Newsletter #1906

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Good afternoon all and first off sorry for the sluggishness of this edition. Mental week at work is my excuse!

Speaking of mental weeks… well… this is City.

Firstly the aftermath of Roberto and a decidedly end of season performance against Norwich (well done to them for making the most of it), then the incredible (and I think that word is justified in its fullest sense) news of our majority ownership of the new, New York City FC – the implications of which are mind-boggling.

Finally, last night’s astonishing game against Chelsea. For those of you lucky to be there I hope you enjoyed it. It was one of the most competitive ‘friendlies’ I’ve witnessed and saw City take Chelsea to the cleaners in the first half and end up 0-2 down at the break!

A third Chelsea goal just after the interval suggested the end of the night, however, we carried on playing though and amazingly not only got back into the game, not only equalised but also went on to win 4-3!

Another bumper edition for your enjoyment this weekend. High quality content too. As ever thank you to you all for your contributions.

Next Game: Chelsea, Yankee Stadium, 25 May 2013 (10.30pm UK, 5.30pm EST)

NEW YORK CITY FC

I have read over the last few weeks how Manchester City are involved in getting an MLS team, but the news that it’s with the New York Yankees make it even more interesting – two great clubs join up together.

I remember it was not too long ago that United made a deal with the Yankees to sell each other’s merchandise, well that deal will be gone!

I have watched some MLS games and the standard of football is without doubt getting better; this new team when it starts playing in their new stadium in 2015 can only make it even better.

Manchester City will always be my number one but now, when NY City will be playing, I shall watch them with interest, and if both teams are not playing, now I might get to be watching NY Yankees baseball; never really been a fan, but times are changing.

NY Red Bulls will become the derby game; both will be in New York.

Any new talent in MLS will be noticed very much so by City before other English Premier League teams, at least that is what we shall hope for.

I wonder if David Beckham will be involved?

Talk now that Yankees might play a game at the Etihad Stadium, now that would become a first in UK.

Good Luck!

P.S. Just read that Ferran Soriano says David Beckham was NEVER considered for the new team NY City FC.

P.P.S. Great news: Just heard that Claudio Reyna will head the new New York City FC.

Some years back, when Franny Lee was the Chairman of MCFC, I sent him a letter letting him know about a player who at the time was with Virginia University and playing some great football.

I did get a reply from Franny who at the time said that I would not be disappointed in what MCFC were doing; not long after, Reyna was playing for Wolfsburg in Germany, and of course later he came to City and became the captain. A very good selection to head the new NY City, for Reyna knows the MLS and City.

Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)aol.com>

MANCHESTER CITY 2 NORWICH CITY 3

City lurched to this final day defeat against a lively Norwich side with a half-hearted showing to cap off a turbulent week for the club.

Whilst City’s performance had an end of season feel about it, it was worse than that and there was a stark contrast in the effort levels of the two sides. Norwich gave their all, and at least half the City side clearly just didn’t care. Given the expense of tickets and City fans making effort to turn up, the Blues should have at very least matched the Canaries’ effort. The City kit men and laundry staff certainly will have less work to do after this game.

The team came out to chants of “Mancini woooah”, and there were banners dotted round the stadium, the most eye catching being the picture of Roberto Mancini emblazoned with “Veni, Vidi, Vici”. The Mancini chants were sung by most people and they were a recurring theme throughout the afternoon (particularly in the 61st minute to commemorate the 6-1!). Even if we weren’t given the chance to say goodbye to Roberto Mancini, we weren’t going to let the occasion pass without blasting his name out around the Etihad.

Dzeko glanced an early header from a Nasri cross straight into Ruddy’s arms but Norwich were clearly more up for the game, closing City down and passing the ball neatly. Snodgrass had already cut in and forced a regulation save from Hart. Mark Halsey, who was refereeing his last game before retiring, turned down two penalty appeals, firstly when Pablo Zabaleta caught Pilkington and then when a cross struck Yaya Touré’s raised arms.

City were slow, sloppy and too many players were disinterested in this game.

A Norwich goal had looked like it was coming for a while and Lescott was forced to head Ryan Bennett’s header off the line in the 22nd minute, but it was only a temporary reprieve. Three minutes later Hoolahan bustled his way through the half-hearted challenges of Yaya Touré and Lescott and the ball squirted through to Pilkington who calmly slotted home for the Canaries. The impressive turn out of away fans, colourfully bedecked in yellow, and bearing a passing resemblance to a mustard field, celebrated gleefully. Yaya in particular had a chance to clear but his touch lacked conviction and he was quickly robbed. It summed up the City performance.

