Welcome to the March edition of the City Magazine!

We’re nearing the so-called ‘business end’ of the season as the title race intensifies and various cup competitions edge towards a conclusion.

City go into the final three months of the campaign well placed in the Premier League, into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and in the Champions League Round of 16 where our tie with RB Leipzig is delicately poised.

In the FA Women’s Super League the Blues are challenging for the title and the Women’s FA Cup, while our EDS and U18 teams both top their divisions.

Not a bad place to be as a football club!

Our latest issue reflects the progress of all our teams, starting with cover star Bernardo who talks about his variety of roles in the team and how Pep Guardiola has helped shape him as a player.

We also speak to Finley Burns, Filippa Angeldahl, Laia Aleixandri and Michael Brown in this issue, not to mention look at a classic Maine Road photoshoot with Doves and dig out a Time Machine interview with Micah Richards from 2006.

Staying with former Academy graduates, we look back at a Joey Barton City Mag cover and reveal the backstory to it and we also catch up with Club archivist Steph Alder in Technical Area.

And ex-skipper Paul Power is the focus of our ‘Then & Now’ feature, while Andy Morrison predicts the scores of next month’s matches.

Plus, as always, loads more.

Enjoy the issue!

Bernardo is here, there and literally everywhere as he spearheads City's bid for more silverware ...

It’s hard to believe it is more than six years ago since Bernardo Silva shone like a beacon as City took on Monaco in the Champions League. 

In a team that included Kylian Mbappe, Fabinho, Thomas Lemar and many others, Bernardo – Monaco’s brilliant, diminutive No.10 – was superb and immediately caught the eye of City fans who dreamed of him playing alongside our own magician, David Silva. 

Though City won an exhilarating game 5-3, it set up the return leg perfectly, and Bernardo was again outstanding as the French side won 3-1 and progressed to the quarter-finals on away goals. 

But Bernardo had done enough to put him top of the Club’s summer shopping list and as soon as the 2016/17 campaign ended, the Blues snapped up the Portuguese playmaker on a five-year deal. 

At the time, Bernardo said: "It feels great. To be honest I'm now at one of the best teams in the world. To be part of this club and to have this opportunity is great. I'm very happy to be part of Manchester City's team, and I look forward to trying to do my best to help the team reach their goals. 

"Pep is, if not the best coach in the world, then certainly one of the best. Of course when you have the opportunity of being trained by him, you don't say no. As we all know, what he did in Barcelona and Bayern Munich was amazing, and we expect also here that he will win titles. It's great to be working with him and to have this opportunity." 

That was then, this is now.

Now, fast approaching 300 games for City, Bernardo is in his sixth season at the Etihad and has been one of the Club’s most popular players for the majority of that time. 

With 11 domestic winner’s medals under his belt – four as a Premier League winner – he remains an integral part of Pep Guardiola’s side with his creativity, work-rate, and flexibility part of the reason he has become such a crowd idol. 

His selfless approach to everything he does in a Manchester City shirt has probably never been illustrated more by his recent stint at left-back where he has been outstanding

And in a career that is closing in on 500 games at club level for Benfica, Monaco, and City, he admits occasionally playing in defence – though hardly as a traditional left-back it must be said – is something he hasn’t really experienced before. 

“It’s a little bit of a different position to those that I’m used to,” smiled Bernardo. “It’s not my normal role, but it’s a position from which I can help the team in certain moments as our full-backs contribute a lot in this phase by attacking on the inside, rather than the outside.  

“It’s not been easy because adapting to a new place in the team is always difficult, but I’m always ready to help the team wherever I can, and I always try to give my all in the best way possible from that position and to give the maximum to achieve what the team need.” 

City haven’t embarked on what has become a trademark winning run as yet this season – with the win streaks of past seasons being the bedrock of numerous title triumphs. By the Blues’ own lofty benchmarks, there have also been one or two results that have been disappointing as the campaign moves into the final third. 

But Bernardo believes it is good to self-examine and always push to improve. 

“I think that it’s a good thing,” he said. “It’s a sign of how much we’ve won in the past, of us continuing to win, and so it’s natural that when things don’t go as we’d like them to we are disappointed.

"It’s a sign, a sign that our standards are high and if we want to be champions again, they will need to be high."

Among the Portuguese playmaker’s legion of fans is his manager, Pep Guardiola, who has repeatedly stated his admiration for the tireless efforts and intelligence Bernardo provides for the team. 

"Pep is a legend through his tactics. It’s also about what he does on a day-to-day basis"

Last August, the boss said: “What amazes me about Bernardo is that when the game is going wrong he makes a step forward, he loves to play in this situation. He's comfortable with it.  

“Some players maybe step backward, and he makes a step forward. That's why he is irreplaceable in many ways for us.” 

It is an admiration Bernardo reciprocates in full. 

“Pep is a legend through his tactics. It’s also about what he does on a day-to-day basis, for controlling what we can, training well to give our best, learning from what we see every day, so that we are in a position to win games and titles.  

“That’s what he demands on a day-to-day basis, it’s such an important aspect of this club, a philosophy that we have lived by for the last few years and that we keep trying to do.” 

And in Bernardo, City have a player who is indeed the heart and soul of the team with a mixture of skill, industry and intelligence that is hard to match...

Former skipper Andy Morrison looks ahead to March’s encounters and predicts what may happen… 

Had this game been played a month or six weeks ago, I’d be more worried than I am right now. Selhurst Park is always a tough place to go and Palace are capable of hurting bigger teams, but we are looking focused, our intensity is back at its best and we are hopefully coming into top form at just the right time, so I’m going for another narrow win.

Mozzer’s prediction: Palace 1-2 City

After securing a 1-1 draw in Germany, I expect us to progress comfortably at the Etihad. RB Leipzig are a good team and it won't be an easy game, but our desire to win this competition should see us over the line and into the quarter-finals.

Mozzer’s prediction: City 3-1 RB Leipzig

It will be fascinating to see Vincent Kompany return to the Etihad with his Burnley team. They have been unstoppable all season and will come full of confidence and around 7,000 fans. On paper, it looks like a straightforward home win, but I think it will be really tricky – but I expect us to edge it and book a date at Wembley.

Mozzer’s prediction: City 3-2 Burnley

This game worries me. Liverpool have been misfiring all season but – at the time of writing – look like they are getting important players back from injury and I still think they’ll make a big push for the top four in the months that remain. That makes this a tough game because they’ll also want to prove a point, no matter how off-colour they've been and if they can derail our title challenge, they will. We were unlucky to lose at Anfield earlier this season and I think we’ll have to come from behind in this game – but we’ll take a point this time

Mozzer’s prediction: City 1-1 Liverpool

How did Andy get on last month?

Andy got three out of six results right (RB Leipzig, Bournemouth and Villa) but had no correct scores.

So far, he has predicted 25 results out of 33 correctly, and got two scorelines spot-on.

Chasing some of the biggest titles in football brings with it a world of pressure.

As well as the high stakes matches watched by millions, life as a professional footballer means lots of time away from home.

That’s why when players aren’t training or playing, they’re encouraged to find other passions that act as a vital release to ensure they can be at their best when it really matters.

