Created in 1994, MCIVTA is the longest running unofficial Manchester City related web site and e-newsletter in existence.
ISSUE DATE: Saturday 11th April 2015
NEXT GAME: Manchester United, Old Trafford, Sunday 12th April (16:00 BST)
WAITING FOR WHAT?
Manuel Pellegrini increasingly wears the look of a man who knows his fate his sealed. City’s dramatic fall from being Champions playing free lowing football to an
uncertain team that has lost its way and is getting beaten too regularly and easily by moderate teams.
Sadly, just 11 months after a brilliant, triumphant double winning season, this very decent gentleman is heading for the exit door. His mistakes have been well-
documented and they have played their part in a pronounced downturn in performance. He shouldn’t be alone in having his future questioned. It is increasingly
pertinent to wonder exactly what Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain bring to the party. In the three years since they have been at City they have spent well north
of £100m on new players, yet only Fernandinho and to a lesser extent Martin Demichelis and Lampard have been successful signings. Whilst Bony and Mangala
may come good, none of the other players signed under their watch could be classified as a success. The names Javi Garcia, Jovetic, Navas, Fernando,
Mangala, Caballero, Zuculini, Sagna, Sinclair don’t make for comfortable reading and only highlight the profligacy of Begiristain in particular.
Negredo did well for half a season, but the mishandling of Milner’s contract, and the lack of enough selection of Milner himself by Pelegrini will see him depart at
the end of the season. As is pointed out in this issue, the handling of Nastasic has been terrible, and a very talented young defender has been allowed to leave.
Our current best players were signed before Soriano and Begiristain arrived: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Yaya, Silva, Milner and Aguero. The same applies to
other players that have played an important part in our success: Clichy, Nasri and Dzeko.
Soriano and Begiristain ideally would like Pellegrini to do better and at least carry City through until 2016: the year when Begiristain’s buddy Pep Guardiola’s
contract with Bayern is due to expire. That seems very remote now. Is Guardiola really likely to come here? This season he has talked about staying at Bayern
for 5 or 6 years. He generally goes to clubs that are at the very top. City are not there yet, and it looks like our ageing side is in decline. Why would he leave one
of Europe’s elite for City?
Are we waiting for a manager who will not necessarily be coming here? We have to be very careful that we do not take our eye off the ball like we have done this
If Soriano and Begiristain survive this summer’s review it could be that they go for a stop gap manager in Rafa Benitez. As impressive as Benitez’s CV is, and
tactically astute as he is, his teams are not renowned for attractive football, he tends to over-rotate his teams, and besides, life is too short for stop-gaps. City
shouldn’t be appointing stop-gaps. In any case, there is far from any guarantee that Guardiola will come here, and the way that Soriano and Begiristain are
performing does not suggest they will necessarily be around. We need proper forward planning. Ancelotti would be the more sensible choice than Benitez. He
has a good track in England having won the League and FA Cup Double with Chelsea, and is the proven, safe pair hands that we need. His teams do play
attractive football too, and his Chelsea goals amassed 103 goals in that double winning season. If Ancelotti isn’t available then why not look to Jurgen Klopp who
has a good record with young players, as has our own Patrick Vieira, even if he hasn’t got first team managing experience.
The disgraceful way Soriano and Begiristain handled Roberto Mancini’s sacking, wrecking the atmosphere on the eve of an FA Cup final left a nasty taste in the
mouth. The way they got caught talking to Pellegrini’s agent was massive cack-handedness and disrespectful to a manager who turned us into champions. It
seems like they have learned nothing. Former Argentine manager Alejandro Sabella has said that he has been contacted by City, and there is no reason to
disbelieve him especially as he known for his integrity, and other reputable sources have backed this up. Sao Paolo want him as their coaches but he has told
them that he cannot give them an answer as he is waiting for the outcome of talks with City (his agent flew to the UK on Thursday), which may or may not hinge
on how City perform in the Derby this weekend. Tuesday is reportedly the day when we know more, but in the meantime there is a piece on Sabella in this edition
One would have hoped that Soriano and Begiristain would have tried to show a little more respect for Pellegrini, and show some discretion. Is that too much to
Putting all this aside (if that’s possible), if Soriano and Begiristain were to survive and could deliver Pep Guardiola that would be exciting but we would need a few
more top quality signings and they have not delivered many of those during their tenure at City. There is a nagging feeling that Soriano and Begiristain were lucky
to be at Barcelona at the same time as one Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez. They are far from convincing, and if they are still in situ after this
Summer the strong feeling is that Begiristain’s friendship with Guardiola and the prospect of him coming to City is the main reason why.
