Newsletter #1611

Another game, another week and more disappointment as we crashed out of the FA Cup against Stoke. Oh well, back to concentrating on the league then!

We have news and reaction tonight from Alex to the recent run of games, rumoured disquiet behind the scenes, fixture changes and player news with former Blue Didi being a very naughty boy.

There’s opinion on the Cup game, Liverpool, fellow fans and finally long standing McVer, and possibly northernmost Blue, Mel has a sponsorship plea.

Next Game: Chelsea, away, 12.45pm Saturday 27 February 2010


General News

Roberto Laughs Off Play-Off: The latest Premier League reform proposals were released this week as it was revealed that a possible play-off for the fourth Champions’ League spot had been suggested. The play-off system, which would work in a similar way to that of the lower division promotion system, would involve the sides who finish in fourth, fifth sixth and seventh and is intended to add extra spice to the final games of the season. Though many advocates for the proposal have suggested that it would be good for the game to ensure that the final weeks of the season weren’t ‘dead rubber’ fixtures, critics, including City boss Roberto Mancini, feel the idea would simply be an extra strain on players given their already hectic schedule come the summer months: “I do not like this idea. The players have so many games in one year, then in May you are asking them to play more matches for fourth position.”

Hell’s Bellers: It seems that the tabloids can’t get enough of causing trouble at City as the Blues were subject to the latest batch of reports suggesting that there was a rift in camp. Roberto Mancini’s change of training methods and times had supposedly caused tension between the manager and his squad, though the Italian himself has been fast to dismiss any rumours of a squad uprising and has indicated that he has no plans to move away from his tried and tested methods: “I read that the players are angry because I changed the time of the training sessions, that I changed (things) because we did more tactics. I read these things, but these are our players. Players want to work on the pitch training with tactics, with power, with running – these are normal things. I changed the time of the training because 11 o’clock is too cold and the pitch is frozen. I don’t know the other history (of training). For me, everything is normal. I understand that it might not be their habit to work in that tactical situation, but this is my opinion – I work in this mode.”

One player that Mancini is said to have a particular issue with is City’s in-form Craig Bellamy. Last season’s £12 million signing has been a revelation since moving to CoMS but his ever-present attitude problems are said to have raised their ugly head yet again. Though the club has admitted that there was a ‘difference of opinion’ between the boss and the Welshman, the City chief has criticized the media for attempting to stir up trouble: “I read that I have a problem with him, that I shouted at him. Craig trained on Wednesday, yesterday and he will train today. I have spoken to him, face to face, but as a manager speaks to a player. I have not shouted at him, never. I am happy to resolve things, face to face, in a room but I do not have a problem with him. I did not tell him to go away for three months, that is false.”

City and England midfielder Gareth Barry has supported his manager’s account of events, stating also that the squad has got used to the high profile nature of this season’s media interest: “We’ve had headlines all season. We’re a club that’s in transition and have spent a lot of money to reach the top, so we are going to be news. Headlines come with the territory. There was a slight difference in opinion, not a row. The manager and Craig Bellamy are both winners, and they both have strong opinions. That’s got to be good for the club.”

April Arrangements: The fixture list has been hit by four major changes for the month of April. The Blues’ away tie against Burnley will still take place on April 3rd but will kick off at the later time of 5.30pm. Though progress to the FA Cup semi-finals would alter the calendar even further, Alex McLeish’s Birmingham City are currently set to visit CoMS on April 11th at 4pm. Derby Day at Eastlands will now kick off at 12.45pm on April 17th and Mancini’s men will follow that fixture up with an equally important trip to London where the Blues will seek to win a third game against Arsenal this season when they travel to the Emirates on April 24th (5.30pm).

