Newsletter #1711

Quarter final success against Reading, albeit not in the most stylish of ways, gives us a semi-final tie against Manchester United in the FA Cup. We have a match report tonight thanks to Phil, with match views and opinion on the team selections and Mancini’s bemoaning of fixture congestion.

Predictably there are also the first calls for tickets for the Wembley visit.

Next Game: FC Dynamo Kiev, home, 6pm Thursday 17 March 2011 (Europa)


There are moments in time when it seems like everything around you is in a state of suspended animation. It was the 74th minute when David Silva swung over a perfect corner from the left and Micah Richards sprung up above everybody to power home an unstoppable bullet header. For a moment time stood still, as it seemed like no one in the ground, including the players, actually believed the ball had gone into the net. After all, we’ve not exactly been blessed with good fortune down the years, have we? So imagine the relief and sheer joy that engulfed Eastlands when Micah and his jubilant players pulled away towards the Colin Bell Stand in celebration.

With so much at stake, it was a tense affair. Who’d blame any of the players, particularly the City players, for being nervous, given the burden of expectation, and the sheer tension of being close to ending a thirty year wait for this dear old club to make a semi final?

Reading proved to be well drilled, stubborn and worthy opponents. Having despatched West Brom and our own bogey side Everton at Goodison Park, not to mention being in great form as they head towards the 2nd Division play off zone, they merited serious attention, and they had their moments here. The two Reading wingers, McAnuff and Kebe, showed their pace and skill down the flanks, and Noel Hunt, brother of former reading midfielder Stephen Hunt, headed over a left wing McAnuff cross early on. Kolarov was getting left behind by Kebe’s speed and trickery down the right, and Joleon Lescott, enjoying a purple patch at left centre back, was required to make some important interceptions throughout the game.

City threatened to score early on too and the Reading ‘keeper McCarthy was forced into a double block in the 19th minute. Tevez cleverly released Shaun Wright-Phillips and his shot was beaten out with Silva’s close range snap shot being pushed round the post for a City corner.

David Silva was usual the main inspiration with his highly intelligent passing. SWP found the side netting from the inside right position after a quintessential defence splitting ball from the Canarian midfielder, and Silva cleverly played in Yaya Touré but the Ivorian’s shot was saved. Silva himself showed lovely control in the inside right position but his shot was saved at the near post.

Reading were competitive in midfield and, led by Gunnarsson at the back, were proving tough to break down. They looked more and more like a lower mid-table Premiership side than a team from the division below, but for all their threat down the flanks, they didn’t have many shots at goal. City were not doing enough to test McCarthy with Yaya Touré firing over and Silva wide. The half time home dressing room must have been a hive of activity as players and coaches plotted a way through the visitors’ dogged rearguard.

City were nearly handed a goal after the break after a Reading defender’s failed clearance from a corner went backwards towards the goal but his team mate, the tubby, pub-footballer-esque-shaped Jay Tabb, headed off the line.

At the other end Noel Hunt should have done better than to hit wide after Kebe’s good work, and for City Tévez’s back heel was beaten out after Silva’s delightful trickery played him in. There were chances to take the lead, with City enjoying the lion’s share of these.

The attacks were started off by de Jong, a very welcome returnee in midfield. There is no one better than him in the Premier League at taking the ball from the defence and distributing it expertly. We have truly missed his bite in midfield and the protection that he adds to the back four.

Shaun Wright-Phillips forced a Reading defender into a mistake when chasing a high ball, and he crossed when he should have shot, with Tévez fluffing his lines. Not that anyone should be hard on the City skipper who ran tirelessly to put Reading defenders under pressure in yet another all-action performance. Tévez then curled a decent twenty yard effort wide. City were starting to get closer, and from Kolarov’s corner Micah Richards served warning of his intentions with a goal-bound header but this was just tipped over by McCarthy.

Even then City could not afford to be complacent and a sloppy Yaya Touré ball put us in trouble with Hart having to make a full stretch save from Shane Long. Were we destined for another unwanted energy-sapping replay? It was a case of now or never. Mancini certainly didn’t want the extra game and he sent Balotelli on for the tiring Vieira to give Reading something else to think about.

