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‘Sit down nobody talk’: Picking up the pieces after a busy week for Manchester City



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In this week’s edition of his City Xtra column, Amos Murphy talks about scheduling, Pep Guardiola, Erling Haaland and the new kits ahead of the 2024/25 season. 

While it may have felt like a fever dream, Ederson really did step up and score a penalty with Manchester City’s final kick of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final second-leg clash with Real Madrid last week.  

The only downside is that City’s exit from the competition was confirmed with the following penalty. In a way, the result – certainly not the Ederson penalty – was a throwback to the early days under Pep Guardiola in Europe.

While Manchester City may have reached the semi-finals in each of the last three seasons, defeat at the last-eight stage was a common theme in Pep Guardiola’s first four campaigns as manager. 

Liverpool, Tottenham, and Lyon all got the better of City in the quarter-final stage, with Real Madrid the latest name on that list. That loss was remedied with victory over Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final, with dreams of a treble having switched to hopes of a double.

But with seven games left this season, what comes next for Manchester City?

Seven cup finals left for Pep Guardiola’s men

Moonchester, Brandon the kit man, and Scott Carson up front.

That’s the sort of line-up most Manchester City fans were expecting against Chelsea on Saturday evening, but perhaps to the surprise of many, Pep Guardiola went strong. It was a decision that carried its own risks, but one – at least in the context of the result – paid off.

One benefit of exiting the UEFA Champions League and progressing in the FA Cup is that Manchester City now at least know what the rest of their season looks like. Seven games, two competitions, one month; that’s what lies ahead. All seven matches are of equal importance. 

Pep Guardiola right to blast FA for ludicrous scheduling 

It had looked like being the biggest story from the FA Cup semi-finals until Manchester United almost performed the most embarrassing (and frankly hilarious) method of self-sabotage against Coventry City the following day. 

But Pep Guardiola’s comments about fixture scheduling and player fatigue were timely and spot on. The Catalan was left seething by the decision to schedule his side’s last-four clash against Chelsea less than 72 hours after the UEFA Champions League quarter-final.

Guardiola even went as far as saying managers are helpless in the fight for change, insisting anything he – or any of his counterparts – say will be ignored. Things will only get worse though.

Next season the revised Champions League format means an extra two games at least, with the Club World Cup to come for Manchester City in the summer too. Anyway, at least they got rid of FA Cup replays…

Erling Haaland hysteria unfair despite lax form 

It’s absurd to think a 23-year-old with 31 goals in 39 games this season is being criticised for not scoring enough. Welcome to the wonderful world of Erling Haaland. 

The Norwegian was once again under the microscope recently, after he registered another blank against Real Madrid, taking his recent tally to two goals in six outings. 

Granted, when comparing Haaland to his lofty standards, the former Borussia Dortmund man has been underperforming. No player in England’s top flight has missed more (30) big chances than Erling Haaland this season. 

However, while the television cameras might’ve struggled to pick it up – specifically against Real Madrid – Haaland has been involved in plenty of hard-fought battles. The striker – who missed City’s FA Cup semi-final – had to contend with sly shirt pulls and out-of-sight digs against the Spanish side. 

Part and parcel of being a burly centre-forward, for sure. But Haaland was quick to fight back. Just because he wasn’t scoring, doesn’t mean he wasn’t involved. What’s more, Haaland will likely have his own frustrations with the players behind him.

While he’s been busy occupying defenders, his Manchester City team-mates have struggled to take advantage of the – admittedly limited – space that had opened up. Six of one, half a dozen of the other.

0161? Somebody call it off

Firstly, just why? Why, why, why, why, why?

Most people would’ve seen by now, but reports from Footy Headlines – a reputable football kit website – revealed details of Manchester City’s 2024/25 home shirt this week and well, it isn’t great. 

The shirt itself – a crew-neck collared (sort of) sky blue strip with navy detailing – is a solid enough design, but Puma appear to have torched any form of beauty with the kit by plastering ‘0161’ around the neckline and cuffs. 

What appears to be an attempt to pay homage to Manchester’s landline area code just comes out looking cheap… and a bit crass. The ‘0161’ tag has been used across popular culture – specifically in music – in recent years to try and show some kind of connection to the City of Manchester.

But if Puma wanted to do that, they should’ve stuck a massive Vimto bottle on the back instead. At least it would’ve come out looking better.