Squad News

Banned: Patrick Vieira has accepted a charge of violent conduct and has subsequently been suspended for three fixtures. Following last week’s stamp on Glenn Whelan, the January signing has reluctantly decided not to appeal. Vieira will now be suspended for this weekend’s trip to Stamford Bridge, having missed the visit of Liverpool at weekend and this week’s FA Cup tie at Stoke. 33-year-old Vieira declared that he never intended to hurt Whelan: “At no time did I intend to injure Glenn Whelan. I apologized to him at the time, my foot did make contact with him, but I carried no malice at all toward him.” The City boss was clearly disappointed when asked about Vieira’s suspension and having spent most of his Eastlands career willing players back from injury, the last thing Mancini needed was yet another player unavailable for selection: “Patrick made a mistake and now he is out for three important games. I hope it won’t be a big problem for us, but it has happened so we have to deal with it. We have not spoken about it. It will be difficult for us and for him, he needs to play and we have three big games coming up this week that he won’t be able to play in.”

Calling Carlos: The recent absence of Carlos Tevez has never been more evident than in Sunday’s bore draw with Liverpool and the club are hopeful that the Argentinian striker will return for the weekend’s fixture against Chelsea. Despite confusion after Sunday’s game as to where Tevez was, Mancini revealed on Monday that the club’s number 32 had contacted him and promised that he was training hard in his native South America and is raring to return: “I spoke with Carlos on Monday, and he will be back on Thursday or Friday morning. We want him back for Chelsea on Saturday, and he told me that he has been training every day while he has been back in Argentina. He has had a serious problem with his family, but I think that has been resolved and he told me yesterday that he will be able to get a flight back here later this week.”

The premature birth of Tevez’s daughter is the reason why the striker has been away for so long and his representative, Kia Joorabchian, has expressed the player’s commitment to the City cause. Though some media reports had suggested that Carlos may be growing tired of the MCFC experience, Joorabchian explained that it is only his daughter’s health which is keeping him away: “Carlos is very keen to support the team and to come back as soon as possible. Carlos has given 100% to the team all season, he has given everything to the team, but his daughter has been in intensive care having been born prematurely. He has been clearly distressed to see his daughter in such a state with tubes coming out of her and her condition so serious. But his daughter is a little better now so he is hoping to come back for the Chelsea game at the weekend. He has not been AWOL, he has not stayed longer than he should, his daughter has had a serious problem.”

Fellow compatriot Pablo Zabaleta has explained how important Tevez is to City’s XI but has also declared that the squad completely understand why the former West Ham forward had been missing: “We want Carlos back, he’s so important for us. He has been fantastic for us this season, but it’s important that his family is OK. We have to understand what he is going through because it is such a long way to Argentina. It’s not just two or three hours, it can take 18 hours or more to fly back there. It’s tough for him, but I have been thinking of him. But we’d like him back soon because there are some important games coming up for us.”

The ‘Real’ Deal: Latest signing Adam Johnson looks set to take the league by storm following his £7 million move from Championship side Middlesbrough and the winger believes that Eastlands is the best place to become a world class player. The 22-year-old has been in impressive form during the first four weeks of his City career, even leading to some of the country’s top pundits tipping him for a place in the next England squad. Though ‘Magic’ could have playing in La Liga had Spanish giants Real Madrid had their way, Johnno feels that there is no better place for him to ply his trade than CoMS: “I think I’ve been linked with Real Madrid since I’ve been about 18, but while it’s all very flattering, I chose City because we have the potential to be as big, if not bigger than teams like Real Madrid. This is my first choice and I’m really happy here already. I’ve enjoyed the three games I’ve played in so far, the supporters have been fantastic to me and I think Manchester is a great city, too. I wanted to come to a club who I felt really wanted me, and City paid £7 million when I had just four months left on my contract at Middlesbrough, which I’ve been told is almost unheard of.”

Johnson also stated that having experienced the training techniques of the club’s Italian boss, the sky is the limit for anyone hoping to progress: “Roberto Mancini has been first class with me since day one. His man-management skills are excellent and he’ll take players to one side and have a quiet chat with them if he sees something he thinks he can help you improve on. I really like that style of management. With his vast experience as a player and a manager, I think I’ll learn a lot from him as time goes by.”

