Welcome to MCIVTA 1974. In 1974 Dennis Law’s goal scored that very famous goal against United, whose relegation was confirmed that day (United were down whatever the result at Old Trafford). I remember it like it was yesterday. I was 8 years old and sat with my Mum and Dad having a cup of tea at my Nan and Grandad’s in Yorkshire, listening to the radio commentary and vividly recall us all celebrating the significance of that day. My (now late) Dad was so happy to see United go down. I loved my Nan’s milky tea but that tea tasted even better that afternoon! I hadn’t been bitten by the City bug yet, and my first visit to Maine Road was some six and a half years away, but I remember how happy we were that City had put United down. I am sure there are many people with their own memories of that day. Were you there, or like me, were you celebrating somewhere else? Do you care to share them with us? Please do at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday’s game against Newcastle that was a very enjoyable game. Newcastle games are normally enjoyable games because they always try to play entertaining football, which allows us to express ourselves, and how well City did. There’s a match report and a build up to the Barcelona game in this short edition. It’s the sort of fixture we didn’t dare dream about when we were visiting the likes of York and co, but here we are, and we should be comfortable playing at this level now. So come on City, let’s out our best foot forward and win!
Come on City!
PS Thanks for the messages pointing out my error in the build up to the Sundercastle, sorry, er, Newcastle game. I was surprised to only get one email kidding me that they’d made it to Scotch Corner! Nobody, however, has written in to inform us how Barnsley are acclimatising to Manchester in February.
Manchester City 5 Newcastle United 0 (HT 3-0)
Manchester City hit top form and trounced a poor Newcastle side to move back within five points of leaders Chelsea on a bitterly cold evening at The Etihad. Goals from Sergio Aguero, Samir Nasri, Edin Dzeko and David Silva (2) emphasised the gulf between the two sides. City could have added at least a couple more with more ruthless finishing, and if the referee had awarded any of the three penalty appeals.
Buoyed by Chelsea dropping points at home to Burnley (that levels up our slip up on Dec 28th), City set about Newcastle from the off, winning a penalty in the first minute when Dzeko was felled by Anita’s clumsy challenge. Sergio Aguero despatched the spot kick with a minimum of fuss and victory looked inevitable from that moment. City’s delightful football had a real purpose about it which proved irresistible, and it was 2-0 in the 12th minute when Dzeko squared to Nasri, who deftly cushioned the ball with his left foot before firing an unstoppable eight yard shot into the roof of the net.
City played beautiful, incisive football, and could not have had more compliant opponents than Newcastle who, in contrast to sides of lesser ability like Hull and Burnley, just melted away with barely a whimper. A Janmaat effort that sailed wide of Joe Hart’s right hand post, a deflected effort that ended up going well wide and a Sissoko skied shot was the sum total of their efforts in the first half. City had the freedom of the park to create chances at will, and that is a big mistake with City in this form.
Dzeko was given acres of room to turn but fired over early on. The Bosnian was having a good game and Aguero fired wide from his cross after a clever Zabaleta dummy.
It was performance to savour from City, with Yaya Toure bringing calmness, control and composure to the team. He frequently dropped between the two centre halves to gather the ball and start attacks, and he controlled the game.
The Man of the Match, though, was David Silva and he played a sumptuous lofted pass into the path of the onrushing Dzeko, who chested the ball on the run and half volleyed superbly past Krul to make it 3-0. There was barely 22 minutes on the clock!
It would have been four by half time if referee Chris Foy had awarded a penalty for a clear pull back on Dzeko, but nothing was awarded. Are players really expected to go down to win anything nowadays? It really is time that referees came out of their bunker and explained themselves. On another occasion it would have changed the fate of a game and indeed a title or cup.
Newcastle briefly had a go after the restart and Joe Hart did well to save Cisse’s shot which deflected off Vincent Kompany, but it was the nearest the visitors came to a goal all evening.
It was a matter of how many City could add to the score after the break, and that it was only two more goals – David Silva’s 8th and 9th of the season – was something of a surprise, given the Blues’ high standard of play. City went for quality rather than quality! Sergio Aguero made a brilliant powerful diagonal run from half way, and showed great strength (and honesty) to keep going to the edge of the box, despite being kicked in the back of the legs. His pass found Nasri on the edge of the box, and from the inside right position, he squared to Silva who deftly set himself, before coolly steering the ball past a wrong-footed Krul. It was delightful as it was exhilarating.
Two minutes later in the 53rd minute Silva bagged his 2nd of the match. Yaya Toure lofted a superb long pass to Sergio Aguero who chested the ball into the path of David Silva who smote a powerful low drive across Krul to make it 5-0. It was a brilliant strike of surprising power and directness from a player of such a delicate touch! Newcastle must have been dreading the remaining 37 minutes.
With Tuesday and Barcelona in mind, Manuel Pellegrini brought Navas on for Silva on the hour. In a double change we had the long awaited introduction of Wilfried Bony (for Aguero) who received a warm welcome both over the tannoy and in the stands. After a wonderful touch from Yaya, Bony would have marked his debut with a goal had it not been for an excellent save made by Krul with his left boot.
