Newsletter #1642

Anxiously looking forward to England’s game against Algeria. After USA drew against Slovakia earlier today, the Three Lions will be sure to advance if they win tonight and draw the last game. James replaces Green in goal and that could mark the end of Green’s international career. Surely the goalie must be devastated not getting the chance to put behind him the error he made in the opening game?

John Nisbet sent me a request to promote his Manchester City page on Facebook. You can find the “Blue Mancunian” at: So there you go John 😀

MCIVTA is also on Facebook. Just search for us in the search field, although I have to admit we are not too vocal at the moment. Perhaps some of you would like to help us out with the Twitter and FB updates? Just drop me a line. We’re talking about the future of communication…

This issue has another mammoth news round-up thanks to Alex, some excellent contributions on both the Union flag/jack and the World Cup drama, plus some requests. Good stuff!

Next Game: July 23rd, Sporting Lisbon (New York/US Tour)


General News

Hyde and City United: City have teamed up with local outfit Hyde United in a deal that will see City Academy and Reserve fixtures played at Hyde’s Ewen Fields from next season. Before their move to the Regional Athletics Arena, the reserve squad had played at Ewen Fields in previous seasons and their return could signal a period of exciting investment for the Conference North club. Doubt was cast on The Tigers’ long term future last season when it seemed the economic climate would put pay to the club’s financial situation but having finally reached a period of stability, investment by their mega-rich neighbours could see improvements made to their stadium and other infrastructure. With the City in the Community scheme sponsorship of Hyde’s shirts, the two clubs have always had close ties and Executive Chairman Garry Cook feels that the club must never forget its roots: “We have for some time been investigating the possibility of a new venue for our Reserve, U21 and selected Academy fixtures. To that end, Ewen Fields provides an ideal solution, and the Club are very much looking forward to taking our games to Hyde for the new season. We are delighted to be able to help them, whilst at the same time securing the use of a fitting venue for our Reserve, development and Academy players to showcase their talents to our supporters.”

For Hyde Chairman Steve Hartley, the deal was yet another sign of City’s commitment to local football: “We’re delighted to join up in partnership with Manchester City, and we’re looking forward to offering a warm welcome back to the players, staff and supporters for the games that they will play here at Ewen Fields. We have always had a close relationship with City, and Garry Cook and Life President Bernard Halford have both given us tremendous support during the past few seasons, especially last year when the club needed help quickly and City allowed us to do a bucket collection at Eastlands at very short notice, which raised almost £10,000.”

Squad News

‘Keep’ ‘Em Coming: City ‘keeper Shay Given has backed his manager’s plans to improve the squad ahead of next season but only where necessary. The Blues missed out on that elusive fourth place last season despite spending more than £100 million during the summer of 2009 and though it remains obvious that the club must improve the squad ahead of next season, Given believes that there should not be another overhaul of playing personnel. If the club is to progress, the Irish stopper believes Mancini must only sign players who are better than he already has and when asked if he expects world class talent to join City this summer, he replied: “I hope so. I want the club to keep moving forward and the more players we can get helps to strengthen the squad. We’ve got a very strong squad at the minute, don’t get me wrong. If we can get a couple more world class players into the team it will really strengthen us for the campaign next year.”

Santa Hopes to put City in Cruz Control: Despite a number of stars being expected to move to Eastlands this summer, Paraguayan striker Roque Santa Cruz has again reiterated his desire to remain at the club for the foreseeable future. Santa Cruz is currently representing his country in the World Cup, yet with the likes of Emmanuel Adebayor and Carlos Tevez expected to be joined by a number of other top class names next season, many had called Cruz’s club future into question. But the former Bayern Munich striker is committed to the ambitious Manchester club and hopes to prove his worth to Roberto Mancini with whom he shared some pre-tournament banter ahead of Paraguay’s Group F tie with Mancini’s native Italy: “I’ve got a good relationship with the manager and I joked with him a lot about this game. It’s been frustrating not to have been as fit as I would have liked in my first season. The team did well, but it was a tough season for me. I couldn’t play as many games as I wanted, and you have so few opportunities to score, which is what strikers are paid to do. When you’ve not been fit, sometimes you want to do too much and you push yourself too far. That happened a few times. But every time I play now I feel good, and that I can do well.”

