Newsletter #1491

Incredible disappointment on Saturday as we failed once again to capitalise on chances and were ultimately scuppered in the dying moments of the game. There’s a match report tonight thanks to Phil and inevitably plenty of opinion on the performance and concerns going forward.

The distraction of the UEFA Cup and a trip to Spain looms later this week, whilst Hughes has some serious work to do going into the Christmas period as we have slumped to one place above the dreaded cut-off.

Next Game: Real Racing Club, away, 7.45pm Thursday 18 December 2008 (UEFA)


City were cruelly denied a deserved point by Tim Cahill’s stoppage time header. In common with Darius Vassell a week earlier, we were mugged. We competed very well and played some very good football against a durable, though unspectacular Everton side. However, one momentary lapse of concentration saw Cahill rise above Micah Richards at a corner to head home for the Merseysiders and send us all home with the opposite of a spring in our step. Indeed, like our young centre half at that corner, we had lead in our boots as we trudged home to our Christmas wrapping and a much needed steadier.

The frustrating thing is that even though it was a fairly tight, absorbing game with keenly fought battles all over the pitch between two evenly matched sides, City played well and carved out the better chances.

After Cahill had hit wide with a half chance and an Arteta free kick had struck the bar for the visitors, City came very close to scoring three times. Elano, in for Hamann, found Robinho with an incisive pass, and from this, Benjani’s flick teed up Stephen Ireland who uncharacteristically shot a foot over the bar. Benjani again turned provider and this time Tim Howard made a full stretch save to deny Robinho. The Brazilian striker was also showing us what an intelligent provider he is when he played in Shaun Wright-Phillips and the diminutive winger hit the bar from 20 yards with Howard beaten.

It’s at times like those that you wonder whether it’s going to be your day. Shaun Wright-Phillips had been restored to the right wing for this game, and he took this opportunity to torment Joleon Lescott and others with his pace and trickery. In one run during the second half, he was pursued by not one, but three Everton defenders. City’s only problem was that we didn’t have enough finishers to get on the end of his work, with Benjani going off injured at half time.

Substitute Jo clearly lacks confidence and was feeling his way through this game, improving as it progressed, and his flick on played in Ireland whose goal-bound effort was tipped around the post by Howard.

The game was the sort of good old-fashioned battle that we come to expect in English football. Both sides tackled fairly in the main and it wasn’t until late that Jackson-Five tribute band member Fellaini found his way into the book for a late but certainly not malicious challenge. His marker Vincent Kompany had a splendid game in midfield, making several firm but fair tackles, and his performance rivalled Wright-Phillips and the industrious Ireland, who was much more effective back in his central midfield rôle. Everton played some good football too and were a threat throughout, particularly at set pieces, and in the main we dealt with them very well. Hart was assertive in the box, showing again that we do not need to buy another expensive goalkeeper, and the defence, led superbly by the tenacious Dunne, held firm until stoppage time and that fateful corner.

City need points and fast if we are to make any kind of challenge for Europe this season, and that must start with a win at lowly West Brom next week. The anti-Hughes brigade will be out in force again, ridiculously calling for his head after only four months in charge, but the City board would be well advised to hold firm and allow Hughes to build on this squad. His track record in the transfer market is very good, and his tactics bear scrutiny.

What he needs now is the owners’ continued patience, plus the mandate to sign the players that he needs to balance this squad up and give it depth. He also needs a little luck, because if referee Mark Halsey had seen the handball in the box by Yobo after Elano’s shot, he would have awarded a penalty. Here’s to City getting some of that luck and some wins.

A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all our readers.

Att: 41,344
Joe Hart: Another faultless display 7.
Zabaleta: Another accomplished display from City’s Señor Reliable 7.
Dunne: Another very good performance, and had little option but to concede that crucial late corner 7.
Richards: Allowing Cahill to score late winner blotted a good performance. Must concentrate harder and get there first 6.
Ball: Steady but should he have been on the post for their winner? 6.
Wright-Phillips: City’s star performer was a constant threat down the right with his pace and trickery 8.
Ireland: Stood out with his skill and tenacity 7.
Elano: Some lovely passes but lacks the industry and determination of Ireland and Wright-Phillips 6.
Kompany: Consistently good player who competed superbly all afternoon 7.
Robinho: Some clever combination play in the build up to our best chances in first half before fading in the second half 7.
Benjani: Worked hard, and dangerous before withdrawn through injury 6.
Jo: Lacking confidence, but improving 6.
Vassell: Not enough time to mark: n/a

Refwatch: Mark Halsey let the game flow, but missed decisions for both sides, crucially failing to award us what should have been a certain penalty 5.
Everton Fans: The usual humourless, only-got-one-song, everything-is-handball-so-let’s-appeal-for-it, dour lot. And oh yes, the Scouse scallies hanging outside Piccadilly Station, who were giving it large and looking for a bit of “action” weren’t quite as charming as that with such Merseyside classic humour as shouting out “Sh!tty” to passing City fans 2.
City: Good renditions of “Feed the Scousers, let them know it’s Christmas Time”, “Where’s my car stereo?” and of course “Blue Moon”, but rather quiet in the main. Maybe we needed to be more vocal when we should have had a penalty 6.
Best Oppo: Tim Cahill. Tricky one, with them having so many players turning out steady performances, but the Australian has a keen eye for goal and a lot more to his game 8.

