With the finishing line now firmly in view, we bring you our fifth digital programme since the restart.
So far, City have scored 25 goals and conceded just three times with the football, at times, exhilarating.
Our home form has been something else, too, with four wins and an aggregate of 17-0 – what a shame our fans weren’t at the Etihad to witness it in the flesh – though thankfully, we’ve been able to watch all the games on TV.
Pep Guardiola has used his squad to perfection so far, changing five or six players for each game without disrupting the flow or rhythm of his team in the slightest. Our form has led many people to ask how this team can be so far behind Liverpool?
The truth is it’s almost impossible to keep pace with a side who have hardly put a foot wrong this season, but it’s hard to think of a game when City weren’t at the races this campaign, either.
Even when we lost 3-1 at Anfield, there was a strong argument for a penalty seconds before Liverpool broke to score at the other end and this season more than ever, those fine margins have – more often than not – not gone our way.
We only have to go back to the opening weeks of the campaign when Gabriel Jesus saw his goal ruled out after the ball brushed Aymeric Laporte’s arm, to see that rub of the green wasn’t quite with us this season.
Now - at the very least - we have three Premier League games left, one FA Cup semi-final and a Champions League quarter-final, second leg. It has already been a thrilling season and there is a real chance we might add more silverware to the trophy cabinet. Here's hoping.
But back to Bournemouth and our digital offering for this programme.
As ever, we have Pep’s notes, Buzzer’s outlook on life and regular columnists Kev Cummins and Marc Riley. Peter Barnes reveals his Dream City XI and we also take a detailed look at the Cherries and their season so far, plus a look at our history against them.
Keira Walsh joins us as a guest columnist and we take a detailed look at Raheem Sterling’s incredible record against Bournemouth - plus plenty more.
PEP'S MANAGER NOTES
Hello everyone and welcome to our third last league game of this extraordinary season. I welcome Eddie Howe and all his Bournemouth staff.
This week has been excellent for us both on and off the pitch and we hope to continue that trend in the game at the Etihad on Wednesday evening.
We come into the match in top form having won our last two Premier League games both by a 5-0 margin.
However, we know this will not be an easy ninety minutes as Bournemouth’s big win over Leicester City on Sunday gave them a boost in their bid to stay in the Premier League and they will have new confidence and be fighting for every ball.
At Brighton on Saturday night we were superb. The performance was like others since we came back from the break. The opposition demanded us to press strongly and to be focused. We did both things well and then took our chances when they came.
We now know we will finish second in the Premier League and that we have secured UEFA Champions League football again for next season.
Importantly we still have this season’s FA Cup and the Champions League to play for and everybody in the squad wants to play these big games, lots of players has been involved recently as we ensure rest and recuperation is spot on and that rotation will happen in the next period.
We played one starting eleven against Newcastle and then made a few changes against Brighton. A new four or five or six players will probably start this match. I will not pick the team with the Wembley semi-final in mind. I will pick what I think will be the best team to win in these ninety minutes and then against Arsenal, on Saturday night, I will again select what is best for the team.
Of course, off the pitch we had some good news on Monday morning from the Court of Arbitration for Sport. For a long time, we had a two-year ban from the Champions League hanging over us. I said before the announcement was made that I had a lot of confidence and trust in the Club’s arguments because I had seen them and listened to them. I also trusted the process as you must in these instances.
It is a decision that is positive not just for the players but all the workers and staff here at Manchester City. We now have certainty and we can all now focus on continuing to grow the club over the next years. It is also excellent news for the fans who all believed so much in the club.
Please stay safe and well everyone and enjoy the game wherever you are watching it.
Our Club Ambassador reviews recent events...
The football we’ve witnessed since the lockdown has been fantastic.
The way we are playing is just a continuation of the football we’ve played all season where we control games and it’s a privilege to be able to watch us.
And it’s not just our fans – any neutral must love watching us play because you just know you are going to be entertained by fantastic, committed players.
