x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Man City enjoying US summer friendlies

Players have not been distracted by Tevez talk as they prepare for their final match against David Beckham's LA Galaxy.

Mario Balotelli, left,  holds of Michael Nanchoff, of the Vancouver Whitecaps, during the friendly match on Manchester City’s tour of the United States.
Mario Balotelli, left, holds of Michael Nanchoff, of the Vancouver Whitecaps, during the friendly match on Manchester City’s tour of the United States.

MARINA DEL REY, CALIFORNIA // On a recent morning in the posh seaside town of Marina del Rey, two men finished their run down Admiralty Way.

Had it been Ashton New Road or Rowsley Street - roads that bring the masses into the City of Manchester Stadium back in England - perhaps they would have not been able to run uninterrupted.

But here, Roberto Mancini, the Manchester City manager, David Platt, his assistant, ran and then strolled along the street, chatting as they made their way back to the hotel, in this suburb of Los Angeles.

Perhaps instinctively, Mancini shot a glance at an onlooker but kept on his way when no approach for an autograph or picture was made. Past a group of blissfully unaware construction workers the pair went before reaching their destination, disappearing into the US$500 (Dh1,816) a night hotel overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Manchester City have spent a portion of their preseason on tour in North America, and aside from the stadiums and a scattered few other experiences, the club has blended into the background.

Perhaps it is the best way for a team with heightened expectations, with transfer rumours swirling around it and with a loaded and expensive roster trying to come together and prepare for what could be the most challenging season of City's 131-year existence.

While basking in obscurity has gone well, so too has the on-the-field preparations for the team.

"For us it is important to stay here," Mancini said. "We have good weather, we've trained very well, and because the pitches for training have been fantastic. The games are important games and I think we want to have this also next year."

City have won two of their three friendlies so far in the US. They beat Mexican side Club America by 2-0 in San Francisco, then got past the Vancouver Whitecaps, the Major League Soccer side, 2-1 in Vancouver, Canada.

Today, Man City will close out their tour with a match against LA Galaxy, where David Beckham, the former Manchester United player, will face them.

Beckham believes that City are capable of challenging United, the defending Premier League champions, for the honours this season. "If they continue to bring in players, then who knows?" he said.

"You saw it with Chelsea when Roman [Abramovich] arrived. They won two league titles and they won them on the trot."

Player movement has been fluid at City for several years and this preseason is no different.

Already, City have said farewell to two players - Jerome Boateng left the club for Bayern Munich and Jo parted ways in favour of Brazilian side Internacional. But, Carlos Tevez's expected departure to Corinthian, the Brazilian club, broke down this week.

Mancini has deflected much of the attention whenever he has been bombarded by questions about Tevez and what conversations he has had with last season's captain. On Thursday, Mancini said Tevez's "telephone doesn't work".

Players, though, said the issue has not been a distraction.

"Not really," Gareth Barry, the midfielder, said when asked if the protracted saga of Tevez's situation had taken the focus away from the players.

"Obviously, there's conversations about it, but the lads are just trying to get fit. We're players, so there's nothing we can really do about it, just getting fit and enjoying the training."

Perhaps fittingly, Manchester City's first test of the new season will come against Manchester United, in the Community Shield on August 7 at Wembley.

Success in that match would start the season off on a high note, and this North American swing could play a role in the success.

"These games have been fantastic, but we're not done," Barry said. "We have a trip to Dublin when we get back and have two more games there, one against Inter [Milan], and it's going to be a good test. It's all building us up for the big game, and then we'll be ready for the season."

sports@thenational.ae