It’s a strange time being a Blue. Many of us haven’t been in the situation where we have seen a successful squad start to show its age.
The much-loved Harry Dowd passed away this week at the age of 76. His name is very familiar even to those of us weren’t lucky enough to see him play in that
great City side of the 1960s and 70s. I wish I’d seen him play – his team mates say he was very good on the ball. The successor to Bert Trautmann, he made
181 appearances for City, most famously in the 1969 Cup Final triumph where he played a key role. Ollie Claffley has kindly written a short tribute to him in this
issue, and please do send in your tributes to him. Thoughts and prayers are with his family.
On a happier note Pablo Zabaleta’s wife Christel gave birth to their son Asier on Saturday 4th. Congratulations to them and their Mancunian (a Blue doubtless)
Today’s edition has views, reports, an appeal from Alex Channon on the Bradford Memorial Pit Project. It’s great to have Alex back writing for us again and
hopefully his call will be answered.
On Sunday we have the small matter of a Manchester derby at The Swamp. For the first time in a few years, you could say that we go there as underdogs.
Hopefully all our players will show their true mettle and give their all. At our best, we can wipe the floor with United. Let’s hope we do. Come on City. Put them in
Crystal Palace 2 Manchester City 1 (HT 1-0)
Manchester City crashed to a third successive away defeat despite totally dominating this match at Selhurst Park. A controversial Glen Murray tap in the first half
which had at least two offsides turned down and a brilliantly struck Jason Puncheon free kick just after the break gave Palace a 2-0 lead despite City’s complete
domination. Palace defended manfully for most of the first half and almost all the second, and could do nothing about Yaya Toure’s sizzling 78th minute strike, but
it was not enough. Granted referee Oliver should have given a penalty for blatant hand ball but something is not right at City. What was once the strongest
defence in the country is now looks nervous and likely to concede at any moment. There are too many square pegs in round holes in the way we are set up.
Pellegrini’s 4-4-2 does not work enough now and I am sorry to say this, but with Dzeko playing in this form, which has been for most of the season, it is like
playing with one arm tied behind our backs. Pellegrini’s failure to pick his best team – Zabaleta and Milner on the bench again – and limited tactics is going to
cost him his job this summer. Not that the players are immune to accountability. Too many have not performed to the best of their ability, even some of those who
have tried their hardest. The futures of those who haven’t given their all, and those who are simply not god enough are going to come under increasing scrutiny
at the end of this season.
It was an undeserved defeat for City who gave everything, but fair play to Palace who worked very hard and defended extremely well. Scott Dann was very
impressive at the heart of the Palace defence; the massively under rated Puncheon’s free kick was as good as you’ll see anywhere, and his skill in midfield
provided the home side with much needed respite at times; Man of The Match Murray was outstanding at centre forward, dominating the air and holding up play
well, even if he should have cost his side a penalty with his ball juggling skills. Make no mistake, Alan Pardew has done a very good job there since he took over.
The question is no longer about retaining our title – so badly have City fallen away to 9 points behind Chelsea. We are in 4th place, one point behind United and
two behind resurgent Arsenal, with Liverpool and Tottenham 7 points behind. Even 4th place, and a potentially tricky Champions League Qualifier in August, is
not guaranteed with a visit to Tottenham to come. The damage that could do to the club (which top players would we lose?) does not bear thinking about.