I was thinking about Leroy Sane’s move to Bayern Munich and though he is an outstanding talent, the truth is he has been out a year - but you could argue that we’ve not really missed him.
Whoever comes into this side fits in seamlessly and it’s a measure of the quality we have that we can do that.
That said, I wish Leroy well in his new chapter.
We were superb in our last home game against Newcastle who came to the Etihad in terrific form and we carried that on to the game against Brighton – you don;t often get back-to-back 5-0 wins!
I like Graham Potter and I know what he’s trying to do and I think he’ll get Brighton to where he wants to be in the next few seasons.
But his team were up against a City side who are ruthless and Raheem Sterling showed yet again what a talent he is.
Now we face a Bournemouth side who are struggling to stay in the division.
I have a soft spot for Bournemouth, because my uncle played for them and my father lived in Winchester. They are a warm and welcoming club who treat people well
I know Jeff Mostyn, the chairman, and City are his second club, so while I hope we win tonight, I hope the scoreline is not too damaging for Bournemouth if we do take all three points.
I’ll keep my fingers crossed they stay up.
After this game we have a tough FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal at Wembley. It will be strange playing there with no fans, but I think it’s safe to say that we’ve got used to it and I don’t think it will impact the game too much.
Mikel Arteta is slowly shaping the side in his own image and I think it will be close game – let’s hope we can win and go into the final.
Finally, Leeds United are closing on a welcome return to the Premier League but I was saddened to hear of the passing of the great Jack Charlton who played for the club.
What you saw was what you got with Jack and he would tell it like it was, but he was a great man and he will be sadly missed.
Leeds have also lost Trevor Cherry and Norman Hunter over the past few months, meaning that three players from the side that won so much under Don Revie have passed away.
When Leeds celebrate their promotion, I’m sure their supporters will all take a moment to reflect these sad losses.
I’ll see you all next week for our game with Norwich – until then, keep safe.
HERE’S TO BRIGHT BLUE SKIES…
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AFC Bournemouth have enjoyed a decade of unprecedented achievements. Whether they can add an escape story is about to be decided.
As the clock runs down, there are three games in which to close a three-point gap to Watford in the first safe position.
It is now ten years since Eddie Howe, in his first spell as manager, led his team to promotion from League Two and set in motion a chain of events that elevated the club to the Premier League.
Although Howe left for a short period at Burnley, he was reinstated by 2012 and ready to oversee a period of astonishing progress. Two promotions in three seasons were to be followed by five years among the country’s top 20.
Only now has their status come under threat. Previously comfortable at this level – ranging between 42 and 46 points in completed seasons – they dipped into the bottom three on New Year’s Day.
A pair of home wins, against Brighton and Aston Villa, brought some respite in February, but they were back under pressure with a defeat, albeit a narrow one, at Liverpool in the final fixture before the season was suspended in March.
On the resumption, the situation was to worsen. Four more defeats, the last two with nine goals conceded to Newcastle and Manchester United, created a now-or-never moment – and on Sunday the call was emphatically answered with four goals in the second half against Leicester.
That the season had taken a downturn was of special concern to a sizeable group of players who made a large part of the journey.
Simon Francis, Charlie Daniels and Steve Cook can go back to the promotion campaign in League Two. All three have had injuries this season, Daniels out for longest after dislocating a patella in the August home defeat by City.
Former Spurs full-back Adam Smith first played in a season on loan in 2010-11.
Callum Wilson, now an England striker with four caps, and Andrew Surman, after a more than 400 career games, date back to the title-winning team in the Championship.
They started 40 or more games that season when they were joined by midfielder Dan Gosling and forward Junior Stanislas.
Artur Boruc was the regular keeper in that side and this season the former Poland No 1 has been understudy to Aaron Ramsdale. The Cherries have another keeper in Mark Travers, who made his debut for the Republic of Ireland this season.
