Newsletter #1695

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A match report tonight thanks to Phil on City’s goal-fest at the Villa game. We’ve also got a look at Mancini’s handling of the team and the way we are moving ahead together with a view on media prejudice against no longer poor old little City.

Next Game: Blackpool, home, 3pm Saturday 1 January 2011

MATCH REPORT ‘LIVE’: MCFC 4 AVFC 0

City swept aside a poor Villa side with such ease to go top for three hours. Our rivals can now feel our hot breath on their necks as the title race hots up, and this four goal win will have boosted our goal difference significantly.

All this was achieved without having to call upon Gareth Barry and the talismanic Carlos Tevez who remained on the bench for the entire afternoon, in readiness for the New Year’s Day clash with Blackpool. In Tevez’s place was Mario Balotelli, who has let it be known that he is homesick and hasn’t settled into life in Manchester. Well, if an unhappy, ‘homesick’ person can dispatch two penalties so impudently and complete his hat trick with such ease then he must be a sight to behold when he is truly happy. Clearly he is a problem child with heap of issues, and the papers were full of these on the morning of the match, but dwell too much on his flaws, when he has several good things in his game.

There were barely three minutes on the clock when Silva’s defence splitting ball released Balotelli who was tripped in the box by James Collins. With our regular penalty taker on the bench, Eastlands held it’s breath as Balotelli stood over the ensuing spot kick. We needn’t have worried as he coolly stuttered in his run up and sent the experienced Friedel the wrong way. Villa were there for the taking and City put them to the sword. Good work by Johnson and Silva teed up Yaya Touré in the 11th minute, but his effort was deflected behind. From Silva’s ensuing corner kick, Lescott glanced in to double the lead.

This invoked a chant of ‘Boring, Boring City!’. The Poznan-style arms-linked, backs-to-the-pitch celebrations in the Singing Section and South Stand were a sight to behold and Eastlands was in full voice with:

‘Mancini, wooah, Mancini, wooah,
He came from Italy
To manage Man City!’

Mancini is doing a fine job here and our prospects are good with him at the helm. Anybody can spend money, but a team still has to built and moulded into a coherent, winning force, and the tactics have to be right at least 9 times out of 10, and Roberto Mancini is doing just that. He is the ideal man to lead us.

City were quickly in top gear, hitting Villa with wave upon wave of attacks mainly inspired by David Silva and Adam Johnson, with Micah Richards and Pablo Zabaleta making thrusting runs in support of the attack. In contrast, Villa were abject and it was so easy to penetrate a defence from which Richard Dunne had been dropped. Dunne is having a bad season, but even an out-of-form Dunney would have been better than this rabble. The trouble for Dunney is that he along with one or two others have fallen out with Gerard Houllier, and when you fall out with Houllier, as one or two players found, there is no way back. Pettiness and peevishness take over.

At least the City crowd appreciate Dunney, if Houllier and Garry Cook don’t, and a chorus of ‘He’s here, he’s there… Richard Dunne’ rang out, followed by ‘Ireland was Superman’. Dunney and Ireland will have to move on again: West Ham are short of quality defenders and could do a lot worse than to sign the Dubliner, whilst Celtic could be Ireland’s next destination. Best of luck to them.

It was 3-0 after more wing wizardry from ‘Magic’ Johnson played in Silva. Friedel could only parry the Spaniard’s powerful, low shot and Balotelli, showing the true poacher’s instincts, was on hand for the simplest of tap-ins.

City were an absolute delight to watch. With de Jong and Vieira winning the ball and finding Silva and Johnson with accurate passes, we were royally entertained. Silva and Johnson combine beautifully: an instinctive kind of link up that is very pleasing on the eye, with Silva all twists, turns and inventive little passes, and Johnson tricking his way inside and outside Villa full back Stephen Warnock, who was absolutely bamboozled. If Warnock had overdosed on brandy sauce on Christmas day he wouldn’t have been in any more of a spin than he was here. It wasn’t just the hapless Villa full back, though, that struggled. City as a whole were much too clever for Villa in a very slick first half performance.

It was 41 minutes before Villa managed their first serious attempt on goal but Agbonlahor’s shot was well stopped by Hart and Reo-Coker couldn’t capitalise at the rebound. It was a rare foray as City found gaps in the Villa rearguard at will.

“This Villa is ours” and by an ‘invitation’ for Houllier to go forth and multiply was followed by “We want our Villa back” from the impressive, vocal Villa support, to which the City faithful offered: “Don’t get Sam Allardyce!” Well, with maybe one exception, you wouldn’t wish Allardyce on anyone would you?

