The March edition of the official digital City Magazine is packed with original interviews and features - as always.
Our cover star is Aymeric Laporte who celebrated his fifth anniversary with City last month. He speaks about the Pep Guardiola effect, his hopes for the season and gives his verdict on the City fans' song about him.
We also have a John Stones quickfire Q&A and discover his 'cheat food'. Nutritionists look away now!
The List focuses on unforgettable goal celebrations and our Best XI this month is delivered by The Wanted's Max George.
Michael Brown is our guest columnist and the former combative City midfielder is always good value. He looks at what's coming up and what he reckons will happen.
The talented Georgia Stanway and Esme Morgan are our Manchester City Women's interviews for March, along with a fascinating look at the journey of former coach Nick Cushing.
EDS and U18s coverage features CJ Egan-Riley and Ben Wilkinson are featured, too.
Elsewhere, Andy Morrison continues to predict the scores of our upcoming games and there is our regular Fantasy League Football round-up, this time with City's leading points XI.
Marc Riley's Mixed Grill sees him catch up with City chef Wayne Jones and Kev Cummins has supplied a wonderful FA Cup-inspired memory and gallery.
All the above, plus Celebrity Blue Ryan Clayton, John Stones and the story behind the Georgi Kinkladze Wonderwall song in The Last Word.
And all completely FREE.
Aymeric Laporte has been a defensive rock since joining City – here, the fan favourite talks about his hopes for the remaining months of the season… and his song!
Aymeric Laporte celebrated his fifth anniversary as a Manchester City player in January and it’s been quite a journey for the 27 year-old so far.
Three Premier League titles, one FA Cup, three Carabao Cups, a Community Shield and a Champions League final illustrate how much has happened since he made the switch from Athletic Bilboa in 2017.
One of the most sought-after defenders in European football chose to further his career in Manchester and his football education has continued under the expert tutelage of Pep Guardiola.
"It’s an objective as a footballer that you try to reach the very top, to be the best you can – you just want to be the number one if it is possible."
So much so, his reputation as one of the world’s best defenders has been greatly enhanced under the Catalan boss and he is without doubt one of the very best in the Premier League, with his aerial prowess, superb timing, passing range and ability to chip in with vital goals every now and then.
Was his aim always so lofty in his younger years?
“Yeah, of course,” smiled Laporte. “It’s something I dreamed of as a kid and something I dreamed of as an adult, too. It’s an objective as a footballer that you try to reach the very top, to be the best you can – you just want to be the number one if it is possible.
“It is difficult, but we are trained to be the best and I am no different than others in wanting to be the best. I watch other defenders that I admire and sometimes you take little things from watching them and try and take it onto the pitch.
"Pep’s knowledge of football is vast and when he has an idea, he works very hard on the training pitch to get his thoughts across until we get it. I have learned a lot under him."
At the time of writing, City are leading the Premier League, in the last 16 of the FA Cup and in the Champions League Round of 16.
With three months of the season still to play, there is much hard work to do if Laporte is to add to his sizeable collection of winners’ medals.
“We have been doing amazingly well over the past few months and we need to keep that going until the end of the season,” said Laporte. “Our strength, as I say, is that we are really consistent and hopefully we can give the Premier League to our fans at the end of the season.
"Everyone plays very well. I think we are one of the best teams in the world right now. We will push to win everything and we have the team do it."
“We are not thinking about the title yet. I think we are too close to our opponents in second. We have to stay focused, keep winning games and we must try not to drop points like we did against Southampton recently This is the way.
“There is no secret (to our form). Hard work and then we have a fantastic team with fantastic players. Everyone plays very well. I think we are one of the best teams in the world right now. We will push to win everything and we have the team do it.”
The challenge for such a fantastic team as City is to become the champions of Europe – the obvious target of the manager and players alike – with the disappointment of last season’s Champions League final defeat to Chelsea a bitter pill to swallow.
Does Laporte believe the Blues can go one better this season? And what threat will Sporting Lisbon pose over two legs?
"Yeah, I love to hear the fans singing my name – I have two songs so I’m very lucky!"
“It is the same as the Premier League,” he said. “We have to be focused on ourselves and try to play our football to compete like we have done against other teams in the year.
“It will be a tough game against Sporting, but I think if we are focused and we play our game and our football, we can beat them.”
Finally, Laporte is enjoying his close relationship with the City fans and is hoping to reward their support with as much silverware as possible in the months ahead – and he’s rather fond of the song(s) they sing!
“Yeah, I love to hear the fans singing my name – I have two of them so I’m very lucky!” he smiled.
“I hope that we can win something big for them this season so we can celebrate and sing that song together.”
Former skipper and cult hero Andy Morrison continues to predict City's upcoming games, this time covering three competitions and including a Manchester derby…
Last month – so far - Andy got just one result wrong but correctly predicted a 4-1 win over Fulham. Here, he looks ahead to the five games up to mid-March
City v Tottenham
Saturday 19 February, 5.30pm kick-off
Antonio Conte has set up Spurs well and they will look to hit us on the break with their pace. They will keep it tight and be well-organised, so it might be that just one piece of magic is enough to settle this for us.
Mozzer’s prediction: City 1-0 Spurs
Everton v City
Saturday 26 February, 5.30pm kick-off
There will be an energy and feelgood factor at Goodison Park if Frank Lampard has continued his impressive start. Results leading up to this game will play a big part – but most matches follow the same pattern and we usually dominate possession. Not easy, but I think we’ll edge this.
Mozzer’s prediction: Everton 1-2 City
Peterborough United v City
Wednesday 2 March, 7.45pm kick-off -TBC
It’s fair to say that every team wants to avoid drawing City out of the hat. Peterborough were on the end of a massive shock last year when they lost to Chorley Town, so they know major upsets can happen. But Pep Guardiola is never complacent – he wants to win every game and is respectful by always putting a strong XI out. The Posh ship a lot of goals and leaky defence is not what you need against City!
Mozzer’s prediction: Peterborough 0-4 City
City v Manchester United
Sunday 6 March, kick-off 4.30pm
The derby is always tricky and I think both sets of players really believe and get involved in the rivalry on the day. That means this game becomes a one-off, and a cup final of sorts with no logic sometimes. United can be so dangerous and will want to put a spanner in our title challenge. It never seems to be an easy afternoon against them, especially at home. They are a major threat.
Mozzer’s prediction: City 2-2 United
City v Sporting Lisbon
Wednesday 9 March, 8pm kick-off
This will be an open match because they will have nothing to lose but pride at 5-0 down. Pep may blood some younger players here and to if things go to plan, we should ease to victory by a couple of goals at least.
