Welcome to the January edition of the City Magazine - and we'd like to wish you all a very happy 2023!

It's so good to have domestic football back and some normality again.

The New Year promises to be a thrilling one for City fans everywhere, yet it's hard to believe we are not even halfway through this most unusual campaign.

Our latest edition of our free digital club magazine should help you ease into 2023 with minimum fuss.

The very talented Cole Palmer is our cover star, with the young Mancunian talking about his hopes for the remainder of the season and the influences that have helped him get to where he currently is.

We've also a lengthy interview with Lauren Hemp, who reveals her passion for Lego and building a different type of city.

Andy Morrison continues his quest for prediction perfection - discover his thoughts for January - and see how he got on in December.

Elsewhere, we have a classic Q&A with the one and only Liam Gallagher, a FA Cup legends Best XI and we also catch up with EDS boss Brian Barry-Murphy and Norway international Julie Blakstad.

Columnists Kev Cummins and Marc Riley are featured and we speak with with Emma Deakin in our occasional - but fascinating - Technical Area spotlight.

All the above plus plenty more - so, on with the show!

We catch up with a young talent who big things are expected of in the coming months…

Chances are, 2023 is going to be a big year for Cole Palmer.

Going into the New Year, he’d already clocked up in excess of 25 first team appearances and, but for injury, that would have been many more.

Aged 20 and a regular for England Under-21s, Palmer has shown his ability as a playmaker numerous times when he has played in the senior side, scoring some spectacular goals along the way.

The Wythenshawe-raised attacking midfielder is progressing at a rapid rate, and now clear of niggling injuries which curtailed his progress for the second half of last season and some of the early months of the current campaign, he has a big part to play as City battle for numerous trophies.

Like Phil Foden, he is yet another local lad who will inspire other youngsters as he joins City’s long line of Academy graduates successes.

“I loved growing up in Wythenshawe and have a lot of happy memories of being a kid and living there,” said Palmer.

“I’d be with my mates as much as possible and we’d go to the park and play football or at the front of my house in the avenue or wherever we could - there was always a football involved.

“My dad played for a Wythenshawe team who played Sunday League football and I’d go to watch him every week at Firbank Park or other parks in the area and I used to love that.

“He was a decent player, and my grandad was really good by all accounts and was with a couple of club youth teams near where he lived – I’m not sure which teams they were – but it didn’t really work out for him for one reason or another.

"My dad played for a Wythenshawe team who played Sunday League football and I’d go to watch him every week at Firbank Park or other parks in the area and I used to love that" 

“Apart from that, there wasn’t really anyone else in the family who played at any level – of course, I’ve cousins, uncles and suchlike who claim they could have been great players! You know what families are like…

“But looking back, I just had a normal family life like most kids. It was school, training and playing football, mostly.”

Palmer arrived aged eight at the junior City Academy and has already been with the Club for 12 years.

Skilful, with great vision and passing ability, he has become a favourite among City fans who love to see homegrown talent coming through the ranks.

“After I was scouted by City, my mum and dad would bring me to the Academy to train and things just went from there,” he recalled.

“I worked hard and played a lot, but if it hadn’t happened for me, I’m not sure what I would be doing right now – maybe labouring on a building site or something!

“But it’s been going really well. I was just a kid when I started to train with the first team.

“I was maybe 16 or so and it was exciting because one minute you’re with you own age group, then next you’re playing alongside Sergio Aguero and David Silva – I wouldn’t say it felt normal, and if I’m honest, you can’t help but be a bit star struck at the beginning.

"I’d say Raheem Sterling was one of the biggest influences I’ve had at City" 

“I’d had the occasional session to begin with, but then I started training with the first team all the time and it was just fantastic. It didn’t seem real at the time!”

So, who has taken Cole under their wing as he establishes himself in Pep Guardiola’s squad?

He says everyone has helped him in one way or another, but one player in particular – who has since left – seemed to take a special interest in his welfare.

“I’d say Raheem Sterling was one of the biggest influences I’ve had at City,” he said.

“We’re obviously totally different players, but it was just the way he spoke to me, always checked in on me and was giving me advice whenever I needed it. He played first team football since he was 17, so he’d had a similar path to senior football as me, I guess.

“But all the lads are good role models – Scott Carson, Kyle Walker, and John Stones – everyone has been great with me and helps me and passes on tips and advice.”

"It makes you believe even more that you can do it and that’s exactly how I felt."

Being a talented playmaker himself, Palmer admits he pays close attention to Kevin De Bruyne in training and during first team games.

A natural role model to follow, KDB is the perfect example of professionalism and attitude, not to mention being perhaps the best playmaker in world football.

“It’s crazy," smiles Palmer. "He’s so good – it’s like, ‘wow’ when you are watching him play. He does things in training that leaves you wondering how he did it.”

And it would be remiss to not mention the influence Phil Foden has on Academy youngsters.

