Peter Barnes Biography – UPDATE

Thanks to all those who have subscribed to Peter Barnes: The Authorised Biography (especially 250 Scandinavian Manchester City fans who have ordered the book!) It really is appreciated.

Emails have started to go to all subscribers to confirm details for the book (these should all be sent by May 20th). There is still time to order the book and get your name printed in it for anyone who hasn’t managed that yet.

Subscribers will receive signed copies (signed by both Peter Barnes and myself) of the book posted out before it appears in any shop AND will get their names printed in the special subscriber section of the book. 

This is the only way to guarantee your copy of the book. All subscriber orders must be made by May 20th.

This long awaited authorised biography, written by Gary James with the memories and stories of Peter’s career throughout, tells the story of Peter’s life from his childhood in Manchester and Wrexham through to the modern day. With particular focus on his footballing career with Manchester City, West Bromwich Albion, Leeds United, Real Betis, Coventry City, Manchester United, Tampa Bay Rowdies and, of course, England.

There are quotes from people connected with Peter throughout his career plus archive material too.

Pre-publication you can order the 350+ page, colour paperback book for £16.95 (including UK postage) and have your name printed in it (or if being bought as a gift the name of another person). Those living in the European Union can now order the book for £28 including postage to an address within the EU and those in the USA for £40 including postage to the States. If you’re in Malaysia it’s £35. Sadly, we have no control over those additional postage costs (we have used the Royal Mail international standard rate).

Outside the UK, EU, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand and USA please contact for confirmation of postage costs.

The ONLY way to order your copy and get your name printed in the book is from this site by using the order button below.

The book is expected to be published in June 2021 and all this subscriber offer will be available until May 15, 2021 (orders received after that date cannot be guaranteed to have names printed in the book, so order as early as possible).

Here’s the order button (before publication those who have subscribed to the book will be emailed to ask which name is to be printed in the book, so please make sure you include an email address, in addition to postage details, when asked at time of ordering):

United Kingdom

The Peter Barnes Authorised Biography – Subscriber Offer UNITED KINGDOM

Order today and have your name printed in the book. £16.95 (incl UK Postage and Packaging).

£16.95

European Union

The Peter Barnes Authorised Biography – Subscriber Offer EUROPEAN UNION

Order today and have your name printed in the book. £28 (incl postage and packaging within the EU).

£28.00

United States of America

The Peter Barnes Authorised Biography – Subscriber Offer USA

Order today and have your name printed in the book. £40 (incl postage and packaging to the United States).

£40.00

Malaysia

The Peter Barnes Authorised Biography – Subscriber Offer MALAYSIA

Order today and have your name printed in the book. £35 (incl postage and packaging to Malaysia).

£35.00

Australia and New Zealand

The Peter Barnes Authorised Biography – Subscriber Offer AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

Order today and have your name printed in the book. £38.95 (incl postage and packaging to Australia or New Zealand).

£38.95

If you run a book shop and would like to know more about the book please email: accounts@manchesterfootball.org

The ISBN is 978-1-9168852-0-2 and stocks should be available for book shops after it has been distributed to all subscribers. This is anticipated to be by the end of June 2021.

You can listen to Peter in conversation with myself about the book here:

Thanks,

Gary James

Congratulations Manchester City

Last night Manchester City reached the final of the Champions League for the first time in their history. Manchester has now become only the second non-capital city to have had two teams reach a European Cup final. Manchester was of course the first British city to have two teams competing in the European Cup in the same season (1968-69).

Last night was a remarkable night and other records were established:

  • City broke the record for longest winning run by an English club in European Cup history (7)
  • They became the first English side to win 11 games in a single European Cup/Champions League campaign (they are one off equalling Real Madrid’s record of 12 games)

This Champions League win is an important step in the club’s journey and to celebrate I’m going to make my special 1 hour audio recording commemorating an earlier important step in this journey free to listen to until May 12th.

This audio recording was made to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Manchester City’s FA Cup semi final victory over Manchester United at Wembley (April 16 2011). To me that game was a crucial step towards the success that came over the ten years that followed, just like last night’s feels like a major step in the club’s development.

The audio recording looks at the years between the 1976 League Cup success and the FA Cup glory of 2011. The 2011 semi-final was a crucial step in City’s journey since the 2008 takeover and I felt it was vital to do a special marking this.

So what’s in this special recording? Well, I’ve included exclusive material from interviews and recordings I’ve done over the years with Garry Cook, Brian Marwood, Roberto Mancini, Peter Barnes and Peter Swales.  Why Swales? Well, have a listen and you’ll hear why. Basically though I’m trying to set the tone for why the 2011 FA Cup semi final victory was so significant.

