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Manchester City: Contenders

Manchester City: Contenders

Big name signings rarely ever materialise in January, and most clubs, unless in real danger of relegation, save the big bids for the summer. Yet From Berbatov to Anelka, from Crouch absurdly to Ronaldhino, media speculation has reached fever pitch over who Frank and Sven will next bring to Fortress Eastlands.

I am not alone in hoping that the club will continue to not be held to ransom for superstar mercenary signatures. City must pursue the policy which has served us so well this season of bringing young and hungry talent into our increasingly exciting squad to play alongside our Academy graduates.

However, something is sure to give at City within a week or two. It could well be that the club finding itself with a settled side in fourth position with a fantastic and now realistic opportunity of European qualification, could lead to big money being released in order to help reach that unbelievable goal.

What really grates on my old style MCFC pin badge covered heart is the constant lazy journalism meted out this season whereby City are relentlessly referred to as 'Sven's foreign legion' and rival managers like Coppell dish out the mantra that City spent massive amounts of money last summer. In relative Premier League terms, that's not the case. We spent less than Sunderland did for starters and nowhere near the amounts our top four rivals have done on individual players in recent seasons.

All the more remarkable then that we have had such a brilliant season to date. No sports hack has yet acknowledged what Sven has got out of the existing players he took on when he arrived, or how many of them he regularly fields.

I digress. The fact is, any signings have to be right for a clearly unified squad. You only have to witness the way the whole team celebrate a goal to know that there is a tremendous team spirit and a will to win. The way I see it, we've come through an inconsistent phase of performances yet kept picking up points and are starting to click again. That's always the sign of a good side.

I predict City will give someone a right pasting sooner rather than later. Indeed, one of our astute MCFC Vital regulars, Craig Cain has gone on record as predicting a 'Ballet On Ice 2' before too long and I for one wholly agree with him. Svennis and Hans Backe have got the momentum and the mix just right.

That's why any squad additions have to blend in with what has been built so far. We have no room for potential boat rockers.

Looking to what we have on board right now, the news within the club is immensely encouraging. It could be taxi's for certainly Samaras, Isaksson and Dabo this month. Credit to Sven, he gave them all a chance.

Easily the most inspiring news of the week is that Daniel Sturridge and Valeri Bojinov are closing in on a return to full fitness. Both strong and powerful, they could lead any attacking line with aplomb.

Essentially, City's 2007-2008 season is at a crossroads. Should Sven continue with the strikers we have including El Diablo Castillo and gamble on Sturridge and Bojinov handling those late winter pitches to bolster our attack?

- Or should he bring in a big name striker? If he does so, he won't be able to play them all when fully fit and that could lead to some discord balanced against a healthy competition for places.

I'm more and more in favour of holding on and continuing as we are up front, strengthening elsewhere as cover for the end of season run in. Save the big bucks for the next chapter in the Sven Revolution.

One look at our Vital Man of The Match Awards, an excellent indicator of the City team's progress shows that Elano, Petrov, Dunne and Corluka have all shone repeatedly, but where's the in depth cover?
We have a relatively small squad and have been generally fortunate where injuries and suspensions are concerned. There's still a long way to go and the intensity of the games will increase.

I rate attacking midfielders Samir Nasri of Olympique Marseille and Pascal Feindouno of Saint Etienne highly. I would have pushed for Bayern Munich's leader and City's missed opportunity Daniel Van Buyten but for Micah Richards continued progress. Again, we have Corluka and Ball available and ready to deputise for Richards and Dunne.

That said, we must not become downhearted if City do not buy big up front this month. It could well be that fine tuning is all that's required and for all the debate, Sven has admirably kept his Panini football cards close to his chest.

Led by our Captain and FIC* Richard Dunne, Johnson, Richards, Elano and Petrov are all names beginning to be feared by Premier League sides and our next opponents, Euro rivals Everton will have to be on their toes following their Oldham humiliation.

Whatever happens from here on, enjoy it. One year ago this weekend we played out a dreadful 0-0 draw at Bolton, lest we forget.

Manchester City are now contenders.

*Future Ireland Captain

Writer:Johnny Baguette
Date:Wednesday January 9 2008
Time: 9:07PM


I totally agree we have enough strikers at the moment one midfielder and one defender will do for me which should be enough to see us into Europe next season. Then we can look forward to a real overhaul of the playing staff come the summer.
09/01/2008 21:39:00
Top article JB. Still think we could do with a top notch striker of some pedigree. I think the Podolski speculation fits the bill but is unlikely as the media have no idea who Sven is really after. Would love a Goat type scoring record to hand now.
09/01/2008 21:42:00
Hate to draw politics into the whole upbeat situation right now, but the Thailand factor will not go away and could still have an influence on how the club proceeds, especially this month. Understand Franks' wife was arrested there yesterday and the military junta are still unsure how to respond to Frank's supporters winning their election. How that affects the situation regarding his frozen bank accounts, I dunno. Be good to get that situation resolved once and for all and building City's exciting future can really kick on.
Johnny Baguette
10/01/2008 07:52:00
I do not think that the political situation will affect the club, as was he bought the club in the time he was in a bad political situation.
city 81
10/01/2008 08:22:00
If there was any problem regarding his funds he wouldn't have bought the Club in the first place.
10/01/2008 09:42:00
If the Thai governement eventually unfree the assets then we will have money no object policy, but Frank is no fool. I agree JB, January window is not the time to buy or sell, but we do need to strengthen the squad. I did not see El Diablo against WHU but by all accounts he started pretty well. I would also like to see a wide right midfield.
Buzz Lightyear
10/01/2008 09:57:00
Feindouno plays wide right Buzz with real effect. He's 26 and coming into his prime at Saint Etienne. I know Liverpool have been watching him for some time. As for the Frank situation fellas, I'm no expert but surely it will all be resolved this year.
Johnny Baguette
10/01/2008 10:34:00
JB, Another thing, Bojinov no one knows its potential as it is would be beneficial to the team or not, Because he was not a key player when he was in the Italian league.
city 81
10/01/2008 11:06:00
city 81, in my opinion there is no doubt that Bojinov will be brilliant for City. He's only 21 and scored 29 goals in Italy over 4 years or so. Have a look at this link. They are flying in from all angles. (Music horrible, though)
Johnny Baguette
10/01/2008 11:20:00
JB but is Bojinov injury prone or was he just unlucky. If he could get match fit and lives upto his potential we could be a handful. Teams don't want to part with their best players. Lots of rumours on minor sites about Geovanni, but nothing here as yet.
Buzz Lightyear
10/01/2008 14:51:00
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