Newsletter #1857

Just a short intro today as I’m currently on hols.

It’s a bumper issue with some great debates under way and an interesting ‘And Finally’.

Enjoy the read and the excitement that is ‘international break weekend’!

Next Game: West Bromwich Albion, The Hawthorns, 20 October 2012, 15.00


City gave a thoroughly enjoyable performance to sweep aside Sunderland on a lovely sunny autumn day in Manchester. Indeed, it was our best performance of the season. Granted, Sunderland are nowhere near as good as Dortmund, but they gave us more problems than anyone else last season, being the only team to take a point away from the Etihad, and having beaten us (albeit in controversial circumstances) at the Stadium of Light.

Mancini rotated his squad once again for this game, making seven changes, but this time it worked really well! With Vincent Kompany and Matija Nastasic declared injured, we had a surprise new partnership of Micah Richards and Joleon Lescott at the heart of defence and they knitted together superbly, Micah in particular being outstanding. Aleksandr Kolarov came in for Gael Clichy at left back. The popular Gareth Barry and James Milner returned in midfield, freeing captain for the day Yaya Touré to play a more advanced role, just in behind Carlos Tévez, with Mario Balotelli in a left-sided attacking rôle.

It wasn’t long before City were in front. Tévez was painfully hacked down by the other Carlos of the pitch (Cuellar), which earned the Sunderland centre back a booking (if it had been red he couldn’t have complained). From the resulting free kick from the inside left position, Kolarov struck an arcing free kick that swung to the left and back to the right in a perfect arc, defeating Sunderland ‘keeper Mignolet high up at his near post. It was as good a free kick as you would see anywhere and the Serbian slid to his knees at the Kippax Singing Section corner with his team mates in hot pursuit.

The first half was nearly all one way traffic, Sunderland’s only shot on target being a deflected Fletcher effort that required only a regulation low save from Joe Hart. City’s domination was total, as Barry, Milner and Yaya Touré totally dominated central midfield and Silva drifted in from the right, prompting sumptuous football from his team mates.

A clever Tévez pass freed Pablo Zabaleta and his point blank range shot was smothered by Mignolet, then Tévez fired wide as he made good work from the clearance. Another Kolarov free kick was deflected over. Tévez showed great persistence in a driving run and his shot was deflected wide by a Sunderland defender. A Balotelli effort had the same result a minute later. Barry fired just wide after Silva’s and Milner’s intelligent work at a corner induced an inviting cut back from the Canarian magician.

The game continued in the same vein after the break and as doggedly as Sunderland fought, it was really a matter of how many goals City would score. In another delightful move, Tévez passed to Silva on the left edge of the box and his delightful back heel freed Yaya whose powerful drive was saved by Mignolet. The Sunderland shot stopper then denied Richards from a corner.

The nagging feeling was that City still needed another goal, and Hart had to make a super save from Fletcher. The fact that it was offside doesn’t take away from the fact that Hart is such a brilliant goalkeeper with superb powers of concentration. This, though, was an isolated attack as City attacked the Wearsiders’ goal in wave after wave of attacks. In one of these Aleksandar Kolarov played a beautiful grass-cutting cross from the left, which should have been swept into the net, but Mario Balotelli completely missed the ball. It was to be the Italian’s last action of the game, as he made way for Agüero, who showed him how it was done, powerfully sweeping another excellent Kolarov cross into the net at the near post to double our lead.

Agüero then turned provider with a lovely pass to Tévez who fired just wide of the left hand post with a diagonal shot. Silva hit the bar after a Tévez cut back. It was truly delightful stuff: as smooth and enjoyable as a Latte.

Another one two between Milner and Silva resulted in an inviting cross by the Yorkshireman being headed over by Barry. Milner was having a field day and one of his corners was headed down by Richards only to be saved. Another one two by Milner and Silva saw the former playing a lovely left foot cross from which Richards’ header was blocked by a Sunderland defender and his rebound had the same result.

