Newsletter #1940

Well, it didn’t quite work out as planned did it? Though I sense a good number of us might have predicted what happened – Demichelis, Messi, 90 minutes… amazed he reached the hour mark if I’m honest.

The Barça referee has taken a bashing but, let’s be honest, things be different in Europe and unless we adapt we will suffer continual hard luck stories. Whilst Captain Vinnie (who was just brilliant versus Messi) pointed to decisions that wouldn’t have been given in the Premier League, it rather misses the point that we weren’t playing a Premier League game!

Still, you never know what may unfold in Spain and at least we kept it together against Stoke to eke out a valuable 3 points.

Onwards and upwards to Wembley on Sunday. When I was 8 I queued with my dad for a couple of hours to get a ticket for the 1976 Final. We missed out with tickets selling out when we were about 20 people from the front. The tears…! Well, 2014 sees me with a ticket and as excited about Wembley as I was back then. Let’s enjoy it. Let’s win!

Next Game: 2 March, Sunderland, Wembley Stadium, 14:00 GMT


City played well and can feel aggrieved to have fallen to an undeserved 0-2 defeat against a Barcelona side that is still great, despite being a little past its best. We were never outclassed, out-muscled or out-run by them in a tight game. Indeed, the scoreline was very harsh on City and flattered Barcelona, owing much to very bad refereeing from a man whose decisions favoured the visitors all evening.

We are used to defeat at City down the years, even though we don’t like it, and we have been happy to acknowledge great teams down the years. Barcelona are still a great team and Messi one of the greatest players of all time. There is no quarrel or issue with Barcelona FC itself or their fans over this game. No one at City wants to be ungracious or sour in defeat, and, and this writer would rather talk about the skills on show, but the fact remains that a partial refereeing performance decisively swung the game away from City in this game.

Eight minutes after the break, referee Eriksson failed to give a free kick for a clear foul by Sergio Busquets on Jesus Navas, and Barcelona broke away. Iniesta played an incisive pass which left an unequal contest between Messi and Martin Demichelis, and the City defender brought his countryman down just outside the box. Yet Eriksson, for reasons best known to himself, gave a penalty to the visitors for a foul that was outside the box. Pellegrini may have apologised for his reaction three days after the event but the mistakes and unanswered questions remain. Why did the referee not give a free kick for the foul on Navas? He should be made to answer. There is no way that he could have missed it. It was the sort of foul that he been giving against City at various points in the evening. Referees make mistakes, and we can accept that, but this referees “mistakes” went Barcelona’s way throughout the evening, decisively. This cannot be glibly dismissed as one of those things.

Manuel Pellegrini was absolutely right to state that Navas was fouled immediately before the penalty award, and that the referee was only three metres away from that foul. Anything less would be an acceptance of injustice and bias.

Even putting that clear foul on Navas aside, whilst Demichelis clearly denied Messi a goal-scoring opportunity in tripping him (which we all know is punishable by a red card), he made initial contact outside the City penalty box. TV replays confirm this. The second question to Eriksson is how could he give a penalty when the initial contact which felled Messi was outside the box? The referee has to be sure that it is a penalty and there is no way that he could genuinely have been 100% sure that it was.

The sick thing is that after 94 minutes of partial refereeing, corrupt UEFA will throw the book at Manuel Pellegrini for telling the truth when he said of the referee “he favoured Barcelona from the beginning to the end”. Pellegrini is a dignified man and it takes a lot to make him angry like this. He also pointed out that Eriksson had failed to give Barcelona penalties that they should have had against Milan in a previous fixture and was trying to make amends. It was noticeable from the feed in the stadium that he was rather too friendly with the Barcelona players in the tunnel before the game.

All in all there should not have been a penalty/red card decision to give if the referee had done his job even handedly and punished Busquets for the foul on Navas. The referee is the one that should be accounting for his actions.

The only issue there is with Pellegrini’s comments are his assertion that someone from Sweden shouldn’t be refereeing Champions’ League matches as he believes that the Swedish league does not have enough big matches. As long as a person has the right experience and ability, and that experience can be gained through refereeing Champions’ League matches, it should not matter where that referee comes from.

What of City’s performance against a Barcelona side who are a couple of years past their very best as a collective?