The chances for City kept coming: Mangala headed Silva’s corner wide; Samir Nasri, complete with smart new, number two razor haircut, and sharp side-parting, should have shot when he had a good opportunity, but took an extra touch and the Newcastle defenders closed in; Navas crossed and Dzeko’s effort was over; and Kolarov free kick was tipped round the post by Krul.
This was a very enjoyable game, and a top draw performance from City. We moved the ball quickly and with subtle changes of pace which Newcastle could not handle. We looked far more measured for having Yaya Toure back in the side. His absence and indeed his return have emphasised what a huge positive influence he is on this team. While that is the case and he has the quality to play to such a high standard, City should be looking to keep one of our greatest ever players on board. With Yaya at in the autumn of his career at 32, of course a succession plan should be in place, but why not bed in his replacement alongside him, especially if so-called FFP is ruled unlawful this spring? City would face fierce competition from Real Madrid and possibly Chelsea for Paul Pogba, but that is the level of quality we need to replace a great player.
The gap to leaders Chelsea is now five points, and the nervousness of their manager is very apparent with his every utterance. Come on City.
Hart: Made a great save to deny Cisse, given the deflection. Otherwise unemployed: 7
Zabaleta: Survived one early skinning to return to his sharpest, proactive best, nipping in front of opponents to win the ball: 7
Kompany: A good solid show, but Newcastle did not get enough service to Cisse to test him: 7
Mangala: Steady: a good easy game like this is what was needed to find his feet and build his confidence: 7
Kolarov: Some good interceptions: 7
Nasri: Took his goal brilliantly, and precisely set up Silva for his 2nd goal. His tendency to take an extra touch when he could shoot costs him good goal-scoring opportunities, but it would be churlish to judge him by that. He really has matured into a fine player who takes responsibility to make things happen: 8
Fernandinho: Kept the engine room ticking over. Forced a low save from Krul in the first half: 7
Yaya: He controlled the game and made us a better team with his composure, poise and patient passing. Yaya’s pass to Aguero in the build up to our 5th goal showed his great vision and accurate passing. He had time to go on one of his trademark runs too: 9
Silva: Superb pass of great vision for Dzeko to set up the 2nd goal. Took his tally to 9 goals this season with two excellent finishes. Such a delight to watch this great player. Indeed, is there a more enjoyable player to watch than David Silva? 9 (Man of the match)
Dzeko: Had a good game, linking play well and looking lie scoring again, setting up the 2nd and scoring the 3rd goal: 8
Aguero: Despatched his penalty with great calmness. His play was unselfish and constructive, perfectly illustrated in the build up to Silva’s 2nd goal
Navas: Lively and his distribution is slowly improving: 7
Bony (for Aguero 60): Not every pass was on the same wavelength as his new team mates, even Yaya, but an understanding will come with time. Made a good run to anticipate Yaya’s touch and at his sharpest would have given Krul no chance of saving his shot: 6
Lampard (for Nasri 70): Neat and tidy: 6
Best Oppo: Krul: Kept the score down with some very good saves: 7
Refwatch: Chris Foy: How he did not award City at least one more penalty is a mystery. His booking of Kompany was ridiculous. He and a Newcastle player went in for a 50-50 ball with no malicious intent and yet Kompany was booked for catching his opponent (suffered no lasting injury). Yaya was booked for pulling someone back. Newcastle players did not receive bookings for similar offences. Foy should be explaining why. Poor: 2
There was a minute’s applause from the Newcastle fans and many City fans in the 17th minute for the two Geordie fans who perished in the MH17 air disaster.
Wilfried Bony received a warm Manchester welcome, and his country man Yaya Toure received a very enthusiastic welcome back. There were exchanges of chants but as you’d expect in this fixture, nothing truly malicious. The visitors brought the lowest following for years and were reminded of this with a “You’ve only got one tier” (of the away section) chant and “Sunderland brought more than you”. As one might expect, this didn’t go down well with the visitors who retorted with “You’re just a s*** Man United”, which was laughed off really. They didn’t seem to care for “There’s only one Alan Pardew”. Ah well, if they are going to continually ask where we were when we were, er, not very good, what do they expect. We were watching City getting beaten by Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle (see my piece below), and there when we averaged 28,000 in the Third Division, but that’s not easy to fit into a chant!
The chant of the day came from City’s singing section: “You only sing when you’re 4-0”. After a while it was apparent there’s only so much baiting that the Kippax Singing Section wanted to engage in! Anyway, time had to be made for a few choruses of:
“I never felt more like singing the Blues,
the City win, United lose,
oh City, you’ve got me singing the Blues”
and why not?
phil.banerjee AT orange.net
ROLES REVERSED, HOW TIMES CHANGE
18 years ago in 1995/96 Kevin Keegan’s exciting Newcastle side played brilliant football and led the table for a long time, and sadly blew away a ten point lead. Not that we had any time to feel sad for the Geordies. We had plenty of our own problems as Alan Ball haplessly and cack-handedly wrecked Manchester City with some terrible man management, the appalling treatment of Tony Coton and Peter Beagrie, clueless tactics and disastrous signings like Gerry Creaney, and even worse sales like the wonderful Paul Walsh. After undeservedly gaining a point in our first game against Tottenham, City lost the next eight league games (one of which was a 3-1 defeat after Newcastle ran rings round us at St James’s Park) and the rest of the season was spent trying to catch up. We didn’t win our first league game until we beat Bolton 1-0 in November and despite showing decent form in the second half of the season, including a memorable 3-3 draw at home to Newcastle (Quinn 2, Rosler 1!
