Welcome to the February edition of the City Magazine.

Going into this month, City are challenging strongly in the Premier League and in the last 16 of both the Champions League and FA Cup, so exciting times lie ahead (yet again!).

As always, we try to reflect that energy and optimism in the pages that follow, starting off with our cover star Phil Foden who has been in stellar form of late.

Andy Morrison then gives his score predictions for this month and he's forecasting a goal-glut, so let's hope our former skipper is spot-on.

We also have a gallery of our trip to Abu Dhabi, with some stunning photography from our team who travelled over with the squad.

Willie Donachie gets a deserved nod in So Solid Blue, while physio Kirsty Boybon is the latest subject of Technical Area.

Manchester City Women are well catered for as ever, with an interview with fan favourite Yui Hasegawa and a special feature on a decade of excellence since the club relaunched in 2014.

Kevin Cummins looks back to the (never dull) heyday of Manchester band The Fall, while BBC 6 Music DJ Marc Riley - once of The Fall - continues his Mixed Grilling of various City folk.

All the above, plus interviews with our EDS and Under-18 stars, a vintage Kevin Bond Q&A, Cover Story and the Fantasy Premier League focus.

Oh, and our new Random Match Generator revisits a game long forgotten - with good reason!

Enjoy!

Phil Foden is rewriting the record books as he racks up appearances, goals, and trophies with the Blues. Here he tells City Magazine of his hopes for the future, the influence that David Silva continues to have on him and, of course, his passion for fishing…

For a lad aged 23, Phil Foden’s stats border on the incredible with his cabinet of winner’s medals already starting to heave under the weight of his many successes.

With more than 250 appearances for City and 74 goals by the first week of February, Foden has won a (very sweet) number of major trophies with the club he has loved all his life – 16 as it stands - and he has a collection of medals that most top professional footballers will never get anywhere near, no matter who they play for or how long their career is.

And he wants to reel in plenty more silverware. And then more after that. So does this boyhood Blue ever pinch himself that it is all really happening?

“Sometimes I do, yeah,” said Foden.

“Sometimes I feel it’s all going really quickly because I’ve already achieved so much in my career, and it’s crazy to think how many trophies I’ve already won with City.

“To have won so many at the age of 23 is unreal, but I want to keep going on and keep winning trophies with City – why not? I’d like to end my career by being one of the most decorated players ever because I’ve got so many more years ahead of me.”

A firm fan favourite with supporters who identify with him and his backstory, the tale of the ball-boy turned serial trophy winner is the stuff of dreams for any youngster hoping to one day play for their boyhood heroes.

When the City fans sing ‘he’s one of our own’, they mean it because that’s what he is – a local lad made good, representing the hopes and aspirations of the people who would love to have made it and be living the dream.

As his star keeps rising, so his popularity continues to move in an upward trajectory -case in point his recent hat-trick against Brentford - and with that, of course, comes less personal freedom and the restrictions that accompany fame.

So how does he handle being recognised on the street or in the supermarket

“It changes every year, and it’s getting a little bit more intense every year as well, but I also enjoy it because there’s a lot of people who come up to me to show love and support,” he said.

“Of course, you bump into big City fans which is what I was before I became a player. I used to want to be a ball-boy, get to the games and see the players up close, so I know how they feel, and I just want to be thought of as a normal person who can got back to my neighbourhood and just be treated like everyone else.”

The pressures of the modern game and being constantly under the media spotlight demand there is a need of occasionally being able to dip out of the public eye.

Several years ago, one of our most popular features ever published on our official app and mancity.com was ‘Phil Foden: Fishing and Fatherhood’. In it, Phil explains his love of fishing, sitting on the riverbank and just focusing on the movement of the float and the flowing water.

So is fishing still a big part of his life and if so, does it still have that magical ability to allow him to completely relax and rest his mind?

“I do still go fishing quite a lot,” he smiled.

“Maybe not as much in the winter because it’s freezing, but when the weather gets a bit warmer I like to go and fish. I’ll go when we have a day off or maybe after we finish training early and sometimes it will be with my dad, sometimes maybe with my friend or sometimes I’ll just go on my own, switch off and try not to think about football for a while, come away from all that and just relax.”

Peace and tranquillity is high on the list of benefits for millions of anglers around the world, but back to the day job and Foden is threatening to have his best season yet.

His influence on the team continues to grow and the Etihad Player of the Month for December admits he probably loves situations that most supporters tear their hair out when they see it developing on a match day – namely teams that pack their defence and effectively ‘park the bus’.

For Foden, that’s the ultimate challenge and if he can be the key to unlock the teams that sit back and just look to protect their goal, he couldn’t be happier.

“When we play teams who have a low block, I’m somebody who likes to do a lot of movements, find space in behind, play balls to feet and make runs in behind,” he says.

“I’m an energetic player who likes to create, so I actually think it suits me to play against teams who defend in numbers. I like to think I’m going to be the one who unlocks the defence and help the team score important goals, so I’m delighted by the way things are going this season. Is it as well as I’ve played for City? I’d say so, yeah.”

And while he takes influences from the world class playmakers around him to add to his own natural talent, he admits that the Spanish magician David Silva remains a huge influence on everything he does.

He once said that he needed to remind himself that he was on the same training pitch as the likes of Silva on merit when he was promoted to the first team squad. The starry-eyed pupil had to get over the fact that his favourite players as a supporter were now his team-mates and learn as much as he could from them while he had the chance.

And that’s what he did, absorbing as much as he could and where possible, adapting it into his game to further his own development.

