NEWSLETTER #1965

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MAN CITY INFO VIA THE ALPS “McVittee!” (1965)

Created in 1994, MCIVTA is the longest running unofficial Manchester City related web site and e-newsletter in existence.

ISSUE DATE: 12 December 2014

NEXT GAME: Leicester City, King Power Stadium, Saturday 13 December (15:00 GMT)

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Welcome to the latest edition of the MCIVTA newsletter. It’s certainly been a momentous week for Manchester City, especially with the opening of the City Academy, and that historic win in Rome which ensured qualification from our Champions League Group, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.

Dare we say it? City look like they have the bit between their teeth with six straight wins (and unbeaten in seven games). Having reduced the gap from leaders Chelsea from eight points to a mere three, suddenly the picture is looking a lot rosier. Or is it?

As I write, no one knows for sure how long Sergio Aguero will be out injured after leaving the pitch in tears with a painful knee injury last Saturday evening. It could be anything between four and eight weeks but as Manuel Pellegrini has stated, much more will be known after the first week or so, as Sergio’s knee settles down. The hope is (and we’ve got everything crossed here) that Sergio is back sooner rather than later.

Whilst it’s a team game, and always will be, a lot of our improved form is down to one man’s brilliance. What a player that Sergio Aguero is: 66 goals in 102 Premier League games; 30 goals in his last 34 Premier League games. That Sergio flick up (from Yaya’s driven pass) for Stevan Jovetic to score our second goal against Sunderland, was a great touch: an amazing piece of skill, given the pace that Yaya put on the pass. Wow. It’s a real privilege to watch this great footballer, and indeed this team.

Whatever happens, we have to cope like we did so admirably in both the hard fought game against Everton last Sunday, and in The Eternal City on Wednesday.

Monday was a proud day for Manchester City Football Club and indeed all of us with the new City Football Academy officially opening today. It’s a great facility with 14 full size pitches, including a 7,000 seater stadium, a school and facilities that the local community can use. It has created many jobs in a previously run down and deprived part of East Manchester. Thank you very much, Sheikh Mansour.

It’s good to be back, and I thank all of those people who have taken the trouble to write in with their kind messages. It means a great deal.

Thanks of course to all our contributors, and it’s great to see some regulars returning. Tonight’s bumper issue contains match reports and match views on the Sunderland, Everton and AS Roma games, including: our first multi-media-match view from Peter Llewellyn (no one can say we are not innovative at MCIVTA); a view on progress from Martin Hunt and Steve O’Brien; and Gary James has kindly sent us links to a couple of articles that are available free for you to read. As ever, they are well worth a read. We close with a request from a Blue who will be in Dubai over Christmas and New Year.

I hope you enjoy this issue.

It would be lovely to hear from some new contributors as well as our established regulars. Please keep your contributions coming and please remember to send them to the editor’s address:

editor@mcivta.com

as it will make it easier for me to gather together material for each issue.

Come on City, and as they might say in Rome, vincere!

Kind regards,

Phil Banerjee

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MATCH VIEW: AS ROMA 0 MANCHESTER CITY 2

At last City tried what all the pundits have been advising: pack the midfield, don’t try to win straight away, protect the back four and above all, be patient. Pellegrini couldn’t face having to admit that this was a new and appropriate way to play against top European sides and after the game seemed to say that it was mostly due to form returning to some players. Improving form helps of course but you need the right plan for European games and this was it at last.

This was arguably our best performance of the season. Not only was it very unlikely we could win in Italy against a Roma side which has played consistently well at home in Serie A, we would need to score at least one goal to have a chance while praying that Bayern didn’t field a load of youngsters and surrender to CSKA.

City did everything right. As the home side you would expect Roma to get some chances and they did at the beginning of the game. City survived and Joe Hart showed that he has the skill and mental strength for these high pressure occasions. Gradually City gained confidence creating a few chances themselves. Navas started penetrating on the right, Milner was getting forward on the left while the whole team tried their best to close down Roma players in possession when we had lost the ball. Fernando and Fernandinho both had outstanding games, Nasri provided the creative spark up front and even Dzeko, short of match practice, looked so much better than the few minutes he had played at the end of the Everton game.

0-0 at half time but in the 60th minute the usually solid Roma defence gave Nasri a glimpse of goal. He sent in a cracking shot which hit the inside of the near post and shot across the goal into the net on the other side. The Roma keeper had no chance. There was a bit of a reaction from Roma to try to save the game because they now needed two goals to go through. Bayern were, as expected, beating CSKA. City didn’t panic, exerted control and slowed the game down.

Roma players looked dejected and their manager Garcia took off Pjanic who had played so well in Manchester and the iconic Totti. The Roma subs made a bit of difference but not that much and in the 85th minute Nasri placed a slow one metre pass sideways into a small space near the edge of the penalty area just as Zabaleta came thundering in like an runaway freight train the make it 2-0. A beautifully crafted goal. There was little reaction for the Italians who looked beaten and City saw the time out for their best away win in Europe since winning the Cup Winners Cup in the pouring rain all those years ago.

It gets even better though. In the last third of the game, David Silva came on and looked surprisingly sharp as did Jovetic and Kolarov. Kompany, we were told, will be fit for the weekend and Touré of course is available for the game on Saturday against Leicester too. So for the next six matches against Premier teams in the bottom half and then against Championship side Sheffield Wednesday who we beat 7-0 in the Capital One Cup earlier with a less on-form side, we could well have everyone fit except Aguero who could well be out until the end of January.

It may sound strange to say we won’t miss Aguero but in our current form that could be right. We may well not get quite as many goals but I do expect us to perform well and make progress as a team improving in solidity at the back and like last year, get goals from different players.

Well played City, great win, superb team display.

Man of the match: all of them.

Peter Llewellyn
PeterJL@foxfield.plus.com

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MATCH REPORT: AS ROMA 0 MANCHESTER CITY 2 (HT 0-0)

Veni, vidi, vici. The Boys in Blue came, saw and conquered Rome on a very proud night for Manchester City. With Bayern Munich doing their job by beating CSKA Moscow, City only needed a score draw, but bettered that. A stunning strike from Samir Nasri pointed us on our way and a well worked goal from Pablo Zabaleta sealed a well-deserved win on a famous night.

It could have been a very different story, though, had it not been for Joe Hart.

It all started off rather shakily, with Cholevas getting behind the right hand side of our defence, and latching onto a ball before forcing Hart to make a vital block. Cholevas was actually at least a yard offside, but the flag was never raised. Navas was not tracking Cholevas back and the Greek wing back again got behind the back four to cross and we were thankful that Fernando was on hand to intercept and the ball was scrambled away.

City took a little while to get into the game. Clichy’s cross in the 14th minute was slightly behind Dzeko and the Bosnian giant couldn’t direct his header. Then in the space of a few seconds, both our opportunity and our vulnerability were perfectly illustrated. Milner hit a rasping shot which forced a good save from De Sanctis then with one clearance, Roma broke away at space. We were over-committed, with full backs pushed on, and Roma were two on two with the speedy Gervinho advancing at pace and Fernando and co racing back to support the defence. Gervinho glided past Mangala but Hart had to make a fingertip save to push the ball wide of the post. Small margins, but crucial margins.

Navas had been been prone to giving the ball away sloppily and hitting the first defender with his crosses but suddenly he clicked into gear and upped his quality. He played in Nasri who crossed and Dzeko played a very presentable chance over the bar. Navas had the ball in the net but the referee had already blown for foot up by Dzeko, perhaps debatably. Then the Spanish winger had two attempts the cross: the first hit the first defender and rebounded back to him but he managed to gain half a yard on the defender and play over a delicious cross which Dzeko glanced well wide. Navas then played a lovely ball through which Milner stretched and got a toe to but De Sanctis deflected it behind.

Roma still carried a threat: Gervinho forced another save at Joe Hart’s left hand post and just before the break, he tricked his way through our defence and was fouled on the edge. He went down to easily but he was fouled. Thankfully, the referee didn’t give a penalty. Maybe this was the pay back for the three clear penalties that we should have had at home to CSKA Moscow!

One of the risks of pushing full backs on is that we were too vulnerable to the counter attack in the first half, but this improved significantly after the break, as City pressed the ball better and the full backs were better positioned for recovery.

City started off the second half on the front foot. Dzeko got behind the right hand side of the Roma defence but had no one to cross to. Crosses lacking a finish was becoming a bit of a theme with Milner and Nasri both delivering well without reward.

Roma remained a threat and Fernando did very well to make a crucial interception to cut out a through ball. Then just before the hour mark, Pjanic shot from long range and Hart did very well to save his dangerous low shot that bounced in front of him. It’s moments like those that turn matches.

Within two minutes, the match turned in our favour. Samir Nasri collected the ball on the left flank, had a little space and worked himself some more before cutting inside and unleashing a ferocious shot that went into the net off the left hand post. What a great strike of precision and power: the sort of strike that wins tight, crucial matches. It was a moment of supreme elation, though I’ll confess to thinking it was going to bounce out and away as it happened!

This was a match that we had to turn as even though Bayern 1-0 up, the 0-0 was still favouring Roma, and City had not really found a way through since the break. Pellegrini was seeking fresh inspiration and was just about bring on David Silva, but having taken the lead, he held back the return of El Mago for a few minutes.

Roma tried to hit back: Naingolan stung Hart’s gloves with a high rising shot but the City keeper wasn’t unduly troubled. Ljajic’s twisting and turning had Zabaleta on his backside, but fired over.

City were looking very comfortable dealing with whatever Roma threw at us. We never looked like being threatened at set pieces, except for one minute – the 72nd of this momentous match – when our concentration levels may have dipped, but even them Hart was on hand again to deny them. Manolas headed Pjanic’s free kick goalwards but the City keeper was on hand to tip the ball onto the post. Then Demichelis cleared and survived unfounded Roma appeals for hand ball (the ball hit him). That was the last time the home side threatened the City goal as Roman torches were snuffed out by a Blue blanket. That was testament to hard work and good retention of the ball.

Roma just faded away, (veterans Totti and Maicon had already been subbed), and the result was put beyond doubt by a beautifully worked goal in the 87th minute. Jovetic, on for tiring Dzeko, turned away from the left flank and drove into the centre before squaring for Nasri who took a touch, jinked inside a defender before a delicious short pass for Zabaleta who swept home and gleefully celebrated in front of the City fans. Oh, and Zaba, you’ve earned the right to kiss the City badge seeing you’ve totally got this club, and no one would ever doubt your sincerity!

At last this City side stamped quality in this season’s Champions League campaign (we know it isn’t really a Champions’ or even Champion’s League because UEFA’s punctuation as inaccurate as he name of this League). City are a better side than Roma and had we put our best foot forward at home we would have beaten them. They are no better than the decent Tottenham sides of seasons gone by, in all reality. Still, they represented tricky opponents and City dealt with them well. It could all have been so different, but for Joe Hart, (though that is what a goalkeeper is for), and a little bit of luck with a penalty decision. That said, who is to say City wouldn’t have bounced back from a goal or two down?

We have seriously underperformed in this group until those last few minutes against Bayern, but better late than never. As the chant goes “We’re Man City, we’ll fight to the end…”

This was a mature performance. It was performance that suggests that City may, just may, be coming of age in Europe. With Kompany, Aguero and Yaya unavailable and Silva only available late on, City showed great character to win this game. We have a team in the true sense of the word. A team that came, saw, and conquered…

Att: 70,000 (estimated)

Goals:
City: Nasri 60, Zabaleta 87.