Not only was Milner excellent in attack, he was equally good in defence, providing excellent cover for Pablo Zabaleta’s marauding runs and even had a spell at right back. One Milner saving tackle as Sunderland broke away drew thunderous applause and chants of “One James Milner” from different corners of the stadium. Surely this popular young man with an excellent attitude will get a fair chance now? One can only hope so, because many of us would be gutted to see him playing for someone else.

Adam Johnson, who received warm, if not universal applause on his return in Sunderland colours, spent part of the week saying that young players don’t get a chance at City. Of course that is untrue, Messrs Hart and Richards proving that opinion wrong. Johnson had plenty of chances here and didn’t take enough of them, and didn’t always have the best attitude. Only James Milner can say that he has not had enough opportunities thus far, and that will hopefully change. Johnson’s only meaningful contribution in this match was a cross that resulted in Fletcher being offside, as if to emphasise why he was not a regular here after a series of opportunities to establish himself.

Sunderland’s best hope was Steven Fletcher, who has just come out of his sulk to play for Scotland (it’s not as if he is that good a player to be a prima donna), but he could only force an easy save with a weak effort, and that was it was far as Sunderland went. They just weren’t allowed to play by City, who closed down space and went for more goals. Kolarov was revelling in his raiding down the left and he was hacked down by Gardner on the left hand edge of the box. From the free kick, Milner curled a free kick that deflected off a defender and into the net. It was a deserved goal for an excellent professional: the City number 7 was mobbed by his team mates and the air was filled with more “One James Milner” chants. Many of us were so pleased for the lad from Leeds who gets on with his job without moaning.

There was still time for Agüero to force a save, but the points were comfortably ours.

At last City had found top form, and this was a very satisfying victory. It was one of those days when City played smooth as silk football that was very pleasing on the eye. It was like the first half of last season all over again.

City were a better team for having Gareth Barry and James Milner back in midfield, freeing up Yaya Touré and Silva to do what they do best. Having a flexible formation that left Tévez as the front man with the rest having the licence to join in attacks, when appropriate, gave City a footballing freedom of expression that mesmerised the visitors.

If only we had played such a system against Dortmund. A back four with Barry and Milner anchoring midfield, with Agüero, Yaya and Silva having licence to join Tévez in attack, is a well balanced team. Ok we beat a mid table side on this occasion, but surely this line up would not have been outnumbered in midfield by Dortmund, and would have had the flexibility and maximum attacking threat from different angles? Mancini’s key to success in England and abroad is to have a flexible team that is not shackled into rigid formations.

On this occasion we saw the very best of City, and very enjoyable it was too. Long may it continue.

Goals: Kolarov (5), Agüero (59), Milner (89).

Att: 47,036

Hart: Had little to do. Made great save from Fletcher and a superb scoop to prevent Cuellar’s header going in. Otherwise unemployed: 7
Zabaleta: He gets better and better. A complete display all round. Tenacious tackling never let his winger settle and he was a marauding threat down the right: 8
Richards: An assured return, he was thwarted four times from scoring: 8
Lescott: Composed and solid, quietly efficient, just like last season: 7
Kolarov: Great free kick gave us the lead, superb cross set up Agüero and he should have had another assist, but for Balotelli’s fresh air kick. Oh, and he defended very well too, a thumping tackle to take the ball away from Johnson being another highlight in a fine performance: 8
Milner: All action. A complete midfielder’s performance, good passing and fine tackling, which was topped off with a deflected free kick at the end. Indeed, class and endeavour all afternoon. Hopefully Roberto Mancini noticed this and will give him a deserved run in the team: 8 (Man of the Match)
Barry: Great to see his tenacious, disciplined, driving presence back: 7
Silva: The conductor in chief is back to his best. One of his highlights was a lovely pass with the outside of his left foot that set up Kolarov to cross for the 2nd goal. What a delight: 8
Yaya Touré: Quiet authority in midfield: 7
Balotelli: Really should have scored from Kolarov’s perfect cross: 6
Tévez: A tireless worker, he deserved a goal here but couldn’t quite find the finish: 7
Agüero (for Balotelli 55): Straight into the action, showing what a quality player he is: 7
Clichy (for Tévez 86): n/a
Rodwell (for Silva 90): n/a