A couple of years older than Cole, Foden’s exploits for club and country show what hard work and talent can achieve – and Palmer believes that is crucial for other youngsters at the Club to recognise a pathway exists and that they, too, can follow in his footsteps.

“Everybody in the Academy wants to play in the first team and seeing someone like Phil do what he’s done for City and with England, really helps and makes you want it all the more.

“It makes you believe even more that you can do it and that’s exactly how I felt.”

With the World Cup and Premier League winter break now over, Palmer is determined to make the most of the next five months or so.

Fully fit and with batteries recharged, he says the break has been better than he’d imagined it would.

“It’s been good, actually,” he said.

“We obviously don’t normally get a winter break during the season, so it’s been different, but I’m ready to go now for the second part of the season. I honestly can’t wait..."


Former skipper, Sri Lanka national coach and Matchday Live pundit Andy Morrison predicts the outcomes of January'’s games… 

Chelsea showed they could cause us problems in the Carabao Cup tie when Stefan Ortega Moreno was superb for us. Stamford Bridge is always a tough place to go, and they are focusing – I believe – on a top four finish, so if we travel back home with a point, it won’t be a terrible result. 

Mozzer’s prediction: Chelsea 1-1 City

Chelsea again! I think we’ll see two very different starting XIs from a few days before, but I think that, no matter who Pep brings in, we play the same way with same intensity. Chelsea will give it a go, but Pep will be keen to get his team in a winning pattern as we go into a crowded January and February and that’s why I’m going for City a win by two goals. 

Mozzer’s prediction: 3-1

I’ve not seen any progress since Nathan Jones replaced Ralph Hasenhuttl and think Saints are in for a long second half of the campaign.  I think Pep will look to utilise his squad with the Manchester derby next on the agenda, but expect us to move into the semi-finals with a minimum of fuss.

I can see this being a really tough one. Erik Ten Haag has got them more organised, and they seem much more together as a team. We’ve done well at Old Trafford in recent years, but they’ll be looking to avenge that 6-3 defeat at the Etihad earlier this season. I still see us just having too much on the day, however, so I’m going for a hard-fought win.

Mozzer’s prediction: United 1-2 City

Wow, what a tough start to 2023. Back-to-back games with Chelsea, United and then Spurs. This has been a really hard fixture in recent years, and I don’t see any change this time, but we need to win and find our rhythm because if Arsenal get too far in front, it could be difficult to catch them. I’m going for another narrow win, here.

Mozzer’s prediction: City 2-1 Spurs

Wolves are a decent side, but this is a good fixture for us to have after some attritional battles earlier in the month. I think we’ll have hit our groove by the time this game is played and I don’t see anything other than a very comfortable win.

Mozzer’s prediction: City 3-0 Wolves

Since Spurs moved to their new home, we’ve lost every time! Worse still, we’ve not even managed to score a goal, but I think that run will end here. It will be tricky, and they will be up for it, so with that in mind I’m going to predict a share of the spoils.

Mozzer’s prediction: Spurs 1-1 City

How did Andy get on last month?

Andy got two out of three results right (Liverpool and Leeds), but no correct scores.

So far, he has predicted 17 results out of 23 correctly, and got one scoreline correct.

A new year often means fresh beginnings.

For some, that can be a change that lasts for a lifetime, or at least the span of a footballing career, and for others it can be a brief foray into something different and exciting.

For this month’s The List, we look at City goalkeepers of recent years who were briefly thrust into the spotlight and made a mark in their short stay before leaving the club.

With Joe Hart and Ederson dominating between the sticks for so long, it’s easy to forget just how many goalkeeping talents have passed through the Etihad Stadium.

While the likes of Shay Given, Willy Caballero and now Stefan Ortega Moreno have also been valuable as understudies, we’re looking at those who were here for just a fleeting moment in time.

Arni Gautur Arason

With blond hair and pale skin, it took just one look at the Icelandic Arason to work out he heralded from the Scandinavian peninsula.

Having represented Rosenborg, then Norway’s leading club, in the Champions League, the 27-year-old arrived as understudy to David James and played just two FA Cup games for Kevin Keegan’s side.

One of those ties just so happened to be perhaps the most famous in the Club’s history. Trailing 3-0 and a man down at half-time away to Tottenham Hotspur, the Blues sparked a miraculous second half comeback to win 4-3.

For his role in the match, Arason instantly earned cult hero status. He went back to Norway to represent Valarenga and Odd before retiring. He is now a lawyer in his native Iceland.

Kevin Stuhr-Ellegaard

Incredibly, two of Denmark’s most promising goalkeepers in the 2000s both came through the ranks at Manchester City.

Stuhr-Ellegaard was slightly older than Kasper Schmeichel and therefore gained his first team opportunities before the man who became a legend with Leicester City and his country.