Ratings:
Hart: As much a match winner as our two scorers in his best game of the season Two top drawer saves at 0-0 and another at 1-0 up were the highlight of a brilliant game for City’s and England’s Number One: 9 ***Man of the match***
Zabaleta: Had his hands full with Cholevas but he wasn’t getting a lot of help in the first half. As ever rose to the task and took his goal well: 8
Demichelis: Classy and reassuring as well as excellent on the ball 8
Mangala: A more disciplined display with some good firm tackles and headers away. Didn’t over-commit, which was the fear: 8
Clichy: Had a very good game despite Gervinho giving him problems with his pace. Made some very good tackles and used the ball well too: 8
Navas: Sloppy with his distribution in the first half and allowed Cholevas to get away from him too often in the opening 20 minutes as he uncharacteristically failed to track him back. His decision making and crossing continues to be of variable quality with him hitting the first man too often, but he played a superb pass for Milner and an inviting cross for Dzeko before the break. We didn’t see so much of him as an attacker after the break because he helped tighten up the right hand side of our defence: 7
Fernando: Industrious and energetic midfield. Both he and his fellow Brazilian gave great protection to the back four. He isn’t keen on shooting though, spurning a good chance to test the Roma goalkeeper, but that’s entirely forgivable, given the two crucial interceptions that he made: 8
Fernandinho: Great energy, closed down space quickly forcing Roma to concede possession, and crunched into tackles.: 8
Milner: An important part of this victory and our retention of the ball. Made some good runs forward, forcing two important saves from De Sanctis: 8
Nasri: Has really come of age and revelled in his role just behind the striker. What a strike that was to give us the lead. Such power and precision, and he intelligently used the space. It emphasised how willing he is to stand up and take responsibility. He has matured so much in the last 18 months. You’re a man, my son! :9
Dzeko: Worked very hard and competed well up front, and the ball stuck to him well when played up to him. Spurned a good chance in the first half which he would normally bury and was repeatedly caught offside though which is understandable given his return from injury: 6

Subs:
Silva (for Navas 67): Some nice touches: 6
Jovetic (for Dzeko 78): Initiated the second goal: n/a
Kolarov (for Nasri 89): n/a
Best Oppo: Naingolan: Energetic, popped up everywhere, and used the ball well: 8

Refwatch: Milorad Madzic (Serbia): Fair, no nonsense and didn’t miss much. By far the best referee that we have had in Europe, though Roma will justifiably claim he should have awarded a penalty for them: 8

Phil Banerjee
phil.banerjee AT orange.net

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MATCH REPORT: MANCHESTER CITY 1 EVERTON 0 (HT 1-0)

City had to work very hard in this predictably physical encounter on a freezing December evening, and Yaya Toure’s well struck penalty was all that separated us from Everton side who tested us late on. City’s victory was deserved but came at a cost, though, with Sergio Aguero suffering a painful knee ligament injury early on after a late tackle on him.

Buoyed by four straight wins, and Newcastle’s surprise lunchtime victory over Chelsea, we stepped out into this Winter’s evening full of optimism. The visitors came to Manchester on the back of an insipid 1-1 home draw to Hull which marooned them in mid-table, but games against Everton are always keenly contested, and City are 100% correct not to underestimate them. Despite numerous similarities between both clubs, especially in terms of size of support, many playing links, and of course Joe Mercer, an Evertonian by birth, being our greatest manager to date, the rivalry and antipathy between two very different but great cities, and indeed cultures, make City and Everton like oil and water. Everton are never going to be any City fan’s favourite other team (if we have one), and vice versa. There might not be the hatred of a Liverpool-United fixture, but this is always a hard fought fixture, keenly followed by two passionate sets of fans.

When Sergio Aguero was felled by Besic straight after after he got up from being brought down by Coleman’s challenge from behind, we knew Everton weren’t taking any prisoners. It was obvious even from our seats 100 yards away that Aguero was seriously hurt as he stayed down for a long time. A text message from a friend who was watching on TV, informing me that he was in tears, only heightened fears. Serge gingerly walked round the pitch in pain with the physio to applause from the City sections. Every City fan will hope and pray that his injury is not serious. Without him we lacked his strength, pace, finishing and all round brilliance.

