Sunday, 29 December 2019


 After what feels like an age (really, it’s been two months), I can finally sit down and write again. You miss a couple of issues and, suddenly, we’re at Christmas already – how times flies when you’re having fun! But really, looking after the boys and spending most of November in and out of hospital (I’m fine now, finally) sadly meant I had no opportunity to sit down and write, but I am here, determined, and ready to dissect all the latest goings-on in the world of Manchester City. I’ve not missed that much, have I? Of course I have.


Once upon a time, Manchester City set the football world on fire with some of the best football you and I have ever seen. It was breathtaking, scintillating, pure unadulterated fantasy football.

Opposition teams couldn’t get near us. Defenders were left dizzy and breathless as the players in sky blue ran rings around them. We swept teams to one side with our pace, passing and pressing. We won everything in English football. We dominated. We were remarkable.

This season, compared to the previous two, was always going to prove a tough act to follow. In stark contrast, it’s been significantly underwhelming. I think there’s a big split between fans who either a) refuse to criticise Pep or point the finger at anybody in general because of recent successes and b) fans who call a spade a spade, point out what is/has been going wrong and get slated by the fans in point A. All in all, it’s a bit stale and a bit of a mess.

The inquest began in earnest after the Newcastle game, was put on hold after our stupendous 4-1 win at Turf Moor, then resurrected after the Derby Day defeat. I’ve always believed that it’s fair to heap praise when it’s due, but similarly, be able to criticise or question things when necessary. The results against Norwich, Wolves, Newcastle, Liverpool and United were all reasonably alarming in their own right: we all saw the fine margins of last season. We knew Liverpool coming so close and missing out would sting. They’ve lived that experience – yes, winning the Champions League is some achievement, but don’t let that convince you that the one they really wanted ended up adorned in sky blue ribbons.

They’ve clearly channelled that anger, upset and frustration and brought it forward with gusto into this season. They want it, bad. So, so bad. Yes, they’ve had huge chunks of luck and decisions, but they’ve ran with it and, as of yet, haven’t taken their eyes off the ball. City, in comparison this season, have looked complacent. We have lacked desire and heart. At the moment we’re missing passion, fire and guts. Remember when Liam Gallagher snarled, ‘you can have it all, but how much do you want it?’ The same can be said for City. How much do you want it? Not enough it would seem.

A lack of leadership is obvious. As much as I respect and adore David Silva in equal measures, he is not captain material. A captain is a leader: somebody with fire in their belly, an abundance of passion and who leads both with their heart and their voice. I’m not saying David Silva doesn’t have those qualities, but he’s hardly firing the boys up and motivating them to victory, is he? It’s clichéd at this point to mention Mr Manchester City, Vincent Kompany, but it’s also ignorance not to. He was the man first on the team sheet for a big occasion, because you knew he’d excel in dragging the team kicking and screaming towards three points. We knew his departure would leave an irreplaceable void – not only in defence, but in leadership. It’s never been more evident than it is this season.

One of my main concerns has been that we’ve really missed Fernandinho’s presence in his natural defensive midfield position. With our defence looking increasingly frail, we’ve really missed the protection Ferna gives to the back line, and the gritty tenacity he brings, shifting defence to attack. But Ferna isn’t getting any younger and that’s a tough position to expect him to play and rely on him for most games. Then came the Burnley game – and the best performance I’ve seen so far from Rodri in a City shirt. His man of the match display was pivotal to City’s 4-1 win: his movement on and off the ball, his strength, passing, physicality, the way he read the game – and that’s all before I mention his thunderbolt of a goal. If he stays fully fit and in that form, Ferna can stay in the back line until Laporte comes back for all I care. When the Spaniard signed, we knew he was capable of great things – I’m glad we’ve seen a glimpse of what he is capable of and I hope that’s just a teaser of things to come from him.

Another worrying trait has been sup-par displays from players who usually run the show. Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo, David Silva (who has been overplayed – Phil Foden, anyone?), even Raheem Sterling to an extent. With Pep preferring to play Gundogan in midfield alongside either Rodri or David Silva, play has been more laboured, more pedestrian, compared to our usual zip and passing press. The defence – where to start? John Stones – is he good enough? For me, he seems to need his hand holding quite a lot, and without Laporte by his side, has looked a bit lost. Does the quality of Laporte actually flatter Stones and are we seeing him for the defender he really is – just a bit mediocre? Poor Fernandinho has been thrown into the lion’s den, having to do his best in his new centre back role until Laporte’s return in February.

Then we have the full backs. One of the key factors in making Pep’s style of football work is his full backs. But we’ve had no consistency in those positions throughout the season. Admittedly, his hand has been forced with injuries, and Zinchenko having a spell on the sidelines, but it’s left us with Angelino, Kyle Walker and Joan Cancelo. I am a fan of Walker: for me, he starts as often as he can for us. I’ve not really seen enough of Angelino, or Cancelo, to pass a fair judgement. Mendy of course has been blighted with injury since he came to City, and from what I’ve seen of him so far, I worry that he will never hit the form he had at Monaco for us. His passes into the box are blistering, but often land in no man’s land. That’s a lot of money to spend on a key position and not see any dividends. So you see the struggle with full backs and how, when they play such a vital role in Pep’s style of football, how imperative they are to the success of the team. A lot of fans question why we let Danilo go and signed Cancelo if he’s not going to feature more. That’s one for Pep to answer.

Gabriel Jesus. With Sergio Aguero injured, Jesus had featured in every game. He’s always split opinion – but he did show versatility at Turf Moor, with a 20 yard curler that was nothing short of exquisite. He also added to that and could’ve had a hat trick, proving that he’s not just the ‘tap-in merchant’ that many have written him off as. But at Newcastle and during the Derby, he had a couple of guilt-edged chances that Aguero would’ve unquestionably buried. Like Kompany, Aguero will be like replacing the irreplaceable once he leaves the Etihad, but Jesus certainly isn’t his replacement. It’s clear we will need a striker once the Argentine decides to head for pastures new, but I can’t bear to think about that just yet. We create so many chances, but of late have been so wasteful of front of goal, and that’s proved vital to not securing wins recently.


The past two seasons, when we were playing the best football of our lives, teams struggled to get anywhere near us. This campaign, I feel that we’ve been found out to a certain extent. Teams have found a way to limit and stifle our system and to ferment our game play. By sitting deep, frustrating us, then hitting us when they can on the counter, they know against our defence, they’ve got a huge chance of scoring – and we’ve seen it too many times already this season.

The Burnley game was much more like the City we’ve become accustomed to watching the past couple of seasons. The energy, pace, high pressing play was all back and worked a treat. They say the best form of defence is attack; no more so was this evident than throughout 90 minutes of dominant possession at Turf Moor. The players who had previously put in dubious shifts really stepped it up and it was a huge confidence boost all round.

But then came the Derby. So, with the benefit of hindsight, did that Burnley win flatter us, or am I being really cynical? Crystal Palace had just beaten them, and after our win, they lost 5-0 to Spurs, despite Spurs putting in a woeful performance against United the game beforehand.  So that tells you the extent of just how bad a spell Burnley was going through at the time. The post-match celebrations from Pep and the lads now look slightly bizarre, although at the time, that win should’ve been the springboard for us to really push on into some really tricky festive fixtures.

We know the football these players are capable of playing. We have match winners, who can and do produce something out of nothing in the blink of an eye. There are still so many things to play for this season. But it’s naïve not to notice a couple of things that just aren’t going to plan so far this season. By highlighting them, it doesn’t mean I’m any less of a fan, nor does it detract from the astounding achievements City have enjoyed in recent times. You can only live in the here and now and judge on the football you are watching week in, week out now. I never thought I’d be blessed enough to see my club win silverware, let alone everything that has gone along with that of late. If that all ends tomorrow; it was mind-blowing while it lasted, and I can just get back to going to the match, turning up, no expectations, trying to enjoy the football, seeing my friends, happy days. We’re not spoilt, nor do I know any fans in sky blue that are, and we must remember that. What will be, will be. The club will still be here when the players and Pep decide to move on (which could potentially be at the end of this season, are you ready to possibly contemplate that?) – it’s the only thing we’ve ever known – and nothing will ever change that.


Actually, let’s not. No really, let’s not. I read on the King of the Kippax Facebook page that Dave had feedback saying that KK264 was VAR-heavy (not surprised), but I have a feeling that will be a recurring trend throughout the season. I’ll try my best to keep it brief then.

Without going into it too much, the Liverpool game left so many people fuming even more than they already were. All we ask for is consistency and the correct decisions – but, even with the technology being implemented, they’re still getting it wrong. For me, it’s too subjective and open to interpretation. Also, we need transparency with it for the match-going fan: replays on the screens inside the ground and we need to hear the conversations between officials, to hear the reasoning behind their decisions. Until we do, the conspiracy/agenda rumours will be going nowhere.

I even feel like VAR had an impact on the atmosphere at the Derby. Early on, we had a big penalty shout, that was instantly dismissed. They then broke forward, went down the other end and, lo and behold, won a penalty.

Whether it should’ve been a penalty to us or not, at the time, was irrelevant. The instant feeling in the ground was despondency. You can feel the mood – so many people are sick and tired of VAR – something has to change, before fans start to give their verdict with their feet. It’s such a source of frustration and bone of contention for so many people. I’d rather scrap it and go back to basics – at least goal-line technology can never get it wrong eh! Bring back the days of questioning Mark Clattenburg and relying on decisions to even themselves out through the season – surely that can’t be any worse than VAR, particular in its current format.


I’ve been continuing to be asked to do more bits and pieces in the media in the past few months. Despite being in and out of hospital in November, I kept being asked to go on BBC Radio 5 Live. Sometimes they want me to go to the studio and sometimes they can do it over the phone or via Skype, so luckily during this period, I could do all of my interviews from home.

I often get asked to go on BBC Radio Manchester too. The breakfast show with Chelsea and Talking Balls, with Kyle and Gaz, are shows I am invited on a lot. I try and do as many as I can: not only is it great experience for me with having my degree in Sport Journalism, I’m always very conscious that, for such a big club, City don’t have many genuine voices in the media. I’m always keep to represent us in as positive a way as possible, but I will always be open and honest. I don’t like to sugarcoat: quite a few people in the industry like to tow the party line for the sake of preserving relationships or stance, but I think it’s so important to be truthful – whether people respect me for it or not, I’m not sure. But it’s the only way I know.

I was also invited to Media City to film a piece on Raheem Sterling and the Derby for Football Focus. It only took about half an hour and they only used a few seconds of it, but again, it was fantastic to be asked and a pleasure to be involved in.

I’m getting to the point now where I am almost ready to go back to work. I had to take a couple of years off to be with my youngest (I say off, but I’m pretty sure it’s been harder work than most of the jobs I’ve had, although far more rewarding!), but now Noel is almost entitled to his nursery hours, that means some of my time will free up and I’ll be able to look at returning to work.

I’m quite nervous about it all really, as I’ve no idea which job route to go down. I’ve been doing so much voluntary media work over the past few years: writing, podcasting, radio and television, all to keep a foot in the door and of course, for the love of it. But I’m aware that it’s very much a saturated market, and I’m very City-specific, although I’m qualified in sports journalism in the broader sense. I guess the only way I’ll find out is by dipping a toe in the water – if there’s nothing available media-wise, I’ll be more than happy to find a job with my other skill sets. It’s an exciting position to be in – and I have high hopes for 2020. My boys are growing and thriving, so I feel like now is a great time to do something for myself too.


Long before my young children and real life responsibilities came along, there was a time when I went home and away to every game following City – because I could! These days, because of financial restraints and being parents of course, we have to pick and choose our away days carefully. We’re usually pretty lucky to do one a season truth be told, but this season we’ve done Preston, Crystal Palace and Newcastle so far. But it’s Newcastle I’m going to talk about.

Any time alone for my boyfriend Adam and I is incredible precious and rare. He gets up for work at 3am, so generally we go to bed at the same time as the children, about 8pm every night. Whereas most couples get time together once they put their kids to bed, we don’t, so all our waking time together is spent either at work or with the kids. It’s hard to find and address a balance with a young family, and no complaints here as that’s the commitment you make when you have them, but sometimes you just need time alone together. In a relationship, it’s imperative, it’s just we choose to spend our time alone with the boys in blue too.

I picked the Hilton at Newcastle Gateshead for our stay (no we’re not posh, it was the same price as the Travelodge for some reason!) and, because it was a 12:30pm Saturday kick off, we decided to stay on the Friday night to make a bit more of it. Adam got the day off work and we travelled there early afternoon, arriving at around 3pm. Could you imagine our surprise when, after 140 miles of driving, we pulled onto the car park to see the City team coach there too. It was funny because I’d joked with Adam about the team possibly staying there, but he didn’t think they would because the hotel was in the Quayside vicinity, notorious with noisy partygoers. The coach driver told us he was off to pick the team up from their flight to Tyneside and they’d be back at the hotel around 6pm. We didn’t stick around for their arrival as we had plans, but a couple of blues did. They told us there were whisked in the side entrance surrounded and shielded by security, ‘prima donnas’ was the term used.

So a delightful evening was had: we went for a really impressive curry, followed by a few pints of Red Stripe in a local indie bar called The Dog and Parrot, and then back to the hotel for a nightcap before a full night’s sleep – rare, very rare! We spotted some of the coaching staff in the bar having a couple of pints, but the team must’ve been all cosied up, ready for their early rise and preparation for St James Park.

The next morning, our lie in was cut short because of the early kick off (I know, I know, we didn’t have it as bad as the blues who travelled up there on the day, so we headed to breakfast and mused over the day ahead. Sausages and egg done, we went back to the room to collect our bags – and, as the lift doors opened to our floor, who was walking towards us? Only a certain Pep Guardiola. It was a real Sliding Doors moment (literally). A couple of minutes earlier or later, and we wouldn’t have seen him. I found it strange that he was on his own: he was quiet, but humoured our requests for selfies and was nothing but polite and gracious to us. We watched as he entered the lift alone, then the doors shut and he was gone.

Adam and I looked at each other in bemusement. I almost felt like I’d imagined the moment, because it was so surreal. There was nobody else around, just us and Pep. Turned out, the team and staff stayed on the same floor as us, so we probably could’ve waited and met them all as they headed to the game, but we didn’t want to harass them. Seeing our mugs pounce on them before going to the match was the last thing they’d want and, by this time, I was ready for a pre-game beer.

As it turned out, the game ended up a 2-2 draw and the mood was decidedly sombre at the final whistle. But for us, the whole night away had been nothing but perfect – the result would’ve just been a welcome bonus. The journey home was full of discussions of ‘where do we go from here’, reflecting on a game that we could’ve easily won 4-2 if we would’ve taken our chances. But we never take the opportunity for an away day for granted. I think I’m on 48 out of the 92 grounds so far, so I’ll keep going when the Grandparent babysitters kindly allow it, and hope to keep making the memories that surround away days and make them so special too.


It’s the season of good will to all men (and women!), which in footballing terms means the games come thick and fast and the turkey dinner will come with far fewer pigs in blankets for Pep and co.

We’ve got some tough fixtures ahead of us: thankfully the Champions League will be over until February, so we don’t have to concern ourselves with that for the next couple of months. Arsenal have struggled under Freddie, but could pose us a few problems with their pace upfront. Leicester – oh Leicester – are looking like (barring a miracle, come on, let’s be honest now!) the only team capable of stopping Liverpool from winning the title and Jamie Vardy loves scoring against us, so that’ll be fun. Wolves have already beat us this season and Sheffield United are doing really well on the road. Into 2020 and it’s Everton and Port Vale in the FA Cup. And breathe.

