Newsletter #1835

Next Friendly Game: Arsenal, “Bird’s Nest Stadium”, Beijing, 27 July 2012, KO TBC
Next Official Game: Chelsea, Community Shield, Villa Park, 12 August 2012, 1.30pm

If you live on Mars then you may not have learned of Mario’s astonishing performance and goals against Germany on Thursday. How it must have pained Hansen and Lawrenson! Brilliant Mario, keep it up!

The Final this evening promises to be a belter and other things being equal we will have a starter in each side. David Silva has been having a solid tournament despite often having to fill in as centre forward in the absence of anyone else! Let’s hope they both put in good performances and promote the club.

It’s staggering to realise we have arguably the hottest two young striking talents in world football in Mario and Sergio. Indeed, if you enjoy hyperbole, aren’t these the best 5 strikers in the world?

  • Messi
  • Ronaldo
  • Agüero
  • Balotelli
  • Tévez

It’s an interesting debate to have for sure!


Watching the semi last night, I noticed a bloke playing up front for Italy but of African origin. His name was something like Marion Batoletti or Marcio Baltihelli. Either way, I watched this rampant, hungry striker with a terrific work-ethic, two blinding goals and subsequent joyous celebrations of both, and I thought to myself that City could do with signing someone like him.

‘Tis now Friday evening, and I’m settling down for a spot of high culture from the cobbles of Wetherfield (I’d best explain for anyone living on the moon: Coronation Street) and yet I have one little City-related concern that has niggled away and had me thinking since last night’s Italy win over Germany.

Yes the mercurial talent yet continual head-scratching enigma that is one Mario Balotelli.

The commentators and even more so the press this morning were rapturous in their praise and it would be ridiculous to deny his sheer brilliance on the night. It was also quite notable in the way he openly celebrated and clearly enjoyed both wonderfully taken goals. One oft-repeated quote in various media is that this was where he “came of age”.

Came of age, eh! Oh let’s hope so, because if he continues in that manner he could easily become not only the talisman of an already talent-rich squad but the hands-down Premier League Player of the Season. I’ve spoken to a couple of in-the-know and indeed inside-the-game people (i.e. chaps with a whole lot more footy knowledge than the likes of ‘umble me) who are confidently predicting that this is very much his future if we and he can just keep each other reasonably happily married.

All fine and dandy so far? Well, may I then just temper the enthusiasm with a spot of Old-City pragmatism? Some might call it negativity, but I refuse to.

Either way, I still can’t disconnect the celebrations and the effort he put in throughout, and then wonder how good he might have looked for us on many of his sub-par sulky showings throughout the season. Could you imagine how good he would be if he replicated the work-rate of either of his two Argentinian strike partners?

I keep hearing the “he’s only young still…” line but that’s what we long said about Barton (not that I’d ever put their talent on a par). I just sometimes wish he’d be as happy as someone as utterly blessed and privileged as him should be, instead of lazily playing with an industrial-strength strop after the first tiny perceived injustice. I mean come on! There have been a few examples of him truly putting a shift in and it standing out, the FA Cup Final was one such case, as was our last Europa match this last season in which – albeit in an ultimately losing cause – he came on as sub and utterly changed the tempo of those around him with his inspirational play. However, for every one of these showings there’s been a handful of frustrating performances with Mancini putting more effort into berating him than everything and everyone else on the pitch combined.

Only time will tell what will become of Mario and, indeed, with whom he will become it, let’s just hope it’s best-case scenario for him and for us, eh?

P.S. I’m off to YouTube now to watch some 13/5/12 footage – just for a change, of course.

Steve O’Brien <bodsnvimto(at)>


When I heard on BBC Radio 5Live “The next fixtures are out and Champions Manchester City are at home to newly promoted Southampton” I felt particularly proud of our club. Champions. Sounds great doesn’t it? Not only that, we were the only team mentioned!

Promoted teams can be tricky in their first games as they are an unknown quantity but we didn’t have any problem in our first game with Swansea last season, and they turned out to be a decent team. Victory doesn’t necessarily follow against Southampton but with all due respect, if City work hard and play our game we should beat them. Then it’s Liverpool away (are they the new City?). Wouldn’t it be nice for City to go there and give them a good hiding!

Three points, in whatever guise would of course do.

Roberto Mancini is looking to strengthen his squad, and clear out players who will not feature.

