A few weeks back we had a mailbag podcast in which we covered listeners questions, and boy did you all deliver! One question that drew so much attention was from Blue Moon Podcast’s very own David Mooney. The task? Creating the best City XI picking one player per Premier League (permanent) City manager:
Make your City XI using one player that played under each PL City manager (Reid, Horton, Ball, Royle, Keegan, Pearce, Eriksson, Hughes, Mancini, Pellegrini, Guardiola). Any that crossed eras can count for whichever era you choose – but you must have one from each of the 11 eras.
— David Mooney (@DavidMooney) August 3, 2020
- Peter Reid
- Brian Horton
- Alan Ball
- Joe Royle
- Kevin Keegan
- Stuart Pearce
- Sven-Göran Eriksson
- Mark Hughes
- Roberto Mancini
- Manuel Pellegrini
- Pep Guardiola
We had three great guests take part in the fun with an additional selection by the Maine Road Ramble crew at the end.
David ended up tweaking his side from his original pick a few years ago, still not too shabby!
Joanne “Jo” Lake, writer, City fan and wife to former City player Paul Lake was kind enough to take part in the festivities! Safe to say the right fullback selection didn’t come as a surprise!
GK: Joe Hart (Eriksson)
Joe was a fantastic servant for Manchester City and, having played a huge part in many memorable triumphs and trophies, he will always occupy a special place in my heart. He had such a great aura between the sticks and always showed real spirit and passion, so I have no hesitation in handing him the number 1 shirt (and an XXL pair of goalie gloves).
LB: Danny Tiatto (Keegan)
A supremely committed and passionate footballer, Danny really liked to get forward and wasn’t averse to a strong challenge or two when necessary. His work-rate was incredible – you’d never seem him strolling around the pitch or taking his foot off the gas – and, bearing all that in mind, I think he’d be a marvellous asset to this side.
RB: Paul Lake (Reid)
Of course I’m going to choose my other half! Paul would effortlessly slot into any recent City team (and into any playing position, to be fair) and, with his defensive and offensive capabilities, would be able to link brilliantly with every team mate, particularly the two Davids in this side. I would also like him to sport the 1990 maroon away kit (my all-time favourite) if that’s OK.
CH: Richard Dunne (Pearce)
Richard Dunne was the epitome of reliability and consistency whenever he pulled on a sky blue shirt, so I have no qualms including him in this XI. A solid performer and a great motivator, he always wore his heart on his sleeve and rarely shied away from his responsibilities. I reckon he’d thrive within that central defensive partnership, too…
CH: Vincent Kompany (Hughes)
Gotta be VK. Arguably Manchester City’s best ever centre-half whose cultured defending and calming influence would make him the ‘rock’ of any top team. As inspirational off the pitch as on it, Vinnie would be my first choice for the captain’s armband (with Lakey as his vice-skipper!) and I’d definitely encourage him to shoot from ANY position on the pitch…
MF: Ian Bishop (Royle)
Ian was a poised and balanced midfield player who was as equally comfortable using his left foot as he was his right. His range of passing was second-to-none, and he could also propel himself forward to create plenty of chances and score some quality goals. Bish has a very mischievous sense of humour, too (check out his Twitter timeline!) so his presence would be great for team morale.
MF: David Silva (Pellegrini)
David Silva is the finest footballer I have ever seen at the Etihad, without a doubt, so I have to regard him as my ‘first pick’. Just being on the same pitch as El Mago would lift everyone else’s game, and his intelligent movement and precision passing would make the whole team tick (and the whole crowd purr). An absolute legend of a player whose contribution to our club will never be forgotten.
MF: Kevin De Bruyne (Guardiola)
KDB is a world class midfielder whose amazing ability to find passes, create chances and provide assists is currently unmatched in the Premier League (his set-pieces are rather special, too). Pep Guardiola says Our Kev is one of the finest players he’s ever coached, so I’ll take his word for it and give him a place in this dream team alongside Silva and Bishop.
