Newsletter #1756

With the top of the table clash happening on Sunday we’ve a look tonight and report at the opening game against Swansea and that man Agüero.

There’s also opinion on whether we’re developing a two tier City, a view on the youth policy, a little more on the Red issue, a bizarre act of retribution and the usual requests including tickets for Bolton – sorry Alan for this one being a bit late, the server isn’t liking the new BT mail format I am afraid!

Next Game: Bolton Wanderers, away, 4pm Sunday 21 August 2011


Sergio Agüero made a stunning début, scoring two goals and making one, to ease City to a four-nil win over newly-promoted Swansea City at Eastlands. Indeed, it was perhaps the best début since Ali Benarbia weaved his magic on his bow against Birmingham in September 2001.

That all the goals came after the half time break emphasises what a brilliant 2nd half performance this was.

As ever for a first game of the season, the air was charged with optimism, good spirit, with many fans of both teams sporting new replica shirts. England World Cup winner and Blue, Will Greenwood and Welsh rugby legend Gareth Edwards, who is a long standing friend of Mike Summerbee, was interviewed on the giant screen in City Square, and a clip of Edwards’ fantastic try for the Barbarians against The All Blacks brought back memories of 1973. Childhood seems a long time ago, but the memories are vivid.

It had been 28 years since Swansea had last visited us: a dank, foggy October day in 1983 when we saw substitute Duncan Davidson score a late, late winner at Maine Road for Billy McNeill’s City in a 2nd Division encounter. Both sets of fans have endured a lot of pain since then (if you think we had bad times, Swansea almost went out of the League altogether 8 years ago), punctuated by sparse glory days.

Happily for all assembled on this occasion, these are positive, exciting times. You could almost touch the anticipation of this first game in a new season at the Etihad Stadium. How would we start? When would see Agüero? Promoted teams with their enthusiasm and optimism can be tricky. We’d have to be strong and on our game.

The away end was bedecked with a few black and white flags from such places as ‘Neath Valley’ and one splendid Union Jack that was red, white, blue and to give it a Welsh flavour… green! Backed by magnificent vocal support (‘Land of my fathers’ plus an impressive rendition of “Cardiff City’s going down, going down” were belted out amongst other chants, all in English!), Swansea started off brightly.

Initially City struggled to get to grips with the Swans’ enthusiasm and slick passing, which was inspired by diminutive playmaker Leon Britton, who played in the team that avoided relegation to the Conference. They passed the ball well as a whole for twenty minutes, looking to release wide men Scott Sinclair and Nathan Dyer but they were unable, though, to fashion any chances as City’s back four, superbly led by captain Kompany, snuffed them out with excellent reading of the game.

Inspired by the sublime Silva’s highly intelligent passing and movement, and de Jong’s quintessentially tigerish midfield play, City took a firm hold of the game. We started to out-wit and out-muscle Swansea in midfield, penning the visitors in their own half for the 2nd quarter of the match.

The quick combination moves started to flow as City attacked Swansea from all directions: wide left and right, and with some highly sophisticated moves through the middle.

In one such move, after great one-touch play by involving de Jong, Dzeko and Yaya Touré, Johnson played in Silva from the right with a superb cut back and the Spanish magician hit the bar. Before that, Silva had exchanged passes with de Jong and his twenty yard angled shot was brilliantly saved by Dutch number 2 ‘keeper Vorm. The little Spaniard’s third effort was shot over the bar when well placed after a corner was cleared.

Dzeko tried to chip over the advancing Swansea ‘keeper from close range but Vorm showed his quality to thwart him. The centre forward had combined well with Johnson to play in Yaya Touré but he was thwarted again by the excellent Vorm. Barry also hit the bar for City during first half injury time, leaving it was goalless at at the break, but we liked what we saw and City received warm applause as they left the field.

The rain started to fall and the pitch became slicker, suiting City’s one touch passing game.

Silva was running the show. Not only was he showing his sublime skill, we also saw his strength too, and this was underlined as he was instrumental in City’s opening goal.

Receiving the ball thirty five yards from his own goal, and under pressure from the close attentions of an opponent, he showed great strength to shrug a bigger man off. He twisted and turned away and made a driving run down the middle, deep in to the Swansea half to play a perfect ball for Johnson out on the right. The England winger cut in, and his angled shot was parried straight to Dzeko, who turned the ball into the net in a split second.

A relieved Eastlands cheered loudly… and reprised The Poznan! “Oh-oh-oh… Edin Dzeko” went the chant from the grateful City throng who remember that if he’d not scored that late equaliser at Notts County, we’d still be waiting for that elusive trophy.

Swansea weren’t finished, though, and in a breakaway, Dobbie forced a top drawer, full stretch save from Hart.

Worryingly, de Jong was struggling, feeling his calf, and he was replaced by Agüero to a warm Manchester welcome. Within a minute Agüero took Yaya’s pass in the box, turning to force a save with a powerful shot. Eight minutes of promise later, he delivered an immediate return on his transfer fee. Johnson played a superb ball inside the Swansea left back, which the athletic Richards crossed low and hard between defence and goalkeeper. Showing the true instincts of a goal poacher, Agüero pulled away to the far post and side-footed in the ball expertly. A joyous Eastlands erupted, and Sergio ‘Kun’ Agüero looked rather pleased too!

This was only the start of the young Argentine’s excellent contribution. Taking in Dzeko’s clever chipped pass in the inside left position, he lobbed the ball over the ‘keeper and impudently pulled it back on the bye-line (replays on the big screens showed it was just in) for Silva who swept a rising drive into the net. Wow!

We were being truly spoiled by now. Agüero surpassed even this as he saved his best until last. After trading passes with Yaya Touré, he drove into the inside right position twenty five yards out, then blasted a powerful swerving shot that left even a high quality ‘keeper like Vorm helpless as the net bulged. The City faithful gasped with delight at this and Agüero was mobbed by his team mates. What a brilliant goal, what a brilliant player.

How did we measure up as a team? It’s difficult to judge Swansea on one appearance against a very good City side, but I suspect they will find it hard. Their defence is probably better than Blackpool’s, and their wingers are probably faster, but their striker, Graham, making his début, hardly had a kick all night. Whether that is because he was up against the best defence in the league or because he lacks Premier League quality will only tell over a season. Good luck to Swansea (except against us, of course).

As it is difficult to gauge Swansea, in turn it makes it hard to assess how good City were in this. We looked fluid in possession of the ball and like a team. David Silva does so much to make us tick with his prompting and supreme intelligence. Indeed I’m running out of superlatives for him. Agüero fitted straight in, and look like he’d been here for years. Bolton will present far more of a challenge on Sunday. Hopefully de Jong will make it as we will need every bit of strength to repeat our May win there.

It has to be said that 8pm on Monday night is an appalling time for fans from South Wales to traipse up to Manchester as there are no trains back to South Wales, but still the Swansea fans turned up in large numbers from Swansea and the Valleys for their first top flight game since 1982/1983: the year that we both went down. The inconvenient kick-off time didn’t put everybody from South Wales off, and there were perhaps a couple of hundred empty seats, but there’s no doubt that they would have sold out had it been Saturday 3pm kick off.