Silva was in a class of his own, setting the tenor for the team and finding the magical pass that could change even the closest of contests from his central attacking midfield berth. And Foden’s made no secret that he enjoys that role the most when he plays for City.

“Even when David was here and I was training and playing alongside him, I studied what he was doing and watched what he did and how he did it,” says Foden.

“He was one of the best players I ever played with, and he was also one of the best at unlocking low block defences. He could receive the ball in tight spaces and find the right passes at the right time and because I’ve moved more centrally lately, I’ve been allowed to do those sort of things – more so than when I’m out on the wing – so, hopefully I can keep  having opportunities to play there and keep learning because I think there is so much I can still give in that role.”

Interview: David Clayton

More thoughts and scorelines from our former skipper Andy Morrison…

Brentford v City
Premier League
Monday, 5 Feb, 20:00 KO

Mozzer's verdict: I think we're simmering very nicely now, and I'm really excited about how the season is shaping up. We've got Erling Haaland to come back and when he gets back into his stride, I just think we'll be hard to stop, and I don't see Brentford repeating what they did last season - in fact, I think that will make us even more determined in this game.

Mozzer's prediction: Brentford 1-3 City

City v Everton
Premier League
Saturday 10 Feb, 12:30 KO

Mozzer's verdict: The way Everton set up means we'll see lots of the ball and on home soil, that is likely to mean we'll create loads of chances. We come up against teams who sit deep regularly and it usually goes the same way - and I think it will here again.

Mozzer's prediction: City 4-0 Everton

FC Copenhagen v City
Champions League R16, 1st leg
Tues, 13 Feb, 20:00 KO

Mozzer's verdict: We will start as favourites because we are the champions of Europe, but Copenhagen are in the Round of 16 on merit and it is never easy in this competition. There will be a cracking atmosphere in Denmark, and they are more than capable of holding us - but I'm going with a narrow win for City.

Mozzer's prediction: Copenhagen 1-2 City

City v Chelsea
Premier League
Saturday, 17 Feb, 17:30 KO

Mozzer's verdict: I can see this being open and I think we'll run all over Chelsea at the Etihad. They are capable of scoring goals as we saw in the 4-4 draw at Stamford Bridge, but I expect us to win fairly comfortably this time.

Mozzer's prediction: City 3-1 Chelsea

 

City v Brentford
Premier League
Tues, 20 Feb, 19:30 KO

Mozzer's verdict: Like the first meeting, I just see us having way too much for Brentford. They won at the Etihad last season and our players won't have forgotten that, so I'm going for a few early goals and then coast to the finish line.

Mozzer's prediction: City 4-1 Brentford

Bournemouth v City
Premier League
Saturday, 24 Feb, 17:30 KO

Mozzer's verdict: It's never easy down there with a tight pitch, small stadium who are on top of you - a bit like Luton with less hostility! They've been playing well but Liverpool went there and won 4-0 and though I think this will be closer, I'm saying a City win.

Mozzer's prediction: Bournemouth 1-3 City

Luton Town v City
FA Cup - 5th Round
Tuesday, 27 Feb 20:00 KO

Mozzer's verdict: Luton continue to impress me as the season goes on. They've found their feet and any side that can take Brighton apart the way they did at the end of January is a threat. We just about won there in December and I think we'll just about win there this time as well.

Mozzer's prediction: Luton 1-3 City

City v Man United
Premier League
Sunday, 3 March, 15:30 KO

Mozzer's verdict: In my heart of hearts, I believe we will really go to town in this game if things are as they are going into February. But derby days can be weird, so I'll rein myself in a little and say we’ll just win by a couple of goals.

Mozzer's prediction: City 2-0 United

How did Mozzer get on last month?
Andy got all four results correct without getting any scorelines right.

Item 1 of 17

Here we pay homage to players who flew under the radar of the football world outside of loyal City fans. The latest edition focuses on Willie Donachie, who made a lasting impact as a player and a coach.

Popular with fans, reliable on the pitch and always fit. Those are three key attributes most cult heroes tend to have.

All three can be said about Willie Donachie, the Scottish full-back who was almost an ever-present for eight seasons in the 1970s.

Spanning the end of the trophy-laden Joe Mercer and Malcolm Allison era through to the valiant attempts to replicate that success for the remainder of the decade, Donachie’s City career is fondly remembered by those who saw him ply his trade at Maine Road.

Born in Glasgow in 1951, Donachie arrived at First Division champions City as a teenager in 1968.

It was 1970 when he eventually made his first team debut for the side that were now FA Cup holders.

He played three times at the end of the 1969/70 campaign and a further 15 matches in 1970/71 but it was in the 1971/72 campaign that he became the undisputed first choice at left-back.

Mercer, who was to leave in October 1971, made Donachie’s promotion to regular starter one of his final gifts to a Club for which he had done so much.

Donachie played 43 times in that real breakthrough campaign as Allison took over the side and guided us to fourth place.

He was the youngster in a defence that had been together for the glory years, with Mike Doyle, Tommy Booth and Tony Book already several seasons into their senior career and former champions of England.

Allison saw no reason to lessen Donachie’s influence when he became the main man.

Neither did any of the managers that followed, whether that be Johnny Hart, Ron Saunders or Donachie’s former skipper Book, who stepped into the position permanently in April 1974 and remained there until 1979.

The full-back was a league ever-present in 1973/74 and 1976/77 and played a key role in the 1976 League Cup final success, starting the move for Dennis Tueart’s spectacular winner.

1979/80 was the first season when Donachie’s inclusion in the team was no longer a foregone conclusion.

