Newsletter #1619

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Thanks to Phil who’s managed to pull together a match report after last night’s exploits against Everton. So whilst the questions abound on whether we’ve thrown away the chance of 4th spot, just what got into Mancini, and were the players really bothered – you can read that and other opinion on the game.

We have news from Alex with a look back at recent games, potential for European action, fund raising Blues and another nomination for our groundsmen. There’s also an injury round-up and player views.

Next Game: Wigan Athletic, home, 8pm Monday 29 March 2010

NEWS SUMMARY

General News

Carlos Tevez… Emmanuel Adebayor… Gordon Brown? The latest big name to grace the green of Eastlands isn’t somebody famous for their ball control and goal-scoring prowess but instead Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The Scotsman was visiting CoMS to speak to those at the club who organise the City in the Community initiative and the Kickz Project. Brown, who is a great advocate for creating new projects for youngsters who may otherwise be bored and go off the rails, was clearly impressed with the set-up at City and those involved thoroughly enjoyed the experience of meeting the Prime Minister. Sarah Lynch, Managing Director of the City in the Community scheme, explained that it served as great recognition for all involved that Brown would make the effort to visit the project: “For the young people that met the Prime Minister today, the community work through either the council or CITC, has literally changed their lives. We wanted to share with him that we feel, along with Manchester City Council, that we can make a difference in East Manchester. The young people here show that we are changing lives in the communities in this area.” Paul McCoy, a member of the CITC coaching set-up, said of Brown: “He’s a great person to meet, it’s great to meet someone who takes an active interest in what we do and is willing to give a bit of his spare time to us.”

City ‘Four’ the Champions’ League: The battle for the Champions’ League continues to hot up with Liverpool, Villa, Spurs and City battling it out for fourth spot. Last weekend, City and Spurs both gained maximum points away from home whilst Liverpool lost and Villa dropped two points at home in the Midlands derby against Wolves. Villa boss Martin O’Neill is still hopeful that his side can achieve what they failed to do last season but thinks that City remain favourites to break the established ‘big four’: “Manchester City have only got that involvement. They don’t have any other distractions in terms of Cup matches and also, at this minute, they have a fairly sizeable squad from which to choose, so they’re in a really decent position. But the great thing about Tottenham is that they have the points on the board. Liverpool obviously will be disappointed they didn’t get something from the game against Manchester United but I’ve always said that I wouldn’t rule Liverpool out at any time. We’re getting a bit of momentum going now and we’re unbeaten in the Premier League this year.”

Pitch Perfect: Once again, City have been nominated for the ‘Groundsman of the Year’ award. The club have been one of a ‘final five’ for four of the past eight years and even won the award in 2003, the last season ever to be played at Maine Road. City face stiff competition from Aston Villa, Arsenal, Liverpool and Sunderland and despite the incredibly difficult weather conditions that this winter has brought, CoMS remains one of the best surfaces in the league. Dr Stephen Baker, of the Sports Turf Research Institute, will make the award to the winning club later this week and will base his decision on the marks awarded throughout the season by referees and match delegates. Head Groundsman, Lee Jackson revealed his joy at simply being nominated: “It has particularly pleasing just to be nominated, as it has not just highlighted the work the ground staff carries out at the stadium, but also the staff at Platt Lane and Carrington who also help out on match days as well as maintaining the training grounds. Roy Rigby, our Grounds Manager, and I presented a case to the Infrastructure Development Team at the club a year ago where we stated that we would improve the pitch in both the short and the long term. This year’s improvements were fully supported by the club and this nomination is as much a credit to those who helped implement the plan as it is to those who actioned it.”

Staff Relief: The Blues played their part in a nationwide charity fund-raising effort last weekend as all club staff participated in a bid to raise money for Sport Relief. From the manager to the tea ladies, all of the club’s 250 members of staff took part in one of three events. For the athletic amongst them, there was the ‘De Jong 5k Challenge’ or the ‘SWP Sprint’. However, the more popular option was the ‘Mancini-mile’ a sponsored walk/jog around the stadium. The club has in fact raised triple the amount of money that they had hoped to and Mancini revealed that it was fantastic to see all the staff working together for a good cause: “It’s great to see all the staff getting involved for such an brilliant event today. It’s not very often that we get to spend working time outside the training ground, so to do it for such a good cause is very exciting.”

