Welcome to the October edition of the City Magazine...
Thanks for all the feedback and positive comments from the re-launched September issue – it’s much appreciated and we’re glad you enjoyed it.
So, what’s in store this month?
Our main feature is on defensive rock Ruben Dias, who recently penned an extension to the deal he agreed a year ago.
Ruben speaks about his first year in Manchester and his hopes for this season and beyond.
Another player to commit to a new deal is Liam Delap – and he also speaks exclusively to City Mag.
Elsewhere, your spoiled for choice with guest columnists as Uwe Rosler and Darren Huckerby share their views on the Blues from their own unique angles.
And Lee Dixon – now veteran TV pundit and co-commentator on FIFA22 – speaks of his love of City and what it was like growing up a boyhood Blue.
Our ‘Introducing…’ slot goes to Oscar Bobb, 'The List' focuses on the current top City chants and the Best XI is on our finest loan players (remember them?) from down the years.
But that’s not all…
Regular contributors Marc Riley and Kevin Cummins are featured and we’ve a Q&A with Ellie Roebuck, interview with Ellen White and some of our FA WSL stars share the tunes they can’t live without.
Throw in a Fantasy Premier League update and if you like Mark Lawrenson’s BBC Sport predictions, you’ll love Andy Morrison’s ‘The Month Ahead’.
Plenty to keep you going for the next few weeks!
Fresh from signing his new long-term contract, City defender Ruben Dias provides a fascinating insight into the lengths he goes to in order to try to be the best professional he can be. And our Portuguese centre half explains why he believes Manchester is the perfect place for him to thrive… both on and off the pitch. Neil Leigh finds out more...
Be all that you can be. That could well serve as the perfect template for Ruben Dias’ consummate dedication both to his profession – and life in general.
Since joining City from Benfica 12 months ago, it’s fair to say our Portuguese centre half has proved a revelation.
With his defensive acumen, technical quality and winning mentality all proving key ingredients in a magnificent debut season, the 24-year-old was a key cornerstone in our remarkable Premier League and Carabao Cup successes of last term.
Dias’ enormous individual impact across the 2020/21 campaign was also acknowledged in the form of prestigious personal plaudits with Ruben being voted the coveted Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year.
“I live in the city centre, it is the place to work and the place to play football. I love it."
In addition, Dias was voted both the Premier League Player of the Season and the Etihad Player of the Season and last week he also was announced as the 2020/21 UEFA Champions League Defender of the Season.
With the Club keen to acknowledge Ruben’s enormous contribution, he signed a new long-term contract late last month, one that will keep him at the Etihad through until the summer of 2026.
Not just tee-total but tea-total too – Ruben evens eschews a cuppa, preferring only to drink water and fruit juice – and meticulous with his diet, Dias possesses an extraordinary desire and drive in search of even the smallest of gains in trying to better himself.
More often than not amongst the first to report for training at the CFA and the last to leave, Dias leaves no stone unturned in his ceaseless quest for further improvement.
That outstanding dedication and attention to detail have seen some term our Portuguese defensive rock as the ultimate professional.
For Dias, however, it’s merely a by-product of the way he has always conducted his life.
Along the way those tried and trusted routines have helped establish him as one of Europe’s most outstanding defenders.
“I think it is a very personal question. I don’t judge any other way of seeing it. It is just my way,” Ruben reflected when explaining his lifestyle and the way he approached his training and preparation routines.
“It is the one I believe, the one that makes me feel good, the one that makes my body work.
“I don’t judge whoever comes in and just goes to the spa and just trains and goes home. If they feel good and feel they can reach their level, do it.
“People have spoken a little bit about my routines and those are the ones that make me feel good. It is all about how you feel and how you find your way to do it.”
As well as instantly looking at home amidst the intense and challenging environment of the Premier League, it was clear from the off that Dias had also adapted seamlessly to life in Manchester.
A move to a new country with all the challenges that entails from a new language, culture, prolonged absence from friends and family – not to mention the vagaries of the Manchester weather! - has often represented a significant hurdle for overseas signings.
On top of that, of course, Dias also had to cope the added restrictions on everyday life presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
His move from Benfica came in the midst of a variety of limitations on movement and access prompted by the response to the pandemic with the City squad operating in an enclosed bubble for enhanced safety precautions.
They were challenges that would have tested the mettle of the most resolute of mindsets.
However, as with his single-minded approach in terms of trying to become the very best professional he can be, Dias simply took those additional demands in his stride.
As much as it was apparent from day one that Ruben was made for City, it’s equally abundantly clear that Manchester could have been made for him, as he explains.
“I live in the city centre,” Dias explains.
“It is the place to work and the place to play football. I love it.
“I am not getting fast experiences because when I came it was almost like the same as being in Portugal because I was just closed at home.
“Now (with restrictions having been eased somewhat), I am watching a little bit more life.”
In his first interview after joining City 12 months ago, Dias famously stated that he was ‘here to win’.
He has more than stayed true to his word, and that demanding, ambitious mindset has only flourished at both City – and in a league acknowledged as the one of the most competitive in the European game.
For his part, Dias believes plying his trade with City in England represents the perfect stage on which to test himself as a professional.
And asked to sum up the appeal of the Premier League - and why he found the environment such an irresistible challenge - Dias described England’s elite league as a platform where only the very best flourish.
“Knowing that in any game, anything can happen because of football,” Dias declared.
“Because everyone can be good, the referees, everything. They will go for the game, let you play and the best will win. That is something that was in my mind a lot.
“I have watched the Premier League for ages and especially when I came, one thing that was in my mind is that whoever wins it, they deserve it.
“There is no chance of someone winning it that doesn’t deserve it. You play against the best; you play to win. You don’t play just to not concede.
“That is the beauty of it.”