Norway international Josh King became a key forward in the Premier League and over the seasons Bournemouth brought in Dutch defender Nathan Ake (13 caps), Spanish full-back Diego Rico, Liverpool forward Dominic Solanke, Netherlands winger Arnaut Danjuna and midfielders Jefferson Lerma (Colombia) and Philip Billing (Denmark U21).
Scouting in the Championship, they unearthed Lewis Cook from Leeds, David Brooks from Sheffield United, Chris Mepham from Brentford and Lloyd Kelly from Bristol City. Unfortunately, they have all had injuries over the last 12 months.
Wales forward Harry Wilson is on loan from Liverpool, Weymouth-born Jack Simpson made an England U21 debut last season and former Luton defender Jack Stacey is a newcomer this season.
CITY V bournemouth
THE STORY SO FAR
Our history against Bournemouth is short but very sweet.
In fact, the fixture only goes back to 33 years, during which there have been 15 meetings in total, and City have dominated throughout.
It’s probably fair to say facing City are not the Cherries' most looked forward to opponent in the Premier League calendar and the 1987/88 campaign set the tone.
City won 2-0 at Dean Court in the first ever meeting between the clubs and repeated the scoreline at Maine Road a few months later.
Mel Machin – who would later go on to manage the Cherries – didn’t take City up that season, but the following campaign, he did, though Bournemouth managed to spoil the planned promotion party.
Needing a win to go back to the top flight, City raced into a 3-0 lead at Maine Road in the penultimate game of the 1988/89 campaign.
The party had begun, but Bournemouth – inspired by Ian Bishop and veteran striker Luther Blissett – fought back and Blissett levelled from the spot in the 97th-minute to deny City promotion.
It remains the Cherries' best 90 minutes against City who would get the point needed to go up against Bradford a week later.
A decade would pass before the next meetings between the clubs – this time in the third tier of English football, with City edging a 2-1 win at Maine Road before grinding out a 0-0 draw at Dean Court.
A further 16 years would pass before the teams met again, with Bournemouth winning promotion to the Premier League in 2015 – but City have won all nine meetings in the top flight.
A first visit to the Etihad resulted in a 5-1 win for City, with Raheem Sterling scoring a hat-trick and Wilfried Bony grabbing two more.
In the return at the now-named Vitality Stadium, City raced into a 3-0 lead with only 19 minutes played after goals from Fernando, Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero.
Aleks Kolarov added a fourth on 90 minutes.
The 2016/17 campaign would see the Cherries fare little better.
A 4-0 win at the Etihad (De Bruyne, Gundogan, Sterling and Iheanacho) was followed by a 2-0 win at the Vitality, with Sterling and a Tyrone Mings own goal settling the contest.
Bournemouth will look at the 2017/18 home clash with City as the one they came closest to winning.
Leading through a 13th-minute Charlie Daniel howitzer, City levelled through Gabriel Jesus, but the hosts had chances to win the game as it went into added time – and seven minutes in, a deflected Sterling goal gave Pep Guardiola’s men a 2-1 lead (Sterling was shown a second yellow card shortly after for his celebration).
City won the return 4-0 (Sterling, Aguero (2) and Danilo) as business returned to usual.
The Cherries gave a spirited display at the Etihad last season, going down 3—1 having gone in at the break level at 1-1 – Bernardo, Sterling and Gundogan scored for City with Callum Wilson grabbing the visitors’ goal.
The return was a hard-fought 1-0 win for City with Riyad Mahrez grabbing the winner on 55 minutes.
And bringing the head-to-heads right up to date, City won 3-1 at the Vitality last August, with goals from Sterling and Aguero (2) enough to earn three points – Harry Wilson pulled one back on half-time.
So, 13 wins, two draws and no losses with a goals aggregate of 38-8, it has been City and goals all the way so far in this fixture.
City and England star Keira Walsh talks David Silva, Gareth Taylor and the relief and women’s football’s return...
Being back with the girls and the team is always nice.
We’ve all been looking forward to not training on our own and being with team again and it’s exciting and being back together, training and working hard.
