December will be magic...

The countdown to Christmas, if you celebrate it, has begun and that means a glut of games at this special time of year.

Of course, our players will be spending part of December in Saudi Arabia as we prepare for the FIFA Club World Cup.

Pep and his players will be looking to win the trophy for the first time and confirm what everyone says anyway – namely this City side being the best club team in the world.

Now we have the chance to write that in stone.

We’ll have a special City Mag to celebrate the tournament, out in mid-December.

Back to the here and now and our cover star is Josko Gvardiol, who tells us how his first six months in Manchester have been.

He’s a genuinely lovely guy and is settling into City life very nicely.

From our exciting Manchester City Women’s team we have Deyna Castellanos and Sandy MacIver, who share their thoughts on what has been a thrilling start to the FA WSL campaign.

We also have interviews with lifelong Blues Blossoms and Campbell Hatton, for your fix of music and boxing.

Elsewhere, Andy Morrison shares his December score predictions, while regular columnists Marc Riley and Kevin Cummins also provide their usual slant on City and life in general.

All the above plus the final part of our Elano interview, the EDS and Academy focus, FPL ,a gallery on our wonderful Bell, Lee and Summerbee, Technical Area and loads more beside.

On with the show…

As he settles into Manchester life, City Magazine catches up with our Croatian defensive star Josko Gvardiol…

It’s easy to forget the age of some of the players we watch in the Premier League, week in, week out, not to mention the sacrifices they’ve made to get where they are.

Josko Gvardiol is still only 21, yet he is already earning a living in a third different country, far from home.

Though he spent most of his fledgling career with his home city club Dinamo Zagreb, he also played for two years with RB Leipzig in Germany before moving to City.

That’s three different cultures, three different cities and three different languages to absorb.

We’re only five months into his career with the Blues, but it’s already clear why the Club were so keen to bring him to Manchester.

A Rolls Royce of a defender, he is going to be a huge asset for City in the coming years and it’s not hard to understand why he is regarded as one of the best young defenders in world football.

He is also a warm, polite, and very likeable young man.

As we walk around his various tasks on November's player appearance day, he chats, smiles and looks relaxed and happy.

“I grew up in Zagreb with my family – my parents and two sisters – it’s a place that will always be home and it’s nice to go back there and visit everyone when I can,” says Gvardiol..

“I was with Dinamo Zagreb for 12 years, growing up and being part of the best club in Croatia and if you ask me, one day I would like to return there to live.”

A lot has happened since he made his senior debut aged just 17.

It took him just one year of senior football to impress RB Leipzig he was very much one for the future and after agreeing a transfer fee, he was promptly loaned back to the Croatian giants for the 2020/21 season.

That was during a strange time for the world in general, with the COVID pandemic sweeping the globe.

Social distancing, face masks, travel restrictions and other measures to stop the spread of the virus were still in place by the time the then-19 year-old moved to Germany.

It was a testing time all-round.

“So I moved to RB Leipzig when I was 18, but I was loaned back to Zagreb for a year,” he confirmed.

“I lived alone for two years in Germany and my family would come and visit every couple of months and stay for a few weeks.

“The good thing was that Dani Olmo was there with me and we knew each other from our days at Dinamo Zagreb – he is about four years older than me, so he was like a big brother and a really nice guy, too. It definitely helped me settle in and I am really happy he was part of a new page in my career.

“Learning German was a bit tough, if I’m honest!

“At the beginning, because of Coronavirus and all the restrictions that were placed on us, it was difficult to take German lessons face to face, so I was trying to learn by myself online and with books – but to be fair, I didn’t try as hard as I could have done. I picked up some - enough to get by.

“It was about a year after the main pandemic period, and it was hard for everyone.”

Technique, vision, and intelligence, Gvardiol’s playing style oozes class.

He says we haven’t seen the best of him yet as he adjusts and adapts to the demands of playing for the best coach in the world and the champions of Europe.

But he is getting there, and he has shown his talent and ability already on numerous occasions.

Josko says an understanding of playing in other positions has helped him become a better footballer.

“I would say my playing style it is natural, but maybe the team that helped me the most is the one I played with when I was young (NK Trešnjevka and Zagreb’s junior side) because I played in every position,” he said.

“Centre-back, full-back, No.10, striker – a right winger that cut inside -I played everywhere and it helps you learn and understand what is required from each role.

“The quality in the Premier League is so high and the pace so fast, but if I’m asked to do anything for the team, it obviously takes time to adapt, but I believe in my ability and I know I can do it.”

Joining City was a dream come true for the young Croatian international, and he admits it is still sinking in.

It’s been a whirlwind phase in his life and does that mean he sometimes wakes up and thinks, ‘wow, has all this really happened?’

“It’s a good question and yeah, it’s a bit unreal because just three years ago I was playing for Zagreb and if you were to ask me back then, ‘would you like to be a part of Man City?’ I would have said, ‘Erm, yeah – are you joking with me or what?’

“Yet three years after, here I am and it’s just unreal. I just have to take every opportunity I get and enjoy each time we play and the style of football we play, too

“It is different, and I remember my first couple of weeks here and you feel like your head is spinning.

“I knew from the first moment I was on the pitch with the ball at my feet, it’s going to take some time to adapt.

“I am doing better than I did at the very start, but there is still a lot of room for me to improve.”

Facing the likes of Jeremy Doku and Erling Haaland in training every day can only enhance his ability as a defender – but Josko says he is happy it is only training and not in matches!

“I don’t know how it is possible, the movement of (Jeremy’s) feet - he’s the quickest guy I ever came across!" he said.

“I’m happy I’m part of his team and that I don’t have to mark him – the same with Erling!”

And what of Manchester? Does life in the Rainy City suit the Croatian star?

“I like it,” he smiled.

“Before I came here, I’d heard a lot about Manchester. I live in the centre and people are always very helpful as well as being nice and kind.

“If you ask me if the weather is a problem I will say definitely not – I am here to play football and enjoy my time with Manchester City and rain doesn’t bother me in the slightest.

“I’m more than happy.”

Interview: David Clayton

City v Tottenham
Premier League 
Sun 3 Dec, kick off 16:30 

Mozzer’s verdict: I see this as being a statement win. Spurs have started really well and topped the table for a number of weeks, but they are up against the Treble winners, have a lot of players injured and I think we’ll want to send a message out in this game with a big win. 