City to be Spurred On: In what could turn out to be an informal Champions’ League play-off, City will now face Tottenham Hotspur during the final week of the season. Due to Spurs’ FA Cup commitments, the fixture has had to be re-arranged for a second time and will now take place at CoMS on Wednesday May 5th at 8pm.

Squad News

Injury Blow: City’s chase for fourth has been dealt a huge blow as the in-form Joleon Lescott has been ruled out for the coming 4-6 weeks with a hamstring injury. The 27-year-old pulled up in the pre-match warm-up at Fulham this weekend and has already missed a large proportion of the season following knee surgery in December. The former Everton defender will now be hoping that he is back in time to earn a place in Capello’s World Cup squad this summer and Mancini believes that he will still play a part this term: “I think there is a good chance that Joleon could play in the last two weeks of the season. Javi played well at Fulham but we may need a few players to come into the side. By Monday we will have had three games in just over a week and I will need everyone who is fit ready to play. There will probably be some changes for tomorrow’s game. To lose Wayne and now Joleon like this is bad news, and I think we’re a bit unlucky, but that’s football.”

Lescott was also subject to some harsh words by David Moyes earlier in the week when the Toffees’ boss blamed Everton’s poor start to the season on the sale of Lescott to City. Much controversy surrounded the defender’s £24 million move to Eastlands last August and Moyes still feels that the way the deal was done was ‘unsporting’ and affected his side’s early season form: “Damage was done by that transfer. I think it had a lot to do with how we started the season, it wasn’t just injuries. It took us a long time to recover. Our away form hasn’t been as good as our home form. That could have had a lot to do with the instability we had at the start with new defenders coming into the team. It was a bit unfair on Sylvain Distin and Johnny Heitinga, being thrown straight into it when the team was short of one or two players. But we are talking about something that happened 10 months ago. I’m now stopping talking about it.”

Have Hope: The Blues may have dropped three vital points in the battle for fourth last night in the long awaited ‘game in hand’ but Gareth Barry believes that his side will come good before the end of the season. Last season, Gareth Barry was playing for the Aston Villa side that looked set to push Arsenal all the way to the wire before a dismal final run-in and knows the importance of finishing strongly. The England midfielder has looked ahead on the fixture list and with fixtures against Wigan and Burnley fast approaching, Barry thinks that if Mancini’s men are to succeed in their ambition this season, they will have to improve their fortunes against the ‘less capable’ sides in the league: “We finished tenth last season and from 10th to 1st is an impossible target. Leaping from 10th to 4th would be a massive achievement. We are still in with a great shout of clinching fourth place and if we go the entire season unbeaten at home then I think we may end up in that position but we need to keep concentrating and improving. If we want to finish fourth then we have to be together all the time with everyone giving 100%. That is what we are doing. People have to remember this is the first season that we have spent together and we are still learning as a squad. And as I said we have improved a lot since last season. If you assess our performances against the top four we would be up there in a mini-league table but any team that finishes in the top four has to perform against the teams in the bottom half as well. Three points are massive in the Premier League and we need to keep collecting them. I’m not sure why we haven’t done it against lesser teams. Earlier in the season, we had a slump where we failed to win four or five games in a row that we should have won. Hopefully, we can put that right before the end of the season, which is the vital part.”

Javier Garrido knows the meaning of squad competition, having been a common feature of Mancini’s first few squads before falling by the wayside, but the Spaniard asserted this week that it is this strength in depth that should prove the difference come the end of the season: “We’re going the right way with a few games to go. There are a few home games coming up and we have to be strong at home, like we have been so far this season. Getting that fourth position is in our hands. Our challenge has always been to get into the top four, there has been a lot of money invested to make this into a big, big club. There are a lot of great players here and we have a bigger squad than ever so the players all know that the challenge is to make sure we end the season in the top four.”

