Newsletter #1356

Don’s news brings us derby day reaction, player updates with potential transfers, internationals and injury news, and Frank’s reaction to the charges in Thailand.

We have match reports from the derby thanks to Colin and John, post match opinions, a look at the top 3, and player views plus the usual requests.

Next up Arsenal, which will be a good test of how far we have come.

Next Game: Saturday 25 August, 3pm, Arsenal (away)


General News

Warranting Attention: Thailand’s Supreme Court has issued warrants for the arrest of Thaksin Shinawatra and his wife on corruption charges but the former Thai PM fears his life could be in danger if he is forced to return to Thailand, according to his lawyer. “He would be in fear for his life if he returns,” lawyer Noppadol Pattama told BBC 5live’s Sportsweek. “During Dr Shinawatra’s premiership there were attempts to assassinate him by car bombings.” Pattama added: “He would consider going back after the next Thailand election and with the return of full democracy. Dr Shinawatra should be able to fight the extradition charge if it deemed politically motivated.” The warrant was issued after Mr Thaksin and his wife failed to attend court in Bangkok. Asked about Amnesty International’s claim that Thaksin “showed disregard for human rights”, Pattama said: “The charges remain unproven. I would urge them to come forward with solid evidence substantiating their claims instead of destroying his image internationally. Human Rights organisations are talking about the war against drug dealers and drugs traffickers in Thailand. The problems of drugs in Thailand was very serious at that time.”

City Face City: In the second round of the Carling Cup, City have been drawn to face Bristol City at Ashton gate. The tie will take place next Wednesday August 29. Let’s hope the New Blues avoid the fate of their predecessors in previous years, who succumbed to Doncaster and Chesterfield (I’m still in therapy over that one) at the same stage of the competition.

The Law of the Jungle: Richard Dunne was asked on the club’s website to analyse the impact of the new City management team of SGE and Hans Backe. “They are very relaxed, what we are doing is very simple but it’s not been put across to us like that before. There are no nerves or tension, everyone goes into training knowing what we are doing. We are working constantly, we’ve not had a lot of time to get things right and as Hans has said, if we are not performing well but are solid at the back that will pick up points for us. We’ve worked a lot on our team shape and defensive duties, and two clean sheets so far have got us the results and the base to push on from. The preparation is different, the Manager encourages us to spend a lot more time together to try to build a better atmosphere because it’s a new squad. We’re fortunate because everyone gets on really well, most of the new lads can speak to each other and the football is showing it.” Apparently the squad now gather in a hotel ahead of a home match to finalise their preparations. Meanwhile, Sven has been talking about his first few weeks back as a team boss – he’s shocked at the behaviour of players’ agents these days. “I don’t know how many agents are selling football players today but it’s an absolute jungle out there. In one day, you can have three different agents trying to sell you the same player at three different prices. A couple of days ago, I was sitting with two of my coaches when an agent phoned me about a player and I asked the price. Ten minutes later, another agent phoned me about the same player and, when I asked the price, it was three times more. It’s absolutely amazing, but sometimes you have to laugh.”

International Blues’ News: Last season City’s international call ups were a dwindling band, so it’s good to report that a fair handful of the squad were away on international duty this week. Here’s a rundown on who played where. Skipper Richard Dunne played for the Republic of Ireland in their fine 4-0 win in Denmark, while Micah Richards started at right back for England against Germany at Wembley on Wednesday, and was soon involved in setting Frank Lampard up to shoot the home side ahead. That was about as good as it got for England, as Germany eventually won 2-1. Micah played the second half as a centre back. Vedran Corluka was in Sarajevo, helping Croatia beat Bosnia 5-3 in an entertaining friendly although the game was marred by crowd trouble before and during the match. Elano started the game for Brazil vs. Algeria in Montpellier, France, before being substituted by some bloke called Kaka. Brazil won 2-0. Martin Petrov featured for Bulgaria against Wales, a game which saw the Welsh triumph 1-0, while Greece lost a five goal thriller to Spain on the same night, but no thanks to Georgios Samaras, who was a non-playing substitute. Gelson Fernandes was named in Switzerland’s squad to face the Netherlands, although he did not play. Not the best of nights for Joe Hart in England Under-21’s friendly fixture with Romania. Blackburn’s Matt Derbyshire gave Stuart Pearce’s side an early lead, before a Romanian free kick crashed against the bar and bounced against young Joe’s back and into the net. It went down as an own goal unfortunately, and the game finished 1-1. Psycho certainly made the most of his City connections, as he started the game with three of his former charges in the team – Hart, Michael Johnson and Nedum Onuoha. Johnson was substituted on 63 minutes. Kasper Schmeichel meanwhile was named in Denmark’s under 21 squad for the game with Norway, while Ched Evans made it to the Wales Under 21 squad for the friendly with Sweden.

Transfer News and Gossip

Goalies on Ice: For most of the week, City seemed poised to sign a goalkeeper in time to make his début in the derby. Sven was allegedly set to make a move for Aston Villa goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen, while Carlo Cudicini’s agent had a go at Chelsea for stopping his boy moving on – the speculation being that his destination was City. The player’s agent, Fernando Pastorello, said, “Carlo is not happy. He had an opportunity to leave and play a bit more but Chelsea said no. They told him he had to stay because there was not enough time to find a new goalkeeper to replace him,” he added. The favourite appeared to be long time target Marco Amelia of Livorno. Indeed, the M.E.N. reported that City were close to concluding a swap deal with Livorno involving out of favour striker Bernardo Corradi. And then… nothing happened. No new custodian was unveiled, and Kasper kept his third clean sheet of the season at the COMS on Sunday. Then the signing priorities changed. Following Valeri Bojinov’s serious injury, the papers were full of strikers whom SGE was going to buy – and the Swede as good as confirmed this on Monday when he said “I would say the goalkeeping situation is on ice at the moment.”

