Newsletter #1688

News tonight from Alex looking at last week’s performance at Fulham, with Mancini’s reaction and views on squad rotation from both manager and players. With temperatures plummeting in the UK and the Ashes under way Down Under, it’s almost time for yet another transfer window and the latest possible ins and outs are detailed together with a quick round up on international Blues.

We have opinion on the FA and more on Nelly together with a Juventus meet up request.

Next up, a visit to the Potteries as we look to consolidate our position against 8th placed Stoke.

Next Game: Stoke City, away, 3pm Saturday 27 November 2010


General News

Making Progress: Ahead of last weekend’s trip to Craven Cottage, the war of words between manager Roberto Mancini and his predecessor Mark Hughes began to escalate. After Hughes claimed that City would have been better off still under his management, he went on to claim that City are no better now than they were when he left them a year ago. Mancini, who it was reported at the time was in talks with the City hierarchy before Hughes was dismissed, has refuted this claiming that the future is bright for the Blues: “At the end of the season I think we will get into the Champions’ League and probably we will win something. This is my opinion because I believe we have improved a lot.”

Choices, Choices: City’s Italian coach also laid down the law for his ultra-competitive squad this week, by stating that those who want to play for City will fight for their place. Adam Johnson, Emmanuel Adebayor and Shay Given have all spoken of being unsettled with their lack of first team opportunities in recent weeks and there has been talk that a number of Blues will make their way out of the club come January. Though Mancini admits that it is difficult to keep all his players happy, the former Inter Milan boss has emphasised that it is better to have too much quality than not enough: “It’s not easy for me because I have to leave two or three players on the bench, or even in the stands, for every game. I understand how the players must feel, it’s difficult and I’m not happy having to tell someone they are not playing. But it’s better to have everyone available so we can make a choice rather than not have the players to pick from. I was never happy to be on the bench, when that happened while I was young I did not work hard and I stayed there. When I was older, I worked harder if I was not in the team and I forced my manager to pick me.”

Squad News

Holding It Together: Having been sent into international exile by Dutch manager Bert van Marwijk, holding midfielder Nigel de Jong has his sights firmly set on club success this season. City’s 4-1 win over Fulham this weekend has closed the gap between the Blues and the top of the league. Only three points now stand between Mancini’s side and League leaders Chelsea, and de Jong feels that given the way some of this season’s results are going, the title is there for the taking: “The gap between the teams at the top and the chasing pack is closing and that means there are going to be some odd results.”

Silva on the Gold Trail: Spanish playmaker David Silva has repeated the sentiments of Nigel de Jong, calling for his team-mates to take the lead in this season’s title race. Chelsea seemed to have it all wrapped up until a run of games that have seen them lose three of their last four league games, and with United and Arsenal struggling to find some consistency of their own, City’s creative World Cup winner reckons that if they put their minds to it, City could be leading the race for the title over the coming months: “We played well at Fulham – we are now just three points away from the leaders and we need to keep trying to win the games. Everyone has been losing points – we have also dropped some points, but we need to keep on and try to do our job at our best.”

Earn Your Place! If City are going to be successful this season then it will take a huge effort from the whole squad. The exits of Elano and Robinho, in the last couple of years, have proved that those who aren’t willing to earn their place in the club’s first XI will soon find themselves looking for a new club. Centre back Kolo Toure questioned the commitment of some of his team-mates this week, claiming that a number of them will have to pull their socks up in order to prove their worth: “There are some players here, I am not scared to say, who are not working hard enough for the team. Some don’t do enough in training but still expect to play. We all get big wages but some need to work harder. You cannot have a place in the team, even if you are an international, if you don’t show what you can do in training.”

Home Sweet Home: One player who is adamant that he is working just as hard as he would do if he was guaranteed a place in City’s first XI is fan favourite Adam Johnson. The 22-year-old winger was said to have announced that if he wasn’t used more by Roberto Mancini then he would have to consider leaving CoMS some time in the future. But ‘Johnno’ has assured fans that his words were taken out of context and has pledged his loyalty to the club. AJ explained that he felt at home at City and would be stupid to walk out of the club at such an important time in the club’s history: “The first thing I thought, when you read something like that, is the fans will think I want to get away. That hurt, because I care more about what the fans think than what anybody else thinks. I think the fans want me to be playing, but there’s a quality squad at this club and we all have to fight for our place. My future is here long-term, without a doubt. I’ve only been here eight months but my career has already changed for the better. It would be stupid to want to leave. In an ideal world, I’d play every game to help the club succeed. Hopefully we’ll start the ball rolling and win something this season. I just want to play my part and make everyone happy.”