Given How Well We’ve Played: City stopper Shay Given explained this week that finishing fourth is not just important in terms of qualifying for the Champions’ League but also because of the big-name players it will attract to the club. Ireland’s number one admitted that this season will ultimately have been a disappointment if the club doesn’t break up the established ‘big four’ but stated that he and his team-mates will do everything in their power to ensure that this isn’t the case: “If we don’t (finish fourth), it would be a disappointing season. There’s pressure on the manager and on the players to try to deliver that. We’ll push hard in the remaining games and hopefully get across the line and that would be good, to get Champions’ League football at Eastlands. That would be fantastic and I think it would help to attract a couple of players in the summer as well, to strengthen the squad.”

Being at City is ‘Magic’: Adam Johnson simply can’t believe his luck at having entered the fray for a Champions’ League place and the left winger is desperate to take on Europe’s elite. The 22-year-old started the season at Championship side Middlesbrough with the ambition of reaching the play-offs but is now targeting battles against Real Madrid, Barcelona and Inter Milan next season. The England under 21 international has been a revelation since arriving at CoMS and ‘Magic’ Johnson has revealed that he harbours hopes of playing for the England senior side in the near future: “That’s our main aim, to finish in the top four. If we don’t I think everyone at the club will be disappointed. I think we have good form at the minute. I think with the quality we have got we should be in the top four. It would be unbelievable to achieve that, to play with the cream of the crop in the Champions’ League. It would be a dream come true for me and everything I have ever wanted to do. It’s been a quick turnaround for me and everything has happened so quickly. Hopefully England will add something else, but everything has happened so quickly – I never thought it would all happen a few months ago. There is obviously a long way to go before I establish myself in the England squad, but that’s I want to do. I just have to keep playing well and hopefully (Fabio) Capello will see that I’m playing well and pick me.”

Just the Beginning: City fans were left to fear for Carlos Tevez’s future in December when the Argentine striker revealed that he was pondering his professional future, should Argentina win the World Cup this summer, but the former West Ham hit man has appeased fans anxiety this week by stating that he is in the for the long haul. Tevez had been quoted as saying that he may quit football altogether if his nation was successful in South Africa 2010, but in a fan forum last week Tevez dismissed the rumours: “I’m here for the long term. Of course, if we do win the World Cup with Argentina that would be fabulous. But when I came here last summer I was offered the big project, and I am planning to be here for the long term.” Javier Garrido explained just how important Tevez is to the ambitious City squad: “Wayne Rooney has been great for United this season. And Carlos Tevez is maybe our Rooney. When Carlos plays, the team respond. They feel he is one player who will always give his best.”

Unsung Hero: It’s usually been the likes of Carlos Tevez, Craig Bellamy and Emmanuel Adebayor who have earned the plaudits for their individual performances this season so it was particularly refreshing when Roberto Mancini took time out to compliment City utility man Pablo Zabaleta. The versatile Argentine defender has been the only ever-present member of the City starting XI under the Mancini’s tenure and the Italian coach has explained just how useful a player of Zab’s various talents is: “It’s great for a manager to have a player like Pablo around. He can play in almost every position – maybe not striker, but I’m sure he would do it if I asked him! He has done very well in every position I have asked him to play, but for me he is at his best in midfield. I prefer to play him there, but he has been good at left back, right back or anywhere across the midfield. It’s also important that if I am making changes during a game, I have players like Pablo can change position when I ask them.”

Not Forgotten: From one player who hasn’t missed a game under the Mancini to one who has found himself on the outskirts of late. Stevie Ireland, the club’s Official Player of the Season last campaign, has failed to reproduce last term’s magnificent form and has consequently found himself fall down the pecking order behind Gareth Barry, Nigel de Jong and Patrick Vieira. The Irishman did make a rare appearance against Everton last night and was sadly thoroughly underwhelming before being replaced with a knock to the ankle but the boss has refuted suggestions that ‘Superman’ will be on his way out of Eastlands come the summer transfer window: “I have a lot of respect for Stephen Ireland because he is a good player. In the week of the Chelsea game he had an injury. But now he has recovered and is ready to play. I have a number of options in midfield and Stephen is an important player for us.”