Not that City took this lying down (no pun intended) and we got stuck into this match with some meaty tackles. Mangala took this too far when he karate kicked Eto’o in the back when going up for a corner, and can count himself very lucky that he did was only booked rather than getting the red card that he deserved. It was stupid and from the replays on Match of the Day later, it looked spiteful. Later on Fernando’s high boot connected with Gareth Barry’s head but was clearly an attempt to play the ball. It was rather, though, reckless and could also have incurred a red card for dangerous play, but thankfully for us, only a yellow was brandished.

It was a scrappy start to the match and it was 20 minutes before we had any shot of note: Yaya firing to the left of Howard’s goal.

City took the lead in the 21st minute after a contentious penalty was awarded. James Milner advanced into the box and went down and from my view in the Colin Bell Stand it looked like a shoulder charge from Jagielka knocked him over. It was a slight surprise that referee Andre Marriner pointed to the spot, but his view was better than mine. Whilst it was a soft penalty, TV replays later showed that Jagielka’s shove made contact with Milner’s thigh and hip area, and therefore it could be viewed as a foul. We’ve certainly seen them given before, and thankfully for us, we got this one.

The debate around us was who should take the penalty in the absence of the ice cool Sergio Aguero. Yaya Toure (who incidentally was the popular choice), stepped up and drove the penalty into the net with great precision, just between the left hand post and Howard’s dive.

City tried to build on the lead and had most of the play up to the break, as we pressed high up the field with Yaya, Fernando and Milner fighting fire with fire, Navas providing pace and width down the right, and Nasri most prominent of all in a role just behind Pozo, frequently making the play. Jose Pozo, who was on for Sergio Aguero, had a shot deflected behind for a corner, and Navas fired wide from Clichy’s left wing cross. For the visitors, Mirallas headed a corner deflected wide by the lunging Fernando. There was still time before the break for Mangala to head a corner wide before the great as City looked the more likely to score.

HT 1-0

The Blue Moon was rising, and half time began with the jaunty beats of The Inspiral Carpets’ Saturn Five bringing back fond memories of days gone by. We weren’t on a different planet to Everton on this occasion, but could we maintain and indeed build on our lead?

City started the second half pressing for more goals, and went closest in the 50th minute. In an exciting move, Milner crossed from the left and Howard saved Pozo’s crisp attempt with his legs.

Five minutes later, Mirallas blazed over when well placed for the visitors, but City were the stronger side. Nasri and Milner were very good indeed, and were the most inventive and industrious of our attacking players.

City couldn’t build on the lead mainly due to Howard’s goalkeeping and our tendency to over-elaborate and try to walk the ball in. This was best illustrated when Milner cleverly played in Nasri who had three chances to shoot but ended up taking the ball too far before being tackled on the by-line. We missed Aguero’s directness and strong running, and it made for a nervy finish as the game became more even in the final quarter.

It took a combination of Milner and Mangala to deflect an Eto’o shot wide in the 69th minute. Mirallas had a free kick deflected over three minutes later then Eto’o fired over after a teasing run by substitute Ross Barkley.

Milner was moved from the left flank to the right and Nasri slotted into the left as Pellegrini brought on Lampard for Navas as he sought to stiffen up midfield, and this almost paid dividends. Lampard played a glorious chipped pass which sub Dzeko chested across the box and Milner volleyed just over.

The game was flowing from end-to-end, and our victory owed much to Hart’s brilliant save in the 82nd minute after Barry and Eto played in Lukaku. It was a horrible moment as the Belgian striker’s volley flew towards goal but Hart pushed the ball behind.

A minute later Nasri had a volley saved by Howard, and Dzeko had an effort deflected behind. There was time for pantomime villain Barkley to get booked for his serial diving (on an occasion when he was actually fouled!) but City saw the game out for an important victory that puts us just 3 points behind leaders Chelsea.