We know we’re more than capable of producing on the way. We know we’ve got the players, who have got the skill. But have they got the focus and longing for it? Or has the concentration and physical and mental strength it took to reach the heady heights of the past two seasons taken its toll? They might be sportsmen, but they’re only human after all, and then of course form has led to questions about Pep’s future after this current season. Much may depend on what happens in the Champions League, so far now, that’s an unanswered question. Along with so many that current form has raised.

Enjoy Christmas, whether you’ve been naughty or nice, and I’ll see you on the other side. Loud, proud, loyal and still optimistic, no matter what Father Christmas (and VAR) decides to bring our mighty blues this festive season.

Emily Brobyn



The summer months seemed to be fuelled with constant Chinese whispers surrounding Leroy Sane’s future at the club. The rumour mill was working overtime daily throughout social media – one minute, he was off to Bayern Munich, and then he wasn’t, then he was – with nobody coming out to confirm or deny.

It got to the point where I was just frustrated with it all. It felt like somebody, whether it was Sane’s agent, or a family member, was playing silly beggars and causing mischief in the middle of it all. Now I’m a big fan of Sane’s footballing skills, capabilities and potential. When he’s in the mood, he plays some idyllic, almost poetic football. A dreamy winger, who can dance to his own rhythm and weave a magic spell over opposition defenders who struggle to even come close to keeping up with him.

But it’s only ever if he’s in the mood – and that’s a problem. He can be so frustrating to watch because, more often than not, he’s his own worst enemy. One of his biggest flaws seems to be his complete disregard for tracking back – and we’ve seen that drive Pep crazy on a number of occasions. For Pep’s system to work, it has to be a team effort. Individuals can’t become passengers if they don’t pull their weight across the park. Even Aguero has become much more of a team player, particularly last season, with helping out at the back helping to make him an even more rounded player.

The German’s temperament doesn’t help him either, and his adolescent attitude has got him in trouble on more than one occasion. But he’s still only 23, and if anybody can nurture and develop him, surely that person is Pep. But how good is their relationship and does Sane have enough respect for him? We’ve seen Pep improve so many players – more recently, we’ve witnessed Sterling and Zinchenko blossom under his tutelage, so there’s no reason why Sane couldn‘t go on to be one of the world’s best players in a couple of years.

Maybe he’s being poorly advised, greedy, naïve or even perversely loving all the attention and speculation, but by the time the Community Shield rolled around, I just wanted a resolution to the situation – one way or another. I’d love him to choose City and commit his future to us, but if he’s playing the game (or the people nearest to him are), then no one player is bigger than the club.

When I saw that Sane was starting against Liverpool in that Community Shield game, I was admittedly intrigued to see how he’d play. Then, bam, 12 minutes in and he’s substituted with an ACL injury. You couldn’t make it up. Refusing Pep’s medical Mr Magic, Dr Cujat, in Barcelona for the necessary surgery, Sane favoured Professor Fink – the German FA’s go-to surgeon. It’s looking like it’ll be 2020 before we see Leroy playing football again – and it’ll probably be then before we reach a conclusion to this transfer/contract saga.

If he doesn’t want to commit – get the £120 million from Bayern and lets all move on with our lives.


Something tells me that a lot of people are going to be writing about this, given the amount talking about it, and we’re probably all already bored of it so early into the season. But, it’s a huge talking point and there’s no hiding from that, so it has to be addressed and discussed – especially when it’s already costing teams valuable goals and points in the League. What am I talking about? Of course, it’s VAR.

We all knew that VAR was coming this season and, despite it being trialled in various places and active in the Women’s World Cup this summer, none of us knew how it would really fit in when it came to the Premier League and how it would work. It’s important to make sure it’s not confused in any way with goal-line technology though: that’s something that is technically sound, faultless and not down to human perception in any way whatsoever. It’s annoyed me because I’ve heard some people use the World Cup final goal in 1966 as an example for VAR and that’s just silly – that’s goal-line technology and it’s been in place for a while.

City fans have already felt the full force of VAR decisions during the first couple of games of the season: the Sterling goal that was ruled offside during the 5-0 win at West Ham on the opening weekend, the Jesus goal that was disallowed during the 2-2 draw against Spurs at the Etihad, the Rodri penalty that should’ve been during the same game and the Sterling penalty shout at Bournemouth.

The main arguments of the three decisions were: it was Sterling’s arm that was apparently 1mm offside for the first offence. Are players allowed to score with their arms now? If not, the goal should’ve stood and we’ve since seen goals stand for a similar ‘offence’. Where’s the consistency? The Jesus goal vs. Spurs: it struck Laporte’s arm during the build-up play and was struck off because of this and because of the new handball rules that have been introduced this season. How the Frenchman could’ve moved his arm away is beyond me and beyond anybody else who thought the decision was ludicrous and extreme. The decision didn’t even come from referee Michael Oliver; it came from the VAR control room down south. The Rodri penalty shout: Lamela was all over him and dragged him down in the area. Oliver should’ve reviewed it. The Sterling penalty shout at the Vitality Stadium: VAR did review this and still said it wasn’t a penalty, despite the football confirming the foot stamp in graphic detail?

It’s infuriating, baffling, frustrating and, ultimately, punishing to see the introduction of Video Assistant Referee leave fans asking even more questions instead of giving us the answers we need from it. My main problem with it and with all refereeing is the inconsistency. We see week in, week out, decisions given for teams, with similar decisions not given for others and, at this level of football, it’s just not good enough. When the margins are so fine between win, lose or draw and every goal and point counts, decisions have to be right if there’s been a system implemented by the powers that be for this.

The other issue is that it can be largely down to human interpretation of the rules and each individual is different, with varying degrees of perception, which makes the consistency almost impossible to find. The Jesus goal vs. Spurs, a last-minute winner, saw City drop two points because it was disallowed. Some may argue that the Blues should’ve wrapped it up earlier in the game considering they had 30 chances to do so, but the one that went in shouldn’t have really been disallowed, and that’s turned three points into one, meaning, despite it being still early days in the title race, City already trail Liverpool in the hunt for our third Premier League title on the bounce.

It’s also a bit puzzling that referees have been disencouraged from using the touch-line screens to review incidents. Surely that’s what they’re there for? I understand it can slow the game down, but the whole purpose of VAR is to get the decisions right, and if they need to use the screens, it should be encouraged. Likewise, officials shouldn’t be afraid of feeling like they’re undermining the referee by potentially giving a decision that contradicts his. I think the main thing is that it should be remembered and reminded that VAR is there for the clear and obvious, not for every little niggling and dubious event.

As a match-going fan, who was there for both of the VAR incidents in both games against Spurs (in the Champions League quarter final back in April and the recent Premier League game against Poch’s side), the Sterling and Jesus’ disallowed last-minute winners, my experience of VAR has obviously left me asking huge questions. There is nothing in football quite like celebrating a last-minute winner: the adrenaline that rushes through every inch of your body, that provokes delirium and bedlam in the stands and makes you hug total strangers. Leaping into their arms and acquiring bruises that you question the next day, the unachievable high and sense of ecstasy only available through football, a feeling worthy of addiction that we constantly seek out week in, week out. So to go from that, to crashing back down to earth with a bump, wondering what has gone on and being kept in the dark, is disconcerting at best.

Is VAR denying us the right of celebrating goals naturally? Is it stunting the natural rhythm of football for the very reason it was invented? Is it over-analysis and extreme? Do we actually need it? I was one of the advocates of VAR: I wanted decisions to be right, but at what cost? Are we sacrificing the very heart and soul of football for a flawed system that will almost never be 100% accurate? If so, maybe we should go back to basics and just endure the swings and roundabouts of inconsistent refereeing and football karma. Football was never supposed to be a hyper-technical sport: the most technical aspect should be the lines drawn around the pitch and the tactics played on it. I feel like VAR has left people exasperated, scratching their heads and longing for the simpler days of debating offside decisions in the pub post-match, without watching lines being drawn on a screen and measurements being drawn.

