Sunday, September 20, 2009


The final installment of David Conn's wonderful illuminating series on the club is up on The Guardian website (and in print no doubt too).

It is a big piece, and brings the 'story' up to date with a look at the numerous changes both on and off the field that have occurred over the past twelve months. There is plenty to pick out - and I do implore you to read it - but it is always intriguing when you are afforded a glimpse into the inner sanctum and workings of the playing set up.

The stand-out quote comes courtesy of Stephen Ireland:

"(This is) The happiest and most content I have ever been at Man City. Before, I always felt on edge, like I'm not sure what's around the corner."

Ireland says the dressing room was "cliquey" last season, divided by the influence of Elano, who, although "a great guy and very talented player", was, Ireland believes, over-indulged under Eriksson. "The gaffer [Hughes] took some time to get a grip of the club," Ireland says. "He had it tough; he came into a club that had been damaged down the years, with players not having a winning mentality, accepting defeat, accepting losing away from home, accepting things that just weren't right. Mark Hughes came in with his own staff and worked to make that right.

"The first meeting the gaffer ever had, he talked about what he was going to offer us, he said to get on board and try to achieve. Some players just didn't want to buy into it, to put the extra effort in. It was a shame because they went, and I am sure they will look back and regret it."

Looking back to the 2008/09 season, there was plenty of clamour for Hughes's head amidst a series of poor results and performances. What has emerged since is that during this time, the foundations were being laid and it was inevitable that teething problems would be experienced until Hughes managed to re-vamp the squad (which he felt woefully inadequate) he had inherited.

The first tangible progress was to be seen with the signings in January (the Given and Bellamy ones Khaldoon admits he severely questioned at the time), which saw results pick up over the second half of the season.

The signings over the summer then took this to a new level, but of equal (if not greater) importance was the shipping out of those players who did not buy into the vision that Hughes - and the club - laid out to them. Chief architect of that clearly seems to be Elano, and for all his wonderful talent and moments that he brought during his brief spell at the club, I doubt anyone can now seriously question the decision to sanction his sale to Galatasary. The team, and squad, undoubtedly appear to be in a healthier position without his presence.

It has been an excellent series of features that Conn has put together over the past few days, and some of the most balanced writing that has appeared about the club amidst some of the more senationalist nonesense we have become accustomed to.

Part 1 and part 2 of the series are also definitely worth a read.

vote it up!

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