Newsletter #1597

Here goes, after an enforced absence due to PC problems (most likely MS Office updates I am told!), I have now managed to come up with a temporary fix so fingers crossed. McV is minus the FAQ until I get chance to incorporate that, so thanks for your patience folks.

So belatedly we have news and reaction to the Boro game, opinion on recent progress and the transfer rumours as the window swings open.

Next Game: Blackburn Rovers, home, 8pm Monday 11th January 2010


General News

Snow Chance of Semi: A city was disappointed on Tuesday as the most important Manchester derby of recent times was postponed by two weeks due to spectacular weather conditions. The sub-zero temperatures continued on from Christmas and brought a bout of snow down to ensure that Wednesday’s Carling Cup semi-final was labelled ‘unsafe’ to go ahead. Though the Eastlands pitch was in perfect condition, the fear of Greater Manchester Police and the two clubs themselves was that such conditions would create huge travel problems for the 48,000 fans and there were also fears that the surrounding areas could create a risk to all attending the game. The home leg of the tie will now take place on January 19th, with the return leg at Old Trafford on January 27th.

Hark Now Hear! Though Alex Ferguson had been quoted as saying that he intended to play his second string in the Carling Cup fixture, reports this week suggested that United’s unexpected FA Cup loss against Leeds may cause the Red Devils to field a much stronger eleven. In-form City midfielder Nigel de Jong however, says it makes no difference to him and his team-mates which side they come up against, the Blues have a score to settle against their arch-rivals and hope to do their fans proud: “It really doesn’t matter who plays for United, we know that they have a lot of quality. They have a lot of quality but in the end we cannot worry about them or what they are doing. We must concentrate on stopping them from scoring and making sure that we perform to our best. If we do that then we have already shown we are a match for anyone. Most of us have experience of playing in two-legged ties so we know that nothing will be decided after one game. There has to be a degree of patience. We know what is at stake and we are hungry for success. Mancini knows all about Milan derbies, they are crazy too so this will not bother him. We know that he is excited about the possibilities for us, which gives us confidence. We showed at Old Trafford that that we can stand toe to toe with United. We want to win this tie for our fans. We just hope that some of our injured players are back.”

City stopper Shay Given agrees with de Jong and feels that winning is the only option for his side. The Irishman is keen to win his first piece of silverware at his new club and believes the Blues have all the right attributes to take on any side that Ferguson may field: “The fans are excited and so are the players. These (the Carling Cup semi final ties) should be two red-hot encounters. Semi finals are great but people only remember the cup winners. We are all set up to achieve something here. We are all set up to achieve something here. We want to win a trophy.”

Whatever Leeds Can Do… City legend Shaun Goater has backed his former club to go all the way in this season’s Carling Cup even though it does mean overcoming the man who brought him to England. The myths about Shaun Goater being scouted in Bermuda by United are true but, luckily for us, Ferguson’s radar was on the blink the day he released ‘The Goat’. Now, having scored three derby day goals himself, Bermuda’s most famous footballing son believes it is City’s time: “I think the tie will be fascinating and I will be glued to the games. People will wonder how much a League Cup final will mean to Sir Alex considering the amount he’s had during his time at Old Trafford – well, I reckon this one will mean more than ever because he’s not going to want City playing at Wembley instead of United – not in a month of Sundays! I hear there may be some debate about whether Sir Alex will stick with his policy of using fringe players in the first leg, but don’t be surprised to see a few of his big guns. I can’t imagine the tie being as good as settled in the first leg, even though it’s a nice thought. For me, the main aim has to be to keep a clean sheet and try and take a 2-0 lead to Old Trafford. It won’t be easy, but we have the players to do it. We go into this game on the back of a series of wins and will have a packed stadium roaring us on.”

Managing Expectations: Roberto Mancini made his name as manager of Italian giants Inter Milan and, having won three consecutive Serie A titles, the 45-year-old certainly holds the key to success. Yet whilst the rest of Manchester dreams of beating United and travelling to Wembley, Mancini is completely focussed on the bigger picture: “Derbies are important, but for a big club you have to think about the bigger situation. A derby is one game but fans and players have to think further ahead. We have to look at winning trophies and doing well in the Premier League as well, that’s the mentality I want us to have. In Genoa and Rome, all year long people would only talk about two games! It was different in Milan, I think because both clubs had won a lot of trophies and had a lot of success, but at Sampdoria and Lazio there was so much focus on beating your local rivals. I know what it means to supporters when City play United, and I have seen similar things in my career already so I would love to reward them with a good result. We need to remember that we have two games to try to get to Wembley. It’s a derby match, it’s against United but we need to be calm. If we can win at home we will be in a good position for the second leg. We know it’s a derby, but we can get to a final over these two games so we must concentrate on being on top at the end of both games.”

Mancini-City – The Place To Be: Shay Given and Vincent Kompany will probably have been two of City’s most disappointed players as Mark Hughes left the club and they waved away the man who brought them to Manchester, but both the Irish goalkeeper and the Belgian defender have had to admit the Mancini way of doing things is just right for their club. Much controversy was caused by the untimely dismissal of former boss Mark Hughes but three wins and three clean sheets down the line, Mancini’s squad are beginning to reap the benefits of the Italian’s coaching methods. Given explained that: “He is quite a cool and relaxed guy but he knows what he wants from the team. Since he arrived we have worked hard on defending as a unit. We have worked a lot on shadow play and where he wants everyone to be when we don’t have the ball. He is adamant about how he wants the team to set up. I have been impressed by him. I owe Mark Hughes a lot for bringing me to the club but as a professional you have to move on. The owners made the decision to change and they pay the wages.”

Kompany also acknowledged the significant changes that Mancini has brought to the club: “In the short period that we’ve been able to work with him, I think the most important thing is that he’s been able to put over his ideas to the team quite quickly. Most times, a new coach will need a certain period to adapt, but it has seemed to go well. We seem to be playing the way that he wants, and we’ve tuned into his football philosophy. It’s not an emphasis on defence. I believe that he pays a lot of attention to details, and he makes it clear what he wants. Everybody on that pitch knows exactly what he has to do. We do a lot of drills and work on tactical situations every day. There’s a lot of emphasis on tactics and intelligent football, before power and pace. He’s got his own approach to the job, but drills are quite usual with a lot of Continental teams, though maybe it’s something new for some of the English players. You have to use your brain, it’s not just about enjoying your football. It demands concentration as well. I enjoy it because I’m a big supporter of the tactical approach. I’m a believer.”

5-1 again anyone? City will come face-to-face with Scunthorpe United for a second time this season as the two sides vie for a place in the fifth round of the FA Cup. Scunthorpe, who visited Eastlands three months ago only to be thrashed 5-1 in the Carling Cup, currently sit in 21st place in the Championship and will most likely see the visit of City as more of a money spinner than a tie that they will expect to win. The game will take place at Scunthorpe’s Glanford Park on Sunday 24th January (4pm) and will be televised on ITV. The Premier League away trip to Stoke City, originally scheduled for January 26th, will now take place on January 27th.

Surprise, Surprise: Similarly to the Chelsea model before it, City’s finances recorded a huge loss for the last financial year as it was announced that the club had lost £96.2 million before the month of May 2009. This figure includes the mega money signing of Robinho (£32.5 million) and the not-so-similar big spending on players such as Shay Given (£8 million) and Nigel de Jong (£16 million). Though it does not include the summer purchases of Emmanuel Adebayor (£25 million), Carlos Tevez (£25.5 million) and Joleon Lescott (£24 million) etc. Despite the apparent shock of the world’s sports media, the club’s Chief Financial and Administration Officer, Graham Wallace, has explained that such huge losses were entirely expected as the club enters a period of massive transition: “The financial results reflect a period of rapid change at the Club, the result of long-term planning and investment by the Board and our owners, to create a sustainable business in the future. We have always said that this transformation will take a number of years and these figures reflect that. The owners’ decision to convert debt to equity is in line with their previously-stated financial strategy and is fantastic news for supporters of Manchester City, whose Club is now on a secure financial foundation that gives a tremendous platform to build from in future years.”

Squad News

Happy to Help: Dedryck Boyata is the latest name off the Academy roll-call and following an impressive début at the Riverside last weekend, fellow defender Vincent Kompany has tipped the 19-year-old for great success. The versatile Belgian, Kompany, has revealed that he thoroughly enjoys working with Boyata in training and is continuously offering the promising Academy graduate advice to improve his game: “He listens and learns and then he does it right. He’s a very clever guy, he knows a lot himself already. But I go to him with advice whether he wants it or not – I don’t give him the choice! He picks up what I tell him really well. We switched sides at Middlesbrough – he asked me to! And it was his début, not mine. I played on the left side when Joleon (Lescott) was injured against Wolves and Stoke. Anyway, I like to think that I’m a good-enough footballer to play well and get out of any tricky situations whichever side I play on. I’m really happy that Dedryck is doing so well. He’s got the right attitude, and that’s half the job done. He doesn’t talk too much yet but that will come in time. As I said, he listens a lot to make up for it. He’s got a lot about him, and with patience, hard work and discipline, he can achieve whatever his goals are. Dedryck deserved all the credit he was given for his début. I wasn’t surprised at how well he played. I’ve seen him in training, although to come out and do it in a game is a different story. He’s made the first step in a long, long journey.”

Discipline No Jo-ke for Moyes: On-loan City striker Jo has been suspended indefinitely by current club Everton and could be set to return to CoMS only six months into his renewed loan deal. The Brazilian forward, who failed to impress at Eastlands following his £19 million move from CSKA Moscow, joined the Toffees in January of last year only to have his deal extended in the summer but looks set to be sent back to his parent club after spending Christmas in South America. Having gone home for the festive period, Jo missed Everton’s Premier League games against Sunderland and Burnley, something that Everton boss David Moyes has not taken lightly: “We like Jo and he has been a really good lad. We have enjoyed having him but there has to be discipline at all football clubs. He left over a busy period for us and left us short of players. I found it very difficult so at the moment he’s suspended from the club.”

Transfer News and Gossip

Old Friends: The first signing of the Mancini era seems set to be that of Inter Milan midfielder Patrick Vieira. The Frenchman, who captained Arsenal’s invincible side of 2003-04, has been told by now-boss Jose Mourinho that he has played his last game for the Italian Champions and is preparing for a move to Manchester as I write. Now 33, it’s fair to say that Vieira may be past his peak but with young up and coming midfielders such as Vincent Kompany and Nigel de Jong currently playing at the club, Vieira’s experience will be invaluable. The former Arsenal skipper, who left Arsenal to join Mancini when the City boss was in charge at Inter, is currently undergoing a medical at Eastlands and looks set to sign an 18 month contract on Thursday night.

Another of Mancini’s mates, Juan Sebastian Veron, has reportedly turned down the chance to join the Blues having supposedly been offered a £7 million a year deal. Though City have not commented on any proposed deal, the Argentine international, formerly of Manchester United, claims that Mancini offered him a 12 month deal with the option of a further year. Veron asserted though that he is settled at his current club Estudiantes, and has no plans to move away: “I talked to Mancini, but it’s not possible now. It’s not about money. First comes my family and second it’s because I made a decision and I want to respect it. This is what I feel and this is the place in which I am comfortable. To accept it would be going against my convictions, against myself and against the people. I presented the offer to the club directors so they could analyse it. But on my part there wasn’t a lot to think about. My response was instant.”

Inter-Linked with City: Those with links to Inter Milan were always going to be the ‘hot topics’ of the January transfer window for City fans and Mancini himself has admitted that if the club can qualify for the Champions’ League this season, the likes of Brazilian right back Maicon and former Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, will be top of his list come the summer: “If City finish in the top four we will look for players of the highest level. I would like Maicon. With Ibra there’s always been a rapport of great loyalty. He’s world class. Which manager in the world wouldn’t like Ibrahimovic? City is the best club in the world for an ambitious manager. There are very, very good players there but we must improve as it won’t be easy to get into the top four.”

Best of the Rest: Mancini admitted last week that if City were to beat Liverpool into fourth place this season, he’d be happy to take Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres and Javier Mascherano with him into Europe’s most prestigious competition though more likely targets such as Italian defenders Giorgio Chiellini and Christian Chivuhave both denied rumours of a move away from their current clubs. Cash-strapped Valencia’s David Villa and David Silva may both be subject to an all Manchester tug of war as City and United go head-to-head for the Spaniards’ signatures whilst whispers of a move for Sampdoria forward Antonio Cassano refuse to go away.

