City Football Academy launch dominates the headlines
- 09 December 2014 07:43
- Posted by @markbooth_mcfc
Home, sweet home…
It brings me great pleasure to be penning this first media round-up from our new base.
In case you missed it (surely not), a day six years in the making finally arrived as City Football Academy (CFA) officially opened on Monday morning.
The media were invited to the launch event and given a guided tour of the new East Manchester facility which is the new base for the club’s football operations, from our under-8s right through to the first-team.
The reception to has been universally positive in all of the newspapers you’re waking up to this morning, so let’s dip in and find out what’s been said…
Who better to give his thoughts than Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak, who revealed that CFA has been in the pipeline since the very day His Highness Sheikh Mansour completed the takeover of the club?
“We always intended that the City Football Academy be a catalyst for the creation of talent and opportunity. Our aim is to see young footballers realise their full potential both on and off the field,” Al Mubarak is quoted as saying on the Sky Sports website.
"This development represents an investment in both Manchester and in football, two things which we strongly believe in.
“Today marks the end of six years of extensive research, development and construction involving many, many people. It also marks the beginning of a responsibility to deliver against the opportunities we have created for ourselves. It is not the end of the journey but rather an important staging post.
"The very first task Sheikh Mansour (City owner) and I discussed was to create an engine for the development and enhancement of talent, something that would truly differentiate the club as a leader in the world of football.
“The cornerstone for the future was a vision for youth development and sustainability. A vision to educate talented young footballers, on and off the pitch and to do so in a place supported by the best coaches and coaching programmes.”
There's a great read in the Daily Mail on former Arsenal defender Martin Keown's trip to the facility.
Keown was given a guided tour by his former teammate, EDS boss Patrick Vieira and reflected positively on the way home.
"That club has a deeper vision, they are on a journey and they are creating pathways to the first team," Keown said.
"The challenge now is to get young players – hopefully, young English players – through their system and playing for Manchester City in the Premier League.
"The captains of their Under 12, Under 16 and Under 18 teams are all English and won national championships in their age groups, seven of the England Under 16 squad are from City, 75 per cent of the academy is from Greater Manchester and they are moving in the right direction.
"They know it is not about a building - it is what that leads to - but I like what they have done. The round dressing rooms… just like King Arthur and his knights; everyone is equal.
"They have built in the heart of Manchester, too, and they are creating a heart and an infrastructure.
"The money helps what City are doing, of course. But they are using it wisely. I told Vincent, 'You have built a wonderful home'. We have seen something special. Something very special."
That one is well worth the read in full... spine-tingling stuff.
The Argentine full-back believes that the opening of CFA gives the club everything needed to produce local talent for the first-team.
“I hope in the next few years we can see some of the young players from the academy come into the first team and have a chance to play regularly,” said Zabaleta. “It means that the quality of the young players what we have in the squad has to improve to have a chance.
“I’m absolutely sure that in the next few years we will see some of them have success in the first team because they have quality. They are better players now and they have competed well in the Champions League youth competition and also in the Premier League Under-21 League so it’s great for them to prepare well for the next few years and have a chance in the first team.
“I can’t guarantee there will be two or three, we will see. But I can see the quality of them is better than before.
“We need to be realistic and say that it’s difficult for them, because you can see the squad is very big.
“We have a group of 23 or 24 good players and some big names which is good for the team because we know that we play in a lot of competitions here and we need a big squad to let the manager rotate and the team be fresh. That’s what you need when big teams play for trophies.”
Zabaleta is well placed to comment on the club’s transformation over the last six years, seeing as he was signed just before the takeover was completed.
“Obviously there have been a lot of changes over the last few years but you can see the commitment from the owners,” he declared.
“We stay here the night before a game which is better than being in a hotel. It’s more private here, we don’t see people around and it’s more comfortable for the team.
“The facilities, the dressing room, the spa, even the canteen is fantastic, everything you can imagine is there. As a player, you come here each day thinking ‘I’d rather be here than my house!’ I could spend eight or nine hours here.”
Finally for today, you might have thought AS Roma boss Rudi Garcia would have been secretly rubbing his hands with glee at the sight of Sergio Aguero hobbling off against Everton on Saturday but that’s not the case.
The Frenchman has said he would have preferred to face City with their leading scorer in the line-up in very classy, sporting sentiments reported on the official Roma website.
"Aguero? It's a shame for football when such a great player suffers an injury like that,” he stated.
“I'd have preferred to see him at the Olimpico.
“That's another reason why you rotate: to reduce the risk of things like that happening."
Everything you need to know about City Football Academy is here – we’ll have all of the build-up to our crucial UEFA Champions League game in Rome here on the site throughout the day.