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A few words about the departed

07 September 2010

Even if it weren’t for the new Premier League 25-man roster rules, every summer sees some familiar faces leave the fold — no matter which club you support. With City bringing in six new signings, there were going to be some high-profile departures. In the end, seven players left Eastlands for permanent deals elsewhere:

Robinho (to AC Milan for a reported £22m)
I always maintained the Brazilian wasn’t nearly as bad that first season at Eastlands as everyone made him out to be. Perhaps it says something about the expectations surrounding him that finishing joint fourth in the Premier League scoring race was considered a flop. I briefly had hope he would return to City and be a part of things this season, but it quickly became apparently his heart was set on a move.

I’m not sure why people seem to shocked by his comments last week. We always knew he didn’t care for Manchester, he’s always come across as a player who needs to be in a good place emotionally to play well, and the way he left Real Madrid should’ve clued us into the likely direction of his club career. I hope he finds happiness in Milan, though he’s in for a rude surprise in terms of the weather.

Stephen Ireland (to Aston Villa for an estimated £8m)
Like most City fans, I had a real attachment to the man we called Superman. I loved that he was homegrown and I really appreciated his eye for a killer ball and his penchant for following a break and finishing. But he was always going to be too slight, too frail to be a box-to-box player, and with Carlos Tévez fond of dropping deep, Ireland didn’t fit in well any more.

It was frustrating for many of us to see the previous season’s Player of the Year (and he should’ve been the Premier League’s  Young Player of the Season) fall by the wayside, but that’s part of what City are looking to do. It’s very unfortunate that having rehabbed his image pretty extensively following a slew of embarrassing episodes a few years back, he undid a lot of that work with comments spoken out of bitterness at his bizarre introductory press conference a Villa. Still, I suspect most of my fellow Blues with Stevie well in his post-City career.

Valeri Bozhinov (to Parma for reportedly around £5m)
As the incomprable Jack Pitt-Brooke over at The Lonesome Death of Roy Carroll so eloquently stated, the unlucky Bulgarian represented the promise of future for City fans. He wowed us with his strike in the preseason friendly against AC Milan two years ago, but both of his seasons at Eastlands were derailed before they got started thanks to a knee injury and torn Achilles.

In the end, there wasn’t room at the club for a player like Bozhinov, and he’s back in his comfort zone in Italy. I know every time I see Parma highlights I watch to see if he scored for them.

Javier Garrido (to Lazio for £2.5m)
We all had high hopes for the former Spanish Under-21 player when Sven-Göran Eriksson bought him three years ago. That made it that much tougher when he was brutalized repeatedly by Chelsea in that disastrous 6-0 defeat at the Bridge that fall. But full credit to the Spaniard, who worked hard and always seemed to have a great attitude. His free kick against Liverpool two seasons ago will be my lasting memory of him in a City shirt, and you could tell he was a joy to work with by the fond farewell interview on the official site. He was a fine backup left back, but the signing of Aleksandar Kolarov meant he would have been third choice, so essentially using him in a swap deal with Lazio made a great deal of sense.

Martin Petrov (released, signed with Bolton on a free transfer)
Elano got most of the attention, but Petrov always was my favorite Eriksson signing. I remember watching him tear apart Blackburn down the left flank in my first-ever game at Eastlands. In his first season with City, I have no doubt he was by far the best left wing in the Premier League. That made it that much tougher when his sophomore season was ruined by a knee injury, and then he struggled to get playing time under Hughes last season. He’s come across as very bitter at City in his interviews since leaving, and I can’t say I blame him. I’ll always hold him in very high regard and think he was a sensational free transfer signing for Owen Coyle. He’ll bring some much-needed speed and skill to Bolton, and I’m sure he’ll quickly become a fan favorite there as well.

Benjani (released, signed with Blackburn on a free transfer)
I remember thinking City had robbed Portsmouth blind when they nabbed the Zimbabwean striker for £3.8m back in the January 2008 transfer window. At the time, he was amongst the top scorers in the Premier League, but he quickly proved to be nothing more than a decent-ish poacher who spent most of the match offside. Still, he’ll always be a City legend because of the goal he scored in his debut in a City shirt that helped City do the double on United back in 2008. He’s the sort of player who can score some goals for a Premiership side looking to stay up, but he’s simply not good enough for a club playing European football. Benjani recently echoed Petrov’s criticism of a lack of trust at City, but I don’t know too many people who care about what he has to say.

Sylvinho (released)
Full credit to the veteran left back, who did exactly what he was supposed to at City last season. He was brought in from Barcelona for some extra depth at left back and to impart some wisdom to the younger players at the club, and he did exactly that. He leaves on amicable terms, leaving us with the memory of that wonder strike at Scunthorpe last season. A return to his boyhood Brazilian club, Corinthians, reportedly is in the works.

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