Newsletter #1883

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First of all thanks to those of you who enquired about your poor editor’s well-being this week. Sadly, not been too good but now back on my feet and looking forward to a blanket and a place on my sofa to watch us take on Liverpool later this afternoon.

The past week saw a good win at Stoke, an intriguing next round tie at home to Leeds and the departure of Mr Balotelli. I had planned on putting my views on Mario in this editorial but then Phil B’s ‘AND FINALLY’ article arrived and as I can’t put it any better I’ll leave it to him.

A bumper issue today so it should help while away the hours before kickoff for you. Some great journeys down memory lane following on from Derek’sarticle last week in what Graham Stephenson’s article describes as “a resthome for formerly elderly distressed Blues”!

Next Game: Liverpool, Etihad Stadium, 3 February 2013, 16.00

NEIL YOUNG, RIP, SECOND ANNIVERSARY

February 3rd 2013 marks exactly 2 years since the passing of City legend, Neil Young. City play Liverpool on that date with a 4:00 pm kick-off.

Neil’s widow, Carmen Young, has been in touch with me to say she will be at the Etihad at 3:00 pm prior to the game to lay some flowers at the Garden of Remembrance in memory of Neil. Carmen extends an invitation to any supporters who may wish to join her at the Garden of Remembrance at the laying of flowers. Supporters are also welcome to bring tributes to Nelly if they wish to.

I’m pleased to announce that Carmen is now coming to terms with the loss of her much beloved husband Neil and will be pleased to see supporters attend.

Kind regards to all.

Alex Channon <alexchannon81(at)gmail.com>


MATCHVIEW I: STOKE CITY 0 MANCHESTER CITY 1

Pablo Zabaleta deservedly scored the winner to take Manchester City into the 5th Round of the FA Cup and cap off an excellent performance from the City full back. It was a well merited triumph for the whole team that owed much to City’s mental and physical fortitude, not to mention superior skill.

This was our first win at Stoke since Gerard Wiekens scored the winner on a freezing Friday evening back in January 1999, during the bad old days of the Third Division, which seem like a long time ago. Everyone knows what a difficult, hostile place the Britannia Stadium is to go to with its ground with four open corners, normally raucous crowd and a physical team with no little ability. On this occasion, though, the Stoke fans did not really help their team in selling a mere 15,000 tickets – a poor reward to both clubs considering it was £20 a ticket – and being completely out-sung by 4,000 City fans.

The overnight snow, which required a phenomenal effort from the locals toclear the pitch, added to the occasion, but it was more of a problem (or asnowball fight!) for people outside the ground than it was inside where thepitch was playable. The hype merchants in the media talked about “revenge”for our 2011 FA Cup triumph over Stoke, but there was rarely a sense thatthis would happen as the Blues gave a very professional performance fromstart to finish.

City dominated this game from the start with David Silva the inspiration of waves of attacks with his poise and cerebral passing. His clever pass found Tévez in the inside right position and the latter’s shot was smartly tipped round the post by Sorensen. Silva also went close to opening the scoring when he took Milner’s short pass from the right and curled a shot that struck the left hand post.

With Barry and Garcia behind him competing strongly in central midfield, Silva had a solid platform on which to build attacks, and as ever, he wasn’t averse himself to intercepting and nicking the ball off an opponent’s toe. Once again Zabaleta pushed as far as he could from full back to press and harry Etherington into surrendering possession, to the point where he had him in his back pocket.

Roberto Mancini had to reorganise just before the break when Kompany limped off with a recurrence of a calf injury, which could sideline him for a couple of weeks. He reverted from a 4-4-2 formation to a 3-5-2, pushing Zabaleta (who was handed the captain’s armband) inside to right sided centre back and bringing on substitute Clichy (after a long seven minutes of planning with David Platt!) to a left-sided centre back rôle, either side of Joleon Lescott.

The loss of height in our defence was a concern but it was a measure of City’s organisation and application that this was never exposed by a Stoke side who are renowned for their aerial prowess.

Indeed, Mancini turned this setback to his advantage, pushing Kolarov further forward as a left wing back, and this soon opened up Stoke’s right hand side. Unfortunately we were unable to capitalise on two excellent Kolarov crosses: the first had no takers, and the second was miscued by Tévez at the far post.

Walters headed a Wilkinson cross over after the break but Stoke’s chances were half-chances, and it was City who looked the more likely to score. City continued to be the more composed side, and Stoke could have been reduced to 10 men had Howard Webb spotted Glen Whelan’s two-footed stamp on Javi Garcia’s ankle. Garcia, to his credit, didn’t make a meal of it though he was clearly in pain. The lucky Whelan showed that he had learned something from his grounding at City when his goal-bound shot deflected off Clichy and forced a smart readjustment from Pantilimon without really testing him.

Silva played Barry in but he failed to test Sorensen, then Tévez turned sharply but fired over. City were passing really well in midfield, but too often our final ball lacked sufficient quality.

Mancini went for the jugular, reverting back to 4-4-2, by introducing Sergio Agüero as an out-and-out left winger in place of wing back Kolarov (and Garcia dropped back for a first stint at centre half and Clichy out to left back) and Stoke also went for the winner. Soon more space opened up as Stoke’s defence was pulled around by increasingly intelligent movement. Dzeko had a smart shot from a narrow angle deflected behind for a corner, and Agüero had an attempt deflected by a defender into the side netting.