The ultimate problem is that it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere anytime soon, so is it a case of put up and shut up, or will we continue to witness the demise of the beauty of the game? I fear the latter – same time, same place next month?


I’d said before the season even started, that my main concern was the fact that City hadn’t replaced Vincent Kompany. Not that you ever can, because they’re truly humongous boots to fill, but the gap he leaves in our defence, for me, is distinct. I knew that Kyle Walker or Fernandinho could always fill in to a certain extent in central defence, but I felt it imperative to have a true centre back at the heart of the back line. Any injuries to either Stones or Laporte and suddenly we’d be looking pretty light back there. Not even a month into the new campaign, and look what’s happened…

It’s probably not for want of trying, because the Blues were allegedly linked with Harry Maguire throughout the balmy months, but he was apparently out of our price range. Stones has been injured, but looks set to return after the international break.  But Laporte’s injury against Brighton (at the time of writing) is currently being assessed by doctors in Barcelona and looks like he will potentially be missing a good few months of the season. Fernandinho was his replacement during that game and did a typically superb job against a plucky Brighton side.

It may be all well and good using Ferna and Walker to fill in, but we tend to be particularly vulnerable at set pieces and definitely suffer from a lack of height at the back. I’ve even seen somebody suggest using Rodri in defence as he’s more physically imposing and potentially adaptable to that move. The worrying thing is that it was my biggest fear during the summer and it’s already come true. Where elsewhere on the pitch we have a multitude of options to rotate, adapt and cover as and when required, once we get started in the Carabao Cup and Champions League, I worry that we could possibly struggle. We brought Angelino back – how ready and capable is he right now?

I do think that Maguire would’ve been a good fit for us, but agree that, at the cost of £90 million, is ridiculously over-priced. I think it’s also important for us to have a real leader on the pitch. As much as I’m a fan of the sentimental nod towards David Silva, for giving him the captain’s armband during his last season at the Etihad, I think it’s important to still have a really passionate and vocal talisman to lead and, again, that influence is missing. Pep would argue that every player is vital on the pitch for that and it’s a team effort, and maybe I’m old school in that regard, but I think the influence of the captain cannot be underestimated. So we await news on Laporte; people normally say no news is good news, but I fear in this instance, it’s anything but.


Since the season started, I’ve been asked again to do various bits and pieces in the media. I’ve been on BBC Radio 5 Live again twice and featured a few times already on the BBC Radio Manchester show, Talking Balls. To my complete surprise, I was also recently asked to go on Football Focus, a weekly television show on BBC One. Television is usually remarkably out of my comfort zone, so I wasn’t too sure about doing it, but these are all incredible opportunities that I’m lucky to have coming my way, and I’m so grateful for that.

The interview was outside the Etihad ahead of the recent game against Brighton, and was just a casual chat, previewing the match and looking ahead to the season. One of the questions I was asked was, ‘would you prefer it if City won the Premier League again this season, or the Champions League?’ It’s a huge question, one that has proved to be quite decisive amongst our fans. Everybody seems to have their own perception of which trophy is relevant and important to the club and them as fans. The Champions League is the one piece of silverware glaringly missing from our collection: it’s the one many feel Pep will ultimately be judged on throughout his tenure at City, so winning that to many is an absolute necessity. So why do I want us to win the Premier League again?

It’s really difficult to say where we go from here after the last two seasons City have had. Becoming the Centurions, then following that inconceivable achievement up with winning the domestic treble has left the bar set stupendously high. I just believe winning the Premier League is a true test of a team’s mettle across what is week in, week out, a full throttle nine months of graft and pressure. 38 games, 19 teams the length and breadth of the country in varying conditions competing in what is widely regarded to be the toughest and most physical League in the world. Whoever triumphs in May cannot be denied (despite the finest efforts of some of our gutter press) their place in history and this year will be the toughest yet. Whether we like it or not, Liverpool are in a powerful position, with a truly talented young squad. I think it’ll be us and them for a few years to come, battling it out in the fight to not only be the best in England, but the best in Europe too. But we have some of the best creative and attacking players in the world at City – we are lucky to be living in an era where we get to watch De Bruyne, Sterling, Bernardo Silva, David Silva, Aguero all approaching or at the peak of their careers. How many other football fans can say they have the privilege of that? Of watching that calibre of player, every week, play for their team?

Just think, it could be worse. You could be battling it out in the fight to finish 6th. Again.

Emily Brobyn



It’s a bit of a surreal feeling trying to write my article in the middle of July. I should’ve found some time to sit down just as the season ended, while my feelings were raw, but the truth is I’ve had a relentless few months, and this is the first bit of time I’ve had to gather my thoughts and put pen to paper. Even now, to turn black and white into colour, I’m currently sat 37,000 feet in the air on an Emirates a380 plane, somewhere between Dubai and Bangkok, heading to see my Dad. Free time is a rare thing with two young children, and with my youngest asleep next to me, I had to grab the opportunity with both hands to reminisce about that colossal season and to look forward and speculate as to how we remotely attempt to follow up both 100 points and treble-winning seasons.

I’ll talk about summer first, because as incredible as last season really was, it didn’t half take a hit on me, for many reasons. For the first time in my life, I have been glad of the summer break, and the past couple of months have been a breath of fresh air. We’ve enjoyed great amounts of family time together. We went on our annual holiday to Cornwall, and spent two weeks there building sandcastles, swimming in the sea, watching remarkable sunsets, eating fresh fish, drinking wine and beer and making memories for life. We got really lucky with the weather too, as we went mid May and all bar one day was wall-to-wall, glorious sunshine. It seemed that the majority of June was a complete and utter washout, so I’m relieved it didn’t rain on our parade.

But, despite the summer months not quite living up to the standard set weather-wise last summer, we’ve had a truly wonderful time together. My eldest, Vincent, has now finished nursery for good and is starting school in September, with my youngest, Noel, looking to start nursery at a similar time. It’ll be a huge period of change for us, so I’m just trying to make the most of the time we have together and savour it as much as possible, because once they start school, that’s it. I chose to have these early years with them both, I felt like I’d only live to regret it if I didn’t and I can’t imagine how bad a feeling that would be, as they already grow up far too quickly anyway without having looked back once it was too late at the what ifs. It’s also an exciting time for me, as it means that I can look at my options too and see which direction I’d like to go in once I’m ready to go back to work. We live our lives to live, and I really feel like we’ve squeezed the juice and are raising two very happy, sociable, smart little boys. I couldn’t be prouder: as much as I love City, of course they’re my priority and always will be.

So we’ve just enjoyed a couple of days in Dubai and are off to Thailand to spend a week in the sun with my Dad and his wife out there. He has a few different bases in the Far East: Shenzhen, Xiamen and Bangkok, the Chinese bases are for work and the Thai apartment is more for relaxation. The plan is to have a couple of nights in Bangkok, then head for the beach to soak up some rays and ride some jet-skis. Our youngest is with us, while my eldest is on his annual holiday with his Dad. I am lucky to enjoy a very amicable relationship with my ex, one thing I’m grateful for, and he sends me photos and regular updates during the one time a year he enjoys time away with his boy. These nuclear families are becoming more of the norm nowadays than the traditional ‘married with kids’ of past years, although it goes without saying that I wish they were just as common.

So far, I’ve really enjoyed the switch off from football and, apart from the transfer news I can honestly say the detox has done me the world of good. Time in the sun, having sand between my toes, the waves soaking my skin and the sound of my childrens’ laughter filling my ears has been exactly the kind of break that I didn’t really know how badly I needed it until it came around. I almost feel bad admitting it, I usually hate summers with no football. How brilliant was last summer with the World Cup?! But this season left me with a very different feeling, and I’m sure I’m not alone in it and I have no shame either in admitting it. I’ve needed the space to reset and clear my head after the stress that came with the run-in last season, but it won’t be long now before we’re getting ready to do it all again.