Mozzer’s prediction: City 4-1 Spurs 

Aston Villa v City
Premier League
Weds 6 Dec, kick-off 20:15

Mozzer’s verdict: Villa ‘s home record is exceptional, so this is going to be a difficult 90 minutes. But having said that, we’re playing really well – the only issue is we haven’t been putting enough chances away, and have been allowing teams off the hook - as we did against Liverpool - though I expect that to improve as we go along. I think we’ll just edge this.

Mozzer’s prediction: Villa 1-2 City

Luton Town v City
Premier League
Sun 10 Dec, kick-off 14:00 

Mozzer’s verdict: I’ve been waiting 25 years to say I was the last Manchester City player to score away to Luton! That was back in 1998 in a 1-1 draw, and I must admit, I thought Luton were dead certs to go straight back down based on the first few months, but they’ve found some form, have plenty of heart and it’s a tight ground where not many teams score. That said, keeping this City side at bay is another level all together.

Mozzer’s prediction: Luton 1-4 City

Red Star Belgrade v City
Champions League
Weds 13 Dec, kick-off 17:45 

Mozzer’s verdict: Now we have our qualification all wrapped and have won the group, we finish against Red Star and that should give Pep the chance to rest a few legs ahead of a busy Christmas period. We may not have our strongest XI out for this. if that is the case, I’m going for a draw.

Mozzer’s prediction: Red Star 1-1 City

City v Crystal Palace 
Premier League 
Sat 16 Dec, kick-off 15:00 

Mozzer’s verdict: I know that Palace have given us one or two problems over the years, but I can only see a straightforward home win on this occasion as I hope we’ll just be finding our optimum form.

Mozzer’s prediction: City 3-1 Palace

Everton v City
Premier League 
Weds 27 Dec, kick-off 20:15 

Mozzer’s verdict: Goodison Park is never easy, no matter how Everton are playing. They’ll make it tough and will be in our faces and the crowd will be up for it, but I believe we’ll have too much for them and leave Merseyside with all three points.

Mozzer’s prediction: Everton 0-2 City

City v Sheffield United
Premier League
Sat 30 Dec, kick off 15:00 

Mozzer’s verdict: Sheffield United are finding life in the Premier League very tough and though they pushed us all the way at Bramall Lane earlier this season, it won’t be as close this time and I think it will be a big home win. If we do, it will be the perfect end to a perfect 2023.

Mozzer’s prediction: City 6-1 Sheff United

We focus on players who fly under the radar of the football world outside of loyal City fans. The latest edition looks at a midfielder crucial to our maiden Women’s Super League title win, Daphne Corboz.

City’s unbeaten 2016 Women’s Super League season remains our only league title to date in the women’s game.

Nick Cushing’s side relied heavily on the country’s best defence – with only four goals conceded in 16 games. As all coaches say, defending is the responsibility of the entire team.

One of the midfielders tasked with linking defence to attack was Daphne Corboz. Born in Alabama to French parents, Corboz was always set for a life in sport.

Her father played semi-professionally in Grenoble before moving to the US to pursue his postdoctoral research.

Corboz played for Georgetown University for four years before she was accepted at Rutgers University and was chosen by Sky Blue FC in the 2015 NWSL College Draft in January 2015.

However, she eventually chose to postpone medical school and signed with Manchester City.

The American arrived at City in 2015 and became a key cog in the machine quickly. She played seven times in the second half of that season as a second place finish left us perfectly set for a title tilt in 2016.

A back five of England internationals Karen Bardsley, Lucy Bronze, Steph Houghton and Demi Stokes as well as Scotland’s Jen Beattie would have to be difficult for opposition attacks to bypass.

So it proved, with City not conceding until the eighth league game of the season. That run of clean sheets included six wins and one draw. When we finally did concede, the result was a 1-1 draw with Liverpool and the second of two consecutive draws.

However, in a 16-game season that was our worst run of the league campaign. City won 13 of 16 fixtures, drawing three times and keeping 12 clean sheets.

Corboz played in 13 of those matches, starting six times, in the engine room of midfield alongside fellow tireless workers Jill Scott and Izzy Christiansen.

In a team so defensively solid, bridging the gap to the forwards in order to ensure the team create enough chances is a key part of a midfielder’s role.

Corboz’s excellent technical ability made her a quiet but functional operator in the middle of the park to smoothly bring the ball forward.

She scored twice – the opener in the 2-0 win at Birmingham City early in the campaign and the final goal in a 4-0 defeat of Doncaster Rovers Belles.

It was an excellent first full year in European football for the midfielder and one that made her reflect on the success of her risky decision to postpone medical school and come to Manchester.

“It feels absolutely incredible,” she said after lifting the title.

“I think that we had that goal to win the title this year, and to be able to fulfil your dreams is really a special moment.”

However, Corboz would move on that winter, announcing in November 2016 that she was to leave City.

She returned to her native New Jersey to play for Sky Blue FC before joining Fleury and then Paris FC in France.

While many of that team were crucial in England’s run to the final of the summer’s World Cup and others like Steph Houghton, Jill Scott and Karen Bardsley cemented their status as legends of the game, Corboz remains uncapped at senior level by either USA or France.

Now 30, she continues to play for one of the biggest clubs in her parents’ home country but has not topped the WSL title she won in her first year on this side of the Atlantic.

Words: Jack Wilson-Mumford

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City have scored some stunning goals so far in 2023/24, and Deyna Castellanos’ effort against Leicester is right up there with the best.

Racing onto a pass from Mary Fowler on the edge of the visitors’ box, the Venezuelan unleashed a vicious first-time drive, catching out the rapidly retreating Foxes goalkeeper, Lize Kop.

The effort, struck early and with plenty of venom, rifled into the Leicester net off the underside of the crossbar for the attacker’s first goal of the season.

And while Gareth Taylor’s side would miss out on the additional bonus point after losing the eventual penalty shootout in the Continental Cup, Castellanos’ moment of individual brilliance sparked a rousing second half comeback from City, who recovered from a two-goal deficit to draw 2-2.

It’s not the first time that the Venezuelan has found the net in spectacular fashion though. In fact, she’s forged a reputation for exactly that in her young career so far.

That was exemplified at the Central American and Caribbean games, with Castellanos grabbing several standout goals en route to claiming the Golden Boot.

The fact that she reflects on those goals with such nonchalance demonstrates further that her eye for the spectacular is nothing new.