We started off on the back foot, and that is not all down to Barcelona’s dazzling individual talent. For a good 20 minutes, with Xavi and Iniesta pulling the strings, Barcelona held possession as City stood off them, paying them far too much respect: a point that was not lost on Vincent Kompany on Twitter after the match. Vinny is right in saying that we have played better teams this season (Bayern Munich moved the ball much quicker and incisively and Chelsea also played better here than a Barcelona side who could be stifled).

This City team’s first instinct is to attack and that is what this team is best at. Pellegrini’s selection of David Silva behind the lone striker, Negredo, was understandable to counter us being outnumbered in midfield but Manuel Pellegrini’s selection of Aleksandar Kolarov on the left hand side of midfield in front of Gael Clichy at left back was negative and compromised us as an attacking force. It’s not as if Kolarov is a great defender, and when he attacks he is always better coming onto the ball. He cannot turn on the ball very effectively as he has the turning circle of a very large oil tanker… that turns very slowly! We would have been better with Samir Nasri starting there. He would have tried to attack and would have occupied Daniel Alves, thus preventing a lot of his forward runs. As it turned out, Kolarov neither occupied him or stopped Alves, which was his whole raison d’être. Instead he picked up a first half booking, and Alves remained a threat.

Still, as a whole City contained Barcelona very well in those first 20 minutes and denied them a single chance. Messi was not allowed to turn and run at City once in that time.

To be fair to Pellegrini he had Messi shackled pretty well for most of the game. Fernandinho was quick to snuff him out when he first got the ball and Vincent Kompany had a particularly good night against him. Messi often found himself crowded out by two or even three converging City players and was not allowed to turn and run at City at all in the first half.

When we did eventually attack Barcelona, they were vulnerable. A Silva free kick resulted in Vincent Kompany looping a header towards goal and Valdes under pressure just gathered in time amongst a mêlée of players. The referee then effectively gave Barça a timeout by giving them a free kick where no foul had been committed. David Silva pierced their defence with a superb pass, which the advancing Negredo fired wide of the left hand post as his angle narrowed. The Beast also headed a Navas cross wide under pressure from Alves and Pique. As Bayern Munich demonstrated last season, Barcelona are a team that you have to press and attack.

Barcelona are not at the same level as Bayern Munich at the moment, as the Bavarian side move the ball quicker and with greater penetration. Barcelona retain possession very well with Xavi still a force as the fulcrum of their midfield and the brilliant Iniesta a thrusting presence just to his left. City were doing well enough early in the second half, then referee Eriksson changed the whole dynamic of the tie by failing to give the foul on Navas, allowing play go on with Demichelis bringing Messi down.

Pellegrini reorganised, bringing on Lescott for Kolarov.

We did very well indeed with ten men, and showed what we can do if we show more positivity. We weren’t gung ho. We just attacked when we could. Nasri’s introduction certainly helped in this respect and he and Yaya combined very well with Silva. Yaya again was very good at using his physical presence to hold off Xavi and Busquets and dominate midfield.

City’s best chance came after Yaya swung a lofted ball out to the advancing Zabaleta down the right. The City right back squared to Silva who showed lovely chest control before striking a dipping right-footed volley, which Valdes did very well to stop as the ball bounced to his right.

Another Silva pass freed Dzeko but Valdes blocked with his legs, and in any case referee Eriksson decided that the Bosnian had handled.

City’s ten men were vulnerable as tired limbs stiffened, and Alves capitalised on a Lescott mistake after an incisive Neymar pass. Clichy dived in to try to rectify the situation but the Brazilian full back slotted through Hart’s legs from a tight angle to give the visitors an undeserved second goal.

If only City had started off doing what we do best: attack. Pellegrini sent out the wrong signals to his side by putting Kolarov in from the start as well as playing with one striker. Granted, he couldn’t use the suspended Milner, whom would have been well suited to a left sided role, giving protection to Clichy whilst allowing us an attacking option, but Nasri does defend too and would have given us more all round.

The odds are against City, but all is not lost. Who is to say that we cannot go to Barcelona and win 3-1? If we pick our moments to attack, who knows…

The next game is always our most important game, and we have to beat Stoke on Saturday. The noises coming out from Carrington suggest that is always the focus. Hopefully City can do the business.

Goals: Messi (pen) 53, Alves 90.

