Newsletter #1477

The win against Stoke on Sunday, where Robinho put on a masterclass display, sees us move up into eighth place. We have a report tonight on the game thanks to Phil.

Also in this issue opinion on Dunne and Hart and the usual requests.

Thanks to Paul for sending out MCIVTA 1476!

Next Game: Middlesbrough, away, 8pm Wednesday 29 October 2008


Robinho was the star as Manchester City gave a breathtaking second half display of the football to clinch a deserved three points and climb to 8th place.

The fixture was a reminder of less cheery times for both sets of fans. The last time that our two clubs met was a cool Friday night in the third division when Ged Wiekens scored the only goal at the Britannia as City made the long run to the play-off final against Gillingham, who were then managed by Stoke’s current boss, Tony Pulis. Unlike his Scally of a chairman in Kent, Pulis was the epitome of dignity in the wake of City’s promotion, and unjustly lost his job soon after that famous game in our history, so there’s a kind of justice to see him working in the top flight and Scally where he is in the middle of the Fourth Division. Talking of scallies, depressingly, in the build up to this latest game against the Potters, there were dark rumblings about a ‘reunion’ between those who traded blows/threw building masonry back in the 90s, but let’s talk about what really matters: the football.

Jo was ill so Ched Evans came in up front and Micah passed a fitness test to retain the right back birth. Elano returned to the midfield in place of Hamann to give City a more attacking feel. Robinho was soon in his stride with a thrilling run down the left and his long range shot was tipped over by Sorensen. He was also involved in a delightful one-two with Elano to whet the appetites of a healthy crowd of 44,624. A tough, physical battle with the aerial threat of Rory Delap’s throw-in was expected but City were soon in front. Shaun Wright Phillips floated a cross into the box, Elano chested back to Ched Evans who cleverly played a diagonal ball through to Robinho who took his time to place his low shot past Sorensen. The early goal was welcome relief for those of us were expecting a niggly afternoon of frustration.

Stoke tried to hit back and Tal Ben Haim’s sloppy ball played in Fuller who cut inside and his deflected shot was parried away for a corner by Hart’s full length dive. City’s defence was well drilled and dealt with Stoke set pieces and Delap’s powerful long throws very well. Full marks to the coaching staff and the players for this. At the other end, Evans was fouled just outside Stoke’s penalty box, and from the resultant free kick, Elano was only just wide with his curling shot. Hart was then forced to save a powerful Higginbottom header from a corner.

The visitors continued to be a threat on occasion and were not the purely long ball team that the less intelligent members of the media would have us believe: Diao had a shot saved and Fuller shot over when well placed. The Blues went in a goal up at the break at the end of a keenly contested first half with the only downside being Ched Evans’ catching an elbow from Abdoulaye Faye and the young Welshman being forced off by a knock.

Evans’ loss was to prove to be Danny Sturridge’s gain and the latter took his chance well to play a decisive part in the game. Early in second half Sturridge made a thrilling pacy run down the right and on the edge of the box, checked inside and slid an intelligent pass through to the advancing Robinho who swept the ball home from the inside right position. It was a beautifully executed goal.

City didn’t rest on their laurels and much to our delight, went in search of more goals in the most pleasing fashion. SWP had a shot from Garrido’s accurate left wing cross. A sumptuous move involving Elano, Wright-Phillips, Garrido and Ireland resulted in Sorensen saving Wright-Phillips’ drive. The exciting Sturridge who added to the flair that City were displaying, shot over when played in by intelligent interplay by Robinho and Ireland. Robinho then fired wide after beating Griffin.

City weren’t able to relax as Diao forced Hart to tip over a long range drive and Higginbottom headed over. City had the lion’s share of the chances in a highly entertaining second half. Ireland who wore strapping to his left leg again (whatever is holding Wiggy together, he does put it to good use on the pitch with some highly intelligent football), passed to Wright-Phillips who in turn played in Sturridge whose effort was saved when he really should scored.

City made the game safe with another move of the highest quality: Wright-Phillips and Sturridge combined to free up Robinho who coolly completed his well deserved hat-trick. The Blues attacked in waves and had even more chances to add to their lead: Shaun Wright-Phillips should have scored at the end of a long run when clean through, but got too close to Sorensen who did very well to smother his attempt on goal. Sturridge thrilled us with his trickery down the right and his attempted lob had to tipped away by the excellent Sorensen.

Hart saved from Higginbottom and Kitson as the visitors gamely and commendably kept going, Sturridge had another shot saved and then Robinho had to console Ireland who shot over after being played through by the Brazilian. It is very encouraging that City played with such flair and continued to go for goals, and the fact that it mattered so much to Ireland, not to mention the obvious good spirit in the squad. City could have had 6 goals against a limited but competitive Stoke side. Not that the visitors were a terrible side as they were still able to ask questions of our defence that was superbly led by Richard Dunne and they forced Hart into 3 fine saves that kept the score sheet blank. Indeed it is much to the City players’ credit that they stood up to the physical challenge that Stoke posed and expressed themselves in the most pleasing manner possible.

Hart: Made three very good saves to earn a well deserved clean sheet. Would be nice to see him catch rather than punch more crosses, though: 7
Richards: A decent performance going forward and defending: 7
Tal Ben Haim: Largely solid though made a couple of howlers that we got away with: 6
Dunne: Dealt very well with Stoke’s physical, aerial challenge: 7
Garrido: Good on the ball and a reasonable performance in defence: 7
Shaun Wright-Phillips: Thrilling performance and at the centre of most of City’s best moves: 7
Kompany: Held it together very well in an intense physical battle: 7
Ireland: Another who is a joy to watch. Consistently delivering the goods, and at the centre of some brilliant football. Worked very hard when we didn’t have the ball: 7
Elano: Some delightful touches in a thoughtful performance: 7
Robinho: An absolute treat for City fans. Right place, right time, clinical finishing and some lovely tricks: 9
Evans: His touch was a little variable: intelligently set up the opener: 6
Sturridge: A major talent. Enhanced the attack with some great skill that resulted in 2 assists. Should have had one himself: 7
Onuoha: One excellent run and low cross going forward, solid at the back: 7
Gelson Fernandes: Not on for long enough: n/a

Refwatch: Steve Tanner: Didn’t notice him, which is how it should be: 8
Best Oppo: Thomas Sorensen: Richly earned his pay with some fine saves. If City ever need an experienced quality ‘keeper to compete with Hart…: 7
Away fans: A boisterous version of ‘Delilah’ as expected but went quiet in the second half : 6
Home Fans: Buzzing atmosphere even if there weren’t that many songs. There again ‘We’ve got Robinho…’ tends to divert your attention to the pitch: 6

Phil Banerjee <phil.banerjee(at)>


I’d like to urge a note of caution about the prospect of Joe Hart being groomed as England’s next ‘keeper (Phil Gatenby, MCIVTA 1474). Let’s remember that he is still exceptionally young for a Premier League goalkeeper, and that he is effectively an apprentice, learning on the job. He is miles away from being a regular full international.

I like Joe and he is definitely worth his place in the City team currently. But will he stay there when the big money is on the table? I doubt it. This might seem harsh, particularly in light of his match-winning shot-stopping abilities, his excellent kicking, decent distribution and his cock-sure confidence. However, I see a few key deficiencies in his game that will be hard to train out of him.

His biggest problem is that he doesn’t command his box. He loses his nerve when he comes off his line, which results in him fluffing attempted catches, making the wrong decision to catch/punch, or not coming out at all for balls that should be his. This is a fundamental flaw in his game that needs to be resolved very quickly.

Second, and most puzzling given his physique, is that he isn’t brave enough. He doesn’t seem to appreciate his own presence and is reluctant to get hurt. In one-on-one situations his starting position is sometimes too far back and he tends to be late making his move, as if a little unsure of his ability to make the ball and/or afraid he’ll be injured.

Lastly, I don’t yet see Joe as a good organiser or decision-maker. This is in part due to his technical weaknesses, but also his youth/inexperience. It’s easy to tell by the behaviour of the players around him the uncertain trust in him, and to a large extent Dunne and Richards have been making the majority of Joe’s decisions for him.

There are times when Joe has within a single game hinted that he may have the attributes to go a very long way, but these instances for me have been isolated, and I certainly wouldn’t place him in the bracket of a top four ‘keeper. At the very top level, differences between ‘keepers are marginal, and I think at present Joe is just below the level we need him to be at. He will hit his peak in his late 20s and early 30s, which is too long to wait, and I feel sure he’ll be replaced, maybe not in the coming window, and maybe not the next, but certainly in the next 2/3 years.

I like being proved wrong, and I’d love to think I am wrong about Joe. But I don’t feel the same about Joe as I have done about truly great ‘keepers, and in the future the City Number 1 shirt will be worn only by true greats who, importantly, are in their prime.

