Eriksson. Watching Alvaro Negredo tussle in the air as the lone striker alongside Gerard Pique and Javier Mascherano was like watching England play in the World Cup; physical challenges involving a strong striker being penalised, to English eyes, for no apparent reason.

Perhaps Neville is right and that City were displaying “European immaturity.” After all, this is only our third year as a Champions League outfit. What is clear though is that Eriksson represents all referees that City will come across in Europe. And if the Blues are to avoid the kind of evening that they’ve just endured, then they will have to adapt their game in European competition to accommodate this style, for better or worse.

Howard Webb, Phil Dowd, Mark Clattenburg- I will never say a bad word about you again… (I probably will).

5 Things That City Need In Order To Win the Premier League

Well, that wasn’t a bad end to 2013, was it?

After the disappointment of last season (losing the title, the FA Cup final, our most successful manager in recent years), August to December 2013 was just what every City fan needed. Brilliant, attacking and exciting football, plenty of goals and progress in Europe, not to mention an always welcomed tonking of the neighbours in the Derby!

Manuel Pellegrini arrived at City with lots to contend with: fans upset with Mancini’s departure, a reportedly unsettled group of players and an expectation from the board for immediate improvement, specifically in the Champions League. But the Chilean, with his ‘we’ll score more than you’ philosophy to football has worked wonders. He’s reenergised a team that looked to have taken a step back last term and has completely rejuvenated a number of individuals with his good man management skills, most notably Samir Nasri.

Now we begin 2014 second in the table and one point behind the leaders. Many are saying its City’s title to lose. So what things need to happen in order for the Blues to claim their second Premier League title?

1.       Vincent Kompany needs to stay fit

City have got a great squad of players, including an experienced bunch of international defenders. But there’s no hiding from the fact that we are a completely different side without our skipper. Our defence looks shaky and unorganised in his absence, whilst the team as a whole suffers without his leadership. Many opposition strike forces lick their lips when they don’t see Kompany’s name on the team sheet. Any recurrence of his thigh injury from earlier in the campaign could prove costly with a tough run in.

2.       A new centre back to be bought in the January transfer window

As it stands, City don’t necessarily need to spend this month. The one place where, if you had to pin point a possible area to strengthen, would be at the back. This would, however, become a more pressing issue if Kompany was to get injured again. Martin Demichelis, despite his fanatastic positional sense, doesn’t have that turn of pace needed to play week-in, week-out in England. Matija Nastastic, as talented as he is, is still only 20-years-old and is arguably vulnerable without Kompany alongside him, whilst Joleon Lescott clearly doesn’t tickle Pellegrini’s fancy, despite adulation for the Englishman from the fans. This then leaves us a little short of adequate back up. Pepe of Real Madrid was linked earlier in the season; although perhaps not the player wanted by every Blue, a player of similar top-level European and international experience, still in his prime, would certainly not hurt us to add.

3.       Decide upon 4-4-2 or 4-5-1 away from home

Two months ago it was just the away form in general that was the problem. Thankfully, we appear to have turned a corner on our travels and now look a lot more assured and confident. However, which formation should we be looking to stick with on the road? At times a five man midfield forces us to lose tempo and resort to having a lot of the ball on the edge of the box without doing a lot with it. On the flip side, playing two up top can lead to us getting swamped in midfield. Of course, the opposition and the type of football that they play might dictate which formation we go with; 4-4-2 against sides like Swansea who’ll look to attack, and a five man midfield against sides like Sunderland who’ll look to defend and counter?

4.       Back Joe Hart until the end of the season

Pellegrini has handled the goalkeeper situation magnificently. His decision to drop Joe Hart has been well and truly vindicated, with England’s number one impressive over the festive period. It must have been a difficult decision to make, but there’s no denying that Hart looks refreshed and more composed following a time on the sidelines. It must have been just as hard a decision to then drop Costel Pantilimon, with the Romanian having not put a foot wrong. But bringing Hart, one of the best keepers in Europe, back is the right thing to do- now he must back him for the remainder of the campaign for the sake of a settled defence, not to mention Hart’s long term confidence.

