Newsletter #1481

An inevitability to the game as we succumbed to another defeat and slipped a few places in the table. Match report thanks to Phil, and a number of questions being asked of the manager and certain players.

The usual requests and more info from Markus for those travelling to Schalke.

Next Game: Hull City, away, 4pm Sunday 16 November 2008


Two Darren Bent goals consigned City to a third successive League defeat, and 13th place in the table. Wild speculation in the press and calls for the manager’s head by the knee-jerkers are thankfully being ignored by City’s board, who are committed to Mark Hughes and will back him in the transfer market in January. This game again demonstrated our defensive shortcomings, but nevertheless the City players played with the spirit, vim and vigour in atrocious weather conditions and the adversity of being reduced to ten, and later on, nine men.

Games against Tottenham are rarely dull and this one was no exception. It all started off so well for City with us attacking Tottenham in waves of quick attacks, with Benjani leading the line. Wright-Phillips and Ireland continued to patrol central midfield with Gelson Fernandes in the absence of the suspended Kompany. Benjani at centre forward had Vassell and Robinho either side of him in old fashioned inside right and inside left positions, respectively. It wasn’t long before City were in front: SWP found Vassell whose shot from the right was parried by Gomes to Robinho, who coolly slotted home past the Tottenham ‘keeper. Robinho then turned creator for Stephen Ireland but like Vassell in another similar opportunity on the right, he was unable to stretch Gomes with his attempt on goal.

Then Fernandes showed his inexperience when he made a lung through the back of the tricky Modric well inside the Tottenham half. Even allowing for the slippery conditions he could not complain about the booking that he received for such a rash tackle. It wasn’t that long before Fernandes received a second booking and his marching orders for another naïve late tackle – this time on Bentley – and he couldn’t really complain, even in the conditions and even though his tackle had no ill intent.

It was always going to be hard thereafter and it needed City to be rock solid. Sadly, City were anything but and Richard Dunne somehow allowed a straightforward ball to squirm under his boot and Bent was past him to clinically slot in Tottenham’s equaliser. Dunne has been a great servant to this club for eight years now, but he is going through his worst spell. Sadly it wasn’t about to get any better for him.

Hamann came on for Vassell and City did well to get to half time level, creditably restricting the visitors to passing the ball in front of our massed defence for the rest of the half.

The second half represented an improvement for City led by SWP pulling the strings from a wider position on the right, and Hamann taking a lead rôle in the centre with his poise and common sense passing. Surely he would have been a better choice to start the game than Gelson Fernandes, who, to use a Paul Weller-ism, is still ‘pretty green’.

Assou-Ekoto was booked for bringing down SWP when it looked like it was Zakora who was the offender. From Garrido’s resultant free kick, Dunne’s goal-bound header was blocked by a defender.

For all City’s admirable attacking intent, we were undone by a sucker punch. In a Tottenham break, the impressive Tom Huddlestone played in Jenas who was given an age to turn in the penalty box by Dunne and Garrido and lay the ball off to Bent who scored just inside Hart’s right hand post. Hart then did well to save a low Huddlestone drive after a flowing Tottenham move.

Curiously Benjani was consigned to the left wing and Robinho played at centre forward for most of the 2nd half to little effect. Surely a rôle reversal would have paid greater dividends, as Robinho didn’t win a header all afternoon. When Robinho did drift wide he cleverly back-heeled to Garrido who crossed for Benjani but his header flashed wide of the right hand post. Even with ten men City looked the more likely to score and Robinho had a long range shot tipped around the post by Gomes. Ireland also went close. City never gave up the chase and dominated the rest of the game, even when we were down to 9 men after Dunne was sent off for a professional foul after he had haplessly gifted possession to Bent in a challenge that lack conviction, when surely Row Z was the best option.