Noise is no Jo-ke for Neighbours: On-loan City striker Jo has been causing a stir in Turkey in recent months, but not for his performance levels on the pitch, rather his volume levels off it. The Turkish press reported this week that the Brazilian was visited by the police last week for causing a disturbance late at night. It turns out that Jo had been playing his music late at night, much to the distress of his neighbours: “It starts the evening to the party. Under the influence of alcohol at night, I think you know the sound of a forest or river, or just like to announce such a shouting and screaming you’re out of the bed. We are circulating from room to room until morning, our ears are clicked cotton. At least 10 to 15 people gathered, and this week is almost 5-6 times.”

The Rumour Mill

Santos Struggle for Sponsorship: British record signing Robinho may be set for an early return to Eastlands due to contract difficulties in his native Brazil. Santos had received sponsorship by local businesses in order to pay Robinho’s £160,000 wage demands and yet it seems that these deals may fall through. If this is to be the case, Robinho could find himself back at City for the remainder of the season, only weeks after pledging his future to the Brazilian club. Though the former Real Madrid winger’s advisor, Evandro Souza, has dismissed the reports as mere press speculation: “It is not the case. Santos have fulfilled their obligations up until this day, and so has Robinho.”

Old Lady Calls Roberto: Only a week after Roberto Mancini was tipped as the favourite to replace Marcelo Lippi as Italy boss this summer, the Italian has been linked with a move to Juventus. The Italian giants are currently said to be searching for a major European name to replace boss Alberto Zaccheroni at the end of the season, with Zaccheroni only being considered a ‘caretaker’ boss. Therefore when Juventus Director General Roberto Bettega and Roberto Mancini were both seen at Craven Cottage last week watching Fulham’s triumph over Juve’, tongues began to wag. Bettega himself has distanced his club from the rumours: “There has been no meeting with Mancini, nor with [Fabio] Capello, nor with [Carlo] Ancelotti, who were all at the match. I should have been ubiquitous to meet them all as the papers are saying. Now we must only focus on Juve’s future, along with Alberto Zaccheroni.”

Mancini admitted that he was flattered by the link but told reporters that he plans to be at City for a very long time: “I was at the stadium on Thursday simply because today we were meeting Fulham in the league so I wanted to watch the show there. I am honoured that my name has been linked to that of Juventus but there is no truth at all.”

Of the speculation that he may be sacked if City don’t qualify for the Champions’ League this season, Mancini stressed: “We work for the fourth position but if we didn’t get it the work would not be finished. Manchester City would continue to play and we would have other years. All the players are happy because now we are winning and we can get fourth spot. If they want to play in the Champions’ League, Carlos Tevez has to score goals and Emmanuel Adebayor has to score goals and Kolo Toure has to stop goals – I think then we would have a good chance. I want to play in the Champions’ League next season but it depends on us. I think if we want to win now and in the future we must work very well every day. For the club it is important to get fourth position.”

Talk of a possible move for Jose Mourinho fuelled the fire as the self-dubbed ‘Special One’ hinted that he hopes to soon return to the Premier League: “My future consists of doing my best until the end of the season, then we’ll see. My contract is simple. I’ve got another three years, with a clause that allows me to leave whenever I want.”

Creative Spark: Juan Roman Riquelme may soon be plying his trade in the Premier League if City have their way. The 31-year-old midfielder is currently playing for boyhood club Boca Juniors in his native Argentina but the former Barcelona and Villarreal midfielder wants one last shot at the big time: “I’m committed to Boca until June and after that we’ll see what happens. Anything is possible. I gave my word to our last president that I would retire here but he has since moved on. We are nearing the end the season now so then I will make a decision.” If the Blues are to be successful in their chase for Riquelme, they will have to beat off stiff interest from Tottenham Hotspur.

