Newsletter #1471

Personally, I think you can blame my fantasy football team. A fortnight ago, I was top of my League (admittedly with a team set up on my behalf), when buoyed by my undeserved success and the 6-0 drubbing of Portsmouth (of which more later folks) I decided to dabble. Into my team came Stevie Ireland and SWP, and… City haven’t won a Premiership game since, and I’ve sunk to third in my League.

Tonight’s MCIVTA contains slightly more sensible analysis of Sunday’s “2-0up, 3-2 down” rollercoaster versus Liverpool, as well as some more musingson the six against Pompey, and a request for far flung Blues.

Next Game: Newcastle United, away, 8pm Monday 20 October 2008


Yes, Saturday’s loss was a heartbreaker but it wasn’t a total loss. We just look a little naïve when we had that 2-0 lead at the start of the second half. Very brave to go for a third goal but then we get caught out and it’s 2-1 and a new game. You would expect Robinho to have netted that sitter of a third goal, which would have wrapped up the points. But in true City style, we let the game slip. Still, the first half was terrific, when Petrov and SWP get rolling together I think there will be more games like that 6-0 thrashing of Portsmouth. But we could learn something from Hull in the way they beat Arsenal and Tottenham. We do need a defence that is strong enough to hold on to a lead. We couldn’t even do that against Brighton! Also, a bit concerned at how slow Dunne was in reacting to Liverpool’s first and third goals. Both goals were scored right into the heart of our defence. Not good, especially when we get into injury time. No, City is by no means a finished item, things will get better but we have to be more consistent – and use some common sense when we do get a lead.

Still True Blue, Keith Sharp – Toronto, Canada <keith(at)>


City were given another indication of how far we have to go before we can challenge the top four clubs in England as we squandered a two goal lead and lost to a Liverpool side that may actually challenge for the title. City were more than a match for the visitors in terms of skill and work rate but we are a little way behind in terms of physical power.

The visitors started brightly with ex-City loan signing Albert Riera running at us down the left, but the visitors were not allowed to settle. A lovely move involving Shaun Wright-Phillips, Jo and Zabaleta resulted in a cross that was cleared by the visitors, who were always a threat. Garrido had to make a very good tackle to thwart Torres, and Kuyt fired over when played in by Riera. Zabaleta soon got to grips with Riera with some expert full back play and City started to enjoy more possession, with Robinho dazzling the crowd with his trickery and purposeful running. Alongside him in attack, Jo led the line with great skill and Shaun Wright Phillips tormented the visitors with some clever, pacey running down the right flank. From one of these runs, Wright-Phillips crossed from the bye line after Arbeloa had gifted him the ball, Jo’s shot was smothered but the ball sat up nicely via Robinho and a defender’s touch and Stephen Ireland volleyed in a wonderful goal off the cross bar. Eastlands was thrilled.

Liverpool tried to strike back but Riera fired wide after good work by Alonso and Gerrard. Kompany was imperious in the middle for City and showed good all-round skills, playing a sumptuous long pass out to the left in one minute and making a brilliant, clean, crunching tackle a minute later. By now City were playing football that was a joy to watch, with Wright-Phillips, Robinho and Jo particularly outstanding.

Just when Liverpool were starting to get their passing game going with a prolonged spell of possession, City struck again. Riera barged the dangerous Wright-Phillips 25 yards out, and from the ensuing free kick, Garrido struck an unstoppable curling shot into the top right hand corner of the net to add to the joy in the stands. His team mates were clearly very pleased for him too.

Carragher found being 2-0 down quite hard to take – “toys out of the pram time” is perhaps too nice a way to describe his nasty stray elbow that inexplicably went unpunished. Disgraceful. He would have been better directing his ire at his team mates – Gerrard and Kuyt in particular – whose final passes lacked direction after good approach play from the likes of Alonso. That said, City had not allowed Liverpool time to play and induced mistakes from the visitors with effective closing down all over the park. More significantly, City’s free-lowing football was absolutely delightful and City went in at the break to a well deserved standing ovation.