Everton clearly have talent and spirit but City’s extra class on top of our spirit won the day. City battled and scrapped for this deserved victory Granted the penalty was soft and Mangala and Fernando could have seen red in the first half but Everton were no angels either. Coleman’s and Besic’s challenges might not have intended to seriously injure Aguero but they made sure he was cynically and recklessly cut down. Even dear old Gareth Barry, once of this parish, could have had an early bath for his flailing arm that cuffed his mate James Milner.

Results wise, it had been a very good day, but Sergio Aguero’s injury may be more significant. As happy as we were to catch the tram away from this game, there were more than a few of us checking smartphones for news of his injury and speculating on how long it might be before he is back.

Att: 45,603

Goal: Yaya Toure 23 (pen)

Ratings:
Hart: Largely unemployed but handled well and showed his powers of concentration are first class with a match-winning save: 8
Zabaleta: A game that was made for him. Just the kind of robust, hard defender that you need in a game like this. His left-sided opponent Mirallas only profited when he moved inside to be marked by one of the centre backs: 7
Demichelis: Quietly efficient at centre back and read the game well: 7
Mangala: Should have been red-carded and someone needs to have a word otherwise we always have a £35m liability. Improved in the 2nd half: 6
Clichy: Excellent defending, making some good tackles and some good runs forward where he is using the ball better: 8
Navas: Had a good game, working hard up and down the right flank, doing some good defensive work when needed and using his pace in attack: 7
Fernando: He could have been sent off for his head high challenge but there was no mal intent. His and Yaya’s tenacity in central midfield was particularly crucial and his passing was more progressive game than previously: 7
Yaya: No one can fault him for effort in recent games. His aggression led the way in central midfield and was a good example to all. Long may it continue: 7
Milner: Industrious and skilful down the left and later, the right, and showed great precision with his crossing and passing: one cross field ball was brilliant. It was good to see his partnership ith Nasri developing: 8
Nasri: Relished playing in the “number ten role” and was our chief creative force. Combined really well with Milner and Clichy down the left: 8 ***Man of the match***
Aguero: Sadly cut down in his prime. Best wishes, Sergio: n/a

Subs: Pozo (for Aguero 6): Would have had a goal but for Howard’s legs. Competed well, but clearly needs to bulk up all round. A little naïve in his running but an encouraging show, nevertheless: 6
Dzeko (for Pozo 61): Some good touches. Needs to keep pressing more: 6
Lampard (for Navas 77): Quickly showed his class with that lovely pass: 7

Best Oppo: Barry: Tough, resolute and most Everton play started with him. His pass initiated their best chance late on, and thankfully Hart was equal to Lukaku’s shot: 7

Refwatch: Andre Marriner: By the letter of the law he could have sent off two City players and one from Everton but didn’t, so he’s not going to get slaughtered here. Should have played advantage when Barkley dived for the last time, otherwise got most decisions right: 6

Barkleywatch: City are linked with a big money move for the impressive Everton youngster, and we only got a cameo here with him on the substitutes bench until deep into the second half. When he came on, he showed good powerful dribbling ability and pace without getting through our defence, and played an excellent, accurate cross field pass to a team mate out on the left. We’d need to see a lot more of him to make a big bid, and City’s scouts will surely watch how he progresses this season and possibly beyond, if we are to pursue our interest in a clearly talented player. As for the diving, a friend who is a long standing season ticket holder at Goodison tells me their crowd laughed at him when he recently dived ridiculously without any contact being made with him. The trouble is, referees are wise to his antics and are not always giving him free kicks, even when he is fouled, as we saw in this game.

Phil Banerjee
phil.banerjee AT orange.net

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MATCHVIEW: CITY 1 EVERTON 0

Having watched Newcastle beat a sluggish but overall a bit unlucky Chelsea side on TV, I was fairly sure that City would take advantage and that our recent form at Southampton and Sunderland even meant we might see quite a few goals. This was the third of our matches against traditional bogey sides who over the years have taken more points from us than their usual position in the league would have indicated.

