Welcome to the November issue
of the City Magazine...

This month's cover star is the very talented Joao Cancelo, with our Portuguese right-back/left-back/playmaker/winger explaining how moving to City has taken him to a new level.

He also reveals how Pep Guardiola has not only changed the way he plays, but the way he thinks about football - and how desperate he is to keep the silverware coming for the City fans who have shown him so much love.

We also feature a fascinating interview with former Norway international Jan Age Fjortoft, who has covered Erling Haaland's rise to superstardom working as a presenter and pundit for Via Play in Scandinavia.

Vicky Losada is our feature interview from our women's team, along with a Mary Fowler picture shoot.

And we also have Andy Morrison's latest selection of score predictions ahead of the World Cup break - plus how he got on last month...

Another former favourite - Nigel De Jong - recalls one of his rare City goals, and Marc Riley and Kev Cummins supply their always-entertaining columns.

You'll also find regulars such as The List, Best XI and spotlights on our EDS and U18s stars, with musical contributions from the resident Blue in local band Rosellas and a Time Machine special on the epic Doves.

Plus loads more!

Enjoy!


City Mag caught up with Joao Cancelo - a defender who is redefining the role of full-back in ways never seen before…

Joao Cancelo is unlike any full-back to have ever played for Manchester City.

That’s quite a statement in itself, but the Portuguese could almost be said to be at the centre of a revolution for how defenders operate in the future.

Cancelo is chiefly a full-back and at City, he mainly plays on the left side with Kyle Walker our regular right-back.


But Joao’s natural position is on the right, so you’d imagine being on the opposite flank more often than not could have hindered his evolution into the player he is today, but it could be argued the opposite is actually true.

Trying to categorise the role he plays for City is difficult, because of his ability to drift centrally and in effect become a playmaker, he is almost impossible for opponents to nullify.

“I know I will make mistakes. I'm a player who loves to take risks, and my principles are these - I work to achieve success and that's what I try to achieve every day.”

Equally, he can pop up on either side of the box as a cultured winger, always looking to create opportunities and wreak havoc.

He is capable of sublime moments of skill, such as the cross with the outside of his right foot that was acrobatically volleyed home by Erling Haaland against Borussia Dortmund.

Or he can score spectacular goals – at the time of writing, he’d found the net 10 times for City and almost all of them have been beauties.

And of course, he can defend, too!


Cancelo puts his development down to Pep Guardiola and the trust he has invested in him.

He knows if he tries something different or rolls the dice in a game, his manager won’t berate him for doing so and, provided it is a calculated attempt, it is actively encouraged.

But at 28, Cancelo believes he is still learning and developing his game.


“Yeah, like I've said in previous interviews, I'm always looking to improve at every training session,” said Joao.

“I know I will make mistakes. I'm a player who loves to take risks, and my principles are these - I work to achieve success and that's what I try to achieve every day.

“I have a fantastic team that supports me, with great players, and when you are among the best, it's easier to be at the top of world football.”

In many ways, Joao Cancelo and Pep Guardiola is a football marriage made in heaven – something the Portuguese freely admits...

“Pep was a very important person in my evolution. He is a manager who changed not only my capacities but also my way of seeing football," said Joao.

“He made me a much more versatile player than I was before.

“He made me smarter too, made me watch the game in a different way with his philosophy, that, like I already said previously, is the best.

“His philosophy is the one I identify myself more with.

“And when you work with a person with the same ideas, it's easier to achieve success.

“As a player, yes, I'm versatile. I'm originally a right back, but I can also play the role of left back, because in Benfica I've played many times as a left back and this made easier for me to play on both sides.

“But I'm ready to play in any position that the manager wants to put me.

“Of course, it won't be good every time, but I will always give my best to help the team to achieve our goals.”

Benfica, Valencia, Inter Milan and Juventus were his previous clubs and with each, he showed the promise he had without perhaps moving to the next level.

“Yeah, no doubt about it. Manchester City was the most important step I gave in my career.”

Guardiola was the manager he needed to do that and in August 2019, he left Italy to start a new life with City.

It didn’t happen overnight for him and there were times in his first season when he wondered if the Premier League really was the right place to kick his career on.

But once he understood English football and Pep identified a unique way of utilising his undoubted gifts, Joao has never looked back.

“Yeah, no doubt about it. Manchester City was the most important step I took in my career,” he said.

"Of course, I've been in big clubs such as Benfica, Valencia, Inter, Juventus. But I think that, right now, Manchester City is in another level.

“I decided to come here, but of course, the first six months weren't very good.

“I needed a period to adapt. But now I'm much more integrated here and I hope to stay many more years, because here is where I feel good. I can talk about this, because after my mistake against Liverpool last month - an individual mistake who gave the three points to Liverpool - the people supported me, and I felt the love from our fans, and I want to give it back to them in the future.

“I want to give them titles because it's the best way to repay them for the support they have given me.”

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

We have guaranteed finishing top of our group with the 0-0 draw against Dortmund and I believe Pep will rotate for this game. But we always put a strong side out no matter what, and we will have too much for Sevilla. Sevilla have already taken the Europa League spot and despite the changes in personnel, I think we will win comfortably.

Mozzer’s prediction: City 5-1 Sevilla

Fulham have impressed me so far, but this is a difficult game for them to approach. Is it a free-hit where they play with freedom, or will they be brave and try and take us on? They’ve been a bit of a yoyo club in recent seasons, but I really like Aleksandr Mitrovic who may be the difference between them surviving – or going down. I think he will score in this game, but it will be no more than a consolation in another big home win.  

Mozzer’s prediction: City 4-1 Fulham

This will be a tight game. Graham Potter knows that – realistically – a domestic trophy is his best bet of winning silverware this season. I don’t see Chelsea challenging for the title or Champions League – not this season – so the Carabao Cup and FA Cup are Chelsea’s likely targets. I like Potter – he thinks outside of the box, and he’s started really well at Stamford Bridge. He likes to target a team’s weakness and try and exploit it and he likes his team to keep possession. It will be a fascinating game and one that I believe will go right to the wire, with City edging home on penalties.

Mozzer’s prediction: City 1-1 Chelsea*
(City to win on penalties)

Brentford have been a breath of fresh air since they were promoted to the top flight, but they are in danger of suffering from ‘second season syndrome’ when it is difficult to repeat the heroics of that first campaign when the adrenaline would have been flowing. They caught a lot of teams out last year, but everyone is a bit wiser to how they play and I don’t see them getting anything out of this game. They are capable of surprising any team, but I can only see an Erling Haaland hat-trick and a comfy home win on this occasion.

Mozzer’s prediction: City 5-0 Brentford

Andy got five results out of eight right, and one correct score.

So far, he has predicted 13 results out of 18 correctly, and has one correct score to date.

Men’s club football will go on hiatus midway through the month of November as many of the world’s best players head to Qatar for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

It’s the first men’s World Cup to take place during a northern hemisphere winter and it’s unchartered territory for Europe’s biggest clubs.

After Brentford visit the Etihad Stadium on 12 November, Pep Guardiola’s team will not play again until late December.

We will instead see our stars battling it out for international football’s biggest prize, but which City players have made an impact on a World Cup before?

This month’s The List remembers contributions from City players past and present at the global festival of football…

Colin Bell and Francis Lee - England
Mexico 1970

Having been central to City’s golden era, Bell and Lee went to Mexico looking to help England defend the World Cup won at Wembley four years earlier.

They each appeared in two of the three group stage games as England finished second behind the mighty Brazil but ahead of Czechoslovakia and Romania.

They came up against another giant of the time in the quarter-finals in West Germany. Lee started alongside Geoff Hurst while Bell was a second half substitute for Bobby Charlton. In a tight encounter, Gerd Muller’s extra time strike proved the difference.

Kazimierz Deyna - Poland
Argentina 1978

Deyna hadn’t yet played for City when he featured at the 1978 World Cup – his debut came in November that year.

The Polish playmaker had made such an impact at the 1974 edition that Europe’s best chased his signature. However, he wasn’t permitted to leave his homeland and instead remained at Legia Warsaw until his move to Manchester.

In 1978, Deyna was his country’s captain and talisman. Poland finished the first group stage top, ahead of West Germany, before an unfortunate draw in the second round saw them finish behind eventual winners Argentina and third place Brazil.

Niall Quinn – Republic of Ireland
Italy 1990

Quinn joined City a few months before the summer of 1990 and made his mark on his first World Cup.

After playing second fiddle to Tony Cascarino and John Aldridge in the first two matches, Quinn was selected ahead of the former for the final group game. He rewarded manager Jack Charlton by scoring the equaliser against a Netherlands side that boasted some of the world’s finest talent at the time.

That guaranteed a Round of 16 tie against Romania, which Ireland won on penalties. They were beaten in the last eight by Italy, but that run remains Ireland’s best result at a World Cup.

David Silva – Spain
South Africa 2010

Like Deyna, Silva would make his City debut after his World Cup exploits. The diminutive Spaniard agreed terms midway through this tournament in what proved to be an incredible summer for him.

He featured in the opening match, and briefly in the semi-final, as La Roja won the World Cup for the first time.

Although his individual impact on the tournament was limited, Silva still arrived at the Club on a high – a feeling that countless City fans had whenever they watched him wearing sky blue for the 10 seasons that followed.

Kyle Walker, John Stones & Raheem Sterling – England
Russia 2018

England’s run to the semi-final captured the imagination of the nation, who dared to dream again after generations without a sniff of glory.

At the heart of that team were three City players who had just helped the Club to the first 100 point tally in Premier League history.

Stones started every match while Walker and Sterling missed just the final group match as England reached the semi-final, where they eventually lost to Croatia.

Ellen White - England
France 2019

The most recent World Cup across men’s and women’s football was another that held great promise for England before ending in heartbreak.

For White, who had already confirmed she would join City for the following season, it was one to savour. She ended up joint top scorer with six goals including three in the group stages and three in the knockout rounds.