Clear Focus: With January looming, there’s no doubt that the winter transfer window will be on many of the minds of City’s squad. Be it planning a move away from the club or fearing that a replacement may be signed to compete for their position; January will certainly provide Mancini’s players with something extra to think about. Pablo Zabaleta has warned his team-mates that to lose focus on the club’s coming games would be a mistake and has pleaded with City’s stars to focus on their team rather than themselves: “There is always speculation about new bids and the transfer window in January, but we have to try to focus on football. We have many players in the squad and it’s difficult to play every single game. We have to accept this if you have the opportunity to play; you have to try to play your best. I think it’s best just to try and focus on the Premier League and try to win the next game away to Stoke, which should be a great chance for us (to close the gap on the leaders).”

The Rumour Mill

On His Way? Mario Balotelli had City fans double checking what they’d read in last week’s papers, as the Italian striker ‘assured’ fans that he would be here until June. After rumours suggested that ‘Super Mario’ may be on his way to boyhood club AC Milan, only months after moving to CoMS, Balotelli dismissed the rumours in unconventional style by promising fans that he would see out the season. Quite what will happen when the January transfer window opens is a matter of interest and Mario ought to be careful that he doesn’t push the club too far because in this era of financial prosperity at Eastlands, no player is irreplaceable: “The likelihood is that I will be at City up to June. I have a five-year contract and I can’t say anything.” Mancini has dismissed any notion of protégé leaving and stated that this was ‘typical Mario’: “He was the same in Italy, and he must change his mentality. He must think to play, because he could score in every game if he concentrates on what he is doing. He must not keep talking back to the referee and think only about his job, then he can make a difference on the pitch.”

To-go or Stay? One player who seems more likely to leave in January is Togolese striker Emmanuel Adebayor. Having watched on at Craven Cottage as Roberto Mancini finally chose to play two strikers but instead opted for Jo to partner Carlos Tevez up front, ‘Manu’ has decided that enough is enough. The former Arsenal target man went as far as to say that City had already reached a deal to loan him out to Italian giants Juventus, though the club have denied this: “I am going to have a change of scene during the transfer window. And I can already tell you that City have reached an agreement with Juventus for a loan. I therefore expect to be able to leave in December.” Although no deal has yet been struck, City coach David Platt has revealed that it may be time for Adebayor to move on: “If it is right for Manu and right for the football club and more importantly from a business point of view, then something may happen in January.”

Best of the Rest: Benfica duo Fabio Coentrao and David Luiz remain high on Mancini’s priority list this winter. A double deal could cost up to as much as £45 million and interest from Real Madrid, Manchester United and Chelsea could scupper either deal. The Portuguese club admitted that although they wouldn’t want either player to leave, nothing is impossible: “It would only be right to study any offers placed in the market but, from a sporting perspective, Benfica is not interested in selling.” If the Blues fail in their attempts to entice Benfica to sell, they may instead move for Udinese’s £15 million centre back Cristian Zapata and there have been rumours this week that a delegation of City officials were in Spain to finalise a deal for Barcelona’s adventurous full back Dani Alves. Irish stopper Shay Given again reiterated his desire to move away from the club: “I want to be playing football and so hopefully something will happen in the New Year. It’s frustrating and I’m not coping very well, to be honest” and it is reported that a deal would now also interest Fulham, as well as Celtic and Arsenal. Academy graduate Kelvin Etuhu may be set to join brother Dickson at Fulham, whilst in a bid to replace Roque Santa Cruz – who has been linked with Merseyside rivals Everton and Liverpool – Mancini may look to secure the services of either Porto striker Hulk or Real Madrid’s out of favour Karim Benzema. Both have been targets of Sir Alex Ferguson’s for a number of years now and any deal would almost certainly rile the United boss.

Post-Match Reaction

Battle of the Bosses: It was hyped up to be the battle of Mancini vs. Hughes… Mancini won. After two of the most disappointing performances under the Italian’s tutelage, Mancini knew that he had to get a result at Craven Cottage and out do his predecessor. Hughes has made no secret about how he feels he was treated at City, and despite the gracious wave towards the travelling support prior to kick off, there’s no doubting that the Fulham manager would have loved to get one over on his former employers. But it wasn’t to be for the Welshman as City’s Argentine contingent dominated the match under the watchful eye of former national boss Diego Maradona. Three first half goals had the Blues 3-0 up at half time as Carlos Tevez and Yaya Toure scored either side of a Pablo Zabaleta stunner. Tevez rounded up the Blues’ scoring ten minutes into the second half with a deft flick before Fulham’s Zoltan Gera robbed Joe Hart of a clean sheet with twenty minutes left. City’s fantastic display of Spain-esque football left some City fans asking why Mancini hadn’t been so attacking in their recent home games, but all was forgiven as the former Inter boss’ name rang out at the new home of City’s former manager.