There was time for Assou-Ekoto to be dismissed for a 2nd bookable offence, but it made little difference to the game. Tottenham were as much under the cosh with a two man advantage as they were with one! Indeed there was no faulting City’s spirit, determination or the quality of our attacking play, but our defending again left a lot to be desired, which is a microcosm of our season so far. Dunne’s suspension represents a chance for either Nedum Onuoha or Tal Ben Haim to establish themselves alongside Micah Richards and that may be a blessing in disguise, given the captain’s poor run of form. Constructive criticism is one thing and not a bad thing, but there will be those who relish dishing out cretinous abuse to our captain, and doubtless they will be congratulating themselves now. That says more about them than it does a fine servant to our club, who has after all, been voted Player of the Year four years running by City supporters. Dunne deserves our support like any other player. He also deserves a rest and chance to reflect and find his best form.

Where do City go from here? Well, we battle, fight and continue to work hard, and the results will come. We need to have a more solid balance and greater physicality in our team, and whilst our thin squad is stretched, we can tighten up. Get Hamann into centre midfield with Kompany and let’s give our back four a little more protection, freeing up Ireland and Wright-Phillips to do what they do best, whilst continuing to work hard. The current situation represents the eye of the storm for Hughes and his troops, but it is a challenge that they can get through, and his record in the transfer market suggests that better times will come.

January gets nearer and nearer by the day. Good things come to those who wait…

Hart: Some very good saves and handling in difficult conditions, though kicking needs to improve 7
Zabaleta: An excellent all-action performance from City’s man-of-the-match 8
Richards: Steady enough 6
Dunne: Some dreadful mistakes that cost us the game: his worst performance in eight years was compounded by his sending off 2
Garrido: Good in patches but left Bent too much space for his second 5
Vassell: Offered pace and industry down the right but his finishing let him down before being replaced after Gelson’s dismissal 6
SWP: Worked hard all afternoon, both in his unfamiliar central midfield rôle and on the wing later, and still managed to be the chief creative force 7
Fernandes: Two silly tackles that earned him a sending off were the sum of his contribution 2
Ireland: Worked hard as ever, always bright and progressive 7
Robinho: Took his goal well and thwarted by a good Gomes save for an equaliser 7
Benjani: Industrious as a striker and on the left wing. Should have scored with a header in the second half 6
Hamann: Brought calm and poise to the midfield engine room. If only he’d been on from the start 7

Att: 41,853
Refwatch: Mike Dean: Whilst the dismissals were hard to argue with, he demonstrated a chronic lack of common sense at other times 4
Best Oppo: Huddlestone: Solid, strong and elegant in central midfield. Just what we need 8
Home Fans: Quiet at times, which reflected our form yet backed City with ‘Blue Moon’ and ‘We love you City’ when the team needed it most 6
Visiting fans: Not their usual cocky, arrogant selves for most of the game, which is testament to City giving them a scare with a reduced side. Or maybe the Cockneys are embarrassed at seeing Bent prove them wrong after all their criticism of him 5

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


Some players are just not good enough for City!

City have serious problems in defence, and the sooner these are addressed the sooner we will stop losing matches. For all the efforts made in attack, we are wide open at the back, and Richard Dunne seems to be an accident waiting to happen. In the last 3 matches (and a lot more before that) he has conceded 2 own goals and now been sent off. He was also responsible for the mistake that allowed Spurs to equalise.

If we as armchair supporters can see this, why can’t the City management see it too? He needs to be taken out of the firing line immediately (thankfully this red card will give Mark Hughes no option) everything that is going wrong in defence seems to be connected to him in some way.

Micah Richards is also a poor defender, and really needs to learn from the best centre halves in the Premier League. He never seems to “read” the game, and thinks his physical prowess will get him out of tight situations; he certainly is not at his best, and will not win back his England place on current form. Things have got so bad at the centre of our defence, would someone like Hamann not make a good centre half? He has the height, he has the footballing brain and experience, I certainly would take a punt on him playing there (remember Dion Dublin played many a game at the back!), how much worse could it get?

Gelson Fernandes is like a jack in the box, and needs to control himself, he needlessly got himself sent off! He is a poor man’s Mascherano.

