Newsletter #1558

A much anticipated first game of the season saw City emerge victorious at Hughes’ old stomping ground of Ewood Park. We have views on the game and performance tonight from Svenn and Co., which didn’t stop Hughes making a slip or two, and also on the Everton/Lescott situation with Moyes proclaiming he’s in control of the club (perhaps the board might beg to differ there, David). For the first time this season City were top of the league for a while on Saturday afternoon.

We also have opinion on the new season, the squad, ticket prices, pies, chants and the usual requests.

Next up a belated “pre-season” friendly against Barcelona.

Next Game: FC Barcelona, away, 9pm Wednesday 19 August (friendly)


Much had been said before the game against Blackburn, and much has been said after it, but as season-openers go this one could not have ended any better for Manchester City. A lot of people claim that City are trying to buy the league. Looking at the line-up this weekend doesn’t give that impression at all: Five Brits and 3 Irish players started for City, and only 3 were making their début. In reality it was a strengthened, not a transformed City side that ran onto the pitch at Ewood Park: Given; Richards, Toure, Dunne, Bridge; Sweep, Ireland, Barry, Robinho; Adebayor, Bellamy. Eight of the players were brought in by Hughes, which means he is beginning to get the side that he wants.

City were really buzzing during the opening minutes, and it was not only the new black and gold away kit that was shining. Adebayor sent away a stunning right foot drive after good footwork from Sweep to put City in front after only 2 minutes. A glorious opening to the season and one that made everybody relax a bit. No need for chasing the game after this, just sit back and take the chances that must present themselves. It was like listening to “Dance Macabre” by Saint-Saëns. Something bad was looming, what could happen next?

Inevitably Blackburn rattled their way back into the game. The City midfield struggled, and Ireland was constantly withdrawing from tackles, running in circles and shaking his head. He looked the least improved article of the lot. Barry, his midfield compadre was the shining example of a true professional. For years we have missed the Bellish running and McNabish tackles that he made, and although he was a bit rusty with the ball at his feet it only means that there is room for improvement. My guess is that Barry will be the most crucial of the signings made this season (by any team).

But Blackburn were not going to lie down peacefully. The dead started to dance as they orchestrated the long fluted balls into our area, and while Kolo Toure looked excellent on ground, he lacked the physical presence in the aerial battles. Luckily for us we had Micah Richards and Richard Dunne. A defensive cornerstone for many years, Dunne was back to his winning ways and a rock against the tricks of Roberts and McCarthy.

Between the posts we had another match-winner in Shay Given. A superb save on a header by Roberts and an overall solid performance made him a close contender for MOM only slightly behind Barry. All in all it was the back four and the goalkeeper that made the biggest impression. Bridge was a fast train on the left and Richards showed glimpses of his best, especially in the first half when he saved us on a couple of occasions.

Robinho, Ireland and Sweep disappointed me (in that order). Robinho was a shadow of himself and should really feel Petrov breathing down his neck. He left his side wide open for Blackburn to throw crosses and when he got the ball he did little to scare the opposition. But neither of the trio managed to dominate their area, leaving the laundry out to dry and Barry to do the dirty work. It was not going to be enough and for most of the game Blackburn dominated the midfield. This is something Hughes has to address before the next game (and I don’t mean against Barça).

Up front both Ade and Bellamy worked hard both for the team and themselves, although Bellamy too often insisted to be a few centimetres on the wrong side of offside. Ade had a slightly different rôle than I had anticipated. He took the “Elano” space and left Bellamy chasing balls behind the back four. This made sense with Bellamy’s speed being utilized better and also whenever City threw the occasional long ball against Ade, he knew Bellamy was lurking behind him already.

City dominated much of the play with especially Toure and Barry looking comfortable distributing the ball back and forth. Our captain looked less certain when he had to make a pass but that was hardly breaking news. Blackburn consistently threw the ball into the City box only to find a Richards head, Dunne foot, or Given glove blocking their way. In the other end Robinson did well to push away a curling effort from substitute Carlos Tevez that would have settled the score.