Former City skipper Andy Morrison shares his thoughts on City’s fixtures over the next month…
City v Southampton, 18 September (3pm)
I watched this fixture at the Etihad last season and remember Southampton causing us all sorts of problems. They were definitely gambling with their possession and there were two or three times when they broke the lines and disrupted our play. They sort of man-marked our central defenders and stopped us playing from the back as effectively for a time until we found a way of countering that – it was very effective, but obviously we went on to win the game and I expect us to do the same again. If Southampton don’t defend well, they could be on the end of a Norwich or Arsenal-type defeat because we are running all over teams at home again at the moment.
Mozzer’s prediction: City 3-0 Southampton
Carabao Cup: 3rd round
City v Wycombe Wanderers, 21 September, (7.45pm)
Without wanting to be patronising, this is a party day out for Wycombe and their supporters, coming to the champions of England for a cup tie. They have absolutely nothing to lose – this is a free hit – and if they get beat by six or seven, everybody says ‘look at the gulf between the clubs’, whereas if they stay in the game for as long as possible, people will say what a good account they gave of themselves. Pep takes this and every competition very seriously and we’ll be looking to win this cup for a fifth time on the spin. The league is more important for Wycombe and I can only see a comfortable home win.
Mozzer’s prediction: City 4-0 Wycombe
Chelsea v City, 25 September (12.30pm)
I’d go to Chelsea and be very happy with a draw. You look at our main challengers an that is Chelsea, United and Liverpool and if you can draw away and win your home games, you’re probably going to win the league and that is the mindset all those clubs will have – though City don’t think like that, but on reflection, if we come away with a point, I think everyone would be happy.
Mozzer’s prediction: Chelsea 1-1 City
PSG v City, 28 September (8pm)
What a game this will be – the whole world will be watching. City are probably favourites to win the competition while PSG are the Harlem Globetrotters of football with some fabulous talents. But the fact is, we’ve been there and won last season and we know the stadium and how it feels to play there. There were no fans last time and it will be full on this occasion, but we will take confidence from beating them twice last season and we can go there and get a result again. If we draw and have beaten RB Leipzig, we’ll have made a fantastic start to our group stage campaign.
Mozzer’s prediction: PSG 2-2 City
Premier League: Liverpool v City, 3 October (4.30pm)
What a difficult run of games we’ve got coming up! We’ve had some tough times at Anfield over the years and if they have their strongest XI out, this will be another hard game. The main difference, I feel, between City and Liverpool, is that if we have three players out, we can almost replace them with like for like, but Liverpool don’t seem to have that sort of depth in their squad at the moment. But a full strength Liverpool with a full and noisy Anfield where their players feed off their passion and it becomes an even harder task. But we won there 4-1 last season and hopefully, that will lift the mental block we had in this fixture and I’d be very happy with a third draw on the bounce.
Mozzer’s prediction: Liverpool 1-1 City
Forget the UK Top 40 or the Billboard US Hot 100 – here are the chants our fans have been singing in the first few weeks of the season. Some are slow burners and being aired for the first time, whereas there are a few old favourites echoing around the Etihad and elsewhere….
Very much the new chant on the block but gathering popularity, our Spanish defender has finally got his own song – and his early season form suggests it his inspiring him, too. Basically, it’s the opening bars of Ini Kamoze’s 1994 hit ‘Here Comes the Hotstepper’ and it goes…
Na-na-na-na, na-na-na, na-na-na,
Aymeric Laporte! Aymeric Laporte!”
It was a UK hit back in ’94, reaching No.4, selling ,more than 600,000 copies, but was also a worldwide hit for the Jamaican rapper.
This has been knocking around for a few years now and has been heard again this season, given the Brazilian’s brilliant start to the season.
There are no lyrics to adapt as such, as it is based on the opening chords of Lord Creator’s 1970 hit ‘Kingston Town’ – covered and made hugely popular by UB40 in 1989, with the Birmingham reggae stars reaching No.4 in the UK.
We’ve no real words to reprint for this one, just the fans replicating the very opening tune and aiding ‘Gabriel Jesus’ at the end.
It’s surprising Depeche Mode’s ‘Personal Jesus’ has never been adapted, but there is time…
As is sometimes the case, not all the words of songs we here on the terraces (if we want to be old school) are printable!
However, most of the City fans’ serenade of Ederson is fine, so we’ll stick to that bit!
Derived from the seminal Oasis classic ‘She’s Electric’ from the (What’s the Story?) Morning Glory’ album, it’s a gem of a chant, with one expletive that is complimentary and is meant to add how much esteem our No.1 is held in.
The words have been slightly changed for obvious reasons…
He only cost £30 million,
We think he’s chuffing brilliant,
We’re not sure how much Eddy understands of the lyrics, but we’ll endeavour to find out…
It’s fair to say we haven’t got anything original for Jack yet, but the City fans wanted him to know he was very welcome and already a crowd favourite.
Based on Judy Garland’s 1944 ‘Skip To My Lou’ song from the movie ‘Meet Me In St Louis’ – we kid you not – it’s a chant that’s been knocking around grounds for many years.
The lyrics? Well, they’re not that hard to learn!
“Super, Super Jack,
Super, super Jack,
Super, super Jack,
Super Jacky Grealish!”
It’s not bad, but we await something a bit more bespoke for our new No.10.
Kevin De Bruyne
One of the chants most often heard at the Etihad is the Kevin De Bruyne tribute.
Our Belgian genius has missed the first two home games through injury, but when he’s back, you will most definitely hear our own version of The White Stripes classic ‘7 Nation Army’.
The actual words are not replaced, just the killer riff that makes the song and to that tune, our fans sing…
“Oh, Kevin De Bruyne!
Oh, Kevin De Bruyne!
Oh, Kevin De Bruyne!
Oh, Kevin De Bruyne!”
It usually gets at least four choruses and it’s simplicity is its brilliance.
Ask any City fan if they have watched ‘Mama Mia!’ and some will say yes, most will say no – or at least won’t admit as much.
Same with Swedish super group ABBA – few will deny knowing their songs, but not many will say they own their greatest hits.