Post-Match Reaction

City Craven Fourth Place After Win at Cottage: Having watched on as Fulham came from three behind to beat Juventus 5-4 (on aggregate) only three days before, Roberto Mancini must have entered Sunday’s game with a little trepidation. The form of Bobby Zamora, the creativity of Zoltan Gera and the consistency of Mark Schwarzer, Fulham aren’t the side they were when Roy Hogson took over and very few City fans would have expected their side to come away from Craven cottage with all three points. But the Blues were excellent in the first half of the game and comfortably led 2-0 at half time. A tap-in by Roque Santa Cruz broke the club’s away goal record, which had previously stood at 23 during a whole season and yet another sublime goal by Carlos Tevez put City in a position of control at the interval, having dominated throughout. Unfortunately, the second half was a little more edgy and when Danny Murphy converted a controversial penalty (Gareth Barry being harshly judged to have handled), the travelling faithful were left on the edge of their seats. There was no need to fear however, as the Blues came through with all three points and the momentum that could be crucial in the race for fourth.

The City Chief was obviously chuffed with not only the result, but also the performance: “We played a good game, were very strong and we deserved to win. It wasn’t as comfortable as it perhaps should have been in the end, but Fulham fought well and were maybe a little tired after their game against Juventus. We started well, scored two great goals and had many chances to make the game safe a long time before Fulham scored. I thought the whole team played really well but we needed to take one of the chances early in the second half. The second goal was the key today because it made us calm and allowed us to pass the ball around and create many chances.”

Following complaints by supporters that City had been playing too defensively of late, Mancini began the game with four attacking players, set out high up the pitch and the boss explained that each game requires a different formation and that balance was the key to success: “We played with four attack-minded players in Roque Santa Cruz, Carlos Tevez, Adam Johnson and Craig Bellamy, but it was important that we had a good balance throughout the rest of the team and if we have this, we can play in this style. This was a great win for us because this is a difficult ground to come to and not many teams win here.”

At the end of the game, skipper Kolo Toure led his side to applaud the travelling fans for their support and the Ivorian centre back admitted that he had no idea why they hadn’t done this previously in the season: “When I was at the evening with the fans at the stadium last week, they were asking that they could have more contact with us, and why were we not going over to see them especially at the end of away games? I thought they were right, and I promised to make sure that the next time we played away that it would happen. From now on, that’s what we will do, every time. I could see how happy everyone was, and it should be normal for us to go and do that. Every side does it, and we should as well. I threw my shirt to the fans, as did a few of the other lads, I think it was a nice thing for everyone. It was a long way for the fans to go, and as players we need to appreciate that because they have to travel, leave their families behind and they make a big effort to support us. They show a lot of commitment and we have to respect that, and show the same commitment as well. It’s nice to do it after a win, but even after a defeat or a draw we still need to go over to them. It does not matter because the fans have spent a lot of time and money to get there. Even at Fulham if we had lost I would definitely have taken the team over to them.”

City Come Unstuck Against Toffees: In typical City fashion, the Blues lined up against Everton last night following their best run of away form in three years, only to be beaten at home for the first time since April 2009. Mancini’s men never seemed up for the occasion and, with the exception of Carlos Tevez, there was a severe lack of effort across the board. The Blues did take control for a ten minute period during the first half, only for Tim Cahill to nod in from close range against the run of play. The Blues rarely looked like threatening throughout the second half and Mikel Arteta ended the tie in the 85th minute with a well-worked second for Everton. The most entertaining moment of the ninety minutes came when Mancini pounced on David Moyes, who had been continuing his side’s time wasting tactics by holding on to the ball as it rolled out, leading to the two squaring up and subsequently being sent off.

Mancini apologised for his part in the fracas and expressed his disappointment with last night’s result: “I’m sorry about what happened, but I was trying to get the ball because there were only five minutes left. I’ve spoken to the referee and to David Moyes and I think there is no problem. You need to show passion, and I probably made a mistake but I only wanted to get the ball. It hurt that they scored their first goal when we were playing well, and it’s disappointing to lose at home for the first time this season. But we still have eight games left this season, and we still have a good chance of getting into Europe. There are still enough games to go, and we must start again on Monday against Wigan. All the teams going for the fourth position have difficult games right up until the end, so we are disappointed for what happened tonight but we just have to start again on Monday and get what we can from the next matches. Everton are a good team, they are strong and played well but I think we played well at times. Football can be strange and sometimes you lose when you don’t deserve to. They scored with their first chance, and after they scored they defended very well. We played better in the second half but could not get past them, so now we have to concentrate on the next game.”

