Date: 4th August 2012 at 1:21pm
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The daily newspaper guessing games are progressing nicely in the absence of any concrete news coming out of the Etihad Stadium.

Without fail almost every day another legendary scribe delivers a ‘scoop’ or ‘exclusive’ claiming he has insider dealing rights, having spotted a lookalike in the environs of Manchester.

They have tried in vain to destabilize East Manchester with their claims of a Mancini-Marwood battle for supremacy. City hardly cocked their ears at that one.

In the meantime the Blues have been on their travels with half a team and are looking more accomplished than they did twelve months ago when they predominantly paraded their full team.

So who are the runners and riders?

The annual Arsenal recruitment program this season apparently sees City trying to bring in Robin van Persie. Spotted having a burger in the Dog and Duck near Hale Barns, what could be more certain than this being a prelude to a Manchester club? (Well there’s only one isn’t there?).

Today out of a pick list of three RVP declares that City would be his third choice. This clearly displays a lack of ambition. He would be an automatic selection at his first choice, Juventus and likewise, he would set the premier league alight alongside one-time want-away, City-linked, Stretford Hero and England destroyer, Wayne Rooney. Let’s face it none of their other forwards are other than ‘the future’ or ‘has beens’.

But to have the desire to want to play to the peak of your potential and fight for a place alongside world class performers in the shape of Aguero, Tevez, Balotelli and Dzeko? Not for RVP, who until last season was perenially in the sick-bay with his Owen-esque hamstrings and other excuses not to play. I suspect Wenger made him play last season when he would otherwise have had a couple of weeks off. Every one of the competitive performers at the Etihad are younger than him, have more potential than him and are therefore frightening him off.

Gone now is the need to sign players for the sake of it. City only needs to sign players who will improve the team. Based upon his outings last season one would suggest that RVP fits that bill, but he is 29 and last was his best season in ten. However, his words of wisdom clearly tell us a story about his desire going forward.

For me I would like to stick with what we’ve got up front and possibly try to find a slot on the bench for John Guidetti, today linked once again with Sunderland. With last season’s quads, a fully fit Guidetti would give City a front line and back up to fear.

Daniel Agger seems to have catapulted himself into the defensive order thinking. Agger has been a bit of a success at Anfield, is quick and a no-nonsense offering, but a regular starting berth does not beckon for him in my view.

Reports seem to pre-suppose that there are still question marks over Lescott who has come on in leaps and bounds since he teamed up on a regular basis with Captain Fantastic Kompany to produce the meanest central partnership in the premier league. City also has Savic, Kolo and even Boyata as cover in the centre and failing that, Richards, so unless anyone wants to leave they look a bit over-subscribed in that department.

De Rossi is an interesting prospect because he will be used to playing in the 3-5-2 formation that we hear is sweeping Italy right now. No doubt that he is a good footballer but come on boys, would you select him ahead of Silva and Yaya? would you select him ahead of Barry, even? If City want to buy a new midfielder it has to be someone capable of doing Yaya’s job should he divert to the African Cup of Nations again. This much maligned competition was the making of the premier league and its amazing outcome last season, because had it not disturbed City’s season, the Ken Wolstenholme commentary gem would have been heard just after Easter.

If you look a the pre-season we have already seen accomplished performances from Razak, who is now actually built a bit like Yaya, Suarez who we have always said is a David Silva in the making and even Lopes, who at what, 16, doesn’t look fazed by big crowds in big stadia. So midfield, current and future looks bright for me. Yaya and Barry perhaps top the age scale here and quite frankly, who in the world can match up to Yaya? So is it another case of keep your money in your pocket folks, and run with what we’ve got!

The big difference for the coming season is that the youngsters will play competitive football in the shape of the prototype under-21 competition, where city are matched with Chelsea, Middlesbrough, Liverpool, Fulham, Crystal Palace, Wolves and Liverpool. This will have a major difference in terms of preparing the younger ones for life at the top.

In addition City will contest the NextGen series again with PSG, Fenerbahce and Juventus our group opponents in that league. I suspect there will be no need to send so many footballers out on loan next season so we can field a proper strength team in that competition.

So what is missing? I have often said in these pages that a good wide player, who can player orthodox and unorthodox and thus affect play. Unorthodox he can cut in and have a shot, orthodox he can utilise the size of Dzeko as plan B or plan A against certain teams. It looks as though Lavezzi will not be that man, so I am at a loss as to who could be that man. Can Johnson improve enough?

The exit door has to more than beckon for Santa Cruz, Adebayor and Bridge and maybe City should more clearly look at the roads out for these time wasters. Let’s face it nobody is going to pay a bean for RSC, who wants to fight for a place but is not even as good as Guidetti. Bridge was always a mistake in terms of money paid and expectations and Adebayor is well documented. Most teams will realise that they will get something out of him on loan with a hopeful promise of a contract, but signing him permanently is a different gig altogether. Six weeks on, six weeks off is not a great proposition is it?

I would not want to see Dzeko leave. The lad has great qualities even if city use them thoroughly. He can change games and he is penalty box presence that cannot be ignored.

So what about Kolarov? Again, he hasn’t hit the high notes, but he was the purveyor of at least one goal, against Sunderland, that can be said to have contributed greatly to the title effort. I don’t see him displacing Clichy with any great regularity and any of you who do watch the EDS will have noted the emergence of Jeremy Helan at left back. now another giant of a young man, strong and robust and a ball player who can cover in the centre as well.

So the verdict for me is that if the star attractions above are the best City looks like getting then I’d stick with what we have. I would then look forward, as City fans have done for years, to the emergence of the Elite Development Squad footballers. No longer are they lads from Longsight and Collyhurst, but many, like Helan have been with City for a while and have the new City way and the importance of the fans embedded. If they haven’t then they won’t make it or have Vincent Kompany to answer to.


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