Yet Bernardo’s song is pure ABBA… based on the Swedish band's 1979 UK No.3 smash, ‘Voulez-Vous’.
Bernardo is something of a crowd favourite for most City fans and his song reflects the joy he brings to City’s play…
Running down the wing (Silva!),
Makes the blue boys sing (Silva!),
We’re all going to Madrid…”
Hard to beat!
Fan favourite Uwe Rosler looks at City’s progress so far, plus his thoughts on Tommy Doyle's loan move...
We’ve made a good, solid start to the campaign considering we had a really challenging pre-season.
With so many players away on international duty during the summer at the Euros and Copa America, the staggered return of the squad made it difficult for Pep Guardiola to do the things he would have like in preparation, but we are up and running and the transfer window has finally closed.
Any speculation about players coming in or going out is over, and everyone can focus of the months ahead. With the contract extensions of John Stones, Ederson and Ruben Dias announced, it is all very good news for the club because it shows players are committed for the long term and helps with continuity.
We have a very strong squad and with Pep happy to play without a recognised No.9, there are so many attacking options and combinations at his disposal.
Jack Grealish has been the only addition, and City have signed a great footballer who has the potential to get even better under Pep an his coaching team. He may have to adapt his game a little to fit in with the possession game we play and seems to have settled in very quickly.
He’s an exciting player and will be an integral part of the team for the next few years.
I note Tommy Doyle has gone out on loan to Hamburg and I think he’ll do very well there. They are a big club, with big expectations and they have to win promotion this season because they need to be in the top division. Tommy is a great talent and I think he’ll do really well at what is a big club in a great city.
Many young English players have flourished in Germany in recent years and I wish him all the best.
On a personal note, I am currently working as a pundit for Scandinavian TV, covering Bundesliga matches pitch-side with Jan Aage Fjortoft. I am splitting my time between Germany and Majorca and enjoying time with my family.
I’m watching a lot of football, meeting a lot of people in the industry, and having time to recharge my batteries.
My contract with Dusseldorf was expiring and it was mutually agreed not to renew it, so I am enjoying my TV work and looking forward to getting back into management soon in either Germany or England – that is where I feel I am best suited and where I want to work next. I am 52 now and in my prime managerial years, so I’m looking forward to the next challenge.
Fresh from signing a new long-term contract, teenage striker Liam Delap has paid tribute to the grounding and support afforded to him – and every other City youngster - via the Club’s Academy. Neil Leigh finds out more...
The 18-year-old centre forward, who joined the Academy as a scholar from Derby in June 2019, enjoyed a superb 2020/21 campaign – one that saw him make a memorable goal-scoring first team debut in our 2-1 Carabao Cup win over Bournemouth last September.
Delap went on to make two further senior appearances in 2020-21, coming off the bench for his Premier League debut against Leicester City and doing the same in an FA Cup win against Birmingham City.
His first team breakthrough was complemented by an outstanding season with our Elite Development Squad (EDS), for whom he netted 24 goals in 20 games to fire City to a maiden Premier League 2 title and his performances were enough to earn him the league’s Player of the Season award.
“That first year of me being in the Academy helped me so much in terms of making that transition through to the first team."
Now his progress has been rewarded in the tangible form of a new three-year contract extension, one that will keep him at the Club through until the summer of 2026.
And reflecting on the new deal, Delap was quick to highlight the way his progress had been mentored and encouraged by our Academy and how it had helped smooth the transition through to both training and playing with our first team.
“The Academy teach you from such a young age how the first team play and the structure,” Liam remarked.
“The transition from the Academy to the first team is very good and that first year of me being in the Academy helped me so much in terms of making that transition.
“You learn so much and it means you are kind of ready for it when you go up there (to the first team environment).
“For us young players to have that coaching and all the transition help before your get into the first team. It’s just so good for us youngsters.”
In the wake of Delap’s new contract, City manager Pep Guardiola made no secret of his admiration for the youngster’s exciting potential.
“Liam Delap for me, for the club, is so important for the future,” Guardiola asserted.
“At the end of last season, we said we had to extend the contract.
“He is going to train with us and he will train with us all season.”
For his own part, Delap says his mindset is now focused solely on seeking to continue to grow and improve as a player and to carry on learning and honing his craft.
And after enjoying such a stellar 2020/21 campaign, the 18-year-old is adamant that he has only scratched the surface in terms of his potential.
“I believe there is a lot more to come,” Delap said.
“Obviously, you have got to have that self-belief and I’m just more excited than anything to see what happens in the future.
“You (do) set yourself goals and targets. As a striker my job is to score goals and create chances.
“That’s what I pride myself on. Working hard and trying to take every opportunity I get this season.”
City’s impressive start to the season has been reflected in a number of our players’ performances in this season’s Fantasy Premier League game. George Kelsey takes a look at some of the interesting statistics behind our standout performers, and looks to provide a bit of inspiration for your prospective FPL side in the weeks to come…
With three successive clean sheets under his belt, Aymeric Laporte has become one of the highest points earners in Fantasy League so far this campaign.
The Spaniard has played the full 90 minutes in each of those victories over Norwich, Arsenal and Leicester, even finding the back of the net against Norwich in our first home game of the campaign to take his Gameweek Two tally to an impressive 14 points.
With six and five-point hauls following that victory against the Canaries, Laporte’s average of 8.3 points per match is better by just six other Premier League players so far in FPL.
And that feat is made all the more impressive when considering that those statistics also take into account Cristiano Ronaldo and Odsonne Edouard’s debuts on Saturday 11 September, with their respective braces seeing them go top of the pile despite playing just one match so far.
Torres in demand
Like his fellow Spaniard Laporte, Ferran Torres has started the 2021-22 campaign in fine form, currently sitting top of the City scoring charts.
The 21-year-old has operated from a central position so far this season, and put in a particularly eye-catching display in our 5-0 win over Arsenal.
Torres’ two goals and one assist earned him an astonishing 18 points, as well as the King of Gameweek Three title.