Hopefully he will find buyers for Adebayor, Santa Cruz and Bridge in particular. Redknapp’s sacking (tee hee) at Spurs might mean that Adebayor is not going there. Will Real Betis want to buy Roque? He did ok there, netting 7 times in 33 appearances, and he wants to stay in Seville, but much will depend on the issue of his wages, and it might take a pay off from City to make a move permanent. By all accounts he is a nice guy with a good attitude, but it’s just that he doesn’t fit into Roberto’s plans. Good luck to him. Bridge is a far more complex question. How a bloke towards the end of what is a relatively short career is just happy to pick up his wages rather than move on and play beggars belief.

Where does Roberto need to strengthen? Another central defender to provide cover and competition for Vincent Kompany and Joleon Lescott is a must. There were times last season when Kompany and/or Lescott were out (e.g. Liverpool (h) in the League Cup Semi, away at QPR and Swansea in the League) when we lacked a decent centre half. Stefan Savic was way below the standard required and Kolo Touré does not relish aerial challenges so we need to bring in a quality defender. Mats Hummels has really impressed at the back for Germany in Euro 2012 and has had a very successful season, winning the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund. Javi Martinez of Athletic Bilbao can play at centre half or midfield and would also fit the bill. His introduction would also provide us a succession plan for Gareth Barry, and perhaps more immediately for Nigel de Jong, who has only one year remaining on his contract.

It would be good if Nigel de Jong’s services could be secured but negotiations have hit an impasse over the last year and it looks increasingly like Nigel is running his contract down (as he is fully entitled to do) thus enabling him to choose his next move and gain a bigger signing on fee. It would be reasonable to expect that City would have an offer on the table too in a year’s time and it would be shame if he left because he is a quality player who has given very good service here thus far.

When Liverpool were at their best in the 70s and 80s they used to have replacements for players before they were past their best. That is what we need to do to maintain our success. Gareth Barry was a key player last season, and can be an important player for us in the future, but he is 31. Barry will not always be able to get around the pitch like he does now, so we need to have a replacement lined up, and it would be a major surprise if Roberto Mancini is not looking for someone to take over this rôle one day.

For over a year now Daniele De Rossi of AS Roma has been linked with us, but it went quiet after he signed a new 5 year contract in February. All this has done is to ensure that he gets a pay rise and Roma get a decent transfer fee more than anything but now De Rossi has conceded that he is interested in coming to England. De Rossi would certainly fit the bill as the kind of combative midfield player with an eye for a pass that we need. Like Martinez, he too can play at the back (he is playing in Italy’s back three in Euro 2012). We should be looking to sign one of these two players if we are going to progress and maintain our position at the top of the tree.

As well as the aforementioned De Rossi and Martinez we need to look at home too for fresh talent. James Milner may well step up to replace Barry in time, but it is also worth looking at Everton’s Jack Rodwell and Jeff Hendrick of Derby County. Rodwell has impressed for Everton in the last couple of years and would benefit playing alongside better players. Hendrick is developing very nicely at Pride Park, and possesses good technique and an eye for goal.

Roberto says he wants to keep Aleksandr Kolarov but surely we will need to buy a new left back to cover the classy Gael Clichy? Kolarov undoubtedly contributed to the cause in an attacking sense last season, most notably with his crucial equaliser at home to Sunderland, but defensively he has been found wanting, lacking the pace and ability to read the game at top level. He’s a popular lad but he does not inspire confidence defensively, especially when the opposition have pace on their right flank.

As for strikers, Roberto has stressed that he is happy with the four he has: Sergio Agüero, Mario Balotelli, Edin Dzeko and Carlos Tévez is a fearsome strike force. A reliable, compliant Tévez is fine, but if Roberto is not sure of this then he is must sell him. An ideal replacement would have been Ezequeil Lavezzi but he is moving to Paris St Germain (how dare they be so rich too!). We can only presume that Roberto is happy that Tévez will stay.

There is still talk that Dzeko could move on, but we should only sell him if we can get a better player to replace him. Whilst he has some limitations (chiefly a lack of pace), he is still a very good striker (14 League goals and 5 goals in the Cups last season) and has scored some crucial goals for us in his time here, most memorably perhaps the 2nd goal versus QPR on that special afternoon! Ah, happy days… (still living in the afterglow!).

