Newsletter #1875

Welcome to 2013!

It sees us embarking on what we know will be a tough defence of our Title with ground to make up – an up and down festive period not helping in that regard.

Despite concerns expressed in some of today’s articles, we are still in there fighting and, without European distraction, who knows? After the craziness of 2012 I, for one, will be ruling nothing out.

Today also marks the opening of the transfer window. Mancini has typically not made many moves in January but some of his quotes suggest there may be some activity ahead. A chance for some of our younger players to grab loan moves for first team experience too.

Happy New Year to you all and hope you have great Christmases.

Next Game: Stoke City, Etihad Stadium, 1 January 2013, 15.00


If you were a neutral watching this game, you would have loved it, a goal feast!

As a City fan I was kept on the edge of my seat, for Norwich never gave in with their dangerous attack against a shaky City defence.

I was delighted to see City change the efforts on goal, by not short passing in the area and trying to walk the ball in; today we saw open football, and a very good game, well except for the referee: what did Nasri do wrong?

Nasri was very unlucky to get sent off, but the team carried on as if with eleven players and not ten.

Up front the team played well; whilst our defence was not up to par in this game, I’m not going to blame Hart for the goals, but I wonder if by putting Pantilimon in for a game would sharpen Hart up a bit, letting Hart know, you have got to earn your place. Although there is no doubt he can make some brilliant saves, and is obviously number one, I just remember him a little better last season.

A well-earned victory, but happy when the whistle called and end to it to get the three points.

In Mancini I trust! Come on you Blues!

Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)>


As much as I am a fan of Roberto Mancini I am not going to put on tinted glasses; he has got to change our style of play, we don’t have a true winger to bring width to our game, so our game is more through the middle with short-passing!

Sure, a full back will go to the wing at times, and credit to Zabaleta for his efforts, a fighter to the end, who made positive efforts from the left wing.

When we had the opportunity to make a break, a player of City would slow it down, instead of trying to break, fast!

We can blame the referee all we want for his terrible refereeing of this game, but our inability to score was our real downfall; City must change some of the style of play, not all but some to put the other teams off guard, they are expecting City to come at them with the short passing game down the middle, so the penalty area is packed with defenders.

I am sorry to repeat myself from earlier McV’s but other teams are watching City closely mainly because they are Champions, so they know pack the area, because City will come with short passing in the area, over-and-over again, and no one able to have a shot on goal!

May I say this: a fantastic team will change a lot of its play from game to game so as to confuse the opposition.

Still in Mancini I trust!

Come on you Blues! Another tough one in Norwich next!

A Happy Blue New Year to all City fans across the world!

Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)>


Gareth Barry headed a controversial stoppage time winner to snatch a win that had become increasingly unlikely as City toiled in the rain.

City started with a 4-5-1 with Agüero on the left and Yaya just behind Carlos Tévez. The game marked Pablo Zabaleta’s 100th Premier League game and the first start for Karim Rekik at left back. Vincent Kompany was kept on the bench as Nastasic and Kolo Touré continued at centre back. “Kolo, Kolo-Kolo…”

The wet conditions made the game difficult but City’s passing was not quite quick enough and lacked a cutting edge. We just couldn’t find the killer ball to breach Reading’s well organised back nine that often ended up being a ten man defence when centre forward Progbenyak got stuck in. Too often we tried to walk the ball in and, like against QPR on May 13th, we found a solid block of 8 defenders in the penalty box cutting out final passes and making blocks. Consequently we found it very difficult to create chances and get shots in.

City did have some chances, the best of which was when Barry crossed from the left and Agüero’s velvet touch played in Tévez who forced a sharp save from Federici and his second shot from the rebound was deflected over.

Much of our best work came from the left boot of David Silva. Agüero skied the Spanish magician’s superb volleyed cross over, and Garcia’s goal-bound shot was deflected over from another accurate Silva cross.

Sergio Agüero tormented Reading’s defence with some powerful surging runs but there was no one there to convert his searching cross.

