Welcome to the August edition of the City Magazine!
Last month’s City Mag was our most-read yet, so thanks to everyone for your support and keep sharing and telling fellow Blues about it.
Our cover star for August is Julian Alvarez, our latest Argentine import who is hoping to achieve great things with City.
Elsewhere, Andy Morrison resumes his role as our resident prediction king and looks at the first month or so of games.
We have a fantastic best of US tour gallery, plus a visit from the Canal Street Blues to the Etihad ahead of the Manchester Pride weekend later this month.
The List features some of the more memorable debutants over the years – including Eyal Berkovic and Ali Benarbia’s first games – and our Best XI is made up of City-supporting band members and musicians.
Lou from Cassia drops by and Marc Riley interviews his editor, while Kev Cummins starts his new series on Maine Road as we edge towards 20 years since we left our old home.
Ben Wilkinson and keeper Khiara Keating ensure it’s another packed edition.
On with the show!
Being Argentinian - and a striker that has joined Manchester City - means there will be inevitable comparisons to two of the best former Blues – Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez.
But that wouldn’t be fair on any striker, because Tevez and Aguero were among the best forwards ever to play for the Club - and one of them is our all-time top goal-scorer!
Julian Alvarez begins life at City with a blank page and each chapter is yet to be written.
In fact, when he was unveiled to thousands of City fans at the Etihad Stadium in pre-season, he said, “I want to write my own history here,” – and that’s exactly what he intends to do.
"This is a team that has been playing in a certain way for a long time."
At 22, he is the same age as his new strike partner Erling Haaland, but it’s fair to say his arrival from River Plate was earned slightly less column inches in English newspapers and websites – but that is not a bad thing and, for a youngster who is shy, quiet, and humble, that probably suits him just fine.
Alvarez played twice on City’s US pre-season tour and showed glimpses against Club America and Bayern Munich of what is to come when he is fully settled to life in a new country and culture.
He is already settling into his new Manchester apartment and his family are with him, which will help him adapt and feel at home that much sooner.
The other good news is he already feels comfortable with the playing style at City.
"This is a team that has been playing in a certain way for a long time,” said Alvarez.
“I try to do what I've been doing with River, but with some changes. It's a team that presses like we usually did in River.
“It's a little easier for me (in that respect). I feel comfortable playing this way. I'm going to continue training to the fullest to be available.
“I was very happy to play against Club America and Bayern and have the opportunity, to start with Manchester City and to play my first games.
“I will do my best to live up to the expectations.
“Pre-season was good. Every day I am training with my teammates, with Pep and all his assistants and getting to know them better.
“As I always do, I train in the best way I can. It is the first time that I am with Pep on the pitch, so I do my best to show my qualities and help my teammates.”
"I will do my best to live up to the expectations."
And Guardiola has been impressed by what he’s seen so far.
“Julian was incredible defensively against Club America, like Gabriel Jesus,” said Pep.
“Gabriel is probably the best, but he is close in aggression and intuition, and with the ball he’s brilliant. He can keep it and you can link with him without a problem.
"We have the feeling we signed a top-class young player for the next years to come, and we are delighted."
“We have the feeling we signed a top-class young player for the next years to come, and we are delighted.
“The job Marcelo Gallardo did at River Plate, we have the benefit and we hope he can grow up in the Premier League.”
And having Sergio Aguero as a role model and mentor cannot be a bad thing.
Aguero will be a legend at City forever, and he said of Alvarez: "Julian is mature, over time he will continue to learn things, he is learning more and more, and Manchester City bought him for a reason.
“He is a good kid, he's a phenomenon, shy and quiet.”
Being called ‘a phenomenon’ by Aguero is encouraging to say the least, as Alvarez admits: “Yes, it is a joy, a pride, that Kun says these things about me.
“I shared good moments with him. I have good memories of him. He has helped me a lot. He is a good, very funny person, who has a nice relationship with everyone, especially with the younger ones.