Of the rumours suggesting that he may be included in Capello’s England squad to play Egypt next month, the modest winger has admitted it would be his honour to play for his country but his only focus for now was his new club: “I haven’t heard anything about being included in the squad for the upcoming game against Egypt. Stranger things have happened, though, and if there are injuries or loss of form for any of the lads ahead of me, who knows? It would be unbelievable if I could get into the England squad for South Africa that’s what every kid dreams of, isn’t it? Playing for England at the World Cup on the biggest stage there is in football would be incredible, but to even be considered I have to play consistently well for City which is exactly what I’ll be aiming to do.”

Living the Dream: Dutch anchorman Nigel de Jong disclosed this week that he plays for City in the way that he believes any devoted fan would do. The former Hamburg midfielder has been City’s most consistent performer this season and though he rarely earns the plaudits he deserves, de Jong claims that he feels a certain affinity with the supporters of his club: “I love the City fans and the fighting spirit they have – it’s something I can really relate to. I noticed from the moment I arrived in Manchester how many Blues there were compared to Reds. This is a working-class city. The people are used to hard work and want to see players play in a way I think they would if they had the opportunity. I’m the type of player who wants to work and fight hard on the pitch too. I’m not the sort of player who will make a nice move during a game in fact, I’d rather win a fair, crunching tackle than score a goal! That’s just how I am and I can see the passion our fans have for this club, from small kids through to adults. They have City in their hearts and give their all to support the team in every aspect they are involved. I totally relate to that and if that’s the reason we’ve bonded so well, then I’m happy and it means I’m doing my job. I’m so glad I’m a City player, especially with the direction the club is headed in. These are exciting times for everyone. Our fans have waited more than 30 years for success and I want to be part of the team that ends their long wait. I want to give something back for the way they’ve supported me, and I think we have a great chance to do that this season.”

Abdi-Lutely Loving It: Abdi Ibrahim made his long awaited Premier League début in the weekend’s tie with Liverpool and the highly rated Academy prospect hopes that this is the start of something special. Ibrahim, who made his club début in the FA Cup fourth round tie at Scunthorpe’s Glanford Park, admitted that he was a little star struck to be playing on the same pitch as Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard but believes he can learn a lot from playing against such quality players and alongside the likes of midfield talisman Gareth Barry: “I had not played so much since Scunthorpe but it was nice to be named on the bench, and I was really excited to actually play against Liverpool. It was great experience for me, I’m happy to have played against them although disappointed we did not beat them. There were so many good players out there for both sides, I used to watch people like Gareth Barry and Steven Gerrard on TV, so to actually play with and against them can only be good for me. They are such good players and I really look up to them. I’m not used to playing in front of such a big crowd and that was also really exciting for me. All my family were here to watch me as well, I’m glad they have been able to see me at this level for the first time because they have always supported me so much. It’s only the start for me but playing against Liverpool was a really big step. Now I want more of this, because I am enjoying it so much. It’s amazing for me, I just have to keep learning from all these big players in our squad.”

Transfer News and Rumours

Money Isn’t Everything: Liverpool’s Javier Mascherano has declared that he will never join fellow Argentinians Carlos Tevez and Pablo Zabaleta at super rich City and hopes to remain at Anfield for many years to come. The £18 million rated midfielder had been linked with possible moves to Eastlands or European Champions Barcelona during January but explained that there is more to football than money: “I wouldn’t want to play for them. Maybe if City got into the top four, they would build on it, like Chelsea did, but one thing is clear: You can buy players, but you cannot buy history. At Liverpool, that counts for a lot. We play with the history of the club. We don’t have the money that they have, but we are proud to play for Liverpool. I don’t want to play for Manchester City. Yes, they have money and they are building a good team, but I am still proud to play for Liverpool.”