City fought back, though, and were level within 5 minutes. Nasri found Dzeko in the box and he laid the ball off to Rodwell who controlled it on his right foot and swept the ball home with his left.

Norwich, though, always had the greater desire and were at least as likely to score as City. Snodgrass had a free kick tipped over by Hart just after the half hour mark and he fired just wide after the ball pinballed around the box just before the break.

City did have chances too. Rodwell headed into ground and over from a right wing corner in the 37th minute, and in one of City’s better moves, Tévez fed Milner whose cross was fired wide by Dzeko.

Bizarrely, Tévez was substituted five minutes into the second half and he left the pitch to warm cheers and a standing ovation. His redemption already complete, he clapped in return and turned to wave with both arms in the air. Hopefully that will not be the last that we see of this great striker.

With one of City’s most hard working players off the pitch, we were weakened further, and Norwich capitalised and took the lead with a fine goal soon afterwards. Hoolahan played a first time lofted ball over to Snodgrass on the right wing and his crisp, first time cross was swept in at the far post by Holt, with the City defence left for dust. The mustard field to our right stirred again. Whilst it was a very well-constructed goal, City’s defending was appalling. Kolarov was absent without leave and left a huge gap for Snodgrass to cross in, and Holt was afforded too much room at the back post. There is no excuse for the defence, especially for Kolarov, given the fact that Snodgrass is not renowned for having any pace.

Again City levelled, with Yaya Touré making his one telling contribution to the game, wining the ball outside our box and carrying it forward before playing a diagonal raking pass into the path of the advancing Rodwell, who powered down the left wing. Showing determination, tenacity and coolness, Rodwell held off his marker and slotted a left foot shot across Ruddy and into the net.

With two warnings fired across our bows, surely City would up our game? Milner had a shot blocked and Dzeko fired over, then at least half the team shamefully lost interest. Taking their lead from lead from the wily Hoolahan and the trusty left boot of Robert Snodgrass, Norwich sensed this and continued to snap into tackles and pass the ball intelligently.

Howson settled the contest with a superb individual goal but it was made easy for him by a compliant City defence. Receiving the ball inside his own half, he ran through the whole City midfield unchallenged, past Richards in defence before slotting in the winner. One can only imagine Barry or de Jong nipping that run in the bud. It could have been worse had substitute Tettey not shot just wide after Lescott’s half-hearted challenge.

Brian Kidd brought on Silva for Rodwell after 65 minutes, and the young midfield player didn’t look happy that his chance of a hat trick had been taken away, but Kidd made sure he turned round and shook his hand.

Kolarov seemed intent on waging war with the South Stand and they booed his every touch for a while. If only he’d shown similar passion in his approach to playing the game. Without wishing to condone the booing of any City player, the South Stand and right hand section of the Colin Bell probably wouldn’t have told him to get stuck in and show some effort if he had tried to make a challenge or shown a desire to get back into position, and they would not have booed him if he’d not been aggressive towards them and kept his mouth shut. It will be a big surprise if this was not his last game in our colours.

In total contrast, Milner worked harder than anyone to try to draw City level. After firing over a shot himself, he supplied an inviting right wing cross for Dzeko who wastefully blazed over.

Silva brought poise to the team (why on earth didn’t he start this game?) and sought to split the Norwich defence with some incisive passing. Agüero played a one-two with him before forcing a save that was saved by Ruddy without really testing him. The game and the season drew to a conclusion without City showing enough desire or guile to cut the mustard (!) and break down a determined Norwich.

Norwich were playing for prize money and City weren’t, and it showed. It may have been a so-called meaningless match for City with second place already secured but it is reasonable to expect better than this. Having made the effort to get there, let alone the exorbitant cost of season and match tickets, as fans we are entitled to expect effort from everyone in a City shirt. Too many of these players didn’t manage that, which is not acceptable. No wonder that Vincent Kompany led the lap of appreciation with a face like thunder, as it is thought that he has not been happy with the effort levels of some of his team mates, especially after the Cup Final. Thankfully this season is over.