Playing seven times in 2003/04, the same season as Arason’s stint, Stuhr-Ellegaard was seeking to make the most of a chaotic goalkeeping situation that season.

David Seaman had started the campaign with the gloves but injury ruled him out before David James arrived to take the shirt.

Through November, December and January, Stuhr-Ellegaard attempted to take his opportunity but it eventually proved too great a hurdle and he moved on in 2005.

He spent the majority of his career with Elfsborg in Sweden and recently came out of retirement to join Aalborg.

Gunnar Nielsen

Another man from the Scandinavian region, Nielsen is one of the most capped players in the history of Faroe Islands.

Having signed for Blackburn Rovers in 2007 from Danish side BK Frem, he then moved to City in 2009 and immediately went out on loan.

With Shay Given firmly in possession of the starting berth, it appeared Nielsen may go through his City career without playing a first team fixture.

However, when Given was injured in the closing stages of a Premier League clash at Arsenal in April 2010.

He was called upon, becoming the first Faroese player in the Premier League and kept a clean sheet to ensure a 0-0 draw in North London.

He left in December 2012 in order to help him find a new club the following January. His career went through Silkeborg, Motherwell, Stjarnan and eventual FH in Iceland.

Marton Fulop

With the 2009/10 season approaching its final stages and City in the hunt for Champions League football, an emergency loan was sanctioned following injury to Shay Given and the Premier League blocking Joe Hart’s recall from Birmingham City.

Hungarian Fulop arrived from Sunderland for the final three matches and made his debut in the 3-1 win over Aston Villa.

However, a 1-0 home defeat to Tottenham Hotspur ended City’s hopes of qualification in that campaign. In truth, City could have lost by several more on that night if not for the excellent work of Fulop between the sticks.

After City, he played for Ipswich Town, West Brom and Asteras Tripolis in Greece before taking a break from football after finding a tumour in his arm.

Tragically, he lost his battle with cancer in 2015 at the age of 32.

For someone of Lauren Hemp’s footballing stature, one of her favourite pastimes away from the pitch may come as a bit of a surprise...

But for the 22-year-old, taking a break every now and then from a career which has already yielded four Barclays Women’s Super League Player of the Year awards, the FA Cup, Continental Cup and a European Championship winners’ medal, time away from the cut and thrust of football is important. 

Her favourite method of winding down? Lego! 

“Looking back, I used to do it quite a bit,” she explains. 

“My mum and dad used to buy me quite a few sets but then I stopped doing them for a while. 

“It wasn’t until [the UK’s Covid-19] lockdown that I started again. I really enjoy it, it’s quite relaxing and helps me switch off from football. You feel some sort of satisfaction when you complete it.  

 “I’ll do it sometimes after training, whenever I have free time, I do it. I’m not very patient so when I know I’m nearly finished, I’ll do it for however long it takes me to finish it. 

“When I was younger there was this house, we’d build in a load of different ways, I remember doing that with the family. 

“At the moment I’m working on this police station. I’m planning a street with all these different places on it. I’m looking forward to that. 

“It’s one of those things where, when you start, you just don’t stop. I end up looking at the clock and realising I’ve spent about three hours doing Lego and thinking: ‘what am I doing?”

 “I follow a manual, like flat pack furniture, I love doing things like that, you don’t have to concentrate too much, you just put a film on in the background and it’s a perfect afternoon!” 

 Akin to Lauren’s Lego police station, the blueprints of something special are gradually and methodically being drawn out at City this season. 

With plenty of new faces through the door this summer, and a few familiar faces going the other way, it took Gareth Taylor’s side a few weeks to adapt to the rigours of the WSL in 2022/23. 

However, a young and hungry squad saw in the new year on the back of a ten-match unbeaten run in all competitions. 

Typically, Hemp has been at the centre of that success in what is her fifth campaign at the Club. 

“We know when we’re at our best nobody can beat us. It’s important we find that consistency. 

“If we stay undefeated through the rest of the season, anything can happen, and we’ll win trophies which is what as a Club we want to do.” 

She finished the 2021/22 campaign as City’s top goalscorer, while the 10 assists to complement her 21 strikes were also the most among her team-mates in a season where we claimed a fourth Continental Cup success. 

And the England international has picked up where she left off last season, grabbing three goals and four assists in her ten appearances thus far. 

But beyond her own performances, Hemp believes that the hard yards on the training pitch and in front of the tactics board are starting to yield results on a more consistent basis. 

She’s confident that, should we remain on the same trajectory, our ambitions for silverware could well become a reality. 

Hemp said: “Looking back, the first half of the season has been fairly successful. We’ve had ups and downs and didn’t start how we wanted, but we’ve pushed on since then. 

“I think teams are starting to see the City we want to show. We’ve been really working hard to make sure we get those details right and it’s showing in spells in games. 

“It's important for us now to kick on in the second half of the season and make the results count because it’s now about competing for trophies. 