For this month’s The List, we pick out some of our players and what they most enjoy doing away from the football pitch...

Our 22-year-old England international loves fishing so much that he missed the players’ private 2018 title celebrations for a pre-planned fishing trip with his dad.

The Academy graduate knows it’s a hobby that sets him apart from most other players of his generation, but has encouraged them to give it a go.

“Obviously, they need to go and try it. I think it’s the perfect hobby to rest your legs and have some down time,” he told us for a feature in 2019.

The forward credits his dad for getting him into the sport and claims his biggest catch is a 130lb catfish while out in Spain.

Hemp plays football at high pace but it’s a more leisurely active she prefers off the pitch.

Our winger, a four-time PFA Young Player of the Year, put together a Lego typewriter while in the team hotel during last summer’s EURO 2022 tournament.

Since then she has also done the Camp Nou, which she insists took her ‘ages’.

“I’m quite enjoying the Lego,” she said during the Euros.

"I’m always doing that in my room just to keep occupied because sometimes I don’t like sitting there watching TV. I like cracking on with things.”

Last year’s documentary series ‘Together: Champions Again!’ revealed our Dutch defender’s love of the classical instrument.

The 27-year-old taught himself how to play during the COVID-19 lockdown and says it has become an important part of his life.

"It settles me down and helps me to think about nothing other than the piano. It's nice sometimes to be away from everything," he says about his hobby.

As we saw in a video in 2022, Rodrigo loves to whack away any frustrations. Just like his compatriot Jon Rahm, our man can hit a mean ball.

It’s not just physical activities that our No.16 gives his energy to though.

During his final two years in Spain, and his first two at City after signing in 2019, the classy midfielder was enrolled at Universidad de Castellon in eastern Spain.

Not only did he feature prominently for both Villarreal and Atletico Madrid before switching to Pep Guardiola’s side, he obtained a degree in business administration.

Living in his city centre apartment, Bernardo was keen for an excuse to head out for a walk on a day off. Enter John.

Named after Bernardo’s great friend and our defender Stones, John isn’t necessarily the best dog for helping our Portuguese midfielder to see the glorious countryside that surrounds Manchester.

“If he’s warm and has food he is happy,” said Bernardo about his dog in a City Studios video in 2021.

“He loves to stay at home and he loves to sleep. We try to take him out of the city but he hates it!”

Many players - EA SPORTS FIFA 23

It’s no secret that footballers love a video game. It makes perfect sense. After a heavy training session, it’s the perfect activity while resting to go again the following day.

And for our squad, it may mean getting to play as themselves.

Ask anyone at the Club and there will be fierce debate about which player is the best.

However, in a recent video we saw Phil Foden, Kalvin Phillips, Cole Palmer and Nathan Ake all defeat streamer and Matchday Live presenter FG. In fact, Cole Palmer beat him four times in a row!

As adaptations to new surroundings go, Laia Aleixandri’s at Manchester City has been hugely impressive. 

The move to the Academy Stadium represented her first foray outside of her native Spain at just 21 years old, but that swift transition perhaps comes as little surprise when scratching under the surface. 

The defender had highlighted her versatility as a key attribute during her first interview at the City Football Academy following a summer move from Atletico Madrid, describing herself as a “tactically intelligent player”. 

That self-assessment has certainly been well founded with Aleixandri operating as a centre-half, a full-back and in midfield inside her first six months at the Club. 

Her quality on the ball and positional intelligence – forged across five senior years in the Spanish capital after initially working her way through the ranks at Barcelona - have consistently shone through in a City side known for fluid play. 

However, while the 21-year-old has demonstrated all of the ability and flair synonymous with footballers from her homeland, she also possesses a tenacity and grit with which the English game is often daubed. 

In short, it’s been a seamless transition for the most part, but Aleixandri has still noticed some key differences between the style of football she is adapting to, and the one she left behind. 

But with a typical quiet confidence, it’s a challenge which she has not only met head on, but one which she seems to be relishing. 

“It is true that it is quite different in terms of football level,” she reflects. 

"You need a much higher pace. You have to know how to handle match timings, but I think I'm quite happy with it. At Manchester City we know how to keep the ball during the game." 

“Off the field it's also a bit different, right? I think it's because of the culture, but football here is very professional. People enjoy all the games and the stadiums where you go... you have to appreciate that. 

“What I have really learned the most is communication. A new language is very important on the defensive line. 

“You see everything from behind, you can communicate with your teammates, and you can solve any situation very quickly during a match. 

“I think that is what I have learned the most during these months. 

“I am very demanding of myself. I am a team player that I like to contribute somehow. To play in different positions is very positive for me. I try to face it in the best way to contribute and to win.” 

That the defender pinpoints communication as a particular focus speaks volumes. 

Aleixandri conducted her first interview at the Club in her native tongue but, fast forward to February 2023 and the 21-year-old now greets CITY MAGAZINE warmly in English, before explaining some of the pastimes she has enjoyed so far when away from the pitch. 

To demonstrate the extent of her transition, she even instigates a classic conversation which has become synonymous with the United Kingdom – the weather! 

“I do miss the good weather in Spain,” she laughs when asked how she is settling into a new environment. 

“But I feel very supported by my colleagues, the team and what surrounds me in my daily life. 

“I am very happy to continue exploring new places in Manchester. I really like doing different routes with my dog, with my partner, especially walking and discovering the city whenever I can. 

"I love discovering new restaurants too. These activities help me to disconnect." 

Both on and off the pitch, it’s clear to see that Aleixandri is thriving. The same can certainly also be said of Gareth Taylor’s side as a collective. 

A well-documented slow start to the campaign is now a distant memory for a side who – at time of writing – have lost just once since September. 

Yet to taste defeat on home soil in 2022/23, we’re firmly in the mix for silverware this season as the final furlongs of the WSL campaign gallop into view. 

Aleixandri has been at the centre of that success, instantly cementing herself as an important cog in the well-oiled City machine.  

But the defender insists there is still plenty of work to do if we’re to translate this fine run of form into tangible results. 

“Good results are always good for the player. They are connected to our level of form,” she explains. 

“We always want to improve and win game after game. I think that this has to be the mentality of the team. 

“I took the step of joining the Cityzen Family to continue winning. I have a lot of competitive ambition. I want to end this season with a title. 

“The new players had just arrived [at the start of the season]. There was a good squad, but the new players had to fit in the team. 

“I think this affected us at the beginning of the season. However, the team knew how to turn the situation around, compete and win.” 

While the consistent message from Gareth Taylor and the team has been to take each game as it comes, victory over Arsenal at the beginning of February was perhaps the largest statement of intent from City during our impressive run of form. 

Having lost in extra time to the Gunners in the Continental Cup semi-finals earlier that week, Gareth Taylor’s side welcomed our opponents to the Academy Stadium less than three days later. 

And in front of more than 4,500 supporters, City were in control from the get-go, with first half goals from Lauren Hemp and Chloe Kelly setting the tone for a memorable performance. 

Three points enabled us to leapfrog Arsenal into the top three, but the impact that both the victory and performance had on the players transcended our position in the table. 

Indeed, reflecting on the result, goalscorer Hemp’s immediate reaction was that it demonstrated City’s ability to mix it with the other WSL heavyweights. 