Clayton Committed: Another player hopeful of cementing a place in City’s side for years to come is 21-year-old Adam Clayton. Clayton, who was a crucial part of Carlise’s Johnstone Paint Trophy final side last season, is reported to have rejected the chance to move to the League One side permanently with the desire to become a City first team regular. Given Mancini’s dedication to promoting young talent alongside world class imports, Clayton feels that if the chance arises he will be ready to grab it with both hands: “It’s nice to be back and I’m looking forward to next season already. I’ve been at City since I was seven so this will always feel like my club. I can’t wait to start training and show the manager what I can do because obviously he hasn’t really seen anything of me so far. Hopefully there will be opportunities during our pre-season matches to play and I’ll be doing everything I can to impress the boss.”

The Return of Robbie? For all the uncertainty and speculation that surrounds City’s transfer dealings this summer, one thing had seemed certain, the sale of Brazilian star Robinho. Having publicly expressed his desire to remain in Brazil a number of times since his loan move to Santos in January and talk by his agent of a possible move to Catalan giants Barcelona, a return to the City of Manchester Stadium seemed to be off the cards for the British record signing. Yet this all changed this week as the former Real Madrid playmaker admitted he would not rule anything out this summer. The 26-year-old remains keen to be a key member of City’s ‘project’ and if the circumstances were right, the City faithful may be treated to some samba magic again next term: “I honestly don’t know what will happen at City. We will just see what happens over the summer but I haven’t ruled out a return. I thought Manchester City were a good choice for me. I understood the reactions when I joined them. People thought I was going for the money but if it was then I would have gone to Dubai or an Arabic country. But I wanted to play in the Premier League and I was happy to join a club with big ambitions. They have the money and ambition to make it into the top four in England. And believe me, next season City will. Maybe I’ll be there to help them.”

Former England international Chris Waddle believes Robinho will be one to be watch during this summer’s World Cup and if Mancini chooses to keep the samba star at Eastlands next season, Waddle believes he has the potential to light up the league next season: “The World Cup always throws up a surprise or two and maybe at this one we are going to see the real Robinho. There’s no doubt the boy has fantastic talent and this could be the perfect stage for him to prove a few people wrong and remind everyone why Manchester City paid £32.5 million for him. His move to City hasn’t worked out but for me he remains one of the players you’d still want in the Premier League.”

The Rumour Mill

Robin Flies Into CoMS: City have signed the highly-rated Alex Henshall from Swindon Town. The 16-year-old winger is hotly tipped to be one of the country’s brightest prospects and appeared on the League One side’s senior substitute bench on various occasions last season. Academy manager Mark Allen believes that Henshall has the potential to make his name in the City first team in coming years and is delighted to have captured the signature of the England under 16 international: “We are delighted to welcome Alex to the Academy. He will provide excellent balance on the left hand side of the field and is an exciting addition to our existing group of players. We are looking forward to helping him develop even further following on from the good start to his career he had at Swindon Town.”

Moves for Mak and Marshall: Slovakian starlet Robbie Mak has left the club and signed a deal with German Bundesliga outfit FC Nurnberg. Mak joined the club back in 2003 as a 13-year-old and despite being tipped to be the future of City’s attack, the 20-year-old has decided that given the senior side’s attacking options, a move away from the club would be better for his career. Nurnberg will need Mak to mature quickly as they fight for survival in Germany’s top division next year having only just survived via the relegation play-off this time round. Whilst Mak may never have got the chance to shine on the senior stage, the striker did win both the Youth FA Cup and Senior Cup whilst wearing the City jersey and will always be remembered fondly by the club’s Academy and be one who would have made it if the club didn’t have multi-millions at their disposal.

Fellow Academy graduate Paul Marshall has also made the move away from Eastlands, having signed a one year deal with Walsall. The League One side are now managed by former Wigan manager Chris Hutchins and he admitted that he was delighted to capture the 20-year-old’s signature: “We’re really pleased to have Paul on board. He’s a player who has been on our radar for quite some time and we’re delighted that he’s agreed to come to us.”

Right Back in the Frame: Brazilian full back Dani Alves has returned to the frame as a potential signing for City this summer. His name did crop up towards the end of the season though nothing substantive ever came of it. Now, with Inter Milan’s Maicon distancing himself away from a move to the Premier League, Alves would seem to be Mancini’s top target. The Barcelona player became the most expensive defender in world football when he moved from boyhood club Sevilla for a reported fee of £34 million and it is believed that the Catalan club would hope to make their money back should any deal be completed. His agent claimed: “City’s interest is 100 per cent and Dani is excited by the prospect of playing in the English Premier League for a club that has plans to become the best in the world.”