So where did it go wrong for us in the second half? First of all, we sat too deep and invited pressure onto us. Liverpool were therefore able to combine good passing, skill and their superior muscle to get through us, and Torres soon pulled one back after Kuyt and Riera had helped on Gerrard’s low cross. A case of too many Red touches in our box without Blue intervention. City could still have finished off the visitors after a thrilling run from Shaun Wright-Phillips, which started just outside our own penalty area. Advancing to the edge of their box at pace, he checked and then with another turn of pace drove into the box at speed and delivered a perfect cross from the right. Stephen Ireland was best placed at the far post but it was still an easy chance for Robinho who unfortunately blazed over the bar. It proved to be the pivotal moment of the game.

Zabaleta was then red carded for an over-enthusiastic, though it must be said, certainly not malicious, two footed challenge on Riera, who was not actually injured as a result. Unfortunately referee Peter Walton failed to administer justice even handedly in this game. He had earlier failed to send off Carragher for his flailing elbow in the first half and he did not dismiss Skrtel either for a kung-fu kick on Jo that was well over waist height, and which ended the Brazilian striker’s afternoon. It is all very well referees expecting respect, but they lose that respect when they are seen to favour so-called ‘big four’ teams, time after time, ad nauseam. Liverpool then equalised when we failed to track Torres’ diagonal run at a left wing corner and the gifted young Spaniard glanced in an equaliser for the Scousers at the near post. TV replays later showed that Richards collided with Kompany – an unfortunate mix up.

Whilst we were under siege for most of the second half, City did try to attack on the break. Unfortunately, referee Walton again failed to penalise Carragher and Skrtel when Robinho was the victim of a sandwich between them as he chased a long pass down the middle. Instead, and inexplicably, he awarded Liverpool a free kick! It was mainly Liverpool pressing at that point: Riera hit the bar with a cross and then Torres skied a chance that should have been buried 5 yards out. Skrtel then got injured, failing awkwardly under a firm but fair Evans challenge. The referee stopped the game straight away. One would like to think that Walton would have stopped the game straight away, had a City player been injured. With Skrtel being stretchered off to polite applause by the home crowd this reduced Liverpool to 10 men, having used all their subs. Surely City had another chance to win? It wasn’t to be with City having already replaced Elano, Robinho and the injured Jo, and the visitors had the bit between their teeth. Benayoun crossed from the left in stoppage time and Kuyt outpaced Garrido and swept in for a cruel winner at the far post.

City played very well indeed for half a game, but were unable to sustain their harrying and high tempo game for 90 minutes, but credit to Liverpool for coming back (maybe our chants about the UEFA Cup Final in Istanbul jogged their memories?). What we need is a top class left back to tighten up the vulnerable left side of our defence. We are blessed to have players of supreme talent like Elano, Jo, Robinho, Stephen Ireland and Shaun Wright Phillips and they played very well indeed, but perhaps we cannot play all of them together at once in every game. We need another physical central midfielder who can pass the ball and create to support Kompany and give us the platform to combat physical teams, whether they be Liverpool, Wigan or whoever. We should not be too disheartened after this defeat because Mark Hughes and his players will have learned much from it and the January transfer window should see these problems being addressed. City are on the right lines, and we must take heart from the positive contribution that City’s fine football brought to this game.

Hart: Handled well, but could perhaps be more assertive on crosses: 6
Zabaleta: Very impressive until he was dismissed: 7
Richards: Unfortunate collision for Liverpool’s second goal but stood up well to Liverpool’s physical challenge: 6
Dunne: Reasonable performance but needs better cover 6
Garrido: Great first half but found wanting defensively in the second: 6
Wright-Phillips: Excellent in attack and defence: 9
Kompany: Impressive all over the park: one great pass out to the left wing and many crunching tackles: 8
Elano: Several clever touches in a canny performance: 7
Ireland: Took his goal well and worked hard all afternoon: 7
Robinho: A delight to watch, and he competed gamely but he really should have buried the opponents in the 2nd half: 7
Jo: Led the line skilfully until he was forced out by a bad challenge: 7
Evans: No time to make impact: n/a
Fernandes: No real impact and struggled as a makeshift full back: 5
Petrov: Only time for one touch: n/a

