Date: 29th June 2008 at 4:51am
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This is going to be a hell of a starry-eyed few weeks…

In a couple of days time we’ll find out who our opponents will be for July 17th’s UEFA Cup Qualifying round first leg clash. As this is Manchester City we are talking about and the home leg will be played in Barnsley thanks to the appalling Bon Jovi and some pisspoor club planning, then it would be just typical that we storm into Europe against a team from Wales again, or Ireland. However, there is every chance that a summer trip to Germany, Denmark, Israel, Bulgaria, Sweden, Finland, Hungary (to name but a few) or a host of former soviet block countries could be on the cards.

There are some cracking household names and commentators nightmares that could be in the firing line of City’s current crop/crap of no less than 12 first team squad strikers. FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, FH Hafnarfjordur and PFC Cherno More Varna could soon be hosting the Blue Army.

Mark Hughes has got a job on, and time is not on his side. If he gets us through the next 6 weeks with our European aspirations intact alongside a solid run of performances up to the Premier League campaign then he will have done well. This is the gamble of installing a new manager again this summer that Thaksin Shinawatra and his advisers have calculated upon.

Hughes has to firstly reassemble what remains a small Premier League squad top heavy with forwards for pre season training. His decision to take the players to a Boot Camp in Southern Germany should be applauded. That should sort out the men from the journeymen. All too often last season the team looked knackered and needs toughening up. The games will be coming thick and fast as soon as the final whistle goes in the UEFA Q1 First Leg. Friendlies in Stockport, Hamburg and the usually demented Glasgow will be followed up with the Q1 Second Leg and AC Milan in town for the Thomas Cook Trophy. Then the small matter of the Second qualifying round of the UEFA Cup will be followed up by the League opener at touchline pants wetter Martin O’Neill’s Aston Villa in our stylish new LCS Red and Black Stripes.

In amongst all this, Hughes has to continue reorganising the City backroom staff and assessing the squad’s strengths and weaknesses against a backdrop of reorganisation within the club’s hierarchy.

The squad situation is uppermost in most Blues minds. As I understand it, Hughes has yet to make a signing which was directly of his own volition as the processes of signing young strikers Marcello Trotta from Napoli and Jo from CSKA Moscow were already under way and in negotiation by the time he took office.

I think we will all feel a damn sight more comfortable if the squad offload so many of us hope for is realised. But the problem is, for that to happen and for top quality strength to be brought in with a focus, then a lot is going to have to take place within the next fortnight before City’s early season start. Hughes can either opt to keep as many players on board as possible for a long hard season, or he can radically overhaul the squad. We all knew about Sven-Goran Eriksson’s network of contacts throughout the game and it will be interesting to see how Hughes fairs with Thaksin’s backing in the transfer market.

But before June is out, the first thing the club should do is publically distance itself from Ronaldhino who clearly does not want to play for Manchester City. That fact aside, even if Goofy did feel the pull of Ashton New Road, the money involved in bringing him in could finance the signing of players that could bolster the City squad in key areas. A lack of strength in depth was one of the factors that saw our season nosedive this year and Hughes cannot afford a repeat in what could be an epic campaign.

So strap yourselves in with your inflatable bananas and Somebody Scream!

Wondered why City only sign strikers these days? Get yourselves over to the Vital MCFC forums from under your parasol this summer! Signings, Taxi for’s and much much more!!


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