In response to that performance, more than one million FPL players rushed to get the Spaniard into their team ahead of City’s trip to Leicester, with Cristiano Ronaldo the only player to be transferred in more than him.
Our strong start to the new Premier League season is exemplified by two members of the squad currently making up the 11-man Kings of the Season squad.
Comprised of the highest-earning players in each position, Joao Cancelo and Ruben Dias have both made the cut so far having each registered 26 points across the first month of the campaign.
The Portuguese pair sit alongside Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso and Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold as the highest-earning defenders so far in FPL.
Gift of the Gab
Another City player to boast some impressive FPL returns is Brazilian forward Gabriel Jesus, who has picked up a hugely impressive six bonus points so far this season.
The Bonus Points System takes into account a range of statistics supplied by Opta to create a performance score for every player, with the top three earning bonus points.
Jesus earned the maximum three points for his displays against Norwich and Arsenal respectively, with only West Ham’s Michail Antonio and Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold boasting a larger overall score so far.
Jack the lad
It’s safe to say that Jack Grealish has hit the ground running since making the switch from Aston Villa, already establishing himself as an important part of Pep Guardiola’s attacking set-up.
That fact is reinforced by our new No.10’s high-scoring ICT Index, which combines a players’ influence on a particular game, how many chances he creates for his teammates and how likely they are to score.
Grabbing one goal and one assist so far this season, Grealish’s score of 43.7 in this category is bettered only by Liverpool trio Alexander-Arnold, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah as well as Michail Antonio.
Of those three aspects, it’s the England midfielder’s creativity which has earned the most points, with only Alexander-Arnold producing more goal-scoring opportunities this season than the 26-year-old according to the measurement.
Darren Huckerby reflects on his time as a forward in the Premier League at Coventry, Newcastle, City and Norwich, and explains why our attacking fluidity could prove crucial in this season’s title race.
If I had to describe my overall experience as a Premier League forward, my answer would be tough. You can have nice little spells where things seem to go your way, but they can quickly transform into a period where you don’t score for ten games. It’s a ruthless place to be and when you get your chances, you’ve got to take them. If you don’t, you don’t play for long, it’s as simple as that.
I was never the type of centre-forward who got tap-ins, it was more common for me to put away a chance after a mazy run or by trying my luck from distance. I was never going to get an easy goal, so it can be difficult for those types of players, but the way around that is just practice. If things aren’t going well, you do more finishing in the week to keep your mindset ready so if you do get the next chance, you make sure it goes in. It’s all about dedication, hard work and a ruthlessness to keep it going.
Pep Guardiola’s current crop are based around the team ethic, but even though you’re all teammates, there’s always someone ready to come in and take your place. If you want to stay in the team you’ve got to work harder than anybody else. It’s very difficult as a centre-forward, it’s a very selfish position. Externally, you’re judged on goals and that’s it, but I knew that if I had a run in the team, I’d score goals, especially with the players around me. It was just about getting that chance.
In the 2001-02 promotion campaign, for example, Paulo Wanchope started off quite well but then was in and out of the team. I was just happy to be in there and be ready when needed. I scored four goals against Birmingham in the League Cup in October 2001 and went on to score another 12 in the next 12 matches!
I’d say that was the best period of my Manchester City career in front of goal. You get into a little bit of a run, especially with players like Eyal Berkovic and Ali Bernabia behind you; if you can’t score goals with creative talent like that playing, then you shouldn’t be in the team! That’s why Kevin De Bruyne is so important, it’s a similar kind of scenario. When he’s fit, in my opinion he’s the best all-round midfielder in world football.
Then at the sharp end there’s probably six or seven players who can play anywhere in the forward positions. There aren’t many managers in world football with those choices, where everyone coming in is just as good, and if you take a player out you don’t really lose anything.
That purple patch aside at the end of 2001, my game was never just about scoring goals, I enjoyed creating them just as much. When I went to Norwich, I ended up playing on the left wing which probably suited me more.
It was much easier for me to go and play on the wing. Because of my pace and the way I could beat people and cross the ball, it was a smoother adaptation. You tend to get a bit more space if you play out wide, it’s hard for a defender to stay one on one with you. I enjoyed playing out wide more than I did up front.
But just like being a centre-forward, you’ve got to have end product. If you play wide, you’ve got to be able to get assists, you’ve got to be able to get crosses into the box and you’ve got to be able to get goals.
Being productive is essential, which is why Gabriel Jesus’ performances from out wide have been so impressive.
His contributions against Norwich and Arsenal are a case in point, grabbing one goal and three assists from the right. That’s what you’ve got to do, you’ve got to prove your worth on the pitch, against Norwich he got two assists and put in a man of the match performance. You can’t do much more without scoring, he was excellent.
In particular, the way he laid on Sterling for our fourth of the match, it was like a FIFA tap-in, the perfect Pep goal which we’ve seen for years at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and now City. If you’re the centre-forward and are in the right place, you’re guaranteed to score goals in this team.
Having that adaptability to not just be the man on the end of the chances, but also to create them, could be crucial in the race for the Premier League title. All of City’s rivals have strengthened; Liverpool have got Virgil Van Dijk back, Chelsea have brought in Romelu Lukaku and Manchester United spent big in the summer and signed Cristiano Ronaldo. It won’t be a two-horse race this year, so having goals all over the pitch could be essential. At the same time, however, I still think this squad are among the best in the league and I expect them to be right at the top.
As 16th birthday celebrations go, Elite Development Squad winger Oscar Bobb’s was certainly one of the more unique in nature...
A milestone often considered as a rite of passage into adulthood, that description would certainly fit the bill for the teenager when he signed for Manchester City on 12 June 2019.
As with most youngsters enjoying their sweet sixteenth, Oscar was beginning a new chapter of his life with the world, quite literally, firmly at his feet after making the switch from boyhood club Valerenga in his native Norway.