Let’s go straight to the end and try and get to the root of explaining just why last season left me so shook.  A Carabao Cup final win against Chelsea, an FA Cup final mauling of Watford and a neck and neck Premier League-winning campaign meant that our beloved blues enjoyed a historic domestic treble win. Of course, the latter as we all well know, was much more of an endurance test. In fact it got to the point where my enjoyment was being replaced by an emotion I wasn’t really familiar with following my football team – dread.

The title race between us and Liverpool turned a bit into the stuff of nightmares for both sets of fans of the teams involved. A thriller for the neural undoubtedly, but as the weeks headed towards the business end of the season, we were constantly leapfrogging each other in the League. The battle became stressful, toxic and tedious.

Ever since the bus incident last season, when Liverpool fans battered the City team coach with bottles and bricks as it headed to Anfield for the Champions League quarter-final – our relationship with Liverpool fans on the whole has deteriorated significantly. Jibes on social media quickly turn into nasty and bitter arguments, with both sides trying to gain the upper hand with petty point-scoring and entirely unnecessary insults, which often turn personal. When the title race really heated up, so did the rivalry. Growing up I was used to watching the United – Liverpool rivalry from a safe distance, but with United favouring a sixth-place finish these days, it’s City that are embroiled with Klopp’s Reds in the bitterest of battles for top honours. City were pitted as the only team that could save everybody from a fate worse than death – Liverpool winning the Premier League for the first time ever. The celebrations would go on for eternity, they’d never let it be forgotten – nobody in the history of mankind could possibly let this happen. Could you imagine? Do you even want to contemplate what it would be like?

I should’ve loved every second season of last season. Watching Pep’s usual brand of brilliant, ingenuiative, ground-breaking football is always exhilarating, but towards the end I was just wishing it was over. I know how bad things have been with United over the years, but I don’t remember it being that toxic with them during the 2011/12 title run-in. I also don’t remember it being anywhere near as bad with Liverpool during the 2013/14 ‘Gerrard slip’ battle. For this season, most Liverpool fans did what all football fans would’ve never thought remotely possible – they became even more unbearable.

Let’s also give a mention to that ridiculous slogan of theirs – we are Liverpool, this means more. How on earth does anything mean more to you? What gives you the brass neck and audacity to say that your football club’s achievements mean more to you than mine? I will tell you for an absolute fact that they don’t. It’s yet more vitriolic bile from an arrogant club who actually believe that their accomplishments in football mean they’re better than any other team. Let me tell you something – they don’t. Even by winning the Champions League, they thought that was a bigger achievement than winning the domestic treble – it isn’t. I’m no fan of the Champions League: I think the fact two teams made the final , that haven’t been Champions in their own domestic League for many, many years makes a mockery of the whole value of the contest. It’s a UEFA corrupt cash cow and I have no personal desire as a fan to win the thing, although I’m well aware next season, it’ll probably have to be Pep’s main focus, seeing as it’s the only silverware to now allude him during his time at City.

I even saw a couple of Liverpool fans wildly suggest that their second place tally of 97 points was worthy of them being awarded a special trophy in itself. Let’s make this abundantly clear in the slim event of any doubt – in the words of ABBA, the winner takes it all. There are no prizes for second place, no matter how desperate you were to triumph. A point difference still equates to a point – and don’t forget, if you think you came close, United missed out back in 2011/12 on goal difference. So take it the way us City fans would’ve had to, on the chin, it’s a bitter pill to swallow, but by acting up and spitting dummies out, it only serves to make you look a bit of a, well, a dickhead.

With the upcoming season’s curtain-raising Community Shield being against them, I fear somehow the battle may have only just begun. We were both light years ahead of the rest of the Premier League last year, and I personally don’t believe any other team has done enough to convince me over the course of the summer through signings that the gap will be closed by anybody else. But, with VAR being introduced next season, it will be interesting to see how that affects all teams – particularly Liverpool, who some might say got more than their fair rub of the green last season when it came to penalty decisions going their way. Even with VAR – and we all know the drama that brings with it (Spurs and Raheem Sterling, anyone?), I still think Liverpool will be there or thereabouts – but I think we will be better, more so than last season, particularly as prayers have finally been answered and we have Fernandinho’s rotation partner/successor, Rodri.


Something else that happened last season that took away from my enjoyment of it all was the news of Vincent Kompany’s departure from the club. I know it wasn’t necessarily a surprise for most concerned, but the news, coming on the morning after the FA Cup win that sealed our treble triumph, took me from flying to forlorn in a nanosecond. I think it’s affected me more than it should and I’ve spent the time since his announcement trying to rationalise why that could be.

I tried to put this into words on one of Ian Cheeseman’s Forever Blue podcasts and it left me very emotional. Like most people, City have always served to be the one constant in my life. No matter what I’m going through, I have always relied on City as a distraction or even to a certain extent, a purpose in life. City have always provided me with a sense of belonging, even when I’ve felt unsure and lost about which direction to turn, decisions to make or what to do. When Kompany joined City back in August 2008, I was still at university studying my degree in Sport Journalism. Throughout his time at the club I have: graduated, got engaged, travelled around the world, got my dream job, found out it really wasn’t my dream job, split up with my fiancé, got pregnant, been a single Mum, met somebody new, been with him for almost five years and had a second child. That’s without mentioning every single phenomenal moment that I’ve been through with City: all the trips to Wembley, the Aguero moment, the 100 point season, THAT Kompany goal.

Not only have City been my constant through all of those indescribable moments, but so has Kompany. I’ve put the Belgian on a pedestal pretty much ever since his arrival at the Club. I’ve had faith in him even when the vast majority wrote him off and told him to call it a day, ‘if he would’ve been a horse he would’ve been shot by now.’ I’ve fought his corner time and time again: I’ve believed in his abilities, his vision and backed his determination because he’s been there in my life at a time where I was low too. He’s led City to some of their biggest triumphs and been a figurehead and role model for many throughout that. It isn’t just because I named my eldest after him! Without even knowing about it, Kompany’s qualities and moral compass has inspired me to be a better person when times were hard and I needed a sense of direction. What would Vinnie do? He’d never give up, never give in, that’s what he’d do. So neither will I.

I almost feel like it’s a real coming of age moment for me, despite already being 37 and middle-aged. I’ve settled down with my partner, we have two beautiful children and we continue to support City together and encourage our children to follow suit. Without really knowing it, I feel like Kompany was my stabilisers in life and now it’s time for me to close a certain chapter and look forward to what the future may hold in a different aspect and new chapter of my life. A lot of life can be psychological and we often bottle up how we feel about certain things and put on a brave face. I feel like I can now finally let go of certain elements of my past and move forward in earnest. Although initially I couldn’t really imagine a City without Kompany: as a captain, he’s been there through some of the club’s most pivotal moments. He’s led us to victories through grit, guts and determination and dragged us through important wins. I know that no one player is bigger than the club – I am a huge advocate of that. But as a captain and human being, he’s utterly irreplaceable.

But he still has plenty of personal ambition and dreams yet to fulfil and I commend and admire him for that. He couldn’t have left on a bigger high. Our loss is Anderlecht’s gain and I’m sure every blue will be following his progress with a vested interest. Now David Silva has announced that this will be his last season at City and we all know who will be next…Mr 93:20™. All good things must come to an end: it’s the changing of the old guard and the beginning of another exciting era at City, we have to be nothing but grateful and thankful for the part these players have played in the history of our beloved club and the imprint on its history they’ve left. It’s just this one, Vincent Kompany, played a part in a way in a way I never thought possible, and the testimonial game – well, I’ll probably need a full box of tissues to even stand a chance of coping.