Paul Mooney <paul.g.mooney(at)>


I hope I’m not alone in finding John Nisbet’s rants against Richard Dunne increasingly quite offensive. Dunne isn’t a “Thicko” nor is he a “Donkey”. Steve Oatway also had a go at Dunne in the same issue but managed to avoid OTT language and in doing so expressed an opinion that deserves to be taken seriously, unlike John Nisbet’s, which appear more and more to be expressions of personal animosity.

I liked Phil Banerjee’s calmer analysis, which pointed out that Dunne is much better when he is playing on the right side. Having made space for Micah, who in my opinion would be better using his pace and grunt in midfield, Dunne is being caught out more often. He has been a consistently good player for us, loyal and hard-working, unlike others who fortunately are now at other clubs. Whether or not you think he is still up to the job Mr Nisbet, I feel he deserves a bit more personal respect.

Bernard Paton <bernardpaton(at)>


I am going to be in Manchester for Christmas and was planning on taking in the Hull game on Boxing Day. Could someone please let me know how easy/difficult it is to get tickets for this game?

Is the stadium usually sold out? Are there walk up tickets usually available? Is it better to buy in advance?

Bob Narindra <bob(at)>


I am going to be away with work in Kuala Lumpur for the FC Twente game (gutted as I bought a ticket for this already, anyway my dad will relish the opportunity of another free game) and the Spurs game. I would like to know if there are any Blues in KL who can advise me where is the best place to go to see the matches?

CTID with fingers crossed for enough points to get to Schalke, Steve Cheeseborough <steve.cheeseborough(at)>


26 October 2008

Chelsea               0 - 1  Liverpool             41,705
Manchester City       3 - 0  Stoke City            44,624
Tottenham Hotspur     2 - 0  Bolton Wanderers      35,507
Wigan Athletic        0 - 4  Aston Villa           20,249
West Ham United       0 - 2  Arsenal               34,802
Portsmouth            1 - 1  Fulham                19,233

25 October 2008

Everton               1 - 1  Manchester United     36,069
Sunderland            2 - 1  Newcastle United      47,936
West Bromwich Albion  0 - 3  Hull City             26,323
Blackburn Rovers      1 - 1  Middlesbrough         17,606

League table to 26 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 Liverpool        9  3  1  0  7  4  4  1  0  7  2  7  2  0  14   6   8  23
 2 Chelsea          9  2  2  1  8  3  4  0  0 11  1  6  2  1  19   4  15  20
 3 Hull City        9  2  1  1  5  8  4  1  0  9  3  6  2  1  14  11   3  20
 4 Arsenal          9  3  0  1  8  3  3  1  1 10  3  6  1  2  18   6  12  19
 5 Aston Villa      9  2  2  0  6  3  3  0  2 10  7  5  2  2  16  10   6  17
 6 Manchester Utd   8  2  1  0  7  1  2  2  1  6  4  4  3  1  13   5   8  15
 7 Portsmouth       9  3  1  1  7  4  1  1  2  3 10  4  2  3  10  14  -4  14
 8 Manchester City  9  3  0  2 15  6  1  1  2  8  8  4  1  4  23  14   9  13
 9 Sunderland       9  2  1  2  5  6  1  2  1  4  4  3  3  3   9  10  -1  12
10 West Ham United  9  3  0  2 10  8  1  0  3  4  8  4  0  5  14  16  -2  12
11 Blackburn R.     9  1  2  2  3  8  2  1  1  6  7  3  3  3   9  15  -6  12
12 Middlesbrough    9  2  0  2  4  8  1  1  3  4  7  3  1  5   8  15  -7  10
13 West Brom A.     9  2  0  3  6  9  1  1  2  1  5  3  1  5   7  14  -7  10
14 Everton          9  0  2  3  5 11  2  1  1  8  8  2  3  4  13  19  -6   9
15 Wigan Athletic   9  1  1  3  3  8  1  1  2  8  5  2  2  5  11  13  -2   8
16 Fulham           8  2  1  1  4  3  0  1  3  2  5  2  2  4   6   8  -2   8
17 Bolton Wndrs     9  1  2  1  4  4  1  0  4  4  8  2  2  5   8  12  -4   8
18 Stoke City       9  2  0  2  7  8  0  1  4  3 10  2  1  6  10  18  -8   7
19 Newcastle Utd    9  1  1  2  5  6  0  2  3  5 11  1  3  5  10  17  -7   6
20 Tottenham H.     9  1  1  3  4  5  0  1  3  3  7  1  2  6   7  12  -5   5

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1477