The rain soaked the Manchester turf as City laid siege up to the break. Barry headed straight at Federici from Tévez’s pinpoint cross. Other than that it was half chances: Pablo Zabaleta had a shot deflected over the bar and Nastasic volleyed over.

At the break the Justice for the ’96 single “He ain’t heavy he’s my brother” was played over the tannoy. Hopefully the Hillsborough victims’ families will get justice.

The hope in the second half would be that City would quickly find more zip in our passing, but we couldn’t quite find the final pass through a massed Reading defence. We played most of our football through the middle, Reading seemed to read every through pass and the only width we had came on the right hand side with Pablo Zabaleta’s forward runs. Roberto Mancini made another adjustment, pushing Sergio Agüero back up alongside Carlos Tévez and Yaya Touré withdrew back into a deeper midfield role but there was little change in our fortunes.

Reading’s best hope of a goal came from rare set pieces and Alex Pearce should have done better than to head over when allowed too much room after an accurate Ian Harte corner. Silva cut in from the right and forced a save, but we weren’t creating clear cut chances.

Garcia, who had played well in midfield, was sacrificed for super sub Dzeko to enter the fray but we didn’t seem to be able to find him with any decent service. Even the ever reliable Pablo Zabaleta crossed over his head after more neat work from David Silva. Dzeko then headed a decent Tévez corner over.

Reading started to get a little confident and in one of their attackss their stumpy little midfielder Jay Tabb went down in the box as he went in with Rekik, and thee was huge uproar in the away section. Brian McDermott and the Reading bench howled with indignation, but referee Dean was having none of it. The Kippax and South Stand poured scorn on Tabb with a “You soft B*****d”! Replays later showed no evidence of a foul, Rekik having run in a straight line and that Tabb may just have been using his, ahem, “experience”.

Agüero had a shot deflected behind by a defender, then Reading attacked again and Pearce headed wide again from a corner. Phew! Typical “old” City would have been mugged! Typical “new” City just keep going to the end…

On came James Milner into the right back slot, Zaba went across to left back and Karim Rekik enjoyed a warm round of applause as he left the stage.

Sergio Agüero made another powerful run down the inside right channel and we hoped for a goal like that famous day in May but he hit the side netting. It just didn’t seem like our day. Manchester City 0 Reading 0 was going to be a very unattractive result, and a potential 8 point gap (bridgeable as we know, much to our delight), isn’t very attractive.

We hoped for five additional minutes (there had been enough Reading time wasting by Federici, who developed a chronic indecision as to when and where to blast his goal kicks, and a few substitutions from both sides), but we only got four. Would it be enough? “Come on City” we bellowed (the support was actually very good, even if I say so myself).

Time ebbed away and the rain lashed the turf: a soaking on the walk back to town after a dispiriting result is never that appealing is it?

Just when it seemed like we would have to settle for a very disappointing draw, City struck. Pablo Zabaleta kept in a ball out on the left and played in David Silva who curled a superbly inviting cross, which Gareth Barry headed powerfully into the net. Pandemonium and delirious joy filled the stands as Barry set off for the North/Kippax Stand corner flag with his team mates in hot pursuit. We were relieved and elated at the same time to have snatched such a dramatic late winner. The replays in the stadium initially suggested that Barry had climbed over Nicky Shorey as he headed home. First thoughts in the ground were that it may have looked like a foul but after being on the rough end of enough bad decisions, we’ll take that.

But it was not a lucky or a bad decision by the referee. On closer inspection later, Shorey had actually backed into Barry (with no intention of playing the ball) so it was a perfectly valid goal. Had Shorey done his full back’s job properly and headed the ball away his team would have earned a draw and we would have trudged away frustrated, but he didn’t. So whilst it is possible to empathise with Reading for being bottom of the league and conceding a last minute goal, that is balanced against the fact that their full back actually committed a foul and didn’t defend properly, leaving us an opportunity to score.

