Jack Grealish’s hoarse voice and tongue-in-cheek comments about Bernardo Silva made the headlines from Monday’s parade through the city center, but here were plenty of other interesting insights into the Manchester City squad from those open-top buses.
There was Pep Guardiola and his staff enjoying a cigar and urging supporters to chant ‘City, City, City’. There was Aleks Zinchenko declaring Joao Cancelo the best full back in the world on both sides. And there was Bernardo giving Grealish as good as he gave when it came to their analysis of Sunday’s incredible title comeback.
It was also interesting to see the delight on the younger members of the squad as they went live on Instagram and joined in as if they were key players in the season, despite only playing a handful of games each. They had fulfilled a key role in training and to support the senior players, though, and were rightly rewarded with a place on the bus. And on the subject of supporting cast members, it was telling to see Scott Carson at the heart of the squad’s celebrations.
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Carson is out of contract this summer, and City must decide if they want to keep the 36-year-old for another year as third-choice goalkeeper.
Guardiola rewarded Carson with a Champions League appearance vs Sporting in March for just a second City appearance, and he has largely spent the campaign in that supporting role to Ederson and Zack Steffen. He was named as a substitute 35 times, with 11 of those in Europe with a larger number of substitutes allowed.
If he signed on for another year, he wouldn’t be there to challenge Ederson, or even Steffen, but take up a useful homegrown squad place as a third-choice keeper if an injury crisis hits.
Whenever Carson is mentioned by players, it is a positive comment, and it seems he gets on well with his other two stoppers. On the parade bus, he appeared in many Instagram stories and posts, sharing a laugh and a beer with his teammates as a genuine member of the squad. With Fernandinho gone, Carson would be the oldest and most experienced player in the dressing room if he stayed on.
Rewind 12 months, and City’s squad Facetimed Carson from the dressing room in Dortmund after their Champions League victory to celebrate, and he received a hero’s welcome to last season’s title celebration after United dropped points to make City champions. If City were to part ways with him, it would not be because he hasn’t integrated into the squad.
As a third-choice option, his homegrown status is useful, especially with City adding non-homegrown talents Erling Haaland and Julian Alvarez to the squad next season. One will take Fernandinho’s place, but the other will take one of the limited spots in City’s roster. So if they were to replace Carson, it would be wasteful to bring in someone without homegrown status.
And what would be the benefit in signing someone else who would not play, but would have to integrate into the squad anyway. Youngsters Ciaran Slicker, Gavin Bazunu and James Trafford have all declared ambitions to play for City, but all want to play regularly.
Bazunu, Ireland’s number one, said he would not return to City as number three, or ideally not even as number two, while Trafford indicated a similar preference to play regularly rather than sit on the bench every week. Steffen has also suggested he has no plans to leave any time soon.
The youngsters may be ready in a year or two, when the situation may be different. And if an injury crisis hit, City could easily install a recall clause into any loans to give Bazunu or Trafford a chance. Until then, it seems like there are few downsides to extending Carson’s contract for another year and making him their straightforward next summer signing.
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