After three wins and a draw from Manchester City’s opening games, Pep Guardiola is, quite rightly, not phased that his all conquering Centurions are ‘languishing’ in fourth place in the Premier League.
Unbeaten and unbothered, City’s Catalan genius, said the season doesn’t ‘get going properly’ until after the first international break of the season, with Fulham next up at the Etihad.
It looks as if all of those on international duty have reported back to Manchester injury free. It helped that Argentina and Brazil saw fit not to include the likes of Sergio Aguero, Nicolas Otamendi, Gabriel Jesus and Fernandinho in their squads. Leroy Sane played a few minutes for Germany before leaving to be present at the birth of his daughter, whereas Ederson asked to be left out of Brazil’s squad, as he became a Dad for the second time.
In addition, David Silva’s welcome retirement from Spanish duties and Raheem Sterling’s enforced rest with a back injury means many of City’s stars were kept out of harm’s way. Danilo’s recovery from an ankle injury sustained in the World Cup was an added bonus, leaving Pep with a full strength squad, barring long term absentees, ‘King’ Kevin De Bruyne and crocked Claudio Bravo.
The knee ligament injury to playmaker extraordinaire, KDB is undoubtedly a big blow to City. The loss of the brilliant Belgian would cripple most teams, but such is City’s strength in depth, they should ‘get by’ until a fit and refreshed De Bruyne returns, hopefully sometime in November.
His absence makes the £60m summer acquisition of Riyad Mahrez all the more vital, as City seek to defend their Premier League title and mount a serious assault on the Champions League.
Surprisingly, Mahrez was City’s only significant senior summer signing, albeit his switch from Leicester City was for a club record fee. Considering The Foxes were demanding £90m+ in the January transfer window, the Algerian attacker represents excellent value. It was a feather in the cap of the oft and much maligned Txiki Begeristain, that City made an apparent saving of £30m within the space of barely six months.
It’s a feather that was swiftly plucked from said cap, when, for whatever reasons of skullduggery, double dealings or plain dishonourable conduct by others, City’s Director of Football couldn’t deliver the new holding midfielder that Pep craved.
The need to ease the workload on the ageing legs of 33-year old Fernandinho, and start succession planning, was a top priority for Pep. Napoli’s Jorginho had looked a shoe in for the role, week after week after week during the summer break.
As we know he ended up at Chelsea amid what some might describe as ‘dubious goings-on’, but the net result was the same – only one major City summer signing.
Already the rumour mill has City linked to possible January bids for Borussia Dortmund’s Julian Weigl (23), Napoli’s Piotr Zielinksi (24) – although God knows why City would go anywhere near a deal involving Napoli’s notorious Chairman, Aurelio De Laurentis – or, closer to home, Wolves’ Ruben Neves (21).
Over the past 10 years, Mark Hughes, Roberto Mancini, Manuel Pellegrini and now, Pep Guardiola, have signed some of the greatest players ever to play for Manchester City.
Hughes – for all his shortcomings – had the foresight to bring an understated Pablo Zabaleta, along with a comparatively unknown Vincent Kompany, to the then City of Manchester Stadium in 2008, just prior to ‘the money’ coming in.
Bobby Manc attracted Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Yaya Toure and Edin Dzeko to the Etihad, whereas Manuel Pellegrini didn’t do too badly, signing Fernandinho, Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling.
Of course Pep has taken City to well chronicled, record breaking heights, helped by the likes of Ederson, John Stones, Aymeric Laporte, Kyle Walker, Bernardo Silva, Benjamin Mendy, Ilkay Gundogan, Leroy Sane and Gabriel Jesus.
There’s every expectation, Mahrez will be instrumental in City’s quest for the big trophies in the foreseeable future.
While Txiki has to wait until 2019 at the earliest, to make amends for not providing Pep with the defensive midfielder he requires, there’s a man who works just 2.3 miles away from the Etihad Stadium, who hardly ever has difficulties getting big name players to sign. His name is Dave Knebel.
He’ll be known to some – not all – City fans, but when it comes to acquiring the finest Manchester City signed sports memorabilia, he’s the ‘Pep’ of his trade. Nobody does it better than Dave’s Droylsden-based Autograph Art business.
Read But Never Red is delighted to welcome Autograph Art on board as one of our new sponsors for the 2018/19 season – a campaign that we both, along with all Blues, hope will result in memorable moments, cups, titles and silverware for City, along with images, boots, shirts, footballs, gloves – you name it – that can be signed by Pep and his squad.
As official framers for Manchester City FC, Autograph Art’s credentials are akin to the travelling support who attended the Old Trafford, Manchester Derby in February 2008, as Sven Goran Eriksson’s team beat United 2-1 on the 50th Anniversary of the Munich Air Disaster – totally impeccable!
Authentic, creative and innovative, Dave and his team have been responsible for the high profile framed shirt, pitch presentations to Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure and Pablo Zabaleta in recent times.
Not only do they have the kudos and reflected glory of a close association with the Club, Autograph Art also believe in making highly sought after memorabilia available to fans on a range of different levels, catering for a wide variety of budgets.
Of course, we all want a framed City shirt signed by any or all of The Centurions, an item bearing Pep’s handwritten name, something tangible to treasure, along with the memories of recent glories and those yet to come. But, if you can’t stretch to the more expensive items, you could have your season card captured and framed in a special ‘Champions 18’ mount, as a lasting memento of a truly remarkable title-winning season.
A true Blue himself and a season card holder of many years, Dave’s first love is City, but business is business, so Autograph Art provide and frame memorabilia from an eclectic mix encompassing all sports, movies, music, entertainment – you name it – Dave and his team can frame it.
Walk into Autograph Art at 137-139 Manchester Road, and you could see anything ranging from World Heavyweight Champion, Anthony Joshua’s boxing gloves, to F1 World Champion, Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes driving helmet. It all depends what projects they have on the go at any given time.
Dave said, “We pride ourselves on our ability and adaptability to provide one of the best framing services in the land. We’re passionate about what we do, we’re creative and we’ve invested in technology and equipment that enables us to transform ideas into reality.
“Our work encompasses bespoke and highly specialized commissions, right through to straight forward framing requirements for photos, prints and canvasses. We have access to stars and personalities in the sports and entertainment arenas and everything – everything – we sell is 100% genuine. Authenticity is key to our reputation.
“As City fans ourselves we’re delighted to sign up with Read But Never Red and hope this will further enhance our profile, raise awareness of what we do with City as a club, but more importantly, what we can do for the thousands of RBNR readers.”
Let’s just hope City sign back into the Premier League with three points over Fulham and a winning start against Lyon in the Champions League on Wednesday night.
By David Walker
See the array of outstanding items on the Autograph Art website by clicking on their logo and link on our home page, or contact them for your own individual framing requirements on 0161 371 8080.
www.readbutneverred.com @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu