Newsletter #1889

Feeling a little better?

Well we are no closer to ‘that lot’ but nevertheless spirits were raised by both the score and the performance on Sunday.

A longer wait for our next game than usual, with City travelling to Villa Park on Monday evening (oh the joys of TV scheduling – price of success!).

To keep you going till then are a nice selection of articles looking back at the weekend and providing some useful links and info.

Next Game: Aston Villa, Villa Park, Monday 4th March 2013, 20.00


City extended our lead over Chelsea to seven points with this richly-deserved win over them. On this evidence at least, City should have plenty enough quality to secure the runners-up spot, but with White Hart Lane, Goodison Park and Old Trafford to visit, there should be no complacency.

On a cold winter’s day in Manchester, Roberto Mancini thankfully picked a team that was as much set up to battle as it was to create. Out went the hugely disappointing Nasri who had shown little interest in proceedings in our appalling defeat in out last league game at Southampton and in came the more reliable James Milner who again proved his worth with another all action, man-of-the match showing here.

It’s a source of some mystery why Roberto Mancini does not select him more often, given his infectious enthusiasm and skill, which is so loved by City fans. He led the way in setting the tempo of the game here, and he was straight into the action. Having hassled Hazard to play a Cole throw-in straight into touch, he played in Yaya and Agüero who exchanged passes, which resulted in the Ivorian forcing a save in the first minute. Milner was ably assisted by Jack Rodwell (in for his first start since September after a litany of injuries) and a City team that was hungry for the ball and for goals.

With Rodwell and Milner snapping into tackles and closing down space and Garcia sitting deeper in midfield, David Silva and Yaya Touré were freed to more attacking roles behind Sergio Agüero.

City’s aggression held sway and we had the best chances throughout. A slick one-two between Agüero and Milner required a smart block by the impressive Gary Cahill to thwart Zabaleta’s goal-bound drive. Had we been more clinical in the first half we would have built a comfortable lead by the break. Nastasic might have tested the excellent Cech more in the 14th minute but headed into the ground, making the great Chelsea goalkeeper’s task easier. Five minutes later Sergio Agüero should have shot when presented with a chance by Silva’s clever pass after Rodwell impressively won the ball deep inside the Chelsea half.

Rodwell was indeed revelling in his recall and repaid Roberto’s decision to select him. He was quick, aggressive, showed good strength and an eye for goal. After heading Clichy’s cross over, he had a powerful 25 yard drive tipped over by Cech, and his sharp header from Silva’s superbly delivered corner bore this out.

Unfortunately for him he was unfairly booked as referee Andre Marriner fell for a series of theatrical falls, which also saw Yaya and Zabaleta yellow carded.

Chelsea’s only threat in the first half came from a Hazard drive that failed to test Hart and it was City who carried by far the greater threat.

City continued to press after the break. Yaya found Silva in a slick move and the Spaniard’s cross was met with an Agüero bicycle kick that was well wide.

Hazard forced a smart near post save from Hart who was then involved in the incident that could have given the visitors the lead. Ivanovic’s long, diagonal pass from the right saw Ba use his strength to get goalside of Kolo Touré and as he chased the ball Hart appeared to bundle him over. On first sight it looked like a penalty all over, but later TV replays showed that Ba moved his leg towards Hart. Nevertheless it is hard to blame the referee for awarding it. For all his 199 goals in a Chelsea shirt, many of them from the spot, there is always a feeling that the goalkeeper has a chance with one of his penalties and so it proved here. Lampard’s shot was powerfully struck to Joe Hart’s right but Hart read it superbly and his strong right hand pushed it out, and Kolo Touré showed great commitment to reach the rebound and kick it out.

It was the one dodgy period of the match for City, and Cahill looped a header over at a corner. Roberto Mancini rang the changes though it was surprising that the impressive Rodwell was the one making way for Tévez after just 53 minutes. City, though, regained the initiative. Silva’s intelligent pass was controlled deftly by Agüero with his head and then his shot was blocked by Cahill’s flying challenge. Milner then threaded a clever, defence-splitting ball through, which Agüero controlled on the run and lobbed agonisingly just over the bar.

