Newsletter #1774

You didn’t leave early did you?

One senses leaving early may be a big mistake this season! Especially on Sunday and the existence of “Fergie-time”!

Well at least we are up and running in the Champions’ League. A slow burner of a match built to the most sublime of finishes and sets up what should now be a humdinger in the return match.

In between we have the small matter of the derby. Quite simply the most widely anticipated derby since the last one! These games just keep getting bigger don’t they?

A great keep the faith by Ernie touches on the emotions of the game and Phil’s match report looks back on Tuesday night. As does Chris Ryder’s experience of the away fan experiment.

An interesting link on Billy Meredith is included together with a number of derby viewing/ticket requests.

The ‘and finally’ highlights the forthcoming Points of Blue meeting. Please do support Steve.

So, without further ado…

Next Game: Manchester United, away, 1.30pm Saturday 23 October 2011


Sergio Agüero snatched a dramatic late winner for City deep into stoppage time to give City a first win in the Champions’ League and send us home in ecstatic form. There were just ten seconds remaining of the three minutes of added time when Agüero showed his instinct to score a goal was vital to maintain a challenge in a very tough group. Failure to win here would have made qualification even more difficult, so there is no underestimating the significance of the strike.

As in the win against Aston Villa, we’d started off slowly. The tempo was too slow, and we paid the price in the 4th minute after two uncharacteristic errors. Silva played a “hospital pass” to de Jong who lost out in the tackle, trying to nick the ball away from an opponent. Rossi hit a rasping shot that Hart could only parry to Cani, who drove the rebound into the net from close range. The Villarreal players ran away in celebration in almost total silence (there were barely a dozen of their fans housed on the Kippax 3rd tier), which was surreal.

The heavens opened making the playing surface very soggy indeed and this didn’t help City to play at a high tempo. Villarreal seemed to adapt to the conditions better than City with their own brand of possession football and their nickname of ‘The Yellow Submarine’ was especially apt in the conditions. The visitors, however, lacked the cutting edge to sink City below the waterline.

With the global recession biting deep in Spain particularly, and the Villarreal owner’s ceramics business suffering as a result of the collapse of the Spanish construction industry, they have been forced to sell their better players in recent years. They are a pale shadow of the side that reached the semi-final of this tournament in 2005/2006. Long gone are Juan Roman Riquelme and Diego Forlan and they lost their playmaker Santi Cazorla in the summer, so Giuseppe Rossi aside (booed at the start for his previous Rag connections!), they lack real top drawer quality. What they do have is good organisation and an ability to retain possession.

As the rain started to ease, City began to fashion chances. Kolarov shot a couple of yards wide with a powerful 30-yarder and forced Lopez to tip away another quintessentially powerful drive from a long range free kick. Sandwiched between these two attempts, Nasri fired a better chance over. City still weren’t at their best and with us being outnumbered three to two in central midfield, Mancini replaced Johnson with Barry on 39 minutes. A few fans booed, Johnson was clearly bemused, and without showing dissent was still shaking his head mildly despite a conciliatory tap on the head from the manager. True, he hadn’t pulled up any trees, but he hadn’t played any worse than Nasri for example.

Hopefully Johnson understands the manager’s logic and maintains a positive demeanour. Something had to be done to gain more possession, and Mancini was vindicated within five minutes. Nasri found Kolarov down the left and his searching low cross was turned into the Villarreal net by their veteran captain Marchena, with Dzeko just behind him ready to pounce. Relief at last! With Barry and de Jong playing more defensive midfield roles, this allowed Yaya Touré to play in a more advanced role alongside Silva and Nasri, with Kolarov in particular and Zabaleta pushing up to give us more width. City pressed on and Silva found Dzeko before the break but his angled shot was saved by Lopez.

Surely with more momentum, City would turn it round in the 2nd half?

It didn’t look like it was going to happen because we couldn’t take our chances. Dzeko could have had a hat trick. Straight after the break, Zabaleta played a lovely, looping cross that left Dzeko in the clear and with time to spare, but his volley was tipped away by Lopez. He spurned another chance before Mancini rolled the dice again and brought on Agüero for de Jong to give us more attacking options. The Argentine star was soon influential and he played a looping pass into the inside right channel but Dzeko blazed over.

Villarreal’s best effort of the 2nd half was from the neat, tricky Rossi who was a handful for Kompany all night, but it was mainly City in possession. It wasn’t a case of City playing badly. We just weren’t at the top of our game as we are still adjusting to playing against a different type of opponent in this competition: the sort of opponent that can defend in depth and make swift counter attacks. We are still learning how to break down a well drilled mass defence that allows little space between the back four and the next line of midfield players. Silva, Kolarov and later on Agüero aside, our movement just wasn’t good enough for long periods on this occasion. Silva prompted but often found no one making the right runs, and this played into the hands of a compact Villarreal back nine who were happy to rely on counter attacks. Furthermore, when we did create chances to win, we weren’t taking them. Dzeko missed another good chance from a Kolarov cross.

There weren’t enough partnerships on the pitch. Barry and Kolarov were the exception in this respect, particularly in the second half. Indeed, Kolarov, who made several runs down the left in support of the attack was City’s best player on the night: in fact it was his best game in a City shirt to date. He went close with another free kick, had a goal disallowed for offside and then created a fine chance for Zabaleta with a cross from the left, but Zaba couldn’t quite summon the power or direction to beat Lopez with his stooping header.

It seemed like our last chance had gone.

It was a frustrating night, made all the more so by Villarreal’s cynical time wasting at throw-ins in particular, which prompted Roberto Mancini to offer to take one of their throws for them.

Just when it seemed like we had run out of ideas and would have to settle for a point (which was no real use), in the dying seconds of the match, substitute James Milner played a cleverly disguised forward pass down the right to the overlapping Zabaleta. The City right back crossed low and hard and Agüero gloriously swept in the winner at the far post. Eastlands went mental, celebrating manically: jigging, po-going, hollering and hugging each other in absolute ecstasy. There is nothing like a last minute winning goal.

Villarreal: Cani (4)
City: Marchena (og) (43), Agüero (90+3)

Att: 42,236

Hart: Could have pushed out Rossi’s shot further out: 6
Zabaleta: Great delivery set up two gilt-edged chances. Intelligent defending: 7
Kompany: City’s best defender on the night made several important tackles: 7
Lescott: Did little wrong without entirely convincing. Looked very one-footed when he had to walk round the ball late on in order to pass with his left: 6
Kolarov: His marauding runs were an enduring feature of our play on a difficult night: 8
Yaya Touré: You get the impression that he could have done more in this game: 6
De Jong: Finding his way back up to speed: 6
Nasri: Some good touches but he struggled to get into the game for any length of time: 6
Silva: Not at his very best. One or two loose passes let him down in the first half, but he still always looked for openings: 7
Johnson: Also struggled to get into the game with him being starved of service, but unlucky to be subbed so early: 6
Dzeko: Could and should have had at least one goal, and would have scored three if he’d brought his shooting boots: 6
Barry: Gave us a strong presence in midfield and improved the balance of the side. Formed a good understanding with Kolarov, providing delivery to him and cover as the full back bombed forward: 7
Agüero: Creative from the word go, he was in the right place at the right time to finish the job clinically: 8
Milner: Injected a little late zip and extra quality to our play: 7

Best oppo: Rossi: Ferguson dropped the proverbial in letting this striker go. Rightly booked for blatant cheating though. Now where did he learn that? 7 (includes minus 1 for the crass dive)

Refwatch: P Kravolec (Czech) Typically over-fussy continental referee but he was quick to clamp down on Rossi’s blatant dive and Villarreal’s time wasting tactics with well deserved yellow cards: 6

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


Went to the Villarreal match last night. Had what I thought was the usual text telling me about my ticket being booked. Because I can’t read texts without my glasses, did not bother to scrutinise it in detail. When we arrived at the ground our normal entrance, J, was closed and I, and many hundreds of others, were scurrying to other entrances which all had big queues.

