Newsletter #1859

The Champions’ League returns this evening with a belter of a match likely against the great Ajax. It should be a splendid trip for those of you on your way to watch it: great stadium, great city, so enjoy yourselves.

A fascinating issue today with some quality debate on a number of subjects from the Kick It Out campaign through to the impact of John Bond at the club in 1980.

Enjoy the read and I’ll hopefully see some Blues in the Blue Anchor, Rolls Passage off Chancery lane this evening.

Next Game: Ajax Amsterdam, Amsterdam ArenA, 24 October 2012, 19.45


To reply to Jeff Dale’s request for Ajax tickets away: they are on open sale at the Ajax shop on the Rembrandtplein in Amsterdam. Well they were when I walked past a couple of days ago. The match will probably not sell out so tickets will be available when you arrive but not in the City end.

Bob Price <bob.price(at)>


Well, what a cracking game that was.

This was only my first away trip of the season but it was almost up there with the Norwich one last season, in terms of enjoyment, value for money and a feeling of significance.

Things did not start well though. A burgeoning head cold had me in a low-key mood for this one. I was also apprehensive of the Baggies’ good home record and of any potentially weakened side that Roberto would pick, with “tiredness” from the previous week’s internationals in mind.

The Hawthorns hasn’t changed – still a nightmare of a queue to get refreshments yet surprisingly short queues for the loos. It was water rather than beer for me, to soothe the throat. During the game some loudmouth was constantly shouting in my ear making my headache worse, lots of lost people were looking for seats and the guy next to me decided that half of my standing spot was his. Maybe this was all necessary yin to balance the endgame yang?

The game started slowly as we started to control possession and get West Brom chasing shadows. This was just having the desired effect when Vinnie provided a text book example of “dwelling on the ball” for the Baggies to nick it and – I thought certainly – score against the run of play.

Except wee Jimmy took one for the team and flattened the bugger. I thought he had got some of the ball – replays showed later he hadn’t – but regardless of that it was a reckless challenge and a foul and a correct sending off. John Motson was banging on about “last man” on MotD2 commentary but he obviously doesn’t know the laws. That Baggies player was about to pull the trigger and was denied a very clear goal scoring opportunity. Joleon was racing back but was just short.

This aside, Clattenberg was being his usual appalling self, getting lots of decisions wrong, more in favour of the home team than us. Our fans were getting very irate with him but in reality he was no worse than normal. Amazingly, he even got one right where Mario won the ball but in doing so, had turned and was facing backwards as he made the challenge. This was again reckless and therefore a foul.

It took us 10-15 minutes to get going again after the sending-off but soon we were creating chances and we carried this momentum into the second half. We were dominant in the game, with at most one or two scary moments at the back. Foster saved excellently from a curling Carlos shot and us fans had almost forgotten the side was down to ten men.

On a rare West Brom counter-attack, a scuffed shot from Odemwingie became a pass for Long to sniff out and bag the opener. Jammy gets.

You can argue that Joleon did not react quickly enough to the poor shot and he should have been more aware of Long stealing in behind him. However, I think it would be harsh to pin the blame on him for what was essentially a piece of luck for the Baggies. Vinnie was the one who was off colour on Saturday, to blame for the sending-off and his distribution was well below what we expect from him.

That goal knocked us off our stride again and the Baggies managed to get some control back in midfield with, it has to be said, some very neat passing that we would have been proud of ourselves. “Typical City” Syndrome had reared its head again and my pre-match prediction that the first goal would win, was looking spot on. Oh me of little faith.

City soon came strong again with Agüero, on as sub for Mario, influential. We had three or four shouts for handball in the area, mostly hopeful but one good one, which was given as a free-kick outside. I was behind the goal and it was hard to judge but it definitely looked inside to me. The lino kept quiet. Cue more abuse of Clattenberg from our end.

It was the introduction of Edin that tipped the balance. It’s been said before but he is the perfect impact sub to create a new set of problems for a tired defence that has been run ragged by Tévez, Silva, Agüero and company. It was certainly a very positive substitution by Mancini to swap Barry for him and it paid off handsomely, leading to one of the most barn-storming finishes I have ever seen at a game.

Obviously this was not on a par with the epochal events of 13th May, being a much more even affair with both sides having chances to win or salvage the game. It was exhilarating stuff nonetheless.

From a free-kick, Edin equalised with a backwards header reminiscent of the classic he scored last season at Spurs. This woke the Baggies up. It looked like they were having a game of ping-pong with our defence at the far end, with Lukaku missing two gilt-edged chances and having a great overhead shot turned over by Joe. Meanwhile we were also creating clear-cut chances at the other end.

