NEWSLETTER #1977

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MAN CITY INFO VIA THE ALPS “McVittee!” (1977)

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

ISSUE DATE: Saturday 21st March 2015

NEXT GAME: West Bromwich Albion, Etihad Stadium, Saturday 21st March (15:00 GMT)
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WELCOME

Welcome to a lively edition of MCIVTA.

It may seem strange to see these as turbulent times, given this club’s history, particularly in the 80s and 90s, but the strong whiff of underachievement fills the air at Le Camp Bleu. After an extended poor run of form, City sit precariously in 2nd place and we find ourselves looking downwards as well as up, as the title looks harder to achieve with Chelsea 6 clear with a game in hand, Arsenal just 2 points behind in 3rd, and most worryingly, in form Liverpool, just 4 points back in 5th. Man Alive! Hardly a calamity or crisis in the scheme of things but the next few weeks are going to be a very important for the club, for if we drop out of the Champions League, the club will be at a bigger disadvantage than UEFA and its Establishment cartel have thrown at us in their so-called “Fair Play” regulations and “punishments”. We can but hope there is no end of season syndrome affecting the players, now that it seems like we are likely to end potless, and that they all show the sort of professional pride that we can reasonably expect.

Most City fans don’t expect silverware every season, especially as it took 35 years to win the FA Cup in 2011. I have yet to hear or read of a City fan expecting a trophy every year (I certainly don’t!). The only person that has expressed the view that they expected a trophy every year is Ferran Soriano, when Manuel Pellegrini was appointed. In my experience, most City fans expect City to be the best we can be every year. That has certainly not been the case this season. Questions are rightly raised about Manuel Pellegrini’s tactics and also, management. The players are not exempt from scrutiny either. Some have either suffered a loss of form, which is excusable, or not showed the required effort and commitment, which is less so. The owners are inevitably going to raise questions about Pellegrini and the players, but they will also be paying attention to the performance of Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain. After all, in the two and a half years since they arrived, only two signings can be argued to have been successful: Fernandinho and Demichelis. The mercurial Eliaquim Mangala may come good but for £35m he should be ready to play regularly. Similarly, Bony should have at least scored a couple of goals by now. Several other signings under their watch, eg Javi Garcia, Fernando have not been a success. Our best players: Aguero, Hart, Kompany, Silva, Yaya and Zabaleta were all signed before Soriano and Begiristain arrived. The nearest a youngster is to making an impact is Marcos Lopes, who is doing very well indeed at Lille, but other than that there has been little tangible evidence of progress or development of their “holistic” approach. Soriano and Begiristain at City have much to prove when they meet up with Khaldoon Al Mubarak for an end of season review. It should be noted that he Etihad Campus was conceived before they arrived, and hopefully it will bear fruit in the future. City’s ageing side need the fresh injection of you!
th badly.

Barcelona was a memorable trip, purely down to the party that we had out there. Walking up La Rambla and hearing City fans singing “we’re not really here” in a nearby square will last long in the memory. It was a real pleasure to make new friends and be greeted by existing friends, especially when they thrust a beer into your hand (a personal thank you to Marc Starr). No one really expected us to go through, so we went there in hope rather than expectation. Barcelona are not quite as good as they were under Pep Guardiola, but they are still an excellent side, and everyone knows what a great player Lionel Messi is – not that it stops certain writers from waxing lyrical about him in this issue. They really gave us a good going over and it was often – too often – only Joe Hart saving us. England’s Number One was truly brilliant.

Thanks very much for all your contributions. They are most gratefully received. Particular thanks to Martin Hunt, who as ever, writes some of the most thought provoking pieces for us. I love the cut and thrust of debate with Martin!

In this edition we have comment on City, a suggestion for a new manager for City, a match report from Barcelona, a view on the Burnley debacle, and if you think Crufts was over, think again…

Thanks you for all your entries to our Pride in Travel competition. The correct answer to our question was that Dennis Tueart signed from Sunderland. Our two winners are:
Malek Tabbal (in Beirut)
John Taylor (in Manchester)
who will each receive a copy each of Pride in Travel.

Please lend your support to the Justice for Jeff Astle campaign. If you are attending today’s West Brom game please, do support this campaign in the 9th minute and in any way you can, as detailed below by the late Jeff Astle’s daughter Dawn.

Thanks.

Come on City.
Phil Banerjee
Editor

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JUSTICE FOR JEFF ASTLE

Nine minutes into Saturday’s game a large banner will be unveiled in the away end reading ‘Justice for Jeff’ which starts a minute’s applause – nine being the famous shirt number our dad wore.

City fans are more than welcome to join in with the applause if they choose for which we would be very grateful for. If not, we would like to take this opportunity to make them aware of our campaign if they haven’t already seen it via the national media.

The Justice for Jeff banner has been at every West Bromwich Albion home and away game and will continue to be for the rest of this season. Hopefully by then, the promised research into the links between heading footballs and brain damage will be in its early stages and, just as importantly, the
research into former players and instances of dementia will have commenced.

We would also like to respectfully ask that if you are aware of any other former players who may have died of, or are sadly living with Alzheimer’s or any other Degenerative Brain Disease please contact us by emailing
dawnastle@justiceforjeff.co.uk – this information is vitally important to forthcoming research. Our dad was the first British footballer to have been confirmed to die from CTE but he wouldn’t of been the first and certainly won’t be the last.

You can keep up-to-date and learn more about our campaign by visiting our website justiceforjeff.co.uk  or our
Facebook
(facebook.com/justiceforjeffastle) and Twitter
< http://www.twitter.com/astle1968> (@astle1968) pages.

Yours Sincerely,

The Astle Family

ABOUT THE CAMPAIGN

The ‘Justice for Jeff’ campaign is dedicated to our dad, Jeff Astle, the countless number of former football players who have died of degenerative brain disease (DBD), and former players and their families who are suffering from the consequences of DBD.

Jeff Astle died at the age of 59 on 19th January 2002. In November that year we attended the Coroners Court. A leading pathologist stood and describedhow badly damaged dad’s brain was. He found that there was considerable evidence of trauma to his brain that was similar to the brain of a boxer. Hesaid the main candidate for the trauma was heading a heavy ball and it wasthe repeated trauma that appeared to be the problem. H.M Coroner, Andrew Haigh, ruled “Mr Astle’s type of dementia was entirely consistent with heading a ball and the occupational exposure has made at least a significant contribution to the disease which had caused his death”.

Verdict – INDUSTRIAL DISEASE

Following this landmark ruling the Football Association (FA) and Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) promised to conduct a ten-year joint study into DBD and the medical links associated with head trauma through heading footballs. Thirteen years on, this research has never beenconcluded or published.

After learning about the FA/PFA and their lack of, well, anything, we contacted a Consultant Neuropathologist based in Glasgow, called Dr. Willie Stewart. Dr. Stewart is one of the World’s Leading Experts in a disease called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). It’s not a new disease, it’s just got a new name. It’s “dementia pugilistica”, “punch drunk syndrome”, or “boxers brain”. The disease has actually been around for nigh on 100 years. CTE had been found in the brains of former NFL players. It is a degenerative brain disease caused by multiple concussions or, as we now know, in dad’s case, low level repeated brain trauma.

Following his death, Dad’s brain was donated for brain research, it was something dad believed in. We gave Dr. Stewart permission to re-examine dad’s brain to look for evidence of CTE. Dad was originally diagnosed as having dementia/early onset Alzheimer’s. Could they have got it wrong? They
had. Dad didn’t have Alzheimer’s. He was now the first ever British Professional Footballer to have died of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.
Dad died of repeated blows to the head, the type caused by heading a football. just as the Coroner had ruled over 12 years ago. The question is – how many others?

So what are our objectives?

On a personal level, acknowledgement from the game about what killed our dad.

Looking ahead – to create a legacy for past, current and future generations of footballers. We are establishing a charity in dad’s name, ‘The Jeff Astle Foundation’, with 3 principle aims…

1. SUPPORT – for those in football and their families who have had similar experiences to us, or who are still living with dementia. Dad’s story has had renewed attention over the past 5 months. We have been contacted by families of former players with dementia all with need of support. While we have done what we can to support them, there is a need to put into place a more robust system.

2. EDUCATION – head injury in sport and its associated immediate and long term risks is a major public health issue, but one for which there is little or no awareness in sport, education, health and allied agencies, never mind public awareness. We would like to see consistent, clear and robust information on aspects of all head injury management, including CTE, and see this information disseminated effectively.

3. INDEPENDENT RESEARCH – this is a complex and fast moving field and one where there are international experts in research in brain injury positioned to lead. It might be argued that sports agencies, including the FA/ PFA have been guilty of trying to take on research in this highly complex issue, in this highly complex organ ‘in house’, and through their own sponsored research. Invariably, this has failed to deliver its stated aims, as in dad’s case, and /or generated accusations of bias. We support Independent Research.