Home is Where the Heart Is: Robinho has been making headlines in his homeland this week, not only for his performances on the pitch but also for his words off it. The on-loan Brazilian playmaker has been in excellent form for his boyhood club, Santos, since returning to Brazil last month and the former Real Madrid star thinks that remaining in Brazil beyond this season may be his best option despite interest from Catalan side Barcelona. If City have their way, however, Robinho may be used as a makeweight in the club’s attempts to sign Ivorian midfielder Yaya Toure, brother of current skipper Kolo: “Santos is my home, I feel great here. I love playing for Santos. I’m in my country and close to my family. I want to stay here for as long as I can. If it was up to me I’d stay here for the rest of my career but I have a contract with Manchester City and I shouldn’t forget that the club have behaved really well towards me. City welcomed me and showed faith in me. It was very different to the last year I spent in Madrid. They wanted to buy another player, they wanted Cristiano Ronaldo. They treated me like I was a nobody. I was very hurt. Then the signing of Ronaldo didn’t come off and they reconsidered the situation. But I didn’t want to continue there. I wanted to leave Madrid but maybe, if I had gone to another club, it would have been better for me. I had an offer from Barcelona. They wanted me on a loan deal, but it wouldn’t have been good to take my whole family, look for a house and be there only six months. It’s different in Santos, since here I have a house and all the rest.”

Post-Match Reaction:

You’ll Never Snore Alone: Nil-nil. Enough said. Even MoTD2 failed to find enough highlights to entertain fans for a measly four minutes on Sunday night as both Champions’ League hopefuls disappointed in the eagerly awaited clash. Neither side created enough chances and though the defensive displays were impressive, any cutting edge was sadly lacking and the sell out crowd’s favourite moment will have come when the final whistle was blown. Roberto Mancini once again assured fans that the club will do everything in their power to finish in the top four this season: “We were playing against a top side and we played very well as a team. We didn’t concede any chances to Liverpool, which is important, but we didn’t really create any clear-cut chances ourselves. They are a hard team to score goals against and a draw was the right result. It was a tough game and you get tackles like that in hard games, but for me, there were too many fouls. There are four teams who could end the season in fourth position and we must fight game after game because we have a good chance to be the fourth placed team.”

Gareth Barry, who spent the majority of last season being linked with a move to Anfield, apologized to fans for the disappointing display but explained that it was more important to gain a point than it was to let Liverpool walk away with all three: “It was one of those games with no real chances. There was a lot at stake and you could tell. We are slightly disappointed not to win as the home team. But anyone watching the game would sense that neither team wanted to lose. There was so much to lose if the other team got three points. It was very tactical out there. Shay Given only had one shot to save, and Pepe Reina only had the one shot from Emmanuel Adebayor. It was just so tight, because nobody on that pitch wanted to lose the game. You have to show Liverpool respect. They are not having as good a season as they would like, but they are still a hard team to beat. We will hopefully be able to build on a solid point.”

Adebayor, whose low second half strike was one of the few chances which troubled Liverpool ‘keeper Pepe Reina, also felt that the match had been a let down after such a huge build up but argued that the focus should be more about how Liverpool had set up to play at Eastlands. Manu believes that the fact that Rafa’s men came to Eastlands hoping to take a point from the game is a sign of the progress City have made in a short space of time and conveyed that City are fast becoming a feared side in the Premier League: “It wasn’t a good game and they came here not to lose. I think they were looking for a draw and that’s what they left with. It’s a sign of respect and sometimes it’s just a case of two teams being well-matched and it’s impossible to win. We feel we can finish in the top four. We are well-placed and looking forward to going to Chelsea at the weekend.”

Ex-Blues’ News

Didi Really? Didi Hamaan has been suspended from driving for sixteen months and ordered to pay court costs of £1,990 having been prosecuted for drink driving. The ex-City midfielder was caught driving erratically last July close to his home in Cheshire and the arresting officer felt the German international had acted in a way that may have tarnished his excellent reputation: “His eyes were glazed and he was unsteady on his feet. He was obstructive and quite abusive.” Hamaan himself, who had been linked with a return to England at debt-ridden Notts County before Sven Goran Eriksson left the club, denied any wrong-doing and blamed the positive urine sample on his failure to visit the bathroom over a period of five hours: “I just drove as I normally do. I did not slur and I was not unsteady on my feet.” The judge ruled that Hamaan was guilty and allegedly handed a heavier punishment than intended due to the footballer’s inability to accept any responsibility.

