Newsletter #1607

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Victory over Bolton on Tuesday night, combined with other results, sees us nudge up to 5th place in the league with still a game in hand. We have a match report thanks to Phil and opinion on the game tonight together with a look at just what is our best team.

We have news tonight from Alex with player news, reaction to the recent games and more success for the Academy.

Next up the first of two games against Stoke City as they are the visitors for our FA Cup tie.

Next Game: Stoke City, home, 5.15pm Saturday 13 February 2010 (FA Cup)

NEWS SUMMARY

General News

Wild at Heart: Ahead of February’s crucial tie with Liverpool, City have begun their latest poster campaign in order to get all Blues in the mood for the fixture that could determine whether or not City play Champions’ League football next season. The posters, inspired by the spirit of City favourite and former Liverpool star Craig Bellamy, depicts the head of a fierce wild cat made up of the club colours. Created by American illustrator Todd Slater, the poster is the third of the season following the Adebayor collage inside the Arndale and the Shaun Wright Phillips design that spiralled around the Printworks cinema. Bellamy’s poster can be found on billboards around Manchester city centre and has been created alongside a HD viral video that can be found online and on various television screens around Town. City’s Head of Marketing, Chris Kay, explained the thinking behind the latest creative statement by the club: “We are the heart of the city and our players and fans are the heart of this football club. Like the Adebayor and Shaun Wright-Phillips campaigns we have chosen a player that embodies the spirit and ambition of the club and created a campaign that transcends the boundaries between culture and football. We have raised the bar in Manchester and beyond of how a club can interact with its fans.” Bellamy himself was suitably impressed: “It’s fair to say when I cross the line; I always give it my all. I think the video and posters really capture that.”

Our Number 32: For the second consecutive month, Carlos Tevez has been voted the club’s Etihad Player of the month. Having won both the league and club awards for December, the Argentine striker went on to score his first Premier League hat-trick against Blackburn and helped himself to three against former side Manchester United in the ultimately fruitless Carling Cup semi finals. Tevez won a huge 60% of the overall vote and whilst Belgian centre-back Vincent Kompany came second, Dutch midfielder Nigel de Jong was voted third by fans for yet another month.

Squad News

Captain Kolo to Continue: City centre back Kolo Toure has been re-assured by manager Roberto Mancini that he shall continue to wear the captain’s armband for at least the remainder of the season. The Ivorian was appointed skipper by former manager Mark Hughes but Sparky’s controversial sacking in November had left Kolo’s future as captain in doubt. Though Shay Given had been wearing the armband during Toure’s time at the African Cup of Nations, Mancini has promised the former Arsenal man that nothing is set to change: “Kolo is the captain of the team and he was the captain before I arrived and I don’t intend to change anything. Having said that, I want my team to have many captains out on the pitch, but only one player can wear the captain’s armband – and that is Kolo. He is a very important player for us and a very good leader so I am very happy for him to continue to skipper the team.”

AJ-OK: City new-boy Adam Johnson had very little time to settle in to his new club before being placed in the limelight against Phil Brown’s Hull side last weekend but England under 21 colleagues Nedum Onuoha and Micah Richards have both backed the young winger for huge success. The deadline day signing, who could eventually cost the club up to as much as £10 million, gave a man-of-the-match performance on his home début against Bolton Wanderers on Tuesday night and his fellow Blues believe that the former Middlesbrough star is made of the right stuff to compete in the Premier League. Nedum declared: “Whenever we played Boro at whatever level as a defender you were always pleased if Adam’s name wasn’t on the team sheet. I suppose you could describe him as an ‘old fashioned’ winger in that he likes sticking to the touchline but he is hard to read because he is good with either foot. He is a player capable of controlling games and the step back up to the Premier League will not bother him. He was perhaps a bit unlucky that Stewart Downing was in front of him at Boro. Adam will have no problem fitting in here. He is quite a comedian and a really good addition to the dressing room. I can’t believe we now have so many great options in wide positions.”

Richards spoke of the importance that continuing to bring young English talent to the club holds: “He is potentially England senior material. Adam has a lot of strings to his bow. He is not just about dribbling but his delivery is top class and he can score goals too. It is great that the club has brought in another top English player and I am sure Adam will flourish here. He is a really talented lad who will fit in well with the mentality that we have developed in our dressing room. He certainly gives the manager another great option.”

Beating Tev’ Isn’t Manu’s Goal: The return of Emmanuel Adebayor has provided a huge boost to City’s attacking options with the Togolese striker scoring three goals in three games for the Blues but Manu has asserted that his aim is only to score goals, not to compete with fellow goal-scorer Carlos Tevez. Whilst the Argentinean has nineteen goals to his name this season, the former Arsenal target man has nine league goals in sixteen games and though he hopes to continue adding as many to his tally, Manu has asserted that it’s not a matter of who the goals come from, but of how many the Blues can score in their push for fourth place: “I’m not trying to catch him – if Carlos can win the Golden Boot then I’ll be more than happy for him. He’s working hard, he’s a good player and at the end of the day what is important is that the team achieves things. We are all here to bring our skills together to achieve things and make our dreams happen. That’s why I left him the penalty against Bolton. I asked him, ‘do you want to take it?’ and he told me ‘yes’, so I gave it to him straight away. If he can score 30 goals and I only score a few, I’ll be more than happy. Because if Carlos and his goals help us to win things, I’ll be very happy for us all.”