Att: 46,802.
Hart: Good, clean handling and a top drawer save when called upon. Good distribution: 7
Richards: Skinned by Sinclair once early on but good, solid defending mainly and he delivered a terrific cross to set up Agüero’s first goal: 7
Kompany: The City Captain was a true leader again and a rock solid presence: 8
Lescott: Complemented Kompany superbly. Some lovely skills on the ball: 7
Clichy: Some great skill on the ball, but his defensive anticipation will have to improve against better opponents: 6
de Jong: Was bossing this game in the midfield engine room before being forced off with a muscle injury: 8
Barry: Unsung again, he was a solid presence throughout to underpin this victory. Hit the bar in the first half: 7
Yaya Touré: Powerful in midfield and part of a fluid team, he provided the pass for Agüero’s wonder strike: 7
Johnson: Grew into this game with some lovely crosses and good decision making. Another player who is a joy to watch: 8
Silva: A brilliant, virtuoso performance, packed with invention and passing of the very highest class. He thoroughly deserved his goal. It is an absolute privilege to watch this man play football for Manchester City: 10 (Man of the Match)
Dzeko: Led the attack very well indeed, linked up play well and his good positional play paid off when he was on hand to break the deadlock. With a pre-season behind him, he has improved considerably and there is more to come from him: 8
Agüero (for de Jong 60): If he can score two brilliantly-taken goals and lay on a goal like Silva’s in 30 minutes, what can he do in 90? An absolutely sensational cameo début. I cannot wait to see more: 9
Milner (for Silva 81): Fitted straight in: 6
Savic (for Johnson 714: Finding his way: 6

Best Oppo:
Vorm: Quick reflexes, assertive, highly impressive: 8

Mike Dean: Couldn’t be faulted, but the game was played in such a good spirit which made his job easy: 8

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


After a long summer wait the Premier League finally kicked off. Naturally our game with Swansea was put back until Monday night to facilitate the cameras from Sky for the first Monday night football of the season.

The game was billed as moneybags and pre-season favourites City versus the newly promoted first team from Wales to play in the Premier League, Swansea. A strange air of confidence emanated from the stands of the newly-named Etihad Stadium; would the 3 points be there for the taking or would those old City failings from new dawns past rear their ugly heads?

Initially, Swansea had a lot of possession (and Sky delighted in showing their fancy graphics) but never really threatened Joe Hart’s goal and slowly City took a stranglehold on the game. Swansea’s new ‘keeper and the Eastlands crossbar denied City and in particular David Silva and somehow they went in at half time level.

The rest as they say is history. Swansea sat back as City ventured down the flanks and a cross/shot from AJ was spilled by the so far excellent débutant goalie and Dzeko gleefully gobbled up his first goal of the season.

What happened next was the most dramatic entrance of a substitute since the Colin Bell comeback game: ladies and gentleman I give you the Kun Agüero show.

A few minutes later were 2-0 up, then Dzecko put him through and he flicked a ball about to go out back to Silva who smashed it into the net, and to cap it all he walloped the 4th in from 30 yards out; has there ever been a better débutant for City?

Having witnessed many a false dawn from our beloved Blues and I know they will sneer that it’s only Swansea, but I can’t help but be excited by the way the team is shaping up. Competition for places is at a premium, Silva, Dzeko and Kun all linked up well and the boys at the back were never in trouble.

Hang onto your hats boys and girls ’cause the ride has just started; do we need Nasri?

Howie de Blue <galwayblue(at)>


That’s more like it!

The introduction of Agüero really set up how deadly City’s current line-up really is and should send fear into the hearts of all their Premiership opponents. The idea of Agüero, Silva and Johnson playing together on a regular basis is salivating. But I also want to point out that Dzeko and Yaya Touré also had an impact in the game. I get a feeling that Dzeko could be our hidden trump card if Mancini would just show a little more confidence in him.

Where this puts Tévez, Balotelli or even an incoming Nasri, who knows? The reality is that City could field two completely different teams and still be just as deadly. Wonder if the FA would fine them for fielding a weakened team if they did put out a completely different second squad.

Still, early days, but I do hope Mancini maintains his 4-4-2 second half set-up in future games and lets the goals flow. Also impressed that our defence did not surrender a goal even though the game was well in control.

Now let’s keep things rolling against our top-of-the-table rivals… Bolton!

Keith Sharp <>


With Iain Keir in the Red corner and Phil Banerjee in the Blue corner I thought I would throw my two penny-worth into the ring. My dad was a Red; he died in 1960 and would not recognise or understand modern football fans. He brought me up to “always watch two sides when you go to a game” i.e. be fair. In February 1958 I was 13 and cried with him on that awful day.