Mozzer’s prediction: City 3-1 Sporting Lisbon
Crystal Palace v City
Monday 14 March, kick-off 8pm
Palace have been our bogey team in recent years, but I am sure we’ll want to avenge that home defeat earlier in the season. They are at home this time and it’s a tight pitch at Selhurst Park, so it will be a different game. They have got legs and energy, but I can see anything but a comfy afternoon and three more points.
Mozzer’s prediction: Palace 1-2 City
City v Brighton
Saturday 19 March, kick-off 3pm
This will be a wide open game as Brighton are one of only a handful of teams who will look to play their game and not one that they feel will stop us from playing. It will be entertaining and Graham Potter has seen his side give us a few really tough games in recent years, but I don’t see us being out-scored here.
Mozzer’s prediction: City 3-1 Brighton
It’s fair to say that the 2021/22 campaign has already been one to remember for Elite Development Squad defender CJ Egan-Riley...
Having been part of the EDS side that won our first-ever PL 2 title last season, 19-year-old CJ has proved one of the key components in Brian Barry-Murphy’s impressive young side this term.
Leading by example, the skipper has produced a series of commanding displays to help the City youngsters and defending champions rise to top spot in the table.
His impact has also been further recognised with Egan-Riley having made his City first team debut in September during our 6-1 Carabao Cup third round win over Wycombe at the Etihad.
He has also featured regularly in numerous first team training sessions under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola and his coaching staff and furthered his experience by being named as a substitute for several more senior City games.
For a Manchester-born and bred Academy graduate who has been at the Club for more than a decade now, the England Under-19 international says the chance to learn from Guardiola and his star-studded squad is proving the ultimate football education.
And he admits the opportunities he has been afforded to date this term have only heightened his hunger to carry on improving and seek to earn yet more first team minutes.
"It's made me even hungrier to try and get some more minutes in the first team and to keep dominating games personally in the Under 23s league."
“So far this season, it's definitely been an incredible experience,” Egan-Riley reflected.
“It was a good season last year winning the league and the team playing well but this year I feel like have kicked on.
“I've had some good opportunities this season of course, and to be captain of the Under-23s plus make my debut for the first team and then be on the bench a few times as well has been good.
“But for me personally. I just want to keep pushing on now.
“It's made me even hungrier to try and get some more minutes in the first team and to keep dominating games personally in the Under 23s league.
“I’ve also been able to pick up so many things because obviously when you are over training with the first team, like these are the best players in the in the world in their positions and we have one of the best managers in the world as well.
“So just little things that you don't think about sometimes that can make such a difference.
“That’s even down to stuff off the pitch like how they prepare for games, how focused they are, what they do pre-match, what they eat and things like that.
“I just try to take in everything when I am there.
“I'm just trying to keep my eye on what they do and take mental notes to try and become better because that’s what I want.
"I want to be at that level, I want to be starting in the first team eventually, so I just need to keep learning and everyday come in with an open mindset."
“I want to be at that level, I want to be starting in the first team eventually, so I just need to keep learning and everyday come in with an open mindset.
“The coaches are all really good when you go over, just trying to give constructive criticism and little pointers. Obviously, they are much more experienced and give you little things that, as a defender, can really help you.
“Many of the tips are just details that I've never thought about. but in the men's game obviously you just need any small margin to try and win.
“And, obviously, Pep's brilliant as well with everything that he says, so yeah it’s been so good to be able to learn from them all.”
Egan-Riley also revealed how defensive pointers and attention to the tiniest of details from the senior City contingent were also helping further his knowledge.
And he said the lessons he was digesting, he was, in turn, helping to pass on to his Academy team-mates in an effort to further their own football education.
“For sure the stuff that I've be learning over there with the first team, I can bring it back over to the Academy side,” Egan-Riley added.
“And when we’re training with the Under-23s or when some of the young Under-18s lads come up, it’s just (about) trying to give them some of that learning.
“The aim is to try make everyone better because at the end of the day that’s what we all want. No-one wants to settle for what we’ve got – we need to keep pushing each other.
“We've worked so hard to get here, so we have to enjoy experiences but never forget that we need more.”
Platt Lane Sports Complex, Manchester, M14: The place where legends were born.
Throughout the years, before the days of the state-of-the-art City Football Academy and Etihad Campus, City heroes were raised on Fallowfield’s hallowed turf – a stone’s throw from our beloved former home, Maine Road.
What it lacked in glamour it made up in grit, and those who remember that historic era will look back fondly at those halcyon days, and of the idols that graced those pitches and would go on to don the famous sky blue.
Housing City’s stars for 35 years, Platt Lane produced some of the most recognisable names of our decorated history – and it also moulded the most inspirational of leaders.
One of those leaders is Nick Cushing – the former City Academy boys’ coach and highly successful manager of our women’s team; now Assistant Coach at New York City FC, who clinched their first piece of silverware in December.
Having joined the Club set-up back in 2006, this is the story of one man’s incredible journey through the City Football Group from budding football coach to serial winner: from Platt Lane to Portland, Oregon…
“I remember when I first started,” Cushing recalls. “I was coaching at a grassroots club where I lived in Ellesmere Port – Vauxhall Motors – and one of the coaches had coached with Terry John at City’s Junior Academy but had finished.
“I was 20 at the time and I was really enjoying coaching, and he told me he felt I’d be good at City – that they were looking for young, enthusiastic coaches – and I said I’d love to go. I met Terry and started coaching voluntarily on Sunday mornings with the Under-5s, 6s and 7s with Nick Power, alongside a day coaching job in schools where I lived, and then I started doing more nights.
“I was given a full-time job when the Club decided to do the Schools Programme. I’d been going around the Development Centres in Milnrow and Failsworth, and Barry Poynton in Recruitment decided he wanted to send coaches into schools around the Manchester area and look for talent.
“My area was Warrington and Runcorn and we did that while coaching younger kids – Under-5s, 6s, 7s, 8s and 9s – but that was more recruitment and I knew I wanted to coach. I expressed that to the Academy Director at the time, Mark Allen, and then in 2009/10, I was moved across to the Academy, coaching signed players.
“I loved it but I also wanted to play to win and be involved in the professional side – up there with the U18s, U23s and first-team – although I knew I wasn’t ready. I was in my early 20s and lacked the experience and the knowledge. I was still developing, myself.
“I used to go out at the grass pitches at Platt Lane, watching other coaches, helping them and learning from them. Alex Gibson and Paul Power had huge effects on my career. People could see that I wanted to progress and then in 2013, the Club decided to bring women’s football full-time and I remember really clearly being pulled into the office.
