Newsletter #1787

First off, apologies to one and all for missed edition this week. Been absolutely hammered by the ‘flu. Please please have a jab! It’s rank!

Even worse I fear it may have jinxed our Champions’ League chances! Still, a great performance from the boys to whet the appetite for next season… should we qualify!

So it’s Thursday nights and Channel 5. To be honest, while disappointed, I also have the instinct it may prove a blessing in disguise. We’ll only know in May of course. Keeps us grounded at least and that’s no bad thing.

An incredible period of games coming up. Possibly the toughest we have ever faced. In fact forget possibly… replace with definitely. We will know a lot more in 8 weeks that’s for certain.

So enough of my Lemsip-addled rantings and on with the show…

Next Game: Chelsea, Away, 8pm, 12 December 2011


On a day when we felt winter’s icy edge, City served up football of the highest quality to warm up the soul and maintain our clear, five point lead at the top of the league. Make no mistake: City beat a decent mid-table side here. As we are finding increasingly at The Etihad Stadium, City have to work hard to make a breakthrough, and Paul Lambert’s superbly-drilled Norwich side proved to be obdurate opponents in the first half. Leaving one man up front, and getting nine other outfield players behind the ball, they dropped deep and sought to frustrate City. After all, why should they make it easy? City, in particular Silva and Nasri, prompted and probed but openings were hard to find in the first half hour, as Norwich shut down the angles.

Dzeko struck a half chance just wide from distance. Then, in a lovely move, Silva released Nasri down the right with an incisive reverse pass, the Frenchman delivered a pinpoint cross but Agüero volleyed just over from a good position.

In between these two chances, Norwich’s lone striker Steve Morison might have put the visitors one up after Kolo Touré and Vincent Kompany got in a mix up and missed a routine interception on a long pass forward, but Hart charged out to the rescue to smother the ball and the danger was averted.

Agüero made no mistake when City took the lead in the 32nd minute. Nasri played a clever incisive ball for Richards, who cut the ball back for Agüero, who turned, pivoted and cleverly picked his moment to precisely thread his shot into the left hand corner of the net past three close markers, a fourth man on the line and the goalkeeper. It was sheer striking brilliance by the Argentina centre forward.

City might have added to his lead when Nasri played Agüero in again, but he shot over the bar. Agüero turned provider for Dzeko but he too struck over the bar. Nasri, who was revelling playing alongside kindred spirits like Silva, Agüero and Yaya then crossed but Dzeko hit his shot wide.

Nasri scored a deserved goal after the break when his angled free kick bounced over the fittingly named Ruddy. The ‘keeper should have done better with a free kick that looked like it was intended as a cross more than a shot. Not that it matters to us: a goal is a goal. City tormented Norwich further with more sumptuous football. Nasri found Richards with a lofted forward ball down the inside right channel, the full back played the ball back to Silva, whose angled shot was smartly saved before Agüero’s effort from the rebound was blocked again by Ruddy.

The Canaries were well and truly caged! Indeed, Norwich were clinging onto their perch, but there was only so long that they could resist wave upon wave of highly sophisticated attacks.

Silva and Nasri exchanged passes at a corner, and the genius from Gran Canaria found Yaya who steered in City’s third goal: a lovely, low precise curled shot that left the goalkeeper with no chance.

Dzeko nearly made it four but struck wide after substitute Johnson’s lofted ball split the Canaries’ defence.

Just when it seemed like there was no hope for the visitors, Morison headed a goal against the run of play as City’s defence went to sleep. Roberto Mancini was livid and let rip in his technical area. Replays showed that Morison (his name annoyingly lacks an ‘r’) shoved Clichy as he headed in, so he was lucky to get away with it, but such are Roberto’s high standards that he would not have been happy that Norwich found so much space in the box in the build up. If anything has let us down this season (and there hasn’t been much at all!), it has been these odd moments when the defence has switched off, and top opponents, especially those in Europe, have found us out. There will come a time when we will need to win a tight game 1-0. Our defending as a team will need to improve to do that.