Reaching his late 20s, Donachie took the opportunity to join the exciting offering over the Atlantic and signed for Portland Timbers in 1980.

In the end, he amassed 436 appearances across 11 seasons. In typical fashion for a full-back, only two goals came in all that time.

That’s not to belittle the Scot’s contributiion going forward, with crosses aplenty finished off by Tueart, Francis Lee, Brian Kidd and others during his career.

Capped 35 times by his country, the Scot would return to England to play for Norwich City, Burnley and Oldham Athletic before eventually retiring in 1990.

However, his association with City was not done.

Donachie’s approachable demeanour and intelligent outlook on the game saw him develop into a fine coach. He teamed up with former City team-mate Joe Royle firstly at Oldham, then Everton and eventually at Maine Road.

Royle became City manager in February 1998 and Donachie quickly followed him through the door.

The pair could do little to prevent relegation to the third tier at the end of the 1997/98 season but were the brains trust behind our double promotion back to the top-flight by 2000/01.

Former City midfielder Michael Brown even credits Donachie with giving the team the belief required to score the late, late equaliser in the now iconic 1998/99 play-off final with Gillingham at Wembley.

“He was the one saying 'keep going' even right at the end against Gillingham - it was Willie driving it through and because of that type of positivity, it did come true,” said Brown.

Skipper Andy Morrison also remembers Donachie’s impact on the team that brought City back from the brink.

“He has an incredibly philosophical approach to life and is a great believer in fate and how things are meant to be,” he said.

“He just kept pushing. He was down on the sidelines, and saying 'just keep getting the ball, keep moving it, try changing the angles'.”

As a player and a coach, Donachie is a true City unsung hero.

Words: Jack Wilson-Mumford 

Without a physiotherapist pitchside, no competitive game across the country would be able to take place...

Kirsty Boybon is one of the Player Development Phase Physiotherapists at City which sees her work with the Elite Development Squad and Under-18s on a daily basis and she is an important member of the medical team contributing strongly to matchday requirements. 

Kirsty sat down with the City Magazine to detail the importance of player safety and how City put the health of the players at the forefront of decision-making.  

CITY MAG: Kirsty thank you for taking the time to talk to us. Can you talk us through your journey to PDP Physiotherapist at City, the sports physiotherapy industry is quite a difficult one to break in to isn’t it? 

KIRSTY: It is. In my journey as a physiotherapist, I dedicated three years to university education, engaging in annual placements primarily within the NHS and hospital settings. Despite the conventional path, my passion for professional sports led me to spend my summers as a student volunteering at professional clubs such as Leeds Rhinos, Castleford Tigers, and Durham County Cricket Club. Post-graduation, I immersed myself in a season-long voluntary role at Middlesbrough Football Club, gradually transitioning to part-time and eventually securing a full-time position. I went on to spend seven years at Middlesbrough heading up the Academy Physiotherapy Department prior to coming to City. It’s taken a lot of hard work and sacrifice, but it’s been well worth it.  

CITY MAG: What does your role entail working with the Under-18s and Under-23s? 

KIRSTY: Our schedule can be sporadic and unpredictable at times, depending on our training schedules and the demand of our games programme. The sports science and physio team will meet each day to discuss and plan any logistical queries for the day. This could include injured players that are returning to training, or players that may need to be closely monitored for a variety of reasons such as congested games periods or moving between the Under-18s and the Elite Development Squad. A lot of our players have also been called up to first-team training which can become a juggling act in managing workloads and injury risks.    

We are also responsible for any pre-training prep, ensuring injured players are competent with their rehabilitation and conditioning programmes, providing medical cover for training sessions and pre and post-training assessments. The latter end of the day we’ll either be around gym sessions, remedial sessions or catching up on all the planning that goes into all the individual player programmes.  

Then, on a matchday, it’s all hands-on-deck in terms of pre-match prep, supporting our nutritionist in ensuring players receive optimal nutrition, handle strappings, and attend to soft tissue needs before the game kicks off. Beyond the treatment room, we remain vigilant, ready to provide world-class trauma care in the rare event of an emergency. Our match preparations include liaising with the opposition, coordinating with paramedics, and aligning with our stretch-bearer team to ensure a unified and responsive approach to any medical situation that may arise.  

CITY MAG: Player health, particularly around heart health, has become more prevalent in conversations and ultimately putting the best interest of players at the forefront of conversations which is down to a lot of advocating from people such as yourself and others in similar job titles - would you agree? 

KIRSTY: Yes, the growing awareness around sudden cardiac arrest and player health in sport is great. Our primary focus revolves around the fundamentals of CPR and the early application of defibrillation. Here at City, our medical facilities are to a really high standard, empowering us to deliver crucial aid to anyone in need. Another aspect that people don’t realise is matches can’t actually go ahead without the presence of a medical team. This realisation speaks volumes about the emphasis placed on ensuring the well-being of the athletes. It's a dynamic and integral part of the game that often operates behind the scenes, yet plays a crucial role in safeguarding the health and performance of the players on the field.  

CITY MAG: A positive of your role must be that you get to see the Academy players learn a lot about how to best look after their bodies so they can continue to perform at their best and on the flip side of that we’ve heard players endlessly praise the physiotherapists here at City after they’re returned from injury.  

KIRSTY: Regarding player care, we have seen a notable increase in athletes learning about our treatment philosophies and implementing self-care routines, such as putting sleep first and being aware of the subtleties of diet. The physical demands of the game inevitably increase as players become older, which can result in higher expectations from our end. For those who also train with the first team, this is especially true. We’ve been fortunate over the years to collaborate and share knowledge with the first-team staff. This allows us to prepare and manage expectations of players in the Academy and in turn strive to see a lower injury rate and a quicker, but well managed, return from injury success rate.  

