This week I spoke with City fan James Edwards (@peoffrey) to pick his brains ahead of the return of the Premier League champions to Loftus Road…
Q. Manuel Pellegrini delivered both the League Cup and the Premier League trophy to Manchester City in his first year. What has he brought with him that’s different to Roberto Mancini?
A. Two clear things. He’s bought a calmness and a togetherness at City that was clearly lacking under Mancini. There were blatant cliques in the team and, if rumours are to be believed, certain key players were prepared to hand in a transfer request if he hadn’t have left in the summer. It all came to a head at the FA Cup Final v Wigan. The other is the more exciting and attacking football certainly witnessed last season. We were scoring goals for fun and it was unbelievable to watch at times. Football is all about being entertained and we were!
Q. The transformation of City as a club over the last five years or so has been truly astonishing. How often do you pinch yourself when thinking of the ‘bad old days’ of third-tier football? Many things have clearly changed for the better since then, has anything changed for the worse?
A. It’s becoming an expensive hobby for sure. City’s success has been to the chagrin of the fans who have had to fork out increasingly high prices for tickets. City are viewed as top notch opponents now. This in turn has hit the traditional elements of our support in working class Manchester who are being frozen out. The makeup of the match day support has changed and sadly this has hit the atmosphere. We’ve also gone from “a second club” of many to hated rivals. I’m not always comfortable with that. I’m also not really enjoying the Champions League despite historic matches against Real Madrid or Barcelona.
Source: Oldelpaso / Creative Commons
Q. 13 May 2012 – A day etched on the minds of all City and QPR fans (for different reasons), especially those of us who were at the Etihad. What are your memories of that amazing day?
A. It’s simply one of the best days of my life. We steadily progressed from Top 4, to FA Cup winners to Premier League Champions. It was a rollercoaster of emotions to match the play off final against Gillingham in 1999 and I’m not a good enough writer to try and explain how I felt at final whistle. Perhaps winning the EuroMillions, marrying Lucy Pinder and headlining Glastonbury rolled in to one? The QPR fans also added to the day and were great sports afterwards. Cheers.
Q. Mark Hughes – probably the most unpopular former manager at QPR in living memory. What are your thoughts on his skills (or lack of) as a football gaffer?
A. I’ve no major beef with Hughes. He’s got his misguided loyalty to Bowen and co but, given the right circumstances, he can assemble a reasonable team on an average budget. He had Blackburn punching above their weight and is also doing well with Stoke. I think the major flaw is not always knowing what to do with his signings. Kompany is our captain and regarded as one of the best but Hughes had him in midfield. The problem was that City brought him in just a short time before Sheikh Mansour arrived on the scene. He was never the right man for this project.
Q. Rangers have struggled so far this season, but have been much improved in the last three games and were unlucky to lose at Chelsea. Any thoughts on how we have started?
A. I think all three newly-promoted teams have had a slow start but you need to start winning your home matches. Liverpool are the only big side you’ve played at Loftus Road so far and clubs like Stoke or Swansea consolidated in the Premier League by being difficult to beat at home. I also think you’re a couple of good signings away from being able to truly compete.
Q. With the amount of money at the disposal of clubs like City, do you think it will ever be possible for other clubs to challenge the dominance of the big four or five? How do long-standing City fans feel about their rapid propulsion into the world footballing elite?
A. Nobody will dominate forever. I grew up in the 80’s when Liverpool won everything and then the other club in Manchester dominated in the 90’s and beyond. Now City and Chelsea are the teams to beat. Arsenal will fall away when Wenger finally leaves and who knows what will happen afterwards? Spurs and West Ham will benefit from new grounds with so much money and business in London. Personally I’m having the time of my life supporting City. I think we all are.Seeing talent like Silva and Aguero pull on the shirt is incredible. I’d never have imagined this when we were losing at York in the third tier.
Q. How do you think Pellegrini will set up on Saturday? Who is the City player to watch and why?
A. He’ll play a strong team. Early away form last season was poor with defeats at Cardiff, Villa and Sunderland but things improved and he’s changed his tactics when we’re on the road. We’ll respect our opponents more. Fernando from Porto has looked an especially clever signing. He’s the replacement for De Jong that Garcia was never going to be.
Q. What do you make of QPR manager Harry Redknapp? How is his image perceived by City fans?
A. He’s a media darling. Part used car salesman, part man of the people and part the best England manager we never had. All I see is a man who continually overspent at clubs and then disappeared to let everyone else clear up the mess. He’s past it. I can’t speak for other City fans but surelywe’d want him nowhere near our club under any circumstances.
Q. Which current QPR player/s do you rate or admire, if any? What about QPR players of the past?
A. I always like to see our old boys do well. Onuoha, Dunne, SWPand even Barton all wear the QPR shirtnow so their progress is of interestto me. I’ve always liked Bobby Zamora as I felt he’s beaten the odds to become a Premier League striker.Sandro, Austin and Fer also interest me too. The players from the past I knew were Les Ferdinand and Trevor Sinclair for his incredible overhead kick against Barnsley. He’s also a City fan!
Q. What in your view would make the City team even stronger? Tactics? Players?
A. I’m slightly underwhelmed by our business in the transfer window. Sagna, Fernando, Caballero, Mangala and Lampard can all comfortably do a job to differing levels;but there’s no marque signings. Negredo never regained his form from the first half of last season and there was a striker who the fans loved. We’ve had a fair start and I’d expect some movement in January to keep things fresh.
Q. Which three teams do you tip for the drop this season and why?
A. Burnley look useless already and I’d say Palace as Warnock has no record of keeping teams in the Premier League. I’m undecided about the third but would love to see Villa finally lose their ever present status. Leicester also have a tough season ahead.
Score and prediction for Saturday’s game?
Heart says 0-2 and head says 1-2. I’d love to capitalise on the derby win and hopefor 3 points to keep the pressure on Chelsea. Good luck.
Thanks to James (@peoffrey) for taking the time out to answer our questions!