) when we were denied by a late Philippe Albert goal, we went down after a 2-2 draw against a disinterested Liverpool on the last day. That agonising, gut-wrenching last day when Alan Ball heard the wrong score at our relegation rivals and told Steve Lomas to take the ball to the corner flag to waste time to secure a draw. It was a crushing, painful relegation, which was the prelude to an accelerated decline in Manchester City’s fortunes in the late 1990s.
How times have changed. Now it is City running rings round Newcastle, playing brilliant, skilful football.
Despite having a decent spell in the late 90s, and Bobby Robson and Alan Pardew doing well more recently, Newcastle have never quite reached those heights again, and now they are under the stewardship of Mike Ashley who is only bothered about making money from the TV deals and keeping them in the top flight. The immoral zero-hours contracts that Ashley is so keen on at Sports Direct are virtually applied Newcastle’s players in the Cups with their managers basically briefed to field weakened teams! It must be very dispiriting for Geordies to put up with that, and several conversations I have had with them have backed this up. Still it could have been worse. I wish them well, except against us of course. They can ask Sheffield Wednesday, Sheffield United, Birmingham, Leeds, or worse still, Coventry City and Portsmouth fans, about what happened to their respective clubs in recent years.
It could have been us. So glad it isn’t. Thanks Sheikh Mansour. It has all turned out right for us and hopefully we will still be challenging at the top in another 18 years and beyond, indeed forever!
phil.banerjee AT orange.net
THEY THINK IT’S ALL OVER…OR DO THEY?
A Chelsea fan last week told me that the title race was over! He wasn’t kidding. He was very confident in a way that only supporters of the big London clubs like his own, Arsenal, Tottenham and United can be. I reminded him that we have pulled back bigger leads. He was still bullish, though in a fairly good natured way. I reminded him that we did actually pull back a larger lead this season, yet he was still convinced it would not happen again. Well, now it’s down to five (well done ex-City FA Youth Cup Winning skipper Ben Mee, who scored Burnley’s equaliser) and I look forward to seeing him, and hopefully, getting the bit between our teeth and retaining the title. Mourinho is clearly rattled, blaming everyone but himself, and the influential Matic could be out for two League games as well as the League Cup Final if his appeal against his ban fails. Not that we should focus too much on anyone else. City have to (cliché alert) focus on ourselves and take every game as !
it comes. The Premier League is a more realistic chance of winning something this season, and we can win it. As I told my Chelsea-supporting acquaintance, “We’re Man City, we’ll fight to the end.”
phil.banerjee AT orange.net
CITY v BARCELONA MATCH PREVIEW
Our next game is the sort of game that any football fan can look forward to. Who isn’t looking forward to this week’s game against Barcelona? Personally, I feel less daunted by it, and not just because Barcelona lost 0-1 at home to Malaga last Saturday, and because they are not quite the force they once were. There is less a sense of trepidation and occasion about this game, having played them in the same stage last season. Barcelona are not as good as they used to be but they are still a very good side who could do a lot of damage, so we have to pay them respect without going overboard, and play our game. The noises coming out of the City camp from Manuel Pellegrini and Samir Nasri suggest we are going to do that. Forget stories about Messi and casinos. Barcelona cannot be taken lightly despite Barca Coach Luis Enrique’s problems with the Catalan media and his supposed rift with Messi. This is possibly all just a distraction to lull us into a false sense of security. !
We can fully expect them to pass the ball well and to feign injury and go down like dying swans when we launch attacks in that cheating fashion that they did last season. Hopefully the referee will be strong, savvy and even-handed. We have had some shockers in Europe thus far.
City under performed in the home leg last season, and hopefully City will be less overawed than we were then, and less naïve. Pellegrini tried to play 4-4-2 against Barcelona at home last season, and we were outnumbered in midfield against a side that thrive on possession. This has happened to us several times since, and surely Pellegrini knows that we need to play 3 central midfielders, and allow Samir Nasri and David Silva to support Sergio Aguero from deeper. 4-4-2 can work against Newcastle or Swansea but Barcelona are clearly a very different kind of team. Yaya Toure is still suspendd in Europe, but James Milner trained on Monday, so there is a chance that he can figure. We will have to work hard and be organised, but we have to be brave enough to take the game to them. If we can get at their porous defence, then we can hurt them.
A team of: Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Clichy; Fernandinho, Fernando, Milner; Nasri, Silva; Aguero
gives us the right balance in midfield, and if we need to add to Sergio Aguero’s pace, then we can bring on Navas. Fernando can help us tighten the game up.
City are in better shape injury-wise this season and we are well-capable of giving Barcelona a beating. We need to believe in ourselves. Come on City. Best foot forward, and win.
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