Striking Back: Who will be the striker signed in a late late swoop? Real Madrid’s Guti has been mentioned in some reports. The player is no longer sure of a place in the first 11 at Real and a move to the Premier League could be tempting for the 30 year old, who can play left and centre midfield and is also comfortable as a striker. Guti has a long and great career behind him at Real, and has also been capped at full international level by Spain. I’ll leave you, the good reader, to decide on the veracity of this next tale – City are weighing up a shock move for former City boy Nicolas Anelka. The Frenchman has been offered to City – but Bolton Wanderers want £12 million. City initially rejected the chance to buy their former hitman, but Sven was supposedly having second thoughts following Bojinov’s knee injury. And the Daily Mail is reporting that the Blues are set to make a move for Benfica striker Nuno Gomes. There have been indications of some clearing of the decks by the management this week. Could Georgios Samaras be Spain-bound? Both Real Betis and Espanyol have contacted City about the availability of the Greek striker. City apparently want £2.5 million for Samaras’ sale. Meanwhile Billy Davies has confirmed he is trying to strengthen his attacking options, amid reports linking Derby County with a move for striker Darius Vassell. SGE revealed on Thursday that The Rams were interested in Vassell, who has not featured for City this season.

Who’s De Man? It’s not just up front where moneybags City are hoping to strengthen. Oh dear me no. City are moving for Anderlecht midfielder Mark de Man. The ball-winning midfielder, 24, is wanted by City and Turkey’s Fenerbahce, according to Belgian sources. Anderlecht have warned both clubs they won’t consider selling De Man on the cheap. And let’s have a couple of extra full backs while we’re at it – Dynamo Kiev’s left-back Badr El-Kaddouri, for one, and Shakhtar Donetsk full back Razvan Rat, for another. Personally I favour the latter, because the headline potential for this News Summary is just too delicious. Modeste M’Bami is considering his future at Olympique Marseille. Frozen out at l’OM in the opening weeks of the new season, Cameroon international M’Bami is weighing up his options. Tottenham, Birmingham City and our own City have all registered their interest with Marseille this summer and are sure to pounce should M’Bami indicate he’s ready to leave the French giants. It’s also being confidently reported that Sven will revive his bid for Palermo’s Australian midfield dynamo Mark Bresciano and hopes to conclude a £4million deal this week. One that go away tho’ – Sky report that Benfica have beaten City to the signing of Spanish international midfielder Borja Oubina.

Cass Aside: Sampdoria new boy Antonio Cassano has admitted he rejected a lucrative deal from City before moving to the Italian side. Cassano revealed he was offered a deal worth nearly £3 million per season to move to the Premier League but rejected it to return to his homeland. “I wanted Samp and everyone spoke highly of the club. Also Roberto Mancini played here for 15 years. I don’t have a house yet, but I want a villa on the coast, because to wake up in the morning with the sun and the sea makes me happy,” said the Bari-born forward. “I really missed Italy. I felt that I needed to be back here. Away from my own country, I just don’t feel right.” Your loss Antonio, because the view of the Ship Canal can be quite intoxicating in the right light.

Sun Arise: In case you were wondering what had happened to Sun Jihai – the club website put out a rather sniffy report saying that Sun hadn’t been told he could leave. His season has begun later than the other players after his participation in the Asia Cup this season. Sun said: “I haven’t been told by either the Manager or anyone at the Club that I can leave. It’s been a good start to the season, but hopefully I’ll get the opportunity to show my quality. Of course I am happy to fight for my place. Everything here is normal and I am happy.” Sven confirmed this – “He has not been told he can leave. He is a valuable and very versatile member of our squad.”

Ex-Blues’ News

Pearce Bowled Over: SP must have been watching a bit of cricket this summer, because he says he was nothing more than a “night watchman” at City – and was always in danger of being sacked as Manager. “I was probably the first footballing night watchman,” Pearce told Radio Five Live. “I was sent into bat through the night until some money was available – I knew that when I took the club over.” Pearce admitted results ultimately cost him his job. “If you win more games you stay put in place; if you don’t you pay the consequences,” added Pearce. “There’s definitely a boredom threshold at any club now, and I paid the price. Whether I was there or if a new manager came in, there’s no doubt new investment was needed. I’ve got a lot of time for the club and I’m pleased to see there’s some financial input to help push them forward.”

