Newsletter #1797

I certainly missed a humdinger now didn’t I!

The Spurs game had everything bar a sending off and tax evasion allegations. Oh… oh ok… well let’s not go into that.

Bumper issue as you might expect and the majority centring on our Mario. Bless him!

My two-penneth… the furore is ridiculous. Just watch his eyeline as it happened: focused only on the ball, and his reaction afterwards of genuine concern for Scott Parker, who, interestingly made no complaint to the referee.

The bigger picture: what a result! Now for the little matter of Liverpool… dare to dream!

Next Game: Liverpool, away, FLC Semi Final 2nd Leg, 7:45pm Wednesday 25 January 2012


Mario Balotelli seized the day in the last minute of stoppage time and won this crucial match for City by winning a penalty and despatching it into the net as coolly as you like. Not only did this victory give City a vital three points, it virtually knocked Tottenham out of the title race by extending our lead over them to 8 points. It was one of those tense and, ultimately, thrilling afternoons that leaves you kicking every ball and feeling the adrenalin pumping.

City had the best chances in an absorbing first half. Silva shot wide after great work by Agüero down the inside left, then Richards made a thrilling run down the right and crossed but Agüero’s shot, from 15 yards, was well saved by Friedel. If only the latter could have got more elevation on his shot! Between these two opportunities, Agüero chipped over and wide after Silva played him in.

There had been no indication in the first half that the game was going to open up like it did after the break. The full backs on both sides were apparently under instruction only to attack when they were sure it was safe to do so. Whilst both sides tried to fashion chances, they both made sure they had men behind the ball.

The best that Tottenham could manage was a Kaboul free kick that flew wildly over the bar. Despite our excellent home record, and having the lion’s share of chances, many of us would have taken a point at half time, given our recent form, but City and Tottenham had other ideas in a pulsating second half.

Van der Vaart blazed over to ironic cheers and Milner was forced to make a brilliant sliding tackle to rob Bale as he advanced to the edge of the box in a Tottenham attack. Then in the 55th minute, City took the lead with a perfect goal. Silva cut in from the right on a diagonal run before playing an inch perfect, delicately weighted pass that Nasri smashed high into the left hand corner of the net. It was a thrilling goal. A thing of beauty and we loved it. “We’ll score when we want…”

That excoriating goal did Nasri a power of good. He had been in his shell before the goal, not doing anything particularly badly, but not playing with any real conviction. His goal changed all that and he visibly grew afterwards, looking for the ball more and prompting and probing for openings. Hopefully he can take that into the next game.

If City’s opener was sublime the second, which came just 3 minutes later, was almost ridiculous. From Silva’s left wing corner the ball went in off Lescott, who was falling backwards over the line. It didn’t matter how it went in (but it did give us a laugh), surely that was game over and Tottenham were out of the running for the title?

Unfortunately, this was not the case. A speculative long ball over the top was misjudged by Savic, who got under it and could only head it sideways. Defoe rushed onto it and, with Hart too far out of his goal, the Tottenham striker swept the ball into the open net from a wide angle. It was a crass error by both players, but the initial error was one that Vincent Kompany or Nedum Onuoha would not have made.

Tottenham took fresh heart from this and City were well and truly rattled. Unnecessarily rattled as well. It was not long before Lennon cut the ball back to Bale, and the Welshman unleashed a curling shot from twenty two yards that left Hart with no chance. It was a brilliant goal from Tottenham’s best player, who by that time was playing in a free rôle, having had little joy up against the excellent Richards down City’s right.

With twenty-five minutes still to play, Tottenham were looking as likely as City to grab the winner. In a terrible heart-in-mouth moment, Clichy was forced to head a searching left wing Bale cross over our own bar. It was to Clichy’s credit that he didn’t score an own goal! It was breathless stuff as Bale had a shot blocked on the edge of the box, and Nasri hit a free kick wide.