We had to be wary of Crouch, given his record for scoring against us, but Lescott did just enough to force him to head Shotton’s cross wide.

Just when it seemed like a replay was on the cards, Pablo Zabaleta started and finished the winning goal, which encapsulated many of the best elements of his game. Zabaleta tackled Etherington near the right hand touch line inside our half, and, facing his own goal, dragged the ball back and forth before playing a skilful pass with the outside of his foot to Milner who played him a return ball up the line. Zaba touched the ball to Tévez, who found Silva and the City playmaker carried the ball forward before passing to Agüero in the inside left position. Agüero crossed, and the ball deflected off Dzeko to Zabaleta who drilled home an unstoppable low shot and celebrated joyfully in front of the 4,000 celebrating City fans behind the goal.

It was a fitting end to the cup tie where he had been the outstanding player on view.

Goal: Zabaleta (85)

Att: 19,814

Ratings:
Pantilimon: Very good handling all game and he punched well when called upon: 7
Zabaleta: An excellent, model performance at full back. Tenacious, read the game superbly and showed lovely skill to start off the move that led to his well-executed goal, which was a reward for yet another positive run into the box. What a good player this man is:10 (Man of the match)
Kompany: Looking very solid when he had to come off. Let’s hope that he is back soon: 7
Lescott: Stood up and dealt with the aerial threat of Jones and Crouch very well indeed: 8
Kolarov: Played a couple of inviting crosses that deserved converting into goals. Not really tested in defence: 7
Milner: Worked as hard as ever with his team mates to press and harry, this keeping their threat away from our box, but his final ball was poor on several occasions: 6
Barry: Reliable in midfield and made some good runs forward: 7
Garcia: Seems to like playing on this ground (where he scored on his début) and was very impressive, competing well and keeping his passing neat and simple: 8
Silva: Highly delightful from the word go. His silky smooth play again was not only very effective, but a treat to watch: 8
Dzeko: Linked play well again and went close in the second half: 6
Tévez: Again an important part of the passing machine, but didn’t look like scoring: 7
Subs:
Clichy (for Kompany 40): Did well to slot in at left sided centre back, then later left back: 7
Agüero (for Kolarov 62): Gave our attack width and the threat of goals: 7
Rodwell (for Tévez 86): n/a

Best Oppo: Sorensen: Followed up his performance in the 2011 Cup Final with a decent showing: 7

Refwatch: Howard Webb: How did he miss Whelan’s stamp on Javi Garcia? Harshly booked Shotton in the second half. Otherwise a passable afternoon: 6

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)tiscali.co.uk>

MATCHVIEW II: STOKE 0 CITY 1

This was always going to be a tough game and I must admit my pre-match thoughts were about settling for our usual draw at the Britannia followed by our usual victory at the Etihad in the replay.

From the outset though City took the game to Stoke and looked a very cohesive unit. City dominated possession throughout the first half with some neat inter-play.

As the game wore on, Stoke started to create chances and our fragility in converting opportunities, along with a string of poor final balls, meant Stoke always had a puncher’s chance against a far classier heavyweight.

Then, in the 85th minute, up stepped the man of the match, and I would argue, man of the season so far. Taking the ball off a Stoke player deep in his own half, Zabaleta coolly found a short inside pass to start a flowing City move from right to left. Not content with his excellent defensive duties, Zaba made his now customary surging run into the right half of the Stoke penalty area, arriving with perfect timing to coolly and expertly drive the deflected cross into the bottom right hand corner of the Stoke goal with the outside of his right boot.

There were a couple of incidents during the game that Stoke players got away with. One cynical, on Pablo Zabaleta by I think Wilkinson, in the first half when he appeared to try to stamp on the foot Zaba injured against Fulham last week. One just plain nasty by Whelan on the prone Garcia. It will be interesting what referee Howard Webb says in his report and whether there will be any video repercussions for Whelan.

A few personal observations on some of the players:

Costel Pantilimon, who used to scare me to death on crosses despite his 6’8″ frame, never really looked troubled and used his size to good advantage on several occasions to either confidently punch or catch Stoke’s long throw-ins and crosses into his box.

Joleon Lescott dealt pretty well with Stoke’s forwards. Particularly as he must feel under a certain amount of pressure when he does play, being obviously out of first choice favour.

Gareth Barry had a very assured and solid game in midfield breaking-up Stoke’s play on numerous occasions. His distribution was also a little better although he did still display a carelessness of pass on a couple of occasions.

James Milner once again worked tirelessly up and down the right. He was probably the most guilty of the poor final passes but he does give us some much-needed width, although not his favoured rôle, and provides excellent cover for Zabaleta to make those penetrating runs.

Javi Garcia looked more comfortable than he has previously. Is he starting to get to grips with the English game or is it just that this type of game and the Yaya Touré râle suited him better?

David Silva is just a joy to watch. Is he simply a genius at creating space for himself or are the opposition players so scared of him they back off and help create the space for him? Probably a mixture of the two and the latter has been earned anyway by his class.