After-Match Reactions and Comments

Blue Sunday: City took the derby day spoils with a 1-0 victory over United on Sunday. Geovanni’s first-half strike against the run of play was the difference between the two sides as Sven Goran Eriksson got the better of Sir Alex Ferguson. The Brazilian scored just past the half-hour mark with only City’s second shot of the game, as he fired past Edwin van der Sar from 25 yards. United had the better of the possession throughout the match but were unable to convert their dominance into a goal past Kasper Schmeichel, who is still to concede this season. City sit top of the Premier League on maximum points after three games, but United remain winless with just two draws to start their title defence. One of the only bad moments for City came with news that Valeri Bojinov will be sidelined for at least five months after suffering a knee ligament injury. His City début had ended all too early when he was carried off after six minutes. The Bulgarian striker landed awkwardly when challenging for a header by the touchline, and Emile Mpenza replaced him. So what had Sven made of his first Manc derby? “It’s fantastic,” he told Sky Sports. “This was a very, very difficult game. We were lucky as well, if it had been on possession or shots on target we would have lost but we are happy today because it’s the goal that counts. It was a battle but we defended very well. We won the game and three wins, it’s very, very good and I hope we can go on like this. It’s good to have a good start when you have so many new players and of course the confidence goes higher and higher.” Micah Richards gave a masterful display at centre half, and SGE paid due respect: “Micah was incredible. He is so strong and quick. He was probably the man of match but the whole back line and goalkeeper were fantastic for us. We have won and I am very happy – nine points from three games is very good. It’s good for the confidence, especially of the new players. There are so many new things in the club but we can only be happy with a start like this. From here we have to go on and be as good as we can be. We thought it would be a counter-attacking game today rather than a normal derby, we thought Bojinov has a little more pace than Bianchi. He had done well in training, it was nothing to do with Bianchi not playing so well.” The goal scorer came into the side for his first start after Stephen Ireland reported in sick on the morning of the match, and of the Brazilian’s second goal for the Blues, Sven said: “Maybe Stephen Ireland would have scored the goal, who knows? He was ill before the game so he had to drop out, but Geovanni is a fantastic player when he has the ball, he keeps it, passes well and has a very good shot. Technically he is a fantastic football player, I think that he, Elano and a few others are still not quite 100% yet. It’s good to know that they can do even better in the future.”

The ‘F’ Word – ‘Fantastic’: Micah’s performance impressed just about everyone. BBC TV’s Alan Hansen was moved to say “When I die, I want to come back either as Tiger Woods, or as Micah Richards.” Our boy even managed to get thorough a live TV interview without swearing once. He told Sky Sports: “We’re just delighted, it was a great team performance. We’ve come out and shown the fans we can do it. We can beat anyone.” He admitted expectations were raised now among City fans but said: “We’ve got the players to do it so why not?” Micah was joined by Kasper Schmeichel, who enjoyed a busy day between the sticks, but was able to keep up the Schmeichels’ proud family history along with father Peter of never being beaten in derby games. He said: “I’m just taking every game as it comes. [Cliché alert, cliché alert…] I’m lucky the gaffer has given me a chance and hopefully I can keep working as hard as I can. It was a massive team effort with luck once or twice but you need that.”

Red Faces All Round: Far be it from me to gloat (ahem), but Sir Alexander Ferguson had to eat a nice fat portion of humble pie on Sunday. He’d given some pre-match interviews in which he smirked somewhat at his Blue rivals, while trying to lump all the pressure on Sven. Eriksson, he’d noted, is the Blues’ 12th manager during his own near 21-year stint as United boss – a fact he’d alluded to the last COMS derby in May when a single-goal win effectively sealed his ninth championship crown. “Last year was amazing,” he laughed. “They spent a fortune on those blue-and-white scarves for all the fans and they never had a shot at goal, or tried to beat us. We were trying to win the league, and they were quite happy.” This time, the pressure was all on the Blues. “It is a big season for every City manager that comes along, especially so this time because they have spent a bagful of money on players,” he said. “No matter what people say, there is an expectation now because they have won their first two games. They have to manage that. That is more difficult.” So what of his after-match analysis? Was he still sniggering at City? “We had an awful lot of chances and played some fantastic football at times but it just wasn’t our day,” he told Sky Sports. “The opportunities we’ve had and possession, particularly in the last third of the field, and we were just wasteful, that’s the nuts and bolts of it. I don’t think you can even say City were lucky because we had so many opportunities to win it ourselves, so it is our own fault, we haven’t won it because of our own disappointments in the last third of the field. I’m disappointed with the result, there’s no question about that, but I can’t fault the performance, it was outstanding, we completely dominated the football match.” How’s the quest to retain the title going Sir Alex? “We’ve given ourselves an uphill fight,” he replied. “Ten years ago we could handle that because we were always good in the second half (of the season), we’re going to have to be. I think most important is for us to get a win under our belts, the next home match against Tottenham is important to us.” Watching the game on TV, my favourite moment came a few minutes from the end, when Carlos Tevez missed an open goal from a few feet out. On the touchline, Redface was already celebrating an ‘equaliser’ – then the he froze mid arm-thrust, as it slowly dawned on him on him that none of his players were returning to the centre circle, what was going on? Cost of a Sky box? £48 per month. The look on Fergie’s dumbstruck face? Priceless.

Squad News

Manchester is Beautiful: City’s playmaker Elano has revealed how much he’s enjoying his new life in England. “Manchester is beautiful,” said Elano. “I’m very happy to be here. With two wins in two games it has been an extra special time. I’m very, very happy.” He continued: “I have adapted well here. My head is really focused. There were a lot of difficulties in the Ukraine, such as the cold, but I adapted there too.” And he’s enjoying his new life on the pitch as well. “I don’t mind where I am playing. I find it easy to play in several positions. In England the game is very physical and luckily I can be very agile. I try to touch the ball as fast as I can. I’m learning a lot. I’m working well with the team, getting a good playing relationship with Michael Johnson and Rolando Bianchi.”

