The scorer of that Manchester derby goal. The man graced with one of the all-time great Manchester City songs. Over 200 appearances in the famous sky blue shirt with over 100 goals along the way. We sat down with Shaun Goater to discuss all-things Manchester City on a day when the Premier League trophy glistened in Manchester’s Exchange Square for the Coca-Cola Premier League Trophy of Great Britain.
It’s a pleasure to have you join us Shaun. As we’re here today for the Premier League Trophy tour with Coca-Cola, the campaign itself, #WhereEveryonePlays, is all about people behind the scenes, who stands out for you as someone who helped you in your playing career?
The list is long, but I’d have to say my Mother. She was an avid football fan, she used to play football as well. She used to drag me to games and I used to think ‘why am I going to these games’. That’s where my love and passion came from. But along the way throughout my career, all the coaches played a part but I’m thinking of Terry Connor who’s still involved in the game at the highest level. He used to always hold me back after training and practice finishing with the strikers, having little competitions; so that got me into the routine of training two and three days a week. Physios were also really good from the point of when you were injured, they were also psychologists keeping you going. Not only that but you could confide in physios, in terms of not feeling confident and not feeling the greatest in the game and how it went. Those sorts of people behind the scenes help you out.
The Premier League trophy is in Manchester for the Coca-Cola GB Tour, the questions is; will it be remaining in Manchester in May?
I’m a believer in Pep, I really am. I feel that tactically he is just out there with the best. I feel that the players understand him. Yes, we have a tough run between now and the end of the season, Liverpool have a much easier run. But how fascinating is it that both teams have quality managers, quality players – it’s just an exciting end to a season. But my heart and brain is backing Manchester City.
Should Manchester City fail to win the Premier League this season, would the campaign be regarded as a failure?
For the expectations of those higher up, the executives and directors at the club, they’ll probably see it as a failure. But I would still say we have the right manager, the best manager and we’re heading in the right direction. For the fans, it’s always been about the Premier League. Can we win the Premier League back to back – that’s what it has always been about for the fans. So I’m the same, we have the ability to win the remaining games and win the Premier League. Yes, they’re tough and Tottenham was a very tough one although it gives us momentum having won that one. We’re going to need every ounce of clever play and momentum to beat Manchester United as well.
With the latest edition of the Manchester derby upon us, what was your favourite Manchester derby memory during your time with the blues?
My favourite was that Maine Road derby, the last ever Manchester derby at Maine Road. It’s funny because at the time I didn’t take it all in, in terms of the importance of that game. We just knew we had to win the last derby game at Maine Road for the fans. But you forget the history that’s at a stadium and the history that was there, and so we wanted to close the curtains on Maine Road with a win at a time when Manchester United were so dominant. They were so rampant at the time, it wasn’t so easy to give a last win to the fans at Maine Road. To be able to win 3-1 in the last ever Maine Road derby and score a brace was a great way to end it for the fans.
Manchester City fans during your career with the club and even fans today will be familiar with your chant. Do you feel there is a lack of appreciation for the current group of players given how much they’ve achieved and the chants the fans have for individuals?
What we do is we appreciate these players when they are on the field, but I do understand what you’re saying. The song that the fans created for myself still makes the hairs stand on the back of my neck when the fans sing it. It does make you think ‘we have world class players, why don’t we have songs for every single one of these players?’. The only thing I can gather is that at my time, there was a real connection with the fans. We did Q&A’s at supporters clubs – now the club is global and so it is more difficult for the fans and players to be connected. Their only opportunity is when the players come off the coach and giving them high fives. We’ve gone from being just a Premier League club to moving towards a global club. You can’t become a global club with a ‘mother and father’ business operation.
With the recent announcement of the PFA Player of the Year nominations, and Manchester City representatives taking three of the six spots, who deserves to win this year’s award?