Norwich’s colourful, highly vocal (the best away following thus far this term gave us extra-hearty renditions of their old favourite “On the ball City”) following that filled their two-tiered allocation, may have taken fresh heart from this, but it was short-lived.

Yaya Touré found Johnson’s diagonal run into the inside left channel with a lovely chipped ball, the winger turned smartly and cleverly squared the ball for another sub Balotelli, who flicked goal wards and coolly chested (Ed – shouldered!) in the looping rebound from Ruddy’s save with his right pectoral (major) muscle! “The fourth goal scored by Mario Balotelli… a striker” chimed the announcer, with classic understatement. How do you describe Mario Balotelli?

As if to emphasise our quality, City ruthlessly pressed on. Silva pressed a defender on the left touchline, won the ball, which broke to Kompany who drove in from the left to the edge of the box before finding on the right Johnson with a precise, lofted pass. The winger carefully steered a precise low shot into the net between two defenders to round off City’s scoring.

City had played very well, showing patience, guile and invention. The football was such a joy to watch again, from start to finish. Our players played football to savour, passing the ball so smoothly round the pitch, and always with purpose. There is, however, a definite feeling that we can play even better than this. Roberto Mancini, as professional as he is, will look to improve us further, and rightly so.

It was a day when we could pay our respects to Gary Speed. Up and down the country, fitting tributes have been paid to a man who was much loved and respected in life and in his passing. We had a lovely minute’s appreciation for a super professional and fair opponent. Gary Speed: great footballer, great man. Rest in Peace.

Att: 47,201

Hart: Another crucial block early on made a difference. This boy’s powers of concentration, often in games where he has very little to do, is a testament to his supreme professionalism. His distribution is much improved on last season, and demonstrates a lot of hard work has been done on the training ground with his coaches: 8
Richards: Steady again in defence, exciting in attack: England’s best right back is showing real consistency: 7
Kolo Touré: Almost gifted Norwich the lead in the first half and might have got closer to his man for Norwich’s goal: 6
Kompany: His and Kolo’s aberration in the first half apart, he gave another captain’s performance, reading the game superbly. Showed his creative side too to set up Johnson’s goal at the end: 7
Clichy: A real class act at full back, he has got even better under Mancini’s tutelage: 8
Nasri: Good to see that he really enjoyed his afternoon (who wouldn’t enjoy playing with David Silva and co?), and he richly deserved his ovation. This time, he was leading the playmaking, and he did this with great skill and intelligence. Elements of the press are starting to question his move to City, when they should know that most players take time to settle in at a new club. Samir is settling in here and growing in influence. 8
Barry: The solid foundations on which this victory was built. He was absolutely colossal: 9
Yaya: Class again. We’ll miss this class act during the African Nations’ Cup. 8
Silva: A sheer delight as ever. David Silva represents all that is good in the beautiful game. This wonderful team, and this man in particular, have the magnetic effect on us. You just can’t wait to watch what Silva and company serve up: 8
Agüero: His brilliant instinct to find the merest space, and his superb toe-ended finish did the hardest work all afternoon to open up a stubborn defence: 8
Dzeko: Lead the line well without quite finding his direction in shooting: 7
Balotelli: Only Mario scores a goal like that! 7
Johnson: Another highly productive cameo: clever assist and lovely finish for his goal. This boy has all the ability in the world, and it is good to know that he has signed a contract extension (credit to Roberto Mancini’s management too that he has persuaded Adam to stay on). When he has worked on his defensive side and learned to track his runner and intercept (e.g. like David Silva) he will be a regular starter and a World class player. 7
City: Agüero 32, Nasri 51,Yaya 68, Balotelli 88, Johnson 91. Norwich: Morison, 80.
Refwatch: Howard Webb: Competently refereed the game without fuss: 8
Best Oppo: Steve Morison: A real handful and a willing worker, he has done very well (5 league goals already) in the top flight. Not bad for a lad who has progressed from the Conference South via the Conference itself and Championship. More reason to stop that Mor-ee-son (er… sorry): 7

Phil Banerjee <phil.banerjee(at)>

MATCHVIEW: Manchester City 2 Bayern München 0

So City are out of this year’s Champions/2nd/3rd/4th place League, despite obtaining 10 points from a strangely difficult group. We exited this year’s competition on a high, showing that we can live at this level with an ultimately comfortable win against admittedly weakened (and already qualified) opponents.

