February already... the season is picking up pace and this month looks like being a huge one for City.
So, what better than the new edition of the official Club magazine to get us off to a flyer?
Our cover star for February is very much one of our own - Phil Foden.
The 'Fatherhood & Fishing' feature on Phil is one of mancity.com's all-time most-read stories, so we look at why that might be and Phil gives his own opinion, as well as saluting the Club's Academy.
We also have extensive features on Hayley Raso and Laura Coombs as Gareth Taylor's side build up a head of steam in the search for silverware in the weeks and months ahead.
Former skipper and Matchday Live regular Andy Morrison predicts this month's scores (and you can also check how he got on in January).
Our Technical Area feature takes a look at the spectacular Etihad light shows we've been treated to recently and the logistics and thought processes behind them.
And being February, we have a look at games that succumbed to the weather over the years , while The List gives a nod to Valentine's Day with its most successful partnerships theme.
Our Best XI is a team made up of City pundits - something that would have been impossible 10 years ago because there weren't any!
Regular columnists Kev Cummins and Marc Riley are featured as well as a Cover Story on the Shaun and Bradley Wright-Phillips City Mag photoshoot from 2005.
We've also EDS (Alex Robertson) and Under-18 (Jacob Wright) interviews, a Julian Alvarez gallery and a delightful young Blues photoshoot with Club photographer Tom Flathers.
So, full steam ahead!
We speak to our homegrown playmaker as we revisit fishing, fatherhood and a popular story that just keeps giving…
When Phil Foden sat down to do a quick interview with one of the Club’s journalists in 2019, he couldn’t have imagined how popular the article that emerged from it would prove.
‘Phil Foden: Fatherhood and Fishing’ has proved to be the most viewed feature of all time on mancity.com.
Of course, there are news stories that are more widely read (the ‘City sign Erling Haaland’ type stuff), but Phil’s fisherman tale is our version of ‘Bat Out of Hell’ - Meatloaf’s 1977 best-selling album that was almost an ever-present on the UK and US charts for more than 20 years, selling 43 million copies in the process.
‘Fishing and Fatherhood’ hasn’t quite achieved those numbers, but it is regularly in our top 10 most-read features some three years after its publication.
Foden, unaware of its success prior to the interview, asks for the question of how he feels about its popularity to be repeated and then shakes his head.
“The most viewed on City’s website ever?” he smiles. “Wow? I’m not sure why that is! I’m trying to think why that might be? Maybe it’s because I’m a local lad and I am just a normal guy who finds it easy to relate to the fans.”
Harking back to the feature, Phil explains why he fell in love with fishing in the first place (or plaice!)
“I was probably about six or seven and my dad had a fishing rod that belonged to my grandad and said we should go and try it out," he recalled back in 2019...
"I fell in love with it and we ended up going every weekend. I still remember my first catch. It wasn’t very big, I was just learning, but it’s the excitement of when you get one for the first time.
"I think that’s the buzz that makes you want to go again, but it’s also a chance to chill and relax and to spend time with my dad.
“I think it’s really good after games when you have to rest your legs and I just find it really enjoyable.
“There’s tactics, too. Knowing in which spots to fish, knowing where the fish are, fishing at different lengths…
“There’s a lot behind it but when I get the odd day off, I fish simple. I’m not a specialist at it but I still manage to catch.”
Back to the present and Foden confirms not that much has changed…
“I do get out fishing whenever I can, but it’s too cold just now so I’m staying away from that until it warms back up again,” he says.
Ronnie Foden, Phil’s son, had not long since arrived in 2019 and Phil admitted becoming a dad had given him less time to sit on the riverbank.
Ronnie has featured in the City TV documentary series ‘Together: Champions Again’ where Jack Grealish suggests he might become one of the Club’s new physios as he plays around with a roll of bandages and inspects other medical equipment.
"What does Ronnie get up to?” smiles Phil when asked.
“I don’t think I have long enough to explain! It might be easier to talk about what Ronnie doesn’t get up to! He’s three years-old so I’m starting to encourage him to play a bit of football, but he’s only young so I don’t want to pressure him too much..
“Hopefully he can one day come to City’s Academy and recreate what I’ve done here – I suppose that is my dream and I hope that he can do it.”
The Academy is, of course, close to Phil’s heart and always will be.
It was there he gradually worked his way through the age levels, where it quickly became clear he was set to become one of the Club’s greatest homegrown talents.
Now 22, his breakthrough season was 2016/17 and with almost 200 appearances already under his belt, he is fulfilling all that early promise, and so much more.
"I am just all for the team. I just want to work hard in every opportunity that I get and it is all about just helping the team.
“The manager is going to mix the team up sometimes, but you have always just got to be ready to try and help when you are called upon.
“There is no secret. I think you don’t just get into the City team without deserving it with Pep. You have to show something, and you have to work hard in training. The likes of Rico (Lewis) and Cole (Palmer), they have worked extremely hard to get where they are now and to get the rewards they are getting.
“It is really nice to see because I know how they feel, I have been in their shoes before. It is nice for me to see Academy players alongside me in the first team.
“I have been through it before, and I understand the situation they are in. Hopefully when I speak to them, I can give them the right advice. In this place it is all about working hard and you will get your rewards.”
And perhaps one of Foden’s biggest catches could come this season, if City can successfully chase down a very confident-looking Arsenal side.
A foot injury sidelined him at the end of January, but he should be back and available for February's fixtures and beyond - including a top-of-the-table clash at the Emirates.
“They have a great manager in Mikel,” he says.
“We all knew how he was. You need the time, and you look now, and they look so strong in every department. It is not a surprise because we know what the Premier League is like and how tough teams are.
“It is a challenge for us now to step up and try to retain the Premier League. Mikel has got great ideas and understands how we play as well. He has taken that to Arsenal and now they play similar to us and look very strong.”