Then came the breakaway for the winner, which I thought Dzeko was going to bury from the moment Kolarav’s pass out of the penalty area found Agüero in space. It just looked teed up on a plate for the perfect cross and the perfect finish. I believed we were going to score it and so did the players. The ball flew into the net before a packed away end and the place went wild. Edin Dzeko’s name rang large.

That’s why we’re champions!

This helter-skelter game wasn’t quite done yet. Edin had a decent chance for a hat-trick but fired it straight at a grateful Foster, who had been at fault for Edin’s first. Then Lukaku took up terrorising our tired defence again – a couple of mazy runs were well blocked and a shot that might have been going in was also cleared.

Finally, the ref blew and the party could begin. I think I might be starting to feel my years as I am a bit too self-conscious to join in with the Touré Brothers dance. Not too many others were as restrained; I’m surprised there wasn’t a conga on the way out.

I thought Nasri put in a really good shift helping to cover the space created by Milner’s absence. Tévez and Balotelli were magnificent; possibly the best I have seen Mario play for us, they could not contain him at times. He looks such a better player when he stays on his feet and runs at people.

I haven’t seen Mario’s booking again, but once more it looked like nothing to me, another product of his reputation, so lovingly cultivated by the half-witted axe-grinder and sycophant Shearer and his churlish chums. However, Mario’s angry reaction soon after could have got him sent off, if it hadn’t been such a soft yellow to start with.

Yaya was great in the centre of the park but looked flustered in front of goal, also taking part in some really awful direct free-kicks, with both sides guilty of this. Clichy and Richards showed why they should be first choice picks in my opinion. Hart put his England clanger behind him and played a full part in the victory too. Barry was Barry, as good as usual.

One final moan about the Hawthorns – they didn’t show a replay of either of our goals but they did of course show theirs, which is a little bit sad really. To be fair, it is actually a fairly friendly place with some decent fans, just a bit parochial. Even the home side substitutions are sponsored by some woebegone local business.

As an aside, if you’re ever in Moseley (south Brum) in need of some liquid sustenance, I can heartily recommend the Prince of Wales pub. Some fantastic real ales, open fires in several comfy indoors rooms and a pleasingly appointed outside garden that has a cigar shop, a wine shop and a cocktail bar. On Saturday night, it was a suitably unique venue to toast a memorable win.

Down to ten men for 70 minutes, dominating possession and chances, coming back from a slightly fortunate goal to lead and then riding our own luck at the end – this had all the hallmarks of a noteworthy victory. It was a big morale boost that again put the lie to the media BS about a lack of spirit in the City camp. It was also three very important points that keeps Chelsea and United firmly in our sights.

Incidentally, the odious Rags and the Russian mafia play each other next weekend and one or both of them will drop points. A victory for us against Swansea is paramount to take advantage. The only thing we cannot gloss over is the defensive sloppiness that has crept into our game; we will again be exposed for this in the Champions’ League if we do not iron it out.

James Nash <nash0819(at)>


In a difficult game at The Hawthorns, when City were trailing to a goal scored against the run of play, with just ten men City were still having most of the play but could not score. That is until Edin Dzeko came on for the last ten minutes and scored twice to give City the 1-2 win.

Edin Dzeko my Man of the Match in just ten minutes!

Come on you Blues!

Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)>


Edin Dzeko proved again what an excellent finisher he is with those two goals to win the match for City at The Hawthorns. To win with ten men against a good West Brom side who had won all three of their previous home matches was a highly commendable achievement. There was an element of luck about it as West Brom had late chances too, particularly Lukaku who might have scored had he placed his header wide of Joe Hart rather than straight at him. That said, who is to say that our brilliant goalkeeper wouldn’t have made yet another top drawer save?

With David Silva out with his hamstring injury (hopefully back within a couple of weeks), Roberto Mancini picked the best midfield he had available with Barry and Milner behind a more advanced Yaya Touré, Balotelli and Nasri.

We can’t really complain about the sending off. Vincent Kompany had bamboozled Scotland in midweek with some trickery (albeit the worst Scotland side in history, managed by far the worst Scotland manager in history), and tried to repeat the feat at the Hawthorns in midfield, but wiser West Brom pinched the ball off him, leaving our defence totally exposed. After the shaky start to the season that Sir Vinny has had, surely he needs to keep his game simple? He certainly owed James Milner an apology after that. We can’t really have any complaints about the sending off. Jimmy was stretching for the ball and connected with Shane Long, and it is very unlikely that the covering Joleon Lescott would have caught up with Long.

