Newsletter #1511

From victory on Thursday night to yet more disappointment on Sunday, we have match reports and views tonight on the Copenhagen and West Ham games.

There is also divided opinion on whether we stick or twist with the manager, the next UEFA trip and more book news.

Next Game: Aston Villa, home, 7.45pm Wednesday 4 March 2009


Two well-taken Craig Bellamy goals cemented City’s place in the next round of the UEFA Cup on a night when we were left in suspense for a long time.

With De Jong cup-tied, Zabaleta and Kompany formed a formidable screen in front of the City back four and were key in building the platform for City’s latest successful progression in this tournament. On a night of almost constant drizzle, the whole City team had to work hard to ensure that FC Copenhagen did not secure any kind of lead in this tie. The visitors, who were backed by a vociferous contingent of passionate followers, took the game to City early without fashioning any clearcut chances. Indeed, the first half was a largely a stalemate with neither side impressing (“Are you Celtic in disguise?”, enquired the visiting support), but City had two good chances to break the deadlock.

Robinho’s header from Bellamy’s right wing cross was pushed on the bar by Christiansen in the Danish goal, and Bellamy’s mis-hit shot bobbled onto a post after a clever one-two with Ireland. Again the visitors were quickest out of the blocks after the break, with Copenhagen’s Brazilian striker Ailton blazing over. With the two away goals, City seemed happy to play on the break and in one of these breaks Robinho’s raking pass found Wright-Phillips, whose low cross just evaded Ireland at full stretch. Dunne was involved with a rare old tussle with Copenhagen strikers Ailton and N’Doye, who both left stray arms in the Irishman’s face.

Unsurprisingly, Dunne saw both of them off with some meaty challenges! It was City, though, who carried the greater threat with the pace of Bellamy, Robinho and Wright-Phillips always a danger. Bellamy had a free kick tipped over and Robinho had a volley blocked after intelligent build-up play by Ireland and Bellamy. City’s first goal came after the Copenhagen defender Jorgensen could only help Zabaleta’s searching long ball down the inside left channel into the path of the chasing Bellamy who coolly slotted home. There was much relief in the 26,018 crowd! Robinho should have added to this after Ireland played him in from the impressive Zabaleta’s cross, but he hit a post.

It wasn’t long, though, before City added to the lead with Robinho teeing up Bellamy with a pinpoint cross, from which the Welshman duly converted with ease. Bellamy went to Robinho in appreciation, as they celebrated. They may never be best friends, and Bellamy was right to demand more from the Brazilian at Portsmouth, but media talk about them not speaking is wildly inaccurate.

Lies and innaccuracies seem to be the norm of several journalists in the British media, especially where City are concerned and yet these same journalists never seem to ask the really important questions. Namely, why does Rooney stay on the pitch after constant abuse of officials? Why was Fakeronaldo allowed to stay on the pitch yet again that previous weekend after yet another kick out at an opponent? One rule for ‘Manchester’ United and one rule for the rest of us. Not that our largely one-eyed English media actually want to bring this to our attention.

Copenhagen weren’t finished and the hard working Bellamy was forced to clear off the line, and Ailton hit a free kick wide. At the other end, Bellamy’s chance of a hat-trick went when his shot from Robinho’s cross was blocked. The last word was left to Vingaard of Copenhagen when his long range strike found the net after he was given enough space to shoot, a rarity on a night when City had competed impressively and given some more credence to the strains of “Istanbul, Istanbul we are coming”.