“At the time, I’d moved from 8-a-side to 11-a-side, working with the U12s and U13s, supporting Gareth Whalley and Jason Wilcox, learning from them but not actually coaching, and I was told this would be a good opportunity to work with the team and be part of developing a team, recruiting players, preparing games to win... I didn’t know much about women’s football but I was really excited.”
It was the perfect match. After starting off in a joint coaching role with former City Ladies manager Leigh Wood, Cushing was handed the managerial reins and guided the FA Women’s Super League newcomers to an incredible period of trophy success: six pieces of silverware in six years and two Champions League semi-finals. It was an exceptional accomplishment but the time had come for a new challenge.
“I could have managed that team for the rest of my career,” he says, “but I felt that for my development – to take my coaching to the next level – I needed to go and work for a more experienced manager and get out of my comfort zone.
“I didn’t want to leave the CFG because I’m so grateful for the opportunities they’ve given me and for my development; for the opportunity to work with people who have really improved me both as a person and a coach.
“I needed to be put into an environment where I would be able to contribute to the team but also where the team would push me to be better so that in the future, I could be a better Head Coach. It was an opportunity to work in a new, incredibly competitive league in the MLS, a new country and also to work with Ronny Delia. He had developed players into better players, who had gone on to play in higher leagues, and I knew that working for him would be great for me.”
After bidding an emotional farewell to Manchester, Cushing’s new chapter could not have endured a more challenging start. Jetting across the Atlantic a matter of weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic, a decision was forced to move his family over months earlier than originally planned before the borders closed. For the first weeks of his new role, he and his family were alone.
“It was strange,” he reflects. “We moved during lockdown so we couldn’t really meet anybody!
“I’d come over two days after the Arsenal game [his final game in charge of the women's team]. Claire and the family were due to come in April but on 15 March, the President announced that in 24 hours, the borders would close for England and Europe so on the Saturday night, the flights were booked and the family flew over at 9am the next morning!
“I had no furniture, New York weren’t playing any games and the kids didn’t start school for seven or eight weeks. Then within seven days, I had to fly to Florida and then we played eight weeks of the season in a bubble – but it settled down. The kids are enrolled in school now and they have their own soccer teams, we know our way around where we live in the city and it’s nice. The kids are even using American words and my daughter has a little American twang!
“It’s good they were able to get over because they wouldn’t have for the next four, five or six months because the exemptions for professional sports didn’t start until then.”
Having left behind friends, family and familiar surroundings, Cushing was handed a baptism of fire in his new home. Joining New York four weeks into their pre-season, he had to quickly form new relationships and find his bearings, with the help of Google Maps!
After a tough start in which the team endured six defeats, there was a familiar sense of disappointment with the Club yet to achieve success and having failed to overcome previous hurdles – but between them, Cushing and Delia instilled a belief.
“We knew that it wasn’t acceptable,” the former City women’s boss admits. “Ronny is a winner and I’d won things, and we had to be competitive and successful, playing good football.
“We developed the team and worked hard, and followed a very similar process than I had at the women’s team, and we improved.
“When I arrived in 2020, one thing I noticed was that the Club was incredibly ambitious but the disappointment of not winning had also almost strangled the Club. It got to the point where when we when had first Play-Off game against Orlando, you could feel the tension – there was a desperation to win, having come so close previously.”
A rollercoaster campaign the following year would finally see New York make the breakthrough. Reward for negotiating Atlanta at home and New England away in the Play-Offs – the latter on penalties following 120 tiring minutes – the team beat a much-fancied Philadelphia on their own turf to win the Eastern Conference, conquering the tests of fatigue, a five-hour time difference and six-and-a-half-hours of travel.
The triumph set up an MLS Final clash with the Portland Timbers, who were hoping a long-awaited home advantage would pull them through. Against the odds, New York drew first blood through Valentín Castellanos but were struck a devastating blow as Felipe Mora levelled in the dying seconds, sending the game to extra-time and ultimately, another penalty shoot-out.
Drowning out a boisterous home crowd, Sean Johnson saved the home side’s first two spot-kicks, while successful Castellanos and Maxi Moralez efforts sandwiched Alfredo Morales’ miss for the visitors. With the hosts’ next two efforts converted, as well as Talles Magno’s, it was up to Alexander Callens to net the decisive penalty.
More than 3,300 miles may separate Manchester and New York but in ‘Typical City’ fashion, silverware would be secured in the most dramatic of circumstances, as Callens smashed home to clinch the cup, emphasising a crucial mental shift from challengers to Champions.
“It’s the highest elation you can have,” Cushing smiles. “It was an amazing feeling.
“We’d learned a lot across the season – we had a lot of experiences: ups and downs – and to have won in an incredibly competitive league was real reward for the work everyone had put in to develop the strength and the character we had.
“We knew we could win, we believed we could win and we developed the team in the right way. It has been an incredible experience and it just makes you want to do more, win more and work harder to do that.”
From a fresh-faced, football-loving young man, taking his first steps into his career, to one of the CFG’s most inspiring success stories, Cushing possesses a glittering CV and alongside so many of his protégés, now boasts ‘international experience’ amongst his accomplishments.
Looking back on his path, the 37-year-old acknowledges the significant milestones, adding he owes some of the best moments of his life – not just his career – to the CFG, and holds immense pride for the remarkable journey of the Group and for the exciting future that lies ahead.
“It’s incredibly different from when I started,” he laughs. “At Platt Lane, we had two grass pitches, one Astroturf pitch and one indoor dome for 8-a-side but when I reflect on those days, they were really enjoyable.
“Once the transition began under the Club's new ownership, things started to really develop quickly and moving into the CFA was a huge step in the development of all teams to becoming winning teams because the facility gives the opportunity to develop in so many ways.
“The opportunity go to New York was one I couldn’t turn down. Stepping away from being a Head Coach to being an Assistant is a great way to develop myself.
“I didn’t see it coming but one thing the experience has really shown me is that you never know what’s around the corner. It’s been – and still is – an amazing journey.”
Some players are inventive, some send a message and some are well-rehearsed in training… welcome to the world of goals celebrations, Manchester City-style...
The Techtonik: Aymeric Laporte
Only one place to start and that’s with Aymeric Laporte’s truly unique goal celebration. Named after the Electro ‘Techtonik’ dance, it’s not for the faint-hearted as if you get it wrong, you could end up in knots or strike passers-by. Very original and, as yet not used by anyone else in world football that we know of.