Alex Rowen <news(at)>


After a bright start we didn’t take our chances when they arose, and we failed to impose ourselves as the game went on. Ade’s sending off was very harsh and the referee over-reacted. Yes, Ade flung his arm out but it was not an elbow. We cannot change what happened in the match now but City must appeal against this unjust sending off. You’d have thought that Ryan Shawcross had been shot at point blank range with the way he went down. It was pathetic: pathetic cheating. There was no booking for Shawcross who was pulling his shirt either. It was always going to be difficult once we went down to 10 men, and so it proved. Given failed to get to Delap’s throw, and Ned lunged in and failed to connect with a Stoke punt and we were dumped out by a hard working and physical Stoke, who are good at what they do. It has to be said though that the referee missed a lot of incidents where Stoke players deliberately blocked off City players with body checks whilst having no intention to play the ball.

I don’t agree with those who state that Mancini was negative with his tactics on this occasion. The glass half empty brigade will say that a 4-3-3 is a 4-5-1 and that we have flooded midfield and played one striker. That is not the case: City attacked Stoke for the first 20 minutes and should have put the tie to bed. If Bellers and Ireland had their shooting boots on it would have been a different story but it was not to be. Whilst we defended pretty well for the most part, our failure to put away those chances and sustain our supremacy was the reason why we exited another Cup competition.

So that’s another year without silverware but this is no time for knee jerk reactions. Too many times in history there have been such reactions and this has never worked positively for us in the medium and long term.

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


City out of the Carling Cup, and now the FA Cup! Stoke win with an ex-City manager Peter Reid in there behind the Pulis management team!

With this the third game versus Stoke in a matter of a couple of weeks, where was the expertise of Roberto Mancini having seen the Stoke players play? Roberto Mancini must get City into a top four finish to survive, he has to be given his chance until the end of the season, the way Mark Hughes should have been given his chance.

With Chelsea coming up next and then Spurs, City have got to change results or the season will be a failure; can Garry Cook give some words of wisdom? The City team do not have the spirit needed to win games, it is not a happy team.

Will Tevez be up for the games, with his daughter’s health on his mind after been forced to come back from his family problems back in Argentina? My good wishes go out to Carlos and his wife; yes I agree his family must come first, as much as we need him in the team.

Have City already committed to letting Birmingham have Hart on loan next season? I hope not. Somehow I feel that my “Come on you Blues!” is kind of weak.

But as always I am behind my favourite team.

Ernie Barrow <britcityblue(at)>


I was pleased to see the measured comments in the last MCIVTA about our tactics against Liverpool. I too was fed up of hearing pundits and our own supporters whingeing about a ‘terrible performance’.

To put things in perspective, I took a friend to the Liverpool game who is a QPR season ticket holder. On the previous day she had watched them play Doncaster. Compared to the dross (her words) she has to watch every other week, she was blown away by the ability of the players at Eastlands, the pace of the game and the tactical battle that unfolded. At the same time she could not believe the level of criticism and moaning directed at our own players both at the match and especially on the radio afterwards.

Yes, a 3-3 draw is more entertaining for fans and the TV audience, but that package comes complete with dreadful defending and I, for one, am happier with a hard-fought 0-0 than a repeat of throwing away a 2-0 lead and letting the Scousers nick it in the last minute (even though we nearly did with their penalty that should have been whether he fell down or not!).

If we are serious about becoming and remaining a top-4 side then people are going to have to get used to grinding out solid 1-0 wins and 0-0 draws rather than a nerve-jangling 4-3 (or 3-4). Look how the great Liverpool and Arsenal sides of the past won their titles; it wasn’t all about great attacking flair. The foundation was solid defence, with hard men in midfield, who could kill off a game and hang on to a lead.

Finally a word about Ireland who has come in for a hell of a lot of criticism lately. You have to feel a great deal of sympathy for the lad. Last season the midfield was his to control and he was playing in a reasonably settled team and formation. It is a lot easier to play penetrating through-balls if you know who is going to be making the runs to get on the end of them. This year he has been asked to play in a variety of rôles with an ever-changing mix of partners and equally bewildering formations in front of him. No wonder he has lost his confidence. He is a good enough player to grow into these new requirements and we should get off his back in the meantime.