Att: 47,726

Hart: Could have caught rather than punched some crosses. Might have come out a bit too far and was nutmegged for the second Barcelona goal: 6
Zabaleta: Did very well defensively and offered a good threat going forward when the chance arose, most notably when he squared for Silva’s best chance of the night: 7
Kompany: He read the game superbly and was colossal all night. Shackled the great Messi well, stretching every sinew to do so. Unfortunately one such stretch left him feeling his hamstring. Hopefully playing on will not leave him with a lasting injury: 9
Demichelis: A couple of misplaced passes aside, he did well enough until he unfortunately became the fall guy: a position he should have not been put in, had the referee done his job: 6
Clichy: Defended very well for most of the night, but was bypassed as he dived in for the 2nd goal. One poor cross in attack betrayed his limitations as an attacker: 6
Navas: Didn’t see that much of the ball due to Barcelona dominating possession. Made some good runs and put in an excellent cross for Negredo before being subbed: 6
Yaya: Used his muscle well to impose himself on Busquets and the great Xavi: 7
Fernandinho: Excellent in the effort to nullify the threat of Messi. Another who was a key factor in the ten men being competitive: 8
Kolarov: He isn’t a left winger and is always better coming onto the ball from full back. Strove to try to prevent the raids of Alves but with very limited success: 5
Silva: His sizzling volley was the closest that City came to scoring. He was our chief creator, and showed great character and skill to do so: 8
Negredo: Looked fitter than before and had our best two chances before the break. It might be too harsh to suggest that should have taken aim from Silva’s pass first time, and good defending crowded him out for his headed chance: 6
Lescott (for Kolarov 55): Looked outclassed at this level, particularly when he played a pass behind Joe Hart’s goal when we had Barcelona penned back, and most significantly with his mistake that led to the second goal: 5
Nasri (for Navas 55): Combined well with Yaya and Silva to stretch Barcelona. If only he had started the game, he could have helped give us the initiative: 7
Dzeko (for Negredo 74): n/a

Refwatch: Jonas Eriksson (Sweden): An utterly disgraceful showing, and we can presume if so inclined, that only he knows why he made the decisions: unrateable.

Best Oppo: Xavi Hernandez: At 34 the legs may have slowed a little, but he remains a superb playmaker, midfield general and distributor of the ball. He makes the Barcelona midfield tick: 8
Andres Iniesta: Another superb ball player and legend of the game, his incisive passing caused City problems: 8


There has been a history of partial or biased (take your pick) refereeing in Europe before, especially where English clubs are involved. Chelsea were controversially denied three nailed on penalties in a Champions’ League Semi Final tie with Barcelona in May 2009. In 2005 Everton had a perfectly good goal inexplicably disallowed against Manuel Pellegrini’s Villarreal in the season when 5 English clubs were eligible for the Champions’ League (after Liverpool’s amazing comeback against Milan), and Everton rather fishily, were handed the toughest draw of the qualifying round. Back in the midsts of time, Leeds were robbed of a perfectly good goal in the 1975 Champions’ Cup Final against Bayern Munich. Some 40 years on, people in Derby still talk about the Champions’ Cup Semi Final when Brian Clough’s men were cheated out of it by a referee who was later found to have been paid by Juventus. Their neighbours Nottingham Forest (also under Clough) were also the victims of a referee who was bribed to favour Anderlecht over them.

There is no suggestion here that Eriksson took money to swing this result in Barcelona’s favour, but there is a definite sense that he was trying to make up to Barcelona in this game, and that is unacceptable. A referee is supposed to be even handed. Eriksson should be brought to account and if found guilty of that charge, banned from refereeing.

Not that we should hold our breath with a biased, corrupt body like UEFA. As with FIFA, there is a history of biased, self-serving, corrupt administration by UEFA. UEFA’s so-called “Financial Fair Play” rules are designed to protect the hegemony of the traditionally successful clubs who have the biggest revenue streams, thus sparing Monsieur Platini the embarrassment of a mass exodus of powerful clubs from the Champions’ League on his watch, as he vies for the FIFA presidency. Platini is strangely quiet about the huge spending of Paris St Germain – a club that his own son has worked for – whilst he and his UEFA cronies have been very quick to put Manchester City under the spotlight.

The sooner that both UEFA and FIFA are sidelined, or at the very least, totally reformed, the better for football.