Aleixandri – who operated at left-back that afternoon – agrees with that sentiment, believing our triumph over the Gunners could prove significant as the title race begins to take shape. 

She said: “I believe it can be a turning point in our minds and in our competitive character. 

“From the beginning, we must have that mentality of wanting to win everything, of wanting to win game by game. 

“It was a league game in which we couldn’t lose if you want to continue [pushing for the title]. We are very ambitious. 

“We are also super grateful to the fans because they always encourage us towards victory. 

“They are very important to us. Knowing that we were sold out for that big game made us very happy.” 

Elite Development Squad defender Finley Burns believes the challenges of an eventful 2022 have only served to help make him a better player and person and appreciate football all the more.

After making his senior City debut in our 6-0 Carabao Cup win over Wycombe in September 2021, the cultured centre back subsequently spent the second half of the 2021/22 season on loan at Championship side Swansea City.

Though he didn’t play as much first team football as he would have liked during his spell at the Liberty Stadium, in retrospect Burns believes those six months living and working in south Wales proved invaluable in his long-term development.

Not only did it arm him with an even greater appreciation for football, he says it also helped him to grow and develop as a person.

And if any evidence were needed, the proof in the pudding lies in his superb showings so far this term.

Having made 15 league appearances to date, Burns has made a huge impact in our rise to top spot in Premier League 2 this season, with the 19-year-old also forming a superb partnership at centre half with Jadel Katongo.

“I’m really enjoying it and loving every minute that I’m playing,” Finley reflected.

“Seeing where we are in the table speaks for itself. Personally, playing in defence and watching our attack has been a joy.

“It puts a little less pressure on us. Of course we still have to do our job but when there are goals flying in at the other end it just gives us more confidence that if we deliver the goals will come.

“For me, I feel like going away (on loan) for six months last year taught me a lot, especially when I wasn’t playing.

“I had to deal with things off the pitch which I hadn’t faced much in my career before, and you don’t realise how much you miss it until you are not there on the pitch.

“I learned so much. More than I ever expected. I faced things I never thought I would face in my career.

“It’s not always going to be a smooth ride to the top and there will be ups and downs.

“But I didn’t expect it to hit me that hard as when I first went there, I was flying. I was playing really well. Then I dropped out of the team and that really hit me.

“I was training every day and working as hard as possible to try and get back in the team, so I learned a lot.

"I learnt so much and I’m actually grateful that I went through that hard spell as hopefully I can look forward and carry on.

“And when you do play again it make you appreciate football even more. When you do get back you think: ‘Wow what a feeling’ and all that hard work and sacrifice is worth it.

“In terms of playing next to Jadel, I think we do complement each other, and he is a pleasure to play alongside.

“Considering how young he is, he is brilliant for his age. I always know that he has got my back and vice versa and I always try my best to make sure that I look out for him.

“As a whole defensive unit, it starts from the front with the boys applying pressure but if we are talking about the defence specifically it has been unreal working with them.

“I mean Lakyle Samuel is only just 16 and its crazy considering the talent that he has got. It has been working very well recently and fingers crossed it continues that way.”

Burns believes one of the key factors in our drive for what would be an unprecedented third straight PL2 title has been the influence and guidance of head coach Brian Barry-Murphy.

Armed with extensive experience in the Football League after an impressive career as a talented midfielder with Preston, Sheffield Wednesday, Bury and Rochdale, Barry-Murphy then enjoyed a successful spell as manager at Spotland, before succeeding Enzo Maresca as EDS head coach in the summer of 2021.

Since then, his role and impact has been profound and Burns says the way Barry-Murphy has also developed and further cultivated the close bond within the group also speaks to his managerial and people skills.

“Brian’s brilliant and I think considering the experience he has had in the Football League as a player and a manager he has a great knowledge in football,” Burns added.

“He helps us get into the game and have a good insight into what real life is and this is what he is preparing us for.

“The Under-21s is a step below the first team but he’s really good doing what he does, and he helps everyone get ready for the next jump.

“Brian is perfect in terms of our great team spirit too.

“He brought us all together and there are lots of different characters within the squad which I think is brilliant because it’s not a boring dressing room!

"There are a lot of funny characters in there so we all bond really well and it’s a brilliant to be a part of.

“You have to be involved to really know what it’s truly like, but it is brilliant!”

Now, with the business end of the season fast approaching, Burns also says he and his colleagues aim to kick on again as we seek to maintain momentum.

“You don’t want to waste all hard work of the first half,” Finley added.

“We have put ourselves in a great position but now it’s about trying to refocus and looking to kick on and make it count.”

In our past and present Q&A, we ask a former City player the same set of questions they were asked during their career to see how their tastes have changed over the years. This month, we ask former City skipper Paul Power – who made 447 appearances for the club over an 11-year period – the Q&A he was asked by Match Magazine in 1981…


Personal info:

Full name: Paul Christopher Power
Birthplace: Manchester
Birth date: 30 October 1953
Clubs: Manchester City (1975-1986), Everton (1986-88)
Married: Yes, to Julie

Then and now…

What sort of car do you have?
Then: Ford Escort Ghia 1600
Now: Renault Kadjar

Favourite newspaper?
Then: Manchester Evening News
Now: Daily Mail

Favourite player?
Then: Any player who passed to me!
Now: Kevin De Bruyne – and I love Bernardo Silva, too.

Most promising player:
Then: Steve Mackenzie
Now: Anthony Gordon (Newcastle)

Favourite other team:
Then: Aston Villa
Now: Everton

Childhood hero:
Then: Colin Bell
Now: Neil Young

Favourite other sports:
Then: Squash
Now: Any team game, but particularly rugby union, cricket and basketball.

Most difficult opponent:
Then: Jimmy Case (Liverpool)
Now: Jimmy Case and Steve Coppell

Most memorable match:
Then: AC Milan away 1978
Now: 1981 FA Cup final v Spurs

Biggest disappointment:
Then: Not playing in the 1976 League Cup final
Now: The break-up of Jim Cassell’s Academy at City - it was a set-up I loved being part of

Friendliest away fans:
Then: Newcastle United
Now: Norwich City

Favourite food and drink:
Then: Steak Diane and dry white wine
Now: Anything with meat in! Stews, casseroles etc. And a pint of bitter!

Misc likes and dislikes:
Then: Good TV and movies/bad manners
Now: Well-mannered people/arrogance

Favourite holiday resort:
Then: Dubrovnik
Now: Bali

Favourite TV star:
Then: Eddie Large
Now: Lee Mack

Activity on day off:
Then: Reading
Now: Every day is a day off now I've retired! Going to lunch in the French villages near our home in Narbonne on the Canal de la Robine - that's something we love to do.

Favourite singers:
Then: Paul Simon, Billy Joel and Carly Simon
Now: Paul Simon and Carly Simon

After-match routine:
Then: Go out and celebrate
Now: Go to a French conversational class

Best friend:
Then: Stan Hardcastle
Now: Kenny Clements

Biggest influence on career:
Then: Danny Howells, PE teacher
Now: Glyn Pardoe who helped me become an Academy coach

International honours:
Then: That’s easy! One England B cap!

