We’ve now had two of the three International breaks before the end of the year.
They all frustrate me and as a Manchester City fan I would have loved to see the Blues in action again as quickly as possible after their draw at Liverpool. They were magnificent in that game and I’m one of those that believe momentum is vital in any sport.
Liverpool and Chelsea, where City won the week before, are quite rightly regarded as the main title rivals to Pep Guardiola’s team. Both teams know, deep down, that City were far superior. The games were played on their home grounds in front of spectators. Psychologically they now know the size of the challenge ahead of them, if they didn’t before.
I don’t think Man United are serious contenders, from what I’ve seen. There seem to be too many issues within their squad, especially since the arrival of Ronaldo, though I suppose it would be foolish to completely right them off. On Saturday City return to action with a home game against Burnley and I can’t see anything except a comfortable home win in that one.
The Champions League is back next midweek with a trip to Bruges, who so far have proven to be the surprise package in the group. I’d expected City and PSG to dominate with RB Leipzig as the most likely challengers, but the Belgian club drew with PSG in their opening game and then beat Leipzig currently sit at the summit. City’s next two games in the competition are the back to back fixtures against them and will probably be the ones that decide it. If Bruges are the real deal it will become much clearer soon.
Their home game next week will be in their 30,000 capacity Jan Breydel stadium. It’s bound to be a fascinating encounter but I have every confidence that Pep’s team will return with a win and then beat them again at the Etihad Stadium which will then mean just one more point from their last two group games should see them progress to the last sixteen.
Locally I was at Hyde United against Lancaster City at the weekend. It was a disappointing result for the Tigers who lost 1-0 but I saw some very good football from Jim Gannon’s team. Their eighteen-year-old goalkeeper, Riccardo Longata, was making his debut and made a couple of exceptional saves. He’s taken quite a leap of faith to try to further his career by coming over to England and leaving his Italian family behind. I spoke to him after the game and he admitted that being away from his homeland during the pandemic lockdowns had been difficult but I found him really engaging and very likeable. He’s the sort of young player you want to do well.
You can hear the interview on my weekly show on Tameside Radio this Friday from 7pm on 103.6FM or via the App, which is free to download. You’ll also hear my chat with the recently installed Hyde manager Jim Gannon who speaks about leaving Stockport County and his aims for Hyde this season and beyond. I’ve been interviewing Jim for years, dating right back to when he was a player. He’s intense, passionate and complex and I really like him and hope he does well at Ewen Fields.
The other interview to look out for this Friday is with former City striker Uwe Rosler who has been giving me his views on whether his old club needs to sign a specialist striker. It’s a debate that City fans and the media have been having for a while now. When City fail to score, “it’s because they don’t have a number nine” but when they get five of six which they’ve already done this season, no-one mentions it. You can hear Uwe’s opinion this Friday after 7pm. Meanwhile, have a great week and don’t worry, the Premier League will be back very soon.