With 4 minutes of extra time added to the finale Stephen Ireland finally woke up. For 90 minutes he had looked nowhere near the Super duper article from last season, and then there was a glimpse of magic as if to say “I told you so”. A ball from Sweep brought him one-one-one with Robinson, and when everybody including me thought he had taken it too wide, and Blackburn got a couple of defenders on the line behind their ‘keeper, the Irish maestro cut back into the box, tip-toeing with Robinson before calmly slotting the ball into the bottom corner. It was an awfully arrogant way to end the play and the Rovers skeletons just limped off the field not knowing what had hit them.

Final score 2-0 to City, a respectable away win on paper. But still a lot of work to do if City are going to be successful this season. Truth is we were lucky to get away with such a good result, but from what I saw in the other games, Chelsea and United also struggled but managed to win. So who says we can’t have a bit of good fortune? Only 37 more wins to go before we can lift the trophy ;D

Player ratings:

Given 8: A couple of superb saves and overall a very good performance
Richards 7: Solid game especially in the first half, not impressive going forward
Toure 7: Looks a million on the ground, excellent distribution, no nonsense defending
Dunne 8: Fabulous intercepting play, King of the air
Bridge 7: Steamy forward runs and good defending; had to cover for Robinho
Sweep 6: Two assists, lots of backtracking, anonymous for most of the game
Ireland 6: Magnificent goal but nowhere to be found for 90 minutes
Barry 9: Solid display, cracking tackles, and always in the heat of the battle
Robinho 5: Must have gone off at the wrong bus stop
Adebayor 7: Smashing goal, worked hard, not many clear cut chances
Bellamy 6: Worked hard, still looks a bit off his peak; too many offsides
Tevez 6: Should have made one assist, and could have scored one goal

Svenn H <svenn(at)>


A win and away from home got the team off to a very good start. Blackburn 0 City 2. City wasted no time in getting the first goal with some brilliant play from Robinho, SWeeP, and back to Adebayor who opened his scoring with a scorching 18 yard shot.

There were some times during the game when City’s passing was not at its best, and it gave opportunities for Blackburn to score but Shay Given showed some brilliant form with some great saves that kept City ahead.

Bellamy ran tirelessly with great speed trying to open up some space for his team mates. The City defence stood firm, at times with narrow escapes, but kept a clean sheet under the direction of skipper Richard Dunne.

Micah looks a lot fitter than he did last season, and when he was sandwiched by two Blackburn players, only one got a yellow card when both deserved a yellow. Toure has settled in quickly, whilst Bridge also had a good game. Gareth Barry took command in the midfield with SWeeP and Ireland.

As the game went into injury time I don’t think that many of us will see a calmer and more coolly taken goal, when Superman almost teased the Blackburn defence before scoring. Ireland is not just Superman but also the Iceman.

This was a start that we really needed so as to get that monkey off our back playing away from home. Nice to see Tevez come on for the last 15 minutes so as to get him back to full fitness; he brought more energy into the side.

City now have a side full of promise, the more they play together they will gel together more and more.

Well done City!

Come on you Blues! Attack Attack Attack!

Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)>


Well 1.30am kickoff over here in New Zealand and we’re up and running. Same old problem as last year: the defence is still s**te. Richards and Bridge need to be taught what a full back actually does ’cause they have no idea. Even Shay Given looked very hesitant at times.

Still, they say good teams win ugly, and that’s what it was. Nice first goal between SWeep and Ade, and Ireland’s was class; just wonder if he knew what he was doing?! Just kidding.

Still, a good first up effort with a somewhat different side than last year, and we can only get better. Looking forward to our second away win!

Kevin Williamson <scribbs(at)>


David Moyes said today: “They way it [Joleon Lescott’s transfer] has been handled is disgusting and all it has done is disrupted our club.”

I’m not going to say whether or not I agree with David Moyes but it might be that he has identified exactly what Mark Hughes is doing. We’re clearly not going to get him, so perhaps “disrupting his club” is the sole reason he continues to comment on it?

If so, that’s brilliant! Everton are probably going to be close to Man City in the league this season, so the mind games may have begun already!

Joe O’Doherty <joeodoherty(at)>


I can understand David Moyes not wanting to sell Joleon Lescott. He’s a decent player (though probably not worth more than £15 million even at today’s prices), who is good on the ball, and can score goals from left back or centre back. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to keep your best players. However, Moyes’ self-righteous whingeing about Mark Hughes not phoning him up about Lescott really is rather ridiculous, as Mark Hughes is not obliged to ring David Moyes about any bid. In fact no manager is obliged to ring up his counterpart about a player; the contact can be from club to club. In this case our bids are being handled by Garry Cook and Brian Marwood who are sending them to Everton through official channels, and are therefore, not breaking any rules. Could it be that Moyes doesn’t like the fact that the bids are going on above his head?