“The goalkeepers were always very advanced, so I just took advantage of that and got my head up and clicked the ball from very long distances,” she explains.

“I think it's something that I’ve always had in my game [eye for the spectacular].

“I love scoring goals, I think that's the best part of football, that's something that I truly believe. I get so much joy every time I score a goal.

“I’ve been the captain of every youth team and I’ve been with the senior team for a very long time so I think that role [as a leader] just came to me.

“I embraced it and for me I feel so proud of being the Venezuelan national team captain.”

Typically humble when describing her achievements, Castellanos’ reflections perhaps don’t do justice to the quality of the goals she scored at the tournament.

Against Costa Rica, in Venezuela’s opening game, she spotted the opposition goalkeeper off her line and lofted the ball over her from 40 yards.

She scored a similar type of goal in the semi-final against host nation El Salvador, dinking an audacious effort over the goalkeeper from even further out.

In a group stage brace against Haiti, one of her strikes saw her clinically finish following an impressive solo effort, while she also found the top corner with an unstoppable free-kick against Guatemala.

Five goals in five games, the Golden Boot and a showreel which would be the envy of any player – it was an outstanding tournament for Castellanos, but the dream would end in extra time against Mexico in the final, with Venezuela having to settle for a silver medal.

Nonetheless, it’s a summer which the 24-year-old looks back on fondly.

She adds with a smile: “I was very proud of that tournament, because we had a lot of young players for the first time with us in the senior team.

“It was very exciting to see how good they are and how excited they were to be with us.

“Winning silver was very nice, and it was something that we were looking forward to.

“I think it was a good tournament and there was a good vibe also between all the teams.

“My team-mates were like a family in this tournament, so it was very exciting to win that recognition([Golden Boot). I wouldn't be able to do it without them.”

But the focus is firmly back on Manchester City now for Castellanos, as she looks to help Gareth Taylor’s side get our hands on silverware this season.

Enjoying her second full season at the Club in 2023/24, the Venezuelan has been an important figure in what has been a strong start to the campaign.

Despite suffering our first WSL defeats of the season against Arsenal and Brighton at the beginning of November, City responded well to remain in the top three ahead of the latest international break.

That recovery was exemplified by a gutsy performance and deserved triumph over Manchester United in the first WSL clash with our rivals to take place at Old Trafford, before Spurs were put to the sword in clinical fashion at the Joie Stadium.

But the success on the pitch, according to Castellanos, is complemented by a healthy atmosphere off it.

Hailing from South America, the famous Manchester weather was certainly a culture shock which the Venezuelan has had to adapt to, but she is loving life exploring a special city.

“Oh, I love it here,” she responds instantly when asked for her thoughts on Manchester.

“The weather is a little bit tough for me obviously coming from Venezuela, but I really like the city and I love the people here.

“All of us are friends and that’s something very rare and I think the most special part of about this team.

“I think we [Spanish speaking players] help each other a lot and obviously always having someone that you can speak to in your first language is very important.

“To also have the same players if you don't know a word and they do is something very important.

“It's amazing and Leila [Ouahabi] and I, we have a really big relationship, and we see each other pretty much every day outside of the club. That’s something very special.”

That bond goes beyond the Spanish-speaking members of Gareth Taylor’s squad though.

Time and again, the unity of this young side has been highlighted by players and coaches alike, and Castellanos is quick to reiterate that.

For her, the squad’s different backgrounds, attitudes and outlooks have created a unique melting pot for City to flourish, both on and off the field.

She concludes: “I’ve been in so many teams in the past and this one is something that is very special.

“All of my teammates are nice and they for sure made us feel at home since the first day.

“That's something very special and we communicate well, understand each other.

“We also have a mix of cultures in this team.

“Sometimes it could be a problem but in this team it’s not, it’s something that that we embrace, and we try to learn from other cultures. That's very exciting and very positive.”

Interview: George Kelsey

Elite Development Squad midfielder Josh Adam says tasting success in the UEFA Youth League is his ultimate target for the 2023/24 campaign...

Scottish Under-21 international Adam has made a big impact at City since making the move south of the border from Celtic in the summer of 2020.

Hugely skilful on the ball, and blessed with great technique and vision, Adam was key part of our all-conquering Under-18s squad as they enjoyed regional and national title success in both 2020/21 and 2021/22, as well as helping City lift the Under-17 Premier League Cup in April of 2022.

Elevated to the Under 21s in the summer of 2022, Adam made the transition to the higher age group with aplomb, helping Brian Barry-Murphy’s EDS claim a third successive PL2 title in impressive fashion last term.

But reflecting on his key hopes and ambitions looking to the remainder of the 2023/24 season, Adam was in no doubt as to what his overarching target was.

Adam it was who netted the winner win our crucial 2-1 win over RB Leipzig in our penultimate Group G clash at the Joie Stadium, a win which secured our place as group winners.

And he says the squad is hungry to taste success in a competition which pits the cream of Europe’s young talent but which has evaded City so far.

“In terms of desire it’s always going to be the UEFA Youth League,” Adam admitted.

“It’s the biggest competition and it’s the Champions League of the youth system but we are obviously aiming to try and win the PL2 title again too.

“It’s a bit more difficult this season as it’s a new format and maybe a bit more difficult as it involves playing one game against every other side. But I still think the Youth League would edge it!

“Qualifying for the knockout stages, I think it shows the quality we have in the Academy.

“There are so many good players here and I think it shows again that we are one of the best teams in the competition.

“Securing qualification against three good teams in our group it speaks for itself really.”

Able to operate as a number eight or as a ten, Adam has made a positive impact since returning from injury at the start of the season, raking up two goals and an assist in the four games since his return. 

And Adam described how the warm welcome he felt from his teammates helped him with that step up to the U21s. 

He said: "When I first came to City it was completely different for me, different tactics, it's one of the best clubs in the world and there’s a lot more challenge for places.

"The first season in U18s was a great season, we came away with three trophies, it was a great experience.

“We bonded really well; everyone was really welcoming, and I think it showed on the pitch.

“It was about trying to fit in to the playing style and become an attacking midfield player either playing on the left or right, either as a number 8 or 10.

“It doesn’t matter what side of the pitch I’m playing on - I think I play well on either.

“I wasn’t nervous going up to the Under-21s last season though it was more of a challenge.

“Sometimes you are playing men in PL2 as there is not really an age limit on who you are playing against.

