Newsletter #1891

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It’s self-indulgent to say what a lovely readership we have isn’t it? Well judging by the contributions this evening I have to say this is one of my favourite editions.

Thoughtfulness, intelligence, perspective, humour…

Just enjoy this one, it’s a treasure in my humble.

Every article deserves mention but I’ll just draw attention to tonight’s ‘And Finally’, which has a sprinkling of some ideas for Issue 1894 by some mad old duffer (sorry Dad!). Seriously… I think the idea of making it one to remember is really worthy of our best thoughts. Please do get the grey matter churning.

Next Game: Barnsley, FA Cup 6th Round, Etihad Stadium, 9 March 2013, 17.30

ASTON VILLA 0 MANCHESTER CITY 1

City beat relegation-threatened Villa with a professional if unspectacular show. Carlos Tévez played a significant part at both ends of the pitch, scoring the winner on the stroke of half time, having cleared Benteke’s and Villa’s best effort off the line 24 minutes earlier.

Villa started off very keen in the tackle and Agbonlahor left his mark on Pablo Zabaleta in the very first minute. They also tried keep Zaba pinned in his own half by legal means: over-loading our right hand side of the pitch and denying us space there.

City had been slow to find any rhythm for the first quarter of the match before the energetic Rodwell took Silva’s thoughtful pass and forced Guzan to tip over a rasping angled drive. Sadly for young Rodwell and us, he re-injured his troublesome left hamstring as he shot, much to his distress. It was such a shame and he deserves better luck.

Rodwell had been playing well in midfield but Roberto Mancini used his forced absence to our advantage, bringing on Dzeko and reverting to 4-4-2 from 4-5-1 (Tévez up front for Agüero who had what is hopefully nothing more than a minor knee injury).

City started to play with more fluency and City dominated the rest of the half. James Milner’s long-range angled free kick was tipped over by the outstanding Guzan. Pablo Zabaleta rattled the left hand post after neat interplay between Milner and Yaya Touré, Silva’s fine pass.

Yaya Touré, who had to drop back from a more advanced starting position, in particular used his physical strength to out-muscle the game Fabian Delph and Westwood in Villa’s midfield, as City turned the screw on the home side with some pleasing football.

Tévez and Dzeko both kept Guzan busy with goal-bound shots as City turned up the heat. Then, just before the break, at a time when a City goal was looking increasingly likely, Carlos Tévez scored the winner after a Villa mistake. Villa’s young central defender Kieran Clarke showed his inexperience, trying to turn on the ball half way through his own half under pressure from Dzeko. He slipped and Dzeko took advantage, squaring to Tévez, who coolly rounded Guzan before steering the ball into the net for his 9th goal of the season.

That City failed to win this match more convincingly is evidence of our lack of ruthlessness, because for all their youthful exuberance and Benteke’s aerial prowess, Villa were there for the taking.

Dzeko volleyed just wide soon after the break. Great persistence by the Bosnian won the ball again for Tévez whose goal-bound shot was blocked. The Argentine striker could have squared the ball to the unmarked Silva.

Although Villa offered little service to the dangerous man mountain that is Benteke, City had to be vigilant at times. Kolo Touré did very well to put Agbonlahor off as Weimann’s searching cross came in.

City carried the greater threat even if we failed to make the game safe. Brad Guzan got a fingertip to push Yaya’s powerful drive onto the post after the City giant cleverly made space for himself. That aside, generally our finishing lacked sharpness: Dzeko fired high and wide a minute later, Garcia hit a pinpoint Silva corner wide and substitute Nasri fired wide when played in by the Spanish playmaker.

Our lack of ruthlessness could have cost us as we were fortunate that referee Mike Dean did not award a penalty against us when Nastasic caught Benteke as he stretched to clear in front of the Holte End.

The win reduced the gap to United to 12 points and increased the gap over third placed Tottenham to 5 points. It was our 18th win against Villa in the Premier League era. We have not beaten any club as much as Villa, so if that record is anything to go by (he says cautiously), let’s hope they stay up!

Whilst the improvement from the Southampton débâcle was significant, with every player showing commitment, there was a lack of inspiration in attack for the first 20 minutes and most of the 2nd half. Despite the best efforts of the likes of David Silva, Yaya Touré, James Milner, Carlos Tévez and Edin Dzeko, we lacked craft and invention. There were some lovely flowing moves but not enough of them. We just aren’t moving the ball quickly enough at times, and the 2nd half was a case in point here.

Roberto Mancini is right when he says we failed in the transfer market last summer and that as Champions we should have built on that from a position of strength and put some distance between ourselves and the rest. Yes, the highly impressive Nastasic was signed in defence but our attack needs a new dimension and fresh imagination. We should have been more proactive and strengthened last Summer with two top quality attack-minded players as well as Nastasic. An opportunity was lost.

If we are serious about challenging for honours, we cannot make the same mistake next Summer when a top striker is the priority. Edinson Cavani tops Roberto Mancini’s list and we would face competition for his signature. The £54 million release clause in his contract would make a huge dent in our budget but we do have the Balotelli money to pay towards it, plus possibly the funds saved in Mario’s wages (around £10 million) plus other income. A playmaker to assist David Silva or top quality wide man is also imperative for City and the possible sale of the disappointing Samir Nasri would raise a significant amount of money.