Edin Dzeko continues to mystify. At times he looks like Crazy-Legs Crane (for those old enough to remember the cartoon), and justifies the tag that his second touch is often a tackle. Although he didn’t get on the score sheet against Stoke I thought this was one of his better games leading the line. He also chipped in with a couple of important defensive headers from Stoke set-plays, particularly as City were lacking some height at the back following the unfortunate departure of Vincent Kompany.

Saving the best till last. Pablo Zabaleta. I have long been a fan of Zaba. I remember being at games where he would get a fair bit of, I believed, unjust criticism from sections of the fans. I thought at the time “Can’t people see how good this guy is?” I always believed he suffered from daring to compete for the right-back slot with fan favourite Micah Richards. Over time his willingness, and ability, to play in several râles for the team has built his reputation and respect from the fans. I believe this obvious respect has allowed him to play with a confidence and freedom that has now got both fans and pundits rightly rating him as the best right-back in the Premier League.

What I like most about Zaba though is that in this age of claims about players being mercenary, not caring about the teams they play for and just being happy to pick up their exorbitant pay-cheques, he displays the ultimate professional characteristics. I’ve lost count of the number of times he has left the field bloody and battered to just pop back up again (it borders on black comedy at times). I love the ‘Pa Pa Pa Pablo Zabaleta’ chant but perhaps his song should be “He gets knocked down but he gets up again, you’re never gonna keep him down”?

Zaba is definitely one player who has Manchester City running right through him like a stick of rock.

A decent draw in the fifth round gives us a real chance of regaining the FA Cup, an opportunity for some of the squad players, and a welcome diversion from the pressures of the Premier League run-in.

Dave Kilroy <dave.kilroy(at)ntlworld.com>

MATCHVIEW III: STOKE 0 CITY 1

I don’t go as far back as Derek Styles, as I first saw City play in 1946, just before the Leagues were reformed after the war. For a time I watched City one week and United the next, until I realised what I was doing, and changed to City and Stockport County.

I was brought up in Denton, but certainly don’t recall a preponderance of United fans where I lived – if anything most of my friends supported City, at least until United won the 1948 Cup Final against Blackpool. At that point my three (so-called) friends switched their allegiance to the Reds. I couldn’t contemplate doing that, and have never wavered in my love of City, although Malcolm Allison’s return and decimation of my team made me wonder if I was doing the right thing.

The popular idea has been that the Munich disaster was the foundation for United’s worldwide support, and there is some truth in that. There weren’t many flying over from Hong Kong and Singapore in my younger days.

It’s a cliché to say the game has changed, and just as obvious is the change in supporters’ attitudes.

I watched City’s game at Stoke this afternoon and still find it hard to accept that fans are incapable of showing any appreciation of skill in the opposing team. At times, City produced some moments of sublime skill – mainly orchestrated by Silva – but these were only greeted with boos and jeers. Today’s fans will find it hard to believe that in the years following the war, opposing players were actually applauded if they merited it. A Tommy Lawton header thundering against the bar would bring the City fans to their feet in appreciation.

We looked forward to visits by Stanley Matthews and Len Shackleton, although their presence usually meant we were in for an awkward 90 minutes. At the same time we were ready to boo opposing players like Alex Forbes, Jimmy Scoular, the whole Bolton defence, and yet I’m pretty sure we waited until their first transgression before venting our anger.

Nowadays, opposing teams are often booed from the first time they gain possession.

I don’t expect my sentiments will carry much weight, but speaking as a dinosaur in an armchair I have to admit that I look forward to the next game every bit as much as I did in those early years.

David Buxton <dbb26(at)hotmail.co.uk>

ARTICLE: MARIO THE MAN(CINI)

I’m quite sure that this is a move that should have been made long ago. Whatever the amount that we “lost” on his transfer fee is a good investment. There is no doubt that he has wonderful talent but it was never sufficiently used and his accompanying idiotic behaviour was much too high a price to pay; its effect on the team must have been horrendous.

In the same way I believe that Mancini’s forbearance displayed weakness. In sum, I do not believe that we need such a manager. There are numerous other better (not just British) candidates. Shining examples on the other hand, are Moyes at Everton. Martinez at Wigan, Laudrup at Swansea etc. Their teams patently play for their supporters and managers in the knowledge that personal financial rewards will follow. With our available talent, I conclude that management: Mancini, Platt and Kidd; are not up to the task!

The Cup and subsequent League title have been milestones, but purchased at an enormous cost, not only monetary but also on-going pride. Players need to be coached/nurtured and given confidence that their outstanding performances will bring them glory and just rewards; that they will not merely be used to warm a bench, even at obscenely inflated salaries, merely because the “management” has been allowed the resources.

Of course a well-managed team should have cover, but does this always have to be sourced, at great cost, from the transfer market?

At one time City’s Academy was the envy of the game; what has become of this approach?

This man-management has been sadly lacking. Goodbye and good riddance Mario and his ilk!

True Blue.

Peter Murphy <murphypdm(at)gmail.com>

RESPONSE: ALKMAAR

Great stuff in MCIVTA 1882 from Derek Styles and Martin Hunt too.