I realise that it probably sounds ludicrous to have such a negative tone to an article that essentially should be all about celebrating City’s historic domestic treble (the club can call them Fourmidables™ all they want, but does anybody really count the Community Shield?) It’s not only been the battle with Liverpool fans that has been tiresome, but the media too. Hell-bent on tarnishing City by any means possible, they have done all they can to try and discredit the Blues’ achievements.

It’s nothing new; it’s been going on for seasons now. Thankfully, Raheem Sterling had the intelligence and guile to call the media out for the part they’ve played in constantly harassing and bullying him with their ridiculous non-stories of him shopping in Primark or Poundland, but it’s the tip of the iceberg. Last season, it was constant articles claiming ‘exclusives’ about City’s apparent FFP wrong-doings and foul play – which, depressingly, didn’t even stop after our 6-1 FA Cup victory.

I shouldn’t take the bait anymore. I am slowly becoming immune to it after becoming accustomed to the obligatory negative media takes after something positive happens to City – it’s as predictable as Liverpool fans are unbearable. But it’s time to take a stand. Everybody wondered how City could possibly follow on from that truly remarkable 100 point season – how could we top a campaign where we were head and shoulders in front of the rest of the teams in the Premier League? Where records tumbled and teams were swept aside by a Pep side so majestic, so delightful, with a brand of football that could only possibly be admired and adored?

We topped it by retaining our League title and completing a domestic treble – the first ever club to do so. By winning the Carabao Cup, the FA Cup and the Premier League, we became history makers and record breakers yet again. But for me, it was the manner in which we won the League that should truly be applauded and demands nothing by the utmost respect for anybody worth their salt who understands and watches sport.

For a team to win the last 14 games of a season in a row, to still be competing in all competitions as seriously as possible by using positive squad rotation (and not sacrificing a Cup like Fergie used to do) until our Champions League quarter final VAR knock-out, is nothing short of astounding. To deal with that level of pressure and to be aware that the finest of margins in any situation or alternation during every 90 minute battle could result in possible defeat and the advantage being given to Liverpool, is something only the finest of sportsmen with the strongest of mentalities can cope with. How I’d love to pull up the minority of City fans who actually threw the title towel in during December – try keeping the faith eh boys and girls?

The title race became a bare knuckle brawl, with the final few games, be it Liverpool or City playing, all nerve-shredding and massively anxiety-inducing. I’ve never hoped for an opponent to at least take a point off a team before, just to try and alleviate the pressure even a tiny bit. It became suffocating and stressful. Eventually you realise that it’s best to just try and focus solely on what your team are doing – after the 1-0 win against Liverpool at the Etihad stadium, the title was always ours to lose. But to have the focus, resilience and determination to win every single point available to us throughout those 14 games is what has impressed me by far the most out of anything we achieved last season. If that was any other team, the media and critics would be fawning at the outcome. A slip, a mistimed tackle, a shot off target instead of on – as displayed with the John Stones goal-line clearance against Liverpool and the Sergio Aguero goal against Burnley – it was a title race of the finest margins – but to come out on top after being placed under such immense tension and to hold their collective nerves – makes me proud beyond belief.

It took a while for our triumphs to sink in, probably because the final few weeks of the season were so busy for me. BBC Radio Five Live kept asking me to go in the studio to discuss the title run-in, more often than not opposite a Liverpool fan, to try and invoke some form of ‘radio banter’ between us. But, as it happened, Lizzi Doyle turns out to be in the minority of being an unquestionably and thoroughly decent Liverpool fan, so it was hard to be pitted as a rival in her company, when all we could do is respect each other and say just how badly we both wanted the Premier League title win. I understand that they’re yet to win it, but just because we have - doesn’t make it any less special.

In fact, this season’s win is right up there for me with being the sweetest title win yet. The Aguero moment stands alone in Premier League history for being quite possibly the biggest adrenaline rush I’ve had in my life (giving birth is a very different feeling, a different kind of adrenaline, so don’t come at me for that!), and I’m not sure that will ever be beaten – although the Kompany goal against Leicester probably comes second to that. At the time I’ll admit, the rush I felt did feel 93:20-esque, that dizzying euphoric, taking-you-to-the-strastosphere hysteria that can only come when a hugely important goal is scored. When the ball hit the net for that goal, and everybody in the stadium realised a) what they’d just had the privilege of witnessing and b) what an important goal it was in our push for the title, the roof came off the place. Let’s not get me started on Komps again, I can’t. But - what a goal.

The phone calls continued and I found myself on BBC Radio Five Live – to my complete surprise I might add – quite regularly. My poor Mum was coming round at 6am on a Monday morning to mind the boys, who were both still snoring, while I was jumping in my car at the crack of dawn to beat the traffic to Salford Quays to go live on air. Then BBC Radio Manchester started to ask for me too and, by the end of the season, I was on BBC Radio One too. It became really busy and really crazy and completely unexpected too might I add. I was doing this alongside Ian Cheeseman’s Forever Blue podcast too. The final day climax was the day after we’d won the League: I did Five Live, Radio Manchester - then back down a floor to Five Live for the rest of the show. This was all with the worst hangover I have had in a long, long time. The decision to watch the City-Brighton game at City Square in the sunshine with a load of mates and far too much beer seemed a good one at the time – although I’m sure I only drank that much to try and calm my nerves. It had definitely been that kind of a season.

The work didn’t stop there. We have our annual holiday to Cornwall every year at the same time in May – which meant missing the FA Cup final. We watched it down there of course, and celebrated with the boys on the beach afterwards, but the media requests kept coming in. I managed to do phone interviews while I was down there, I even did one for BBC Radio One while sat on Fistral beach, which was quite surreal. The last one I did, for BBC Radio Manchester, involved me jumping out of the car the day after the parade, to talk about what made me proud of Manchester. Of course, it was City and their incredible achievements. I’m at a point in my life now where I am starting to think about what I might do with my life once my children start school and nursery respectively, and it’s given me food for thought. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I’d ever be able to go back to my media career after having children: I’m not sure why, maybe it’s a confidence thing. But, since doing podcasting for the past couple of years, this has given me a bit more self-belief when it comes to whether I’m good enough to put myself out there and speak passionately about the team, and sport, I love. It felt quite ridiculous, little old me, sat opposite Nicky Campbell and Rachel Burden, discussing City. Needless to say, it made my parents very proud!

But because I was so, so busy during those weeks, then away on holiday, then the FA Cup final, Kompany’s revelation and the parade, it honestly took a while for me to digest the magnitude of City’s triumphs. I almost needed to take a big step back from everything, from life, to just sit and take a few moments, to process it all. It was hugely overwhelming. The stress of the run-in had taken over in a big way, I’d even been struggling to sleep (I’m sure I’m not the only one) with it all, so for it to all reach a dramatic conclusion and be resolved in such a remarkable way, it did take a while to come back down to earth again. But it’s been nice to be able to enjoy much less stressful weekends: drives out to the seaside, where doses of Vitamin D make your endorphins dance and sleep is welcomed back like a baby lying on fresh sheets. It’s been the most perfect, blissful summer. I’m just not sure if I’m ready to do it all again just yet…

As usual, the only person I’m trying to kid here is myself. I’ll be there with bells on ready to do it all over again. But let’s take a second to think about what life would be like if it would’ve gone the other way…

Do they even have internet in Timbuktu?

Emily Brobyn


Sunday, 5 May 2019


 Finally, I have had the time to open my laptop and string a few sentences together about our little old City. Having two children means that, most of the time, everything is chaos. By the time they’re in bed at night I’m fit for nothing and my head is on nursery rhyme, jingle, electronic sounds from toys, overload. More often than not, finding the time to write these days is desperately rare (I’ve had to come to my Mum’s while she looks after my youngest so I can type this all up right now), but I’m determined to keep contributing and giving my thoughts and opinions on everything to do with the Blues , as long as Dave and Sue will have me.