Her Golden Boot was shared with USA attackers Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan, who went on to lift the trophy after beating England in the semi-final.

City Mag caught up with Norwegian TV’s foremost sportscaster who is perfectly placed to track Erling Haaland’s stellar rise in world football…

If you wanted a TV presenter to closely follow Erling Haaland’s career, chances are you’d want somebody who had been there and done that.

So, being Norwegian would be a massive plus.

Being a former top Norwegian footballer would be even better, particularly somebody who had maybe played for the national team.

And better still if they had also played professionally in Austria, Germany, and England…

Step forward Jan Åge Fjørtoft.

Fjørtoft has been a presenter for Viaplay, Norway’s version of Sky Sports, for more than 20 years, covering the Bundesliga and Premier League among other major leagues, but with two top Norwegian stars plying their trade in England in Martin Ødegaard and Haaland, he is a regular visitor to these shores – more now than ever.

“Obviously, because I played with Alfie Haaland for the national team, I followed Erling’s development from an early age,” revealed Fjørtoft."

In fact, nobody is better placed to follow Haaland’s career than Fjørtoft who has followed the striker’s progress from his early days at Bryne FK to the present day.

Capped 71 times by Norway, he also spent six years in English football, with his spells at Swindon Town, Middlesbrough, Sheffield United and Barnsley yielding 87 goals – more than a third of which came in the Premier League - and his career total is an impressive 308 goals in 614 games.

Now he is arguably the voice of Norwegian football – not to mention a former international team-mate of Erling’s father Alfie – though Fjørtoft’s relationship with the Haaland family is strictly professional and when it comes to media work, covering live matches and post-match reaction is where any familiarity ends.

But like any Norwegian, Fjørtoft is proud of any young sports person that flies his nation’s flag with such authority overseas.

“Obviously, because I played with Alfie Haaland for the national team, I followed Erling’s development from an early age,” revealed Fjørtoft.

“Then we all heard about this Haaland kid making a mark at Bryne and then with Molde, where he was being given some opportunities to shine.

“He managed to score four goals against the leaders Brann in one game, which gave us a glimpse of what a special talent he was, but the thing is with Erling is that he is always developing quicker than people think.

“It happened at Molde, it happened with Salzburg, it happened with Dortmund and when he came to City, people already knew what a great talent he is, but we can see how quickly he has adjusted to the Premier League and with his team-mates at this club.

“I was there when he scored a hat-trick on his debut for Dortmund against Augsburg, but I said to Alfie that whenever I would ask a question about Erling, going forward, it would always be as a journalist, even though we had been friends for many years, and I think over the past three or four seasons, we have managed that well.

“It was amazing and that was the first time we’d started covering Erling abroad - but my channel had sent me to Anfield that night and Erling sent me a text after saying 'you picked the wrong game!'"

“Alfie and I are friends, but that’s just how it is and how this football business goes.”

Fjørtoft has witnessed the remarkable rise and rise of Erling because of his work and recalls his stunning introduction to the Champions League, grabbing a first-half hat-trick against Genk for Red Bull Salzburg.

It was another glimpse that something very special was happening.

“It was amazing and that was the first time we’d started covering Erling abroad,” said Fjørtoft. “But my channel had sent me to Liverpool that night and later that evening I got a message from Erling saying, ' You picked the wrong game!'

"And then against Liverpool at Anfield a few weeks later he scored after coming on as a second-half sub – and he could have had three goals that night, too.

“He was up against Virgil van Dijk who was probably the best defender in the world at the time and he just couldn’t see him – he was all over the place and it was unbelievable that this young kid from Norway was making such an impact.”

Though Haaland is undoubtedly a national hero back home, idolised by thousands of young kids who want to be him and wear his name on their back, Fjørtoft reveals that by signing for City, it has caused one or two conflicts of interests in the households of Norway’s millions of devoted Premier League addicts.

Each weekend, planeloads of fans fly from Oslo, Sandefjord and Bergen to watch their adopted English club – something that has been happening for decades.

“We knew he had the capabilities on and off the pitch, both physically and mentally, and in that respect, he’s one of a kind,”

The only issue is, the vast majority are not City fans!

“Erling signing for City has caused quite a dilemma for many Norwegians,” explains Fjørtoft.

“The two largest fanbases in our country are for Liverpool and Manchester United and have been for more than a generation.

“So, I guess most of them want Erling to do well, so long as he doesn’t score against their club! That’s a Norwegian thing and they still follow their clubs, but they want him to do well against everyone else.

“For a small nation, our sporting ambassadors are very important and popular and suddenly we now have two Olympic champions in athletics, a top golfer, a tennis player and we also have Erling at City and Ødegaard at Arsenal which makes us all very proud.”

Few footballers will make the impact Erling Haaland has done at the start of their careers.

City fans are well aware what a special footballer we have wearing our No.9 jersey, but has his continued upward trajectory surprised even an experienced journalist and former player like Fjørtoft?

“We knew he had the capabilities on and off the pitch, both physically and mentally, and in that respect, he’s one of a kind,” he said.