We are now 3 points from the bottom, and I am sure our new owners are looking on and wondering, what the hell is going on. Robinho too, must be wondering which side he signed for!

I just cannot wait for January, for some major “quality” signings, if Hughes lasts that long. They must be thinking, if Harry R has turned around a club like Spurs, then there is a chance that a new Manager might do the same for City. I like Hughes, but I don’t know if he will be given the time to get in the players he wants, especially as we keep slipping further down the league with each match we play. Unless we score a hatful of goals, I cannot see us keeping a clean sheet at the other end. You just had to look at last Thursday’s UEFA game to see how poor we were at the back, and just good fortune prevented us losing that game. It must be soul destroying for our forwards.

Obviously Hughes has a list of possible targets, I just hope they are up to the task (proven quality players), as we have the spending power now to go and get the best, hopefully a new defence.

C’mon City win a League match soon!

Glyn Albuquerque <glynalbuquerque(at)>


Preposterously, speculation has gathered apace about Mark Hughes’ future just 6 months into his tenure. Media fruitcakes have been linking Marcelo Lippi currently a few short months into a two year contract as Italy manager and here’s the biggest wheeze, Peterborough manager Darren Ferguson, with the City job. Equally ridiculously, a minority of fans have spat the dummy out and called for Hughes’ head on the Internet and on phone-ins.

The club needs stability. Even the best managers make mistakes: Wenger, Mourinho, Scolari, and yes, Ferguson too. After all, the latter signed Ralph Milne and a very dodgy Italian goalkeeper in Massimo Taibi! Hughes hasn’t made many mistakes and to sack Hughes now would be foolish in the extreme. No successful club continually sacks managers and Hughes has inherited an unbalanced squad. With the uncertainty over the club’s ownership remaining right up until the very last week of the transfer window, Mark Hughes did not have very long to strengthen his squad. When he did spend some money he has spent it very well indeed. Hughes brought in Vincent Kompany who has been very effective in central midfield. It doesn’t matter whose idea it was to sign Robinho, he was signed with Mark Hughes’ blessing, and on his watch. Our squad is paper thin, and Mark Hughes needs to be given time to strengthen it.

So I’m very pleased to read the words of Sheikh Khaldoon Al Mubarak, City’s Chairman who said this weekend after the board meeting: “We are calm and under control and we (the board) have the highest regard for Mark, I am personally committed to Mark and I am committed to the partnership between Garry (Cook), Mark and myself. This is a winning team that is going through a learning curve right now. January is going to be an interesting opportunity for Mark to improve the team. This is a ten-year dynasty that we are building and we are only in the first two months. Thankfully I do not read the newspapers that are saying he is under pressure but I find it incredible. Just today I am told that there are reports that we are associated with two different coaches and that we are about to sign them! It is rubbish. The bottom line is that we are committed to Mark and to this team. Mark is the man who makes the football decisions. We are here to support and make financial decisions, but we are not here to teach Mark what to do. We trust him and we are going to support him. I think people will see in January that we have good foundations in place in the team, we have a good coach and that we will be upgrading in terms of players. Hopefully the results will then come.”

Quite. Thankfully, we have more than a bit of sanity in the boardroom. Long may it continue.

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


Just want to express that I agree 100% with Richard Swallows and Patrick Knowles’ comments in MCIVTA 1480. I think that Mark Hughes has absolutely no idea when it comes to tactics. He just seems to pick a team (arguably more or less the same team that I would have chosen except for Ben-Haim who really is a pie-eater in disguise) and hope for the best.

No tactics is one thing, but where is the never-say-die attitude that he was supposed to bring? If you look at the squad available and the results so far, the question is what has he brought? Really? When things go well it’s almost always the result of good individual performances from Ireland, Wright-Phillips or Robinho rather than a working game plan.

I still rate Stuart Pearce as a much better manager and of course Sven, who is among the top five managers in the world in my book, but having said that and experienced the manager-go-around of City since the 70’s I still think that we should stick with Hughes for the time being. If for no other reason than that he’s appointed. Which he shouldn’t have been in the first place, but that’s another story…

Andreas Larsson <city-andreas(at)>


I have to say that along with others, I have some concerns regarding Mark Hughes’s tactics!