Star of CSKA On His Way? Serbian midfielder Milos Krasic has been linked with a move to Eastlands this summer but it would seem that Juventus may be a more likely destination after his agent stated: “It is almost 100 per cent Milos will be going to Italy.” Following the release of Martin Petrov last week, City are hopeful of signing a winger and the CSKA winger had been tipped for a move. Krasic, however, is said to be keen on a move to Serie A, though his sole focus at the moment is the World Cup: “It (transfer talk) doesn’t affect me in any way. Everything is put to one side. There will be enough time for this later.”

Battle of the City: City and United are set to go head to head in the transfer market this summer with Palermo’s Simon Kjaer a target for both clubs. The Danish centre back has had a fantastic season in Italy and as a result has attracted the interest of some of the world’s most highly-rated clubs. Barcelona, Real Madrid and AC Milan have all expressed an interest and yet Palermo Chairman Maurizio Zamparini has revealed that it is the two Manchester clubs who are currently leading the race: “I have had requests for Kjaer from Manchester City and United, but there are still differences between what we want and what they are offering.”

Strike While the Iron’s Hot: Atletico Madrid pair Diego Forlan and Sergio Aguero could both be on their way to Eastlands after Atletico President Enrique Cerezo claimed no player is bigger than the club. Though Forlan never made the grade at Old Trafford whilst on the books there, the Uruguayan international has been in magnificent scoring form ever since his move to Spain and scored what could be the goal of the World Cup in this week’s tie against South Africa. Aguero is a young Argentine talent who has been linked with Chelsea in the past and though players led their club to Europa League glory last season, the club President has no ruled out sales: “We have not received any offers for Aguero or Forlan. That is the truth. We are aware of the reports in the newspapers but no offer has been tabled. Nobody is indispensable. The club is more important than the players and our project is not based around one footballer.”

Best of the Rest: Barcelona’s Yaya Toure remains the most likely addition to Mancini’s squad this season. The brother of City skipper Kolo has been linked with City ever since last summer, but as the Ivorian’s exit from the Nou Camp seems ever more imminent, the midfielder has admitted that a move to the Premier League is what most interests him: “I want to go to play in the Premier League because the Premier League is a very nice competition and I love that.” Elsewhere, Simon Kjaer’s Palermo team-mate Edison Cavani may be joining the Dane in moving from Italy to Eastlands in a £19 million deal. The Uruguayan striker is reported to want a move away from Palermo though something substantive is yet to come from the speculation. There seemed to be a Valencia theme running through the media this week as moves for both Juan Mata and Pablo Hernandez were mooted and Spanish papers claimed that during talks between the two clubs over a deal for Spanish winger David Silva, “progress was made”. Mancini is said to be looking to bring in an old friend to bolster his strike force with both Barcelona’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Inter’s Mario Balotelli keen to make the move whilst at the other end of the pitch, the Blues are supposedly preparing a £15 million deal for Roma’s Phillipe Mexes. Should that fall through, Mancini may make a shock raid of United to sign the unsettled Nemanja Vidic for £20 million.

International Blues

USA Get Rub of the Green: The headlines read “Hand of Cod” as England’s luck slipped away from the hands of ‘keeper Robert Green. After spending months debating which goalkeeper he would start last Friday’s World Cup opener against the USA with, Fabio Capello overlooked the experienced David James and in-form Joe Hart to pick the steady and consistent West Ham goalie. Unfortunately Green was to be neither steady nor consistent as Clint Dempsey’s lacklustre long range effort beat the England stopper to cancel out Steven Gerrard’s fourth minute strike. England didn’t play poorly but even the introduction of Shaun Wright Phillips on the half hour couldn’t help them take advantage of their share of possession and both sides walked away with a point. The absence of balance from the side was clear to see and England fans can only hope that the return of City midfielder Gareth Barry will provide the solution. The £12 million midfielder will return against Algeria on Friday night and the former Villa captain has given an insight into the England camp: “We are upbeat. My ankle has been fine for ten days. I should be spot on for Friday. I felt like a World Cup might never come. We watched Germany and we were really impressed. They turn up when it matters. We are watching that group closely. It is important that we study the possible opposition. But our aim is still to finish top in our group.”