“For me the goals this season are about trying my best every day. You can always improve every day, no matter what game or level you are at.

“It’s about always working hard and trying your best both in training and in games.”

Adam also says that training and learning from City’s first team when he gets the opportunity to work with Pep Guardiola’s squad has also proved invaluable.

“Watching the first team players you see how they train and give 100 per cent every single day,” he added.

“They work their hardest every day which is probably why they are where they are

"Everyone is so welcoming like Bernardo and Jack.

They always say hellp and it’s really comforting when you go over (to the first team) as it’s a big step up and they are the best players in the world - but they are so welcoming., it really helps a lot.”

Interview: Neil Leigh

Across all of Manchester City’s social media accounts, the Club boasts more than 150 million followers.  

 And over the course of last season, in excess of one million tickets for our 19 Premier League home games were sold, as well EDS, Women’s and away matches including finals.  

The management and distribution of these tickets have been overseen by Francine Warburton, Head of Fan Support, and her team who are responsible for all ticketing and operational information for our matchday attending fans.  

And since stepping into the role in August 2022, Fran has seen unprecedented levels of interest from fans around the globe wanting to see Pep Guardiola’s City squad at the Etihad.  

City Magazine sat down with Fran to hear about how her and her team look to provide a variety of matchday experiences and support to help make each game experience the best it can be.  

CITY MAG: Fran, what a first season to have in your role. How enjoyable was it and what does your role entail throughout the campaign?  

FRAN: Last season was unbelievable to work on with a record number of games, home and away, the entire Fan Support team worked incredibly hard to ensure that our fans could be with the Treble-winning team every step of the way.  

It was also a campaign where we changed quite a few things but with the interest of the fans at the heart of the decision. We’ve increased our team of full-time, dedicated staff members who now operate all our contact channels seven days a week following a decision we made the to bring all of our sales and service channels in-house, meaning we subsequently ended our contract with a third-party call centre.

We now have a large group, which includes lots of loyal City fans of a variety of ages, helping fans through our own call centre. And these members of staff could well be the person sat next to you on a matchday and I think that has helped make the call centre a lot better too. We’ve seen improvements to our response rates and an improvement in the quality of them and that’s something we are really proud of.  

Something else I’ve been working on is the Premier League’s Fan Engagement Standard which is building on some of the Club’s existing engagement plans with our fans. As a result, I’m leading a team on evolving the structure of our policies for the next 12 months around how often we’re interacting with our fans, what the content is going to be and working with the Chair of City Matter,s Alex Howell, to enhance the fan forum. 

CITY MAG: Speaking of being more inclusive for our fans, you and your team have been working hard on some other initiatives too which has seen a new addition to your team?  

FRAN: Yes! We’ve recently hired Jo Becker who is our Accessibility Lead. She’s worked as an Access Consultant for a number of years across a range of different industries and we’ve now brought her in as a senior member of the Fan Support team who will contribute to strategy and decision-making so that we keep accessibility at the heart of everything we do.  

We are committed to continuously developing the facilities at the Etihad Stadium to ensure a fantastic matchday experience for all our fans. Not all disabilities are visible and at City we want to be as accommodating as possible so everyone can have an enjoyable matchday and feel safe and comfortable. So it’s a really important area of strategy for us in terms of it being part of every conversation whether you’re speaking to a hostess in hospitality or speaking to a steward at the gate, their knowledge and understanding and that their empowered to be able to help all fans is vital to us.    

CITY MAG: You’ve been at City since 2007 but always been in a role related to fans, you must really love getting to help fans enjoy the Etihad as much as you do?  

FRAN: Nothing beats a matchday for me. I still get a buzz every home game and at kick-off when you look at what we’ve achieved, getting all those fans into the ground week in and week out. And yes there is things to improve, but we’re really proud of the work we do and the same goes for the Joie Stadium and the growing popularity of the Women’s games, too. We are also involved in every away game so getting fans to the away ground in Premier League games, the Champions League and domestic cups and that’s for fans of every team City has.   

What’s been nice to see grow on a matchday too is the growth of younger fans attending games. Our City family just keeps growing and it’s great to be a part of that.   

On a non-football-related note, I’ve also been involved in all the concerts we’ve hosted and to be a venue that is doing so many different things, each year brings a fun and different dynamic that also challenges us to continuously improve our services.   

CITY MAG: Are there any moments that particularly stand out for you as a proud moment for you and your team?  

FRAN: Well there are too many singular fan interactions to name but there have been so many amazing moments where we’ve seen fans enjoy their first Etihad game or 100th and each of those are so special. But there are a few key events that stand out in my mind.  

While not a highlight and certainly something I’d like to never happen again, I’ll always remember when City were due to play Borussia Monchengladbach and it was torrential downpour in Manchester and the Metrolinks were flooded. We had to figure out how to turn a game around in 24 hours and making that work as best as possible for us and our fans was great to be part of.  And then more specifically our Treble-winning season, it was just great to work with such an amazing team on dealing with such a congested schedule with high profile domestic and European fixtures which all paid off as we all got to watch our beloved City win some phenomenal trophies and make history.  

Interview: Holly Percival

In the third part of our City Magazine interview with Elano, he discusses the current player he would have enjoyed being team-mates with most – plus his legacy at City…

Elano admits he would have loved to have played under Pep Guardiola.

The gifted Brazilian says his mixture of hard work and artistry would have – he thinks – made him an ideal candidate for Guardiola’s team, and chances are, he is correct.

But what of the team of today?

Who would Elano loved to have played alongside in sky blue, week in, week out?

“I would wish to play with everyone, because everyone is fantastic,” smiled Elano.

“But I think - I wish - I could play with Kevin De Bruyne. I think he is a genius of simplicity.

“He executes everything well and in a simple way. And this style is basically what I've always used in my career.

"Everyone looks at Kevin and everyone tries to do the same.

“But it's not simple to execute. It's simple to see, but it's not simple to do and he gets things done.

“One pass, those side crosses he gives many times, most of the time the defender, doesn't wait because he is crossing the ball just when the line is up and the forward, like Haaland, who’s hungry for goals, already knows that he's going to do it.

“Then he runs towards the goal, so I really like these plays.

“They are actions that I’ve always trained and ones that catch the defenders by surprise. So these passes he makes are this simplicity in the game that enchants me.”

And what of compatriot and close friend Fernandinho?