City played quite well in this game, having 74% of the possession, but our final ball was not good enough to break down Palace’s massed defence. We had
chances but Palace got blocks in the way and Speroni earned his keep too. The nagging feeling is we should have finished better, though. We have to look how
we can improve overall. Where did we go wrong? What can we learn from our mistakes? Was Joe Hart too far over to his right at Puncheon’s free kick, and could
Yaya have done more to head it out from his position in the wall? Yaya was the tallest player in the wall, but he seemed to duck his head. Surely we have to stop
changing the defence every game – the constant changes have been a major contributory factor to our weakness, as well as having little protection in front of the
back four. Has the delivery from wide positions been good enough? Navas, bless him, for all his industry fails to deliver quality crosses. Can we do better
tactically? Of course, we can. We are better with 4-5-1. Do we have an effective plan B? No. We must find one, and a Plan C etc.
We must not panic. We have to keep playing our style, improve and do the best we can in every game for the rest of the season. That means playing our
strongest team, that will fight all the way, and that must include Zabaleta and Milner. Zaba’s wife gave birth to a baby boy last week and one could have
understood his absence if he was on paternity leave, but the fact that he was available makes his benching puzzling.
We have to get to the end of this season in the best shape possible, doing the best we can. Then a full review can be taken of the management – not only
Pellegrini but Soriano and Begiristain too – and playing staff, when careful decisions have to be made, and at least one two top quality signings made. Preferably
it will be evolution rather than revolution, but there will be very big decisions to be made by Khaldoon Al Mubarak and his board.
Hart: Unlucky his block from Dann went to Murray for the first goal. Was positioned too far over to his right for the second but could reasonably have expected
more protection from his wall. His distribution was good in this match, and one long kick gave Aguero a run on the Palace efence: 6
Sagna: At least a yard out of position for Palace’s opener when the first ball was played across, causing him to be beaten in the air. Games like this turn on
mistakes like that: 5
Kompany: Struggled in the air against Murray who beat him to most headers. The timing of his jumping was not always good. 6
Clichy: Had Zaha’s measure for most the night, and got forward well though his delivery of crosses was lacking quality, making Speroni’s job easier: 5
Navas: Works hard up and down the right and wins the ball back but a winger’s job is also to provide quality crosses, and he does not do this: 5
Fernandinho: Always prepared to work hard – he has to as Yaya’s partner – and he played a lot of important pass, linking play. Gave away the free kick that led to
Puncheon’s free kick, but something had to be done 7
Yaya: Whilst opponents run past him in midfield and he should work harder to run back he does try to create to score goals. One great strike doesn’t mask the
fact that he should not be ducking when he is there to stop goals in a wall. Ducking is unacceptable. 6
Silva: As ever, striving to create, and was running the game for long periods, especially the first half but at times his final ball didn’t carry the correct weight and
was over hit or intercepted. He never hides, which is much to his credit. Gave the ball away which led to Puncheon’s free kick: 7 (City’s best performer)
Dzeko: Gave the ball away several times and was unable to test the keeper in this game. He is a “rhythm player”, needing a few games to get into his stride, and
he suffers from not being a regular starter. : 5
Aguero: Not at his best but as ever, he still worked his hardest. Hit the post in the first half: 6
Lampard (for Dzeko 66): Unable to affect this game, but it would help if he was used more to remove the rustiness: 5
Nasri (for Navas 77): Lovely ball nearly opened the door. His quality has been important in title challenges but his inconsistent with two very poor games against
Liverpool and Barcelona it looks like his days are numbered here, which is a shame: n/a
Milner (for Fernandinho 88): How Navas gets a start ahead of him is scandalous, and he showed the Spanish winger and Pellegrini how it is done in 6 short
minutes. Sadly no one was on the end of his perfect cross late on. Shoul have started, and how often have we said that? n/a
Best oppo: Murray: Great work at both ends of the pitch. He has reached the Premier League in the Indian Summer of his career and looked the part here.