On Mancini… I include a few words from him recorded in 2011 and at one point he talks about the view that was then being expressed that City were ‘trying’ to buy success (now they say City ‘have’ bought success!). His words are a reminder that City have been having that particular criticism thrown at them for over a decade! Oh well, I wonder how long those criticisms were laid at other clubs who had seen major investment which propelled them forward?

Anyway, get yourself a brew and be prepared to be transported back in time. Here’s the recording:

If you enjoy the recording then please let me know, comment or subscribe to the site. If it’s of interest then, over the coming months and years, I’ll produce others like this highlighting key points in Manchester City – and Manchester’s – footballing history. It costs £20 a year to subscribe (it works out £1.67 a month) or £3 if you’d like to sign up a month at a time to get full access for as long as you subscribe (you can always try it for a month). It’s worth bearing in mind that the 2010 Manchester A Football History cost £24.95 and all subscribers will be able to access all of that for as long as they are a subscriber (plus all the other stuff of course). You can subscribe below.

Subscribe to get access to the full site

£20 per year to access everything

Peter Barnes Talking About His Biography

I managed to catch up with Peter a few weeks ago to talk about his biography. Here’s a brief recording of us discussing the book:

You can subscribe to this 350+ page authorised biography of Peter Barnes, which will be published in June. Subscribers will receive signed copies (signed by both Peter Barnes and myself) of the book posted out before it appears in any shop AND will get their names printed in the special subscriber section of the book.

This is the only way to guarantee your copy of the book.

The ONLY way to order your copy and get your name printed in the book is from this site by using the order button below. This subscriber offer will be available until May 15, 2021.

Here’s the order button (before publication those who have subscribed to the biography will be emailed to ask which name is to be printed in the book, so please make sure you include an email address, in addition to postage details, when asked at time of ordering):

United Kingdom

The Peter Barnes Authorised Biography – Subscriber Offer UNITED KINGDOM

Order today and have your name printed in the book. £16.95 (incl UK Postage and Packaging.

£16.95

European Union

The Peter Barnes Authorised Biography – Subscriber Offer EUROPEAN UNION

Order today and have your name printed in the book. £28 (incl postage and packaging within the EU).

£28.00

United States of America

The Peter Barnes Authorised Biography – Subscriber Offer USA

Order today and have your name printed in the book. £40 (incl postage and packaging to the United States).

£40.00

Malaysia

The Peter Barnes Authorised Biography – Subscriber Offer MALAYSIA

Order today and have your name printed in the book. £35 (incl postage and packaging to Malaysia).

£35.00

Australia and New Zealand

The Peter Barnes Authorised Biography – Subscriber Offer AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

Order today and have your name printed in the book. £38.95 (incl postage and packaging to Australia or New Zealand).

£38.95

Outside the UK, EU, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand and USA please contact for confirmation of postage costs.

Thanks,

Gary James

Wembley 2021

At Wembley for Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur. I was uncertain whether it would be worth the faff but in the end I couldn’t stay away. I got my negative lateral flow test last night (about 7pm Manchester city centre).

Here’s hoping it’s a great final. My last ‘live’ game was last year’s League Cup Final, so I feel like a proper glory hunter who only shows interest when there’s a trophy at stake! Let’s hope it’s not another 12 months before we get chance to attend another MCFC game.

Disappointed They’ve demolished part of Wembley Way though!

Peter Barnes Biography – Order Now

I’m delighted to announce details of how to subscribe to the new authorised biography of Peter Barnes. Subscribers will receive signed copies (signed by both Peter Barnes and myself) of the book posted out before it appears in any shop AND will get their names printed in the special subscriber section of the book. 

This is the only way to guarantee your copy of the book.

This long awaited authorised biography, written by Gary James with the memories and stories of Peter’s career throughout, tells the story of Peter’s life from his childhood in Manchester and Wrexham through to the modern day. With particular focus on his footballing career with Manchester City, West Bromwich Albion, Leeds United, Real Betis, Coventry City, Manchester United, Tampa Bay Rowdies and, of course, England.

There are quotes from people connected with Peter throughout his career plus archive material too.

Pre-publication you can order the 350+ page, colour paperback book for £16.95 (including UK postage) and have your name printed in it (or if being bought as a gift the name of another person). Those living in the European Union can now order the book for £28 including postage to an address within the EU and those in the USA for £40 including postage to the States. If you’re in Malaysia it’s £35. Sadly, we have no control over those additional postage costs (we have used the Royal Mail international standard rate).

Outside the UK, EU, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand and USA please contact for confirmation of postage costs.

The ONLY way to order your copy and get your name printed in the book is from this site by using the order button below.

The book is expected to be published in June 2021 and all this subscriber offer will be available until May 15, 2021 (orders received after that date cannot be guaranteed to have names printed in the book, so order as early as possible).

