Manchester City legend Shaun Goater believes that the emergence of the Blues’ teenage scoring sensation Kelechi Iheanacho can save Pep Guardiola millions in the transfer market this summer.
“A few months ago I used to think we needed a forward to push Aguero but Kelechi Iheanacho has a frightening record and is excelling in his role. He also has a good work ethic and this is a key thing Pep Guardiola will be looking for next season – a work ethic as well as producing goals.”
It is fair to suggest that such a work ethic was lacking from City’s weekend showing at Southampton. The Nigerian’s two goals were the only bright moments in a lacklustre defeat that has left City still fighting for a top four spot. Yet the former striker is under no illusions that it isn’t simply commitment that Guardiola will be entrusted to instil into the team next season. Defensive frailties need to be urgently addressed and the player affectionately known as ‘The Goat’ puts forward a surprising name that the incoming coach should target.
“In defence we need to look at who can really partner Vincent Kompany. I really doubt the club will go back there but Jerome Boateng at Bayern Munich has really matured. He is a key player for Bayern Munich and Germany. We don’t know who they will bring in but what we do know is that players will be excited about playing under Pep Guardiola because of the style of football and it’s as close to a guarantee to winning things as you can get.”
Close to a guarantee? The 46 year old who is idolised by the City faithful after feeding on 103 goals in a tumultuous period for the club goes even further.
“In his three year period he’s expected to be at the club he will win the Champions League and he will also win the league.”
As well as bringing widespread optimism, the imminent arrival of arguable the best coach in world football has prompted speculation as to who may leave this summer. Topping the gossip columns is the possible departure of Yaya Toure with Inter Milan reportedly keen along with a string of other suitors. Might this be the final season in Manchester for the talismanic Ivorian?
“As long as his agent keeps talking then yeah but we all read things into Pep previously letting Yaya go at Barcelona. Maybe we can get another year out of him because he knows the Premier League well. If he is allowed to play and his agent does less talking then that’s how it could play out.”
Toure is one of several influential players who have undeniably under-performed this season in a largely disappointing Premier League campaign for City that initially promised so much. Yet when asked to pinpoint the main causes for their feeble title bid, Goater absolves the players and instead focusses his attention on the Manchester City technical area.
“My personal thing is rotation. We play games in Europe and with all the travelling it can be a gruelling schedule. But, when you look at teams like Leicester, they’re having success because of the continuity of the team. For a large part of the season Pellegrini should have been a lot more consistent with the players he selected.”
The intimation – intended or otherwise – appears to be that the Chilean has put his personal legacy ahead of City’s title challenge.
“It is important we finish top four but because Pellegrini knows he’s not there next season, it’s not his priority. His priority is making the final of the Champions League because no-one else has done that so he would be seen as a success.”
Winning the most coveted club competition of them all is undoubtedly the ultimate goal for a club that has changed beyond all recognition since Goater’s time there. This week an intimidating trip to Madrid stands between them and a potentially famous night in the San Siro later this month.
With Ronaldo and Bale to contend with- not to mention a ferocious packed Bernabeu – the temptation will surely be to stay compact and defend for their lives. City’s favourite son however believes attack may be the best policy.
“Initially in the first ten or twenty minutes City need to be cautious enough to not do anything silly and concede. Beyond that, it is about going out and getting the away goal. For me it’s a huge thing and once they’ve settled they need to step it up.”
“Reaching finals is definitely the mandate the owners will be expecting and we’re capable of doing that. Though we’ll have to play a hell of a lot better than against Southampton.”
It has become a source of great frustration among supporters that the last remaining English hope believe they don’t get the credit they deserve from the media in this county. Goater, once City’s best attacker, now does his best to defend a club he evidently loves.
“This comes from when you’re having success and have the money and so we don’t get a fair crack. I was listening to a station after the first Real Madrid game and they were talking about the atmosphere yet the atmosphere was brilliant. Where were they sitting? There was so much going on in that game yet that’s what you want to talk about? I then watch a United game and maybe they’re noisy a couple of times tops. Yet everyone is talking about the game, nobody is talking about that.”
“This is what happened with Chelsea and it comes in cycles. It’s our turn now to be put up there as a target due to our resources.”
Shaun’s quickfire questions
Who will win the FA Cup final?
I think Manchester United. They have the experience. If you’d asked me who do I want to win it that would have been a different answer!
Who will win the Champions League
Manchester City. I feel we can get something from Real Madrid.
Who will win the Euros?
Who will win the Golden Boot?
I’d like Jamie Vardy to do it because his story reminds me of my own.