With Bayern coach Jupp Heynkes making seven changes from their strongest line-up, and Roberto Mancini selecting a very strong 11 (Stefan Savic rather than Pablo Zabaleta coming in for the injured Micah Richards (groin)), we expected to take the game to them.

We started off this game nervously. Both sides gave the ball away too easily for 20 minutes, but City should have been in front within 7 minutes, Agüero heading Nasri’s sharp, pinpoint cross well over the bar. Bayern themselves had a good chance but Hart saved Olic’s angled drive sharply at the near post. Lescott had the ball in the net with a header from a Nasri free kick, but it was disallowed for a foul on the Bayern goalkeeper.

Then City broke the deadlock with a brilliant goal. Barry drove an angled ball which Dzeko deftly flicked towards Silva, who cleverly controlled on his chest before hitting a stunning low volley from 20 yards that left Butt with no chance. Silva is more renowned for the beauty of his play rather than power but this combined both attributes: the ball positively fizzed inside Butt’s right hand post.

The City players had the bit between their teeth up to the break. Agüero’s angled shot seemed destined to add to the score, but City reject Boateng cleared off the line. Silva then cut on the left hand side, had his shot saved, then Barry’s effort was blocked. City were well on top up to the break when Agüero then fired a yard wide.

We doubled our lead with a superbly intricate move through the middle of Bayern’s defence. From a deep-lying position, Agüero found Dzeko who cleverly played in the advancing Yaya Touré to stroke home. It was a move of the highest class.

Bayern tried to get back into the game, but their possession came to nought.

City carried the greater threat. Agüero cut the ball back, Barry drove powerfully and Butt made a full length save. By this time Villarreal were behind and we felt flat.

Yaya then found Silva who played in Dzeko but his shot was saved. The Bosnian had really led the line very well but didn’t get the goal that his effort and skill warranted. The combination play of the front six players in particular was very good. Nasri is starting to link up well with Silva and Agüero in particular and Yaya and Barry are looking like a superb partnership in the middle. City as a whole are really playing as a team.

We got punished in this group for our naivety and the odd defensive lapse. Games at this level are often decided by smaller margins and we were on the wrong end of that. Yes we should have had two penalties in Munich before Bayern even got going but even then there is no guarantee we would have got anything from the game.

Our squad does not need lot of new signings in the next two transfer windows to improve and thrive in the Champions’ League. Another high quality centre back to give us more depth and possibly another wide player would improve us further, but Roberto Mancini, his staff and City’s existing players will learn from this experience and be better next year. We can be sure that the powers that be will give us another tough group next season, but for what it’s worth, I have total faith that this manager and group of players (even without any additions) can progress much, much further in this competition next season.

Our disappointment at not qualifying is also tempered by the fact that our team collectively are new to this level. Added to this, newcomers like Nasri will be more settled in this time next year, better integrated and hopefully even more influential.

It’s difficult to get too down in what has been a wonderful season thus far. Watching this wonderful team and being top of our own League certainly helps!

Furthermore, a team not very far away from us have got far more Champions’ League experience and have no excuse for their failure in a weaker group. They will have to “slum” it with the rest of us on Thursday nights. Oh, the indignity! I don’t normally take solace from another team’s results when we have lost, but this situation is slightly different, and hey, it would be rude not to pass up the opportunity have a laugh at the Rags’ failure to get out of that group!