Despite the Gunners' form, Phil Foden, it seems, is not intending on this title race being ‘the one that got away’…
Former skipper Andy Morrison looks ahead to February’s match-ups…
It’s always tough when you play games against a side in quick succession, but we know we have the beating of Spurs after our 4-2 win at the Etihad last month. Antonio Conte’s team got one half right, one half wrong in the first meeting and I think this will be a more balanced clash – but expect us to edge it.
Mozzer’s prediction: Spurs 0-1 City
Unai Emery has had a positive effect at Villa Park, and they have travelled well under his leadership. But playing City at the Etihad is different and I think we’ll win this one in a canter because of the momentum we are building up.
Mozzer prediction: City 4-1 Aston Villa
How massive might this be? I wouldn’t call it a title decider with so many games remaining, but it has the potential to have a huge impact. We beat them in the FA Cup and if we can win here, it will put doubts in the minds of the Arsenal players and supporters, but at the same time, I don’t think it’s a game we can afford to lose. With so much at stake, I can see another tactical battle that ends honours even.
Mozzer prediction: Arsenal 1-1 City
We thrashed Forest 6-0 at the Etihad, and I can only see us winning this encounter as well. Forest have improved a lot since that first meeting and they are much better at home, but we have too much quality and I just can’t see us not winning comfortably.
Mozzer prediction: Forest 0-3 City
This is looking like a tougher game by the week as RB Leipzig continue to impress in the Bundesliga. They’re a lot better than the Leipzig side we played in the group stages last season and look quite dynamic on the counter. A clean sheet and scores level would be a great result to set up the return leg to come.
Mozzer prediction: RB Leipzig 0-0 City
Though Bournemouth had a real manager bounce under Gary O’Neil, at the time of writing they look to be in a downward spiral. If they stay up this season it will be a major achievement – but I don’t think they will, and I expect us to continue our winning run against them at the Vitality Stadium.
Mozzer prediction: Bournemouth 0-2 City
How did Andy get on last month?
Andy got five out of seven results right (Chelsea, Wolves, Spurs, Leeds and Arsenal), and predicted the 3-0 scoreline against Wolves correctly.
So far, he has predicted 22 results out of 30 correctly, and got two scorelines spot-on.
February is the month for celebrating great partnerships...
Valentine’s Day means love is in the air, whether romantic or platonic. That’s why this month we have chosen to look at the dynamic between players who complement each other’s styles perfectly.
Football requires strong partnerships all over the pitch, whether it’s a central defensive pair or a little and large front two.
We have had our fair share of these through the years, some burning brightly but fading out and some going on to define an era.
For this month’s edition of The List, we look at some of the most memorable double acts in our recent history...
Derek Parlane and Jim Tolmie
Manager Billy McNeil arrived at City in 1983 with a limited budget to build a squad that would fire City back to the top-flight.
McNeil signed both Parlane and Tolmie within five days of each other that summer 'on the cheap' with Parlane arriving on a free transfer and Tolmie for just £30,000.
By the end of the season, the duo had played a combined total of 82 games, scoring 34 times at a cost of just £365 per goal. For six months, they had outscored famously prolific Newcastle trio Kevin Keegan, Chris Waddle and Peter Beardsley!
Eyal Berkovic and Ali Benarbia
Another flame that burned brightly but faded sadly too soon. It’s no exaggeration to say that for a period in the early 21st century City had two of the most exciting playmakers in the country.
Both players arrived in 2001 as Kevin Keegan was looking to take the Blues back up. They orchestrated one of the most entertaining sides ever to play in the second tier, racking up 99 points and scoring 108 goals.
They remained for the following season as we closed the door on the Maine Road era with a comfortable Premiership finish. Both Berkovic and Benarbia ensured the famous old ground got a just farewell through attacking, all-action football.
Joleon Lescott and Vincent Kompany
All title successes are built on a strong defence. It’s an old adage but it rang true for Roberto Mancini’s side in 2011/12.
In a season that was defined by the most dramatic finish of all-time, it was City’s defensive record that played a key role in sealing our first Premier League title.
The Blues conceded just 29 goals across the 38 matches with club captain Kompany and Lescott at the heart of defence for the majority of the season. Both players started 31 times in the league, including in that all-important run-in.
Steph Houghton and Jen Beattie
As with the pair before them in this list, Houghton and Beattie were the driving force behind a defensive record that carried City to a title.
In 2016, City claimed 42 points from 16 Women’s Super League matches as we went unbeaten. Most impressively, we conceded only four times in that campaign.
That was largely down to Houghton and Beattie, who played 15 and 11 times respectively, in the middle of the back four with Lucy Bronze, Demi Stokes and Karen Bardsley completing the back five.
Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland
Still very much a fledgling relationship on the field, but one that already appears to be proving productive.
Haaland has started his first season at the Etihad Stadium on fire, flying ahead in the Premier League scoring charts, while De Bruyne is once again teeing up his team-mates more than any other player in the league.
Our No.9 already appears perfectly attuned to the Belgian midfielder’s delectable crosses. Every City fan will be hoping that continues for a long time to come.
With a smile etched across her face, Laura Coombs looked like she was still in a state of disbelief when she conducted her post-match interviews at the Etihad Stadium...
The midfielder had ghosted into the Manchester United box to head home an all-important equaliser from Chloe Kelly’s teasing ball earlier that afternoon in front of 44,259 supporters.
It looked for all the world like Bunny Shaw or her marker – Millie Turner – would make contact with the cross but, much to Coombs’ delight, her gamble had paid off.
“I just can’t believe the ball made it to me,” she grinned in her post-match interview.
“I thought: ‘Oh my god’ and it was probably the easiest chance I’ll ever get, but I’m really happy to have scored. It was a great day.
“Often goals come like that, against the run of play a little bit, but it took the sting out of them. It was an amazing feeling.”
A couple of months on from that historic occasion, the enormity of her strike has finally been allowed to gradually hit home.
One of City’s longest serving players having joined the Club back in 2019, it’s a moment which will take some topping.
But asked about any personal highlights during her time at the Academy Stadium, Coombs pauses briefly to consider her options.
She reflects: “There’s winning the FA Cup and of course the Continental Cup last year too, but probably one of the massive highlights was last month.