“The league title is still in our grasp, too. We’re going to make sure we push on and carry on with the success and wins we’ve picked up recently. 

“As a team and as a group we’re in a great place, we’ve got so many experienced players who have been there and won things, but we’ve also got the less experienced ones pushing on as well. It’s a great mix in the group. 

“We know when we’re at our best nobody can beat us. It’s important we find that consistency. 

“If we stay undefeated through the rest of the season, anything can happen, and we’ll win trophies which is what as a Club we want to do.

“When I first got injured, I looked at the December derby and thought: ‘there’s no way I’m missing that’.” 

Curiously, the crowning moment of the campaign so far for City is perhaps a match in which we ultimately had to settle for a point. 

The hype around the first Manchester derby of the season was palpable, with 44,259 supporters packing into the Etihad Stadium on Sunday 11 December to see who would come out on top. 

Laura Coombs’ second half header would ultimately earn City a share of the spoils after Leah Galton’s opener and, in front of a Club record crowd for a women’s match, two of the WSL’s in-form sides served up an absorbing clash. 

Hemp started for Gareth Taylor’s side on the day, but it was touch and go whether the winger would be fit enough to feature in the showpiece encounter. 

Indeed, a thigh injury picked up in our 3-0 win away to Reading at the beginning of November had ruled the 22-year-old out for over a month, also forcing her to withdraw from the England squad during the most recent international break. 

But the winger, determined to make her mark in a watershed moment for City, wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity if she could help it. 

The race was on, with Taylor revealing that Hemp had an ‘outside chance’ of returning in time for the derby in the aftermath of our 2-1 triumph over Everton in late November. 

Three weeks later, with United’s visit to the Etihad looming, she returned to the fold in the Continental Cup against Liverpool. 

Coming off the bench at Prenton Park for the final 20 minutes, Hemp hit the ground running almost immediately, laying on for Mary Fowler to round off the scoring in a 2-0 win. 

She had proven her fitness and would start against our cross-city rivals four days later. “When I first got injured, I looked at the derby and thought: ‘there’s no way I’m missing that’,” she explains. 

“The derby was always one I was looking ahead to and really wanted to play in. 

“I was really lucky to play in front of so many people. They're the games you want to be involved in, it’s so competitive which is what makes football so fun to play.  

“I was obviously out for a month, I can’t complain as you can definitely have worse injuries, but I feel in a good place. 

“Rehab went well and I’m looking to go into the second half of the season really fit, ready to push on and start as I mean to go on.” 

Given the graft that the winger put in to return in time for the derby, it’s fair to assume there hasn’t been as much Lego building in the Hemp household as usual of late. 

However, the spectacle that the England international played a part in at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday 11 December perhaps demonstrates the solid foundations that the women’s game has been build on in recent years. 

Not only did it surpass our previous attendance record for a Women’s match by more than 13,000, but our 1-1 draw with Manchester United was also witnessed by the second-largest crowd in WSL history. 

It follows a consistent pattern of a rapidly increasing presence on the terraces, with the FA recently announcing an increase in WSL attendances in excess of 200% this season. 

For Hemp, knowing that the opportunities are constantly increasing for the next generation of young girls is something that means a great deal to her. 

Reflecting on the derby, she admitted: “For us as players, we try to stay focused on the job in hand and think ‘a game’s a game’, but it was so good to see so many fans at the Etihad. 

“It felt really special, and that’s what we want to keep striving towards, to make sure that’s more consistent as well, that us as players are able to play at stadiums like that on a more consistent basis.  

“It’s great because it shows when we get those opportunities to pack out stadiums, we can. Hopefully a lot of people watching those games can see women’s football is something you want to be watching or involved in. 

“Looking back a few years ago, even as far back when things started to go professional, it shows the heights women’s football can go to. 

“In years down the line as well, if we keep wanting to be successful and grow the game, as players you have a massive responsibility to do that and to inspire people. 

“The growth of the game even at lower levels has been astonishing. Back in my hometown there are now women’s teams being created. 

“I wasn’t able to play with girls when I was younger but now, we’re visible and people are recognising you can become a women’s footballer. 

“It’s important kids can see there’s a pathway. When I was younger, there were pathways in place, but you maybe didn’t see them all the time. 

“Now people can see it and truly believe it can happen.” 

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With domestic football returning in late December after the World Cup, Fantasy Premier League makes its grand return to the fold after a six-week hiatus.

And ahead of City’s first full month back in the league, we look at our fixtures in January and analyse where all-important points could be won.

Stats correct as of 16/12/22

Chelsea v City

Previous meeting: City 2-0 Chelsea

Second half goals from Riyad Mahrez and Julian Alvarez were enough to eliminate Chelsea from the Carabao Cup as we progressed to Round Four.

