Newsletter #1735

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A brief issue tonight with a look at Mancini and his achievements and Tévez with his indecision.

Next Game: TBA


It has been a very enjoyable season. City achieved 3rd place on the same points as runners up Chelsea, automatic qualification for the Champions’ League, and that wonderful FA Cup triumph. Everyone at Manchester City can take pride in a job well done.

Not everyone, including a tiny minority of City fans, are full of admiration for Mancini and his achievements. Some in the media say that we have underachieved considering the money we’ve spent. They say we should have challenged for the title for the money we’ve spent. Let’s put that myth to bed shall we?

Rome was not built in a day. Every team takes time to build no matter how much money is spent. Regardless of outlay, that time is needed to mould a team and its way of playing.

We are often likened to Chelsea, yet the modern day Chelsea was not built overnight. Abramovich bought an already successful trophy-winning club that was firmly ensconced in the top 4. Over several years, Glen Hoddle, Ruud Gullit, Gianluca Vialli and Claudio Ranieri all played their parts in rebuilding Chelsea. They reached a Cup Final under Hoddle in 1993/94 and won their first trophy since 1970 under Gullit when they won the FA Cup in 1996/1997. Gianluca Vialli followed this up with 3 more major trophies. Claudio Ranieri toughened them up further, taking them to 2nd place. In contrast, City as we well know hadn’t won a trophy since Tony Book’s 1976 League Cup triumph.

Our woeful, simplistic press and several pundits forget this. Even one of the more objective and unbiased pundits Steve Claridge, who commands respect, has been like a stuck record with the ‘underachievers’ line.

Since the Sheikh blessed City with his investment 3 years ago, after City had finished 9th under Sven and Thaksin, we’ve had Mark Hughes’s team finish 10th, Roberto Mancini finishing 5th and then 3rd. Not a bad progression in just 3 years when the first team squad has been almost completely overhauled. Mark Hughes also can take some credit for using the Sheikh’s money wisely: Vincent Kompany, Nigel de Jong, Carlos Tévez and Pablo Zabaleta all arrived under his watch. He was on course for a Europa League place last season. Whilst he can count himself unfortunate to have been sacked, there is no doubt that he was replaced with an even better manager in Roberto Mancini. The board has been vindicated in this decision: Mancini has ended that 35 year trophy drought and brought us into the Champions’ League for the first time. Indeed, Roberto Mancini is the real deal.

How has he done this? Mancini has added to the squad with some astute signings. David Silva and Adam Johnson have arrived under Mancini’s watch and they have delighted us with their skills. Another Mancini signing, Yaya Touré, is a powerful presence in our midfield with his strong running. Roberto can take credit for converting him from a defensive midfield player to a box to box player who scores FA Cup Final winning goals, and (oh, yes!), FA Cup Semi Final winning goals against you know who. Of course, much credit must also go to Mike Rigg and his team of world wide scouts who look into the background and mentality of our players.

City are not signing flaky players any more. We are signing more mentally tough players. Adam Johnson for instance was cynically kicked very hard in the first thirty seconds of the Juventus home game, and was clearly in pain. Did he hide? Was he softened up like a lot of wingers (including the great Stanley Matthews)? None of it. Johnno dug in, played his own game, and coolly scored our equalising goal.

Mancini is not afraid to make the big decisions. He was bold in choosing Joe Hart as goalkeeper after Shay Given had been very impressive between the posts for City. Hart has had a good season, commands his box very well and is an excellent shot stopper and will surely improve further in this set up.

Mancini has built a solid defence with Vincent Kompany and Joleon Lescott/Kolo Touré at its heart. He inspired Micah Richards to the best form of his career with his expert coaches. Whether you like zonal marking or not, or having everyone back for a corner (I didn’t like it under Mel Machin either), no denying that Mancini’s methods work. Mancini has organised the team brilliantly and they are always well drilled. They are well set up and everyone knows their place when the ball is lost. They defend well as a unit, from front to back. The work rate of the brilliant Tévez and David Silva is a joy to behold.

It is nice to go to watch a team that is hard to beat (we’re fed up of watching City lose, so this represents a refreshing change). We haven’t had that toughness since the days of Howard Kendall and Peter Reid in the early 90s. Every successful team is built from the back, on the foundations of a solid defence. That is what Mancini is doing. The biased, uninformed media tries to label City as a defensive team. Wrong again.

Only United, Chelsea and Arsenal have scored more than our 60 goals, which is a pretty good strike rate. It’s just that City defend far better than Arsenal (our 33 goals conceded is 10 less than the Gunners), and therefore deserved to attain 3rd place. City are a team that defend well and play some very attractive football. No team containing David Silva and Carlos Tévez can be described as defensive. The flowing football that the Spanish playmaker inspires is a joy to behold. City move the ball at mesmerising pace for large periods of the game. Often the opposition struggles to touch the ball for the opening 30 or 40 minutes. City are still a work in progress and will get even better with even more time for these players to gel and with more quality additions. He needs a new top class right winger to compete with Adam Johnson and to allow Johnno to play on his favoured left more. Alex Kolarov has struggled so far and Roberto Mancini may well decide that he needs a new left back. The versatile, brave cult hero Pablo Zabaleta does a great job in both full back positions, but he is right footed, and it would be unfair to ask him to play a full season there, not that he would complain. Zaba epitomises the wonderful spirit that has been engendered at City. That spirit counts for a great deal.

We have a very good squad here and it is a particular privilege to watch the likes of Vincent Kompany, Nigel de Jong, Pablo Zabaleta, Carlos Tévez and David Silva at our club, to name but a few. Not only are they very good players, they are strong characters too that command respect. It takes a firm hand at the tiller to deal with the issues that a City manager faces inside and outside of the club, and Roberto Mancini has delivered this season in the face of huge pressure and a very hostile media. He’s done it with calmness, grace and style. We can look forward to even better in the coming seasons.

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


Carlos Tévez has not committed whether or not he is staying at Manchester City two weeks after the end of City’s season. Whilst it’s right to be little patient, the Carlos Tévez situation cannot be allowed to drag on throughout the summer. He needs to decide very quickly if he is staying or going as we need to plan for the future, with or without him.

Tévez needs to consider people other than himself and his family. He owes it to us too to make a decision one way or the other. If he goes, then the club will need a top class replacement, and we need to get on with that as soon as possible. If he stays, we need him to be fully committed to the cause.

If he wants to go then, disappointing as it is, we can say thank you, and good luck (except when he plays against City). Whilst his departure would be a set back, it would be a temporary set back. It is not the end of the world. City will replace him and continue to improve. If he is to go then it should be for no less than £60 million, especially if Fernando Torres cost £50 million.

Carlos Tévez has the chance to remain as part of something really special here. Sheikh Mansour, the board, Roberto Mancini, his coaches have turned a team that had won nothing for 35 years to FA Cup winners, and Champions’ League qualifiers. The aim is to make the team the best in Europe and beyond. Surely that is a challenge worth staying for?

Carlos is adored by his team mates and fans. MCFC are sensitive to his needs with regards his family. Would any other club be so understanding? Real Madrid are not known for being a tolerant club. Are Inter any better, and it’s not exactly near to Buenos Aires? Why go somewhere else?

It’s decision time, Carlos.

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>

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Newsletter #1735



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