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Centurions – Manchester City 2017/18 Season Review – out NOW in paperback & Kindle Versions

By Howard Hockin


The centurions.

A hundred points and over a hundred goals for the greatest Premier League team of them all.

This was the season that Pep Guardiola’s philosophies came to fruition, as he cracked the Premier League, and his team broke records on an almost weekly basis. It was the season where that his vision was acknowledged on the pitch and off it, and it left all the competition trailing in their wake.

So take a look back at a historic season as chronicled week by week, with thoughts on every match, spoof articles, a look at the wider game, journalist Q & As, player ratings, season highlights and much more besides. It was a season with some downs but many more ups for Manchester City fans everywhere.

It’s a season you’ll want to re-live over and over again.


Manchester City, The Premier League & More…. An End Of Season Journalist Q & A

With the title seemingly sewn up by the start of the year, has this been one of the drabbest Premier League seasons to cover as a journalist/football fan?

James Ducker: Drab? Manchester City may have sauntered to the title and turned what is supposed to be the most competitive league in Europe into a version of the Scottish top flight but the quality of their football has been arresting and, for this observer whose job it is to cover Manchester, a privilege to report on at times. It’s hard to beat a nip and tuck title race or a frenetic relegation battle that goes to the final day, but while there have been better and more entertaining campaigns than this, it certainly hasn’t been drab. Some of the games between the top six have been the best I can remember – Liverpool 4 City 3, City 2 Manchester United 3, City 4 Spurs 1, Arsenal 1 United 3, Arsenal 3 Liverpool 3, Arsenal 2 Chelsea 2, Chelsea 1 Spurs 3 and so on. Plenty of thrillers in there.

Oliver Kay: It feels as if proper title races have gone out of fashion. There have been so many one-horse races over recent seasons. We won’t remember too many classic tussles this season, but we will remember the quality of City’s football, which has been superb.

Mark Ogden:  I’m not sure I’d describe it as drab. Some of the football played by City, Spurs and Liverpool has been exceptional, a real raising of standards, but it has been predictable in the Premier League due to City’s dominance.

Simon Mullock: Not for me. I think a lot of people – especially some of my fellow football hacks – have had their eyes opened by the way Guardiola has imposed his philosophy on the Premier League when the common perception was that he couldn’t do it his way. I’m hoping it will prove to be a watershed moment for English football and that other top-flight managers will come up with something a bit more sophisticated than sitting 11 players behind the ball in the hope they’ll get lucky

Did you think at the start of the season that this would be one of the most competitive seasons yet?

James Ducker: I can barely remember what I did last week, let alone what I thought at the start of the season but I’m sure I expected the title race to be more competitive than it ultimately proved. Arsenal’s demise doesn’t surprise me in the slightest but I expected Chelsea to make a better job of their title defence, even if problems were brewing there last summer, and I thought Spurs would make a better fist of things after their strong showing in the second half of last season. United? Second is a marked improvement on last season’s sixth but their football has been hard to warm to and there have been some wretched defeats. The bottom half of the table has been very competitive – only five points separate 10th and 17th.

Oliver Kay: We’ve seen and heard a lot of revisionism since the start of the season. I tipped City to win the league – I even placed a disappointingly small bet on them breaking the Premier League goalscoring record – but I don’t think I or anyone else was expecting them to win it by 20-odd points. For a team to be so far ahead of the rest, you would imagine everyone else must have been terribly disappointing (as indeed has been the case in a few of the recent one-horse races), yet Liverpool and Tottenham fans are delighted with their progress. Many United fans (not all) will tell you this season has been a season of great progress. Chelsea looked strong until the New Year. Yet City have won it by a country mile with a record number of goals. That’s seriously impressive, no matter how desperate people might be try to “normalise” it.

Sam Lee: I thought United would be closer but Guardiola gelled the City team together better than I expected. Didn’t expect too much from anybody else.