Then the game turned in City’s favour after we had been caught with just Kolo Touré up against two attackers. Some referees might have judged that Kolo had pushed Ramirez over as he out-muscled him to win the ball in the box but it would have been harsh. He did very well to deal with the situation as he did, placing himself as close as possible to the two Chelsea attackers, and showed good strength. “Kolo, Kolo-Kolo…” chanted the crowd in appreciation of the strong defending of one of the two brothers who is skill is apparently, unlimited! In another passage of play soon after, Kolo won the ball by our left hand corner flag and came away with it after some delightful skill, but it was to be some intricate interplay and sublime skill from his younger brother that opened up this match decisively in our favour just after the hour. Milner tormented a Chelsea defender with some skill on the left hand edge of the box before finding Silva on the by-line. Silva held the ball up and bided his time before passing back to Yaya Touré in the inside left position. Faced with three defenders in front of him, Yaya intelligently shifted the ball into space and threaded a curling shot past another defender and just inside the right hand post to give City the lead. It was a brilliantly taken goal, which required quick thinking and deftness of touch to find the space and clever finishing at the end of a superb sequence of play. “Yaya, Yaya Touré…”

City being City, we will never feel totally comfortable with a 1-0 lead but Chelsea are a pale shadow of the side that won titles under Mourinho, and later Ancelotti, and they did not really threaten us. It was a relief nevertheless when we doubled our lead in the 86th minute. Garcia forced a Chelsea player into surrendering possession on the halfway line, Agüero picked up the pieces and via a deflection found Silva who squared the ball to Tévez who arrowed in an unstoppable shot into the top left hand corner of the net. Chants of “Mancini…” and “Campeones” filled the air.

It was a performance of Champions. Efficient, patient and with no little skill on display.

Inexplicably dropped to the bench at Southampton after a very good man of the match performance against Liverpool, the recalled James Milner again was City’s best player against Chelsea, and this was not lost on the City faithful who bellowed “There’s only one James Milner”. Not only was Milner tenacious in the tackle and an omnipresent force, he was very creative in attack and continues to show an excellent understanding with David Silva in midfield. If that isn’t obvious to Roberto Mancini then maybe someone should buy a salmon from a local fish market (Ashton market was always good in my youth!), tag it “Milner and Silva” and slap him about the face with it! Why a salmon? To emphasise their quality and sophistication (though a lovely piece of swordfish would do). Put another way, but on a similar theme, let’s not make Jimmy Milner a rare and endangered species like the cod served in one of many fine chippies (particularly in his home city of Leeds, where the fish is generally excellent). It was indeed no coincidence that we played better and netted (I’m here all week) more goals here. Let’s hope Roberto sticks with him for our next game. So no more, er, ‘fishy’ team selections please, Roberto!

Roberto Mancini is clearly irked by questions about his future and other managers being linked with his job, the latest being the Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrino. By rights and in a fair world there should be no such talk. Roberto Mancini has instilled a winning mentality here and won us our first trophy in 35 years, and first league title in 44. Up to the end of last season he was ahead of schedule, and this less impressive season should not cost him his job.

He must though learn from his mistakes. There is too much tinkering with selection and too often the players are “rested”, and this has cost us points (e.g. the selection of Balotelli ahead of Tévez for the derby and dropping Milner to the bench at Southampton). They shouldn’t need resting (if that is the reason) as they are young, fit athletes, and let’s not give excuses that players are “tired”. Mancini needs to select players that he can rely on like Milner and play his strongest side as often as possible, like he did at the end of last season, and we all know what happened then. If we are to win anything this season or next, and hopefully Roberto will get the chance then, we must put our best foot forward, always.

Att: 47,256

Goals: Yaya Touré (63), Tévez (86)

Hart: Unnecessarily impetuous when conceding the penalty but redeemed himself with a fine save from Lampard’s spot kick. Largely unemployed. Distribution much better: 6
Zabaleta: Good all round game yet again: sharp in the tackle, quick to intercept and always looking to support the attack: 8
Kolo Touré: Some important headed clearances, good challenges and read the game well except for when Ba got the wrong side of him to win the penalty: 7
Nastasic: Cool, superb reading of the game. It is hard to believe this class act is only 19 years old: 8
Clichy: Superb defending again. It is good to have full backs who can defend very well indeed. If he could get his final ball right he’d be the best full back in the league. Something to work on: 7
Milner: He was absolutely everywhere, making tackles and creating openings. Another outstanding performance that should remind the manager that he should be one of the first names on the team sheet: 9 (Man of the match)
Rodwell: Gave a very good account of himself in a box-to-box role and if he can stay fit he can be part of a bright future here: 8
Garcia: Steady. Did well to break up play: 6
Silva: He was again at the centre of much of our best work. Creative as ever, and registered two assists here: 9
Yaya: What a player. Relished his attacking role and sealed it with a beautifully taken goal: 8
Agüero: Skilful and hard-working as ever, all his afternoon lacked was a goal. 7
Tévez (for Rodwell 53): Took his goal (his 8th of the season) superbly well: 7
Lescott (for Silva 90) A late, strange substitution: n/a
Nasri (for Agüero 90): n/a

Refwatch: Marriner: Duped by Chelsea theatrics far too often, which drew ironic cheers when he finally awarded us a free kick. Difficult to complain too much about the penalty awarded against us, even if TV replays shed some doubt over its validity: 5

Best Oppos: Petr Cech: Impressive as ever. Some superb stops kept us out for so long, and it took two top drawer strikes to beat him: 8
Gary Cahill: Much improved player, he made several blocks and challenges to frustrate us. The slowing Terry will have his work cut out winning his place back from him, which is nice: 8

Most amusing: City fans singing “One Step beyond” again to ape Chelsea’s triumphant celebrations last season.