Enough about them, though. The Premier League always was our number one target this season. A tricky, but certainly winnable fixture at Chelsea awaits us next Monday, and our players will get four days recuperation time to prepare for it. Onwards and upwards. Come on City.

Att: 46,002

Goals: Silva (35), Yaya Touré (51).

Hart: Sharp saves when needed: 6
Savic: A very competent display. Didn’t always make the forward runs onto passes inside the full back but that is forgiveable, given that he does not usually play at full back: 7
Kompany: Not overly tested in this game, but his presence is vital to our side: 7
Lescott: Visibly growing as a defender. He had an immaculate night here: 8
Clichy: Read the game well and covered well in a disciplined performance. Competed better in the air: 7
Barry: Truly excellent in every way: passing, tackling and his shooting forced a fine save too. He also covered his full back and centre backs well when required: 9 (Man of the Match)
Yaya: A class act in everything he does, he took his goal coolly: 8 Silva: Took a while to get into the game, but once he did, he lit it up. What a goal: 7
Nasri: Growing in influence. He has a huge part to play domestically before he will be an even bigger influence in next year’s Champions’ League: 7
Dzeko: A really good centre forward’s performance that deserved a goal: 8
Agüero: A real livewire in attack: creative and all available when the chance comes: 8
Subs: de Jong (for Dzeko 77), Balotelli (for Yaya 81), Johnson (for Silva 83): all n/a
Best Oppo: Butt: Did well to keep the score down: 7
Refwatch: Lived up to the European stereotype of being overly fussy. Lived up to the fool’s stereotype in showing a lack of common sense in denying advantage to be played: 4

Phil Banerjee <phil.banerjee(at)>


“Thirty Five Years” is the story of City’s 2010/2011 season, which as you know ended in success with the winning of the FA Cup Final at Wembley and qualification for the Champions’ League. But in reflecting the decades of disappointment and crushed hopes that define the outlook of older City supporters, the book is also in many ways the story of every season since 1976.

The book charts City’s progress from the start of the pre-season friendlies, through the attrition of the campaigns in the Premier League and the Europa League, and eventually into the final rounds of the FA Cup and the season’s climax. Rather than simply presenting a series of match reports, the lead up to, and the aftermath of, each match are described through the prism of the author’s wildly oscillating emotions – emotions that are permanently linked to a set of collective memories of events that have burned themselves onto Manchester City folklore since 1976 (and before).

City supporters will be able to recognise the sentiments and feelings as the successive highs and lows of the season break over the author like waves crashing onto a beach – this is a roller-coaster ride all the way to Wembley!

The book is available now on Amazon as an “e-Book” i.e. downloadable for Kindle devices and also on PC-based readers. Also it will be available on i-Tunes and the WH Smith website soon. Search for “Thirty-Five Years Manchester City” and you should find it.

Steve Maclean <fruitbog(at)>


As I settled in to watch the game versus the Canaries, I don’t know if it was Paul Lambert’s tactics of “if we are only down by 1 or 2 goals, we can get it back late on, with a big burly centre forward” instead of playing 10 defenders and some guy 30 yards away from his nearest team-mate – always onto a loser with those tactics.

Best part of the game:

Here in the good olde US of A, the advertising board had a Thomas Cook all-inclusive “vacation for 299 pounds to…” you guessed it…

The Canaries!

Amazing how I cannot make this up.

I try!

Philip Telford <telfordpnt(at)>


I am looking for tickets for West Brom away on boxing day. Four would be ideal, but failing that, would happily buy two or three. Can collect in and around Manchester area.

Matthew <matthewmaxey(at)>


I have a spare ticket for Chelsea-City next Monday if there is a Blue who is keen to go. The City end has sold out. Payment for the ticket, worth in the region of sixty quid, is a couple of pints on the night of the match. The drawback is that the pair of tickets are in the Chelsea end (I am using one). I sat in the same seats for the same match last season.

I would not recommend cheering for City, although last season this was not an issue because we lost 2-0 and the team did not look interested. I will only receive the tickets outside the ground so it may be better if it’s a London-based Blue – I would not want to be responsible for someone travelling down from Manchester and not getting in because the person I am supposed to meet does not show up.