Ratings:
Hart: Kept us level just after the break, handled well enough. One kick went straight out to ironic cheers: 6
Zabaleta: City’s Player of the Year and Captain for the day gave his usual total commitment. Lucky not to have conceded a penalty in the first half though: 6
Richards: Tried hard but didn’t read the game so well, and shouldn’t have been beaten by Howson for the winning goal: 5
Lescott: Cleared one off the line but a series of half-hearted challenges betrayed that he was already on his holidays. Poor: 4
Kolarov: Utterly clueless and uncommitted in defence, and his disgraceful behaviour was highly unprofessional too, aggressively trading insults with the South Stand: 2
Milner: A shining example of professionalism and an example to all. Here is one player who never gives less than his all, and he was our best player here, always trying to create something, always prepared to work to help out in defence: 7 (City’s best player)
Yaya: One lovely pass set up Rodwell for his second goal, but he was at fault for the first goal and was the very epitome of this lazy, sloppy, disinterested performance. Disgraceful: 4
Rodwell: Took his two goals (his first in City colours) very well, and worked hard: 6
Nasri: At least he tried to create something, but there was a period when he flitted out of the game: 6
Tévez: One of our better players and of course he gave his all. Received a standing ovation for his efforts and was that a valedictory wave? Hopefully not: 6
Dzeko: An assist for Rodwell’s opener, but he missed good chances and at times he had the touch of a fourth division player: 5
Subs:
Agüero (for Tévez 50): Lacked good service, but tried to make a difference: 6
Silva (for Rodwell 65): Brought culture to our play, but even he couldn’t find a way: 6

Goals:
City: Rodwell 29 & 59;
Norwich: Pilkington 26, Holt 54, Howson 65.

Att: 47,054

Best Oppo: Hoolahan: Clever, hard-working, tenacious playmaker: 8

Refwatch: Mark Halsey: Had an easy game to referee and mostly did well. A very happy retirement to him: 7

Footnote:
It wasn’t the strongest City line up (no Barry, Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy, Silva or Agüero) but it should have been good enough to win this match. The absence for the 2nd game running of Vincent Kompany and Matija Nastasic, who were not even on the bench, was strange, though Brian Kidd has stated that they were injured. It could have been that some of the players were out there to be “in the shop window”. Surely we should play our strongest team and try to win the match?

The only good news for the day was that Clichy has signed a new four year contract. If only he’d been playing.

Phil Banerjee <philban6(at)tiscali.co.uk>

THANK YOU ROBERTO

Well, the four young kids on the matchday programme cover would have made a better back line than the shambles we put out. Still, if you’re going to lose at home, at least make it a meaningless one in the grander scheme of things.

Given that it was a rather boozy last day of the season and I was, for just the second time, back in the Legends’ Lounge, yapping, I missed what Kolarov did to incite the crowd. Could someone please tell me?

Anyway, this might be of interest: One of our table knows a certain City legend of the 80s-90s very well (I choose not to name my source but take this as kosher) and got talking to him prior to the match. Said ex-star told him that the mutiny involved no less than fourteen players.

On official duty was Buzzer. When he got to our table we put said question to him. He replied: “I can’t say anything about that” but his wry smile, lack of denial and the glint in his eyes told us all we needed to know.

I’m sorry to all those Mancini fans but – even given player power and the egos of superstars – he must have been an utter ogre to work for. If your life is made miserable on a daily basis, then what does money matter?

Cheers and a happy Summer to all.

Steve O’Brien <bodsnvimto(at)googlemail.com>

JIM CASSELL AND PAUL POWER

Sadly, respected coaches Jim Cassell and Paul Power were also sacked by City last week. Both have made important contributions over the years, and it is very disappointing that they have been asked to leave. Another questionable decision that leaves bad taste in the mouth, I’m afraid. Jim Cassell oversaw City winning the FA Youth Cup in 2008 and several players have come through to make a first team impact under his watch, including Micah Richards and Nedum Onuoha. Players that have kept us in this division and in Micah’s case, contributed towards winning the FA Cup and the League Championship.

Power, as well as being an inspirational skipper and cracking midfielder and left back for City in difficult times, has also made a valuable contribution as a coach.

Power and Cassell have been loyal, excellent servants to Manchester City and they leave with our best wishes and they too are not forgotten.

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

A WEEK IN THE LIFE OF…

I began formulating some thoughts a week ago but waited until the end of the season proper before sending this in. It does allow for some 20-20 hindsight.

I arrived in London the day before the Cup Final and, by Saturday morning, I had also picked up on the reports that Mancini was to be let go. This was the talk when I met friends before heading to Wembley and it seemed to provide a sense of anxiety that really should not have been there. Even given the way Wigan had played against City a few weeks earlier, there was no realistic way we should lose the Final (famous last words) unless the rumours had an immediate impact on the players.

Well something had an immediate impact as we were terrible. This is not to take anything from Wigan, they played well and deserved their win, but our players seemed to have lost all enthusiasm for the game and one of the few who you knew would try, Tévez, is substituted with the score 0-0 and replaced with a midfield player! It kept getting worse, Zabaleta is sent off after a frantic tackled caused by our inability to turn and go forward with the ball when the option is a safe backwards pass, except it was a dreadful pass. Have I missed something, but why did Hart start in goal when Pantilimon looks as good when he plays?

