no place like home...
It's been three weeks since we last played at the Etihad so it's always nice to be back on home soil.
Plenty has happened in the world since our 1-1 draw with Liverpool and the potential return of limited numbers of fans returning to games has been sanctioned - depending on which tier system each club happens to be in.
The government announced that Manchester will be in Tier 3, so we'll have to wait a bit longer for fans inside the Etihad, but at least there is light at the end of the tunnel.
It will come - we just need to remain patient and follow government advice until it does.
City confirmed a Champions League Round of 16 berth with the 1-0 win over Olympiakos on Wednesday evening and will be looking to kickstart the Premier League campaign against Burnley.
Much as been made of of our current position in the table and lack of goals this season, but this was always going to be a strange campaign for so many reasons.
It's worth noting that we've already faced some tough opponents in our first eight games - Liverpool, Wolves, Leicester City, Tottenham, plus a resurgent West Ham and Leeds United away and nobody likes a trip to Sheffield United.
Five games on the road, three at home and six cup matches squeezed in, plus many injuries to deal with.
It's all about perspective and the bottom line is that if we were to win our game in hand, we'd be five points off the top.
December will better shape the Premier League table and City will be in the mix for sure.
Today we welcome Burnley to the Etihad and the Clarets got their first win of the campaign against Crystal Palace last Monday so will look to make life difficult this afternoon.
It's a fixture that's been full of goals in recent years - let's hope there are more today... and the majority go in our favour.
Hello to City fans everywhere.
Today we welcome Burnley to the Etihad, a side I have so much respect for. Since I came to England, they have shown so many times how strong they are and how difficult they are to play against. I have spent the last days since our win in Greece making sure my players are fully prepared for the challenges Sean Dyche and his players will pose. They are physical, well organised and always have a clear way of playing.
There were plenty of positives to take from our win against Olympiakos – and from our Champions League campaign so far. To qualify after four matches is perfect, especially in a season with such a challenging schedule. It is the eighth-consecutive season this club has qualified for the last-16 and believe me it is not easy getting to the knock-out stages. You have to play teams who are conditioned to win matches and we should be proud to have made it through after four wins from four so far.
But today our focus shifts back to the Premier League. There are 30 games left and everything to play for. My players know this, and I can see in their eyes they are determined to do a good season. We now head into a very busy period, which sees us play nine games in December. It is, undoubtedly, a tough schedule, but it is what it is and it’s the same for all the teams playing in European competition. We have to manage the situation as best we can, eat well, rest wherever possible and make our training sessions count.
This is the first time I have written to you since signing my new contract. I am delighted to be here, with so many great people supporting me. Khaldoon, Txiki, Ferran, all my backroom staff, my players and our fans – there were so many reasons for me to stay longer and continue trying to win more trophies for this great football club.
I have seen many times the support I have received during difficult periods here. For a manager, there is nothing more valuable and I appreciate it so much.
This week, we lost a true footballing great. Diego Maradona was everything football should be: expressive, exciting, attacking and free. What he achieved in the game – particularly in Naples and with the Argentina national side – is incredible.
A unique, once-in-a-generation player who brought joy to so many people. Football will never forget Diego.
Myself, my staff and the players wish you could be with us for today’s game. I want you to know we think about you when we play, especially at home. Having an empty stadium is sad. But hopefully it will finish soon and finally we can be together. I want you to be proud of this team and I do my best to make sure you are.
Until then, stay safe and look after one another.
Enjoy the game!
Burnley are today’s visitors and as a former Burnley player, I was happy to see them get their first win of the season on Monday.
They haven’t made the best of starts but they are a hard-working side who will make things as difficult as they can this afternoon.
The current team are what I call a typical Burnley side and they have the quality in their team to take any chances that might fall their way, so we have to try and make sure we take ours as and when they come.
I do worry about the amount of travelling our players are having to do this season in a relatively short space of time plus the toll it can take on them physically.
We might have a big squad, but it’s difficult when you are flying here there and everywhere.
After the Olympiakos game, I was speaking to Brian Kidd on the plane home and he said that every team in this competition are hard to face, with no exceptions.
He’s been there and done it with United, so he knows what he is talking about, but it was an education for me to hear his thoughts.
What a said day November 25th was for the football world.
The loss of Diego Maradona has touched everybody who loves football, because he was a quite wonderful footballer - the like of which we may never see again.