“He tries to block out the expectation and the mental strain that he is under to keep doing what he’s doing, but what is surprising is how good Alfie and his team are at preparing Erling to deal with everything, whether in Germany or England, and they have always done that.

“There are different pundits – some I call ‘lazy pundits’ – who said Erling wouldn’t fit into a Pep Guardiola team, but I strongly disagreed with that from the beginning because I knew he would fit perfectly into a Pep team – but I guess we all have to be honest and admit that everything at City has happened much faster than anyone imagined.

“He has great players around him and great players always seem to understand each other very quickly and at City, Erling has Kevin De Bruyne – the assist king – but there are also wonderful players such as Riyad Mahrez, Ilkay Gundogan, Phil Foden, Bernardo – you could name virtually the whole team because they are all so good at what they do.

“Erling had a magical partnership with Jadon Sancho at Dortmund, but I think one of the least surprising things has been De Bruyne and Erling striking up a very productive understanding almost straight away.

“He just passed my total of 20 goals for the national team so I’m a bit mad at him just now!"

“De Bruyne could put a ball on a postage stamp, but one of Erling’s many strengths is that before he finds space in the box, he tells his team-mates where he wants the ball by his body language alone.

“I don’t think his movement is analysed enough, because – for instance – everyone remembers his karate kick goal against Dortmund, but it was the split second before that where his movement found a pocket of space at the back post, and he does that all the time. The same away to Aston Villa. To be honest, in every game, in fact.

“This is a guy who is almost never caught offside and whenever he comes into the box, he’s almost on his own and this is because his runs are so clever. Second to none, in fact.

“Yes, he is a huge star now around the world, but he hasn’t changed at all – I still see a 22-year-old kid who just wants to keep improving and when he joined City, I was so impressed by the Club’s messaging which was they wanted to help him become a better footballer and that’s what is best for Erling.

“As a result, he’s settled in so quickly, is popular with his team-mates and the supporters and he is scoring lots of goals and making assists.

“And I expect him to get many assists this season, because he works hard for the team and while he loves scoring goals, he is happy making them for his team-mates as well and that is a match made in heaven

“He just passed my total of 20 goals for the national team so I’m a bit mad at him just now!

“What I can say is, while it is a shame that he won’t be at the World Cup in Qatar, he is going to be fresh, and have his batteries fully recharged for the resumption of the Premier League in late December - and that will be great news for City, but very bad news for other clubs!”

With 13 goals across four matches in the Premier League, City were firing on all cylinders across the month of October. 

 A 6-3 Manchester derby victory was followed by an equally impressive 4-0 triumph over Southampton six days later. 

And although we were edged out by a single goal against Liverpool at Anfield, Pep Guardiola’s men got straight back to winning ways with a 3-1 win over Brighton. 

Unsurprisingly, our City stars featured heavily across the month in the Fantasy Premier League’s Team of the Week feature – with two members of the squad also finishing as the highest-scoring player on separate matchdays. 

Below is a breakdown of our best performing player, according to the FPL metrics, for each encounter across the month. 

 City 6-3 Manchester United 

Erling Haaland’s haul of 23 points in his first Manchester derby saw him crowned FPL King of the Gameweek. 

The Norwegian bagged a hat-trick of goals and two assists as City ran riot at the Etihad Stadium. 

He was joined in the team of the week by Phil Foden, who also claimed a treble against our cross-city rivals, earning a total of 19 FPL points. 

City 4-0 Southampton 

An 18-point contribution from Joao Cancelo set the seal on a dominant win over the Saints. 

The defender opened the scoring at the Etihad with an incredible solo effort, while a further assist and clean sheet bonus helped him finish top of the FPL rankings for Gameweek 10. 

Once again, Foden also made the team of the week with another goal and assist at the Etihad. 

Newcastle’s Kieran Trippier is the only defender to pick up more points than the Portuguese international so far this season. 

Liverpool 1-0 City 

An afternoon to forget for City, who tasted defeat for the first time this season on Merseyside. 

A number of players picked up the standard two-point bonus for completing over 60 minutes of action, but no bonuses were awarded for our display at Anfield. 

City 3-1 Brighton 

Haaland was back among the goals against the Seagulls, netting a brace in a hard-fought triumph at the Etihad Stadium. 

The Norwegian’s 16th and 17th Premier League goals of the season set City on our way to all three points, with his contribution earning him 13 FPL points. 

It was our striker’s fifth inclusion in the team of the week in just 11 appearances. 

Members of Gareth Taylor’s squad are often asked questions about their City team-mates away from the pitch. 

But while the funniest, loudest, or best dressed players throws up an array of reasons, the answer to who is best suited to a future in management brings up the same name time and again. 

Vicky Losada.          

Despite the emphatic endorsements of her peers, the Spanish midfielder greets the revelation with a mix of laughter and surprise. 

“I guess it’s quite a nice feeling. I’m a person who likes to think about the present so I might have to start thinking about starting the coaching badges, after listening to this!” 