Personal ambition:
Then: To lift a trophy as City captain
Now: To take a cruise around Samoa, Fiji and North Australia

If you hadn’t been a player, what would you have been?

Then: Solicitor
Now: Solicitor

Person you’d like to meet most in the world:
Then: Someone who would make me a millionaire overnight! 
Now: Tudor Thomas organised my testimonial and was a lovely fellah. He’ll be sadly missed – so when my time comes, I’d like to meet Tudor and spend some quality time with him.

Each month we take a look at a memorable City goal, as recalled by the scorer - this month, it's former Blue-turned-pundit Michael Brown...

Now a regular on our Matchday Live show either as a co-commentator or a studio guest, as well as working for BBC Radio 5 Live and Sky Sports. Michael Brown has carved out a successful post-playing career in the media.

A combative, talented product of the City youth system, Brown progressed to the first team during the 1995/96 campaign and would go on to make 103 appearances for the Blues, scoring four goals.

Never a prolific scorer during his career (bar one campaign for Sheffield United when he bagged 22!), Brown did score one goal even former team-mate Georgi Kinkladze would be proud of.

With all due respect to Darlington, the opposition may not have had the defence of a top flight side, but the skill involved still took some doing.

It was in extra time of a FA Cup Second round replay at Maine Road and the Quakers were holding City 0-0.

Having only just been eliminated from the Autoglass Windscreens Trophy at home to Mansfield Town (times were hard!), Joe Royle’s side could ill-afford another embarrassing home defeat, so when the ball was cleared to Brown 30 yards out, he first had to lift the ball past a lunging challenge before being confronted with four onrushing Darlington defenders.

He dropped his left shoulder to lose a couple in one fell swoop and then nudged the ball past a couple more before shimmying around the keeper, teeing himself up and blasting an angled shot past another three defenders desperately scrambling back towards their own goal-line.

It was enough to secure a 1-0 win and passage to the third round of the competition.

So, Michael… take us through it…

“I’m a Hartlepool lad so growing up, Darlington were our local rivals," says Brown. "I went on loan to Hartlepool from City when I was 17 or so and I scored the winner against Darlington and that kept Hartlepool up. 

“When the FA Cup draw was made and we drew Darlington, it had that extra special resonance for me. We’d drawn 1-1 at their place but I wasn’t getting much game time under Joe Royle, so when I was picked for the replay it was an opportunity for me. 

“The City fans were putting pressure on Joe for me to play and the fact it was against the club who were Hartlepool’s biggest rivals just made it that bit more special. 

“I never really scored mazy goals, but I’d been watching Georgi Kinkladze in training every day, so I thought ‘why not?’ - I went past a few quickly and I kept going into nosebleed territory, took it round the keeper and slammed it in. 

“My phone was going mad afterwards with messages from back in the north east. It might not have been a giant goal in the history of Manchester City, but it was quite iconic for me given my upbringing. 

“Was it my best ever? I don’t know – I won an award for a volley I scored for Sheffield United against Sheffield Wednesday which was voted the best-ever goal in their history at a centenary dinner.  

“But it was definitely the best goal I scored for City and it won the game 1-0.” 

Item 1 of 7

As the business end of the season fast approaches, there is plenty for Fantasy Premier League managers to ponder across March.

And City’s three league fixtures across the month may provide a good source of points for those intertwined with the game.

Here’s the lowdown ahead of Pep Guardiola’s side’s March matches (stats correct as of 24 February)

Previous meeting: Newcastle 3-3 City
City produced a phenomenal comeback last time we met Eddie Howe’s side as we came from two-goals down to collect a hard fought point.

Ilkay Gundogan struck first before the hosts raced into a 3-1 lead with goals from Miguel Almiron, Callum Wilson and Kieran Trippier.

However, we weren’t down and out and claimed a share of the spoils thanks to goals from Erling Haaland and Bernardo Silva.

One to watch: Bernardo Silva
The Portuguese maestro rose to the fore in February by producing several top-class performances.

He scored in our 1-1 draw with Nottingham Forest at the City Ground and has recorded 85 points this term – City’s third highest.

Highest Newcastle points: Kieran Trippier  
Trippier has been one of the most consistent sources of FPL points this season, totalling 146 so far this season - making him the fourth highest scorer across the entire Premier League.

Previous meeting: City 4-2 Crystal Palace
Erling Haaland hit an outrageous hat-trick in the reverse fixture as we came from behind to beat the Eagles.

Patrick Vieira’s side stormed into a 2-0 lead before half-time, but the Norwegian’s brilliance alongside Silva’s strike was enough to secure three points.

One to watch: Erling Haaland
Who else but Haaland? The 22-year-old hit a tremendous hat-trick at the Etihad Stadium last time we faced Palace.

In total, he has accumulated 183 points this term – higher than any other player in the division.

Highest Crystal Palace points: Eberechi Eze
The dazzling attacker has recorded the most FPL points for Patrick Vieira’s side in a term which has potentially flown under the radar.

He has claimed 87 in total, with his hauls of 10 points in respective 2-1 wins over Wolves and Leeds his highest in a single match.

Previous meeting: West Ham 0-2 City
City started the 2022/23 campaign strongly with a 2-0 success at the London Stadium in August 2022.

On debut, Erling Haaland scored either side of half-time as we gained three points in the capital.

One to watch Kevin De Bruyne
The Belgium maestro provided the assist for Haaland’s second goal in the reverse fixture and currently has 125 points to his name this term.

Highest West Ham total: Jarrod Bowen
The England international has tallied 85 FPL points in 2022/23 so far this term and gained 25 in his previous four matches in fixtures with Everton (16), Newcastle (2), Chelsea (5) and Spurs (1).

Best XI: FA Cup legends

As City move into the FA Cup latter stages, we create a Best XI made up from former players (and one current) who have left their mark in the competition in one way or another…

GK: Bert Trautmann
It just has to be Bert, doesn’t it? Playing with a broken neck and refusing to come off in the 1956 FA Cup final sort of makes him a shoo-in!

RB: Tony Book
'Skip' led City to 1969 FA Cup glory with a 1-0 win over Leicester at Wembley. It completed a fairy-tale story for the former bricklayer who was playing non-League football for Bath City just five years earlier.

LB: Paul Power
Sometimes left-back, sometimes left midfielder, who could forget Paul Power’s match-winning free-kick against Ipswich Town in 1981? The goal, a sublime free-kick from 25-yards, sent City to the Centenary FA Cup final against Spurs.

CB: Vincent Kompany (c)
The man who led City to glory in 2011 – though not with the skipper’s armband on in the final – but in every other sense, he was there 100% as the Blues ended a 35-year wait for silverware.

CB: Sam Cowan
Another leader who helped City bring the FA Cup home, Cowan famously promised to bring his team back to Wembley after losing the final to Everton in 1933 – and did exactly that 12 months later.

MID: David Silva
A scorer in our 6-0 FA Cup final win over Watford on 2019, no explanation needed for having El Mago in this XI.

MID: Kevin De Bruyne
A goal and an assist in the 2019 final, KDB simply has to be in this team.

MID: Yaya Toure
Our Ivorian powerhouse was the man who scored the goal that saw off Manchester United and set up a final with Stoke City in 2011 – and it was his goal that won that game as well to end more than three decades of hurt.