I also thought how sad that he should die on the same day of the year that George Best did – two geniuses who had all the talent in the world, both gone too soon and both on 25th November.
I feel sorry for the people of Argentina and the fans of the clubs he played for because he was worshipped by them.
And, of course, Sergio Aguero has lost his former father-n-law and grandfather of his son, Benjamin.
I’m sure everyone would join me in passing on our sincere condolences to the Maradona family and friends at this difficult time.
I had hoped we might have come out of the lockdown in a tier that would allow some of our fans to return to games, but as Manchester is in tier 3, we will have to wait a bit longer.
Everyone misses going to the game and I am missing the fans very much – sport is nothing without the passion of those who follow it – but we are still in the middle of a pandemic and as disappointing as it is, we just have to go with the advice we are given.
It’s been a hard world to live in this year, but we will come out of it and when we do, we will all have a new appreciation of the things we once all took for granted.
Enjoy the game and stay safe.
The Season So Far
Burnley arrive at the Etihad this afternoon having lifted themselves from second bottom to 17th after a much-needed first win of the campaign against Crystal Palace on Monday.
At the same stage last season, Burnley had 12 points from their opening eight matches, so Sean Dyche’s men will be playing catch-up for some time to come.
The Clarets have had a number of injuries to key players, which has made things even harder for them and have faced Chelsea, Spurs. Leicester and an in-form Southampton already.
It’s doubtful Dyche would have chosen City to face after that first victory, but it will have no doubt given his players a psychological boost ahead of this game.
Like City, the Clarets have found goals hard to come by so far, but their total of four from eight matches is the joint lowest in the Premier League.
They scored two of those in the opening day loss to Leicester, with Brendan Rodgers’ side winning 4-2 at the King Power Stadium – a game the Clarets actually led in – and Dyche must wonder where his side might have been had they been able to see that result home.
Two Carabao Cup ties followed, with victory over Sheffield United on penalties and a 2-0 win at Millwall earning a place in the last 16 – and a home tie against City.
Next up, a fifth-minute Danny Ings goal was enough to give Southampton a 1-0 win at Turf Moor, before City comfortably progressed to the Carabao Cup quarter-finals with a 3-0 win over the Clarets.
Then a trip to St James’ Park saw Burnley level the scores at 1-1 in the second-half, before a Callum Wilson brace secured a 3-1 win for the Magpies.
Dyche’s men were struggling to get off the mark, but finally earned their first point of the campaign with a 0-0 draw away to fellow strugglers West Brom – a game the Clarets must have hoped they could win with Spurs and Chelsea next up at Turf Moor.
Again, the attacking threat was lacking as Spurs left Turf Moor with a 1-0 win courtesy of a late Son Heung-min strike and Chelsea comprehensively won 3-0 there to leave the Burnley in trouble near the foot of the table.
More worryingly for Dyche, his side had by then managed just one goal in five Premier League matches.
And the drought continued away to Brighton, though a creditable 0-0 draw was a good result for the Lancashire side at the Amex Stadium.
Last Monday, the grafting Clarets finally got the victory they’d been working towards with Chris Wood’s eighth-minute goal enough to secure a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace.
Burnley have had their backs to the wall many times before in recent years and of all the sides currently occupying the bottom six in the Premier League, you’d back the Clarets to have the nous to start climbing away from trouble in the weeks and months ahead.
CITY V BURNLEY:
THE STORY SO FAR...
Our 123-year history against our Lancastrian neighbours...
City and Burnley will lock horns for the 104th time this afternoon – five months after the teams met at the Etihad in one of our first behind closed doors games.
That result went City’s way and overall, this a fixture we've generally fared well in over the years.
Starting way back in 1897, it was Burnley who edged the first meeting on October 30, winning 3-1 at Turf Moor with the return game at Hyde Road ending 1-1.
Our first win was a 1-0 home success in March 1900 and in 1903, a 6-0 City win at Hyde Road would be the first of many thrashings the Clarets have suffered over the years - including the next clash six years later that saw City win 4-0.
Between 1900 and 1920, City would lose just once, winning seven and drawing the other two by a goals aggregate of 26-8. Ouch.
The Clarets – who claimed their first top flight title in 1920-21 – recorded their biggest win over City up to that point in April 1922 with a 5-2 win at Turf Moor and their first two visits to City’s splendid new Maine Road stadium ended as 2-2 and 3-3 draws.