We quite often get asked “what justice do you want”? Well justice is a powerful word, with many meanings and concepts. The administration of law, reward or penalty as deserved, impartiality, fairness, the quality of being right or correct, to name just a few. The concept of “Justice” in The Justice for Jeff Campaign is again, powerful yet simple. It’s fighting for what is right and fair and importantly, righting wrongs. And make no mistake there have been many wrongs or injustices following the death of our dad, and we make no apologies for doing whatever we can to fight for him, whenever we can, however we can.

We want acknowledgement of what happened to our dad so as to be able to make
a difference for those, unlike dad, that it’s not too late for. Those already suffering as he did and those who are, or maybe, a ticking time bomb for the future. We want answers. We need to know. Football needs to know.

No amount of money or compensation can bring our dad back. It is NOT about that. Money may be the first language of modern football and its authorities, it’s not the be all and end all to everyone.

For too long this issue has been the silent scandal of sport, possibly thousands of former players and their families suffering grievously from damage caused by the game they loved.

As a footballer you can expect to get knocks, perhaps ligament damage and even trouble with arthritis later in life, you don’t expect to die of brain damage at 59.

Football should not, and must not, be allowed to shy away from confronting what is an uncomfortable and unsettling reality. The whole game should be united in wanting “Justice for Jeff”.

If we could leave you with one final thought it would be that our dad was an ordinary, working class man with an exceptional talent. He was a hero to many but more importantly he was a husband, a father and a grandfather.

Kind Regards

Dawn Astle
Webmaster AT justiceforjeff.co.uk
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Barcelona 1 Manchester City 0 (HT 1-0) Aggregate 3-1

City’s Champions League adventure hit the buffers again in the Camp Nou and the score line masked the gulf that City have to bridge to reach the European elite. We have Joe Hart to thank for making a handful of brilliant one-on-one saves and some profligate Barcelona finishing to prevent what could have been an embarassing result. Yet City could have made the last 12 minutes very uncomfortable for Barcelona, had Sergio Aguero scored from the spot after he had been tripped in the box. Sergio’s spot kick was uncharacteristically too close to the young Barca keeper Ter Steggen who gleefully pushed it out and the chance was gone.

City had started this game brightly, taking the game to the Azulgrana but Barcelona’s threat was all too apparent after Messi picked Kompany’s pocket in the box and fed Neymar who hit the post.

City only pressed Barcelona sporadically in this game and when we did, we forced Barcelona back and caused them some consternation. Overall, though, we were struggling to live with Barca’s pace, intelligence and sheer brilliance. The referee seemed all too eager to book City players for fouls. Silva in particular can count himself unlucky to have received a caution as he slid in and touched the ball before making contact with Messi. Whilst Manuel Pellegrini finally set City up in the 4-4-1-1/4-5-1 (take your pick) there was not enough sustained energy or effort particularly from Yaya Toure who looked heavy legged, especially when Barcelona had the ball. As a result, Fernandinho often found himself doing the work of two men before Milner was eventually moved alongside him, and consequently Messi and Rakitic in particular found themselves in oceans of space at times. Playing Yaya in a central two leaves us overrun in midfield and exposed in defence. It is these sorts of deci!
sions that managers have to get right if they are to be successful at this level. Pellegrini would have been better playing Milner in the midfield engine room from the start in this game (and many others). City need to add another hungry, quick aggressive all round box-to-box midfielder to complement Fernandinho this Summer.

Barcelona took the lead just after the half hour mark when Messi cleverly checked inside away from the close attention of Milner and Kolarov, to float an inviting ball over the City defence and with Nasri and Yaya failing to track back, Rakitic lobbed the ball over Joe Hart.

Pellegrini replaced the mainly anonymous Nasri (who had been lucky to escape with a yellow after a nasty hack on Neymar) with Navas at half time and City were more dynamic and had pace down the right, though the Spanish winger’s delivery let him down again. There was a moment of consternation for Barcelona when Navas gotmbehind their defence but his cross eluded all but Kolarov on the eddge of the box but the Serbian’s shot didn;t really test Ter Steggen. City attacked whenever possible, and were also better for having Milner in the engine room alongside Fernandinho after Yaya left the arena to all round applause for his achievements at both clubs.

City’s shots were mainly from long range and didn’t unduly trouble the young Barca goalie, Ter Steggen, and the Blues were always vulnerable to Barca counter attacks which were often much too swift for City defenders to cope with, causing us several heart-stopping (Hart-stopping?) moments, but time and again a super human Joe Hart was there making himself as big a target as possible to thwart Neymar, Suarez and Messi. All three Barca strikers could have finished better at other times too but there is no denying that this was a brilliant night’s work by City and England’s number one who was lauded with an amusing:
“Don’t sell Joe Hart
Our Super Joey Hart
I just don’t think you’ll understand
And if you sell Joe Hart
Our Super Joey Hart
You’ll have a ****in’ riot on your hands”
to “Achy breaky Hart”. Not that he would have heard it from our positions high in the gods.

Talking of deities (of a football variety), Messi ran this game, moving imperiously and effortlessly with the ball glued to his left foot, carving out openings with sublime intelligence and precision. Looking back, it was a privilege to watch a great player, even though at the time it was a fearful prospect for us.

It is no disgrace losing to Barcelona, even if they are not as good as they used to be. They are still a great team. However, the nagging feeling is that we could and should have done better, had we been set up the maximise our talents. We made it too easy for Barca to get at us. Whilst Pellegrini mercifully ditched his 4-4-2 for this game, players like Yaya and Nasri let him down with their lack of effort, leaving big gaps for Neymar, Messi, Iniesta and Rakitic to exploit.

Hopefully this defeat will not lead to another hangover and a sense if feeling that our season is over. It most certainly is not, even if the League title is looking remote now (we’ve been there before). With City on such poor form, and Arsenal improving, United and Liverpool breathing down our necks, and in good form, we are in a battle to reach the top four next season and a good run of results is needed. The players must be up for this and must performing starting with West Brom on Saturday lunch time. Come on City.

Ratings:
Hart: It could have been at least six or seven nil but for his brilliant efforts. The only thing denying him a perfect 10 (and of course, he awaits these ratings with bated breath!) was his kicking which was not always well directed. For Lionel Messi to graciously seek Hart out and acknowledge him in that understated manner of his speaks volumes about how good a goalkeeping performance this was: up with the best: 9 (*Joint man of the match with Messi)
Sagna: Covered, headed and tackled well enough: 7
Kompany: Overcame an early wobble when he was robbed to give a good solid showing: 7
Demichelis: A mature defensive performance, staying on his feet and mopping up, but struggled with Barca’s pace at times and gave the ball away cheaply sometimes: 7
Kolarov: Had a hard time up against Messi for significant periods. Managed to get forward and took the opportunity to shoot without really testing Ter Steggen .6
Nasri: Looked like a player who hasn’t played for a couple of weeks but he has to work much harder. much harder. Anonymous except for his nasty hack which could have led to his dismissal. He did very well in Rome earlier in the campaign but he has done very little against the very top sides In Europe which is a concern: 4
Yaya: Struggled with the pace of the game at time but he could have worked much harder. The sight of him strolling back is hard to take with Barcelona in acres of space. Hit the side netting with a shot in the second half before being withdrawn. 5
Fernandinho: Often had to do Yaya’s dirty work, but there is only so much that he could do. Fought well. 8
Milner: He should not be defined by Messi’s nutmeg that left him on his backside because, as ever he worked hard to stem the tide. He improved the midfield engine room with his work rate: 7
Silva: Some decent passes but not at his creative best: 6
Aguero: He hasn’t been the same since his injury, and it has not been helped by City’s poor form. 6

Subs:
Navas: Added much needed pace, and worked hard but he doesn’t possess a trick, doesn’t shoot enough and his delivery is not good enough: 6
Bony: His efforts to control the ball resembled a man struggling with a foreign language, such was his eroded confidence: 5
Lampard: Way too late to make an impact. What a waste of his talents: n/a
G Rocchi: He was all too ready to book City players. Barcelona didn’t need any help: 3
Best Oppo: Messi: The greatest footballer on the planet right now, who plays the game in such a fair way. His close control is excellent and his positioning, sublime. To play the game with such intelligence and precision at such pace is a special talent. He played up against Kolarov even more after the Serbian had been booked. It seems that wherever you look, Place de Catalunya, La Rambla etc pictures of him adorn the whole city of Barcelona and he has won so many persona awards as well as trophies: and its easy see why. He is human, though, and his finishing was not quite as precise as usual at times, and when he hit the target he came up against a great goalkeeping performance, which he graciously acknowledged at the end. Still, I hated it every time he got the ball, but look forward to watching in action again when Barca play some other poor souls in La Liga. 9 *Joint Man of the Match

Phil Banerjee
phil.banerjee AT orange.net
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BURNLEY 1 MANCHESTER CITY 0 (HT 0-0)

City’s performance in this defeat to relegation threatened Burnley was lethargic yet again. Burnley worked harder and showed more conviction and desire than City, who despite having more possession and shots on target, didn’t show enough desire or do enough with the ball. True, City should have had a penalty in the first minute of stoppage time when Zabaleta was clearly upended in the box by ex-City FA Youth Cup winning captain Ben Mee, but it would be churlish, and missing the point to moan about it. A team of City’s talents should not be relying on penalties to eke out a point against relegation strugglers. That is not intended as a put down to Sean Dyche and his team. He gets the absolute maximum out of them – oh, for a City manager who would do that – and they pressed us all evening and tested us with several diagonal long balls, one of which led to their winner. Dyche is a very respectful manager who has the class not to point score about our money. Credit and goo!
d luck to Burnley for the rest of the season.

