Newsletter #1582

A game and result that most will want to forget as City managed 5 draws on the trot and Burnley ended their 5 losses away from home with a 3-3 draw at CoMS.

We have a match report tonight thanks to Phil, and plenty of opinion on team selection, tactics, management and players, together with the usual requests.

Next Game: Liverpool, away, 12.45pm Saturday 21 November


Poor defending and an inability to kill off a bright Burnley side cost City another two points as we recorded a fifth successive league draw in the drizzle of a winter’s day.

So began a Lancashire derby that ebbed and flowed, amidst the backdrop of two passionate sets of fans. The ‘Stand up if you hate Man U’ chant from the Burnley fans was naturally well received by the home contingent, though, judging by the reaction to the visitors’ next chant, there clearly weren’t many ‘Blackburn Rovers haters’ in Manchester to reciprocate!

City were shockingly awful in the first half and allowed Burnley to dictate the game. When we did have the ball in that first period, we were ponderous and uninspired in attack, allowing Burnley to regroup. There were too many long balls aimed at Adebayor’s head as we ran out of ideas. Whilst Burnley are a team that lack pace in attack and certain areas of midfield, they have the guile to prosper at this level. Inspired by their wily playmaker, Wade Elliott, the Clarets are a team that are very comfortable in possession, and if you give them time to play and don’t defend properly, they pass the ball well and will hurt you: and hurt us, they did. Our midfield allowed them far too much time on the ball, and ‘Burner-lee’ (that’s what their fans were chanting) soon capitalised on our lack of intensity.

The warning signs were there early on as the City defence watched as Eagles cut back a low free kick and Blake side footed wide despite being given the freedom of the penalty area. Then in the 19th minute, with Bridge well out of position, Lescott was ruled to have handled a cross from he right, and young referee Stuart Attwell pointed to the spot: Alexander expertly despatched the penalty, giving Shay Given no chance.

Even after that, Burnley still looked the more likely to score with Wade Elliott running the show and Eagles running Bridge ragged. Indeed it was no great shock when they increased their lead. Given was forced into a brilliant save low to his left from a Fletcher header. However, this was only a temporary respite as Barry lost possession as we broke out of defence, and in another incisive move that was poorly defended, with Bridge nowhere to be seen, Eagles’ low cross was expertly delayed for Fletcher, who was in acres of space, to side foot home. It was terrible defending, and what made it worse was that no City player covered the gaping hole that had been left by Bridge. Shay Given was rightly furious with his defence, and was fully entitled to ask why they had gone absent without leave.

Not only did the team lack a tempo in the first half, but the defending was appalling. A full back’s job is to defend first and attack second, but Bridge seemed to think that the opposite was the case. Several times he was caught well up field, and his place in the team has to be in doubt after too many performances like this. Whilst City’s defence is still getting used to playing together, there is no excuse for poor marking and poor positioning, and Lescott and Bridge left our left hand side ‘open all hours’. What happened to ‘thou shalt not pass’? Oh, for a Stuart Pearce, an Andy Hinchcliffe, or a ‘Dissa’ Pointon: they wouldn’t be negligent. Even Danny G-G-G-Granville would be a massive improvement, and he’s playing Non-League Football now.

At least we have attacking players who know their job. Bellamy forced a sharp save from Jensen (affectionately known as ‘Beeeeeeast’ to his fans). Then in the 42nd minute, Shaun Wright-Phillips, who was our best performer all afternoon, dragged City back into the game with a piece of individual skill. He tricked his way past Blake, enjoying a lucky deflection off the winger on his way past, then curled a shot that took a deflection off City old-boy Jordan and low into the left hand corner of the net.

The second half saw City playing at a tempo, with passion and skill that would upset a team like Burnley who lack a bit of pace all round. Barry noticeably was covering every time that Bridge ventured forward. City went close when Tevez crossed from the right and Bellamy worked the ball to Ireland who shot over. Another City attack saw Jordan and Zabaleta square up to each other after they collided in Burnley’s box, but neither received a card and SWP calmed our ex-left back down a tad. The force was very much with City, who were not to be distracted by such nonsense. After a foul inside the visitors’ half in the 54th minute, Barry floated up a free kick, Lescott stretched out a leg to help the ball across to Toure who side footed the equaliser. Game on.

