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Is Manchester City a happy hunting ground for English talent?

Is Manchester City a happy hunting ground for English talent?

A substantial number of teams in the Premier League have academies filled with English talent just waiting to burst through into the first-team. Manchester City are not one of them. Micah Richards was the last academy graduate to become a regular starter for City. Nonetheless, it would be quite an audacious statement to say that the sky blue half of Manchester prevent English players from earning caps for their national team, because it is simply not true. Joe Hart is a prime example of this. He is City and England’s first choice goalkeeper and at the age of 28, he could be the main man for both club and country for at least another five years.

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In addition to Hart, Man City bought two Englishmen; namely Fabian Delph and Raheem Sterling, in the 2015 summer transfer window and they have both improved since being at the club. Raheem Sterling would not have endured all of the abuse and death threats that he did if he had not thought that it would be beneficial to his career both at club level and internationally. I was initially one of the millions of football fans who thought Raheem Sterling and his agent were out of order and disrespectful to the club that made him the player that he is today. But on reflection, it was clear to me that Sterling no longer saw Liverpool as a title winning side after they narrowly missed out on the Premier League in the 2013/14 season and at 21 years of age, why should he settle for mediocrity when he could go to a club with more chance of winning trophies?

Raheem Sterling’s transfer to Manchester City made him the most expensive English player ever and he has a lot to live up to, but he has settled in very well at City. Sterling scored his first league goal for the club in August in a 2-0 win over Watford and he was also named Man of the Match in that game. In Man City’s match against AFC Bournemouth in October, Raheem scored his first career hat-trick and was named Man of the Match yet again. He has five Premier League goals for the season so far, only two less than his total for Liverpool last season, but he is slowly proving his worth and long may it continue. Furthermore, the cash-rich club are still very much in the title race so there is every possibility that Sterling could end his first season at Manchester City with a Premier League winners medal.

Fabian Delph’s move to City was probably even more controversial than Sterling’s and that takes some beating! He publicly declared that he would not move to Manchester City at the last moment after the move seemed certain. Then he proceeded to pledge his future to Aston Villa as their captain before eventually turning full circle and moving to City. He did not go about it the right way, but so far it seems like he made a good move. Delph had only managed to score three goals in 112 games for Aston Villa but so far at Manchester City, he has got two goals in two starts. He has also shown huge signs of improvement at City and at this moment in time, he appears to have made the right career move. Furthermore, with regards to his England future, Delph started in England’s international friendly against Spain and assuming he is fully fit, can expect to be in and around Roy Hodgson’s plans for Euro 2016.

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In an interview with the Daily Mail in July last year, Joe Hart made it clear that he does not believe joining Manchester City is detrimental for Englishmen with international aspirations. He stated that he has English friends who have played at Manchester City: “Joleon (Lescott), Gareth (Barry), James Milner, Jack Rodwell – they’ve all won here. We’re here to win, it’s as simple as that.”

Examining Hart’s statement even further shows that he is correct. English players at Manchester City have scooped 24 medals in the last five years which is actually more than at any other club. Micah Richards, James Milner and Gareth Barry are just some of the English players that were involved in those successful years at Man City.

The names of Adam Johnson, Scott Sinclair and Jack Rodwell are just some of those that will be thrown in as a counter-argument to say that English players failed to succeed at Manchester City. However, the more realistic answer is just that the move was a leap too far for these players and perhaps at the time it was not the right change for those three. In addition, all of these English players have one thing in common: the only place that they have won any trophies or major honours has been at Manchester City. Adam Johnson and Jack Rodwell won five major honours between them whilst at the Etihad and these are the only ones that they currently have in their playing careers.

English players are succeeding at Manchester City and there is no reason why this cannot continue. Why would former Manchester United players Darren Fletcher and Phil Neville send their sons to Manchester City’s academy; risking the wrath of their former club’s fans, if they did not think they stood a chance of making it?

Featured Image: All rights reserved by Steffan Bowen

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