Moyes makes a fool of himself with his describing our handling of the Lescott bids as ‘disgusting’ when it was Everton who put our bids for Lescott into the public domain on their website. He’d do well to grow up and look at how Arsene Wenger and how he dealt with their sale of Adebayor and Toure to us. The same goes for how Villa and City handled the Barry deal. These deals were clean cut and handled professionally by all. In fact the City hierarchy have nothing to reproach themselves for.

City have as much right to put bids into Everton for Lescott as they have to refuse those bids. Moyes is trying to portray himself as part of some sort of ‘moral majority’ railing against City, for having the temerity to bid for one of his players, yet his stance smacks of hypocrisy. Moyes has said that he is not going to sell Lescott and yet he has also said that we have not met their valuation. So is he for sale or isn’t he, Mr Moyes? Spot the double standard – spot the prime candidate to take over at Old Trafford! Maybe Moyes is trying to impress someone over there.

If Moyes spent more time preparing his players rather than whingeing about City, then his team might do better than to lose 6-1 against a transitional Arsenal team, whom I’m reliably informed, didn’t have to get out of second gear. I know one or two Evertonians, and their words were about their team being ‘underprepared’ and Arsenal not even getting out of 2nd gear. Of course that’s all City’s fault! City are also to blame for the rain in Lancashire on Saturday, the recession, Global warming. Disgusting!

Mark Hughes has handled all this criticism very well and I am glad that, unlike Moyes, he is not distracted by it. Our team was clearly well prepared and won a hard-earned victory at Blackburn with Hughes’ bold attacking selection. Unlike Moyes, Hughes has impressively kept his dignity.

I look back at how past City managers have handled our best players being sold. Did Mel Machin throw a hissy fit when Tottenham (who aren’t even a big club) bid for Paul Stewart back in 1988? Did Stuart Pearce throw his toys out of the pram when Chelsea bought Shaun Wright-Phillips? No, they both acted like grown ups. It’s about time that David Moyes did the same.

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


What a great MCIVTA No 1557.

Philip Gregory: I enjoyed your raid on the Rags experience in Macau. I have great fun in Melbourne, after the Rags have played a game. I regularly stop people wearing Rags shirts (mainly Asian) and ask them what they think about the game. Ninety-nine times out of 100, they do not have a clue. It is then that I tell them that they are the perfect, typical Rags fan and I walk away with both them and myself happy and smiling.

Chris Ryder has the best point of all. It is a major issue if the pies at the ground are no good. I remember going to reserves games at Maine Road in the 1950’s purely for the pork pies and to see Ken Branagan and his hair.

Phil Banerjee’s recollection of the 1989 5-1 thrashing of the Rags brought back memories. I was there on holiday in England with my Australian wife, who was so frightened before the game by the high tension that it made no difference when I told her we were surrounded by City fans. My recollection is that an Australian player, Oldfield, scored a hat-trick. Whatever happened to him?

Jane Dwyer: Thanks for the posting about the play “I’ll be Bert”. All I can hope for is that it makes it over to Australia. Bert Trautmann was my schoolboy hero. I remember running on to the ground before a game to get his autograph. I also remember as a kid standing next to him and looking up at this blond god as he was strap handling on the bus from the city to Maine Road to get to the game (no Ferraris then). I have just finished reading Alan Rowlands’ superb biography of Bert.

I can’t wait to watch the Blackburn game at midnight here in Melbourne on Saturday and am looking forward to a season of dedication, fit players, controlled coaching and a top four finish.

Steve H <Steve.Higginbottom(at)>


Despite all my misgivings from last season this has to be one of the most exciting close seasons I’ve ever experienced as a City supporter. For most of the time that I’ve followed City, close seasons have usually been dominated by managerial comings and goings, the departure of our better players, or the signing of players that promised much but delivered a lot less (far too many to mention!). The only time in recent history I can remember being half as excited about an upcoming season was when I heard on holiday that we’d signed Weah and Wanchope!

