Newsletter #1399

When somebody manages to update the “Cups for Cock-ups” book of a few years back, yesterday afternoon’s balloon incident will definitely be in there. Although many, including the manager, are quick to blame the balloon (or the referee), we simply weren’t good enough to turn the game around and suffered another memorable cup exit. “Typical City” are giving the media a run for their money this week!

We have match reports tonight thanks to Colin and Phil, match views, transfer opinions, more on the Munich memorial and commercialisation and a viewing request.

Next up we visit Pride Park. Balloons are optional.

Next Game: Wednesday 30th January 2008, 7.45pm, Derby County (away)


After the media battering we received earlier in the week, it was back to the on-field stuff as we attempted to progress into the 5th round again. The whole Bramall Lane end, upper and lower tiers, was filled with nearly 7,000 Blues, confident that we would be only the seventh Premiership team to make it through to the next round.

It was a strong, if slightly more defensive City side that lined up for the kick off, with Fernandes in for Ireland and Onuoha at centre-back replacing the injured Richards. Mpenza also returned up front. There were a large number of balloons on the pitch, in Joe Hart’s area, as the match started and it was somewhat surprising that referee Alan Wiley didn’t insist they were cleared. The significance of this oversight was only to become clear later on.

The game got off to a thunderous start as first Sheffield United attacked then City countered and won a corner. However, it was the home team who were getting the upper hand and a Jon Stead header was fortunately directed close to Hart, who was able to save low down. It was an ominous fore-taste of what was to come as the Blades attacked on City’s right. The ball was crossed and Ball seemed to have it covered. However, confused by the balloons, he hesitated, missed it and the ball fell to Shelton. Hart also seemed t be confused by the balloons and the United player volleyed the ball home for the opener. Hart was clearly furious and stamped round the area, bursting the balloons while muttering angrily to himself and casting some black looks at the City fans behind him.

It wasn’t great but we came back from a similar position at Preston last season so there was no need to panic. Elano had what looked like a very soft shot, which eluded Paddy Kenny and hit the post. Then the Brazilian fired in a trademark free kick that the veteran Kenny saved superbly when it looked in. However, that was the high point of the half as far as we were concerned. A cross into the City area wasn’t dealt with by Onuoha and the ball fell to an awaiting attacker. Dunne did superbly to get in a block but the ball rolled out to Stead who, with Shelton, was completely unmarked inside the area. He made no mistake and we were 2 down. Now it was time to panic but the situation seemed to inspire United more than it did us and they seemed to have about twenty men on the pitch. Our two key players, Petrov and Elano, simply couldn’t get in the game and were showing worrying signs of losing control of themselves. The home team were winning every 50/50 ball but were helped by some very uncommitted City tackling. The City support was totally stunned while the home crowd, having been chanting for the head of their manager the previous week, was buoyant.

Changes were clearly needed and Daniel Sturridge replaced Elano at the start of the second half. The impact of this was felt inside three minutes when City attacked and the ball fell to the youngster on the edge of the box. He rifled in an unstoppable volley and we were finally back in the game. For a while it looked as though we were going to rescue it but the short revival just fizzled out as Sheffield United redoubled their efforts. They taught us a football lesson as determined ball winning, neat, incisive passes and good movement enabled them to break threateningly time and time again. One incident that, to me, illustrated the difference between the two teams was a 50/50 ball that Hamann and an opposition player contested. The United player threw himself at it wholeheartedly but Hamann wearily and half-heartedly waved his leg in the air. Another was as a United player (the hugely impressive Shelton I think) won not one but four challenges as City players simply didn’t show the commitment required to win the ball. Ireland came on to replace the ineffective Hamann but was no better, being reduced to slinging hopeful high balls up field. Geovanni replaced Mpenza as we went to a pure 4-4-2 but there was a marked reluctance to shoot when in reasonable positions and some woefully inaccurate passing. Even ‘keeper Hart was affected, twice kicking clearances straight out of play. Paddy Kenny, defending the goal in front of the City fans, had so little to do that he spent most of the latter part of the second half swigging from a bottle of water.