Phil Banerjee <phil.banerjee(at)>


Yaya Touré grabbed this unexpectedly awkward game by the scruff of the neck and scored a vital winner to defeat Stoke and keep Manchester City in touch with leaders Chelsea. City really had to grind out this win against an obdurate Stoke side, who were very well organised and carried a threat of their own. It was indeed a triumph for City’s mental strength and persistence on a day when we almost totally dominated possession but were below our best.

There were signs that it was going to be a frustrating day as early as the fifth minute when Kolarov cleverly tricked his way between two defenders and played in a perfect cross but there was no-one anywhere near it. Silva took the lead in trying to find gaps and teed up Fernandinho but Begovic tipped over his goal-bound drive.

With his top lip still quivering four years on from his painful sacking at City, no Mark Hughes side is going to come to the Etihad to roll over and the team he sent out was far more stubborn than any of the Tony Pulis sides that meekly surrendered at the Etihad in recent years. His team looked to get under our skin from the off, and, using insider knowledge, he even insisted that City started off kicking towards the North rather than the customary South Stand, after the Potters won the toss.

City really had to work hard to find openings as Stoke came to frustrate and play on break. We didn’t pass the ball quickly enough and lacked pace up front. Dzeko and Negredo were too similar in their styles and neither of them made runs behind the Stoke defence for Silva, Nasri and Yaya to hit. As a consequence, City were playing a lot of football in front of Stoke’s massed defence.

Not that the Potters didn’t have any attacking ambition and they went close to scoring three times in the first half through the left boot of Charlie Adam. The Scottish midfielder fired just wide early on, and his free kick just whistled wide of Joe Hart’s right hand post in the 16th minute. If Shawcross had any made contact as he lunged in it would have given the visitors a lead. Adam went closest five minutes later with a rasping low drive, which Joe Hart just managed to push behind with a fingertip save.

City dominated the rest of the first half without being able to get behind Stoke’s defence and fashion a real chance. Both Fernandinho and Yaya presented Begovic with easy saves, a Stoke body deflected a powerful Nasri strike over and Negredo skied his shot. Then five minutes before the break, Yaya fired just over after good combination play with Negredo.

Remembering the 2011 FA Cup Final, the Kippax corner asked the visitors: “Did you cry when Yaya scored?” and reprised a version of Stoke’s adopted Delilah: “Yaya, Yaya, Touré”. “Champions’ League, yer ‘avin a laugh” came the reply. Oh, I thought we did pretty well and it certainly isn’t over…

The best move of the half came in the 45th minute when Silva fed Negredo, whose lay off set up Dzeko who fired just 9 inches wide of the right hand post. In first half stoppage time, Fernandinho forced a save from Begovic after clever combination play from Silva and Nasri.

Despite constant endeavour from Silva, Nasri and Co., we lacked real penetration in the first half and all of our shots had either been on the edge of the box, or outside it.

The second half started with more of the same. The gap between Stoke’s back four and midfield was minuscule, and again, we lacked the pace and poise to exploit even the merest gap. David Silva was again conductor in chief, searching, prompting and probing in the undergrowth that was Stoke’s forest of bodies for openings, but space was at a premium.

If anyone was going to find it, Merlin was the man though! Just two minutes had passed in the second half when his cut back from the left was blazed well over by Edin Dzeko who was having a very poor game. It was a classic case of a striker failing to get his head or knee (take your pick) over the ball – something the Bosnian is prone to doing. It had been a surprise that he had not been replaced at the break with his continued poor form and City failing to make inroads, and it was an even bigger surprise when it was Negredo rather than Dzeko who was given the hook after 57 minutes as Pellegrini tried something different. Negredo had at least offered himself up more in build-up play despite feeling his way back from a painful shoulder injury.

Unfortunately his replacement Jovetic lasted a mere 12 minutes before his hamstring gave way after a sizzling shot that Begovic spilled. Staggeringly, no City player went for the rebound. The Etihad groaned in collective frustration. Surely it’s a striker’s job, in particular, to capitalise on any rebound? A young striker from Rochdale by the name of Alan Taylor bagged two goals to win the FA Cup for West’aiiiim in ’75 by doing just that and countless others have prospered similarly around the world down the years. Dzeko, for reasons best known to himself, stood, flat footed, unmoved, and his compatriot in the Stoke goal was spared any embarrassment. Most strikers have lean spells, and sometimes you make your own luck.