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


Well let’s hope that the second half of this game turns out to be the nadir of this season; if we get any worse than this then we are surely doomed. The overall feeling that I got was that if there was a plan it seemed to involve waiting for the ball to come into our possession and then safely ushering it back towards our own penalty area whilst Everton re-grouped. From here all attacks seemed to be required to pass through the centre circle either via a high ball or by a pass into a congested and Everton-dominated centre field. Sad really, since SWeeP was giving Lescott a hard time on the few occasions that he got the opportunity to run at him and Zabaleta was looking for opportunities to show that his performance against Fulham was not a one off.

It’s true that managers need time to build success and I still think Hughes should be given time but there seems to be a basic mismatch between the players we’ve got (Elano, Ireland, Robinho, SweeP, Jo(?) – all geared to quick breaks) and the style Hughes seems to want to develop – long balls for forwards to run onto. It is probably down to our new owners to decide what they want: either buy players to suit Hughes’ management style or persuade Hughes to adopt a different system or…

David Lewis <dfl(at)>


Villa away – Disappointing
West ham home – Excellent
Sunderland away – Excellent
Chelsea home – Good
Portsmouth home – Excellent
Brighton away – Disappointing
Wigan away – Disappointing
Liverpool home – Disappointing
Newcastle away – Disappointing
Stoke home – Good
Middlesbrough away – Disappointing
Bolton away – V Disappointing
Spurs home – Disappointing
Hull away – Disappointing
Arsenal home – Excellent
Rags home – Disappointing
Fullham away – Disappointing
Everton home – Garbage!

So here we are heading for half way through the season 2 points off a relegation place.

The next three games are crucial: 9 points are a must at WBA, Hull (h) and Blackburn. Forget Europe as with this team and attitude we are going nowhere. Even with a good run we will struggle to make UEFA Cup next year.

The performances against the Arse and Schalke are what is required and we have zero consistency. Just watched our manager on MoTD and “caught by a sucker punch” doesn’t wear with me. Today was like watching a Third Division game. Both teams were poor and deserved nothing. There is something wrong at our club and after weeks of suffering and sitting on the fence…

Get rid of the Rag. He hasn’t a clue and to bring top players in (I hope) would be wasted on this useless t**t. I have sat back and said give him a chance all season but today was the end. Two c**p teams playing c**p football and we lose at home.

I haven’t mentioned Istanbul yet? No b****y chance. I gave Schalke a miss but will be in Spain Thursday looking for a piece of Lladro for the wife for Christmas. But as there is a game on would be a shame to not be there! West Brom can whistle for £40 and I have stopped going to most away games due to cost.

I have a ticket for Oasis in Heaton Park and know I will get value for my ticket price. I have a ticket for City for the rest of the season and if today counts as entertainment it’s been a waste of money.

Why do we do it? Why do we buy a ticket for a competition we can’t win?

Sorry I’ve been rambling. My 8 year old grandson spent the second half making something useful from a poly tray, plastic fork and a piece of ribbon; it was certainly more entertaining than the match. You all know where I am going here… I (we?) can stand City losing if they lose well. Today once again they lose and were poor, poor, poor!

Where is the backbone? Where is the man who takes revenge on the player who kicks SWP up in the air? Why don’t we play the referees like others do? And Mark Halsey hang your head, you were one of the few refs who were totally impartial but today fussy, fussy, fussy, anything to do with sending off a Chelsea player and being s**t on by the FA overruling you?

So see you in Spain or next time at COMS. Happy Christmas and a Very Blue New Year to all.

CTID, Mick B <koolfurmick(at)>


Another home game and yet another defeat to mediocre opposition under the ‘leadership’ of Mr Hughes.

I have just watched the Everton game and came away wondering just how have we got this bad, this quickly?

The team was lacking in self confidence, lacking in self belief and also lacking in hunger: all of the hallmarks of a team playing for a manager who is getting it badly wrong. Worrying times.

Let’s first clearly understand we have gone from a top ten team under Sven who were making progress, playing decent, enjoyable, entertaining football to a team of relegation contenders in just 9 games, unbelievable!