The Knighting: Bernardo Corradi
In 2006, a struggling City took on Fulham at the Etihad. Bernardo Corradi didn’t score that many during his fairly brief stay with the Blues, but this was an emphatic finish from the edge of the box that flew into the roof of the net. The Italian then headed for the corner flag where Joey Barton knelt before him and Corradi duly tapped him on both shoulders with the pole, effectively knighting Barton.
The Golf Swing: Carlos Tevez
Having been suspended by City during the 2011/12 season, Carlos Tevez returned to try and spur our flagging title challenge – and what an effect he had. In explosive form away to Norwich, he completed his hat-trick as the Blues thrashed the Canaries 6-1, then ran over to the City fans where he took a golf swing into the away end. He held his hand up to say it wasn’t a dig at the travelling support – but a definite message to some journos that had maybe been mischievous about his actions during his absence.
The Spectacles: Ellen White
As iconic as the woman herself, England's all-time record goal-scorer is famed for her invisible frames! The Lionesses legend marks her goal-scoring exploits by bringing her hands to her eyes in a gesture of a pair of glasses. Now her trademark, it was inspired by French forward Anthony Modeste. Big Bundesliga fans, White and her husband Callum saw the Cologne striker net a last-minute winner, don the 'glasses' in celebration and joked that she should adopt the move as her own... and thus: the 'White-tinted spectacles' were born!
The Knee Slide: Paul Dickov/Rodrigo
You have to get a knee slide right or you could end up with carpet burns. It’s not unusual to see a player start the slide on grass then move onto the AstroTurf surrounding the pitch and come to a sudden and awkward halt. The best examples of getting it spot-on at City have been Paul Dickov’s epic slide after his goal against Gillingham and Rodrigo’s late winner at Arsenal – albeit even if he ran the wrong way to celebrate!
Catch Me If You Can: Nicky Weaver
Back to Gillingham 1999 and Nicky Weaver’s one-off – but unforgettable celebratory run after City won the penalty shoot-out. Weaver set off over the advertising hoardings before being chased by team-mates trying to grab him. A Benny Hill-style run was then ended by Andy Morrison’s ‘gentle’ wrestle to the ground. Then it was a schoolyard ‘pile-on!’
I Can’t Hear You: Carlos Tevez
This is a much-used celebration that, when timed well, says so much. There was no love lost between Carlos Tevez, his former manager Sir Alex Ferguson and his ex-United team-mates. So when he bravely headed City ahead in the League Cup semi-final against United at the Etihad in 2010, he ran to the centre of the pitch, faced the United bench and cupped his ears in his hands. It was a kind, ‘Er, what were you saying?’ message. It was fantastic.
Why Always Me? Mario Balotelli
There are moments etched into the DNA of Manchester City and Mario's goal celebration at Old Trafford is one of them. Having drilled a low angled shot home at the Stretford End to put City ahead, Mario's only movement was to reveal a T-shirt with 'Why always me?' written on it. Genius.
The Shirt Off Celebration: Sergio Aguero/Yaya Toure
We end with maybe the best of the lot. First, we’ll acknowledge Yaya Toure’s shirt-above-head moment after hitting the winning penalty against Liverpool in the 2016 Carabao Cup final. But, though it had been seen in football many times before, Sergio’s version as he raced away waving his shirt around his head having scored the title-winning goal against QPR, beats the lot, for the sheer joy plus the magnitude of the moment. Epic.
Esme Morgan is living the dream for all of us…
A diehard City fan, donning the iconic blue and white and gracing the hallowed turf, Esme is fulfilling the fantasy of every football fan.
She may only be 21 years-old, but she’s already accomplished lifelong ambitions of representing the Club she loves, stepping out at Wembley and most memorably, scoring her first City goal, following in the footsteps of her childhood idols.
Having progressed through the ranks from Under-15s level, Morgan had looked very much at home in the City backline, producing impressive displays in her breakthrough season before a lower leg fracture halted her 2021/22 campaign just four games in.
It came as a huge blow to Gareth Taylor and the squad – the absence of such a promising and versatile player a sore miss and costly addition to an already-lengthy injury list.
"I remember looking back and Marozsan flicked the ball over my head as if I wasn’t even there!"
As a teenager, the defender had spent time on loan with Everton to gain first-team experience and prove herself as a leader – no longer following standards but driving them, raising them. Though many believed she would continue to temporarily ply her trade elsewhere, Taylor made a point of retaining her services and securing her signature with a new contract, believing she would thrive in the environment of the City Football Academy.
Developing young British talent has always been a core value at City with the mantra of 'if you’re good enough, you’re old enough'.
That adage was probably most notable for Morgan when she made her maiden first-team appearance in a pre-season friendly at just 16 years old – a matter of days after receiving her GCSE results (eight A*s, one A and one B!).
As senior bows go, Morgan’s could not have been much tougher, facing Frankfurt, Montpellier and European Champions Olympique Lyonnais all in the space of a week. Though our first two exhibition games would end in defeat, City snatched a dramatic 3-2 win over Lyon in which youngster Morgan locked horns with Eugenie Le Sommer, Dzsenifer Marozsan, Saki Kumagai et al to complete our tour on a positive note.
It was quite an introduction to professional football but Morgan believes the experience of being thrown in at the deep end proved significant in shaping the player she is today.
“It was a bit of a baptism of fire!” she recalls. “There were so many little moments where it was like: ‘Wow, welcome to elite football!’
“I remember looking back and Marozsan flicked the ball over my head as if I wasn’t even there!
“I definitely think things like that have helped because I personally feel like I perform better when the standard against me is higher and I’m under pressure.
“Those moments have brought the best out of me and I’m lucky that Nick Cushing and Gareth Taylor have always trusted me in the big moments to step up and be able to slot in and play.”
A wise head on young shoulders, Morgan is as beloved off the pitch as she is on it. Highly intelligent and articulate but incredibly humble and selfless, she is regarded as a positive and encouraging influence who is always willing to learn, soaking up every ounce of knowledge and experience from those around her.
Though she lines up against some of the biggest names in the women’s game, she has never let the fame or adoration go to her head and states she is motivated by the desire to play for the badge and the fans with whom she used to stand.
She considers every situation an opportunity to learn and grow – evident with her reflection that when she discovered she had suffered a leg fracture, she was eager to use the opportunity to improve her upper body strength in the gym. She even took on a new challenge, making her co-commentary debut alongside Alistair Mann in our CITY+ coverage of the Continental Cup quarter-final win over Bristol, to much acclaim.
Though football naturally throws up moments of disappointment and frustration, Morgan always seeks to find the lesson – no matter how big or small – and use it constructively as she aims to reach her full potential.