Refwatch: Michael Oliver: If he couldn’t see the offsides or the handball in crowds of players then it is forgivable, but he has a habit of not giving blatant penalties
for City, eg in this season’s home derby. 5
phil.banerjee AT orange.net
BAN THESE IMBECILES
It was gutting to lose to Palce and totally unnacceptable that Jason Puncheon was hit by at least one object from imbeciles who are not worthy of our club. We
don’t need them or want them. Hopefully they will be banned for life from watching City and prosecuted.
phil.banerjee AT orange.net
It was good to see a wider and more varied contribution last time out. Hopefully, people are returning to the format of a forum for views and debate and wanting
to share their views or thoughts or memory of all things Blue.
I was puzzled by Peter Murphy’s reference to me. I could not quite make out the point he was making about what I had said. In case I caused confusion, I really
love YaYa’s contribution, his power and his play. I would love to see him finish his playing days at City. However, if I keep getting the impression that he feels the
club owes him a debt of some form, he can sod off. There are plenty of folk who would die to be part of the club. That is the attitude I expect from anyone taking a
huge wage from us.
I have previously been in print several times about my view on side-lining and disposing of Nastasic. I don’t care what the real story is, it is a monumental cock up
and (at the risk of unsettling Peter again), it is the fault of the people we “pay a bloody fortune to”.
As to bringing youth through, the infrastructure for talented youth was far more productive before we spent a fortune on the world’s best facilities. My point is that
we have recruited talent from around the world into the academy and yet we continue to bar them from coming through into the first team. I do not decry the
facilities, nor the young lads, I am pointing out the on-going failure to honour promises to bring academy players through. By which I do not mean give them one
or two games and then flog them (as we continue to do).
One final point, in response to Gary James’ excellent facts, I don’t give a t**s on this occasion. I wanted them to play us last day of the season, at the swamp,
need a win to stay up and for Denis to score the only goal in the last minute. I was there. It happened. I saw it. I will die a happy
man. Gary is correct in all he points out. I agree it was only the last minute due to events on the wonderful day It simply does not matter. It will always be my
favourite moment. I don’t care about the technicalities after the event. It was the moment that counted and it will last forever (no disrespect at all Gary, I am not
having a pop in any sort of way).
martinhuntctid AT gmail.com
The general consensus seems to be that we are in for a major squad overhaul this summer, but I’m not convinced that whole-sale reshaping I required. in my
view we’d be better advised to focus on getting a couple of quality signings in midfield, which to me is the area which really needs refreshing. and if we’re to
succeed in Europe, what we need is a couple of quick, clever hard-working midfielders – Iniesta types – rather than the built for power Premier league Model like
Do we really need 4 strikers, particularly if Silva and/or Yaya are going to play the No.10 role? If Pozo or Ambrose are as promising as we read, then they’ll need
opportunities to break through, otherwise what is the point of the Academy (other than to produce players for Championship clubs)? Similarly, Marcos Lopes
could understudy Silva and Denayer or Rekik cover for Kompany/Mangala/DiMichelis.
With the departure of Richards, Milner & Lampard there will be a need to find some more home grown players, and the four above would at least qualify on this
score. It will also allow a bit more room in the wage bill to pay for 2 more top drawer players.
The difficulty, of course, is finding a couple of Iniestas as all the top clubs are looking for them. Time for Senor Begiristain to earn his money as recent purchases
have been underwhelming.
A couple of English players coming through the ranks would be nice.
hayesa1 AT sky.com
BRADFORD PIT MEMORIAL PROJECT
Interesting to read Peter Murphy’s article in the last edition of MCIVTA when he mentions the coal dust from the miners of Bradford Colliery. The filled in shafts of
Bradford Colliery are more or less exactly where B of the Bang stood opposite the big Asda store.
