Newsletter #1784

Well it had to happen in the end. My first defeat since becoming editor! Just hoping they are not like buses ahead of our clash with Liverpool. Of which the ‘And Finally’ should set the tone!

Considerable reaction to Tuesday night’s loss, some balanced and some just plain upset!

The thread of ‘Great Headers’ is gaining momentum as may Steven Ford’s views on the M.E.N. Finally, some international requests as well as some tickets on the go for Anfield.

Next Game: Liverpool, Away, 4pm, 27 November 2011


That sickening feeling of defeat is one that we have become used to down the years at City. We’d won our previous nine games but here it is again to greet us: an unwanted guest, but one that we must face. It is often said that we learn more about ourselves in defeat and there are a few lessons for Roberto and his players to take away from a defeat in the Estadio San Paolo against a Napoli side that deserved to win.

We made basic defensive errors and these cost us. Surely the first goal must make us reconsider how we line up at a corner? We should have men on each post. It may mean that our defenders have to cover bigger areas of the pitch in our zonal marking system, but it protects us from smart flick headers like Cavani’s. Personally, I am not a fan of zonal marking, but to be fair to Roberto and his coaches, it hasn’t served us too badly thus far. It may need a bit of a tweak, because as well as Cavani took his goals, we should not be conceding goals like those.

Our failure wasn’t all systemic, though, because there were individual errors. Defensively we switched off at crucial times. We were slow to start the second half and paid for it. Collectively, we didn’t mark anywhere near tightly enough in those early minutes after the break, and Cavani punished us again after great work on the left by the ever dangerous Lavezzi. We have played some fantastic football this season but if there is a criticism overall, it is that we have started off either a game or 2nd half too slowly.

We were having to chase the game again in the 2nd half. Napoli’s solid back three and hard midfield centre led by the accomplished Inler were difficult to penetrate, but we failed to exploit Napoli’s lack of width in defence. Too often we took the wrong option, going infield into traffic, and our cardinal sin in attack was not getting the ball wide often enough.

Zabaleta was free on the right on several occasions but he was not spotted or overlooked. Furthermore, we could have done with Agüero and Adam Johnson being on the pitch much earlier than they were. Agüero would have given our attack more mobility and variety on a night where Dzeko wasn’t up with the pace. Dzeko looks like a player who needs a run of games to be at his best, rather than someone who can come in from cold storage. Johnno would have given us that natural width that we needed to get behind the back of the Napoli defence. When we did have chances we didn’t convert them, and matches at this level are often settled by fine margins.

We are clearly on a steep learning curve in Europe and whilst all is not lost in this competition, it may be that we are not quite ready for it this year, and a bit too naïve, even though we definitely have the ability to be a very good side in years to come. That said, Napoli collectively don’t have any more experience than we do, and yet they have adapted a bit quicker than we did to the Champions’ League.

Napoli deserved their win… just. They have three high class players in Hamsik, Lavezzi and Cavani, and a decent supporting cast. They were more savvy than us in both games, but something sticks in the craw: namely the belief that we are good enough to have beaten them and didn’t perform to our potential.

We are now reliant on Villarreal to avoid defeat at home to a quality Napoli side, whilst we have the small matter of needing to beat seasoned campaigners and high achievers, Bayern Munich. We have to hope, but there is important business to attend to before that. Our best chance of silverware this season was always going to be at home.

We must take the lessons away from Napoli, dust ourselves down and be ready for a physical, high tempo Liverpool side coming at us from all angles. We cannot feel sorry for ourselves at Anfield. Our strongest side must stand up and impose our game on them. Not the other way round like that painful 0-3 defeat last spring. Of course it won’t be easy, and the referee normally comes under a lot of pressure there, but we are certainly good enough to go to Anfield and win.

Our boys just need to prove it.

Phil Banerjee <phil.banerjee(at)>


I write this within hours of our rather poor performance in Naples, and already the forums are at gridlock with people throwing their toys out of the pram, some pointing to Mancini’s poor performance in the past in the Champions’ League. I expect by the morning a small group will have boiled over to demanding his resignation, and insisting life was all so much better under Keegan or Hughes…

Let’s just stop and regroup and think about this.

I now have a little game with myself whenever I see a Mancini interview: how long will he be able to go before he refers to the fact we’re playing a game every 3-4 days? It’s normally under 90 seconds. And of course, he’s right.

The squad are exhausted. Look at the calendar and work out when they fit in training and days off between match days and travel. Whilst we have some depth in our squad, we don’t have the depth some others have mainly thanks to a certain striker we can’t replace immediately having decided to spend some time in Argentina and communicating with the club entirely through his lawyers.