Micah Richards chose to take the positives out of a disappointing performance by claiming that Spurs are now favourites for fourth, which he believes takes the pressure off the Blues going into the remaining games this season: “Spurs are favourites now. We can just go for it. We don’t have to worry. We have the quality in our side to do that and we will bounce back. We thought we could capitalize on our game in hand but it didn’t work out that way and we are devastated in the dressing room. The referee didn’t help us but we had our chances to put the game away. In the end we didn’t create enough and we have to look at ourselves. The free kick in the first half that led to Everton’s first goal was a low blow because we thought we had the game by the scruff of the neck. The second one came on the counter-attack when we were stretched so I am not sure 2-0 was a fair reflection. What we have to do now is make sure that we use the loss as a springboard. We have to launch ourselves on a winning run again. There are no ifs and buts. We have eight cup finals and we have to win them all starting against Wigan on Monday night.”

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

MATCH REPORT ‘LIVE’: MCFC 0 EFC 2

City became entangled in Everton’s defensive web and suffered a first home defeat of the season to leave us in fifth place, two points behind fourth placed Tottenham, with all to play for. This was the game in hand that was postponed in August due to Everton’s Europa League commitments, and they have waited until they are sure that they are in form before agreeing to play it: the kind of hard-nosed thinking that has seemed to desert City many times down the years.

City started off slowly as Everton’s energetic pressing game took a grip on the game and they retained possession without really creating a clear cut opening. Our frustration boiled over with Tevez being booked for a lunging challenge that caught his marker Jagielka on the ankle. He may not have been booked under normal circumstances but referee Peter Walton seemed to take a lot of notice of Tim Howard’s opinions in the Everton goal. A model of inconsistency, Walton didn’t book Arteta for a blatant and cynical trip on Tevez soon afterwards.

City nevertheless slowly got a foothold in the game: Howard saving Richards’ header from a pinpoint Zabaleta cross from the left, and Barry heading wide from Richards’ cross from the other side. Then Stephen Ireland played in Bellamy but his shot was saved low to Howard’s right. That was to be Ireland’s last meaningful contribution before he was kicked from behind on the Achilles by Heitinga, earning the Dutchman a deserved caution. Ireland tried to continue but he was replaced by Shaun Wright-Phillips before the break, but by then Everton had snatched the lead. A harsh free kick was awarded after Barry robbed Cahill on the byeline, but referee Walton was taken in by Cahill’s tumble. The resulting free kick was cleared but Baines was given acres of room to shoot and Cahill deflected in yet another goal against City.

Everton are a team that thrive on set pieces and naturally, as you’d expect from a David Moyes team, they were not averse to throwing themselves to the ground. Moyes’ designated turf huggers were Cahill, Arteta and Osman, and they managed to con referee Walton on several occasions: the fourth official’s board must have read 5.9, 5.9, 5.9, 5.9 on several occasions…

Everton are like a spotty banana: barely an edifying sight and they leave you with a strange taste, but they are well organised and are quite good at retaining possession, especially when in front, and they proceeded to frustrate us early in the second half without creating any clear cut chances. City though, built up a head of steam and for at least 15 minutes it was purely City’s attack against a Scouse defence. Zabaleta crossed from the left, Tevez ducked (to dummy) but Wright-Phillips fired over. Toure tried to carve openings with some driving runs from defence but City’s attacks often funnelled into Everton’s massed defensive web that was superbly led by the excellent Jagielka who kept Tevez quiet for much of the game. Mancini added some aerial power brining on Santa Cruz but he surprisingly sacrificed the richly talented Johnson who had only just been moved onto his favoured left side. Unfortunately Santa Cruz didn’t have the quality to execute the centre forward’s rôle, slowing down attacks and he spurned two very good opportunities to score. The first was after a superb through ball by Kompany, but the Paraguayan shot over. He later headed over another gilt-edged chance but by then it was too late as Everton’s precocious young sub Rodwell had run powerfully down the right and crossed for Arteta who powered in to make the points safe for the visitors. Cue six-fingered-scallies from Huyton in trackie bottoms and baseball caps giving it large again. Not nice.