Mark Ogden: I thought City and United would dominate, so I was half-right! But as disappointing as United have been, they’re still second, which again highlights the lack of quality in the league. This is not a good United team by any means, but they’re still runners-up.
As for next season, I can’t see beyond City, United and Liverpool. Spurs look to have missed their moment, Arsenal are in a mess and Chelsea’s recent signings suggest that Abramovich is losing interest.

Simon Mullock: I quietly thought that City would win the title with plenty to spare – but I’ve still been amazed at how dominant they’ve been. If you looked at the relative individual merits of the City, United, Chelsea, Tottenham squads last summer there didn’t seem to be a lot in it. But the improvement Guardiola has coached from his players, both individually and collectively, has been amazing.

Now it has finished – is the quality of this league very good, or is there a huge chasm between a few teams and the rest?

James Ducker: I think a lot of teams in the bottom half of the  table are probably pretty interchangeable with many sides in the top half of the Championship. The three promoted clubs, Huddersfield, Brighton and Newcastle have all stayed up and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Wolves and Cardiff stayed up next season. The gulf between the top six and the rest seems wider than ever, even accounting for Arsenal’s worst season for a very long time. It’s almost like a mini league within a league and I suspect that chasm will become increasingly pronounced over the coming years and perhaps, in time, lead to a breakaway.

Oliver Kay: There’s a huge gap. And it’s a big problem throughout Europe. It’s the way the game has gone over the two past decades – Champions League income, the big “brand” clubs getting bigger and more powerful, the petrodollar clubs emerging – and it leaves an unassailable gap between the super-rich clubs and the rest. I know we had that crazy season in 2015/16, when Leicester came from nowhere to win it, but that was the exception. A “big six” club can perform miserably, going through the motions, and still finish above the best of the rest, which in this case is a Burnley team competing at its very limits. Smaller clubs might have two or three years of punching above their weight, but ultimately their best players move to clubs higher up the food chain, reality sinks in and they drop down again. It’s not healthy – and what really isn’t healthy is that those bigger, richer clubs are demanding a greater share of the TV money in future.
City are one of the main movers behind that. You’ll have detected my admiration for the football they’re playing, but I can’t stand City’s the-rich-must-get-richer attitude. It’s the kind of big-club arrogance the club and indeed their fans always hated when they were on the other side of the debate.

Sam Lee: There’s a huge chasm, yeah. Anything below the top six is generally poor, and even then Arsenal are on some kind of island of their own – better than the teams below them but nowhere near the five above. I think the relegation battle goes to show the lack of coaching in the top flight. The teams in the bottom three (as it stands today)  have got better quality players than Newcastle, Huddersfield and Brighton, but those teams have done enough, in the cases of Newcastle and Brighton a lot of that is down to their coaching. In reality, however, while avoiding relegation is obviously an achievement, a lot of the bottom half have been shocking, and while they will stay up, they are merely less bad than the bottom three, who are truly terrible. So yeah, a lack of quality and a lack of quality coaching.

Mark Ogden: I think the league is weaker than it has been for a while and that has been highlighted by City’s huge winning margin. That is not to take anything away from City, who have been off the scale at times, because you can only beat what is in front of you.
It’s not City’s fault if teams like Newcastle and Chelsea (Chelsea!!) decide to play for a draw before a ball has even been kicked.

Simon Mullock: I think the top five teams are as strong as they have ever been in the Premier League. A little bit of a myth has developed that in every season there was always three or four teams good enough to win the title, when in reality it was usually a shoot-out between two clubs or just one team running away with it. The fact that United can beat every team in the division at least once – and still be miles off the top points-wise illustrates how high the bar has been raised. Liverpool are in the Champions League Final, Tottenham battered Real Madrid and were the better team for two-and-a-half hours of their two games against Juventus, while Chelsea can still beat anyone on their day.
Unfortunately, the standard of teams outside the top five has really dropped off. Arsenal are even more Arsenal than they’ve ever been and Burnley have broken into the top seven playing an extremely functional style. That’s not a criticism, because I think Sean Dyche is doing a brilliant job with the resources at his disposal. But Everton in eighth says a lot about the in-depth quality of the Premier League.