Enter Mario Balotelli, for the struggling Dzeko, and he was quickly booked for a foul on Assou-Ekoto. It’s funny how he got booked straight away especially when Scot Parker had committed several fouls (including some that were far worse than Vinny Kompany’s clean tackle that earned him a red two weeks previously) before he finally saw yellow. Doesn’t the football Establishment act in mysterious ways? Again we find ourselves asking: where is the fairness? Where is the consistency?

Halfway through the four added minutes of time, Savic lost possession on the half way line and Tottenham broke quickly. Bale crossed from the Tottenham left with the City defence stretched, and Defoe advancing towards far post. Time almost stood still in that horrible moment, when it seemed like a late winner was inevitable. Thankfully Defoe couldn’t quickly get his foot round the ball and stabbed it just wide. Cue a huge sigh of relief in the Etihad Stadium. At least we were heading for a point!

Not that it was over. There were literally just a few seconds to go when Tottenham played the ball forward but Clichy, clearing his lines, volleyed it back into the Tottenham half. The ball bounced just outside the Tottenham box, Mario Balotelli busted in, rolling Ledley King in the process (which is no mean feat), then darted towards goal with King pulling at him, only to be pulled down by the Tottenham centre back in the penalty box.

Referee Howard Webb had no alternative but to award the spot kick. There was some debate between Agüero, Balotelli and Silva as to who would take the kick, but having settled on our taker, Mario coolly stepped up and drove the ball just inside Friedel’s right hand post to send us home in raptures.

It had been a classic second half. Older supporters will remember the Ballet on Ice in the sixties; there was the centenary Cup Final replay in 1981, the 5-2 with Beagrie, Walsh and Quinn at Maine Road, the 4-3 comeback from 0-3 down with ten men yet again, then the 5-1 at White Hart Lane this season.

Roberto Mancini did an excellent job in organising the team to be difficult to beat. He will, however, surely need to consider the centre back options for the rest of the season. We don’t want to be harsh on our players, especially an inexperienced one like Savic, but he is not a viable option at the moment. If Roberto doesn’t rate Nedum Onuoha, then he has to buy someone to cover the loss of a centre back, or move Micah Richards in-field.

City beat a very good side and deserve rich credit for doing so. To do so without Vincent Kompany and the Touré brothers is worthy of even more credit. It was a particular pleasure to see City come through adversity, play well, and put the Southern media darlings, Tottenham, in their place. City are well on track for this title, and for our next League game we will have Vincent Kompany back: something else we can look forward to. If we (cliché alert) take each game as it comes, and continue to keep our nerve and show our quality, we will have a great chance of winning this title.

Att: 47,422

City: Nasri 55, Lescott 58, Balotelli 94
Tottenham: Defoe 60, Bale 65

Hart: Caught in no man’s land for Tottenham’s opener. His distribution wasn’t the best either, even allowing for the wind: 6
Richards: A very mature performance from City’s skipper for the day. Attacked sparingly and defended very well: 8
Savic: Had done okay in the first half but was a total liability in the second half. It would be unwise to sell Nedum Onuoha without bringing in a quality replacement because this lad is way out of his depth at this level right now: 5
Lescott: Capped a decent showing with a comical goal: 7
Clichy: Overcame a sleepy start (not anticipating balls that were played for him to run onto) and a daft booking (for handball) to play very well in the 2nd half: 7
Silva: Our main creative spark sprinkled his magic on this game: the highlight being his run and slide rule pass for Nasri’s brilliant goal: 8 (Man of the Match)
Milner: Competed hard all afternoon. His best moment was that match saving tackle: 7
Barry: Mr Reliable is having a brilliant season. He was tenacious as ever and consistent with his passing all afternoon: 8
Nasri: He needs to believe in himself more. Once he scored, his confidence flooded back and made him a far better player: 7
Dzeko: He may have scored four at White Hart lane but he struggled here: 5
Agüero: Always a menace. On a better day for him, he’d have bagged a brace: 7
Balotelli (for Dzeko 65): The game changer delivered, and how. Super cool finish under pressure: 8

Chant of the Day: Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-nah(!), Harry’s going down, going down, Harry’s going down!