I can answer Ian Nixon’s question. All I did was google “August 13 Alkmaar Manchester City”!

Fourth hit was http://www.mcfc.co.uk/news/on-this-day/august/on-this-day-august-13

“Looking back through the history books for the events, signings and memorable matches that happened on this day in City’s history:

Sunday 13 August 1978
City’s European tour ends disastrously in Holland with a 5-1 defeat against AZ Alkmaar with Roger Palmer scoring City’s consolation goal.”

EDITOR – Thanks also to David Williams, David Smith and Dave Wallace for sending in similar articles. Colin Darvill added these details:

It was a Sunday. The final pre-season 1st team tour match was played against the Dutch Cup winners AZ Alkmaar in Amsterdam.

Team: Corrigan, Clements, Donachie, Paul Futcher, Bell, Keegan (Ged not Kevin), Channon, Henry, Palmer, Hartford, Owen. Sub: Coughlin replaced Henry 75th minute.

City Scorer: Palmer 42nd minute.
AZ Alkmaar Scorers: Tol (2), Kist (2) and Spelbos
Attendance: 20,000

Ian Kay <fantasticnumbers(at)hotmail.com>

ARTICLE: MORE REDS THAN BLUES

Interesting article by Derek. I’m sure there’s a lot of truth in this because there’s no doubt that, in the 1920s and 30s, City were the real powerhouse in Manchester. I was born in 1944 and, though Blue from birth somehow, it was really the 1950s before I began to understand football. My father was a football fanatic but not by birth a City or United supporter because he came from Wrexham and, in those days, you supported your local team. He came to live in Manchester in the late 1920s and, being football mad, he asked his workmates who they were going watch, City or United. As he recalled, they looked dumbstruck: ‘The Rags, who the hell would want to watch such a load of rubbish!’ So, he started to watch City and I don’t think that he went to Old Trafford until the 40s or 50s, when the practice was to go one week to Maine Road and the next to Old Trafford with his workmates, simply to watch a first division match (don’t forget, there was no travelling to away matches in those days).

My first match was City vs. Bolton at Maine Road, around Christmas/New Year 1954 – think City won 2-0. From then on, that season, I went to a few matches with him and his workmates, mainly at Maine Road but also one or two at Old Trafford. Apart from the natural antipathy to anything red, Old Trafford was much more difficult to get to from our home in Benchill and always seemed very poky and crowded when compared to the spaciousness of Maine Road. Just to give some idea of the attitude of crowds in those days, I recall standing with my father on what became the Stretford End (I seem to recall that there was a little enclosed ‘paddock’ at the front). The game must have been pretty boring because when they opened the gates 15-20 minutes from the end, a lot of the crowd streamed out to watch the lads from Glover’s Cables playing on the pitch that was just behind the Stretford End!

For those interested in football history, my grandfather was secretary of the Football Association of Wales in the 1880s and early 1890s and had been connected with Wrexham. He was one of pioneers who brought soccer to the rugby stronghold of South Wales, helping to launch clubs such as Cardiff. It is possible that helped to introduce other innovations, such as permanent crossbars (instead of a piece of string!), the three half-back formation and, even, the offside rule. Thanks to Ian Garland and his fellow researchers in Welsh soccer, I have been able to build up a good picture of his ‘exploits’, which shed an interesting light on the development of football in the 19th century. If there is anyone out there interested, I’d be happy to correspond and would welcome any further input.

Meanwhile, as an exile in the west of Ireland, thanks to Phil and the gang for their sterling efforts and to Phil B. for his masterly reporting of our games.

Barry Taylor <barryriley(at)eircom.net>

ARTICLE: GOODBYE AND GOOD LUCK

After a long ordeal just waiting for it to happen, Mario Balotelli has left City for AC Milan.

There will be lots of memories of Mario at City; we shall not forget how he passed the ball to Sergio Agüero to score the goal that gave City the title Champions of England.

We shall remember the two goals against United in the 1-6 victory, showing his undershirt “Why always me”.

I am not going to go into the negatives, for many of us have other feelings about Mario in many ways, but I do believe that he will do well in Italy with his new club, so good luck Mario! Be good and may the name Super Mario return soon, but never against Manchester City.

Come on you Blues!

In Mancini I trust!

P.S. Now that Mario has left, I feel quite sad, but City must move on, we must remember that the last games from Mario were not the best, but we have great memories.

EDITOR – A great opportunity for Mr Guidetti!

Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)aol.com>

ARTICLE: MAGIC THESE PEOPLE AWAY

Some lazy people in the media (these are so-called “journalists” and “commentators” who can barely string a sentence together) continually trot out clichés that the FA Cup has “lost its magic”. What nonsense. The FA Cup is fantastic, and the FA have not managed to ruin it yet with the inconvenient kick off times (remember Sunday evening at Ipswich?) and despite it not being the last domestic match at the end of the season).

Ask Oldham, Luton or Brentford fans if they think the FA Cup has lost its magic. Indeed, ask any fans. Ask any one of the 4,000 plus who braved the bad conditions to make a proper din at the Britannia Stadium. I’m delighted that MCFC got past Stoke who are always tricky opponents at the Britannia. I really enjoyed watching the Cup ties on Sunday (I had to “negotiate” a bit with the kids) including Leeds beating Tottenham (even if I dream of City beating Tottenham 3-0 in the final with three goals from our Argentines!), Uwe Rösler’s Brentford almost beating Chelsea, and of course Paul Dickov’s Oldham beating the once-mighty Liverpool – still no mean feat for a third tier club.