City were camped outside Stoke’s box and continued to huff and puff.

Yaya was getting increasingly frustrated and showed his ire with an unwarranted ticking off for Pablo Zabaleta after he failed to get anywhere near a pass that he had no chance of reaching. Given some tetchy moments in recent games, it was reasonable to wonder if the man mountain was about to explode like Vesuvius? Zaba coolly told him to calm down as he trotted back and thankfully Yaya put his frustration to good use and channelled it positively. Given licence to get forward more with the introduction of Garcia behind him, he thundered into tackles, using his considerable physique to nick the ball from Stoke players who were no shrinking (Dennis) violets (geddit?) themselves. With Garcia straight into the action, snapping into tackles, quickly recycling the ball at a quicker tempo and Yaya unshackled and playing like a man possessed, City had upped the ante, and the game turned.

With twenty minutes remaining, Yaya deservedly broke the deadlock. Nasri showed poise and vision in the inside left position on the edge of Stoke’s box to feed the advancing Kolarov in space down the left. The Serbian left back’s first time, outswinging low cross fizzed into the box and Yaya, almost falling over into the arcing ball, showed no little dexterity to steer it into the net via the outstretched palms of Begovic. Phew! The Etihad cheered more in relief than anything.

With Stoke leaving a little more space, the game opened up a little and we should have made the game safe when Yaya robbed Adam resulting in a low Navas cross that by-passed Begovic and presented Edin Dzeko with an open goal (with the Stoke ‘keeper on the floor). To compound his terrible day at the office, the ball hit the inside of his left leg and squirmed away. Good day or bad day, we could hardly believe it. Edin kicked the post in utter frustration (TV replays showed that he nearly missed that as well!).

City continued to press, and Garcia’s powerful goal-bound shot was beaten out by Begovic. A lovely one two involving Silva and Yaya deserved a goal but the little magician tried an extra pass when a shot was needed.

Stephen Ireland was introduced to the fray and clearly appreciated the warm applause and chants of “Ireland is Superman” and “Once a Blue, always a Blue”. He could have made us pay dearly for Dzeko’s miss. There was a collective gasp as Charlie Adam swung a ball across from the left and the ball found its way to Ireland. Happily for us, with Kolarov in attendance Ireland blazed his snap volley wide and we breathed another sigh of relief.

We had the whole second half bar that one chance for Ireland late on. There was still a requirement for City to stand tall to repel Stoke’s counters, and Kompany and Zabaleta were particularly firm, robust, but fair in this respect.

It was a vital win and we did well in the end to overcome an awkward Stoke side who will probably have enough quality to stay up, though much will depend on the left boot of Charlie Adam. Credit to Stoke for making it so hard for us. Hughes (yes, him) got his tactics spot on, and his players executed them almost perfectly. Stoke compressed the space between the back four and their midfield made it difficult for us to find space to play in and pass into. The first time that we saw a chink of light, we had the quality to exploit it decisively.

Pellegrini got it right eventually but he cannot really give himself too much of a pat on the back. Much of our problems were of our own making. His selection of Negredo and Dzeko up against a massed defence didn’t offer enough variation in attack (who are similar in style) and played into Stoke’s hands. If he’d played Navas from the off on the right we would have had pace to get round the back of Stoke’s defence. Dzeko is so out of form that Pellegrini may well have been better served playing Navas in his place with Silva, Nasri or Yaya just behind Negredo. Alternatively he could have selected Jovetic instead of Dzeko. In his short time on the pitch as sub Jovetic dropped deep and pulled his defensive marker into midfield areas where he didn’t want to go. If he had started, he would possibly have created greater space behind the Stoke defence. Pellegrini is making mistakes tactically and in selection and better sides like Chelsea and Barcelona are punishing us. Hopefully he will learn quickly enough to get the balance right to maximise the talent at Manchester City.

