The funny, the wow, the ‘well, we knew that’ from All or Nothing: Manchester City 3 years ago

The funny, the wow, the ‘well, we knew that’ from All or Nothing: Manchester City

Dysfunction may provide more entertainment, but there is magic in watching the unseen processes behind a 100-point Premier League haul...

It is Saturday night, 30 September 2017, and delirium decorates the away dressing room at Stamford Bridge.

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Kevin De Bruyne has dictated matters for Manchester City against Chelsea and, on 67 minutes, he decides the game.

The midfielder sparks the defining moment over his former employers through a rapid give-and-go with Gabriel Jesus, before pacing forward and powering an absolutely-no-chance-he’s-saving-that effort beyond Thibaut Courtois.

City, the early pacesetters, have conquered the defending champions and it is bedlam in their quarters post-match.

De Bruyne arrives in the thick of it, gets smothered, and is serenaded by the chant of his name, which manager Pep Guardiola loudly contributes to.

Welcome to a clip from the first episode of All or Nothing: Manchester City - a behind-the-scenes Amazon Prime series of the club’s record-breaking 2017-18 season.

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The eight-part documentary, which will drop on the subscription streaming service this Friday, supplies stellar access to subject matter otherwise well sealed.

There is, for example, the visit of Benjamin Mendy to renowned orthopaedic surgeon Ramon Cugat, who delivers the news that the full-back will miss the rest of the campaign due to a ruptured cruciate ligament.

How the 24-year-old watches City post-operation and the messages he sends to the squad are documented. There is also a Player Cam to accompany the crew's footage, which wonderfully reveals the personalities of a star-studded cast.

 

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Mendy is, unsurprisingly, a source of effervescence throughout and Guardiola reveals that was the case early doors following the Frenchman's recruitment from Monaco. “I remember I was a little bit upset with the team because they didn’t enjoy or celebrate something, so he sent a message to me,” the manager says. “‘Don’t worry coach I will take care of the team.’”

The glimpses into Guardiola’s approach, meanwhile, are gold. From a pre-match team talk ahead of Liverpool’s league visit to the Etihad, in which he implores the side to “close the channels” that Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane will look to exploit, to another dialogue where he admits - contrary to what his players believe - he doesn’t always have the answers, it is a fascinating sample of an elite managerial mind.

Guardiola’s devotion to detail is balanced by impassioned speeches demanding his charges play with “f***ing character” and “if you want to be a top, top, top team,” he says, “you have to score the f***ing goals, guys.”

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The boardroom isn’t out of bounds either. Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak admits the Spaniard’s first season at City’s helm was “mentally and psychologically hard,” while director of football Txiki Begiristain is going through transfer targets and concludes: “There might be a type of player that works for the Spanish league and not for the Premier League.”

The most warming aspect of the series, narrated by Academy Award-winning British actor Ben Kingsley, is the bond between the players and the backroom staff. Assistant kitman, Brandon Ashton, emerges as the golden thread of the dressing room with Vincent Kompany describing him as “the heart and soul” who “has the ability to take the pressure off.”

For all the wide-eyed bits, episode one also offers a lull as it describes City and their place in the football world past and present, which is juxtaposed by Manchester United’s.

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There is also a charting of Guardiola’s career in this segment, and while it is understandable that a backdrop needs to be set for viewers unfamiliar with the Premier League champions, it doesn’t erase the urge to fast forward.

The first instalment of club-approved docu-series was not only a surprise to the audience, but to City’s squad as well.

“It’s pretty nerve-wracking,” Kompany offered at the premiere in Manchester’s Printworks on Wednesday night. “We haven’t seen it yet. This is the first time we’re watching it together.

“We don’t know what they’re going to show. They were there - everywhere - all the time - and whatever came out, came out!”

City had no control over the final edit, but could veto scenes deemed harmful. The bits that didn’t make the cut would undoubtedly be the most popcorn-worthy content, but All or Nothing: Manchester City is excellent viewing.

The series is released on Friday, 17 August on Amazon Prime Video