Newsletter #1896

Chelsea it is!

Before the draw for the semi’s was made I actually had a strange yearning for an all-Manchester final. However, as soon as that became a non-starter for me, the sooner they were knocked out of their ‘double’ stride the better, so, whatever happens a week on Sunday, well done Chelsea.

It actually makes the semi the most important match of our season, with Monday’s derby a chance to poke the Rags in the metaphorical eye as they bore everyone to this season’s title… grrrrrr… it grates typing that.

Anyway, it’s not about them, it’s about us and let’s see where the remaining few games takes us and enjoy the ride.

Next Game: That Lot, Not in Manchester, 8 April 2013, 20.00


City cruised to this comprehensive 4-0 defeat of Newcastle, which maintained our five point lead over third placed Tottenham, and brought us back to 15 points off the lead.

On a beautiful sunny, if slightly chilly spring day, there was plenty to look forward to. Games with Newcastle normally deliver goals, usually City win nowadays, and this was no different. There was so much to enjoy and savour in the spring sunshine as City overcame a slow start and played with poise, elegance and panache to outclass a poor Newcastle side.

This didn’t stop the few Geordies who came to Manchester bellowing the usual “Where were you when you were @#@#?” (whilst forgetting they only got 10,004 in the last game before Kevin Keegan took charge to save them, whilst City got 28,000 average gate in our darkest days), and “You’re not Champions any more”, to which the Blue contingent replied “Sunderland brought more than you!” (for the first time Newcastle only took an allocation for the lower tier of the South Stand).

Newcastle did what they and many other teams have done over the last two and a half years or so: they came to frustrate, contain and hope for a breakaway.

From such a rare foray into the City half Gouffran fed Anita who crossed from a deep position on the left and Cisse’s low far post shot hit the far post after Joe Hart seemed to get a touch. The officials though ruled it was a goal kick! Prior to that a loose Hart clearance hit a visiting player where it really hurts and Kompany was forced to make an important challenge, but that was the sum total of Newcastle’s threat before the break as City dominated proceedings.

City had to work for an opening as Newcastle defenders doubled up to thwart our trademark short passing game for most of the first half.

It took us a while to get into our stride and it was 20 minutes before we fashioned a chance and even that was spectacularly spurned. Nasri was on the bye-line facing the right corner flag with two defenders in close attendance, but he showed great strength to hold them off, gave them both the slip with a sharp turn, and crossed. Dzeko’s close range touch seemed to be going wide but Newcastle ‘keeper Elliot saved and from the rebound Barry somehow managed to sky the ball over from four yards out when it seemed easier to score. More than 44,000 City fans present audibly gasped in unison!

City were starting to turn the screw and Newcastle players started collecting yellow cards. Tévez fired a free kick over and Silva was wide with another. Dzeko headed a Nasri corner wide and Clichy, up from left back, forced a smart saved from Elliott. City were getting closer.

The Newcastle ‘keeper became more and more blatant with his time wasting as time went on, and this wasn’t lost on referee Kevin Friend. Silva netted after being played in by Tévez after 38 minutes but the offside flag represented only a temporary stay of execution as City took the lead in the 41st minute.

In another flowing move, Silva threaded the ball to Clichy whose superb low cross was bundled into the net by Tévez. It was a great show of determination by Tévez who got there just ahead of his countryman, Jonas Gutierrez to net his 10th League goal (and 16th in all competitions this season).

City went in pursuit of more goals. Barry passed to Nasri who laid on a gilt-edged chance for Dzeko whose shot was pushed round the post by Elliott. Again this was a temporary reprieve for the visitors.

City’s second, a goal that came on the stroke of half time, was a real beauty. Indeed it represented the very best of City. Yaya Touré, Tévez and Nasri teased Newcastle’s defence just outside their box with some patient interplay. Nasri wriggled clear of his marker, and, surrounded by three Newcastle defenders, cleverly played in Silva, who drilled an unstoppable shot across Elliott and into the net. It was a thrilling finish by Silva and superb build up play by City, particularly by Nasri who was our most influential player in the first half.