Roque Santa Cruz praised his club team-mate as the one who may make the difference for Capello’s side: “He is a great player and he gives any team balance. I think he will be playing if he’s fit and everybody is expecting him to be so hopefully we’ll see him playing. He’s a guy who doesn’t really speak on the field but his work-rate is incredible so he’s one of those guys you need to have in the team because he runs and runs but also can play and give the team the confidence they need.”

Santa also backed City stopper Joe Hart to make a name for himself as England’s number one, should Capello choose to drop Green following his howler: “Everybody would be agreeing the fact that you’re not suppose to do such a mistake and when you’re in a big national team, people can do the job as good so people will think he (Hart) has earned the chance to play.”

Samba Win Despite Braziliant Display by Korea: North Korea almost provided the shock of the tournament against Brazil this week having held the South Americans 0-0 at half time. Despite the majority of pundits expecting an overwhelming victory in Brazil’s favour, Korea held firm and were only beaten by two strokes of magic, the first by City target Maicon and the second by City old boy Elano following an inch perfect pass by Robinho. Robinho frustrated City fans immensely as the former Real Madrid playmaker put in a superb performance to outshine the likes of Kaka and Luis Fabiano, though many will be hopeful that Robinho could make a return to Eastlands and put in the sort of performance that he did in his country’s 2-1 win over Korea. Ahead of his impressive display for the samba stars, Brazilian legend Pele has stated that Robinho could be his country’s hero at this season’s competition: “If Robinho does what he did at Santos in the last three months, I think he will be a key figure, especially considering Kaka’s fitness. I believe Robinho can compensate for this and will be good for Brazil.”

Brothers at Arms: City new boy Jerome Boateng was unfortunate not to appear in his country’s 4-0 victory over Australia though the former Hamburg defender has not given up hope of playing against Ghana and his brother Kevin Prince. No secret has been made of the fact that the two brothers will face each other in group D, if selected, and despite being on the losing side when he last played against his older sibling (in a German league tie between Hamburg and Borussia Dortmund during Kevin Prince’s loan spell at Dortmund), Jerome hopes to put that right: “I was on the losing side that day but I have told him I will have my revenge in Johannesburg. I don’t know how Dad’s going to work out who to support but he is as excited as me and Kevin. Ever since Germany and Ghana were drawn in the same group, Kevin and I have been sending each other messages. The texts have been flying. The handshake before kick off is going to be a special moment but after that he’s just another opponent. Family will count for nothing – and if I have to kick him, I will without even thinking.”

The Idol’s Idol: Carlos Tevez may have 29 club goals to his name this season but the former West Ham forward is finding international goals are much harder to come by. The Argentine striker received a vote of confidence from manager Diego Maradona ahead of his country’s 2-0 over Nigeria when the 1986 legend claimed: “I cannot do without Tevez after what I have seen in training. He is an idol in Argentina and deserves it (a place in the first XI).” As usual Tevez has been his workman-like self but as part of a three pronged attack that includes Messi and Real Madrid’s Gonzalo Higuain; goals may be less likely in the blue of Argentina. Higuain was the star man in the 4-1 demolition of South Korea today but undoubtedly, Tevez will be key to Argentina’s hopes of progressing far in this competition.

Sven is from Heaven: The Ivorians’ goalless draw with Portugal may not have done much to prove Kolo’s point, but the City skipper has been praising manager Sven Goran Eriksson this week as a manager who will bring success to their nation. Toure claimed that ahead of this summer’s tournament in South Africa, the Ivory Coast’s individual stars had been wondering how far their side could go but now the Swede is in charge, they believe they can make it to the semi-finals at least: “I’m still delighted that he chose us because he’s hugely experienced, plain and simple. He’s already coached the national teams of massive countries like England and Mexico. At club level, he’s won plenty of trophies, and has been in charge at places like Lazio and Manchester City. It was crucial for us to attract a coach with a great track record and lots of experience. He has put an added emphasis on playing as a team and not just as a collection of individuals – he has managed to change the mindset of the team and of each player.”