We now need a minimum of 9 wins to avoid relegation. If you don’t believe me and think I am going OTT on this, then please take a look at the league table and also our upcoming fixture list. Under Sven relegation was totally unthinkable. Under Mr Hughes it is becoming more of a reality as each game passes. The total strategy and tactical awareness of Mr Hughes is to lump it forward, hit and hope and wait for the January transfer window.

Mr Hughes inherited a half decent, football playing team. It has been ‘reinforced’ to the tune of some £60 million. He has new super wealthy, supportive owners, a fan base that most clubs would die for and he started the season on a wave of enthusiasm, goodwill and optimism. He has cocked it up badly! In fact he has turned into a shambles.

Mark my words Robinho is not going to hang around one minute more than he has to unless this mess is sorted out and fast! I just hope and pray that our new owners can recognise a man who is dreadfully out of his depth when they see it and make the decisions required to ‘protect their investment’.

It is clear we require an experienced, successful manager with a track record of building a team and winning trophies when he has money to spend and allowed to bring in decent players. Someone who can handle big names, attract them to the club and bring the best out of them. Ironically the name Sven Goran Eriksson fits the bill perfectly. If it all wasn’t so sad it would be hilarious.

Ray Bardsley <rbardsley(at)>


After enduring another shambolic performance against a team that didn’t even field a recognized forward, it’s time now for Mark Hughes to either make City his team or head out the door.

We can excuse the fact that Sparky took charge of the current squad and must have wondered what prompted Gary Cooke to spend 19 million quid on Jo? But with the January transfer window looming it’s time to put his team together and offload the clutter of marginal talents that are currently weighing down City. Elano has to go, Jo has to go, Ball has to go, Vassell should only be kept around as sub. But more importantly, Hughes has to bring in players that are going to compliment the team rather than spend huge amounts on mercenaries who are just interested in hefty pay packets. If Hughes can’t succeed in reforming City, he has to go.

Surely we are not short of talent to make an impression in the league? Look at what Martin O’Neill has done with Villa or Harry Redknapp with Tottenham. These are the teams City should be competitive against. Forget qualifying for the Champions’ League. We need to be a good team before we have the pretensions of being a great team. No major star in his right mind would come and play for City when we are 16th in the league.

And don’t be surprised if Chelsea target Robinho in January. I can’t see how he is going to be happy with a struggling squad. Mark Hughes is the right coach for this team in the Premier League. He should be given the next couple of months to field the kind of players he believes in. If he can’t do that with the resources at hand, then he doesn’t deserve the job. But no more 19 million pound Jo’s or any other overrated superstars. Hughes doesn’t want these players and in the end, City fans would rather win with honest players than lose with inflated egos.

Give me Sturridge over Jo or Ireland over Elano any day. Surely we get maximum points off West Brom!

Keith Sharp <keith(at)>


Mark Hughes commented that neither side deserved to win the game, yesterday. I agree with him that City did not.

Everton, on the other hand, clearly did deserve the 3 points. Away from home, their players were up for the fight and were much, much more dangerous in the final 3rd of the pitch. This was an excellent result for David Moyes’ side.

An all-too familiar scenario for the Blues. Unfortunately, our side continues to lose its way and Mark and his staff need to address our failings, right away. Most of our players are simply not performing. Once again, I feel for the fans who are paying the price of admission, to endure below-par performances.

A penny for the thoughts of the club’s owner, right now.

Graham Mills <gkm_5(at)>


All of you who have continued to support Mark Hughes at least should have the good grace to walk to the nearest corner and hang your head in shame.

Wallace Poulter <wallace.poulter(at)>


They can buy who they want, even buy the Rags but Hughes is not up to the job.

We have gone backwards and will end up being relegated if not careful. Oh yes we have seen it all before.

Sam Duxbury <Sammy459(at)>


In response to Mat Howden’s comments in MCIVTA 1490.

I agree wholeheartedly with the Sweep deal, brilliant. Cut the boy up and he will have blue blood running through his body. My point was I don’t believe the deal was of Sparky’s doing, I feel it was put upon him to sign this player as this will appease the fans. Nowt wrong with it at all, I love it, it just means I do not count it as his signing. Yes, you are correct about Robbie, quality signing but again I feel, like you, not a Hughes signing but a moneyman signing. So it leaves Zab who I feel is a good buy and Kompany that is also a good buy, Glauber who sits on the bench, Ben Haim (man I’m not even going to comment).

I have never called for our manager’s head, I just feel as others do (same issue as your comment) that he is not the right man. As Ray Bardsley (good comment) points out in “Dirty Blues”. Another opinion on “Vas Impact”: why does he keep picking him? OK Elano does not track back but are you bothered after he has scored a hatful or set the goals up and we miles ahead? Does Torres track back? Does Berbatov? I could go on. The guy calls himself a striker but we play him on the wing. Why? Because our manager puts him there.

