After getting hit for four at White Hart Lane just over a week ago, everything bad about our season was quickly rectified on Saturday as Stoke City eased past Middlesbrough to reclaim our ninth-placed spot in the Premier League.
Having lost the past two fixtures against Manchester City 8-1, we caught up with Citizen Alex Trimble from City Watch to give us an insight into what we can expect from Manchester City on Wednesday night…
First of all, how would you say your debut season under Pep Guardiola has turned out this term? Do you think you are capable of seriously challenging for the UEFA Champions League, and are you disappointed to not have been a touch closer to Chelsea heading into the closing months of the season?
Our season started great. 10/10 wins and we were favourites for the league but then all of a sudden things just started to go wrong for us. I’m not exactly sure what it was but it seems that now Pep has finally figured out his best starting 11 and we’re making our way back on track. The champion’s league is a strange one, the 3-1 win against Barcelona at the Etihad earlier in the season makes me think that we can dream but more realistically the amount of goals that we concede is probably going to cost us against strong opposition in the long run. It may be foolish but as City fans we’re more than used to not being favourites for the league and then somehow winning it in the final runoff fixtures so I’m still optimistic.
The last two fixtures have finished 8-1 to Manchester City on aggregate. Are you confident heading into Wednesday’s game?
I am confident yes. Even when we conceded to Huddersfield to make it 1-0 to them I was never in doubt that we would score in that game. Watching City recently has become a question of ‘can we outscore the opposition?’ I’m unsure of whether we’ll keep a clean sheet but confident that we can outscore Stoke at home.
What is your honest opinion of Stoke City, and how do you perceive our season to have gone so far?
My early memories of Stoke in the premier league are of Rory Delap, long throws and long ball into the box, real route one stuff. More recently it seems that you’ve ditched that style of play for a more aesthetic model. Some genuinely talented players in the squad in recent years – I’m a real fan of Arnautovic – and a desire to play attacking football. I think inconsistency is your main issue and you seem to have a bad habit of leaking goals but with the money and talent thrust upon the ‘top 6’ this year, a top half finish is looking more and more respectable if you can hold on to it.
How do you feel about current Stoke City manager, Mark Hughes?
I admired Hughes for his times at City. It was never going to be easy and although he didn’t see us to the top he really helped us through a period of transition that could have been dealt with much worse than he did. His time at Stoke has seen you adapt to a new style of football that although the ‘big’ teams may not fear as much their annual trip to the Britannia, it surely has to be better to watch on a week-in week-out basis? Whether he is the right man to take you to the next level is not really for me to say, I think unless your form really takes a nosedive then it would be a shame to see him gone.
David Silva is in breath-taking form at the moment for City, is there anyone else that Hughes’ men should particularly target?
Our front three have been on fire recently. Sergio, Sterling & Sané really have been so enjoyable to watch. Personally my favourite out of the three is Sané. He’s lighting quick and not afraid to take a man on. We seem to score a lot of crosses with the man arriving at the back post so if I had any advice for Hughes it would be to make sure the full-back tracks his man moving in at the back post.
What would be a successful end-of-season for Manchester City?
This was always going to be a transition year for us. It’s not often that you see up to 7 first team/squad players with less than a year on their contract. I expect a lot of activity in the summer – mainly in the defence/goalkeeping department – for Pep to finally have a team that he really trusts. A dream end would be the treble, which is still on for us… More realistically though probably finishing 2nd to Chelsea. A strong run in the Champions League – depending on who we draw – and probably a trophy, most likely the FA cup.
And finally, if you could have one Stoke City player to play for Manchester City, who would it be?
Butland. We’re really missing a strong goalkeeping presence at the moment. Bravo has lost all confidence and although Caballero is decent he’s not a long term solution. Butland would definitely be an improvement on both of those and the fact that he is English makes it all the better as we look to establish an English core in this City side for years to come.