Newsletter #1920

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What an up and down start to the season it’s been. Glorious against Newcastle. Predictably deflating against Cardiff. Followed by the whiff of a chance of Champions’ League possibilities!

It’s like days of yore… well, apart from the fact we aren’t fearing relegation! No, surely…

Also, almost forgotten, the chance of FA Cup Final ‘revenge’ against Wigan. Though, to be fair, I was actually pleased for them when they won – which was a very weird emotion at the time!

Let’s hope Steve Bruce’s smug face isn’t forcing us to choke on our lunch tomorrow as Hull visit the Etihad. I’ll be listening on the radio as we head up to the Lakes for our hols. Do please give them a cheer from me!

Next Game: 31 August, Hull City, Etihad Stadium, 12:45 BST

PLEBS

Manuel Pellegrini was pelted with bottles and a pie as he got out of his car at Old Trafford on Monday night before the United vs. Chelsea game. It comes as no surprise to anyone who has made the away trip to Stretford. Pellegrini does not want to make anything of it, but the people who did this should be banned by Manure and prosecuted. They are classless scum. Where are the words of condemnation from Manchester United? I doubt we’ll hear a squeak from Manure. This story got very little press (Guardian broke it followed by Manchester Evening News, then the Mirror saw fit to report it).

Yes, every club has undesirables amongst its followers but unlike every other club including our own, Manchester United don’t seem to believe that they should take some responsibility when their own fans misbehave. It is interesting but not surprising that this has got very little press coverage.

You can bet that if his has happened at City it would have been plastered everywhere.

The fact is that Ferguson and Moyes have never had missiles thrown at them when they have come here. The press love to sweep the misdoings of United and their fans under the carpet. The violence perpetrated to visiting fans at Old Trafford is hushed up, year after year.

Francis Lee was spot on with his tweet:

“Nice to see Pellegrini was treated with great respect at the entrance to Old Trafford. #Plebs threw objects at him when he arrived. Disgrace.”

Franny himself once had to change his jacket for a Rag club jacket, so badly was it smeared with what was thrown at him by the undesirables.

Such behaviour is common place amongst United fans. I have had excrement thrown at me at the Swamp before a derby (a backs to the wall Paul Bosvelt inspired 0-0 draw under Kevin Keegan). My crime? Walking into the ground through the security cordon in a low profile manner (wearing no colours). Plebs indeed.

I promise you that unlike dear old Franny Lee (what were you thinking Franny?), I didn’t wear any Rag attire but I spent a good few minutes with my hair under the tap and had an even more vigorous scrub when I got home (every trip to the Swamp should be followed by a thorough clean down).

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)orange.net>

LET’S LOOK FORWARD TO THE NEXT GAME

Last week we were all full of praise for Pellegrini, and his dream start in the Premier League. Well after the defeat against Cardiff, I think that City will bounce back versus Hull on Saturday.

We need Kompany and Nastasic back in our central defence, and Joe Hart to be on his true form. Two goals that Cardiff scored from set pieces is not good enough from our defence. It will be easy in hindsight to nit-pick in some situations, but we must learn from them. I say forget this game versus Cardiff, and look forward to the next game versus Hull.

Come on you Blues!

In Pellegrini I trust!

Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)aol.com>

IT’S NEVER IN THE BAG!

I must always be careful not to be reactionary when City lose but I just cannot help myself sometimes!

Different personnel but the same old problems against sides that we should be winning against, or at the very least coming away with a draw. When winning at home there are occasions when you can relax and say to yourself “it’s in the bag” but away from home you can very seldom do that.

The same tactics that were used against us last year and again we capitulate; new players but same problem. Opposition crowd out midfield and cut down opportunities, this time Dzeko scores a fantastic goal and surely we can carry on playing the possession game and get Cardiff on the break (as for the first time they have to come at us)? No such thing, before you know it we lose three goals. All that money spent and we have problems defending from corners, shocking!

After last week’s demolition of Newcastle we were quite rightly looking for a bit of continuity, but it did not come; typical City!