City were in front three minutes later after a beautiful move: Ireland played a perfectly weighted ball inside the Burnley left back for SWP whose cut back was swept home expertly by Bellamy. He and Eastlands showed their delight, as the previously noisy contingent from East Lancashire fell silent.

Burnley were like a boxer on ropes, clinging on for dear life as they seemed to tire and wilt under pressure, but City failed to land the killer punch. Tevez spurned a couple of opportunities: firstly, his low shot was saved fairly comfortably by Brian Jensen after good work by Zabaleta and Wright-Phillips down the right; then Tevez scooped a Bellamy cross over when well placed at the end of a quickfire move.

Despite these misses, it was puzzling that this was to be Tevez’ last kick of the game as he was at the centre of much of City’s good work, and did not look tired. Even more puzzling was Mark Hughes’ decision to play his replacement, Petrov, on the right, and move SWP to the left. SWP had been terrorising Jordan, who we know isn’t the quickest, and had his measure down our right, and this threat was lost with this change. Furthermore, instead of continuing to stretch Burnley, both wingers were on their ‘wrong’ side and the attack was narrowed with both of them coming inside onto their better foot. Switching wingers can be a good tactic to provide variety, but normally only as a temporary measure. It can be argued that playing a winger on the opposite flank can result in them cutting in to shoot more but neither winger got in any shot of note after this mistaken change.

Petrov did manage to play a low cross from the right with his weaker right foot after a delightful Ireland pass but it just eluded Adebayor at the far post.

Just before this, Carlisle nearly scored an own goal at a set piece but this was headed off the line by substitute Nugent who was to prove even more influential in the outcome of the game when he capitalised on Bridge’s poor defensive header at the other end of the pitch. Seizing upon Bridge’s latest gift, Nugent crossed to the far post for the unmarked Fletcher, who nodded back across goal for sub McDonald (also unmarked) to score. It was very poor defending again all round, yet again.

Burnley could even have won the game at the death when Nugent got the wrong side of Lescott, but Toure saved at least a point with his covering clearance.

A draw with a team that had previously lost all its previous away games can only seen as a bad result. Furthermore, City have to despatch mid-table teams like Burnley if we are to get into the top four. Our defending must improve markedly, as it is not reasonable to expect the forwards to score four goals to win every game. Hughes must drop Bridge now as his form has been very inconsistent this season. Surely Sylvinho can do a better job at left back than Bridge, even at his age? FA Youth Cup winner Ryan McGivern is doing well on loan at Leicester, and he too is worthy of consideration. As for central defence, Lescott must up his game, as he is capable of much better than this, though it is doubtful as to whether his best makes him as good as Richard Dunne. Nedum Onuoha is the best and most commanding defender at the club and, if fit, he should play alongside Toure, allowing the option of playing Lescott at left back. If Ned isn’t ready to come into central defence yet, Vincent Kompany is available again, and very capable of doing a good job. What mustn’t happen is the age old mistake of managers insisting on playing their expensive signings out of stubbornness, even if there are better players waiting in the wings. Selection has to be on merit. The defence’s failure, though, was not only down to individuals, but it was a collective too. Mark Hughes, his coaching staff and the players must solve this problem so that we defend effectively as a team if we are to be successful this season.

It was a day when we remembered those who perished in battle for us: poppies adorned the hoardings around the ground, the players of both sides wore poppies and before the game, a two minute silence was held in the memory of those who have paid the ultimate price for us. It put everything into perspective.