Then came the moment that settled the tie, and Micah Richards grabbed a very deserved headline. This season under Mancini’s expert tutelage, he is starting to look like the young international class defender that he has always had the potential to be. His positioning and concentration levels are improving and he is again proving to be a real asset as a marauding full back and at set pieces. Indeed, Micah’s header just before 7.15pm yesterday was so clean and powerful that it was a fitting winner of any game.

Gunnarsson headed wide from a free kick for the visitors but one slightly short Lescott back pass aside, City looked fairly comfortable after that, with de Jong proving to be reassuring in his calmness and positional play. City deservedly won this and a Wembley date with destiny beckons.

Hart: Important saves and good handling. Distribution and decision making: poor again: 6
Richards: Great header, good, dogged defending: 7
Kompany: Some uncharacteristically unsure moments early on but didn’t let this bother him: 6
Lescott: Solid, classy, good positional play and reading of the game: 8
Kolarov: Struggled against Kebe’s pace: 6
SWP: Not the force he was but works his socks off. Need to rediscover his belief and shoot more: 6
Vieira: Game battler, calming influence: 6
de Jong: City’s midfield runs so much smoother with his intelligence and bite: 7
Yaya Touré: When he runs at full tilt against the opposition he is a real threat. We need to see more of that from him: 6
Silva: Always bright, inventive and worth the admission money alone: 8
Tévez: Led by example: created, harried, chased. Even when it’s not quite his day, he is a key player: 7
Balotelli: n/a
Refwatch: Lee Probert: Missed a lot. Very poor indeed and the ‘You’re worse then Clattenburg’ chants were only slightly harsh: 1
Best Oppo: Bynjar Gunnarsson: Tough and gave Tévez a tough challenge: 7

Dedicated to my late friend Sheila Delaney. We sat together on the Kippax at Maine Road in 1990s through some tough times and it was an honour and a privilege to know her.

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


Just got back from the wonderful party at the Eastlands. Finally got round to taking my 9 year old daughter to her first match. What a match to pick eh! Perhaps not technically but just for the sheer atmosphere and excitement of the second half.

Let’s get the negatives out of the way: Touré picked up somewhat in the second half, but he and Vieira were largely dreadful to the point of liabilities. I refused to clap off either PV or the lazy-minded SWP. And Kolorov? He was taken apart by a Championship winger, and he has two modes of corner taking: too long and too short! Thank goodness that the defensive spine of de Jong, Lescott and Kompany were superb.

Going forwards now, even when their touch isn’t quite on, it’s nice to see you’ll still always get a shift and a half from not only Tévez but also Silva. Balotelli take note: you are starting to make Adebayor look like an energised team player. And I think it’s time to seriously start spouting Micah Richards for the England right-back spot. He’s got his act together again, although he certainly didn’t have it all his own way today both their wingers can be proud of themselves, as can that bloke marking Tévez.

No, to me today, the star of the show was the crowd: that was a very, very special atmosphere this evening. Even in the “quieter” family stand where I have never ventured previously (and top marks to everyone there: kids abounded and language was routinely clean; my daughter counted two swear words) it was the stuff that sends shivers down your neck. That second Poznan dance, just after the goal, was everything that we wait for: We work hard, we often get let down in both our leisure time and our City support, but those oh so beautiful moments when it all just feels oooh soooo perfect…

Steve O’Brien <bodsnvimto(at)>


Having not been able to see City live or on TV this year I end up watching back-to-back dismal performances in 2 cup competitions on German TV. The commentators for both games had the same view as I had: that City are very pretty passers but lack any real concept going forward. We seem to have become sloppy at the back and lack fire up front. Even Tévez seems to be frustrated and has lost his magic touch. Silva is good, but is his left foot broken because he too has lost his touch. Yes we are through on the home front to meet “the enemy” but please someone put a firework up our lot’s backsides. We could be so near and yet so far: so please prove me wrong. Maybe I won’t watch the next two cup games, then again I’ve said that for 50 years! Oh come on.

Paul Ardern <paul.ardern(at)>


I am getting really irate with Mancini going on about tiredness in the squad. Other teams like United, Arsenal and Chelsea have had fixtures coming thick and fast for seasons and you don’t hear their camps complaining tiredness. We have a large squad of decent quality players and I can’t remember the last time we fielded an unchanged team. I feel the real reason our displays have not been as good recently as in the early part of the season is Mancini still not knowing his best team; he is tinkering too much and recently been getting it wrong.