Your thoughts on Pep – spent a lot, run away with league. How do you quantify his level of success this season?

James Ducker: Spending a lot of money certainly helps but it’s no guarantee of success. United have spent more than £615 million since Sir Alex Ferguson retired five years ago and still look a long way off being a title or Champions League winning side. Even City, for several years before Guardiola arrived, were flailing in the transfer market. Under Guardiola, they’ve bought well in the main and clearly identified the areas of the side that needed surgery but it’s the uplift he’s brought in players he inherited that has stood out for me. It’s not just player with clear scope for improvement, though, like Nicolas Otamendi or Raheem Sterling. It’s the improvement in players who were already top drawer – David Silva being the most obvious example. He’s 32 now and has just had the best season of his career. What Guardiola has done this season in the Premier League is extraordinary.

Oliver Kay: Absolutely superb. Yes he has spent a lot, but they haven’t just run away with the league, as other teams have done in recent years. It has been a masterclass. They have played his way – the way so many were people so desperate to tell him wasn’t possible in the Premier League – and they have dominated from start to finish. I know there are a lot of Pep-deniers out there who like to think he has done nothing more than wave a few big cheques around, but that’s ludicrous. Look at the way they play. His philosophy and vision shines through everything they do. That’s coaching, not chequebook management.

Sam Lee: Plenty of people were saying his style could never work over here and even his biggest admirers probably didn’t think he could get it to work so impressively, so quickly, so let’s not put it down to money or the quality of his players. As we’ve seen countless times, money does not guarantee success, and the kind of performances that City have put in so regularly are testament to Guardiola’s coaching ability.

Mark Ogden: He also spent a lot of money the year before and came fourth, so it’s not all about money. He signed good players and made them better – that’s not a bad formula, is it?
Sometimes, people can over-complicate their analysis and attempt to identify some hidden X-factor, but ultimately, it’s a simple game and Pep has transformed City by making his players better.
Players don’t get better if you confuse them or bombard them with tactical changes – just look how United performed under Louis van Gaal!

Simon Mullock: Guardiola has spent a fortune and there’s no getting around the fact that if he hadn’t been given the money then City wouldn’t be champions. But it’s a bit lazy to suggest that winning the title by almost 20 points is all about the dough when you compare Guardiola’s spending to what Mourinho has wasted.
And the reality is that almost every single City player has improved. Think of the current values of Raheem Sterling, Kyle Walker, Gabriel Jesus and Ederson and compare them with how much United would get back for Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic and Victor Lindelof.

Does Pep have an issue with the Champions League? Does he overthink things sometimes?

James Ducker: I was pretty critical of the performance over two legs of the quarter final defeat to Liverpool and the concern for Guardiola is how, for the past five seasons now, his teams (first Bayern Munich, now City) have conceded flurries of goals in 15, 20 minutes bursts and ended up losing a significant number of games pretty heavily. I admire and love his determination to play on the front foot but he’s not been to the Champions League final since last winning it with Barcelona in 2011 so maybe there are small adjustments he needs to make. I suspect City will go close in the competition next season, though.

Oliver Kay: One thing I couldn’t understand was that when City went out, some suggested it was because he wasn’t flexible enough – no Plan B etc. If anything, I thought the problem was that he veered away from Plan A, because he was fearful of Liverpool’s forward line. I felt before the first leg at Anfield that Jurgen Klopp must have been delighted when he saw the City team – Gundogan out wide, Laporte at left-back, no Sterling. I felt he did overthink that. It was the one time all season he showed fear, which perhaps planted a seed of uncertainty in his players’ minds.
As for whether he has an issue with the Champions League, no I don’t think he does. He hasn’t won it since 2011, but it’s a knockout tournament and the best team doesn’t always win. Are Zidane and Ancelotti better coaches/managers than Guardiola? You would struggle to persuade me so.

