Newsletter #1685

Another goalless draw at the weekend as we played host to Birmingham, although we still keep our 4th spot in the league and have a match report tonight thanks to Phil.

So is it taxi for Mancini as some are claiming or steady the ship and keep on building? We have opinion on that, the unpredictability of City, and of days gone by with Gary’s snippets from the late John Benson. There are also the usual requests.

Next Game: Fulham, away, 4pm Sunday 21 November 2010


Manchester City maintained 4th place despite a frustrating goalless draw against a stubborn and supremely well organised Birmingham side.

The teams were led onto the pitch by eight members of the Mercian regiment, and an impeccably observed minute’s silence was held in honour of those brave souls who have paid the ultimate price to serve and protect us. Their bravery and those who remain means so much, and puts everything else into perspective. As if to emphasise this, the eight soldiers were applauded all the way as they made their exit from the arena.

The game started and it was soon evident that it was going to be a frustrating afternoon, with Birmingham regularly getting eight men behind the ball to stifle City attacks. Birmingham were sporting a rather nasty bright red shirt, so it was fitting that “Walsall, Walsall, give us a song…” was the chant from the singing section. Unfortunately for us, Birmingham didn’t defend like the struggling Saddlers.

Occasionally Birmingham made forays into the City half via long balls up to the giant bean-pole Zigic and the strapping Jerome, or balls out to Fahey on the left, but it was mainly a case of Manchester City attacks foundering on Birmingham’s massed defence.

Mancini fielded two wingers, Silva and Adam Johnson, either side of Carlos Tevez, and switched them periodically throughout the afternoon but we struggled to find a way through the Birmingham rearguard. When our wingers got the ball, the Birmingham central midfielders doubled up to support their full backs. When City wide mean did get crosses in the towering old-fashioned centre half pairing of Roger Johnson and Scott Dann headed away powerfully.

Indeed, the visitors defended extremely well as a unit and deserved their point. Pure and simple. That’s football and they deserve the credit.

City can, and must improve, though. We lack a credible strike partner for Tevez up front and surely this will be addressed in the transfer window. The movement and passing of our team does need to be sharper and quicker so that we can stretch the opposition. Too often our midfield was statuesque, with Yaya Toure in particular failing to find space to make himself available. Our players must improve this if we are to be more fluid and creative. They must find the angles to provide more options for passes, and be constantly on their heels, ready for a pass. The great Brian Clough used to talk about players playing on the half-turn (i.e. side on), ready to receive the ball.

City should, though, have been ahead after Tevez bundled Silva’s touch into the net from close range, but it was disallowed. There was no clear hand ball, with replays suggesting that the ball was brought down at Tevez’s shoulder. Replays later suggested that Tevez was offside in the first phase of play but not when the ball was played to him. If only the Referees’ Association allowed referees to be miked up, or even deigned to allow referee interviews after the game. It’s not too much to ask is it?

Chances were at a premium and our only other good chance came at the very start of the 2nd half when Milner raced onto a long Boateng pass only to see his shot smothered by the Birmingham goalkeeper and his 2nd attempt being cleared off the line by Carr. Tevez fired a half chance wide with a shot from outside the box when well placed, but most of the other efforts were from long range. Unfortunately, Kolarov and Yaya Toure were wayward with these. City huffed and puffed, with Silva, Tevez and Milner being at the heart of the best work but time after time, the visitors made interceptions to stop their clever interplay. The visitors had a long range shot from Fahey well saved by Hart, but this didn’t really stretch the City ‘keeper.

Results like this happen in football, and we have to accept the rough with the smooth. The boos at the end were from far less than one in ten fans, and even less chanted the pathetic ‘You don’t know what you’re doing’ chants. I do not recall whinging like this when we were struggling to get out of the 3rd division, though I doubt that these boo boys were there in those dark days. What we had back then was more unified and proper support all round. What planet do these people live on? What do they expect? We cannot realistically expect to win every game. Spending any amount of money does not guarantee success, and nor can that success happen overnight. Teams take years to build and Roberto Mancini is building this one well. He gets his tactics right at least nine times out of ten. Taking Tevez off and bringing on Gareth Barry when you’re looking for a winner looks like a strange decision, but as was pointed out after the game, he is carrying an injury. Tevez had received a dead leg against Arsenal and took an almighty kick from Mulumbu at West Brom six days before this game. Players are more prone to muscle pulls in the later stages of games, especially when they are carrying injuries. Surely it’s better to have Tevez fit for the trips to Fulham and Stoke than not? The other substitutions also make sense when the full facts are considered: Santa Cruz came on for Milner to give us aerial ability up front; Zabaleta came on for Kolarov (just back from injury) because the Serbian was tiring. Of course this is lost on the ignorant loud-mouths who chose to chant ‘You don’t what you’re doing’. How embarrassing. Mercifully, the vast majority of Manchester City fans are far more patient and knowledgeable than that.

