All or Nothing: Manchester City review: ‘Man City are changing the game, on and off the pitch’

From Pep Guardiola's locker room talks to sneak-peeks inside players' houses, Amazon's fly-on-the-wall docuseries is "mesmerising", writes Matt Ketchell

(Amazon Prime Video)

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola is begging his players to hate him: “Some of you play better when you’re angry with me – so if you hate me, HATE ME guys!” Star signing Benjamin Mendy (the life and soul of the dressing room) is being told he has a season-ending cruciate ligament injury five games into the campaign. England defender John Stones screams when a numbing agent hits ‘a delicate area’ while a six-inch needle is inserted into his torn hamstring. Kitman Brandon Ashton is being dragged (not quite kicking, but definitely screaming) into a -130 degree cryotherapy chamber by club captain Vincent Kompany, to help alleviate the monotony of Kompany’s solo recovery routine.

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Amazon reportedly paid Man City £10m to capture these moments. Sky, who pay the league handsomely to broadcast games, probably aren’t happy. They’ve never filmed a half-time team talk, yet Amazon followed the team everywhere for the entire nine months of the 2017/18 season.

The end product is a mesmerising, eight-episode, fly-on-the-wall docuseries called All or Nothing. It’s their latest in a documentary franchise that has also followed NFL teams and the New Zealand All Blacks.

Amazon couldn’t have timed it better. City enjoyed an almost perfect season, smashing points, goals and win records and (spoiler alert) won the league. They made it look easy, but this incredibly candid footage proves it wasn’t.

“Pre-season we got called into a meeting,” explained Kompany at the documentary’s premiere.

“They [the club] were very cautious of how it was going to happen. The team were right behind it from that moment onwards,” Kompany explains that the camera crew were immediately everywhere, from training and team-meetings, to cramped away dressing rooms and even the player’s houses.

Manchester City lift the Premier League trophy in May 2018 (Getty)
Manchester City lift the Premier League trophy in May 2018 (Getty)

Amazingly, City claim they didn’t have editorial control of the final cut. A seal of authenticity for the show, if ever there was. Only potentially slanderous scenes, or footage containing commercially sensitive information, was censored.

An example of the latter is a high-level meeting between the club’s CEO, Director of Football and Chairman, Khaldoon Al Mubarak (the direct link to City’s billionaire owner Sheikh Mansour). Here, the trio discuss January transfer targets, but names on the Powerpoint are blurred, suggesting not all were signed.

Manchester music royalty Joy Division, New Order and Oasis proudly soundtrack stunning drone footage of Manchester that bookends Pep’s manic team talks. While Ben Kinsley’s narration makes some sections of the series genuinely moving.

It’s in the dressing rooms and on the training pitches where All or Nothing truly comes to life. To be privy to Pep Guardiola’s methods, philosophies, and manner is the real golden ticket.

“We are tired? F*ck you!” he screams at his weary playing staff during the business end of the season. He swears with impressive diction – good to know some English football traditions are still alive and well.

Matt Ketchell is Digital Editor at MOTDmag.com

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This week Match of the Day magazine’s podcast features exclusive interviews with John Stones and Fernandinho. You can listen HERE 

All or Nothing: Manchester City is out now on Amazon Prime Video