What did he make of his time with City?

“I joke about it,” he said. “Here I was a worker, and Fernandinho was the magician.

“And when I say magician because he's the guy who became the captain and I used to tell him about the smiles we put on the City fans faces during my time with the Club.

“The group that Fernandinho was part of, the team, ended up delivering, completing that smile with many trophies, which made Manchester smile again on the blue side.

“We were together in Shakhtar in 2005 and I always joked with him, talked to him, Man, you'll be here for a while, but your place is in Europe.

“And then when he went to City, I was very happy. Fernandinho is a great player, a great, great human being.

“So much so that at 38, 39 years old, he maintains the same level of professionalism in Brazil.

“Now at Atlético, he’s returned home and he’s continued with the same level of play. He makes me happy to be Brazilian."

And what of Elano’s standing with the City fans?

Undoubtedly a firm favourite with Blues’ supporters, he is still talked about some 14 years after he left.

A pioneer of the skill levels and quality to come, does he agree when people call him a Club great?

“Look, if they think so, I will agree with it!” he smiled.

“I always use this phrase a lot – I was an actor in a supporting role who also wins an Oscar.

“I always put myself in life as a supporting character, because it's not simple to be the differentiated one.

“Being a star is not simple. I don't consider myself a legend.

“I always consider myself a supporting character, but a supporting character who has always helped to solve the problems.

“I won seven titles with Santos so that will always be special, but as a relationship from all the clubs I’ve played for, with the fans, during the club's moment, I agree City was where I’ve got this special connection.

“I wanted to be special and bring supporters in – sort of ‘Man, let's go see this guy play - let’s see if he’s everything that they say.’

“So this increased with each game. I remember that City adopted a yellow away shirt because of Brazil, and at the Club there was a lot of Brazilian flags spread around - and it was getting bigger.

“As I always say: ‘That’s how I became Elano’, right?

“So, like I said, the managers liked to count on me, so that has always brought me happiness.

“I loved my time as a Manchester City player and the Club remains very close to my heart.”

Campbell Hatton’s boxing career is progressing nicely with a 100% win rate so far. Here, the lifelong Blue – son of former world champion Ricky Hatton, of course – talks boxing and City…

CITY MAG: Campbell, it feels like you were always destined to become a boxer…

CH: “Yeah, growing up, I was always around the boxing gyms during my dad and my uncle Matthew's careers, but I tried a little bit of everything as a kid - some football, some rugby - but boxing gripped me like nothing else and looking back, I guess it was always going to happen, coming from the family that I do.”

Your dad’s success must have had a massive influence on you?

“My dad has always been an inspiration to me. When you are close to someone who has been there, done it and reached the top level, it gives you a lot of confidence and you end up asking, 'why couldn't that be me?  I could go on and do the same’, so I've always looked up to my dad."

Your record so far is pretty impressive…

“I've had a good start to my career - 14 wins out of 14 - and I've learned a lot from each fight and gained valuable experience so hopefully there will be bigger and better things next year.”

Your last fight was against Jamie Sampson in October – how did that go?

“If I’m honest it was a bit of a frustrating one because my opponent didn't really want to know and there was a lot of holding. Eventually, he got two points taken off him and ended up being disqualified, not the ideal way to win a fight, but it was out of my control and hopefully next time I'll be up against someone who wants to come and have a go.”

You’re always following City home and away – what’s a typical home game routine?

“A typical matchday routine can vary because a lot of the time I'm on a diet and in training - if I am, it's a diet Coke in Mary D's and off to the game, but when I'm not, I'll get a couple of pints, hit the chippy and go to the match!”

Your first City memory?

“My earliest City memory was walking out with Richard Dunne as a mascot in a friendly against Valencia at the Etihad in 2007. I’d have been about six and I think David Silva scored the only goal – for Valencia.”

Do you have a favourite City kit?
“I’ve had loads and all my kits have always been City - mostly sky blue home ones - but I also had sky blue and maroon one; a red and black striped one and the yellow/green and blue striped kit we wore against Gillingham in 1999.”

Who is you all-time City hero?

“It's a toss-up for my all-time favourite City player between Sergio Aguero and David Silva - but my favourite in the current City team has got to be Kevin De Bruyne.”

Our original scheduled interview was cancelled because you’d shouted yourself hoarse against United – is that right?

“Yeah, I couldn't do the original date because I'd got back from Switzerland watching us play against Young Boys and then went to the derby at Old Trafford and lost my voice! What a time to be a Blue!”

Your dad had a massive following of City fans – is that the same for you?

“It is. I’m absolutely buzzing to have the support from the City fans and also the backing of the Club. Hopefully we'll have another Manchester show soon so we can get everyone to come down.”

It’s 15 years since your dad fought in front of 55,000 at the Etihad – is that something you are looking to emulate?

“The dream for me has always been to have one of my fights at the Etihad - hopefully for a world title - and that's what we're working towards now.”

Finally Campbell, how’s your dad and it must be fantastic having a multiple world champion in your corner?

“My dad's doing really well and yeah, it's great to be able to get his advice in and outside the ring which will bring me on massively, so I'm in a great position.”

Campbell, thanks for talking to City Magazine…


At the end of the 2022/23 season, Ben Wilkinson’s Under-18s saw around a 70% turnover of players moving out on loan or making the step up to the Elite Development Squad.

And with older faces departing, newer faces joined the Academy team in the summer. One new name to the Under-18s squad is midfielder Dan Batty.

The 17-year-old is getting his first taste of Under-18 Premier League football and is hopeful to continue developing over the course of the 2023/24 campaign.

He spent some time in the City Studio to take part in a question and answer session so City fans can get to know him better...

Dan, you’ve been in the Academy system since you were little and now playing Under-18s football, it must be nice to finally reach this moment?
Yeah it is. I’ve been at City since I was about five or six and ever since I joined City’s style of play has always suited me so I think that’s why I’ve been here for so long. I think the way we play really matches up to the Club’s style and it’s the only thing I’ve ever known so it’s been great to develop here since a young age.

For those who haven’t had the chance to see you play in blue yet, what does your role tend to be on a matchday?
My main role is to be as creative as possible. I’m a number 10 so I like to score goals but also create chances for my teammates and obviously just do what I can to help the team win.