As the minutes ticked away, City threw caution to the wind, sending Corluka up-field to try to win some of the hopeful punts now being played as we abandoned any idea of pretty football. However, it was symptomatic of City’s afternoon that he didn’t win a single one. Vassell had seemingly the best chance late on but just didn’t seem to know where the ball was. After four minutes of added time, the whistle went and rounded off a pretty depressing week for City fans. Credit to Sheffiled United who gave us a football lesson. Was that anything to do with the fact that their assistant manager is Brian Kidd?

The thought also struck me that what would have the fans’ reaction been if that had been a Pearce team?

Hart 6. One good save but some poor kicking. Clearly balloon-gate got to him.
Corluka 5. Seemed to go missing frequently.
Dunne 7. Probably the pick of the bunch (although there wasn’t much competition).
Onuoha 5. Didn’t look comfortable and no idea what to do with the ball.
Ball 6. Not his best afternoon although no shortage of commitment.
Vassell 5. Usual story. Effort but no end-product.
Fernandes 6. Game should have suited him but never really at the races.
Hamann 4. Played like he was having a kick about with some kids in the park.
Elano 6. Two good attempts, either of which could have made a difference but faded into obscurity.
Petrov 5. Just didn’t seem to fancy it at all.
Mpenza 6. Tried hard enough but no help from his team-mates or the opposition.
Sturridge 7. Immediate impact but couldn’t repeat it.
Ireland 4. Doesn’t look interested at the moment.
Geovanni 6. Tried hard and looked the best chance of saving the tie.

Overall Out-of-the-Seat Factor 5. A very, very frustrating afternoon.

Colin Savage <colin(at)>


City departed another Cup competition with barely a whimper against opponents who showed more desire to progress: another depressing capitulation to a team in a lower division. The atmosphere before the game was strange and a lot of people didn’t get in on time because their tickets wouldn’t scan through the automated turnstiles. The Blades’ fans had organised a demonstration against their manager Bryan Robson, and unsurprisingly there were ‘We want Robson out’ chants from the City contingent as well as a large section of the disgruntled home supporters. With the Blades’ controversial relegation still fresh in the memory, the Sheffield United announcer thanked us for beating West Ham!

Emile Mpenza was back in up front with Elano just behind him and Vassell on the right. Fernandes partnered Hamann in central midfield so, in theory, we should have been competitive enough in central midfield. Theory is one thing but practice is completely different, and it wasn’t long before City were in trouble. With our defence stretched, the not-quite so exotically named Luton Shelton crossed to John Stead from which Joe Hart made a sharp save and gathered the ball at the second attempt. Sadly, City did not take heed of this warning and fell behind when Martin’s cross from the left caused confusion, along with a set of blue and white balloons, and Shelton converted. The question has to be asked as to why the referee did not stop the game when so many balloons were in the penalty area. After all, if it had been another ball causing such confusion then he would definitely have stopped the game.

The humour of most of the City fans remained good despite this setback and we exerted some pressure, whilst remaining vulnerable to the Blades’ pacy breaks. Ball fed Petrov and from his cross, Mpenza headed over. Elano hit the outside of a post from a long range shot, and after being fouled his curling, low free kick was pushed round the post astutely by Kenny. Onuoha had to make an important interception as the home side broke, but this was only a short-lived reprieve. A cross from the right was not properly cleared and two Sheffield United attackers queued up with no midfield runners tracking them, and Stead had the freedom of the penalty box to score. It was a very poor goal to concede.

City tried to hit back. Petrov played the ball up to Mpenza who flicked on to the advancing Bulgarian and he won a corner. Martin, on loan to the Blades from the McTrafford Evil Empire, then surprise, surprise, put in a bad challenge on Corluka and was duly booked. No prizes for guessing what they teach them on the wrong side of the wall at Carrington. Vassell had an effort blocked and Hamann had an effort deflected behind. Petrov went on a long run which promised much and delivered little: Kenny fielding what amounted to a back pass of a shot. At the other end Stead had an effort blocked and Hart saved a Martin effort. City had been out-muscled and outpaced in the first half and couldn’t really complain at the scoreline.