Managed to get in just after the start and my mates arrived breathlessly some time after, as they had shot off to other entrances and consequently missed seeing the first goal of the night. More chaos at half time as the main bog in our section was closed off presumably so we did not have to mix with foreigners. Huge queues at the other facilities with desperate Blues trying to rid themselves of the pre match pints! Much mumbling and grumbling about the organisation. I read in this morning’s paper that there were about 42 Villarreal supporters present – I have no idea as we cannot see the contents of the 3rd tier from where we are in the east stand.

I hope that this “experiment” is not repeated for future matches. A stadium is designed to cope with a full house in a particular way and the changes just did not work at all well. The poor stewards were being bombarded with questions and complaints but seemed to take it in good spirit with an “it’s nothing to do with us – we didn’t suggest this” type of body language.

Also, the atmosphere seemed to suffer with no away supporters to shout at. The second half was deathly quiet at times apart from the laughter coming from the dead heads who were having a high old time throwing hundreds of plastic bags or whatever they were, at the stewards. They will not laugh if we are ordered to play behind closed doors.

Interesting to note that the smoking ban does not appear to exist at the ground. You nearly die of suffocation when you eventually get into the gents in some areas!

With regard to the match, it was great to get a Fergie goal. I hope we have 4 minutes extra time on Sunday and score the winner in the 5th minute. Can you imagine his face!

Chris Ryder <chrisryder62(at)>


If there was ever game when you were to “Keep the Faith”, then this was it, right up until the last seconds of the game when the winning goal was scored by Kun Agüero to give City the 3 points that are desperately needed in our group to keep us in the hunt.

Overall I thought that City played a slower game than I was anticipating. The main thing is that City won: congratulations to the team and coaches.

For the game on Sunday versus the Rags I do believe that the pace will have to be moved up a couple of notches, and I have the faith that City can win and stay top of the Premier League.

On another subject I have been reading that some owners have ideas of not having a league with a relegation system; this might be all very well in USA where there are no such leagues, but in English football it has been a tradition that has worked just fine; in fact every season we have teams fighting at the top, and then there is a fight going on at the bottom of the league for survival and then it provides excitement in the league below when three teams make it into the Premier League.

I am very much in favour of keeping things as they are. Besides, who would be picking the teams to stay in the Premier League? I don’t think other teams would agree!

The fans would not be getting the excitement that has been going on such a long time and has helped English football stay alive and the best in the world; if it isn’t broke don’t fix it.

Come on you Blues, beat the Evil Empire!

Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)>


Really good article here on ESPN website by Robin Hackett.

I’ve read about Billy Meredith elsewhere, but this is a brilliant insight to our early days (I love the bit about one of the City delegation being thrown into a horse trough for ‘stealing’ him from Chirk – I could just see that happening to Gary Cook).

It also goes some way to repudiate the ‘No history’ rubbish – United didn’t win the league until we sold them our best player, and if we’d won the controversial game at Villa, then 1904 would have been our ‘double’ year (FA Cup winners and 2nd in league)!

Dave Ball <david.fx.ball(at)>


I should have sent this a while back. It is hard to imagine what following City would have been like without MCIVTA. Even now, when almost every City game can be seen out here in California, the twice weekly ramblings of old and new City fans is always a pleasure to read. Well mostly anyway 🙂 Thank you Heidi for sticking with this job over the last many years.

Our club has changed out of all recognition and those changes have been reflected in the postings. To keep to schedule for so long, to send the news out twice a week, to provide a guiding hand when some postings got a little extreme… none of this could have been easy but you always handled everything with a very positive approach. Many, many thanks.

I always thought that on one of my trips over we could meet up somewhere. It never happened but maybe next time. I hope you are now a confirmed reader rather than an editor.

Welcome about Philip.

Best wishes, John Pearson <john.pearson(at)>


We were wondering if you would be able to post details of our upcoming signing with Dennis Tueart on your website? Obviously we want to let fans know that he will be at our store so that the event is a success for him.

Dennis will be signing copies of his book ‘My Football Journey’ at our store on Thursday 27th October from 5pm.

If you are able to do this for us we would be most grateful.

