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First Team

Media View: Expert insight on Man City


AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

AFC Bournemouth will be looking to claim a memorable scalp when they host Premier League champions Manchester City on Saturday (5.30pm kick-off).

Since the Cherries won promotion to the top flight in 2015, City are the only team they have failed to take a point off having faced them 13 times.

Pep Guardiola’s team have lost just once since beating the Cherries at the Etihad in November, Leon Bailey’s goal earning Aston Villa a 1-0 win at Villa Park in December.

The Citizens have also progressed to the last 16 of the Champions League and triumphed 3-1 against FC Copenhagen in the first leg at the Parken Stadium earlier this month.

City completed a remarkable 2023 by becoming the first English club in history to simultaneously hold the Premier League, FA Cup, Champions League, Super Cup and Club World Cup.

Ahead of Saturday’s clash, afcb.co.uk caught up with freelance journalist Andy Buckley, a season ticket holder at the Etihad and ghostwriter of You Saw Me Standing Alone, the autobiography of former City goalkeeper Alex Williams. Click here to read more about the book. 


Founded: 1880

Ground: Etihad Stadium

Nicknames: The Citizens, City

Record appearances: Alan Oakes – 680 games (1959-76)

Record goalscorer: Sergio Aguero – 260 goals in 390 games

Manager: Pep Guardiola (appointed July 2016)

Club captain: Kyle Walker (pictured above)

League position: Second

Leading goalscorer: Erling Haaland (22 in all competitions)

Last game: Manchester City 1 Brentford 0 (Premier League)

afcb.co.uk: How would you describe City’s current form?

AB: They have done really well in a highly-competitive league. There are people who wonder whether we can win the Premier League again. It’s too good to be true really.

A lot of fans who have been watching City for years have been to hell and back. We are cautiously optimistic. We are very loyal to the cause and in Pep we trust.

Personally, I think the Arsenal/Liverpool factor is looming large and it’s too good to be true winning it three years in a row. So, to win it for an unprecedented fourth time would be unbelievable but we will give it a good go and the form has been good.

It’s been very impressive in the past few weeks but I think there is a little bit of a vulnerability to City defensively.

Other clubs have also got that aspect where they are slightly fragile as well and also have other trophies to challenge for.

afcb.co.uk: What are supporters’ realistic hopes for the rest of the season?

AB: Well, having won the treble last season, anything less I suppose would be deemed not quite a failure but it’s impossible to win.

It’s a question that City fans are asking – how many trophies, if any, City will win?

After Bournemouth, they’ve got Luton in the FA Cup next Tuesday, Manchester United a week on Sunday and they’ve got Arsenal and Liverpool to play in March. They are going to be absolutely critical fixtures and every club will drop points.

Having won the Champions League last season, the holy grail, to know that it’s at Wembley this season, they’ve got an excellent chance of repeating it.

But having won it for two years in a row after having never won it would be beyond belief and likewise with the FA Cup.

Pep takes every single game seriously and it could be nothing, or it could be three. But that’s the fascination for us football fans. We just don’t know what lies around the corner.

afcb.co.uk: How do you find Pep Guardiola away from the media glare?

AB: Very relaxed, very approachable, very personable and very kind. He is very aware of the club’s heritage and history and very respectful of its past as well. He is ingrained in the Manchester City fabric.

Never for once did supporters imagine he would be here in 2024, bearing in mind he came in 2016. We thought that three years was probably as long as it would be but he’s still here.

For how much longer, we don’t know. No doubt the club will have somebody in mind to take over and things change very quickly in football when it comes to managerial fortunes.

But Pep is embedded in the Manchester City football culture and is the best manager in the world. It doesn’t get any better than that. 

afcb.co.uk: Oscar Bobb made his full PL debut against Brentford – give us a word on him? 

AB: Talented.

I was at Newcastle when he scored the last-minute winner in January. I went to St James’ Park with my two sons and my granddaughter Charlotte, who’s just eight, and it was a thrill to be there. We were bouncing up and down when Oscar Bobb produced that winner.

Such is the competition for places, I’m slightly surprised that we haven’t seen him much since so it was pleasant to see him start the game against Brentford. He was unlucky because Ben Mee cleared one off the line, otherwise he could have had a goal.

But he’s a terrific talent and under Pep’s tutelage is somebody who is bound to blossom.

He’s another one to roll off the production line at City and that’s something both sides of Manchester pride themselves on, as do most clubs.

afcb.co.uk: How do you stop Erling Haaland from scoring?

AB: You just have to hope he has an off day like he did against Chelsea last week.

His grandmother had died the week before and it was referenced by Pep that, for once, it didn’t happen for him.

But against Brentford, he completed the clean sweep of scoring against every Premier League club.

Bearing in mind he’s been at the club for fewer than two seasons, that is some statistic to think he’s done that.

It’s impossible to stop him because he’s so acrobatic, so athletic and so fast. He terrorises defences and who knows how the season will end for Erling Haaland and his teammates.

İlkay Gündoğan left City at the end of last season and he was a matchwinner. He scored big goals in big games.

When it comes to the business end of this season, you wonder if they will be able to find the magic touch to penetrate teams that defend in depth and are very well organised. Brentford and Chelsea were and that’s all part of the fascination.

afcb.co.uk: Are any key players either injured or suspended against the Cherries?

AB: Kevin de Bruyne didn’t get a taste of the action against Brentford in midweek and Guardiola said he had niggles in his hamstring.

Jack Grealish and Joško Gvardiol have both been out so there will be question marks over whether they are ready to return at Bournemouth. Apart from that, everybody is fit.

Managing De Bruyne over the course of the next two or three months is going to be a test of Guardiola’s squad rotation shall we say.

By and large, everybody is fit apart from short-term injuries to Grealish and Gvardiol.

afcb.co.uk: How do you see this one panning out and what’s your score prediction? 

AB: I think Bournemouth are very good on the counter-attack. I thought the scoreline flattered City when they beat Bournemouth at the Etihad in November.

Guardiola will treat them with the utmost respect. It’s a must-win game for City after drawing with Chelsea.

I don’t think they can afford to drop too many more points. I think City might nick it 2-1.

You can follow Andy on X (formerly Twitter) – @buckomedia

Officials: Jarred Gillett (referee), Darren Cann (assistant), Derek Eaton (assistant), Simon Hooper (fourth official), Andrew Madley (VAR).

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