This Is The One
Real Madrid away in the Champions League. If this isn't 'it' for City, then I'd like to see what 'it' really looks like...!
Last season's foray into Europe's elite club competition was tough enough, but this year's edition will be even harder - but this is what the club's owners have been after all along, so the pressure's on - make no mistake, as Stuart Pearce often used to say (and probably still does).
But if ever there was a squad built for coping with an assault on the European summit, then City's is that squad. Maicon and Javi Garcia have nous and craft at this level in spades - or they should have. I'm convinced that was a big part of why Mr Mancini brought them in, and they along with the rest of the players will have to step up to the plate (arrrggghh!) pretty quickly.
Elsewhere in the squad, there's plenty of experience and guile that's been built up in previous European campaigns, and no little skill. It's been said elsewhere on VMC but Yaya has been the man for the big occasion several times before, and there are world-class performers up and down the team. So on paper all looks good.
But it doesn't work like that, and the away games in Spain and Germany that bookend the group fixtures could be mightily difficult. City folded in the really big away tests in Europe last season, Napoli was a bear-pit and there were extenuating circumstances in Munich. But both were beaten at home, and City have it in them to progress to the knock-out stages.
It seemed to me last season that the fans were more concerned with domestic glory - naturally, it was there for the taking. But with that boil lanced this year it's time to see how the Blues match up to the kinds of clubs that City's management have been eyeing enviously for their on and off the pitch clout. What the behind the scenes people at City maybe don't realise is that a chunk of fans still love the rough and tumble of the Premier League - because they're used to it. The more refined fare on offer in Europe is still a novelty, a 'nice to have' in business bulls*** bingo.
But isn't this where we wanted to be? The third tier of English football was not that long ago, and in Europe it's not long since a weakened City team were struggling in Spain against Racing Santander - with a consolation goal from Felipe Caicedo!
Let's revel in it, especially on home soil. This could be the start of something special.
UPDATED UPCOMING FIXTURES:
all times East Manchester
TOMORROW 19h45 Real Madrid, The Bernabeu, CL
Su 23 Sep 16h00 Arsenal, The Etihad, PL
Tu 25 Sep 19h45 Aston Villa, The Etihad, LC3
Sa 29 Sep 15h00 Fulham, Craven Cottage, PL
We 03 Oct 19h45 Borussia Dortmund, The Etihad, PL
Sa 06 Oct 12h45 Sunderland, The Etihad, PL
Sa 20 Oct 15h00 West Brom, The Hawthorns, PL
We 24 Oct 19h45 Ajax, Amsterdam Arena, CL
Sa 27 Oct 17h30 Swansea City, The Etihad, PL