John Caley <john(at)>


“Best fans in the world?” Hmmm…

From the muppets who contribute to the MUEN discussion boards to the morons who pay £500 a year to howl abuse at players they are supposed to be supporting, City have always had more than their fair share of depressing negativity. The better we do the worse it seems to get.

For a more positive, more realistic take on what’s happening plus a sane view on the Liverpool ‘drab draw’ (as the press called it) I would direct these Blue Moaners to and to read posts 286, 287, 289, 291 and 300 on the page called ‘Uwe Rösler’s Grandad MkVII’. Extreme cretins should print out post 300, fold it, put it in their wallet and take it out and read it before every match.

Ernie Whalley <bluevalentine(at)>


Peter Walton, a referee so biased he’s even named after a part of Liverpool.

Marc Starr <marc.starr(at)>


I’m dog sledding this year for charity, and I’ve chosen the RAF Benevolent Fund (RAFBF). I’ve trained the dogs over 1,300 miles so far, working up to the big race in just over 2 weeks’ time, the 500 km (300 mile) Finnmark race in the Arctic wilderness of north Norway. It’s all hard work but the satisfaction of being out there with the dogs is worth it.

Donations to the cause have been a bit slow, hence this last push before the race. If any MCIVTA readers have a spare quid or two, please go to (and if anyone has a spare grand or two, they can contact me direct!).

Regards from a very snowy north Norway, for this year, at any rate.

Melanie Clegg – Vadsø, Norway – <mclegg(at)>


23 February 2010

Manchester United     3 - 0  West Ham United       73,797

League table to 24 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         27 12  1  0 39  8  7  3  4 24 14 19  4  4  63  22  41  61
 2 Manchester Utd  28 12  1  1 39  8  7  2  5 27 16 19  3  6  66  24  42  60
 3 Arsenal         27 11  1  2 38 14  6  3  4 25 16 17  4  6  63  30  33  55
 4 Tottenham H.    27  8  2  3 28  8  5  5  4 20 18 13  7  7  48  26  22  46
 5 Manchester City 26  9  4  0 30 14  3  6  4 18 19 12 10  4  48  33  15  46
 6 Liverpool       27  9  2  2 31 11  4  4  6 12 16 13  6  8  43  27  16  45
 7 Aston Villa     26  7  5  2 23 10  5  4  3 14 11 12  9  5  37  21  16  45
 8 Everton         26  7  5  2 23 17  3  3  6 15 20 10  8  8  38  37   1  38
 9 Fulham          27  9  2  3 21  9  1  5  7 11 20 10  7 10  32  29   3  37
10 Birmingham City 26  6  5  2 12  8  4  2  7 13 20 10  7  9  25  28  -3  37
11 Stoke City      26  6  4  3 19 14  2  6  5  7 15  8 10  8  26  29  -3  34
12 Blackburn R.    27  8  4  2 21 12  1  3  9  8 31  9  7 11  29  43 -14  34
13 West Ham United 27  5  4  4 23 20  1  5  8 12 23  6  9 12  35  43  -8  27
14 Sunderland      26  5  5  2 19 14  1  3 10 13 30  6  8 12  32  44 -12  26
15 Wigan Athletic  26  3  5  5 11 18  3  2  8 15 34  6  7 13  26  52 -26  25
16 Wolves          26  4  3  7 10 19  2  3  7 11 25  6  6 14  21  44 -23  24
17 Hull City       27  5  5  3 18 20  0  4 10  7 34  5  9 13  25  54 -29  24
18 Bolton Wndrs    26  3  5  5 17 23  2  3  8 12 26  5  8 13  29  49 -20  23
19 Burnley         26  6  4  2 17 12  0  1 13 10 43  6  5 15  27  55 -28  23
20 Portsmouth      26  3  2  8 16 20  1  2 10  5 24  4  4 18  21  44 -23  16

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1611