Given: Good distribution and handling 7
Richards: Better positional play than of late but must learn how to take a throw-in 6
Dunne: A captain’s performance, giving no quarter in winning the physical battle with N’Doye and Ailton 7
Onuoha: Solid and dependable, and very worthy of his place 7
Bridge: Decent enough going forward and in defence without being outstanding 6
Shaun Wright-Phillips: Worked hard all night without hitting the high note: 6
Zabaleta: His all-action key performance in central midfield underpinned City’s victory 8 (Man of the Match)
Kompany: His physical presence was vital against physical opponents 7
Ireland: Industrious with a sprinkling of creativity 6
Robinho: A delight to watch, who linked up well with his team mates, in particular Bellamy 7
Belamy: Two well taken goals sealed another very good, hard-working performance 8

Att: 26,018
Selcuk Dereli (Turkey): He and his officials were slow to react to offside decisions all night and got a few wrong. We also had the comical misunderstanding of which side a Copenhagen corner was to be taken from during the first half. Dereli pointed to each corner flag twice before finally making his mind up! 5
Best Oppo: Oscar Wendt, the Copenhagen left back gave a good, solid account of himself here.

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


Just how impatient are we for success, that people are already calling for Mark Hughes’ head? And how long, should he get axed, would the next manager be allowed before the hounds are baying for his head as well?

Might I remind you that Hughes joined the club at a critical time in its history; at times, I would hazard that he had no idea who he would next be working for. All through that time he conducted himself extremely well and very professionally. My feeling is that this will have been noted also by our new owners that they are dealing with a man of integrity and strength of purpose.

I would also note that last night’s game was the fortieth of this season. Some seasons, given our atrocious record in cups of late, we would not have played forty games all season. Also, we have a number of players out injured, Petrov and Bojinov immediately spring to mind, as well as Johnson, and a transfer profile designed, on account of our new riches, to make life hard for us. Hence the amount paid for Bellamy who, splendidly, is I hope making those who decried his purchase, eat their words. I am sure Hughes bought Bellamy as much for his ability to stir up the dressing room positively, as well as his ability to break down defences. For all the bull***t in the press regarding him and Robinho, they seem to have no problem playing together.

I am also of the opinion that one reason Hughes took on the City job was to put two fingers up at his erstwhile boss. It is no secret there was no love lost between them when Hughes left, and I think Hughes relishes the challenge of making City top dogs.

So, folks, please get off Mark Hughes’ back. He must be given at least two seasons to build his squad and entrench his modus operandi. And if you just can’t help feeling p****d off, well, direct your venom at that once fine footballer and now witless football administrator, Michel Platini.

You have a good day y’all.

Jeremy Poynton <j.poynton(at)>


Jack Millington is right when he says that I must be disappointed to read recent reports that the chairman “assured Hughes he was not overly concerned about the team’s erratic form and had confidence in him to do the job for a long time.” What disappoints me is that he must have some people advising him with very little football knowledge like those who constantly compare Hughes’ situation with Fergie’s first few years at the Swamp. The difference is that Ferguson came to Trafford as an already successful manager, with tactical nous, and then started buying sensibly to build a team and build up the youth side. Hughes came to us as a ‘promising’ manager, yet to achieve anything in the game, with, we can now see, very limited technical or managerial ability. He has bought well, which is a plus, but he has failed to successfully continue motivating and getting the best out of any of his signings or the players already at the club, on top of which he has also had signings forced upon him who would need a much better man-manager under whom to be successful. Continuity is always nice as long as the person you have in charge is up to the job!

Football is a simple game, and so is the reason we are not doing well this season despite having probably the best selection of players we’ve had in a long time. It’s called tactics …

Name one single team that regularly plays two defensive midfielders that has ever achieved anything. Chelsea only needed one Makalele when they were winning things. In fact, playing two midfielders who do the same job rarely works anywhere (Gerrard and Lampard for England). Selecting a 4-2-3-1 formation means that we have too many sitting deep. Kompany and De Jong in front of the defence causes a huge gap to open up between defence and attack that can only be overcome by hoofing the ball upfield from defence or forcing our creative front players to turn their back towards goal and come back downfield to get the ball. We could have three strikers up front, but with two defensive midfielders they still won’t successfully get the ball delivered to them. Away from home, where the other side are expected and urged on to attack, we are sitting back soaking up wave after wave of attack with little outlet than a speedy counter-attack. The brighter managers have now cottoned on to this: Zola proved he is far more tactically astute than MH by getting his defence to stay deep, rather than high up the field where Bellamy’s pace would catch them out. As a consequence Parker bossed the huge gaps in the gap between our defence and attack, and we didn’t have a chance.

