It’s ‘Coming Home’ isn’t it?
We’ll all know soon enough. It could end in tears, disappointment and recriminations on Wednesday night. It shouldn’t because England are undoubtedly better than Croatia. If all goes to plan, that pits the Three Lions up against either Belgium or France for the biggest prize in football.
Who, in their right mind or wildest dreams, would ever have thought Gareth Southgate’s team would be within 90 minutes of contesting the final showdown in a World Cup tournament? If it happens it’ll either be a gallant, valiant failure or, glorious, sublime victory, come Sunday evening.
Either way, all eyes are glued on Moscow this week. Undoubtedly Pep Guardiola will be monitoring events in Russia, not least because up to half-a-dozen of his City side could be battling for the most prestigious prize in the game.
In the meantime, Pep’s gaze is focused on events back in M11 3FF as he seeks to strengthen last season’s Centurions and build on their stupendous achievements. Fair to say the City boss has been looking at two players who haven’t featured in Russia this summer.
The majority of City fans have become bored bored bored of the transfer ‘sagas’ surrounding Riyad Mahrez of Leicester City and Jorginho of Napoli. In all fairness that’s not the fault of the players. Neither should the oft much maligned Txiki Begiristain cop for too much flak.
City’s Director of Football has been accused of failing to get deals over the line in the past, with some of the criticism justified and some of it not.
The fact City fans have grown frustrated, impatient and then found themselves prone to bouts of endless yawning, is not Txiki’s fault. With Mahrez poised to sign for a club record fee – rumoured to be £67m – it’s a deal worth the wait.
Only two years ago he was a double PFA and Football Writers Player of the Year and a Premier League champion. Even with Leicester’s comparative fall from grace, his stats and performances have still held up under scrutiny. He’s only 27 years old, his best is yet to come. Considering The Foxes were demanding £95m for him when City last went calling in January, Begiristain hasn’t been too shabby in his dealings.
Similarly Jorginho should be a City player in time for the club’s US Tour. Depending on whether or not you believe that Chelsea, under the stewardship of Jorginho’s former Napoli boss, Maurizio Sarri, are prepared to pay up to £10m more for the defensive midfielder, the Brazilian born, Italian international should be Pep’s second new recruit for a cool £48m. If, however, he chooses Chelsea, extra money and no Champions League football next season, well, that’ll speak volumes, and City are probably better off without him.
There’s a certain irony that City could end up paying the majority of the combined fee of £115m by offloading up to 13 other players who also didn’t show up in Russia.
Pablo Maffeo, Angelino and Jacob Davenport have already departed for fees in the region of £13m. If Patrick Roberts , Angus Gunn, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Eliaquim Mangala, Jason Denayer, Joe Hart, Bersant Celina, Brandon Barker, Claudio Bravo and perhaps even Tosin Adarabioyo were to leave on permanent deals (some like Maffeo, with buy-back clause options) City could potentially claw back another £65m-£75m.
The figures are nothing to do with City wanting to be the Net Spend Champions – what a singularly futile pursuit of nothingness that would be (just ask Liverpool and Arsenal supporters) – but everything to do with having funds available, if a marquee signing is on the market.
Under Sheikh Mansour and Khaldoon Al Mubarak, City are now a profitable, self sustaining club, operating well within the questionable Financial Fair Play rules, introduced by UEFA to prevent the likes of City flourishing.
If – IF – the likes of Kylian Mbappe or a Eden Hazard are there to be acquired before the Premier League kicks off, then City have as much chance as anyone in adding a stellar attacking star to the ranks of De Bruyne, Sane, Sterling, Silva, Jesus, Aguero, Bernardo and Foden.
If – IF – the deals for Mahrez and Jorginho are finally completed, both players will enhance Pep’s 2018/19 squad, allowing for a greater rotation of players, some of who might suffer from a World Cup hangover.
The Centurions were magnificent last time out, only twice coming up short in the Premier League, and only falling, amid controversial circumstances, in the Champions League and FA Cup.
Pep will believe his team can improve on last season’s sensational record-breaking achievements, maybe not statistically, but in terms of silverware. Who among the City support wouldn’t trade 101 points for a Premier League and Champions League double?
By David Walker
We have a winner of this superb hand-crafted Manchester City ‘Centurions’ T-Shirt, boasting all the vital statistics of City’s record breaking season, courtesy of InCrowd Apparel. We asked – How many points did City gain both home and away in their record breaking haul of 100 Premier League points? The answer was of course 50 points at home and 50 away. We had dozens of correct entries across social media platforms and the winning entry – selected at random was Michael Parker. He will be receiving his prize from http://www.incrowdapparel.com/ hopefully in time for Sunday’s World Cup Final. In the meantime City fans are encouraged to follow InCrowd Apparel for more City designs on Twitter @InCrowdApparel and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/incrowdapparel/
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