I learned many years ago to watch City with hope, not expectation! What I found interesting was chatting to fans around me. Before the game it was a majority view to give Mancini another year; after the game, this was now a minority view. So what do I think of it all?

I think the club made the correct decision. Not that I wish any ill will towards Mancini and yes I wish he had had more success this year, but the season seemed to go from promise to mediocrity with little sense it would get any better. Yes, Roberto gave us pride in facing United, yes he coached teams to win trophies, but there seemed to be something fundamentally amiss this season. Either our players are not good enough (and some aren’t) or the coaching was not getting the best out of them. I am not sure we can have it both ways or that would be very depressing.

It was more than just the elimination from Europe, it was the way we gave up the title in a year when the overall competition was quite average. It was the way players were criticised in public, the way we continued to make very strange substitutions, the way some players were picked no matter how poor they were playing (Yaya comes to mind but he is not alone) and the way we found it difficult to win against teams that were in the lower half of the table. From a distance of 8,000 miles it just seemed the end of the season was going through the motions. Yes I know our record was amongst the very best in the run in but the performance wasn’t. It all made for difficult viewing at times. I could take the 3-1 defeat at Spurs as another example of a game we would not have lost a year ago.

We came to the Cup Final hoping for a victory and a trophy that would provide the continued success we all want for the club. It wasn’t to be. I also think there is something more to it than that. Surely players do not deliberately play badly, do they? Even if they know that by doing so they may be able to remove the manager? Surely not? Surely the club would not leak the news in the hope the game would be lost giving them a reason to remove the manager? Surely not? I have read too many JFK assassination books to go down that road again, but there was something very much amiss at Wembley. There has to be something going on when almost every player had a poor game.

Back to Mancini. He does deserve our thanks for the trophies he brought the club. I admire his focus on winning no matter who he upset. Well, to a degree I do. I think there are ways to have this focus without having senior players turn against you, which it appears is what happened. I thank him for giving us the confidence that playing United, Chelsea, Arsenal was as likely to end in victory as in defeat. That is a big change and it is the one characteristic of Mancini we may miss. Against that (and here comes that word “holistic”…) we saw nothing of young players all season other than couple of cameos and one full game by the young full back. Now either Mancini had determined that they were not good enough or he hadn’t seen enough of them to make a decision. Then saying they might get a game only when second spot was secure… that lacks a little in the way of encouragement.

There were also the quick trips to Italy, often after a defeat. Sentiment suggested he should have stayed around and been at training the very next morning. Others last week mentioned the lack of Plan B… I am not convinced we really had a Plan A for a lot of games. It was this discouraging trend that began to concern me towards the end of Autumn.

In the Cup Final it was clear Wigan had realised that you let City play down the middle, clog the middle and there is no other option. It worked well. I understand that IF we had had other players signed last summer (or even January) it may have been different but, other than a few games, I just got the sense Mancini was just too cautious in how he approached games. As a friend mentioned to me, we had a lot of games where we played well for 20 or so minutes but few games this season where we played well for a whole game. If we scored in this good spell we usually won. I honestly have no idea how better we may have been with some of the players mentioned last summer but even without them surely we had a squad that could have won the title again?

Now one big argument against my own comments is that City have been very successful in the past 2-3 years. Indeed, have we ever had a period in our history when we have finished in the top 4 three years on the run, including a title? Our club has a habit of not being consistent in the league after winning a title so second this year is perhaps nothing to be alarmed about. However, it was the sense of missed opportunities really. Sometimes I look at YouTube and watch the City teams of the 1968-78 era and what impresses me most is how quickly they attacked and on pitches that would suck at your ankles! The landscape has changed. Our owners are perhaps not impatient but they have a plan and it is to make City a force in European and World football. Yes, it is to their business advantage if they do but nevertheless this plan comes with consequences.

After Wembley I was back in California for the Reading game and was pleasantly surprised by the manner of the win – even though Reading were already relegated. Then I watched the Norwich game today and came away confused and disappointed with the manner of the performance. It was the FA Cup Final all over again when the day called for a blunt, positive statement from players. If you didn’t like playing for Mancini, show the loyal fans what you can do when he is no longer the manager. Well if that is what they can do, I suspect a number will be on their way. Again it was a strange line up and then strange substitutions… so maybe, just maybe, those of us who felt Mancini tactics were hindering the club, might now want to really question the attitude of some of the players. Yes, it was the last game, yes, we were second no matter what… but that does not justify how we played. I have not seen such bad defending from City since the last time I saw such bad defending from City… if that makes sense.