In fact, it’s fair to say there have always been goals and entertainment when these two teams meet.
Case in point, in October 1925, City thrashed Burnley 8-3 and won the return at Turf Moor 2-1 - but while City were relegated that season, Burnley survived by one point.
After a 1-0 win at Turf Moor in 1933 saw City progress in the FA Cup, the Clarets would have to wait until 1948 to next taste victory.
But it wasn't always doom and gloom for our Lancastrian cousins. Between March 1953 and March 1963, Burnley enjoyed their best run of success in this fixture, winning 11 and drawing three of the next 19 meetings, including 4-1 and 5-2 wins at Maine Road, not to mention a 6-3 win on their home soil.
During that spell, Burnley had claimed their second top-flight title in 1959-60 and City faced the champions in the second and third games of the 1960-61 season with City winning both meetings 2-1 at Maine Road and 3-1 at Turf Moor – in the space of six days!
Between 1966 and 1970, City would then lose just one of the next 10 meetings and among the results was a 7-0 romp at Maine Road.
And from April 1975 to the present day, a game against City has become something of a painful experience for Burnley fans.
The Clarets have managed just one win the last 24 meetings and the combined goals tally is very much a ‘look away now’ revelation for any Burnley fan.
City have won 17, drawn six and lost just once, scoring 72 goals, and conceding 17 - that's an average of more than three City goals per game and includes 6-0, 6-1, 5-0 (x4) and 4-1 (x2) drubbings.
It is now 57 years since Burnley last won away to City with their last success coming in 1963 and what had once been a fairly even fixture has been totally dominated by City for more than 47 years.
On Saturday, the story of this historic fixture continues…
opposition spotlight: Ashley Barnes
Squad Number: 10
Previous clubs: Plymouth, Brighton
Career appearances: 427
Premier League games: 160
Premier League goals: 38
Headed goals: 5
Right-foot goals: 29
Left-foot goals: 4
Shooting accuracy: 38%
Woodwork strikes: 6
Yellow cards: 33
Red cards: 2
Appearances v City: 11
Goals v City: 2
The Song: ‘Come on Feed the Goat’
(Sung to the tune of Slade/Oasis’ Cum on Feel the Noize’)
“So come on feed the Goat;
Come on feed the Goat;
He wants goals, goals, goals,
So come on feed the Goat;
Come on feed the Goat,
He wants goals, goals, goals!
“He wants goals, goals, goals!
(repeat at will!)
What's the Story?
Yet another Shaun Goater classic - he arguably he has more catchier songs than any other City player in history – this was first heard emanating from the North Stand after he’d completed a hat-trick during a 4-1 win over Fulham in January 2000. It seemed there was a new chant every week for the Bermudian cult hero.
Originally a huge hit in 1973 for English rock band Slade, it was covered by Oasis in 1996, appearing as the B-side to ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’ – and it’s likely that it was this version that sparked the popular (if short-lived) Goat song a few years later.
Oasis picture: Courtesy Kev Cummins
HERE’S TO BRIGHT BLUE SKIES …
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Your wellness, our priority
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We’ve introduced additional deep cleaning measures that focus on the surfaces that are touched most often. That includes our check-in counters, toilets, seats, and entertainment screens, so you can feel comfortable knowing that we disinfect every touchpoint of your journey more regularly.
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Meet our mascot for the Burnley game...
Name: Daniel Stratfold
Hometown: Murcia, Spain
Favourite player: Kevin De Bruyne
Favourite memory: Vincent Kompany’s screamer versus Leicester in 2019.
Dani’s story: Daniel is a fourth generation City fan following in the footsteps of his dad, granny and great granddad. He was just one-and-half months old when he saw Sergio Aguero score THAT famous goal and has been fortunate to grow up in an amazing era for City.
Though being born in Spain he is an avid fan and 100% City watching all the games he can while representing the club amongst his friends. He currently plays in midfield for his local team Bullas Deportivo who won their league this season and gained promotion.
His dream is to visit the Etihad and watch them play live along with one day playing for City - his favourite player is Kevin De Bruyne because of his incredible skill and eye for a pass.
One of the games he remembers well is the 9-0 semi-final Carabao Cup win against Burton Albion, watching so many goals go in and of course any game where we beat United.
KEVIN CUMMINS column
With the latest government announcement that fans will be allowed back to watch football soon - initially in limited numbers - it seems a good time to look back to the days when a full stadium was the norm.