Mancini was justifiably chuffed with his side’s performance: “I am delighted with the performance and the result. The guys played some great football, but I don’t think there was a lot of difference to last week. We created a lot of chances in the second half against Birmingham, and building on that today we showed that one goal can change a game quickly. It’s a difficult place to win, Fulham have played well at home, but if we play like we did today we can win anywhere.”

City’s ever-reliable centre back Vincent Kompany believes the Blues sent out a message to their rivals with this result and just hopes that the club can push on form here: “Everybody was delighted, the manager told us that we did our jobs well but the whole team put in a good performance today. At half time we said that this was the standard we want all season; it’s easy to say it but we played well. We set a standard today, can we sustain it? My opinion is that we can, but it will take nothing less than the same commitment for the next game. We don’t expect anything from anybody, we’re just happy because we know we did our job. People can talk and write, but it does not really bother us. We understand it when there are signals from the fans, they were not happy after Birmingham but we do our best every day. If we keep doing that, I am sure we will be all right this season.”

Former manager Mark Hughes was gracious in defeat and even went as far to say that the Blues could challenge United and Chelsea at the top of the table come May: “If they have belief and there as forward-thinking, and maybe they can be more attack-minded – as they were here – on more occasions, there is no reason why they shouldn’t be contenders. They were excellent.”

International Blues

Time for Change: With Joe Hart and Micah Richards picking up knocks whilst on duty for England last week, it’s understandable why Roberto Mancini is uncomfortable with midweek international fixtures. City’s South American contingent find themselves travelling thousands of miles across the globe and the situation isn’t exactly ideal for those who stay closer to home. For the manager, much needs to be done in order to make the system fairer for domestic clubs: “This is a difficult situation and we have a lot who go away to play for their national teams every time (there is a break). I think FIFA or UEFA must change the rules, because sometimes the players need a long time to recover. It’s not a problem if they play, say for England or Italy, but if they do not play it would be better if they stay with us in a week without Europa League football.”

Right Back on the Scene: City right back Micah Richards made his first appearance for his country in nearly three years when he played in England’s 2-1 loss to France last week and the promising defender has no plans of waiting as long for his next cap. Labelled ‘the next big thing’ as an eighteen year old, it’s hard to believe that Richards is only 22, yet following his spell in the international wilderness, the City Academy graduate is now keen to establish himself as a regular member of Capello’s ‘new generation’: “It’s been a long time coming, so it was great to be back out there. But I thought I did well when I came on, and I can build on that performance, so I’m happy. There have been times when I was thinking ‘what have I got to do to get back in? But I think I’ve been doing well – I started the season well, and I’m grateful the manager had faith in me to give me 45 minutes. Now I’ve got my foot in the door again. I want to be in the next squad, and the next.”

The Round-Up: Last week’s international fixtures saw seventeen of City’s senior side answer the calls of their respective nations as all competed in a bout of friendlies. All five of the available City stars played some part in the Three Lions’ loss to France last Wednesday as two of the World Cup’s biggest under-performers went head to head. Joe Hart was the only absentee as he suffered a back injury in training. Lescott, Milner and Barry all started, whilst Adam Johnson and Micah Richards were used as second half substitutes. None could stop the disappointing loss at Wembley.

Of the Europeans, David Silva was left speechless as his World Cup winning Spain side were outclassed by hosts Portugal. Cristiano Ronaldo’s side hammered their continental neighbours 4-0 on home soil and despite making a rare start, Silva was unable to make his mark on the game. Mario Balotelli was subject to racist abuse during Italy’s 1-1 draw with Romania and the striker was clearly upset by the chanting but claimed that he would bounce back to prove the bigots wrong. There were wins for Aleksandar Kolarov’s Serbia as they ran out 1-0 winners over Bulgaria, and for Vincent Kompany’s Belgium who outplayed a shell shocked Russia and came out of the game with a 2-0 victory. Jerome Boateng’s game was much quieter though, as Germany drew 0-0 with Sweden and despite earning a record 109th cap for the Republic of Ireland, City stopper Shay Given was on the losing side as Norway won 2-1 at the Aviva Stadium.

Further afield, neither Carlos Tevez nor Pablo Zabaleta played any part in Argentina’s 1-0 win over Brazil and the Toure brothers were beaten 3-1 by an impressive Polish side. There was more success for the outgoing Roque Santa Cruz however, as he scored two of Paraguay’s seven goal rout in Hong Kong.