Shay’s Quality is a Given: Following last week’s comments by City Chief Roberto Mancini, in which the Italian claimed that Shay Given was one of the top five ‘keepers in the world, club goalkeeping coach Massimo Battara has labelled Given ‘world class’. Battara, who was a part of Mancini’s backroom staff throughout the manager’s time at Inter Milan, acknowledged that Given is a crucial part of the club’s plans for world domination and has compared the Irishman to Brazilian number one Julio Cesar: “I agree with Roberto, and have thought the same myself for some time. Shay shows just how good he is in every match and I think he is alongside ‘keepers as good as Julio Cesar or Gianluigi Buffon. But he is still happy to learn; since coming to City I have tried to help him with my experience and Shay is a good listener. You have to make important decisions as a goalkeeper and Shay usually makes the right ones. Shay is like a wall! He is in the right place at the right time, but he can change direction very quickly, and he talks to his defensive line all the time. With all his experience from playing internationals, he is an excellent example of how a goalkeeper should be. He also sets a great example for the rest of the team, and it’s important that they know they can rely on him.”

In Dedryck’s Defence: Academy graduate Dedryck Boyata was thrown into the deep end during the first month of his senior career, playing an integral rôle in City’s FA Cup campaign and starring in the Blues’ double derby days against Manchester United. However, having struggled in last weekend’s trip to the KC Stadium, the Belgian’s critics have been in fine voice. Mancini feels that such criticism is overly harsh and has once again emphasized the need to understand that Boyata is a player of huge potential and one for the future: “If he keeps improving over the next couple of years, Boyata is going to be a fantastic player. He is going to make mistakes, he’s still young and that’s normal. But then the whole team did not play well in the first half at Hull, but they improved in the second half. We have to learn to start games better. We’re a good team, but we have to have the right mentality. Boyata is obviously a good player, but he is still only young, and the more experience I have to call on the better.”

Fitness Report: Craig Bellamy is the latest addition to the club injury list as the Welshman’s knee problems continue. Ahead of Tuesday night’s 2-0 win over Bolton Wanderers, Roberto Mancini revealed that Bellamy was going to visit a specialist and the period of time that he will be missing for remains uncertain though the boss is optimistic: “Craig is in London today; by tomorrow we should know how serious this injury is but at the moment I do not think it is too bad. He reported the problem after the game on Saturday and it was important that he was checked out as soon as possible. I know about Craig’s injury problems in the past and I hope this does not turn out to be like his old injuries, but we will have to wait for the results from the doctor. If he is OK I would hope he is training again this week and available for Stoke. He is an important part of the team and with some big games coming up I would like to be able to pick Craig if possible. We have some good options to choose from if he is not available, but Craig drives us on when he plays so I hope he is back for us very soon after Bolton.”

On a more positive note, Roque Santa Cruz and Micah Richards are both expected to return sooner rather than later from persistent calf injuries that have kept them out of action for the last few weeks. Vincent Kompany was the shock inclusion into Tuesday’s starting XI having shaken off a troublesome thigh strain sooner than expected and Joleon Lescott played for the first time in two months when he replaced captain Kolo Toure with 35 minutes left on the clock. The England centre back was clearly relieved to have returned to first team action: “It was great to be back and good to be part of a clean sheet. Injuries are always frustrating but after five years pretty much free of serious problems you forget how frustrating it is sitting on the sidelines and watching. Funnily enough I had always pencilled in the Bolton game for a return to action, so from that point of view I am bang on track. While I was injured and Kolo was away at the Africa Cup of Nations Vincent Kompany and Dedryck Boyata have both come in and done exceptionally well. Dedryck may have been a bit of a surprise but he has taken his chance well and is a really promising young player while everyone knows about Vincent’s ability wherever he plays. He is a quality centre half as well as a midfielder and will be hard to shift from the side. All I can do is work as hard as I possibly can in training and take my chance when it comes. With so much at stake here and the World Cup coming at the end of the season I obviously want to be playing regularly. We are in a great position in the league after the win against Bolton. We executed the manager’s plan well, did what he wanted us to do and the table looks good. It was just the boost we needed after the Hull game. The lads knew they had played badly in that game and it was important to bounce back quickly and that’s what we did.”

Transfer News and Gossip

Kenyan Confusion: Despite completing the signing of English winger Adam Johnson before the close of the January transfer window, the Blues did miss out on one key target, that of Kenyan midfielder McDonald Mariga. The club had agreed a transfer fee with Italian side Parma and had negotiated personal terms with the player’s agent before a move fell through because of the difficulties in gaining a UK work permit. Mancini admitted that it was a blow to miss out on the 22-year-old African prospect, who eventually joined Jose Mourinho at Inter Milan and the Italian boss remains unsure as to why the move broke down: “We had two or three targets but our main aim was to bring Mariga to the club. We couldn’t see any problems so to have the panel rule against granting him a work permit is, I believe, an incredible decision. He is a young player and Kenya’s most important footballer and considering he’s played in Sweden and Italy for the past six years and with relations between Kenya and Britain strong, I just cannot understand why he had his application was refused. All the top teams in Italy and many others in Europe wanted him so it is very disappointing when we had agreed a deal.”

Kieran’s Trip to Yorkshire: 19-year-old Kieran Trippier is the latest Academy prospect to leave the club on a temporary deal. The versatile right back has moved to Championship side Barnsley on loan until the end of the season and having played a major rôle in the Under 18’s successful FA Youth Cup campaign two years ago, Trippier will be hoping that the opportunity to play some first team football will improve his chances of playing for the senior side next season.

Post-Match Reaction

Mauled by the Tigers: Another disappointing away performance by Mancini’s men led to an unexpected loss at Hull City last weekend. On-loan American Jozy Altidore scored his first league goal for the Tigers to put the hosts 1-0 up and former Middlesbrough captain George Boateng struck from 25 yards to make it two. Adebayor’s near range strike wasn’t enough to earn the Blues any points as the game ended 2-1 to Phil Brown’s strugglers. Mancini was evidently disapponted: “We started too slowly. We have to learn to fight right from the start. If we had done that then we would not have lost. We had to show more commitment from the first whistle. It is the same size pitch at home as it is away but we do not start with the same aggression; this is something that we have to learn to do. We moved too slowly and we passed too slowly and we didn’t challenge quickly enough either. I thought in the second half at Hull we played well and we had three or four chances to make it 2-2 but we didn’t. As bad as we were in the first half we have to give Hull some credit they played very well. They tackled hard and began with good tempo that we didn’t match but should have done. My compliments go to them.”

Of Wayne Bridge, whose return to the first team unfortunately coincided with media speculation about his private life, the manager declared that he was glad to have his first choice left back free from injury: “I think Wayne did well even though he was bound to have some difficulty having been out for so long. He will get better I am sure. The Hull fans chants at him were not nice and perhaps Wayne deserves some more respect but he is ok and he will be happy to have the match under his belt. He has not had many training sessions.”

Nigel de Jong was disappointed with the Citizens’ performance but had special words of praise for the club’s latest signings: “We have dropped points against some teams in the bottom half of the table and we have to make sure we are prepared for them to come at us 100 per cent. We are a scalp for teams now and we didn’t contend with that well enough at Hull. We always try to play football but sometimes you have to win the battle first. It was good lesson. The first ten minutes of any game set the tone and make the difference. Patrick is a great player and I think that he can still be a big influence on this squad of ours because we have a lot of young guys in it. The fact that he is now injury free is a big positive for us. I don’t like to talk about having a rest especially in this phase of the competition as we have such an important couple of weeks coming up for us. We are glad Patrick is here because the coach has more options in midfield – it doesn’t mean Gareth (Barry) or I have to drop out we could always play with three midfielders! As for Adam I think he did well and showed that he is a talented and promising footballer but he still needs time to settle into the side.”

Bouncebackability! It’s always been a sign of a good team that they can not only perform poorly and win but also bounce back from unexpected results and in the Blues’ home clash with Bolton Wanderers, City displayed both of those attributes. For the second home game in a row, the team’s performance was relatively underwhelming and yet for the second home game in row the Blues came away with a comfortable 2-0 win. When man-of-the-match Adam Johnson skipped down the right wing only to be hacked down by Bolton left back Paul Robinson, the Blues were awarded a penalty and Carlos Tevez stepped up to convert, if a little luckily having shot straight at Finnish goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen. Adebayor completed the scoring with a fantastic strike having been played over the top by full débutant Patrick Vieira.

Versatile defender Vincent Kompany spoke of the need to pull a good result out of the bag: “We had to bounce back after the defeat at Hull and we did that in a really professional way I thought. The last couple of home games we have perhaps not won in style but we have done it with conviction. Two-nil at home is a convincing result and it gives us confidence for the FA Cup. People who think we should be knocking big scores past sides fighting for their lives are misled and maybe should remember where the club was a couple of years ago. I think the fans should be fairly happy with the way things are going at the moment we are equal fourth with Liverpool and there has been another clean sheet for us and there is nothing much to complain about. Tonight was a very good result for us.”

