Not surprisingly, Elano has cited a need for regular first team action in the run up to the South African World Cup as the reason for his move to Galatasaray.
“I spoke with my national coach Dunga and he told me it will be difficult to enter me on his World Cup list if I am not playing football regularly.
“I need time on the field. This season is very important. I dream of playing in the World Cup.
“I have received a few other offers, but this is the best one for me and City.
“I never had any problems with the coach, but Hughes may not have had total confidence in me.”
The last line sounds particularly diplomatic. There’s a lot I’ll miss about Elano, and not just the perfect penalty record. I still believe he was the most incisive passer within the team, better even than Ireland on his day.Ã‚Â Of course his good days were far to rare, but there was always the nagging feeling that a better man-manager than Hughes (I’m thinking a Hiddink or even a Redknapp) would have got an awful lot more out of him. He undoubtedly had the ability to be a City legend.
A report in today’s MEN and a footnote in The Times both claim City have lined up either Chelsea’s Alex or Newcastle’s Sebastien Bassong as an alternative to Joleon Lescott.
The Times understands that SÃƒÂ©bastien Bassong, the Newcastle United defender, or Alex, the Chelsea centre back, are being lined up as alternative targets.
The Blues are preparing bids for Newcastle’s Sebastien Bassong and Chelsea’s Alex after Everton firmly rejected an improved Ã‚Â£18m bid for England defender Lescott.
It makes sense for City to start weighing up alternatives given the flat refusal of David Moyes and Everton to entertain bids for Lescott. It also fits with City’s apparent transfer policy of judging each deal on it’s individual merits and being prepared to walk away if the sums go above what Hughes, Cook and Khaldoon Al Mubarak think it is worth.
Both these players are 6′ 2″ which would seem to be a pre-requisite for the centre of our defence given that none of Toure, Onuoha or Richards are over six feet tall.Ã‚Â Dunne is 6′ 2″, but appears far from guaranteed a first team place nextÃ‚Â season.
Being a left footed centre half who could provide cover at left back were qualities that Hughes was keen on with Lescott. It’s interesting to note that Bassong is also able to provide this, as he states on his Facebook page.
Given – A spectator for much of the match. Produced one decent save that resulted in the corner for the goal. 6
Vidal – Over eager to chase a ball into the box that lead to an unfortunate injury. 5
Dunne – Skipper looked comfortable prior to leaving the field for what has proved the briefest of tours. 6
Onuoha – Good to see him back and looking solid as ever. 6
Bridge – Got forward well and good to see some link up play with Petrov. 8
Barry – Quality. So comfortable that he looks like he’s played his whole career with City rather than Villa. 8
De Jong – Continues to form a solid barrier with De Jong that looks ready for the Premier League. 7
Wright-Phillips – Struggled to get involved and tended to lose possession when taking extra touches, notably in instigating the move that lead to the goal. 4
Adebayor – Eased himself into the game before showing some quality touches.Ã‚Â Demonstrated his mobility in pulling wide to make himself available, then held the ball up better than we’re used to seeing from Benjani or Caceido. 7
Bellamy – Industrious with some good touches, but clearly needs to work on an understanding with Adebayor. 6
Petrov – His best game of the tour.Ã‚Â The old quality looks to be back! 8
Ben Haim – Came on at right back where he looked good, then moved to centre half and was solid enough till Onuoha went off. He would have wanted to get more purchase on the attempted clearing header that lead to the goal. 6
Zabaleta – Solid enough when he came on at right back in what’s been a busy tour for the Argentinian.Ã‚Â Still lacks that bit of quality in the attacking side of his game. 6
Weiss – Has a tendandcy to try too much, but came as close as anyone in the latter stages to making the breakthrough. 6
Robinho – Came on for the last half hour in what looked like an attempt by City to appease the sponsors.Ã‚Â Clearly not had a sufficient break since the Confederations Cup and played like he was still on his honeymoon. 5
Man of the match: Petrov.
Tuesday 25 July, 2.00pm (BST)
Goals: Ntuka 45
City missed out on their latest chance of silverware in the final of the Vodacom Challenge with a narrow defeat to the Kaizer Chiefs.
Hughes reverted to a 4-4-2 formation and for the second time it resulted in defeat. The midfield began with Barry and De Jong making a solid pairing in the middle with Wright-Phillips and Petrov supplying the width.
Adebayor made his debut alongside Craig Bellamy and unsurprisingly they weren’t on the same wavelength. All the same this pairing looks to have potential and could be worth persevering with while Santa Cruz and Tevez continue their recoveries.
City started the game slowly and the Chiefs looked brighter than in Tuesday’s fixture. The Blues weren’t helped by a succession of injuries, with Vidal being stretchered off following a challenge on the Chiefs goalkeeper after 15 minutes. Ben Haim came on at right-back, but was soon moved to the middle after Dunne departed for Zabaleta. The captain’s armband went to Nedum Onuoha.
Meanwhile City had established a foothold in the game when, after 25 minutes, a good cross from Petrov picked out Bellamy on the edge of the area. The Welshman laid it off first time for Barry to wrongfoot two defenders and fire a shot straight at the keeper.
This tour has seen Petrov steadily rediscover some of his old form and he continued to look sharp, linking up well with Bridge. Adebayor was providing a few nice touches as he eased his way into the game.
Shay Given was required to make his first save after forty minutes when Wright-Phillips lost possession in the middle of the park. The Chiefs scored from the resultant corner, as Ben Haim wasn’t able to fully head clear and the ball went through to Ntuka who slotted home.
After 52 minutes Adebayor blasted over after being put through by the excellent Gareth Barry. The miss brought to mind those Ade-barn-door comments by Arsenal fans.
For the final thirty minutes Robinho took a break from his honeymoon and came on for what looked like an exercise in keeping the sponsors happy. Sadly it was Petrov who made way. Finally Weiss came on for Onuoha (not the most obvious change that one). Barry dropped into the back four and gave the impression he’d be comfortable playing anywhere.
An Adebayor header drew a save after 77 minutes, then great play from Weiss resulted in a shot from Robinho that went just wide. The final few minutes saw Bellamy and Robinho linking up well but still no goal for the second time in three matches.
Given that Hughes isn’t averse to the odd long ball and letting the game get stretched, it really is essential to have someone who can hold the ball up, and Adebayor was that man. Bojinov failed to make an appearance, which is ominous for his future, and a shame after he looked to have finally found his fitness in the first game.
All in all, a good workout and the team lasted the 90 minutes better than in the first two games.Ã‚Â In the post match interview Hughes looked like he’d rather be back in the UK. Adebayor described his fitness as 70%, and he’s already looking light years ahead of Benjani. Another 30% on that could well prove to be happy days!
“I thought Emmanuel was excellent today. For his first game, obviously when you combine a player of his quality and standing in the game, then you expect a certain level of performance and he certainly provided that for us.
“He showed the qualities that we all know he has, which will be invaluable for us this season, so we’re absolutely delighted that he’s here. He’s going to be a huge player for us this season once the team understands the best way to play with him.
“He plays in a way that enables him to get the best out of his team-mates, so we’ve got an exceptional player.
“So we’re delighted with his performance today and sure we’ll be really happy with his performance right through the season.”
A couple of final points. Firstly, I did have some concern today about the form of Wright-Phillips, the final ball still isn’t there often enough and I couldn’t help feeling Elano would have offered more of a threat on the right flank.
A plus on the tour has been the form of Bridge. There was a lot of speculation about the training and lack of fitness under Scolari at Chelsea. Watching the former Chelsea left back bombing up and down, he did look a different player to last season and interestingly linked up better with Petrov than Robinho.