Best oppo: Mignolet: Did well to keep the score down: 7

Refwatch: Lee Probert: Missed too much: 5

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


How can a team so battered on a Wednesday night by a talented very well organised team whose game plan was to attack on the break with pinpoint accurate passing that was so effective, then go on and overrun a normally well organised Sunderland side so easily?

I feel the answer is energy in the midfield, which was provided by (man of the match for me) James Milner and Gareth Barry; this allowed Yaya Touré more freedom to get forward. The defence also played their part, with Kolarov having a massive game down the left; his attacking crosses were class and, despite being a little worried about the returning Johnson, Kolarov held his own.

It was also good to see a fit again Micah Richards marauding forward occasionally, with James Milner falling back to cover for him. Pundits are too easily on Balotelli’s case about workrate, attitude etc. but he didn’t show any of the qualities needed on Saturday for him to be a sure starter for the team next time; if he had Tévez’s application and energy he could be a world-beater.

I just hope that Mancini saw that the team he put out on Saturday was only really missing the misfiring Kompany who was so assured last season alongside Lescott. City had the meanest defence last season with Kompany and Lescott arguably the best centre half partnership in the Premier League, so why tinker with it? I think Mancini will get it right, but I hope he keeps the team that gave City their first clean sheet of the campaign another run out at WBA.

Steve Alcock <salcock(at)> (ED – No relation!)


First off I would like to say a big well done and many thanks to the MCIVTA team for all your efforts. (ED: Thanks on behalf of us all Jack, a pleasure)

Moving on. The international break is now just tedious after supporting England for all my 67 years. We just get worse. 1966 is a long fading memory and will not be repeated in my lifetime. Unfortunately team England run by the old boys club called the FA (anyone else alter the meaning of this acronym?) will never have the dynamic management now in place at City. So forget it.

So what to do in these two weeks?

Having just watched a complete re-run of That Day In May I realised what the project should be. I bought the official DVD of the day and did watch it but the quality is not a patch on my HD version. So I decided to make a Blu-ray, which of course I have called “That Day In May”.

It’s still a work in progress but so far I have 4 parts to my (cough) ‘masterpiece’.

Part one is the full Sky HD recording of the match itself. 103 minutes and 8 seconds of expectancy, despondency, and ultimate ecstasy.

Part two is the trophy presentation and mild celebrations. 35 minutes 54 seconds.

Part three is the MOTD HD side-by-side recording (mainly City but intercut with the Cayman Islanders’ little altercation at Sunderland). 41 minutes 49 seconds.

Part four is a very short recording of something that was on Sky about the 1968 match Including interviews with (Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho we’re off to Mexico) Pardoe and Franny Lee and old grainy black and white footage of that memorable day in NE1 4ST. That’s all of 2 minutes and 16 seconds, but it is all I’ve got to remind me of a wonderful climax to my favourite decade.

Anyway, my first attempt is mostly on the cutting room floor (know all the jargon us old fossils see). But it’s getting there and when it’s finished I will let you all know how I got on. Sorry if this is boring but I am at a loss when there is no City match due and Twitter and the news channels are also quiet.

Jack Millington <jack(at)>


The match against Sunderland at home was probably the best performance by City this season. Everyone, bar Balotelli, played really well and the defence was sound, hence the clean sheet. Just consider how much Mancini has tinkered with the team, especially with the defence, the same defence that was our “rock” last season; all he needed to add was another spare centre half for Lescott and Kompany. Mancini has dropped Lescott in many a match this season, for whatever reason, and yet it has been Kompany and Nastasic that have been culpable for most of our poor recent performances. I would go as far as saying that Kompany (who has been our best Captain for many a year) has been the poorest centre back for us this season, and he should have been dropped ahead of Lescott. He has not been playing well at all, lots of errors, not commanding the area, and not formed a partnership with Nastasic.