Manu’s third goal in as many games helped the Blues on their way and the Togolese captain expressed his delight at having returned from the tragedy of Angola to play at the highest level once again: “It took a while to get that out of my head, but after Angola I’m just happy to be on a football pitch. When it happened on January 8, a Friday, around 2pm, I told myself that I might never be on a football pitch again, that I might never score goals any more. But God took a hand. Some people passed away, and you have to be playing for them now – every time you put the shirt on, you have to be scoring for them. You have to enjoy it. I could have been buried somewhere. I love scoring goals but whenever I do now, I say ‘yes, you are scoring goals – you could be in a coffin now, you could be in Paradise, I don’t know.’ It’s very hard. The most important thing is to keep trying to win games. I think we are doing it well; we have a lot of good players. After what happened at Hull it was very important for us to win tonight, so I’m very happy. At home we are playing quite well. But we have to focus on our game away from home and work on that. If we do, we can be dangerous for any team in this league.”

Academy Blues

We Are The Champions! City’s young guns have won the Al Ain International Championship Trophy in Abu Dhabi. The Academy side, currently led by City legend Paul Power, overcame a UAE XI and Inter Milan’s youngsters in order to take part in Monday afternoon’s final against Al Ain. Having gone in at half time a goal down, the Academy side equalised through Nils Zander only to then go 2-1 down. Freddie Veseli equalised again for City before Jeremy Helan was sent off only ten minutes after coming off the bench. The game ended 2-2 and went straight to penalties which the Blues won 5-3 in order to win the trophy.

Alex Rowen <news(at)mcivta.city-fan.org>

MATCH REPORT ‘LIVE’: MCFC 2 BWFC 0

Adam Johnson marked his home début with dazzling performance of wing wizardry that inspired City to a hard-earned victory over Bolton. Patrick Vieira was also impressive on cold winter’s night with his all round play and crowned his own home début with a wonderful pass to create City’s second goal.

Johnson has the potential to become a real favourite here for his skill and his work rate. He started on his favoured left wing but switched flanks several times, looking equally comfortable on the right with his close control and two-footed dribbling ability. He was soon into the action, crossing from the left, Adebayor dummied and a Tevez drive was saved by Jaaskaleinen just inside the left hand post. Vieira was looking imperious as he covered ground with ease to support the ever-tenacious de Jong and Barry in the midfield engine room.

It wasn’t all plain sailing for City, though, and frustration in the stands was not far away in the first half as City failed to build on a bright start. Owen Coyle likes to play nice, passing football but that doesn’t mean that he won’t make use of Bolton’s traditional strengths: physicality, aerial power and set pieces, and he employed two big centre forwards here. Kevin Davies predictably was making a nuisance of himself up front by fair and foul means and his contest with Toure was an unequal one. His strike partner, the tall Elmander, failed to capitalise after Davies beat Toure, and Blue frustration was palpable as City didn’t pass the ball too well and lacked the required fluidity of movement for a while.

The exception to this was Johnson and this proved to be decisive on the half hour.

Beating one man down the right with his pace and trickery, he advanced into the box, Johnson was hauled down. Despite Jaaskaleinen’s cat-on-a-hot-tin-roof, lateral movement that was designed to put Tevez off, the Argentine favourite blasted in the penalty in off the Finn to give City the lead.

Bolton are struggling but they fought back: Muamba’s deflected shot was saved at full stretch by Given at the expense of a corner, and the Bolton midfielder was wide with another effort. For City, Adebayor should have scored after clever build up play but struck his effort wide when he had time. We also failed to capitalise when Johnson broke clear down the right and demonstrated his two-footed ability with an inviting right-footed cross. It was enjoyable to watch some good old fashioned wing play and seeing the winger getting to the bye-line to deliver quality crosses.

Tevez nearly added to our lead early in the 2nd half but his 30-yard free kick hit the top of the bar, with Jaaskaleinen rooted to the spot. Johnson had a cross tipped away at full stretch. At the other end we enjoyed a little fortune as a Given clearance was charged down by Elmander and the ball thankfully looped wide of the goal. The Swedish striker was also wide with an effort after a clever chest trap. Bolton enjoyed a spell of dominance without really testing Given, but much of this was owed to sterling work in midfield by de Jong and Vieira: both snapping into tackles and the latter putting his height to good use against a physical Bolton. At the back Kompany was assertive and the returning Joleon Lescott slotted in well after he came on for the injured Toure who had picked up a knock when he collided with man-mountain Zat Knight.

The comedy moment of the evening was provided when the six foot seven Knight beat sub Shaun Wright-Phillips to a header. Shaunny is not bad in the air for little guy, but that particular duel really was most definitely no contest!

City increased our lead with a lovely goal in the 73rd minute. Vieira played in the advancing Adebayor with a long, inch perfect, lofted pass, which the Togolese striker controlled with a superb chest trap, following it up with a sweet volley into the net. It was a moment of sublime skill from both men that was worth the admission fee alone.

Eastlands certainly showed its appreciation.

Bolton’s Robinson was lucky to stay on the field after a horrible tackle on Wright-Phillips but they were generally niggly rather than plain nasty. Elmander fired wide again, and Knight headed over but the result was no longer in doubt.