How has it been getting used to the increase in intensity between the Under-16s and Under-18s? There is a bit of a jump but just mainly the intensity and the speed which has gone up as well as the opposition being a little bit more aggressive. But in terms of technically and on the ball everything feels the same which has helped make the transition not as difficult as people might think.

Are there any players in particular you’ve enjoyed playing with a lot?
There are a few players I’ve known since we were little like Rhys Thomas and Matty Henderson-Hall. I’ve known them for such a long time so I’ve always played well with them and they’ve come up with me to the Under-18s so we’ve still got that strong relationship on the pitch.

Did you set any goals for yourself for your first season in the Under-18s?
I didn’t really set anything too specific. The main thing is to just get as many minutes as possible, stay fit and just develop and learn as much as possible when I am given game time. I think this will help me a lot for when I get older and hopefully ready for first-team football. Obviously I want to do well in the Under-17s and Under-18s Premier League cups and the league but they’re just bonuses. The main thing for me is to just keep improving.

You must still have the idea of silverware in the back of your mind acting as extra motivation?
Yeah we all want to win the league and I think to be able to do that for a fourth season would be something special as it’s not something anyone has ever done before. That will definitely be on our minds as we head towards the end of the season.

Interview: Holly Percival


Representing a country at international level is a special achievement in itself for a professional footballer, but Sandy MacIver has gone one better!

While not unheard of, the City goalkeeper now has now had the rare opportunity to switch her international allegiance from England to Scotland.

MacIver made her solitary Lionesses appearance in 2021 but qualifies to represent Scotland through her father, and made her debut for her adopted nation, and one she admits she’s always supported, during the recent round of UEFA Nations League fixtures in late October.

It was a special moment for the goalkeeper and her family.

She reflects: “I really enjoyed it. I was a bit nervous going in, but really thankful and grateful that the group of girls were really nice and welcomed me in.

“Obviously we were disappointed not to get anything from either of the games, but I really enjoyed being part of it and was very happy when I came back to City Football Academy.

“My mum and dad came up to the game, but I don't think they spoke to each other the whole trip up because they were so nervous!

“I've always grown up supporting Scotland, that's nothing new for me and so for me, my mum and dad it was such a moment of pride.”

After Scotland were beaten 4-0 by the Netherlands in Holland, things were much closer in the reverse fixture four days later, when MacIver made her debut.

Indeed, only a spectacular long-range strike from Esmee Brugts on the hour prevented the City goalkeeper and co. from claiming a hard-earned point.

It didn’t detract from the overall experience of playing on the international scene for the 25-year-old, though.

Already an immense source of pride to turn out for Scotland, the fact that she was able to make her senior bow at the national stadium, Hampden Park, added to the overall occasion.

“To be honest, I don’t think there’s any better place for a Scottish player to make their first start,” MacIver smiles.

“It was an amazing place, and just knowing that the history behind Scottish football and the games that have been there as well as the players to have played on that pitch both for the men and women's team, it was special that I'm now a part of that group.

“It's always something that’s been in the back of my mind [to represent Scotland] but at the end of the day they need to want you, so I was lucky in that aspect where Pedro [Martinez Losa] contacted me.

“It was somewhere that felt like home, which to me was the most important thing.”

That sense of belonging also translates back to City, where MacIver discusses the close bond she has with her fellow goalkeepers, Khiara Keating and Ellie Roebuck.

Gareth Taylor has consistently praised the quality and attitude of his three senior stoppers, particularly with the trio challenging for a single starting berth.

Competition such as that could lead to division, but MacIver insists it has in fact brought about the opposition outcome.

While all three have their sights set on laying claim to the number one spot, they support each other on and off the pitch, with the collective valued over the individual in every circumstance.

Indeed, a small superstition that MacIver and fellow goalkeeper Khiara Keating share ahead of matches demonstrates that unity in the squad.

“Khiara [Keating] and I have this thing now where pre-game we have a little dance in the changing room to the song ‘Wap’,” the goalkeeper admits.

“I think that's good, because it just gets us ready for the game, regardless who's playing, and I think to have that kind of relaxed atmosphere always helps us.

“I think since I came in last season it's been like that, and we’ve always said regardless of who's playing that we always support that person.

“I think it helps that we all get on away from the pitch as well, which always makes life a bit easier.”

While there are plenty of laughs away from the pitch, such as those amusing traditions, MacIver and her City team-mates are also motivated to each give 100% in pursuit of our goals on the field.

At time of writing, Gareth Taylor’s side sit third in the Barclays Women’s Super League table, while a grudge match with rivals Manchester United in January could decide whether we qualify for the quarter-finals of the Continental Cup.

It’s a difficult assignment for City, but MacIver is confident that challenges or moments of adversity bring the best out of the team.

She adds: “We're in a tough Conti Cup group. Even if it's not smooth sailing we’ve shown that we can come back and win.

“I think when you can show that you can come back from a losing position and win I think that gives you confidence.

“For us, we want to win trophies and we can't shy away from the Conti Cup or presume it's going to be an easy ride, because it's definitely not.

“It gives you a new competition to focus on.”

Interview: George Kellsey

 Blossoming Nicely!

Stockport’s finest and Manchester City-loving band Blossoms talk about their huge upcoming 2024 gig, plus what’s happened since the quintet – made of members Tom Ogden, Charlie Salt, Josh Dewhurst, Joe Donovan, and Myles Kellock – last spoke to City Mag. The Brit Award winners have three UK No.1 albums behind to their names to date. Here they answer the questions you want to hear…

 CITY MAG: Thanks for speaking to us , guys. Tell us about your Wythenshawe Park gig next year?

BLOSSOMS: It’s our biggest headline show to date. It’s going to be quite surreal as we’ve played nearly every venue in Manchester on our journey to this point. From our first gig at Night and Day Cafe in the Northern Quarter, through to The Ritz, Apollo, Castlefield Bowl and Manchester Arena, so a big field feels like the next step.

How have things been going generally since we last spoke?
We’ve been busy working on our next album, which is coming along nicely. We had a busy festival season, and just got back from three shows in Los Angeles, one was supporting one of our heroes New Order, which was a real honour!

Has your success meant seeing less of City?
In the first couple of years when the band really took off, we didn’t get to many games as we were on tour all the time. However, the last couple of seasons we’ve managed to get to most matches, our tours have fallen nicely not to clash too much with the games. 

How did you celebrate the Treble?
We almost went out to Istanbul, but we had some studio dates we couldn’t move, so we watched it home with our parents. It was a beautiful warm night, so we had a BBQ and had the telly out in the garden, what a night!