Sam Lee: I’m not sure he has any more of an issue with the Champions League as any other manager (apart from Zidane, incredibly). He overthinks things at times, yeah, but the argument regarding him in the Champions League has always been skewed – he’s won two but even going back three or four years that was seemingly not going to be enough. Those standards were never applied to Ferguson, for example, who is widely (and fairly) regarded as the best ever. If you look at his record since leaving Barcelona he had two blow-outs (one where he abandoned his usual tactics, one where he went more radical than ever (overthinking), and one which was very unlucky, the kind you get in cups. At City he was in his overhaul season, which I think is fair enough, and this year he overthought it at Anfield.

Mark Ogden: I wouldn’t say that he over-thinks, I just believe that you come up against great coaches and great players at the business end of the Champions League and the ties can go either way.
It’s fine margins. City would have gone on to knock Liverpool out if that goal had stood before half-time at the Etihad, but it didn’t and Liverpool recovered.
Maybe Pep needs to be a bit more cautious in the latter stages. You can’t be cavalier against teams that can hurt you, and are prepared to take you on in a way that the majority of the Premier League clubs are too frightened to do.
His Bayern teams also suffered heavy defeats in the semi-finals under Pep, so maybe his flaw is that he doesn’t think enough about the defensive side of the game when faced with top opponents.

Simon Mullock: It’s easy to suggest that the Champions League has become Pep’s Achilles heel. But in a way a lot of that is down to the ease with which he won the European title at Barcelona. But the biggest games are decided by the smallest margins and I really do think Guardiola was spooked when he was drawn against Klopp’s Liverpool. His mantra has always been that he sticks by his belief no matter what. But after successive defeats at Anfield in the Premier League, he tried to change too much for that first leg because I think he thought Klopp had his number. For once, City didn’t look organised and by the they settled, they were 3-0 down and it was game over. Even so, he was still only a couple of dodgy refereeing decisions away from turning it around.

Salah a worthy winner for Player of the Year?

James Ducker: Yes, he’s had a wonderful season, but I think Kevin De Bruyne or David Silva would have been worthy winners, too. I voted for De Bruyne in the FWA awards on the basis that he has been the driving force in a team that has steamrollered the opposition and set a new Premier League points record. But Salah is a far, far, far, far, far more worthy winner than David Ginola when he won the award in the year United won the treble.

Oliver Kay: Yes – just as De Bruyne would have been. I felt all season I was going to go for De Bruyne for the Football Writers’ Association’s award, but Salah’s performances in the final month or so swung it for me, particularly in the Champions League. I don’t know why so many City fans have been so outraged by this. It’s an individual award. It’s subjective. The vote was a tight one. De Bruyne has been exceptionally good. So has Salah. They can’t both win.

Sam Lee: Just about. But De Bruyne would’ve been too.

Mark Ogden: Absolutely. Kevin De Bruyne would also have been a worthy winner, too.
I voted for Salah because he stepped up a gear when it really mattered and became unstoppable with his goals.
De Bruyne flat-lined a bit after the end of January and it coincided with City’s mini-slump and it is about what the player does from August to May, so Salah deserved it in the end.
He is a potential Ballon d’Or winner this year and, to be honest, it needed something that special to beat De Bruyne.

Simon Mullock: It’s hard to argue against anyone who scores 40-plus goals in a season but I’m still going to put the case for why I voted for Kevin De Bruyne. I’ve seen strikers have hugely prolific seasons before – Shearer, Cole, Ronaldo – but what I have never witnessed is a midfielder dominate an entire season with the majesty of De Bruyne.

And who should win the award for Manager of the Year?