If the “magic” has gone for these so-called “journalists” and “commentators”, then maybe they should find something else to do and allow someone else to have a go at their cushy job. That way it would be a more enjoyable experience all round.

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)tiscali.co.uk>

ARTICLE: MEETING THE GREATS

We used to live in Unsworth, less than a mile from the Bell Waldron Restaurant. We ate there on many occasions. One evening during a meal mid-week, my young daughter and I were invited to meet Colin Bell who was checking a wine delivery in a store downstairs.

After the introductions, Colin said he felt it was rather late for my youngster to be out. Suitably chastened we returned to the dining area upstairs.

Many years later I had the pleasure of welcoming him accompanied by his medical student son, and Tony Book, to talk to the Carlisle branch of the Manchester City Supporters’ Club.

He’ll always be our hero.

City For All Eternity, Peter Birbeck <pjb1946(at)gmail.com>

RESPONSE: DEREK STYLES’ ARTICLE

I am of a similar age to Derek and I remember going to Maine Road with my father after the war when the Football League resumed. City were in the Second Division and United in the First.

We went every week, one week City the next week United. City got crowds of 40 to 45 thousand, United 65 to 70 thousand, sometimes 80 thousand.

City supporters went to both games, United only to theirs.

Unfortunately, as the years went by and United dominated the football in Manchester, a lot of the younger City supporters began to prefer United and when they moved back to Old Trafford a lot of these supporters followed them.

A lot of my friends who were City supporters used to take their sons to City and United when they moved to Old Trafford.

That was how so many young Mancunians became United supporters and of course Munich led to their world-wide support. United got a huge amount of money due to war damage to improve their ground and because of this when City put a bid in for improvements to the ground for the 1966 World Cup, United won the bid and got a million pounds because their ground was more modern than City. Uwe’s grandfather didn’t do us any favours.

Leslie Saul <lesliesaul29(at)sky.com>

ARTICLE: CITY SINCE I WAS BORN

My cousin, Bill Borrows, who has inherited his father’s mania for all things City, has sent me a couple of the latest issues and suggested that in view of the flavour of some recent contributions that the site is rapidly becoming “a rest home for formerly elderly distressed Blues” and that maybe I might add my own two-penneth. So here is my nostalgia-riddled best effort.

I suppose it was only when I cried at the age of seven at the end of the FA Cup Final in 1955 that I truly realised I was a City supporter. They had lost 3-1 to a good Newcastle side including Jackie Milburn, uncle to the Charlton brothers, having played most of the match with ten men (still some time before even one substitute was permitted) after the hapless Jimmy Meadows had to go off with what turned out to be a career-finishing injury.

Mum and my Uncle Bill both tried to console me with the seemingly unjustifiable prediction that they would be back next year and would make up for this tear-inducing defeat. In those days it was still traditional for a losing/winning finalist team from Manchester to get off the return train at Wilmslow and then proceed by open top bus along the A34 (Kingsway) parading with or without the Cup as the case might be. As I was dragged up in nearby Burnage, I went to give the team a consoling cheer. The next year of course, as both wisely and unwisely promised by my mother and her City-fanatical brother, we were back and winning this time against Birmingham City by the same score (Johnstone, Hayes, Dyson) – tears of joy on this occasion plus another brief walk to Kingsway to see both the team and that Cup on the way to the Town Hall.

I imagine that at that time I was not conscious of another team with ‘Manchester’ in its name but I doubt that this would have made any difference to my allegiance as the Borrows family had lived in and around Ardwick from early into the last century. I was born into and brought up in a set of staunch City supporters. My mother, approaching 90, is still fanatical, likewise my two daughters and their offspring are continuing the tradition even though they do so from remote areas of Hertfordshire and Hampshire. My 9 year old grandson has really only known the success of the last two seasons. If only…

My first visit to Maine Road took place in August 1956 when, in the company of my Uncle Bill and my dad, I remember seeing them play Aston Villa, the late Roy Clarke scoring City’s only goal in the 1-1 draw. Thereafter, visits to the Kippax were with mates but these were infrequent as I played for the school team on Saturday afternoons when I was older.

I have seen only three Manchester derbies at Stretford over the years. As you would expect I remember these well enough. The first was in 1962 and we had made an appalling start to the season, losing the first fixture at Molineux 8-1, followed by defeats at home by Villa 2-0, Liverpool and Spurs away 4-1 and 4-2 respectively and 6-1 at home to West Ham (we also lost the away match by the same score right at the end of the season and were relegated) and after 8 games had amassed only 4 points out of 16. The Board I recall issued an ultimatum that things had to improve. Next up a trip to Stretford! I decided to go but I had to leave early to deliver the Pinks and Greens as part of my paperboy duties. We were losing 2-1 when I left in a despondent state of mind. I was barely out of the ground when a large roar went up so my mood was not improved. About halfway down Warwick road came another roar, 4-1? I eventually got back to the newsagents as miserable as it was possible to be to be met by the owner saying: “What a great win for City”. It transpired that Alex Harley and Joe Hayes had turned the match round.