This was not a champagne performance by City, and we did have moments of self-doubt, but Mancini can be happy that we showed some resilience. We will, though, need to demonstrate better ball retention, especially away from home, so that we can impose ourselves more on the opposition. One who did pass the ball well was Patrick Vieira who reminded us that he is far more than a physical, battling midfield player, with his pin-point passing and great vision for the 2nd goal. Vieira certainly brought an air of calm to proceedings, as well as much needed height, and worked well with de Jong. Not for the first time in his career, Toure didn’t relish playing up against a powerful centre forward, though Lescott had a fair return in his place and looked comfortable alongside the impressive Kompany, who is a good leader at the back. Zabaleta gave a very good account of himself at right back and his countryman, Tevez, as ever continues to delight with his skill and non-stop running. Adebayor demonstrated that he has great technique, though, if we’re going to be picky, the front two need to link up more. Tevez has looked more effective as the focal point of the attack, with Bellamy to his left, but hopefully he and Ade can also forge an understanding. Adam Johnson has settled in straight away and is exactly the kind of winger that Mancini is looking for: skilful, hard-working and able to play on either flank. It was pleasing to see Mancini switch him and Wright-Phillips over a few times as this gives the opposition full backs a changing challenge and plenty to think about.

City need as many leaders as possible, and Patrick Vieira can be an important addition to our squad: he will demand high standards, and this is important as we cannot have many more performances like those against Tottenham and Hull if we are to finish in the top six, let alone break the top four. We now have two tough fixtures against Stoke. Having passed the audition against Bolton, Roberto Mancini will be hoping that we stand firm and perform to the best of our ability when the going gets tough.

Att: 42,014
Ratings:
Given: Made an important save at 1-0. Will need to distribute the ball quicker if we are to capitalise on Johnson’s pace 7
Zabaleta: A very tidy, assured night’s work against the clever Wilshere 7
Toure: Really struggled against the ultra physical Davies, but kept battling 6
Kompany: A commanding and very welcome return from the Belgian 7
Bridge: A reasonable home return: crossing not always accurate. Professional despite the taunts of the Bolton fans about ‘John Terry going down…’ 6
Vieira: A classy, calm, assured home début: great vision for Adebayor’s goal 7
de Jong: His tackles and workrate are so important to us 7
Barry: Battles on gamely, did well in temporary shift to left back but at times looks like a player who is in need of a rest 6
Johnson: A very impressive début that drove City on. Naturally left-footed, but looks very strong on his right as well 8
Tevez: Prodigious workrate and a delight to watch as ever 7
Adebayor: Scored a beautiful goal and linked up play well in the 2nd half 7
Subs:
Lescott: Looked the part 7
SWP: Hacked down when looked a real threat 7
Sylvinho: too late to mark n/a
Best oppo: Wilshere: Tricky, uses the ball intelligently, but rather niggly 7
Refwatch: M Jones: Missed a few niggly Bolton challenges, but let the game flow as much as he could 6

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)tiscali.co.uk>

OPINION: BOLTON GAME I

Purposely held off making any comments until after the Bolton game and thank goodness I did.

With all the bodies back on the training pitch, Mancini is still to figure out his strongest team. A few things are clear to this jaded observer:

  1. Toure is a liability at the back and should be kept on the bench. Kompanyand Richards is a much stronger option with maybe Lescott spelling them off.
  2. Interesting to see that Tevez’s production has fallen off with the arrivalback of Adebayor. I don’t see these two fitting together. I actually preferredBenjani to Adebayor. Yes he has scored a couple of brilliant goals, but hisannoying habit of continually wandering offside totally disrupts City’sattacking flow of play.
  3. Obviously Mancini has gone off Ireland, SWP and Petrov and it’s going to behard for Petrov in particular to get a game with the outstanding form of AdamJohnson. This kid is a real keeper. One thing I will say about Mancini is thathe has a great football brain. He is constantly manipulating the team and Ibelieve this will help us over the next few games. I liked it how he tookBridge off, pushed Barry back and brought on SWP and then brought on Sylvinhowhen the defence needed steadying.

Just got to get the final X1 sorted out; focus on the defence and we could still get some hardware out of this season yet. Jury is still out on Vieira. Maybe he just needs more action but he looked like a total liability and then he sets up Adebayor with a brilliant pass. Interesting times at Eastlands!

Keith Sharp <keith(at)accessmag.com>

OPINION: BOLTON GAME II

Mancini’s team came out right from the kick off to play and win this game; there was no half hearted playing in this game, every player gave 100%.

The two new players added to the squad by Mancini both played their part in this win against Bolton. Johnson won the penalty for Tevez to score with a fierce penalty kick that Bolton’s ‘keeper could not handle. Vieira had a kind of a quiet game but when he did something it was with a purpose; he gave a beautiful through pass to Adebayor who scored a brilliant goal. I feel sure that Vieira will have a lot more to offer in the games ahead. Age means nothing to a player like this; give me Vieira over Beckham any day.

Adam Johnson must be the best crosser of the ball in football today; he crosses with direction and pace on the ball, he gets my “man of the match”. De Jong did not just play like a tiger but as a snarling tiger, he ran his socks off tackling anyone who had the ball.