By all accounts the City boys worked very hard to gain this victory, especially as they had to endure yet another highly incompetent refereeing performance from Mark Clattenburg. West Brom will be a tough nut to crack at the Hawthorns this season, so our boys, resplendent in that natty maroon away shirt, deserve a lot of credit.

Fair play to the good sportsmanship of West Brom’s impressive manager, Steve Clarke who even in his disappointment gave City credit, saying “they are Champions for a reason”.

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


With Saturday’s game on Fox soccer plus and Cox cable (RI), not having this channel meant it was onto the laptop to watch it live. Super or stupid Mario, you take your pick. When you have won Euro or World Player of the Year I get it, NOW I don’t. Sublime skill going past 3 defenders yet he could have made City down to 9 men with his %^&, you figure out the word.

You can see the other players are nervous of what he can do (fireworks etc.) and baby sit him. Milner being sent off was brought on by another crazy Kompany mistake; if Milner was the last man where was the rest of the defence?

Now for the tactics.

Knowing all these teams are going to defend 90% of the game (go get’em), yes, go with the back three. Start with 3 forwards (Dzeko, Agüero, Tévez) 2 defensive midfielders (Barry, +1) and 3 attacking midfielders (Silva, Nasri, Yaya). Oh yeah you need a goalkeeper (Hart can and has saved us).

Let’s get 2 or 4 goals in the 1st half and not let these teams get in the game. Kick ’em hard, kick ’em early, demoralise them and get the goal difference up.

Phil Telford <telfordpnt(at)>


In response to Phil Banerjee’s piece on the 1980/81 season (and the unfortunate demise of Aleksic the Spurs ‘keeper) can I commend to Phil B and all who remember this, or who have never seen it, the Granada documentary made around the time of MA’s departure and the arrival of JB.

This link will take you the first part (on Youtube) and the links to the subsequent 5 parts (an hour altogether) will be displayed. It gives you a great view of how things were in times gone by, not least the noise and atmosphere at Maine Road – “Johnny Bond, Johnny Bond, Johnny Bond”!

One of my strongest Maine Road memories (alongside the 76 League Cup run) is from the 80/81 season and where that Cup run started with the 6-0 demolition of JB’s former Norwich. I had a season ticket for the Kippax but my mate won 2 tickets for the North Stand in a raffle so we thought we’d may as well use them. I sat next to a lovely old guy who took a nip from his hip flask after the first goal. He looked at me and grinned and said “Only when they score lad, only when they score”. By the time the last goal went in he’d had a great day and so had I!

Graham Schofield <graham.schofield(at)>


I think it was more than Phil A’s Wi-Fi that went wonky for MCIVTA 1858.

I was disappointed that Phil Banerjee had not offered his view of Kick it Out as there seems to be a reaction to its supposed tokenism (hopefully, there will be a reactive response in the latest issue – ED: there is!) The apparently random thoughts of Ernie on “Tinkerman” forced me to read it over a couple of times, trying to find some cohesive point (I failed); Ralph Sheppard wrote an obscure reference to Whitton Athletic (are they a New Zealand outfit?) by choosing to refer to Peter Reid as an Evertonian “who also played for the likes of… Manchester City” (conveniently overlooking his excellent managerial contribution to our club (rewarded as only Swales could); and then John Nisbet asserted that the new boys had weakened the squad. Are we to infer that he really believes that Matija Notsavic is not light years better than Stefan Savic?

Wonderful stuff. Wish there were a lot more contributions, including the bewildering and baffling!

On another point, I can’t agree with Phil’s view of “Bondy”. I think he was brought in as a panic measure and was never more than a safe(ish) manager. I loved Gerry Gow and Bobby Mac and Tommy did us proud, but Bond only knew how to survive on a shoe string. People remember “that” goal whilst, bizarrely, forgetting that Bond dropped Tommy Booth (of all players) from both games.

I still reckon that was his worst of many poor decisions (he also dropped Tueart). People also forget that the players who should have got us to Wembley for the League Cup Final (we were robbed at Anfield by dodgy decisions having outplayed the Scousers home and away) were all Allison’s men (Bond’s purchases being cup-tied). Allison will never be forgiven for selling Gary Owen (amongst others), but he did leave a set of players capable of winning in style. He was far from perfect, but not as bad as has come to be portrayed. Whereas I cringed at John Bond from the moment he arrived. His toe-curling “style” was brutally exposed by the live Granada series that followed the inside workings of the club throughout that season. I do not revile him and I note his recent passing with sadness, but I can never buy into the popular image of the man who saved us from Allison’s uselessness.