Att: 47,205

Given: One great save just before Burnley’s second. He was let down badly byhis defence, and let them know about it in no uncertain terms. Deserves muchbetter protection from those in front of him 8
Zabaleta: Absent for the second goal but otherwise gave a decent account ofhimself in defence and attack 6
Toure: Tackle at the end saved us from a first home defeat, but should havedone better for 2nd and 3rd goals 6
Lescott: Poor positioning cost us dearly 5
Bridge: Had a torrid time in the first half against Eagles, and was caughtbadly out of position several times, including Burnley’s 2nd goal. Someimprovement in the 2nd half, but the cross for Burnley’s 3rd goal came from hisside after his weak header failed to clear the danger. Skating on very thin ice4
SWP: Never stopped running and probing: richly deserved his goal 8 (Man of thematch)
Ireland: Didn’t quite happen for him in the 1st half but his tenacity and skillwere key to City’s improved 2nd half display 7
Barry: Surrendered possession uncharacteristically in 1st half but his industryand set piece delivery was essential in our fight back 7
Bellamy: Endeavour and quality without quite being at his best: took his goalwell 7
Adebayor: A good, physical presence up front, but not at his best here 6
Tevez: Worked very hard was creative and tricky on the ball, but his shootingwas wayward 7
Petrov: What could he have achieved if he’d been played in his correctposition? 6

Best oppo: Wade Elliott: Clever, bright and inventive and with bags of time on the ball: it is amazing that this guy has only just hit the Premier League at 30.
Refwatch: Stuart Attwell: A young ‘fast-tracked’ referee who is completely out of his depth. So much so that he didn’t know which way to point for one free kick. Absolutely dreadful 3

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


Having removed my right foot from the shattered remains of my TV screen and gone for a quiet drive down Highway 401 to cool off, I will refrain from some of the screaming and yelling that I am sure will accompany other postings on City’s pathetic 3-3 draw with Burnley. I will try to remain cool as I critique that shambles of a performance.

Again, the finger points squarely at our pathetic excuse for a defence. How we can have three current members of England’s rearguard perform so badly is totally beyond me.

No words can describe me feelings about Lescott. Twenty five million quid? You’ve got to be kidding. I can find players in pub leagues that have more defensive talents than this bloke. He is a walking disaster. Then we have Wayne Bridge. What part of playing left back does he not comprehend? The guy was on a walkabout for all three goals. If Hughes wanted you to play left wing he’d put you there. And even Gareth Barry looked mindless on the second goal. The blame has to lie with Mark Hughes. This team is going downhill fast. He has cried about the same weaknesses for the past three games yet is tactically inept to make positive changes. Stuart Pearce would never stand for such rubbish. It’s not rocket science that you need a strong back two that can communicate together plus full backs who play their positions when under attack. Maybe you can’t fault Toure who has been out for a couple of games but putting him together with Lescott is a disaster waiting to happen. Already discussed Bridge. Why didn’t Hughes sub him after we went ahead 3-2 just to prove a point that we can’t afford another defensive slip? But even in attack, Hughes needs to figure out what his strike force is going to be and stick with it until it clicks. Playing musical chairs with Adebayor, Tevez, Bellamy, SWP, Santa Cruz, Petrov… and did I mention the shortly arriving Robinho is a total waste of talent. Hughes used only one sub on Saturday, Petrov, and then he played him on the right wing!

Hughes has to know that if the current slide continues, his job has to be on the line. To mismanage such talent is criminal. Somewhere Richard Dunne is laughing his head off!

Need to buy a new telly.

Keith Sharp <keith(at)>


Last season I contributed two or three criticisms of Mark Hughes and his ability to craft a team capable of winning the Premier League. Like contributor Ray Bardsley, I am increasingly convinced he doesn’t have what it takes. If you don’t prevail over lesser teams, especially when you’re enjoying a two goal advantage (Fulham), you’re going nowhere except to the middle of the pack.

I don’t understand why a top flight Premier League manager/coach doesn’t have the tactical wherewithal to close down a second-rate team such as Fulham at a point in the game when the result should have been pretty much decided.

The draw against Birmingham was another chapter in the same story. Ditto Burnley.

