Summer tour: Marc Stein interview III
- Wed 27 Jul 2011, 10:03AM
- Posted by Tim Oscroft
The Blues are back home from nearly three weeks abroad, but we’re going back to the States one last time.
To recap City’s North American tour, let’s again turn to longtime friend and colleague Marc Stein from US broadcasting giants ESPN for an American perspective.
The last of three Q-and-A installments with Stein, a lifelong Blue, looks back at City’s farewell victory over the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer and the trip as a whole.
Q: How did you rate the scene and atmosphere in Los Angeles for the last match of the tour?
A: I saw more City shirts in one spot than I can ever remember in the States ... even surpassing Ricky Hatton's fights in Las Vegas. It was the rare afternoon in Southern California that David Beckham heard boos every time he touched the ball and that the hardy soul walking around in a yellow Darius Vassell away shirt from 2006 did not look out of place.
Q: Mario’s pirouette wasn’t the only talking point in that game, was it?
A: I’m sure it reads that way thanks to all the coverage his failed helicopter-and-backheel (that’s what we’d call it in the States) is getting. Yet I can also report that David Silva completed his first 45-minute outing of the preseason with the usual doses of incisive passing and that Joe Hart’s penalty blast into the upper right corner to win the game was up there with the left-footed volley Mike Magee struck to bring the home side level.
Q: Looking at the tour as a whole, who were City’s best players?
A: Shaun Wright-Phillips and Vladimir Weiss. Even in the closed-door friendly against the Ventura County Fusion, which I was smuggled into Saturday morning with about a hundred fans, City’s forgotten wingers were absolute standouts and were both on the scoresheet. Weiss has filled out physically and looks more sure of himself than ever before after his time with Rangers. Wright-Phillips, meanwhile, is striking the ball with more conviction than I can ever remember (take another look at his winning strike in Vancouver.) after his season in virtual exile. One more name to single out based on the buzz around the City camp: Micah Richards. By all accounts, Richards came back to work with a focus and determination that has impressed everyone.
Q: What sort of concerns did City bring back to Manchester after more than two weeks abroad?
A: Apart from the ongoing scepticism about whether Mancini can reach Balotelli and Edin Dzeko’s frustrating week – with a bad miss in Vancouver and very little service in L.A. - I don’t see many. Yaya Toure looked well on the road to recovery when he was spotted testing his injured ankle about two hours before Sunday’s kickoff after his scary collapse on the dodgy pitch in Vancouver. And with Richards shaking off his knock after winning the penalty that Balotelli dispatched for a 19th-minute lead against the Galaxy, City apparently returned home with no other serious injuries. This time City kept one training base in L.A. and made the short trips to San Francisco and Vancouver for their games before the Galaxy finale. On last summer’s American tour, City trained in Portland and then had to travel extensively just to play their friendlies in New Jersey, Atlanta and Baltimore. So this whole trip was clearly smoother.
Marc Stein is an NBA reporter for ESPN.com and ESPN’s family of networks. He’s been covering American professional basketball for the past 18 years and also covered the 1994 World Cup and Olympic football in Australia in 2000. To read some of Stein's NBA work, click here. To follow him on Twitter, click here.