Both Bernardo Silva and Raheem Sterling have had great seasons, and Sergio Aguero’s had another phenomenal campaign. But I’m right in saying Sergio’s never won the Player of the Year. The strangest thing is, and if I had to put money on it, Aguero will probably win it because the PFA and the adjudicators will realise he hasn’t won it, and probably should have won it. So I think Aguero may get it this year. In past seasons we’ve thought ‘why hasn’t Aguero won it?’. But I think this year he may actually win it, although I think it should probably come between Sterling and Bernardo Silva. Look, I’m happy if either of those two win it and I simply can’t put a name on the prize as they’ve both been brilliant.
It may be between those up for the PFA Player of the Year, but who has your Manchester City Player of the Year been this season?
Sterling has shown a real sense of belief in himself. He knows he’s as good as everyone else in that dressing room. I think in his first season, he looked around and said ‘there’s a world class player, there’s a world class player, there’s another world class player’ and so on. He probably thought whether he even belonged there! Now he has no doubt in his mind that he belongs there and in fact, he is probably asking himself, ‘Why can’t I be the main man here?’. We’re seeing that in his performances and belief has played a huge part in his game and well done to him as he’s made a huge leap forward.
With the club recently celebrating their 125th birthday, who is your all-time greatest Manchester City player?
It has to be someone within this current group of players. For me it’s really hard to choose although about five players come to mind. Obviously; Aguero, Kompany, Yaya Toure, David Silva and probably Kevin De Bruyne. For me I’d probably have to stay in and around those first three as they won the first trophies. It’s like the first person that scores the first goal in a game you need to win. It’s alright scoring the third goal to seal the game but by scoring the first goal you give everyone else the confidence to go on and score more.
When I first saw the level of football recently at the club, I loved what Yaya was doing; driving from midfield, scoring the goal to win us the FA Cup, winning the first Premier League. But going back to the question, my all-time greatest Manchester City player would be Sergio Aguero. We’ve had so many quality players so it’s really unfair to choose one of these all-time greats over another. I really appreciate what they all do, because as a player, I know how hard it is to perform and these guys haven’t just taken it up a level, they’ve taken it up like five levels. That’s where they are and well done to the players and staff for making that happen.
Would any of the players during your playing career at Manchester City make it into this current side and which one would you bring back?
Ali Benarbia. For me that’s an easy one. He is a player that played that way – he loved the short passes, one-two passes but also he loved the killer pass. I loved him because I’d make that run and the ball would just appear in front of me and not only that, it would be just me and the goalkeeper. That was the sort of quality he had. It wasn’t just that ‘oh I have to make that run when it’s on his right foot’, it could be on his left foot, and that ball is right in front of me with just the goalkeeper to beat. Ali Benarbia could play in this City team.
Phil Foden. How would you describe him and what the future holds for the teenager at Manchester City?
I saw Phil Foden in a year I spent in and around the academy. Phil was around 14 at the time, and he was the smallest in the team. You could see that he already had the thought processes in the game and when he went to execute them, they wouldn’t come off. But you saw that he could see the pass and perhaps didn’t have the power at the time to execute the pass, and I could see that when he was 14. The club at that time were saying that he was one that could potentially get into the first team and this was when he was only 14. When a club is saying internally, it usually happens because they have that belief in a player.
Seeing him at that age and now seeing him in the first-team when called upon, giving a great account of himself and gaining the nickname ‘the Stockport Iniesta’ – I love it. He is City through and through; I’ve had chats with him and he’s been saying to me ‘I remember watching you play’. Just seeing him and knowing that we’ve produced this player locally. His future is bright – he’s learning from the best manager in the world tactically and I think we’ll be seeing him in the England first-team setup very soon.
He is certainly in the right place. Spurs was a big game, a must-win game and he starts it. It shows the belief the manager has in him and he goes and backs up the manager, thanks him for the trust he has put in him and showed him what he could do. The only thing we could wish is that he gets more minutes but we know he’s competing with world class players. He’ll get more minutes, more time and then, we’ll see what he’s able to produce.
Thanks to Shaun Goater and Coca Cola GB Premier League Trophy tour for joining City Xtra. You can follow all the socials below: