Created in 1994, MCIVTA is the longest running unofficial Manchester City related web site and e-newsletter in existence.
ISSUE DATE: Sunday 1st March 2015
NEXT GAME: Liverpool, Anfield, Sunday 1st March (12:00 Noon GMT)
EDITORIAL: WHEN WILL THE CLUB ENGAGE WITH THE FANS, PROPERLY?
The Club’s lack of engagement with the fans over a long period of time is the source of deep concern to many Blues. Every year we face ticket rises that are way above inflation, even in a recession. Fans have already been displaced from their usual seats over many years, including our first season since the move from Maine Road and beyond, and more are going to be displaced from the Kippax (East Stand) Level 2 and Colin Bell Level 2 for Premium price seats next season. Furthermore, many long-standing fans can no longer afford season tickets elsewhere in the stadium. Even allowing for natural turnover (people starting families, people no longer with us etc) it is staggering that only 12,000 of the 36,000 season ticket holders remain since we moved to what is now The Etihad Stadium.
In this issue there are strong, and well-written, reasonable concerns raised, but they are far from lone voices, and they have been very patient and restrained for a long time.
STOP INCREASING TICKET PRICES
Of course, not everything was perfect in previous administrations, but ticket prices were far more realistic and there was a feeling that Garry Cook would at least take the opportunity to engage with fans. I’d love to be proved wrong, but the distinct feeling with those currently reporting to Khaldoon Al Mubarak is that they are only interested in “monetising” the fans. It doesn’t seem to matter how long we have been watching City if more affluent fans will pay more for seats. When was the last time the management met with the fans? Have they since Garry Cook departed? Whilst the club faces pressures with so-called “Financial Fair Play” regulations, the increasingly lucrative TV deals in recent years do not excuse any club, including our own, for continuing to increase ticket prices, or move people out of the seats that they have sat in for years. They should be reducing ticket prices, not increasing them. They can afford to. They should be valuing and respecting!
fans, not shunting them into inferior seats up like discarded old coal trucks in the sidings.
Speaking from personal experience, I even have to say myself that I do not know how much longer I can continue to afford be a season ticket holder. In at least the last four years the club has put the prices up of the seats in our area by £50 each season. I’d love to bring my children regularly (if they want to come) in future years, but how can this be affordable at the current rate of increases in ticket prices? I took my six-year old daughter to the Newcastle game, and with £2.50 booking fees, it came to £29.50. Twenty nine pounds fifty for a child is not excusable in any of our stands. The ticket was in one of the wings the Colin Bell Stand, so it was no means the most expensive seat in the ground. Of course Cup tickets are generally cheaper but do we really want our young fans to be coming only once or twice a season? What about the future fans? The demographic of football fans has got older as ticket prices have sky-rocketed.
The fact that other clubs have far more expensive season tickets does not excuse City. We have to be better than that. Especially with this new TV deal coming online, City have the chance to take the moral high ground here and launch something which really is FINANCIAL FAIR PLAY. That’s fair play towards its fans. Is the club up to the challenge? I sincerely hope so.
If the club actually had a proper two-way dialogue with the fans, rather than conducting meaningless surveys, or just inviting a select few, then they might get a feel for what it is like to be a football supporter in 2015. It pains me to be writing this in my 35th year following City, but until the club properly engages and understands the loyal fans, then the march to a soulless stadium with people with little feel for our dear club will continue inexorably.
PELLEGRINI’S CITY IN A NUTSHELL
The Newcastle and Barcelona games have perfectly illustrated the strengths and weaknesses of Manchester City under Manuel Pellegrini: devastating in attack against sides of lesser ability (well, those who don’t fight as hard as Stoke, Burnley and Hull); and in total contrast, tactically naïve and underperforming against the Elite sides, particularly those in Europe. City have not made the desired progress in the last twelve months, unless you count a 1-2 home defeat (instead of a 0-2 home defeat) to Barcelona progress. Like many of you I have been there in the dark days, so I was at places like York, but progress is no longer judged by those standards. Whilst we are grateful for success and for the investment that has been made in our club, especially given where we were back in 1999, and back in the days of Swales and later, Franny Lee’s stewardship, City should be progressing year on year now, even given the inequitable and downright corrupt so-called “Financial Fai!
r Play” restrictions placed on the club. What we saw against Barcelona was the same old mistakes being made.
Manuel Pellegrini is immensely likeable, but he also comes across as incredibly stubborn in his tactics. His persistence with two strikers in midfield in a 4-4-2 against the better sides domestically and in Europe continues to cost us. Liverpool are still one of the better sides in the Premier League, so we need to be more savvy tactically at a ground where we don’t win very often.
Hopefully City will not suffer any hangover from the Barcelona tie. We will have Yaya back and have no new reported injuries. Hopefully, unlikely last year’s eagerly awaited fixture, we can get a grip on the game quickly, and stop Liverpool building a head of steam. They have altered to a more counter-attacking style and we will have to be able to cope with their pace on the break, but they won’t be counter-attacking if their 3-5-2 system outnumbers us in midfield and hands them the initiative. This is a big chance to put pressure on Chelsea.
Come on City
Thanks for all your contributions to MCIVTA. I hope you enjoy tonight’s edition.
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Like all Blues, I was disappointed last night. However, I enjoyed a cracking game and City were undoubtedly unlucky. The boys did us proud, but those who watched it on ITV may not have gained such an impression.
I was appalled at the spin, particularly in the first half from a couple of rabid r*ds who seemed determined to try and expunge the memory of what Barca did to them in the final a few years ago. The bias was astonishing. Scholes led the vitriol. Every time he opened his mouth gave the impression that City were being turned over worse than the scum had been. At no time were we anywhere near as bad as that. I admit to being worried at how good and in control Barca were at times in the first half, but the commentary suggested only that City were responsible by being abysmal.
We were unlucky that Suarez turned in his only performance since his move. Fortunately his bite was restricted to his feet, but he scored two really good goals. At one point, you could hear Scholes choking as he struggled to avoid admitting that the freak bounce for the first goal was a piece of
bad luck. I think the commentator was Tyldesley, a dyed in the wool r*d whose first job was to commentate on every single scum game. He is anything but impartial and was led by the incessant bile spewed by the Scholes.
I would like to see some balance restored by showing that final in full as a tribute to the magnificence of Barcelona. That was a total humiliation and all Scholes could do was dry to mitigate it by saying today’s Barca team aren’t as good. I would point out that the opposition were miles
better last night.
We were also miles better (than Barca, not the scum) in the second half and it is fair to say we played well in a great game and were unlucky.
From a City perspective, there were some disappointments besides the result. I do not understand why we bought Sagna nor why we put him on the pitch. I do not really get Fernando either. He is often a liability and was again last night. What with giving the ball away or giving hospital passes,
his contribution was way below other players. Milner played 3 different positions and none were his best, but he put in his usual shift. King Vince was much better, but still off his familiar consistent best. As for Cliche’s two fouls, words fail me.
I was also worried about Bony. He hurt himself with his first touch and never looked comfortable afterwards (of course, no one on ITV mentioned that). I hope he is okay to play and that he quickly gets into his stride. He is certainly struggling to find his feet in the few minutes he has been
given so far. Again, we are left ruing the absence of YaYa. We seriously need to be searching for his replacement, let alone a back-up.
I do hope we don’t sack Pellegrini as a result of a poor season. I daren’t hold my breath for a place in the next round, and we are running out of games to find our Champions form with any consistency. Perhaps its time to sit back and remember that even runners-up is a light year from what City
fans of any age have dared to hope for.
martinhuntctid AT gmail.com
MATCH REPORT: Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 (HT 0-2)
Manchester City again underperformed on a big European night, this time against a declining but still dangerous Barcelona side, and we only have ourselves to blame, despite partial refereeing yet again.
Individual errors gifted Suarez two goals, Kompany failing to clear his lines for the first – looking like he was in two minds, and then Jordi Alba was given the freedom and oodles of time to cross for the second. More serious questions have to be asked about Manuel Pellegrini’s tactics and selection. It is fair to ask, when will Pellegrini learn from his mistakes? Can he learn from his mistakes? Again, he persisted with 4-4-2 and guess what? We were outnumbered in central midfield for long periods with Silva and Nasri detailed to start from wide positions, and the former only really got into the game after the break with City already 0-2 down. Nasri never really got going. Again the initiative was handed to Barcelona. Instead of a tight three in central midfield and a pressing tactics, we got City players outnumbered and standing off Barcelona players who were playing a training game for 45 minutes. Messi was allowed to turn with ease and Iniesta was rampant, giving us a ma!
sterclass in playmaking. City in contrast did not pass the ball well at all.
It could have been more than 0-2 at the break but for a good one-on-one save by Hart to deny Suarez in between his goals, as well as Pablo Zabaleta clearing Neymar’s lob off the line, not to mention Alves hitting the bar.
It was the first minute of first half stoppage time before Nasri registered our first shot on target. The only previous effort of note was when Dzeko headed wide at 0-1 down.
City upped the tempo after the break and were a different side: but chances were spurned. Fernando was clueless when the ball dropped to him six yards out. Dzeko headed a Silva corner wide, then both he and Demichelis headed another straight at the Barcelona keeper when well placed.
Sergio Aguero went on a thrilling run and fired agonisingly wide. The introduction of Fernandinho added dynamism, impetus and pace in midfield to City, and it was fair to wonder why he had not started. He would have been a far better choice alongside Milner than his compatriot Fernando, who is not as quick and is not as mobile or sure of touch.
Fernandinho is also a creative player, and it was his straight pass that found David Silva, who cleverly back-heeled into Aguero who beat closing Barcelona defenders, took a touch, and fired home clinically.
Bony was brought on for Dzeko and City were building a head of steam when Clichy received the second of two yellow cards from the German referee. Whilst the second challenge was the sort of that challenge European referees issue yellows for being high, there was no mal intent (and Alves’ play acting was all to get him booked) unlike some of the challenges from Mascherano. The first Clichy yellow was not warranted as he was seeking to play the ball and didn’t see his opponent coming in from the side. Again there was neither mal intent nor excessive force in Clichy’s challenge. It is strange how Mascherano can make a series of cynical challenges without receiving a caution.
UEFA moves in not so mysterious ways. There have been too many tough draws, bad refereeing decisions and the Establishment cartel protecting so-called “Financial Fair Play” regulations for it to be a coincidence. These are just more reasons why City fans are generally more concerned about the Premier League.
Being down to ten forced City onto the back foot and we were forced into a defensive substitution rather than looking to use Navas’s pace to find Bony and co. Despite our best efforts Barcelona, led by Iniesta, passed the ball round without really being incisive. This is not the super incisive Barcelona of Guardiola. They are still very good at regaining possession quickly and Iniesta and Messi are clearly great players, but Barcelona were content to pass the ball round and wait for a mistake rather than going all out for goals like Guardiola’s brilliant team. Neymar was a passenger for most of the game and their defence is chronically suspect, particularly in the air. They also have players like Alba and Alves who are inclined to cheat with their diving. Alba received a proper admonishment from Zabaleta after he dived when the City right back cleanly won the ball, and Alves serially dived. Barcelona, for all their wonderful football over many years, it has to be said, do di!
splay some deeply unsavoury behaviour.
Still the suspicion was that the visitors would get a killer third goal and they were presented with the perfect opportunity when Zabaleta brought down Messi near the right hand by-line. Thankfully Joe Hart guessed the right way (his left) and saved the penalty and, luckily for us, Messi surprisingly headed the rebound wide.
The 1-2 final score was about right and despite our second half chances, a draw would have flattered City.
City are not going to break into Europe’s elite until we stop tying our hands behind our backs. These City players can compete at this level if they are organised to play to their potential, and if they play at the fast enough tempo. Pellegrini’s 4-4-2 does not work at this level but he stubbornly and naively plays it. We needed to get Silva and Nasri closer to Aguero in a 4-3-3 and press Barcelona and play at a higher tempo to give us a better chance to enjoy more possession, but starting from wider positions in a 4-4-2, they struggled to get into the game. Silva only really figured when we played at a higher tempo and hassled and harried Barcelona.
Whatever tactics were employed, and no matter what players said about us not being scared and us paying too much respect to Barcelona, again we played with fear for half the game, and again we stood off the Barcelona players for 45 minutes.
Our defence is a really worry now. Both Kompany and Zabaleta had poor first halves and to be blunt, have not played consistently well since the turn of the year. The captain’s form is a particular concern. For the first goal he should have found Row Z to snuff out any danger and he is just not reading the game like he can. He needs to get his act together. Zaba and Silva gave Alba too much room to cross for Barcelona’s 2nd, and the City right back was rash in giving away the penalty at the end. Zaba markedly went out to get closer to Alba in the second but we were 0-2 down at that point. We used to have the best defence on the country in 2011/2012, and it was decent enough the year after, but all that defensive discipline and rigour has been lost. Much of this is because we have had the full backs pushed on for the last two seasons. Last season perhaps brought the best attacking football that we have ever seen, but it has come at a cost of the defence. The way we defend some!
times nowadays, it is fair to ask if we do enough defensive drills in training? We do not look at all organised in that respect. There has to be a balance.
It pains to be critical of players and a manager that we love, but we can do a lot better.
It will be very difficult to turn this tie round but the tie is not over. We will have the highly influential Yaya back in the Nou Camp, but we will have to perform much better than this.
So, on to Liverpool where we need to win. We have to put this behind us and learn. Come on City.
Hart: Good save to deny Suarez at 0-1 and though he was self-critical about his penalty save, as it presented a rebound, any penalty save deserves credit. His kicking continues to be inconsistent: 7
Zabaleta: Got caught square on and easily passed early on. Gave Alba too much room to cross for Barcelona’s second goal. He improved to push out wide make some good tackles in the second half, but was rash to give away the penalty with a needless challenge: 5
Kompany: Unable to read the game like he can in the first half and really struggled. If he had simplified his game cleared the ball Suarez would have not scored the first when he did. Made an excellent tackle on Messi later in the first half and improved in the second thumping one clearance high into the Colin Bell Stand. He has to get his game together: 5
Demichelis: City’s best defender on the night, he made a good early block to deny Messi, but he did surrender possession cheaply in dangerous situations on at least two occasions: 6
Clichy: Skinned and turned rather easily in the first half. Won the ball in the build up to our goal. Harshly yellow carded at least once: 5
Nasri: Had City’s first shot on target but really struggled to get into the game. The 4-4-2 formation and wide starting position didn’t really suit him but it wasn’t his night: 5
Fernando: Too slow and heavy of touch to be an influence in this game. Simply not good enough at this level: 5
Milner: Laboured and struggled as City chased shadows. Didn’t pass the ball well. Started off in central midfield, moved out wide right before a spell at left back: 5
Silva: Like Nasri he was not suited to the formation and wide starting position, but he got more involved in the second half, coming inside to make the play as the tempo was raised. Improved his set piece distribution as the game progressed to set up two chances, and his clever back heel : 6
Aguero: Starved of service for much of the game, he created some of his own and went agonisingly close. Was unerring with his accuracy when presented with the chance to score. Deserved better service: 7 (City’s best player)
Dzeko: The pick of City’s players in the first half and he won a few header. He spurned a couple of chances to score: he really should have scored with a header from Silva’s corner: 6
Fernandinho (for Nasri 62): Added dynamism, speed in midfield and some creativity which paid dividends with the goal. Why was he not starting? 7
Bony (for Dzeko 68): Lively but not really given any service: 6
Sagna (for Silva 78): n/a
Best Oppo: Iniesta: An imperious, brilliant, skilful, intelligent hard working talent, who supported his teammates at every opportunity. He worked particularly well with Messi: 9
Reftwatch: Felix Brych (Germany): Failed to referee the game in an even handed way. Why was Mascherano never booked, yet Clichy was the recipient of two soft yellows? 3
phil.banerjee AT orange.net
After the Barca game, I lay abed trying to analyse why I have stuck with City when Bayern are nearby. I have suffered nigh on 60 years of torture, torment and little (past) glory and much ignomony. I grew up in the Ribble Valley with friends who supported Blackburn, Preston and Burnley who were all relatively “superior”. Alas, my parents were from Salford and every summer I stayed with my cousin who was a red at heart. As an outsider, when teams were chosen for street footy I was always City and it stuck. At college in Preston I also met others who supported Bolton, Blackpool and inevitably MUFC. I coped with the jeers and insults and the pity from my form master when we were relegated, but I always enjoyed the trips to Maine Road and the great atmosphere, even when we lost! I remember standing on Kippax watching Bury with their fans (it was OK those days) who told me we could have Colin Bell for 45K as he couldn´t head a ball. There but for the grace of god and oil. 25 yea!