What are your thoughts on the season so far?
We think it’s been a good start, we’ve had a few big injuries, KDB being the obvious one, but we are there or thereabouts, and the league is really tight, so there’s still all to play for. We usually hit real form after Christmas anyway, so let’s see…

Have your fanbase recognised your allegiances more and more over the past few years?
Yes definitely, more City flags at our shows and stuff. I think because we’ve done a few promo bits with the Club and go to lots of games, people know us as City fans now.

Between now and the park gig, what are you up to?
Finishing making our fifth album! And going to City!

What would a City music supergroup look like to you?

Drums - John Stones, solid at the back, with some flair when needed.

Bass - Rodri, keeps the rhythm going.

Lead guitar - Grealish, cheeky with the talent to back it up.

Keyboards - Nathan Ake, heard he’s a wizard on the keys.

Lead vocals - Haaland, superstar.

Tambourine - Bernardo Silva, free roam can do what he wants.

It’s almost Christmas – tell us about a favourite City Christmas present you once received and one you’d like this year?
Joe bought me (Tom) a signed Paul Dickov 1999 Gillingham shirt, a childhood hero of mine, so has to be that!

Thanks guys and good luck with the new album!
Cheers and see you all at the Etihad!

For the May 2005 City Magazine cover, the focus was on the Blues making a late bid for a UEFA Cup spot.

As we were also promoting the new away kit for 2005/06, we were offered the opportunity of a rare double main interview.

Stuart Pearce had taken the reins after Kevin Keegan quit his post and the April schedule had seen City in top form and defensively, we conceded just three goals in six games, with Sylvain Distin and Richard Dunne outstanding in central defence.

So, we went with Distin and Dunne for our cover, and the shot was very much in the theme of a nightclub bouncer stance – ‘your name’s not down so you’re not coming in’ – obviously with the lack of goals we’d let in the hook.

It worked pretty well.

At the bottom right corner, we also had a feature on the late Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis and how he’d followed City during his all-too short lifetime.

It was a classic Kevin Cummins shot, but we agonised about the fact Curtis was smoking a cigarette.

Today, we’d probably err on the side of caution as obviously not wanting to promote smoking as ‘cool’ in any form, but we went with it as to airbrush it out would have looked odd and Kevin would have almost certainly been aghast!

Thankfully, nobody took offence – and but for promoting the third kit, the iconic Curtis would have been the full cover…

This season I’m taking you on an A-to-Z tour of Manchester and possibly taking a few liberties with the alphabet. Expect lots of musicians, an occasional session with a footballer and whatever else I can find in my archive.

This issue we’re already up to the letter D and I can’t think of anyone better to feature, than City’s four-times player of the year: Richard Dunne.

It’s fair to say that Richard Dunne liked a beer every now and then

It’s also fair to say that his former manager Joe Royle, was getting a bit tired of telling Dunney off every now and then.

Royle hit upon the idea of weighing his players at the end of training on a Friday, then weighing them again before training on Monday. He would then fine them for every gram they’d gained over the weekend. It is rumoured that Richard Dunne’s fines paid for a very lavish Christmas party for players and staff that season!

When Kevin Keegan arrived, he loved Dunney as a player, but was faced with the same problem Royle had. At the start of 2002/03 season, he issued Richard with an ultimatum regarding his weight and ended up fining him the maximum he was allowed to by the PFA - then suspended Dunney for two weeks.

He then made him do laps of a training pitch at Carrington for two hours every day for the two weeks. A fitter, leaner, Richard Dunne emerged from this ordeal, and began to play the best football of his career. Once again, Kevin Keegan’s legendary man-management saved a player's career.

I don’t think the players’ party was as lavish that season though. But maybe that, too, was for the best.

Kevin Cummins

This month I’d like to introduce you to a certain Paul Webb!

As you find your way through the answers below, you’ll be left in no doubt as to the loyalty and devotion of this true blue through the decades.

A ‘lifer’ as they say.

Let’s get to it

Paul Webb on right

Paul Webb on right

In 1969 I was five years old, and I travelled down to London on the midnight coach with my gran to see my auntie.  The next day we went to Wembley with no tickets for the final, but we went to the ground anyway and my gran managed to blag us in via a concierge, we were 10 rows back from where we lifted the FA Cup.

We were playing Arsenal away and my friend had won tickets for a box in the Arsenal end.  I ended up in the next box with Eddie ‘Tenpole Tudor'!  That was a very random but great day. 

When we played our last home game against in Luton in 1983.  We only needed a draw but got beat, I was gutted, I was sat in the Platt Lane unable to move for about an hour.  

I’m completely torn between Paul Power’s goal in the semi-final which he scored in the 100th minute of the 100th FA Cup or Rodri’s goal in the Champions League final, it topped off being a City fan for me and I managed to get to Istanbul to watch the final, so it was a very special moment for me after all the years watching the Blues. 

Mike Summerbee.  My auntie Marge used to work for him, and he took time out to always chat to her, he is a lovely bloke and City legend.  I also once met Paul Power when I was on holiday in New York and for some reason we kept bumping into him throughout the trip, it was my 40th and his sons 21st and his daughter’s 18th birthdays.  I ended taking some family snaps for him and he gave us their travel passes to use during our trip, he is a top bloke. 

I remember it being party time!

I was happy as I was looking ahead to our new ground. 

I miss the Kippax the most as had some great memories there. 

Going to watch us play Derby County in 1976.  We got beat 4-0 and I remember the pitch resembled Blackpool beach.

This is a tough question as there are so many great players past and present like Paul Lake, Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Bernardo Silva but I think my all-time favourite has to be the King, the one and only Colin Bell. 

It would have to be Bernardo Silva as from all accounts he is a top fella and is intelligent!

As Julian Alvarez’s stock continues to rise in English football, so does his stature in Fantasy Premier League.

A January 2022 signing from River Plate, the Argentine didn’t arrive at the Etihad Stadium in the summer after completing a short loan with his previous employers.

The 23-year-old then enjoyed a wonderful first season at City where he scored 17 goals in all competitions and helped Pep Guardiola’s side iconically lift the Treble – while also winning the World Cup with his nation.

'El Arana' has built on his promising debut season in sky blue and has been an instrumental cog in the Club’s machine so far in 2023/24 thanks to his versatility and composure inside the 18-yard box.