Elsewhere: Nigel de Jong’s Netherlands side beat Denmark 2-0 in a game that Dutch legend Clarence Seedorf described as “good but not great”. As with many other games during the tournament so far, the flair and skills of the Dutch were rarely on show but having scored two goals more than their opponents, de Jong’s side will simply be happy to take all three points. In a typically bullish challenge, de Jong was in truth lucky not to be sent off in the first half, instead receiving only yellow for what the referee deemed ‘reckless’ play. In Group F, Vladimir Weiss was at his very best during Slovakia’s first World Cup game as an independent nation and was unfortunate to be substituted before New Zealand’s 93rd minute equalizer in the 1-1 draw whilst Roque Santa Cruz played an influential rôle in his country’s 1-1 draw with Italy. The Paraguayans took a shock lead before Danielle De Rossi, linked with a move to City last week, ensured the reigning champions held on for a point.

Alex Rowen <news(at)>


Just a thought in relation to your comments in MCIVTA 1641… check it out for yourself, but I feel sure that the correct term in instances like this (i.e. football supporters) is the Union Flag and not the Union Jack: the Union Jack is the name given when the very same flag flies from a ship or at sea. I could be wrong, but somewhere hidden away amongst the grey matter I remember once hearing this – possibly on the TV!

Phil Taylor <taylor.philip(at)>


In answer to Dave’s query in MCIVTA 1641, whilst the Union Jack has been hijacked by the far right over the last thirty-odd years, the fact is that St George’s Cross has also been used in the same way by specifically ‘English’ far right groups in recent years. On a happier note, with regards positive use of the St George’s Cross to support the national team: the St George’s Cross took over as the flag of choice of English football fans instead of the Union Jack in the mid-1990s, around the time of Euro ’96. It made more sense for England fans to fly the St George’s Cross as it clarified English identity and distinguished England from Scotland, who happened to be in England’s group in that tournament! If you look at the footage for Italia ’90 and before, the Union Jack predominates (though on a much lesser scale) at England games (even though Scotland had also qualified), or the team’s return home, but things changed in the 90s, especially with Scotland and Wales enjoying some political devolution. England’s support is made up from people of many different ethnic backgrounds, and England are supported by many people abroad largely down to the Premier League’s popularity and our country’s inclusiveness, which is much to its credit. It is great to see England being so popular (even if the team doesn’t always live up to expectations!) and the St George’s Cross being reclaimed in such a positive way.

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


Yes, I was intrigued as to when the cross of St George replaced the Union Flag as the flag of choice for England fans too…

Clearly watching the old footage of the 1966 cup final (the official film in colour as opposed to the black and white grainy TV film) you can see Wembley resplendent in red, white and blue.

A confident nation proud of its heritage and patriotism was still regarded as a positive trait.

I could only see a few Union Jacks in footage of Mexico in 1970 but then I suppose that not many travelled in those days, even to Spain let alone Central America. Also the cameras rarely scanned the crowd.

England were of course not at Germany ’74 nor Argentina ’78 and only Scotland from the home nations qualified and proudly showed off the Saltire as their flag. In that decade the National Front (then BNP) took the Union Jack as their flag for their own disgusting right wing political purposes. They campaigned to enlist disenfranchised young white (predominantly unemployed) men at football grounds promising them – fly the flag, be a patriotic Brit, drink some lager (on us) and enjoy a punch up with your fellow non-white human beings and by the way join the NF.

So, the Union Jack was hijacked by:

  • Right Wing Politics
  • Football Hooligans

Anyone flying the flag was then loosely (in media circles) associated with those two appalling groups.

With the question in mind and with thanks to ESPN Classic on Sky, I watched England versus France, our opening game in Spain ’82 just the other day. The one where Captain Marvel scored in the first minute. I saw behind the goals a couple of Union Jacks but loads of St George’s Crosses. I think after that there was no going back. I can’t recall many in Mexico ’86 nor any at all in Italia ’90.

So we now had a flag for England, which was OK because it was not seen part of the NF/BNP nor the hooligans’ symbol and also the Scots were not unpatriotic with the Saltire (put aside the Celtic Tricolour and Rangers Union Flags for the moment as that’s another story). Add together the view of the left wing intellectuals i.e. the luvvy darling, porsche driving Marxists, champagne socialists, muesli munching, Guardian reading, mung bean salad eating, bearded, vegetarian, tree hugging sandal wearers, who also declared that the Union Jack was a sign of oppression, British occupation and a sign of a nation built on slavery. Factor in all the Northern Ireland issues and the flag didn’t stand a chance in the 70’s and 80’s. By the way, as you can probably tell, I detest the politics of the extreme left and right.

So we have the Cross of St George pretty much as of Spain 1982.