To be praised by the players who have worked closely with the department is great to hear, particularly when they’ve returned from injury and claimed their first match minutes. The injury journey entails plenty of highs and lows. Injury can be a really tough time for players and therefore part of our duty is to ensure support from the surrounding multi-disciplinary time as we guide the rehab process. This includes working with our colleagues in coaching, nutrition, sport science, psychology and player support. Through the process we integrate a variety of lifestyle skills to keep players engaged and motivated but more importantly, developing them as an individual by getting them off-sight with media training activities, cooking lessons and multi-sports. 

CITY MAG: An aspect of recovery is also not rushing a player back into high intensity matches too quickly and it is evident across all of City’s teams that we don’t bring a player back into a matchday squad unless we are certain they are back to where they need to be physically and mentally. 

KIRSTY: Absolutely, especially within Academy level where we have these players at a key stage of their development. We’re fortunate to have a very supportive coaching team in the Academy and no-one wants players coming back and risking re-injury so it’s a fine balance between accelerating programmes and getting players back as soon and safely as possible.  

In order to ensure our processes are safe and efficient, we work with a wide range of departments to ensure a holistic approach to the rehab and return of injured players encompassing psychological and physical readiness. Part of that approach also includes long-term injured players staying integrated within the squad where possible such as working with our analysis team, team meals and conditioning sessions where appropriate. Thus helping, with the transition back into full training and match play.  

CITY MAG: Finally, the physio room always seems like a safe space for players and you must build good working relationships with the players. Do you have any funny stories you can share? 

KIRSTY: There is always a lot of banter flying around for sure! The unwritten rule is what happens in the treatment room, stays in the treatment room. The main thing is players feel comfortable to be themselves and trust us to help them through their journey. 

Interview: Holly Percival

Manchester boxer Campbell Hatton has selected his all-time City XI for this month’s Best XI. The 23-year-old hopes to one day fight at the Etihad – just as his dad Ricky once did – but for now, he’s chosen the team made up of the players he loves the most… 

City XI: 

Ederson: Best keeper in all the world, in all the land! 

Walker: Fastest right-back in Europe and fearsome competitor. 

Kompany: Captain and leader who would run through brick walls for the Club. 

Dias: Cultured, focused and rock solid. 

Clichy: Another speedster at full-back to give us that pace down the flanks. 

Rodri: The complete holding midfielder – easily the best in the world. 

De Bruyne: What can you say bout King Kev – a fantastic player and servant for the Club. 

Yaya Toure: Ivory Coast powerhouse – he could do it all and win games single-handedly. 

D Silva: Always a place for The Magician in my City XI… a magical footballer. 

Aguero: The legend that is Kun Aguero – our all-time record goal-scorer gets the nod over Erling. 

Bernardo: Skill, dribbling, vision and technique – Bernardo has a bit of everything. 

Femi Fapetu made the step up to City’s Under-18s squad in the summer, aged 16...

He is another Academy prospect looking to make his mark in the age group above as he continues to exceed expectations and perform at high levels, consistently.

Fapetu, often deployed in the number six role, the heart of any City midfield, joined City’s Academy system in 2021 after he made the solo move to Manchester from Arsenal.

Below you can get to know more about the 16-year-old and how he’s looking to continue his development at the City Football Academy.

CITY MAG: Femi, you made the move to Manchester when you were a young teenager, what was that process like?

FAPETU: It was quite a long process but I was very happy when I first joined. It was a bit difficult getting settled in at first because I didn’t really know anyone but my teammates at the time helped me out quite a lot and they were all very friendly with me. After a month I was quite settled in and since then I’ve enjoyed it a lot.

I was definitely nervous because it was my first experience of living away from my parents for a long time, so I did find it difficult but now I’ve settled in to life in Manchester I’ve found it enjoyable.

CITY MAG: This is your debut season with the Under-18s and you’re just 16, how have you found the step up and how have the facilities at the CFA made that transition easier?

FAPETU: On a personal level I’ve not found it too difficult. I think I’m good enough to hold my own against older players in opposing teams so it’s been a good challenge. And I think the facilities here at City, compared to other clubs, are probably the best which has allowed me to just focus on playing football. Anything and everything you need, you have access to it and all the staff here are extremely helpful with anything you need too.

CITY MAG: Was there anything in particular that stood out about City that helped you make the decision to move from Arsenal to Manchester?

FAPETU: I think it was just the dominance City have had across all their teams. The Premier League and winning the Champions League last season proves how dominant City are and they were just more appealing and I could see myself playing for the Club more than any other team.

CITY MAG: We mostly see you utilised as a defensive midfielder, what is it about your attributes and City’s style of play that makes that position so enjoyable for you?

FAPETU: I’ve been playing as a number six for most of my career so I quite like playing there. Some people might say it’s not quite as flashy but I enjoy it, it’s fulfilling. I like intercepting the ball and I think a skill of mine that has developed since joining City is reading where someone is going to pass the ball or where they’re going to run with the ball, I’ve definitely got a lot better at that.

I mostly look at their eyes and I’m also aware of what’s behind me. So say like someone is looking one way but going to pass it another, I know they can play the person behind me so I block off that pass as well.

I think it’s been good especially because we’re - I don’t want to say the best team in the league - but technically and tactically we are one of the best. Because of that I do get on the ball a lot and we have a lot of possession so it’s fun playing in that position.