LW: Peter Beagrie (Ball)
I remember Peter Beagrie as a creative and confident winger whose crossing of the ball was incredible, and whose speed and agility gave him that all-important extra yard. He could play on either side of the pitch, too, so I think he’d be a versatile addition to my strike force. Peter’s post-goal somersaults would also increase the entertainment value (and keep the team physio busy).
CF: Sergio Aguero (Mancini)
As if Manchester City Football Club’s greatest ever goal scorer isn’t going to feature in my All-Stars XI…
RW: David White (Horton)
With his frightening pace and excellent crossing ability, David could link up beautifully on the right flank with Kev and Paul and would be able to pick out Sergio time and time again. For a winger he had a pretty decent goals-per-season tally so would provide a constant threat to the opposition. It would be great to have another home-grown Manchester lad in the side, too…
Tony Coton (Peter Reid)
He may be a traitor for moving to United, but I maintain that he was a mighty fine goalkeeper until he shaved his moustache off and lost his legendary strength. Won Player Of The Season twice too.
Vincent Kompany (Mark Hughes)
Needs no explanation really. An inspired buy weeks before the takeover, I look forward to the statue outside the ground next year. It has been fully earned, and you feel one of the problems for City over the past year has been the absence of his leadership.
Keith Curle (Alan Ball)
Signed well before Ball came along, who would of course ruin him like most of the squad, but a real classy defender who I feel was woefully under-represented at national level, though he did make 3 appearances for England.
Sylvain Distin (Stuart Pearce)
Ok, I’ve cheated. Just thinking about the Pearce reign sends me into a coma, and this was the position I have chosen last. I have backed myself into a corner. And whilst City under Pearce did not concede many goals, there was no outstanding left-back, so I have shunted the classy, vastly underrated Distin into that spot instead. Sorry.
Micah Richards (Sven Goran Eriksson)
Reinvented as a pundit, let us not forget how good Richards was before injuries took their toll. After all, in City’s 2011-12 title campaign, it was Richards that often got the nod at right-back, not Pablo Zabaleta. Top guy, great footballer, and I’ll never forget him bursting onto the scene with that last-gasp FA Cup equalizer at Villa Park, one of my top 10 goal celebrations.
Yaya Toure (Pep Guardiola)
To put Yaya in, then David Silva must miss out. This is clearly not acceptable, but I’ve made this tough decision by looking at team shape instead and am allowing Yaya to play a deeper role. So sorry David, I will not forgive myself for this easily. As for Yaya, his 2013/14 season is up there with one of the greatest seasons a City player has ever produced. City’s greatest scorer of “heavy goals”, a tour de force, and utterly irreplaceable when he moved on. Just a shame his agent tarnished his image and legacy somewhat.
Kevin De Bruyne (Manuel Pellegrini)
Like a few other listings in this team, they need little or no introduction. Though naturally, some big names from the past decade will have to miss out due to the rules of the pick. But on current form, Kevin must get in. Quite simply the best-performing player in England right now, and right up there globally.
Georgi Kinkladze (Joe Royle)
Joe might not have fancied him, but us blues did. A diamond in the rough, he was one of the few reasons to enjoy watching the blues during a difficult and bleak period of the club’s history. I do feel he is “bigged up” a bit more than he perhaps deserves by some City fans. But still, what a player.
Ali Benarbia (Kevin Keegan)
Shunted into onto the right wing, but I had to include him. We never really got to see him shine for long enough, as he came to City late in his career, but City’s promotion season under Keegan is still one of my favourites as a City fan, and much of that was down to Ali. The type of player you pay to see.
Paul Walsh (Brian Horton)
Heavily tempted to put Uwe in, and with good reason, but thought it would be nice to mention one of my favourite old players, who shamefully moved on after just a year, so that a number of vastly inferior players could be brought in instead. A beautiful, silky player with magic in his boots, and a big part of the attractive football played briefly under Brian Horton.