As to the Union Jack being upside down. This web site (below) explains that the flag does not have vertical & horizontal symmetry but it does have rotational symmetry. Anyone with school age kids will have heard of this phenomenon in modern maths (it’s utter b******s but anyway). If you look closely, the diagonal red lines would not join up if extended in the middle. Look closer at the white diagonal sections – they have a thick track and a thin track either side of the thin red diagonal stripes. Basically the side of the flag that is attached to the flag pole should have the thick white diagonal stripe at the bottom. This is only noticeable to those “in the know”

The reason is because legend has it that if a ship was boarded by pirates the flag was immediately taken down by the British Navy. The pirates would then tell the ship’s company to put the flag back up as they saw this as a sign of a ship in distress and alert other ships. So the cunning plan: the Navy would then put the flag back up but upside down, which would probably go unnoticed but a passing Navy ship would then see that the ship was in distress and come to the rescue. Subtle but brilliant.

There is some snobbery attached to whether it is a Union Jack or Union Flag and it is understood that it is only termed a Union Jack if it’s on a ship.

I still think we should fly the Union Flag with pride everywhere and anywhere and totally reclaim it back for Team GB in the 2012 Olympics.

But until then, as old Bill once wrote: “Cry God for Harry, England and St George”.

Phil Lines <philipjlines(at)>


If you’re reading this, then you’ll know that my computer is not affected by the Rob Green Virus, i.e. it can at least save something. Quite why Capello thought that Green was good enough to get into the squad, let alone first choice in the World Cup is a mystery to many. Conversations with West Ham fans that I know and watching Match of the Day last season confirmed Green’s (and Matthew Upson’s) fallibilities, but no one expected such a crass error from Green last Saturday night. He failed to do the very basic thing of getting his body behind the ball. There are better goalkeepers in the Championship. In fact there are better goalkeepers in the 3rd Division (e.g. Sheffield Wednesday’s Lee Grant)! Given Green’s dodgy record between the sticks for England (he was sent off in his previous competitive appearance for the national side), he has had enough chances. He simply isn’t good enough. It’s either Joe Hart or David James for the rest of this tournament for me. If they both get crocked, then Lord help us! Whilst Hart has had the best season, personally I’d still go for James (if fit) as it might be a bit much asking another relatively inexperienced ‘keeper to go into a pressure game.

Not that a draw with the USA is a disaster. I know that the words USA and ‘underrated’ are rarely in the same sentence, but the team from the land of hype and marketing has to be the most underrated team in this tournament. They are well organised and in Donovan they have a class player. Yes, England should have beaten them, especially given the fact that we took the lead and had good chances to regain it, but in the cold light of day, a team that last year beat Spain in the Confederations Cup has to be taken seriously. That said, throwing away (or should that be ‘spilling’?) a winning position means that England have to better the USA’s results against Algeria and Slovenia.

On the plus side, England passed the ball fairly well and retained it better than of late. Glen Johnson looked really good as an overlapping full back. Even Steven Gerrard, who rarely sets the world on fire donning the Three Lions, played fairly well, relishing being captain, and scored the goal that ITV HD viewers didn’t see (more of that later). He didn’t, however, close down well enough in midfield for the USA’s goal, allowing Dempsey too much room to shoot. Capello didn’t heed the warnings of so many who have watched England for years now, and he straight-jacketed Gerrard and Lampard into a central midfield pairing. They are the pairing that simply does not work. Everyone knows it… except Fabio Capello. As a result, and because neither of them knows how to play a defensive midfield rôle, there was too big a gap between our defence and midfield and our two slow centre backs were exposed to the USA’s pace. Furthermore, Lampard’s effectiveness was suppressed for much of the game as he had to sit deeper rather than play his most effective rôle as the driving box-to-box midfielder.

If Gerrard and Lampard are to play in the same team then Capello needs to bring the (thankfully fit-again) Barry in to release them. He has the option of playing Gerrard further forward just behind the striker, where he’s more likely to score goals than Heskey. Sure, Heskey’s build up and hold up play is good but we cannot buy Rooney’s argument that he makes him play better. Rooney isn’t exactly prolific in an England shirt and Heskey rarely finds the target (to say the least) so who will score the goals consistently? Who will get the goals against Algeria and Slovenia that will be needed to top this group?

Capello must be more positive in his next selection. Either pick Crouch to partner Rooney or have Gerrard breaking from an advanced midfield position. Personally I’d like to see Crouch getting on the end of Lennon’s crosses. In fact I’d like to see any England player get on the end of them if it means we score!