Houllier is the man who said that Villa couldn’t compete with the likes of Liverpool, when they had finished above the Scousers at the end of the previous season. We’ve seen some hard times at City but we haven’t yet had a situation where a manager has and fawned over his old club like Houllier did at Anfield a few weeks ago, saying if he was going to lose badly, he’d prefer it to be Liverpool. No wonder why the Villa fans are so livid.

City made it 4-0 in the 55th minute when Johnson was upended in the box and Balotelli converted coolly in similar style to his opening penalty. Friedel’s despair was very evident! ‘Boring, boring, City!’

Then with New Year’s Day in mind, Mancini replaced the excellent Silva with Milner and sooner after that Jo replaced Yaya Touré. The Brazilian should have done better when Kompany cleverly flicked on Johnson’s left wing corner, and the Brazilian was involved again when he took Johnson’s pass to play in Zabaleta but the Argentine full back blasted over.

Villa are the worst team that we have faced this season by a country mile and it was a tad disappointing that we didn’t beat very poor opposition by more but it is understandable that we need to pace ourselves through a hectic Christmas/New Year period. Blackpool will present a much sterner test, but if we play anything like up to our potential we will surely beat them. We need to in order to maintain this title challenge and cement our place in the top four.

To a largely prejudiced media, City are the ‘elephant in the room’ when it comes to the English Championship, and they don’t want to admit that we are there. Happily for us that elephant is not going anywhere, other than onwards and upwards.

Att: 46,716.
Ratings
Hart: A couple of sharp saves on the rare occasions that he was called upon showed that his powers of concentration are good: 7
Richards: His best game for a very long time. 8
Kompany: Such a good defender who decorated his performance with a heart-stopping Zidane-style turn in his own box: 7
Lescott: Took his goal well, which should do his confidence no harm. His good form continues and he deserves to retain his place: 8
Zabaleta: Coped well with the talented Albrighton and Downing: 7
Johnson: A delight to watch, with a pleasing end product. Worked hard in tackling back: 8
Nigel de Jong: The skipper for the day earned a much deserved ovation. Makes us tick: 8
Vieira: Poised, classy touches even if he has lost his pace: 6
Yaya Touré: Some good driving runs in his advanced rôle: 7
Silva: The chief conductor. What a wonderful player he is. One of those players who is worth the entrance fee alone, but such a good team player. 9 (Man of the Match)
Balotelli: Took his goals well: such impudence for his penalties and showed the predator’s instincts. Stopped working, though, once he got his hat trick: 7
Subs:
Milner: Industrious: 7
Jo: Showed good attitude and application but missed a good chance to add to City’s score late on: 6
Bridge: Looked rusty: 6
Best Oppo: Mark Albrighton: 7 A very hot prospect. Would Villa sell us their best player three years running? Skilful and pacy going forward and industrious going back to support his defence. His head never went down. So why was he replaced? It says it all about Houllier that he subbed him.
Refwatch: M Oliver: Hardly noticed him, but authoritative, which is how it should be: 9

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

OPINION: THE WAY AHEAD

It’s been a while since my last contribution and I have to say that I am delighted at the way the team is developing under Mancini. With every game there is an increasing coherence to the side and players such as Silva and Yaya are growing in stature each time they take to the field. With the exception of a bad 20 minutes against our bogey team of recent seasons, Everton, I think the team and the performances are going in the right direction and it’s nice to see the media still refusing to acknowledge our credentials as genuine title challengers! Whether we can maintain our momentum remains to be seen but Mancini is doing an excellent job of rotating the squad and resting players. The game against Villa paid testament to that. It is also good to see players like Lescott and Zabaleta stepping up to the plate when perhaps their respective futures would have seemed in question at the beginning of the season.

We now have the likely signing of Dzeko to look forward to with I suspect one or two personnel to join him with others no doubt about to leave the club. Personally I feel we have one of if not the strongest squad of players in the league now and are well capable of making a genuine fist of the league and cup competitions. The signs are good that Mancini is starting to get the best out of the squad.

For me the biggest improvement now is the team’s ability to control the game by keeping possession of the ball – something we have been unable to do under previous management and for a lot of last season.