A two-goal lead didn’t stop David Moyes from holding onto the ball in his own technical area in a cynical attempt to waste time: an action that drew an angry response from Mancini who tried to grab the ball from Moyes (earlier re-christened ‘Fergie’s Mini-me’ by a witty City fan). This little spot of argy-bargy resulted in both men being sent to the stand, though neither man particularly wanted to make much of it afterwards. It has to be said that Mancini’s passion was admirable and Moyes’ cheating wasn’t. Moyes would do well to get to know Mancini better or have a chat with Roy Hodgson or Carlo Ancelotti: that way he might learn something about being a gentleman and showing a little bit of class. He might… but there again, he might continue to choose being in Fergie’s little court of graceless whingers.

Mancini admirably tried several different combinations to try to turn the game in our favour: as well as making changes up front, he tried 3 at the back, he moved Zabaleta to right back and Barry to left back, but to no avail. It wasn’t to be and the commendable home record now has a blemish after this collective off-night.

As much as it pains to say it, we can learn from Everton. They have stuck with their manager and look at what they have got: organisation, a team pattern and no little quality. What City need is quality, continuity and we have a manager with a very good track record in Mancini who offers this. City can still finish fourth this season, especially as we have to play the main threat Tottenham here, and furthermore, the Cockneys still have to play Arsenal, Chelsea and United consecutively. Liverpool, though still dangerous, are simply not good enough and Aston Villa seem to be tiring. Whether we are in the Champions’ League or not, Mancini has organised the defence well and his team’s pattern of play is developing. City, indeed are progressing and he must be given time to build his squad so that his pattern of play can progress City further, hopefully to the heights that he reached with Inter and beyond.

Att: 45,708
Ratings:
Given: Poor distribution and a silly booking 5
Richards: Not always well positioned or strong enough in the tackle 5
Toure: After a woeful hour in defence he tried to get things going in attack 5
Kompany: Couldn’t be faulted and his lovely defence splitting pass deserved a better finish 6
Zabaleta: Whether it was at left back or right back he didn’t let anyone down 6
De Jong: Tenacious as ever but booked for a two footed challenge 6
Barry: Well below his best: clumsy, and leaden-footed 5
Ireland: Lacking confidence but still played in Bellamy for a half chance 5
Johnson: replacing him was a curious decision as he had looked like one of our better players despite being double marked 6
Tevez: Not his night up against the tight marking of Jagielka but, as ever, no lack of effort 6
Bellamy: Lacked quality service but as ever endeavoured to create 6
Subs:
SWP: Poor delivery and poor touches; needs to regain his focus 4
Santa Cruz: Simply awful, spurning two very good chances 4
Vieira: No real impact 5
Best oppo: Jagielka: A immaculate performance at centre back: he should be playing for England now. If we need another centre back then this is the one to buy from Mr Moyes 9
Refwatch: Peter Walton: Missed many fouls, fell for Everton’s diving, and was pernickety: ‘You don’t know what you’re doing’ sums his handling of the game up 3

Footnote:
David Moyes continues to whine about the Lescott transfer saying “Damage was done by that transfer. I think it had a lot to do with how we started the season. It took us a long time to recover.”

Surely they are responsible for their own season and no one else? The damage to Everton was self-inflicted, i.e. done by David Moyes and his board for holding out for more and more money for Lescott. If they had accepted a more realistic fee than £24 million he could have got on with their season a lot earlier, but no, Everton got greedy, held out for more and more and got an over generous fee.

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

OPINION: EVERTON I

Let’s face it, it was inevitable that we would lose to Everton.

The Toffees came into last night’s game with nothing to lose, no pressure on them and when Cahill sneaked that headed goal it was always going to be tough.

The positive thing is that both Tottenham and Aston Villa have the FA Cup to contend with, Liverpool have that Euro competition and all three have some tough league games.