City one to watch: Julian Alvarez

The Argentina international was in red-hot form before the 2022 World Cup and continued his prolific streak at the tournament.

By scoring three goals in his previous four league appearances, he lifted his total FPL points to 32 for the term

And he’ll be looking to continue his impressive streak in front of goal after netting four goals in Qatar.

Highest Chelsea points: Mason Mount

Versatile midfielder Mason Mount has been Chelsea’s highest points scorer in 2022/23, with a total of 53.

The England international perhaps hasn’t hit the heights supporters have come accustomed to this term, but with two goals and two assists (coming in consecutive games against Aston Villa and Wolves) the 23-year-old has shown he’s still a strong midfield option.

Manchester United v City

Previous meeting: City 6-3 Manchester United

It was derby success for City last time the sides met in an enthralling nine-goal thriller. Braces from Phil Foden and Erling Haaland gave Pep Guardiola’s side a commanding 4-0 lead at half-time.

The pair would then go on to complete their hat-tricks in the second half, while the visitors to the Etihad Stadium didn’t go down without a fight, scoring three of their own after the interval.

City one to watch: Phil Foden

The City Academy graduate will be looking to emulate his performance from the reverse fixture against Erik ten Hag’s side, and continue his FPL form which has gone - if anything -slightly unnoticed.

So far this season, the 22-year-old has recorded 76 FPL points – our third highest.

Highest Manchester United points: Marcus Rashford

Ten Hag has seemingly rediscovered Rashford’s explosive form this season, and the attacker tops the Red Devils’ points chart with 62.

Before the World Cup break, the 25-year-old registered four goals and two assists in the league.

City v Tottenham

Previous meeting City 2-3 Tottenham

Our last encounter with Antonio Conte’s side produced a 3-2 thriller in favour of the London side at the Etihad Stadium.

Dejan Kulusevski opened the scoring before Ilkay Gundogan equalised before half-time, but Harry Kane restored the visitors’ lead shortly after the interval.

We then thought we’d gained a valuable point when Mahrez drew the score level from the penalty spot in the second minute of additional time.

But there was still time for the scriptwriter to pen another twist as Kane snatched a winner deep into stoppage time.

City one to watch: Erling Haaland

Erling Haaland was in sensational form during the first half of the season which saw a staggering 82.8 percent of FPL managers include him in their team.

He is currently the highest scoring player in the game with 123 and could be on course to break the record points total by the end of the season.

Highest Tottenham points: Harry Kane

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Spurs captain has registered the most points across the north London side’s squad so far this term.

With 12 goals and one assist to his name in the league, his total reads 102 points.

City v Wolves

Previous meeting: Wolves 0-3 City

City’s last fixture with Wolves came at Molineux earlier this season, where Guardiola’s side recorded a 3-0 victory.

Jack Grealish opened the scoring, before Haaland and Foden ensured we took three points away from the Black Country.

City one to watch: Kevin De Bruyne

The Belgian maestro clearly enjoys facing Wolves, with four goals and two assists in his last two appearances against Julen Lopetegui’s side.

With 90 points across the first half of the season, he sits only behind Haaland across City’s points tally, and fifth in the overall league standings.

Highest Wolves points: Jose Sa

With Wolves sitting near the bottom of the Premier League table, it maybe comes as no surprise their ‘keeper is top of their points chart.

The Portugal stopper has totalled 61 points, with two penalty saves during the first half of the campaign helping him climb to the top of Wolves’ standings.

January is FA Cup month, with the third round and fourth round taking place – what better time, then, to name our all-time FA Cup Legends XI?

Formation: 4-3-3

Manager: Joe Mercer

Keeper: Bert Trautmann
This was an easy choice. The 1956 FA Cup final was named ‘The Trautmann Final' after the heroics of our German goalkeeper against Birmingham. Trautmann played the last 20 minutes or so with a broken neck, helping ensure a 3-1 win while in unimaginable pain.

Left-back: Paul Power
For his wonderful FA Cup semi-final free-kick against Ipswich in 1981, the versatile Paul Power gets the nod at left-back. The goal, scored at Villa Park, came in the 100th minute of the Centenary FA Cup competition.

Right-back: Tony Book
Skipper of the City team that won the FA Cup in 1969, Tony Book’s leadership and experience was crucial as the Blues beat Leicester at Wembley. It was also the culmination of a boyhood dream for the former bricklayer who was plucked from non-League obscurity just a few years before…

Centre-back: Vincent Kompany (captain)
Two FA Cup wins for Vincent Kompany, whose final game for the Club was the 6-0 win over Watford in 2019. Kompany played in the 1-0 win against Stoke that ended a 35-year wait for silverware back in 2011 and so takes the armband in this team.

Centre-back: Sam Cowan
The legendary City skipper who led the team at Wembley in 1933, but ended on the losing team, vowed to take the Blues back the year after and win the trophy. He did just that, as City beat Portsmouth 2-1 and Cowan kept his promise.