“He has helped me a lot. Obviously, saying those things about me is an honour. It makes me want to kick on.
"Obviously, I grew up watching Kun. Also watching so many Argentinian players: Kun, either in Europe or in the national team; Higuaín; Messi. So many Argentinian players."
“Obviously, I grew up watching Kun. Also watching so many Argentinian players: Kun, either in Europe or in the national team; Higuaín; Messi. So many Argentinian players.
“Obviously, I try to imitate them or to get good things out of them. I always try to look to learn, to continue growing personally.
“They are players who have shown their quality in European football and in the Argentinian national team.”
But the last words go to his former manager at River Plate, Marcelo Gallardo, who was sad to lose a player of such promise, but equally delighted that he will have the chance at a club as big as City.
“He’s very centred. He’s a lad who doesn’t get caught up in this maelstrom of praise and everything that is said about him,” said Gallardo.
“Julian plays every game as if it were his first. That effort is contagious. Replacing Julian is difficult.
“Today he is a player of great status, he has had impressive growth, and that is why he is going to Manchester City.”
Our former skipper and cult hero Andy Morrison – now head coach of the Sri Lanka national team - resumes his role predicting the outcomes of City's upcoming games for the new season…
West Ham v City
Sunday 7 August, 4.30pm kick-off
This is a really tough game to open the season with, especially with how good West Ham were last year. We’ll have new players still integrating and learning our system, but if we’re going to set the bar high, we have to go there expecting to win.
Mozzer’s prediction: West Ham 1-3 City
City v Bournemouth
Saturday 13 August, 3pm kick-off
Newly-promoted sides can be a bit tricky early on in the season because they have momentum and the feel-good factor still, so they’ll come and try and make it difficult, but traditionally, this is a fixture we usually win comfortably, and I don’t see that pattern ending here.
Mozzer’s prediction: City 3-0 Bournemouth
Newcastle v City
Sunday 20 August, 4.30pm kick-off
The way Newcastle play will suit City because I think it will be a slightly open game. I don’t think their fans would accept just being sat behind the ball and that’s not how Eddie Howe sets his team up. That will make it easier for City if they set up to attack, and if that does happen, I expect us to win by a couple of goals.
Mozzer’s prediction: Newcastle 0-2 City
Barcelona v City
Wednesday 24 August, 8.30pm kick-off
Obviously, this is a fundraiser game, and it will also see Pep Guardiola going back to the club he still is a supporter of. He will want to entertain the Nou Camp fans and though there is nothing riding on this, neither side will want to lose.
Mozzer’s prediction: Barcelona 2-2 City
City v Crystal Palace
Saturday 27 August, 3pm kick-off
Palace have been our bogey team for a few years now and we’ll be mindful of that going into this fixture. It feels like a little bit of going into the unknown at this stage of the season because teams haven’t settled into any rhythm or pattern as yet. They’ll be organised, have a game plan and will look to make it difficult for us by stopping our passing channels and then catch us on the break. I think we will know what to expect and negate that accordingly.
Mozzer’s prediction: City 2-0 Palace
City v Nottingham Forest
Wednesday 31 August, 7.30pm, kick-off
I think Forest will hold their own this season because they have an exceptional manager in Steve Cooper who has proven himself at every club he’s been at so far. They’ve bought a good few players in the summer and they’re brave in the way they play, and I think Cooper takes each game on its merits and sets his team out to get a result each time, but I think we’ll have far too much for them.
Mozzer’s prediction: City 4-0 Forest
Aston Villa v City
Saturday 3 September, 5.30pm kick-off
It might seem as though I have blue-tinted glasses because I’ve gone for us to win every league game so far, but that’s the mentality we need with teams like Liverpool challenging us. We have to have the same attitude as we had in the last 10 games of last season when we knew we had to win every game. That thinking doesn’t change because this City side is relentless can handle that pressure and with that in mind, I don’t see any problems in this game.
Mozzer’s prediction: Villa 1-3 City