Carragher’s lack of pace was cruelly exposed with little protection from midfield. With Terry they must be the slowest partnership in the tournament. Surely the in-form, younger and quicker Dawson must get the nod. Yes, it would be his first cap but logically it does not make sense to play two slow centre backs at international level, and besides Algeria should be a good game to blood him.

From a City point of view, prospective signing Milner looked like he should have knocked a few million off his value in looking off the pace to the point that he was substituted before he picked up a second yellow card. That said, he had been ill in the lead-up to the game, so it begs the question as to why Capello picked a player that was not fully fit for such an important game. Unfortunately our own SWP looked out of sorts too down the left, continually giving the ball away and spurning a very good chance late on. He did, however, help staunch the flow of USA’s attacks down our left, keeping their full back occupied, whilst offering support to Ashley Cole.

After an excellent qualifying campaign in which he instilled a structure and discipline on and off the pitch, not to mention a winning habit, Capello is under pressure already. Whilst talk of replacing him is very premature, people are entitled to ask questions when he got so many decisions wrong in the opening game. One criticism is that he is a bit too inflexible in his thinking. For instance, he is rigidly sticking to his policy of not announcing the team until 2 hours before kick off. I can understand some players needing time to prepare mentally, yet other players prefer not having too much time to get nervous. Personally I don’t see this as a big issue. These are international players so they should be flexible and grown up enough to deal with it. More importantly, Capello seems too rigid in his tactics. Can he change things when they are going wrong? We shall see in the remainder of the campaign. It has to be remembered that he has won many trophies in his illustrious managerial career, and that he has done well before this tournament. England should qualify but victories against both Algeria and Slovenia will have to be earned with hard work and some nous.

Capello amongst others (mainly players and managers of teams sponsored by Nike) are complaining about the Adidas Jabulani ball, which Germany and Argentina (who have contracts with Adidas) amongst others have been using last season. Capello should be haranguing his bosses at the FA and no one else, because they are the ones that barred England and English clubs from using it last season because of contractual obligations. Good old FA, putting money before the performance of the England team. It’s good to know they have the good of the game at heart isn’t it?

As for Franz Beckenbauer’s comments that England have gone backwards under Capello and are a ‘kick and rush’ team: what a load of rubbish. Of course we use the long ball (there’s nothing wrong with that), but not to excess. Beckenbauer rather arrogantly always has to have his two-penneth about England at World Cups, and often he is wrong. What’s the German for ‘plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose’? Beckenbauer may be the man who won the World Cup as a player (1974) and a manager (1990) but he should shut his turncoat mouth (this is a person who switched allegiances from the team he supported as a boy, TSV Munich 1860, to their hated local rivals Bayern Munich) before he makes an even bigger fool of himself.

Talking of fools, the people at ITV have covered themselves in ‘glory’ yet again. Not content with having ruined the economy of Football League clubs with the ITV Digital fiasco and their failure to honour their financial commitments to those clubs, they continue to show how bad they are at covering football. ITV HD1 viewers missed the England goal because ITV broadcasted an advert instead. ITV can spend all the money they want on Adrian Chiles, who is an excellent presenter, but they still cannot do football. This tacky, amateurish organisation clearly cannot do the job technically (this is the 2nd such time a goal has been missed in the last year, having missed a goal in the Merseyside Cup derby) and their commentators are particularly awful, gauche idiots. How do the ever-annoying Clive Tyldesley and the ridiculously earnest Peter Drury keep their jobs? They babble on about the merest irrelevancy instead of telling us the important bits and letting us watch the game. They feel the need to fill every single second of air time with irrelevant, inane nonsense (e.g. Drury waffling on about the sporting rivalry between Australia and South Africa when they aren’t even in the same group and at least one is unlikely to qualify to make such a meeting possible), probably because they love the sound of their own voices. Surely after all these years they should know that in TV commentary, less is more. Well they either don’t know that or to choose to ignore this basic principle.