City had a little more purpose after the break and Onuoha had an effort saved by Kenny. Sven had replaced the peripheral Elano at half time with Sturridge and it quickly paid dividends. From Petrov’s corner, Sturridge scored a thrilling goal off the underside of the bar. Our spirits were raised and it looked for a fifteen minutes like we were going to mount a comeback, before we started to give the ball away again and Sheffield United regained the upper hand in midfield. Gillespie was wide when played in from Martin’s free kick. Sven tried to change things by bringing on Ireland for the off-form Hamann and Geovanni for the tiring Mpenza. The Brazilian tried to get things going down the right and put in a good cross from the right but the finishing touch was not there. In fact there was no end product from the team as a whole. The Blades were winning the 50-50s and the game was getting scrappy. Kenny was largely untested as Sheffield United relied on Martin breaking at pace. Dunnie shot wide from Petrov’s free kick. The nearest we got to scoring was when Nedum headed wide from a corner, and when Vassell fed Geovanni who shot over.

I’m sorry to say we didn’t deserve anything in this game. The Blades wanted it more than we did and were first to the ball far too often. It’s all very well trying to play pretty football but you have to earn the right to play it, especially in FA Cup ties against Football League opposition. City did not move the ball quickly enough and allowed the home defence to regroup. We did not compete hard enough, for long enough, and now we are left to ‘concentrate on the league’, as the cliché goes. It is certainly no time to panic with Sven at helm. That said, we have been off the boil for most of the last three months now, and if we do not improve quickly, finishing in the top half this season, let alone qualifying for Europe, will be unlikely.

It was another depressing experience where we saw some of the worst behaviour from a minority from both cities who were hell bent on causing trouble inside and outside the ground. The atmosphere grew nastier as the game progressed. It was like being back in the 80s again with imbeciles running the length of stands, not caring about any of their fellow fans’ safety so that they could posture at each other. I’m talking about so-called City fans knocking over City fans as they tried to ‘enrich’ their inadequate little lives by showing how ‘hard’ they are – my wife was hit in the back by the elbows of some charging idiots as we left the ground. Like our midfield had been, South Yorkshire Police were non-existent on the top tier of the away end, as society’s imbeciles ran amok down the gangway. Of course the problem has never really gone away since the 80s, it’s just remained dormant. I lived in Sheffield for four years and in that time, Sheffield United versus City has rarely been a game when there has been much trouble, but it kicked off before and after this game and it was a relief to be out of it and away.

Also disappointing is the way that a minority of City fans behave towards each other. Sometimes there is clearly no respect, whether it be verbal abuse of fellow fans or dangerous behaviour: like the little cretin who dished out a volley of verbal abuse (“f*** off, you tw**”) to the City fan who asked him to ‘cut out’ over his ‘Munich’ chanting; like the other idiot who threw a bottle of beer from the Upper Tier, which landed in the Lower tier of the away section. What he was doing with beer (does Carling count as beer?) in the stand in view of the pitch is another question. We truly are better off without such people amongst us.

Is ‘rating’ the right word for some of these performances?

Hart: Sharp save early on and did little wrong, though his distribution was erratic 6
Corluka: Lacked strength in an off-colour performance in which he spent too much time going to ground 5
Onuoha: Very solid and dependable, including one excellent tackle in the second half; comfortably City’s best performer on the day 7
Dunne: Struggled in the first, but decent enough in the 2nd 6
Ball: Given a tough time early on and better going forward this time; tried to get City going in the second 6
Vassell: All effort but we needed more guile 5
Fernandes: Always tries hard but his decision making needs to improve; he needs to bulk up his upper and lower body to be able to compete in English football 5
Hamann: The game passed him by at times and his normally accurate passing was erratic on this occasion 5
Petrov: Moved the ball too slowly at times, and cowardly in the challenge 5
Elano: Epitomised City’s performance: outmuscled, and outpaced 5
Mpenza: Heart, strength and effort but nothing special on this occasion 6
Sturridge: Took his first senior goal very well indeed; will learn to cope better with the physical demands 6
Ireland: Brought some poise to midfield 6
Geovanni: Creative and tenacious, so why wasn’t he on from the start? 6

Phil Banerjee <phil.banerjee(at)>


Oh here we go again, another miserable day in the life of being a Manchester City fan. I am so bloody angry after watching another half hearted display from our so called superstars.