If Richards (normally a right back) can come in and put in such a good display, this surely should make Mancini take note… will he be brave enough to drop Kompany to the bench?

Mancini should stop his tinkering, settle on an assured back four, an assured middle four and 2 consistent forwards and leave the rest on the bench.

I would like him to start with: Hart, Clichy, Kompany, Lescott, Zabaleta, Barry, Silva, Touré, Milner, Agüero and Tévez. Richards could come in for either Zabaleta or Kompany.

As per Chris Cobb’s comments in MCIVTA 1856… bring back Lescott and let’s not forget Micah! And Roberto: If it ain’t broke stop trying to fix it.

There is some justification for resting players and rotating through the squad for week-to-week league games but key European encounters are not the place for unnecessary experiment. It’s where you want all your attacking guns blazing and your defence as impenetrable as you can make it. Surely are best 2 attackers to date have been Agüero and Tévez, and they should have started against Dortmund.

Having watched Arsenal and Chelsea, they both attack a lot with neat triangles and fast play; that’s how we need to play. If only Nasri could raise his game, as he has the potential to be as influential as Cazorla, Hazard or Mata… this is something City really need, as we are way too reliant on Silva.

I have not seen anything in Rodwell’s performances to date to justify the amount we spent on him, when for the same amount, we could have bought either Moussa Dembele or Santi Cazorla… both quality players! Rodwell looks just like a “run of the mill” Premier League player! I am not convinced with Javi Garcia either (maybe a little early to pass judgement), surely City’s purchases should have been based on “are the new players going to improve the team?”? I just wonder who Marwood and Mancini had on their shopping list? Are Rodwell and Garcia better than de Jong? As stated in previous articles, I really have not been impressed with the last minute purchases… no “marquee” signings of true quality to take us to the next level.

I don’t think anyone on this forum, bar me, has criticized the performances of Balotelli… he may be sublime at taking penalties, but surely we paid big money and big wages for more than that? The sooner we offload him and get a striker with a mixture of pace and a desire to put in a real effort, the better we will be. I see we are linked with Stevan Jovetic – he plays as a second striker and his impressive dribbling, close control, flair and technical qualities have drawn many critics to compare him to Roberto Baggio. Surely, this would be a better replacement than the “circus clown” who constantly irks me.

When I commented on the away match in Madrid, that City just sat back and never pressed the opposition, Adrian Kenny in MCIVTA 1853 stated: “This was an away fixture. Does it really surprise you that we did not press the ball as high as they did? Seldom does an away side do this and certainly not against top opposition.” Well Adrian… how do you account for Dortmund playing so well at the Etihad? Have you watched Real, Barcelona and Chelsea play away? They press the ball and do not give the opposition time on the ball!

If Saturday is a barometer of how we are playing, than I hope we continue in this vein, and keep on the tails of Chelsea, and then “show up” and play like we can, in our remaining Champions’ League matches.

Finally, I would like to say… this forum is an ideal way of venting our frustrations, as City have this annoying habit of delighting us, with brilliant performances, and then infuriating us in the big CL games. So please do not take anything written in these articles to heart… these are just personal opinions.

C’mon City.

Glyn Albuquerque <glynalbuquerque(at)>


Welcome back Micah; although he was a central defender he played better up front than Balotelli did who was supposed to be the real striker!

Balotelli is best at taking penalties, but as I said before the season started I’m 50/50 on if he leaves, or stays; he has got to improve his game, and not go down the tunnel when substituted – stay and support your team mates!

This game showed us the real City style that we saw so much last season, some brilliant football from all players; well done, credit where it is due.