Sergio Aguero (Roberto Mancini)
City’s record goal-scorer, no more information required. As City’s many legends slowly move on to pastures new, they all leave huge holes at the club, on and off the pitch. Replacing Sergio Aguero might be the hardest hold of all to fill though. Finding a striker of his pedigree is not going to be easy, to put it mildly.
Maine Road Ramble
The Maine Road Ramble crew took a stab at this ourselves, with a slight twist. Our XI featured a “best of the rest” approach, meaning we couldn’t use any of the players selected by David, Joanne or Howard! Give it a look.
GK David James (Pearce)
David James gets a bad rap.
Yes, he was prone to the occasional “calamity”, but his ability cannot be questioned. Rightfully England’s number 1 for a significant period of time, and can (in Stuart Pearce’s opinion at least) deputize as a striker if needed…
RB Ian Brightwell (Reid)
A local boy, Brightwell was a fantastic servant to City during some of the least enjoyable times for the club both on and off the pitch. Scored an absolute biscuit of an equalizer at Old Trafford (a couple of seasons before the Premier League began), which always helps!
CB Vedran Corluka (Eriksson)
Solid, dependable, good in the air, Corluka was something of a trend-setter at City: a defender who went on to realize their full potential elsewhere (see also Stefan Savic, Jerome Boateng, Jason Denayer among others). An almost every-present under Sven-Goran Erikssen, he was sold to Spurs early in Mark Hughes’ managerial tenure.
CB Aymeric Laporte (Guardiola)
A defensive Rolls Royce, Laporte has improved any centre-back partnership he has played in at City. For someone who has been at City for less than 3 years, that’s a long list: Kompany, Stones, Otamendi, Fernandinho, Garcia. Laporte is Mr Consistency, and has contributed the odd important goal (Everton and Brighton away in 18/19).
LB Terry Phelan (Horton)
The only thing I know about Terry Phelan’s time a City was his goal against Tottenham a 1993 FA Cup quarter final at Maine Road. Running the length of the pitch, Phelan beat every defender in his way before cooly slotting a finish under the keeper. Heung-Min Son must have seen the VHS and used it as inspiration for his goal against Burnley last season. By the way, Typical City lost the game Phelan scored in 4-2.
CM Sami Nasri (Mancini)
On his day, Samir Nasri was unplayable. Many City fans will say that those days weren’t frequent enough, but Nasri’s contribution to City’s first top-flight title in 44 years cannot be questioned. Crucial goals against Spurs and especially Chelsea earns the frenchman a place in this team.
DM Fernandinho (Pellegrini)
Simply the best defensive midfielder in City history. The foundation of the midfield that dominated the Premier League between 2017 and 2019. A leader on and off the pitch, his statue should be placed at Piccadilly Station because Fernandinho can see opponents coming a mile off.
CM Kevin Horlock (Royle)
Super Kev played a huge part in City history. He scored the goal at Wembley which made that Paul Dickov equalizer possible, then showed nerves of steel to bury the first penalty in the shootout. Goals in big games against Wolves and Ipswich in subsequent Premier League promotion seasons means that Horlock walks (aggressively) into this team.
FW Nicolas Anelka (Keegan)
The third and final frenchman in this lineup is Nicolas Anelka. Incredibly talented, Anelka played in a way that said “football is too easy for me, so I’m only going to play when I feel like it.” But, mon Dieu, when he decided to play! Pace, goals, weight of pass, the guy had everything. Scored the first goal in the last derby at Maine Road – 18 years later my ears are still ringing from the cacophony of noise when the ball hit the net.
FW Niall Quinn (Ball)
With Kinkladze, Rosler, Walsh, Curle and Beagrie already taken, the choice of players from Alan Ball’s City teams does not make pretty reading. In the end, I went for Niall Quinn, a reliable goalscorer, but also an excellent emergency goalkeeper.
FW Carlos Tevez (Hughes)
A world class player and competitor. Great goalscorer, scorer of great goals, and defence-pressing menace, prime Tevez would be in today’s City starting XI. There are few higher compliments than that.