Please ask interested Blues to email me directly.

Neil Adshead <neil.adshead(at)>


Does anyone have a spare Chelsea (a) ticket? If so, please get in touch.

Martin <martinlever(at)>


In the last issue, Phil Banerjee said:

“On one level I’m disappointed that we can’t humiliate Manure again in the League Cup, particularly at Wembley, but overall sense prevails. It was lovely to see Gary Neville’s face after that latest humiliation. Fair play to Palace too. They have some terrific youngsters (Zaha, Clyne etc) and what a wonder strike that was by Darren Ambrose.”

Will the FA Cup do instead Phil?

Careful what you wish for! I can’t stand derbies myself. That said, judging by various United fan sites they aren’t too keen on playing us either! In fact, many are preparing to leap off tall buildings at the prospect.

Richard Mottershead <richardjohnm(at)>


5 December 2011

Fulham               1 - 0  Liverpool            25,688

4 December 2011

Everton              0 - 1  Stoke City
Wolverhampton Wndrs  2 - 1  Sunderland           25,145

3 December 2011

Newcastle United     0 - 3  Chelsea              52,305
Blackburn Rovers     4 - 2  Swansea City         23,080
Manchester City      5 - 1  Norwich City         47,201
Queens Park Rangers  1 - 1  West Bromwich Albion 17,290
Tottenham Hotspur    3 - 0  Bolton Wanderers     35,896
Wigan Athletic       0 - 4  Arsenal              19,280
Aston Villa          0 - 1  Manchester United    40,053

League table to 7 December 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 14  7  0  0 24  4  5  2  0 24  9 12  2  0  48  13  35  38
 2 Manchester Utd  14  5  1  1 19 10  5  2  0 12  3 10  3  1  31  13  18  33
 3 Tottenham H.    13  5  0  1 15  7  5  1  1 14  9 10  1  2  29  16  13  31
 4 Chelsea         14  5  0  2 19 11  4  1  2 12  6  9  1  4  31  17  14  28
 5 Arsenal         14  5  1  1 13  5  3  1  3 17 18  8  2  4  30  23   7  26
 6 Newcastle Utd   14  4  2  1 10  8  3  3  1  9  7  7  5  2  19  15   4  26
 7 Liverpool       14  2  5  0  9  6  4  0  3  8  7  6  5  3  17  13   4  23
 8 Stoke City      14  3  2  2 10  8  2  1  4  4 15  5  3  6  14  23  -9  18
 9 Aston Villa     14  3  2  2 10  7  0  5  2  6 11  3  7  4  16  18  -2  16
10 Everton         13  2  1  4  7  9  3  0  3  8  8  5  1  7  15  17  -2  16
11 Norwich City    14  3  2  2 12 10  1  2  4  8 16  4  4  6  20  26  -6  16
12 QPR             14  1  4  2  6 10  3  0  4  9 15  4  4  6  15  25 -10  16
13 Fulham          14  2  3  2 12  9  1  3  3  4  7  3  6  5  16  16   0  15
14 West Brom A.    14  2  1  4  6  9  2  2  3  7 12  4  3  7  13  21  -8  15
15 Swansea City    14  3  3  1  8  2  0  2  5  6 18  3  5  6  14  20  -6  14
16 Wolves          14  3  1  3 10 11  1  1  5  5 13  4  2  8  15  24  -9  14
17 Sunderland      14  1  3  3 10  9  1  2  4  6  8  2  5  7  16  17  -1  11
18 Blackburn R.    14  2  0  5 10 15  0  4  3 11 17  2  4  8  21  32 -11  10
19 Bolton Wndrs    14  1  0  6  9 19  2  0  5 10 15  3  0 11  19  34 -15   9
20 Wigan Athletic  14  1  2  4  8 15  1  1  5  4 13  2  3  9  12  28 -16   9

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1787