5.       Fernandinho and Alvaro Negredo need to maintain their form

So many individuals have excelled so far this term. Sergio Aguero has been that good he’s been put in the same bracket as Ronaldo and Messi by Pellegrini, Aleks Kolarov and Samir Nasri have been completely different players, whilst James Milner and Jesus Navas have shone in recent weeks. But it’s been Fernandinho and Negredo that have really stood out. The Brazilian Fernandinho arrived with a big price-tag on his shoulder and, despite struggling somewhat in the opening weeks, just keeps getting better and better. He’s a great tackler, is calm on the ball and is now even adding goals to his game. He is becoming just as vital a cog in our midfield as predecessors Gareth Barry and Nigel de Jong were. As for Negredo, “The Beast” has taken to English football like a duck to water. But it hasn’t just been his strike-rate that’s impressed; his work rate, hold up play and exquisite touch makes him a joy to watch and the perfect strike partner for Aguero. If the pair maintain their form, it should help us to be there or there abouts come the end of the season.

What else do City need to ensure that they are champions for a second time in three years?

Looking Back At City Wingers 1998-Present

Hallelujah it’s a miracle. The summer transfer window of 2013 has finally seen a pacey winger arrive at City. He’s even called Jesus. Rejoice indeed.

The last time City had a decent one of those I was still coverting my best friend’s Charizard Pokemon card. Yes, many City fans will be hoping that Navas from Sevilla will solve a problem that has plagued many a Sky Blue side for some time: a complete lack of width.

Don’t get me wrong, we’ve done pretty well in recent seasons without it. But I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve seen sides ‘work us out’ or ‘park the bus’ in matches, leaving us bereft of penetration and resorting to pinging long balls to Carlos ‘about as tall as Jimmy Krankie’ Tevez, or even sticking a defender up front like we did with Joleon Lescott on Boxing Day 2012. The FA Cup Final last season was a classic example of a time when we were crying out for a winger.

There was an interesting stat a couple of seasons back (if anyone has a link to back this up it would be much appreciated, I swear I didn’t imagine it) which stated that United’s second highest goal scorer wasn’t one of their own players, but own goals. The reason? Wingers on either side whipping crosses into dangerous areas, forcing opposition defenders into making errors.

So, here’s hoping that our new number 15 will be the answer to our prayers (these Jesus puns need to stop and should never be resurrected). However, it did get me thinking about some of the former players to grace the flanks of both Maine Road and the Etihad in my lifetime; well, from about 1998 when I was eight years old and is the furthest back that I can remember.

This is a look at some of our former wingers.

Terry Cooke

The first player to cross the Mancunian divide in my time, Cooke joined City on loan from the other lot midway through the 1998/99 season. In a campaign in which many had tipped Joe Royle’s side to take to the third tier of English football a little easier than they actually did, Cooke proved to be an instant success, with his trickery and pace causing problems for the full backs of sides such as York and Lincoln. One of his highlights of the season was scoring a goal at home to Millwall with a cross, although Cooke himself insisted afterwards that he had definitely meant it!

So impressed was Royle that he made the deal permanent before the season’s end, shelling out around £1million. Cooke went on to take part in THAT play-off final against Gillingham at Wembley, but found it difficult to establish himself in the side the following campaign when City enjoyed a second successive promotion. In total, Cooke made 37 appearances for the Blues and scored seven goals. He was sent out on loan to Wigan, Sheffield Wednesday and Grimsby, before making a permanent transfer to the latter in 2002. He went on to rejoin Wednesday, before going on to ply his trade in the States with Colorado, Australia with North Queensland and Azerbaijan with Gabala.

Danny Tiatto

Although arguably more of a natural full-back, Australian Tiatto joined City following a loan spell with Stoke for a fee of £300,000 in 1998. His pace and accomplished left foot saw him frequently operate a little higher down the left-hand side.

He featured heavily in Division Two and Division One, but perhaps his best season in a Blue shirt was in the 2000/01 season, where the Aussie won the club’s Player of the Year award. His performances were one of the highlights of an otherwise disappointing season for City, although perhaps his best moment effectively never existed; his wonderful solo goal away to Middlesbrough was cruelly chalked off for an alleged offside.

Following relegation from the Premiership and a change in management, Tiatto was a still a regular in the side under Kevin Keegan in 2001/02, but found opportunities harder to come by in the two seasons that followed. He departed for Leicester in 2004 before spending the remainder of his career in his homeland.