My second away derby was a poor game in September 1966, the season after promotion back to the top flight, settled by a solitary Denis Law goal. The third was, by contrast, another highly memorable one. March 27th 1968 lingers long in the memory. It was the Easter vacation before my university finals and I had a ticket for the match on the evening of that day. My friend Phil was also home from Edinburgh university, having somehow managed to tear himself from his girlfriend for a few days. He came with me and we managed to get him a ticket at face value from a generous City supporter. We were at the scoreboard end of the Paddock. As a consequence we did not have a particularly good view of Best rounding Tony Book and slotting home in front of the Stretford End after two minutes. City came back, Bell crashing home the equaliser into the roof of the net from 20 yards or so. My recollection is that we dominated the second half with goals from the ponderous but highly effective centre half Heslop and Lee (1 pen) after Bell had been brought down in the area. I can remember our catching a bus into town and racing euphorically into the nearest pub somewhere on Oxford Road. With still 9 matches to go I don’t really think that we considered winning the title was on, so we just savoured the moment for what it was. The last match of that season I was at Bramall Lane watching Sheffield United (leading 1-0 at half time) lose to Chelsea (Houseman, Osgood, Harris etc.) 2-1, snatching relegation from the jaws of safety in the last 20 minutes. That match over, we had an anxious wait listening to a car radio for the 5 O’clock Sports Report. That night I was at the 21st birthday party of one of my best friends at university – yes, he was a Salford Red!

I also recall fond memories of several matches in the 1965/66 promotion season after the arrival of the Mercer/Allison managerial partnership, following years of disappointment at the hands of Les McDowall and then George Poyser. McDowall bought a lot of Scottish players in the early 60s but, with the rare exceptions of Denis Law and Alex Harley, rarely got it right. Allison and Mercer would go on to build a famous team but first they had to get us out of Division 2. Summerbee and Heslop were brought in and towards the end of the season, Bell. We were painfully short of a centre forward so Doyle was for a spell cast in that rôle and did well enough. I did not see any matches before New Year as I was desperately trying to find my way into a University team in Sheffield so I did not go home until the end of the autumn term.

By that time City were well placed but if I remember correctly Huddersfield were top of the table and we were due to play them at home on New Year’s day 1966. There were over 47,000 of us in the ground that day and the New Year started on an auspicious note with a well-deserved 2-0 scoreline. I have to admit I did not remember the scorers, Doyle and Crossan, without looking it up.

As I did eventually succeed in getting into the University Freshers team the next term I did not see any games until Easter. I saw the home match against Bury, which we won totally undeservedly 1-0, courtesy of a Summerbee strike. The return match a few days later at Gigg Lane was also a travesty but this time City completely outplayed the hosts but lost 2-1, Summerbee also getting that goal. I distinctly recall Alec Lindsay (later of Liverpool) finding Mike simply unplayable that day. The following weekend, having dreamt of a 4-1 win, I saw them beat Bolton at home by that score, with the visitors’ goal coming in the last minutes. I like to think it was Franny Lee who scored that goal but maybe my memory is letting me down and it was really Freddie Hill. Can anybody out there enlighten me?

City were due to play Rotherham at Millmoor on May 4th, an evening kick off. If we won, promotion was definite and as we were only across the city from the ground a fellow football-mad friend (Burnley supporter) came with me. When we got to a turnstile we were told that the match had been made all-ticket. However, in exchange for the normal entry fee the official allowed us to climb over the turnstile. I have no doubt he pocketed the money but who cares? I got to see ‘Nijinsky’ score the only goal in what must have been an excruciatingly boring match on a poor, bare end of season pitch. We were back and we had the World Cup to look forward to next.

Finally, one match that I did not go to but have fond memories of took place in the 1967/8 title winning season. No, it is not the celebrated ‘ballet on ice’. I had at last managed to establish myself in the Sheffield University first team and we were on a good run. We played at Salford University on a soggy, muddy pitch on Saturday 11th of November and I had one of my best games, scoring two, and we had a good 4-1 win. We piled onto the team coach and drove over the Snake Pass and then stopped on the outskirts of Sheffield at a pub. We managed to get the results and City had beaten Leicester 6-0 at home. I began to realise then that something big was happening. That result came in the middle of an unbeaten run by City stretching from October 7th until Boxing Day, including that famous 4-1 win over Spurs on a skating rink.

In view of recent events and, in particular, that amazing day last May I wonder what memories my daughters and grandchildren will have to tell about?

Graham Stephenson <graham_7979(at)hotmail.com>

SURVEY: TACKLING FOOTBALL TRAVEL

Taken from http://www.bettertransport.org.uk/football

This season, Campaign for Better Transport is looking at football travel. We want to hear your experience of trips to matches, home and away. We’ll be assessing clubs and their local transport authorities to see how they have made match day travel less of a problem for fans and local people alike.

Please fill in our five-minute football travel survey, in association with the Football Supporters’ Federation: the survey’s at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2013-football-travel

If you want, you can also use the survey to tell us in more detail about your experiences of football travel, and how you think it could be improved.