“At the Etihad Stadium against United in front of more than 44,000 people. Obviously, we’d have liked to have won, but to be there and score was a top day.
“I’ve watched it back a few times! I don’t know if I’ll ever feel something like that again.
“It was great and those are the moments you really work hard for. When it’s snowing outside, when it’s hard, you think of those moments.”
Coombs’ influence on the Manchester derby was just one of several impressive displays the midfielder has put on so far this season.
Afforded a more regular starting berth, the 31-year-old has grasped the opportunity with both hands and can rightly be considered one of City’s standout performers across 2022/23.
She is already enjoying a career-best season in front of goal and is among the top five in her position for chances created across the entire Barclays Women’s Super League.
And that quality on the ball is complemented by a tenacity without it, with Coombs having won possession in the final 1/3 more than any other midfielder in the top flight this year at the time of writing.
“Last year and the year before I’ve probably felt the same within myself that I could give that to the team… This year, I’ve taken my chances when I’ve been on the pitch and the manager always rewards that.”
The archetypal ‘unsung hero’, the midfielder’s importance has never been lost on either her manager or her team-mates, but her consistency across the campaign has also drawn attention from the wider footballing world.
Indeed, in December alone, she was named PFA Fans’ Player of the Month award, while also being shortlisted for the WSL Player of the Month award.
But for Coombs, her success is instead down to a relentless desire to improve rather than any particular catalyst.
That being said, she does admit that placing a greater onus on herself to create chances and link with team-mates higher up the pitch could be a contributing factor.
“I feel in myself this season that I’ve taken more responsibility to drive forward,” she admits.
“When you’re surrounded by so many good players it’s easy to think: ‘I’ll just give this to Lauren Hemp, I’ll just give this to Bunny Shaw, they’ll create something’.
“But it’s up to me to drive with the ball and release it to them where they can create the most damage and not just hope they can from the first instance.
“When I commit to something, I have to go and win it.
“If you go half-hearted and don’t win it you leave your team vulnerable behind you.
“For me, I just know as soon as I’ve made the decision to go, I have to go and win it.
“I’m super happy to have won the Fans’ Player of the Month, but it doesn’t change how I go into the month.
“I prepare the same for every game and go in wanting to play the best and contribute as much as I possibly can. The awards are nice, though!
“[My target] is just to keep bettering myself and compete with these players every day.
“On the weekend, I want to keep giving everything for the Club, my teammates and the fans. Hopefully it’ll be another great two years.
“I think [my form] is a culmination of playing with such top players and learning from them. It’s built and built.
“Last year and the year before I’ve probably felt the same within myself that I could give that to the team, but I’ve had amazing players to compete with in the position.
“This year, I’ve taken my chances when I’ve been on the pitch and the manager always rewards that. I’ve been quite lucky in that respect.”
“The game’s unrecognisable from when I was coming through as a young player… I just think: where is it going to be in the next ten years? It’s so exciting to be a part of that.”
Having initially made her breakthrough at Arsenal some 15 years ago, Coombs has witnessed first-hand the rapid growth of women’s football in the United Kingdom.
She’s delighted to have played a part in that upward trajectory and is incredibly excited by what is still to come long after she has decided to call time on her hugely successful career.
However, her position as one of the key figures in the sport’s continued rise is a responsibility that she certainly doesn’t take lightly.
Coombs said: “The game’s unrecognisable from when I was coming through as a young player. There was barely a family and their dog at the game on a Sunday [when I started] and now to go to that is the stuff of dreams!
“I just think: ‘where is it going to be in the next ten years?’ It’s so exciting to be a part of that.
“You know young girls are watching you on the pitch though and on social media and how we carry ourselves.
“It’s a big responsibility for us to pave the way and show the professionalism needed to get to this level.
“If they want to be there in the future, this is what they’re going to have to do.”
It’s a role that Coombs, as one of City’s experienced core, also takes incredibly seriously when it comes to the current squad.
After a summer of change, Gareth Taylor’s ambitious young side is certainly starting to take shape, exemplified by an incredible unbeaten run heading into February which stretches all the way back to September.
Being a part of that environment is one of the key reasons why she sees her future at the Academy Stadium.
“We’ve got a great group here that’s so ambitious and so driven. I’m happy to continue to be a part of that,” she explained.
“I feel that everyone who’s come in has already proven their worth. Although they’re young, they’re really experienced.
“A lot have been to the Euros and big tournaments. They’ve all fitted straight in, and I feel like I’ve known them a long time already.
“It’s a good group, we’re all on the same page and I think it’s a really good foundation for the future.
“As a longer serving player, I’m just really happy I can be in and around such top calibre players every day.”
After a 2022 bedevilled by injury, Alex Robertson has returned to action with a vengeance for our Elite Development Squad, armed with an even greater appreciation for football.
The 19-year-old midfielder has made a flying start to 2023, netting an eye-catching double in our superb 6-0 win over Arsenal in what was City’s first PL2 assignment of the New Year and his first full 90 minutes in almost two years.
Just for good measure, he then followed that up with another crucial strike in our 2-1 win over Brighton seven days later.
Those all-important goals complemented some hugely impressive all-round displays with Robertson illustrating why EDS head coach Brian Barry-Murphy believes he possesses all the potential attributes to go on and become a top-class box to box midfielder.
His impact was all the more eye-catching given the hurdles Robertson has been forced to overcome during the past year or so.
After furthering his experience with a loan spell at Scottish club Ross County in the summer of 2021, on his subsequent return to City at the turn of 2022, Alex’s progress was then interrupted by a longstanding hamstring injury.
Initially, it was thought he would only be sidelined for a brief period. Instead, a series of setbacks saw him eventually ruled out for seven frustrating months.
Having made an initial, carefully managed return to action late last year, Robertson has hit the ground running so far this year, revealing he is eager to make up for lost time.
But in reflecting on what has proved a test of character and resolve, he also believes his experiences whilst on the sidelines have only served to make him cherish the game even more.
“It’s mad really (looking back on the last couple of years),” Robertson reflected.
“I went on a loan spell two seasons ago now to Ross County. It was good experience and good learning ,but didn’t go to plan how we thought it would.
"My Dad (former Australia international Mark Robertson) suffered a few hamstring injuries as well along with other members of my family who had played football."
“So, I came back here and ended up staying past the January 2022 transfer window and then got injured and was out for seven months which was tough.
“Every time I came back, I played a few minutes and then got injured. It was a weird injury where like it wasn’t supposed to be seven months.
“People had warned me that when I first got it that hamstrings are tricky. You have to try and do everything right
“But I was like: ‘Yeah, I’ll be alright’. But I would recover, come back and the hamstring would be sore again, I would recover again, and the hamstring was sore again… it was just like a recurring thing for a long period.
“The tendon got injured first and then I recovered from that but then it was a neural pain in my hamstring where it was really, really sore.
“I had to get an epidural (back injection) and we thought that would solve it. Then it was sore again, so I had to get another epidural and then the third time it was like ‘why don’t we just leave it and see how it goes?’
“Hamstrings are always difficult, but it was really tough mentally.
“You see all your friends doing well. Of course, you are happy for them, but you are sat in the stands not being able to do anything.
“So, it was kind of hard, but I think coming back towards the end of last year was really good.
“I went away to both Morocco with the rest of the EDS squad and then Abu Dhabi for our December training camp.
“I then played in our December friendly against Girona and was on the bench for the Carabao Cup game against Liverpool.
“That alone for me made me really happy. Given the mental and physical pain I’d been through before that, to come back and be able to do that (be on the bench) was a really happy moment for me.
“It was so good and gave you that taste that you just want more of it! It was like ‘how can I get myself back on the bench, how can I look to try and make my debut?’
“Getting that taste just makes you want it more and more.
“Now I’ve been able to hit the ground running at the start of this year which was the plan and I’m really happy that I have done so and scoring a few goals too has been really good.
“And 100% the past year or so has made me appreciate football even more. It’s like sometimes football can be a bit hard for you and you can kind of fall out of love with the game which I did and I’m not ashamed to admit it.
“But when I came back it was like ‘This is why I love football'. I have got my passion back and I want to keep working hard to make it even better."
Thankfully back in action and fully fit once more, Alex is confident he can go from strength to strength looking ahead to the rest of the season and beyond.
And he is also adamant that all the tough times he has endured will only stand him in good stead going forward in coping with all the highs and lows that football tends to throw up.
“I do think there is a lot more to come,” Robertson added.
“When people watch me play, hopefully they can see that I can do both sides of the game. I can play as a 6, as an 8, as a 10. I can score goals., I can defend so it’s like I’m trying to improve my game so I can be that compete midfielder
“I love scoring goals; I enjoy creating goals and I really do enjoy defending too. I enjoy getting back and helping the team out to keep a clean sheet.
“And I think the more my fitness comes with that people will start to see it.
“The main things is trying to get stronger and hopefully there is a lot more to see from me.
“It’s like thanking the gods of football!
“I’m back playing, I’m healthy, I’m staying fit, and I think that is the main thing.
“You’ve got to count your blessings sometimes. It can turn around very quickly in football. You know you can be playing one minute and then be injured for the next six months.… everything can change really quickly
“I also think having these experiences so young is really good as well.
“It gets your mentality right as if you do get injured again you know that you have been through it before and can cope.”
How the weather can play a big part in proceedings, one way or another…
It’s that time of year when, inevitably, the weather pokes its nose in where it's not wanted.
Whether it is snow, torrential rain, gale force winds, frost, and ice or even thunder and lightning, games can be severely affected, postponed, or even abandoned due to Mother Nature's fancy.
Spring is not too far away, thankfully, but until the daffodils appear and the birds start to sing again, here are some games that fell foul to poor weather and didn’t see completion…
There have been 19 abandoned matches since the club first formed and City were losing in only one of those games – typical of the ‘luck’ that has sometimes dogged the Blues throughout history – at least, that was the case in the not-so-distant past.
There have been several particularly galling halts to proceedings, but none more so than the time Denis Law, a raw but deadly young striker recently signed from Huddersfield Town, scored a double hat-trick – yep, six goals – as City ran riot away to Luton Town in the FA Cup at Kenilworth Road.
City were leading 6–2 with only 69 minutes on the clock, but the dreadful conditions due to incessant rain that continued to fall meant the pitch became unplayable and referee Ken Tuck decided to end Luton’s misery by abandoning the game.
The home players and fans went home no doubt breathing a huge sigh of relief, but how young Law must have rued his misfortune after such an awesome display of finishing. The phrase ‘Typical City' could possibly have been heard at the rearranged game a few days later where City lost 3–1! The scorer? Denis Law – who else?
Only two games since 1969 have been abandoned and ironically, they have both been against Ipswich Town at Maine Road, with excess surface water being the reason each match ended before the 90 minutes were up.
The first occasion, in 1994, saw City leading 2–0 in a crucial Premier League game against the Tractor Boys and the decision understandably infuriated the home fans, though the deluge had made the game something of a lottery. Fortunately, this time the Blues won the revised fixture 2–1.
Then, in December 2000, Paul Dickov clawed City level in a Worthington Cup tie – also against Ipswich. Referee Graham Poll had seen enough and, with the water almost ankle-deep, took the players off. This time, Ipswich were the victors when the tie was rearranged, winning the game 2–1 in extra time.
Abandonments in more recent times are a rare occurrence at the highest level.
A few games must have come close to being called off, however – including the 1967 ‘Ballet on Ice’ against Spurs that was played on a pitch resembling an ice rink! City won that 4-1, though it remains a mystery how it was played in the first place.
In January 1980, City were 1-0 up against Tottenham at Maine Road thanks to a goal from Mike Robinson.
A deluge fell from the heavens that caused the referee to take the players off the pitch until the storm subsided.
In resumption, a sublime Glenn Hoddle goal in off the underside of the bar earned Spurs a 1-1 draw and the game was completed without further issue.
In April 2010, City made the short journey to Turf Moor to take on Burnley.
Roberto Mancini’s side were chasing Champions League qualification for the first time, but the exhilarating start must have stunned even the most optimistic City fan as the Blues went 3-0 up inside seven minutes thanks to goals from Emmanuel Adebayor, Craig Bellamy, and Carlos Tevez.
The heavy rain continued to fall, and City continued to score, with Patrick Vieira (20) and Adebayor (45) giving the Blues a 5-0 lead at the break.
As pools of water formed on the pitch, many wondered whether the game would reach its conclusion, and no doubt the home fans were desperately hoping it would be called off, but referee Alan Wiley allowed it to continue.
It felt like a race against time as the second half began, and, wisely, City players didn’t commit to any tackles that might make the officials deem the surface dangerous – even if the ball would stop dead in puddles all over the pitch.
Vincent Kompany added a sixth before the hour, and City carefully managed the time that remained – despite the home players’ protestations – and though the hosts pulled one back, the game reached its conclusion and City won 6-1.
In 2013, a home game against Fulham was paused while Lee Jackson and the rest of the ground-staff cleared the lines around the pitch as heavy snow fell.
Referee Mike Dean allowed the match to finish, with City winning 4-1 in near-blizzard conditions.
In 2016, City’s Champions League tie against Borussia Mönchengladbach was called off an hour before kick-off due to torrential rain and an electrical storm.
The teams had been announced and everything looked good to go, until the heavens opened, water covered the Etihad pitch, and the game was called off – at least for 24 hours.
And in 2020, with Storm Clara wreaking havoc around the UK, City’s home game against West Ham was called off.
“Due to extreme and escalating weather conditions and in the interests of supporter and staff safety, today’s match against West Ham has been postponed,” tweeted the Club.
So, if there is a gale blowing, thunder or lightning illuminating the Manchester skyline or heavy snow and ice everywhere, check the game is going ahead before you leave!
One of our official City photographers, Tom Flathers’ decided to round-up City-loving youngsters he’s come to know via their parents for a special ‘player style’ photo-shoot at the CFA. Here are the results, along with a brief Q&A about each young Blue!
Kimberley Walker-Jones’s daughter Daisey took part in the shoot. Kim tells us all we need to know about her City-mad daughter….
How was Daisey chosen?
The children are all massive City fans from when they were small. Daisey is from Tameside and has supported City since she was born (her first baby grow was a City one!) Her nickname (which she gave herself), is Daisey Blue!
How big a part of Daisey’s life do City play?
City are inspirational for Daisey, she loves all sport, and is particularly passionate about football, she often goes to the local sports centre where CITC hold free football sessions which she has so much fun. Whenever she is able to she loves going to the Etihad and the CFA to cheer on her boys and girls in blue.
Who are her heroes?
Her favourite first team men’s player is Phil Foden, as she has watched him progress from the Academy, and, as a local lad that means so much to Daisey. She also is a big fan of the women’s team, and really admires Esme Morgan as her favourite player, she identifies with her, as Daisey plays in defence for her school football team. Both these players are inspirational to Daisey, and she looks up to them as one day she wants to work in sport.
Did she enjoy the photoshoot?
Daisey had so much fun, interacting with all the other City fans; her favourite bit was having her photo with Moonbeam and Moonchester, she said they made her laugh a lot (even though they were sometimes naughty throwing balls around the studio which made her giggle). It was such a great experience and one she won’t forget in a long time. Thank you City for the opportunity!
Chelsea Farrington is the mother of Phoebe Averkou…
How was Phoebe chosen?
Phoebe’s Nana sent in a video of Phoebe cheering a goal on TV at Leicester City’s King Power Stadium for the FA Community Shield game against Liverpool.
What do City mean to Phoebe?
Phoebe attends all home games with her grandad and travels to cup games. She watches a lot of the away games on the TV. She has also recently started to go to the women’s games and has also recently joined a football team.
Who are her idols?
Phoebe heroine is Chloe Kelly. She also likes Erling Haaland and Jack Grealish, too.
Did she enjoy the photo shoot?
Phoebe really enjoyed the photo shoot, her favourite part was meeting Moonchester and Moonbeam.
Danielle Foy is the mother of Arlo Foy…
How was Arlo chosen?
Tom the photographer regularly sees and photographs Arlo at both home and away games and through this we have got to know him quite well.
How big a part of Arlo’s life do City play?
City are a huge part of Arlo’s life. He has been going to the Etihad since he was nine months old, and follows his beloved Blues home and away, just like his Grandad, dad and the rest of the family.
Who are his heroes?
His heroes are Sergio Aguero – partly for that amazing goal – even though he is also six and didn’t witness it in the flesh!
Did Arlo enjoy the photoshoot?
Arlo absolutely loved the shoot – and he especially loved pretending to be all his favourite City players.
Helen Evans is the mother of siblings Theo and Lottie…
How were your children chosen for the shoot, Helen?
Tom invited us along. He has taken photos of the crowd before at the ground and the kids always wave to him before games!
How big a part of their lives do City play?
Lottie: 'Everything because I've supported them my whole life!'
Theo: '110% they are everything to me.'
Who are your heroes?
Lottie: ‘Ederson - it's my dream to meet him and he is my inspiration - I wave to him before every game from my seat in the Family Stand and he always waves back.'
Theo: ' Kevin, I love to watch him play he is so good.'
Did you enjoy the photoshoot?
Lottie ' YES!!!!!!' 'It was so much fun with Tom - it was the best day ever!'
Theo: ‘it was amazing being in the studio where the City players go - it was so much fun with Tom'
Spurs v City
Previous league meeting: City 4-2 Tottenham
City recovered from conceding two goals in two minutes at the end of the first-half to produce a stunning second 45 and beat Tottenham 4-2 on another memorable night at the Etihad Stadium.
The Blues were at their irresistible best when it was needed most to repeat Tottenham's feat by scoring twice in two minutes early after the break through Julian Alvarez and Erling Haaland.