James Ducker: Guardiola. Sean Dyche has done a superb job with Burnley, Chris Hughton and Rafael Benitez the same at Brighton and Newcastle respectively and David Wagner has worked wonders keeping Huddersfield in the top flight but Guardiola’s achievement, both in terms of the number of points and goals, and the way City have been plundered has been quite brilliant.

Oliver Kay: I wrote a column about how, despite the brilliant performances by Dyche at Burnley and Wagner at Huddersfield, Guardiola should be manager of the year. The responses were unsurprising: “Look how much he’s spent,” “Could he do what Dyche has done?” And yes he has spent fortunes and, yes, I would have certain doubts about whether he could take a more limited squad to seventh in the table, when his way of working is so much about elite performance. But let’s flip the question. Could Dyche or Wagner or indeed Pochettino or Mourinho or whoever else do what Guardiola has done – even with that transfer budget? I doubt it. If anyone looks at City’s performance this season and cannot see the impact of the coaching, individually and collectively, well, they must be wearing blinkers.

Sam Lee: Pep

Mark Ogden: Sean Dyche – on the basis that he massively over-performed with a Burnley team that works with the lowest budget in the Premier League.
Pep has met expectations at City – you could be harsh and say that he has maybe under-delivered because of the Champions League exit – and I think you have to put Dyche’s achievement into context.
To get Burnley into the Europa League is astonishing.

Simon Mullock: City (and Liverpool) fans should not be too disparaging about what managers like Dyche, Benitez, Wagner and Hughton have achieved this season. But after taking a wrecking ball to so many Premier League myths, it has to be Guardiola, hasn’t it?

As a journalist, what has been your best personal experience of the season?

James Ducker: I enjoyed interviewing Benjamin Mendy in September, the derby at the Etihad was crazy and chaotic in the way you want football to be and City’s 7-2 win with Stoke sticks with me, not least because it’s remarkable Fernandinho could stick one in from 30 yards and the goal still not make the top three in the game. Liverpool’s 5-2 over Roma was some game to be at.

Oliver Kay: If there was a stand-out occasion, then I’m tempted to say Liverpool v Roma in the Champions League. A stand-out performance? That would be any one of about a dozen from City. But one thing I really regret is that I didn’t go to Accrington Stanley for the match when they secured promotion from League Two. I was close to going, but I couldn’t make it. It sounded amazing. I love nights like that.

Mark Ogden: Being in Milan for Italy v Sweden on the night that Italy failed to qualify for the World Cup was a good one – not that I wanted Italy to miss out.
It was just one of those weird nights when you felt that you were witnessing a real moment.
The silence of the San Siro in the final 20 minutes, and the way the crowd left in silence and just drifted away, was the opposite of what I expected.

Simon Mullock: Liverpool’s blitzing of City and Roma at Anfield in the Champions League were both mightily impressive.

And your worst?

James Ducker: The ever increasing number of hoops you have to jump through as a journalist. Oh for the days when reporters could pitch up at a training ground and talk to any player they want.

Oliver Kay: Nobody wants to hear a football writer moaning, do they? I don’t think we would get much sympathy.

Mark Ogden: Denmark v Rep Ireland in Copenhagen. 0-0, freezing cold, nothing happened and no Ubers or taxis after the game, so had to walk three miles back to the hotel at midnight.
First World problems and all that, but that was a particular low point…

Simon Mullock: Press officers and the growth of club media. Not all press officers, by any means, but many of them see it as their duty to put up as many barriers as possible in the belief that fans are happy to be spoon fed sanitised, monotonous, cringe-worthy crap from in-house media platforms.

The World Cup – how excited are you? And who will be the contenders?

James Ducker: Excited probably isn’t the word but I’m definitely intrigued. I’ll be based in the south of Russia – Sochi, Rostov. I think any one of Germany, Spain, Brazil or Belgium will win it. If Messi is at his absolute best, Argentina will have a chance. If he’s not, I think it would be a tall order for them to lift the trophy.