There is one such memory that springs immediately to her mind: City’s Champions League quarter-final defeat to eventual 2020/21 competition winners Barcelona.
"There are times or moments that you learn the most from when you struggle against an opponent."
Taylor’s side succumbed to a 3-0 defeat in the first leg – a game in which Morgan admits she endured a torrid afternoon – before claiming a notable 2-1 win in the home leg. Though it would not be enough to progress, it proved an impressive feat as one of very few defeats Barca would suffer in their treble-winning campaign.
Midfielder Vicky Losada, who joined City from Barca, admitted it was one of their toughest tests of the season and for Morgan, it was one of the most eye-opening.
“There are times or moments that you learn the most from when you struggle against an opponent,” she declares.
“You look back and realise where you could have adapted your game or done something differently to be able to combat what they presented.
“I think those sorts of learning experiences are what make you develop in the long term."
“The biggest example for me was the Barcelona away game last year. I really struggled in the first half and I spent the next week beating myself up and figuring out what I should have done to better defend against the winger.
“I played in the second leg and I felt so much more comfortable and confident, and I don’t think she really got the better of me in that game.
“I think those sorts of learning experiences are what make you develop in the long term.”
Should Morgan maintain her mature outlook and continue to push herself, there is no reason why Taylor’s prediction that she will go on to accomplish great things – for both Club and country – cannot come true.
She dreams of lifting silverware with the Club she’s always loved.
Watch this space.
Georgia Stanway wrote her name into the City record books at the end of January, becoming the Club’s record women’s goalscorer.
Overtaking Nikita Parris’ previous record of 62, the forward hit a sensational hat-trick in our 8-0 Women’s FA Cup win over Nottingham Forest on her 170th appearance to leapfrog her former teammate in style.
Reflecting on her achievement, we caught up with the 23-year-old, who told us what it meant to break the record and what’s been key to her impressive recent form, which has also earned a league Goal of the Month award and Player of the Month nomination…
Georgia, congratulations on becoming City’s record women’s goalscorer. How did it feel to have accomplished that feat?
“It was a dream come true and such a heart-warming feeling, knowing this is the Club I made my debut for and have won trophies with, and now hold the record for!
“I’d said it was about time I had a little record of my own! It was something I was really hoping to accomplish and a moment I wanted to share with my family, my friends and the girls.
“It means everything. I can’t even describe it! It’s not something you set out to do: to become Manchester City’s record goalscorer but it’s amazing and now I’ve done it, I’m so happy to have achieved it.”
You mentioned you had a lot of respect for Nikita Parris. Was she aware you were set to overtake her? Did you have any conversations about it beforehand?
“I really do have so much respect for Keets. She’s an unbelievable person. I still speak to her now – we just talk about our lives and we always have a bit of banter!
“I don’t know whether she knew it was on the horizon but even if she did, she’d have been happy for me because that’s the type of person she is.
“She’d always wants me to kick on and do well, doing everything I could to break it.”
You’re back amongst the worldy goals too – your long-range effort against Birmingham won the league’s Goal of the Month award for December! Talk us through that one…
“I’d not scored one for a while but to be honest, looking back at that goal, I don’t even know why I shot from that position!
“If you watch it from behind, it was the worst run-up to kick the ball ever: I was on my left side with my right foot coming across the ball so it looked awful!
“I don’t know what came over me but it went in and I wasn’t complaining! You have to celebrate it.
“Confidence is a big part of my game. I was feeling good at the time and maybe if I hadn’t have felt confident, I wouldn’t have taken that shot!”
You earned a nomination for WSL Player of the Month too, even having deputised again in defence! You told us recently those awards are something you wanted more of…
“Yeah, I’ve been feeling good. It’s been good to get out there and get the results we wanted and obviously for me, it’s been good to get on the scoresheet over the past few weeks, edging closer to breaking the record and then breaking it.
“It’s just minutes for me. No matter what position I play, I try to give everything I can for the team and put a shift in wherever Gareth Taylor plays me.”
What’s been key to your form and what’s the next target, now you’ve broken the goal-scoring record…?
“I think the key has been utilising the people around me, using that support network to push me, and realising what I’m good at.
“I know I’m good at running around, putting tackles, in, playing nice football, passing and shooting so it’s been about bringing my game back to basics, trying to do one thing at a time and building confidence that way.
“Now, I’m just ready to kick on and score as many goals as I can, helping the team to be in the best possible position to be successful.”
Ryan Clayton will be a familiar face to Manchester City-supporting Coronation Street fans.
The Hyde-born actor, who portrayed villain Josh Tucker during a two-year spell on the famous cobbles, is a lifelong Blue and a regular at the Etihad Stadium, where he is a Seasoncard holder in Block 322.
City Magazine caught up with Clayton to discuss all things City, including Blackburn away, Pep Guardiola and why he feels this may be our year for Champions League glory.
Q. Ryan, thanks for speaking to us. Can you start by telling us how you became a City fan?
As it often is, it was just in my family. My dad’s side are all from that area of Manchester, so he used to go home and away and eventually became part of a Supporters Club. We followed City everywhere during the days that weren’t as good as they are now and it was the passion which drew me in more than the football, because the football wasn’t as good as it is now! I started following City just after Gillingham, so you could say I am a glory hunter! But that’s when my dad started taking me and I just fell in love with the atmosphere at Maine Road.
Q. Who were your favourite players growing up?
I loved Terry Cooke and when I was younger, I used to play in goal, so Nicky Weaver was massive for me as well. I’ve got a picture of me during a stadium tour at Maine Road in a Weaver kit with the green Eidos shirt - the full works. Boxing was my sport, but I loved football and when I was younger, I wanted to be a footballer, though anyone who knows me will tell you I’m not that good. We’ve got the motto - Pride in Battle – and I’ve always loved these sort of players. Andy Morrison, Richard Dunne, Danny Tiatto, Pablo Zabaleta. I was never great at football, but I always wanted to play like them.
Q. Do you have any standout memories from following City?
The Aguero moment was incomparable to anything. There are no words to express it. I remember being in this weird mix of crying and pure ecstasy. And then there’s the away days. They’re always great. I am hoping Blackburn come back up this season because that was always a brilliant away day. I wasn’t on the hill that day. We were going to go but we couldn’t get tickets. My dad was debating doing the hill, but I do remember watching it at the pub and it was brilliant. Outside of that, there’s the memories of going away with my dad when I was younger. We’re the best of mates and it has brought us closer together, so we’ll always have that, as do so many fans. It’s the family, community element that just brings everyone together.