I do also like to play a little higher up sometimes, as a number eight, which brings out a different side to my game.

CITY MAG: You also get to play in the Under-17 Premier League Cup, which [at the time of the interview] we are through to the quarter-finals in. How have you found the different experience of a cup matchday?

FAPETU: It’s been really good because in the league you’re playing for points but you obviously don’t get knocked out of anything. With the cup games they are higher stakes so they add a bit more pressure but it’s been a great way to push ourselves and gain more experience.

CITY MAG: Speaking of silverware, in the Academy system we want our young players to focus on improving but we are keen to know if you have set any ambitions to keep you motivated and focused this season?

FAPETU: Yeah I definitely want us to win the league again and the U17 Premier League Cup. And why not even aim for the FA Youth Cup as well? But I also think it’s about representing City in the best way I can, that would make me very happy just to be a part of the team and be a part of this amazing club. I’ve enjoyed every moment since I joined the Academy and I’m looking forward to pushing my career further.  

Interview: Holly Percival

 

“I don’t know, because I don’t really know British food.”

It’s probably the first time that Yui Hasegawa’s been stumped during her time at Manchester City.

The Japanese international is answering questions from City fans as part of the Club’s interviews around her two-year contract extension.

Hasegawa has been at the forefront of Gareth Taylor’s exciting young side so securing the midfielder, shortlisted for the Ballon d’Or and included in last season’s PFA WSL Team of the Year, until at least the summer of 2027 is a smart piece of business.

City’s number 25 seems to have all the answers when she steps across the white line, but the lengthy pause before she finally decides on an option shows this conundrum is a tougher nut to crack.

“Maybe fish and chips,” is the eventual response, followed by a typically infectious laugh, and more impassioned discussion on her favourite Japanese cuisine.

“Of course, I have Sushi and Korean barbecue.

“When I go back to Japan, I also always have tonjiru. It’s a soup with vegetables, meat and miso paste.”

But while Hasegawa isn’t overly enamoured with England’s culinary offerings, she’s loving life at Manchester City, a Club who she feels is perfectly suited to her playing style.

And that’s not just a personal belief; the numbers that the Japanese international has been able to tally during her time in sky blue so far back that up.

Under the guidance of Taylor, the midfielder is playing some of the best football of her career.

In possession, only Alex Greenwood and Laia Aleixandri had completed more successful passes for City in the 2023/24 WSL before she extended her contract.

More widely, no other outfield player who doesn’t predominantly feature as a defender has been able to better her total of 596 in this metric across the entire top flight.

And it’s a similar story without the ball.

Considering City’s tendency to dominate possession, it’s remarkable that Hasegawa still boasted the most interceptions (24) across the WSL by the end of January.

For all of her technical and physical qualities, the Japanese midfielder’s brain is perhaps her biggest asset, with the 26-year-old a master at anticipating the danger to stifle any potential attacks from our opponents.

Indeed, before signing her new deal, Hasegawa had won possession a remarkable 113 times in the WSL, far and away the most of any player in the division.

Numbers such as those are impressive enough but, when considering she’s actually playing a more defensive role at City than at previous clubs, it adds another element to what she’s been able to achieve so far.

The boss, according to our number 25, has been crucial in that swift transition.

Yui explains: “I feel like I’ve developed a lot here. I changed from an offensive to a defensive position, so I’ve developed defensively.

“He [Gareth Taylor] gives me a lot of confidence. He tells me when I’ve played well, and he shows me videos as well of my good play.

“He also shows me videos where I need to improve.

“One of the biggest reasons [for extending my contract] is the football style. I love our style.

“I used to play similar football in Japan, so it helped me a lot. [So] I had confidence when I played my first game.”

That first game was one to remember for Hasegawa.

It had been a difficult start to the campaign for City, with a new-look squad taking time to adapt to the cut and thrust of the WSL.

It meant we welcomed Leicester City to the Joie Stadium for our first home match of the season in need of a convincing win and performance after successive defeats to Aston Villa and Chelsea. That’s exactly what Taylor’s side delivered, cruising to a 4-0 win.

And it was Hasegawa, picking up play on the edge of the visitors’ box, who completed the scoring on a memorable afternoon for City, firing into the far corner from distance.

It remains her only goal in a City shirt to date and, in typically humble fashion, it’s for this reason that her inclusion in the Ballon d’Or shortlist at the end of 2023 came as a shock to the Japanese international.

But while goalscoring might not be her greatest asset, that’s not what the midfielder is in this team to do, and it’s not the reason why she was included on the most respected shortlist in world football.

“When I was small, I practiced dribbling and turning every day. It was the same thing, but I repeated it every day,” Hasegawa reflects when discussing some of the key attributes needed to excel as a City midfielder.

“I think it’s important to try things, and then also do it in a match environment.

“In terms of ball control, I try to pay more attention to the current situation of other players before the ball actually comes to me.”

“I was surprised at that [Ballon d’Or inclusion] because I hadn’t scored many goals or made many assists, but I was very pleased.

“It’s been a special time for me at City.”

Hasegawa has been at the centre of what could become one of the Club’s most successful seasons since our professional relaunch back in January 2014.

At time of writing, Taylor’s side are locked in what’s shaping up to be another gripping WSL title race, while we’ve also reached the knockout stages of the Continental Cup with a hard-fought win over Manchester United.

There are sure to be plenty of twists and turns between now and May, but City have given ourselves a healthy platform from which to build.

It’s an exciting time to be at the Club, and Hasegawa, excited to see what this team can achieve in 2023/24, is loving life at the moment.