Nicky Shorey has never been known for his defensive qualities. Give me a full back who can defend first and attack second. We are lucky to have Pablo Zabaleta, Gael Clichy and Micah Richards who can do both. Aren’t we lucky?

Credit where credit is due. Silva’s cross was of the highest quality and Barry showed great tenacity and desire to head that goal in. City had fought to the very end yet again, and delivered.

Like May 13th, City’s perseverance had paid off!

The week had marked Roberto Mancini’s third anniversary in the City job. Three years in which he has won us the FA Cup and so spectacularly, made City the League Champions (yes, I know that you know that, but I love saying it and writing it!). Overall, he has taught Manchester City how to win matches. Thanks Roberto. Or should I say Grazie Roberto, buon Natale e gli augurii di Capodanno – Thanks Roberto, Happy Christmas and New Year…

Have a great Christmas and a happy 2013 Blue New Year. Thanks for reading.

Goal: Barry (93)

Att: 47,007

Hart: A little hesitant to come out and gather the ball on one occasion. Let’s hope this does not become a regular feature of his game. Otherwise not troubled and distributed well enough: 6
Zabaleta: Capped his 100th League appearance for City with another rock solid game at right back and provided most of our badly needed width: 7 (Man of the Match)
Kolo Touré: This solid performance did him and City proud: 7
Nastasic: The maturity of his play belies his tender years. A quality player: 7
Rekik: A solid League debut at left back for the well thought of young Dutchman whose best position is centre back: 6
Silva: At the centre of City’s most intricate passing moves, and that was a perfect cross for the winner: 7
Yaya: The captain for the day wasn’t at his best but always took responsibility: 6
Barry: Was having an awful game before he scored but his constant effort finally paid off: 6
Garcia: More encouraging signs in a neat and tidy showing. Unlucky to be subbed in a tactical switch and was warmly applauded off: 7
Tévez: Not quite his day spurning a good chance in the first half but the impressive thing about him was his workrate and ability to create: 6
Dzeko (for Garcia 54): One header over the bar, another tame shot. His link play was ok 6:
Sinclair (for Tévez 74): Did nothing to suggest that he is good enough for a side pushing for the title, but looked low on confidence. Don’t be surprised to see him going on loan somewhere in January: 5
Milner (for Rekik): Good to see him back for a few minutes of drive and determination! n/a

Mike Dean: England’s best referee by far did get conned a couple of times by Reading play acting (booking Agüero for an innocuous challenge), but not when it mattered (Tabb) and, crucially, he got the very last decision right: 6

Best Oppo: Pavel Pogrebnyak (had to check the spelling for that one): Worked particularly hard along with Kebe to help his defence out: 6

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


Well yet again City have lost 1-0 away to Sunderland; not much of a surprise then.

Yet again Mancini tinkers with the team: why? We are supposed to be playing catch up! It beggars belief, and if truth be told, I do not have much faith in Mancini.

All season to date, we have not being playing well. We play so slowly, and more often than not, pass for the sake of passing. There is no width and no pace down the flanks, so when we come up against teams whose sole purpose is to defend, we think we can beat them with eye of the needle passes. Why can he not play a settled 11 and only rest players when they deserve a rest or are injured? Kompany has been awful this season, yet Lescott (what has he done wrong?) is on the bench. Garcia is a “limited” midfielder; compare him to Lampard, Gerrard, other goal scoring midfielders.

We are going through a spell where we just cannot score, especially when teams defend in numbers, yet how often do we shoot from distance, and get it on target?

I watched Chelsea last week destroying Aston Villa. I honestly cannot see City do the same, because we play so slowly, such a laboured build up. Arsenal, Spurs, Chelsea, MU and Liverpool all play with pace, and sometimes quite direct… we need to be able to mix up our style. I really despair sometimes, watching City, especially with such an expensive array of players at our disposal, and yet at times we cannot match the opposition for “effort and energy”. Look at MU, 3 times they were behind against Newcastle but you always know that they can score goals, and they went on to win… just unbelievable.