No one can make a valid claim that Mancini was not attacking enough in this game, given the personnel available. None of Santa Cruz, Jo or the strange, unprofessional attitude of Adebayor (unprepared when he was required to come on as sub in the Derby but injured anyway) warranted a start.

Any talk of Mancini being under pressure is ridiculous, and the booing and silly chants are an embarrassment to our wonderful support. Our dear club does not yet another change of manager. Not only are we extremely lucky to have the Abu Dhabi people as stewards of our club, we are incredibly lucky to have Roberto Mancini as our manager. Long may he continue.

Att: 44,501
Hart: Good handling, kicking erratic again though 6
Boateng: Solid. Room for improvement in consistency of delivery of crosses 7
Kolo Toure: Tried to rally as an attacker in the 2nd half with a driving run. Not really tested but did what he had to do efficiently 7
Kompany: City’s Mr Consistent won a lot of headers against the tall Zigic 7
Kolarov: Feeling his way. Decent enough in defence and going forward but shooting was wayward 6
Milner: Worked hard as ever and unlucky to be denied a goal 6
De Jong: Bossed midfield but a couple of uncharacteristic wayward passes 7
Yaya Toure: Still not showing enough effort: shooting wayward 5
A Johnson: This was a missed chance to impress. Rarely found a way through 5
Silva: Prompted and probed all afternoon 7
Tevez: Not his day but always lively until his injuries caught up 7
Santa Cruz (for Milner): One good pass aside, his other contribution was to give away a free kick. He really needs to work harder 4
Zabaleta (for Kolarov): Not enough time to mark n/a
Barry (for Tevez): Not enough time to mark n/a
Best Oppo: Roger Johnson: Towering at the back 8
Refwatch: Mike Jones: Whether the goal should have been given is debatable. Jones is one of the Premier League’s best referees: he officiates without ego, posturing or preening 7

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


Following the death of the former City player and manager I thought I’d share with MCIVTA subscribers a few snippets from an interview I was fortunate to do with John about 5 years ago. We were supposed to chat for about 45 minutes but it was so enjoyable that it lasted more like 2 hours. Some of the interview appeared in the MCFC match programme and here’s a few bits from that. It appeared in the format of a Q&A.

At City, you found a struggling club. Did you ever feel you’d made a mistake?

Not at all. The difficult time to take over is when a club is at the top winning trophies – you have to keep that going. There wasn’t too much wrong in truth at City. A little confidence was needed, and the players needed to know a preferred style of play. We’d been left some very good young players, but we also recognised we needed a few experienced players, so Gow, Hutchison, and McDonald came in. Tommy Hutchison was the best pro I’d ever worked with. He was so committed, so dedicated and he had time to help the youngsters.

City’s League form improved considerably, but we also reached the FA Cup final (vs. Spurs) and the League Cup semi-final (vs. Liverpool). Considering the new signings were cup-tied for the League Cup, how do you explain that run?

Once you get a rhythm going it snowballs. The style of play was adhered to and the momentum kept us going. Each player knew his rôle and, if we had to change someone, the new guy would follow that pattern. We had a phenomenal run and, we all know our history, we came so close to winning the FA Cup and the League Cup semi should have been ours as well. This may seem a bit odd, but I think we overachieved in that first season. I remember Bondy and I talking about it. In some ways it set us up. We wanted to sign some great players but financial constraints limited our opportunities – Trevor Francis was bought and sold within a year – and we could never match our ambition for this club.

After Wembley there was a great deal of optimism but within 20 months Bond had gone and you were manager, was this a rôle you craved?

Not at all. I never wanted to be manager. I was too young. Too inexperienced, and managing City is inevitably an enormous job. You have to know your strengths in football, and I know that my strength was as a number two.