Two more from the excellent Riyad Mahrez completed a superb comeback by City who had to dig deep to turn this game around.
City one to watch: Erling Haaland
Erling Haaland was in sensational form during the first half of the season and he’s picked up from where he left off after the winter break.
The Norway international has scored three league goals in as many games since City’s return.
He is currently the highest scoring player in the game with 169 and could be on course to break the record points total by the end of the season.
Highest Tottenham points: Harry Kane
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Spurs captain has registered the most points across the north London side’s squad so far this term.
With 16 goals and five assist to his name in the league, his total reads 140 points.
City v Aston Villa
Previous meeting: Aston Villa 1-1 City
Erling Haaland continued his fine form in front of goal since his summer arrival by deftly volleying home Kevin De Bruyne’s looped cross to the back post.
The hosts hit back, however, with 15 minutes remaining when a driven ball across the box fell to Leon Bailey who unleashed an unstoppable first time effort into the top corner.
City one to watch: Phil Foden
Foden has somewhat gone under the radar in terms of FPL this term, and is currently City’s third highest points scorer.
His tally of seven goals and three assists so far this term could prove why he should be a Blues pick for the match against Unai Emery’s side.
Highest Villa points: Leon Bailey
The Jamaican winger has scored four goals and registered three assists in the Premier League, making him Aston Villa’s highest scoring player with 70 points.
Bailey scored and registered an assist in Villa's 2-1 victory over Leeds last time out at Villa Park.
Arsenal v City
Last league meeting: Arsenal 1-2 City
It’s been more than a year since we last faced the Gunners in the league after the original fixture date was changed due to HRH Queen Elizabeth II’s passing.
On New Year’s Day 2022, Pep Guardiola’s side edged an enthralling encounter at the Emirates Stadium as we came from behind to claim three points.
Bukayo Saka had given the hosts a half-time lead, before Riyad Mahrez equalised from the penalty spot shortly after the interval.
Tempers were flaring in the capital and the fixture reached fever pitch when Gabriel was sent off for the Gunners with 30 minutes-plus remaining.
With the match looking likely to end in a draw, Rodrigo snatched a vital three points for City when prodding home deep into injury time.
City one to watch: Rodrigo
After his heroics against Mikel Arteta’s side in our previous encounter with the Gunners, Rodrigo will be looking to stamp his authority on proceedings once again.
The Spain international scored his first goal of the season in our 3-1 triumph over Leeds at Elland Road and has played 24 games this term.
Highest Arsenal points scorer: Martin Odegaard
The Norwegian magician has played an integral part for Arsenal this season and has gained the most points at the London club with 117.
So far this term he has scored eight league goals and six assists this season in what’s been a spectacular campaign from Arteta’s side so far.
Nottingham Forest v City
Previous meeting: City 6-0 Nottingham Forest
Haaland bagged a hattrick inside 38-minutes against Steve Coopers’ side – his second for City.
The first came when he poked home Foden’s dinked ball into the box, which he followed up with a cool finish into an empty net and a powerful header to claim the match ball.
Joao Cancelo extended our lead further after half-time with a long-range effort, before Julian Alvarez netted an impressive brace at the Etihad Stadium.
City one to watch: Julian Alvarez
Although Haaland netted thrice against the East Midlands side, the World Cup winner’s double makes him the one to watch at the City Ground.
The 23-year-old has mightily impressed since arriving in the summer, and his pace and precision could cause Forest problems in February.
Alvarez has tallied 41 points in FPL this season.
Highest Forest points: Dean Henderson
The Manchester United loanee has produced a string of exceptional displays in net for Forest this term, which has helped them climb out of the relegation zone.
His total of 82 FPL points has been as a result of six clean sheets and a total of 54 saves in the league.
AFC Bournemouth v City
Previous league meeting: City 4-0 AFC Bournemouth
City extended our 100 percent start to the season with a dominant victory over Bournemouth in August 2022.
Ilkay Gundogan opened the scoring with his 50th goal for the Club, before Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden furthered our lead.
A Jefferson Lerma own goal saw us record a 4-0 victory on what was our first home game of the season.
City one to watch: Kevin De Bruyne
It was in the reverse fixture with the Cherries where the Belgian maestro scored his highest points in a single match (14).
And he’ll be hoping to play a starring role again against Gary O’Neil’s side.
The 31-year-old scored in the 4-0 success at the Etihad Stadium and registered an assist as we swept the south coast outfit aside.
Highest Bournemouth points: Philip Billing
Box-to-box midfielder Philip Billing is currently Gary O’Neil’s side’s highest point scorer this term with 65.
In the Cherries’ 2-1 victory over Leicester in October, the Denmark international recorded 10 points (his highest in a single match) after netting in the success and gaining three bonus points.
There was a time when a former City player doing TV punditry was a rare thing.
Today, the balance has been well and truly redressed with a healthy number of former Blues appearing on Sky, BT Sport, BBC, and Amazon.
Here is a team created of City pundits…
Manager: Uwe Rosler
Keeper: Shay Given
Shay has been appearing fairly regularly on TV of late and though he obviously has strong connections with Newcastle United, he’s often a guest when City play as well.
Left-back: Andy Hinchcliffe
Andy has been commentating for Sky Sports for a number of years and has become more prominent in recent seasons, covering cup matches and some Premier League games.
Centre-back: Joleon Lescott
Joleon has been a BT Sport regular for some time and pops up on other channels as well, with his calm, measured approach popular with viewers.
Centre-back: Nedum Onuoha
It seems Nedum was always destined to become a TV pundit. Intelligent, self-depreciating and informed, Nedum began podcasting while playing in the USA before joining the BBC as a weekend regular, columnist and co-commentator.
Right-back: Micah Richards
Anyone who knew Micah before his playing career ended knew he was made for TV. Few could have imagined quite how quickly his star would rise, however, with our former right-back one of the nation’s most prominent voices over the past couple of seasons.