We will need more than luck. Something is very wrong at Manchester City. It’s been clear for a while now, but for the risk of sounding like a stuck record, Manuel Pellegrini either cannot see or refuses to recognise what the problems are. He either cannot learn or refuses to learn. He is not getting the best of our players and he has become the main part of the problem.

Again he stubbornly stuck to his 4-4-2 formation that has become an obsession. A costly obsession as it is one of the key reasons why Pellegrini does not get the best out of these players. Against the better teams who play 3 in central midfield Pellegrini’s 4-4-2 gets outnumbered in midfield. We can also be out-battled by lesser sides too. Pellegrini’s 4-4-2 stunts our attack as City’s best attacking players, Aguero, Yaya and Silva were too far apart in this formation. Silva is not a winger. It is a waste of his talents, and it takes him out of the action. It was only after he drifted inside for any length of time that City got going in attack. It was as late as the 29th minute before Aguero forced our first save out of home keeper, Tom Heaton.

Yaya is better when in an attacking midfield role, and he does not always run back to defend in front of his back four, so playing him in a central two leaves out back four exposed.

Indeed Pellegrini’s 4-4-2 leaves our defence exposed by a lack of protection from central midfield, and this is exacerbated by his constant changes to the back four – there were three here from the Leicester game – which unsettle the defence. Ever wonder Vincent Kompany is enduring a crisis of confidence. He did well here except for when he headed a clearance straight to George Boyd who half volleyed home an unstoppable shot to win the game for the Clarets just after the hour mark. Not that the captain should be singled out for the goal because we were overloaded at the front post for the free kick (there were four people in the wall for a wide angled free kick) and consequently there was no one to close Boyd down. There are more general problems with the tactics employed. With the full backs pushed on we often lose the covering full back and with the centre halves being expected to commit and challenge for the ball far up the pitch, we are exposed to counter attacks. !
We have lost the defensive rigour and organization that Roberto Mancini brought in that made our defence the best in the country.

Pellegrini’s substitutions are becoming increasingly nonsensical. He took Silva off when we needed his creativity. Yaya Toure had just presented a gilt-edged chance for Aguero with an excellent cross, but was subbed straight away. If they were being saved for Barcelona that makes no sense as the League at that point was our best chance of a trophy. Why take off our most creative players?

The players are not exempt from criticism. City enjoyed far more possession than Burnley but there was neither the belief nor desire from enough of them to win this game. World class players like Aguero and Silva missing good chances is forgiveable – Silva’s normally velvet touch deserted him after being released by Aguero’s brilliant reverse pass at 0-0, and Aguero headed a very good chance to equalise over and but for us not to show the required commitment isn’t. A pattern is emerging, whereby one season our players pull out all the stops, then the next season, standards drop. Too often we do not press teams as hard as they do us.
We have declined from being a free-scoring goal machine that blew teams away on the way to a memorable title win to a team that struggles to create against Hull and Burnley, and looks vulnerable to conceding goals. It may be that we have been found out to a degree, but it is reasonable to expect the manager to find tactical variations and the players to work hard.
The players like and respect Pellegrini but they play like they are not suited to 4-4-2 and play like the don’t believe in it. Most people can see that it is not working and sadly, with a heavy heart it is obvious that a change is needed at the helm this summer. There are coaches/managers out there who can get more out of these players. If we can get Guardiola then we must do so. Clearly he is a very tactically astute, his teams play the most attractive football, and his record is there for all to see. Whether he would leave Bayern this Summer is very doubtful, and he has said he would like to stay there for years – beyond when his contract expires in 2016. Whether he would want to come to City with the financial restrictions is another question. He generally manages clubs at the very top of European football, and makes them even better, and we are some way from that. A more realistic choice would be Carlo Ancelotti who has already won a League title and FA Cup double wi!
th Chelsea here – his exciting title winning side scoring 103 goals. It seemed very odd that Chelsea let him go a year later when they finished runners up as he is an excellent man manager and tactician and his CV also shows he has had title winning success with both AC Milan and Paris St Germain and a Champions League with both AC Milan and Real Madrid, amongst many other successes. He is likely to be available this coming Summer, given the lack of backing from the Real President Perez. Some might say the danger of appointing Ancelotti could see him having a good season before the players get used to him and his effect wears off as Ancelotti is known for being friendly with the players. His personable demeanour should not be mistaken for being soft. City could do with him introducing stability and organization to our defence too. If he has been good enough for Real Madrid then he will do for us. If Ancelotti is not available then why not give Patrick Vieira chance. He ma!
y lack experience but he knows this club well and the youngste!
rs well from his role.

Whatever happens this summer, there needs to be change, both on and off the pitch, and seeing some young players coming through would give the squad a boost and strengthen it. We don’t need drastic changes to the team, just gradual evolution. These players have served us well, and with a couple of top quality additions should be given the chance to play in the 4-3-3/4-5-1 formation that suits them. Ideally we need a new midfield power house, a quick, skillful winger who can deliver accurate crosses and a new left back to support Clichy.

The question is now,sadly less about whether we can win the title and more about our prospects of finishing in the top four, because on this form Arsenal, Liverpool, and, heaven forbid, even United and Tottenham will finish above us.

City have to improve.
Ratings:
Hart: Had no chance with the shot for the goal, but could he have done with one less player in the wall? : 6
Zabaleta: Battled well to win the ball on several occasions: 7
Kompany: Made some crucial interceptions and did well save for the header that was too straight and inviting for Boyd to score the winner: 6
Demichelis: Some good interceptions, but gave away some silly fouls including the one for the free kick leading to the Burnley goal: 6
Clichy: Kept busy, and did well enough: 6
Navas: His delivery again left a lot to be desired, hitting the first man. He is still to find a true understanding with Zabaleta: 5
Fernandinho: Plenty of work 6
Yaya: Put in a couple of brilliant crosses, but he can do more than this: 6
Silva: His touch deserted him at the crucial moment but this lad never gives anything less than his all: 6
Dzeko: Started off well in his link play, but his passing degenerated to poor, and he faded to anonymity in the second half before being taken off: 5
Aguero: Looks increasingly frustrated with what is going on, which is a Always looking to create and played a great ball through to set up Silva. He spurned a very good chance to equalise: 6
Subs:
Bony (for Dzeko 63): It’s still early days and strikers will always miss chances, but for £25m we have the right to expect better finishing: 5
Jovetic (for Silva 74): Impossibly not to feel sympathy after his exclusion from the Champions League squad, and as hard as he tried here, 16 minutes wasn’t enough time to make a real impact: 6
Lampard (for Yaya 81): Again, not enough time for him to make an impact. His underuse since the turn of the year is baffling: n/a
Refwatch: Marriner: Whilst he made a big mistake not awarding a penalty in stoppage time for a clear foul on Zaba, but we can’t legitimately claim he was biased against us. He seemed more inclined to book Burnley players than our own! 5
Best Oppo: Boyd: A great finish for his goal and went close with another good effort. Worked hard for his team too: 8

Phil Banerjee
phil.banerjee AT orange.net
———–
NO KOMPANY FOR OLD MAN..
Pellers drops Kompany for dressing room bust up with Fernandinho.
Utter horlicks.

He’s definitely out of sorts.He’s definitely off form.He definitely needs the “joe hart” treatment (I don’t mean head & shoulders) but rested not for quite as long but certainly back for Barca and rested for the baggies to get his head right.
BUT again, one of my bug bears, when I worked for a large organisation (in telecoms) we were told in our contract of employment if you talk to the media, press, radio, tv anyone about matters concerning the organisation; be it personnel, salaries, conditions, new products, prices you would be SACKED. They were listed on the stock exchange and if you said something positive or negative it could affect the share price.
We were told, if you get asked a question refer them to the PR team. You were asked to read the sentence aloud before you signed the contract of employment. Draconian possibly, paranoid definitely but if you didn’t agree to the terms then you don’t sign and walk out the door. Tough rule but that was they worked.
They managed the media, PR and messages, it was very Kremlin like but that was the way they wanted it.
Should City try to do similar like bacon chops did, probably not.
BUT WHO reported the bust up in the dressing room. If it were me they’d be tin tacked, pink slipped or P45 (choose your euphemism)..
Come on Vicky (Kloss) sort it out…..
Cheers
Phil…
philipjlines at hotmail.com
———–
MY KNEE-JERK REACTION!

‘Tis a Saturday night and a time to relax and enjoy…YEAH, RIGHT!! Sorry to go rudely UPPER-CASE on you but DID YOU SEE THAT DROSS TONIGHT? The idiot pundits are still wittering on about us no longer being able to catch Chelsea but anyone with a brain has known that since the end on Jan. If
they’d thought about it…AH SOD IT, I’M GOING BACK INTO SHOUTING MODE…THEY’D BE MORE CONCERNED WITH US ENDING UP WITH THURS/SUN EUROPA LEAGUE ACTION!!!!!! Seriously, there is something very wrong behind the scenes, and the thought of Arsenal, Liverpool and even that ever-jammy that team from Stretford who dare to pretend they are in Manchester, all overtaking us is not at all just my paranoia!!! Or is it? Please someone assuage my concerns.