However, it was his, erm, enthusiastic style shall we say, that endeared him to the Maine Road faithful. Many pundits (mainly my Dad back at the time) say that to get yourselves promoted from the lower leagues, you need to show a bit of grit and fight, and Tiatto certainly had both of those qualities in adbundance. Here’s a clip of him keeping his cool after being sent off at home to Norwich in 2002:

And here’s an example of a ‘Tiatto Special’ from his later career:

Mark Kennedy

Signed for £1.5million at the start of the 1999/00 season, Kennedy was an important player during City’s promotion to the Premiership. Strong, quick and with a fabulous left foot, the Irishman provided the ammunition for the likes of Shaun Goater and Paul Dickov to score the goals that saw the Sky Blues secure a second successive promotion. He struggled with injuries, and off the field controversy, during the 2000/01 season and, when Kevin Keegan took over the following term, he found his chances limited. He was sold to Wolves in 2001 and went on to enjoy promotion to the Premier League with the Black Country club, before spells at Crystal Palace, Cardiff and Ipswich.

Andrei Kanchelskis

Former United flyer Kanchelskis had a brief spell on loan with City in the second half of the 2000/01 season, although he ‘flew’ about as much as an old Lada by the time he arrived at Maine Road. He showed only fleeting glimpses of the prowess he once displayed for four seasons at Old Trafford and made only a dozen appearances, scoring just the one goal against Liverpool in the FA Cup. He went on to spend a short amount of time with Southampton before finishing his career in Russia.

Shaun Wright-Phillips

One of the best City players of the last 20 years, arguably our Academy’s greatest ever product and one of my all time favourite players, Shauny Wright-Wright-Wright will always be adored by the City faithful.

He was first given his first team break by Joe Royle in 1999, under whom he went on to appear sporadically during the Premier League campaign of 2000/01. However, SWP began to shine under Kevin Keegan during the promotion campaign of 2001/02. Having never scored a senior goal for the Blues in almost two seasons as a first team player, he famously scored his maiden goal away to Millwall in December 2001…in front of no visiting supporters! (Away fans had been banned from both fixtures that season due to historic crowd disturbances). After that he couldn’t stop scoring, ending that particular campaign with eight goals to his name.

His pace, combined with his low centre of gravity, made SWP almost impossible for opposition defenders to stop when in full flow. He made 153 appearances and scored 26 league goals, before joining Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea for £21million in 2005. But in 2008 he returned ‘home’ (I remember hearing the news that he had re-joined whilst fist pumping in a Antwerp night-club of all places) and scored on his second debut away to Sunderland to the delight of every single City fan. He went on to make another 64 appearances before joining QPR in 2011, well and truly dispelling the old adage that a player should never go back to his former club.

My favourite SWP moment? It’s definitely this thronker in the 2003/04 Derby at the Etihad:

Darren Huckerby

Although looked upon more as a striker, Huckerby’s blistering pace naturally often saw him operate out wide on the left wing. Signed by Joe Royle for around £3.5million in December 2000 (remember the pre-transfer window days?), the former Leeds man started relatively slowly as the Blues suffered relegation. However, Huckerby enjoyed his best season in a City shirt the following campaign, scoring 20 league goals as City achieved promotion. He made just 16 league appearances in 2002/03, before he was eventually sent out on loan to Nottingham Forest and then Norwich, with whom he would later join permanently for a successful five year spell. Huckerby finished his career with San Jose Earthquakes in 2009.

Eyal Berkovic

Israeli playmaker Berkovic, who would often drift out wide, was part of a midfield in 2001/02 that also contained fellow maestro Ali Bernabia. Whilst many pundits told manager Kevin Keegan that playing both players at the same time just wouldn’t work, Keegan ignored those concerns and proved the doubters wrong, as the two helped City to brush aside the competition en route to promotion. Berkovic made 56 appearances in two successful seasons with City. With an eye for a pass, like team mate Benarbia, he could spot passes that others could not. Berkovic left the club for Portsmouth in 2003 after falling out with Keegan, upon whom he remarked: “I don’t see any reason why Kevin didn’t play me because I was the best player in training for six months and everyone knew that. Man City’s 45,000 supporters knew I had to play but Kevin was behaving like a big baby. I told him that and I think he deserves the sack.” So a dignified exit, then.

He will perhaps be best remembered for this wonder goal against Norwich in 2002 (incidentally the same match in which Danny Tiatto was sent off above):

Steve McManaman

A two-time Champions League winner on a free transfer? That should be a great signing! Unfortunately, former Liverpool and Real Madrid flyer McManaman didn’t enjoy the best of spells with City. Niggling injuries, a loss of natural pace and general lack of effectiveness saw him make just 35 appearances between 2003 and 2005, of which only a few were of any note. Last seen as a television pundit.