It was wonderful to see Paul Lake summarising the first half on the edge of the pitch and proudly talking about City In The Community’s 150,000 hours of work. Alex Williams, another true Blue whose career was also cruelly and prematurely curtailed, has played an instrumental part in CITC and he was present not only to promote CITC but he once again donned the goalkeeping gloves. He was beaten by Richard Edghill, resplendent in his MCFC suit in a penalty shoot-out – shades of Wembley ’99 for Edgy, but this penalty carried a lot less pressure! It was good to see all these true Blues again (Ian Brightwell was also present in an ambassadorial role) and they all received a warm reception, which was nice.

An Easterly wind picked up in the second half and there was a brief hint of snow in the air as Newcastle reorganised and came haring out of the traps whilst City seemed rather dozy for a few minutes. The powerful Sissoko, who is built more like a rugby league forward, played in Cabaye and he fired just wide of Joe Hart’s right hand post. There was another let off for City when a well-placed Cisse fired over.

As if jolted into action, City set about putting the game to bed and did do with some delightful passing football.

The game was effectively over in the 57th minute with a superbly taken 3rd City goal. A corner broke loose to Barry who shot with his unfamiliar right foot, and Kompany flicked the ball in with an exquisite back heel.

“Mancini, wooah” bellowed the crowd in raucous and clear support of the manager. Quite right too, and he clearly appreciates it.

The champagne football continued. Yaya angled a defence-splitting pass to Dzeko whose goal-bound shot was smartly tipped around the post by Elliott.

Yaya then completed the scoring by driving through the inside right position and firing a deflected shot in that beat Elliott for his 9th goal of the season (and 6th in the League).

There were worries though with Silva picking up a painful injury late on and after a little treatment he walked off. Hopefully his substitution and the early withdrawal of Nasri and Kompany (who jogged off as if to make a point to everyone, particularly his manager, about his fitness) are all precautionary.

There was still time for Newcastle to finally get a shot on target (it was the 71st minute when Hart smartly saved Gosling’s shot), and Scott Sinclair’s curling shot was pushed round the post by Elliott.

There had been some wonderful football but it has to be put in context. Whilst we played very well without having to be at our very best, Newcastle were very poor. They didn’t cause us problems that pressing teams like Everton and Southampton do. We have fallen behind the pace due to a variety of reasons. Our failure to add top class attacking quality to what we have, and the loss of de Jong has weakened last season’s title winning squad. Rodwell has shown promise but injury has blighted his season. Whilst Javi Garcia has steadily improved in the 2nd half of the season he is not in the same class as the much-missed de Jong who was also a very positive dressing room influence. A high quality central midfielder as well as a top class striker and creative midfielder are a must for City this summer.

That all said, it is important to appreciate what we have now and this was another afternoon to savour.

Goals: Tévez 41, Silva 45, Kompany 56, Yaya 69

Att: 47,201

Hart: Was only called on twice to make a save, the 2nd of which was on target, and did well to come out and clear on one other occasion. His kicking continues to be erratic and many more hours of practice and repetition on the training ground are needed: 6
Zabaleta: Strong, reliable and consistent. He has great judgement in knowing when to nick the ball before his winger receives it. Player of the Year is already in the bag: 8
Kompany: Showed sublime skill to score. Save for one incident when he dived in too easily this was a classy, authoritative return: 8
Lescott: Mopped up well on several occasions and was a very composed presence, though the left hand side of our defence was carved open twice early in the 2nd half: 7
Clichy His superb cross created the opener and he defended pretty well, though he shares some responsibility for those early 2nd half minutes: 7
Nasri: Absolutely brilliant in the first half: strong, inventive, intelligent. Pretty decent after the break before sustaining a painful knock. Why can’t he play like this all the time? 8
Yaya: So elegant and accurate with his passing: 8
Barry: Good to see him aiding Yaya in controlling central midfield again: 8
Silva: Terrific finish for his goal, and bright and creative as ever: 8
Tévez: Well rewarded for his intelligence and will-to-win with his goal: 8
Dzeko: His finishing was not quite sharp enough to score but he linked up well enough: 6
Agüero (for Nasri 71) Showed trademark enthusiasm and jet heeled pace on his welcome return: 7
Garcia (for Kompany 73): Solid enough but not severely tested: 6
Sinclair (for Silva 83): Managed to force a good save in his very short spell but looks lightweight and is quite easily knocked off the ball: n/a