RW: Billy Meredith
The Welsh Wizard was the man who scored the winning goal in 1904 to land a first FA Cup triumph for the Club – our first major trophy. His brilliance on the flanks would be perfect for our forward trio.

LW: Neil Young
The graceful left-footed forward who hammered home the goal that beat Leicester City 1-0 in 1969 has also got to be in this Best XI.

CF: Carlos Tevez
The City captain for the 2011 FA Cup final win over Stoke, Carlitos became the first skipper in sky blue to lift a cup since Mike Doyle in 1976, some 35 years before. Also, just a wonderful forward.

Joey Barton was just 20 years-old and one of a number of promising youngsters emerging from the Academy.

The interview was at Platt Lane, where Joey was largely still based as the U18s and reserves (EDS now) were based near Maine Road while the first team were at Carrington.

We met in one of the offices and sat down to conduct the interview – it was Joey’s first and he’d not long since made his first team debut against Bolton Wanderers.

A combative midfielder. Joey was polite, talkative and intelligent – and lads that age with little or no experience of the media are usually anything but chatty and confident.

We should have know Joey was never going to be the shy, retiring type!

But he was pleasant, respectful, and engaging.

He was also an asset to the team, with a raw energy and commitment that quickly made him a crowd favourite.

For the photoshoot, we took Joey to a passageway at the back of some terraced houses near Maine Road as we wanted an edgy look for our relaunched City Magazine.

We think it turned out pretty well and, for the record, whenever this writer crossed paths with Joey in the years after, he was always as welcoming and likeable as he had been during his time with City.


BBC 6 Music DJ and lifelong Blue Marc Riley continues to find other City fans with interesting stories to tell...

This week in the spotlight we find Brian McGlaulin. A man who can often be seen loitering around by the concourse bar at block  229 of the Colin Bell  Stand. Another 'lifer'. A long-time Blue who - like the rest of us - is currently enjoying this golden period in the club's history...

Brian in his own words…

Born: Sale - lived here all my life apart from a brief sojourn to Flixton. Not really spread my wings very far.

Family: Parents - Len & Agnes both City season ticket holders. One brother, Bill (for some reason a Red) has been banished to Melbourne, Australia).

Wife: Alison - married 25 years in May this year!

Job: Worked in the insurance industry all my life. Started at the CIS Manchester after leaving school and went on to own a couple of insurance brokers, mainly with my business partner and best mate Neil Swift. Sold the business a couple of years ago and have recently taken up a volunteering role with The Christie Hospital.

Best Achievement: As a former Christie cancer patient 15 years ago, I wanted to give something back, so set out to raise a few quid for them. With a lot of help from my wife, friends and a free room at the Etihad courtesy of MCFC, we ended up handing over a cheque for just over £27,000!

City: Season ticket holder most of my life. Previously Kippax and now Colin Bell Stand again with aforementioned Neil Swift. 

Interests: City, music, travel

Earliest memory: Can't remember the exact year, but as a very young boy my dad took me to Old Trafford (don't worry he's a Blue!). It was derby day but we didn't have tickets. We waited until the gates opened just before the final whistle and sneaked in and went up the stairs and my dad perched me on his shoulders.

The game was nicely poised at 2-2, when in the 90th minute Alex Harley scored the winner for the Blues. From that moment I was hooked.

Most peculiar thing; Halifax Town away in the FA Cup in 1980 - we lost 1-0! The away end at The Shay was nothing more than a slag heap with no terracing as such and very few 'amenities'.  We were packed in and I was slowly sinking. It got to half time and I remember feeling a warm feeling on my left leg. Let's just say it wasn't somebody's warm drink!

If you could prevent one match: Tough one - I think I've enjoyed every game I've been to, some more than others obviously. The above loss to Halifax and a similar one at Shrewsbury spring to mind, but I guess it's got to be the Maine Road derby in 1975 when Martin Buchan effectively ended Colin Bell's career.

Most Memorable Goal: Obviously that Aguerooooo moment, but if that's discounted it's a toss-up between that Dickov moment or Dennis Tueart's overhead goal in the League Cup Final in '76 - and I think that latter just about wins it for me.

Man City heroes: I've been really fortunate to meet several over the years (I went to the same school as Joe Corrigan and he took us round the City Legends Tour at the Etihad) but I guess I'll have to say Peter Barnes or he'll never speak to me again! I've known him for a number of years now and he even made time to come to my last birthday gathering.

Last match at Maine Road: In those days I suppose it was 'typical City'! They build you up and then they let you down. Think my lasting memory was SWP's blue hair that he had dyed especially for the day.

Emotions when leaving our old home: Incredibly sad after so many years but things move on and I couldn't believe the new stadium the first time I saw it and I've built so many new happy memories here.

What do you miss most about Maine Road? The Kippax in full voice, I suppose. Much as I love the new stadium It's not the same when the 'singing section' is split in two.

Worst away game: December 1991 - Middlesbrough in the League Cup. Just after kick-off a thick pea-souper fog descended on Ayresome Park. Stood in the away end behind the goal and couldn't see beyond the halfway line. To this day I don't know how it was allowed to continue. We started making it up and cheering for no apparent reason!

Favourite player: Has to be 'The King' Colin Bell. Never seen such an athlete on the football pitch since, although I can see certain similarities with KDB. Can't imagine what he would be worth in today's over-inflated transfer market.

Current player you'd want in your on pub quiz team: Either Jack Grealish or Rodri. Not sure how many points we'd score but imagine Jack would be great company on a night out and you wouldn't argue with Rodri at the bar!

This season is the 20th anniversary of our move from Maine Road. As many of you already know, I spent the whole of 2002/03 producing a book for the football club. The book, “We’re not Really Here” is my loving tribute to the longest running saga in my life: Manchester City FC.

One of the editorial decisions I made early on, was wanting to photograph a band around the stadium. I thought it’d tie in well with my ‘proper job’ of photographing musicians. I also felt it would tie in well with City’s strong links with the bands around the city, who were mainly Blues.

I’d photographed Oasis at Maine Road twice, and not wanting to repeat myself, I thought it’d be good to photograph a more emerging band. This way it’d tie in well with the ‘end of an era; start of a new era’ theme that I was aiming to propagate.

I contacted Doves, and they were delighted to do it with me.

It wasn’t an easy shoot, as I wanted the stadium to be a part of the shoot too; not just the band. But once I realised it was part of it anyway, and it didn’t have to be the most prominent feature, I was able to shoot in my normal style.

I then agonised for ages as to whether or not the photos should be in black and white or colour – so I shot both.

Mark Farrow, the designer, decided on colour as he felt black and white wouldn’t work in the book, with every other photo being in highly saturated colour.

Here’s a selection of both. You can decide which work best. In isolation I prefer the monochrome images, but Mark was right about the colour ones for the book.

Kevin Cummins

In our Technical Area series, we look at Manchester City staff who do great work behind the scenes, on and off the pitch...

Name and role title: 
Stephanie Alder, Senior Archivist and Collections Manager 

How long have you worked at City? 
This year I will have been at City for eight years. 