Best Oppo: Bale. Great goal, cracking player, but £150 million? Nah. Surely a ploy to put buyers off. More like £25 million (if Bale is minded to move). 8

Refwatch: Howard Webb: Where is the consistency? Where is the fairness? Seemed keen to book City players like Balotelli on reputation, yet Scott Parker was allowed to stay on the pitch (the challenge on Silva was a red card offence). At least he got the penalty right: 5

Phil Banerjee <phil.banerjee(at)>


Question: Has the English FA now got a system of reviewing after a match has finished incidents that took place during a game?

If so, who cites the incident concerned to the English FA and are the referee’s actions at the time of the incident in actual play and their match report after a game is finished taken into account?

I ask the questions as I had not realised football in the UK at least had gone the way of the Rugby Union in NZ, who have a review person for video analyses review for most matches shown on TV and who do report incidents to the RU who in turn penalize the player(s) concerned.

From watching the Spurs match I could see in the replay TV pictures that Lescott could be considered to have deliberatively struck his forearm across the face of an opposition player and maybe there is an element of intent. However, even after watching the replay pictures of Balotelli’s incident with Parker, I am sure that his actions were all accidental: Balotelli was simply off balance and as he had to put his foot down somewhere to save himself from falling over, which seemingly was just a natural action of player saving himself when off balance so no malice or intention involved!

Unfortunately he caught the Spurs player in the head area and thus this was most regrettable. Both the TV commentator and comments persons were sure Lescott and Balotelli would get punishments after the match finished during the coming week for both their actions!

This is also a case of the TV commentator and comments person (a Craig Burley I think) we heard on the NZ transmission, showing their prejudice towards Balotelli particularly and City generally in my humble opinion!

These two men I am sure are a contributing cause of any media concern that is being shown in the UK, which, seemingly unfortunately, is also appearing on the BBC Sports website, when I would have expected a more open view to be shown by the BBC reporters! If anyone should be censored I consider those two doing the commentary should be told to watch what they say in future, whether during a match or as a “pundit” of a show like ESPN’s Soccernet show, which Mr. Burley has appeared in from time to time.

I guess it is too much to expect them to be sacked like other commentators have been for their comments of moments during matches being televised whether or not intentionally meant to be heard on live broadcast!

As to City’s performance it was a most lucky end result. Perhaps in some respects it makes up for the Sunderland match! I wonder if that now means Savic will disappear like Boyata?

Trevor Bevan <mate.bevan(at)>


My first contribution to McVittee (love it by the way); it was very nearly after the 3rd round of the Cup and the Kompany red card but Sunday tipped me over the edge!

Actually, to be exact, it was when I got home after the match on Sunday, full of the joys of a fantastic match and win… and then turned on the TV to hear about the supposed Mario stamp. I bet there were 47,000+ others who were just as surprised as me!

Firstly, Mario is definitely being singled out and I can’t help feeling there are dark undertones to the way all the press articles are written. Surely the issue is whether or not he stamped on Parker and that’s it – not complete character assassinations and articles bringing up his background and upbringing in pretty much all of the media to go with it. Innocent until proven guilty? More like hung, drawn and quartered by the press, Sky etc. even before the match has finished.

Like Lee Dixon, I think there was enough doubt in the challenge not to charge him; half a dozen similar challenges in the Premier League every week go unpunished – the Lescott forearm incident was just as ambiguous, and not that we want Lescott banned as well, but why does Lescott have no case to answer and Mario does? Complete lack of consistency on the part of the FA. Surely for both challenges you have to be 100% certain that there was intent?

The fact that we are now top of the League and the match had been hyped so much beforehand doesn’t help. If this had been Norwich vs. Wigan and Morison or whoever had trod on a Wigan player, no-one would have batted an eyelid.