Another Murphy, Lauren Murphy the grand daughter of a former Bradford miner is leading a project to have a Memorial to Bradford Colliery placed at the site of
where the 2 shafts were. As a lifelong Blue and someone who started his mining career at Bradford Pit before going underground at Agecroft Colliery for 25
years I really hope the project comes to fruition soon.
Mining at Bradford Pit and other local collieries played a massive part in the development of Manchester and their part of our local history and heritage should
never be forgotten. There is a Facebook page ‘Bradford Pit Memorial Project’ which gives some more detail about the Colliery and theproject which is worth a
Hopefully some on here and at the club will be able to give backing to the Bradford Pit Memorial Project.
Alex Channon, ex Bradford and Agecroft pit lad and alifelong Blue.
alexchannon81 AT gmail.com
HARRY DOWN R.I.P.
The sad news on Tuesday of Harry Dowd’s passing brought me back to the great team we had in the late 60’s. I was fortunate to have been a regular at Maine
Road from about 1963 to 1969 and followed City on many away games from 1967 on. Harry was a popular player on the Kippax and I am glad he won the FA
Cup medal after losing out to Ken Mulhearn for the League Championship in 1968.
Our Headmaster was Mr Dowd and his nickname was Harry !
Ontariooclaffey AT rogers.com
ALEJANDRO (‘ALEX’) SABELLA
What do we know about Alejandro Sabella? Born in Buenos Aires in 1954, he had a moderately successful playing career which started off with home town club
River Plate where he played a key role in winning the regional Metropolitano Champonship in 1977. His progress was stunted by the return to the club of crowd
favourite Norberto Alonso, so young Sabella decided to look for opportunities elsewhere. After 2nd Division Sheffield United decided that an eye-catching young
midfielder by the name of Diego Maradona was too expensive for them, they splashed out a more modest £160,000 on Sabella instead. Alex Sabella as he is
known at Bramall Lane is remembered fondly as a stylish if languid midfielder by Sheffield United fans of a certain age, and served them for 2 years (1978-80),
though that period ended with the Blades being relegated to the Third Division for the first time in their history. He had one season at Leeds before returning back
across the Atlantic to win back to back titles with Estudiantes. His managerial record is impressive too, even though he started management relatively late (in his
fifties), winning The Copa Libertadores (The South American equivalent of the Champions League) in 2009 and the Argentine league title a year later with his old
He was due to work at Abu Dhabi club Al Jazira and was amicably excused from his contract to take up the reins of the Argentine national side . So, with their
being a good relationship between Abu Dhabi and Sabella, and reliable sources reporting there has been contact, there is a strong possibility that he could be
City’s next manager, even if that is just for one year.
He guided Argentina to the final of the World Cup in 2014, before carrying out his promise to resign. There he has had mixed reviews about his performance as
Argentina coach, with some saying he weakened Argentina’s attack in that World Cup Final by replacing Lavezzi and Higuain and with Estaban Palacios and our
own Sergio Aguero who was not fully fit, but anyone who has seen the staggering misses that Higuain is capable of, including a one-on-one in that match, might
think otherwise. Diego Simeone, successful coach of Atletico Madrid being one of them. It shouldn’t be forgotten that Lionel Messi had his best World Cup under
Sabella, after two where he had made no significant impression.
The main reservations about Sabella’s credentials are his lack of experience of coaching and management, especially in European club football. After years of
being Daniel Passarella’s number two for many years at various clubs and the Argentine national side, he only took charge of Estudiantes in 2009. However,
even if this is to be a stop gap appointment, there is some comfort in the fact that he is an intelligent, well respected man, who got the best out of Argentina in the
World Cup. We need someone to get the best out of these City players.
The other interesting thing to know about Sabella (and slightly off topic I know) is that despite coming from a wealthy upper-middle class suburb of Buenos Aires,
he is politically motivated man he is known as an outspoken left-wing Peronist, for the redistribution of wealth in his own country. An interesting character with his
heart in the right place, certainly, but is he the right choice for City as manager?
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