Super Furry Animals keyboardist/electronica wizard/co-singer-songwriter Cian Ciaran is set to release his breathtaking new solo album Outside In on July 23rd, so Football Burp caught up with him for a bit of a chinwag about his twin footballing loves Manchester City and Wales. First though, check out these choice cuts from the record…
How did you come to be a Manchester City fan?
No particular reason. My dad’s a Red and from Manchester, my mum is sort of a Red as well because she went to see George Best play when she was in college, and Daf is a Liverpool fan. Everyone growing up in north Wales seems to end up supporting City, United, Liverpool or Everton. We’ve got Bangor City but as a football team that’s on TV and makes you go “ooh!”, people tend to gravitate towards those four teams because they’re closest to the north Wales coast. At about the age of 13 I bought a Man City wallet and I never looked back! Also Man City started at St Mark’s Church on Great Clowes Street, and Clowes is my father’s surname. I started going to a few games in my late teens – typically last season was the first season in about thirteen years that I didn’t manage to make a single game!
At a guess, I’m thinking you started going to Maine Road roundabout the time of Peter Reid’s reign as manager…?
Yeah, I never got why they sacked him after finishing 5th.
Where did you watch the QPR game?
I was at my mate’s house with him and his 9-year-old son, both City fans. I was just resigned to the fact that it would be typical City and we’d lose – unbeaten at home all season, QPR with the worst record away, Mark Hughes coming back to haunt us as both a former manager and a former United player, I just thought it was inevitable that we would lose. When they started unravelling in front of me I wasn’t that pissed off because I’d already mentally prepared for it, but his son was getting pissed off so, not believing a word I was saying, I tried to make him feel better by saying, “We’ll just have to do what United did in ’99 when they scored two goals in injury time against Bayern Munich. He says, “That’s not going to happen, it’s City! – “Yeah, well, don’t lose faith.” – And, lo and behold, they did just that! I couldn’t believe it.
City had similar in ’99 in the play-off final against Gillingham…
Yeah. I was in the studio for that, can’t remember where. The guy who I watched the QPR game with gave me a DVD copy of that game.
Just the last five minutes would suffice, surely! Who would be your City player of the season? And your City goal of the season?
Well, Aguero’s winner against QPR for what it is and what it was, and it was a good goal anyway – 94th minute, such a cool, calm and collected finish from a tight angle, bodies everywhere. He hit it like a rocket. As for player of the season, Kompany’s been solid for the last two seasons…I dunno. Would it be corny to say Manchester City as a team?
Oh, go on then.
I know there are some key players but without Tevez for six months, without Kompany for 8-10 games through suspension and injury, Dzeko fizzled out a bit after a great start, Aguero had a little dip, Yaya Toure went to the African Nations Cup, so as a team everyone pulled together over the course of the season. I couldn’t name one player. Joe Hart had an amazing season, saved us on many occasions – what’s the saying, a good goalkeeper gives you twenty points?
Joleon Lescott’s become an important player after an iffy start. Do you think he should start for England at the Euros? There’s got to be a strong case for him starting alongside Phil Jagielka given how well they’ve played together in the past.
Yeah, he came into his own, got his place in the team when Kolo Toure was out and kept it. Although I watch England matches, I’m a Wales fan so I’m not that knowledgeable about what partnerships have succeeded in the past. Based on current form, though, Lescott must be a contender, yeah. I don’t like Terry much anyway.
Are there any areas of the squad that you’d like to see Roberto Mancini strengthen this summer?
It’s hard to know who you’d drop, but when Yaya Toure went to the African Nations Cup it was hard to see who could fill his shoes as that kind of attack-minded midfielder, so cover for him would be good but I guess it depends on who they have in mind. On paper you’d think we’re covered but we suffered when Savic had to come in – I reckon that cost us in two or three games. Then again, you’ve got Kolo Toure, Micah Richards who can play centre-half as well, Lescott and Kompany, so it depends because you could lose continuity if you have too many to choose from. Up front, Dzeko proved how good he is at the start of the season but then he dipped. I don’t know what Tevez is thinking but he’s class anyway. Aguero’s amazing, Balotelli’s temperamental but great…
David Silva went off the boil a bit after looking to be in imperious form for the first few months.
Yeah, probably because he played nearly every game, so maybe he lost a bit of firepower as the season went on, but then he came through for the last five or six games when it all looked done for after losing at Swansea and Arsenal – with the pressure of holding onto the title gone because they thought they’d lost it, and they started to play again.
You played with Super Furry Animals at the Gary Speed memorial. What are your memories of that day?
It was nice to be asked to play but it was more about the occasion than the game and the pre-match entertainment. It’s just really sad that it had to happen. What can I say? My thoughts go out to his family and his kids. It’s shocking when something like that happens. What was he, 42 or something? He was a brilliant player for Wales as well, and looked like he was turning it around as manager.
Are you hopeful about the future of Welsh football, what with the likes of Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Jack Collison coming through?
Yeah, although it would be great if we had more strength in depth. We’ve had great players in the past, like when we had Ian Rush, Neville Southall, Kevin Ratcliffe, Dean Saunders and Mark Hughes all in the same side, but we didn’t necessarily have the whole team to deliver. We came so close when we lost on penalties, then when Mark Hughes was in charge we won four in a row in the qualifiers, steaming ahead, and then lost four on the trot and lost to Russia in the play-offs. I still think that’s the best team and squad we’ve had for a generation, and with hindsight maybe it got squandered a bit through managerial inexperience or naivety. Easy for me to say, though! We all think we can do better than managers, but with hindsight there might have been an opportunity lost there. Maybe I’m just biased because he’s a Red. I’m sure he’s a very nice man, and I’d still ask for his autograph if I saw him!
Maybe if Ryan Giggs had played for Wales more over the years…
He’s just a phenomenon, isn’t he?
He could still be playing for Wales!
He could but I suppose the argument is that if he had kept playing for Wales then he wouldn’t be doing as well for United. I’m sure he might have an involvement with the national team somewhere down the line, even as a coach, if not as a manager, passing on his knowledge and that, which he has done already to an extent.
Do you remember the first match you ever went to?
(Ponders) I think it might have been Wales v West Germany.
Remember the score?
I can’t remember if it was the one where we beat them 1-0 or not. I was about 9 or 10 maybe. I’ve got a shit memory though, can’t remember anything about anything! I need someone to prod me because I can’t remember anything on my own account.
What about the most recent game you went to?
Other than the memorial, it was one of the Wales qualifiers, maybe Gary Speed’s first game in charge against…who was it…everyone was thinking in terms of damage limitation, but we won and everyone was like, “Fucking hell, where did that come from?” I spent a lot of time abroad last year so I missed all of City’s games and missed the end of the Euro 2012 qualifiers, and now it’s the summer so I’m going to have to wait until August.
Finally, if you had to preside over a five-a-side match between Manchester City and Wales, with the sides to be selected from all the players you’ve seen play for either side, who would you choose?
Wales: Ian Rush, Neville Southall, Ryan Giggs, Gareth Bale and Mark Hughes.
City: Shaun Goater, Joe Hart, Mario Balotelli for entertainment, Vincent Kompany and David Silva for his low centre of gravity on a small pitch. I liked Elano and Georgi Kinkladze as well.
Finally Mk.II – who will win the Euros?
Ireland! I’m half-Irish, got an Irish passport, so I’ve got to support them. But yeah, probably Spain, although France have got some good young players. Balotelli for Golden Boot if he doesn’t fly home early.
Cian Ciaran, thank you.