Three other things that the wider press has forgotten to mention, probably because they are all bezzie mates with ‘Appy ‘Arry:

  1. Redknapp and supposed ‘pundits’ had been going on all week about howwe might bottle it and haven’t got the experience to cope – well we didn’tbottle it, quite the reverse – we took the game by the scruff of the neckearly in the second half and because of this deservedly got ourselves intoa 2 goal lead. Yes, they got back into it, they are a half decent teamadmittedly, but it wasn’t our ‘England star’ who missed an open goal whenthe pressure was on, and it wasn’t our ‘irreplaceable defender’ who losthis nerve and the guy he was supposed to mark, to give away a penalty ininjury time. Who was it who remained calm in the final moments to winthe penalty and then convert it?
  2. Can someone explain what is so different between Roberto waving imaginarycards on the touchline during a game, and ‘Appy ‘Arry, the tabloids’ favourite,calling for an opposition player to be banned for future matches that Spurswill have nothing to do with, and also calling into question that player’ssupposed previous ‘form’ for such incidents? He can’t even claim to beresponding to a direct question about it, he just launched into his tiradeon Sky straight after the game. Which incident has more bearing on the waythe FA will react to charging a player or not? Mancini waving a card for afew seconds on the touchline or Redknapp/Rooney et al repeatedly talkingand tweeting about an incident to anyone who will listen? Perhaps ourobviously Neanderthal manager who has the temerity to come to this landfrom foreign shores might have to take advice from Mick McCarthy and startfitting in with ‘our English ways’ by verbally tearing into oppositionplayers in the press and on TV after every game?
  3. ‘Arry has also been moaning about the amount of money we have spent andsaying anyone could manage our club, buying our way to the title, blah blahblah. He wasn’t moaning when he was manager of Portsmouth and was givenmillions and millions to spend on fading superstars was he? Perhaps heshould have stood aside and let the Slash lookalike Portsmouth fan managethe team instead? When ‘Arry has some time to himself this week, sat inthe dock facing tax evasion charges (not that long after he was implicatedin receiving transfer bungs), he’ll no doubt be reflecting on this and howit might have been helpful to be better at financial management himself.Perhaps if he had done his homework he would have known all the cash he wasgiven was in fact an illusion and his transfer dealings helped to bringfinancial ruin to Portsmouth and within days of going out of business -for which they are still suffering quite badly to this day. Not only that,Portsmouth and ‘Appy ‘Arry (who jumped ship) left a lot of local smallbusinesses and even charities at risk and out of pocket by getting awaywith not paying their debts. Compare this with the City model and themillions of investment in local community work, partnerships with thecouncil, sporting initiatives etc. Which club, owner, senior managementteam and manager are the more reprehensible Mr Redknapp?

Right, that’s got that off my chest, roll on our 2-0 victory at Anfield tomorrow… I can see the headlines now: “City billionaires cheat and kick nice Liverpool off the park to buy their route to the Carling Cup Final”.

Mike Kay <mikekay1(at)>


I was watching Wolves vs. Villa on Match of the Day on Saturday night, when Frimpong headed the ball away and got a nasty kick in the head from Petrov.

It was fascinating that at no point during the subsequent discussion was there any suggestion that it could have been anything other than an accident.

For the record, I am certain that it was but, I actually said at the time, if that had been Balotelli or de Jong they would have found a way of making it look deliberate, with endless analysis and super-slow motion replays asking if he could have moved his foot away before it made contact, pointing out previous poor disciplinary records, etc.

Cue Sunday’s hysteria…

John Caley, Crowthorne, Berks <john(at)>


At the time of writing this, Mario Balotelli has not been suspended, but I am sure that before this post runs, the newspaper critics and supposed TV pundits will have had Super Mario hung, drawn and quartered and that he will be out for the next four games.

When I watched his supposed kick of Scott Parker, my initial reaction was that he was just trying to regain his balance but, of course, when you have multiple replays, you can make out of it what you will with all those supposed commentators and experts spewing bile it will, I am sure, create a negative atmosphere.