Midfield: Pablo Zabaleta
It’s a midfield berth for Zaba in this team with his old rival Micah taking the right-back honours – but he did play some of his City career (albeit very briefly) in midfield so the BBC World Cup 2022 pundit can slot in a very combative central trio…
Midfield: Nigel De Jong
Get your shin pads on! Zaba and De Jong in midfield – ouch – and our Dutch enforcer was a superb pundit during the World Cup 2022 – but on ITV.
Midfield: Michael Brown
Completing a trio of bone-crunchers is Michael Brown – Michael pops up often on BBC Sport, occasionally on Sky and is also a Matchday Live regular as a co-commentator for Ally Mann.
Forward: Uwe Rosler
Our former terrace idol and much-travelled manager spent a good couple of years working for European broadcasters covering Scandinavian and German Champions League matches in particular. Uwe gets a player-manager duties in this team as the most experienced in this squad.
Forward: Niall Quinn
He doesn’t do Sky Sports anymore, but Quinny was memorably the co-commentator to Martin Tyler the day City won the title in 2012 against QPR.
Forward: Shaun Goater
Plenty of goals in this forward three – Goat has done work for various media organisations, but he norwpredominantly appears as a pundit on our Matchday Live show.
Steve McManaman, Steve Howey, Andy Morrison, Gareth Barry, Richard Dunne, Paul Dickov
COVER SHOOT: JANUARY 2005
As the former editor of the physical City Magazine, this cover remains one of my favourites.
Shaun Wright-Phillips was at the peak of his powers at City while younger brother Bradley remained on the periphery of the senior team, playing here and there, and gaining popularity among the City fans in the process.
Shaun was always a delight to deal with and Bradley was cut from the same cloth - a lovely lad who was always approachable and friendly.
Both Shaun and Bradley were more than happy to pose for the cover of the magazine – all we had to do was figure out where was the best place to do it.
A photoshoot was arranged after training in midweek and after the lads had trained, showered, and eaten, they met me in reception at Carrington and we tried to work out where was best to go.
An urban setting in central Manchester would have been great, but Carrington was well away from town, and we settled on getting a location nearby instead.
We always tried to get a knockout cover and invariably hired a freelance photographer to take the picture – Mark Waugh and Scott Kershaw were two of our favourites – and it wasn’t long before we found the perfect backdrop.
It was at the back of the main Carrington building, with a plain concrete wall located near the groundsman’s storage shed.
The end result was perfect - two brothers, relaxed and smiling and the shoot couldn’t have been easier or better.
Still one of the best City Mag covers and, in my garage at home, I still have an A1 size image of this photograph that I promised to deliver to Shaun 18 years ago – I will endeavour to dig it out and hand it over next time he’s on Matchday Live…
BBC 6 Music DJ and lifelong Blue Marc Riley continues to find other City fans with interesting stories to tell...
The subject of this months grilling is JOE BUTTERFIELD. A fellow Blue who I follow on Twitter.
Joe is 30 year old Marketing Officer and grew up in Crumpsall, Manchester, now living in Heywood. He is a contributor to a City fansite and has done various other bits of Manchester City fan content over the years.
WHAT IS YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY OF GOING TO A FOOTBALL MATCH?
My earliest memory at a football match would probably be going to watch Stockport v Wolves, as my dad was a Wolves fan. Wolves won the game 4-1 and the main memory I have from the game is watching ex-City Mark Kennedy smash a left footed volley into the top corner before being completely bowled over by the away fans in the Wolves end. Maybe it’s knowing he used to play for City that turned me to City instead of Wolves!
WHAT IS THE MOST PECULIAR OR MEMORABLE THING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED TO YOU AT A CITY GAME?
I was watching us play against Celtic in the Champions League once and, as Celtic took the lead early in the game, a few people a couple of rows in front looked like they were getting quite giddy and one of them couldn’t help but cheer as the goal went in. The stewards came over to get them and escort them out as fans around them complained that a Celtic fan was in the wrong end and, as he finally gave up and accepted he had to leave the ground, the Celtic fan who cheered whipped his jacket open to reveal a full Celtic shirt and scarf, waving the scarf around the top of his head as if it was some great victory. I think we equalised a few minutes after he’d left, so the joke was on him in the end.
IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME AND PREVENT ONE MATCH FROM BEING PLAYED - WHAT MATCH WOULD THAT BE - AND WHY?
It has to be that Spurs Champions League quarter-final at the Etihad. I don’t think any moment in football has ever made me feel as deflated as that Sterling goal being disallowed, especially as somebody who was inside the ground at the time and none the wiser as to what was actually happening with VAR at the time. Wipe that one from the history books, please!
WHAT IS THE MOST MEMORABLE CITY GOAL YOU HAVE WITNESSED? (“Aguerooooooo…” aside…)
It’s got to be Vincent Kompany’s goal against Leicester. It’s an absolutely fairytale ending for a player who (though we didn’t know it at the time) was on the brink of leaving the club. For our greatest club captain to bow out in such a way at the Etihad was pretty special. I don’t think I’ve celebrated many goals quite that much in my life, it was the stuff of dreams.
HAVE YOU EVER MET ONE OF YOUR MAN CITY HEROES? IF SO - WHO… AND HOW WAS THE EXPERIENCE?
I haven’t actually met any of my City heroes unfortunately – Pablo Zabaleta remains at large! However I did have a dream once that Zaba, Aguero and Nigel De Jong were in a café with me and, despite my best efforts to get a picture with them, my phone wouldn’t let me take a picture. Perhaps that’s a sign that I’m destined never to meet any of them...
WHO IS YOUR MOST FAVOURITE CITY PLAYER OF ALL TIME?
It’s got to be Pablo Zabaleta. For me he’s the man who embodies the attitude of the fans. Always worked hard, would always put his body on the line (often his head) and just gets what it means to play for City. We’ve obviously signed a lot of brilliant players from top clubs and this isn’t a slight on any of them, but I feel like signing Zabaleta from a club that wasn’t already as big as City became during his time at the club meant that he was always quite humble and didn’t take the success of the club for granted, which again is something which perfectly encapsulates how the fans feel. He was also the best right-back in the league for a large period of his time at the club. The fact he adopted a Manc accent during his time here is just the cherry on top. Every so often, if I feel like torturing myself, I go back and watch the video on City’s YouTube where he says goodbye to the fans by surprising them and make myself sad all over again.