Cheers Steve (Monty Python’s Life) O’Brien
———–
A NEW MANAGER FOR CITY?
Dear Editor, In his latest contribution Steve O’ Brien asks the following question: “But who? Who in the footballing world of no guarantees should we be looking at? We have supposedly scoured the planet for two world class players in every position (yeah, right!) but where is the truly elite manager to guide them?”

After watching the debacle at Burnley yesterday I too have reluctantly arrived at the opinion that MP may well have to go unless a miracle is achieved at the end of the season. In the post match interviews MP was looking pale and wan (like he had been hit by a ton of bricks) while Sean Dyche was ebullient, expressed himself eloquently and gave me the impression that he is a great team motivator. So if we are looking for a new manager why go “scouring the planet” when there is one living 30 miles away from Manchester ? Does it matter that he has not yet won anything ? He may never get the chance if the total value of the teams that he manages is less than the price of one of City’s prima donnas. How about an English manager for once in a while who can express himself much more effectively than the one dimensional MP who over uses the word ‘important’ and appears to be inflexible with his tactics, methods and substitutions ?

Philip van Gass
philipvangass at yahoo.co.uk

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DENNIS TUEART

We signed Dennis Tueart (and Mickey Horswill) from Sunderland.

It was the season after they beat Leeds in the 1973 FA Cup so I reckon it was before the start of the 73/74 season…

That was my 1st ever match – Man City v Sunderland Feb 1973 – it was either 3rd or 4th round of FA Cup.

We went ahead 1-0 they scored twice getting it to 1-2 then we had a late equaliser and we had a player sent off.

So I saw Summerbee, Marsh, Bell, Dave Watson and Dennis Tueart on my 1st ever trip to Maine Rd with my dad & granddad…

They won replay 3-1 at Roker Park..

At Sunderland last year, I spent half an hour talking to both Joe Corrigan and Jim Montgomery in Quinnys Bar we were discussing Joe Harts enforced absence at the time and we were all humming & harring whether it was a good thing or not…
Turned out to be a good plan.

It was a bad result, delightful chat though…

Cheers
Phil…
phil.lines AT mandatacontracts.com
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CITY FANS

I was pleased that Steve O’Brien is back. My comment about his first rant in ages was expressing pleasure that he did not demand heads, but his calm reasoning in the last issue has reminded me, that it is not just money that has put us on this merry go round. The dreaded days of Swales in his
ludicrous belief that some manager had a magic wand were never any different. Without instant success, heads always rolled.

We are simply back to form. The idea of forgiving mistakes and showing patience have never been strong suits for City fans. I think Pellegrini has had it. I agree that he has had an awful season, but I still worry that sacking Championship winning managers the next year is not something we should do so willingly and carelessly. Sadly, it seems to be required.

Mercer’s treatment was shocking. He won us the championship and so much more and changed our style of play despite being told not to work again before coming to us. Despite his illness, he changed City so much. Mancini lasted a year, despite performing the miracle of bringing silver ware to a club that had forgotten how to win. Now, again the very next year, the man who introduced a phenomenal way of playing and scoring and winning is despised because he can’t do it two years running.

I have no idea who will take over, I don’t care to think about it or speculate. We pay a bloody fortune to people to do that sort of thing. Pity we don’t think of paying a fortune to try and develop a way to maintain whatever progress we make.

Phil B’s stuff about the apparent distancing of the club from its fans is the most chilling aspect of all, but I really do wish we would remember that 5 years ago we would not believe an FA Cup win. Since then ,Two championships, a League cup and at least one league runners-up spot are no longer felt to be enough. We are every bit as bad as the press in demanding everything instantly. When City fans pined for some success, I could relate to that. Now we expect it, I feel isolated.

Daniel Nellist’s honest piece was very refreshing. Being “just” 28 is irrelevant. MacVittee is not just for old gits like me, it is for City Fans.

