Newsletter #1718

News and reaction from Alex tonight to the Sunderland performance, behind the scenes with the Chairman, player views and Mario’s promises.

We have opinion on the FA’s ban of Looney and the usual requests. No action over the weekend as the Liverpool game is on Monday evening.

Next Game: Liverpool, away, 8pm Monday 11 April 2011


General News

King Khaldoon: Winger Adam Johnson has praised Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarek for the pre-match speech he gave ahead of last weekend’s visit of Sunderland. The England international returned to the starting line-up for the 5-0 thrashing of Steve Bruce’s men and opened the scoring after just nine minutes. At the end of the game, AJ claimed that the chairman had been the secret behind City’s success and thanked him for having faith in the way the Blues are currently going about their business: “He spoke to us in the morning of the game and outlined what success would mean to the club and I think that spurred everyone on for the victory against Sunderland. The chairman said he was fully backing us and said that everyone was behind us to get that Champions’ League place. He also said how important it was to win a trophy because we hadn’t won one for over thirty years. There have been massive changes at this club over the last couple of years and he is fully behind us in what we are doing.”

The Italian’s Job: Mubarek is clearly devoted to the ‘City project’ and curried favour with the majority of fans last May when, despite missing out on a place in the top four, the club backed manager Roberto Mancini to continue his work. One year on, and with City placed firmly in the Champions’ League qualifying places, Mancini’s future has again been called into question by some of the tabloids. Reports in Italy suggested that the former Inter Milan boss may be set to join Juventus in the summer, yet despite this, Mancini has pledged his loyalty to City and claimed that even if he misses out on the top four this season, he doesn’t believe he would be sacked by the Blues: “It is very important that we reach our targets but I don’t know whether my future is dependent on me finishing in the top four. I don’t think so. I have a three-year contract. In any case, we don’t want to finish fourth. We want to finish third.”

Squad News

Boy’ Done Good: In the absence of Pablo Zabaleta, Micah Richards and Jerome Boateng, Dedryck Boyata stepped in at right back against Sunderland. The Academy graduate was particularly impressive for the Blues, who kept another clean sheet, and the Belgian defender has been revelling in his return to the City XI. Boyata revealed this week that he had never considered playing on the right side of defence but admitted that if it means playing in the City side every week, he would be happy to play in any position that Mancini asked him to: “I’d never thought about playing right back before the gaffer came in. I think the first time I played there was against Chelsea, then after that I played a few minutes against Juventus. I enjoy playing centre half as well – when I can get a game I’m very happy. Sunderland was the first game I’d started since December, so it was great. It was a test and I think I passed.”

Holding Us Together: He was sat on by ten overly excited team-mates when he scored his fifth of the season last weekend, and Boyata has explained that Patrick Vieira is crucial to City’s side as they race for a place in the top four. The youngster said that the French midfielder is a great leader of the team who is always accessible whenever anyone needs to talk and though he may not get as many minutes on the pitch as some of his younger team-mates, Vieira is just as crucial to the side: “We’ve got a great atmosphere in the changing room and Patrick is one of the people who makes us laugh the most. To see him scoring was brilliant, everybody jumped on him they were so pleased for him. He’s the one you can go to if you have questions. He’s a big face in the changing room.”

Fully Focussed: With just seven games of the season remaining, Nigel de Jong has his sights firmly set on a place in the top four. The Dutch midfielder has been crucial to City’s excellent form this season and believes that although the run-in will be just as close as it was last season, the Blues expect to be playing in Europe’s elite competition next season: “There are seven games to go and anything can happen but Sunday’s win was a great confidence boost. If we perform as a team then we have plenty of quality. As long as we set up the defence correctly then our attacking players can show what they can do. Our main goal from the start of the season was to qualify for the Champions’ League and that is still the main target.”