It’s not been the most inspiring World Cup so far on the pitch, despite the colour and noise off it. It’s a shame that South Africa are unlikely to qualify but their current team aren’t really good enough in all truth. Brazil showed some flashes of skill against North Korea but didn’t really set the world alight. Robinho turned on the magic and that was a brilliant ball for the other ex-City old boy, Elano who finished expertly for their 2nd goal. We know these two possess excellent skill, and it is a shame that they never really showed consistency at City. Still, Robinho, is doing his marketability no harm and that can only be good for Manchester City. Dunga’s Brazil though, with their two holding midfielders, are not torch bearers for the beautiful game, as exemplified by their 1970 World Cup winning team. Indeed, despite their World Cup wins in 1994 and 2002, when was the last time that Brazil did play so attractively? The 1982 team of Socrates, Junior, Falcao and Zico probably, and they were dumped out at the quarter final stage by Italy, albeit in a classic game.

Spain are widely touted as the guardians of the beautiful game and they played well, despite losing to Switzerland who scored through City old boy Gelson Fernandes. I’m really pleased for Fernandes as he has a great attitude on and off the pitch and it was shame that he didn’t make it at City.

Argentina looked tasty with Lionel Messi revelling in a free rôle behind Carlos Tevez and Gonzalo Higuain. Messi was at his best and played some lovely combination football with Tevez. They would have won even more convincingly against Nigeria had Higuain (a.k.a. ‘Gonzo’) taken any of the easy chances that he had but the Real Madrid striker redeemed himself with a hat trick against South Korea.

The best performance by a country mile so far was Germany’s thumping 4-0 win over Australia. It was such a brilliant skilful team display. Surely Mehmet Ozil has to be the number one target for City this summer? What a player. Wouldn’t it be great to see him in a City shirt in August? I hope that City make it a priority to sign him.

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


Is it just me or is this World Cup a summary of City’s transfer débâcles?


  • Elano – great goal set up by a soon to be ex-City player
  • Gelson Fernandes – scores as the Swiss beat Spain
  • Samaras – as always, s**t for City, s**t for Greece
  • McManaman – stealing money off ESPN spouting scouse-isms to a dumbfounded nation

Soon to be ex-City

  • Robinho – looks like he can smell it in a nightclub and ain’t no stoppin’ him now…
  • Tevez – ditto

Current City Players

  • Santa Cruz – excellent bench-sitter
  • Barry – yet to play as we speak
  • SWP – good run looking for that new contract
  • de Jong – looks great

Future City Player

  • Milner – $50 million(!) and 30 minutes subbed out of the World Cup

Philip Telford <telfordpnt(at)>


Before the silly season gets fully into gear when all the players suddenly become ‘available’ again after the World Cup, I just wondered what on earth our apparent transfer policy is? While some of the links will be nothing more than speculation/ the dragging up and recycling of old rumours/ the linking of every possible available player by agents, there can’t be no fire in all of them. So, my concern is that all the most consistent incoming transfer targets do not suitably address the team’s main problem positions. I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that City could do with 2 new full backs (with current first choices as first reserves) and, if they were available, some truly top class midfield creativity and strike power. So why are we allegedly looking to buy:

  • Yaya Toure – an overpriced principally destructive midfielder
  • James Milner – horrendously overpriced, doesn’t look like hecan play on the left, who is he going to replace in the centreor on the right?
  • David Silva – surely if he was truly world class in thecreative department, Real Madrid or Barcelona would have takenhim off Valencia’s hands several years ago as it’s not liketheir debt is a new problem? Also doesn’t strike me as aplayer who would quickly adapt to the Premier League. ThinkOzil would be a much better player to bid for.

And don’t even start me on some of the other suggestions (Gerrard, Kjaer) several of which sound like someone playing Championship Manager and buying people just ’cause they can or to stop others. I just hope the real targets are being quietly and efficiently pursued, actually address the principle problem areas, and appear with the minimum of pre-announcement speculation.

Thomas Bodey <t.w.bodey(at)>


As a City supporter living on the Kent coast, eagerly looking forward to the new air service from Manston to Manchester, I was not too happy to see their advert talking about the “World famous Manchester United”. I have emailed Kent International Airport explaining that they will not endear themselves to Manchester City supporters and I will continue to use the train unless they sort themselves out. It would be really helpful if we got a campaign going and as many City fans as possible emailed their disapproval.

Jim Kearns <kearnsjim(at)>


Had a dream last night that Joe Hart was picked to play against Germany in the round of 16. The game inevitably went to penalties… and England won when Joe Hart kicked the winning goal!

Have you seen this kid take a penalty?

Stranger things have happened.

Come on Three Lions.

Keith Sharp – Toronto, Canada <keith(at)ACCESSMAG.COM>

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