Having stepped out of my comfort zone and gone from writing to contributing on the now-defunct City Watch Podcast (!), I’m now a regular panel member for Ian Cheeseman’s Forever Blue podcast. Podcasts are a funny thing: I was so nervous the first time I ever did one and always thought I’d make a laughing stock of myself. But it turns out people do sometimes actually agree with some of the things I say. Which is very surreal. You’re never going to please everybody all the time, but as long as you stay honest, most people will respect you for that, whether they agree with you or not.

It can be quite daunting though if your opinion is different to other panel members on the podcast. I remember last season when we did a podcast and discussed the Champions League draw. We were talking about which teams we didn’t want – and I was the only person to say Liverpool. I got mocked a bit by the panel, but I gave my reasons – and then look what happened. We drew them and they ended up knocking us out. It doesn’t always go like that, but a few people remembered that and I gained a bit of respect for it.

It’s really difficult putting yourself out there like that though. You’ve got to be able to grow a thicker sin, accept that everybody is entitled to their opinion and that different viewpoints aren’t necessarily a bad thing. Ian always told me, as long as you can back your opinion up, you will always have respect and credibility for that. I’ve been asked to do a couple of other City podcasts, but for now I just want to stick to contributing to Forever Blue. Ian is a good friend, he has shown me incredibly loyalty, and for that I’ll always be grateful. Plus I have next to no spare time right now, so I have to be selective about the things that I do when it comes to broadcasting and writing.

We also had Andy Morrison on the podcast recently: I’m planning a special article for King of the Kippax based on his interview, so that’s one to look out for. His story, on a human level, is both equally devastating as it is fascinating, and it was surreal to be able to ask him some questions after Ian had conducted the main interview. I’ve interviewed dozens of players, but that was very special.

I’ve also contributed on BBC Radio 5 Live quite a lot recently; I tend to be talking all things City on their breakfast show with Nicky Campbell and Rachel Burden. I’ve just recorded an interview too with The Anfield Wrap for their main paid subscription show. Yet I still don’t feel overly confident speaking on these platforms – I’ve still not decided if it’s something I’ll continue to pursue, writing is definitely my comfort zone, but I am enjoying it and it allows me to spend what little spare time I have talking about City – and what’s not to love about that?


It’s always made me laugh how fickle football fans can be. I remember when Zinchenko was linked with a move to Wolves in the Summer. When he decided to stay, many Blues mocked him for it on social media.

‘What’s the point – he’ll never get game time now Mendy’s back. Where his ambition to play first team football?’

Some said he wasn’t ambitious enough. Some said he was greedy, happy to take a wage without getting enough game time. But a minority, myself included, were glad he decided to stay and saw a future for him at the club.

Fast forward to now and Zinchenko has just been voted City’s Player of the Month for February – no mean feat considering the form of Bernardo and Sterling, along with Aguero’s two hat tricks. But it’s thoroughly deserved for the Ukrainian: after the 6-0 drubbing of Chelsea, the 22 year old has been unplayable.

His attitude is commendable, he’s obviously a much liked squad member, his confidence has soared, but crucially, both his technical ability and physicality have much improved. It’s obvious to see that he’s been working on his strength: you only have to look to the Chelsea game at Wembley for proof of that, having dealt with the threat of Pedro and Willian quite comfortably. Game after game he’s been solid: he’s a dream left-back for Pep because his natural position is actually more of a winger/attacker, so his pace and trickery serves him well when turning defence into attack for City. There’s talk of a new deal being lined up for him – it’s no less than he deserves – and if/when Mendy ever gets fit again, the Frenchman has to know that he’s got one hell of a fight on his hands to gain his place back in the starting line up.

Gundogan is another player who has really impressed me recently. When Fernandinho got injured, a lot of people obviously panicked. After City failed to sign another defensive midfielder to be able to rotate in when Fernandinho is rested/injured, alarm bells were ringing. But Gundogan really has come into his own of late. We’re seeing the Borussia Dortmund Gundogan at last, the player City paid £20 million for, and that price is looking more and more like a bargain. The Champions League second leg against Schalke is the best I’ve seen him play for us so far. The way he was linking play, quashing their moves forward and some of his passes were phenomenal. He’s an intelligent footballer, one that perhaps (with no disrespect meant), only supporters of a certain ilk can truly appreciate. He’s relishing his game time and we can’t take him for granted.

Fernandinho has long been established as a key player in this side and his role and contribution cannot be underestimated. City have offered new deal to Gundogan and he is yet to sign – at the age of 28, he has a decision to make. Does he stay and fight with all his might for a place in the first team, knowing that a fit Fernandinho will always be favoured in that position? Knowing that if he plays elsewhere in midfield, his fight is just as tough being surrounded by superb midfielders? Or does he look for a new challenge, at a pinnacle point in his career, knowing that he could secure guaranteed game time and be a first team starter elsewhere? It’s a really tough decision for him to make and I understand the time he needs to take to do that, even if the foot-stamping fans don’t. I would love him to stay – and he may just be the answer to our defensive midfielder problem, without us having to make an extra signings. But it’s been a certain percentage of fans who have belittled his ability, mocked his contributions and sneered at him for a long period of his time at the club. It’s a shame it’s only now that fans are starting to wake up to his capabilities at City. It might just be too little, too late – and who could blame him for that?

But good news on the new deal front has been the imperious Bernardo Silva signing a contract extension, taking his stay at City up to 2025. There’s no doubt he’s a front runner for Player of the Season – nobody puts in the work rate and miles like Bernardo does. He runs himself into the ground twice a week for us, his trickery dazzles and his first touch is the best I’ve ever seen from any player – and that’s no exaggeration. He’s been undroppable for Pep all season and has established himself as a firm fan favourite: he’s the type of player you just delight at being able to watch play for your football club. He has everything: charisma, bottle, flair, technique, scoring ability, fight and he will run for longer than Forrest Gump ever did. He’s quite possibly a representation of the kind of player we as fans would aspire to be if we could ever be lucky enough to grace the pitch at the Etihad – he has those attributes that endears himself so dearly to the City fans – with his own ABBA ‘Voulez Vous’ song to go with him. It takes some doing to become ‘top Silva’ when you’ve playing alongside David, but based on current form, few could argue that he’s well on his way to securing just as memorable as legacy as his Spanish teammate. Based on form so far this season, for me, it’ll be between him and Sterling for Player of the Season.


I want to take a minute though to talk about Sterling, although he serves so much longer. I’m happy to admit that I was one of the doubters when he joined us from Liverpool. I wrongly judged him – possibly on reputation alone. I don’t think I’d been brainwashed by the media, although sadly, many have been, but I’d just seen a few things about him that had made me think ‘what a d**k’. I thought his price tag was massively inflated and largely based on potential. But when he signed for City, as is the case when any boy in blue, we get behind the player and support him regardless. Last season I thought Sterling was incredible – 18 goals and countless assists – with some of those goals crucial. Match-winning goals. The last minute goal at Bournemouth tore the roof off the place.

But this season, remarkably, he’s improved even further. Ever since that incident at Stamford Bridge with the Chelsea fan, it seems like a weight has been lifted off Sterling’s shoulders. He seems more confident, more assured, more humble, more determined. It’s a sad indictment of the world we live in that it takes something like that for the media to reassess their viewpoint on him. For years, there has been a huge smear campaign against Sterling, one that he has now rightly called the press out on. He alleged that the media’s vilification of him and other players is all down to the colour of their skin. Fair play and a standing ovation from me for the 24 year old to use his platform to say that and to make certain members of the press think about their actions and the consequences they can have.