Man of the Match: Shaun Wright-Phillips
Best oppo: Torres: a complete, all round centre forward
Scousers/Day Trippers/Glory Hunters: fairly vocal but very quiet at 2-0 down: 6
Home fans: Passionate, humorous (‘Shall we build a ground for you?’) and vocal. Let the ref know in know uncertain terms what we thought: ‘You’re not fit to referee’: 7
Peter Walton: Disgraceful. Where in the rule book does it say that Liverpool are allowed to make bad challenges and go unpunished? 3
Att: 47,280

Phil Banerjee <phil.banerjee(at)>


We won the first half, but same old City in the second half. I have to disagree with Sparky bringing on Fernandes when Zab was given a red card, being that a defender in Tal Ben-Haim was on the bench; I would have picked him or Didi who knows how to stop players, Ben-Haim not the best in central defence because of his height, but he could have done something as a right back.

So I am not giving top marks to Sparky for this game; poor substitutions. It was an exciting game that City were winning until the sending off of Zab; the game changed after that. I thought that Zab just deserved only a yellow card, but then I’m not a referee, also thought Skirtel should have had a yellow card at least for a high tackle showing his studs on Jo when he had to leave the game. This took place right in front of the referee; how could he have missed it?

Surprise of the game was Garrido’s free kick, which went flying into the back of the net, but his defending was not the best. Hart has got to do some home work on defending his six yard box. City played some good stuff at times but I’m afraid they were no match for Liverpool when they showed so much determination in the second half. For City I will make SWeeP man of the match, but credit to many City players who put in a good game, though we are not in Liverpool’s class (yet). Maybe we just needed some rubbing of the green today, we just did not get it.

Come on you Blues! Better subs next time Sparky please. I still trust in Sparky.

Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)>


Having just watched the extended highlights on Sky Sports, I need to vent my feelings of grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory. After all the good work and 2 excellent goals scored by Ireland and Garrido, the second half was pitted with mistakes, mainly from our defence. Everyone knows what Torres can do, where was our defence when he scored his 2 goals and missed a 3rd?

Zabaleta deserved a red; why was he so reckless when the ball was on the halfway line? His sending off was the major reason for our defeat. Having said that, the challenge on Jo deserved a red too, and Liverpool were lucky that the referee chickened out… it was a Kung Fu challenge.

In my opinion we have 2 players that are the heart of the team, and the major reason for all the positives that come out of any match, and they are SWP and Ireland; all the rest have their moments, but rarely produce an 8 out 10 performance. Imagine if Hughes had 3 more players who could give City perfomances to match Ireland and SWP, we would be winning more games than we lose.

Kompany has gone off the boil and is not as commanding as he was earlier in the season, Elano is not an out an out midfielder, Garrido is poor at left back (defensively), Zabaleta is not polished enough at right back, Dunne and Richards make too many mistakes to be considered good centre halves. What City need to do is to look at the Chelsea team and their performances man for man and position for position. For example take Asley Cole and Bosingwa, they are excellent as they virtually play as wing backs, and they can defend as well. Then look at Chelsea’s midfield, Lampard and Ballack run the show. To a point I could compare Ireland to Lampard, but Elano falls short, as he gives the ball away too much. Robinho, for all his admired skills and “potential”, he is well behind SWP in what he reallys gives the City team, week in week out.

If SWP was Brazillian, he would be starting for them every match and be admired the world over. I think he has been our best buy this season, just “bloody fantastic” (Chelsea’s loss), and he would be my choice as Captain, because he leads by example. In January in my opinion, Hughes needs to look at a quality left back (maybe Bale from Spurs?), a towering centre half (maybe Christoper Samba), and perhaps another quality centre midfielder (Xavi?).