Tony Higginson <Tony.Higginson(at)health.wa.gov.au>

QUESTIONABLE SMEARS 2

I thank Jeremy Milloy for his piece and for taking the trouble to read my stuff on here. I expected some response to my article. I stand by every word that I wrote. I have to stress that I don’t think that we should dismiss concerns about human rights in any country, including our own, and have never suggested that they should be “waved away”.

Of course human rights abuses should stop wherever they are. As I stated in my piece, I don’t think we should be singling out the UAE over human rights. There should be a focus on human rights all around the world, including in our own country. I wish Jeremy all the best when he raises human rights issues with MCFC, and would hope that he raises such issues with other clubs and embassies with similar zeal.

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)orange.net>

MANAGERS HAVE TO BE RESPECTED

Managers have to be respected – but they don’t have to be loved or even liked by players. Whilst I wish our new manager Mr Pellegrini every success, I’m one of the those that remains disappointed at the circumstances surrounding the dismissal of Roberto Mancini.

We’ve had numerous instances in Australia over recent times of unhealthy levels of what could be described as ‘player power’ on the sporting scene. Examples include the under-performing ACT Brumbies in the Super Rugby championship (who sacked their last trophy-winning coach in the same season he won them their last piece of silverware), the Canberra Raiders and the Wests Tigers in the domestic rugby league competition (who have had multiple coaches due to player dissent), and most recently the Australian cricket team (where players resented the discipline that was brought to bear by Mickey Arthur in what has been an under-performing and ill-disciplined set-up). Is this a Gen-Y thing?

I’m not saying it was the players that agitated for Roberto’s removal, but certainly at least part of the justification was that he had to some degree lost the confidence of the players.

My point is that players and managers are grown-ups – and they should all be able to handle criticism. Roberto might well have a different type of man-management style to Mr Pellegrini, but this isn’t necessarily better or worse. Just different. He has a fabulous resume established over a number of years to prove that he knows what he’s doing as a manager. Roberto’s public criticism of certain players (rightly or wrongly) seems entirely justified given recent performances. Whilst the players talk of a more friendly relationship with the new manager, I wonder how long that will last should we see more performances like those on Sunday?

Roberto was made the scapegoat for last year’s campaign – let’s see if the players and administration hold themselves accountable for this season’s effort.

C’mon City!

Gavin Wendt <gavin.wendt(at)minelife.com.au>

PLATINI MALFUNCTION

Something must have gone wrong with the annual UEFA Champions’ League draw fix.

MCFC normally get a “Group of death”, but this time we managed to get a decent draw once our dear ex-manager Billy McNeill (anyone remember chanting “Billy Mac’s blue and white army”?), Figo and Co. could get the balls open (shame about Arsenal’s draw!). Whilst odious, arrogant, bullying Bayern Munich will be tricky opponents, we have a chance with CSKA Moscow and Victoria Plzen in our group.

Not that we should underestimate anybody, having failed to win a game in Europe last season and knowing that all teams in this competition are good teams. After all, our defeat last weekend should remind us of our own fallibility. Talking of which…

It was very disappointing to lose at Cardiff, but I can’t say I’m surprised. Once Vincent Kompany got injured in the Newcastle game with no adequate cover (Micah Richards injured his hamstring in training and Matija Nastasic was not deemed fit enough to start), our defence was compromised severely.

Javi Garcia in particular struggled against the pace of Campbell and Bellamy (well, he struggled against just about everybody) all afternoon, and had a torrid time. He is very slow and easily turned, and our defence looked very unsure without our inspirational captain. We conceded goals at set pieces. Pablo Zabaleta had an uncharacteristically dodgy 2nd half and briefly lost his man for the 2nd and 3rd goals. He will not need reminding too many times that he made two vital mistakes, and wouldn’t expect that he will repeat them. Not that the defeat is down to any one player. As Pellegrini said, our defensive failings was collective. The defence is adjusting from Mancini’s zonal marking to Pellegrini’s man-to-man system, so there may be one or two moments of confusion or teething problems early on.

Joe Hart’s form is more of a worry, though. After a bright start last season, his form was patchy after the 2nd half of the Bernabeu defeat and Mancini’s public rebuke of his comments. At Cardiff he flapped and missed his punch for Cardiff’s 2nd goal. He should have concentrated on the ball rather than the man trying to block him. Hart too is very self-aware and will know he made a mistake and will want to do much better. David Platt has said that he and Roberto Mancini had decided that they were going to replace Joe Hart with Asimir Begovic, but that would have been a shame and the wrong decision. Joe Hart is a top quality ‘keeper. He has not become a bad player overnight and he deserves our support.