Ralph Sheppard <ralph(at)inspire.net.nz>

TICKET REQUEST: EVERTON

I will be travelling to UK for a week in March and I would love to go to the Everton away game on 16 March. However, it seems impossible to buy away tickets from the club as I bitterly find out that I don’t have any loyalty points (even after all the s***e I’ve been through with this club down the years, I guess in the end everything is down to how much tax you pay!). If any kind of you kind fellow citizens can spare two tickets for this fixture please kindly email me at the address below.

Calvin Chan <calvinc(at)ccbintl.com>

TICKET REQUEST: SOUTHAMPTON

I’m after 1 adult and 2 child tickets for the Southampton game. One of each would be great though if you can help.

Many thanks, St. John Cox <stjohn.cox(at)gmail.com>

AND FINALLY… ARRIVEDERCI E GRAZIE MARIO

So Mario Balotelli has left us after two and a half highly eventful years in which he played his part, albeit fleetingly but crucially in our winning the FA Cup and so memorably, the League on that unforgettable day in May last year.

It’s probably the right time for a parting of the ways, but it is still sad that it didn’t quite work out for Mario. He has so much potential and he has in all fairness not shown it often enough. There were fireworks, silly tackles, training ground bust-ups, his personal problems, his immaturity, and whole heap of urban myths to mention but a few. Whilst Mario may not have grown up despite the fatherly guidance of Roberto Mancini, it is like one of the Manchester City family has left us.

As exasperating as he could be sometimes, and yes we often wished that he would put in the effort of Edin Dzeko, Sergio Agüero and Carlos Tévez, I have found it impossible to condemn him. When a non-City fan this week said to me “Good riddance, overpaid prima donna” after he had left, I still found myself defending him and saying he is a good lad. Well he is basically a good lad.

He’s been a daft lad or a hot-headed lad at times but he has never been malicious as far as we know in his time here. Some would say he has been very generous!

He has made dangerous tackles but they should be filed under reckless rather than malicious. I will go to my grave saying that he never meant to stamp on Scott Parker’s head last January and that he was unjustly treated in getting a ban. I was shocked when it was mentioned as I got into my car after the game that day because I saw what happened right in front of me. I saw Mario trying to kick the ball, whirling round and trying to plant his foot to keep his balance. Where was he supposed to put his feet? He was not stamping on Scott Parker deliberately.

Yes he made mistakes at other times but the feeling was that referees had made their minds up about him before they treated every incident on merit. His sending off at Liverpool being a case in point. Too many times he picked up bookings that other players get away with. Yes he should have gone at Arsenal for at least one tackle on Song towards the back end of last season, before he got his second yellow but again that was recklessness rather than silliness. Ditto his silly high challenge against Dynamo Kiev.

It is only fair that the positives are mentioned too, and very significantpositives they are too:

He played very well in our victorious 2011 FA Cup Final, and was one of the important players in the build up to Yaya’s winning goal with a clever back heel in the box, which threw the Stoke defence.

His two goals in the legendary 6-1 win at Old Trafford, especially the way he passed the opener so coolly into the net, are unforgettable.

He won the penalty in stoppage time against Tottenham last January by using his strength to get to the ball before Ledley King (no mean feat), inducing the foul. He coolly stuck away that penalty like every other one he has taken. He is without doubt the best and the coolest penalty taker that I have ever seen.

Arguably most significantly (though every last point counted), he of course played the final crucial pass that led Sergio’s goal that won us our title. I watched it again on Wednesday and it reminded me that Mario’s pass was perfect for Sergio: not too long and therefore too wide for him to get in a shot, and just out of reach of the defender.

On a purely personal note I clearly recall hearing on the radio that Mario scored the winning goal on his début in Timisoara as I drove home from the hospital after my wife had given birth to our little boy just two and a half years ago (August 19th 2010).

I doubt that the press will give Mario any credit in the classy way that he left City, but I’m one of many Blues who will. Granted he said he “ran to Milan” but that was because he wanted to go home, nearer his baby, and because he fulfils his boyhood ambition, to play for the Rossoneri, but that is not a slight on City. Imagine if the rôles were reversed, and any one of us had enough football ability and chance to sign for City from Milan came about? How many of us wouldn’t say something similar?

His very sincere, positive comments about Roberto Mancini, his team mates and the fans prove that Mario leaves City without rancour. Mario said:

“For sure I will remember my brilliant team-mates, the manager and all the supporters. They are the best, they were great with me and I will always have a very special place in my heart for City, it’s a great club with a great future. I thank them for all of their support of me. Maybe one day we will see each other again. I think to win the Premier League was a very special moment, and I am proud to have been a part of that and the 6-1 win at Old Trafford was also a big moment in my life. I know what that meant to the supporters, the joy it gave them. To have scored in that game and been part of that history will always live with me.”

The “last supper” in London was by all accounts an emotional farewell to Balotelli and there would perhaps have been even more emotion when he had his last tâte-à-tâte (not literally this time!) with Roberto Mancini.

So farewell, arrivederci and thanks Mario and very best wishes, and I really hope that Milan don’t get a penalty against us if our paths cross!