Q. What are your thoughts on the season so far?
I wasn’t that optimistic. I was lowering my expectations, so I just thought anything we can win I’d be happy with. If we get some silverware, great. If not, it’s not the end of the world, but I guess I forgot how good we actually are! The past two years in particular, playing without a striker, I think it’s proven Pep has got to go down as the greatest manager of all-time, for what he has achieved and what he gets out of his players. What we’re seeing on the pitch at the minutes is incredible and it’s so admirable because it is all about the team. It’s dreamland!
Q. What are your hopes for the rest of the campaign?
Where I sit at the Etihad, you’ve got a great view of the whole game and at the PSG game it just made me realise how good we are. I do think we are the best team in the world. I genuinely do. We can sing it and actually mean it. With that in mind, it’s got to be the Champions League. It feels like now we have got past that quarter-final hoodoo, then if we get to the final, I think we should do it. I am never massively confident. There is always the element of a City fan in me, but there is a little bit of me that does feel like it could be our year.
Q. What’s next for you in your acting career?
I am going to be playing a police officer in the new series of Waterloo Road. We have gone over the first few episodes and they are brilliant, really well written. I think it was overdue a comeback because everybody used to love it. Funnily enough, it was the first official set I ever went on when I used to do extra work when I was younger, so it is nice it has gone full circle now I am filming on it.
Our talented City and England defender answers 18 questions in 90 seconds…
What time do you arrive at the training ground? 9am
What is your pre-match meal? Pasta
What is your cheat meal? Fish and chips!
How was your first training session? It was incredible! The pace, the players - everything went up a notch.
First mate at City? Joe Hart
Nickname growing up? Stonesy!
Best City goal seen scored? Leroy Sane's against Liverpool that went in off the post.
Your celebration is: Arms out, shouting!
How do you explain you (allegedly) being a great dancer? Rhythm!
Best advice you've ever received? Be happy
First post on Insta? Getting on the plane with England. Not a bad start!
Beatles or Oasis? Oasis
Best gig? Never been to one, at least not a festival-type. We don't get time!
Biggest moaner in the squad? Zinchenko because he's always crying about something in training!
A secret about a team-mate... Bernardo named his dog after me!
One thing you love about Manchester? Our fans.
One thing you hate about Manchester? The weather!
The thing you love most about football? Impossible. I love everything about football!
In this month’s Fantasy Premier League segment, we’ve put together our very own ‘FPL Dream Team’, containing the highest-scoring City players in the popular game so far this campaign. Find out who makes the cut below…
The Brazilian has earned more FPL points than any other Premier League stopper so far this season.
With an impressive 14 clean sheets to his name, Ederson is on course to claim the Golden Glove award for a third successive season, with Liverpool’s Alisson his closest rival with 12 shutouts.
In FPL, our stopper has earned 109 points– a feat bettered by just three other City players so far this season.
Cancelo has amassed a whopping 141 FPL points, the most of any City player and third in the entire Premier League.
That phenomenal tally comprises 13 clean sheets, eight assists, one goal and, for good measure, a further 20 bonus points in recognition of his consistently excellent performances.
Laporte has grabbed more Premier League goals than any other City defender this season, including a vital equaliser away to Southampton in late January.
The Spaniard has averaged a hugely impressive seven points per match in his last nine games.
With 27% of FPL managers selecting Dias in their team, the defender is the second-most popular City player in the game behind Cancelo.
The Portuguese international is on course to better his tally of 142 points across his debut campaign in English football, sitting just 28 shy of that total at time of writing.
City’s No.20 is enjoying his most fruitful campaign in English football to date, grabbing seven goals and four assists in the Premier League so far.
Bernardo has earned 114 FPL points, with only Cancelo bettering that tally among Pep Guardiola’s squad, while he also sits eighth in the entire competition.
The German might not have been as prolific as he was across the 2020/21 campaign, but his 75 points so far this term still earns him a spot in our FPL Dream Team.
Gundogan has grabbed four goals and four assists in the Premier League so far, with his 13-point haul against West Ham United back in November also seeing him feature among the 11 best players in Gameweek 13.
Kevin De Bruyne
De Bruyne is looking back to his brilliant best for Guardiola’s men, with only Raheem Sterling grabbing more FPL points so far in 2022.
The Belgian has two goals and one assist in his last three Premier League matches.
Although Foden has often operated out wide for City this season, he slots seamlessly into our FPL Dream Team midfield on this occasion.
The England international has grabbed six goals and four assists across the 2021/22 Premier League campaign, totalling an impressive 89 points to date.
His 18-point haul in our 4-1 win away to Brighton is also the most of any City player in an FPL Gameweek so far this season, matched only by Raheem Sterling (Norwich 0-4 City) Joao Cancelo (Newcastle 0-4 City) and Ferran Torres (City 5-0 Arsenal).
City's highest-scorer in FPL across 2022, Sterling is also the third most in-form player in the Premier League according to the game's form indicator.
The England international’s conversion rate means he also boasts the highest FPL threat indicator of anyone at City, with the category assessing which players are most likely to score goals when presented with an opportunity.
The Brazilian has already registered an impressive seven Premier League assists so far this campaign, with only Joao Cancelo able to better that tally in the City squad.
According to FPL, Jesus is also the third-most creative striker in the Premier League, behind only West Ham’s Michail Antonio and Newcastle’s Allain Saint-Maximin in terms of generating goal-scoring opportunities for teammates.
The Algerian completes City’s FPL Dream Team having scored in five of his last six Premier League appearances.
In that time, Mahrez has amassed an astonishing 57 points, averaging out at 9.5 per match.
Former City midfielder Michael Brown can attest to the demands of a hectic fixture period having been part of a Sheffield United squad that played 61 matches across the 2002-03 campaign.
As this month’s guest columnist, Brown explains how Guardiola’s squad will cope with those demands and highlights some potentially crucial fixtures within that run as the final furlongs of the campaign gradually come into view.
The busy February and March period can certainly be a defining moment in the campaign as you start to edge towards the business end of the season. City do have a little bit of leeway at the top of the Premier League table with a healthy points gap between them and Liverpool, and they’ve well and truly earned that, but it’s really important that they maintain that form ahead of some big and exciting games over the next month.
With the return of the Champions League thrown into the mix as well, I think they’re really good games to look forward to. You’ve got Antonio Conte’s resurgent Tottenham team coming to the Etihad, it depends on which type of side will turn up, and will we see a different Everton side when we go to Goodison Park at the end of the month? They’ll have a new lease of life under Frank Lampard and could pose a threat. Then you’ve got the Manchester Derby at the start of March as well, that’s the game you look out for at the start of the season and it’s always a great occasion. This could be an extremely important period towards City retaining the Premier League title.