As a result, he’s starting to cement his place as a ‘must have’ in FPL this season.

In total, he has tallied 66 points in the game which represents the second highest within our ranks – only behind Erling Haaland’s total of 96.

Alvarez’s highest single-game haul came in our superb 5-1 win over Fulham at the Etihad Stadium back in September when he racked up 14 points.

The world champion ghosted into the area and passed home Haaland’s pull-back to open the scoring in the Manchester sunshine.

Tim Ream equalised for the Cottagers, but we restored our lead before half-time when Nathan Ake planted a header past Bernd Leno.

The Argentine continued to influence proceedings when he registered two assist in the second half to the Norwegian who went on to bag an impressive hat-trick.

Since then, he has picked up nine points on two separate occasions in respective wins over West Ham (3-1) and Brighton (2-1) – proving himself to be a fine asset in FPL this term.

*All stats correct as of Wednesday 22 November*

Words: Sam Cox

Lifelong City Nigel Gregory has clocked up an incredible half a million miles watching his beloved Blues over the years.

Now, he’s put pen to paper to record his travels in a book that is both fascinating, funny, and nostalgic.

‘To The Blue Moon and Back’ is out now (see foot of article) and Nigel has spoken to City Magazine about his adventures…

 What’s the book about for those who don’t know?
Forget going round the world, I’ve been to the Blue Moon and back watching City – that’s over 500,000 miles. I’ve been north to Iceland, south to Australia, east to Tokyo, and west to California with lots of places, adventures, and characters in between. I’ve made snow angels in Red Square, drunk beer in Soweto, and been treated like a king in LA. I’ve walked along the Great Wall, climbed Table Mountain, and swum in the Persian Gulf. I’ve visited Transylvania after dark, spent time on Alcatraz, and escaped a kicking or two along the way. Thankfully, I’ve survived two heart attacks and Covid-19, while following the best team in the land and all the world.

How long did it take to write?
I started formulating the idea for the book back in January 2022. After spending the first few weeks just collating the mileage, it then took about six months to write the initial draft. The next twelve months were spent editing, reformatting and updating as the season 2022/23 progressed. The book was eventually published in September 2023, after Rodri had kindly delivered the fairy-tale ending in Istanbul.

So, how many games – and miles – does it cover?The journey starts with a trip to Blackpool’s Bloomfield Road in 1971, as an impressionable ten-year-old, and happily concludes with the 2023 Champions League final. The book doesn’t analyse the games, but rather captures my experiences from following the club around the world during that time. While touching on the odd iconic home game, the book focuses predominantly on the away trips, totalling more than 620,000 miles to date (more than enough to get to the moon and back).

What’s your favourite story on the road?
It’s difficult to pick just one standout trip, as I’ve loved them all, but if pushed I’d probably say the tour of North America in 2011. We’d just won the FA Cup and got the 35-year-old monkey off our backs, everyone was buzzing. As if games in San Francisco, Vancouver and LA weren’t enough, Garry Cook (who was CEO at the time) really went out of his way to make the tour special for those that had travelled.  

Why should City fans buy this?
While the book captures my personal journey, it’s a journey that’s been shared with thousands along the way. I’m sure supporters of a certain age will enjoy this trip down memory lane and will happily relate to many of the stories. For younger supporters, it shamelessly celebrates the current glory years, but also gives them an insight into the fun we had back in the 70s, 80s and 90s.

What’s the feedback been so far?
The feedback I’ve had to date has been really positive and heart-warming:

“Best book of this kind that I’ve ever read.”

“Brilliantly written, informative, funny and fantastically sarcastic.”

“Very amusing and self-deprecating in places.”

“Some fantastic tales and characters.”

“A must read for all City fans, and football fans in general.”

Any plans for a follow-up or was this just something you needed to get out of your system?
I felt this was a story that needed telling, to help counter some of the negative agenda-driven nonsense I've seen in the media, and let people see the truth – Manchester City: The best football club in the land and all the world (official). While writing the book became a real labour of love, I certainly don’t have any plans to produce a sequel (unless, maybe, if Pep stays another ten years...)   

The book, out now, is currently available from:Amazon.The Ginger Wig and Karl’s stall at the back of Mary D’s on match days!

The Club’s Charity, City in the Community (CITC) has released a new story in its participant story-telling series, ‘We Are City in the Community.’

Each month CITC is spotlighting its work and programmes through the voices and stories of its participants across Manchester.

In the latest story, Mark, a Military Veteran participant discusses how the sessions have helped him build friendships with people who have been through similar experiences since leaving the armed forces.

Talking about the initiative, Mark said: “I feel energised when I come to the sessions. It’s a reason to get out of the house and doing a bit of fitness, which makes me feel good.

“I’ve felt included as part of a group again, something I’ve not had since I left the military.

“It’s a place where we all support each other. We help each other out.”

The City Vets programme was set up more than five years ago when Moving Forces contacted the charity, looking for a military programme that kept them active, as well as providing veterans with a form of socialising with people who have experienced similar things to them.

New veterans are always welcomed to the sessions on a Tuesday night 8pm-9pm at the City Football Academy indoor pitch.

You can watch his interview with CITC here, and you can also find out more about his story through his recent chat with Scott Carson here, as the City goalkeeper surprised him at his house to mark Remembrance Day.

If you would like to support CITC and their work, you can this Christmas through Manchester City’s ‘The Greatest Season of All’ campaign.

For every purchase a fan makes for a range of selected Christmas retail clothing items, available online and in the City Store, the Club will donate £5 to its charity, City in the Community.

Fans can also make additional donations at the tills in the stadium store, when checking out during their purchase journey for match tickets and via

City in the Community empowers healthier lives with city youth through football. To find out more, visit or follow the charity on social media @CITCmancity.

Lottie Evans could fairly be described as Kalvin's biggest fan - calling the England player over every home game, Kalvin has signed shirts and posed for photos twice and even tweeted how grateful he is for her support.

She was joined by her brother Theo, who is also a huge City fan attending home and away fixtures.

Arlo Foy who first attended a game at the Etihad aged nine months and goes to every game including the Champions League final.

And Daisey Jones another big City fan and was also a wonderful photographers' assistant when we did a similar shoot last year.

The youngsters were perfect for our Christmas retail shoot with Kalvin and helped create that festive excitement felt at this time of year.

Happy Christmas!