Kolo Touré is likely to leave in the Summer and we might want to reconsider that, given his form. Whilst the club is prudent to trim the wage bill, we need to be mindful of our need to retain squad depth, and. It would be worrying if, for instance, we let both Kolo and Joleon Lescott go, especially if Vincent Kompany’s calf injury continues to recur. Hopefully we will retain the right balance

We have the basis of a very good side here and it needs building on.

Goal: Tévez (45)

Att: 33,217

Hart: Good distribution, no saves to make: 7
Zabaleta: Truly excellent again even if chances to get forward were limited by Lambert’s tactical positioning. Sharp in the tackle, read the game brilliantly and kept Agbonlahor (who had fouled him in the first minute) quiet. 8 (Man of the Match)
Kolo Touré: Stood up very well in the physical battle with the giant Benteke: 8
Nastasic: Classy, composed and read the game well. Lucky not to concede a penalty though: 7
Clichy: Very solid and like Zaba was keen to initiate attacks: 7
Silva: City’s chief creator was our most likely supplier: 7
Garcia: Steady: 6
Rodwell: Was looking really good when his hamstring injury struck again. Best of luck, Jack: 7
Yaya Touré: A powerful presence in midfield. Showed lovely skill to fashion a chance in the second half: 7
Milner: Good work rate throughout: 7
Tévez: Crucial interventions at both ends of the pitch, and his usual hard work and skill: 7
Sub:
Dzeko (for Rodwell 25): Good work rate up front created two good chances, one of which won the match. His finishing was not quite sharp enough though: 7
Nasri (for Tévez 75) Neat enough: 6

Best oppo: Brad Guzan: We know at City that it takes a special goalkeeper to keep Shay Given out of the team, and Guzan is certainly one of those: 8

Mike Dean: Possibly unsighted for the penalty that Villa were denied, so he couldn’t give it. This was a good, low profile showing. Best referee in the Premier league by a country mile. 7

Footnote:

Aston Villa is a great club, and they have a well-intentioned owner in Randy Lerner who, unlike other US owners of Premier League clubs, is a genuine fan of his club but has cut his playing and transfer budget too deep, leaving Villa’s fate in the hands of a lightweight set of youngsters, who have thrown away several points and indeed winning positions this season.

Clarke’s error was not his first of that sort this season. It is easy to see why Villa concede so many goals with four young defenders, a youthful pairing in midfield. Their inexperience and their lack of quality in other positions (Benteke and Guzan aside), is very likely to cost them their top flight status, which they have held for 25 years. Villa’s situation bears some resemblance to ours back in 1986/87 in that we relied too much on youth. Peter Swales had not spent big either and there was precious little quality in our more experienced players (Neil McNab, Mick McCarthy and Imre Varadi were decent enough though). Our young lads back then, e.g. Steve Redmond, did though seem more durable, even if Reddo in his youth was prone to the odd mistake.

If Villa go down, they will be back, doubtless (it took Mel Machin’s young side two years) but the new so-called “fair play” (if ever there was a misnomer this is one) restrictions will make it extremely difficult for a club that was once European Champions from ever playing in Platini’s inequitable Champions’ League again. If any of Villa’s young players emerge as being top class (like Paul Lake and Andy Hinchcliffe in particular did) when they do return to the top flight, then it will be far more likely that they will be cherry picked. It might even be City that signs them, but it is not good for football that clubs outside the Establishment cannot live the dream.

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

HISTORY

Further to Steve O’Brien’s article in MCIVTA 1890, I think it’s worth reflecting on City’s history. I started supporting the Blues in 1955, knowing little of City’s past but hooked on the Sky Blue, the Wembley trail, the Revie plan, and Bert Trautmann.

By this time we’d won the Cup twice (1904, 1934) and the League once (1937) plus recording the largest attendance at a match (84,569) in English domestic football, plus were generally a First Division club, including regular international players.

We are all aware of what successes we’ve had since then, keeping things positive until about 1981. If we’d been told in this period that we’d be spending time in the Third Division in the ’90s we’d have been gobsmacked.

Whilst I understand Steve’s point of view, the fact is that City have almost always been a top division club and to compare our current position with a blip in our history “1998” is not really relevant.

We’ve been lucky enough to have had the recent investment because of our history, our fan base, our stadium and land, plus the location close to an international airport, and the last few years have been wonderful.

This season, whilst underachieving, could still see us in a Champions’ League placing plus a real possibility of a Wembley final, which is great but let’s not keep harping back to the lowest point in our history and compare it to the highest instead. It’s all relative.

Dave Wallace <dw001e8104(at)blueyonder.co.uk>

THE RITZ

I’ve been meaning to put finger to keyboard for ages, but what with work and kids and one thing and another… (ED – tell me about it! lol)

Just wanted to say the mention of the Ritz on Monday nights brought back a load of rose-tinted teenage – just – memories!