The first surprise was seeing City start with only one striker – our in-form Argentinian genius Sergio Aguero. Surprising, because if you remember at the time of his appointment, Pellegrini made some rather bold statements that City fans would see a difference in his selections from those of his predecessor Roberto Mancini. He would always attack. Roberto attacked too but was prepared to choose a team to suit the occasion which sometimes meant playing with only one striker at home.

So here were looking at a typical Mancini compromise of the type we told we probably wouldn’t be seeing at the Etihad. To be fair Dzeko was only just back from Injury so probably couldn’t play 90 minutes and Jovetic had strained a hamstring so playing with one up front was quite sensible.

All went reasonably well for about 120 seconds at which point Aguero seemed to fall awkwardly and twisted his knee. After some time with treatment on the field and then waiting hopefully at the edge, he hobbled off in obvious distress and hey presto we had no strikers at all. Pellegrini brought on our promising but inexperienced and slight-of-build youngster Pozo but the absence of Aguero, arguably one of the current best and most effective strikers in world football, was bound to have an effect. City dominated but simple couldn’t find much real threat near goal. Now there was no Aguero the usual two or three opposition defenders briefed to shadow him around, usually to no great effect, were free to stop lesser City players from having proper attempts on goal

Then we received two major strokes of luck. First the referee Andre Mariner gave City a penalty for a fairly innocuous challenge on Milner and Touré scored from the spot. It was never a penalty in a million years but we City fans accepted the early Christmas gift with good grace remembering only too well how Aguero had recently not only been clattered for a certain penalty but had his name taken for diving to add the severest insult to injury. The second came when our quick but unpredictable centre back Mangala decided to practise his kick boxing skills on Samuel Eto’o. It was surely a red card offence but he got a yellow.

From then onwards two City players rose to show they could keep our attack pressing hard even if it had been badly blunted. If you could give joint awards, both Nasri and Milner would be men of the match. Later on Pellegrini took off Pozo and brought on Dzeko but there was no discernible increase in our threat. The match swayed in different directions and once Everton had introduced Ross Barkley they looked dangerous, Joe Hart having to make his one major contribution with a superb one-handed save which looked a certain goal. Previously Everton’s goalkeeper Howard had made an excellent save with his legs from Pozo who also seemed certain to score his first Premiership goal for City.

The rather indifferent game eventually died a deserved death and City had held on to the clean sheet and won 1-0. Whether it was fair or not is pointless to ask. That notion doesn’t really apply to football. The encouraging thing was that Dzeko and Kolarov are back and no doubt will start playing increasing amounts of time until match fit. Silva and Kompany are on the way back – perhaps next week but probably not in time for the Roma match. On the negative side Aguero is out for an unknown length of time but will definitely miss the Roma game.

So the positive from this rather dreary game with another of our previous bogey sides, is that we squeezed a win with far less guile and skill than we’ve shown recently and that is exactly what you must do if you want to compete for the Premiership Trophy.

Peter Llewellyn
PeterJL AT foxfield.plus.com

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OPINION: PROGRESS

Finally, we get up to speed. Why has it taken so long this year to produce the form that we so consistently showed last season? A major factor is YaYa’s sudden awakening. His performance at Sunderland was leisurely, but masterful. He had acres of space all night and used it to calmly control our complete game.

Not only did we lay the ghost of Sunderland away, but we also avoided the traditional slump when King Vince goes for repairs.

Dedryck surprised us all with a very steady and confident performance, despite a few moments of jitters. As I repeatedly said (to the annoyance of many), if Micah had enjoyed support in his comeback, by being a little forgiving of errors due to lack of match play, he would have come through a better player. Hopefully, Dedryck can go on to illustrate that simple logic in the near future.