Fourth place is still achievable. But we have to beat Tottenham and Villa at home, get at least a point from United and Arsenal and avoid the banana skins against Wigan, Birmingham and Burnley.

It is never easy supporting City but we do have the talent to pull it off. Keep the faith.

Keith Sharp <keith(at)accessmag.com>

OPINION: EVERTON II

Where the hell did the owners get this clown from? Let’s give Tony Mowbray a try for the rest of the season or Phil Brown and Brian Horton or the girl on till number 3 at my local Morrisons.

We could give them a go when he’s suspended for a stupid childish push on David Moyes.

City till I die (which won’t be long at this rate), Sam Duxbury <SamMy459(at)bt.com>

OPINION: EVERTON III

The Sky commentator summed it up very well: “Everton played like a team, City played like individuals”.

Most of the team didn’t turn up to play, again! Enough said.

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

REQUEST: EASTER MEET UPS AND PROGRAMME SALES

Is there a City supporters’ club, or a place where City fans meet? I’m arriving Manchester, Easter Sunday to watch a couple of City games and have over 400 programmes to sell,; I believe many City collectors would be interested, or is there a place which would be interested?

Neville Jones <nevfjones4(at)yahoo.com>

RESULTS

24 March 2010

Aston Villa           1 - 1  Sunderland            37,473
Manchester City       0 - 2  Everton               45,708
Portsmouth            0 - 5  Chelsea               18,753
Blackburn Rovers      2 - 1  Birmingham City       23,856

23 March 2010

West Ham United       1 - 3  Wolverhampton Wndrs   33,988

League table to 24 March 2010 inclusive

                             HOME          AWAY        OVERALL
                    P  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F   A   GD Pts
 1 Manchester Utd  31 14  1  1 44  9  8  2  5 28 16 22  3  6  72  25  47  69
 2 Chelsea         31 13  1  1 45 13  8  4  4 30 15 21  5  5  75  28  47  68
 3 Arsenal         31 13  1  2 43 15  8  3  4 30 18 21  4  6  73  33  40  67
 4 Tottenham H.    30 10  2  3 33 10  6  5  4 22 19 16  7  7  55  29  26  55
 5 Manchester City 30  9  4  1 30 16  5  7  4 25 23 14 11  5  55  39  16  53
 6 Liverpool       31 11  2  2 37 13  4  4  8 13 19 15  6 10  50  32  18  51
 7 Aston Villa     30  7  7  2 26 13  6  5  3 16 12 13 12  5  42  25  17  51
 8 Everton         31  9  5  2 30 18  4  4  7 20 24 13  9  9  50  42   8  48
 9 Birmingham City 31  7  6  2 15 10  5  2  9 17 26 12  8 11  32  36  -4  44
10 Fulham          30  9  2  4 22 11  1  6  8 11 23 10  8 12  33  34  -1  38
11 Blackburn R.    31  9  5  2 24 14  1  3 11 10 36 10  8 13  34  50 -16  38
12 Stoke City      30  6  5  5 21 19  2  7  5  8 16  8 12 10  29  35  -6  36
13 Sunderland      31  7  7  2 27 16  1  4 10 14 31  8 11 12  41  47  -6  35
14 Bolton Wndrs    31  5  5  5 22 23  3  3 10 14 33  8  8 15  36  56 -20  32
15 Wolves          31  4  3  8 10 20  4  4  8 18 30  8  7 16  28  50 -22  31
16 Wigan Athletic  31  5  5  6 14 20  3  2 10 15 39  8  7 16  29  59 -30  31
17 West Ham United 31  5  4  6 25 25  1  5 10 13 29  6  9 16  38  54 -16  27
18 Burnley         31  6  5  4 20 17  0  1 15 11 47  6  6 19  31  64 -33  24
19 Hull City       30  5  5  4 19 22  0  4 12 10 42  5  9 16  29  64 -35  24
20 Portsmouth      31  4  2 10 20 29  2  2 11  8 29  6  4 21  28  58 -30  13

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 #1619

2010/03/25

Editor:


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