I used to love the Ritz on Mondays and went there regularly while I was “studying” at South Trafford College.

I’m pretty sure I saw The Cult play there around the time that She Sells Sanctuary came out… (ED – Yes they did play there though didn’t see personally. Anyone?)

Anyway, thanks for the trip down memory lane, keep up the good work.

Neal Barton <nealbarton(at)gmail.com>

HUMOUR: ALTERNATIVE CHANTING?

I was at the Villa match on Monday and was wondering about starting a topical chant based on an old favourite.

“The famous Man United went to Rome to see the Pope,
The famous Man United went to Rome to see the Pope,
The famous Man United went to Rome to see the Pope,
Which just shows that they are either stupid or out of touch As anyone who is has even a passing acquaintance with current events knows that there is no Pope at the moment since we are in some form of Papal interregnum…”

At this point I thought I had probably lost my fellow singers/chanters, so may as well just go back to…

“Who the f…”

Andy Longshaw <andy(at)blueskyline.com>

GREED FAIR

If anyone doubts that the formation of the Premier League was about hijacking the lion’s share of football revenue by the then “big” clubs, they should read David Conn’s fantastic “The Football Business”.

It’s also handy weaponry for battering those United fans who blah blah blah on about their club being built on sound financial sense. They have used every opportunity possible to maximise their revenue, milking Munich (as many older United fans acknowledge), being one of the prime movers for the change that saw all home gate receipts going to the home club, rather than just two thirds, to hijacking the formation of the Premier League (older readers may recall that the ideas behind the Premier was to strengthen the England squad, and that part of this would be a reduction to 18 teams). Add to that their long-standing membership of the cartel at the top of European football, which deems that they now get a bye every year into the knock-out stage of the CL, and you get a very different picture of how they got where they are.

As for last night’s hysteria – which took over the evening radio news, so much so that I thought we would hear a call for a Public Inquiry by Miliband Minor into the red card, and a day of national mourning declared. Followed by the nitwit Crerand all over the airwaves this morning – it seems clear that nobody knows that dangerous play no longer requires “intent” for a red card to be produced. I find it odd that I should agree with Roy “Yellow Belly” Keane about anything, but he was right about this.

Jeremy Poynton <j.poynton(at)blueyonder.co.uk>

SHORT MEMORIES

Listening to all the hysteria about Nani getting sent off against Real Madrid, it’s obvious the Rags have short memories. They didn’t have a problem with Vincent Kompany being sent off against United in last year’s FA Cup Third Round game for an identical incident.

Some people really have short memories.

I was hoping United would get through so they would be pre-occupied with the European Cup. Still, we pretty well have to concede the League title but we still have the FA Cup to go for.

Just hope Mancini doesn’t take our tie with Barnsley for granted and that we run up the score. Got a feeling that Chelsea will get a draw at Old Trafford. City-Chelsea final would be ideal.

Keith Sharp – Toronto, Canada <keith.sharp(at)hotmail.com>

X2 BARNSLEY HOME TICKETS FOR SALE

I have two tickets for this Saturday’s home match against Barnsley for sale. Unfortunately, I can’t make it due to a prior engagement down south on Saturday night (curse the inconvenient half five kick off!).

It’s two seats next to one another in the East Stand, level 1, in between the half-way line and penalty area.

I’m only after face value for them.

Can meet in central Manchester any time on Friday.

Matthew Maxey <matthewmaxey(at)hotmail.com>

AND FINALLY… 1894 ISSUE

Re the 1894 edition I wondered if it would be possible to get some type of small article from someone within the club, say a player or even Mancini.

Another idea would be to contact the chap (ED – Gary James) who has written several books on the history of MCFC to see if he had any copies of any old documents etc. that could be added to the email. (ED – Sadly attachments not possible)

Pity about the Rags losing, why is it they never do what I would like them to do? I wanted them to get to the final and then lose! What plans have you got for this weekend? (ED – erm… sorry… Dad… I’ll reply offline!)

Russ Alcock <russell.alcock(at)yahoo.co.uk>

RESULTS AND TABLE

4 March 2013

Aston Villa           0 - 1  Manchester City       33,217

League table as at 7 March 2013

                    P  GD Pts
 1 Manchester Utd  28  37  71
 2 Manchester City 28  27  59
 3 Tottenham H.    28  16  54
 4 Chelsea         28  26  52
-----------------------------
 5 Arsenal         28  21  47
-----------------------------
 6 Everton         28   9  45
 7 Liverpool       28  19  42
 8 Swansea City    28   5  40
 9 West Brom A.    28   1  40
10 Fulham          28  -5  33
11 Stoke City      28  -7  33
12 West Ham Utd    28  -9  33
13 Norwich City    28 -18  32
14 Sunderland      28  -7  30
15 Newcastle Utd   28 -11  30
16 Southampton     28 -12  27
17 Wigan Athletic  27 -22  24
-----------------------------
18 Aston Villa     27 -27  24
19 Reading         28 -20  23
20 QPR             28 -23  20

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 #1891

2013/03/07

Editor:


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