When she begins to describe her passion for the game, from her early years at hometown club Barcelona through to her habits away from the field, however, it’s clear to see why Losada has been touted as someone who could be a success in the dugout. 

That’s not to say that the 31-year-old doesn’t still have plenty to offer; she remains a key cog in the City machine, both in terms of her on-pitch qualities and her off-pitch demeanour and mentality. 

“I don’t know why, I guess it’s the culture where I’ve grown up with Barcelona, that kind of teaching football, tactical football”

Working her way through the ranks in Catalonia, the Spaniard won every available honour across three separate spells at Blaugrana, even captaining the side to UEFA Women’s Champions League glory in 2021. 

In her first season at City she cemented herself as a regular in the midfield, grabbing seven goals and two assists as Gareth Taylor’s side finished third in the Barclays Women’s Super League and won the Continental Cup. 

It’s a hugely impressive CV, but while her technical skills regularly crop up when speaking to her team-mates, it’s her tactical awareness and overall understanding of the game which shines through. 

“I don’t know why, I guess it’s the culture where I’ve grown up with Barcelona, that kind of teaching football, tactical football” Losada shrugs. 

“I watch women’s, men’s and younger age groups. Like when I’m here at the training ground, if the guys are playing, I go and watch the youth team, the Under-23s.  

“I have [thought about coaching], but very gently. I’m not sure. I have to be prepared and prepare myself.  

“One thing I know for sure is it’s not the same being a player and a manager. If one day it happens, I want to make sure I am prepared and ready to be a good one.” 

That intelligence and adaptability certainly served Losada well on her arrival at the Academy Stadium and goes a long way to explaining her smooth transition to the cut and thrust of the Barclays Women’s Super League. 

However, it wasn’t the first time that the Spaniard had sampled English football. 

A brief spell at Arsenal in her early years – in which she helped the Gunners to a Cup double in 2016 - provided some invaluable lessons and experiences which still stand her in good stead to this day. 

“I was very young. I was a very skilful player who loved to have possession, but I never wanted to run,” she smiled. 

“That physical part in the gym, I wasn’t used to that, but now I probably have one of the best numbers in the gym which I would never have imagined. It’s just a period of adaptation.   

“When I came to Arsenal, I didn’t speak English, I had never moved from Spain. But I came here speaking the language, which I think is a massive thing to help socialise with the girls and to adapt to a new place.   

“Also, I know the league, the WSL and it’s actually a different league.  

“It’s a quicker league, it’s tough, the players are fit, they’re athletes and everyone gives their 100 percent for the 90 minutes, which is something slightly different to the situation in Spain.”  

With the likes of Laia Aleixandri, Deyna Castellanos and Leila Ouahabi all making the same transition this summer that Losada did seven years ago, the midfielder is keen to pass on her own experiences to assist the bedding-in process for our latest batch of new recruits. 

It’s proven a huge success so far. 

"I’ve experienced with her probably the best moment in our careers which was winning the treble and Champions League for the first time in history at Barcelona." 

She explained: “I hope I have been a massive help for them because of the language. For Leila, her language is improving, Laia’s is a bit better but she’s a bit shy.   

“I think they’re bringing a lot of positivity to the team, I think they’re bringing quality and the understanding of the game. 

“I think they’re still in a process of adapting but they’re doing well.  

“It feels nice, I have to say [to have fellow Spanish speakers at the Club], because when you are far from home you always miss that kind of same culture. 

“Sometimes, you know, when I’ve spent my whole day speaking in English, I just need a little bit of calm moments and speaking in my language!  

“I think it’s a bit of a culture in Spain, the way we play, and I think it’s what Gareth and the Club wants, to show beautiful football.” 

While Losada is delighted with the impact that each of our new recruits have made so far, she admits that reuniting with former Barcelona team-mate Ouahabi has been a particularly enjoyable experience. 

The duo worked their way through the ranks together in Catalonia and were both part of the Blaugrana team that made history by winning a domestic and European treble in 2020/21. 

Ouahabi referred to Losada as ‘her captain’ in her first interview as a City player, and the respect is well and truly reciprocated. 

“We’ve known each other since we were 13 or 14 years old, so it’s actually funny we’re here now together.   

“I’m always going to help her in everything, especially with her now adapting to this Club, to this country. 

“I’ve experienced with her probably the best moment in our careers which was winning the treble and Champions League for the first time in history at Barcelona. 

 “It’s great to have her here.”   

A future in the dugout might have been greeted with a hint of surprise by Losada but, given the active role she has played in helping her new team-mates adapt to their surroundings, it becomes clear why those predictions have been made. 

And while leading figures in all walks of life offer that proverbial arm around the shoulder when it’s needed, a motivational edge is also a common quality. 

In this instance, the Spaniard once again excels, with Losada also placing a heavy emphasis on the importance of the mental side of the game. 

“In my last years I focused hard and felt comfortable with that,” she reflects when asked about the role she plays with younger members of the squad. 

“I think maybe it’s also part of why they say they see me as a bit of a manager.  

“I always like to make them feel comfortable but also demand from them. 