Refwatch: Neil Swarbrick: Had an easy game to referee and got most decisions right except when he should have awarded us a penalty when Yaya was tripped in the box: 7

Best Oppo: Elliott: His time wasting was laughable but his saves spared his team’s blushes: 7

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


The game versus Newcastle was a perfect preparations game by Roberto Mancini for the game against our rivals “The Evil Empire”. Four goals from four different scorers, the first coming from “Tévez the Menace”, who constantly made himself the menace to Newcastle’s defence.

Silva the magician, who is always setting up goals for his team mates, scored himself a great goal. Our captain Kompany came back from injury to score a cheeky goal as he deflected the ball into goal. Yaya showed his superior strength as he worked his way through to score City’s fourth goal.

Although Edin Dzeko didn’t score in this game, he came close and had a good game.

The team could easily have scored more goals, but I sincerely hope that they are saving some for April 8th against the Rags.

In this game City came attacking from every direction; this is the type of football to confuse the Reds! I have to add that Nasri had a very good game, more like this please! Nice to see Kun Sergio back from injury and fit to play in the next game. Joe kept a clean sheet in goal, whilst the defence played well in front of him.

All the players had a good game against Newcastle and without any injuries.

Come on you Blues beat the Evil Empire!

In Mancini I trust!

Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)>


Having read MCIVTA for a very long time I girded my loins to write a ‘state of play’ reflection as I have got so tired of other boards like MEN and even Bluemoon – they range from the childish to the plain stupid. However, Jeremy Poynton said it all in MCIVTA 1895! A complete and sound reflection on where we are and a very good point about ‘Unitedism’ and Mario too (I miss him).

My only thought is that, although Sinclair would be better at a lesser club, Javi has great potential and is very versatile, Rodwell could still be a great signing if his body settles down, Maicon, if fit, shows enormous class as a supersub, and Nastasic, well, say no more.

I do despair at some of the comments on boards and even at the match. At the Newcastle game, even though I sit in a block of old Kippax hands, there were some very strange remarks about:

  • Gareth Barry – lazy, too old, ‘sell him’ – perhaps I was somewhere elsebut I thought he was very near man of the match, and, for me, pretty muchthe first name on anyone’s team sheet. He can keep doing his job for atleast another three years.
  • Yaya – lazy, ‘let him go’ etc. – yes I must have been at a parallelmatch in another universe, but I’ve watched Yaya with absolute joy sincehe came. I just love the way he hobbles around as if he needs a doublehip replacement and a respirator, and then, bang, he is off like a train.

The man is a monster and he’s our monster. Aren’t we lucky?

So pinch yourself, think where we’ve been, look where we are and enjoy.

Robin Culpin <robinculpin(at)>


Apologies for not getting the submission in time for MCIVTA 1894, hope it is better late than never.

I don’t really have a memory for anecdotes nor recollections of particular matches, so I closed my eyes and conjured up wonderful memories of Maine Road and came up with 3 immediate images not mentioned in MCIVTA 1894. I think the mention of men with sandwich boards did influence:

  1. Helen the Bell
  2. “City… Manchester City… We are the lads who are playing today”(that song made me shiver whether 8, 18 or 28 years old) (ED – or was it‘playing to win’?!)
  3. Can I mind your car Mister? No one dared say no. Reminds me of the jokethat goes:
    Kid: “Can I mind your car Mister?”
    Fan: “No it’s ok, I got 2 dobermans in the back”
    Kid: “Ah… put out fires can they?”

Going to my first ever game at Maine Road, I also learned an extremely important footballing lesson that has lasted for life. I think it was circa 1979/1980, I think it was versus Crystal Palace. It was 2-2 when Dad said “Come on Son, time to go”. And by the time we got back to the car up at Alexandra Park and put on Sports Report, City had won 4-2. The lesson of course… never leave early (so I didn’t in 1999 nor May 13th – thanks Dad)!

