Manchester City – The Inside Track

Looking ahead to one of West Ham’s toughest fixtures in October against Manchester City.

I spoke to a couple of Manchester City fans, City Chief and Real Talk Manchester City to get the inside track on the club that believes it can compete for it all this season. 

What are City’s aims this season?

City Chief: City normally don’t target one or two competitions, but we fight in all 4 competitions. The aim for this season would be to win the PL of course and UCL semi-finals. 

RT MC: City aim to win as many trophies as possible. Especially the Premier League and the Champions League will be prioritized in terms of the busy schedule. However, I can’t say I’m too optimistic about our chances to win any of these trophies after the dreadful display against Leicester.

West Ham have shared a few players throughout the years, Carlos Tevez, Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta etc, who is your favourite player to play for both clubs and why?

City Chief: Zabaleta is my personal favourite and was a cult hero at City. Although Hart is on a similar level, but Zabaleta is one of the most loved City players. Tevez was of course a world class player and the we signed him was historic in its own way, but I don’t think he was at the club long enough to have same status as Hart and Zaba.

RT MC: This is a tough one! I love them all. They were all great players for City and most of them were great for West Ham as well. But considering Zaba and Hart played for a longer time at City, having more appearances and having won more trophies I’d pick them over Tevez. With that being said, I have nothing but respect for Tevez and his incredible talent.

What do you think should be West Ham’s aims this season?

City Chief: I watched West Ham beat Wolves 4-0 and I thought that was one of your best performance in years. It was a team’s effort and I was particularly impressed by Bowen and Rice. Masuaku has turned into a quality LB and I thought he delivered 8/10 performance vs Wolves. WHU should aim for Top 10 finish this season.

RT MC : I think that West Ham are capable of and should aim to finish anywhere between 11th-13th place. That’s a realistic target based on the squad you have. However, you never know with the busy schedule and the injuries that may occur as a result of it. An injured Declan Rice would be catastrophic for instance. 

There is always controversy around the club at the moment. What do you make of the Hammers off the pitch?

City Chief: As you are aware, we get along with Hammers, both clubs have a lot in common with working class fans etc. I do follow off the pitch issues and it seems the owners are not investing in the club and Hammers are rightly frustrated. I also think moving to the new stadium hasn’t helped the club much. I do feel WHU need proper investors to start competing at the highest level.  

RT MC: To me and most football fans, I think we all look at the club being run like a circus. I’m following quite a few people on Twitter who support West Ham and it really doesn’t give me a great impression of the club when I read stories about West Ham only having one scout. Which professional club, besides West Ham, operates like this? None. Not even amateur clubs. 

What are the Citizen’s weakness and how can West Ham exploit them?

City Chief: The last 2 seasons, we have struggled against deep blocks. Basically, teams set up to defend with 8 and launch counter-attacks. Our main weakness is the left side of defence at the moment.

RT MC: There are two areas where City are known to struggle in which the opposition tend to exploit: we are leaving ourselves vulnerable by committing too many men forward which leaves us vulnerable for counter-attacks. The second main factor is our high pressing line which often gets disrupted by simple moves by clever strikers. Leicester managed to capitalize on both of these factors, and I think and assume that Moyes and his staff have watched that dreadful game on repeat in order to learn a thing or two.

What players at West Ham are you most worried about facing?

City Chief: Bowen and Antonio are two of my favourite WHU players. Anderson is another player I rate very highly but hasn’t lived up to expectations. So, those 3 are your dangerous players and Soucek is a threat in the air as well. 

RT MC: Based on form, Antonio in particular makes me worried. He’s a clever, physically strong striker who’s capable of causing all sorts of problems for us. Ruben Dias needs to be on top of his game for this one.

If City could sign one West Ham player who would it be and why?

City Chief: Masuaku would be my pick. Our LB position is our weakness and on current form he would start for us. 

RT MC: Declan Rice. No question about it. He’s a young, great ball-winning-midfielder with a great vision and understanding of the game. I’ve always admired him and I honestly believe he’s quite underrated simply because he doesn’t play for a top 6 team. I honestly wouldn’t mind signing him to replace Fernandinho, who’s likely to leave next summer. 

What are the weaknesses in the Irons line-up in your opinion?

City Chief: I think WHU’s main issue is consistency. You can deliver a solid performance against a big team and then lose to Brighton the following week. I do feel you need another CB and possibly a striker. I am not sure if Haller will deliver this season, although last 2 games he scored 3 goals. 

RT MC: I believe that City should aim to attack down the flank on both sides with your fullbacks easily getting caught of position which completely disorganizes the entire defence. The centre-backs as well are struggling under pressure. My advice to the City-players would be: “PRESS, PRESS, PRESS”.

City have dominated West Ham for the last few seasons, do you think that will change soon?

City Chief: We have had no preseason and very little time to prepare for this season, but I think we will be up and running after the international break. We have 6 players out injured all returning after international break. We have signed Ruben Dias from Benfica, so defence should be a lot stronger and I expect one more signing before the window closes. 

RT MC: Not within the next 5 years. Within the next 10 years? Who knows? The key part here is to find a new owner who’s interested in investing in the team. Until your current owners sell up, I can’t see it happening.

What is your match prediction?

City Chief: Our record at London stadium is pretty good and the size of the pitch etc suits our possession-based football. I will go with 4-1 City win.

RT MC: Since we always concede at least one goal and it’s a away game, I think City will win 3-1.

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