At home the crowd urge City on so we don’t play quite so deep, but we still have an appalling midfield setup, which fails to capitalise on the great strengths we could have going forward with Robinho, Ireland, Bellamy and SWP. It doesn’t help that in SWP’s current absence Hughes hasn’t gone for the sensible option of pushing Zabaleta forward on the right wing, but instead dulled Ireland’s performances by moving him out to the right where he tries hard, but isn’t half the player he is in the middle (as we found out under Sven). On top of this, Kompany, like many others, appears to be losing form (he was woeful yesterday!) yet he has the talent to boss any midfield.

Another player we are not getting the best out of is Robinho, but it seems from press reports that Hughes may want rid of him in exchange for Terry. Terry is a great defender, but with our current set-up and tactics he will be no better than any of our other defenders and we will lose a potential match-winner. I don’t support Robbie’s attitude, but maybe if he was played properly, things would be better. He can do it for Brazil, after all (as can Elano). This stinks of previous times at City when an average manager is unable to cope with an above-average talent: Reid with Michael Hughes and Clive Allen, Royle with Kinkladze and Weah, and there is only one possible outcome so when will the Sheikh wake up and get someone who is adequate to manage our team?

Steve Burrows <stevieburrows(at)>


Woke up at 7:30am earlier today to catch that City débâcle against West Ham (Toronto, Canada). All I can say is so much for Mark Hughes’ second half of the season turn-around. Twelve games to go and this side is no better than the team he inherited. At least at the start of the season we were scoring goals. The debate as to whether Hughes is around next season is irrelevant. By bringing on subs like Caciedo and Elano he is digging his own grave. What City fans want are players who will bust a gut for 90 minutes, not a bunch of floaters like Robinho and Elano. Sorry, but game in, game out this pair are a luxury we cannot afford. Robinho hasn’t scored in 2009 and I can’t remember when Elano made any telling contribution to a game. So why is he playing? Surely, Sturridge or Benjani can’t be any worse?

Yes, the UEFA Cup is worth pursuing but as far as the league side, now is the time for Hughes to start experimenting with his squad. Give Bojinov a serious shot, same with Sturridge and Benjani. These guys will at least give an honest effort.

I am sure that our Abu Dhabi boys are not happy with their sizeable investment but City can’t say that they haven’t given Hughes a chance. The team that played Sunday was badly outplayed (and out coached) by a team full of kids and workmanlike pros.

Quite simply the current City side is stuck in mid-table and will not improve over the final 12 games. I am afraid the writing is on the wall for Sparky.

Going back to bed!

Keith Sharp – Toronto <keith(at)>


City’s decent performance tonight versus the Danes puts us into the next round, so we very deservedly march onward. Fine until Elano came on, but the Brazilian is more of a flop now than ever, so obviously Mark H sees much more in the player than I currently do. For me, he’s more of a liability in most respects. A player is only as good as his last game. He needs to move on during the summer.

Have to say I was hoping to see Caceido at some point, but, not to be. Robinho and Bellamy are proving to be quite the partnership, so if they keep up the current standard until the end of the season that’ll certainly continue to fire up the side.

Put Caceido in to feed off the confidence from Bellamy and Robinho, and I’m convinced he’ll be all the better for it. Why wait until we’re struggling in a game before bringing him on? Give the guy a chance at a decent run in the side, especially under the present feel-good circumstances.

Just one downside: the home crowd/attendance was pretty bad. 26,000 and the City contingent was for the most part very quiet. The Danish fans were vocal, but not us. Pretty sad, have to say.

A City win at the weekend should now be expected, and not simply hoped for. Congratulations to Mark H, his staff and the squad. We’re gradually beginning to gel a little more. Consistency needs to be the aim.

Graham Mills <gkm_5(at)>


Just watched the game versus Copenhagen – great result. But can someone please answer this brain racking trivia for me?