On a final and separate note, can I start a campaign to vote Ian Humphrey (excellent contribution in MCIVTA 1895) onto the Exec Board as he certainly sounds like he knows what he’s talking about.

Michael Sokol <mike.sokol(at)>


Vincent Kompany’s selection to play for Belgium after a full two months out was disappointing, especially as he has not had a game for City since he had a recurrence of his calf injury against Stoke on January 26th. He should have been fit to play for City first before contemplating playing 90 minutes for his country.

City pay his wages and his first priority should be to his club. As Roberto Mancini said, Vinny should have returned to City after seeing Belgian medical staff like Sergio Agüero did with Argentine doctors. Roberto Mancini is also right in that he should not have played, and right in not wanting to stop players play for their national team in normal circumstances. City are not like United in that respect, as we have more respect for players’ wishes to represent their respective countries, and indeed more respect for the countries themselves. Vinny should not have been put in the position by Belgian coach, Marc Wilmots. His decision to select Vinny was a huge risk and rather selfish to say the least. City deserve better.

The other disappointing thing here is that Roberto Mancini has made his displeasure about Vinny playing public. It is totally unnecessary, and it would be better if he did his man management in private. When answering questions, he could have said that he has spoken to the player and dealt with it internally. That surely would have been better for dressing room harmony. There was no acknowledgement from him of Vinny when he subbed him (hopefully as a precaution), which doesn’t really help either. If there is one thing about Roberto that irks, it is his washing dirty laundry in public. No one likes being admonished in public, and in any case why give anyone, especially the press, ammunition?

Anyway, I hope we can move on from this because we don’t want festering divisions. Both men are big enough to move forward.

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


A big thanks to Jeremy Poynton for some sense in this ever increasing roller-coaster ride as a City fan. I’ve mostly stopped contributing to fans’ forums or any other form of media because I’ve become quite depressed at the blinkered, short-termism of people who forget where we have come from (or never knew!), do not learn any of the lessons from our club’s history or others (those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it) and are obsessed with success now, and on a plate, as if it is a God-given right (United-ism by its other name).

Even my respected fellow contributor Phil Banerjee has fallen prey to this disease on occasion this season and I sincerely hope we are not becoming the ingrates we’ve always mocked and scorned from over the road. If the season ended now it wouldn’t be a failure (given our injuries, and the poor recruitment policies of Brian Marwood) because City are now (I hope) a long term project, because that is the only way to achieve real success.

I will be at Wembley, just as excited as the last time at the thought of possibly another trophy, but even if we lose I won’t be calling for anyone to go. I don’t want us to become another Chelsea. Compared to Roberto, at the same point in his United career, Fergie had won nothing and would still need a couple of years to do so, so why are some calling for Roberto’s head? If they are City fans then I don’t want to know.

The Tblisi Tearaway – Steve Burrows <stevieburrows(at)>


I find myself agreeing whole-heartedly with Ian Humphrey’s, Jeremy Poynton’s and Steve Cheeseborough’s articles within MCIVTA 1895. Whilst it certainly isn’t a time to be too despondent (2nd place and a semi-final were nothing but a hopeful dream 5 or 6 years ago), this summer is going to be very important and we can’t repeat the mistakes of last summer as we have undoubtedly taken a step backwards this year.

Important decisions will need to be made both in terms of players coming in and those going out but until then let’s get behind the team for the remainder of the season as there is still so much to play for (pride, silverware, Champions’ League qualification) and they need us behind them, which – let’s face it – we always are.

The Everton and Southampton games were sickeners and we have so often failed to reach the heights of last season but a sense of perspective is needed so let’s just get on with it and see what happens for the remainder of the season and in the summer window.

Noel Wilkes-Wells <Wellsy37.nww(at)>


It is so good that we can go to Wembley knowing that it is going to be a ragscum free zone this year after the appalling behaviour of thousands (yes, thousands) of Manure fans at the 2011 semi. Ok, there is no guarantee that it will be trouble free (Chelsea have had a notorious element in the past), but there is a far better chance of a better day out.