Tell us a bit about your job? 
Part of my role is to help the club celebrate and utilise its history, and to engage people with our past. Colleagues, researchers, and fans contact me with queries about our history or with requests to source material from the past. This could be anything from images to put on the website, to factual information needed to substantiate a quote, to a shirt worn by a former player for display. The archive is also used provide inspiration and information to help tell the Club’s story in less conventional ways, such as in hospitality areas of the stadium or in very established ways such as using classic designs and colours to inspire new kit. 

I work with all sorts of different types of items, be that paper, textiles, audio visual or digital and everything in between. I analyse each item, examine its authenticity, historical context, physical condition, and content to make sure they are displayed or managed in a way that ensures they are kept safe for future generations.  What better way is there to prove we have the most incredible history – the ups and the downs - through physical evidence? The medals, trophies, ticket stubs, pennants, balls, flags, photographs, scrapbooks, letters, reports, and of course, trophies demonstrate that we have so much history I am going to need more space!   

What’s a typical day look like? 
I won’t lie, a lot of my time is spent putting things in boxes (albeit specialist acid-free ones), wearing aprons to protect myself from dust, and I do every now and again need to wear a pair of white gloves. A lot of the work is behind-the-scenes, essentially taking care of the historical collections and making them accessible. This can be anything from monitoring the temperature and humidity in the archive store to ensure all items are safely preserved, to logging new accessions or transfers of new material, to cataloguing the records and objects held at the club, researching, and recording the origins and historical significance of our brilliantly unique archive. There really is no such thing as a typical day, and that is what makes it even more special. 

Do you actively seek out new items and if so, how? 
I am always on the look out for new items. Sometimes this means looking at auction catalogues, and happily supporters or colleagues will highlight things that have come up at auction that I might never have found. We also have a great system within the Club where records and items are transferred directly to the archive once they are no longer in use by that individual or department. This could be anything from a match-played ball to minutes of important meetings. It’s important to always have in mind that though things might not have any age to them, that they will one day tell the story of today’s Club, both on and off the pitch.  

What’s been your favourite discovery so far? 
As you might guess, there are so many incredible discoveries that it’s hard to choose only one! During my time here I have been constantly surprised and delighted by items that have been donated or transferred to the archive. Sometimes the stories that come with objects are just as important as the objects themselves! The original 1934 FA Cup trophy ribbons arrived on my desk from Australia via a fan whose grandparents were stewards at Maine Road and had travelled with the team to Wembley for the final. On the night of the final, his grandfather was entrusted with the task of keeping the trophy safe and was given the ribbons. They are certainly one of the best items of post I’ve received! A few years ago, I was contacted by a lifelong City supporter who had in his possession a small leather case full of notebooks and match reports belonging to City’s former Chief Scout Albert Kavanagh. With the permission of Kavanagh’s family, he donated one of the most amazing records of the Club’s history. Within the case was a match report from the Lancashire Combination Cup tie in St Helens dated 27 August 1949, where Kavanagh spotted Bert Trautmann for the first time and promptly recommended that the Club sign him up. Now, that was a real discovery! 

What’s the one thing you’d love to have in our archive that we currently don’t have? 
I am forever hopeful that one day the Club can be reunited with some of the administration papers from the Maine Road days. During the pandemic I was able to add Gate Receipt ledgers and Results books back into the collection, thanks to an extremely kind supporter. I would love the opportunity to bring back in as much as we can, anything from the 1920s-1960s, such as ground plans, or letters. Even though on the surface old records might seem a bit dry, they are full of the most fantastic information and tell the story of Manchester City in its truest form. It also goes without saying that top of the wish-list would also be the match-worn shirts of any of our legends such as Bert Trautmann, Colin Bell, Francis Lee, or Mike Summerbee. 

Can supporters donate/loan precious City memorabilia?  
Yes, they most certainly can! We only accept items on loan now if they are going on display but is always worth getting in touch to have a chat about what it is that you own. There are a few things that I can’t add to the archive, such as duplicates of material I already have, or items that are readily available to find or buy, but generally speaking if you think what you have in a box in the loft, or in a frame on your wall is authentic, unique or tells the story of the Club then do get in touch.  As with all archives or museums, the majority of collection items are kept in a specialist store, but this doesn’t mean they are forgotten about or ignored – far from it! A big part of my role is to ensure that each item is documented, photographed, and kept in an environment that ensures they will not deteriorate over time. The Club’s history is too important to lose because it wasn’t looked after properly! 

What is next for the archive? 
The club are extremely committed to their history, whether that is from one hundred years ago or the match on 15 February this year. The journey that we have been on formally since 1894, and before that to the earliest incarnations at St Marks, through to 1904, to 1934, to 1937, to 1956, to 1968, to 1969, to 1970, to 1976 to 2011 and beyond, means that there are still so many stories to tell. By growing and developing the historical collections we will be able to share these in new and creative ways, and I look forward to putting our archive at the forefront! 

March will see us play our FA Youth Cup quarter-final with Oxford United. ..

Ben Wilkinson’s team are looking to become the fourth City side to go all the way after triumphs in 1986, 2008 and 2020. 

Five clubs have won the prestigious competition more times than us, but we do boast one maybe unwanted record. City have been runners-up on more occasions than anyone else – losing the final eight times. 

While we have dominated the U18 Premier League in the last two seasons, we haven’t been able to add to our haul of three FA Youth Cup successes. 

Now sitting pretty in the league’s north group, Wilkinson has charged his players with making our mark on the knockout tournament. 

Here we’ll look at the past City teams that have lifted youth football’s most desired trophy… 


Managed by Tony Book, who had led the first team between 1974 and 1979, an exciting City side beat rivals Manchester United in the two-legged final. 

Steve Redmond captained City and was joined in the team by Andy Hinchcliffe, Ian Brightwell, Paul Moulden and Paul Lake who all went on to have an impact for the Club at senior level. 

A Lake penalty earned a 1-1 draw in the first leg at Old Trafford before David Boyd and Moulden scored both goals in a 2-0 win in front of almost 20,000 fans at a well-populated Maine Road. 


City’s second success in the FA Youth Cup came late in the 2000s after the Club’s Academy had already established itself as one of the best in the country. 

Facing Chelsea, City earned a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge thanks to a goal from future Chelsea, Liverpool and England striker Daniel Sturridge. Sturridge was injured for the second leg back in Manchester, but that didn’t affect the Blues. 

Ben Mee, Vladimir Weiss and a late David Ball penalty sealed a 3-1 victory. Mee was captain of the side and has since gone on to have a lengthy Premier League career with Burnley and now Brentford. 

The most successful player in that team however is undoubtedly England and Newcastle full-back Kieran Trippier, who has also represented Tottenham Hotspur and Atletico Madrid at the very top level. 


Our most recent success came in 2019/20. We reached the final with victories against Swansea City, Aston Villa, Fulham, Burnley and Blackburn Rovers. 

With just one leg to a final held behind-closed-doors at England’s national centre St George’s Park, City emerged victorious over old foes Chelsea over the course of 90 minutes. 

Goals from James McAtee, Morgan Rogers and Cole Palmer sealed a 3-2 win for City and gave captain Tommy Doyle the opportunity to lift the trophy. 