Our 2 Barcelona guys, Soriano and Begiristain, must be scratching their heads watching some of our “over paid” under-performing players not produce the goods. I am sure they are already scouring quality new players for the present and the future, and whether this involves Mancini will be up for discussion. The way City are throwing away every possible trophy this season will be of concern, especially as we will lose the 2 Touré brothers for about 6 weeks.

Compare our squad to Celtic’s, can you really? Yet they played Barcelona twice (best team on the planet in my opinion), and got a win and deserved a draw in the away leg, and then qualified for the next round… how would we have fared against Barcelona? Ask yourself, what’s the point in being out of the Champions’ League and Europa League if you then cannot beat any one of the top 5 teams in the Premier League? You can have all the rest you need, but if you are so far behind the leaders, not playing well, and not capitalizing… what chance have you got? Remember, we still have to play the top half of the table, and Arsenal, Spurs, Chelsea and Liverpool are all playing well and scoring, and are now on our coat tails! This does not bode well for City!

We should be thrashing teams like Sunderland, but cannot, and this malaise has been going on for some time now, interrupted occasionally by one or two good performances. Then we have the distraction of that wally Balotelli, with Mancini constantly giving him yet another chance; does Lescott not warrant a second chance?

In Mancini I do not trust… I think he has lost the plot!

Glyn Albuquerque <glynalbuquerque(at)>


Could not score in a brothel.

Come on Chairman, see the light and get rid of Mancini. He has a worse team now than when we won the League. You can all act like Rags’ fans with your heads buried in the sand but I’m not fooled by the Manager or his coaching staff. Win silverware?! Come on, he’s having a laugh. Someone explain why we have all the possession but can’t score; maybe Phil or Ernie can jazz it up!

Sam Duxbury <sammy459(at)>


I saw the documentary aired on Dutch TV the other week and it was a heart-warming programme.

It got to the core of what it means to be Blue and this from a guy who only started supporting City a couple of months ago but he got it dead right.

What Ian Nixon talked about cleared a couple of things up as I could not understand why Kolarov was being booed when he had the ball. No history against the team we were playing nor did he do anything to deserve that treatment. So a few Albanians turned up at the match to cause a little trouble with Kolarov and our player is blamed. Don’t know if the matter is going any further.

Hope not.

Bob Price <Bob.price(at)>


This plays to Hark the Herald Angels. It first came to mind as I listened to GMR’s phone-in after the Reading match. It’s probably a bit late for this festive period but maybe it will strike a chord (sorry) with one of City’s coaching staff 😉

Hark the south stand choirs sing
Why is no-one on the wing?
Nasri, Silva start out wide
But they always cut inside
Valiant Zaba often tries
To skin a full back twice his size
With outstretched boot he seeks to aim
But the outcome’s much the same
Hark the south stand choirs sing
Why is no-one on the wing?

Tho’ skilled play is much adored
Now the fans are getting bored
Late in play the crosses come
Long ago we should have won
Opposition parks the bus
Shield their goal without much fuss
Then they get one on the break
How much more can Blue hearts take?
Hark the south stand choirs sing
Who the f**k is on the wing?

Let us pray… (for 3 points).

Andy Longshaw <andy(at)>


Roberto Mancini has been asked to explain by the FA why he said “Maybe the referee ate too much for Christmas” and “it is impossible two men didn’t see it” in connection with referee Kevin friend not giving a free kick for a clear foul on Pablo Zabaleta in the build-up to Sunderland’s winning goal.

Harry Redknapp was also asked to explain his comments: “I asked the linesman how he didn’t see that penalty – it was the most blatant handball you could wish to see but he said it was murky down there in that corner and he couldn’t make it out,” Redknapp said. “Maybe he should go to Specsavers. It’s just poor refereeing. I had him [referee Chris Foy] at Stoke last year when I was Tottenham manager and he let three penalties go, so what’s the point in talking to him? We have had two terrible decisions that have cost us dearly.”

I can assure you, I’m no fan of Harry Redknapp but they were bad decisions against QPR.