I wonder, did any of you overpaid lazy wasters think about the 7,000 City fans behind the goal who paid good money to watch you today? Most of you are paid more per week than the average person gets in a year, so what’s it all about then? Maybe you just did not feel up to it today, oh I am so sorry, maybe we should have the game deferred to another day where you guys felt you felt like earning your wages? I mention the City fans at the game today, but there are City fans travelling to City games from all over the globe at huge expense to themselves.

I suppose I write this hoping that some of the so called footballers wearing blue today might read this article, but it’s most unlikely.

Regards to all long suffering Blues.

Paul Fegan <paulo9(at)>


Well we got what we deserved, absolutely nothing. We were out-thought, out-muscled, out-run, out-passioned by a team of players nearing the end of their careers and players that didn’t really make it in the Premiership.

Got up at five in the morning, by 5.30 I turned on Binny Hinn for my wife and started playing with my granddaughter, took my wife to work at 6.30 and it didn’t get any better.

As soon as some of these players realise that they’re not as good as they think they are, not take 27 passes before we reach halfway and then give the ball away, we might have a half decent team.

Few emerged with much credit. Joe Hart continues to improve (yes I’m the same person that preferred Kasper S. in goal), my youngest daughter has moved back home with her daughter and thinks he’s cute! Cute I ask you! Daniel Sturridge took his goal really well, and Nedum has the makings of a decent defender. All young players, funny that isn’t it?

About time we respected the ball a little more, and stop giving it to the opposition to play with.

Oh well, 7.30 and the sun’s just up, my granddaughter has just gone back to sleep. It’s going to be a great day.

Stay Blue, ’cause my daughter says so!

Kevin Williamson <scribbs(at)>


The way this game started from the off I felt City were up against it, The Blades were far sharper on the ball – to be very honest, Sheffield looked like a hare on the ball whilst City looked like the snail.

Even after their first goal, credit to Sheffield they did not go into a defensive mode, they kept on attacking and got their second goal.

Other clubs know the way we play now, it’s not going to be easy for the rest of the season. The only bright spot in this game was Sturridge.

Now Sven, show us what you are made of?

Come on you Blues!

Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)>


I’m sure that you will be inundated with comments about the débâcle that was the cup tie at Sheffield so I won’t add to them.

I do pose one question/observation: when Sturridge scored (his first ever competitive first team goal), why was he left to celebrate on his own?

Ned went across to him sort of half heartedly, while the rest of the players were nowhere in sight. Good motivation for the 18 year old!

Malcolm Clelland <clelland(at)>


I think enough balloons have turned out for City over the years, but yesterday’s over inflated turn out could be said to have cost us our place in this year’s F.A. Cup. No, I’m not talking about the players, although several of them need to take responsibility for yet another lacklustre performance but the blue spherical objects that confused Michael Ball’s attempts to make a defensive clearance!

It was only ever going to be a matter of time before something of this kind happened; I only get to hear the games on MCFCTV or on 5live, but it comes across clearly to me that releasing dozens of balloons at kick off regularly causes interference in play, and usually have to be cleared away by somebody. Yesterday, the ref decided it was Joe Hart’s responsibility to clear his penalty area, I seriously question this: he is a goalkeeper, not ground staff, he has a very important job to do, and needs to keep focussed on it, not concern himself with clearing debris when the ball is further up the pitch.

I hope those fans responsible for this ridiculous antic now see the folly of their act.