Beyond our domestic commitments, our Champions League Round of 16 matches against Sporting Lisbon are huge, too. However, given the first leg scoreline, the second leg should be a formality.
I remember when I was at Sheffield United we had a similarly demanding schedule. We got to the semi-finals of the FA Cup and League Cup as well as reaching the First Division (Championship) play-off final, which we eventually lost to Wolverhampton Wanderers. We played 61 times that season in all competitions, it felt like an endless amount of matches and that we were basically playing every single day. Training essentially just became a quick recovery session before a bit of work on our set pieces, focus and organisation ahead of the next match. At the same time though, if you’re winning games, you quickly get into a winning mentality and tend and look forward to the next game. They come fast, but you enjoy that volume because you’re in form.
This isn’t unfamiliar territory for Pep and the players, and they know you’ve just got to use the squad as best you can. Obviously, City have a great squad with then plenty of youngsters like Cole Palmer, James McAtee and Liam Delap – to name just a few - backing that up. They’re also excellent at conserving their energy and I think the games against Fulham and Brentford really showed that. having the 4-1 and 2-0 leads and just being able to cruise to the end of game and feel your way back in after the mini-international break was crucial. City are really good at that, just keeping possession, managing the situation and, in turn, the game. This period can be demanding, but I think the squad are more than capable of coping with it.
Max George from boyband 'The Wanted' gives us his all time City XI...
Manager: Pep Guardiola
He’s created the greatest side in PL history. An absolute wizard.
1. Joe Hart
Played a massive part in our first Premier League-winning season. Underrated. Top lad.
2. Micah Richards
Saw him break through the ranks when I was there.. and he went on to do it all. The Villa goal celebration deserves a mention!
3. Vincent Kompany
A man mountain. Our leader.
4. Ruben Dias
What a player. Couldn’t leave him out.
5. Aleksandar Kolarov
Difficult one. But his left foot was a wand.
6. Kevin De Bruyne
The greatest passer of the ball the league has ever had.
7. Yaya Toure
Immense. When he bounced Vidic to score in FA Cup semi final, legendary status was confirmed.
8. David Silva
For me the greatest midfielder in Premier League history.
9. Georgi Kinkladze
How could I leave this little magician out? My first hero.
10. Sergio Aguero
Thank you for the memories, Sergio.
11. Shaun Goater
Scored so many important goals. Wouldn’t be here without him.
Pablo Zabaleta: Legend.
Richard Dunne: Mr dependable. A wall of a defender.
Fernandinho: Class act, and still got it at 36.
Colin Bell: The King. Before my time so put him here (I know I know…)
Ali Bernarbia: Never seen a better one-touch player in my life.
Phil Foden: He’s one of our own.
Carlos Tevez: Welcome to Manchester.
City’s fine campaign at Academy level was further emphasised earlier this month when we secured our ticket through to the Under-17 Premier League Cup semi-finals.
Comprised of essentially the same squad as our impressive Under-18s and also overseen by 18s lead coach Ben Wilkinson, the youngsters first navigated a challenging group in impressive fashion.
Then, pitted against a powerful Liverpool side in an eagerly-awaited quarter-final, City prevailed 5-2 to secure our passage through to the last four.
And for Wilkinson – who has also overseen a hugely encouraging campaign with our Under-18s so far this term with the side leading the way in the league table - it was another job well executed by his exciting cohort.
“We had Derby, Stoke and Everton in our group stages in the autumn and won all three matches and then we drew Liverpool at home in the quarter-finals who we knew would be very tough opponents,” Wilkinson explained.
“The team that played Liverpool was very similar to the team that played at Leeds the previous weekend in the Under-18 Premier League North.
“The only person who has not played in it from the actual Under 18s right now is Dire Mebude, everyone else has played in it.
“The only changes we did make for the Liverpool game were more like rotational changes. Liverpool were strong as well. In fact, I think from our recent league game against Liverpool they only made one change, too.
“But we won 5-2 and the lads played very well. We were 1-0 down after like two minutes and then we turn around 2-1 up after 20 minutes with Josh Adams scoring twice.
“They then equalised so at half-time it was 2-2 but then in the second half Will Dickson got a hat-trick and I think it was another really positive performance.
“Great goals, another good performance in terms of the overall level and just a continuation really of the recent performances.”
For the lead coach and his players, it’s now a waiting game as we await to discover whom we will face in the last four.
Southampton, Tottenham, Nottingham Forest, Sunderland, Charlton and Birmingham also made it through to the last eight with the remaining quarter-final ties still to be played at the time of publication.
But regardless of who we go on to face, Wilkinson believes all is set fair for an exciting last few months of the campaign for his players.
“Hopefully we have got a good couple of months to look forward to in terms of maintaining the form in the league and trying to go the line as well in the Premier League cup competitions,” he added.
“I think just from the players’ development point of view - which is what we're here for - it gives them a great opportunity to do exactly what we want at the club in terms of trying to create this winning environment.
“Trying to create the big games and the sort of environment which is similar as is possible to what the first team face at this time of the year in terms of having back-to-back games a lot.
“When we played Liverpool in the Cup on the Tuesday, it was the third tough game in a week and I thought we looked tired in the second half.
“And you get more players coming into the physio room like with and rightly so as they have played a lot of football lately.
“But it has been great since Christmas with the exception of the Brighton game in the FA Youth Cup though, for me, we performed well there too.
“They've been really good so hopefully we can maintain this for the next couple of months and then we will be in a decent place.”
In this Mixed Grilling I’d like to introduce to you all a certain Wayne Jones!
I met Wayne recently at a family gathering (we’re not related - luckily for him) and got on like a house on fire. His stories of being a member of the Blue Army are legion and the fact that he knows many of our players and former players meant that by the ‘one degree of separation’ rule - I’ve now very nearly ‘met’ all many of my City heroes. I’m just one handshake away.
As a man who has only ever mastered one dish more complicated than baked beans on crumpets (Paella) I remain envious of this man's culinary talents…and his contacts list.
Over to you Wayne!
I am Wayne Jones from Manchester and I have been lucky enough to achieve my dream job of being a personal chef to players from my beloved football club Manchester City. I have worked with the likes of Micah Richards, Joe Hart and numerous friends and fellow players of theirs.
WHAT IS YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY OF GOING TO A FOOTBALL MATCH?
My earliest memory of going to a football match is the Man City v Ipswich home game in 1978 when I was just 7 years old. I looked forward to it as it was Kazimierz Deyna’s debut but sadly we lost 2-1.