Anyway, to get to the point, he knew his stuff about football and Manchester football in particular. I remember well when he explained to me how the term Rags was first applied to United. Apparently in the twenties and thirties United were at a very low ebb in their history (yes Cockney Reds, they had history before 1992). In 1934 they almost got relegated to League 3 North (in those days there was the 1st Division, 2nd Division, 3rd North and 3rd South divisions (helped lower league clubs with travelling costs when private motoring was unheard of). Anoraks can check the dates but I’m pretty sure it was the year of the “Frank Swift final” (he fainted at the final whistle!). I think they finished 20th that year, one place above the bottom two relegation places. With very small crowds and absolutely no prawn sandwich sales they were very much in danger of going under. That is when City stepped in and gave them money to pay the wage bill and buy the necessities like kit. Not lent but gave (can you imagine the Glazers reciprocating?)! That was when Manchester folk started referring to them as Rags.

And there endeth the history lesson: that was how the non-Bitters became Rags. Hope you have taken this all in Phil and Ian ’cause later I will be asking you questions LOL.

Just to finish off, it is going to be fun this season watching defenders attempting to cope with Silva, Agüero and company!

Jack Millington <jack(at)>


I had intended to defend Phil Banerjee’s choice of words, but he beat me to it and with more eloquence and restraint that I could ever muster.

I too found the timing of Ian Keir’s objection to the word “Rags” rather strange, not least because it is has been standard terminology for at least 3 decades. Yet I recall being taken to task for referring to the most odious man in football as “Bacon Face”. I certainly didn’t coin the phrase and was using what had become standard McV vernacular at the time when someone chose to take offence.

“Rags” has been (to my mind) a rather polite way of referring to those poor afflicted people that misuse the great name of Manchester.

My brother is one and I fear he will never be cured. Neither will my niece, cruelly corrupted by her own father. I do not hate afflicted people and I know several who have made full recoveries. They only have to want to get better, so we should always offer them hope.

That is not to suggest in any way that we should refrain from ridiculing them at every opportunity. It is this badinage which is “only a game” and it would be terribly rude not to indulge at every opportunity. In case you miss the point Ian, this is banter, not abuse.

Thank God we didn’t use the word “scum” (filthy dross that floats near the top).

Martin Hunt <Martinhunt1908(at)>


Thanks to Phil Banerjee for his response. As you said, Phil, we are all entitled to our opinions, even if mine are “sanctimonious, ill-informed drivel”! Sorry I had the audacity to disagree with you!

Sanctimonious? In your opinion, perhaps but ill-informed? So you, and you alone, have experience of abuse and violence from rival fans, is that it Phil? As a City supporter for over 30 years, I’ve been on the receiving end of a shower of bricks approaching Elland Road, and extremely intimidating behaviour on the way from the tube station to Chelsea, many many years ago. Middlesbrough hooligans storming the North Stand at Maine Road was interesting too. And Leeds fans on the rampage outside the back of the North Stand. And plenty more. And I’ve hurled plenty of abuse myself. So, please, don’t say I’m ill-informed.

It’s just that I’ve grown up a bit now, and my mind is occupied by other things than the moronic behaviour of rival football fans. Like it or not, “boys will be boys” or rather “idiots will be idiots”. By all means report anti-social behaviour; I would do so myself. I’m not advocating it, you clearly misunderstood me. But my original point (if we can remember that far back) is that getting your knickers in a twist and using such a vitriolic tone as yours, doesn’t really achieve anything. It just makes you more angry, and makes you hateful. In my opinion. Which as you agree, I am entitled to.

Also, I am indeed aware that Rags means Red Arrogant Gits. Not sure what gave you the impression I wasn’t.

I don’t want to get into a ‘point, counterpoint’ exchange here, it will get very boring. Let’s just say that it’s diff’rent strokes for diff’rent folks and call it a draw.