Miller’s Crossing: Ishmael Miller made a sensational start to his West Brom career. Having signed for the Baggies last week in a season long loan deal, Ishmael scored the winner for WBA against Preston. As one report put it “Miller… collected the ball just inside the Preston half, shrugged off the attending defenders, ignoring some blatant shirt-pulling in the process, and hared at electrifying pace into the visiting area before hitting an unstoppable shot past Wayne Henderson.” Albion manager Tony Mowbray was suitably impressed by the débutant: “We knew what his attributes are, what his assets are,” said Mowbray, who has signed Miller on a season-long loan with a view to a permanent signing. “We said in the week that he is a young boy who has plenty of work to do but who has assets our team needs – brutality, if that’s the right word, size, strength, bags of pace and a decent finish as well. Let’s hope we can continue to improve him and see that on a regular basis.” Miller insists his future belongs with City, “Why else would I have signed a three-year contract with City just before I joined on loan with West Brom?” said Miller in the Daily Star. “I am a Manchester lad and I have come through the ranks at City. I want to go back there when the loan is up because I want to make an impact. Suggestions that I have been rejected by City are not right. I have come to Albion to broaden my horizons and learn my trade.”

Don Barrie <news(at)>


If you’d been told after the last derby match in May that, after three games of the new season, one of the Manchester teams would be on maximum points with three clean sheets and the other would be without a win and struggling to score, then you could have been forgiven for thinking that City might well be the latter team. But things have changed at Eastlands and we were actually going into a derby with some confidence. Part of that was due to the way we have started the season and the other part was due to the fact that the Evil Empire was missing all of its main strikers.

The atmosphere was as electric as ever as kick-off approached, with even the visiting supporters making some noise for a change. In the City line-up, Geovanni and Bojinov started in place of Ireland and Bianchi. It seemed to be the now familiar formation, best described as 4-1-3-1-1. Elano was playing behind Bojinov and the rejuvenated Didi Hamann sitting in front of the back four. It was a fairly typical opening to a derby, with lots of energy but little style. City hit a problem very early on when Bojinov seemed to fall awkwardly and had to be taken away on a stretcher. He was replaced by Mpenza.

Petrov looked to take on Brown but got fouled for his trouble. A few minutes later the same thing happened again when he was scythed down by the same player. Of course, we all know that United are more sinned against than sinners so referee Clattenburg called Brown over to him for a ticking off when he should have had a card. It was the start of a worrying pattern and it took another two bad tackles before the card was belatedly produced. As usual, Scholes tackled from behind with impunity and you could be forgiven for imagining that Taggart was talking about his own team when he talked about teams of “kickers”.

The game settled down but it was the opposition who took control with Nani looking dangerous. On two occasions he got shots in that Schmeichel did well to deal with. Micah Richards also had to make two last-ditch tackles when United players looked to have broken through. So despite our pre-match confidence, it was pretty much one way traffic and even without Rooney and Ronaldo it surely looked just a matter of time before they got the breakthrough. But football is a funny game as we all know and on the half-hour mark, with the scoreline still blank, Johnson finally got away our first attempt on goal with a shot that was well off target.

This seemed to inspire City and they started playing a little. Johnson was involved again a minute or so later, bringing the ball out of defence and feeding Elano, out on the left. Elano took the ball forward a bit but squared to his compatriot Geovanni in the middle. There was no sign of either Carrick or Hargreaves and Geo had lots of time to look up and unleash a beautifully placed curled shot beyond Van der Sar. It seemed to clip Vidic but he didn’t really seem to deflect it that much. The home fans went predictably wild and the United fans, who had been pretty noisy up to then, were stunned into silence. It was City who then took control for the rest of the half, playing the ball around in a game of “keep ball”, every touch being greeted by cheers from the delighted City fans.

This was City’s best patch though and the second half carried on in the same pattern as the first thirty minutes, with pressure from the visitors being repulsed by Hamann, Johnson and the two central defenders, all of who were immense. When there was a breakthrough it usually came from the wing, where Corluka seemed to give a little too much room to Nani, but Schmeichel was always alert to snuff crosses out that weren’t picked up by Dunne or Richards. There was one particularly nervous moment as a corner was well won by Vidic, whose header struck the bar. The rebound fell to Scholes ten yards out and it looked like an equaliser until he scuffed the shot well wide. Tevez too was busy but couldn’t hit the target.

The referee’s reluctance to produce the yellow card incensed the City fans after a deliberate handball from Evra then a United defender cynically bringing down a City forward who was breaking clear. However, Geovanni and Hamann were booked for nothing very sinister. The worrying bit was that it was very similar to the referee’s performance at the West Ham game, who was far too quick to card City players while overlooking similar offences from them.

Mpenza wasn’t looking comfortable in the sole striker rôle and Bianchi came on to relieve him, with the Belgian going onto the right side of midfield in a more conventional 4-5-1, Elano making way. Further defensive shoring up took place when Ball came on for goal-scorer Geovanni, Garrido moving forward into midfield. It was desperate stuff now as United also sent on reinforcements. Richards again had to clear from under the bar when a goal looked certain. However, City nearly made the game safe when Corluka got a rare chance to go forward and unleashed a wicked shot from forty yards. It swerved and dipped and Van der Sar would have struggled to get to it if it had been on target but it went inches past the top corner.

The intensity of United’s attacks increased as the final minutes ticked away and as the match went into injury time, Schmeichel made a mistake when he flapped at a ball in from the right. It fell to Tevez just outside the far post but he summed up United’s afternoon when he headed it wide. The last few added minutes seemed like an age but eventually the whistle went to set off scenes of euphoria in the City ranks. It’s difficult to describe the scenes after the game, with City fans singing all the way out of the stadium. There’s really nothing quite like it, especially when you’ve gone top of the Premier League and beaten your old foes in the process. But of course it means nothing to them.