It is no secret that Mancini would like to sign van Persie. The word in the “Manchester” United Evening news is that he has been seen in Hale having lunch, there again I had lunch in Hull once but I can confirm that I have no plans to start supporting Hull City. That’s the pathetic level of the journalism in the MUEN who have not missed a chance to peddle a negative story about City this summer, linking half our players with moves away (normally groundless stories that have been in tabloids a good two or even three days earlier). The MUEN is not worthy of the word “Manchester” in its title. Long gone are the days of Peter Gardner, Chris Bailey and Paul Hince when you knew the City reporting was good quality, honest and fair.

Back to van Persie, Ferguson is also interested, and Wenger is adamant that he will stay in North London, so don’t expect him to sign now, if at all. My chief reservation about van Persie is that, aside from last season, he has been very injury prone in his career. Furthermore, at 29 one can pertinently ask, how many more miles does he have on the clock? Personally, I would like to see Dzeko stay, as he has an excellent attitude and clearly knows where the nets are. We just need to improve our wide service to him. Maybe we need a new winger to provide competition for Johnson, or indeed replace Johnson. All in all a striking quartet of Agüero, Balotelli, Dzeko and Tévez looks rather tasty to me, and it has a proven track record, so why change?

We don’t need major changes at City. Just a little fine tuning here and there to make improvements to move us onwards and upwards.

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


In all the celebration coverage of City winning the championship, a number of former City greats; Book, Bell, Lee, Summerbee, Corrigan, Pardoe and Mulhearn were on hand when the championship was won. Understandable that Young and Doyle are no longer with us… but what about Harry Dowd, Alan Oakes, George Heslop, David Connor and Tony Coleman? I remember all of these players playing a significant rôle in winning the 67-68 championship.

Are they still with us or was there an illness reason they couldn’t be on hand? Just curious to know why they weren’t involved in the celebrations. I have a particularly soft spot for No 6 Alan Oakes, I thought he was an amazing player. Any info would be appreciated.

(ED – Sadly I believe George Heslop has passed away. Gary J, perhaps you can confirm?)

P.S. Good one Mario… way to stuff it to Lawrenson, Shearer and Hansen. Looking forward to Sunday’s heads up against Silva… we can’t lose either way. Also great that Micah was picked for England’s Olympic squad, great way to prove Hodgson wrong in not picking him for the England Euro line-up!

Roll on August.

Keith Sharp, Toronto <>



I enjoy reading your articles and thought your latest was bang on, Hansen and Lawrenson’s abuse has been sickening and unrelenting and accordingly I have submitted my thrupence worth to the BBC taking the liberty to condense your article best I can down to the 1,500 characters the BBC complaints procedure seems to allow…

The punditry of Alan Hansen, Alan Shearer and commentary of Guy Mowbray and Mark Lawrenson was disgraceful. Their character assassination, bullying and victimisation of Mario Balotelli was appalling. Hansen referring to Mario Balotelli as “stupid Mario” saying that he had won nothing, that City only won the Premier League because Balotelli got banned after being sent off at Arsenal, untrue. Hansen and Shearer focused on Balotelii’s negative points throughout. This was not lost on the main presenter Gary Lineker who referred to “juvenile back references”, before adding “so leave it out, yeah”. Mario Balotelli is a young man with a colourful character who maybe needs to mature a bit but he doesn’t deserve this. He is very popular throughout England and right across Italy. At 22 his record of honours and success in Club football is second to none and he’s done more for his country in the last 12 months than Wayne Rooney in the last 6 years. Guy Mowbray commented “Mario is having a moan” to which Lawrenson replied “if his brains were petrol he wouldn’t get out of the garage”. All very demeaning and unacceptable. The question must be asked: would Hansen, Lawrenson, Shearer or Mowbray be so personal about an English player, or perhaps more pertinently, about a white player? I think not. Would you want your young son treated like this? At very least the positions of Hansen, Shearer, Lawrenson should be reviewed. The abuse must stop and the BBC dragged no further into the gutter.

Dave Parker <david.parker5(at)>


A good argument completely thrown away by the ludicrous use of the race card. Dear me Phil Banerjee! There are enough race issues in European football without creating an issue where there isn’t one and also probably committing an act of slander against a bunch of people with excellent legal representation.

Throw away your City-blue tinted lenses and then describe Mario Balotelli to yourself.