Good to see another injured player back in Lescott who came on for the injured Toure, who was until then having a better game than against Hull.

Bolton worked hard at the start of the second half to get the equalizer but the City defence stood firm, and Shay did have to make one excellent save. Tevez was unlucky not to have scored from a free kick when the ball hit the top of the crossbar; it was a terrific free kick and he deserved a goal.

Although the game ended with a 2-0 win for City, not only could City have scored more goals, they deserved to have scored more goals.

A very satisfying result that brings City back level with Liverpool, but with City having a game in hand. The game at home to Liverpool on February 21st promises to be a cracker. Before that, two games on the trot versus Stoke, first the FA Cup this Saturday at home, and then the Premier League game away on February 16th.

Disappointed to hear that Superman now says his bad form is due to Mark Hughes; even the fact that Mark Hughes has been gone from MCFC since December. So Ireland has to find a scapegoat for his form.

He has been playing in a different position from last season, and still is by his new manager Roberto Mancini, whom I feel sure must have a reason, and that being because of other players in the squad who are better.

Last season Stephen Ireland hailed his form that got him voted by the City Supporters the “Player of the Season” because of his then gaffer Mark Hughes. Time for Ireland to stop blaming others and get stuck into the game in the position given to him by his boss Mancini. Kryptonite won’t help Superman if he has a negative attitude.

A credit to Roberto Mancini who got his players back on track for Bolton, and to the players who responded.

It makes me feel very good writing this article about a game after the one against Hull, well done City, now more of the same.

I feel so good I think I will go and listen to Mancini’s Pink Panther theme.

Come on you Blues!

Ernie Barrow <britcityblue(at)aol.com>

OPINION: TEAM SELECTION

I wrote most of this email after the Hull game but just watched the Bolton match. It seems churlish to complain after a win and a move up to 5th with 4th and 3rd in our sights but there is still something wrong with City at the moment. Good points: the win, Adam Johnson’s performance (we have a little star there), and the goal by Adebayor. But let’s not kid ourselves, it was a poor performance, very laboured and with no spark except for Johnson. Even though Adebayor scored his third goal in as many games I think he and Tevez don’t work well together and Tevez’s effectiveness is drastically reduced when Ade plays. I still think Ade should be dropped and Tevez up front by himself supported by Bellamy, Petrov, Wright Phillips and Johnson, perm any two out of four, but make sure they play wide. Even tonight Johnson did most damage when wide right. Players love to play all over, feel they can get more involved but it is the rôle of the manager to tell them to stay out wide. The potential is tangible, you can feel it, but three very poor and laboured performances on the trot need to be arrested. We shouldn’t be outplayed at home by Bolton, holding on for dear life.

Bit of a quandary tomorrow night with Villa vs. United. Never want the Reds to win but in this case I do. We can’t get into the top two but we can get third or fourth, one of our main rivals being Villa so the more they lose the better, and if it has to be United then so be it.

Back to the Hull game. My wife summed it up on Sunday when she said ‘no matter who owns you lot, you’re still s**t’. I couldn’t argue with her assessment after the Hull match. We have been together for over 20 years and whilst she has no interest in football whatsoever, she has put up with my support of City for long enough. And we were s**t on Saturday just like we were against Portsmouth the week before.

Kind of makes you wonder why we got rid of Mark Hughes because after the easy run he had at the start of his tenure, Mancini is hitting the same problems that Hughes did: wrong formation and some players not seeming to try or simply not being good enough. The first half way decent team we played under Mancini, Everton, gave us a lesson in how to play your hearts out; United dutifully knocked us out of the cup, no matter how thrilling and exciting it was, bottom line is we don’t make another cup final and then two abject displays against Portsmouth and Hull. With Spurs and Villa playing each other, games in hand and playing a crap team in Hull we had a golden opportunity to push our claim for fourth. Instead, we blow it again. I know Hull drew with Chelsea but come on, these are the teams we should beat home and away. At times like this I always start thinking is there some curse sat over City that makes us blow our chances over and over and it won’t matter who we get to manage us? Maybe it’s time we called in a psychic healer or exorcist?

I know we all hate United but look at what they have done over the past three games. Knocked us out of the cup, beat Arsenal and walloped Portsmouth. What was our excuse against Portsmouth? The players were knackered after their exertions against United. What a load of rubbish. We were playing the bottom of the table. United had to backup against Arsenal and did so by beating them convincingly. What is our excuse against Hull? We have got to do the business game after game after game like the Uniteds and Chelseas of this world if we want to take our place at the top table. Yes we are not there yet, but we should be further on than the displays against Portsmouth and Hull would see us.

The good thing is that we still have it all to play for this season. The FA Cup is a real possibility. We are in pole position for fourth spot if we can win our two games in hand, and if we do, third position is in reach. We have the players to do it. No, we didn’t buy any big names in the transfer window, Vieira aside, but we have enough quality already at the club to both win the cup and come third. We can’t afford any more woeful displays like Portsmouth and Hull though, starting with Bolton this week.