Here’s the order button (before publication those who have subscribed to the book will be emailed to ask which name is to be printed in the book, so please make sure you include an email address, in addition to postage details, when asked at time of ordering):

United Kingdom

The Peter Barnes Authorised Biography – Subscriber Offer UNITED KINGDOM

Order today and have your name printed in the book. £16.95 (incl UK Postage and Packaging).

£16.95

European Union

The Peter Barnes Authorised Biography – Subscriber Offer EUROPEAN UNION

Order today and have your name printed in the book. £28 (incl postage and packaging within the EU).

£28.00

United States of America

The Peter Barnes Authorised Biography – Subscriber Offer USA

Order today and have your name printed in the book. £40 (incl postage and packaging to the United States).

£40.00

Malaysia

The Peter Barnes Authorised Biography – Subscriber Offer MALAYSIA

Order today and have your name printed in the book. £35 (incl postage and packaging to Malaysia).

£35.00

Australia and New Zealand

The Peter Barnes Authorised Biography – Subscriber Offer AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

Order today and have your name printed in the book. £38.95 (incl postage and packaging to Australia or New Zealand).

£38.95

If you run a book shop and would like to know more about the book please email: accounts@manchesterfootball.org

The ISBN is 978-1-9168852-0-2 and stocks should be available for book shops after it has been distributed to all subscribers. This is anticipated to be by the end of June 2021.

Thanks,

Gary James

Restored 2011: The All-Manchester FA Cup Semi Final

To commemorate the tenth anniversary of Manchester City’s FA Cup semi final victory over Manchester United at Wembley (April 16 2011) I’ve produced Restored 2011: The All-Manchester FA Cup Semi Final. This special 1 hour audio recording looks at the game and the years between the 1976 League Cup success and the FA Cup glory of 2011. The 2011 semi-final was a crucial step in City’s journey since the 2008 takeover and I felt it was vital to do a special marking this.

Following last night’s Champions League victory for City (May 4th – City beat PSG to reach the Champions League final) this will now be free to listen to until May 12th. After that date, as with audio recordings with John Bond, Malcolm Allison and George Graham (and hundreds of articles), it will only be available to subscribers to the site. So, if you don’t subscribe, have a listen now while you can.

So what’s in this special recording? Well, I’ve included exclusive material from interviews and recordings I’ve done over the years with Garry Cook, Brian Marwood, Roberto Mancini, Peter Barnes and Peter Swales.  Why Swales? Well, have a listen and you’ll hear why. Basically though I’m trying to set the tone for why the 2011 FA Cup semi final victory and overcoming Manchester United was so significant.

On Mancini… I include a few words from him recorded in 2011 and at one point he talks about the view that was then being expressed that City were ‘trying’ to buy success (now they say City ‘have’ bought success!). His words are a reminder that City have been having that particular criticism thrown at them for over a decade! Oh well, I wonder how long those criticisms were laid at other clubs who had seen major investment which propelled them forward?

Anyway, get yourself a brew and be prepared to be transported back in time. Here’s the recording:

If you enjoy the recording then please let me know, comment or subscribe to the site. If it’s of interest then, over the coming months and years, I’ll produce others like this highlighting key points in Manchester City – and Manchester’s – footballing history. It costs £20 a year to subscribe (it works out £1.67 a month) or £3 if you’d like to sign up a month at a time to get full access for as long as you subscribe (you can always try it for a month). It’s worth bearing in mind that the 2010 Manchester A Football History cost £24.95 and all subscribers will be able to access all of that for as long as they are a subscriber (plus all the other stuff of course). You can subscribe below.

Subscribe to get access to the full site

£20 per year to access everything

Match Stats for the 2011 FA Cup Semi-final

City 1-0 United (HT 0-0)

Yaya Toure 52

City: 25 Hart 04 Kompany (yellow card), 05 Zabaleta (yellow card), 13 Kolarov, 19 Lescott, 11 Johnson (Wright-Phillips 79), 18 Barry, 21 Silva (Vieira 86), 34 De Jong (yellow card), 42 Y Toure, 45 Balotelli (yellow card). Substitutes 12 Taylor, 38 Boyata, 07 Milner, 08 Wright-Phillips, 24 Vieira, 10 Dzeko, 27 Jo

United: 01 Van der Sar, 03 Evra, 05 Ferdinand, 15 Vidic, 22 O’Shea (Fabio Da Silva 84), 13 Park Ji-Sung, 16 Carrick, 17 Nani, 18 Scholes (red card), 25 Valencia (Hernandez 65), 09 Berbatov (Anderson 74). Substitutes 29 Kuszczak, 12 Smalling, 20 Fabio Da Silva, 08 Anderson, 28 Gibson, 07 Owen, 14 Hernandez

Referee: Dean

Attendance: 86,549

Two Years Ago Today: A MCFC Origins Event

How time flies? Two years ago today (April 11 2019) I staged an event at the Dancehouse in central Manchester to commemorate the 125th anniversary of Manchester City. We had a packed audience for the event and I intended to stage at least one event like this every year (then Covid happened!).