I don’t want this to sound like I have jumped on to some anti-Mancini bandwagon. Over the season I have been in constant touch with other MCIVTA readers who noticed these issues before I did. I have always disliked the firing of managers, always hoping that the current one will stay as long as, well, someone like Fergie (and be as successful). Perhaps that is not modern football. Look at Chelsea: two major trophies in a year using about 14 different managers! But if you were to have asked me after the Cup Final did I have confidence that we were going to get better next season, I would have said “no”.

Now it is two games in the US and then the endless gossip about players coming in and going. It promises to be an eventful summer and in a couple of days we will have put this season behind us and be looking with renewed hope to the issuance of the fixture list for next season. I wouldn’t swap following the club for anything in the world but I suspect we will be looking at a very different starting line up in August than we have seen the last few games. Beyond that I wouldn’t like to make predictions as to who will come and who will go… that can be saved until the close season when we can spend our time speculating.

This is all such a very different comment than the ones I made one year and two years ago. Perhaps I am being too greedy for success and cannot see the good for the missed opportunities. Just as United did not listen to their fans in the late 1980s, so our club has not listened to what is clearly a strong sentiment for Mancini. I am not sure it has been any different at any stage in our history – now it is time to look to the future and wish whoever comes in all the success in the world – but please, please, please play with adventure and joy. I sat behind Gary Owen at Wembley and wished he had had brought his boots.

Best wishes and thanks to Phil and everyone for another great year of this wonderful newsletter. (ED – thank you!)

John Pearson <pearsonj(at)stanford.edu>

GRAZIE MILLE ROBERTO MANCINI, MANCHESTER CITY LEGEND

Roberto Mancini, Manchester City Legend, Champion and FA Cup Winner, has been sacked after 3 and a half successful years. Despite the persistent rumours that plagued much of his reign, it is still hard to comprehend this decision.

Benjamin Bloom beautifully summed up how so many us feel in MCIVTA 1904.

I feel truly disgusted. Sick to the stomach. How can City sack a man a year after he won the title? Why sack him just one year into a five year contract? What a shabby way to treat a champion. Here was a man who got City. He immediately connected with the fans. He wore our scarf with pride. Loved by the fans, he loved the fans too, and said so. If you bumped into him in the street or in the airport he made time to talk to us and treated us with respect. We knew when he came here that he had a great record in winning League Championships and we knew hadn’t got a great record in Europe but he was the right choice for City. He turned our team into winners. They learned how to defend properly. He delivered highly attractive football, won our first trophy in 35 years, our first title in 44 years and we beat United regularly, including of course the unforgettable 6-1. At just 48, he is still a young man in managerial terms and he could have learned to win with us in Europe, given time.

It is a shame that we could not say goodbye to him at the Etihad stadium due to the disgraceful way he has been treated, but I think he knows how we feel. Even after he left, he spent his own money to pay for a full page ad in the Evening News to say:

“Manchester City Supporters
3 UNFORGETTABLE YEARS
You will always be in my heart
Ciao
Roberto Mancini”

Class to the last and beyond.

He will always have a special place in our hearts.

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

THANK YOU ROBERTO

Stunned into writing for the third time since subscribing in 1995.

Please, the people running our Club know exactly what they are doing. I have never seen a more ambitious and professional Board or management team. The Barcelona style project can now get underway, and that was something that was never going to happen under Mancini.

He had no interest whatsoever with the Academy and the youth set up and this is a major bet for us in the long term and something a new manager will have to embrace for the benefit of City and English football.

The stories I have heard about Mancini are simply amazing – and if you don’t believe me talk to anyone, from the fantastic groundsmen to the marketing team – they all have a ‘Mancini’ story and none of them are good.

On a personal level I thank him for his commitment and hard work and yes, of course, for the title and the FA Cup – but the pros outweigh the cons – he never communicated with anyone, players, Platt, Kidd, the Board. He was a lone-man operation and, I don’t deny for a second his commitment to every game, he also got some tactics glaringly wrong.

Please let’s get some perspective here – have faith in Ferran and the team – they are passionate for success, and not by just by a goal difference. Did anyone note the difference in attitude from our players at Reading from a few days earlier at Wembley? The future is looking very good indeed.

Miles Webber <miles.webber(at)btinternet.com>

NOW THE DUST IS SETTLING

I, like so many, was gutted at losing the FA Cup and the abject way that happened but I was equally distraught at the thought of losing RM…

… then I started reading lots of opinion, articles, forum debates and the like and my views were challenged:

  • There couldn’t be smoke without fire – as much as we fans loved RM wasthat same emotion felt inside the Club? It appears not to be.
  • Were we loving RM for what he had done for us or what he was going to doin the future? Outpourings of grief have been predominantly about the past;the comments about the future are of course concerns over the general needfor stability and continuity, not that it must be RM at the helm at allcosts but simply that we shouldn’t get like Abramovich.
  • In a number of places our views were challenged to ask if we were‘supporting the club’ or ‘supporting the manager’?

