It`s no secret that City`s teams have been pretty lightweight these past two seasons and the recent spate of injuries has served to remind Mark Hughes, Garry Cook and Khaldoon Al Mubarak that our young squad is lacking some steel.
Medium to long term casualties continue to figure the inexplicable Danny Mills who finds himself alongside Martin Petrov, Valeri Bojinov, Benjani and Darius Vassell on the MCFC casualty ward conveyor belt.
Vassell is said to be close to coming back, but the same was said of Michael Johnson who featured briefly in first team action only to be sidelined yet again.
Johnson and Nedum Onouha have both suffered repetitive injury problems and Bluesy conceded that Onouha`s substitute appearance in place of the ankle knacked Micah Richards at Newcastle was far from ideal in the scheme of his latest recovery.
We`ve debated time and again on the Vital MC forums over the need to bring in a midfield general at City who can not only break opponent`s play up, but also offer some protection to the team. Of course, that glaring requirement aside, we are still short of strength in depth in key areas of the squad. Were we to suffer another couple of injuries, particularly in the goalkeeping department, then we will be stretched to the limit.
So all power to Ally Beattie and his team as we go into a crucial season shaping 9 games in just over a month. We need all hands on deck!
ONE EYE ON JANUARY
As City fans know only too well from previous agonising experience, reinforcing your squad with top quality players in the January transfer window is a very difficult task.
Most top sides throughout Europe have their squads well set for their winter break at that time and are reluctant to sell their prize assets. Of course, it remains to be seen whether or not money talks because City`s wealth will be the biggest factor once 2009 dawns.
The fact is that for Bluesy to be able to recruit the players he needs to make something happen this season, big, big money will have to be splashed out. No two ways about it.
That said, and bearing in mind our aforementioned frailty in certain areas, it`s bewildering to see City relentlessly linked with more strikers. Another cringeing look at the goals our defence gave away at Newcastle should be enough to consider major defensive surgery this winter, regardless of what happens between now and Christmas.
But still the striker links come. It was the same tired nonsense from Ronlardo`s people in circulation again last week. Now it`s the turn of CSKA Moscow`s bustling Vagner Love and Wigan`s Amr Zaki to join Roque Santa Cruz as City`s latest frontmen elect. I think the hacks and agents could be way off target with their suggestions and that Mark Hughes might be planning to make a couple of shock moves.
Unless we endure more long term striker casualties, the reinforcement priorities have to be in central midfield and defence. City have scored a tremendous 20 league goals in 8 games but shipped an uneasy 14, undoing so much good work. To progress, once we are ahead, we have to be able to hold that lead and as things stand we haven`t got the personnel or cover to do it.
Not only do we need a left back to steady the ship but our centre backs need to be able to look comfortable when the team is holding possession for long periods. Above all else they need to be able to distribute. That isn`t happening right now and neither is Joe Hart commanding his territory firmly enough.
I may be wrong, but I suggest that Bluesy may very well move for an experienced goalkeeper and centre half if our defensive fortunes continue as they are. Come on Richard Dunne. Get it together big man.
THE THAI`S THAT NO LONGER BIND
And so Frank Shinawatra faces the final curtain. Whether any of us like it or not, the sentenced to jail in exile former City owner pulled City back from the brink. We were relegation certs when he bought the club and much as I detested the whole way that "Svengate" was handled, the sale of the club to ADUG through Frank`s business connections was carried out calmly and discreetly for which he deserves absolute credit.
In one fell swoop we went from a club facing implosion to one in a financial dreamland. But had the sale not gone through, the implications of where we would be right now with Frank facing clink just don`t bear thinking about!
Meanwhile, City have refused compensation for Thai internationals Suree Sukha, Teerasil Dangda and Kiatprawut Saiwaew after terminating their contracts two years early.
It remains to be seen whether or not Frank sells up his remaining 10% stake in the light of the latest developments in his extraordinary life.
THE MILE HIGH FOOTBALL CLUB
As ever, there are rumours of winds of change swirling around SportCity these days but it`s tail winds that are the order of one of the more spectacular recent stories.
The word around the Ringway departure lounge is that Sheikh Mansour is preparing to give the club it`s own aeroplane. A Jumbo jet no less, with a specially modified interior offering everything a world dominating football team could need, minus a swimming pool of course...
Picture it now, it could be like something out of the counter terrorism glamour series "24" as "Blue Force One" circles Istanbul ready to descend for the team to give someone a proper tonking in the UEFA Cup Final next May!
WHAT`S IN A WORD, THIS WEEK`S QUOTES
'It's not easy. Kasper is 22 and has to fight his own battles, there's no doubt about that. I'll support him every step of the way.
- It's Kasper's dad's turn to draw attention in the media to his second choice goalkeeping plight.
'People have got carried away with the players we've got. But there's still a big gap between us and the top four.'
- The Kaiser Didi Hammann issues a point of order statement following his experience at Newastle.
"We look like we`ve got goals in us at the moment and I don`t think anybody else has scored as many as us in the Premier League. Now obviously we need to stop them going in at the other end so we haven`t quite got the balance yet. But we`re looking good in an attacking sense and that`s reassuring because the fact that we are a threat against even the top teams, that augurs well for the rest of the season."
- Bluesy underlines the cases for the defence and the attack.
'My friend and former team-mate Jo is already playing for Manchester City and they have a lot of good forwards. The Tottenham situation is different. I know they have a bad position in the table.'
- October 2008: CSKA's Vagner Love sends out a message to Tottenham's beleaguered supporters.
'I really did get an offer from Manchester at the end of the previous season...CSKA are a great club and one of the leading powers in Europe so I am convinced it would be better to play there rather than in some middle-range club in England...'
- January 2008: CSKA's Vagner Love sends out a message to Man City's beleaguered supporters.
WE WEREN'T REALLY THERE? THE FINAL SCORE THIS WEEK 10 YEARS AGO
Stoke City @ The City of Manchester Stadium FA Premier League: Sunday 26th October @ 1500 GMT
Citizens Form: Last six PL games: W,L,W,L,L,D
Potters Form: Last six PL games: L,L,D,L,L,W
Johnny On The Spot?:
Stoke, unlike Hull and West Brom of the newly promoted trio are a big, physical side and they play to their strengths. Certainly, Micah Richard`s power will be badly needed for this fixture. City`s inability to consistently defend set pieces this season is about to come under the microscope moreso than previously on Sunday because Stoke will throw everything bar the kitchen sink at corners, free kicks and the spectacular long throw-ins of Rory Delap. It doesn`t make for attractive football but City`s young team must quickly start dealing with sides of lesser technical ability. Keep ball for long periods and some superb approach play do not win points and it is time for City to find a ruthless killer instinct. Once ahead, we have to go up a gear. This could be the game where we get back on track.
City 4 Stoke 0
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