PRE SEASON FRIENDLY'S 2007 - 2008

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Manchester City 0  Valencia 1             Early Days for New Boys
Saturday 4th August 2007 : GYKO at the COMSTAD

Valencia spoiled Sven-Goran Eriksson's Manchester City welcoming party at Eastlands to leave City's new manager with plenty of work to do before their Premier League opener at West Ham next week.With five new signings in his starting line-up, some of whom the former England manager had never even seen play it was always going to be an interesting day for the Swede.

Eriksson would certainly have been able to pick a few positives out of the narrow defeat, not least the performance of young midfielder Michael Johnson. But David Silva's early winner, combined with a series of missed chances including two by star striker Rolando Bianchi, confirmed the theory it may take some time for Eriksson's new-look side to gel.

With new owner Thaksin Shinawatra looking down from the stand above, Eriksson had strode onto the pitch before kick-off to a standing ovation, bowing politely to all four corners of the ground. It was an enthusiastic welcome, although the sight of thousands of empty seats suggested the former England coach has some work to do if he is to claw back the huge number of City fans who have become increasingly disillusioned with life at Eastlands.

In contrast, Ricky Hatton will forever be a hero in these parts and when he was spotted taking his seat five minutes into the game, the world light-welterweight boxing champion - and lifelong City supporter - was greeted like the superstar he has become. Hatton barely had time to take his seat before Eriksson's side fell behind.

Switzerland Under-21 skipper Gelson Fernandes was the man at fault, gifting possession to Silva 35 yards out.
Silva laid a neat pass off to Miguel Angel Angulo but when his shot was parried by Kasper Schmeichel - handed his chance in the absence of injured duo Andreas Isaksson and Joe Hart - the Spanish international stroked home the rebound.

To their credit, City responded in defiant fashion with academy graduate Johnson leading the resistance.
Johnson rattled the Valencia bar with a fierce 25-yard shot and not long afterwards Bianchi did the same as he tried to steer Elano's cross goalwards.

An £8.8million capture from Reggina, Bianchi is the man Eriksson is hoping will end a scoring crisis which condemns City to start the new campaign without a home Premier League goal since New Year's Day. Bianchi certainly has the physique of a modern-day forward but the way he fluffed a golden opportunity when Marco Caneira's attempted clearance rebounded off Martin Petrov and spun into his path was a bit of a worry.

Petrov sparked sporadically down the left flank, although it appears the Bulgarian will look to cause defences problems with the accuracy of his crosses rather than any speed or trickery. Geovanni became the first Brazilian to sign for City last month but did not show much Samba flair when he smashed a long-range free-kick straight into the Valencia wall although he had some excellent touches in the second half and a superb scissor kick which flew just over.

Bianchi then failed to turn his far-post header goalwards after Petrov had picked him out.

Get Your Kits Out View : On arriving at the COMSTAD I was suddenly in the company of more Thai's than I could shake a stick at. There were groups of them everywhere. There were dancers, singers, protesters as well as a large marquee with an even larger queue, serving free Thai food. The carnival atmosphere was only spoiled by the football which was played at around ½ pace. It has to be remembered though that this was just a practice match and the real thing starting next week hopefully will laced with a fair old lashing of passion. I thought our old boys were the pick of the crop especially Johnson and Stephen  Ireland who incidentally seems to have had a hair transplant. Bianchi looks awfully similar to Corradi but a little quicker. Petrov looks classy and I did like the look of Geovanni the little number eight - reminded me of Ali Bernabia, oh if only....
I don't fancy their chances at West Ham but hopefully things will start to come together in the Derby County game in readiness for the rags.  Incidentally, the Thai food was nice but a little hard to swallow, if you know what I mean.


City: Schmeichel, Richards, Onuoha (Jihai 62), Dunne, Garrido, Elano (Geovanni h-t), Johnson (Corradi 71), Fernandes (Hamann 71), Petrov, Ireland, Bianchi.

Subs: Mentel, Ball, M MIlls, D Mills, Logan, Dabo, Miller, Vassell, Dickov, Samaras.

Valencia: Canizares, Caneira, Moretti, Albiol, Marchena, Albelda, Joaquin, Baraja, Angula, Silva, Gavilan.

Subs: Miguel, Mora, Vicente, Alexis, Del Horno, Sunny, Mata, Arizmendi, Villa, Morientes, Hildebrand.

Goals: 0-1 (Silva 10)

Bookings:

City: Corradi (74)

Accrington Stanley 2  Manchester City Reserves 0
Saturday 4th August 2007

Kenny Jackett's youthful reserve side ended their pre-season campaign in defeat this afternoon, but Jackett refused to be too downhearted after the 2-0 loss at Accrington Stanley.