She concludes: “I am extremely happy. I couldn’t be happier. We’ve improved this year and we have built up a lot.

“I’m so excited because we have a chance to win the league and the cup - and I really want to win the league!”

Interview: George Kelsey

Elite Development Squad starlet Justin Oboavwoduo says the opportunity to be involved with Manchester City’s 2023 FIFA Club World Cup-winning squad has served as the perfect inspiration as he continues his football development...

After a standout campaign with City’s Under-18s last term where he played a pivotal role in helping Ben Wilkinson’s squad to regional and national title success, the exciting pacy forward was subsequently elevated into our Elite Development Squad last summer.

The 17-year-old has continued his progression and upward trajectory with Brian Barry-Murphy’s Under-21s so far this term, making a fine impact domestically in both Premier League 2 and the FA Youth Cup as well on the continental stage in the UEFA Youth League.

And shortly before Christmas, Oboavwoduo’s development received another huge boost when he was included as part of the City travelling squad that flew out to Saudi Arabia for our victorious FIFA Club World Cup campaign.

Along with fellow Academy youngsters Joel Ndala, Jacob Wright, Max Alleyne, Mahamadou Susoho, Micah Hamilton, Oboavwoduo spent the best part of a week in Jeddah working alongside Pep Guardiola’s first team squad.

It provided him with a priceless and fascinating insight into just what sets City’s newly-crowned world champions part from the rest.

Oboavwoduo has subsequently enjoyed another spell learning alongside the first team squad, being part of the party that travelled out to Abu Dhabi for last month’s winter warm weather training camp.

But reflecting back on those seven days in Saudi Arabia specifically, Justin said it was an experience that would stay with him forever.

“That time out in Saudi was obviously an unbelievable experience,” Oboavwoduo reflected.

“You know, it was almost like living with the first team.

“We took part in all the day-to-day activities like eating breakfast, lunch and dinner and we were able to do everything with them and were included in all that they do.

“And being able to witness us winning our first Club World Cup, you know, becoming the first world champions in in Man City history… being there to see it live was unbelievable and such a such a good experience that I can’t even put it into words, really.

“I didn't find out until just a couple of days prior to going that I would be part of the group flying out to Saudi.

“I knew that that some EDS players would probably be needed or included in the travelling squad because there were a number of injuries at the time, especially in the positions that I play in, so I thought there might be a chance.

“But you just never know until you're told. And when I was told I would be included I was more than delighted to go on and, yeah, what an experience.

“I think as well being out there with some of the lads that I know quite well from the EDS meant we could all help each other out.

“It meant that we were able to learn together and I think it was a great experience as an Academy cohort to go out together and really experience what the Club World Cup was all about.

“There were so many elements of how the first team operate that we hadn't experienced before aside from just training,” Oboavwoduo added.

“You obviously see the tactics and stuff, but being in the team meetings, seeing what they do in their downtime, what they eat for lunch and how they prepare for games and stuff, being in the changing room…

“The team talks and pre match prep, it was all something I hadn’t experienced before with the first team, and it was an experience I managed to see first-hand in Saudi.

“For me, seeing the way that they behave, and prepare is really something that I can implement in my life really.

“Obviously seeing the guys lifting the trophy was the best feelings but you know, just being alongside them in their downtime playing cards with them was amazing.

“We were playing Mafia with them you during the evening and it was so good - what an experience.”

One of the other key takeaways for Justin from the trip was experiencing first-hand the team spirit and togetherness that underpins Guardiola’s squad.

One of the key factors behind the incredible success that Guardiola’s City have enjoyed in recent years has been the special bond that unites every element of the first team squad, coaching team and support staff.

Looking back on that special week,  Oboavwoduo says it’s also impossible to overstate the importance of the bond of brotherhood that has galvanised the City squad and which he witnessed for himself first-hand out in Jeddah.

“I think there's so much unity between the players and staff and the whole team, you know,” Justin added.

“I think that's what you can see on the pitch – everyone is willing to run for each other and to play for each other.

“They all trust each other, when they give a team mate the ball in tight situations that’s because they believe in each other’s abilities.

“I think a lot of that goes unseen, but I got to see it in Saudi.

“I think it really helps you understand what and why the team are able to play we do and have so much success.

“Because it boils down to the team unity and stuff first and foremost and how great the staff are as well.”

For the Academy as a whole, there has much to celebrate recently with Micah Hamilton, Mahamadou Susoho and Jacob Wright all making their first team debuts over the past two months.

Hamilton marked his first senior start by scoring a sensational goal away to Red Star Belgrade in our final Champions’ League group game in early December.

Susoho came on as a substitute in that game in Serbia to make his senior bow while Wright then followed suit by coming on from the bench in our FA Cup third round win at home to Huddersfield in early January.

 For his part, Oboavwoduo says the trio’s senior debuts acted as the perfect incentive for the rest of the Academy cohort.

And he says seeing Phil Foden, Rico Lewis and now Oscar Bobb all become such important components in Pep Guardiola’s first team only served to further illustrate the opportunities and pathway that links the Academy and first team.

“I think obviously they've taken the opportunity well and I was so delighted for them. It’s really good for the Academy and obviously for the guys themselves too,” said Justin.

“It goes to show that when there's that opportunity and when they are given the chance to shine, they are taking it.

“If you look at Micah with his goal in the Champions League game away at Red Star Belgrade. What a goal that was!

“So, I think it goes to show that if you train well with the first team you can get afforded with the opportunities and when they come you have just got to try and take it really.