In 2019 I managed three special events at the Dancehouse connected with Manchester City’s history. In June there was the most recent showing of The Boys In Blue (my collaboration with the North West Film Archive at Manchester Metropolitan University) which provided exclusive films of the club from 1905 through to the modern era.

In September there was the launch of Manchester City Women: An Oral History (you can buy that book here: https://gjfootballarchive.com/shop/ ). This was a celebration of the history of the women’s club with guests from every era of the club’s history including many founding players and also England international Karen Bardsley.

I had hoped to stage events in 2020 and 2021 but back in April 2019 there was the commemoration of the 125th anniversary of the club’s birth as Manchester City. The talk of course went back further and discussed the 1870s and 1880s where I hoped to kill off a few myths (I’m still trying to kill off some of these myths. See: https://gjfootballarchive.com/2021/03/09/the-origins-of-manchester-city-facts-not-fiction/ for details!).

The presentation didn’t just dwell on the formative years of the club as I covered stories connected with Maine Road, fans and more. The following images are slides from that day and give an indication of what was covered.

The 300th Post

This site was launched on January 1 this year and already I’ve reached the 300th post. I’d like to take this opportunity of thanking all those who have commented on the site and, especially, those who have subscribed. 22,326 people have visited the site since it’s launch. I’m bowled over by the response. It really is appreciated.

For those that haven’t subscribed here’s some background to the site and comments on the material that you can find here.

I set the site up as an archive of new writing and of my past works with the intention being that over time as much of my past writing can be posted here for the enjoyment of subscribers. Subscribers can access all content on here, including the entire 2010 edition of my Manchester A Football History book (PDFs of every chapter from this out of print history of men’s football within the Manchester region) and exclusive audio interviews with John Bond, Malcolm Allison and George Graham. Much more to come of course.

There’s also the oldest surviving film of Manchester City Ladies (now Women), captured in January 1989 and numerous other articles (including some of my academic work) and stories.

Many of the articles are in-depth pieces of several thousand words.

If you would like to see the type of feature that’s been posted and do not currently subscribe use the ‘Free’ tab above to see a selection of posts, including an audio interview with Trevor Sinclair and profiles of Colin Bell, Sergio Agüero plus others.

For those of you that do subscribe I’d like to say ‘thanks’. It really is appreciated and I hope you’re happy with everything on the site. If you would like to suggest content (don’t worry I’ve got plenty scheduled over the coming months, but I’m always open to ideas from subscribers) then please contact me.

I’ve been asked a few times why I’ve set this site up and why much content is only available to subscribers. Well, at present I do not have a regular outlet for my writing, research and interviews and so I’ve set up this website to help share my 32 years plus writing and research. The intention is to develop the archive and to provide access to as much of my material as possible over the coming weeks, months & years. 

I am not employed by anyone and no one pays me to do research or interviews. Similarly, I do not have sponsorship or advertising either and so the choice was either find advertisers (which potentially may then have a detrimental effect on one of the other great Manchester writers/bloggers/vloggers who do have advertising – there’s only so many advertisers to go around) or have a subscription model. I chose the subscription model as this seems fairest. If people want to subscribe then that’s appreciated and I’m grateful; if not then that’s absolutely fine. That’s personal choice which I always support.

It costs £20 a year (it works out £1.67 a month) or £3 if you’d like to sign up a month at a time to get full access for as long as you subscribe (you can always try it for a month if you’ve doubts). It’s worth bearing in mind that the 2010 Manchester A Football History cost £24.95 and all subscribers will be able to access all of that for as long as they are a subscriber (plus all the other stuff of course). You can subscribe below.

Subscribe to get access

Read more of this site when you subscribe today.

Anyway, thanks for the support and for reading this. It is appreciated. Here’s to the next 300 posts!

Best wishes,

Gary.

Agüerooooooooooooooo!

Legend is an overused word by many within football. Personally, I’m a little more restrained than most and like to compare players from every era and to think about how a player will be viewed decades from now. So, it is not hyperbole when I describe Sergio Agüero as one of Manchester City’s – and football’s – greatest legends. He is without doubt the greatest goalscorer ever to grace City but he is also the greatest overseas goalscorer in Premier League history. He is an absolute legend!