Schmeichel 8. Apart from the last minute flap, seemed sound and kicked well.
Corluka 7. Good tackling and nearly a wonder goal but seemed to give too much room to Nani.
Dunne 9. Couldn’t ask for much more from the captain.
Richards 10. Could have been three or four to them without him. A match-winning performance.
Garrido 8. Quietly effective and totally solid.
Hamann 9. All the threat came from the flanks as he had the middle sewn up.
Geovanni 7. Great goal but pretty quiet otherwise as not given too many opportunities to shine.
Johnson 8. Another mature and solid display when main burden was defensive.
Petrov 6. Didn’t figure much after lively opening when Brown looked there for the taking.
Elano 6. Another one who was quiet as few opportunities for the team to get forward.
Bojinov n/a. Not on long enough unfortunately. Hopefully back before too long.
Mpenza 5. Failed to hold up the ball on the few occasions it got to him but not really his forté.
Bianchi 6. Rarely saw the ball.
Ball 7. A useful contribution to seal up the left flank.

Overall Out-of-the-Seat Factor 8. More to do with defensive moments than going forward but plenty of drama and tension.

Colin Savage <colin(at)>


Has anyone seen the footage of Sir Alex Ferguson leaping off the bench in a moment of premature jock elation on Sunday? I can’t watch it without laughing. In fact, I’ve barely stopped laughing at all since Sunday. Of course, yernited don’t care about City and they have bigger fish to fry. Of course our manager only came to us for the money, and of course referees need to gang together and protect yernited’s precious babes from big violent thugs like Michael Johnson. And they call us bitter. It was a rarity for me to attend a derby. Prior to the one in May, I hadn’t been to one for over 20 years, as I feel physically ill at the prospect of losing to the ultimate enemy. So it was with some trepidation that I accepted the offer of a ‘freebie’, and I was glad of the opportunity to pop into Mary D’s before the game to calm my nerves and meet up with some like-minded souls. The pre-match sing-song was a little forced and the atmosphere somewhat strained. Clearly we thought we had a chance of winning this one.

A stroll across the road in the light drizzle, and we had the first of many giggles on this wondrous day, as we intercepted a coach full of their “fans” and taunted them with “You’re Not From Manchester” and my personal favourite “Going Down, Going Down, Going Down”. Inside, the place was buzzing and a raucous Blue Moon greeted the arrival of the teams. Surprisingly the gaffer had dropped Bianchi (whoa-oh) and brought in the exciting Bojinov, who was an inspiration when he came on at West Ham. Apparently Ireland had been due to start but had woken up with a temperature, hence the re-shuffle.

We were under pressure from the off, but the absence of Shrek and the Portuguese rent-boy left them lacking up front. Tevez was scary but only because he’s so ugly. Richard Dunne was immense, and Micah Richards is already one of the best footballers I have ever seen in a City shirt. Bojinov limped off with a cruciate injury, and surprisingly Sven opted to bring on Mpenza rather than Bianchi. I think the problem was in midfield, where the likes of Carrick and Hargreaves were bullying our two Brazilians, and Petrov was being constantly fouled by Wes Brown, apparently not something Mark Clattenburg cared about.

Thirty minutes in and a tame shot from Johnson, just about our first effort of the game, failed to trouble Van der Saar. City then got the ball from the resultant goal kick, and a buzz of expectancy greeted Geovanni, as he latched onto a sweet sideways pass from Elano, looked up and fired the sweetest left-footed Howitzer into the left-hand corner, brushing Vidic’s leg before bamboozling the hapless Dutch oaf in the goalmouth. You will have seen the celebration, which was just as classy as the goal. Around me complete strangers were hugging and dancing together. Pure unadulterated joy from 40,000 throats. A twenty-pass movement a few minutes later had the fans singing “Olé” at each touch, reminiscent of an old Leeds-Southampton game for the older reader (apparently).

The remainder of the half passed off without incident, and I was buoyed by the fact that, despite their possession, the visitors had only managed to bring one save from our ‘keeper during the first period. A loud and joyous crowd watched the re-run of the goal, it really was a peach, and back we went for the second half. A fired-up yernited hit the bar within minutes of the restart, and Corluka was starting to struggle as Brian Biggs fired in his crosses. Thankfully City held firm, with the aforementioned central defensive partnership complemented by a flawless display from Garrido at left-back. Bianchi replaced a tiring Elano, who had also suffered at the hands of yernited’s crude tackling, and Michael Ball came on for Geovanni, playing further up the field than usual and bolstering the left side. Twelve minutes from time, a slick City attack ended with Corluka firing just over the bar from 35 yards out.

It was mainly Red in terms of possession, but I can honestly say that Dunney and Micah were so immense that I never really thought we would concede. Even so, there were scenes of great jubilation when Mr Clattenburg put his whistle to his lips to signal the end of four and a half added “Fergie” minutes.

Suffice to say that Mary D’s after the match was an entirely different story. The place was rocking, and if you’ll pardon my French, the rendition of “Who the **** is Nani. We’ve got Geovanni” was my favourite ditty. A long, emotional drunken evening ensued, and I wore my shirt with pride all the way home the following day. Hope you enjoyed the wine, Taggart.

