Johnny Baquette Special: Greetings From Naxos
As Manchester City continue to get into a New York state of mind, Johnny Baguette sends VMCers a postcard from his Greek pre season keyboard training camp.
Kali spera, Planet Blue!
The most striking aspects of watching the business end of the World Cup/ Mundial draw to a close on the island of Naxos have been twofold. Getting my head around hearing commentators referring to partaking Manchester City players past, present and future after decades of next to no Sky Blue World
Jules Rimet interest whatsoever was mind boggling. The second factor has been the most intriguing. My travels over the past two years have given me the impression that MCFC are increasingly getting noticed across Europe, and if anything over the past three weeks, I've seen and heard enough to confirm that The Citizens are well and truly back on the footballing map. Music to the ears no doubt for shrewd City Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak and his global strategists.
I've always made it my mission along the years as we plummeted through the divisions to the brink of non existence and throughout our fight-back to become re-established in the top flight that I ensure that wherever my suitcase takes me, City get heavily promoted and the rags thoroughly slated. Greece this year has been no exception as I've exploited the international language of football to the full once again.
It was a back of the net job upon arrival at our hotel to hear one of the Greek lads on reception introduce himself as a joint City and Barcelona fan! His detailed knowledge of the Blues squad blew me away. He even knew the heights of all the players which led me on to discussions with some Dutch blokes I met who forecast that outside of Silva, Tevez, Johnson and De Jong, Mancio could be fielding a team of giants next month. Kompany, Vieira, Adebayor, Boateng, Lescott and the Toure brothers all came in for basket-ballesque praise, tenuous Greek links to former Blues hoop misser then hoop wearer Georgios Samaras aside. We all watched a couple of Boateng throw ins. Maybe we'll be giving Stoke a game this autumn...!
The Greek islands see a mass invasion of Scandinavians around this time of year. I've lost count of the Norwegian fans who have given respect when I've aired the shirt on the beaches. One feller from Oslo pointedly told his pals how Manchester is a Blue city taking care of the propaganda for me!
There's been plenty of talk of ex Blues Aage Hareide and of course Alfie Haaland whose place is cemented in history as a symbol of the battle against the crumbling evil empire.
From Paris to these islands I've seen plenty of Barcelona and Real Madrid shirts and the odd Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea shirts but not a one of the rags. Tick-tock, eh?
Of course, much of these exchanges reflect the worldwide popularity of the Premier League and the monster for the English Football Association that it has become with so many foreign stars dominating to the extent that England's so called golden generation performed abjectly and devoid of flare this summer in South Africa. For now that's another story.
Back to our City
It's clear from all the people I have met that we are rated and expected to deliver very soon. Some Bayern Munich fans even suggested we'd be challenging for the title almost immediately based upon a solid defensive midfield strategy.
My next stop is a weekend in Athens and then it'll be time to get down to the business of gearing up, refreshed and charging for a new season on VMC and our return to European football. Bring it on!