I think with the way the league finished early, we are more motivated than ever for the 2020/21 campaign.
There’s also the motivation to stay at the top and we have a new manager in Gareth Taylor and it will be fascinating to see how he wants us to play.
I’ve been at the Club for six years and I’ve seen Gareth around the CFA a lot, as the boys’ Under-16s and Under-18s manager.
I’ve spoken to him and whenever I’ve spoken to the lads, they’ve always been positive about him with nothing but good things to say.
He had a good run with the Under-18s last year and hopefully, he’ll bring some more tactics and something different. It’s exciting.
Nick Cushing got the best out of a lot of the girls, but coming from the boys’ side, I think Gareth will be a lot stricter.
Hopefully, he’ll be more critical because sometimes, you need that. It’s a good thing to help push us on, out of our comfort zone.
It helps to push you onto the next level, which a lot of the girls are looking to do.
We had quite a few Zoom calls towards the end of lockdown. It was nice to see everyone in that setting rather than nothing at all.
The girls have warmed to Gareth quite quickly and we’re looking forward to getting started. We’re all going to have to work hard and impress to get into the starting XI.
Competition within the team is good. It’s a good feeling. If you look at the top teams, they have competition for places week in, week out.
Emulating that and taking the team to another level is our immediate goal. Of course, we had some time off as it was such a long period without playing, but we’re a good set of girls and we were trusted to take the responsibility of training at home.
And of course, we were all delighted to see Jill Scott become player/coach. I’ve already given her a bit of banter about it, asking if I need to call her ‘boss!’
We’ll still have banter on the pitch, too.
Jill is the perfect person for that transition between the team and coaches. She’s such a level-headed and grounded person and the girls will trust her if there’s anything we need to improve on or do more of. She’s the right person to do that.
As for the prospect of playing our games behind closed doors. it’s definitely going to be strange. We have a good set of fans and you can always hear them – no matter what the game or where we play.
It will be a bit different, that's for sure.
We’ll look to hit the ground running and start well so that when the fans come back, we’ll be in a good position to challenge for trophies.
I’ve been watching the men’s team, of course, and the Liverpool game was special. Of course, the league didn’t go the way we wanted but we have been playing fantastic.
Phil Foden showed that he’s going to be a class player – he already is! He’s going to be one of City’s main players in the future for sure.
There was a lot of talk about fitness levels being the biggest difference when the games restarted, which team were going to be the fittest?
When you watch City play, compared to other teams, the technical level is so important – the technique and the way the team play. It’s so free-flowing and what’s been the main difference with other teams.
If we can emulate that and put it into our game when we come back, we’ll be on the right path.
Of course, we are all privileged to be able to watch the last few games of David Silva in a City shirt – I’ve made no secret that he’s my football hero and like everyone, I am gutted he’s leaving.
We’ve managed to watch him for a few extra games and hopefully, we can finish strongly with the FA Cup and Champions League.
In terms of what he’s done for the Club as a player, hopefully, we’ll get to the Champions League final and win it – and the FA Cup. It’s no more than he deserves.
Celebrated photographer and lifelong Blue Kevin Cummins recalls his experiences with the one and only Kevin Horlock
We couldn’t have a photo selection in a game against Bournemouth without featuring the man who was once sent off for walking towards the referee at Dean Court on 13 February 1999.
Horlock was about to ask him a question and the referee - Brian Coddington - panicked and sent him off for ‘aggressively walking' towards him.
Super Kev was as perplexed as we were. Horlock actually looked behind him to see who the ref was sending off, then it dawned on him that it was him.
"There was a break-up in play and there'd been a tackle about a minute before on the halfway line.
"I was just walking to the ref to ask the question. He just flashed the red card at me. I've turned round thinking he was showing it to someone else behind him and he said to me: 'No you, off you go.”
Manager Joe Royle said at the time:
"The referee said Kevin was walking towards him in an aggressive manner while asking a question. He admitted that the player never swore - I must have missed that rule change…"
It’s fair to say that Horlock didn’t let it ruin his career and he went on to be a cult hero for us City fans.