John Joyce <john.joyce(at)>


Firstly, let me briefly give my Blue heritage, since I’m non-native. That started in the 1967-68 season, when as a 7 year old. I saw a broadcast of highlights of a City vs. United game. I was with my dad, long since departed, bless him) and a gang of his mates. They were all cheering for United, and I started shouting for the other lot. Don’t know why, but I did. Anyway, they lost (2-1 I think), and I got a gentle ribbing from the men. After that they said that maybe should support a winning team like United. I suppose I was still smarting from the ribbing I had got, so I stubbornly stayed with City. That kind of nailed my colours to the mast, no hiding after that, is there? As it turned out, City won the league that year, United won the European Cup, and all was good with the world of footie in our house. But from then on I was a Blue. A Blue in a sea of Red as it turns out, since 70% plus of the people I knew then that supported football were Red. Incidentally, that changed during the 70s and 80s, but since then it’s been a lot worse and so I’m particularly proud of my 10 year old son Daire’s affiliations, specially since not only have we been in the doldrums all of his short life but the Gick have been annoyingly dominant.

So anyway, I’ve been a fan through thick and thin, mostly thin, since 1967. I’ve been able to get over to games occasionally throughout the intervening period, but a chance meeting in 2002 on holidays in Portugal with another guy from Dublin, Roberto (his folks are Italian) resulted in a friendship with not just another Blue, but a Blue with two season tickets! So, we go over together a couple of times a year, and he lends me his tickets another few times during the season for me to bring over other buddies or young Daire. On Sunday it was Roberto and I there for the privilege of seeing a great win, and although we were on the rack for quite a long part of the game I’m must admit to feeling we were destined to win that one no matter what. They hurt us a lot less than their possession should have hurt. Great atmosphere throughout the game, and the face on Fergie at the end was priceless.

So, to the flight home. Actually, I met John O’Shea in the airport as he was coming home to meet up with the national squad for a friendly against Denmark. He was sick as a pig of course, but quite engaging given the defeat, and actually was surprisingly gracious, which I thought was nice of him. When we got on the flight itself there were quite a few Blues on there but only a few from the dark side (away ticket acquisition difficulties I suppose). Roberto and I had just such a creature in our row, and Roberto hopped into the window seat and promptly fell asleep (or pretended to, the get) so I was left with our friend. God this guy was something else. He blamed everything but his side’s lack of success in opening us up on the day. He gave no credit at all to effective defence and their inability to really hurt us, with only grudging acknowledgement of Micah’s performance. Then this guy went off like a firecracker. I got all sorts of guff about Kaspar being dodgy, his father being a traitor, Ferguson being a god (I kid you not), United being this and that and blah de blah de bl0dy blah. Get this: he even said that United were taken over by foreign owners better than any other Premier League team, since their fans had objected whilst other clubs welcomed investors in with open arms. No how deranged is that? I got the ‘nothing won in 31 years’, the Munchen comments, the ‘this is your cup final’, the lot. Christ, this guy was bitter! They lost a game, how bad can it be!

Anyway, I told this fool that he had just spent half an hour proving to me and to the couple of City fan youngsters sitting in the seat in front of us with their dad just why most football fans can’t stand all things United. It’s the begrudgery. Can’t acknowledge any other team’s positives or fans’ occasional victory, can’t get involved in general banter without falling into the United-are-great-and-everyone-else-is-s**te mantra. Can’t see their own shortcomings. Can’t accept that you occasionally lose and that maybe it’s the team’s fault and not just the other lot being lucky. Can’t take criticism. In short, it’s the lack of a football soul. They are fans of success now, not football. They can’t see footie for what it intrinsically is, sporting theatre. They just see league tables and trophies and have stopped following the sport itself. If it isn’t in a red shirt it doesn’t register. Even if it is in a red shirt it doesn’t always register. That United fan was extraordinarily bitter to us over one bl**dy defeat which, given their success over the life of the Premier League, just defies belief.

Incidentally, on the same flight were at least a dozen or so Liverpool fans on their way back, as they sometimes go to their games through Manchester. Now, these lads remember success, and not just in the 70s and 80s. They were good footie fans though, and we had a good chat in the airport about their game and ours. There was plenty of banter of course, and the usual slagging off, but they were engaging, and they knew a bit about a club other than their own. They wished us all the best and hoped we’d have a good season, because they said the league needs the big derbies like Merseyside and Manchester not to be almost foregone conclusions. One guy actually said he preferred a strong rather than weak Everton for that very reason. Refreshing, don’t you think, and such a change from that gobsh*te I was sitting beside!

Got home in time for the highlights on the Beeb, and of course the league table. Top of the world ma, top of the world!

John Breen <Breen(at)>


I don’t want to rain on Glyn Alberquerque’s parade but he must have a very short memory as it certainly isn’t the first time in the last few seasons that we’ve been top after three games. Nor has it meant a good season for us when we have been.

In 2003/4 we went to Ewood Park for our third game, having got a win and draw in the two opening games. This game saw Michael Tarnat’s incredible free-kick and then Anelka’s cool, last minute, strike from a tight angle to win it 3-2. We went top after that game, and carried on doing OK until we played Groclin, after which we collapsed. without a Premiership win for months. We had the amazing 4-3 at Spurs, won the derby 4-1 in February and won at Bolton but then were sweating until Paulo Wanchope scored against Newcastle to give us a much-needed win. The last game of the season was effectively a play-off for 16th and 17th place and we hammered Everton 5-1 to finish 16th.

Two seasons later, in SP’s first full season in charge, we had another good start to the season, ending up top after the third or fourth game, if I remember rightly, and being unbeaten in five, including a draw at Old Trafford. Then we played Bolton at home and did everything but score, hitting the woodwork six times and Dunne gave away a late penalty to compound the misery. A few days later we lost at Doncaster and although we beat United again, 3-1, we ended up in 15th place although we never seriously looked in danger of relegation.