Listening to commentator Craig Burley rant on about (first) Lescott’s elbow and then Balotelli’s incident where surely Howard Webb should have sent both players off was so biased it was sickening. Where do they get these guys from?!

There should be some thread of neutrality with these characters but game in, game out City get trashed by the media. As I said in a previous post, we have to win despite these characters not lose because of them.

I am afraid that Balotelli will be harassed out of English football. He was only on the field five minutes when he was yellow carded for an innocuous challenge. It’s obvious he is a marked man and Mancini probably can’t risk him on the pitch for a full game.

Whilst I am venting, how come Defoe wasn’t flagged offside on Tottenham’s first goal? He was at least three yards in front of Savic when the ball flicked off Savic’s head – but Burley wouldn’t have noticed that!

Well we are down now to one main championship rival… the Rags!

S*d the critics, let’s keep on rolling.

Keith Sharp, Toronto <>


Faster you can say “sour grapes” or “Guilty ‘M’Lud”, Harry Redknapp was ungraciously whining to his nauseating sycophants in the media, spouting a volley of untruths that he cannot prove: saying that Mario Balotelli “back heeled” Scott Parker in the head, and uttering that “It is not the first time he has done that and I am sure it won’t be the last. I think he stamps on him. When you hit the ground you don’t stamp and there’s a definite stamp there. The referee is five yards away. I think he should have given him a red card. I am the last person to talk about getting people sent off and what they should and shouldn’t do.”

What a hypocrite. A self-serving one at that.

It was interesting that nothing was made of this at the time either by Tottenham players (Scott Parker included) or by a well placed referee, Howard Webb.

Redknapp was one of those managers sanctimoniously moralising about Roberto waving red cards in the week (when they all appeal for everything including getting opposition players sent off, which is tantamount to the same thing), yet here he is trying to get Mario banned.

Redknapp talks far too much, but why should we believe a word this man says? It is also interesting that Redknapp didn’t mention the fact that Scott Parker was lucky to still be on the pitch by the time of this alleged incident, given the several fouls (some of them brutal) that he’d committed in the game and that Parker also interestingly has “previous”, having injured a few players down the years including breaking Kevin Horlock’s ankle at Maine Road with a bad tackle back in 2000/2001.

If Redknapp is going to play judge and jury over Balotelli, by the same token, maybe we should dispense with the jury in his tax evasion trial (which started this week) and say “You’re guilty. No trial for you, Mr Redknapp. Go straight to jail, don’t pass ‘Go’ and don’t collect two hundred pounds”. Silly me, we only have to be fair when it suits Harry chuffing Redknapp. Seriously, let’s hope that all the facts come out in his trial and justice is done.

Without wishing to “do a Wenger” I did not see the incident clearly in real time, given my angle in the Colin Bell stand, and because I was watching the ball, but I have watched this several times on Match of the Day 2 (where we can dismiss the one-eyed, self-serving opinions of Alan Hansen).

Firstly, Mario cannot possibly have seen where Scott Parker’s head was when the alleged “stamp” or “back heel” occurred (it’s strange how Redknapp changes his account from “back heel” to “stamp”).

Secondly, Mario was off balance, having whirled around in the wake of the challenge and was trying to steady himself. Thirdly, the nudge that Mario received in the back from Modric did not aid his balance.

A few questions are pertinent here. Where was Mario supposed to put his feet? If he was so intent on hurting Parker then why did he try to avoid stamping on his hand? If it was a deliberate stamp, then why was there not a display of mass outrage from the Tottenham players? Had Mario or any player clearly tried to hurt anyone then of course he should be punished, but here is no conclusive evidence to that effect, so there is no case to punish him. City must appeal the charges that the FA have brought.

Hopefully justice will be done on all counts.