So, the news that Sergio Agüero will be leaving Manchester City at the end of the 2020-21 season is highly disappointing (that’s an understatement!) to those of us who have watched his career in England since his arrival a decade ago. In the 1960s the great City manager Joe Mercer often described Francis Lee as the ‘final piece’ of his jigsaw – and it was Lee’s goals and arrival that helped to transform the 1967-68 season in to a title winning one – and Agüero should be described in a similar fashion. City had won the FA Cup in 2011 but it was Agüero’s arrival that ultimately led to the title in 2011-12. He was the final piece of that title winning jigsaw.

To understand why Francis Lee was called the final jigsaw piece you can read an in-depth of his career here:

Personally, I’m extremely upset that Sergio will be leaving City. As with Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany and David Silva, it will be a major loss. These guys became legends (as I indicated earlier I never use that term lightly!) at City and they thrilled and delighted us. As fans, we had a chance to formally say goodbye to Pablo & Vincent but, due to Covid, we haven’t yet been able to say farewell to David and maybe we won’t get a chance with Sergio (certainly not in a packed 54,000 stadium).

Hopefully an opportunity will come to say goodbye soon, but in the meantime here’s a profile of the man who became Manchester City’s greatest ever goalscorer. Back in 1997 I researched and wrote Manchester The Greatest City, an in-depth history of the Blues containing over half a million words. Sadly, the opportunity to update that and publish an epic history of the club is now unlikely due to changes in the publishing world, cost of production and more but if I did ever get the chance then a significant section would calmly, rationally and factually, explain the significance of Sergio to Manchester City’s development.

So many major stars have appeared for, coached and managed the Blues over the last thirteen years or so that their story really deserves to be told in-depth but, as I’m denied that opportunity these days, we’ll have to make do with features appearing on this website. Hopefully, these words will do justice to Sergio and, over the coming years, his colleagues.

Sergio was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina on June 2, 1988 and was given the nickname ‘Kun’ by his grandparents due to his likeness to an anime character. In 2008 he explained to the BBC: ‘Kun actually represents a Japanese cartoon character from my favourite series that I used to watch as a child. I coined the nickname Kun because of my resemblance to the character, who was actually named Kum Kum. My grandparents were the first ones who gave me the name. I think my nickname is different in comparison to most athletes and so I have grown to appreciate it because it’s unique. It’s not every day an athlete is nicknamed after a cartoon character!’

From the moment he could walk, or toddle, football meant everything to the young Sergio: ‘Football surrounds you in Argentina and so I began playing at a very young age. The truth is that I had always lived with the ball at my feet. As soon as class ended in Quilmes in Buenos Aires, my friends and I would start up a game. In Villa Itali, the neighbourhood where I was raised, there was also a pitch where we used to gather with the local kids and organise games. At any moment of the day we could have been playing, when the sun shined or when dark fell. I would spend hours and hours out there, sometimes even coming home late.’

At the age of 15 and 35 days Sergio, playing for Independiente, becoming the youngest player to appear in Argentina’s highest league (beating Maradona’s record). Looking back he explained in 2008: ‘There were some difficult times at first. I was a lot younger and smaller than most of the players, so I had to learn how to avoid and dodge aggressive tackles. At times, especially in the beginning, I think I became a target for malicious tackles and so referees were forced to look after or protect me, or at least pay closer attention to intentional rough hits. But eventually I learned to avoid these rough tackles and improved so that I was able to anticipate and dodge injuries.’

Sergio’s form from the moment he made his debut in 2003 through to 2006 was enough for the media to suggest the 17 year old should play for Argentina in the 2006 World Cup.

On April 29, 2006 the Irish Independent highlighted him as a face to watch and a few days later journalist Stuart Condie wrote: ‘At 15, Agüero became the youngest player in Argentina’s top league and this season has eight goals in 16 league matches for Independiente. Cesar Luis Menotti, Argentina’s 1978 World Cup-winning coach, said he has “something of Romario about him.” Romario helped Brazil win the 1994 championship in the United States.’

Condie quoted the then Argentinian coach Jose Pekerman who said: ‘Kun is playing out of his skin at the moment. There are many players who didn’t get to play at the World Cup until they were 24 or 25. I’m not saying that’s going to be the case with Agüero. I remain hopeful that he can still make it.’

Sadly, Sergio did not appear at the 2006 World Cup but he did make his international debut that year (September 3) against Brazil at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium. A year later he netted his first international goal in a 2010 World Cup qualifier against Bolivia and was ultimately selected for the Argentinian World Cup squad of 2010. Sergio scored in his first finals game – he came on for Carlos Tevez in the 75th minute v South Korea and scored a minute later. Sergio, Sergio!

Often described as ‘the new Maradona’ around this time, Sergio had already won the World Junior Championships twice (2005 & 2007 – he won the Golden Boot as top goalscorer and the Golden Ball as player of the tournament in 2007) and an Olympic Gold Medal (2008 – Argentina won the men’s football tournament of course!). He had also joined Atlético Madrid, signing in May 2006.