rs ago I moved to Bavaria for a short stay and here I still am, but only get to see City a couple of times each year. I used to have the same old problems here: whenever I explained that City was the other” Manchester team, people looked at me with a mixture of bewilderment and pity. How times have changed: we seem to get a mention in the local paper every time we play and when we beat Bayern on their own turf I was in the midst of their keenest supporters (courtesy of a present from my wife, bless her ignorance of the ground plan) and it was truly sweet. We have arrived and are known the world over, but do I miss those bad, sad days? Sometimes I do and lie awake at night wishing for the notoriety of being a poor sod supporting City. Truly a masochist. May the ship sail on.
citizenpaul947 AT gmail.com
I’m not that deluded that I don’t understand the media and how it works, but wouldn’t it be nice if our local paper, the MUEN would constantly back us rather that berate. Long gone are the days of Paul Hince who absolutely loved city with a passion and wrote his pieces with honesty, passion and most of all humour – with his laser guided talk when strikers are shooting. I feel the majority of times this paper wants to create a stir rather than state the positives and I’m getting fed up. The news I read is old and reactive rather than proactive and I never read any exclusive that isn’t already a day late. I feel they have burned their bridges at City and the club is treating them like any other vulture.
ford.steve AT btinternet.com
ALL IS ROSY DOMESTICALLY AT LEAST
Hmmmm. Sometimes timing is everything, isn’t it? And in that regard the delay between my contribution in the last issue and its appearance didn’t exactly add to my argument! Nine goals in two matches later and the chase is most certainly back on. Nevertheless, for anyone like myself first
reading said previous instalment, I will defend myself and stand by what I said: In both matches we had the benefit of being able to get behind teams because of their having to play positive football. At The Britannia it was incumbent on Stoke to come at us as the home team, and the Toon were forced from employing any bus parking activities by their self-destruction straight from the whistle. So in neither case did it detract from the fact that we have struggled breaking down defensive set-ups all season because of our ponderous football too often played in front of rather than getting
in behind any well-marshalled defence.
We had a resend with an apology from Phil. The north eastern team we were to face after the trip to the potteries was indeed not Sunderland but Newcastle. Nevertheless, I thought we might have had it resent yet again by last night with Chris Foy replacing the Magpies – after all he looked like our only opponent to show up on the evening. I know that might seem a tad daft, given a 5-0 score line, but especially in the first half it seemed that we could hardly get a decision off him. The penalty was a no-brainer so I’m not going to lavish him with credit for that but Nasri and Zaba (nice to see Pablo have his best game for a while) had textbook tackles called for fouls whilst we got nothing when Dzeko was blatantly and cynically hauled back when through. Meanwhile Vinnie and Yaya were seeing yellow for simply mistimed challenges whilst Coloccini got away with trying to rake Aguero’s kneecap off. Thankfully at least, we’ve never had any history with Foy at all have we?!?! So ye!
s, I suggest that Phil names him as our best oppo in his match report, esp. given that I can’t think of one
Newcastle player worthy of it. The match was one-way traffic of the sort we were much blessed last season, and perhaps the only slight downer for us was watching Bony having one of those typical debut showings where he is almost trying too hard to the point that absolutely nothing he did came off for him. I felt bad on his behalf.
Still, as much as I grow more tired weekly by the wearisome antics of Ferguscum jr, aka Mourhino (this whole us contra mundum thing is ridiculous for any manager of ManUre or Chelsea to try on – they are the two teams to get more decisions than anyone else in this country) he juuuuuust may have had a point against Burnley. I’m sure he’d take our Foy and raise us with their Atkinson in the ineptitude stakes. And whilst, yes, he was right on all four highlighted decisions, the one involving Costa was, in mine ‘umble estimation, merely a case of the chickens coming home to roost. Clearly
they don’t teach the story of The Boy Who Cried Wolf in either Brazil or Spain. So yes, JM may have had a point – as indeed did his team, ironically – but if he expects any sympathy after the way he has acted over the last few weeks (…and months…and years…probably decades) then think again.