It is strange how the FA have charged Mario, yet failed to charge Scholes for planting his studs in Mark Davies’ chest. Isn’t it strange how Vincent Kompany was red carded for a perfectly good tackle, yet Glen Johnson and Scott Parker can make far worse tackles. It is truly sickening how City are being judged by different standards to other clubs. Anyone would think the FA were biased. Perish the thought…

The City-Tottenham game was actually played in a fantastic spirit, despite Parker’s constant fouling. Games with Tottenham normally are. Isn’t it a shame that Harry Redknapp had to spoil it with his ungracious, scurrilous and untrue remarks?

If there is any justice in this world those remarks will be exposed for that they are.

Phil Banerjee <phil.banerjee(at)>


Is there a London-based Blue driving up to Villa Park for the City match on Sunday 12 February with room for a passenger who will share fuel costs and provide footballing banter, etc.?

Neil Adshead <neil.adshead(at)>


Our very own Pat Knowles has been getting some great media coverage this week, though it may need a re-write after this weekend!


22 January 2012

Manchester City       3 - 2  Tottenham Hotspur     47,422
Arsenal               1 - 2  Manchester United     60,093

21 January 2012

Norwich City          0 - 0  Chelsea               25,692
Everton               1 - 1  Blackburn Rovers      32,464
Fulham                5 - 2  Newcastle United      25,692
Queens Park Rangers   3 - 1  Wigan Athletic        16,002
Stoke City            1 - 2  West Bromwich Albion  26,865
Sunderland            2 - 0  Swansea City          36,904
Wolverhampton Wndrs   2 - 3  Aston Villa           27,084
Bolton Wanderers      3 - 1  Liverpool             26,854

League table to 22 January 2012 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 22 11  0  0 34  6  6  3  2 26 12 17  3  2  60  18  42  54
 2 Manchester Utd  22  8  1  2 33 14  8  2  1 21  7 16  3  3  54  21  33  51
 3 Tottenham H.    22  8  2  1 21  9  6  2  3 20 15 14  4  4  41  24  17  46
 4 Chelsea         22  7  1  3 24 16  5  4  2 16  9 12  5  5  40  25  15  41
 5 Arsenal         22  7  2  2 17  8  4  1  6 22 25 11  3  8  39  33   6  36
 6 Newcastle Utd   22  6  3  2 16 11  4  3  4 16 19 10  6  6  32  30   2  36
 7 Liverpool       22  4  7  0 14  8  5  1  5 11 13  9  8  5  25  21   4  35
 8 Stoke City      22  4  4  3 15 13  4  2  5  8 20  8  6  8  23  33 -10  30
 9 Norwich City    22  4  4  3 17 15  3  4  4 15 21  7  8  7  32  36  -4  29
10 Sunderland      22  4  4  3 16 11  3  2  6 13 13  7  6  9  29  24   5  27
11 Aston Villa     22  3  3  5 12 14  3  6  2 14 15  6  9  7  26  29  -3  27
12 Fulham          22  5  3  3 21 17  1  5  5  7 14  6  8  8  28  31  -3  26
13 Swansea City    22  5  5  1 15  6  1  3  7  8 21  6  8  8  23  27  -4  26
14 Everton         22  3  3  5 11 13  4  2  5 11 13  7  5 10  22  26  -4  26
15 West Brom A.    22  2  2  7  8 14  5  2  4 14 17  7  4 11  22  31  -9  25
16 QPR             22  2  4  5 12 18  3  1  7 10 19  5  5 12  22  37 -15  20
17 Bolton Wndrs    22  2  1  8 14 25  4  0  7 14 22  6  1 15  28  47 -19  19
18 Blackburn R.    22  3  0  8 16 22  1  6  4 17 23  4  6 12  33  45 -12  18
19 Wolves          22  3  2  6 16 20  1  4  6  9 20  4  6 12  25  40 -15  18
20 Wigan Athletic  22  1  4  6 10 21  2  2  7  9 24  3  6 13  19  45 -26  15

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1797