Midfield: Kevin De Bruyne
You don’t really need an explanation as to why Kevin De Bruyne is any Best Xi – but a goal and an assist – plus a star man award in the 6-0 win over Watford in 2019 is justification (if needed).

Midfield: Yaya Toure
It was Yaya’s goal against Stoke in 2011 that edged a tense final City’s way and ended 35 years of hurt. It was also Yaya’s dramatic winner against Manchester United in the semi-final that ensured a place in the final, making him a shoo-in for this XI.

Midfield: David Silva
Two FA Cup triumphs for El Mago, the first being in 2011 and the second in 2019 – where he also scored the opening goal against Watford – makes Silva an easy choice.

Left wing: Neil Young
It was the cultured left peg of ‘Nelly’ Young that won the 1969 final with a thunderous shot after Mike Summerbee had crossed in a low ball giving Foxes keeper Peter Shilton no chance.

Forward: Fred Tilson
Old fashioned No.9 Fred Tilson was the hero of the 1934 FA Cup final, scoring the late goals that gave City victory over Pompey. Trailing 1-0 from the 28th minute, Tilson scored on 74 and 88 minutes to give the Blues a 2-1 win at Wembley.

Right wing: Raheem Sterling
Two goals and an assist for Raheem in the 2019 FA Cup final against Watford sees him just edge ahead of Mike Summerbee for the right wing berth. Plus his contribution of nine goals in 23 FA Cup matches is more than decent.

Subs: Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta, Kyle Walker, Sergio Aguero, Billy Meredith, Mike Summerbee, Gabriel Jesus

Our Elite Development Squad may have been out of competitive action for more than a month – but according to head coach Brian Barry-Murphy, the past few weeks or so could prove one of the most defining periods of the season.

After an intense first four months which saw our Under-23s play 20 matches across three competitions, the pause in the season due to the World Cup provided a welcome chance to draw breath.

However, far from resting our laurels, the EDS squad embarked on two overseas warm weather trips with Barry-Murphy and his players first travelling to Agadir in Morocco.

That was then followed by a week spent in Abu Dhabi where our youngsters linked up with Pep Guardiola and his first team for a week’s training and preparation.

That was then followed by our friendly fixture at home to Girona which saw several members of the EDS squad selected and perform with huge distinction as we overcame a tough challenge by the La Liga side, winning 2-0 in preparation for the return to competitive first team action.

Reflecting on the period, Barry-Murphy said it had been hugely educational and rewarding for all his players and staff.

And he believes the opportunity to learn and tap into Pep’s vast reservoir of knowledge had proved priceless.

“I think has been such an important month,” Barry-Murphy declared.

“We saw that last season in these parts of the season where you go from being so caught up in game, game, game but when there is a perceived lull in proceedings it gives us a chance to really zone in on the important developing parts for each individual player.

"So to be able to have these key significant moments like Morocco and Abu Dhabi and Girona is very important as it gives a clear sign to these players and the Academy that the opportunities are there."

“(Going to Abu Dhabi) We were all kind of going into new territory.

“It was my first trip there with all the staff all the players, so it was a trip into the unknown really being at such close quarters with the manager and the first team players

“It was another amazing experience on the back of what already has been a season full of amazing experiences really.

“To be actually under Pep’s umbrella as such and to train how he wants and help fulfil his requests and to try and give him what he wants to make the whole week a success was an amazing experience.

“It was very exciting and raises the level of what you need to do on a daily basis to such a high level that it feels exhilarating.

“As you get older you tend to forget what it’s like to be a very young player, so it was an amazing experience for us all and one that we were very grateful for.

“The players have this amazing access to Pep. When he speaks football it’s just on a level where he speaks to everybody as an equal and the players have to be so grateful for that because what he’s giving them is nuggets of information that are priceless.

“It’s very significant when he does say something, and we most definitely listen.

“When you get any feedback from a man like Pep your natural instinct is to want to do even better and he drives that himself.

“You can feel that insatiable desire to become even better and to do more and you could see that in Abu Dhabi.

“Even though it was only a week where it was perhaps a bit different from the norm, there was still a clear focus on what he wanted to achieve during that time.

“And then I got that clear sense when we got back to Manchester that there was a real flick of the switch as we geared up for the return of matches that our Club is so synonymous with.”

Alongside the myriad learnings for the players, Barry-Murphy said the trip also provided a wonderful opportunity for the coaching team, too.

"We push the players so much to be so focused on improving every day that I think if we don’t provide a shining example of that ourselves as staff then I think our words can be a little bit hollow," Barry-Murphy added.

“When we say these things, it's great in theory. But to actually back it up, we have to deliver and to try to improve ourselves all the time and that was probably one of the most important aspects of where we were (in Abu Dhabi).