So far from being euphoric after being top following three wins out of three, including a derby win, I am nervously waiting to see if history repeats itself!

Alex Bishop <itsthebishop(at)>


Three wins out of three and no goals conceded make for a remarkable start to the season and we find ourselves at the top of the heap, at least temporarily. I seem to think this is about the third time in the last decade or so, and didn’t we get relegated last time it happened?

Anyway the results appear to be surprising most pundits, though our recent record against these or comparable teams (for Derby use Watford) is pretty good. We had 4 points in the corresponding fixtures last year, and 6 the year before. In fact taking an average of goals for versus goals against for the last two years would have given us 7 points.

So where will we be at the end of the season?

  1. Substituting these results into those we attained last year will get 47 points and finish 12th.
  2. Substituting these into the average results over the last two yearswill give us 50 points and mean an 11th place finish.
  3. A run rate of the last 10 games (7 from last season as I did not countpre-season) would give us 53 points and mean a 10th place finish. This isgetting better.
  4. A run rate over the last 6 games obviously weights for current form andplayers – call it a confidence weighting and this would be 57 points and7th place – can we start dreaming of Europe as 7th has been there for thelast few years?
  5. And of course the average of the current season will give us a maximum114 points and leave us champions, but even I think we’ll drop a point ortwo along the way.

The three wins in a row for us is a bit of a statistical blip and will need time to average out of these tables. It’s a bit early to tell yet but I’m hopeful for a top ten finish and if we get Anelkastar back, top 7.

Still, you can’t knock form so I have a small wager on with Paddy Power for Saturday at 5-1.

If anyone wants the predictor spreadsheet to play around with / improve let me know.

Seán Cassidy <Sean.Cassidy(at)>


After last season, I’d have judged this season a success if during the odd game City managed to pass the ball to a blue shirt 4 or 5 times in a row. Top of the league after three games is fantastic and since last Sunday I’ve been smirking to myself almost constantly.

Let’s not get carried away though as the position is in many ways a false one. After all, we haven’t played anyone outside the bottom six yet.

Arthur Magee <arthurmagee(at)>


Well done on winning the derby. A commentator on radio as I was listening to the game (and punching the air in the car, getting strange looks from fellow motorists) stated that the only player on City’s team that had been involved in the January 2006 derby game was Dunne.

It is a commentary on where the ‘outside the top 6’ teams are ending up as he also stated that the Portsmouth team (I know Harry etc.) was completely different from the previous year.

I think City are in a good position to at least attempt to get a class side together with the players they have. SGE may be the man to do this (enough posted on this topic). But we all know that as soon as success eludes the team there will be a stampede to the agents’ offices (with SGE perhaps leading it). The opposite could also prevail: gel, win, succeed and progress to silverware.

What is hugely positive is that Micah Richards, Johnson and Ireland are solid performers (outstanding in the case of Richards).

But as usual every game’s result will be a shock – positive or negative.

Kieran Daly <kdaly100(at)>


All this hullaballoo about Rob Styles saving Chelsea from what otherwise would have been a loss to the Scousers reminds me of when I wrote to MCIVTA fuming at him a year ago. Drogba put the ball in the net after a blatant handball and Styles allowed it, and when our captain Distin politely protested after the half time whistle Styles showed him a red. This is what I wrote (see MCIVTA 1210 of March 2006).

So. I’m annoyed at Rob Styles. Drogba should have been off. Second goal shouldn’t have stood. Distin should have stayed on. That’s a goal and an effective two-man difference awarded to Chelsea by a cluster of bad decisions from Styles. Could have been a different game.

So I go and look him up, this Styles fellow. After all that’s some pretty awful refereeing. Here’s what I find:

Since you never know how long these things stay up, here are the relevant parts:

“He has, however, come in for some criticism this season for some of his decisions, including that Mido red card…” (against Chelsea) “… and the non-dismissal of Chelsea’s Essien in the game in which he sent off Gardner for an horrendous challenge. Not to mention his subsequent failure to dismiss the same man when Chelsea visited Highbury…” (elbowed Lauren as he came in for a tackle, knocked out one of his teeth, got a yellow from Styles) “… and not awarding Villa themselves a penalty when they took on, you guessed it, Chelsea, in February.”

Gah! I doubt he’s biased. But…

I carry on moaning about how he’s probably not biased but he finds in favour of Chelsea a surprising amount of the time.

Anyway, turns out (according to the Daily Mail this week) Styles and Abramovich have done business together, with Styles getting a contract from Abramovich to do his drive. I’m imagining Abramovich’s drive is a bit longer than mine and the contract’s worth a pretty penny.

Makes you wonder.

Bernard Molyneux <molyneux(at)>


I just wanted to pass on my best wishes to Bojinov for a speedy recovery. It looks like it is going to be a 5 month lay off, which is a huge shame, not only for him, but everybody concerned from the manager to the fans.

The first time I saw him was at West Ham when he came on for 15-20 minutes and he looked a player; good touch, good vision, sharp and looked like he could beat a man. I also saw his substitute appearance against Derby when he again showed some deft touches and was really excited to see him get a start on Sunday (don’t get me wrong, I’ve got absolutely nothing against Bianchi; I think that he is also a very good player who holds the ball up extremely well, works hard, links up play tremendously and hopefully somebody who will score the tap-ins and headers for us, I just wanted to see a bit more of Bojinov). However, as we all know, it all went horribly and sadly wrong.