“Dedicated to Bobby Moore: a great player and a great man. Gone, but never forgotten.”

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


A great team performance from the City team who tore Chelsea apart and won 2-0.

It is nice to see young Rodwell back and on form as he was unlucky not to have got a goal from his attacking positions.

Yaya proved yet again that he is without doubt a powerful player, scoring a well-placed goal.

Joe Hart, although he conceded a penalty, showed his class as he saved the penalty from a player who has a very good record as a penalty taker, Frank Lampard.

What a fantastic goal from Tévez, as it hit the back of the net before the Chelsea players knew that it was on its way.

An all-round team performance with every player showing determination to win this game. Non-stop running from Agüero who came close to scoring. Silva the Spanish magician, producing his tricks as he served the ball for the two goals.

The defence stood firm and helped Joe keep a clean sheet. Nastastic is playing with much maturity for a nineteen year old, whilst Zab never ever stops giving 100%. Clichy was fast with his runs down the wing. Kolo Touré played one of his best games for City, but did make a forgiven mistake just before the penalty was given against Joe Hart.

Milner forever being a menace. Garcia – who said that he could never play with the pace of the English game? Every City player give their best in this game and it showed.

Play the rest of the season with this positive attitude, and desire to win, and I think that we shall all say “It’s not over yet” and with the FA Cup to play for.

I am tired of the media attacking Roberto Mancini about his position as City manager in the future, unless something positive happens. Please leave him alone to do his job, he is the City manager and the majority of City fans want him to stay.

Are some of the media Reds in disguise?

In Mancini I trust!

Come on you Blues!

Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)>


Issue 294 SPORT currently out – in real magazine type format, award-winning iPhone app and on the web below…

I’ve only had a disappointing three death threats from Leeds fans this week. Don’t make them like they used to. Although that’s maybe not a bad thing.

Bill Borrows <easytiger1(at)>


The National Football Museum opened at Urbis in Manchester City Centre in July last year. It is a brilliant new attraction, suitable for all ages that is perfect for your own team day out.

Entry to the museum is free and we are developing special offers for supporters’ clubs including guided tours and special discount on our Football Plus+ interactive games, one of which is our Penalty Shootout – taking penalties in front of the real Wembley goal posts!

Please contact me if you would like a free introduction to the museum or would be able to put details on your website for all your members. You can also see our website for more details.

Jeannie Cullen <Jeannie.Cullen(at)>


I went to look up the stories about Ferran Soriano and translated the web site to English. It had a match report for the Chelsea match headlined “Manchester City scores major victory against a Chelsea who could do little against the team’s offensive version of Roberto Mancini”.

Would an offensive version of Roberto be something like Alex Ferguson?

Andy Longshaw <andy(at)>


25 February 2013

West Ham United       2 - 3  Tottenham Hotspur     35,005

24 February 2013

Manchester City       2 - 0  Chelsea               47,256
Newcastle United      4 - 2  Southampton           52,259

23 February 2013

Fulham                1 - 0  Stoke City            25,458
Arsenal               2 - 1  Aston Villa           60,079
Norwich City          2 - 1  Everton               26,828
Queens Park Rangers   0 - 2  Manchester United     18,337
Reading               0 - 3  Wigan Athletic        22,321
West Bromwich Albion  2 - 1  Sunderland            25,924

League table as at 27 February 2013

                    P  GD Pts
 1 Manchester Utd  27  33  68
 2 Manchester City 27  26  56
 3 Tottenham H.    27  15  51
 4 Chelsea         27  25  49
 5 Arsenal         27  22  47
 6 Everton         27   7  42
 7 West Brom A.    27   2  40
 8 Liverpool       27  15  39
 9 Swansea City    27   4  37
10 Stoke City      27  -6  33
11 Fulham          27  -5  32
12 Norwich City    27 -14  32
13 Newcastle Utd   27 -10  30
14 West Ham Utd    27 -10  30
15 Sunderland      27  -7  29
16 Southampton     27 -11  27
19 Wigan Athletic  27 -18  24
18 Aston Villa     27 -26  24
17 Reading         27 -18  23
20 QPR             27 -24  17

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1889