When was the last time we scored from a corner kick? I honestly can’t remember the last time we scored from a corner. All that comes to mind is that cracker from Micah against Villa back in the FA Cup in 2007.

Anyone help?

Rob Simnor <simmsy8(at)>


The game versus Copenhagen was a great display of footballing skills from the City team, and we are into the last sixteen of the UEFA Cup for the first time in thirty years.

Great goals from Bellamy. Some very good passing between Robinho and Bellamy; yes I too noticed the cold reception when Bellamy went over to thank Robinho for the pass for his second goal.

Robinho has been playing some slick football here and there, some with brilliance, but I await his next goal, when will it come? I know that Robinho can be a brilliant player but something I sense is not quite right.

And before someone jumps in and blames the manager, it is difficult for anyone to say much to a player like Robinho, and it could be that Robinho just can’t concentrate the same because of the accusations against him in a Leeds nightclub?

The Premier League is a game played at a faster pace, and is a more physical game; it looks very much that Elano is not comfortable at times with this game, ever since his injury he never played with the same effort and his passing at times is way off.

I have looked several times at the effort made by Robinho when he hit the post versus Copenhagen, and in my opinion it was very weak; when he kicked the goal post after missing it had far more effort. OK it could be just me thinking out loud, and I most certainly hope that I am wrong.

The first leg of the next round against Aalborg, another Danish side, is on March 18 or 19. My main concern now is will all the City squad be fit in time for this very important game?

The game versus West Ham saw a game where the Hammers played a very aggressive game, and I am very puzzled why Parker did not get a second yellow card for the tackle on Robinho from behind; clearly Mike Dean (referee) has shown his dislike for Manchester City having sent off three City players earlier this season. Ireland got a yellow card just after the tackle on Robinho by Parker that was timid in comparison. But the performance by Superman (Ireland) was not his best on the day, in fact I will call it his worst of the season.

If City are to win away from home this season they have to play more aggressive football, which is not always possible when you have a biased referee like Dean.

It is not often that I complain about a ref, but Mike Dean’s refereeing deserves to be seriously looked at by the FA, though I doubt very much if they care that much.

Come on you Blues!

Ernie Barrow <britcityblue(at)>


Finally after 5 goals in 6 games we get a song for Craig. After the City vs. FCK game in the 1894 Club bar a group of lads were putting together a little ditty.

It was hardly Lennon/McCartney but the process was very much in evident as they tried to construct suitable lyrics around a familiar tune. It went something like this:

[To the tune of Johnny Come Marching Home or if you prefer The Clash English Civil War]

He hit a scouser with a club hurra hurra
He put his girlfriend in the club hurra hurra
His name is Bellamy he is Blue
He scores goals that much is true
That Welsh basket is City’s 39
(Repeat to fade

Phil Lines <phil.lines(at)>


UEFA Cup Aalborg vs. Manchester City
TBA March 2009
Aalborg, Denmark

It’s back to Denmark for City’s last 16 away leg clash against Aalborg. The game could either be on the 18th or 19th and our trips will be adjusted to whatever date is finalised. Aalborg is a compact city but has a wealth of nightlife concentrated in the Jomfru Ane Gade, a street packed with bars, restaurants and in the evening, clubs.

Day trip from Manchester

Depart Manchester early morning for the short flight to Aalborg, arriving well in time for lunch. Sample the delights of the famous Jomfru Ane Gade, a street packed with bars and restaurants. In the evening make your way to the stadium for the game. After the game coaches are waiting to take you back to the airport for the return flight direct to Manchester due to land back at around 01:00.
Price £175.00

1 Night Trip from Manchester

Depending on the date fly direct from Manchester to Aalborg at around 09:00 to arrive at around 11:30. Transfers will be waiting to take you to your city centre hotel. Spend the afternoon at leisure. Make your own way to the stadium in the evening and afterwards the nightlife will carry on late into the night. The following afternoon transfers are arranged back to the airport for the return flight due to land back into Manchester late afternoon.
Price 3* Hotel £269 4* Hotel £309

Prices are per person and includes direct flights from Manchester, transfers and all airport taxes and charges. Option 2 is based on 2 sharing a twin room. Single supplement £35 in 3* and £45 in 4*.