Yaya (69)

Att: 47,038

Hart: His fingertip save kept us level and he generally did well at set pieces. His distribution wasn’t always accurate: 7
Zabaleta: Stood up to be counted, when required, like the great professional he is. One thundering tackle, in particular, met with all round approval: 8
Kompany: Another commanding display from the captain. Where would we be without him? 8
Demichelis: A solid show from this much criticised veteran defender, winning several headers and making important interventions when required, though Stoke are clearly nowhere near the level of Barcelona: 7
Kolarov: Decent going forward in flashes but defensively vulnerable. Can take credit for a piercing cross that supplied the decisive goal and providing enough of a nuisance to distract Ireland at the end: 6
Nasri: Another conscientious player who is always on the move and shows up and seeking much needed openings, most significantly when he intelligently found Kolarov out on the left for the winner: 7
Fernandinho: Industrious in a game where space was at a premium. Picked up a booking: 6
Yaya Touré: It was fitting that the scorer of the winner of the 2011 FA Cup should score the decisive goal again, against the same opponents, as he, above all others, changed the course of this game with his sheer will to win: 8 (Man of the match)
Silva: It may have been a frustrating afternoon, but this guy is such a pleasure to watch, week in, week out. He always looks to seek the ball and create. He’s forever taking up intelligent positions, and looks for the searching pass. The gaps weren’t there often enough in this game, but it was through no fault of El Mago. Unbowed, he never gives up. He is a strong character. He keeps going. If there is one flaw in his game, it’s that he doesn’t shoot enough when he can, but even on a day when we struggle, he’s such a joy to watch: 8
Negredo: Still well short of his best since his shoulder injury but he worked hard and played his part in our build up play. Will be better once Sergio Agüero returns: 6
Dzeko: Absolutely abysmal, barring one near miss before the break. Needs to stop feeling sorry for himself and work harder: 3
Jovetic (for Negredo 57): Brought lively, intelligent running to find space. One stinging shot tested Begovic, but sadly seemed to bring him yet another injury: 6
Navas (for Fernandinho 63): Used his pace to good effect as the game opened up. His terrific cross deserved a goal to seal the game: 6
Garcia (for Jovetic 68): Maintained his steady improvement. Stepped straight into the pace of the game, reading the game well, snapping into challenges and helped us move the ball quickly: 7

Refwatch: Chris Foy: Hardly noticeable so he must have got most decisions right! 8

Best Oppo: Charlie Adam: Creative, intelligent and strong, he was at the centre of all Stoke’s best work but his tackling still has a nasty streak: 7

Dedicated to Raymond Edge, whose birthday it would have been this week. A fine son of Stoke, friend, mentor, gentleman, kindness personified and a loving husband to my mum. Gone but certainly not forgotten.

Phil Banerjee <phil.banerjee(at)>


Well it is no wonder Mr. Pellegrini is upset. I know I was regarding what happened within the match against Barcelona.

Frankly the referee had a very poor game and to say the least he was totally inconsistent throughout the match!

I know referees are continually inconsistent because of the nature of the game and human nature but it does get to be a bit difficult to take at times and thus Mr Pellegrini has now got himself in to trouble with UEFA!

A Jim Bryce I read of FIP fame seems to think the referee of the City versus Barcelona match had a good match!

My first concern was after the referee gave a foul against Touré in the first half well inside the City half of the field because Touré had put his hand and arm around the shoulder area of a Barcelona player and then a similar incident occurred some minutes later with a Barcelona player doing the same action round the shoulder area of a City player and in the penalty area this time – and no foul given at all – I ask you!

Then there is the foul on Navas that with play going on after this results in the worst action and lack of attention by the referee and assistants in the match because surely Messi was offside, which is why he was ahead of Demichelis in the first place…; the ball must have been passed in Messi’s direction before he “may have” got back on side and thus must have been interfering with play! In fact there was at least one other Barcelona player offside too besides Messi!

Then we come to the tackle and Demichelis was not directing his tackle at Messi but was trying to get to the ball. Granted, he is late because of the offside advantage start Messi already had and the first contact was outside the penalty area and thus was not a penalty on that count alone! As to sending Demichelis off, that was ridiculous but then I am in my 7th decade and thus of the impression these days the referees generally do not want to allow tackling whatsoever! Then the UEFA officials wonder why the usually passive Mr Pellegrini stated what he has and thus I will have great sympathy for Mr Pellegrini when we learn of the penalty he will incur as surely as eggs are eggs; Mr Pellegrini will get a penalty, it is just a matter of how punitive.