The outstanding and for me glaring mistakes have been to play Richards at left back, to have put Fernandez at right back when Zabaleta was sent off against Liverpool, and yesterday, to delay in bringing on Hamann after Fernandes was sent off; when Spurs went down to 10 men, Harry made a tactical substitution straight away.

Hughes seems to lack ideas and inspiration, and seems to hope for the best. Of course, if he is just allowed to spend and spend like Fergie, then eventually he will get it right, but so could I under those circumstances! I wonder what success Fergie would have had on a limited budget, and if he’d still be considered great! So, we have our new chairman today telling us it’s nonsense that Hughes’ job is under threat, but we are now only one point above relegation, so it’s the same old City, it doesn’t matter what we do, spend loads, keep changing managers, and chairmen, something keeps us where we are, always promising to be so much more, but never delivering. In a way, this is the City I love; if suddenly in January there is a major influx of foreigners, and the home-grown are shipped out, then it really won’t feel like my City any longer. Maybe the younger generation of fans will be ok with this, but those of us following for over 40 years are probably not!

Sadly, I can’t recall what state Blackburn were in when Hughes took over there, or how long it took him to make them strong, but he will have been under much less pressure, with less expectation, and less spotlight attention! Yes, I know he’s only been in the job a few months, but we have better players now than last year, and yet we are in a worse position! He doesn’t strike me as having charisma, and that’s something that can’t be learned; Harry takes over at Spurs, and immediately galvanises them, so obviously, there’s much to be said for man-management as part of a coach’s job. I don’t think Sven had it, and I can’t see it in Sparky either. I guess it’s a rare quality, and most don’t have it, including Fergie; he just seems to bully people, and those that stand up to him are moved on!

Well, I don’t often write, so just thought I’d get a few things aired.

Andy Collins <andy(at)>


There seems to be a lot of hysteria going on around City these days, much of it because of our new found wealth. I would ask everybody to take a step back and be a little more objective and ask yourselves “is the club moving forwards?” I would say the answer to that is a resounding yes.

We no longer have (no disrespect to the players intended!) Barry Conlon upf ront we have Robinho, no Ged Brannan, we have Elano, no Craig Russell, we have SWP, no Barry Sidall, no Lee Bradbury etc. Progress is being made but patiently, give the Academy lads time.

I see posters on message boards slating everyone we have brought through from SWP to Sturridge. Look at Steve Ireland, it has taken a couple of seasons to establish himself but now is an automatic choice at still only 22. Micah is still only 20 and yes his form has levelled off but he will come again better and mentally stronger. Evans and Sturridge both have what it takes to play at Premier League level but both are only 19 and being asked to play up front on their own, a position neither has played during their development. It takes time to learn, especially in the Premier League. Joe Hart, already a good ‘keeper will become great when he learns to command his area and organise the defence better. It will happen, Joe Corrigan anyone?

I also see people calling Mark Hughes tactically inept, well not from what I saw at Blackburn. He has made a few decisions that I have not agreed with while here, MR at left back for one, but he is still experimenting and looking at what jobs certain players can do for him if asked. I personally would like to see Nedum Onuoha given an extended run at centre half if he can stay fit.

Anyone who watches the Academy/reserves will see that we have lots more quality young players on the way up but who are another season or two away from the first team.

The future is bright, the key is patience, not knee jerk!

Mike Cooke <Mikecooke321(at)>


FC Twente were a much better footballing team than us, they passed to each other and always had time and space to move the ball just where they wanted. We passed it back until we had no space and nowhere to go.

Jo is not a footballer, how the hell did we end up paying all that money for him? When I see him I think of Shannon, Bradbury, Taylor, Creaney and Samaras.

When Sven taught us to play the ball out of defence it was for a reason, why the hell does Joe Hart insist on punting it up field? Does he not realise that with our forward line we have a 75% chance of losing it and do? We had a free kick on the halfway line and within 10 seconds of taking it we were pinned back in our goal area.