“Hopefully it gives guys like me and the rest of the Academy players the incentive to keep working hard and hopefully have an opportunity sometime in the future.

“There are so many players now who have been on that pathway (from the Academy).

“Obviously, there is Phil (Foden), Oscar (Bobb), who scored that wonderful goal at Newcastle last month and Rico (Lewis) alongside Michah, Mo and Jacob.

“You know, these are players that were in our shoes and now they're with the first team day in, day out and training and playing with them.

“Seeing Phil score in the Club World Cup final and being so close to it, it only fuels the fire.

“To see them doing what they're doing in the biggest competitions, it's so good and it gives us motivation to try and hopefully do the same. Definitely.”

Interview: Neil Leigh

To kick-off the 2005/06 season, we wanted to get as near as the print deadline as possible before deciding on our August cover...

There had been rumours of new signings for several weeks, but by mid-July, there had still been nothing.

Then, in the space of seven days, we not only had two new strikers, but the possibility to recreate a notorious and very famous image to boot.

Andrew Cole and Darius Vassell both arrived in the space of a week and in doing so solved a major cover headache.

We had a day or so to organise a photoshoot at Carrington, but with the help of our communications team, we just about managed it.

And the result was perfect.

So, the concept was simple – recreate the infamous image of the London gangsters The Kray Twins.

It’s a classic pose, with one nearer the lens and the other slightly behind, both starting menacingly at the lens.

Both players were briefed, shown the image we were trying to recreate and guess what – they loved it and were more than happy to strike the pose.

The result? A moody cover that spoke volumes (in our opinion) and the photographer – it was either Scott Kershaw or Mark Waugh who were both excellent snappers – got it spot on.

Looking back, the only disappointment is the headline which I (as the editor at the time) take full responsibility for!

‘Up Front’ worked to a degree, but something more connected to the menacing stares would have been preferable – maybe ‘Let’s do this’ or ‘Ready to roll’ – but overall, we still pulled it off. I think!

DC

A decade ago, our women’s team’s officially relaunched as a professional side, having first formed back in November 1988...

We marked the occasion with a hard-fought win over Manchester United in the Continental Cup, securing our spot in the last eight with a 2-1 triumph.

And 314 matches, 229 wins, 790 goals and eight major honours later, we’ve continued to go from strength to strength both on and off the pitch.

Each season has been littered with incredible moments, but we’ve picked out one from each of our campaigns to celebrate what has been a fantastic journey so far…

 

2014: City 1-0 Arsenal

Our first season since our professional relaunch, and it ended with a first piece of silverware!

City were the underdogs in the Continental Cup final against an Arsenal side who had won the previous three editions of the competition.

However, Izzy Christiansen’s second half header was enough to earn Nick Cushing’s side a hard-fought and memorable 1-0 win.

In a particularly poetic turn of events, it was Krystle Johnston - a member of our original Ladies team - who provided the cross for Christiansen, one of the professional players recruited ahead of that first season.

 

2015: City 2-1 Notts County

While we were pipped to the WSL title in 2015, European qualification remained a significant achievement for City in our second full season.

That ambition became a reality on the final day of the campaign with a 2-1 win over Notts County at the Joie Stadium.

Nikita Parris’ early strike handed City the all-important lead, before Christiansen cancelled out Rachel Williams’ equaliser to earn the win that took us into the Champions League for the first time.

 

2016: City 2-0 Chelsea

City’s finest season to date, a 2-0 win over reigning champions Chelsea ensured Nick Cushing’s side brought home a first league title in style.

Jill Scott opened the scoring at a packed-out Joie Stadium just after the half-hour mark to move City within touching distance of the promised land.

And a Toni Duggan penalty after the break clinched the title, as the hosts went the entire WSL season unbeaten, conceding just four times in the process.

 

2017: Birmingham 1-4 City

A magnificent FA Cup triumph would follow in 2017, as City cruised to victory at Wembley.

Lucy Bronze, Christiansen and Carli Lloyd were all on target in a convincing first half performance, meaning Nick Cushing’s side were already in the driver’s seat by the time Charlie Wellings reduced the deficit.

Scott added a fourth with ten minutes to play for good measure, as we brought home the FA Cup for the very first time.

 

2017/18: Sunderland 0-3 City

The following campaign saw Steph Houghton become our first centurion since the professional relaunch during a WSL clash in her native north east in January 2018.

The defender’s 100th appearance came, rather fittingly, against Sunderland; the team where she’d first made a name for herself.

A Parris brace and Christiansen strike ensured our captain saw in a fantastic milestone in style.

 

2018/19: Arsenal 0-0 City

It seems odd for a goalless draw to be chosen as the most memorable moment from a season where City secured a cup double, unless you were at Bramall Lane for that year’s Continental Cup final.

Arsenal and City couldn’t be separated after 120 minutes, meaning the lottery of a penalty shootout would decide who took home the first piece of major silverware in 2018/19.

Step up Karen Bardsley, who denied both Leah Williamson and Danielle van de Donk from 12 yards to provide Janine Beckie with the game’s decisive spot kick.

 

2019/20: City 1-0 Manchester United

A then-record crowd, a first professional Manchester derby, and a stunning goal to win it for City. What else could you ask for?

More than 31,000 supporters witnessed City begin the 2019/20 campaign with a 1-0 win over Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium in September 2019.

And the winner, from Caroline Weir, was an absolute stunner.

 

2020/21: City 3-0 Manchester United

The Scottish international repeated the trick the following season, rounding off the scoring in a convincing win for Gareth Taylor’s side.