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)tiscali.co.uk>

RESULTS AND TABLE

2 February 2013

Arsenal               1 - 0  Stoke City            59,872
Everton               3 - 3  Aston Villa           38,121
Fulham                0 - 1  Manchester United     25,670
Newcastle United      3 - 2  Chelsea
Queens Park Rangers   0 - 0  Norwich City          17,543
Reading               2 - 1  Sunderland            23,829
West Ham              1 - 0  Swansea City          34,962
Wigan Athletic        2 - 2  Southampton           18,598

30 January 2013

Arsenal               2 - 2  Liverpool             60,089
Everton               2 - 1  West Bromwich Albion  31,376
Norwich City          1 - 1  Tottenham Hotspur     26,818
Fulham                3 - 1  West Ham United       24,791
Manchester United     2 - 1  Southampton           75,600
Reading               2 - 2  Chelsea               24,097

29 January 2013

Aston Villa           1 - 2  Newcastle United      30,334
Queens Park Rangers   0 - 0  Manchester City       17,894
Stoke City            2 - 2  Wigan Athletic        24,421
Sunderland            0 - 0  Swansea City          35,628

League table as at 3 February 2013 (Morning)

                    P  GD Pts
 1 Manchester Utd  25  29  62
 2 Manchester City 24  26  52
 3 Chelsea         25  24  46
 4 Tottenham H.    24  12  42
-----------------------------
 5 Everton         25  10  42
-----------------------------
 6 Arsenal         25  20  41
 7 Liverpool       24  12  35
 8 Swansea City    25   6  34
 9 West Brom A.    24   0  34
10 Stoke City      25  -6  30
11 West Ham Utd    25  -8  30
12 Sunderland      25  -5  29
13 Fulham          25  -6  28
14 Norwich City    25 -15  28
15 Newcastle Utd   25 -11  27
16 Southampton     25 -11  24
17 Reading         25 -14  23
-----------------------------
18 Wigan Athletic  25 -18  21
19 Aston Villa     25 -26  21
20 QPR             25 -19  17

With thanks to Football 365

MCIVTA FAQ [v1112.01]

[1] MCIVTA Addresses

Articles (Philip Alcock)         : editor@mcivta.city-fan.org
News/rumour                      : news@mcivta.city-fan.org
Subscriptions (Madeleine Hawkins): subscriptions@mcivta.city-fan.org
Technical problems (Paul)        : paul@city-fan.org
FAQ (David Warburton)            : faq@mcivta.city-fan.org

[2] What are MCIVTA’s publishing deadlines?

Deadlines for issues are nominally 6pm, Monday and Thursday evenings by email. Unfortunately we cannot accept email attachments.

[3] MCIVTA Back Issues and Manchester City Supporters’ home page/Twitter

http://www.mcivta.com/ is the unofficial Manchester City Supporters’ home page. Created in 1994, it is the longest running of the Manchester City related web sites. Back issues of MCIVTA are also hosted on the site. You can also follow on www.twitter.com/mcivta to get the latest updates.

[4] What is the club’s official web site?

The official club web site can be found at http://www.mcfc.co.uk/ and the official club Twitter page at www.twitter.com/mcfc. The club also has a facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/mcfcofficial

[5] What supporters’ clubs are there?

The Official Supporters’ Club and the Centenary Supporters’ Association have merged to become the Manchester City Supporters’ Club (http://www.mcfcsupportersclub.com/). The club also recognise the Manchester City Disabled Supporters’ Association (http://www.mcdsa.co.uk/).

[6] Where can I find out about Points of Blue?

The committee operates as an interface between supporters and the club. Points of Blue appears on the club website under the “Fans” heading (http://www.mcfc.co.uk/Fans).

[7] What match day broadcasts are available on the web?

Live match commentary can be found on the club website. The Radio Manchester pre- and post-match phone-in is available on the web at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/england/manchester/.

[8] Where can I find out if City are live on satellite TV?

http://www.satfootball.com/ provides a listing of Premier League games being shown on UK domestic and foreign satellite channels. A useful site for North American viewers is http://msn.foxsports.com/.

[9] Do we have a Usenet newsgroup?

Yes we do: uk.sport.football.clubs.man-city is our home on usenet. If you are not familiar with Usenet, a basic explanation is available here: http://searchnetworking.techtarget.com/definition/Usenet

[10] Do any squad members have their own web pages?

There are a number available and direct links can be found at http://www.mcivta.com/players/

[11] Do any squad members have their own Twitter accounts?

A list of genuine player accounts is maintained at http://twitter.com/#!/MCFC/players

[12] Where can I find match statistics?

Statistics for the current season are available from the club site, but for a more in-depth historical analysis try http://www.mcfcstats.com/.


DISCLAIMER
The views expressed in MCIVTA are entirely those of the subscribersand there is no intention to represent these opinions as being thoseof Manchester City Football Club, nor of any of the companies anduniversities by whom the subscribers are employed. It is not inany way whatsoever connected to the club or any other relatedorganisation and is simply a group of supporters using this mediumas a means of disseminating news and exchanging opinions.


[Valid3.2]Philip Alcock, editor@mcivta.city-fan.org

Newsletter #1883

2013/02/03

Editor:


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