Fixtures Day. It doesn't have the romance of FA Cup Third Round Day or Cup Final Day or even Boxing Day, but when you are dragging your tired, numb body through the arid desserts of a non-World Cup summer, almost anything will do, even a few regurgitated games in a list that will not take real form for another two months. Nevertheless, rejoice! It is Fixtures Day! Well, at least, if you follow Manchester City, you should rejoice, for the computer that works only once a year (the Football Association's human resources officer should get onto that almost criminal lack of efficiency, incidentally) has treated City supporters to an almost perfect set of games.
Dear Manuel, It is apt in these situations to welcome the new incumbent to the hottest of English football hotseats with a few mots justes. Unfortunately, as the lady that usually does this quite adequately is on holiday this week, spare week in our Mal's trailer at Prestatyn came up at the last minute, so it has befallen me to carry out the heavy task. The words in this case may start to become a little unjuste, but nevertheless, you will find they are sent from the heart, which is all that matters.
If Ajax cleans brightest, then City were in need of industrial strength bleach to clean up their Champions League act, once their two games with the Amsterdammers had been played. A dismal and lethargic 3-1 defeat in Holland was followed by a sloppy and demoralising 2-2 draw at the Etihad. Once the yearly excuses of annual participation in the competition's group of death had been delivered, it was time to lick wounds and find real reasons for the collapse. Brief history of samba 'Little Fernando' flies in Questions abounded: Would this have a knock-on effect in the league?
The arrival of Fernandinho to the Etihad this week brings another native of this planet's favourite footballing nation to Manchester City supporters' close attention. Once upon a time this would have been an unfeasibly exotic development for us all to come to terms with, but in 2013, one senses that the excitement is all about the player's quality and not his nationality. In fact, in a curious sort of way, given that some of us find it hard to forget what has happened before, Fernandinho's nationality might just be the only thing that leads City followers to harbour the very slightest of misgivings.
Without as much as a confirmed manager, Manchester City have announced the completion of their second new signing of the week. Having brought in the speed and width of Jesus Navas, the invisible hand of Manuel Pellegrini can be seen in the attempted purchase of Shakhtar's Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho. This is yet another speed merchant, one who started life as an attacking midfielder and now plies his trade farther back in one of the defensive midfield holes. The signing of the Brazilian, coupled to that of Navas, has the Pellegrini stamp all over it.
A new wave of Spanish-speaking members of staff are set to start arriving in Manchester this coming week, with coach Manuel Pellegrini now free from the shackles of the late-finishing Spanish Primera and one or two of his touted buys also ready to make public their intentions to move. - Pellegrini confirms Man City talks Pellegrini's arrival should by all accounts herald the signing of Sevilla right winger Jesus Navas as his first purchase. Not since the departure of Adam Johnson twelve months ago have City had a touchline hugging wing-man.
The history of English football is littered with club chairmen, from local butchers to questionable chaps ball-juggling on the pitch before they had even signed the title deeds, who encouraged infinitesimally small amounts of trust. There have been men who looked under toilet doors and others who grew rich selling arms to various dictators of dubious origin. Yet others have burned down their own stadiums, while some have simply chosen to asset-strip before the very eyes of the people they were supposed to be serving.
Now the dust has settled on City's hectic end of season break to St Louis and New York, it is perhaps a good time to reflect on a season that did not deliver on any of the levels expected, one that ended in a disastrous 24 hours surrounding the FA Cup Final when the side's only hope of a trophy and the manager that had brought three years of unprecedented success both went west at more or less the same time. City started the season with perhaps the best squad in the Premier League. Certainly, as far as strength in depth was concerned, hardly anybody could hold a candle to the Blues.
After weeks of excruciating speculation, piece by piece the puzzle is beginning to be put together. After a scare over the weekend, when the Portuguese football press stated that FC Porto had lodged a firm proposal with the Chilean's agents and were more than hopeful that he would see worth in their own football project, it seems that the man City had set their sights on some months ago is about to step out of the shadows and confirm his next place of employment will indeed be northwest England. - Pellegrini in 'verbal agreement' with City - Isco keen to follow Pellegrini It has been widely reported that Manuel Pellegrini, a man of honour and one who remains true to his word, would not talk on this subject until season's end with his current club Malaga.
If any of us had been party to City CEO Ferran Soriano's pre-US Tour blue thinking speech to trusted Manchester City insiders, it probably would have gone something along the lines of this: "Let's try and woo the American public. Let's be pro-active, engaging, bright and attractive. Let's visit all our favourite charities, make plenty of public appearances, turn up completely unannounced in a few schools with some stars in tow, generally engage with the public at the drop of a hat. Let's revisit old haunts to make sure people remember us; let's announce a massive kit deal with Nike and pose in the gear in iconic waterfront locations in Manhattan for good measure; let's have the players say just how comfortable those shirts are and how proud they are going to be to turn out in them next season.
Unless you have been sleeping under a bush for the past 24 hours, you are well aware that Manchester City have expanded their activities into the U.S. by acquiring a majority stake in New York City FC, the newest franchise in MLS. The team with the iconic name will become active in the 2015 season. With $100 million set aside for the project, it is a serious step into an American market hitherto dominated by the Premier League's traditional big hitters, Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea.
The rich tradition of slapstick last-day-of-the-season performances that the supporters of Manchester City have been brought up on over the years was held in high respect again on Sunday as Norwich City, a side that has won at City only twice in its league history and never at the Etihad, waltzed to an eye-watering 3-2 win over a City side that seemed already to be on its summer holidays. If Aleksander Kolarov had appeared on the turf wearing Bermuda shorts and holding a pina colada, it would not have looked out of place.