MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 14: Pep Guardiola, manager of Manchester City talks to his players during the training session at Manchester City Football Academy on August 14, 2019 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Matt McNulty - Manchester City/Manchester City FC via Getty Images)

Welcome to the all-new Last Word On Football Manchester City Manifesto. This will be your one-stop-shop for all things Manchester City every Tuesday throughout the season (we’re a bit late this week, granted). Detailed recaps of the games, previews of midweek action, injuries, Women’s Team and academy updates; you can find them all right here every Tuesday.

Manchester City Manifesto

Men’s Team

The Men’s team was in action on Saturday as they took on West Ham United in their first Premier League game of the season. Obviously, the main talking point from that game has been VAR, and we will get to that. But here on the Manchester City Manifesto, we want to celebrate the great play from players under serious pressure this season.

Those players? Riyad Mahrez, Gabriel Jesus, and Kyle Walker. Jesus and Mahrez are facing a unique opportunity to keep themselves at Manchester City. Mahrez needs a good season if he is going to stay and another good year from Jesus could accelerate his ascension into Sergio Aguero’s starting place.

So it was good to see both of them play really well at London Stadium. Mahrez had a number of great runs and touches before grabbing two assists late in the second half. Gabriel Jesus grabbed the first goal after a real lung-busting run from known speedster Kyle Walker.

Walker has seemed to take the addition of Joao Cancelo perfectly. He was on his game in the Community Shield, with a lovely acrobatic clearance off the goal-line and he was on it again on Saturday, grabbing an assist and keeping West Ham in check whenever they came forward.

VAR

We must turn to the most controversial moment to come out of this game; Raheem Sterling’s disallowed goal. Sterling scored but was judged to be offside by VAR, and it is possibly the closest offside call since VAR came into our lives a few years ago. The superimposed line drawn from Sterling’s armpit was just in front of the line from Ryan Fredericks’ armpit.

It has invoked a debate about whether offside is a rule that should be applied in such a cut-and-dry matter. Offsides is a rule more about the spirit of the game, keeping teams from employing literal penalty box poachers. VAR has made it such a ruthless rule, taking away the joy that football brings to us all.

However, this is part of what happens when VAR is introduced. We have to be okay sacrificing some of the passion in exchange for the ability to correct mistakes. It can seem cruel or unfair but as time goes on the system will hopefully get better. And more importantly the fans will get used to waiting for decisions to be confirmed, and these types of problems will be replaced.

Women’s Team

The Manchester City Women’s team are currently in North Carolina for the Women’s International Champions Cup. It will be a four-team preseason tournament featuring Atletico Madrid, Lyon, and the North Carolina Courage. This will be a big test as this is a very different Manchester City side to last year’s.

Gone is leading goal-scorer and England World Cup representative Nikita Parris. She coincidently signed with Lyon. Gone too are Jennifer Beattie, Clair Emslie and Abbie McManus, but their replacements might be even better.

In comes England’s top scorer from the World Cup, Ellen White, and her former Birmingham City teammate Aoife Mannion as well. City also signed Laura Coombs, Geum-min Lee and Tyler Toland giving them a pretty formidable squad. Everyone except White will feature in the Women’s ICC, White has been left in England with an undisclosed injury.

Manchester City will face the North Carolina Courage on Thursday, August 15th in the second game of the Women’s ICC. The Courage features Women’s World Cup winners Crystal Dunn, Abby Dahlkemper, Jessica Mcdonald, and Sam Mewis. It should be a real test to see how good Manchester City are up against some of the best players in the United States.

Academy

Each week the Academy section will be devoted to highlighting the performances of one young player that week. It could be someone on the EDS team, someone younger, or someone who used to be a member of Manchester City’s youth system that is thriving somewhere else. This week let’s have a look at 17-year-old centre-back Taylor Harwood-Bellis.

Harwood-Bellis was in the news this week after Pep Guardiola mentioned him as an option for the first team in his pre-match press conference on Friday. Harwood-Bellis captained the England U17 side this summer and made a solid impression against West Ham and Wolverhampton Wanderers in the pre-season.

He joined Manchester City when he was eight and has been turning heads ever since. The 6’2” playing is an excellent defending centre-back. He makes good decisions when tackling and has the strength to easily handle his age group. He’s not the best passer, but even Pep was impressed with his passing in the game against West Ham.

Most importantly Harwood-Bellis is set to start alongside fellow massive prospect Eric Garcia in Paul Harsley’s EDS team. Each of them is an elite centre-back prospect and could find themselves playing in some first-team matches this season. Hopefully, they can continue to dominate their age group and form a strong partnership in their first season on the EDS team full-time.

Epilogue

That’s it for the first Manchester City Manifesto of the season. Keep coming back to Last Word On Football and Manchestercityfootball.co for all the latest on the Cityzens.

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