Keep it up and you never know my older brother may even come to like the manager too! I’ll have him singing his name by the end of the season…

Graham Keller <gkmcfc(at)ntlworld.com>

OPINION: MEDIA PREJUDICE

There are sections of the media that are determined to criticise City and find a negative angle, when there are so many positives. Roberto Mancini is gelling together a very potent mix here that has a chance of winning the title, yet where does he get any credit? The media could write about David Silva’s guile, tenacity and all round excellence, or Vincent Kompany’s skilful, rock solid season at the back for the Blues. They could admire the quick-footed trickery of Adam Johnson, or even eulogise about the versatile, totally committed professionalism of Pablo Zabaleta. If they were being objective they’d inform the reader about the excellent midfield play of Nigel de Jong: about how he wins the ball with clean tackling, and how he initiates our best moves with intelligent and accurate use of the ball. The media could also talk about the excellent community work at City, and its encouragement of inclusivity to people of all races and creeds. Furthermore, in an age where homophobia is still rife in football, it is Manchester City that are the most forward thinking and inclusive in its recruitment. If the media were objective they would give us credit for all this. Maybe that’s too much to ask of a largely prejudiced media?

It is a sad state of affairs when we can only call on three journalists in the national press to give us an accurate picture of what is going on at Manchester City. I don’t always agree with Ian Herbert and Sam Wallace (both in The Independent) and Henry Winter (Torygraph), but their reports have been objective and free of prejudice. It isn’t a lot to ask for, so one wonders why the rest of them struggle with this.

A Happy New Year to all our readers and all at MCIVTA.

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

RESULTS AND TABLE

29 December 2010

Wigan Athletic        2 - 2  Arsenal               17,014
Chelsea               1 - 0  Bolton Wanderers      40,982
Liverpool             0 - 1  Wolverhampton Wndrs   41,614

28 December 2010

Manchester City       4 - 0  Aston Villa           46,716
Stoke City            0 - 2  Fulham                26,954
Sunderland            0 - 2  Blackpool             42,892
Tottenham Hotspur     2 - 0  Newcastle United      35,927
West Bromwich Albion  1 - 3  Blackburn Rovers      24,440
West Ham United       1 - 1  Everton               33,422
Birmingham City       1 - 1  Manchester United     28,242

27 December 2010

Arsenal               3 - 1  Chelsea               60,112

26 December 2010

Fulham                1 - 3  West Ham United       25,332
Blackburn Rovers      0 - 2  Stoke City            25,440
Bolton Wanderers      2 - 0  West Bromwich Albion  23,413
Manchester United     2 - 0  Sunderland            75,269
Newcastle United      1 - 3  Manchester City       51,675
Wolverhampton Wndrs   1 - 2  Wigan Athletic        26,901
Aston Villa           1 - 2  Tottenham Hotspur

League table to 29 December 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  18  9  1  0 27  6  1  7  0 12 11 10  8  0  39  17  22  38
 2 Manchester City 20  5  3  2 13  7  6  2  2 19  9 11  5  4  32  16  16  38
 3 Arsenal         19  6  0  3 22 11  5  3  2 17 11 11  3  5  39  22  17  36
 4 Chelsea         19  7  1  1 19  4  3  3  4 14 11 10  4  5  33  15  18  34
 5 Tottenham H.    19  5  4  1 16  9  4  2  3 13 14  9  6  4  29  23   6  33
 6 Bolton Wndrs    20  5  4  1 21 12  2  4  4 11 14  7  8  5  32  26   6  29
 7 Sunderland      20  5  4  1 11  7  1  5  4 10 15  6  9  5  21  22  -1  27
 8 Blackpool       17  2  2  2 11 11  5  2  4 15 18  7  4  6  26  29  -3  25
 9 Blackburn R.    20  4  3  3 12  9  3  1  6 14 22  7  4  9  26  31  -5  25
10 Stoke City      19  4  2  4 12 12  3  1  5 11 12  7  3  9  23  24  -1  24
11 Everton         19  2  4  3 10 12  2  6  2 11 10  4 10  5  21  22  -1  22
12 Liverpool       18  5  2  2 15  7  1  2  6  6 16  6  4  8  21  23  -2  22
13 Newcastle Utd   19  3  3  4 20 14  3  1  5  8 17  6  4  9  28  31  -3  22
14 West Brom A.    19  4  2  3 12 13  2  2  6 13 21  6  4  9  25  34  -9  22
15 Aston Villa     19  4  4  2 15 12  1  1  7  5 22  5  5  9  20  34 -14  20
16 Wigan Athletic  19  2  5  3 10 19  2  3  4  7 12  4  8  7  17  31 -14  20
17 Birmingham City 18  3  5  1  9  7  0  5  4  9 14  3 10  5  18  21  -3  19
18 Fulham          19  2  5  3 11 14  1  5  3  8  9  3 10  6  19  23  -4  19
19 Wolves          19  4  2  4 14 15  1  1  7  6 17  5  3 11  20  32 -12  18
20 West Ham United 20  2  4  4 12 16  1  4  5  8 17  3  8  9  20  33 -13  17

With thanks to Football 365

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[7] What match day broadcasts are available on the web?

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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 #1695

2010/12/30

Editor:


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