When I worked with City on my final season at Maine Road book, Horlock was always one of the most competitive players out on the training ground - and not without a sense of humour either.
One day I was standing next to Kevin Keegan taking photos of the players in some training exercise, when without notice, I felt the ball hit my legs - I looked up and assumed it was a stray pass but no, a minute or so later it happened again.
Then I realised it was Horlock playing wall passes off my legs to Nicolas Anelka. Keegan laughed and said to me, “ That’s good. It means they accepted you now.”
The session pictured here was for a series I was doing with the 'Heroes of 99'.
Hopefully I can add to it before the 25th anniversary in 2024.
Peter Barnes, City’s dynamic left winger of the mid-to-late 1970s, selects his all-time XI…
“I’m going for – in the most part – a mixture between the great City sides of the late 60s, 70s and today’s all-conquering team.
“My exception is my keeper Bert Trautmann, who narrowly edges out Big Joe Corrigan.
“Pablo Zabaleta and Glyn Pardoe are my full backs, with Dave Watson and Vincent Kompany in the centre of the defence – nobody would headers against this side, that’s for sure!
In midfield I’d have Buzzer, David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne and Colin Bell – a quartet full of skill, guile and industry.
“Up front, it has to be Sergio and Franny Lee.
“I make the bench as there’s no out-and-out left winger starting and I’d have Pep as my manager, so long as Joe Mercer can be his No.2!”
THE LIFE OF RILEY
BBC 6 MUSIC'S MARC RILEY'S SIDEWAYS LOOK ON LIFE
Like many others during lockdown, I’ve found myself trying to get to grips with lots of things that I needed to get to grips with - but never did.
I managed to do a shocking job of fixing a wonky tap and I moved some records from one part of the house to another. That's pretty much it. I’d like to be able to say that these two minor annoyances were the only things that I needed to get to grips with, but sadly that isn’t the case. Truth be told - I can’t muster up the enthusiasm.
BUT WAIT! I TELL A LIE!
I did manage to negotiate one other task. That was to sort out the bookcase in the spare bedroom. It was full of books and board games. A right mess it was! It still is.
One aspect aside. I manage to move two board-games down from that room into the living room. I did this not because it needed to be done. Oh no... I did this to try and solve one of the great mysteries of the last 50 years.
That would be…why would any person need two versions of the same board-game? What on earth would posses anyone - even someones who loves playing Monopoly (I don’t) - to buy two editions of it!?
I do have some mitigating circumstances. You see the board-games in question (yes, Monopoly) aren’t just your run-of-the-mill editions. Oh no. They are in fact two different editions of the Manchester City FC version.
If nothing else the front cover of one serves as a great reminder of some of our prouder moments. The lid of the 2011-12 release displays an array of sky blue talent that fair warms the cockles of your heart. We have images of David Silva, Yaya Toure and even Kinky! Vinny K is on there of course…and there’s a nod to our past with a black and white image of Bert Trautmann.
The other lid (probably three years old) is less artistic and features just nine players. For the sake of diplomacy I won’t mention who is in and who is omitted, but I think it’s fair to say the not all the choices completely stand the test of time - because there’s one player on there that I can’t name*! The face is familiar…but…. no….hmm....
Looking at the more recent edition I did wonder if the game's made-up prices for the various players ever proved to be a bone of contention with the players in question.
Can you imagine the kerfuffle when
Vincent Kompany found out he was ‘worth’ precisely 20K less than
And can you even begin to imagine the scenes when Buzzer finds out that you could buy THREE of him for the price of ONE Bacary Sagna?
I bet there was CARNAGE at the Etihad.
You also might be interested to know that Moonchester and Moonbeam combined are apparently worth exactly the same amount as Kevin De Bruyne.
No offence like, but I think we should sell ‘em!
* A quick flit around the board reminded me that the player in question is Nolito. No offence Nolito.