He said: "It's been a good build-up during the pre-season for us. We started off playing non-league teams but we've had Morecambe and Accrington the last two Saturday's and won one and lost one.

"There's a lot of excitement around the place going into the new season, we've had a tough pre-season, but a very good one."

City's team v Accrington:

Martin (19-year-old trialist), Obeng, Breen, McDonald, Vidal, Clayton, Laird, M.Daly, Marshall, Moore, Evans.

 

Shrewsbury Town 0 Manchester City 2
Wednesday August 1st 2007

Manchester City manager Sven-Goran Eriksson is looking to add to his squad and it is easy to see why as the Barclays Premier League side struggled to overcome League Two club Shrewsbury.
The Swede took a good look at the players at his disposal by fielding different teams in each half at the New Meadow. With the possibility of four more additions to his squad, he appears ready to shuffle his pack and allow players to leave.

Striker Valeri Bojinov is scheduled to arrive from Fiorentina and join fellow Bulgarian Martin Petrov at Eastlands. There is also speculation that defenders Javi Garrido and Vedran Corluka are also about to come on board from Real Sociedad and Dinamo Zagreb as well as midfielder Elano from Shakhtar Donetsk.

Petrov, a £4.7million buy from Atletico Madrid, made his bow in this friendly and looked quick and strong. New signings Rolando Bianchi, Gelson Fernandes and Geovanni were also in from the start. Geovanni rattled the crossbar in the 21st minute from 25 yards but a minute later Shrewsbury almost opened the scoring when Michael Symes flicked a header wide.

Petrov was involved in the 38th minute but saw his shot blocked by goalkeeper Glynn Garner after a neat one-two with Bianchi. City nearly made the breakthrough in the 40th minute following a delicate chip from Stephen Ireland but Garner tipped his effort over the top. Petrov miskicked in front of goal a minute before the break and the ball fell to Bianchi, whose effort was blocked by Neil Ashton.

Georgios Samaras could have earned a few plaudits in the 50th minute only to see his weak effort saved by Garner. Then Corradi headed wide for City following a corner from Ousmane Dabo two minutes later. Corradi, however, made the breakthrough with a header in the 82nd minute and Paul Dickov added a second goal with a shot into the corner on the stroke of full-time.

Teams

Shrewsbury: Garner, N.Moss (Langmead 63), Ashton (Humphrey 46), Drummond (Ryan 68), Kempson, Murdock, Herd, Hall, Pugh, Cooke (Onibujek 74), Symes (Leslie 63).

unused subs: T.Moss, Mackenzie, Flynn.

City (1st half): Schmeichel, Onuoha, Richards, Dunne, Sun, Geovanni, Johnson, Fernandes, Petrov, Ireland, Bianchi.

City (2nd half): Hart, D.Mills, M.Mills, Ball, Logan, Samaras, Miller (Vassell 78), Hamann, Dabo, Corradi, Dickov.

unused sub: none.

Goals: 0-1 Corradi (82), 0-2 Dickov 90

Bookings:

Shrewsbury:

City: Geovanni (42)

Charleroi 2  Manchester City 0    The Roller Coaster begins
Saturday 28th July 2007

Geovanni starts his first match for Manchester City in this evening's friendly against Charleroi.

The Brazilian, who has played as an attacking midfielder and as a striker during his career so far, lines up alongside Rolando Bianchi as Sven-Goran Eriksson assesses his options with this starting line-up.

After an uneventful first 20 minutes, City were victims of a bizarre penalty decision. Matthew Mills was adjudged to have pushed Dos Santos Costa in the area and Oulners scored from the spot.

City then had their best spell of the game so far, but were hit by a sucker punch on 35 minutes. Dos Santos Costa outpaced Matthew Mills and squared to Jovian, who side footed it home from close range to double the home side’s lead.

Matt Mills’ day got no better when he picked up a booking on 39 minutes, and two minutes later Rolando Bianchi had City’s only real chance of the first half, but his weak header never threatened to claw a goal back.

A raft of substitutions at half time added a lot more urgency to the Blues, with Georgios Samaras having the best chance of the game so far when his left-footed shot rattled the crossbar on 53 minutes.

City had the best of the remainder of the match, however they could not create enough decent chances. The best was substitute Miller forcing a save from goalkeeper Laquat.

The Blues can now look forward to facing opposition a little nearer to home when they take on Shrewsbury Town at the New Meadow on Wednesday night, kicking off at 7.45pm.