Many thanks and we look forward to hearing from you.

Caroline Larner, Assistant Manager – Waterstones Stockport <manager(at)>


Does anybody have an idea of a pub where I could see the derby game in Delhi, India, where I will be on Sunday evening? I’d be grateful for any information!

Robert Sleigh <Robert_Sleigh(at)>


I recently moved to Boston and pleasantly discovered that Blues in the Boston / Massachusetts / New England area have made The Banshee bar, Dorchester Avenue, Boston their home.

There is a Facebook page if anyone in the area wishes to come down or just wanting the general City chat with like minded Blues in the area.

I’ll be there 8.30am for the derby!

Phil Gatenby <gatenbyp(at)>


In London and want to watch a game with fellow Blues?

The City Pride, Farringdon ( is the only dedicated MCFC pub in the capital. It boasts 17 screens, Sky, ESPN and Sky Italia (which means we get 3pm KO!). Give me shout if you want any more info.

Tony <tony.b1(at)>


I am sure that I join a long long queue of requests here, but work commitments unbelievably for once have thrown up a free weekend and it is this week! So I am travelling back to Manchester to see the family and with the rather important matter of another victory against the Rags on Sunday to contend with, if anyone please has one spare ticket for the derby, I would snap their hand off and pave it with gold. Well… hard earned money anyway.

Here’s hoping…

Mike Sokol <mike.sokol(at)>


It’s proved very hard to get most of the usual City staff on one evening but we’ve settled for getting most of them on Wednesday 9th November, Mancunian Suite, 6.30pm start.

I imagine stewarding, away fans in top tier, paper planes, will be on the agenda as well as some of the usual headings!

Let me know if you have anything specific – especially if you want a specific reply on the night.

Steve Parish <bloovee(at)>


League table to 19 October 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 City  8  4  0  0 13  1  3  1  0 14  5  7  1  0  27   6  21  22
 2 Manchester Utd   8  4  0  0 16  3  2  2  0  9  3  6  2  0  25   6  19  20
 3 Chelsea          8  4  0  0 12  4  2  1  1  8  5  6  1  1  20   9  11  19
 4 Newcastle Utd    8  2  2  0  7  4  2  2  0  4  2  4  4  0  11   6   5  16
 5 Liverpool        8  2  2  0  7  4  2  0  2  4  5  4  2  2  11   9   2  14
 6 Tottenham H.     7  2  0  1  7  6  2  1  1  6  6  4  1  2  13  12   1  13
 7 Stoke City       8  2  2  0  4  1  1  1  2  2  7  3  3  2   6   8  -2  12
 8 Aston Villa      8  2  2  0  6  2  0  3  1  4  7  2  5  1  10   9   1  11
 9 Norwich City     8  2  1  1  6  4  1  1  2  4  7  3  2  3  10  11  -1  11
10 Arsenal          8  3  0  1  6  3  0  1  3  6 14  3  1  4  12  17  -5  10
11 QPR              8  0  3  1  2  6  2  0  2  4  8  2  3  3   6  14  -8   9
12 West Brom A.     8  1  1  2  3  3  1  1  2  4  7  2  2  4   7  10  -3   8
13 Swansea City     8  2  2  0  5  0  0  0  4  2 12  2  2  4   7  12  -5   8
14 Fulham           8  1  3  0  9  3  0  1  3  1  6  1  4  3  10   9   1   7
15 Everton          7  1  1  2  5  6  1  0  2  2  5  2  1  4   7  11  -4   7
16 Wolves           8  1  0  3  3  7  1  1  2  3  5  2  1  5   6  12  -6   7
17 Sunderland       8  1  1  2  7  5  0  2  2  3  5  1  3  4  10  10   0   6
18 Bolton Wndrs     8  0  0  4  4 15  2  0  2  8  7  2  0  6  12  22 -10   6
19 Wigan Athletic   8  1  1  2  5  6  0  1  3  1  8  1  2  5   6  14  -8   5
20 Blackburn R.     8  1  0  3  5 10  0  2  2  4  8  1  2  5   9  18  -9   5

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1774