As I continued to search and read I now started to take notice all the ‘bad things’ about RM coming out of the woodwork and all the good things about Pellegrini. These three, although a little dated by the time you read this, are must reads:

http://eeveelife.eevee.co.uk/474

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/22529972

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/manchester-city/10052687/Manchester-City-hope-Roberto-Mancinis-replacement-Manuel-Pellegrini-will-implement-the-Barcelona-model.html

My view now is that RM has gone, there’s nothing we can do about it and we have to accept that our club think that’s for the best.

I’m actually now quite excited about the idea of Pellegrini and hope the deal happens… if he, with the other members of the hierarchy, can turn us into ‘a Barça’ then I for one am not going to complain about that!

RM will always be a City legend and we should all love him for that but he’s moved on and so must us supporters.

CTID, Graham Schofield <graham.schofield(at)yahoo.com>

LESSONS LEARNED?

We have a lot to be grateful to Sheikh Mansour and Khaldoon Al Mubarak for. They have given us the opportunity to watch an exciting team that has won an FA Cup and League title, playing wonderful football. The desire of the City board to develop a sustainable club that joins up all aspects and promotes youth is highly commendable. However, the fact they have sacked our most successful manager in 40 years, and the way that it has been conducted, leaves a lot to be desired, and a sour taste in the mouth. The strong feeling amongst many of us is that the owner and the City board are making a mistake in sacking Roberto Mancini. Money does not guarantee or entitle us to success as we have known to our cost down the years. Whilst it is disappointing that we did not win the League or the FA Cup, being runners-up is not a failure. Roberto Mancini deserved at the very least, one more season to win the title back and progress in Europe. If the owners and board had showed patience, they would have had an advantage over United where David Moyes will be new to the job. Our continuity would have been an advantage over United, not to mention Mancini’s excellent record against them. That chance has been tossed away now. Our own new manager/coach/“holistic supervisor” (take your pick) will have his own settling-in period, and will have to get to know our players and the English game if he has never managed here before.

There have been reports about Mancini’s relationships with people in the club being strained, especially some of the players. There have been predictable character assassinations of Roberto in the press, with some of them putting great store by the tweet of a kit man, who subsequently deleted his tweet. Not the most reliable of sources. For some time now the quality of football journalism in the written press has been very poor, even the so-called quality newspapers. Whilst Roberto’s public criticism of players, medical staff and others is not the best way to communicate, the effect of these appear to have been blown out of all proportion. They are not the reasons why he has been sacked. Unrealistic expectations are the reason for Roberto’s departure.

If it is true that some of the players didn’t like the manager, too much has been made of this. They respected him and professionally got on with the job that they are handsomely rewarded to do. Roberto could be harsh with his comments at times (Joe Hart and Micah Richards were on the end of some unfair comments), but that was because he wanted to win and the players have professionally carried out his instructions and tactical changes and those instructions and changes worked far more often than not. In any case, most of those players have improved under Roberto Mancini, and they have a lot to be grateful to him for. If Mancini was so bad, then why was there not a long queue for the exit door? There cannot have been that much of a problem between the manager and players if a professional team like ours finished 3rd, 1st and 2nd place. It was always going to be difficult to reach the heights of last season, as teams fight that bit harder against the Champions. Only seasoned winners like Chelsea and United have the experience of that and even they find it difficult to retain a title most years. There is also the fact that teams already have some experience of playing against us and find new ways of dealing with us. The failure of the club to bring in Roberto Mancini’s preferred transfer targets certainly didn’t help either. Most title-winning teams add to their squad from a position of strength, but we were weaker overall with Garcia and Sinclair being a downgrade on de Jong and Johnson. Had we brought in a striker of van Persie’s quality, then we would have been much closer to United and may even have retained the title.

One suspected the writing was on the wall when no new players came in January. It has been reported that City Chief Executive Soriano has said privately that Roberto Mancini “is not my man”. The rumours about Pellegrini have persisted for months and got stronger after the clumsy, cack-handed attempts to woo him. Whether Begiristain inadvertently got caught dining with Pellegrini’s agent in a top high profile Madrid restaurant, or he deliberately really wanted to undermine Mancini with that meeting before the end of the campaign, it was not clever. It as no surprise that the story was soon all over Marca, AS and other Spanish papers before breaking here.