Trevor Sinclair

Former QPR and West Ham player Sinclair fulfilled a life long dream when he joined City in 2003, having grown up in Manchester supporting the Blues. With the versatility to play on either the left or right wings, Sinclair was always a willing runner and worked hard to keep his place in the team for four years. He was released in 2007 having made 82 league appearances and notched five goals.

Sinclair also scored the opener in the 2005/06 Derby win over United:

Lee Croft

A product of City’s academy, Croft joined the club as a 12 year old before making his debut for the first team as a substitute against Bolton in 2005, after enjoying a spell on loan at Oldham. He only made a handful of starts over the course of two seasons and, despite some early promise and undeniable enthusiasm, Croft perhaps lacked that half a yard of pace needed to operate as a winger in the Premier League. He left for Norwich in 2006 and has since gone on to play for Huddersfield, Derby and St Johnstone before re-joining Oldham permanently in 2012.

Kiki Musampa

Dutchman Musampa spent two seasons on loan at City in 2004/05 and 2005/06 from Atletico Madrid. A solid performer, he was perhaps symbolic of an era at City which was bereft of any top quality and, also, money. Like Croft, Musampa wasn’t blessed with bags of natural pace and was sometimes called upon to operate a role more centrally. Musampa will be best remembered for scoring a last minute winner against Liverpool in 2005, as well as earning the nickname “Chris” from the City fans (think about it). He went on to ply his trade back in the Netherlands, Turkey and South Korea before retiring in 2009.

Albert Riera

For me, the most memorable thing about Riera was what happened to him a couple of years after leaving City. The Spaniard joined the Blues on loan from Espanyol for half a season in 2006 where he was, on the whole, fairly average. However, a little over two years later, he was bought by Liverpool for around £8million and was touted as one of the best players in La Liga not employed by either Barcelona or Real Madrid. Was this the same player? As it turned out, yes it was. Riera spent two similarly uneventful seasons at Anfield before departing for Olympiakos in 2010. Currently with Galatasaray.

DaMarcus Beasley

American international Beasley spent a season on loan with the Blues during the infamous 2006/07 campaign; yep, that one where we didn’t score a home goal after the New Year. Injuries hampered the start of Beasley’s season but he did go on to make 18 league appearances and scored three goals, as he showed some signs of his international pedigree. He later went on to join Rangers. If you want to find out what Beasley will be best remembered for, type his name into Google and see what accompanies it in the predicted search term bar…

Martin Petrov

Bulgarian left winger Petrov was one of a handful of summer signings made during the Sven-Goran Eriksson/Thaksin Shinawatra reign of 2007/08. He possessed a fantastic left foot, but struggled whenever a defender switched him onto his right one. Nevertheless his speed and tenacity meant that he regularly shone for City,  making 38 appearances in his debut season and scoring five goals. However, under new manager Mark Hughes and with the new influx of money that came with the takeover of the club by Sheikh Mansour, Petrov found opportunities limited. He made just 14 appearances the following season through injury, but could only make 20 in all competitions in 2009/10, as first Hughes and then Roberto Mancini brought in replacements or tinkered with formations. Petrov went on to join Bolton the following season.

Nery Castillo

“He pays his transfer fee, to play for Man City,” a chant that was a homage to Mexican international Castillo’s determination to push through a 12 month loan deal to City in January 2008 that he paid almost one million pounds of his own money to make happen. Sadly, his enthusiasm didn’t match his footballing prowess. It quickly became apparent that Castillo just wouldn’t cut it in the physical Premier League; I remember being at Goodison Park when he came on as a substitute away to Everton and the poor lad looked like he was going to get blown away by a slight gust of wind! He was to be unlucky with injury during his time with the club also, suffering a broken shoulder in an FA Cup replay. In total he was restricted to just nine appearances with City during his time at the club, equating to around £111,000 per game…

Vladimir Weiss

A product of the youth academy with whom I personally felt wasn’t given enough opportunities, Slovakian winger Weiss made his first team debut on the final day of the 2008/09 season from the bench. The following campaign saw Weiss make regular appearances for the City in the League Cup, where he most notably scored a fine goal in a 3-0 win over Arsenal. He demonstrated pace and trickery, and he looked more than at home alongside his senior team mates whenever he was called upon. Weiss signed a new contract in December 2009, and was then sent out on loan to Bolton for the remainder of the campaign. Having been deployed mainly from the bench at the Reebok, Weiss headed north of the border to Rangers in 2010/11 where he enjoyed a fine season, winning an SPL winners medal. Another season on loan followed with Espanyol in Spain, but unfortunately was never seen again in a City shirt, moving on permanently to Pescara in 2012. In total Weiss made just five appearances for City, something of a disappointment for an academy graduate that had showed early signs of promise. He is currently with Olympiakos.