Which other manager would have been allowed to spend £5 million on a defender and then not select him? Ben Haim that is, and sold Corluka into the bargain. Also let’s not forget the £20 million on Jo.

Why does he play SWP in midfield, he is best on the wing taking players on. MH could be out of a job sooner than we think. Especially now he openly admits he can’t find the right balance.

Sam Duxbury <sammy459(at)>


Come In Agent Hughes – Your Task is Complete!

Well… here we are again: another home defeat with yet another get out excuse / reason / mitigating circumstance etc. (the Gelson sending off).

It is clear it is time to say ‘Hughes – Out!’ Sorry fellow Blues, however it needs to be said and said quickly! Whilst the man is a decent and honourable guy it has become more and more clear in recent weeks that the lad is simply not up to the job (echoes of Stuart Pearce?). Tactically he is simply inept! Anyone who can quickly change things around or has the gumption to quickly take advantage of an opportunity can out fox him with the blink of an eye (echoes of Stuart Pearce?).

God knows things were not perfect under Sven but hey… they were considerably better than this! I just hope our Arab owners do the decent thing and ‘let him go’ before they hand him zillions of pounds to waste on players from mediocre, mid-table Premier League teams.

All of this a tad harsh? Possibly. However, I really do need we feel to cut our losses and bring in a proven manager (not a wannabe) with a serious, solid track record of achievement along with handling big name / superstar players. Sad but in my opinion true. It’s time for change…

Ray Bardsley <ray.bardsley(at)>


The contrast between the two managers after Sunday’s game against Tottenham is for all to see. Spurs, and all credit to the club, is clearly on the up-and-up, whilst we are not, as we are stagnant and appear to be in limbo.

With immediate effect I would like to see Richard Dunne relieved of the captaincy, as he needs to regain his much-needed confidence by allowing the player to concentrate solely on his own game. Back to basics for Richard, right now, would be best for him, and there is no shame in recognizing that fact and dealing with it.

The side is rapidly losing its way, and it will be interesting to see how the club’s new owners react when Mark H flies out to meet with those in charge, I believe, later this week. If his ideas for the future (i.e. January transfer window) do not jive with the owner, then we could be in for a change fairly soon, I should think not that I would particularly like to see that change occur. I am quite sure, though, he will at the very least be required to give an extremely detailed account of our continuing lack of recent progress in the league.

Things may be progressing off the pitch at Carrington, and the like but it is on the pitch where it really matters. We are not looking a strong and cohesive outfit at all, and I find this to be unfortunate as well as worrisome, right now.

Always interesting at City, that’s for sure.

Graham Mills <gkm_5(at)>


Two points from bottom, clean sheets scarcer than England winning a penalty shoot-out, it just gets better and better… not. I’ve been watching a lot of the U17 World Cup: the football has been great, better than some Premier League games, the girls cry when they’re beaten, laugh and hug each other when they win, the whole range of emotions.

They could teach our so-called superstars what playing football is all about: emotion, passion, drive, attitude, and some of the goals have been stunners.

This is what football used to be, before the chequebooks were opened, played with passion and attitude, emotion and a fair amount of ‘characters’ in the game. Football is a multi-million pound job now and a lot of the characters have gone, the football is sterile, and a lot of emotion and attitude have gone out of the game. The Rodney Marshes and the George Bests are long gone.

Mind you I like Hughsies’ tactics though, lulling everyone into a false sense of security and then running away with the Premier League by ten points in the second part of the season. If only.

So girls thanks for showing me the good side of football, that you still care whether you win or lose, and how you play the game. Maybe today’s so-called superstars could learn something from you.

Kevin Williamson <scribbs(at)>


Being a Manchester City fan since I was young, I have always had a desire to start going to the games regularly, but didn’t know if there were any supporters’ clubs or even buses or groups who go to games from Scotland or even the north of Scotland.

If there are, could you please give me further details so I can get in touch with them and start going to as many games as possible. Your time and help is much appreciated.