More like this please!

Come on you Blues! In Mancini I trust!

P.S. Looking more closely to the line up, this is truly a team of players from last season, the only new player Rodwell came on during the final minutes of this game; now I see even more why they played like a last season’s game!

Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)>


The atmosphere, for once, was not adversely affected by the early kick off. The banter between the fans started off with the predictable “Where were you when you were s***” from the Sunderland fans. They know where we were… it’s just a wind-up! This was followed by their “Champions League… you’re having a laugh”, to which the City fans retorted: “Premier League… you’re havin’ a laugh”, and “Campiones…”. Then the City singing section and South Stand offered “You cheered, when we won the League” which drew applause from every Sunderland fan. I was proud of our fans for that. It was followed by a City “If you hate Man Utd clap your hands”, which again drew clapping from every single Sunderland fan as well as the home sections! It’s no coincidence that the Rags invoke such emotions.

Sunderland have already got respect here for their fantastic support over the years, in particular in May 1991, when their 14,000 fans made a heck of a noise before during and after the match when we beat them 3-2 to relegate them on the last day of the season (they strangely seemed to bring more in adversity than nowadays when they didn’t sell out their 1800 tickets – cost of tickets and transport must be a factor). Their cheering on the glorious May 13th owes itself to their dislike of the Rags more than anything, but it shows the difference between how our neighbours are viewed and ourselves. We aren’t viewed as arrogant, obnoxious and unsporting.

There isn’t any real danger that City fans might become arrogant or lose ourselves. Certainly not this generation of Blues. We have a VERY good team and of course expectations have risen as a result, but we know we have no divine right to win anything. City’s past history, particularly in the late 1970s and the late 1990s when we spent big (£1.5 million on Steve Daley by Allison, £3.5 million on Lee Bradbury by Frank Clark) reminds us that spending does not guarantee success. We’ve been on a journey over the years and City fans generally are grounded.

Anybody who gets above their station would quickly be brought back down to earth by other Blues because that’s our nature, and I like that. We still have our humour and we still like to verbally spar with fans of other clubs. There is nothing wrong with that.

City fans singing “We never win at home and we never win away, we lost last week and we’ll lose today” is a constant reminder of days when City weren’t so good. It’s one of those things that keeps us grounded.

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


I have to say Borussia Dortmund were the best visiting side I’ve seen at the Etihad and also a double whammy the best visiting fans.

They really taught us a lesson, on and off the pitch – Even KOTK predicted Dortmund will top the group, adding weight to Joe Hart’s comment that the seeding is a farce if they were in Pot 4.

We can only hope that Madrid murder them (twice) and therefore run away with top spot and we need to get 6 points off Ajax and so by the time we meet Madrid they will already be home and dry. Although the very idea that the special one would visit England knowing that whisky nose will be in the stand watching and put out a lame side is clutching at straws.

As for BD – The German accents – “sing ven we’re vinning” was priceless. The Poznan is pretty much laid to rest and sooooo last season as my 14 year old daughter would say.

My guess is the Poznan will be consigned to the history books alongside Helen’s bell, Niall Quinn’s disco pants and the inflated banana.

If we are to adopt something new then the Frankie Valli song the BD fans were singing was worth copying.

“I love you baby and if it’s quite alright
I love you baby to warm the lonely nights
I love you baby trust in me when I say “

Great when hammered and it’s karaoke night.


“We love you city – we are the Champions
We love you city – we are the Champions
We love you city – the Champions of England”

I shall wait till I have Guinness in my hand and start the chorus in Mary D’s and try to get this song off the ground; hopefully you will join in…

Ticks all the boxes for me:

Easy tune, identifiable, mentions the team, affection for the club and demonstrates success…

Roll on the Baggies!

Philip Lines <philipjlines(at)>


Hi folks,

I know this is a long shot but does anybody have 2 tickets for Ajax away?