Craig Bellamy

Robbie Savage, Ashley Cole, Luis Suarez. All players (not ex-United) that I’ve never been able to stand. Craig Bellamy was also one of these players, until he joined City in January 2009, that is. A forward who’s blistering pace often saw him used wider, the Welshman quickly established himself as a fan’s favourite at the Etihad. His passion and effort was plain for all to see, both on the field and off it when talking about the club in interviews. He scored four goals in 11 appearances in his first half season with City, before scoring 11 in 40 in his only full season with the club. A reported falling out with new boss Roberto Mancini resulted in Bellamy being loaned out to his boyhood club Cardiff, before eventually re-joining Liverpool on a free transfer. Definitely a player that you hate until he plays for your team, Bellamy will probably be best remembered for making Rio Ferdinand look about as quick as a slug in the Derby in 2009/10 at Old Trafford, scoring a goal that would have been enough to secure a 3-3 draw had the fourth official known how to operate a stopwatch properly…

Adam Johnson

Middlesbrough youngster Johnson became Roberto Mancini’s second signing as City manager in February 2010. Having impressed against the Blues in a third round FA Cup game for the Championship side, he quickly settled to life in the top flight, making 16 appearances in the remainder of the season and scoring his first goal in injury time to salvage a point away to future club Sunderland with this beast of an effort:

In two and a half seasons, Johnson went on to make a total of 97 appearances for City, scoring 15 goals. However, he arguably never developed into the player that he could have been. So often he would make a string of impressive performances from the bench, terrorising defences with his pace, effectiveness when cutting inside and his strong passing and shooting abilities with his left foot. But when then given a go from the off he would often be a pedestrian, even getting substituted after just 39 minutes in a Champions League game with Villarreal. This lack of further development, and supposed tendancy to enjoy the nightlife a little too much, culimnated in Johnson transferring to the Black Cats in 2012 for £10million, leaving many City fans with a sense of frustration about what might have been with a player that clearly had (and still has) the potential to be an excellent player.

James Milner

Ask most football fans (and when I say that, I mean the Soccer AM quoting Manchester United fans from Hastings who have never been anywhere near Old Trafford) about James Milner whenever he plays for England, the chances are they’ll fling a fair amount of stick his way. This is something that constantly annoys City fans because, as any Blue who watches Milner week in week out will tell you, he is one of the most important players at the club. He joined from Aston Villa for around £12 million in 2010 and has since been a key figure in helping City to become FA Cup and Premier League winners in recent years. Whether it’s out on the right hand side of midfield or more central, James Milner will run his socks off until the cows come home; in fact, you’ll quite often see him playing two positions at once for the national side, such is Glen Johnson’s perpetual habit of being caught out of position. Perhaps not blessed with the kind of pace that would mark him out to be one of the best wingers in Europe, Milner’s work rate is matched with a fearsome right foot and a terrific awareness of where his team-mates are, helping him to pick out the right pass at the right time. As of August 2013, Milner has made 112 appearances for City in all competitions, scoring eight goals. He was simply unstoppable in that memorable 6-1 Derby victory in 2011, but I wanted to showcase this video of him finishing off a fine team move away to Arsenal in January 2013 with such aplomb:

Scott Sinclair

I genuinely sat here with Sinclair’s name written down with absolutely nothing to say about him! Having joined from Swansea for £6 million in August 2012, Sinclair has made just 14 appearances for City, most of which coming from the bench during the dying embers of fixtures. His transfer was arguably one of the strangest of recent times (no Glauber Berti, mind) and he clearly wasn’t a target pinpointed by the management staff. It remains to be seen whether or not he gets more of a chance under Manuel Pellegrini.

I’d love to hear from City fans for their memories about some of these players or any players that I might have missed!