When asked about why he had left Argentina and Independiente Sergio explained in 2007: ‘The reason I left Independiente is because I care for the club so much. If I hadn’t been sold for so much money there would not be an Independiente. Their debt problems were so bad they could have gone under. I couldn’t let that happen. I felt sorry for the fans and I understood their anger. But they realise now it was the only solution. It is a great feeling to know they have not forgotten me and chant my name – I will never forget them.’

It is clear that the club continues to mean a great deal for the player and that his comments, back in 2007, were sincere. His move did ensure the club could survive but it added to the focus he received. 

Inevitably, delivering so much at such an early age would have put Sergio under immense pressure at times. The comparisons with Maradona (Sergio married his daughter as well); the focus in Argentina and then playing in the Spanish League… all of this could have affected him, like the pressure has so many other young footballers, but Sergio always seemed to keep level headed. When asked in 2008 he commented that he did not feel pressure, adding ‘football comes to me so naturally it’s more like having fun than a job. For me, having a kickabout with my friends is as important as playing in the final of the World Cup.’

It’s worth remembering he was still only 20 when he made those comments. The pressure of life at a top Spanish club and playing for Argentina was intense, especially after he was described by the Atlético president Enrique Cerezo as ‘the most important player to arrive in Spain since Maradona.’ There was also the small matter of Sergio punching the ball into the net – according to those who supported clubs other than Atlético of course! He didn’t, but the goal was scored off his hands. Sergio explained in January 2007: ‘The goal I’m famous for here is the one I scored against Recreativo when the ball hit off my hands and ended in the net. People say it was another Hand Of God goal but if the referee doesn’t disallow it, I’m not going to complain! I didn’t mean to punch the ball past the keeper. I just threw myself at the cross and it went in, although it was definitely off my hands. It’s forgotten now and I’m just concentrating on helping Atletico climb the table.’

In 2008 there were a number of features on Sergio in the media suggesting an English club may try to sign him. They talked of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United with journalist Glen Moore saying ‘He would cost €60m, but that could be cheap for a talented 20-year-old.’ The following year the Irish Independent described him as ‘a player all of Europe covets and one with the skill to unlock any defence.’ 

The Daily Star claimed that Alex Ferguson had Sergio on his wish list behind Dimitar Berbatov in July 2008 – it’s worth remembering that Berbatov eventually signed for United on transfer deadline day that year when the Reds were seemingly in a battle over transfers with City. It’s amazing to think of what might have happened if United hadn’t made such a determined attempt at getting Berbatov and City had signed him, not Robinho, that day. Would Sergio have ended up at Old Trafford? How different could Manchester’s football story have been over the following decade? 

Similarly, in July 2009 Jason Burt, writing for the Irish Independent, claimed that City were trying to lure John Terry away from Chelsea for £28m plus and if that went ahead then the London club might prepare a bid for Sergio. Fate, it seems, played its part in ensuring City’s early spending following the September 2008 takeover did not lead to a rival Premier League club capturing the Argentinian.

In February 2011 it was reported in the Telegraph that Harry Redknapp had tried to sign Sergio for Spurs – leading to Atlético extending his contract – and then on July 17 that year the same newspaper reported that Sergio’s then father-in-law, Maradona, had given his blessing to the player moving to City. Blues’ boss Roberto Mancini was quoted as saying: ‘Agüero is a player that can play for Manchester City because he is young and he is a good player like Carlos [Tevez]. He can score a lot of goals and can play with Mario, with Edin … it could be [that he joins us].’

On July 28 2011, after City chair Khaldoon Al Mubarak allegedly took the highly unusual step of getting directly involved in the transfer, Sergio officially joined City for a fee reported as £35m – an absolute bargain when you consider what he has achieved since BUT also a bargain compared to the amounts that other teams were alleged to have been prepared to spend to capture him at various times in the previous few years.  It’s worth remembering Liverpool had paid Newcastle £35m for Andy Carroll in January of that year! I know which player I think offered the most value for money.

The great Argentinian former Spurs star Ossie Ardiles gave his view of Sergio at this time: ‘Agüero’s a wonderful player, only 23, and with a lot of potential. If you compare him with Tevez, I would say he is more of a proper striker, a traditional centre-forward. He is very skilful, strong, two-footed and he has the number one thing that all top frontmen have, and that is an ability to make scoring look very easy.’

Ossie was right and so were many others who recognised that Sergio was the signing City needed to push forward. There were some who, for their own personal reasons, wrote negatively about Sergio’s arrival (maybe they’d have written differently had he joined certain other clubs?), but overwhelmingly it was clear that Sergio was that ‘final jigsaw piece’. 