Dave Lees <dave(at)>


I often find myself agreeing with Phil B on many things to do with City, but never more so than with his point about the MOTD treatment that City, and particularly Mario, receive. I have lodged the following complaint on the BBC website and await their response:

Complaint title:
Poor analysis and biased commentary on MOTD

Complaint description:
Over the last few seasons the contribution of Hansen and Lawrenson on MOTD has gone from poorly attempting to providing some kind of analysis to childish name-calling and personal attacks. Their comments more than any others have become repetitive, boorish and bitter (presumably linked to the performance of their cherished Liverpool), and reached a new low towards the end of the recent Premier League season, and during the Euro 2012 coverage with their highly personal attacks on Mario Balotelli. The player in question is young and undoubtedly foolish at times, but no more so than some other high profile (and crucially) English players. I hope that this is no reflection on him being black, but at best it comes across as xenophobic bullying, and even Gary Lineker appears to be trying to distance himself from their comments, such is the personal nature of what they are saying. I realise that there are people, not just at the BBC, who get paid far more than they do for doing even less, but gone are the days when either of these two ‘pundits’ provided anything intelligent or meaningful in terms of analysis or insight. You should aim to replace them with slightly more ‘with it’ and capable individuals such as Gary Neville (if you can prise him away from Sky/England) for his (surprisingly) intelligent tactical insight, Robbie Savage and Lee Dixon for their open-mindedness and lack of bias, and Jamie Carragher (on ITV) who has pleasantly surprised me during the Euros with his insight and analysis.

Steve Burrows <stevieburrows(at)>


Thanks to Steve Rigby here is an updated fixture list with Champions’ League dates. Looks like November and December are going to be key months.

18 Southampton (H)
25 Liverpool (A)

1 QPR (H)
15 Stoke (A)
18/19 Champions League Match 1
22 Arsenal (H)
29 Fulham (A)

2/3 Champions League Match 2
6 Sunderland (H)
20 West Brom (A)
23/24 Champions League Match 3
27 Swansea (H)

3 West Ham (A)
6/7 Champions League Match 4
10 Tottenham (H)
17 Aston Villa (H)
20/21 Champions League Match 5
24 Chelsea (A)
27 Wigan (A)

1 Everton (H)
4/5 Champions League Match 6
8 Man Utd (H)
15 Newcastle (A)
22 Reading (H)
26 Sunderland (A)
29 Norwich (A)

1 Stoke (H)
12 Arsenal (A)
19 Fulham (H)
29 QPR (A)

2 Liverpool (H)
9 Southampton (A)
23 Chelsea (H)

2 Aston Villa (A)
9 Wigan (H)
16 Everton (A)
30 Newcastle (H)

6 Man Utd (A)
13 West Brom (H)
20 Tottenham (A)
27 West Ham (H)

4 Swansea (A)
12 Reading (A)
19 Norwich (H)

Phil Alcock <philipalcock(at)>


My name is Nigel Baguley. I am a disabled City supporter. Until recently I was Treasurer of the Disabled Supporters’ branch, but I have now moved to Rhyl, in North Wales.

I wrote to Kevin Parker, and he suggested contacting you, asking if you could put an article in your next edition.

Living in Wales, I am finding it increasingly harder to get to games, both home and away. I do drive, and went to all the home games last season, and a lot of the away ones too.

I was hoping one of your readers may live in or near Rhyl, and fancy being my helper for the coming season. I do use a manual wheelchair that folds up. The person does not need to be able to drive, but obviously, that would be an advantage if they can.

I hope you can help.

Thank you.

Nigel Baguley <nbaguley55(at)>


I recommend Nick Hornby’s 1992 autobiographical book ‘Fever Pitch’ as summertime beach/bar fodder if you have not read it. Don’t be put off by the cheesy chic-flick UK and US film versions. The book resonates with me because it provides insight into why football fans can become obsessive, but primarily helps me to understand why I became City-daft as a pre-teenager (first match at Maine Road in 1974, divorced parents, no male in the house, etc.), and why the obsession has never left me, despite years of higher education, sensible employment, marriage, family upheavals, mortgages, global travel and many other of life’s distractions in your twenties, thirties and forties. City has always been there at the forefront, and my wife of more than seventeen years knows not to ask the pecking order of what’s important in life! Most people will say that is sad, but I tell them to read Fever Pitch. I see the book as a handbook for others with football fans in the family, plus it’s a very enjoyable read for any week-in, week-out obsessive football fan.