Due to this clumsiness, the Pellegrini story gained momentum, there was no denial from the club about it and Mancini was undermined as a result, forcing the club to make a decision and act on his future before the end of the season. Was it helpful to Mancini to be in imminent threat of the sack, or at best have his future questioned daily? Of course not. If he made any mistakes in last Saturday’s FA Cup Final that is forgiveable, given the distraction and his increased uncertainty that was created by Begiristain’s meeting with Pellegrini’s agent and the Board’s failure to quash the speculation. Roberto Mancini and the players take some responsibility for last Saturday’s FA Cup Final defeat, and due to the distraction that was caused, Soriano and Begiristain should take some responsibility as well. The board, and in particular Begiristain, have not covered themselves in glory in this.

It is unimaginable that the way that this has been handled has gone down well in Abu Dhabi, with Khaldoon Al Mubarak having to bring forward the decision making process and dismiss Roberto Mancini early, “out of respect” to him. Hopefully Begiristain in particular will learn to be more discreet about whom he meets in the future. If they wanted to make a change, they should have met with any prospective manager’s representative in private. Then the best thing to do would be to wait until the end of season review and then make a move. It would have allowed everyone to get on with their jobs with less speculation. We may even have won the FA Cup. It would have been far more dignified and we may have had a chance to say goodbye to Roberto Mancini.

If Manuel Pellegrini wants to come here, he will come and he will talk to us directly when he has contractual permission or when he has finished his season at Malaga. Out of respect to him and Malaga we shouldn’t be distracting him while they are still competing.

Is replacing a manager who won our first league title 12 months ago, as well as the FA Cup in 2011, with a manager who has not won anything for 9 years (if you count the Intertoto Cup with Villarreal in 2004) an improvement? Hopefully Pellegrini will be (assuming he comes), but Mancini will be a hard act to follow. Pellegrini is well known for getting the best out of his players, but who can prove that Mancini wasn’t doing the same?

It is of course not quite as simple as how many trophies Pellegrini has won (though he has won league championships in Argentina, Chile and Ecuador), and there are mitigating factors for Malaga being placed lower this season (6th) than last season (4th). If I can be Guillem Banergue for a minute, Malaga lost playmaker Santi Cazorla last summer amongst others and their financial problems, which have seen Pellegrini and his players not being paid regularly, and yet Pellegrini has coaxed a good season out of them, getting them to the quarter finals of the Champions’ League. Pellegrini has fought the players’ corner on this front, and to be fair, enjoys a closer relationship with his players, whilst retaining their respect. His European record is better than Roberto Mancini’s. As well as taking Malaga to the quarter-finals, he took a small club Villarreal to the Champions’ League semi-final and his Real Madrid team obtained a record points tally of 96 when they finished 2nd in his only season at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Pellegrini has a reputation for playing attacking football, based on domination of possession. A highly respected tactician, His teams have a reputation for keeping the ball without necessarily forcing the play.

Is Pellegrini the best choice? Naturally, we hope so. Jurgen Klopp and Carlo Ancelotti are other managers with records of winning trophies. The wonderfully engaging Klopp won two Bundesliga titles, one of which was a double, and we have seen for ourselves why his team is in the Champions’ League Final. His statements suggest that he is happy at Dortmund but there is no harm in asking this bright, engaging coach whose Dortmund team play excellent football. The impressive, statesmanlike Ancelotti won Serie A with Milan, the double with Chelsea in 2009/10 and won two Champions’ Leagues, amongst other trophies. There is of course no guarantee we would get either but they are outstanding candidates and are worthy of consideration.

If the City board want to have a manager that is known for his work with the Academy, or who can “develop a holistic approach to all aspects of football at the Club” (to quote their statement), like Jurgen Klopp, Pellegrini has a very good reputation. Pellegrini set up a very successful Academy at Villarreal, that was second only to Barcelona’s La Masia, which has earned widespread praise and admiration. He brought through young players like Santi Cazorla and successfully blended their talents with imports like Diego Forlan and Juan Roman Riquelme.

Can he hit the ground running (awful business speak phrase) and put out a squad that will challenge for the title next season, up against United and Chelsea who will most likely have Mourinho back? If Pellegrini is our next boss, hopefully he can and we wish him well.

It is only likely to be a two year contract initially. The MCFC board are reticent about awarding a long contract, and in any case, Soriano and Begiristain may be planning to bring in Guardiola, or promote new Elite Development Squad head, Patrick Vieira (in the same way they elevated Guardiola) after a couple of years.

Whatever happens in the future, we can only hope that the club makes the right choices and we will never ever forget the huge contribution of Roberto Mancini, City Legend.

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

THE MANCINI DEBATE

I was obviously dismayed as much as any City fan to know that Mancini’s dismissal was imminent before the FA Cup final was played last Saturday. I was in despair looking for a reason as to why this should happen on the eve of the most important game of the season.