It still amazes me why managers cannot see what is before their eyes. In City’s case there are some things Mancini must do. For one, drop Wayne Bridge. I cannot understand the clamour to get him back in the team. Has he had one good game for City this season? He was playing rubbish before his injury and Saturday did not lead me to think he will be any better. We need a good left back but in the meantime play Garrido there, or use play anywhere Zabeleta there. Drop Adebayor. He has not had a good game for us since the first Arsenal match. I know he has faced terrible events in Africa but, to be honest, he was playing rubbish before he left for Africa. Yes, he has scored in the last two games and this is all we need a striker to do, but apart from that he has done nothing. Worse of all though is the effect he has on Tevez. They can’t play together. Tevez seems clueless when Adebayor is around, not sure of what position he should take. And Tevez was on fire when he was the lone striker.

So drop Adebayor and play Tevez as the lone striker supported on the left by Bellamy and the right by Wright-Phillips. Rotate Bellamy and Wright-Phillips as needed with Petrov and Johnson but keeping to the 3 up front formula in a 4-3-3. For instance don’t play Petrov floating about in the middle like against Portsmouth, get him far left. Then have three midfield players: Barry, Vieira and de Jong, who is a good deputy for battling matches but lacks the creativity we need (he can replace Vieira when he gets knackered). Ireland is another player who has been well off his game this season. What has happened to him? He really should be the spark that makes City great, he has so much vision and skill. So I would play Barry and Vieira as wing-backs and give Ireland a free rôle behind Tevez. Tell him I want him floating about picking up balls and threading them through to Tevez, Bellamy or Wright-Phillips. I don’t care where he goes as long as he does not end up playing in his own half. He must be up there supporting the front three. This is the kind of rôle that Robinho could have played as well rather than wasting him on the left.

Back line, drop Bridge and also drop Toure. Another one making me scratch my head. So keen to get him back from the African Nation’s Cup but why? He was rubbish before he left and again looks rubbish upon his return. Boyata is a little star so keep him with Kompany. Micah or Zab at right back.

Then we have a good shape to the team with backups when needed. Tevez can be replaced by Adebayor or Santa Cruz (when fit) if he is injured or needs a rest. Bellamy, Petrov, Johnson and Wright Phillips can be backups for each other down the right or left but must play out wide, no Petrov or Wright-Phillips dropping inside. Ireland is given a boost by having a free rôle to create. Try to get his head straight and him actually playing again. Barry and Vieira both excellent players; Vieira can play pinpoint passes through the middle. The back is still a bit dodgy but without Toure or Bridge looks much stronger.

The future does look bright. Plenty of money, a good and proven Manager and the makings of an excellent squad of players. So come on City, give Bolton a good thrashing this week, Stoke a mauling in the cup and then the league, before putting those Scouse gits and Cockney wide-boys away. If we don’t then it will be time to get in an exorcist!

Adrian <adrianb(at)vicnet.net.au>

OPINION: THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL

Andrew (MCIVTA 1606), I said from the first day Thaksin took over, that money will change City forever, and not for the good. Give me a Hull, Stoke, Burnley any day. Teams with heart, teams with attitude, teams that will ‘walk over broken glass’ for the cause, not a bunch of overpaid, ego driven, so-called superstars.

When the money started rolling in, City’s soul moved out. We’ve paid well over the odds for the majority of players we have bought, got rid of a few good young players that in future years could be worth a fortune. We have a chief exec that’s a joke and Marwood isn’t much better. And we want to ‘rule the world’!

And we then look across at United, and no wonder they’re laughing back at us. Oh well there’s only Bolton tomorrow!

Kevin Williamson <scribbs(at)slingshot.co.nz>

RESULTS

10 February 2010

Arsenal               1 - 0  Liverpool             60,045
Blackburn Rovers      1 - 0  Hull City             23,518
West Ham United       2 - 0  Birmingham City       34,458
Wolverhampton Wndrs   1 - 0  Tottenham Hotspur     27,992
Aston Villa           1 - 1  Manchester United     42,788
Everton               2 - 1  Chelsea               36,411

9 February 2010

Fulham                3 - 0  Burnley               23,005
Manchester City       2 - 0  Bolton Wanderers      42,016
Portsmouth            1 - 1  Sunderland            16,242
Wigan Athletic        1 - 1  Stoke City            16,033