I for one can’t wait to get off my sofa and watch a game in the cold and rain again - can you?
Here are some of my favourite City fan photos from my final season at Maine Road book: We’re Not Really Here.
For those interested in an unmissable Xmas present, I have several copies of the limited edition book available again.
Please email me for details: kevincummins.co.uk
With 16 years’ service, 491 appearances and 36 goals – Tommy Booth was a fantastic servant for Manchester City.
Tom featured in many great City sides between 1969 and 1981 having joined the Club as a trainee in 1965.
The Manchester born and bred centre-half was one of the most popular players in the dressing room – so who has he chosen for his Dream XI?
Take it away, Tommy…
“This wasn’t an easy task and I’m sure I’ve forgotten one or two of the lads, but here goes…
“In goal, I’m going for Joe Corrigan. When he first came into the team, he had no confidence and struggled, but he was sent out on loan to Shrewsbury where Harry Gregg was the coach and he came back a different player and went on to play for England.
“At right-back I can’t look past Tony Book. He’d signed as 32 year-old from Plymouth and had been playing non-League football a few years before that. So to come from there to lead City to the title and win the Footballer of the Year award is incredible.
“My left-back is Glyn Pardoe. Glyn started out as a striker but either Joe or Malcolm decided to try him at left-back and he just went from there. He used his left leg to stand on only, so how he managed to become the player he did as a right-footer, I’ve no idea.
“My central defensive partnership is Vincent Kompany and Mike Doyle – Vinnie was just a fantastic defender and Doyley just edges out Dave Watson.
“In midfield, I’m going for Kevin De Bruyne, Colin Bell and Yaya Toure. Colin was a supreme athlete and the total midfielder and De Bruyne reminds me of him a lot. Yaya was just magnificent when he was at his best and with all three, you’ve never seen them have a bad game.
“Up front, Franny Lee, Sergio Aguero and Mike Summerbee. Franny and Sergio are clever strikers and would guarantee goals. Buzzer was the hardest winger I’ve ever known and full-backs genuinely feared playing against him. He could drop back into midfield as and when needed.
“On the bench, Ederson, David Silva, Dave Watson, Peter Barnes, Rodney Marsh, Gio Kinkladze – what a player Gio was – and the great Denis Law.
“My management team would be Joe Mercer and Malcolm Allison – two complete opposites who complemented each other perfectly.”
MARC RILEY COLUMN
As the news trickles down to the great underbelly of British society that some supporters will be allowed to attend matches again fairly soon, I find myself in a strange situation where I’m being pulled both ways.
To explain. When I started recording my BBC 6 Music programmes in a spare bedroom at home it seemed really weird. Then after a few months it became what I can only describe as ‘normal’ …which in itself… is REALLY WEIRD!
So casting my mind ahead to the day when I might find myself ensconced within our glorious stadium again - but on said occasion possibly surrounded by just 3,999 other supporters - I truly don’t know if I’d find that even weirder than watching the Blues play on TV, in an empty stadium with computer game crowd noises added-on for effect!!
The vaccine is obviously the true light at the end of the tunnel, though I know it’ll be (I’ll use that word again if you don’t mind) WEIRD for a mate of mine when he visits ‘our place’ again - for it’ll be his first time there since he bobbed along to have himself tested…. for the virus!
I dunno. It’s like a cross between Roy Of The Rovers and a particularly outlandish Stephen King novel!
With lockdown, I like many others found that my clothes getting tighter and tighter. I did try to convince myself that this was because some unusual natural event has made the hot water in our washing machine simmer over into the realms of molten lava - and everything had shrunk in the wash. Ridiculous Marc. The shirts don’t fit because I’ve even too many biscuits and downed too much neck-oil. And the current no-sport lockdown hasn’t helped either.
In the end there was nothing else for it… I put myself on a diet.
AND WHILST I’M AT IT... WHY DIDN’T ANYONE TELL ME BEING ON A DIET IS INCREDIBLY BORING??!!
The wife and I fine-dined on a cheese and crisp sarnie a couple of days ago and you’d have thought I was a judge on MasterChef munching on a triumphant culinary creation.
Diets do seem to work though. I’ve lost anything between 8 and 10 pounds in 6 weeks. I feel better for it but the most satisfying aspect of this awful turn of events is that I can FIT INTO A LOT OF MY OLD ANTIQUE MAN CITY SHIRTS!!
Every cloud, eh?