So how is it that, in the same week, Alex Ferguson can:

  1. Have a go at referee Michael Oliver in the Swansea game saying “Thereferee had one of those days where we didn’t get anything out of him. Itwas a shocking performance.”
  2. Say Ashley Williams’ kick was “deliberate” and that “he should be bannedfor a long time”.
  3. Aggressively berate a referee on them pitch like he did against Newcastle,then shout at the fourth official and linesman.

… and not be charged or asked to explain his words?

Ferguson’s vile, bullying behaviour is a poor example and far more serious than the valid, mild, humorous criticisms of Mancini and Redknapp in post-match press conferences. How many more managers of Sunday league teams are going to harangue referees like Ferguson did or worse still attack them?

Criticism in a press conference is one thing, but aggressive behaviour and unproven allegations about a player are very different. Ferguson should have the book thrown at him. He remains a vile man, who unlike people like Bill Shankly, Matt Busby and Joe Mercer, will not be remembered fondly.

Yet again, it’s one rule for Ferguson and Manchester United and one rule for the rest of us. The FA are failing the game again. They are either scared of Ferguson or wilfully allow him to get away with it, or both. Why should Ferguson and Manchester United get preferential treatment?

Until we see even handedness, the FA will continue to be an institutionally corrupt organisation.

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


I watch with much interest now the team I have supported for many years since I was a kid.

Something tells me all is not right at City. It might be dissent from players in the dressing room, it might very well be because Mancini keeps on giving Balotelli so many chances, although I’m thinking along the lines that Balotelli has to know that if his football does not improve at City, which other team will take him? His career takes a nose dive, and City lose money? Everyone loses.

Whilst Mancini knows his player has potential, but has let him down after such a big transfer fee, and wages, the owners will of course not like this.

I have read that the owners are not happy with Balotelli; if this is true it might be Mancini’s downfall, after all in football you are only as good as your present results. The past is in the past, we have seen it so much, especially at Chelsea, which could be a different situation because of the owner, but in other clubs too.

I know only too well that we can never trust what we read in the media to be true. However, when the team is not playing well, we kind of search for reasons, and I can see that our strikers are not in the form of last season, and lack in chances that they get to score!

Whatever the reason, this is not the same team as of last season; something is missing!

The transfer window will soon be here, I think that we might get a surprise or two, players, and even in management!

Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)>


Sunderland seem to have a curse on us at the Stadium of Light, and whilst Joe Hart should have saved Adam Johnson’s strike at his near post, Pablo Zabaleta was fouled in the build-up. So that’s two dodgy goals that have cost us on our last two visits to Wearside. Fair play to Sunderland for defending as stoutly as they did. We are still trying to walk the ball into the net and our attack is chronically narrow. We should be shooting more when we get half a chance because with a massed defence the chance of a deflection into the net is higher. Let’s not fall into the same trap that Arsenal have, in trying to score the perfect goal all the time.

So here we are, 7 points off the lead with exactly half the season to go. Not an insurmountable gap, but a big gap nevertheless.

Yes it’s better than being 12th in the Third Division (let’s have no referring it to “League One”, that’s a marketing man’s piffle) after a defeat to York City. It’s also preferable to being in the relegation zone after a thumping at home by Charlton Athletic like we were in 2000/2001, but we aren’t judged by those standards nowadays. We had the best squad last season and really should have the best squad this term.

The fact is though that we are weaker than we were last season.

For all Adam Johnson’s inconsistency, Scott Sinclair is not nearly as good, and Roberto Mancini certainly hasn’t got the confidence to play him as much as Johnno. Letting Adam Johnson go was one thing but surely the player who comes in to replace him has to be better? We have a similar issue in central midfield.