Our league performance suggests Mancini is clearly a brilliant manager and I think he knows what he’s doing. He knows what he’s doing when he rests Richards in anticipation of the Liverpool game this weekend, he knows what he’s doing when he puts Dzeko and Balotelli together (a misfiring match-up you wouldn’t expect to misfire as much as it does, but there you go), puts two of the slowest defenders we’ve got at the back against Napoli who have the fastest attack in Europe (if not the World), keeps Nasri and Agüero back until they can’t make their full presence felt, and to do all of this whilst away at one of the most hostile and difficult stadiums in Europe.

He knew what he was doing. He didn’t get his tactics and strategy wrong: he got them bang on right.

With Tévez’s advisers destroying his career and effectively locking us down to 3 strikers on rotation – two of whom don’t work together up front particularly well – we simply aren’t ready for a full Champions’ League campaign this season and our target has to be domestic competition. If (or rather when), we bump down to the Europa competition, Mancini will feel free to send the reserves along to represent us and to rest up the core squad to focus on the title and the FA Cup. If we could somehow postpone our Champions’ League campaign until the other side of the January transfer window, maybe it would be a different story, but we can’t, so there we go.

In other words, the good news is that we’re getting lined up nicely to continue a brilliant league performance and to keep our FA Cup silverware, and that this isn’t anything close to a return to “Typical City” ways.

The bad news is that we’re more vulnerable to exhaustion than we thought, and we’ve just lost to a third tier bunch of cheats. I’ve not seen that much theatrical diving since the last time I was down Oxford Road at the Aquatics centre…

Paul Robinson <paul(at)>


Well done Roberto you picked the best team you had! Why would you not pick the team that beat Newcastle? Messing about with the team in crucial games will hopefully get you the sack or some more money to spend in January. I suppose you can always blame Carlos in some way or another. Hope you keep us at the top of the Premier League otherwise I will be proved right and after more than 40 years I would much rather win the title and be wrong.

Sam Duxbury <Sammi459(at)>


Naturally disappointed that we didn’t beat Napoli; we deserved at least a draw but we have to realize that not everything is going to work to plan this season and we have to allow for a couple of disappointments. In Bayern and Napoli, we faced two teams that are head and shoulders above anyone we have played so far in the Premier League. In four of five games we played in the European Championship, we allowed the opposition to score first, something that has only happened once in the League (QPR). We are obviously tactically still a bit naïve and that has cost us… especially in the home game against Napoli. Still, the entire episode has been a good learning experience and will be invaluable in the future. Moving forward, we have to understand that we can’t win everything (look what happened to Arsenal last season!) and our priority should be on winning the league.

We should take the pressure off the game against Bayern; just go out there and kick the crap out of them and not worry what happens with Villarreal and Napoli… who knows, stranger things have happened! Moving forward, winning the League has to be priority number one, with a shot at the FA Cup again also in our sights. Should we get relegated to the Europa League, we could use this like we use the Carling Cup and give our entire roster a run out, and who knows – we might run into United and Chelsea!

Winning the League has to be our No.1 target, starting at Anfield on Sunday. The way United and Chelsea are playing, Tottenham and Liverpool still shape up as our biggest threats. Don’t quite understand Mancini’s logic in leaving out Richards and Agüero on Tuesday but maybe he was saving them for the big game on Sunday. Speaking of which, what happened to Suarez’s suspension?! Isn’t he supposed to miss our game or is the suspension conveniently being held over until after we play them? Just wondering!

Let’s stuff the Kop.

Keith Sharp, Toronto,Canada <>


We knew that the game in Naples was going to be a tough game, but I feel sad about the way that we lost. The first Napoli goal was a bit freaky, but a good goal; the way I see most corner kicks, they are all sent high and into the middle as a 50/50 ball, or a short pass to a fellow player, but how many times do we see a corner kick low and close in? It took everyone in the City defence off guard, and Joe Hart never expected it!

The City goal by Super Mario was an opportunist goal that was well taken.

But the second goal by Napoli was something that I could see coming; OK so I’m watching on TV and it is easier for me to see but it turned out to be a great goal from Cavani and Napoli!

City did have their moments but some of the passing was bad, though they never gave up.

If I have to be a critic of Roberto Mancini, why did he not bring on Kun Agüero earlier? Was it because he is not 100 % fit? He has had trouble with a groin strain. For City to stay in this competition they have got to get some help from Villarreal, and then beat Bayern Munich.

At the start of this season MCFC said main project was to win the Premier League and try to get to the second stage of European Cup; no one ever said to win it, although we all had our dreams.

Let us concentrate on the League, and Liverpool up next!

City are doing very well, so I guess more has been expected of them at times.

We still have a great team and to lose in the fashion that we lost to Napoli is not the end of the World; City will be back in their next game!

And until we are officially out of Europe we are still in, but?

Come on you Blues!

CTWD, Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)>

NEW CITY BOOK: US AND THEM (Hardback, 224 pages with over 400 B&W images)

“Us and Them” tells the story of Manchester City versus every other club from season 1892/93 until 2010/11. This includes an A to Z of all the teams City have played against, from Loughborough to Liverpool, Gainsborough to Groclin, including friendlies, FA Cup, League Cup, Texaco Cup, Anglo-Italian Cup, Full Members Cup, Auto Windscreen, European games… the lot. It’s more ‘story’ than statistics – though these are included in summary.

There is background information on each club, a fan’s tale (over 30 contributors) for the vast majority of games (90% of which is new material), and these are quirky, hairy, scary, peculiar and, well, just interesting. There are diagrams of virtually every ground City have played on, and pictures, caricatures and cartoons are included.

The development of City’s grounds are reviewed from Hyde Road (which has never been seen before), to the opening of Maine Road and changes there until the move to COMS/The Etihad.

Check out the highs and lows, the big wins and big defeats, the Cup semi-finals and finals, play-off final, league title and European stories. Read about the original 6-1, and other derby encounters, the early conflicts with Aston Villa, and subsequent bribes scandal; what went on in Milan, Vienna, at Millwall, Notts County and Linfield amongst many other tales, plus the story of the City player who punched a fan who was giving him ‘stick’.

The foreword is by City historian and author Gary James; he writes: “For me this book is a wonderful addition to my City bookshelves. There have been many, many City books in recent years. Several have covered the same or similar topics, but ‘Us and Them’ is different. It tells the story of City through the Club’s opponents and therefore paints a picture that a chronological history or traditional biographical book cannot. It has been written in a style that allows the reader to delve in. Pick a team, any team, and you’ll immediately find a potted history of fixtures between the two sides and, in many cases, supporter memories of a game or games. This is an approach I really like. The book is a detailed and thoroughly researched history of the club against around 148 opponents and is an absolute ‘must’ for all football fans and City supporters and players in particular.”

It is now available from (cheques to) King Of The Kippax, 25, Holdenbrook Close, Leigh, Lancs, WN7 2HL.

Cost is £14.95, or £18 including P and P (in the UK). ISBN number is: 978-0-9557056-1-8

Hopefully it will also be available in all good bookshops including the City store.

Dave Wallace <dw001e8104(at)>

OPINION: Ragchester Evening News

Is it just me that’s had enough of the Manchester Evening News?

This season, God’s very own club have played brilliant football yet still this newspaper doesn’t give us any credit. After looking at the City area on the MEN website after the Napoli game there were images with our heads down. The same happened after the Napoli home match when we played well; the ‘R.E.N.’ published negative images and after Munich too.

Now what gets my back up is when you go to the Rag area you have Nani with the ball – a positive image? And there were again upbeat images when they drew 3-3 at home to Basel when ours were “Wheels falling off again” shots.

Another p-take is the “Memo to Mancini” articles, which I find extremely disrespectful. They wouldn’t dare do that to Fergie due to the fear of a BBC style blank. Doesn’t it show that their Sports Editor, Peter Spencer is a Rag? Bring back Paul Hince I say, as he gave us facts, honesty and humour, which is now sadly lacking!

Steven Ford <>


I refer to Dickie Denton’s top ten headers article, which in the main come from recent history. Two “stand out” headers further back in time must include Dave Watson’s vs. Ipswich. I stood behind that goal in the scoreboard end, and was amazed at the speed of the ball when it hit the back of the net. Jon Miller’s description of “powered in” is particularly apt (Ed – we were at the same game!).

The other worthy of note was the late great Bobby Johnstone’s diving header in the 1955 Cup Final. For months after I tried to re-enact that goal in our back garden, all I ever got was grazed knees, and a telling off for ruining my clothes.

Come on you Blues.

Peter Wilson <psw(at)>


Quite a few of my favourites seem to be from the 80s. These are not in order either of my preference or importance:

  1. Tommy Hutchison – FA Cup Final – 1981 – we all know what happened inthe end but as a goal taken on its own, it’s a seriously powerful effort,a great goal.
  2. Gordon Davies, FA Cup 3rd Round vs. Watford, 1986. Me and my friendsremember this goal because we’ve never forgotten it being the prompt forMark Lillis to do the one-arm-up-other-arm-down ‘Let’s all have a disco’celebration later made unpopular by Terry Butcher at Italia 90.
  3. Mick McCarthy, against United in 1987: Whoomph – Have that you b*****ds!
  4. Ian Bishop, against United on 23.09.89: see previous entry.
  5. Andy May and Jim Melrose against the promotion decider vs. Charlton in1985 – both really good cushioned efforts, taking us from 1-0 to 3-0 inthat crucial match.

Marc Starr <marc.starr(at)>


So, he’s at it again.

He’s worried that Adebayor is allowed to play and score against anybody except us. He worries about the loss we made.