We’re back in with maybe more than just the merest whiff. COME ON CITY!
Oh, and one last thing before hitting the send button, on the subject of managers, can someone please pass a mirror to that raving lunatic Van Gaal (nice one Big Sam, loved it!) in order for him to see that he’s far, far too old to attempt one of those trendy haircuts that school kids and the
younger end of footballers are sporting these days. Heaven forbid!
Bodsnvimto AT googlemail.com
I was beaten by the sheer pace of Mr B. who produced the next issue before I could respond. The issue before last was a great read. A rant from Steve O’Brien was so long overdue. I note his venom seems to have reduced as he was not demanding heads, but great to see things getting back towards
normal. In fact, I rather think Steve was out-ranted by Phil Telford, but I am struggling with Phil’s Diego reference. That is way over my head (but then, I am still not well).
I confess to being a tad aggrieved by Keith Sharp’s claim than Milner is the modern day Bell, but thinking about it, it is not a million miles from the mark. Milner is underrated, a quiet superstar, playing all over the place with grace and style and scoring vital goals. His contract should be no issue for City. We have paid some right donkeys way over the odds, so quibbling over a year for JM is ludicrous, especially as he’s English and helps the fair pay nonsense. Nevertheless, I felt he took God’s name in vain, no matter how good a point he made.
I was also surprised at the complete absence of comment on the TV rights issue. The suggestion that clubs should use some of this fortune to pay fans instead of agents is dear to my heart. No other business exploits its customers like Premier League football (sadly lower “leagues” such as division 2 whatever stupid name it is given, tries to copy at a cost it can’t afford).
Fans pay for a ticket months in advance, only for the whim of Rupert Murdoch (or whoever) to change the date and time, screwing up work, family and travel arrangements to customers who have already paid. There is no apology, let alone compensation. Yet no TV would follow games without any atmosphere, it is simply not good TV. It is those unpaid, abused fans who provide the atmosphere. They pay film extras (maybe a pittance, but they are paid.
Instead, Premier League footballers receive an obscene amount as do their agents. Agents care nothing for loyalty, integrity or fairness. They are greed merchants who often invent problems where there are none just to keep their income growing (transfer fees are often more lucrative than simple pay rises). All the while, lower leagues decay through their life-line being cut off to feed the greed of those who control the purse strings within the game.
There is no sport that TV had adopted that has not been seriously deteriorated by TV demands and TV money. Football has chosen to sell its soul, but the fans are guilty of allowing them. A solid strike action by football fans would shake the clubs to their boots. Sadly, the emotion of love overrules the logic of the mind. Fans keep taking the abuse and going back for more. All the while, the parasitic agents keep leeching the money that fans richly deserve.
Just to add insult to injury, the prices charged at the gate may actually damage families who, in truth, cannot afford this expensive luxury.
martinhuntctid AT gmail.com
PS the 1974 issue was also a great read, starting with reference to my favourite goal of all time, but that is another story
POINTS OF BLUE
This goes to all on my last email address list for Points of Blue. And I may move in the summer to somewhere without Virginmedia so this address may become redundant [Ed: Please keep us informed of any address change, Steve].
It’s clear that the club does not want to continue Points of Blue, preferring special invites to groups, e.g. 1894 group on atmosphere, or recently to suggest a “club” for longstanding (from Maine Road days) supporters – remarkably only 12000 of the original season card holders at the Etihad are still card holders. Or they rely on “City Voice” or other online stuff.
So issues are not addressed, e.g. what happens if you’re in CB2 or EL2 and don’t intend to pay £400 more for a plusher seat and the right to pay for drinks in a private bar – where will there be to go? (Especially as they can have no real idea yet who will pay and whom will want to move.)
Obviously if the club don’t want to provide facilities, that’s a shame, but I thought I’d see whether anyone fancies a Points of Blue get-together. No idea when or where.
Bloovee AT ntlworld.com
Yes I was there. I was 28 years old with a well established City habit. In fact I was fortuitously standing at the front directly in line with the six yard box. Denis’s goal, or my celebrations, caused nearby manu fans to utter some unpleasant comments.
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