Different Gravy: A Review of MCFC’s Together Film

last night I was fortunate to attend the premiere of the new Manchester City film Together at the Everyman Cinema, ABC Building on Quay Street, Manchester. Here is my review of the film and the evening.

Guests were welcomed from 6PM with some drinks and nibbles at the cinema. I’d never been to the Everyman before. It’s a fairly new, stylish cinema and a welcome addition to Manchester’s entertainment offering. The bar area encouraged a relaxed mood and it was good to chat with various City staff and guests, most of whom I haven’t seen since before Covid. I spent quite a bit of time with actor John Henshaw who, like me, had worked on The Keeper (the film about Trautmann – he played Bert’s father-in-law and I was a historical consultant to the film).

About 7pm we were invited into the cinema room, passing the Premier League and League Cup trophies. The seats are plush, most are two seater settee style seats and some are single. Popcorn was of course readily available.

Rob Pollard, a member of City’s media team who many Blues will know, did a great introduction. It was great to see a regular member of City staff fronting the premiere like this and Rob represented all those involved well. Great work and much better to me than bringing on a celebrity announcer who hadn’t a direct connection to the film to present it. The name of the film is Together and Rob’s introduction added to that general theme in my opinion.

The film then started. I won’t give away too much in this review but it is worth explaining what the film is and a few key points/memories from it.

The film follows the players through the final stages of the 2020-21 season showing City’s fight in four competitions. Obviously, there are high points and a few lows in the film but this isn’t a typical ‘let’s see City scoring goals from every angle’ film. Instead it’s a fly on the wall style supported with interviews with players looking back at certain points. Goals and match action are often filmed from a camera in the stands or on the sidelines rather than typical broadcast coverage. I think this adds to the view that we’re observing something we don’t normally see.

There’s quite a bit of humour in there and the personalities of some players really come out. De Bruyne displays a deadpan style of humour – at one point he’s asked what would be going through Mahrez’s mind as he’s preparing to take a penalty and he simply says ‘I don’t know’. Scott Carson arrives dressed as a fireman one day and we learn how popular he is with the rest of the squad. Everyone’s delighted when he gets to appear in his first Premier League game for a decade.

Phil Foden features a lot and he talks about Aguero, explaining how he was in awe of him when Foden first made his way into the team. We also see Aguero telling Foden that he’s ‘Different Gravy’ after the League Cup final.

Food features a lot… we see smoothies being made, Walker helping the chefs and we hear how Riyad’s Pasta has become the most popular dish for several players. Oh, and then there’s Pep trying a bacon sandwich!

There was a personal bonus for me when I spotted two of my nephews on screen holding up an Aguero banner in the film.

Overall, the film is a great watch and lasts over 90 minutes. It’s available on City+ from today and I think that all those involved deserve praise for what they’ve achieved. Considering this is an in-house production the quality of the production is impressive. Football clubs traditionally don’t produce film productions of this quality. Nice work City’s media team.

The ending was always going to be tough for a film that chronicles the last weeks of the season but I think they did a great ending… I won’t say how it ends but keep watching after the CL final conclusion.

Oh, and if you do watch Together make sure you look out for the in-depth description of the ‘boot steamer’ when watching!

Here’s a trailer:

Subscriber Post – Manchester City’s Youngest

Manchester City fans are extremely proud of the development of young players. Throughout the years City’s Academy has developed some extraordinarily talented players. Today I’m taking a look at some of the club’s landmark youngest record holders.

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City’s history via 16 players

I’m always keen to find links between today’s Manchester City and the key players of the past and so I set myself the task of trying to find connections from the club’s first competitive game in 1890 through to the Premier League successes of today.

The idea was to see how few players I could find to form a chain through the decades.  Subscribers can read the result of my efforts below:

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The Player of the Year Awards

This season has seen Manchester City players win several prominent player of the year awards with Kevin De Bruyne winning the PFA player of the year award; Phil Foden the PFA young player of the year and Lauren Hemp won the women’s PFA young player of the year award. There was also Ruben Dias won the FWA footballer of the year award and the Premier League player of the year award.

This is an incredible array of awards. The following subscriber post details all the Manchester City winners of these awards since their formation:

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Phil Foden

Once again Manchester City fan and player Phil Foden has put in a really good performance in City’s first team and, once again, this has led to some commentating on football to claim that Pep Guardiola does not give the player chances. The general comment being that Pep does not give Phil enough starts or opportunities. So I’ve decided to have a look at Phil’s opportunities so far with City.

Firstly, exactly how many games has Phil appeared in?  Well since making his debut at the age of 17 years and five months in 2017 against Feyenoord Phil has played in 93 first team games for City. That’s not far off an average of 30 a season during his developing years. Not bad going for a player who doesn’t get a chance!

This season we’re 24 games in and already Phil has appeared in 19 first team games. Only Raheem Sterling (22) and Rodri (23) have appeared in more games for City this season so far. That doesn’t look like someone who isn’t being given a chance to me. In addition, no player has appeared in more Champions League games for City this season than Phil – one of three players (with Sterling and Silva) to have made six CL appearances.

‘Ah, but what about in the Premier League then? It’s okay appearing in the cups, but what about getting his chance in the League?’ is something else that those criticising Pep will focus on. Well, in terms of the Premier League, Phil has appeared in 11 games. Only Rodri (15), Sterling (14), Ederson (14), De Bruyne (14), Dias (13) and Walker (12) have appeared in more Premier League games this season.

‘Okay, but what about his starts?’ is another popular line taken. These days it’s extremely rare for a manager not to use multiple substitutes in a game and the days of the same eleven that start a game ending a game are extremely rare. Nevertheless, the argument has to be considered. 

Ever since his first appearance Phil has made 93 appearances in all first team competitions. Of those 93 appearances he has started 45 games, slightly less than half, but that’s considering his entire career. What about this season? Well, so far this in 2020-21 he has started 68% of all the games he has played – and don’t forget only two players have appeared in more games!

Over the last couple of years I’ve been researching and writing the biography of Peter Barnes (due out later in 2021) and the parallels between the two players are important. Like Phil, Peter was given his debut as a 17 year old (Peter was almost 17 years and 4 months old while Phil was a little older, almost 17 years and 6 months) and was heralded as a great, young, local talent who supported City. Both players were twenty when they made their England debuts, with Peter being described as the ‘saviour of English football’ shortly afterwards by those reporting on international football.

The status of both players was similar at the age of twenty yet the main difference is that Phil has actually made more appearances for his club than Peter had by the time he was the same age as Phil is today. Peter had played 88 first team games while Phil has played 93. Okay, some will say that City play more European games today than they did during Peter’s time. Well that is true, although City were competitors in knock-out European competition during Peter’s career. However, there were more League games in Peter’s day than today, so the overall balance is similar.

What I have found most interesting when comparing Phil and Peter’s early careers is that, like Phil, Peter often started a game, put in a great performance and then found himself dropped for the next match. It happened frequently and it did make fans question the management at times, however the media took a different view to fans. They believed and wrote that Tony Book, the City boss at the time, was ‘protecting’ his young star. That no matter how talented Peter was his boss knew how to help his career develop. In essence, the less he played then the better it was for Peter’s development and, ultimately, for his long term England career. With Phil Foden the media perception seems somewhat different – and this at a time when squad rotation is the norm. 

Understandably, as fans we want to see every one of our favourite players appear in every game but for managers they have to think about their club’s chance of success, the development of their players and keeping everyone in the squad happy. That’s not really any different today than it was forty years or so ago when Peter Barnes was making his name.

It’s important to note that Peter Barnes’ City career changed considerably when Malcolm Allison returned as coach and moved on the club’s greatest stars so that he could concentrate on building a new team. Peter left, but Allison’s determination to utilise youthful players failed. Perhaps he needed to exhibit some of the care and protection for his young players that Tony Book did with Peter and Pep Guardiola has been doing with Phil.

So, the point of this article was really to say that despite the criticism that still gets aired by some, Phil Foden is being used effectively by Pep. We may want to see more of him but this season so far Pep has played him more than the majority of the squad. His management through Phil’s development appears to have worked and he should be praised, like Tony Book was in the 70s, for his support of young players.

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