A generalisation but my impression is City are not wanted by “media” and “officials” of all kinds because they break with the “cartel” of their favourite 9 European clubs! It was greatly noticed by me when listening to the TV commentary as the comments person was very contrary or if you like inconsistent in passing his comments, which was for the referee’s difference between Touré’s foul given and the Barcelona player’s action not being given as a foul at all and then his further comments on the penalty decision were so different and were trying in each case to support the referee!

I wonder if the TV broadcasters of the football in Europe can be as adventuresome as the NZ TV broadcaster of the rugby match I watched last night when we were able to hear exactly the referee’s comments of when he was giving a ruling in actual play and so it became very clear why and for what offence the player had been ruled against and thus why the resulting penalty or scrum happened! It thus just needs the same NZ broadcaster to play the wicket mikes live so the sledging in cricket can be stopped!

Come on City… oh of course Man City not the team from the Potteries!

Trevor Bevan <mate.bevan(at)>


I will be visiting my son in Nottingham on the day of the final and was wondering if there are any fellow Blues in the area who can recommend somewhere to watch the game?

Sue Revell <sr007a7032(at)>


I know it’s late in the day but I’m still trying to get hold of 2 tickets for the League Cup Final this Sunday (thanks for trying Pat).

Please e-mail me if there’s a chance.

Alan Frost <alan.x.frost(at)>


Our first League Cup Final since 1976. Hopefully our players will help erase the memory of last May when we went to Wembley with common knowledge of Roberto Mancini’s impending sacking, and a no-show from the City team. Wigan deserved that win because we didn’t match their desire. There must not be a repeat against our bogey team. If we are unlucky so be it, but we must play with intelligence, desire and match our opponents physically.

At Wembley against Sunderland, we will have a lot of the ball against another well marshalled defence and we will need more variation, more light and shade, in attack to break them down. Agüero may not make the starting line up (and Jovetic may not be fit) but playing two out of form strikers in Dzeko and Negredo is not the best option if we are to lift the trophy. Negredo will always work hard and should get the nod of those two. He is showing more signs of getting back to scoring.

With Agüero unlikely to be fit enough to start, I’d like to see: Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Lescott, Clichy; Navas, Yaya, Fernandinho, Silva; Nasri; Negredo.

Samir Nasri in a floating role just behind Negredo, interchanging with Silva can pull Sunderland’s defenders out of position. Nasri is a good finisher, and is more likely to score a goal right now than Dzeko, who can be an option on the bench alongside Agüero, who would be a great option to have if we need a goal. Who is to say that Edin won’t bag the winner! Navas would give us pace to trouble any defence, and he may well find Negredo’s head with one of his crosses. Milner is good at adapting to different situations and picks the pace of a game well from the bench. His ability to pick an incisive pass cannot be underestimated either. Garcia is now an option in midfield, should we need to push Yaya further forward. Kolarov is always there to bring on if we need his overlapping runs and heat-seeking crosses, but Clichy’s pace is a more sound option in defence and deserves to start.

Still, what do I know? I’m just a very opinionated fan who likes spouting!

It will be nice to visit Wembley once again with civilised opponents. The memory of the behaviour of thousands of United fans behaving in an arrogant, obnoxious and in several cases, violent manner is not easily forgotten. They won’t be missed. Sunderland are a proper football club and have proper fans, more deserving of a day out.

Come on City. Put your best foot forward, and give us a winning, memorable day at Wembley.

Phil Banerjee <phil.banerjee(at)>

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[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 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 to get the latest updates.

[4] What is the club’s official web site?

The official club web site can be found at and the official club Twitter page at The club also has a facebook page at

[5] What supporters’ clubs are there?

The Official Supporters’ Club and the Centenary Supporters’ Association have merged to become the Manchester City Supporters’ Club ( The club also recognise the Manchester City Disabled Supporters’ Association (

[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 (

[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

[8] Where can I find out if City are live on satellite TV? provides a listing of Premier League games being shown on UK domestic and foreign satellite channels. A useful site for North American viewers is

[9] Do we have a Usenet newsgroup?

Yes we do: is our home on usenet. If you are not familiar with Usenet, a basic explanation is available here:

[10] Do any squad members have their own web pages?

There are a number available and direct links can be found at

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

A list of genuine player accounts is maintained at!/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

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,

Newsletter #1940