None of the above takes anything away from Sheffield United’s performance, which as in other games recently, showed us the limitation of our squad, and how we still lack flair and imagination. If we can’t change this either by changing how we play (dropping Elano and going 4-4-2) or bringing in a proven goalscorer comfortable with the lone striker rôle, then we will miss out on Europe altogether. Portsmouth and Everton look to have better squads and more goal scoring potential than we do, Villa might just pip us for 7th place; and Spurs are looking pretty handy now!

It would be such a shame not to qualify for Europe after such a promising start. I know this is so much better than last season, but loads of dosh has been spent, let’s not forget that!

I think this January window is ridiculous, with most of the transactions being done in the final few mad scrambling hours. I just hope that Sven can still pull something off before Friday. It will still be a good season whatever, but it could still be an excellent one, but not without strengthening our meagre squad.

Andy Collins <Andy(at)>


Read on

Excerpt: ‘A club spokesman said: “The incorrect panels will be replaced. But the AIG logo was `entirely appropriate’. The commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Munich air crash has involved many different groups including the club’s partners. Each group has chosen to pay tribute in its own way. It is entirely appropriate that a partner as closely involved with the club as AIG would want to remember that extraordinary team, cut down in its prime. Key figures were consulted before the project was agreed, including the Busby family and all were supportive of what is a stunning and poignant tribute.”‘

Left me with a queasy feeling, that’s for sure. Nothing can justify smearing AIG all over the tribute. Nothing.

I for one will be glad when this is all over. And I am old enough to remember the tragedy.

Jeremy Poynton <J.poynton(at)>


I am a City fan of some 40+ years standing and still have severe anxiety prior to any match against United. For anyone that knows City fans that are going to the derby at Old Trafford, please try to stress on them that how they behave could critically determine the result as well as the image of our club worldwide.

If the plea by Sven and Richard Dunne is ignored and one or two morons ruin the minute’s silence then we loose on two counts:

  1. Our team will be embarrassed and less mentally focused on resisting whathits them in the opening 15 minutes as United are fired up by the disrespectdished out at their home. This could be disastrous.
  2. It will put the Reds’ fans into a position where they can crow from themoral high ground about how terribly hurt they are along with the footballmedia who just love to put the boot in.

I believe that the option of a minute’s silence is inappropriate and part of the ongoing Man U marketing of the Munich crash but I do not want to lose by a cricket score as a result of one or two fans who may prove they have dog food for brains.

Robert Gaskell <bob(at)>


Minutes after the final whistle at Bramall Lane, I received my annual text from a United-supporting so-called friend: “32 years; trophies – none!”

No doubt the sad owners of the similarly worded banner at OT are already updating it so they can proudly display it at the derby match next month.

That would be the match where City fans are supposed to be respectful, meekly bow their heads and kow-tow to the AIG-sponsored grief-fest, when it isn’t even the actual anniversary on that day.

Well, let them have their minute’s silence if they must. After all, most matches there are played to 90 minutes’ silence.

But then let all City fans raise their voices and leave them and the country in no doubt just how much that cynical, money-grabbing, US-owned multinational corporation and their loathsome employees like Ferdinand, Rooney, Ronaldo and Ferguson (Liverpool have no class? Look in the mirror you so-called socialist next time you whinge about fixture congestion, then jet off to one of the most repressive misogynist countries in the world to play a meaningless match for £1 million) are justifiably detested by all right-minded football supporters in this country.

John Caley <john(at)>


I am assuming John Nisbet is having a laugh when he suggests Anton Ferdinand should be signed to replace Dunnie. Just in case this isn’t the case, ‘Get real John!’, have you missed the numerous games in which Dunnie has been head and shoulders above anyone else on the pitch? I was at Villa Park and I admit that Dunnie didn’t have the best of games but there isn’t many Premier League defenders that would displace him on form this season, least of all Ferdinand (by the way his brother is top class, which I hate to admit but why do you think United are top of the league? Answer – they have the best players!).

Carew is a top player on his day but will never be a mainstay in any top flight team due to injury and general fitness problems. Hunt, the edge to him is that he is a dirty ba*tard!