WHAT IS THE MOST PECULIAR OR MEMORABLE THING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED TO YOU AT A MATCH?
The most memorable thing that has ever happened at a match has to be winning 6-1 at Old Trafford.
IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME AND PREVENT ONE MATCH FROM BEING PLAYED, WHAT MATCH WOULD THAT BE - AND WHY?
If I could go back and not experience one match, it would be Stoke away when we got relegated to Division 2, I cried for the first time at a football match.
WHICH TEAM ARE YOUR LEAST FAVOURITE OPPONENTS - AND WHY?
My least favourite opponents are Man United because I’m the only Man City fan in my family.
WHAT IS YOUR MOST FAVOURITE MAN CITY TERRACE SONG OR CHANT - AND WHY?
My favourite Man City song is “Last Christmas they gave us Joe Hart, but the very next day, they gave him away, but this year, to save us from tears, we’ll give it to Caballero” because it broke my heart when Joe left.
WHAT IS THE MOST MEMORABLE CITY GOAL YOU HAVE WITNESSED (“Agueroooooooooooo…” aside!)?
The most memorable goal I’ve witnessed is David Silva away at Hull when he dummied an entire stand and smashed it into the top corner.
HAVE YOU EVER MET ONE OF YOUR MAN CITY HEROES… IF SO - WHO, AND HOW WAS THE EXPERIENCE!
I’ve been so extremely lucky to meet most of the City players across the years, but David Silva, star struck me when he recognised me at Southampton Airport after only meeting him once. He casually said ‘Hello Wayne’.
IF YOU COULD INVITE ANY MAN CITY PLAYER - PRESENT OR PAST - TO YOURS FOR TEA AND BISCUITS - WHO WOULD IT BE - AND WHY?
There is only one answer to who would be invited for tea and biscuits, the legend that is Colin Bell.
HAVE YOU EVER SHED A TEAR - OF JOY - OR PAIN - AT A CITY MATCH?
Gillingham in the play off final lead me to painful tears.
WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST ABOUT MAINE ROAD?
The thing I miss most about Maine Road has to be the walk home.
WHO DO YOU THINK WOULD WIN IN AN ARM WRESTLING MATCH - YAYA TOURE OR KYLE WALKER?
Kyle Walker would smash Toure at an arm wrestle because Kyle is just too fast.
IF YOU COULD PICK ONE CURRENT CITY PLAYER TO BE ON YOUR PUB QUIZ TEAM - WHO WOULD IT BE - AND WHY?
I’d have Vincent Kompany on my pub quiz team because he’s so intelligent and such a comedian.
Kevin Cummins recalls why he loves the FA Cup so much - and shows us the evidence!
I love the FA Cup. I love how difficult it is to win. I love the fact that it was the first major trophy we won in this new millennium. I love how the reigning Champions of the Premier League (that’s us by the way) can still be in the same tournament as non-league Boreham Wood, for a place in the quarter finals.
I always loved the FA Cup as a kid. I loved FA Cup final day with its full day of nonsense to watch on TV prior to kick off. I didn’t care who was in the final. I just loved watching it. To be fair, it was one of the few live games shown on TV prior to the 1980s. My first final was in 1969 v Leicester where we won 1-0 with a screamer from Neil Young. It was great to be there but, in all honesty, it was probably better on TV. All we got was the match. Wembley was awful. The pitch was so far away from the standing area behind the goal, and you didn’t get to see FA Cup ‘It’s a Knockout’ or ‘have’ breakfast with the teams, unlike the TV millions.
When we were in the final in ’81, the friend I went with had a small portable TV.
We parked in Wembley car park, plugged in into the cigarette lighter socket, and watched all the pre-match build up on this little black and white set balanced precariously on the car bonnet.
This seemed a very satisfactory arrangement, and all augured well for a great day, until the ball spun off Tommy Hutch’s shoulder and flew past a bemused Joe Corrigan.
The football media types like to say that the cup is “a great leveller”. And maybe it is.
I’ve seen us win games we should have lost and lose games we should have won.
I’ve seen us play non-league opposition (v Wigan Athletic at Maine Road in 1971 where we struggled to a 1-0 victory via a Colin Bell goal). And play league opposition in a final (Wigan Athletic again, 42 years later) where we should have buried them but lost in the final minute.
I’ve also been to many grounds where I never expected to see my side play (well at least until we plummeted down the leagues and played them all again). I went to see us lose to Shrewsbury one season and Halifax the next, without us scoring a goal. I also went to Peterborough where we won 0-1 on the way to Wembley in 1981.
In these days of multi-billion-pound mega leagues, the cups are seen as an unwanted distraction by many managers (fortunately not by Pep). These clubs need to talk to their fans. There are only four domestic trophies a top club can win in a season (and I’m including the Community Shield here). I want to win them all, because nobody has ever done it. Therefore, it must be really difficult to achieve this feat. Obviously, I’d settle for one – any one – as would most fans. If I supported a club out of the top four - as most of us clearly have done for the best part of our lives, a Great Cup Run is something to enjoy and to treasure. I don’t want my manager to put out a line-up to include the tea boy, a few kids, and the ground staff - because it’s “an unwelcome distraction”. We may not win it, but I want us to have a bloody good shot at it.
In 2011, prior to winning that first FA Cup since 1969, I asked the club if I could go on the open top bus with the team, to photograph it all, if we won.
“Do you really want to?” I was asked, incredulously.
Do I really want to??? Wouldn’t every City fan want to? Of course, I wanted to.
So, there I was in the town hall then onto the bus for the victory parade up to the Etihad. The club photographer followed on the bus behind ours and took a couple of photos of me – with Carlito – that I will treasure forever. I also had a moment when we were near the stadium and some friends, seeing me, chanted: “Kevin, Kevin, show us the Cup.” Pablo Zabaleta, who was holding the cup at the time, asked if that was me, and then handed me the trophy which I duly held above my head in time honoured victory style. There’s a great photo of me doing this with Zabaleta standing next to me, laughing, and clapping.
In all seriousness: who wouldn’t want to do this. What an honour it was.
Now we have a fifth-round tie v Peterborough, the first time we’ve played them since the same stage in the tournament in 1981. ‘Posh’ fans who care will be looking for revenge. Many City fans will be hoping it’s an omen too if we can win, and maybe we’ll get the chance to avenge our defeat in the 1981 Cup final v our nemesis, Tottenham Hotspur.
That’s the Magic of the Cup, and I, for one, will never take a great cup run - with a Wembley Final - for granted. Ever.