Manuel Pellegrini, to his credit, did not single out any player, saying “It does not matter who is guilty. Defending set pieces is a duty for the whole team, not just the goalkeeper or the defenders.” Encouragingly he did say that they will work on set pieces.

Pellegrini, and the players, one would hope, would have learned lessons from this defeat. Namely that a partnership of Garcia and Lescott is not quick enough at this level. Surely the classy Nastasic is a far better option than the ponderous, slow and easily turned Garcia? Even having two left footed centre halves in Nastasic and Lescott is a better balance than two who lack speed. Craig Bellamy and Frazier Campbell would have relished playing up against a back line that had only one truly quick player in Clichy, and even he was outpaced for Cardiff’s first goal.

We are supposedly closing in on signing Martin Demechelis, the ex-Argentine centre back who performed well for Malaga last season. At 32 he will offer decent, experienced cover, and for £4.3 million is not too prohibitive a fee. It still begs the question why we did not try harder to keep Kolo Touré, who performed well for us when called upon last season and has continued his good form for Liverpool so far this term. We could have saved ourselves some money.

We must also play with more width. Too often we ran into Cardiff’s massed ranks of defenders: a failing that has dogged us in recent seasons, e.g. against Everton. The substitution of Navas made us even more narrow. Lessons must be learned quickly, otherwise City will find 4th place a struggle, let alone lose vital ground in the title race.

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)orange.net>

GENERAL THOUGHTS

Well I bet Mancini was having a laugh after seeing the Cardiff game. All the money in the world doesn’t buy the desire, effort and dedication to the cause that Cardiff so passionately displayed on Sunday. It’s all very well saying that Pellegrini is liked by the squad, and that team spirit seems much improved since his arrival, but it comes down to this – can anybody get such a group of highly paid, ‘comfortable’ individuals as the City team on Sunday, to fight for a victory as if it really mattered?

I appreciate that he is trying to implement a man marking system rather than Mancini’s zonal style, but even so those two corners were nothing special, and we should be able to deal with them. Did any of our corners drop into the danger zone like those two deliveries? No.

I genuinely thought that we had ridden the storm when Dzeko fired in that fabulous opening goal, and that Cardiff would suddenly feel tired and struggle, but their quick equaliser brought their heads back up, and lifted the crowd. Again, I appreciate that this was their first home Premier League game, so it was bound to be tough, with a great home atmosphere, and a team determined to give their all, but we should have won.

I will forgive certain players – Agüero is a winner, who never gives less than his best. Zabaleta likewise, so he is entitled to an off-day. After that I would point the finger at Joe Hart – man up! He should be dealing with corners like that comfortably, under no pressure, with a ball dropped inside the six yard box. Somebody kick him up the back side please!

Garcia – waste of space, but I thought his one strength was being good in the air – not when defending corners obviously. (ED – Didn’t someone tell Pellegrini about Garcia at Southampton?!)

Yaya – another one who, like Hart, seems far too complacent, and needs to find that hunger that every emerging player has when they are fighting for their place, or trying to show off their talent to anybody that may be watching. I know he was deployed in a deeper role on Sunday but he still needs a rocket!

Anyway, that’s that off my chest. I really hope that Pellegrini has the ability to overcome the tactical deficiencies that were plainly evident on this occasion, and although I hate to say it, having watched the Rags/Chelsea bore draw, that other team still seem to have an innate ability to scrap for everything, and that’s what we need.

Keep up the good work, and thanks for the submissions (where do you all get the time?!). I still believe.

Adam Davey <thelegend1300(at)sky.com>

AND FINALLY… KENYA

Hi there, any Blues in Nairobi want to meet up to watch games?

I think we should be able to find places to watch quite easily, as Supersport show so many PL games.

Gareth Harrison <gareth.harrison1971(at)yahoo.co.uk>

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

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

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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 #1920

2013/08/30

Editor:


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