City ‘Til I Die: Academy graduate Shaun Wright Phillips hopes to finish his career as a Blue. Despite spending a spell at Stamford Bridge in between his City career, SWP is Blue at heart and would love to be a part of the club’s most successful ever period. Having been involved in the third tier of English football during the 1997-98 season, the England winger progressed alongside the ambitions of his club and he hopes to reward the fans – whom he explains he has a special relationship with – with silverware over the coming seasons: “I’ve gone through all the changes the club has undergone over the years, seen everything and witnessed it all, from the Maine Road days to the Gillingham play-off final. It feels like I’m part of the furniture here and I’d love to retire a City player. I’ve got my fingers crossed that this is something that can still happen. I think I’ve been really lucky to have played for City for a total of ten years, but for me, the biggest pull has always been the fans. They’ve been with me since I was playing as a schoolboy, all the way through the reserves, right the way through my career. They didn’t even turn their back on me when I left for Chelsea and they always gave me a brilliant reception home or away and I can’t explain how good that feels.”

I’ll Be Good: He’s been one of the most controversial City players of recent years but Italian striker Mario Balotelli has promised City fans that he will curb his behaviour and improve his performances. The 20-year-old understands what an opportunity he has playing at Eastlands, and believes he has the quality to become the world’s best player. Yet, in order to do so, he must learn to focus on the football and not allow his temper to get the best of him during games. Roberto Mancini has shown a lot of faith in Balotelli and the striker now wants to reward his boss by making the most of his time at City: “It is a great experience. All the people at Manchester City are fantastic and you can see the club growing every day. Everybody at the club helps me to feel comfortable. You can feel the vibe in the club. I try every day to repay the trust the manager and the club showed in me by signing me. I hope the fans know that I like it here and I am really proud to be here to write the history of this club.” Mancini expects Balo’ to mature over time: “I understand him. He is 20 years old, and at that age people can do stupid things. But maybe now the time has come for him to help himself, and to understand the mistakes he is making.”

England’s Number One: Mancini has also backed another of his players to impress at the highest level. Joe Hart has established himself in the City XI this season and has fast become a permanent fixture in the England XI. Hoping to reach the heights of Gordon Banks, Peter Shilton and David Seaman, Mancini has suggested that his ‘keeper has the potential to outdo all the greats and make his name as the greatest English goalie ever: “Joe Hart could become one of the top English ‘keepers in history. He is young and he is strong. Like everyone, he makes mistakes but that is normal when you are young. Maybe sometimes he worries too much when he has the ball. But he is getting better with every game. He is already a fantastic ‘keeper and he can still improve a lot.”

Transfer News

Back at City? City right back Nedum Onuoha watched on as his loan side were destroyed by his parent club on Sunday, but the defender admitted this week that there is still a chance he will sign a permanent deal with the Black Cats in the summer. Onuoha was sent to the Stadium of Light last August in a bid to build up some consistent first team experience and though the Blues are lacking defensive options currently, the 24-year-old remains unsure as to whether Mancini will want him back at CoMS next season: “It’s difficult to say I belong to City because I don’t even have a (squad) number there, I definitely feel a part of this squad at Sunderland. I did not really know what was going to happen when I first signed, but I can’t make any decisions so I have just had to accept it. I know there are a maximum of seven more games now for me here. At the end of the season I will sit back and think how this went. Then I will start pre-season, if it is at City to begin with, and see how things go from there. Essentially I am still their player so I am in their hands.”

The Rumour Mill: If reports are to be believed this week, Mancini has a few targets in mind come the summer – some old names, some new. Valencia’s Juan Manuel Mata is said to be top of the Italian’s list this week, while Benfica’s Fabio Coentrao and Real Madrid’s Marcelo are also reported targets. Alexandre Pato could be set to leave AC Milan to move to Manchester and Napoli’s Marek Hamsik may also be signed in a bid to bolster City’s midfield options.

Post-Match Reaction

Five Star Performance: Five goals, five scorers, five stars. City were simply sublime as they hosted Sunderland at Eastlands last weekend. First half goals from Adam Johnson and Carlos Tévez set City on their way and Balotelli could have easily made it three before the break. A third did come after the interval as Silva slotted home from close range, before Patrick Vieira scored with his first touch to make it four. City never looked pressed and there was enough time for Yaya Touré’s fifth to make it a league high win for the Blues this season.