I have booked my flights and hotel and I am desperate to get there.

Please feel free to e-mail me if you can help.

Please keep up the great work at MCIVTA.

Tony Farrar <salfordblue(at)>


Hi there,

Exiled Blue living in NL looking for a ticket for our match vs. Ajax.

Any help appreciated.

John Walker <johnawalker(at)>


By James Bartaby, from the blog at

It’s that time of the season again; when the top two Divisions take a break for international football and the country’s non-League clubs try and take some of the limelight. This Saturday 13 October, sees the third incarnation of the brainchild of James Doe, a Harrow Borough supporter who saw an opportunity to try and bring non-League football onto the national stage.

The concept has been an incredible success, and has gotten bigger and bigger every year. The idea is that non-league clubs offer half-price admission, or even free in some cases, to season-ticket holders of Football League and Premier League clubs, in an attempt to generate some much-needed extra revenue, and maybe gain a few extra regular supporters in the process. The fact that England now play their weekend match on a Friday night instead of a Saturday afternoon has perpetuated the success of Non-League Day, and this year is sure to be even bigger again.

The Non-League Day website has an excellent match finder <> to help you find a match near you, with a comprehensive list of fixtures up and down the country. And there are some cracking games taking place too: local derbies, top-of-the-table clashes, Non-League Day has it all!

And, as I wrote here <>, there are so many reasons to get along to non-League football. Friendly local staff, most of whom are more often than not volunteers, little or no segregation of the fans, changing ends at half time, being able to bring a beer pitch-side at a lot of grounds. It’s a fantastic afternoon out, and that’s just off the pitch!

On the pitch, you have players who love football, players playing for the love of the game and the shirt they’re wearing. You can hear the conversations and arguments between players and officials. You can even interact with them and get a direct reply a lot of the time and you can meet the players and management after the match in the warm and friendly clubhouse and dissect the game that has just transpired. It’s like you’re the journalist in your very own press conference!

So, instead of going to IKEA, or the supermarket, or doing gardening and DIY, get your warm clothes on and get down to your local non-League club and enjoy the atmosphere, the game and the experience. And make sure to spend some of the money you saved on the admission on a programme, drinks and food; non-League clubs need every penny they can get.

Who knows, you might just enjoy yourself and keep coming back for more. That’s certainly what happened to me!

For more information on Non-League Day, and to find a match near you, visit the official Non-League Day website <>

Ralph Sheppard, New Zealand <Ralph(at)>


7 October 2012

Southampton           2 - 2  Fulham                28,004
Liverpool             0 - 0  Stoke City            44,531
Tottenham Hotspur     2 - 0  Aston Villa           35,802
Newcastle United      0 - 3  Manchester United     52,203

6 October 2012

Manchester City       3 - 0  Sunderland            47,036
Chelsea               4 - 1  Norwich City          41,784
Swansea City          2 - 2  Reading               20,336
West Bromwich Albion  3 - 2  Queens Park Rangers   23,987
Wigan Athletic        2 - 2  Everton               18,759
West Ham United       1 - 3  Arsenal               34,974

League table as at 10 October 2012

                    P  GD Pts
 1 Chelsea          7  11  19
 2 Manchester Utd   7   8  15
 3 Manchester City  7   7  15
 4 Everton          7   6  14
 5 Tottenham H.     7   5  14
 6 West Brom A.     7   4  14
 7 Arsenal          7   8  12
 8 West Ham Utd     7   0  11
 9 Fulham           7   4  10
10 Newcastle Utd    7  -3   9
11 Swansea City     7   1   8
12 Stoke City       7   1   8
13 Sunderland       6  -2   7
14 Liverpool        7  -3   6
15 Wigan Athletic   7  -6   5
16 Aston Villa      7  -6   5
17 Southampton      7  -8   4
18 Reading          6  -5   3
19 Norwich City     7 -12   3
20 QPR              7 -10   2

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1857