The one saving grace for Hughes from last season was that his transfer policy was spot on. I don’t think I can ever remember a time where the percentage of players signed who go on to make a real impact at the club has been so high. Given, Zabaleta, Kompany, Wright-Phillips, Robinho, Bellamy have all massively improved the squad (I feel that the jury is still out on Bridge and de Jong, as they have not yet had long enough on the pitch to establish themselves). Ben Haim was the one mistake made (although to be fair he did well when he came on against Celtic) and even if he was a Hughes’ signing I think one dud is allowed. Of course we don’t know who actually signed all of the above players, as City is very much a closed shop these days but it is pretty reasonable to suggest that these were all (apart from Robinho) the choice of Mark Hughes. The new guys take the squad to the next level and even before seeing them we all knew the impact they will make, because of the decision to buy established Premier League players. The second half appearance of Tevez against Celtic completely changed the dynamic of the team (much as Kinkladze and Benarbia did in previous times) and I think he is going to be a very exciting player for us to watch. Santa Cruz and Bellamy are both unlikely to play a whole season so in a way I think they amount to half a player each, which does add up to a pretty expensive £32 million for that one player, but then our owners are not short of cash, are they?

The other news during the ‘summer’ (if you can call it that!) was about the players Hughes let go. These decisions have been a little more controversial than the new signings, and apart from Petrov and Garrido the Sven signings have all been moved on. This is in line with Hughes’ criticism of how the club was run under Sven so it will be interesting to see if his ‘man-management’ improves now that the supposedly disruptive influences have gone. Elano was a talented player on his day but as that day was once every couple of months I won’t be that unhappy to see him go, especially if he was the ringleader for a lot of dissent. Ched Evans was never given a whole match to make an impact and was not the kind of player to do well up front on his own, so I hope we don’t live to regret selling him. Hamann and Ball had obviously fallen out with Hughes and weren’t going to have their contracts renewed, but then I think we had the best out of Hamann under Sven and Michael Ball was okay but inconsistent. Danny Mills was unlikely to ever make another appearance and Danny Sturridge was asking for a salary that didn’t match what he had achieved so far even with the vast amount of money being thrown about now; I do think that there has to be some element of sense that you prove yourself first before getting a pay rise! Vassell was a hard worker but with little end product and Fernandes became whatever the opposite of a Super-Sub is. There is still time for other departures of course and I think we can afford to lose Ben Haim, Etuhu and Benjani to help make training sessions manageable! I’m glad that Hart, Bojinov, Caicedo, Jo have only gone out on loan because they all have promise and their futures can be decided upon in due course. I’m also really pleased that Onuoha and McGivern have been given new contracts and especially that Vladimir “Who-the-f***-was-Ronaldo?” Weiss seems ready to join the first team; from his appearances so far he could be a very exciting player to watch too.

I was pleased that the owners set a target for Hughes of achieving a top six position this season but in a way the new acquisitions have raised that bar even higher. To give Hughes credit he has put himself in the position now of having the players at his disposal to achieve a top four place but he has to deliver. Last year he got away with blaming the previous regime and the attitude of some of the squad he inherited, as well as his usual moans about refereeing decisions. He also claimed that his teams did better in the second half of the season, which is something I doubt he’ll get time to prove this season.

As I said in my reply to MCIVTA 1534 things I would like to see Mark Hughes do this season include:

  1. Win a game where the opposition score first.
  2. Develop a Plan B, and possibly Plan C, for when things don’t go our way. Wenow have the personnel for a number of different systems so possibly having adifferent formation and set of tactics for away games in comparison to homegames might help.
  3. Stop playing one man up front and two defensive midfielders at home.
  4. Be honest in post-match interviews and don’t try to hide behind refereeingdecisions, blame the previous regime, make false promises or dodge thequestion.
  5. Make a match-winning substitution! Plan for potential substitutions prior tomatches and get someone else to prompt you during matches for when would be agood time to make a substitution, and who to choose.

In addition I would also like to see him be man enough to drop someone either during or after a game if he isn’t playing well enough. Hughes has removed everything that he said stood in his way of making City a great team, so now he has to prove it. I can’t wait! Whatever happens it is going to be exciting and I will be supporting the team 100% as always hoping that our record will get stuck on 33!

