So as we reach the final few days of our time on the Spanish coast, so we come to the finale of these tour despatches.
Tomorrow, rather than a blog I’ll bring you a match report from each of the u18 and EDS matches against Elche – kicking off at 6pm and 8pm BST on our last night here. On Wednesday, it will be time to bin the suncream and search out the jumpers (and no doubt umbrellas) as we head back to Manchester.
For Patrick Vieira’s EDS squad, this will be the first opportunity to test their pre-season fitness against an opposing team, and the players are all looking forward to it after several weeks of intensive training sessions.
You can follow both games live on twitter from the Pinatar Arena.
One person who will be looking forward to a return to the pitch is Lukas Nmecha, a newly-signed 16-year-old scholar who scored six in his first outing of pre-season against Real Murcia. A striker who was born in Germany but has grown up in Manchester since the age of nine, he’s already put his scoring boots on for England despite his tender years.
It seemed the perfect opportunity to sit down for an interview with him about his career so far and the most striking thing (pun intended) about his words was the sense of team spirit he shares with his fellow first years. They’ve been playing together for years and he spoke well about how they can all anticipate his runs and exactly where he wants the ball – a footballer’s dream!
Should make for some attractive football played on Saturday mornings next season…
For those of you who missed it, the video diary carefully constructed* by Thierry Ambrose is now showing on CityTV.
What it does show though is how hard the boys are working and day eight proved no exception. A lot of the focus of today’s session was on teamwork and building attacks as a group, starting with small drills of 2 v 4 and building up to 9 v 11.
Watching how taxing these exercises were both mentally and physically gives an insight into just how hard these sessions are, but how much they will benefit when the season kicks off again. Not long now, ladies and gents!
I wandered over to the far side of the pitch where David Faupala was smashing shot after shot at keeper Kjetil Haug in a private duel that clearly both were enjoying immensely.
As a fan wanting both to excel, is the ideal that all of Faupala’s shots are simply too good for Haug to save? Or that Haug’s saves show he is better than the majority of stoppers David will face?
One to ponder over dinner, that one.
After lunch, it was time to pick my next two interviewees and Paolo Fernandes was only too pleased to sit down. Not yet 17 and a relatively recent arrival to British shores, his English is simply sensational and his commitment to City shines through.
A pleasure to chat to, he explained exactly what attracted him to Manchester (not the weather) and we also spoke about his first game, his first goal and the other firsts he’s ticking off during his first months at the club.
I did ask him about his first World Cup memory and immediately felt very old when he explained he couldn’t really remember any before 2010. Gulp. He didn’t leave me hanging that long though before explaining he’s Spanish and therefore 2010 remains the clearest due to them actually winning the thing.
Not something my English and Welsh heritage can really relate to on that one, Paolo!
Next up was Marcus Wood for a complete contrast in background – although the biggest similarity is personality, and it serves to illustrate what grounded, pleasant people the CFA is producing alongside talented footballers.
A City fan since before he could walk, Marcus was delighted that I wanted to hear about his first time at Maine Road (Rotherham), his first hero (Goater) and the time he spent hanging about the training ground collecting the signatures of those he watched from the stands and on TV.
He’s got a few retorts to that familiar refrain from opposing fans asking where he was City were… not as good as they are now. It’s a family website, this.
Both interviews will be available on the website in due course.
Sitting watching the afternoon session as our youngsters sprinted between cones before making a pass, battled each other for the ball between bright yellow poles, smashed shots high into the roof of the net and picked out defence-splitting passes, I was struck by such how much talent there is throughout the Academy.
Many are away with the first team trying to catch the eye of Manuel Pellegrini, but such is the range and depth of the promise being honed daily in the CFA there is skill to admire throughout every session.
Patrick Vieira is clearly determined to get the best out of his young charges, who are just as eager to respond to his tutelage and stake a claim for a starting EDS berth with the season due to kick off in three weeks’ time.
Judging by what have been a thoroughly enjoyable ten days so far, both the EDS and u18s will be well worth watching this coming year and I for one cannot wait…