A quick turnaround sees the Eagles head to the Etihad in the Sunday evening kick off, so TEB had a chat with the guys at MCFC FANS FOODBANK SUPPORT to find out about their season so far, the game itself and much more.
Q. How did you rate the last campaign for City?
It wasn’t our best, but ultimately it wasn’t one that will live long in the memory either. There was so much going on in 2020 that even finishing so far behind didn’t feel as bad as it might have done another year. There were also injuries to key players to contend with and the loss of Vincent Kompany, the club’s leader in so many ways. All of that combined to produce something which was underwhelming, but understandably so.
But yeah, by the standards City set for themselves, last season was a failure.
Q. What was the general view heading into the new season and what were the expectations?
The big one for us is always the league, that’s the main goal every year in my opinion. City were miles off last year, but the expectation was that we would be right up at the top again.
However, we knew the team would be tired due to finishing late in Europe and then starting with almost no rest. And frankly no one had any idea if the full season would even play out. At the time of writing, I think it’s fair to say that we still can’t be sure it will.
Although, despite everything, we wanted to win the Carabao Cup. It’s such a fun little blast of a competition and we’ve taken it to heart.
Q. How are you feeling about your chances in the Champions League ahead of facing Borussia Monchengladbach?
Erm… I tend to feel the same about the Champion’s League each year, a mix of being non-plussed and impatient. We should win against Monchengladbach, but I don’t know a whole lot about them, so am equally ready to be surprised and crash out again. Overall, the Champion’s League isn’t really my thing. The excitement of football for me comes in the league and domestic stuff. I also understand that’s an easy thing to say and makes it look as if we take European competition for granted – that’s not the intention.
Will we ever win it? Don’t know. The law of averages says so? But then, it’s a cup competition at the end of the day, so it rewards luck and timing as much as it does skill and talent. It’s not like the league where you have to actually be the best team to win it.
Q. It was a peculiar summer transfer window for everyone, but how active were City and are there any areas that will need attention in January?
Peculiar is the right word, although it seemed to work out for City regardless. We replaced Nicolas Otamendi with Ruben Dias which must surely be one of the biggest upgrades in football history. Dias can do it all, he’s a freak.
We also brought in Ferran Torres for £20million or so which already looks like a bargain. Whatever ‘it’ is, the lad has it. He’s electric and is only going to get better.
For January, the main thing is getting Eric Garcia out. The lad clearly has talent, but he wants to go to Barcelona and so we may as well get a fee for him instead of letting him go in the summer for nothing. Additionally, it’ll stop Pep picking him. It’s incredibly frustrating to see him on the pitch when he doesn’t want to be here. We’re essentially training him for Barcelona, but Pep can’t seem to stop. He’s found his little Catalan mate and the decision needs taking out of his hands. Other than that, I’d be surprised to see us bring anyone in.
Q. We are keen to see young players coming through the ranks here at TEB so is there anyone that we should keep an eye on who could make the breakthrough into the City first eleven?
The main one is Phil Foden, who I’m sure everyone is aware of by now. He’s right on the verge of being a first team regular. Pep is managing his minutes nicely to avoid burnout, but the time is coming. He’s just too good already and our top scorer this season. There are bright futures and then there’s what he has ahead of him.
Other than Foden, it’s not likely anyone else will break through this year, although with the pandemic and the sheer number of games City have ahead you never know. Tommy Doyle (grandson of two club legends) is on the verge, as are Cole Palmer and maybe Liam Delap. Pep seems to like them three a lot, so we’ll see.
Q. The Premier League has looked pretty open so far this season, do you see that continuing into being the most open title race for years?
I’m in two minds on this. On the one hand, yes it’s looking pretty open; on the other, I’ve come around to thinking that whoever is the first team to put together an 8-10 game streak of wins in the next couple of months will run away with it.
Signs of tiredness are starting to creep into teams already, and I’m not convinced that anyone will have enough in the tank come March/April to catch up to a team which has built proper momentum and a lead. It might not happen, but if it does I suspect it’ll be curtains for everyone else.
Q. What do you make of Palace this season?
From the outside it looks like you’re in a kind of in-between place at the moment. You’re clearly better than the teams playing some utter nonsense at the bottom, but it’s hard to see how you get yourselves up to the next level, if that makes sense? Roy Hodgson is a decent guy, got a lot of time for him, but it’s not clear where you go with him.
Having said that, you’ve got some seriously tidy players. That Eberechi Eze lad is clearly the real deal, and I don’t think anything more needs saying about Zaha at this stage. What a player he is. Really like watching both of them.
You’re one of those teams that I hope it works out for. There’s a healthy respect for Palace among City fans and we’ve had some good games over the last few seasons. Long may it continue.
Q. It has been a tough time for everyone but football fans like yourselves have certainly played their part during the pandemic and pulled together which is particularly pleasing, right?
It really is. We’ve been running foodbank collections throughout the pandemic and it’s all gone really well. Locally, we’ve been working with United fans to support every foodbank in Greater Manchester, supplying PPE to social carers and homelessness charities, delivering emergency food to students and supporting their rent strikes, supporting tenants’ unions and working with the NEU to help schoolchildren who aren’t being fed through holidays.
Nationally, we’ve been working with Fans Supporting Foodbanks groups from Liverpool, Newcastle, Leeds, Huddersfield, Birmingham, West Ham, Bristol and others to organise the Boycott PPV campaign, and recently we have kicked off our campaign to get a Right to Food written into UK law, to sit alongside our rights to education, healthcare and equality.
It’ll end the ‘debate’ about whether the government should feed starving children, it’ll lift 10 million people out of poverty, and it will change the way our country works on a base level. It won’t work without everyone getting involved again – so keep an eye out for that. Palace fans stood side by side with us over Boycott PPV and we want your support again for this.
There’s a petition rolling along nicely here, and we’ve got an Early Day Motion ready to go through Parliament. If you want to get involved fighting food poverty, sign that petition, write to your MP demanding their support for EDM 1251, and tell everyone you know about what’s going on.
Any questions about Right to Food, or if any Palace fans reading want to get involved with Fans Supporting Foodbanks and set your own group up – contact us over on our Twitter page and we’ll be there to help.
Q. Name one player from each team that you believe will be a threat to the opposition in this match.
From Palace, I hope our defence is keeping a keen eye on the two players mentioned earlier. In particular, I’m assuming we will have a plan to deal with Zaha, although of course he often doesn’t play along and gets away anyway.
From City…I suppose it’s hard to look past Kevin de Bruyne. If you lose track of him, he will beat you one way or another. Whether that’s by finding the perfect pass or by deciding he wants to score himself.
Q. …and finally, your all important prediction?
It’ll be tight, but I’ll got for Palace 0-2 City