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Ian Cheeseman: Forever Blue

Pep Guardiola told the media before the Newcastle game, and it’s not the only time he’s said it, that his aim is always to reach the final International break of the season going strong in every competition.

In the last few years he has achieved that goal. Saturday’s 2-0 win against the Magpies means the Blues are still there, just a point off the Premier League summit, into the last eight of the Champions League and the last four of the FA Cup.

Amazingly, City’s form this season has not been as electric as we’ve seen in previous campaigns, but they have a chance to win the treble again. As a City fan I could never have imagined I’d write a sentence like that when I was trawling around the third tier of English football watching the Blues.

Some say that’s been achieved purely because of money. Of course, the investment has made a huge difference to City’s fortunes but the hunger the players show can’t be bought. The powers that be, which of course are very much guided by the brilliant Catalunyan, have got things just right. Despite having every major trophy, the Champions League, Premier League, FA Cup, Super Cup and Club World Cup, on display at their amazing City Football Academy, the players remain insatiable. That’s not down to money, that’s about their obsessive desire to win again and again and again.

I don’t know where that comes from. You see it in great Olympians but very few people wouldn’t be tempted to take it a bit easier once they’ve achieved all their goals. On Saturday, against Newcastle, City didn’t really have to get out of second gear. That was partly because Eddie Howe’s side didn’t believe they could win. Their body language wasn’t good from the start and when they fell behind to Bernardo Silva’s deflected first goal, they looked deflated and beaten.

On the other hand, every City player was on the front foot from beginning to end. They look like a group of players who’re trying to win these trophies for the first time. It’s true to say that there are a couple of players who have yet to lift silverware with City, but the majority have. Mateo Kovacic, Jeremy Doku, Matheus Nunes and Josko Gvardiol are the new boys but the rest have won it all. Julian Alvarez has also won the World Cup and he’s only 24 years old.

I’ve met plenty of footballers, down the years, who won just one trophy, had one great season or are remembered for one great goal. I won’t name them but I’m sure you’ll know a few that fit that description. I have no problem for those players, but Guardiola doesn’t want footballers who’re satisfied with a moment in the sun, he wants serial winners. No-one epitomises that philosophy more than Bernardo Silva, who fittingly scored both goals in the win that took City to their record breaking sixth consecutive FA Cup semi-final, where they’ll face Chelsea. To complete a second treble City might have to beat United in the FA Cup Final again!

Bernardo Silva never gives less that 100%. He seems to run on his tip toes and I’d certainly describe him as a pocket dynamo. I believe he’s as crucial to City as any other player, even though he’s never been regarded as the star man in the team.

Back when I was at school I had badminton lessons from a former GB player. It’s a different sport, but he taught me to always move towards the shuttle and to hit it as early as possible, thereby giving you’re opponent less time to get into position and anticipate your next move. I’ve never forgotten that coaching, even though I’m now too old and knackered to play.

Watching Manchester City takes me back to those school days. Pep’s team plays like that, next time you watch them play you’ll see it as clearly as I do. It’s Great to be a Blue!

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