In principle, of course, the Fulham débâcle was the same as losing to Man United in injury time. The generous extra time allotment became a monstrous red herring for what was City’s inability to focus until the final whistle and get the job done.

Ray refers to progress having been made and certainly he is correct. But the progress isn’t tactical, it has been bought. Bring in a bunch of high-priced talented players and they’re bound to create some element of progress to the club.

Equally, if the coach loses the plot, those players will soon lose interest and be gone to their next mercenary mission. My fear is that talented mainstays such as Ireland and SWP, who haven’t been treated with the respect they deserve, will become disaffected and leave before them.

Micah Richards’ self-defence that he is a ‘work-in-progress’ is fair comment from a 21-year-old but the problem is, he seems to have stopped learning. Perhaps he will need to attend finishing school elsewhere? And don’t get me going about Santa Cruz.

I’m less convinced by the argument that Richard Dunne is a major loss but certainly his departure has done nothing to improve matters at the back: arguably the high-priced defence unit is one of City’s worst in recent seasons.

In theory, the current array of City players is capable of great things but I continue to doubt whether Hughes is the man to lead this team to the top, even during a season where all other potential contenders are stumbling.

City simply don’t look a team that’s driven to win.

Chris Cobb <cobsun(at)>


Looking at the City line up it was designed to be an attacking team, and I immediately thought this is the right team to beat Burnley. How wrong I was; for most of the game City looked like strangers to each other.

SWeeP was my man of the match, who again worked his socks off. Bellamy put in a good effort too.

Adebayor needs to play like he did against Arsenal; he hasn’t done a thing since – the Gooner fans are right, he does get lazy.

Tevez is off form; his shots on goal were all very timid.

The defence have never been any good since Toure and Lescott came to replace Dunne.

Bridge was caught out of position time and time again.

Zabaleta made a strong effort, but is not perfect.

In the 87th minute you could see the frustration by Shay Given when Toure could have got to the ball to move it forward but Shay Given beat him to the ball and kicked it as hard as he could forward.

The team collectively get a 3 out of 10 in this game. The referee gets a 4 out of 10.

Some players tried for City today and I feel sorry for them, but the majority were b****y rubbish!

If Mark Hughes cannot get his players to perform for him, he is going to have a question mark against him, but I still am willing to give him more time.

Come on you Blues!

Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)>


I only see us on the telly but really struggling to see what Hughes is seeing in our defence at the moment, specifically Lescott and Bridge. All Bridge seems to do is get caught out of position; if he does advance with the ball he’s turned inside and has to pass it back, contributing very little. Lescott just doesn’t look on the pace.

Sylvinho’s sitting on the bench and did OK when he played so why drop him?

In the middle it’s going to take a big swallowing of pride to drop Lescott after all that went on but something needs to change; get Kompany in there till Nedum is fit. Easy in hindsight (although many said it at the time) but selling Dunne looks like a worse decision every day.

It’s Saturday night so it may look different in the morning but it’s so frustrating, we’re doing so well compared to what we’re used to and the differences are so slight between top 4 and 7-8; surely we can put it right?

CTID etc., Paul Ruffley <ruffley(at)>


Memo to Mark Hughes: no point moaning about the defence, you signed them. Another inept display defensively, not much better in the midfield.

There’s no point saying ‘give them more time’; 15-20 million dollar players should ‘hit the ground running’.

Don’t you just love the Burnleys, Fulhams, the Stokes – teams that battle for everything and don’t rely on their ‘price tags’. The way they play is the way football was before the world went mad, with foreign owners with deep pockets.

I know I might sound like a broken record but we need to fix the defence, and fix it fast, to be taken seriously.

Kevin Williamson <scribbs(at)>


Many former City stars will be turning out for a Charity game for the great Bert Trautman’s first club St Helen’s Town this coming Sunday at the Regional Athletics Arena at Eastlands. Kick off time is 1pm.