David Maddock, writing in the Daily Mirror, correctly prophesised: ‘City are not just getting one of the most exciting strikers in the world… they are also, apparently, getting a talisman who can provide the impetus for them to take the final step into the elite… The signing ofAgüero promises a huge impact, as the crowds in Manchester last night suggested. By signing a similar player to Tevez, but one who is younger, quicker and with far more potential, City are upgrading.


‘The fact the Argentina striker has replaced Tevez in his country’s forward line and is rated more highly back home adds to that sense of moving onwards and upwards for the club’s supporters.’

Inevitably Sergio was quoted in most of the national newspapers over the days that followed with the Sun carrying several quotes, beginning with whether the weather in Manchester would cause Sergio problems: ‘Firstly I don’t like very hot weather so on that side of things I will be OK. I’m sure I am going to enjoy myself here and life will be fine.’ He added: “My style has always been to fight to the death for every ball, to give 100 per cent in every game, be concentrated to the maximum in everything I do. I think we are a team that in the future will be fighting every year to win trophies. And let’s hope that it is a quite a few major trophies.’ Well, Sergio, you certainly did challenge for trophies (quite a few) every year!

Sergio’s competitive City career began with a 59th minute substitute appearance against Swansea in the Premier League on August 15, 2011 (the first Premier League meeting with Swansea). Within nine minutes he’d scored his first goal (a tap in from a cross by Micah Richards) and in injury time he netted his second (a 30 yard strike). In addition, he also set up David Silva to score (he’d hooked the ball off the byline and passed it to Silva).

You can read about the game here:

Oliver Holt, writing in the Daily Mirror, correctly reported how it felt to those of us in the stadium that day: ‘City fans should be entitled to think a forward ought to be a bit special. But to be at the Etihad Stadium last night and to witness the Manchester City debut of Sergio ‘Kun’ Agüero felt like being in on something momentous. It felt like a landmark… Of all the superstar arrivals that have happened here in the blur of transfer activity that has taken place since Sheikh Mansour bought the club three years ago, Agüero’s feels as if it has the power to transform the side. There was an electricity about the place when he came on for Nigel de Jong after an hour. There was a feeling that something special was about to occur.’

And something special did occur. We all know about the Agüeroooooooo goal that brought City the Premier League title but the player has always been something more than that goal.

Over the near decade that has followed his arrival incredible success has come City’s way with Agüero usually playing a significant part in each glory. Surprisingly he’s never been awarded either the PFA footballer of the year or the Football Writers’ equivalent (lots of City fans have theories why!) but he has won a whole host of personal awards including the Premier League Golden Boot 2015; Manchester City Player of the Year 2012 & 2015 and the Football Supporters Federation Player of the Year 2014. 

Sergio also, of course, became City’s record goalscorer of all time. In fact he holds most of the Blues goalscoring records: Overall goalscorer 257 goals (next best Eric Brook 177); League goalscorer 181 goals (next best Tommy Johnson & Eric Brook 158) and Europe 43 goals (next best Raheem Sterling 21). He’s second in the list of FA Cup goalscorers for City on 20 goals, two behind Fred Tilson – but Tilson played 28 FA Cup games and Sergio has only played 20.

His League record is incredible: 181 goals in 232 (plus 39 as sub) appearances. That’s a ratio of 0.66789 goals per game, ignoring how many minutes he’s actually been on the pitch. Johnson’s City League record was 0.4817 goals per League game and Brook’s was 0.3511. If we consider all strikers to have made 100 or more appearances in the Premier League only Thierry Henry (ratio of 0.67829) and Harry Kane (0.67510) have a better ratio and neither man has played as many games. In January 2018 I did a profile of Sergio’s goalscoring for the Manchester City match programme and in that I calculated that his record was 0.682 goals per League game. Since then injury and less actual game time has made that figure reduce, otherwise he would still have had the best goals to game ratio in the Premier League. 

Of course, goals per game totally ignores how long the player was actually on the pitch and in the last year or so Sergio has often been brought on as substitute, sometimes at a stage where City have been content with a result or with too little game time for Sergio to make an impact. When analysis of goals per minute played City have rightly claimed him as ‘the competition’s most lethal goalscorer in terms of goals scored per minutes played.’

He is the highest scoring overseas player in Premier League history and holds the record for the most Premier League hat-tricks.

At present Sergio is the 16th highest appearance holder for City. As of March 30th he is ten games behind the club’s earliest legendary figure Billy Meredith and four ahead of Glyn Pardoe, Tommy Doyle’s granddad and a crucial member of the 1960s/early 1970s team.

No wonder the City chairman has said: ‘Sergio’s contribution to Manchester City over the last 10 years cannot be overstated. His legend will be indelibly etched into the memories of everyone who loves the Club and maybe even in those who simply love football.