League table to 10 February 2010 inclusive

                             HOME          AWAY        OVERALL
                    P  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F   A   GD Pts
 1 Chelsea         26 12  1  0 39  8  6  3  4 22 14 18  4  4  61  22  39  58
 2 Manchester Utd  26 11  1  1 36  8  7  2  4 26 13 18  3  5  62  21  41  57
 3 Arsenal         26 10  1  2 36 14  6  3  4 25 16 16  4  6  61  30  31  52
 4 Liverpool       26  9  2  2 31 11  4  3  6 12 16 13  5  8  43  27  16  44
 5 Manchester City 24  9  3  0 30 14  3  5  4 17 18 12  8  4  47  32  15  44
 6 Tottenham H.    26  8  2  3 28  8  4  5  4 17 18 12  7  7  45  26  19  43
 7 Aston Villa     25  6  5  2 18  8  5  4  3 14 11 11  9  5  32  19  13  42
 8 Birmingham City 25  6  5  2 12  8  4  2  6 12 18 10  7  8  24  26  -2  37
 9 Everton         25  6  5  2 20 16  3  3  6 15 20  9  8  8  35  36  -1  35
10 Fulham          26  8  2  3 19  8  1  5  7 11 20  9  7 10  30  28   2  34
11 Blackburn R.    26  7  4  2 18 12  1  3  9  8 31  8  7 11  26  43 -17  31
12 Stoke City      24  6  3  3 18 13  1  6  5  5 14  7  9  8  23  27  -4  30
13 Sunderland      25  5  5  2 19 14  1  3  9 13 28  6  8 11  32  42 -10  26
14 West Ham United 25  4  4  4 20 20  1  5  7 12 20  5  9 11  32  40  -8  24
15 Wolves          25  4  3  6 10 17  2  3  7 11 25  6  6 13  21  42 -21  24
16 Wigan Athletic  24  3  4  4 11 15  3  2  8 15 34  6  6 12  26  49 -23  24
17 Hull City       26  5  5  3 18 20  0  4  9  7 31  5  9 12  25  51 -26  24
18 Burnley         25  6  4  2 17 12  0  1 12  8 38  6  5 14  25  50 -25  23
19 Bolton Wndrs    24  3  5  5 17 23  2  2  7 12 23  5  7 12  29  46 -17  22
20 Portsmouth      25  3  2  7 15 18  1  2 10  5 24  4  4 17  20  42 -22  16

With thanks to Football 365

MCIVTA FAQ [v0910.01]

[1] MCIVTA Addresses

Articles (Heidi Pickup)          : editor@mcivta.city-fan.org
News/rumour (Alex Rowen)         : news@mcivta.city-fan.org
Subscriptions (Madeleine Hawkins): subscriptions@mcivta.city-fan.org
Technical problems (Paul)        : paul@city-fan.org
FAQ (David Warburton)            : faq@mcivta.city-fan.org

[2] What are MCIVTA’s publishing deadlines?

Deadlines for issues are nominally 6pm, Monday and Thursday evenings by email. Unfortunately we cannot accept email attachments.

[3] MCIVTA Back Issues and Manchester City Supporters’ home page

http://www.mcivta.com/ is the unofficial Manchester City Supporters’ home page. Created in 1994, it is the longest running of the Manchester City related web sites. Back issues of MCIVTA are also hosted on the site. You can also follow on www.twitter.com/mcivta to get the latest updates.

[4] What is the club’s official web site?

The official club web site can be found at http://www.mcfc.co.uk/ and the official club Twitter page at www.twitter.com/mcfc. The club also has a facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/mcfcofficial

[5] What supporters’ clubs are there?

Manchester City FC recognises three supporters’ clubs: The “Official Supporters Club” (http://www.mcfcosc.com/); the “Centenary Supporters’ Association” (http://www.mancitycsa.com/) and “The International Supporters’ Club”.

[6] Where can I find out about Points of Blue (formerly the Fans’ Committee)?

The committee operates as an interface between supporters and the club. Points of Blue appears on the club website as a minor entry under “Fans Zone”.

[7] What match day broadcasts are available on the web?

The Radio Manchester (née GMR) pre and post match phone-in is available on the web at http://www.bbc.co.uk/manchester/sport/manchester_city/index.shtml.

Live match commentaries and archives of games, reports and interviews can be found at http://mcfc.videoloungetv.com/do/preLogin?clubSiteCode=MCFC&CMP=AFC-003.

[8] Where can I find out if City are live on satellite TV?

http://www.satfootball.com/pl.html provides a listing of Premiership games being shown on UK domestic and foreign satellite channels. Useful sites for North American viewers are http://msn.foxsports.com/foxsoccer, http://www.soccertv.com/, and http://www.livesoccertv.com/.

[9] Do we have a Usenet newsgroup?

Yes we do: uk.sport.football.clubs.man-city is our home on usenet. If you are not familiar with usenet, a basic explanation is available here: http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/0,289893,sid9_gci213262,00.html

[10] Do any squad members have their own web pages?

There are a number available and direct links can be found at http://www.mcivta.com/players/

[11] Where can I find match statistics?

Statistics for the current season are available from the club site, but for a more in-depth analysis try http://www.mcfcstats.com/.


DISCLAIMER
The views expressed in MCIVTA are entirely those of the subscribersand there is no intention to represent these opinions as being thoseof Manchester City Football Club, nor of any of the companies anduniversities by whom the subscribers are employed. It is not inany way whatsoever connected to the club or any other relatedorganisation and is simply a group of supporters using this mediumas a means of disseminating news and exchanging opinions.


[Valid3.2]Heidi Pickup, editor@mcivta.city-fan.org

Newsletter #1607

2010/02/11

Editor:


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