I am excited about the future, I’m not naïve enough to think you can turn it around at a click of a finger, I just feel that he is not the right man for this club. I’m aware that we should give him time and that it has been pointed out that we should give him time to buy and build his own team in January. He is building it already – again comment “Dirty Blues”. We will be lucky to keep hold of Robbie at this rate.

So what are people expecting? Loads of mega deal signings in January who become confused with our manager’s tactics starting/causing a rift within (oh my it’s happening already) or a bunch of dirty, let’s hump it up the field to a lone striker all the time (oh my it’s happening already). I just feel he is not the right man. Again to use an example, if I was employed by you and you felt I was not doing a great job but maybe I could do it in a few months’ time, would you keep me at your company?

Again I’m not saying sack him, I am just giving a view that is open to debate.

Reg Swallow <regswallow(at)>


I am trying to clarify the date of an FA Cup tie away against Shrewsbury in 1979. Please can anybody confirm the date of the match?

According to MCFC Stats website the match was on 25/01/1979, which was a Thursday?

I am sure this date can’t be correct as I travelled to the match on a coach and was introduced to a friend who became one of my best friends and still is. We are convinced the match was on a Saturday.

Why would an FA cup tie be on a Thursday if it wasn’t a replay? The match was an afternoon kick-off, so everyone there would have had to have a day off work or school?

The match wasn’t during the miners’ strike because that was 1974? I remember because I had the day off school for York away in the FA Cup and Coventry at home in the League Cup.

Stuart Latham <lathamws(at)>


14 December 2008

Portsmouth            0 - 3  Newcastle United      19,416
Chelsea               1 - 1  West Ham United       41,675

13 December 2008

Middlesbrough         1 - 1  Arsenal               27,320
Aston Villa           4 - 2  Bolton Wanderers      35,134
Liverpool             2 - 2  Hull City             43,835
Manchester City       0 - 1  Everton               41,344
Stoke City            0 - 0  Fulham                25,287
Sunderland            4 - 0  West Bromwich Albion  36,280
Wigan Athletic        3 - 0  Blackburn Rovers      18,003
Tottenham Hotspur     0 - 0  Manchester United     35,882

League table to 14 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 Liverpool       17  5  4  0 13  6  6  1  1 13  5 11  5  1  26  11  15 38
 2 Chelsea         17  3  4  2 15  6  8  0  0 21  1 11  4  2  36   7  29 37
 3 Manchester Utd  16  6  1  0 19  4  3  4  2  8  6  9  5  2  27  10  17 32
 4 Aston Villa     17  4  4  1 14  9  5  0  3 15 11  9  4  4  29  20   9 31
 5 Arsenal         17  5  1  2 15 10  4  2  3 14 10  9  3  5  29  20   9 30
 6 Hull City       17  3  2  3  9 15  4  4  1 17 12  7  6  4  26  27  -1 27
 7 Everton         17  1  3  4  9 15  6  1  2 14 10  7  4  6  23  25  -2 25
 8 Portsmouth      17  4  2  3 13 13  2  3  3  6 13  6  5  6  19  26  -7 23
 9 Wigan Athletic  17  4  2  3  9  9  2  2  4 12 11  6  4  7  21  20   1 22
10 Fulham          16  5  2  1 11  6  0  4  4  2  6  5  6  5  13  12   1 21
11 Bolton Wndrs    17  2  2  4  6  9  4  0  5 14 14  6  2  9  20  23  -3 20
12 Middlesbrough   17  3  3  3  9 13  2  2  4  8 11  5  5  7  17  24  -7 20
13 Stoke City      17  5  2  2 12 10  0  3  5  5 17  5  5  7  17  27 -10 20
14 Newcastle Utd   17  3  3  2 13 11  1  4  4  9 13  4  7  6  22  24  -2 19
15 Tottenham H.    17  3  2  4  7  7  2  2  4 12 14  5  4  8  19  21  -2 19
16 West Ham United 17  3  1  4 11 13  2  3  4  7 12  5  4  8  18  25  -7 19
17 Manchester City 17  4  0  5 19 10  1  3  4 11 15  5  3  9  30  25   5 18
18 Sunderland      17  3  1  5 11 13  2  2  4  6 12  5  3  9  17  25  -8 18
19 Blackburn R.    17  1  2  5  5 15  2  2  5 12 19  3  4 10  17  34 -17 13
20 West Brom A.    17  2  2  4  9 15  1  1  7  3 17  3  3 11  12  32 -20 12

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1491