Bobb didn’t take long to acclimatise for our Under-18s under the watchful eye of Gareth Taylor, with his directness and searing pace on the pitch matched only by his desire to continually improve off it.
However, adapting to the demands of a new life in a different country, especially at such a nascent stage in his career, presented challenges along the way.
None more so than when the world was brought to a standstill by the Coronavirus pandemic in March 2020.
Bobb’s debut season at the City Football Academy, both collectively and individually, had been slowly building to a crescendo, with the then 16-year-old claiming four goals and two assists as City cruised to the top of the Under-18s Premier League.
He started in our Premier League Cup final victory in March 2020 but had to settle with a points-per-game title triumph in the league, with the Premier League’s Academy Games Programme abandoned that May.
With the onset of the pandemic Bobb, like everyone else around the world, had to adapt to ‘the new normal’ and believes a lot of our youngsters’ success once football resumed was born from that close bond forged between teammates.
"During COVID I have missed my family a lot. But at the same time, we have to play football. We are here to work and enjoy our life."
“We stick together always. Even in the tough moments we are always together as a team and I think we all want each other to do well,” he reflected after our recent Premier League 2 Manchester derby win.
“During COVID I have missed my family a lot. But at the same time, we have to play football. We are here to work and enjoy our life. Some people have had it very tough. Yes, it’s been difficult but it’s all relative.
“Before we were going to our family every day and now it’s football 24/7. We are very excited about the rest of the season.”
The winger’s rise continued in the 2020-21 campaign, as he became a key figure in Carlos Vicens’ defending champions in the Under-18s Premier League.
Combining his sharp touch, breath-taking turn of pace and eye for goal, Bobb continued to go from strength to strength, chipping in with ten strikes and two assists as we retained the title.
The Norwegian capped off a truly memorable campaign by adding City’s third in a 3-1 win over Fulham in the Under-18s Premier League national final, winning back possession before a neat one-two and finish on the stroke of half-time.
Progressing to Brian Barry-Murphy’s Elite Development Squad (EDS) this summer after a handful of previous Premier League 2 and EFL Cup appearances, the 18-year-old’s early performances indicate that he’ll be at home at this higher level.
The likes of City starlet James McAtee have taken rightful plaudits for a phenomenal start to the new campaign, exemplified by successive PL2 hat-tricks, but Bobb has diligently gone about his business on the flank, supplying the ammunition to ensure our forwards can fire on all cylinders.
While he’s yet to find the net for our EDS, Bobb has already matched his assist tally from last season to perfectly demonstrate the rapidly evolving maturity in his game.
With this in mind, the winger is hugely thankful to teammates and staff for helping to aid that development.
“The past two years here have been great. I’ve never learnt as much in my life – being around such good players and staff is a blessing..."
“Playing in PL2 will help me a lot. It helps me know when to use my speed when to use my body.
“Obviously, you get situations where you have less time than you would at Under-18 level so it’s a great learning experience and it will help me improve.
“We’re playing together and everyone is enjoying it. I feel fresh and confident and I want to keep working hard.”
A prolonged pre-season rest for several of Pep Guardiola’s men following this summer’s European Championships and Copa America meant several of our starlets were given their first tastes of senior football as we prepared for the new campaign.
Two of those to take that opportunity with both hands were McAtee and Sam Edozie, with the latter even earning his first senior start for the Club in the Community Shield final against Leicester City.
At just 18, Bobb is yet to be given a first team bow, but the pathway into Pep Guardiola’s squad remains a realistic ambition for the Norwegian and his teammates, as demonstrated by McAtee and Edozie.
Beyond that, however, the winger is delighted to see his fellow youngsters progress into the senior fold on a more regular basis, with their success providing him with extra motivation to make the step himself.
“Seeing Macca (McAtee) and Sam (develop, play in pre-season) is great to see,” he reflected.
“We’ve known these guys for years and they are some of the best guys I’ve ever played with.
“I’m very happy for them and it’s an inspiration to all of us.”
What tunes are currently on your playlist? We asked five of the Women’s squad that very question...
ELLIE ROEBUCK: Red Hot Chili Peppers – Can’t Stop
When I was younger, my dad took me to their concert – it was one of the first concerts I went to.
The whole vibe is upbeat and pumping and it gets me in the right frame of mind and reminds me of memories from home.
I would also go with the Arctic Monkeys as well. It’s a toss-up between them and the Chilis but at the moment, it has been ‘Can’t Stop.’
ELLEN WHITE: Wet Wet Wet – Love is All Around
My music taste is shocking! I don’t have anything exciting. I like Taylor Swift - Love Story Remix but… I have very different stuff on my phone – I can go from the Beautiful South to Wet Wet Wet.
Steph Houghton absolutely rinses me. We did a heat acclimatisation session for an hour and a half in a greenhouse. She looked over and asked what I was listening to and I said 'Wet Wet Wet – Love Is All Around' and she was like: ‘What are you doing? How is that getting you through the last half an hour?’
But it’s a great song! That’s my vibe!
VICKY LOSADA: Any form of relaxing Spanish music
It’s true that in the dressing room, the girls pick the music here – normally something lively.
But in the two or three hours before the game, I like to listen to relaxing, Spanish music, so I can just focus on what I need to do.
KHADIJA SHAW: Alkaline - Ocean Wave
It has a motivational vibe.
Going into a game, running out onto the pitch, it's in your brain. That's one of my gameday songs for sure.
RUBY MACE: Essence - WizKid.
It's nice and soothing, but also quite upbeat. It's really catchy - you just sit there and bop your head to it!
John Edwards explores the roles and responsibilities of City’s backroom staff and how they contribute to our teams’ success...
Manchester City women’s first team are blessed in the goalkeeping department.
In Karen Bardsley and Ellie Roebuck we have two of the finest keepers to have graced the FA Women’s Super League, whilst French international Karima Taieb has proved a more than capable deputy when called upon.
Working with some of the best talent the game has to offer is the dream for any coach and at City, Chris Williams is the man tasked with leading the goalkeeper’s union.