Sure, without van Persie and some unpronounceable goalie, he has left himself without much fit playing talent. Does he have a problem sleeping, without dreaming about our success and how to curb it?

He was once a great manager. Every day now he has a new player in his sights.

How about Carlitos, but not mentioned.

Stuart Grundy <grundyjs(at)>


Phil, thanks, for stepping into Heidi’s shoes (Ed – Absolute pleasure!). Heidi, thanks for being at the helm so long. I’ve been subscribed since about issue 50 I think, always been a welcome arrival in the inbox whatever our form was like.

I am in Abu Dhabi from tomorrow (23rd) till Dec 7th, so any suggestions from local or ex-pat Blues as to where to watch the Liverpool match greatly appreciated.

Either that or I’ll have to pop round to the Sheikh’s gaff and ask if I can watch with him.


Jim Parsons <jim(at)>


There was an email about a London pub in one of the recent editions, shortly after the derby I think. I can’t find it and as I’m in London next week and can’t get a ticket to the Emirates – I’d love to go there.

Plus, I’m in Hong Kong on Sunday. Are there any Blues’ fans over there that watch the games?

James Talbot <jtalbot9(at)>


Two spare tix for Liverpool, face value £48.

Dave Clinton <dave_clinton(at)>


Kenny Dalglish flies to Kabul to watch a young Afghani play football. He is suitably impressed and arranges to sign the player. Two weeks later Liverpool are 4-0 down to Chelsea with only 20 minutes left. The manager gives the young Afghani striker the nod, and on he goes.

The lad is a sensation. He scores 5 goals in 20 minutes and wins the game for Liverpool.

The fans are delighted, the players and the coach are delighted and the media love the new star.

When the player comes off the pitch he phones his mum to tell her about his first day in English football.

“Hello mum, guess what?” he says “I played for 20 minutes today, we were 4-0 down but I scored 5 and we won. Everybody loves me, the fans, the media, they all love me.”

“Wonderful,” says his mum, “Let me tell you about my day. Your father got shot in the street, your sister and I were ambushed and assaulted, your brother has joined a gang of looters and all while you tell me that you were having a great time.”

The young lad is very upset. “What can I say mum, but I’m really sorry.”

“Sorry?! Sorry?!” says his mum, “It’s your bloody fault we came to Liverpool in the first place!”

Neil Adshead <neil.adshead(at)>


21 November 2011

Tottenham Hotspur  2 - 0 Aston Villa     35,818

League table to 23 November 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 12  6  0  0 19  3  5  1  0 23  8 11  1  0 42 11  31 34
 2 Manchester Utd  12  5  0  1 18  9  4  2  0 11  3  9  2  1 29 12  17 29
 3 Tottenham H.    11  4  0  1 12  7  4  1  1 11  8  8  1  2 23 15   8 25
 4 Newcastle Utd   12  4  2  0 10  5  3  2  1  8  6  7  4  1 18 11   7 25
 5 Chelsea         12  4  0  2 16 11  3  1  2  9  6  7  1  4 25 17   8 22
 6 Liverpool       12  2  4  0  8  5  4  0  2  8  6  6  4  2 16 11   5 22
 7 Arsenal         12  5  0  1 12  4  2  1  3 13 18  7  1  4 25 22   3 22
 8 Aston Villa     12  3  2  1 10  6  0  4  2  6 11  3  6  3 16 17  -1 15
 9 QPR             12  1  3  2  5  9  3  0  3  8 13  4  3  5 13 22  -9 15
10 West Brom A.    12  2  1  3  5  6  2  1  3  6 11  4  2  6 11 17  -6 14
11 Norwich City    12  2  2  2 10  9  1  2  3  7 11  3  4  5 17 20  -3 13
12 Everton         11  2  1  3  7  8  2  0  3  6  8  4  1  6 13 16  -3 13
13 Swansea City    12  3  2  1  8  2  0  2  4  4 14  3  4  5 12 16  -4 13
14 Stoke City      12  2  2  2  7  7  1  1  4  3 15  3  3  6 10 22 -12 12
15 Sunderland      12  1  3  2  9  7  1  2  3  5  6  2  5  5 14 13   1 11
16 Fulham          12  1  3  2 11  9  1  2  3  3  6  2  5  5 14 15  -1 11
17 Wolves          12  2  1  3  8 10  1  1  4  5 10  3  2  7 13 20  -7 11
18 Bolton Wndrs    12  1  0  5  9 17  2  0  4 10 12  3  0  9 19 29 -10  9
19 Blackburn R.    12  1  0  5  6 13  0  4  2 10 14  1  4  7 16 27 -11  7
20 Wigan Athletic  12  1  2  3  8 11  0  1  5  2 12  1  3  8 10 23 -13  6

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1784