Perhaps this may invite an angry response? I know it’s history but we don’t have much to moan about these days, do we?

Martin Hunt <martinhuntctid(at)>


At a time when we need to unite against racists, it is very sad to see footballers undermining the Kick It Out campaign. Jason Roberts said Kick It Out don’t do enough in the fight against racism and several players (not just Black players) didn’t wear the T-shirts, including our own Joleon Lescott and Micah Richards.

What are Kick It Out supposed to do other than campaign? They have no power.

The real power lies with Football Administration bodies like FIFA, UEFA and the national FAs including our own. Kick It Out are a campaign group and nothing more and it is highly unreasonable to expect more of them. Attacking Kick It Out is totally misguided.

Writing as someone who has been racially abused in my life (in a previous employment and at football), I understand the frustration of footballers when they see the likes of Spain, Croatia, and especially Serbia getting a slap on the wrist from the after many of their fans have racially abused them. The footballers, though, should be turning their guns on FIFA, UEFA and the FAs, not on organisations that are fighting racism.

Our FA has rightly complained about Serbia, but they do very little to combat racism.

John Terry should have been suspended from playing football per se, pending his criminal trial in the summer. He should not have been playing for Chelsea, let alone England. Ordinary people in the workplace would be initially suspended if they were being investigated and accused of racism, pending an inquiry and/or court case, and they would probably sacked if found guilty. Why should footballers be treated any differently? Terry is not the worst kind of racist and did not repeatedly abuse Anton Ferdinand (unlike Suarez did to Evra).

Terry, should, however, have received more than a four match ban. In the context of Suarez offence which was worse and incurred an 8 match ban, Terry’s ban should have been 6 matches, reflecting the seriousness of Terry’s offence.

The English FA’s failure to punish the Chelsea captain properly and Chelsea’s failure to strip him of the captaincy only strengthens the feeling that racism is not being dealt with firmly enough.

FIFA, the UEFA and FAs, including our own can do much, much more. Serial offenders like Serbia should be thrown out of football. Spain and Croatia are also skating on thin ice. Do FIFA and UEFA have the will or the courage to thrown out the World Champions if they offend again? Sadly I think we know that they haven’t. But this problem will only get worse until there is strong and equitable leadership in football. Until the authorities take racism seriously and do something about it there will be more racism, and disenchantment amongst black and Asian footballers, in particular, will grow.

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


Kick It Out is calling on supporters of clubs from across the Premier and Football Leagues to share their views on discrimination as part of the biggest consultation of football fans ever to take place. Launched in time for this year’s One Game, One Community weeks of action on discrimination (18-29 October), the findings of the consultation will help form a blueprint for tackling discrimination in football over the coming seasons.

Make your views heard on a range of topics from how to improve reporting of abusive behaviour and enforcement in grounds, to combating abusive behaviour on social media. You’ll also have the chance to suggest what more could be done by clubs and football authorities to help stop all types of discrimination.

The survey is open now and can be found at:

Ralph Sheppard <ralph(at)>


21 October 2012

Sunderland            1 - 1  Newcastle United      47,456
Queens Park Rangers   1 - 1  Everton               17,959

20 October 2012

Tottenham Hotspur     2 - 4  Chelsea               36,060
Fulham                1 - 0  Aston Villa           25,693
Liverpool             1 - 0  Reading               44,874
Manchester United     4 - 2  Stoke City            75,585
Swansea City          2 - 1  Wigan Athletic        19,696
West Bromwich Albion  1 - 2  Manchester City       24,891
West Ham United       4 - 1  Southampton           34,925
Norwich City          1 - 0  Arsenal               26,825

League table as at 24 October 2012

                    P  GD Pts
 1 Chelsea          8  13  22
 2 Manchester Utd   8  10  18
 3 Manchester City  8   8  18
 4 Everton          8   6  15
 5 Tottenham H.     8   3  14
 6 West Brom A.     8   3  14
 7 West Ham Utd     8   3  14
 8 Fulham           8   5  13
 9 Arsenal          8   7  12
10 Swansea City     8   2  11
11 Newcastle Utd    8  -3  10
12 Liverpool        8  -2   9
13 Stoke City       8  -1   8
14 Sunderland       7  -2   8
15 Norwich City     8 -11   6
16 Wigan Athletic   8  -7   5
17 Aston Villa      8  -7   5
18 Southampton      8 -11   4
19 Reading          7  -6   3
20 QPR              8 -10   3

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1859