In Other News I’m sure we can both agree that Kun made a wonderful impact last night, looks worth every penny (so far!).

Iain Keir <iainkeir(at)>


With the imminent signing of Nasri, City can now legitimately field two complete teams:

Team No. 1: Hart, Richards, Kompany, Lescott, de Jong, Johnson, Yaya Touré, Nasri, Agüero, Dzeko.
Team No. 2: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Kolorov, Kolo Touré, Savic, Milner, Barry, SWP, Tévez, Balotelli, Weiss.

Then there’s our loan team of Onuoha, Bellamy, Adebayor, Bridge, Santa Cruz, Johnson M, Boyata, Mee, McGovern, Guidetti, etc.

You get the picture! Unfortunately, Mancini can only play 14 players in one game, so you are going to have a lot of pricey talent sitting in the stands – never mind on the bench!

Love to see the FA try to fine us if we did put out that second team. “What are you talking about, every player is an international?”

Sad thing is we have way too much talent for our own good. At one point, we used to brag about all the Academy graduates who made it to our starting line-up. But now what?

What chance do Boyata, Guidetti, McGovern, Mancini, Mee or others of their ilk have when the likes of Barry, Milner, SWP or Weiss can’t crack their line-up? They will no doubt go the same route as Willo Flood, Ishmael Miller, Bradley Wright-Philips and Ched Evans and disappear into the nether divisions.

Surely the new rulings will dictate some level of domestic representation? Yet how is this possible when the arrival of Agüero, Nasri, Savic and Clichy will cost domestic players like Barry, Milner, SWP and Boyata any chance of a regular position?

We all know it’s going to be impossible to keep all those egos in check as it is equally impossible to get a fair transfer for Adebayor, Bellamy, Onuoha and Bridge. It is possible to have too much of a good thing.

Going to be an interesting season.

Keith Sharp <>


I’m surprised that there has not been more dismay expressed at the plight of Nedum Onuoha. The lad has been a real True Blue and never let us down. Right through the Academy and the first team and right up to England under-21 standard and yet he just doesn’t fit in. For all the superstars and the million quid a month wages, there is something fundamentally wrong with a club that can so callously discard someone as loyal and talented as Nedum whilst claiming that the brilliant Academy system we had built up in our pre-dosh days was going to be strengthened.

I can see how hard it is to get a regular first team place, but I cannot see how it is justified to simply dump Nedum from the entire squad. He deserves regular first-team football, and I reckon he is good enough to earn it here, where his heart is and yet he has simply been frozen out. It feels a bit like sacking Joe Mercer for winning everything. Typical City!

Martin Hunt <Martinhunt1908(at)>


Parked my car in Bristol after watching City’s excellent victory on Monday only to have its rear window smashed later by a turnip thrown from a passing car. As they hit the side where my City pennant was hanging I suspect some disgruntled Swansea fans, but driving around with a turnip looking for revenge?

Is this the most bizarre fan-rage incident readers have heard of?

Either way I’m now in possession of a £75 turnip, any takers?

CTID, Mark Barratt <Mark.Barratt(at)>


If the ball hits the net
It’s not Torres or Shrek
It’s Agüero

John Nisbet <john_nisbet(at)>


I hadn’t expected to be near Manchester for the Bolton game but can now make it. If anyone has 2 tickets available please drop me an e-mail.

Thanks, Alan Frost <alan.x.frost(at)>


I’m on the move and need to shift a few bit and bobs, including the following City stuff. Not wanting to retire on the sales, but just happy to give them a good home and get a few quid in the process. I have no set price, just make me an offer for whatever you fancy and the chances are I’ll accept!