City’s Italian coach was surprised with how easily the Blues were able to unlock the Sunderland defence: “It is not easy to beat Sunderland because they are a good side and have a manager who has a lot of experience and knowledge. But it’s important we follow up this win by beating Liverpool a week on Monday. I am very happy because we got three points, moved above Chelsea and are now just three points behind Arsenal. This was an important weekend for us, too – a big weekend will be when we win something – but it was important, nonetheless. I was surprised we won by five goals but I am not complaining!” Mancini also paid tribute to his key returning duo, Adam Johnson and Mario Balotelli: “Johnson is a very important player for us and we have missed him because he is the only player in our squad who can play the rôle he does, so it was good to have him back. Mario was much better today, he worked hard for the team, was strong and didn’t get involved with the referee or opposition and concentrated on what he needed to do. He was perfect, but the whole team played very well.”

Alex Rowen <news(at)>


Wayne Rooney got his just desserts when the FA banned him for 2 matches for his swearing outburst into the cameras. That’s all very well but it’s a pity that they didn’t ban him for the more important offence of his elbowing assault on Wigan’s James McCarthy.

United and Ferguson in particular have played the FA with their intimidatory tactics. Referees are scared to give decisions against them for fear of character assassination and consequently they are loath to punish United offenders. What other reason can describe Rooney staying on the pitch against Wigan? For what other reason did Vidic stay on the pitch in last season’s League Cup Final against Villa when a goal scoring opportunity was denied and a penalty awarded? How did Vidic stay on the pitch at Upton Park last Saturday, and Dedryck Boyata get a red card against Arsenal? In both cases, it could be argued that the fouled player didn’t have the ball and that a goal scoring opportunity was not denied, but why were the City and United players treated differently? The answer lies in the fact that Roberto Mancini does not intimidate referees and Alex Ferguson (no, he is not worthy of the title ‘Sir’ and should not be referred to as such) clearly does, and has done for a long time. Countless time “Manchester” United get away with their foul play.

A lot of what Ferguson does is calculated. If he criticises a referee or says they are unfair to his team it heaps pressure on the referees for their next games not to penalise United’s foul tactics or to be more amenable to United in general. Referees are not inherently dishonest but they do get scared. Martin Atkinson played all those minutes of stoppage time at Old Trafford in the League match last season when they clearly were not justified because he felt intimidated by a prowling Ferguson and his infernal watch. Had he not played all that Fergie time (i.e. until United scored), he would have been slaughtered in the manner that he received this season, and which, at last, brought Ferguson a five match touchline ban. Referees live in fear for their reputations being damaged and they are also scared that they won’t get the big games because they fear that Ferguson will object to them officiating if he does not like the decisions that they give.

Now United have the cheek to whinge that the FA are picking on them, when in truth, no other club that has been treated as leniently as United. The FA are not picking on United. It’s a simple case of United being serial offenders and the FA are starting to punish them for their misdemeanours, which are many. Are we starting to see a little even handedness from the FA? It’s about time that we did see it. I will reserve judgement though and will only be happy when referees are consistent, fair and unafraid to punish any offender, regardless of his team and the FA are truly even handed in their meting out of justice.

Ferguson ‘s intimidation of referees is disgraceful and I would not want any City manager to behave in the manner that Ferguson does. I wouldn’t want our players to behave in the manner that United’s do: chasing referees, snarling and bawling at them. The sight of Andy D’Urso being chased around Old Trafford by Keane and Co. for daring to award a penalty against United is an enduring one and an unpalatable one. Sheikh Mansour wishes to see our City team win with dignity and in a respectful manner, and City’s players do behave thus.

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


Oh dear, Joey Barton just can’t help himself can he. He has been rabbiting on again, saying that he is best English midfielder, insulting Gareth Barry as a ‘tortoise’ and a ‘teacher’s pet’ in the process. Ever Mister Popular, is Joey. Clearly his new haircut, complete with quiff, has gone to his head!

Without a doubt Joey Barton played his apart along with several others, most notably Dunney, Distin and David James, in keeping this club in the top flight. Whilst Dunne, Distin and James are/were top six players, Joey Barton isn’t. Barton is nowhere near as good as he thinks he is. He’s a lower half of the table player: a scrapper, but little more.