Mat Howden <Matthew.Howden(at)>


I have been reading articles posted on Team talk and other sites bemoaning the fact that City have not heavily plunged in the market during this window. I suspect it won’t be long before the shine goes off Erikson’s apple and some will start baying for his blood. I personally am pleased that if players of the right quality are not currently available then Sven keeping the check book closed is the correct thing to do. All too often in the past we have paid unreasonable amounts of money for substandard performers. I don’t care if we don’t get into Europe next season if Sven builds a good team over the long run.

I would like to see us move along some of the fringe players at the club like Dabo, Mills x2, Dickov, Samarras, Corradi etc. Getting many of these out on loan has been good business. Now let’s let these gentlemen find clubs where they can make a contribution.

Mike Edwards <cityfan2(at)>


From last week’s McV: “… Micah Richards for me is what City are all about, academy raised, heart of a lion and brave beyond belief…”

Until of course you talk to him and his agent about money – where £75,000 a week is reportedly not enough.

Not quite the pride and passion romanticism suggests. This without the 15 or so costly mistakes this far this season! Totally replaceable.

Joel Perry <j.perry(at)>


I was just wondering if there were any City fans who were gathering to watch the Arsenal game at a pub in Amsterdam, preferably a city centre pub as that’s where I’ll be staying?

If not does anyone know of a good football pub in Amsterdam to watch the match?

Thanks a lot!

Joe Ryding <joeryding(at)>


26 January 2008

Aston Villa           1 - 1  Blackburn Rovers      39,602

League table to 07 December 2008 inclusive

                             HOME          AWAY        OVERALL
                    P  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F   A   GD  Pts
 1 Manchester Utd  23 11  1  0 29  3  6  2  3 17  8 17  3  3  46  11  35  54
 2 Arsenal         23 10  2  0 26  8  6  4  1 20  9 16  6  1  46  17  29  54
 3 Chelsea         23  7  4  0 22  8  8  1  3 14  8 15  5  3  36  16  20  50
 4 Everton         23  7  1  3 23 11  6  2  4 17 12 13  3  7  40  23  17  42
 5 Aston Villa     24  7  2  4 20 16  4  6  1 23 15 11  8  5  43  31  12  41
 6 Liverpool       22  4  6  1 23  9  6  4  1 14  7 10 10  2  37  16  21  40
 7 Manchester City 23  9  3  0 20  8  2  4  5 10 16 11  7  5  30  24   6  40
 8 Blackburn R.    24  5  3  4 13 13  5  5  2 19 18 10  8  6  32  31   1  38
 9 Portsmouth      23  3  6  2 14  9  7  1  4 20 14 10  7  6  34  23  11  37
10 West Ham United 22  4  4  3 14 12  5  2  4 14  9  9  6  7  28  21   7  33
11 Tottenham H.    23  6  1  4 32 21  1  5  6 12 19  7  6 10  44  40   4  27
12 Newcastle Utd   23  5  4  3 16 17  2  2  7 11 22  7  6 10  27  39 -12  27
13 Middlesbrough   23  2  4  5 12 18  3  3  6  8 19  5  7 11  20  37 -17  22
14 Reading         23  6  1  5 14 17  0  3  8 16 32  6  4 13  30  49 -19  22
15 Bolton Wndrs    23  5  3  4 17 11  0  3  8  7 23  5  6 12  24  34 -10  21
16 Birmingham City 23  3  3  5 12 13  2  2  8 11 21  5  5 13  23  34 -11  20
17 Wigan Athletic  23  4  2  5 14 14  1  3  8  9 25  5  5 13  23  39 -16  20
18 Sunderland      23  5  3  3 13 13  0  2 10  9 29  5  5 13  22  42 -20  20
19 Fulham          23  2  5  5 16 21  0  4  7  7 21  2  9 12  23  42 -19  15
20 Derby County    23  1  2  8  7 20  0  2 10  4 30  1  4 18  11  50 -39   7

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1399