Match tickets are not included and should be obtained from the club in the normal way.

To book or for further details, either email us or telephone the booking hotline on: 0161 775 7500

Michael <90-minutes(at)>


Those of you of a certain vintage may recall Paul Hince playing for City in the late 60’s in a handful of games. Those of you slightly younger may remember the same Hince reporting on City games for the Manchester Evening News.

The now retired Hince has just released a book ‘Memories of a failed footballer and a cr@p journalist’ (Empire Publications).

Written in the same style as Fred Eyre’s best selling ‘Kicked Into Touch’, Hince’s book is both humorous and self deprecating whilst describing his not so glorious football career and subsequent spell behind a typewriter and is packed with anecdotes and memoirs.

The book retails at £10.95 but as a special offer to MCIVTA readers, it can be bought direct from Empire Publications for £8 + p&p.

For more details or email <enquiries(at)>

Just for the record, I do part time work for Empire, so whilst I do have a vested interest, I also have to say having read the book, you shouldn’t be disappointed if you do buy it.

Phill Gatenby <Safestanding(at)>


1 March 2009

Hull City             1 - 2  Blackburn Rovers      24,612
West Ham United       1 - 0  Manchester City       34,562
Bolton Wanderers      1 - 0  Newcastle United      20,763
Aston Villa           2 - 2  Stoke City            39,641

28 February 2009

Everton               2 - 0  West Bromwich Albion  33,898
Arsenal               0 - 0  Fulham                60,102
Chelsea               2 - 1  Wigan Athletic        40,714
Middlesbrough         2 - 0  Liverpool             33,724

League table to 01 March 2009 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  26 12  1  0 30  5  7  4  2 16  6 19  5  2  46  11  35 62
 2 Chelsea         27  7  5  2 23  8  9  2  2 24  8 16  7  4  47  16  31 55
 3 Liverpool       27  7  6  0 20  8  8  4  2 23 12 15 10  2  43  20  23 55
 4 Aston Villa     27  5  7  2 20 15 10  0  3 22 12 15  7  5  42  27  15 52
 5 Arsenal         27  7  5  2 18 11  5  5  3 20 14 12 10  5  38  25  13 46
 6 Everton         27  5  5  4 20 16  7  3  3 16 12 12  8  7  36  28   8 44
 7 West Ham United 27  7  1  6 19 17  3  5  5 14 17 10  6 11  33  34  -1 36
 8 Wigan Athletic  27  6  4  3 13 11  3  4  7 14 15  9  8 10  27  26   1 35
 9 Fulham          26  8  3  1 21  9  0  7  7  3 13  8 10  8  24  22   2 34
10 Bolton Wndrs    27  6  2  6 14 15  4  1  8 16 23 10  3 14  30  38  -8 33
11 Manchester City 27  8  0  5 28 12  1  5  8 15 24  9  5 13  43  36   7 32
12 Sunderland      26  5  2  6 15 15  3  5  5 12 18  8  7 11  27  33  -6 31
13 Hull City       27  3  3  8 15 29  4  5  4 18 21  7  8 12  33  50 -17 29
14 Tottenham H.    26  4  5  4 11  9  3  2  8 17 23  7  7 12  28  32  -4 28
15 Newcastle Utd   27  4  6  3 19 20  2  4  8 14 23  6 10 11  33  43 -10 28
16 Portsmouth      26  5  2  6 18 21  2  5  6 11 22  7  7 12  29  43 -14 28
17 Blackburn R.    26  3  4  6 15 21  3  4  6 15 22  6  8 12  30  43 -13 26
18 Middlesbrough   27  4  6  4 12 15  2  2  9  8 21  6  8 13  20  36 -16 26
19 Stoke City      27  6  4  3 15 13  0  4 10 10 31  6  8 13  25  44 -19 26
20 West Brom A.    27  5  2  6 18 24  1  2 11  6 27  6  4 17  24  51 -27 22

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1511