McAtee and Doyle are currently excelling on loan at Championship side Sheffield United as Taylor Harwood-Bellis is doing at Championship leaders Burnley. 

Morgan Rogers, Liam Delap, Luke Mbete are also out on loan while Joe Hodge and CJ Egan-Riley have sealed permanent moves and Cole Palmer is part of Pep Guardiola’s trophy-hunting squad. 

What awaits for the class of 2022/23? 

Tickets are available for City’s FA Youth Cup quarter-final against Oxford United at the Academy Stadium on Tuesday 7 March at 19:00 (UK). Head to https://www.mancity.com/tickets to get yours. 

For those who can’t make it, we will have full coverage on mancity.com and our official app.

"Yes, I would say that."

Filippa Angeldahl took a few moments to consider the question, but ultimately agreed that she was currently playing some of her best football at Manchester City. 

The Swedish international joined the Club in September 2021, just one month after helping her home nation claim an Olympic silver medal in the Japanese capital of Tokyo. 

Adapting swiftly to her new surroundings, she played an important role in her debut campaign, helping City claim the Continental Cup and reach the Women’s FA Cup final. 

However, as an exciting finale to the 2022/23 campaign begins to take shape, it’s safe to say that the midfielder has taken her game to new levels at the Academy Stadium this season. 

Indeed, Angeldahl’s angled finish against Liverpool in December set the tone for a deserved 2-0 triumph at Prenton Park, and the midfielder’s last-gasp winner against Leicester guaranteed Continental Cup qualification as group winners one month later. 

Those standout moments provide evidence of the midfielder’s growing influence on a City side who, unbeaten in the WSL since September going into March, are well and truly riding the crest of a wave. 

From the turn of the year to the February international break, the Swede started six of City’s eight matches in all competitions, including our crucial 2-1 win over Arsenal in the Barclays Women’s Super League. 

Her contributions to our success have consistently been highlighted by Gareth Taylor but, reflecting on her recent run of form, the midfielder agrees that she is beginning to really hit her stride. 

“I have been playing more now. So, of course, I get more confidence and can play more like me. It’s been really good,” she explains. 

“I think it’s many things. But, of course, it’s playing time, so that I can get more confidence and believe in myself. 

“I think I focus more on getting forward in training. Then it’s nice to then put it in to the games and do it. 

"We practice things like finishing and everything in training of course, but when it happens it just happens." 

But while Angeldahl is delighted with her recent performances, she is quick to pin her success on her City team-mates. 

While Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw’s goalscoring feats this season certainly deserve recognition, an astonishing 15 different members of Gareth Taylor’s side have contributed at least one goal or an assist so far this season. 

That collective ethos runs through the entire squad and is something that has been consistently referenced by the manager during our recent streak. 

Nonetheless, Angeldahl is keen to highlight that, while City are excited by what potentially lays ahead between now and May, the team’s feet remain firmly planted on the ground. 

She said: “Everyone is happy. We keep working on the training [pitch] and everyone wants to be better all the time and put the things right. We are very happy. 

"It’s been important for us to focus on one game at a time and not look forward too much. This is the reason it’s been so good.

“[The message from the manager] is just to keep doing what we want to do and to trust the process. 

“We know we’re a good team with good players across the squad. If we trust and believe in what we’re doing, we’ll always have a better chance of getting the three points. 

“We still need to be better on a few things of course but in the last games we have been really good. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season. 

“I think for us, of course we want to win everything, but it’s about focusing on one game [at a time]. We can’t look too far ahead.” 

Having been a regular for her national team since 2018, Angeldahl is no stranger to performing in a pressurised atmosphere. 

And with attendances across the WSL growing exponentially since last summer’s European Championships in the United Kingdom, more eyes are on the domestic women’s game than ever before. 

Evidence of this trend can be seen across the country, while more than 4,500 supporters packed into the Academy Stadium to witness City’s crucial 2-1 victory over Arsenal at the beginning of February.  

Rewind the clock a further two months and Gareth Taylor’s side earned a 1-1 draw with Manchester United in front of 44,259 supporters at the Etihad Stadium: A Club record for a women’s match. 

And Angeldahl, paying tribute to the incredible support that she and her team-mates have received from the terraces across her time at the Club, believes that vocal atmosphere has provided the perfect platform for City to showcase our skills. 

"It helps us so much when we hear them before the game and during it too. It’s really nice to have them there and it’s really important.

“It helps us a lot on the pitch. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the season. 

“When I hear the fans at the stadium, I get that adrenaline. I really like it.” 

We jump back in the Time Machine of City Magazines past to resurface another classic interview - here is Micah Richards from May 2006

When it comes to the footballing X- Factor, Micah Richards has the dugout experts drooling into their coaching manuals and mothers covering the ears of their children.

Speed, strength, finesse, vision and the leap of a frisky salmon, City's latest teenage sensation ticks every box manager could wish.

After turning the air as blue as his home shirt with an ill-chosen, but highly accurate, description of his happiness following his last-ditch goal heroics in the FA Cup tie at Villa Park, it is heads that are now turning as the Premier League wakes up to the fact that they are witnessing another prodigious homegrown young talent holding his own amongst the men the of the English top division.

Of course, the fashion statements are also there - the diamond in the ear, the stylised eyebrow and the smart haircut but all those things are easily attributable to youth and exuberance and more than readily tossed into the background when you realise that where Richards is concerned there is a great deal of grounded substance below the show.

After all, it is hard not being down to earth when you have grown up being one of eight kids battling for the attention of mum and Dad.

When you are one of the youngest of the brood, the trait of being able to fight your corner whilst getting on with everyone becomes not so much desirable as a total necessity.

Those days growing up in a less than well-heeled suburb of Leeds, have fashioned a teenager with a sense of perspective and purpose. Richards is a street fighter with a touch of class and a lot of soul.

“Growing up one of so many kids was good because you always had someone there for you and family is very important to me," he offered after pausing to laugh loudly at some of the things he was remembering - but not telling about his early childhood in Yorkshire.

"I'm the second youngest but I like to act more mature and tend to hang around with my older brother Marlon - he's 26. I have a younger brother who is 16 and we compete all the time we compete in everything we do whether it's football, computer games or, when we were smaller, over toys - everything!

"To be honest, I've always been spoiled, even though we grew up in quite a tough area in Chapeltown my mum and dad have always been great to me."

Perhaps it was something to do with the fact that he arrived several weeks early, necessitating an unplanned rush to a Birmingham Hospital for his parents, that Micah that's pronounced 'Mycah' not ‘Mecah' has always been ahead of the game. Despite his dad's lofty claims, he remains unsure quite from where he inherited his natural ability.

"I used to play football every day with my dad and every other day my brothers, cousins and me would have long games in the park," he recalled.

"My dad was a decent player and though it was only at Sunday League level, people always tell me he was really good. He was an athletic, technical player with a good football brain - well, that's what he tells me! My dad hasn't missed a game of mine since I was eight-years-old except for my debut, out of the blue, against Arsenal at Highbury when he was away in Jamaica. To say that he was gutted was the understatement of the season.

“My parents are from the Caribbean islands of St Kitts & Nevis and I am qualified to play for them internationally but I don't see that happening. My mum and dad have worked so to hard to help me get to where I have so far and it's time to give something back. I want my career to get them a house, car and make them financially secure for the rest of their lives."