“At the same time, I know how it feels to be young and in terms of confidence when you make mistakes and you are playing with senior players.  

“For me, a player is 99 percent mentally and I just try to help them make sure they’re okay and also demand good performances from them.” 

Each month we will take a look at a memorable City goal, as recalled by the scorer...

He didn’t get many for the Blues, but here our former crowd favourite Nigel De Jong recalls his best goal for the Club, in the League Cup semi-final away to Liverpool.

City had lost the first leg 1-0 at the Etihad, but – backed by around 7,000 travelling fans – De Jong put the Blues ahead with a rare, but stunning strike…

So, Nigel… take us through it.

“It was one of the best goals I scored and only my second for City in more than 100 games. I remember David Silva played the ball to me around 22 yards out and I could see Steven Gerrard closing in for a challenge, so I thought I’d take a shot.

“I slightly lost my footing as I hit the ball, but that helped me get it up and over the keeper and into the top right corner to put us ahead.

“My celebration was part ‘yep, I slipped a bit! But what the heck! – and I remember Joleon and Micah running over to celebrate with me.

“None of us scored very often, so we did this crazy little dance that we’d pre-arranged if any of us did score.

“I also ran towards the City fans at the other to make the most of it!

“It is a great memory, but the game ended 2-2 and that meant we went out of the competition, so that tainted it somewhat because we’d missed out on a Wembley final.”

November 30 is St Andrew’s Day and Scotland will celebrate its patron saint accordingly. In honour of our friends North of the Border, we have assembled our Best Manchester City Scottish XI, plus seven subs.

It’s quite a team, too…

Keeper: Keith MacRae
Signed from Motherwell for a record fee, MacRae was signed to challenge Joe Corrigan as City’s No.1. Big Joe upped his game as a result and though MacRae enjoyed a brief spell as first choice before Corrigan reclaimed the jersey.

Right-back: Willie Donachie
Though the cultured Donachie was a left-back, he is having to take the right berth in this team, with a Joao Cancelo license to drift in and hit it on his better foot.

Left-back: Bobby McDonald
The swashbuckling left-sided full-back loved to join the attack and scored a few vital goals as well during his time with City.

Centre-back: Colin Hendry
We have a rock solid central defensive partnership in our Scots XI. Colin Hendry was another defender who loved to join the attack and had a goal in him here and there. Brave, forward-thinking and a force to be reckoned with in the air.

Centre-back: Andy Morrison (captain)
Don’t let that Devon twang fool you – our former skipper was born in Inverness and is partial to the odd haggis every now and then. Alongside Hendry, this would be a fearsome central back-line.

Midfield: Asa Hartford
A genius of a midfielder, Hartford was a superb footballer. Skilful, industrious and clever, Asa was a wonderful club servant who played more than 300 games for City.

Midfield: Gerry Gow
A midfield terrier who loved crunching tackles, Gow was a forerunner to Nigel de Jong and Kalvin Phillips and was hugely popular as a result. Lightly-built but played with the heart of a lion.

Midfield: Neil McNab
The final piece of our midfield jigsaw, the skilful McNab would complement Hartford and Gow perfectly with his vision and skill. Another underrated club servant.

Forward: Derek Parlane
The prolific Parlane was with City only briefly, but his record sits well against many of our other strikers over the years. A classy goal-scorer and great finisher, the former Rangers legend is in a forward line full of goals.

Forward: Denis Law
Law bookended his career with City, making a name for himself in sky blue before eventually moving to Manchester United, he re-joined the Blues for one last hurrah, scoring the goal that rubber-stamped United’s relegation in 1974.

Forward: Paul Dickov
Feisty, committed and the king of the lost cause, Dickov would harry and hustle any defender to within an inch of losing their patience and focus. A must for our Scots XI.

Subs:
Alex Harley, Matt Busby, Bobby Kennedy, Jim Tolmie, Gordon Smith, Jim Melrose, Gerry Creaney, Paul Ritchie, Bobby Johnstone


After a year bedevilled by injury and bad luck, Elite Development Striker Tai Sodje believes his welcome return to action will see him come back not just as a better player – but a better person too.

After a stellar season with City’s Under-18s in 2020/21 which saw him score 19 goals to help the squad secure divisional and national title success, Sodje had then made a superb start to life at Under-21 level with Brian Barry-Murphy’s EDS squad last season when his progress was suddenly halted by a foot injury.

Having been forced out of action early October, it proved to be the start of a long, frustrating period on the side-lines.

Through grit and determination, Sodje did make a welcome comeback at the tail end of last season, and even figured – and scored – to help our Under-18s retain the Premier League National title in the showpiece final at Southampton.

Sodje returned refreshed and reinvigorated after the summer break, eager to make up for lost time and play his part in our defence of the PL2 title we won last term – only to fall victim to another injury, this time a hamstring tear, in the EDS’s final pre-season fixture.

“It’s like a year to make up for – the season I was with the Under-18 season I wasn’t injured at all, but last season that injury took a massive toll, and it was pretty much a wipe out.”