Why does Sterling get booed by the opposition fans at every ground we visit? Why, doing the World Cup, was he the only player in the starting line up that got booed in the pub I was in, in the middle of Manchester? Because his faux reputation precedes him: people have been wrongly brainwashed by the media to believe that Sterling is a flashy, trashy, cocky footballer. The constant snake emojis used towards him – he’s a money-grabber. He only moved to City for the money. NO – he’s a young man with ambition and with the talent and skill to back that up. He took the winning penalty in the shoot-out at Wembley to win us the Carabao Cup – the place he was born. That took balls of steel. He nailed it. Many could and would falter under such pressure – he didn’t. He’s already won many trophies at City and contributed massively towards those, proving that he made the right decision for his career.

He continues to learn, to thrive, to excel, to grow and, most importantly, command respect. Respect is no less than he deserves. It takes watching him every week to really appreciate how important a player he has become at City. He’s a joy to watch. His hat-trick against Watford and his captaincy against Schalke only strengths how crucial a part he plays for us – and it’s about time other fans took notice of not only how talented a player he really is, but how genuine a man he has become. It’s tragic that it’s only since he’s called out the media, that his charity work has been highlighted. That other tales of good will gestures have been raised. Raheem is the finest example I could point to for my two young sons – he’s a superb role model, make no mistake of that – and there can be no greater karma and legacy against the naysayers than that. Safe to say now that I’m one of his biggest fans and I look forward to seeing him progress even further.


When City had a pretty much disastrous December, many wrote them off in the race for the Premier League title. But Liverpool have since wobbled, and we have continued to keep our winning run going, so now (at the time of writing), and with Spurs tailing off predictably, we are neck and neck for the League. It’s almost too close to bear.

We’re now flying towards the business end of the season, where every aspect of both sides is constantly being scrutinised and analysed. The fixtures left are the main talking point, with City being painted as having the tougher run-in. I don’t think there’s really that much really in it. Playing a team threatened with relegation can be a much tougher ask than playing one of the so-called ‘bigger’ teams. We as City fans know the importance of trying to survive a relegation fight, and you’ll give blood, sweat and tears in order to try to maintain your place in the Premier League. You raise your game beyond anything you’ve known, so the role that these teams could play can never be underestimated. We’ve both got to play teams down there, so it’ll be intriguing to see if any of them can derail a title charge. I’m looking at Palace away, United away and even Burnley away as being our toughest tests. Cardiff and Newcastle away for them shouldn’t be easy, plus they’ve got Chelsea at home.

The Champions League quarter final draw has just been made and those games will play their part too. Ajax v Juventus, Porto v Liverpool, Spurs v City and Barca v United are how the final eight teams will shape up. I wanted Porto, Ajax or Spurs so I’m pretty made up with that. Spurs are never to be underestimated, but they’re arguably the less media-hyped English club of the three, if we would’ve drawn Liverpool/United, the run-up to the fixtures would’ve been unbearable. Ajax or Juventus in the semi final should we progress is also relatively kind, so could we actually be heading to Madrid in June? UEFA will want their poster boy Ronaldo to feature in the final, but it’s going to be one hell of a couple of months.

The only difference really between us and Liverpool’s fixtures is that we’re still in the FA Cup (at the time of writing, before the semi final). Having just got home from Swansea, I’m still not really sure how we still are in the Cup. A first half of chaos, going 2-0 down, to then somehow miraculously come back and win the game 3-2, with no extra time needed, I’m still in a bit of shock about how it all panned out. The amount of beers I drank that day didn’t help the memory, but I do remember the turning point being Pep bringing the subs on: Zinchenko, Sterling and Aguero made all the difference. The goals may have been dubious to say the least, but in a season where Liverpool have enjoyed more than their fair rub of the green with decisions to keep them in the title race, I’ll take that all day long. I almost felt sorry for Swansea: once upon a time that was us. They gave it a really good go and on another day would be heading to Wembley, but there’s no denying the quality in Bernardo’s goal that started the comeback, even if the penalty and final Aguero goal had question marks over them.

With Watford, Brighton and Wolves all left in the FA Cup, it was Brighton who were paired to face us. But here’s the dilemma I have – and I’ll be really honest. I love going to Wembley. I’ve been 11 times now watching City, I still can’t believe I’m writing that, 11 times, and they’ll be people who have been more because I’ve had to miss a couple. But it’s now getting to the point where I’m having to potentially choose which games I can go to because I can’t afford it all. It’s not just the ticket with Wembley – it’s the travel cost, the food and drink. When we went down for the Carabao Cup final, we did it there and back in a day and only got home at 1am. I know people who got back later. But my boyfriend, Adam, has to be up for work at 3am and he couldn’t book the day off because he had run out of holidays. Doing it there and back in a day, especially with Vincent, is such a big ask, but cost and holiday-wise, we didn’t have any other options.

Now we’re playing Brighton, and I know you can never take anything for granted, the potential of being in the FA Cup Final is looking realistic. We’ve reached the Champions League Quarter Final. So we may need money for two more finals there. I know people say not to count chickens, but these are things financially that we need to consider, coupled with the cost of everyday life anyway (rent, bills, food, my children), it’s getting to the stage where we have to make decisions and we may not be able to afford both the semi final and the final too. Why they play the FA Cup semi finals at Wembley anyway is beyond me, but it doesn’t really help me out when I’m trying to find the funds to be able to afford everything and being stretched to the limit like every other blue. The price you pay for success!

The media are starting to make a bit more of a noise about the fact that the ‘quadruple’ is still on for us, funny that they’re realistically the only people talking about it. City fans know better than that – I don’t think any one of us is thinking that we will do it. But, it’s almost April. We have won the Community Shield (yes I know, doesn’t count) and the Carabao Cup. We’re in the FA Cup Semi Final, the Champions League quarter final and well and truly in the hunt for the Premier League title. Is it a good or a bad thing when it comes to Liverpool that we are still spinning so many plates? Just looking at our fixtures in April makes me feel tired. Eight (possibly nine if Cardiff gets re-arranged for that month too) huge games in three different competitions and the pressure is well and truly on to win them all. People talk about player fatigue, but what about us fans? It’s knackering just trying to keep up with it all!

This is do or die: it’s crunch time. Last season when we romped the League, we came up against a really big week in April – and lost all three games. We all remember it, but we wish we didn’t. At that point, Liverpool knocked us out of the Champions League and United, well, they just delayed us winning the League until they got beat by West Brom at home. No real damage done in that respect! Hopefully the players have taken that experience on board and can now look back on it as character building. If we have a week like that in April this time round, with how close the League is and Liverpool not really showing too many signs of relenting, it could be a different story.

But the big plus for City is that we’ve been here before and done it – three times in seven years. We have the experience of coming from behind to win the League, twice. When it comes to the crunch, it’s a test of who wants it more, who is stronger, both physically and mentally, who is more motivated for it. Anything could happen between now and May to affect both teams involved – a surprise suspension or a shock injury could have a detrimental effect on either side. There are so many contributing factors, so many twists and turns to come.

I would love to win it all; I don’t think you’ll find a football fan who wouldn’t want to see their team lift every trophy and enjoy all the successes it brings with it. For me, the Premier League is the one to win. It’s the toughest, with the most games to play over a longer period. The FA Cup has always held a special place in my heart - even that awful day when Wigan beat us to win it hasn’t taken away my love for the competition. I’ve never really taken to the Champions League, which probably sounds ridiculous, but for some reason I’ve struggled with it, no more helped with UEFA and their ridiculous Financial Fair Play fiascos. But for many teams, it’s considered essential to win it to really be held in high esteem and be regarded as amongst the elite in European football. I don’t believe we’ll have a greater chance of winning it than this season – but will something have to be sacrificed elsewhere in order to do that? Can we really sustain the momentum and winning streak to power through until May? I’ve got butterflies just thinking about it. But nobody does it better than Manchester City, do they? The drama of the Carabao Cup final shoot-out, the recent comebacks at Schalke and Swansea and recovering ground in the League to still be challenging for the title shows just how special this team is and what we’re capable of. It could be a very different story that I’m telling come next month, but for now let’s just enjoy the what ifs. Makes me feel sad for the rest…