 

Team: Isaksson, D.Mills, M.Mills (Fernandes h-t), Dunne, Ball, Logan, Johnson (Miller 59), Hamann (Vassell h-t), Ireland, Geovanni (Corradi h-t), Bianchi (Samaras h-t).

Subs: Hart, Dabo, Dickov.

Morecambe 1  Manchester City Reserves  2
Saturday 28th July 2007

City's reserves have had another successful afternoon, this time against league opposition. Kenny Jackett's young side travelled to Morecambe to take on Sammy McIlroy's Division Two outfit and came away with a 2-1 win.
The Blues went into half time a goal up thanks to Paul Marshall on 17 minutes, but the home side equalised through Curtis with 10 minutes of the second half gone.
But City came away with the spoils thanks to the prolific Ched Evans, who lobbed the Shrimps' keeper from a long way out on the hour. It was the young Welshman's third goal of the pre-season fixtures.
Kasper Schmeichel kept the lead intact, with one superb point-blank save from Baker and good work with his feet to deny the onrushing Curtis.
The reserves complete their warm-up programme with a visit to Accrington Stanley next Saturday.

Teams
 
City :Schmeichel, Obeng, McDonald, Breen, Vidal, Clayton, Laird, Daly, Marshall, Moore, Evans.
Subs: Ramsey, Mentel, Kay, McDermott, Ball.

Morecambe: Davies, Yates, Bentley, Artell, Adams, Baker, Sorvel, Stanley, Burns, Curtis, Twiss.
Subs: Drench, Hunter, Howard, Newby, Grand, McNiven, McLachlen

Carlstad United 0 Manchester City 4
Saturday 21st July 2007

Rolando Bianchi (pictured right) scored twice as Manchester City rounded off their tour of Sweden with a comfortable victory over Carlstad United.
The £8.8million Italian set up his countryman and strike partner Bernardo Corradi to round the goalkeeper and open the scoring after five minutes.
With 20 minutes on the clock the roles were reversed, allowing Bianchi to drive home for City's second.
Sven-Goran Eriksson's men wasted little time in making it three after the break as Bianchi swept home for his third in two games in his manager's homeland.
Substitute 'keeper Kasper Schmeichel had to save a penalty after Micah Richards' handball before another replacement, Marc Laird, struck a fourth from the edge of the box.

 

Curzon Ashton 1 Manchester City XI 3
Saturday 21st July 2007

It was back to winning ways today for the young reserves as they won comfortably at Curzon Ashton the Unibond Premier league outfit.  Goals from Adam Clayton, David Ball and Ched Evans for City and Michael Norton for Curzon. Curzon are at New Mills next Saturday so it will be interesting to see how my local North West Counties div 1 team fare against higher opposition.

City Team:
Mentel, Obeng, Breen, Mee, McGivern, Moore, Marshall. Clayton. McDermott, Evans, Ball.
Subs:
Vidal, Kay, Daly.

Hyde United  4   Manchester City XI  2

Ben Mee shapes to test Craig Dootson in the Hyde goal

Man City started the game with some slick moves and looked very comfortable in the opening exchanges. It didn't take long before they pressed home their advantage as Karl Moore drilled the ball into Dootson's right hand corner from the edge of the box. Adam Clayton added the second within minutes with a great solo effort to put the blues in command. With City's oldest player only 18 it was looking like boys against men might just be good enough. With Hyde only just outside the Conference Premier last season they weren't about to be taken apart by a bunch of kids. After City hit the post they suddenly awakened and got stuck in. On 24 minutes Gareth Seddon the Hyde goal machine pulled one back. Soon after the City defence allowed Gareth too much room and he brought the Tigers level with a well taken goal. Five minutes before half time the Tigers were ahead when Dale Johnson shot across goal to beat Filip Mendip at his far post. The half time shake up didn't happen but Hyde grew in confidence and Seddon completed his hat trick mid way through the half to cap a fine comeback from Hyde United.
With a number of the regular youth players over in Sweden (five from Saturday's team against Stalybridge) these young City players were certainly not overawed by their senior opposition. Karl Moore and Javan Videl both had very good first halves and Mendip made a couple of very smart saves. Craig Dootson also saved very well to his right to keep what looked a certain City equaliser out from close range when the score was 2-3. A good nights football though for the 301 crowd who turned out on a very pleasant night.

   

Orgryte 1 Manchester City 4      Bianchi scores on City debut  
 Wednesday 18th July 2007:
 

Manchester City's new striker Roland Bianchi marked his debut with a goal as Sven-Goran Eriksson's side beat Swedish side Orgryte 4-1 in a friendly.
Signed from Reggina for a reported £8.8m, the Italian forward opened the scoring with a close-range finish.
Orgryte equalised through Boyd Mwila on 37 minutes before Bernardo Corradi put City 2-1 up in the second half after a shot from Shaleum Logan hit the post.
Georgios Samaras headed City's third, with youngster Logan getting a fourth.