It was another body blow given how hard the 18-year-old had worked to get back to full fitness. 

But, after another patient two months of rest and rehabilitation, Sodje is now ready to re-enter the fray and made a return to action as a substitute in our recent PL2 clash with Crystal Palace.

And he says he has come back a more rounded individual, and one armed with an even greater hunger to succeed. 

“It’s like a year to make up for – the season I was with the Under-18 season I wasn’t injured at all, but last season that injury took a massive toll, and it was pretty much a wipe out,” Sodje admits.

“But I just couldn't wait to get back, and hopefully I think I will have come back not just a better player but a better person, too.

“It’s a bit strange to say it, but mentally it does make you stronger. 

“Because when you are not playing and seeing the boys do well you are so happy for them, but you also just want to be playing games.

“Teammates and family have been great help over the past year in terms of being there to talk to.

“When you come away from work sometimes you need a bit of cheering up.

“Generally, though I’m a positive person and try to stay upbeat – I think if I didn’t the time that I’ve been out would have felt a lot longer.”

Reflecting back to his original injury, Sodje revealed how he had initially played with a foot fracture without realising he had sustained such a serious issue.

“The end of last season came too soon as I just wanted to carry on playing,”

But once a secondary issue with his ligaments developed, it meant he had no option but to stop playing.

“The injury killed my season last year. I had a little fracture at the bottom of my right foot and all the ligaments came off as well,” Sodje revealed.

“It took five and a half months – and I had to have an operation.

“To be fair I knew it was going to be long time out after the scan.

“The weird thing was that with the fracture they said that I had probably been playing with it for a year and a half.

“But with the ligaments, when we played Derby last October I got to half-time and I couldn’t move any more.

“It didn’t start off too bad but then it was like a nagging pain and just got worse. I tried playing through it and it got to be point where I just couldn’t go on.

“It was very frustrating – missing the games was the worst part of it.”

Sodje’s recovery did see him return to action at the tail end of last term but, to his frustration, almost as soon as he was back, the summer was upon us.

Just to compound his misfortune after a promising pre-season, injury struck again just ahead of the new campaign with a hamstring problem side-lining him.

But after yet more patient rehab work, the striker says he is only even more determined to play his part in the EDS squad’s quest for success throughout the rest of the season.

“The end of last season came too soon as I just wanted to carry on playing,” Sodje added.

“Over the summer I did more training and had a short break and was then doing my own training.

“Then, in the last game of pre-season, my hamstring went. It was a tiny tear, but I am just glad I am now back.

“I played a few games before last season ended and then pre-season I was fresh and felt fine. I was playing well and scored in the first game of pre-season and, again, I felt fine - and then it was a bit of a nightmare when it went again.

“To be fair I’ve not missed too many games and now I have come back hopefully, I can help and make an impact.”

Steve Harrison

This month’s target is someone I first met in the early 90s when I was at the beginning of the 32-year career in broadcasting. The ‘Madchester’ scene was just taking off and a new band from Northwich called The Charlatans came to my attention. They were going places and crucially had a manger who knew what he was doing. He had a chain of record shops and was the man to take them to the top. And to put the icing on the cake… he was a mad Blue!

To this day Steve sits near me at the Etihad. So, here's a bit about Steve then… in his own words!

“I’m Steve Harrison – a City season ticket holder since 1971. Worked in the music industry owning the Omega Music stores in Altrincham, Crewe, Macclesfield, Northwich Wigan, Winsford.  SH Management and Dead Dead Good Record Label looking after artists such as Alfie, Yves Altana, Mark Burgess, the Chameleons, the Charlatans, Dario G, Digital Orgasm, Oceanic, Peter Hook, Monaco, Orange Deluxe, the Rain Band, Relish, Rig, That Uncertain Feeling, Venus Beads, Jez Williams, Wonky Alice.

I am presently editing a book of memoirs ‘Here are the Young Men… a Life in Music’ published via Pomona in the new year. I live in Didsbury and North Wales.”

WHAT IS YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY OF GOING TO A FOOTBALL MATCH?
I went to watch City v West Bromwich Albion in 1968 at Maine Road. My Aunty Cynthia took my cousin Denise to see Father Christmas at Lewis’ in town, and my Uncle Denis took me to watch City win 5-1. I sat in the Platt Lane stand, and I lost my scarf as it unravelled in the melee as we left the stadium.

WHAT IS THE MOST PECULIAR OR MEMORABLE THING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED TO YOU AT A CITY GAME?
Well, it isn’t a game, but a peculiar, and especially memorable day. Back in the day I decided to take my now wife Jude into town on our first date, and she was from Stoke-on-Trent. As we came down Princess Parkway, I said, ‘Is it OK if I show you somewhere over here that means everything to me…’. I turned into Claremont Road, passing Maine Road and then into Kippax Street, and into the car park at the rear of the stadium. It was a Wednesday afternoon in June, so her response when we parked my old Hillman Avenger was one of confusion. I just said “this is Manchester City, that is the Kippax, and this means EVERYTHING to me. My football club. It defines me”. Jude become a Blue from that day.

IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME AND PREVENT ONE MATCH FROM BEING PLAYED - WHAT MATCH WOULD THAT BE - AND WHY?
The League Cup match between City and Man Utd in November 1975, when Colin Bell was injured. It effectively finished his career.

WHAT IS THE MOST MEMORABLE CITY GOAL YOU HAVE WITNESSED? (“Agueroooooooooooo…”  aside…)
I think the Paul Dickov goal against Gillingham at Wembley in 1999 is up there. I watched the game with the whole of our family at the time, three generations, up on the top tier. We now have four generations with season tickets.

HAVE YOU EVER MET ONE OF YOUR MAN CITY HEROES… IF SO - WHO…AND HOW WAS THE EXPERIENCE?
I have met many players at City. I have found them all incredibly respectful and I love the sense of ‘kinship that remains with the club, which I would say is growing stronger all the time. Mike Summerbee must be the greatest ambassador of our club. I have met Mike on several occasions. An outstanding person as well as Manchester City footballer.

WHAT ARE YOUR MEMORIES OF THE LAST MATCH AT MAINE ROAD?
Huge emotion and celebration. I cried.

AS YOU LEFT THE GROUND WHAT WERE YOUR FEELINGS?
A fusion of memories as a youngster, of growing-up on the Kippax terrace, to the elevation to having our own box in the Kippax Stand.  The sadness of leaving for the last time yet looking forward to the new stadium.

WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST ABOUT MAINE ROAD?
I miss the Kippax Street terrace and the sense of camaraderie and growing-up in ‘my place’. It was part of me, and I was part of it. The huge rear steps, the huge tunnels which felt like motorway underpasses. I miss The Gardeners pub before the match. I miss the option of visiting the Curry Mile on a matchday, and I missed the closeness to our family homes on the southside of Manchester in Northwich and Didsbury. The Etihad is a lot further getting across town. I do love the new stadium, however.

WHATS YOUR MOST DISASTROUS AWAY GAME EXPERIENCE?
I went to Millwall in the cup one year at night. They kept us back for what felt like two hours, and on leaving the locals were not best happy and were waiting to tell us exactly why. We had parked close to The Den, but it was not on the same route as where the coaches were parked. We opted to walk with the main group back to the coaches and blag a seat on one the crowded coaches. We got dropped off away from the stadium, waiting for the natives to calm down, and then ordered a taxi at daft o’clock back into the Bermondsey area to collect the car and the long drive back home!

WHO IS YOUR MOST FAVOURITE CITY PLAYER OF ALL TIME?
Colin Bell because of growing-up on the Kippax Street wall watching ‘The King’.

IF YOU COULD PICK ONE CURRENT CITY PLAYER TO BE ON YOUR PUB QUIZ TEAM - WHO WOULD IT BE - AND WHY?
It would have to be Pep Guardiola. I consider him the greatest football manager of all time, with great humility. My Hero.

 

Ollie from Manchester band Rosellas talks about being a lifelong Blue – and how he flies the sky blue flag in the five-piece indie rock outfit…

CITY MAG: Ollie – what’s your City story?
Ollie: “I’ve been a blue since birth. It comes from my Dad and Grandad who were also lifelong fans. Being born just as we were returning to the Premier League means I’ve watched the rise to the top and had a good ride.” 

Is anyone else in the band a Blue?
“No, just me, everyone else likes to sit mid-table...” 

Do you get to go to the games?
“If I’m not gigging, I’m there. Not quite earned my stripes on the away circuit yet, but I’ve got a few booked in for the new year.”

City heroes past and present?
“Past is Nigel de Jong. I loved him as a kid and was always excited to see him on the team sheet. Present would have to be Kevin De Bruyne - how could it not be?” 

Can you play a bit?
“I haven’t played properly for a long time, but I’m not the worst in the band, put it that way!” 

All-time favourite City shirt?
“I have a soft spot for the 2000/01 away shirt. My Dad had Paulo Wanchope’s shirt signed by the squad and framed up on the wall at home. I’m also a big fan of this season’s home kit though. I think it’s the best in recent years so deserves a mention.” 

Which track always reminds you of City?
"'Roll With It' by Oasis." 

Tell us about the band…
“We’ve recently signed to This Feeling Records and put out our first single on the label ‘Switch Off’ with much more to come. Off the back of a few support tours, we’re coming back to Manchester for a headline show at the Academy in March. We’ve kicked things up a gear since lockdown and aren’t looking to slow down anytime soon.”

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. The book, 'We’re not Really Here' is my loving tribute to the longest running saga in my life: Manchester City FC.

One of the things I wanted to capture was the complete chaos of the signage at Maine Road. If you look around the Etihad, you’ll notice there’s a proper identity and uniformity to signage and branding. This wasn’t the case at Maine Road.


Signage was from different generations, and nobody seemed to think old signs should be replaced or updated. Of course, this gave it a certain charm, but this was 2003 not 1923. Anyway, here’s a load of them. Let me know what you think.

Kevin Cummins