Away at Kiev, he was too offensive minded using two forwards. Home to Reading on Sunday he had Tévez up front on his own. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but it should have been the other way around. We have certainly missed de Jong this last month and I would put him up as one of our more important players. Not seen any news on AJ but hope to see him back for the semi against the dark side.

Steve Alcock <salcock(at)>


I know I will be one of many but here’s to getting in early…

I guess, having had to give up my season ticket a couple of years ago, that I stand little or no chance of getting tickets for Wembley through the usual channels i.e. season ticket holder with lots of points.

So a very early request to anyone who knows they cannot make it that weekend but who would be in a position and willing to get 2 tickets and sell them to me. And for that, my eternal gratitude and that of Dad to bridge his experience of Trautmann in ’56 with mine in 2011. With equally positive results!

Here’s hoping, thank you so much in advance to anyone who can respond.

Mike Sokol <mike.sokol(at)>


Last time around a great MCIVTA reader helped me out with 2 tickets for the play-off final in ’99. But I had to cancel because my friend decided it got too expensive travelling from Norway (we were both students) and I didn’t want travel by myself (still regretting :-)). So I’m in for a long shot here and hoping someone would help me out with tickets so that my dream of Wembley will come true at last 🙂

Kjartan Aanestad <cityted(at)>


The next meeting of the Reddish branch is on Wednesday 23rd March at Reddish Working Men’s Club, Greg Street, Stockport and our confirmed guests for the evening are Rodney Marsh and Mike Summerbee.

The meeting starts at 8.00pm (doors 7.30pm) and is open to everyone so why not come along to what will be a great night out?

For more details please visit our website at or contact branch secretary Howard Burr on 0161 346 1368.

Howard Burr <reddishblues(at)>


League table to 13 March 2011 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  29 13  1  0 39  9  4  8  3 24 21 17  9  3  63  30  33  60
 2 Arsenal         28 10  2  3 30 12  7  4  2 27 15 17  6  5  57  27  30  57
 3 Manchester City 29  9  4  2 23 11  6  4  4 22 14 15  8  6  45  25  20  53
 4 Chelsea         28  9  2  2 26  9  6  4  5 25 15 15  6  7  51  24  27  51
 5 Tottenham H.    28  7  5  1 19 10  6  4  5 22 24 13  9  6  41  34   7  48
 6 Liverpool       29  9  4  2 26 12  3  2  9 13 24 12  6 11  39  36   3  42
 7 Bolton Wndrs    29  8  5  2 28 19  2  5  7 14 21 10 10  9  42  40   2  40
 8 Sunderland      29  6  5  3 18 14  3  6  6 15 21  9 11  9  33  35  -2  38
 9 Everton         29  5  6  3 22 19  3  7  5 16 19  8 13  8  38  38   0  37
10 Newcastle Utd   29  4  6  5 32 22  5  3  6 12 19  9  9 11  44  41   3  36
11 Fulham          29  6  6  3 20 16  1  8  5 12 15  7 14  8  32  31   1  35
12 Stoke City      29  7  3  4 20 15  3  1 11 12 23 10  4 15  32  38  -6  34
13 Aston Villa     29  6  5  3 22 16  2  4  9 15 34  8  9 12  37  50 -13  33
14 Blackburn R.    29  6  4  4 17 11  3  1 11 20 38  9  5 15  37  49 -12  32
15 Blackpool       29  4  3  7 23 27  5  2  8 20 31  9  5 15  43  58 -15  32
16 West Brom A.    29  5  5  4 22 23  3  3  9 17 31  8  8 13  39  54 -15  32
17 Birmingham City 28  4  7  4 14 18  2  6  5 13 21  6 13  9  27  39 -12  31
18 West Ham United 29  5  4  6 20 21  2  6  6 16 28  7 10 12  36  49 -13  31
19 Wolves          29  7  3  5 24 22  1  2 11 10 27  8  5 16  34  49 -15  29
20 Wigan Athletic  29  3  6  6 16 30  2  6  6 11 20  5 12 12  27  50 -23  27

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1711