The 24-year-old Bianchi, who is a former Italy Under-21 international striker, scored 18 goals in Serie A last season.

City reject Besiktas bid for Vassell
Wednesday 18th July :

Manchester City have rejected a bid from Turkish club Besiktas for striker Darius Vassell.
The England forward scored just three league goals in 28 starts last season and appears to have little chance of establishing himself in Sven-Goran Eriksson's first team following the arrival of Italian striker Rolando Bianchi.
However, the club have dismissed the offer for the former Villa player who is part of a 22-man squad currently on the pre-season tour of Sweden.

Geovanni joins City

17/07/2007 17:01
City have made their third signing within a week by bringing Brazilian midfielder Geovanni to the Club.

He passed a medical at City’s Carrington training ground today, but is not expected to join the squad on the pre-season tour of Sweden

The 27-year-old arrives on a free transfer and has signed a one-year contract.

Most recently with Brazilian side Cruzeiro, Geovanni brings a wealth of Champions League experience with him, having played for Barcelona and Benfica, as well as having four international caps under his belt.

His diving header, when he stole in between Rio Ferdinand and Gary Neville, helped the Portuguese giants dump Manchester United out of the Champions League at the group stage in December 2005, and in total he scored 17 times in 94 appearances for Benfica.

Result.....Doncaster Rovers 1 Manchester City 3
Sat July 14th : Justin Blackwood for Get Your Kits Out at Doncaster

Sven-Goran Eriksson swapped Germany for south Yorkshire and re-discovered that winning feeling. Three-hundred-and-seventy-eight days after England's defeat by Portugal on penalties in the World Cup quarter final, the Swedish coach was back in the dugout.
About 1200 Manchester City supporters made the 120-mile round trip to witness Eriksson's first game in charge of the club. That defeat on July 1 2006 in Gelsenkirchen must have seemed a world away when Eriksson arrived at the Keepmoat Stadium. He looked fit and well, happily posing for photographs and shaking the hand of home boss Sean O'Driscoll. Wearing a smart suit, not a tracksuit, Eriksson took his place in the dug out and was joined by Hans Backe, who appointment as assistant manager was confirmed today.
Eriksson has also recruited his old friend Tord Grip as he tries to get to grips with club management for the first time in seven years. He has gone quickly about his business, signing striker Rolando Bianchi for £8.8million from Reggina and midfielder Gerson Fernandes from Sion for an undisclosed fee.

City's problems in attack were clear for all to see last season. They scored only ten goals in 19 Premier League games - a record low for the top flight. Bianchi was in the crowd of 6,375 this afternoon and will head to Sweden on Sunday with the rest of squad for a pre-season tour.
With Eriksson looking on intently, City stepped up the pace in the second half after Sean McDaid had given Doncaster the lead in the 17th minute. Substitute Bernardo Corradi equalised in the 48th minute then Micah Richards (62) and Emile Mpenza (64) added to their tally to complete a satisfying afternoon for the former England boss.
 

Result.....Stalybridge Celtic 1  Manchester City XI  2
Sat July 14th :
Kenny Jackett's reserves side have won their opening pre-season friendly.
A young City side made the short journey to Stalybridge Celtic and won 2-1. Stalybridge Celtic would have been two or three up at half time, but for a trio of excellent saves from Kasper Schmeichel. Covering the length of his goal to palm around a Paul Tait header from a corner, then getting his head on the ball from a Paul Tait blast, before finally an acrobatic one hand save from a curling Paul Tait shot. City went ahead in the second half when Karl Moore’s shot was blocked by Martin Pearson’s legs, only to trundle towards the goal line, Terry Barwick attempted to hack it clear, but put it into the back of his own net. Matty Barlow got his third in two games to equalise from a Chris Hall lobbed cross, and could have put Celtic ahead with a rasping drive that beat Schmeichel, but was hacked off the line by Gary Breen. Instead, City got the winner near the end of the match when Karl Moore evaded Jamie Kay to smack home.

Team: Schmeichel, Logan, Williamson, Breen, MacDonald, Laird, Clayton, Marshall, Evans, Grimes, Mouritsen.
Subs: Obeng, Mentel, Moore, Vidal, D Ball, McDermott.

Thank to Stalybridge's Zen for that one.