A former player himself, the 39-year-old came through the academy system at Port Vale and Everton before turning professional with Bolton Wanderers where his was career cut short by a knee injury.
After spending some years away from the game, he began his coaching journey at Rochdale, working with first team and academy goalkeepers, before joining City’s youth set-up eight years ago.
Initially involved in the boys' academy, he was quickly brought into the women’s first team fold by Nick Cushing and has been a key figure ever since.
Cushing and current manager Gareth Taylor have both worked with tightknit backroom teams, which means Williams’ responsibilities stretch far beyond goalkeeping.
“Although my job is goalkeeper coaching, I am still involved with the outfield players and have an input with the technical staff as well,” Williams tells City Magazine.
“It is becoming more common now for the goalkeeper coach to be more involved in decision making and outfield players and it is only going to continue in that way because the role of the goalkeeper has become so crucial it would be crazy to work in isolation.
“On a matchday I’m involved in the tactical operation. If I see anything on the pitch, I’ll feed it into the gaffer and I’ll have the earpiece on to be in contact with the performance analyst
“I also sort the set-pieces. I put them together and work with different units. I take the lead on the defensive side and Alan Mahon does the attacking, but we have discussions on both fronts.
“It would be a lot to expect a head coach to deliver in possession and out of possession drills and then have to come up with set plays and all the templates that go alongside it.
“Mahon was an attacking player and I was a goalkeeper, so I look at things like the defensive structure and he does the same from an attacking side.
“The opposition’s attacking set plays directly affect the goalkeeper because they will either in swing it or out swing it, which will affect your position and you then have to be able to impact the outfield players to make sure you can operate in your space.
“Having played in the position, I understand the roles and responsibilities in set-plays, so that’s one of the strengths I bring to the coaching team.”
For all his multi-skilled coaching, Williams’ priority is the goalkeepers.
He is responsible for ensuring they are suitably prepared for matchday, with tailored sessions which help Bardsley, Roebuck and Taieb get ready to perform at the weekend.
This is done through a mix of drills, some of which are to reinforce basic skills and other, more advanced exercises, which can relate directly to the approach of an upcoming opponent.
“I prepare the goalkeepers technically, tactically, mentally and physically to ensure they are ready for whatever is needed in the game,” he explains.
“It might be that you’ve got a team that like to put crosses in early, so I would prepare them for the types of crosses they are going to be facing, or they might play wingers who cut in and shoot early, so I would prepare them to be ready for that.
“A lot of it is dependent on the session. I could have 30 minutes of work to do with them before they are required to join the rest of the group to go through team shape.
“If I am working with two or three, I might have to do additional work on the side with the third one who is not involved in the tactical drill.
“If the manager is doing something that will benefit the goalkeeper who is going to start then they may do half an hour with me and then go over with the team whilst I work with the number two.
“If it’s something that is non-beneficial, I’ll send one of the younger players over.
“We have to have a real discussion between the coaching staff to decide how long I’ve got and who goes over to the tactical practice, or whatever the outfield players are doing.
“I have to manage that connection between the goalkeepers and the outfield players as well, because you don’t want the old school method where the goalkeepers were just over in the corner until they’re wanted to face a load of shots.”
In coaching teams up and down the country, it is common for the manager to canvas the opinion of their staff before making a decision.
Taylor is no different.
The former City striker has struck a good relationship with Williams and Mahon, who were in place prior to his arrival and, given the specialised nature of goalkeeping, he has empowered the former when it comes to selection.
“He gives me full authority on who plays,” Williams adds. “It was exactly the same with Nick Cushing previously.
Other coaches will work differently. The goalkeeper coach may do the training and the manager picks who plays.
“Gareth and Nick have been totally transparent and said I will decide who plays. They may question it, but we’ll always come to an agreement.
“I am fully aware that if Gareth wanted to pick the goalkeeper, then that is how it would be and it wouldn’t be an issue, but to have that level of trust from the manager is massive.”
A Summer Olympian, Ellie Roebuck has already fulfilled a lifelong dream – a dream she did not think she would achieve, especially at 21 years old.
The City and England goalkeeper, who also clinched the inaugural FA Women’s Super League Golden Glove and was shortlisted for the 'The Best' FIFA Women's Goalkeeper award, has been tipped for great things.
Caroline Oatway caught up with the Sheffield-born shot-stopper to reflect on her ‘unforgettable’ summer…
Ellie, welcome back! You return to City an Olympian! How does that feel?
“It’s incredible. It’s one of the things I’ll never forget and to have had that as my first major tournament is incredible.
“To have gone there and play was something special. The whole experience was crazy: being such a small part of something so huge – the world is watching.
“It’s something different as well – of course, in football, we focus on World Cups and Euros but to have the Olympics, which is something so massive… words can’t really describe it.
“It was just: focus on football. It was really intense – there was no real break, especially with the COVID-19 restrictions, but I loved it. My full focus was playing football so it was great.
“It’s something I don’t think I’ll ever experience again. It was incredible to be part of.”
What was it like to perform on the world stage – and at such a young age?!
“It was so intense. Even without fans, it was so intense. I remember before we went out there, when we played Chile, thinking: ‘This is such a huge occasion.’
“I was really nervous but in a good way. The only downside was that fans couldn’t be there – I know my mum and dad would have been there, 100%.”
When you were 18, we visited you in Sheffield and we were talking about the prospect of you becoming an Olympian one day. Did you expect to have achieved that dream so soon?
“Wow! To be honest, it’s not something I ever thought I would achieve. I’m not putting myself down but it was such a huge thing.
“People work for their entire lives to do it so to do it at 21, was not something I expected, especially to go there and play,
“It’s something I’ll never forget and I’m so grateful for it.”
Unfortunately, Team GB didn’t quite go as far as we’d hoped… what did you make of our journey?
“We didn’t go as far as we wanted to but it wasn’t for the want of trying. We gave everything.