This is my player analysis:

  1. Joe Hart should have done better when Torres came to head their 2nd goal. 6
  2. Dunne – lots of effort and had a reasonably good first half. 5
  3. Richards – allowed Torres to get a free header for their 2nd goal, ball watches too much. 5
  4. Zabaleta – red card was fully deserved, for his reckless challenge. 4
  5. Garrido – this guy is not as good a defender as Ball, and quite often iscaught out of position, but he scored a good goal. 6
  6. Elano – I like him as a player but not in midfield, gives the ball away too often. 6
  7. Kompany – all the attributes to be a magnificent holding midfielder but has gone off the boil lately. 6
  8. Ireland – one of the 2 consistent performers in the City team, a brilliant goal to cap a brilliant display. 9
  9. Jo – Works hard and will get better, does not always get the best service. 7
  10. SWP – Second of the 2 consistent performers in the City team, abrilliant display of attacking football and a constant threat to theopposition. 9
  11. Robinho – flatters to deceive, I hope he will be as consistent as SWPon the other flank, or I can see Hughes rotating him with Petrov. 6

We desperately need to get a win, as we are dropping down the tabel a bit too fast for my liking, and if teams come with a game plan of pressing and closing us down for 90 minutes, then we are going to find it extremely hard to win.

Glyn Albuquerque <glynalbuquerque(at)>


Well ‘Chopper’ Harris, Nobby Stiles and Billy Bremmer didn’t take prisoners when they played and you’d think the referee thought Zabaleta was of the same breed. Good heavens, the tackle hardly deserved a card, compared to some of the tackles thrown about without even a card. If Zabaleta had to go so did Skrtel from Liverpool who went in high, studs showing and collected Jo, but there wasn’t even a whistle. Thought that was the turning point of the game. Stevie I had the better of Stevie G, Robinho and SWP chased everything, Kompany looked assured, but Hart looked shakey again. Would like to see what young Kasper could do. A good performance, deserved a draw, we’re a couple of players short of being a very good side. Staying Blue, we have a group of City fans in Christchurch that meet once a month for a beer, a bitch and a laugh, so anyone in Christchurch give us a yell.

Kevin Williamson <scribbs(at)>


A bit late, I know, but I’ve been on hols. Going back to the Portsmouth game, is it a new Premiership record that a team won 6-0 and had 6 different goalscorers? Does anyone know?

Christopher Ryder <christopherryd(at)>


Six goals – did we once play Luton in the Cup and were winning 6-1 when the game was abandoned, and ending up losing the replay?

Sam Duxbury <sammy459(at)>


The following is taken from the UEFA website. The format of the final came as a surprise!

From the 2004/05 season, the UEFA Cup adopted a new format that including a group stage alongside the traditional two-legged format, with the final continuing as a single match.

Altered Format

Two qualifying rounds and the first round proper open the competition, at which point 40 clubs advance to the group stage. This part of the competition comprises eight groups of five teams with two matches at home and two matches away for each team in each group. The winners, runners-up and third-placed team advance to the knockout phase, at which point they are joined by the eight clubs which finish in third place in each of the groups in the UEFA Champions’ League group stage.

Knockout Stage

From this point, the 32 clubs embark on a knockout competition, playing two matches against each other on a home and away basis. The club scoring the greater aggregate of goals qualifying for the next round. In the event of both teams scoring the same number of goals, the team which scores more goals away qualifies.


The final is decided by a single match.

John Nisbet <nisbet1957(at)>


Does anyone know of any Manchester City Supporters’ Club members in the Algarve, Portugal?

Barry Young <kbmp2000(at)>


5 October 2008

West Ham United       1 - 3  Bolton Wanderers      33,715
Chelsea               2 - 0  Aston Villa           41,593
Manchester City       2 - 3  Liverpool             47,280
Portsmouth            2 - 1  Stoke City            19,248
Tottenham Hotspur     0 - 1  Hull City             36,062
Everton               2 - 2  Newcastle United      33,805

4 October 2008

Sunderland            1 - 1  Arsenal               40,199
West Bromwich Albion  1 - 0  Fulham                25,708
Wigan Athletic        0 - 1  Middlesbrough         16,806
Blackburn Rovers      0 - 2  Manchester United     27,321

League table to 05 October 2008 inclusive

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

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1471