 “We were probably all a little bit nervous and excited, and you probably had a situation where the players and staff were sharing the same feeling which doesn’t often happen.

“As you get older you tend to forget what it’s like to be a very young player, so it was an amazing experience for us all and one that we were very grateful for.”

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


This month's subject is not only a familiar face to most die-hard City supporters, but also to much of Manchester's music-loving community.

Mike Pickering first came into the public eye as a member of the Factory Record band Quando Quango. As an A+R man for the same label he signed several bands - most notably Happy Mondays and James. From there he went on to DJ at Manchester's world famous Hacienda nightclub and eventually formed the chart-topping M People.

Through all of these years of globe-trotting and fame Mike has remained a staunch ever-loyal Blue and is often spotted in TV coverage watching the Blues in the company of his long-time mate Noel Gallagher.

Over to you Mike…


Giving my age away here but my earliest memories is City v United in the Bert Trautmann testimonial match. My grandad and Dad took me, we sat in the Platt Lane and there were 60,000-plus at the game.

Well, many peculiar things have happened on the pitch in my time but i remember in the 70s having my Doc Martens boots confiscated for the duration of a game at  Coventry in mid-winter. You had to collect them on the way out. Painful

Obviously I’ve seems some shockers, but the UCL final in Porto has got to be in there for me as we had a golden chance to be champions but it just went all wrong on the night.

The Neil Young goal v Leicester in the 1969 FA Cup final was a special moment and I was there to witness it.

The great thing about City is a lot of the old players work for the club now. So I get to meet and chat to the legend that is Mike Summerbee regularly which is always great, Tony Book is a lovely man, too.

We had to lose didn’t we? I think my abiding memories are me trying very unsuccessfully not to get emotional. I’d grown up on those terraces.

I was thinking of best friends and family that shared so much there and were no longer with us, - sad, but true.

The Gardeners Arms what a pre-match pub that was.

My son and I went to Moscow for the UCL game and got lost near the stadium after the game, it was very scary and desolate. Mind you going to away games on the football specials back in the day could be equally harrowing.

That’s very tough as I’ve had some real favorites in the last decade. Kompany, Aguero, Silva, Bernardo, Tevez, Zaba and KDB. But my all-time fave is Mike Summerbee

I’ve heard Rodri is a very intelligent guy, but they’re all winners so I’m not that choosy.


Technical Area Spotlight:

Emma Deakin - Injury Management Lead MCWFC

Manchester City Women’s Performance Services department has been reshaped and expanded to better serve the players on the pitch with an influx of new, experienced, and talented team members.

Our new Injury Management Lead, Emma Deakin, arrives at City with a wealth and wide-ranging skillset, honed with Olympic athletes, swimmers and even ballet dancers.

We caught up with Emma to discover more about her path to City and what she will be overseeing in her new role…

Emma, what’s your background story?

“I’ve been in Olympic sport for the last 15 years. I was at the English Institute for Sport where my role was the Head of Performance Support - Athlete Health for Great Britain’s Olympic and Paralympic triathlon, and just before I left, I was doing one day a week for UK Athletics doing some athlete health consultancy. I also worked out of Yorkshire with boxers, divers, and snow sport competitors. Being technical lead means helping newer physios develop and helping them meet their objectives to deliver for Olympic and Paralympic athletes. I’ve also been head physio for the Northern Ballet for a couple of years as well as undertaking some NHS consultancy work.”

What made you want to become a physio?

“For as long as I can remember, I always wanted to be a physio. My grandad had a stroke when I was small, and he used to have a private neuro physio who used to come to his home, and he was amazing, unbelievable and life changing for my grandad. That inspired me and I knew that was what I wanted to do. I went to Nottingham University to train in physiotherapy and then did some NHS neuro placements but didn’t enjoy it. I then did some musculoskeletal physio which made sense and I got that straight away, so that was the path I followed. My passion is rehab and return to play, which is why I wanted to leave NHS and move into sport.

“Doing the same role in the NHS meant you just got patients back to being functional rather than helping high-end athletes looking to return to their peak condition, so there was a gap between the two. I started working for a guy called Dave Hancock at Leeds United – he owned some private practices and through him, I did my master’s at Sheffield Uni in sports physio. I was working mainly with football physios associated with Leeds United. I then did some private work with the Northern Ballet, which was based out of Leeds, before moving into Olympic sport.”

How did that go?

“I moved to the English Institute for Sport in 2007, just before the Olympic Games in Beijing. I started working for the swimming and open water teams up to and during Beijing, and after that moved over to triathlon where I stayed pretty much for three Olympic cycles in London, Rio, and Tokyo. I was working with Jonny and Alistair Brownlee on a regular basis among other well-known Olympians. By the end I’d worked from being a junior physio through to the Head of Performance Sports (HoPS) position along with a guy called Ian Piper.”

Did you make any good friendships with the athletes?