So why did you take it?

I had no choice really. Once Bondy had left, either I had to become manager or I would, in all probability have to move on. I had nowhere to go to, so I took the job. I kept my old wage – no increase – and tried my best. When relegation came I felt the pain and hurt as all fans did. This was my club and I was manager when they went down. It was such a painful, horrible, experience, and I still feel that hurt today.

Finally, how do you feel today about the game you’ve been a part of since the age of 15?

I still love it. Sometimes I have to pinch myself because I feel like the luckiest man alive. I’ve had bad times, of course, but the game has been so good to me. I owe it everything.

Gary James <city(at)>


I know it is a long time since I have made a contribution (possibly Jan ’06 when my youngest son was born on 14th, 3-1 victory over the scum and he has Robbie as a middle name for it!) but having endured a very dodgy return flight to Belfast after this derby and listened to all the conflicting views of where we are etc., I thought I would throw my opinion in.

Part of me wants to shout out we are consistently 4th at the moment and very likely to progress in Europe. The club as a whole is a professional operation and has the appearance that we will go far. I even feel a change since walking out of the ground after the Sunderland match and hearing Hughes was sacked. But we all know we are City and how can we **** things up! Supporting this club for over 40 years don’t I know it! I think we all can be agreed that goalscoring is a problem. I also believe Balotelli will remedy this to a degree and Tevez will be fitter in a week or two. I also hope a 3rd forward will come in the transfer window. I have just seen Nedum score a fabulous goal for Sunderland (these season long loans seem to work!) so another option for the future. Also did we sell Weiss or is he another one to come back?

There is a great deal of media interest in us and it is amazing to see some of the downright lies and distortions printed about us. I believed it would be well into November till we see this team starting to click and I feel we are on course for this and key will be to manage Balotelli tighter.

I think we should put into context as well how unpredictable this league is at the moment, with the Chelsea result today being yet another example. We have a long way to go, but we definitely can be in the top 3 come May. I think belief by the players will grow, especially if we are top 4 in 2 months’ time. I can’t deny that if we can’t crack the goal scoring problem then we may be in difficulties, but didn’t Everton get top 4 or 5 with scoring very few goals a number of seasons back? Can’t say I enjoyed Wednesday’s game in one respect, but Mancini has steadied the ship after the 3 defeats – bet you he was cursing Balotelli’s red card and we will have to get used to this type of situation if we are going to claim top level silverware.

Keep up the debate and respect everybody’s else’s view… even mine and CTID!

Mark Ballentine <mark.ballentine(at)>


First of all, stop saying Chelsea will win the league. It shows no ambition; even Sunderland beat Chelsea at home 0-3.

Second, stop saying a game every three days make players tired. Instead reduce training with no double training sessions.

Third, stop saying you will be happy being fourth in the Premier League. I know what you mean. But start to say “City will fight to the end to be the highest in the league that is possible”.

Fourth, be more positive with what you say. Be more motivated towards your players.

Fifth, when you get a striker besides Mario, start to play more attacking football. If advice needed ask Kevin Keegan.

Sixth, I still support you to continue as Manager. We don’t want another change.

Come on you Blues!

Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)>


Just watching the players against Birmingham said it all, they looked fed up and clueless. So which one is it then, the Manager, Kidd or Platt? Or maybe all 3! How many players are left from Mark Hughes and how many are what the current manager’s? Ten and eleven men behind the ball is always difficult to beat, but that’s what we should be able to do.

Oh yes and even the Manager looked as if he knows his P45 could be on the way.

I think it’s Platt ’cause it all seemed to start going wrong after his arrival and like not having 2 managers, you can’t have 2 coaches.

Sam Duxbury <Sammy459(at)>


Was a bit slow in picking up the phone this morning, and didn’t manage to get tickets for Craven Cottage this Sunday. Desperately seeking a pair of tickets (but would buy a single also) for our inevitable 0-0 draw with Fulham. Can collect/make payment in Manchester this week or in London on Saturday or Sunday.

Thanks in advance!

Matthew Maxey <matthewmaxey(at)>


If anyone can help with 2 tickets for Sunday at Fulham, I’d be most grateful.

Thanks, Alan X Frost <alan.x.frost(at)>


Milton Keynes branch will be having their next meeting on November 18th starting at 7.30pm. Paul Lake will be the special guest.