Picking up play on the edge of the Manchester United box, the midfielder spotted Mary Earps off her line and sent an audacious chip into the back of the net.

The look of utter amazement on her team-mates’ faces summed up the remarkable quality of the strike.

 

2021/22: City 3-1 Chelsea

Gareth Taylor’s side had to dig deep to earn our most recent piece of silverware, as we came from behind to deservedly win the 2022 Continental Cup final at Plough Lane.

Despite trailing at the break, a Weir brace and close-range Ellen White strike saw City over the line against the reigning champions, Chelsea.

 

2022/23: City 2-0 Chelsea

Two stunning strikes from Filippa Angeldahl and Hemp secured another statement win at the Joie Stadium in March 2023.

City took the lead after 20 minutes when Angeldahl dinked Ann-Katrin Berger from the edge of the box, before Hemp doubled the advantage with a vicious half-volley.

That set the tone for a dominant performance from Taylor’s exciting young side, showing we could mix it with the best when we hit our top level.

 

2023/24: United 1-3 City

The best could be yet to come for City in 2023/24, but our WSL win at Old Trafford will take some beating.

Having fallen behind to Katie Zelem’s penalty midway through the first half, the visitors deservedly took a lead in at the break thanks to Jill Roord’s clinical effort and a Hemp stunner.

And the triumph was complete when Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw chased down Mary Earps’ clearance to add a third before the hour.

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 up to the letter F and there can be no other Manchester band but The Fall – well there’s also the Frantic Elevators and er, Fast Cars, but I shot The Fall a lot and recently published a book about my work with them.

My working title and inspiration was ‘All That Fall’ after the Beckett play of the same name and I also had a copy of Camus’ ‘The Fall’ on my shelf too and I tried desperately to find a line from the novel I could use as a title. In the end I went for ‘Telling Stories’, because as was always the case with Mark E. Smith, every picture told a story.

Photographing The Fall, well photographing Mark rather than The Fall, was always challenging. Often, it’d only be Mark who would turn up. Often late. Generally, in a completely different place to the one we’d arranged. Invariably that’d be a pub.

My first feature had just been published in NME at the end of July 1977, when I was commissioned to shoot The Fall in concert a few weeks later in August. This was a live show at a youth club in Collyhurst, a suburb of Manchester. It was obvious that the venue was totally inappropriate. The 50p ticket price had hastily been reduced to 20p but there still weren’t many takers, even at that rock bottom price. After three songs, the guy who ran the place came on stage and told Mark that it was too loud for their young audience and that the songs weren’t “quite right” for them either. He then suggested they leave. I’m not sure if he ever returned everyone’s 20 pence, because the band’s manager made a quick phone call to The Ranch Bar on Dale Street in central Manchester, a mile away, where they were delighted to accommodate them at short notice, and the rest of the gig was played out there.

The Fall were quickly building a following, and the NME were keen to feature what was happening around the country. It helped that writer Paul Morley and I were still living in Manchester, as we could feed them both information (and misinformation).

Mark was very demanding and desperately curmudgeonly at times. He’d often turn up late, want to have a drink and a catch up, then tell me he hadn’t got time for photos and could we do them another day. He once played the best part of a gig with his back to the audience, because he thought it’d make it difficult for me to take a photo to accompany the NME review. Then again, he also once played a gig from the dressing room with the band onstage, but that’s another story. None of this behaviour really bothered me. I found him to be great company – often challenging – but he was always keen to discuss current affairs, music, literature, and football, especially the woes of supporting Manchester City. Not in a bombastic blokey way either. He was really open to new ideas. He would argue exhaustively about something he firmly believed in, but he’d listen too.

The final few years of his life were tough. I found it difficult to watch his physical decline, so I turned down a couple of commissions to photograph him. To be honest, I didn’t feel I could better the session from March 2011. I took a few pictures at a gig at The Garage in Islington in 2014, one shot is my final photo of Mark. I love his youthful insouciance in that photograph. It says so much about him.

Everyone who ever worked with Mark has a host of stories to tell, as the library of books by former members, fans, and writers will testify.

The photographs in my book tell their own tales.

As the great 19 th century American photographer, Lewis Hine once said: “If I could tell the story in words, I wouldn't need to lug a camera [around]"

Kevin Cummins

'Telling Stories: Photographs of The Fall ' is available from all good bookshops IRL and online.

Bernardo Silva has proven himself to be an immense value for money option in Fantasy Premier League in recent weeks.

Throughout the 2023/24 season so far, he has once again cemented himself as one of Pep Guardiola’s most trusted lieutenants as City lifted the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup, while also relentlessly competing to retain the Treble.

So far this term, he has scored six league goals and registered four assists – helping him record a total 89 points in FPL this term which is fourth highest this campaign.

Across his last five outings in the Premier League, the Portugal international has racked up 35 points as we remained unbeaten with four wins and one draw.

He netted the equaliser in our 2-1 win away at Luton on 12 December as we came from a goal down to beat Rob Edwards’ side at Kenilworth Road.

Bernardo’s display in Bedfordshire earned him nine points, which he bettered two gameweeks later when we returned from the Club World Cup with a strong 3-1 win over Everton at Goodison Park.

By scoring and assisting on Merseyside he totalled his second highest single game tally with 13 which is only bettered by the 14 he recorded in 6-1 win over Bournemouth November.

The versatile attacker continued his fantastic form in our outing over Newcastle where we once again came from a goal down to collect three points.

He reflected his immense class on Tyneside when producing a sublime backheel to give us the lead before goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Oscar Bobb sealed the 3-2 success.

Words: Sam Cox