Jamie Mackinnon <ictfc-jamie-mcfc(at)>


As there won’t be any official meeting points, I arranged something for us! I think some City supporters will arrive at Main Station by train. Therefore we sorted out some extra drinking fountains, tables and chairs outside! A little BBQ and some other things. This all will be in front of my favourite pub and there are five other pubs, too! Nearby are some restaurants and possibilities to eat something.

The meeting point is in the heart of Gelsenkirchen and five minutes to go from Main Station. The lads can use two tram stations nearby! The tram (302) will leave every 10 minutes to the Schalke Arena!

Markus Rehse <markus(at)>


This year’s Manchester City Supporters’ Gentleman’s Morning will take place before the Arsenal game at the Royal British Legion in Blackley. It is a great venue and only takes about 15 minutes to get to the ground. There is usually a bit of room on the buses and plenty of cabs pull up outside .The guest comedian is North West Comedian of the Year Gary Skyner. For more details visit

Don Price <donprice(at)>


9 November 2008

Blackburn Rovers      0 - 2  Chelsea               20,670
Aston Villa           1 - 2  Middlesbrough         36,672
Manchester City       1 - 2  Tottenham Hotspur     41,893
Fulham                2 - 1  Newcastle United      24,740

8 November 2008

Arsenal               2 - 1  Manchester United     60,106
Wigan Athletic        0 - 0  Stoke City            15,881
Hull City             0 - 1  Bolton Wanderers      24,903
Sunderland            1 - 2  Portsmouth            37,712
West Ham United       1 - 3  Everton               33,961
Liverpool             3 - 0  West Bromwich Albion  43,451

League table to 09 November 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         12  3  2  1 13  3  6  0  0 16  1  9  2  1  29   4  25  29
 2 Liverpool       12  5  1  0 11  4  4  1  1  8  4  9  2  1  19   8  11  29
 3 Arsenal         12  4  1  1 14  8  3  1  2 11  5  7  2  3  25  13  12  23
 4 Manchester Utd  11  4  1  0 13  4  2  2  2  7  6  6  3  2  20  10  10  21
 5 Aston Villa     12  3  2  1 10  7  3  0  3 10  9  6  2  4  20  16   4  20
 6 Hull City       12  2  1  3  5 12  4  1  1 12  7  6  2  4  17  19  -2  20
 7 Everton         12  1  2  3  6 11  4  1  1 12  9  5  3  4  18  20  -2  18
 8 Middlesbrough   12  3  1  2  7  9  2  1  3  6  8  5  2  5  13  17  -4  17
 9 Portsmouth      12  3  1  2  8  6  2  1  3  5 12  5  2  5  13  18  -5  17
10 Fulham          11  4  1  1  8  4  0  1  4  2  6  4  2  5  10  10   0  14
11 Bolton Wndrs    12  2  2  2  6  5  2  0  4  5  8  4  2  6  11  13  -2  14
12 Stoke City      12  4  0  2 10  9  0  2  4  3 10  4  2  6  13  19  -6  14
13 Manchester City 12  3  0  3 16  8  1  1  4  8 12  4  1  7  24  20   4  13
14 West Ham United 12  3  0  3 11 11  1  1  4  5 11  4  1  7  16  22  -6  13
15 Blackburn R.    12  1  2  3  3 10  2  2  2 10 12  3  4  5  13  22  -9  13
16 Tottenham H.    12  2  1  3  6  6  1  2  3  9 12  3  3  6  15  18  -3  12
17 Wigan Athletic  12  1  2  3  3  8  2  1  3 10  8  3  3  6  13  16  -3  12
18 Newcastle Utd   12  3  1  2  9  7  0  2  4  6 13  3  3  6  15  20  -5  12
19 Sunderland      12  2  1  3  6  8  1  2  3  4 10  3  3  6  10  18  -8  12
20 West Brom A.    12  2  1  3  8 11  1  1  4  2 10  3  2  7  10  21 -11  11

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1481