Oliver Kay: Am I allowed to say that I’m not quite as excited as I have been in the past? I think that’s for two reasons. One is that it’s part of growing older (though 2010 and 2014 both had a certain exotic appeal in South Africa and Brazil respectively). The other is that club football is so all-consuming now. Is international football the pinnacle of the game? I like to think so, but deep down it’s hard to convince yourself of that. As for the contenders, I’ll say France, Spain and Germany. If I had to pick one, I’ll default to Germany, like I usually do.

Sam Lee: I’m a bit apprehensive about it – 2010 was awful, 2014 started off well but was pretty hard going by the end. I think most teams will be too defensive, and VAR will probably ruin it. I’m looking forward to going and covering it as an event, but I’m not sure about the overall quality/enjoyment of the tournament.

Mark Ogden: I wouldn’t say I’m excited by the World Cup. You lose that child-like enthusiasm, sadly, and there is a real lack of mystery these days because virtually every team or player is known or familiar.
I just hope that surprises emerge and a new generation of players and coaches take over.
Contenders? The usual suspects – Germany, Brazil, France, Spain.

Simon Mullock: I’ll be based in Kazan, Saransk and Samara. So I’ll let you gauge my level of excitement just in case the Russian Embassy reads this and decides to revoke my visa. It’ll be the usual suspects: Germany, Spain, Brazil, France, Argentina. I’m going for Brazil to win it now they have realised that sometimes in football you have to defend.

Do England stand any chance of progressing to the latter stages of the tournament?

James Ducker: I never expect much from England because history suggests it’s daft to. I’m pretty certain (I think) they will get out of their group but, after that, who knows. The biggest concern for me is they don’t really have much in central midfield and aren’t particularly strong at centre half either.

Oliver Kay: They do – largely because the draw is favourable. They have some good players, talented players, but I don’t feel they’ve developed into anything resembling a cohesive team yet. If they had had a tough draw, as they did in 2014, I would be all doom and gloom. But the draw gives them a strong chance of getting the group and a decent chance of making the quarter-finals.

Sam Lee: No

Mark Ogden: They should get out of the group, but a second round game against the likes of Colombia, Senegal or Poland could be tricky.
The draw has them meeting either Brazil or Germany in the quarter-finals and I just can’t see how they could beat either of those.

Simon Mullock: We should get through the group – and if that happens then the optimist in me would expect us to get past one of either Poland, Senegal, Colombia or Japan in the last 16. Beyond that? Nah.

Next season – should Liverpool now be seen as Manchester City’s main contenders for the title? And what can Mourinho do to catch up? (essentially, how do you see future seasons panning out at the top?)

James Ducker: I’ve not seen much of Naby Keita but he’s supposed to be pretty good so maybe he will improve Liverpool. They still need more in defence. If they get that in the summer and gain more strength in depth then perhaps they will mount a more sustained challenge. I don’t really know where to start with United and what to expect from them next season. City will still be the team to beat.

Oliver Kay: I would expect the main challenge to come from United. I haven’t exactly been blown away by Mourinho’s work so far at Old Trafford, and Liverpool and Tottenham show much more encouraging signs in a lot of ways, but United have improved. They will have a big budget again this summer and if he has got a clearer vision of what he wants to do with the team, then they should make a more serious challenge. The encouraging thing for United and the rest is that it will be hard for City to produce this kind of unrelenting quality next season.

Sam Lee: Yeah I think Liverpool will be closer, but they still need to do a lot to match City’s level – as long as City don’t drop back. If City improve then nobody has any chance. United need some full-backs and probably another midfielder but Mourinho needs to get more out of them as a unit and it’s the same case as Liverpool really – they need some more players but they also need to cut out the disappointing performances, and I’m not sure either Klopp or Mourinho can do that. It all depends on whether City get better or worse.