After reading MCIVTA 1905, Steve Burrows provided me with the answer I was looking for, viz.: “One other thing, is it even slightly cynical of me to think that Roberto’s sacking was leaked before the FA Cup Final with the intention of undermining him and the team to prevent him winning the Cup, which would have given them even less justification to sack him?”

Could this be true? How do you explain their performance 3 days later against Reading when they played some of the best football by any team the whole season? It was like a load had been lifted off their shoulders as they played with a freedom that we always knew was possible but had been suppressed. Have they been over-coached by Mancini and Platt?

Having said that, finishing second in the league and getting into the Cup Final is a very good performance and firing the manager and his coach is not justified. One must remember that every season a manager spends in the Premier League is a learning process, but now all that experience gained has been thrown out of the window and the new manager (whoever he may be) will have to start almost from ground zero again.

I would also like to say that I am happy for Dave Whelan and his staff at Wigan that they have won their first major trophy. It is good for the game that small clubs like them win something instead of Manure and Chelsea all the time.

Philip van <philipvangass(at)yahoo.co.uk>

THE FUTURE

I just read a rumour that City are grooming Patrick Vieira for the job of manager. Could this be true?

He does know about the Academy and has played at the top level, he isn’t an old age pensioner and Pellegrini has a two year contract. Is this a case of long term planning par excellence by the club or just another fable concocted to sell papers?

Of all the people in this situation, I feel sorry for Brian Kidd. He didn’t look at all happy on his own on the bench against Reading. It can be done in other ways. In Holland most clubs have a business manager, a director of football who is supposed to take the long view of the club’s playing staff, and a manager who is responsible for the first team and the reserves.

The club in my home in Holland, AZ Alkmaar, have also had the same assistant trainer for the last 12 years. An ex-player and the first-ever footballer of the year in Holland. You get continuity and when needed a new impulse if you change the manager.

It could work in England, who knows? Onwards to next year.

Ian Nixon <i.nixon(at)upcmail.nl>

AND FINALLY… DISABLED TICKET PRICES

I am sure there will be differing opinions on this issue and I am interested in reading what other MCIVTA readers think.

I have cerebral palsy. I’ve been a City supporter all my life. I left the UK in 1990 and haven’t lived in Manchester since. I am fiercely independent, moving to the States by myself at 18 and now, 20 years later have a Masters degree. I’m married and have two kids.

However, for those with disabilities more severe than mine, being part of a crowd of people who love their team just like they do is an incredible feeling. It gives them a sense of community, a sense of pride, a sense of normalcy. As I said, I need no care-givers, but others do. If just one of City’s disabled supporters are unable to watch their team because of these new rules, it would be a travesty.

As far as I know, City are not the poorest club in the football league, so do they really need the extra few pounds a year? What do you think?

Benjamin Bloom, Miami <bennyblue25(at)yahoo.com>

RESULTS AND TABLE

19 May 2013

Chelsea               2 - 1  Everton               41,794
Liverpool             1 - 0  Queens Park Rangers   44,792
Manchester City       2 - 3  Norwich City          47,054
Newcastle United      0 - 1  Arsenal               52,354
Southampton           1 - 1  Stoke City            31,539
Swansea City          0 - 3  Fulham                20,365
Tottenham Hotspur     1 - 0  Sunderland            36,763
West Bromwich Albion  5 - 5  Manchester United     26,438
West Ham United       4 - 2  Reading               34,973
Wigan Athletic        2 - 2  Aston Villa           23,001

Final League table 2012 / 2013

                        P / GD / Pts
 1 Manchester Utd      38 / 43 / 89 CLQ
 2 Manchester City     38 / 32 / 78 CLQ
 3 Chelsea             38 / 36 / 75 CLQ
 4 Arsenal             38 / 35 / 73
-----------------------------------
 5 Tottenham Hotspur   38 / 20 / 72
-----------------------------------
 6 Everton             38 / 15 / 63
 7 Liverpool           38 / 28 / 61
 8 West Bromwich Alb   38 / -4 / 49
 9 Swansea City        38 / -4 / 46 ELQ
10 West Ham Utd        38 / -8 / 46
11 Norwich City        38 /-17 / 44
12 Fulham              38 /-10 / 43
13 Stoke City          38 /-11 / 42
14 Newcastle Utd       38 /-23 / 41
15 Southampton         38 /-11 / 41
16 Aston Villa         38 /-22 / 41
17 Sunderland          38 /-13 / 39
-----------------------------------
18 Wigan Athletic      38 /-26 / 36 R/ELQ
19 Reading             38 /-30 / 28 R
20 QPR                 38 /-30 / 25 R

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 #1906

2013/05/24

Editor:


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