Javi Garcia is showing signs of settling into the hectic pace of English football, and brings us aerial power at set pieces, but he isn’t as quick or as good an all-round player as Nigel de Jong. That’s no disgrace on Javi Garcia’s part because Nigel de Jong is the best defensive midfield player in the business, but we are still weaker as our defence is got at more easily. De Jong is more nimble than Garcia, who is turned too easily. If we’d kept de Jong and added Garcia to our squad as a possible long term replacement to Gareth Barry there wouldn’t be too many grumbles as Garcia could settle in with less pressure.

Of our other new signings, Maicon has had moderate success when fit (he has two injury lay-offs thus far), Richard Wright has warmed the bench. The gaffe prone Jack Rodwell has continued to be injury prone since he joined us but the hope is that he can put those setbacks behind him and become an important player for us. Only Matija Nastasic has looked like an improvement to our squad thus far. Keeping Joleon Lescott out is no mean feat.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing but surely we would have been spending money on two proven quality players who would better our squad rather than players who don’t? Maybe then we could have used our budget to go for a Hazard, Oscar or De Rossi. After all, we need to be able to play those players, and if they cannot be played because they aren’t up to it, we have wasted our money.

In future surely we are better buying in quality rather than quantity? We need a quality striker and a quality winger.

Yet Roberto Mancini has said “We have four top strikers, and it is time those strikers started to score. We can’t keep thinking of bringing players in. We have a good team, good strikers, but we need them to be strong when they get a chance.”

Surely a top striker has to be available and ready to score those goals. Mario Balotelli misses so much of the season through suspension, his attitude and other ailments.

Mario Balotelli has not grown up at all since he joined us in August 2010. Yes, he had a good game in the 2011 Cup Final and played that pass that led to Sergio Agüero’s winning goal against QPR, and we are grateful for that, but he has done precious little since. I say this without rancour, and with a heavy heart, because I am not a Mario Balotelli hater, but can we afford to wait any longer for him to mature? If a deal can be reached with Milan or Inter that will suit us, and allow us to bring in someone more reliable we should do it.

As good as it is, too much of our play comes down the middle, and there is too much reliance on full backs to provide the width. We need another option.

Our ability to find more options will define our season. Ready for the next chapter?

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


30 December 2012

Everton               1 - 2  Chelsea               39,485
Queens Park Rangers   0 - 3  Liverpool             18,304

29 December 2012

Sunderland            1 - 2  Tottenham Hotspur     41,168
Aston Villa           0 - 3  Wigan Athletic        33,374
Fulham                1 - 2  Swansea City          25,700
Manchester United     2 - 0  West Bromwich Albion  75,595
Norwich City          3 - 4  Manchester City       26,827
Reading               1 - 0  West Ham United       24,183
Stoke City            3 - 3  Southampton           26,391
Arsenal               7 - 3  Newcastle United      60,087

26 December 2012

Everton               2 - 1  Wigan Athletic        38,749
Fulham                1 - 1  Southampton           25,700
Manchester United     4 - 3  Newcastle United      75,596
Norwich City          0 - 1  Chelsea               26,831
Queens Park Rangers   1 - 2  West Bromwich Albion  17,782
Reading               0 - 0  Swansea City          24,050
Sunderland            1 - 0  Manchester City       42,190
Aston Villa           0 - 4  Tottenham Hotspur     36,863
Stoke City            3 - 1  Liverpool             27,490

League table as at 31 December 2012

                    P  GD Pts
 1 Manchester Utd  20  22  49
 2 Manchester City 20  19  42
 3 Chelsea         19  21  38
 4 Tottenham H.    20  10  36
 5 Arsenal         19  18  33
 6 Everton         20   8  33
 7 West Brom A.    20   3  33
 8 Stoke City      20   4  29
 9 Liverpool       20   5  28
10 Swansea City    20   5  28
11 Norwich City    20  -9  25
12 West Ham Utd    19  -1  23
13 Sunderland      20  -5  22
14 Fulham          20  -6  21
15 Newcastle Utd   20 -11  20
16 Wigan Athletic  20 -13  18
17 Aston Villa     20 -24  18
18 Southampton     19 -11  17
19 Reading         20 -15  13
20 QPR             20 -20  10

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1875