Mark Ogden: I think we need to see what happens this summer first. Will Real Madrid make a £200m bid for Salah? Will City’s players be knackered after the World Cup – their squad will be hit hard because they have Brazilians, Spaniards, Germans etc?
United will also spend, but will they lose somebody like De Gea or Pogba?
But as it stands, it’s between City, United and Liverpool for me.

Simon Mullock: I think the challenge to City will come from Anfield and Old Trafford, because Chelsea and Arsenal need a reboot, and it looks like Mauricio Pochettino is realising that Tottenham are probably as good as they are ever going to be.
As we’ve seen, Liverpool on their day are a team capable of beating City over 90 minutes. I am excited by their capture of Naby Keita, and Klopp will have a big budget after selling Coutinho and reaching the Champions League Final. But unless they make three or four really top signings I still think they are a couple of years away from having a squad that can do it over 38 games.
Mourinho will do what Mourinho does: spend money on players at their peak in the belief that if you have 11 world-class footballers and a manager who is a proven winner then you can’t go wrong.
But what I am also confident about is that City are still nowhere near the level that Guardiola will take them to. And that’s a frightening prospect

Very briefly – VAR – what future should it have?

James Ducker: I agree it needs more testing. If they can get to a point where it’s as effective as the goal decision system then it will be a force for good.

Oliver Kay: I can’t quite make my mind up about it. I had an instinctive dislike of the idea, on the purist basis that football should be the same from the Champions League to Sunday League, but by the time the trials started, I thought I was probably just about ready for it. But … it’s not great, is it? All that faffing about and still nobody is happy with the decisions. It should become quicker and slicker as the refs and the VARs get used to it, but, unless there’s a big improvement, I could live without it.

Sam Lee: Bin it.

Mark Ogden: A big one. Let’s not forget, this season has been a trial run designed to test it and identify flaws. It was also going to be beset by teething problems.
Fans need to be more aware of what is going on in stadiums and the decisions have to be resolved much quicker – maybe have a 30 second time limit.
But it’s here to stay, so get used to it.

Simon Mullock: I didn’t want it introduced because I’ve always thought that football is like life – and sometimes you just get the shitty end of the stick. Once it came in I assumed that it would be rolled out right across the game, but UEFA and the Premier League aren’t convinced so maybe not. It will be interesting to see how VAR operates during the World Cup and whether showing the replays on big screens in the stadiums will help to reduce the problems we’ve seen so far.

Finally, Safe Standing – will we ever see it in the Premier League? Is this simply a government blocking issue?

James Ducker: I think we’ll see it one day and I hope we do but it could be many years yet.

Oliver Kay: I’m in favour of It, but I’ve never been convinced that clubs (with a few exceptions) or the football authorities are quite as enthusiastic about it as they suggest. It would be quite a U-turn after years of actively chasing the corporate market, pricing long-standing fans out of the game. I would love to see it happen, but I’m yet to be convinced that it’s something that the clubs (again, with a few exceptions) are prepared to push hard for.

Sam Lee: I hope we do but it’s obvious there is a lot of opposition. I don’t hold out much hope for the government discussion in June to be honest, so if it does come in I don’t think it will be any time soon.

Mark Ogden: Yes, it will happen. It makes no sense that you can have in Scotland, but not in England. If it’s safe at Celtic, why is it dangerous at the Etihad?
Somebody in football once told me that no government would sanction it because it would be like raising the speed limit and then being blamed for more accidents at 80 mph. They just don’t want to engage on it, but they will sooner or later.

Simon Mullock: The suggestion that the majority of Premier League fans aren’t interested made me think that whoever conducted that particular poll had massaged the result by targeting supporters who wouldn’t want to stand even if they had the option. In a way, I think the utter stupidity of expecting fans to swallow that kind of crap will actually help the safe standing campaign.


Thanks to all the journalists that took their time out to answer questions..