1988 / 89 Back In The Big Time
Definitely Maybe – The Best Ever City Video
Soccer Legends – Bell, Lee & Summerbee
Greatest Ever FA Cup Victories

Seven inch Singles:
The Boys In Blue (has hole cut out for use in a jukebox but works with plastic centre piece)
Up The Blues / Me Ball’s Burst
We’re Back by Rockin Ronnie

MCFC Centenary Special Brochure

Programmes: Witton Albion v City (testimonial) 1987 / 88
1986 FA Youth Cup Final vs. United both legs
Alex Williams testimonial
Huddersfield Town vs. City (testimonial game) 31st July 2001 – programme and team sheet

Season ticket books: Kippax – 1984/85, 1988/89
Platt Lane – 1981/82
Family Stand – 1999/2000, 2001/02 (x2)

Book – My Blue Heaven, Dante Friend

Oh, and if anyone wants an AMI vinyl jukebox for £550 (worth way more than that!), let me know too (you’ll have to collect it!)!

Thanks, Phill Gatenby <gatenbyp(at)>


Last month, I started

It provides ticket, travel and pub guides for Blues going to away games.

So far, I’ve done guides for the Wembley and Bolton trips and will shortly have a Spurs guide too. The focus is European away games.

Ahead of next week’s draw, I’ve got a Q&A piece about the draw, and will have in-depth opponents’ guides to every one of City’s possible opponents, including every single flight option and recommended hotels with prices.

Dale Haslam – Editor, <mancityaway(at)>


15 August 2011

Manchester City       4 - 0  Swansea City          46,802

14 August 2011

Stoke City            0 - 0  Chelsea               27,421
West Bromwich Albion  1 - 2  Manchester United     25,360

13 August 2011

Blackburn Rovers      1 - 2  Wolverhampton Wndrs   21,996
Fulham                0 - 0  Aston Villa           25,700
Liverpool             1 - 1  Sunderland            45,018
Queens Park Rangers   0 - 4  Bolton Wanderers      15,195
Wigan Athletic        1 - 1  Norwich City          17,454
Newcastle United      0 - 0  Arsenal               46,894

League table to 17 August 2011 inclusive

                            HOME          AWAY        OVERALL
                    P  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  GD Pts
 1 Bolton Wndrs     1  0  0  0  0  0  1  0  0  4  0  1  0  0  4  0   4  3
 2 Manchester City  1  1  0  0  4  0  0  0  0  0  0  1  0  0  4  0   4  3
 3 Manchester Utd   1  0  0  0  0  0  1  0  0  2  1  1  0  0  2  1   1  3
 4 Wolves           1  0  0  0  0  0  1  0  0  2  1  1  0  0  2  1   1  3
 5 Liverpool        1  0  1  0  1  1  0  0  0  0  0  0  1  0  1  1   0  1
 6 Norwich City     1  0  0  0  0  0  0  1  0  1  1  0  1  0  1  1   0  1
 7 Sunderland       1  0  0  0  0  0  0  1  0  1  1  0  1  0  1  1   0  1
 8 Wigan Athletic   1  0  1  0  1  1  0  0  0  0  0  0  1  0  1  1   0  1
 9 Arsenal          1  0  0  0  0  0  0  1  0  0  0  0  1  0  0  0   0  1
10 Aston Villa      1  0  0  0  0  0  0  1  0  0  0  0  1  0  0  0   0  1
11 Chelsea          1  0  0  0  0  0  0  1  0  0  0  0  1  0  0  0   0  1
12 Fulham           1  0  1  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  1  0  0  0   0  1
13 Newcastle Utd    1  0  1  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  1  0  0  0   0  1
14 Stoke City       1  0  1  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  1  0  0  0   0  1
15 Everton          0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0   0  0
16 Tottenham H.     0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0   0  0
17 Blackburn R.     1  0  0  1  1  2  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  1  1  2  -1  0
18 West Brom A.     1  0  0  1  1  2  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  1  1  2  -1  0
19 QPR              1  0  0  1  0  4  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  1  0  4  -4  0
20 Swansea City     1  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  1  0  4  0  0  1  0  4  -4  0

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1756