“I’d like to hope that people at home saw the potential we had. We all fully believed we could win but it wasn’t meant to be.
“Sometimes, that’s the way football can go but I came away with no regrets. We gave everything and trained so hard.
“It wasn’t just the games. In the weeks before that, the weeks of graft we all put into it...
“Unfortunately, we couldn’t deliver but it wasn’t for the want of trying.”
And there were some thrilling games! Looking at some of the scorelines – 10-3, 8-2, 4-4, 4-3, 3-3 – plus penalty shoot-outs… It was some spectacle, wasn’t it?
“All of the games were crazy! It was a great display of women’s football. Hopefully again, it’s something else that will boost it.”
What did you get up to over the summer?
“I went away with my parents, which was really nice. I wasn’t expecting to be back so soon and they’d booked to go away so I gate-crashed their holiday!
“It was really nice to see my family. It had been a long time. Prior to the Olympics, I’d been injured for for four weeks..
“It was a tough road to recovery and it was touch-and-go whether I’d make the Olympics, which is probably why it made the experience all the sweeter for me.
“I was having rehab at St George’s Park so it was a long time since I’d seen my parents. It was nice to get away and switch off because the period had been mentally draining. Now, I’m refreshed and ready to go.”
Lee Dixon is a name synonymous with Arsenal... but John Edwards discovers Lee's love of City has never dimmed...
Former England right-back Lee Dixon achieved legendary status in North London for his role in George Graham and Arsene Wenger’s title-winning eras, but, before he became revered on Highbury’s famous North Bank, the Manchester native was a regular on Maine Road’s famous Kippax.
Born in the City stronghold of Fallowfield, there was a degree of inevitability about Dixon’s footballing allegiance, given his father, Roy, spent three years at the Club in the 1950s as Bert Trautmann’s understudy.
From the age of 10 he and his brother were regulars on the Kippax, before switching to Helen the Bell territory in the North Stand once his dad brought them all season tickets and it’s fair to say Dixon was seduced by City, even making a solo trip to the ill-fated 1981 FA Cup final games against Tottenham Hotspur.
“I can’t remember them being very good in the early days, but then we hit that spell of Rodney Marsh and Franny Lee,” he recalls in an exclusive interview for the City Magazine.
“I grew up watching all those guys. Colin Bell was my favourite player and I had number eight on my City shirt the whole time I was a kid. I grew up with that era, Mike Doyle, Joe Corrigan in goal.
“I remember him getting huge amounts of stick from City fans for letting goals in and then he had a purple patch and I remember him sitting down in the six-yard box and leaning against his post whilst the ball was at the other end and the crowd were singing his name and he was just waving at them as if he was royalty.
“We had some really good times. I went to the 1976 League Cup final when Dennis Tueart scored an overhead kick and I went to both games against Tottenham in the 1981 FA Cup final, the Ricky Villa one.
“I went to that on my own because my brother didn’t want to go. I’d have been 16 or 17 and I remember going down to Wembley on a coach and standing behind the goal where Tommy Hutchison scored at both ends.”
At that time, Dixon was a college student training with Burnley when time allowed.
A first professional contract would materialise at the age of 18 to make the pipe dream he never truly believed was possible a reality.
His youthful obsession with the game had not only been confined to watching, he was a keen player, who had the opportunity to train with City in his teens, though he admits that was largely due to his dad’s connections rather than him being earmarked to make the grade.
“I think I was about 14 or 15 and I used to train with the apprentices, who will have been 16 to 18,” he explains.
“I was a bit younger, but I got a bit of a favour and was allowed to go and train with them. My dad still knew a few of the coaches and scouts at City, like Steve Fleet, who was doing some scouting for the club.
“I remember training in the evening in the tiny gym at Maine Road. We used to play five-a-side and I’d be playing with Tommy Caton, Steve Kinsey and all that lot and they were all so good and I was this little skinny kid who was training because my dad knew someone who said bring him along and we’ll have a look at him.
“That was as close as I got [to City]. I had a few weeks doing that and then they said, ‘He’s got some ability, but he’s still very young, very slight. He’s got to grow into his body a bit.’ It was a no, basically.
“I went to Bolton Schoolboys and trained with them in the school holidays and played in the B team a few times, but I never really got going there and I missed the boat for getting signed as an apprentice.
“Burnley had already assigned their apprentices for that year and I had gone to college. They invited me in and said I could train with the apprentices in the holidays and any time I got off in the week because my dad knew Gordon Clayton, who was the chief scout.
“Without my dad knowing everybody I probably would have fallen through the net, because I didn’t get spotted. I was kind of pushed in people’s faces.
“I was very lucky in that respect. I might have got picked up, but the chances are, probably not. The fact I had a trial at Burnley was solely down to my dad and then I got offered a pro contract at 18.”
That deal gave Dixon the chance to follow in the footsteps of his boyhood heroes and the memory of his first trip to Maine Road as a player has not diminished in the 40 years since.
It was a reserve game with ‘three men and a dog’ in attendance, but for the young right-back it was still a pinch yourself moment.
“I remember going onto the pitch and trying to imagine what it will have been like looking at me from the Kippax, because that’s where I used to sit, and thinking ‘I am actually on the pitch now’,” he adds.
“It was a bit surreal, even though there were no fans there. The pitch, even though the City pitch was pretty atrocious back then, they are always better than the ones you are playing on in the park or with the B team.
“I just remember the pitch being so, so big. City’s pitch was always really wide and I just remember the size of it and feeling very small and insignificant. Great times!”
BBC 6 Music DJ Marc Riley continues to track down the great and the good in his Mixed Grill series...
Our willing participant in this month's ‘grilling’ is someone I’ve known since he was a little ‘un. I knew Stirling Sievey through his dad who was an old mate of mine. His name - Chris Sievey. Some of you may recognise that name as belonging to the man who fronted the 70’s and 80’s Manchester band The Freshies. He went onto further fame with his bizarre and brilliant creation Frank Sidebottom. What some of you may not know is that Chris went onto be the first ‘Moonchester’! What many more of you perhaps won’t know is that once Chris decided to move on from bringing the MCFC mascot to life - he handed down the role to one of his sons.