Every single Blue shone last night and the usual dominance of possession was matched by excellence of play and control. I still cannot put my finger on why the same level of possession in previous games resulted in us being taken apart on the break so often.

I am delighted that (despite Pellegrini’s insistence that our approach has not changed) we are back to going at them. No tactical changes after taking the lead to defend it, we went for the throat for the full ninety minutes.

It cheered me up to see this amazing style and flow finally restored. We will need to sustain that for the rest of the season if we are to win anything. I have no idea why it has taken till December to remember how to play as we can, but it was such a pleasure to witness last night’s demonstration.

Martin Hunt
martinhuntctid AT gmail.com

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OPINION: SHOULD I BE LAUGHING OR CRYING?

First off, hello in your official capacity to the always entertaining Mr Phil B. [ED: Thanks!] and many thanks to Mr Phil A. Hope you are doing well in your ‘retirement’. And more importantly, in your health. [Ed: when we made contact with the esteemed Phil A a few weeks ago, he was fine and we hope to hear from him again soon]

Now onto City…and should I be laughing or crying? Certainly I think we all felt like vicariously sharing Sergio tears on Saturday evening, and when it looked like Yaya – after finally seeming to recently regain both form and appetite – might be crocked, I was thinking that our entire backbone would be out. It wasn’t to be though, and with a little help from officialdom combined with us being less lacklustre throughout the full 90 mins than an incredibly mediocre before belatedly awakening Everton, we came away with the desired three points, both in the match and differential with Chelsea.

Now for the part where I’m laughing – and some may call me paranoid but consider what I have to say before dismissing me: This last week has been a hectic one, three matches for us in quick succession. But not the usual home-away-home or vice versa, oh no, starting with not a local Saturday fixture but a Sunday match all the way down on the south coast, quickly followed, three days later, by a trip all the way up far north east to our known bogey team Sun’lan’ (they would probably have sent us the extra few miles to Newcastle but for our better record there). Seriously, I have to ask, when was the last time the Prem darlings like Chelsea, Liverpool and esp. you-know-who ever subjected to that? Oh, and then, when we get a home match on the back of that, it’s – coincidence of coincidences – against our other recent bogey team when, if the plans of the Powers-that-be have gone right, we would be down in the dumps.

But that’s why I laugh – we defied the(ir) odds.
I type this on Monday (well, what else am I going to do when they’ve dropped Corrie for some Royal Variety rubbish?) but isn’t it at least comforting for all us Northerners that when Stretford finally have to go all the way to the south coast, at least they’ve had six days rest after two home matches?

Cheers

Steve O’Brien
Bodsnvimto AT googlemail.com

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ARTICLE: LATEST RESEARCH

Firstly, I’m delighted to see that MCIVTA continues thanks to the efforts of Phil, Svenn and so many others. I’ve been avidly receiving it since about 1996 and have been supported in my research by many, many MCIVTA regulars over the years. Thanks to you all.

I’m still researching and writing but my focus at the moment is on research for a PhD which I hope to complete during 2015. As part of this research into the early years of Mancunian football I have had some papers published in academic journals. Two of these are currently free to download with the most recent being of particular interest to Blues. It can be downloaded here:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14660970.2014.961378

It talks of the significance of City’s first success in creating Manchester’s football identity and will be very useful to any Blues who want to debate with other fans the club with ‘no history’!

My other free to download article is on the period 1850 to mid 1880s and talks of how Manchester football became established:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14660970.2014.961378

As both these articles are free to download at the moment (not certain how long for though) I’d encourage everyone to have a read. I’m sure MCIVTA readers will get something out of them, particularly the one on City’s first success.

Thanks,

Gary James
gary.james AT mmu.ac.uk

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AND FINALLY…DUBAI BLUES

Hi,
I will be in Dubai from 23 Dec to 6 Jan. Are there any Blues there
to recommend a place to watch City during the festive period? Looking
forward to it.

Valentin Cudric
valentin.cudric AT yahoo.co.uk

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