First things first, however. When Richards hits the milestone of 18-years-old towards the end of June this year he aims to get his own talented feet on the property ladder. There may well even be a new lucrative contract in the packing boxes that leave his present digs in Gatley.

"I'm going to get my own place in Manchester - either apartment or a house - I'm not sure yet," he says showing more uncertainty in one sentence than he has in all his Premiership appearances strung together.

'I left home when I was 16 but Leeds is fairly close and I wanted to get out and explore the world a bit, anyway."

With his ready smile and outgoing personality, Richards makes friends easily and it is no surprise when he reels of a list of his close pals at City.

"Lee Croft, Ishmael Miller, Bradley Wright-Phillips, Kelvin Etuhu and Stephen Ireland – all the young lads, really. We've all come through together and stayed friends," he confirms making it all the more likely that Croft and Wright-Phillips who have both just bought swanky new waterside flats may soon have a familiar neighbour on the doorstep.

It is no accident that the boy Blues are so close because lifestyle coaching plays almost as big a part at City's ultra- successful Academy as shooting, tackling and passing. Jim Cassell and his staff believe it is vital that feet stay on the ground metaphorically of course or their young charges would be useless at set-pieces - and that the students do not just graduate as players but also as young men who know something of the outside world.

"Life coaching is an important element of being at a football club like City and I think the better you are as a person off the pitch, the better you will be on it. If everything is good away from football it can only help you as a player."

In fact Premiership teammates are vehement that Richards' birth certificate should be checked and rechecked given the maturity of his body, his stamina and his adaptability, though he slightly blows his cover as a 17-year-old going on 30 when it comes to discussing his eating habits.

"I eat anything but I do try to eat healthily," he declares furiously backtracking as if a striker has just sped past him. "I do have a McDonalds every now and then but within reason and I don't put weight on easily.

"In fact I try to keep away from the strength training because I don't want to get too big- I always try and sneak out of the weights sessions! It's not hard for me to add to my physique because all my family are big, strong people it's just in the genes, suppose. Other lads in my age group will start to catch up soon and then I'll start weight training but I'm happy with my size and the way I am at the moment.

"I go out a lot but I don't drink. I have to admit that I have tried alcohol once but didn't really like it."

That's just as well given that it is still illegal for him to buy the stuff and that he needs a permanently clear head to learn all the new positions he has been asked to play in this season.

It is usually old men who drop back through the team after starting life as strikers but Richards has made the switch early after being the master marksman at Archbishop Cranmer Primary School, Wetherby High School and then Leeds Boys.

He also attended a Brazilian soccer school in Yorkshire ‘though not for as long as has been reported'- before making Oldham Athletic his first home.

It was scout Pete Lowe who lured him to Boundary Park and when he left for City, Richards soon followed after being watched by the Blues' recruitment team

Richards was not slow making his mark playing for England under 16s, 17s and 18s and in reaching double figures in terms of goals in his first full season in the Blues' second string. He is not one for self-doubt, though he is the first to admit that he understands nothing can be taken for granted when it comes to football.

I always had belief in my own ability but occasionally you'd have a bad game and wonder if you would ever make it," he confessed.

"You just have to be sure you give your all every time and you play and if you've got the ability you will eventually shine."

"I began as a striker, then moved to central midfield and I have played there, centre half and right back for the first team.

"I like centre midfield but I enjoy centre back, too. In defence, you have more time to relax and see the game better whereas I use more energy in midfield. I like to gamble when I see the ball go out wide and just take a chance I might get on the end of something. I'd love to play for England one day. I'll just have to keep going and see where it takes me.

There has been a lot said and written about me because of my age and it's nice to hear your name here and there but I just take it as it comes, really. I want to keep learning and avoid becoming complacent because who knows? Next season I could be sitting on the bench so I want to make sure I give it one hundred per cent every time I play or train.

"The manager sets great store by how you train and has shown that he has faith in young players if you keep producing performances.

"I haven't been surprised by the fact that I have earned a place in the side because always felt I could do it. I've put in some decent performances but in all honesty, I thought playing at Premiership level would be harder than it is.

"Watching it from the sidelines I think it looks harder than it actually is. Once you get out there, it isn't so bad."

Having this season won England honours at under 19 level - the under 21s will surely be a formality next term Richards, whose dynamic presence almost helped the Blues youngsters turn around a hefty 3-0 first leg FA Youth Cup final deficit against Liverpool, has been ideally placed to assess how many more could follow him along the Platt Lane production pipeline once they have recovered from the 3-2 aggregate defeat.

"Some of them could make it definitely," he declared nodding agreement.

"Kelvin Etuhu is an emerging talent as is Daniel Sturridge, even though he got a bit of stick for not having the best of games in the first leg of the final, people forget he's only 16 and has another two years at that level.

'"Michael Johnson, a central midfielder who doesn't get talked about that much but he's a very good footballer and both Shaleum Logan and Karl Moore are good players. Those five stand out in my eyes at present."

Given that Stevie Ireland, Nedum Onuoha, Wright-Phillips and Croft have all be in an around the first team all season there are plenty of examples for the latest crop to emulate and despite being the same age Richards has already found himself a dispenser of wisdom.

"They seem to ask me a lot about what I've done so far and how I've done it. One of the things I say is that I think I've done fairly well because I've got a qood attitude,"

Presumably his advice has also included a warning about not swearing on live national television as he is perceived to have done when BBC reporter Garth Crooks gamely but misguidedly thrust a microphone under his nose just seconds after the youngster's goal earned the Blues a fifth round FA Cup replay at Villa Park.

"How do you feel' or something distinctly similar seemed a rather daft, if not unnecessary, question given then circumstances of the game and the scorer's age but Mr Crooks qot rather more than he bargained for when the spicy reply was delivered.

Profanity is a charge that Master Richards now denies although he does reluctantly and a little sheepishly admit his unplanned meeting with Crooks got him into trouble with his mum.

"She was laughing but she wasn't happy! She was at a friend's house and had been celebrating my goal but I think she was embarrassed when she heard the interview,” he accepted.

"Though I didn't actually swear if you look at it again - I was on the verge but I didn't really say what was supposed to have done!"

Richard's form since then has ensured that he will not simply be remembered on sporting blooper shows and he is convinced that the senior side has been hard done to losing half a dozen matches on the trot since the West Ham defeat in the last eight of the FA Cup.

"I think there's only been one really bad performance, he reckoned. "All the other games we've just been unlucky in - two disallowed goals at West Ham for instance - and we should have drawn three of the six games we lost, but that's football isn't it?

"The West Ham qame did knock the stuffing out of us a little bit. When I scored so late at Villa you do start to think about how far you might go and the things that hurts the most is that we know we were capable of beating West Ham."

He aims to forget that one miserable episode in an otherwise wonderful season over the summer when he takes off on his holidays with youth team colleague Etuhu.

"We are off to Greece this summer for a bit of sunshine and I may go to America at some point," he revealed.

"I'll spend some time back in Leeds as well to catch up with my family and friends and I might even try and catch a World Cup game in Germany with one of my mates - maybe l'Il go and see Brazil and see the real soccer school in action!"

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