The venue will be Great Brickhill Cricket Club. Please contact me if you would like directions to the venue, or any other information about the meeting.

Steve Maclean <secretary(at)>


I can thoroughly recommend the bar that gained the Heart of The City accolade for New York, The Mad Hatter ( having been in a few times on business trips. The place has plenty of City memorabilia on the walls, the staff are excellent and is a True Blue pub. It is on 3rd Avenue near the intersection with 26th Street.

Daniel Yates <Daniel.Yates(at)>


For anyone worrying about Christmas presents, I thought I’d add a brief update on my books. At the start of December the updated “Manchester A Football History” will be published. It will consist of 544 pages (plus 8 of colour) and can be ordered from at £20 (including UK P&P). After publication the price will be the RRP of £24.95.

Any copy ordered before 1st December via will be signed by me and will be despatched before the book appears in any shop. The book covers the story of Manchester football from the 1600s (that’s right!) through to this season. It includes the latest research on City’s birth; material on the Tevez poster and United banner; an analysis of record breaking transfers by City and United (and details every player bought for over £7 million by either club); plus much more. Details and images appear on and on facebook “James Ward Publishing”.

Two of my other books, “The Big Book Of City” and the 2010 updated edition of “Joe Mercer: Football With A Smile” are also available at £19.95 each.

Gary James <city(at)>


14 November 2010

Everton               1 - 2  Arsenal               36,279
Chelsea               0 - 3  Sunderland            41,072

13 November 2010

Aston Villa           2 - 2  Manchester United     40,073
Manchester City       0 - 0  Birmingham City       44,321
Newcastle United      0 - 0  Fulham                44,686
Tottenham Hotspur     4 - 2  Blackburn Rovers      35,700
West Ham United       0 - 0  Blackpool             31,194
Wigan Athletic        1 - 0  West Bromwich Albion  16,085
Wolverhampton Wndrs   2 - 3  Bolton Wanderers      27,508
Stoke City            2 - 0  Liverpool             27,286

League table to 14 November 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         13  6  0  1 17  3  3  1  2 11  5  9  1  3  28   8  20  28
 2 Arsenal         13  4  0  2 15  6  4  2  1 11  6  8  2  3  26  12  14  26
 3 Manchester Utd  13  5  1  0 15  5  1  6  0 11 10  6  7  0  26  15  11  25
 4 Manchester City 13  3  3  1  7  5  3  1  2  8  5  6  4  3  15  10   5  22
 5 Bolton Wndrs    13  2  3  1 10  8  2  4  1 11 11  4  7  2  21  19   2  19
 6 Sunderland      13  3  3  0  7  3  1  4  2  8 10  4  7  2  15  13   2  19
 7 Tottenham H.    13  3  3  1 11  7  2  1  3  7 10  5  4  4  18  17   1  19
 8 Newcastle Utd   13  2  2  3 15  9  3  1  2  6  7  5  3  5  21  16   5  18
 9 Aston Villa     13  3  4  0 10  5  1  1  4  5 13  4  5  4  15  18  -3  17
10 Stoke City      13  4  1  2 11  8  1  0  5  4 10  5  1  7  15  18  -3  16
11 Liverpool       13  3  2  1  9  6  1  2  4  4 11  4  4  5  13  17  -4  16
12 West Brom A.    13  3  2  1  8  6  1  2  4  8 16  4  4  5  16  22  -6  16
13 Everton         13  2  3  2  9  8  1  3  2  5  5  3  6  4  14  13   1  15
14 Blackburn R.    13  2  2  2  6  6  2  1  4  9 12  4  3  6  15  18  -3  15
15 Blackpool       13  1  2  2  9 10  3  1  4 10 16  4  3  6  19  26  -7  15
16 Fulham          13  2  3  1  8  6  0  5  2  5  7  2  8  3  13  13   0  14
17 Wigan Athletic  13  2  3  3  6 15  1  2  2  4  6  3  5  5  10  21 -11  14
18 Birmingham City 13  2  3  1  6  5  0  4  3  8 12  2  7  4  14  17  -3  13
19 Wolves          13  2  2  3  9 11  0  1  5  4 12  2  3  8  13  23 -10   9
20 West Ham United 13  1  3  3  7 11  0  3  3  4 11  1  6  6  11  22 -11   9

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1685