I re-read Nick Hornby’s book again recently and after our title win it resonates even more. The final matches in the book relate to Arsenal’s 1989 title win, their first in 18 years, when they scored an injury time winner at Anfield to complete the 2-0 victory they needed to finish above Liverpool. The similarities to City’s title win are spooky, but there are many reasons why City’s 2012 victory was even more dramatic and meant so much more to the fans. Our gap between title wins was 44 years (I was born in the 67/68 season) so the majority of City fans at the QPR match and watching around the world had never seen City as champions of England, we pipped our smug neighbours who had been dominant in a two-club city for thirty years, we have been relegated five times since the last title win – including a season in the third division while United were completing a treble, and we had to score two goals in injury time at home against a mediocre team fighting relegation (expectations were far greater before kick-off). Without doubt the manner of City’s title win was the most dramatic ending to a season in top flight English football. City fans alive today will never experience anything like it again.

There is a passage towards the end of Fever Pitch, after recounting events surrounding Arsenal’s injury time victory at Anfield in May 1989, that could be equally applicable to many City fans today. Is it only me, or does this reflect what is felt like to live through Sunday 13 May 2012 as a life-long City fan, whether you were at the match or not?

“What is the correct analogy for a moment like that? In Pete Davies’s brilliant book about the 1990 World Cup, ‘All Played Out’, he notices that the players use sexual imagery when trying to explain what it feels like to score a goal. The trouble with orgasm as metaphor here is that the orgasm, though obviously pleasurable, is familiar, repeatable (within a couple of hours if you’ve been eating your greens), and predictable, particularly for a man – if you’re having sex then you know what’s coming, as it were. Maybe if I hadn’t made love for eighteen years, and had given up hope of doing so for another eighteen, and then suddenly, out of the blue, an opportunity presented itself… maybe in these circumstances it would be possible to recreate an approximation of that Anfield (substitute ‘Agüero’) moment. Even though there is no question that sex is a nicer activity than watching football (no nil-nil draws, no offside trap, no cup upsets, and you’re warm), in the normal run of things, the feelings it engenders are simply not as intense as those brought about by a once-in-a-lifetime last-minute championship winner.”

“None of the moments that people describe as the best in their lives seems analogous to me. Childbirth must be extraordinarily moving, but it doesn’t really have the crucial surprise element, and in any case lasts too long; the fulfilment of personal ambition – promotions, awards, what have you – doesn’t have the last minute time factor, nor the element of powerlessness that I felt that night. And what else is there that can possibly provide the suddenness? A huge pools win, maybe, but the gaining of large sums of money affects a different part of the psyche altogether, and has none of the communal ecstasy of football.”

“There is then, literally, nothing to describe it. I have exhausted all the available options. I can recall nothing else that I have coveted for two decades (what else is there that can reasonably be coveted for that long?), nor can I recall anything else that I have desired as both man and boy. So please, be tolerant of those who describe a sporting moment as their best ever. We do not lack imagination, nor have we had sad and barren lives; it is just that real life is paler, duller, and contains less potential for unexpected delirium.”

See you at Villa Park, probably Kuala Lumpur, and possibly Beijing … The match at Villa Park is going to be special because it’s the first time many of us will be able to sing all the ‘Champions’ songs we’ve heard from United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool for decades.

Neil Adshead, Vancouver, BC (ex-Gorton): <neil.adshead(at)>


Final League table

                    P  GD Pts
 1 Manchester City 38  64  89 *CHAMP16NS*
 2 Manchester Utd  38  56  89
 3 Arsenal         38  25  70
 4 Tottenham H.    38  25  69
 5 Newcastle Utd   38   5  65
 6 Chelsea         38  19  64
 7 Everton         38  10  56
 8 Liverpool       38   7  52
 9 Fulham          38  -3  52
10 West Brom A.    38  -7  47
11 Swansea City    38  -7  47
12 Norwich City    38 -14  47
13 Sunderland      38  -1  45
14 Stoke City      38 -17  45
15 Wigan Athletic  38 -20  43
16 Aston Villa     38 -16  38
17 QPR             38 -23  37
18 Bolton Wndrs    38 -31  36
19 Blackburn R.    38 -30  31
20 Wolves          38 -42  25

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1835