Ped's End-of-Season's Musings from the Etihad
So, City`s first week as undisputed Champions of the Premier League has more or less ended. The atmosphere around Manchester all week has been one unimagined as proud City fans revel in anticipation of the era that dawned in 2011 and reached the first part of its journey to the zenith in 2012.
It is said that everybody knows what they were doing the night JFK was shot but the stories abounding amongst the Blues are their individual stories of where and how they watched the match and what happened the moment the esteemed broadcaster Martin Tyler almost emulated his South American counterparts with the immortal "Agueroooooooooooooooooo!"
Monday saw the parade around the streets of central Manchester where around 100,000 fans created a fantastic atmosphere as well as adding a welcome boost to the ailing tills of the city centre hostelries and Tuesday saw those not included in the Continental Nations Competitions heading for a well-earned break no doubt after sleeping off copious bottled of Bollinger.
My abiding memory is that of Ferguson about to celebrate Stretford`s twentieth title and that waster Jones arrogantly without a shirt but no having in mind that he would soon be wearing a replica bearing the legend "Champions 12" on the back, suddenly realising that Martin Tyler`s finest moment of broadcasting excellence had taken place.
For years the Stretfords have called us bitter Blues, but how ungracious are they now? The lead Trafford Twit grudging told us that we "Have to congratulate the other team" and The Bitter Knight was simply excruciating with his new LP - history, history, history. All old men have is history. As Bruce Spingsteen once told us "As times slips away, it leaves you with nothing , mister, but boring stories of Glory Days". Well, Stretfordians, that is where you are with that squad. You have a one-man team without whom you would have been down amongst the dead men. If you'd had that team managed by anyone other than Ferguson, you wouldn't have even qualified for the Europa League.
No doubt as the tongue-in-cheeks merchants in block 116 start to taunt them with "One year, one year" in reference to the emptiness of the OT trophy cabinet this year, they will now no doubt view the Community Shield as a trophy that they have won this season, as conveniently selecting in its favour as they were in selecting against City`s Championship win ahead of inhabiting the Etihad. A trophy that they last won one year before City. Oh it counted then, of course.
What a week. The Pedmachine has already had his photos taken with the Trophy, indeed he did so on the glorious day itself, and now we head for a close season of rumour-mill as the speculators of the back pages set their sights on the potential ins-and-outs at the Etihad this summer.
Already it seems destined for the exit door are Dzeko, one of Tevez or Balotelli and Johnson. The major incomings are Hazard and Ibrahimovic. I`m sure the interest in Hazard is simply to demonstrate to those along Chester Road that the monetary clout in Beswick is somewhat greater, despite him being a good looking player.
I don`t see, other than experience what Ibrahimovic brings that Dzeko doesn't. If Tevez was prepared to put in a full season with no unexplained visits home and play like he has done since he returned then, like most City fans, I'll listen to that.
Balotelli remains an enigma. Leaving the country more or less as soon as he got his medal and not presenting himself at the Town Hall on Monday. For me and I have already said it once or twice in these pages, I would be looking at Cavani, whose pace and eye for goal would be the ideal accompaniment to Aguero.
I can only think that Adam Johnson didn't fully comprehend the magnitude of "the Project" when he moved to City. Revelling in the alterations to his wallet and in league with colleagues SWP and Richards, he must have thought Christmas had come early and happens every day. But your salary increase is an advance reward for you becoming either a world-class player or at least close to that. City fans have been weaned on wide players, not all of them great but more or less always there. Whereas Stretford`s best moments this season have been when they use two widemen, with the advent of Guardiola`s Barcelona, to an extent Mourinho`s Real Madrid and now Mancini`s Manchester City, the best football is undoubtedly a team of pass and move, with nobody detailed to only operate out wide, although moving out wide become part of the overall game plan. So at City, Barcelona and even Real Madrid, where Ronaldo plays all along the front line, an out-and-out wide man is either a luxury or an impact player who introduces "plan B". And sadly that is what Johnson has become at City. It will not be what he wants and there maybe opportunities for him somewhere else in the Premier League, but not at the cost of the money he enjoys at the Etihad.
He needs to look at the development of Richards. Two seasons ago he was targeted by opponents as the simpler route to City`s goal. Not always able to work out the angles and not always shielded by a colleague upfield opposing wide men found it easy to get in behind him and place a free cross on the head of their big man. He has changed, he`s rolled up his sleeves, taken a look around at the galaxy of stars around him and said to himself "I want this". No doubt disappointed that "mi Campeonito" Zabaleta kept him benched for the run-in I expect Micah to move to the next level during the season ahead. So Johnson needs to do the same. In two seasons he has won an FA Cup and now the title. Does he really want to go and play for Sunderland or Aston Villa?
He will be disappointed as I am sure is Micah at their inexplicable omissions from the squad for Euro 2012. Why take two of the country`s Champions when you can take Downing and Phil Jones? Downing now famous for Liverpool`s board re-writing the OPTA stats by finally granting him his first assist of the season as they sacked Kenny Dalglish and Phil Jones? Oh yes, he`s English and plays for Stretford. I`m surprised they don't select United fans because they are English and play for the Red Lion on a Sunday. Did anyone see Jones play against the Champions? Probably not because although he populated a red shirt, he didn`t do very well.
What on earth does Downing add to anything? Maybe they`re going to drop Joe Hart for somebody like Ben Amos.
What is incredible to read is that Mancini has set his new ambitions as going for a clean sweep of trophies next season as well as not losing any matches. Now that is a challenge.
On the day of the Champions League Final and never one to make predictions, I will re-iterate today what I have said for much of the last two seasons. Chelsea might be going to the Allianz Arena tonight, the home of their esteemed opponents to try to win the Champions League. For me they will come up short because the next English to win that trophy will be one wearing Sky Blue. It will be Manchester City.