“Yeah, I think whatever sport you work in, you spend a lot of time with them because you’re with them day in, day out. And then as a physio, you’re in a really privileged position because their bodies are their careers. You get to know them as people, what makes them tick and what their motivations for what they're striving to do. By understanding that you can become a better physio. All of those things make a big impact on performance and what they're trying to deliver. If they're injured, you need to know how to motivate them during the rehab or during a long term injury lay-offs. It all ties into understanding them more as a person I think it's really important.”

What appealed to you about this role?

“I think one of the biggest things was that the job description itself. What you find a lot of times in physio or in any practitioner discipline is the higher up you get, the more you move into senior leadership which takes you further away from the discipline that you really love. I’ve always been very hands on - on the ground delivering physio because that's why I got into it. I think it's really difficult to then sit really high up making decisions that affect people delivering it on the ground. When I spoke to Jamie Cheeseman, the Head of Performance Services (MCWFC) about this position, he was keen for me to shape the role  - there was so much flexibility in the remit. We're actually really trying to push the discipline of physio, injury management and performance preparation, to make sure that it's really effective and that's exciting, because I think there's a long way for us to go and there's a lot there's a lot of things to do, which I think we can have a massive impact with. So that was the biggest thing – that you start in a role where you think you can have a big impact. And you can have some authenticity on how you deliver it as well.”

We had a lot of bad luck with injuries last season…

“You can’t control everything. Obviously, in elite sport, you're always going to get injuries, unless you say, ‘don't go for that header’, ‘don't go in for that tackle’ or if somebody looks like they’re going to tackle you, run away from them!’ We know we're never going to do that because this is elite sport. But there are definitely certain ways that we can mitigate risk for athletes. We can look at the training and the load of training; the different intensities of training that they're doing so we can make sure that they are optimally prepared to for the demands of the game. And actually, we know that they can cope with that because we've exposed them to that training, or we've exposed them to that in a return to play via a rehab. So actually, we're confident that they can go back and sustain what they need to sustain in order to perform.”

What does a typical day look like for you?

“The first thing we do is a triage, where we'll look at any issues that we need to assess to say whether they're available to train or not. So, for anybody that has a bit of a knock in the game the night before or in training the day before, we'll triage them and make sure they're available for training for that day or whether they need to receive treatment. We have a coach's meeting where we chat through the sort of training and the training load for that day and if there's any modifications needed for certain players to be able to take part in the full session. We always have a physio out on the pitch from a medical perspective, as well.

“And then we will come inside we'll do any treatment or rehab that needs doing. We make sure that we have like a joint meeting to make sure that we were really clear on planning in terms of rehab what people are doing next, what the aim of the week is and how we're going to make sure they get that make sure the athletes and the players are on board with that as well, so they understand what we're doing and why we're doing it.”

What are you proudest of in your line of work?

“I think my proudest moments are always the ones that are really team-approached, because I think that's when physiotherapy works at its best is when it's a really integrated team. And using the whole of that sport science team and coaching and the athlete or the player where everybody's really clear on where they want to get to and know they're gonna get there”

Have you worked much with the men’s physio team?

“Everybody's been brilliant. Matt Connery at the Academy has been really great, sharing some of his experiences around Academy. Tom O'Malley, the rehab physio, James Baldwin, and Max the doctor told me that if I needed anything to just give them a shout. And so everybody's been really open and helpful. We have an open physio office and there are some quality conversations that go on in there - just people just discussing case management and suchlike. It's a nice, positive, and learning environment to work.”

City are helping change women’s football on so many levels – would you agree?

“Absolutely. You don't feel any difference – you’re just a part of it. It just feels like this is how it's always been. I think the fact that Man City Women are investing in these types of roles, like the one I have - is something that's really pushing the boundaries and I think that's really great.”

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

To start the New Year off – Happy New Year to all Blues everywhere, by the way – I thought I’d show you some of the fan photos I took during this momentous 2002/03 season. Most City fans were aware of the project I was working on and were (generally) delighted to be asked to pose for a portrait outside and around the stadium. I wanted to use all the elements around the ground: the brickwork, the shuttered shop windows et al, to give the photos some urban context.

The guy holding the mobile phone – with City badge on screen – is another photo that locates the photo perfectly in time. I was toying with the idea of doing a short interview with each person, about their favourite memory of Maine Road, or similar, but it was too time consuming. I only really had time to take their photo. I did ask the guy with the red and black ‘69 kit if he was sorry to be leaving Maine Road for pastures new and he replied: “Not really.

It’s never been the same since they put a roof on the Scoreboard End. That was the beginning of the end for me.” It’s worth noting that the roof went on the scoreboard end 30 years earlier. A true traditionalist if ever there was one. Next month I’ll show you some of the fan shots inside the stadium. NB. There’s a lot of resignation and despair – and we actually had quite a good season. Typical City, eh?

Kevin Cummins