Steve Burrows <stevieburrows(at)>


In reply to Jonathan Pickstone’s piece on ticket prices in MCIVTA 1557. I stand to be corrected but I am sure that last season, on a game-by-game basis and, depending on the category of the match, the North and South Stands ranged between £25 and £35. The Arsenal game would have been £35 if my recollection of prices are correct.

I have just checked on the MCFC website and a ticket in the North Stand for the Arsenal game is £38 (if you have bought a Citycard you will obviously get £5 off that price) and so the £38 represents approximately a £3 increase on last season. As I say I stand to be corrected on last year’s prices but I don’t think that I am too far away…

Something that I find to be far more scandalous is the cost of a pint! £3.70 for a pint of Singha! Now then, if the great Sheikh has any feelings for the fans, whilst spending hundreds of millions of pounds on assembling a new team, surely he can underwrite the cost of a hard earned pint by a pound!?

Finally, just an observation, I am sure that I have never seen so many Yoonited shirts in Manchester city centre, and so few City shirts that I have this summer. With all the news this summer focusing on MCFC maybe the Rags are trying to make some kind of statement. Let our statement be on the pitch!

Keep the faith.

Andrew Keller <akcity(at)>


I happen to think the new introduction of Hollands pies at COMS is a brilliant bit of business. The steak and pepper pies and the meat and tata pies are the best pies around. I used to live opposite Hollands and would be woken by the waft of pies being made every morning.

Can’t wait to get my first one at the stadium. Bravo to the people in charge that made this decision.

P.S. I always thought the balti pies were pretty awful, so they won’t be missed.

David Ford <>


This a response to the call for chants, an old one reworded and a new one.

Is it sacrilegious to rework the Goat’s chant (when you’re trying to make one up for Adebayor, you’ve got to take what you can get)?

Feed Emmanuel, Feed Emamanuel
Feed Emmanuel he will score
Feed Emmnuel Ade-bay-or

To the tune of the Drifters’ Saturday Night at the Movies

Adebayor on the scoresheet
That’s what we all wanna see
Ade is on the score sheet
It’s another goal for Man City

Or to the theme tune from the Adams Family

Adebayor (clap clap),
Adebayor (clap clap)
Adebayor, Adebayor,
Adebayor (clap clap)

Rick Eagles <richard.eagles(at)>


I will be in Malta from 9-21 September and was wondering if there are any Malta Blues out there who might be able to recommend somewhere to watch the Arsenal and Utd games?

Martin Rayner <ezman461(at)>


I am performing with a special group of musicians (my City Slickers) in Barcelona this Wednesday, for the 3000 travelling City fans, attending the Barça/City match that night.

Performance at 3pm at the Chinringuito (Beach Bar in Spanish) Goa, which is set up to handle the full 3,000 City fans, as is the sound equipment.

Barceloneta is the new beach area in Central Barcelona. Turn left at Christopher Columbus Statue, bottom of Las Ramblas and walk to Barceloneta Beach area on the right of the Ronda Litoral.

We are performing amongst other things two of the new City songs from the “New Man City Songs Project” that begins recording in Barcelona on 18th September.

  1. “Welcome To Manchester”, which is brand new and eminates from Fergie’s recentrant in response to MCFC’s courageous campaign re Carlos Tevez signing andposters/banners all over Mcr.
  2. “On, On, On With City”, which is an Irish folk traditional melody. Thesongs lyrics mentions every player from 1968 League winning team and the alsothe current squad of players as of right now.

Also, of course I will sing my version of Blue Moon.

Patrick Knowles <pjamk(at)>


16 August 2009

Manchester United     1 - 0  Birmingham City       75,062
Tottenham Hotspur     2 - 1  Liverpool             35,935

15 August 2009

Chelsea               2 - 1  Hull City             41,597
Aston Villa           0 - 2  Wigan Athletic        35,578
Blackburn Rovers      0 - 2  Manchester City       29,584
Bolton Wanderers      0 - 1  Sunderland            22,247
Portsmouth            0 - 1  Fulham                17,510
Stoke City            2 - 0  Burnley               27,385
Wolverhampton Wndrs   0 - 2  West Ham United       28,674
Everton               1 - 6  Arsenal               39,309

League table to 16 August 2009 inclusive

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

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1558