It’s now a catch-22 decision as to whether or not we buy another striker to replace him in the meantime. Personally, I would prefer us not to. We have Mpenza, Corradi, Samaras, Vassell and even Sturridge to come back (if he hasn’t already done so, Dickov obviously not included as he has been transfer listed) and up to now Sven has only played with one up front anyway, although I am sure he will change that for certain games.

In all honesty I haven’t seen much of Mpenza although I did see him work like a dog on Sunday and the other forwards I have mentioned, excluding Sturridge, were hardly inspiring last season but Bojinov’s injury just may give somebody an opportunity to shine and turn the manager’s head until he gets back.

Let’s wait for him to get back in January/February and keep the money in the pocket or spend it for strengthening elsewhere (although no position other than goalkeeper, where Kasper has surely justified his position as a competing stand in with Joe Hart, springs to mind). I guess it all depends on what our targets really are for this season and I’m sure many may disagree and want to go all out for another striker.

Any thoughts?

Noel Wilkes Wells <Wilkes.wells(at)>


Just a question to Bernard Molyneux. Why is it an insult to give someone complimentary tickets in the main stand?

I am a big fan of Dennis Tueart, but I think he’s the one who is being a bit childish. City have done very well out of Dennis and I have nothing but praise for him, but he has also done very well out of City and nothing lasts forever. When there is a takeover of any business, it is usually followed by a shake up in the boardroom and some directors are forced to stand down. That’s life and if City continue to improve under the current regime, I will not shed any tears for Dennis, like I said he is living very comfortably thanks to Man City.

It was a shame and also very unprofessional of him to have a public rant in the local newspapers and I think it shows why he was probably one of the first directors to be shown the door. The thing I was upset about the most was the fact that he was complaining about being given tickets in the stand and that he would prefer to listen to it on the radio at home. Does Dennis think he is now too high profile to sit with the lowly average City fan in the stands? If he does, I would be quite happy for him to continue listening to us on the radio. He will be the one missing out!

Mark Strong <mark.strong(at)>


I had a great time at the Mad Dog In The Fog on Haight St watching a re-run of the derby game on Sunday afternoon. Knowing I was likely to be the only Blue there, I’d checked the score in advance (we’re 8 hours behind here). I particularly enjoyed seeing United fans who didn’t know having nervous breakdowns every time Tevez missed.

Next time I don’t want to be the only Blue there so get in touch.

David Allen <davidhrallen(at)>


I have recently moved from Cheshire to Ulverston and wonder if there are any Blues up here willing to share transport or if there are any coach services from up here? I understand one runs from Dalton but I haven’t found out who organises it yet!

Joe Ramsbottom <joe(at)>


Manchester City supporters annual gentleman’s morning takes place this season before the game against Birmingham City on 20 October at the Embassy Club, which is only about 10 minutes from the ground.

Doors open 10am and it is the usual fun and games with one or two surprises this year. Tickets are only £7-50p buy 10 get one free! Please call Don on 798 9994 for details.

Don Price <cathdon.price(at)>


League table to 21 August 2007 inclusive

                              HOME          AWAY        OVERALL
                     P  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F   A   GD  Pts
 1 Manchester City  3  2  0  0  2  0  1  0  0  2  0  3  0  0   4   0   4   9
 2 Chelsea          3  1  0  0  3  2  1  1  0  3  2  2  1  0   6   4   2   7
 3 Wigan Athletic   3  2  0  0  4  0  0  0  1  1  2  2  0  1   5   2   3   6
 4 Everton          3  1  0  0  2  1  1  0  1  3  2  2  0  1   5   3   2   6
 5 Portsmouth       3  1  1  0  4  2  0  1  0  2  2  1  2  0   6   4   2   5
 6 Newcastle Utd    2  0  1  0  0  0  1  0  0  3  1  1  1  0   3   1   2   4
 7 Arsenal          2  1  0  0  2  1  0  1  0  1  1  1  1  0   3   2   1   4
 8 Blackburn R.     2  0  1  0  1  1  1  0  0  2  1  1  1  0   3   2   1   4
 9 Liverpool        2  0  1  0  1  1  1  0  0  2  1  1  1  0   3   2   1   4
10 Reading          3  1  0  1  2  2  0  1  0  0  0  1  1  1   2   2   0   4
11 Sunderland       3  1  0  0  1  0  0  1  1  2  5  1  1  1   3   5  -2   4
12 Tottenham H.     3  1  0  1  5  3  0  0  1  0  1  1  0  2   5   4   1   3
13 Fulham           3  1  0  1  3  3  0  0  1  1  2  1  0  2   4   5  -1   3
14 Middlesbrough    3  0  0  1  1  2  1  0  1  2  2  1  0  2   3   4  -1   3
15 West Ham United  2  0  0  1  0  2  1  0  0  1  0  1  0  1   1   2  -1   3
16 Manchester Utd   3  0  1  0  0  0  0  1  1  1  2  0  2  1   1   2  -1   2
17 Aston Villa      2  0  0  1  1  2  0  1  0  0  0  0  1  1   1   2  -1   1
18 Birmingham City  3  0  1  1  2  3  0  0  1  2  3  0  1  2   4   6  -2   1
19 Derby County     3  0  1  0  2  2  0  0  2  0  5  0  1  2   2   7  -5   1
20 Bolton Wndrs     3  0  0  1  1  3  0  0  2  2  5  0  0  3   3   8  -5   0

With thanks to Football 365

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