Sven completes his second signing
14th July 2007

Manchester City have signed Switzerland Under-21 captain Gelson Fernandes from FC Sion for an undisclosed fee. The 20-year-old midfielder is Sven-Goran Eriksson's second signing since taking over as Eastlands boss following Rolando Bianchi.

"He's the best young player in Switzerland," said Eriksson. "We have signed two young players and I hope the supporters are happy. That is the way we need to go because young players are the future of the club."

Fernandes, who was also thought to be a target for Newcastle and Bolton, will join his new team-mates on City's pre-season tour of Sweden. Eriksson continued: "Fernandes is the best young talent in Switzerland and I am very happy he is here. I plan to play him in a holding role."

 

Eriksson uses Italy contacts to bring £9m Bianchi to City
By Chris Maume for Get Your Kits Out
Published: 11 July 2007

Sven Goran Eriksson enjoyed the most successful period of his career in Italy, and it is to there that he has turned to make his first signing as the new manager of Manchester City. Last night the finishing touches were being applied to a deal that will bring in the striker Rolando Bianchi from Reggina for around £8.8m, with an announcement expected today.

Yesterday morning the president of the Italian side, Pasquale Foti, said: " We have reached a preliminary agreement with Manchester City... The deal will be completed on Wednesday."

Bianchi, 24, was the fourth-highest scorer in Serie A last season, his 18 goals in 37 appearances proved vital in helping Reggina to finish in 14th place, one point clear of the relegation zone, despite the heavy points reduction they incurred when the Calciopoli scandal broke last year.

Eriksson has contacts in Italy, having managed Lazio, Sampdoria and Roma, and appears to have used his links to land Bianchi, whose goals could help to prevent a scenario similar to last season's, when City somehow failed to score in the Premiership at the Eastlands Stadium between January and the end of the season and scored 10 times in 19 home games overall.

In the last few days Bianchi had also been talking to officials from Napoli, though negotiations fell through. Napoli lost patience with the young Italian and instead signed the Argentine player Ezequiel Ivan Lavezzi from San Lorenzo. Bianchi was also on the shortlists of Milan and Fiorentina.

Earlier in the year, he was also linked with a move to Middlesbrough ­ not to mention Arsenal, Liverpool and Portsmouth ­ displaying in the process a lack of loyalty to Reggina that may cause Eriksson to pause for thought. " I would like to be transferred, I often said so," he said at the time.

After a stop-start career, the 24-year-old former Atalanta and Cagliari man caught the eye with his displays last season. He is 6ft 1in, physically strong, powerful in the air and has a reputation for having two good feet. In addition, he has scored five goals in as many starts for the Italian Under-21 side, including one on his debut, and has been widely tipped to gain full international honours in the not so distant future.

The move will be Eriksson's first foray into the transfer market, following Thaksin Shinawatra's takeover of the club, but will surely not be his last, following the summer departures of Joey Barton and Sylvain Distin from City.

It also signifies Eriksson's willingness to capitalise on his " substantial" transfer kitty by utilising his Serie A contacts.

Bianchi may well make his debut in Eriksson's homeland, as City have confirmed that they will play two friendlies against the Swedish sides Orgryte IS next Wednesday and Carlstad United three days later.

Bianchi began his career in 2000 with Atalanta. He played 20 games for their first team but had a barren run, despite being a prolific scorer in the reserves.

He was loaned to Cagliari in Serie B in 2003, playing 14 matches for the Sardinians, scoring two goals, then returned to Atalanta the following January, but was restricted to one first-team appearance in the second half of the season.

Bianchi moved again to Cagliari, who by then had been promoted to Serie A, in June 2004; but, once again, he found goals hard to come by, scoring only two in 25 games. Disillusioned with their underperforming striker, Cagliari sold him on to Reggina in 2005.

He played in the 2006 Under-21 Championship in Portugal, where he made three appearances and scored once.

In Bangkok a court has ordered the country's ousted Prime Minister and City's new owner, Thaksin, to appear for a corruption trial on 14 August. A panel of judges agreed to proceed with charges summarised as " misconduct of a government official and violation of a ban on state officials being party to transactions involving public interests". If convicted, Thaksin, who lives in exile, could face up to 10 years in jail. Which would just be Manchester City's luck.

Forward facts: Bianchi's statistics

Born: 15 February 1983

Place of birth: Albano Sant'Alessandro, Italy

Height: 6ft 1in

Clubs:

Atalanta (2000-03)

20 games, 0 goals

Cagliari (loan; 03-Jan 04 )

14 games, 2 goals

Atalanta (Jan 04-June 04)

1 game, 0 goals

Cagliari (June 04-05)

25 games, 2 goals

Reggina (05-07)

47 games, 19 goals

 

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