Gareth Barry is a top six player, and possibly top four team player. He does lack pace but he’s got a good touch, finds space well and is a good passer. His decision making is very good too. He’s a definite step up from Joey Barton. Enough England managers have thought that Barry was worth an England cap and that Barton isn’t. Also, two top sides in City and Liverpool sought his signature. Who was after Barton? Certainly not a top side.

In reality the tortoise has prevailed again!

Barton will eventually fall out with Newcastle and will see his career out with someone like Birmingham, Stoke or Tranmere (apologies particularly to Tranmere!), and he’ll still be telling us he is better than Jack Wilshere or whoever patrols England’s latest bunch of flops. He’ll still be deluded as he tells us that he is a reformed character who deserves yet ‘another chance’.

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


Does anyone know a good place to watch the semi-final in Singapore?

Daniel Casson <danielcasson(at)>


A few weeks ago there was a request from a City fan for details of a bar in Hamburg that shows the Premier League on Sky. I have lost the e-mail address now but I was in Hamburg last weekend and Murphy’s Irish Pub on Friedrichstrasse were happy to turn off the Bundesliga and show the City versus Sunderland game, which I enjoyed in the company of a fellow Blue. There was, needless to say, a ‘nited fan in but City’s stunning football kept him quiet. He was from Manchester, though, to be fair.

There is another bar just round the corner called the London Pub, which also looked as though it might be a venue for English games. If the football gets boring, the Reeperbahn is a few yards away and also the Erotic Art Museum!

David Williams <ddavidwilliams(at)>


Barrow AFC are holding a Sportsman’s Dinner on Thursday 28 April in The Cross Bar, Holker Street, Barrow-in-Furness with former City player Steve Daley and will be joined by top-class comedian Gary Skyner. There will be a three-course meal served before the evening’s entertainment, and tickets are priced at £30 each, or £275 for a table of 10. If you are interested in booking places, please call Martin on 01229-823061, or e-mail <martin(at)>

Ralph <ralph(at)>


League table to 06 April 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  31 14  1  0 40  9  5  8  3 28 23 19  9  3  68  32  36  66
 2 Arsenal         30 10  3  3 30 12  7  5  2 29 17 17  8  5  59  29  30  59
 3 Manchester City 31 10  4  2 28 11  6  4  5 22 16 16  8  7  50  27  23  56
 4 Chelsea         30 10  2  2 28  9  6  5  5 26 16 16  7  7  54  25  29  55
 5 Tottenham H.    30  7  6  1 19 10  6  5  5 22 24 13 11  6  41  34   7  50
 6 Liverpool       31  9  4  2 26 12  4  2 10 16 26 13  6 12  42  38   4  45
 7 Everton         31  6  7  3 26 22  3  7  5 16 19  9 14  8  42  41   1  41
 8 Bolton Wndrs    31  8  5  2 28 19  2  5  9 15 24 10 10 11  43  43   0  40
 9 Newcastle Utd   31  5  6  5 36 23  5  3  7 12 23 10  9 12  48  46   2  39
10 Fulham          31  7  6  3 23 16  1  8  6 13 17  8 14  9  36  33   3  38
11 Stoke City      31  8  4  4 25 16  3  1 11 12 23 11  5 15  37  39  -2  38
12 Sunderland      31  6  5  4 18 16  3  6  7 15 26  9 11 11  33  42  -9  38
13 West Brom A.    31  6  6  4 26 26  3  3  9 17 31  9  9 13  43  57 -14  36
14 Blackburn R.    31  6  5  4 19 13  3  2 11 20 38  9  7 15  39  51 -12  34
15 Birmingham City 30  5  7  4 16 19  2  6  6 14 23  7 13 10  30  42 -12  34
16 Aston Villa     31  6  5  4 22 17  2  5  9 17 36  8 10 13  39  53 -14  34
17 Blackpool       31  4  3  7 23 27  5  3  9 22 36  9  6 16  45  63 -18  33
18 West Ham United 31  5  4  7 22 25  2  7  6 16 28  7 11 13  38  53 -15  32
19 Wolves          31  7  3  5 24 22  2  2 12 12 31  9  5 17  36  53 -17  32
20 Wigan Athletic  31  4  7  6 18 31  2  6  6 11 20  6 13 12  29  51 -22  31

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1718