That would be Stirling.
He’s a lifelong Blue and is happy to share some of his memories with you.
Over to you.. Stirling Sievey.
WHAT IS YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY OF GOING TO A FOOTBALL MATCH?
My dad taking me to my first game. City v Oxford United in January 1987, I've still got the scarf he bought me that day.
WHAT IS THE MOST PECULIAR OR MEMORABLE THING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED TO YOU AT A MATCH?
In the late 80's early 90's, my dad used to take me into Piccadilly Radio so that he could record his Radio Timperley show, then we'd get the bus to Maine Road. It was kind of a peculiar pre-match ritual.
IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME AND PREVENT ONE MATCH FROM BEING PLAYED -WHAT MATCH WOULD THAT BE - AND WHY?
Maybe the Liverpool game in May 1996, that saw us relegated, whilst we were wasting our own time in the corner...
WHICH TEAM ARE YOUR LEAST FAVOURITE OPPONENTS - AND WHY?
Obviously United, growing up as one of a handful of City fans in school, while United went on to dominate and we were going down the divisions was hard, good character building though, and worked out well in the end.
WHAT IS YOUR MOST FAVOURITE MAN CITY TERRACE SONG OR CHANT - AND WHY?
Loved Niall Quinn's Disco Pants, just because it made no sense really, and summed up the terrace humour of the time. And probably the Balotelli song more recently.
WHAT IS THE MOST MEMORABLE CITY GOAL YOU HAVE WITNESSED?(“Agueroooooooooooo…” aside…)
Dickov is probably the most obvious answer, it was also the only time I got to visit Wembley with both my dad and brother.
HAVE YOU EVER MET ONE OF YOUR MAN CITY HEROES… IF SO - WHO…AND HOW WAS THE EXPERIENCE!
Me and a few friends bumped into Kompany, Stones, Walker, Bernardo Silva and Delph, in the pub after West Brom had beaten to United, to win us the league in 2018, everyone had had a few, and it's fair to say it was a great experience.
IF YOU COULD INVITE ANY MAN CITY PLAYER - PRESENT OR PAST - TO YOURS FOR TEA AND BISCUITS - WHO WOULD IT BE - AND WHY
Mario Balotelli, think it could turn out to be eventful.
HAVE YOU EVER SHED A TEAR - OF JOY - OR PAIN - AT A CITY MATCH
Shed a few tears of joy when we won the FA Cup in 2011, as it was the first time we had won a trophy in my lifetime, and that hadn't looked likely a few years earlier.
WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST ABOUT MAINE ROAD?
The atmosphere on the old Kippax stand, it was never quite the same when the new stand was built.
DURING YOUR TIME AS MOONCHESTER WHAT WAS THE MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT FOR YOU?
There was a match against Stoke where they evacuated the North Stand onto the pitch after a fire alarm had gone off, and I was stuck in the middle of a few thousand fans, some trying to pull the head off. And also a game against Wolves, who brought their mascot, I was near the away end and both sets of fans were egging us on to have a fight. I'd seen the size of the guy in the suit when we were getting changed before, so opted to go elsewhere, he was on the TV a week later beating up Swansea's swan mascot, so think I made the right choice!
WHO DO YOU THINK WOULD WIN IN AN ARM WRESTLING MATCH… YAYA TOURE - OR KYLE WALKER?
I'd have to go with Yaya, think...
IF YOU COULD PICK ONE CURRENT CITY PLAYER TO BE ON YOUR PUB QUIZ TEAM - WHO WOULD IT BE - AND WHY?
I'll go for Fernandinho, just for his experience, and I'm sure he wouldn't stand for any cheating for the other teams.
THE PARIS MATCH
A tough European group stage for City this season, but would you want it any other way?
I love seeing us go head-to-head with the top sides in Europe and I love visiting wonderful European cities with my camera.
This month, we couldn’t have a more exciting game in prospect than PSG in Paris.
Paris is a beautiful city all year round, but especially so in September.
Lovely autumnal colours and light, make for a magical experience. Of course, there are plenty of cafes and bars to sit outside and while away the hours, but it’s also a lovely city to immerse yourself in.
Whenever I’m in Paris, I make a point of visiting Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde in Cimetière du Père-Lachaise, then walking down to Belle Ville for a few glasses of Bières au Fût at the legendary ‘Aux Folies’ (8 rue de Belleville, Paris 75020).
Even though the Metro Map makes the city look huge, it isn’t. It’s easy to walk around, much more so than London. Aimless wandering was pretty much invented by Parisians. They coined the term flâneur for it. Drawing on Fournel, and on his analysis of the poetry of Baudelaire, Walter Benjamin described the flâneur as the essential figure of the modern urban spectator, an amateur detective and investigator of the city. Make your own itinerary and map out a city walk with several bar stops.
For Le Petit Dejeuner or a late afternoon Pastis, Go to the legendary ‘Les Deux Magots’. A frequent stop on the itinerary for existentialists Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and Albert Camus, this café was also frequented by other literary greats like James Joyce and Arthur Rimbaud, and more recently, Patti Smith. Known as Hemingway’s favourite spot in Paris, this Saint-Germain-des-Prés café became such a notable literary hub that, in 1933, it started offering its own literary prize. ( 6 Place Saint-Germain des Prés, 75006 Paris)
I really hope UEFA allow away fans to travel in this group stage. I’m also massively looking forward to a few days in Leipzig (and Berlin) and to visit Bruges – both great cities of countless bars with lots of interesting beer. After a few Trappist Beers, it’s difficult to remember what the focus of the trip is.
Anyway: fingers crossed and very soon I hope to see all the usual faces again. In the meantime, here are some photos of Paris to get you to start thinking of buying that Eurostar ticket.