Alex Rowen <news(at)>


Just catching up on the last couple of weeks McV’s and unusually, I find myself defending the FA (don’t want to do that again in a hurry), but to clarify a point from Andy Longshaw in MCIVTA 1684 there is a difference between the Ferdinand ban and Mario’s ban.

City accepted the ban and so the hearing was heard before the next game, as usual, and the ban was immediate, as usual.

Yoonited appealed the ban, knowing that it would be ruled as ‘frivolous’ and that the ban would carry an extra game – but it enabled him to play in the next game, against City, which if nothing else, showed Taggart’s desperation to have his best team on the pitch.

That situation remains the same today for anyone that chooses to dispute the ban.

Phil’s comments in MCIVTA 1686 about Clattenberg and his equally inept colleagues is spot on and the FA, Premier League and Referees’ Association need to sort this out. It’s bad enough refs being inconsistent from one week to the next, but from one minute in a game to another minute in the same game is ridiculous and needs sorting now.

Nothing will be done, I know that, but until it is sorted out, the respect campaign is deemed to failure.

Keep the faith.

Andrew Keller <akcity(at)>


I totally concur with Alex’s portrait of Neil Young. I too was at the City-Newcastle replay having turned up ticketless and thoughtlessly buying one from a Newcastle supporter. So I sat quietly amidst a large Geordie contingent (for 5 minutes because that’s me) and suffered the grumblings around me.

Then Neil strode up and planted a perfect shot, at which point I could not help it and leapt into the air screaming “yes!” About 2,000 Magpies in unison told me to shut the f**k up, but needless to say I didn’t and we won 2-0.

Then I went to Wembley: but I’ll save that one for another day. Long live Neil Young, or at least much longer.

Thanks Neil and thanks Alex for the memory.

Paul Ardern <Paul.Ardern(at)>


Having read Alex Channon about Neil, you article was so true about a great player and person, I feel very sad.

One of my heroes when I was a kid was Neil Young and seeing him win us the FA Cup in 69 Wembley final. This says it all…

My best wishes go out to Neil and Carmen.

CTID, John Lim <johncity(at)>


One of our supporters’ club members is travelling to the Juventus game.

Can anyone let me know where the City fans might be meeting up on the Wednesday night or on the day of the game?

Mick Murphy – Cork branch, MCFC Supporters’ Club <mick.Murphy(at)>


22 November 2010

Sunderland            2 - 2  Everton               37,331

League table to 24 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         14  6  0  1 17  3  3  1  3 11  6  9  1  4  28   9  19  28
 2 Manchester Utd  14  6  1  0 17  5  1  6  0 11 10  7  7  0  28  15  13  28
 3 Arsenal         14  4  0  3 17  9  4  2  1 11  6  8  2  4  28  15  13  26
 4 Manchester City 14  3  3  1  7  5  4  1  2 12  6  7  4  3  19  11   8  25
 5 Bolton Wndrs    14  3  3  1 15  9  2  4  1 11 11  5  7  2  26  20   6  22
 6 Tottenham H.    14  3  3  1 11  7  3  1  3 10 12  6  4  4  21  19   2  22
 7 Sunderland      14  3  4  0  9  5  1  4  2  8 10  4  8  2  17  15   2  20
 8 Stoke City      14  4  1  2 11  8  2  0  5  7 10  6  1  7  18  18   0  19
 9 Liverpool       14  4  2  1 12  6  1  2  4  4 11  5  4  5  16  17  -1  19
10 Newcastle Utd   14  2  2  3 15  9  3  1  3  7 12  5  3  6  22  21   1  18
11 Blackburn R.    14  3  2  2  8  6  2  1  4  9 12  5  3  6  17  18  -1  18
12 Blackpool       14  2  2  2 11 11  3  1  4 10 16  5  3  6  21  27  -6  18
13 Aston Villa     14  3  4  0 10  5  1  1  5  5 15  4  5  5  15  20  -5  17
14 Everton         14  2  3  2  9  8  1  4  2  7  7  3  7  4  16  15   1  16
15 Birmingham City 14  3  3  1  7  5  0  4  3  8 12  3  7  4  15  17  -2  16
16 West Brom A.    14  3  2  2  8  9  1  2  4  8 16  4  4  6  16  25  -9  16
17 Fulham          14  2  3  2  9 10  0  5  2  5  7  2  8  4  14  17  -3  14
18 Wigan Athletic  14  2  3  3  6 15  1  2  3  4  8  3  5  6  10  23 -13  14
19 Wolves          14  2  2  3  9 11  0  1  6  5 14  2  3  9  14  25 -11   9
20 West Ham United 14  1  3  3  7 11  0  3  4  4 14  1  6  7  11  25 -14   9

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1688