Former stars on parade include Asa Hartford, Eric Nixon, Ian Scott, Andy May, Andy Morrison, Ian Brightwell, Neil Pointon, Kenny Clements, Jim Melrose, Frank Carrodus, Steve Redmond, David Brightwell, Paul Lake, David White, Tommy Booth, Glyn Pardoe and Joe Corrigan. City secretary Bernard Halford will celebrate 50 years in football by kicking off the proceedings.

Entrance fee is only £2 for all City card holders and £4 for others. Any profits made will go to the Bert Trautmann Foundation and the Help Man City Sierra Leone Appeal.

The former POW has said “I’ll always be very thankful to the people of Lancashire for being so accepting of a German player after the war.”

Alex Channon <alexchannon81(at)>


The Centenary Supporters’ Associations Sierra Leone appeal received some high profile coverage over the weekend with great article by Simon Mullock from the Daily Mirror.

If you’ve not read the article then please use this link:

At the end of the article there’s a “Donation Link” but for some technical reason it’s not working correctly. If anyone would like to make a donation, no matter how small, then please use this link:

Howard Burr <reddishblues(at)>


8 November 2009

Hull City             2 - 1  Stoke City            24,516
West Ham United       1 - 2  Everton               32,466
Wigan Athletic        1 - 1  Fulham                16,172
Chelsea               1 - 0  Manchester United     41,836

7 November 2009

Aston Villa           5 - 1  Bolton Wanderers      38,101
Blackburn Rovers      3 - 1  Portsmouth            23,110
Manchester City       3 - 3  Burnley               47,205
Tottenham Hotspur     2 - 0  Sunderland            35,955
Wolverhampton Wndrs   1 - 4  Arsenal               28,937

League table to 08 November 2009 inclusive

                             HOME          AWAY        OVERALL
                    P  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F   A   GD Pts
 1 Chelsea         12  6  0  0 16  1  4  0  2 13  7 10  0  2  29   8  21  30
 2 Arsenal         11  5  0  0 20  4  3  1  2 16 10  8  1  2  36  14  22  25
 3 Manchester Utd  12  5  1  0 13  7  3  0  3 10  5  8  1  3  23  12  11  25
 4 Tottenham H.    12  4  0  2 12  6  3  1  2 11 11  7  1  4  23  17   6  22
 5 Aston Villa     12  4  1  1 12  5  2  2  2  8  7  6  3  3  20  12   8  21
 6 Manchester City 11  3  2  0 13  8  2  3  1  8  6  5  5  1  21  14   7  20
 7 Liverpool       11  4  0  1 17  4  2  0  4  8 12  6  0  5  25  16   9  18
 8 Sunderland      12  4  1  1 15  9  1  1  4  5 10  5  2  5  20  19   1  17
 9 Stoke City      12  3  1  2  8  7  1  3  2  4  8  4  4  4  12  15  -3  16
10 Burnley         12  5  0  1 10  5  0  1  5  5 20  5  1  6  15  25 -10  16
11 Fulham          11  3  0  2  7  5  1  3  2  7  9  4  3  4  14  14   0  15
12 Everton         11  2  3  1  9 10  2  0  3  6  7  4  3  4  15  17  -2  15
13 Wigan Athletic  12  2  2  2  6  9  2  0  4  7 13  4  2  6  13  22  -9  14
14 Blackburn R.    11  4  1  1 11  7  0  0  5  3 18  4  1  6  14  25 -11  13
15 Birmingham City 11  2  2  2  4  4  1  0  4  4  8  3  2  6   8  12  -4  11
16 Bolton Wndrs    11  1  2  3  8 13  2  0  3  7 11  3  2  6  15  24  -9  11
17 Hull City       12  3  1  2  6  8  0  1  5  4 17  3  2  7  10  25 -15  11
18 West Ham United 12  1  2  3 10 12  1  2  3  6  8  2  4  6  16  20  -4  10
19 Wolves          12  1  2  3  5 10  1  2  3  7 12  2  4  6  12  22 -10  10
20 Portsmouth      12  1  0  5  7  8  1  1  4  3 10  2  1  9  10  18  -8   7

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1582