IF YOU COULD PICK ONE CURRENT CITY PLAYER TO BE ON YOUR PUB QUIZ TEAM - WHO WOULD IT BE - AND WHY?
It has to be Rodri, doesn’t it? I’d wager he’s the most intelligent man in the team (although Akanji’s pushing him close with his super calculator brain). He just seems like he’d know loads of random facts from his time studying while at the club, which can’t hurt your chances of winning a pub quiz."
Let there be light…
Night games at the Etihad have become something extra special in recent times.
The pre-match entertainment has hit new levels with the impressive light shows just before kick-off, arguably peaking for the FA Cup tie with Arsenal when lasers projected the team and player images onto the pitch.
CITY MAGZINE caught up with one of the Club’s integral parts of the pre and post-game music, light shows and more besides, Oliver Hamer…
CITY MAG: The light shows have been in operation for a few seasons now – how did the idea first come around?
OLIVER HAMER (OH): “The proper use of controllable lighting probably first came in about 15 years ago into sporting arenas to enhance the fan experience by adding a touch of theatre and drama. Our lighting system back then was a bit old school, whereas Chelsea and Twickenham had installed first generation LED lights maybe a year before, so I went to Stamford Bridge to have a look at what they had and how they were using them. In truth, we arrived pretty late on the LED scene, but we got there eventually! They are less expensive to run and kinder to the planet, but once you have LED lighting, you are immediately into the light show territory. But it’s been a journey to get where we are and a lot of people throughout the cub have contributed hugely – its been a massive team effort - that’s been our journey over the last few years.”
CITY MAG: Did we have to install additional lighting to achieve this?
OH: “Yes. We had to replace the old system with an entirely new system which made what we had better for the TV requirements for the pitch lighting levels. We were pretty clever with the way we did it though as alongside the pitch lights we installed data, rigging points and a control mechanism for additional theatrical lights. By adding data control points around the stadium, we can bring in temporary lights to enhance any shows we do. We have 12 alongside the East catwalk, 12 on West and six on either end of the stadium and we can hire these temporary lighting fixtures that do a better job and help achieve what we are trying to do in order to create a show. So, the answer is yes, when we do a light show, we bring in additional lighting to enhance what we already have installed. This means we can be different to everyone else because other clubs are generally restricted to using their floodlights to create a light show and once you’ve seen one floodlight show, you’ve seen them all. It’s difficult to make it fresh every time so we try our best to mix it up. We might use lasers in one game, light beams in another with a colourwash and we base our show on the fixture we have also have our lighting at pitch level on the East side touchline which enables us to change the show every time if we need to.”
CITY MAG: Where did the idea of lasers come from and how do they operate?
OH: “We’ve had lots of different light fixtures and they all create different effects. Once we get a heads up that we will be having a show, we will sit down and figure out what the story is we want to tell – we don’t just want to flash lights or lasers just for the sake of it – it has to mean something and be palatable to our supporters. We want to entertain everyone, but particularly families and kids who love it, but it’s just as important to have our lifelong core following enjoy it, or at least accept it as well! Our aim is to keep it fresh, interesting, and always be doing something different. It’s a challenge, but the Club encourages us to go for it and the backing we get is incredible.”
CITY MAG: How did you get the players’ faces onto the pitch before the Arsenal game?
OH: “That’s achieved with single line drawings, drawn by an artist who gets the closest likeness to a player possible. It’s quite tricky because we want everyone in the stadium to know it’s the player we are wanting to show and not project an image that looks like the infamous Cristiano Ronaldo statue! We spent a lot of time doing that, because we don’t want to embarrass the player or the Club. Once the image is drawn and in the system, we can have a bit of fun with the name and the squad number.”
CITY MAG: The light show has got progressively better – what are you looking to do in the future, and will there be any more this season?
OH: “We have some ideas, but we are keeping our cards close to our chest! Whatever we do, we want to make sure we are first to do it, but we are limited in what is possible. It’s all about pushing the boundaries because if you are putting on eight or nine light shows per season, it could get pretty boring, pretty quickly. We are still on our journey, and we are learning what works and what doesn’t, but the biggest question we always ask ourselves is, ‘What is the purpose? What are we trying to achieve?’ Is it to enhance atmosphere, announce the team, tell a story… there has to be a purpose – not just to flash some lights. Once the light show and the theme and purpose has been decided, the next big thing is the soundtrack that goes with it. Music is the most important thing to nail down and once you have, then the whole event can be planned properly, and we are fortunate to have somebody on board who can marry up the dramatic aspects of the show to music that works for our supporters. Part of my job is ensuring the music we use is appropriate to the club and we are fortunate to have someone as part of the team who understands our needs perfectly for the light show to work and for it to be dramatic and theatrical with various punctuation points to be able to sync to. We are lucky that we have a Club who back these sort of things wholeheartedly, and I know many other clubs watch what we are able to do with envy. In Jeremy Maxton, Head of Events at Manchester City, we have a massive advocate for what we do, which is brilliant and somebody who makes it all happen.”
CITY MAG: What’s the feedback been like?
OH: “Very good overall. One of the players posted their laser image on Instagram so I guess they were happy! Mostly, we hear the kids love it and if they are happy, their parents invariably are. Its mainly for the kids – to get them hooked. We need to be ahead of other teams in what we offer and we’re trying to stay fresh. I think some of our CTID fans have warmed to it – not everybody likes it though, it’s impossible to please everyone, no matter how hard we try. But that’s ok, we try really hard to make it work for everyone including our core of diehard supporters. On the whole, our surveys suggest it’s really well liked though, and the feedback is pretty positive. But we can have too much of a good thing and the best thing is to leave people wanting more! We have a Champions League game coming up and that might be the last chance we have this season before this sun comes up – so we’ll do something for that which will be fun, and then look to next season.”