I completely understand what Daniel means about wishing we were crap again. Trouble is, his wish is all but fulfilled, except prices will not go
backwards to reflect that.
Martin Hunt
Martinhuntctid at gmail.com

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GOING FORWARD

I was really uplifted by Jamie Jackson’s excellent blog in today’s Guardian.

http://www.theguardian.com/football/2015/mar/19/manchester-city-sell-yaya-toure-clearout-youth

I am really uncomfortable with the expectation that has developed in just a few years. We expect to rule the world because we have money. That has a horrifically familiar ring to it and I fear we are in danger of becoming everything we have always detested in the Stretford Dodgers. [Ed: no chance of that with good down to earth fans like us – who pay their hard earned money in difficult times (still difficult, no matter what George Osborne says) to watch City – and nothing wrong with fans expecting extremely well paid professionals giving their all and extremely well paid management making more good decisions than bad ones]

I have already suggested that I am sick of Ya Ya’s petulance. At a million a month (give or take), he should be desperate to be a 100% blue. He isn’t, so it’s time to offload. Mangala had largely been a nightmare and has showed promise in brief cameos. Again, at over £40m and a huge wage, he should have sorted himself out better than he has. Sagna and Fernando were acquisitions that I have never understood and would be no loss. Cabalero has been as dodgy as the Hart he was brought in to replace. Instead, Joe’s performance at Barcelona proved beyond all doubt how we have to be patient with the occasional off days.

Jackson’s suggestion of turning to youth really appeals to me. I have consistently called for more academy lads to come through. Pellegrini’s appointment was supposed to facilitate that. Instead we have largely acquired misfits whose very cost have unwisely blocked the youth policy.

This season, we have underperformed and failed to show the scintillating style we had last year. This is not the reason to sack the manager and maintain the misfits largely responsible. I do not exonerate Pellegrini and have pointed out his naivety in having no plan B has cost us dear. He certainly needs to buck up, but I still argue that we should show some support to proven successes who have surprisingly failed.

If we offload Yaya, we may not win much next year. There is little wrong in reforming. Our multi-million purchases have failed far more often than they have succeeded. We are clearly not buying as well as we should. That is one problem with having loadsamoney.

Let’s get our club back and go back to the Academy. It is itself a light year from five years ago. Our intake are from around the world. I find it disgraceful how much we spend on them, only to ship them out with never a hope of making the first team.

Building on youth and bringing them through the Academy is far more sustainable and far more rewarding than spending a fortune on misfits.

Of course, we have had some stunning buys, King Vince, Aguero, Silva, Zabba have been out of this world rewards, but they have shown total commitment as well as consistent excellence. Sadly it is massively offset by very expensive misfits, mercenaries and journeymen. It really is time to change. I just hope the change is a radical turnaround in policy and one of producing the best in the world through the Academy and bringing those success into our first team.

Martin Hunt
Martinhuntctid at gmail.com

[Ed: I don’t want to dampen Martin’s or anyone’s spirits but I wouldn’t put much store in Jamie Jackson’s blog. Jackson’s “sportblog” in the Guardian on the 18th was a disgrace….mainly based on a glance shared by Silva and Aguero, in which he suggested they may wish to leave City to win the Champions League:

http://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2015/mar/18/manchester-city-sergio-aguero-david-silva-barcelona-champions-league

I smell a rat, correction, rag here. It may well suit a United fan to see us selling Silva, Aguero and Yaya et al and City starting again with a load of youngsters while United throw more and more dosh at their squad. The thought of letting our Serge or Merlin go doesn’t bear thinking about. I’m far from convinced that selling Yaya is the best thing just yet any way. Why not play him just behind Aguero more along with Silva, with three deeper midfield players. The idea of young Academy lads breaking through is of course appealing, but let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water. A big bucket of salt should be on hand when reading Jackson’s “sportblog”, especially where City are concerned.]
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PITBULL

Watching our old mucker’s Inter Milan last night on the TV I was really impressed by Gary Medel in their midfield and thought what a great fit he would be in our midfield. Although he is know as Pitbull for his tackling I did not expect to see the crisp passing ability and fluid movement around
the pitch. Exactly what we have been missing from our centre midfield. He looks miles better than Yaya, Fernadinho or Fernando at doing what has been our main failing ever since Nigel De Jong was given the push. What also surprised me was his passes were not going sideways but were often fed out to the wings direct to feet over distance. Of course he isn’t going to get the goals that Yaya gets bit I think with a player like him in the team then it can free up Silva and Nasri to show their outstanding talent. We have quality forwards, we have quality creative midfielders, unfortunately
we have a big hole in the middle of midfield exposing and embarrassing Vinnie. I know Vinnie is not in the best of form but if he had a Matic or Medel in front of him I am sure he would not have been exposed as much as he has been this year. Inter got Medel for only 10 million as well, less than we coughed up for Fernando who looks very average. Postscript – Medel got man of the match last year for Cardiff when they beat us at the start of the season!

Simon Clarke
simbad1962 AT gmail.com
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