‘In the meantime, it gives me great pleasure to announce that we will be commissioning an artist to create a statue of Sergio to live at the Etihad Stadium alongside the ones under construction for Vincent and David. And we look forward to the opportunity to bid Sergio a fitting farewell at the end of the season.’

Manchester City have had many great goalscoring figures over the years, including World Cup stars and international heroes but, in terms of records, emotion and trophies, Agüero’s record eclipses all that have gone before. Inevitably it is difficult to compare heroes from one era with another, but whenever comparisons are made between Agüero and the modern era’s greatest strikers the evidence is clear.  Sergio Agüero’s statistics speak for themselves with few Premier League legends able to compare to the record of City’s Argentinian star. For me Agüero is the best.

The next few weeks are going to be emotional for us all as we bid farewell to City’s – and one of the Premier League’s – greatest ever goalscorer. Sergio, we will miss you.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this profile. As I said at the start it’s unlikely I’ll ever be able to update my epic Manchester The Greatest City (last edition was Manchester The City Years published in 2012) and a profile of Sergio, alongside all the other legends, would be something I’d have sought to include. From now on material like that will make its way on to http://www.GJFootballArchive.com – some will be free to read for a period while other content will be only available to subscribers. Currently, there are almost 300 articles posted to this site including the entire Manchester A Football History and exclusive audio interviews with Trevor Sinclair, John Bond, George Graham and Malcolm Allison (it is my intention to publish some of my historic interviews alongside new content). Subscribers get full access to all of this.

Apart from occasional books, this is now my only writing outlet. My last article for a match programme was published before the first Covid lockdown and so if you want to read more content like the above or would like to access historic articles/interviews/recordings then please subscribe. It costs £20 a year (it works out about £1.67 a month) and you get full access throughout your subscription period. You can subscribe below. Thanks for reading. It is appreciated. Gary James, March 30 2021.

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George Graham Interview – March 1993

On this day (30th March) in 1993 I travelled to Arsenal’s old stadium, Highbury, to interview the Arsenal manager George Graham, not about the Gunners’ form that season but about his former boss – and Arsenal legend – Joe Mercer.

Joe was the Aston Villa manager who brought George to England many, many years before George had found fame as a footballer and Joe had taken Manchester City to their first European honour. Joe did win the League Cup as Aston Villa boss, but these were not great days for the former Everton and Arsenal playing legend, but he did always feel responsible for bringing George to England (and loved the success he brought Arsenal).

My interview with George had been arranged for Tuesday 30th March 1993 some time in advance but then Arsenal’s FA Cup semi-final with Tottenham was scheduled for the following Sunday at Wembley (a highly unusual occurrence at the time!). I expected to get a call cancelling the interview but instead George decided to go ahead with it.

On the day I parked up outside Highbury quite early but as I pulled up I saw George leave the stadium and jump into a car. I was early, so wasn’t too worried. Then I remembered the FA Cup semi-final and assumed that George would be busy with plans. I expected to be told when I entered the marble hall at Highbury that the meeting would be off.

When I spoke with the reception staff they told me to take a seat. They said that George had been called away and so could be a few minutes late (which he was). I was relieved because I’d been convinced he would cancel (it’s happened often with other busy managers).

I sat in reception thinking about the chat and then, a few minutes after we were due to meet, George walked in. He spoke with the receptionist and then came towards me, hand out, saying ‘I’m George Graham’ (I remember thinking ‘I know’ but I did love the fact that he introduced himself). He took me up to his impressive office at Highbury – no other offices at any ground I had been to at that time could match the quality and status of that room.

We then did the interview. It’s not my best – I think I was overawed by the situation – but I was appreciative of George’s time. During the interview Stewart Houston, his assistant, popped in to check something with George (I turned off my recorder) and George ushered him away, telling him that he was busy. Again, I loved this – other managers have sometimes disappeared and not come back but for George he’d set this time aside to see me and chat about Joe Mercer and that’s what he was doing.

Arsenal beat Spurs that weekend so, I suppose, George knew what he was doing but I do remember watching that game on TV thinking that if Arsenal lose I’d never be able to tell anyone that George had spent time being pestered about Joe Mercer when he should’ve been preparing for Tottenham!

If you subscribe to this site you can hear the interview below. I have been researching and writing for a long time and my Joe Mercer book was my third (first published in 1993). I am not employed by anyone and I do not have sponsorship either and so I’ve set up this website to help share my 32 years plus writing and research. The intention is to develop the archive and to provide access to as much of my material as possible over the coming weeks, months & years. Subscribers can already access over 280 articles/posts including the entire Manchester A Football History book and audio interviews with Malcolm Allison and John Bond.

It costs £20 a year (it works out £1.67 a month) or £3 if you’d like to sign up a month at a time to get full access for as long as you subscribe.

Anyway, here’s the George Graham interview:

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