Two years ago thousands of ManUre fans lined Wembley Way throwing objects (one 70 year old man got showered), trying to “kick it off” – See MCIVTA issues 1721, 1722 and 1723. Several Rags were standing on a bridge over hurling abuse and objects at Blues while the Met Police just filmed it. They’d been trying on the Tube too, with a continuous stream of provocative comments. We ran the gauntlet of threatening behaviour and abuse on Wembley Way as ragscum continued to provoke and strut round like they owned the place, chanting “We’re Man United… we’ll do what we want”. After the game, in true sporting style, sub human ragscum thugs attacked City fans at random (including women and children). So, I am sure I’m not alone when I say I’m delighted that we won’t have the chance to beat the Rags in a Wembley semi again.

Come on City!

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


One of the lovelier moments of a football game is the banter between the opposing fans in the stadium. “Where were you when you were (not very good)”. City fans have often considered themselves to be “the best fans in all the world”. Many can really claim that “we were here when we were (not very good at all)”. Increasingly fewer can claim that they were there when we were (indeed very good). Because, for nearly every home game for the last few years, upwards of 10,000 people have already gone home well before the referee blows the final whistle!

If we really are “the best fans in all the world”, it’s about time we ALL acted like “the best fans in all the world”. On Saturday 3,000 Geordies watched their team get battered and as the referee blew his final whistle, they were still there. They even gave us that stayed, a chorus of “We can see you sneaking out!” 5 minutes before the whistle. If we are to be “the best fans in all the world” surely we should not have the mickey taken out of us by fans of a team we just thumped 4-0. A team lucky to get nil!

Where do these people go? Who makes plans for anything within an hour of a football match ending? If you leave 5 minutes before the end, my guess is you get home about the same time you’d get there if you stayed to the end.

Today’s Premier League football has a delicate ego. We know this, but wouldn’t it be nice of us to give them a standing ovation after a 4-0 win? My ego is relatively stable, but I’m sure I’d be feeling a little demoralized and even “unloved” if I saw the stadium empting before the end of an impressive victory!

There’s a lot more to support than actually just turning up. We often complain that players don’t have any passion or love for the club? I say the fans have a job too, but at the very least, please stay until the end!

Dave Lees, Stalybridge <dave(at)>


1 April 2013

  • Fulham 3 – 2 Queens Park Rangers 25,117
  • 31 March 2013

  • Aston Villa 1 – 2 Liverpool 42,037
  • 30 March 2013

    Sunderland            0 - 1  Manchester United     43,760
    Arsenal               4 - 1  Reading               60,082
    Manchester City       4 - 0  Newcastle United      47,201
    Southampton           2 - 1  Chelsea               31,779
    Swansea City          1 - 2  Tottenham Hotspur     20,604
    West Ham United       3 - 1  West Bromwich Albion  34,966
    Wigan Athletic        1 - 0  Norwich City          17,784
    Everton               1 - 0  Stoke City            33,977

    League table as at 4 April 2013

                            P / GD / Pts
     1 Manchester Utd      30 / 39 / 77
     2 Manchester City     30 / 29 / 62
     3 Tottenham Hotspur   31 / 15 / 57
     4 Chelsea             30 / 27 / 55
     5 Arsenal             30 / 26 / 53
     6 Everton             30 / 12 / 51
     7 Liverpool           31 / 19 / 48
     8 West Bromwich Alb   31 /  0 / 44
     9 Swansea City        31 /  1 / 40
    10 Fulham              30 / -3 / 39
    11 West Ham Utd        30 / -9 / 36
    12 Southampton         31 / -9 / 34
    13 Stoke City          31 / -9 / 34
    14 Norwich City        31 /-19 / 34
    15 Newcastle Utd       31 /-15 / 33
    16 Sunderland          31 /-10 / 31
    17 Wigan Athletic      30 /-20 / 30
    18 Aston Villa         31 /-26 / 30
    19 QPR                 31 /-23 / 23
    20 Reading             31 /-25 / 23

    With thanks to Football 365

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    Newsletter #1896