Alex Rowen <news(at)>


Three games and three wins – we can’t ask for more than that from Roberto Mancini. The performance at Boro wasn’t the goal-packed, flair-filled encounter that might have hoped for but it’s good to see City (cliché alert) ‘doing a job’. They ‘put a shift in’ to use a Stuart Pearcism (don’t the days of Stuart Pearce seem such a long time ago?). Granted, it’s early days in Mancini’s reign but those extra sessions focusing on the defence have paid off already. Time will tell whether it is some players playing above themselves or the players are becoming much more of a unit. Too many times in the last thirty odd years (Halifax, Lincoln, Donny, Chesterfield, ‘Balloongate’ at Sheffield United to mention a few), City have gone to teams in lower leagues and caved in, but not this time. Hopefully spineless performances like those will be a thing of the past where City are concerned, and we will need to repeat the Boro performance at Scunthorpe, who like to play a passing game. The attitude of the City players looks good as does their team spirit. Take Pablo Zabaleta – he’s prepared to play in different positions and wherever he plays, he does a good, professional job. Every squad needs a utility man like that (I’m told that Dave Connor was excellent in that regard).

Mancini will have studied the performances of those who have played in his three games and reruns of the games before. We’re signing Patrick Vieira, who though past his very best, may still have plenty to offer our squad, and Mancini is well qualified to know that. He might not be able to get round the pitch quite as quickly as he did but he has toughness and skill. Another of his Inter stalwarts Ivan Cordoba, has also been widely touted, especially as he is out of favour with Mourinho. The Columbian ‘hard man’ can play at full back and central defence, but don’t expect a giant stopper – he’s 5 foot 8 – but he is reputed to be good in the air.

It was pleasing that Mancini blooded Dedryck Boyata in the Boro game, and he gave a good account of himself. Looking at successful clubs down they years, the all have players that have come through the ranks; the club’s policy is spot on in continuing to promote the Academy. Whether it’s young players coming through the ranks or older players being purchased, Mancini is clearly going to add to this squad in order that we maintain a challenge on three fronts.

Indeed these are exciting times. After watching our beloved team put in some wretched performances in the last thirty years, I still ask myself ‘Is this really happening to us?’

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


After driving a thousand miles in 2 days to get to Blackpool for Christmas, I got the best present from my brother-in-law: a seat on the supporters’ coach, a ticket for the Stoke game (only 6 rows from the pitch), programme and 2 pints of Bods with a steak pie included.

My first match of the season, and although the game was average the atmosphere was ecstatic and I enjoyed literally every second. Now I’m catching up on the MCIVTA back issues for other views. We managed to get home again without any travel problems anywhere in Europe so I count myself very lucky. However, I was all set last night to watch the Cup game live on a German sports channel until I found out that it was postponed due to snow. We have snow in Bavaria but then again we expect it every year, which is why there is the break in the season until 15th January. Maybe the Premier League and Football League will think about it for next season (although I grew up on Boxing Day matches and loved every one of them).

Keep the opinions coming as I thrive on them. Happy New Year to Heidi and team.

Paul Arden <paul.ardern(at)>


I’m going to be in Las Vegas from January 18-22, and I’ll want to watch the Carling Cup match on the 19th. Is anybody aware of a Sportsbook/Pub that might be showing the match? Doing some research, the Crown and Anchor seems to be the spot, but I was hoping for something nearer to the strip. I’ll be at the Flamingo, if that helps.

Alan Jackson <ajbj76(at)>


5 January 2010

Stoke City            3 - 2  Fulham               25,104

League table to 05 January 2010 inclusive

                            HOME          AWAY        OVERALL
                    P  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L   F   A  GD Pts
 1 Chelsea         20  9  1  0 27  6  5  2  3 18 10 14  3  3  45  16  29  45
 2 Manchester Utd  20  8  1  1 24  8  6  0  4 21 10 14  1  5  45  18  27  43
 3 Arsenal         19  8  0  1 28  7  5  2  3 23 14 13  2  4  51  21  30  41
 4 Tottenham H.    20  7  0  3 26  8  4  4  2 16 14 11  4  5  42  22  20  37
 5 Manchester City 19  6  3  0 22 13  3  5  2 16 14  9  8  2  38  27  11  35
 6 Aston Villa     20  6  2  2 17  7  4  3  3 12 11 10  5  5  29  18  11  35
 7 Liverpool       20  6  2  2 26 11  4  1  5 11 14 10  3  7  37  25  12  33
 8 Birmingham City 20  5  3  2  8  5  4  2  4 12 13  9  5  6  20  18   2  32
 9 Fulham          20  6  2  2 15  6  1  4  5 11 16  7  6  7  26  22   4  27
10 Stoke City      20  5  2  3 14 12  1  4  5  4 13  6  6  8  18  25  -7  24
11 Sunderland      20  5  3  2 18 13  1  2  7 10 18  6  5  9  28  31  -3  23
12 Everton         19  3  5  2 14 15  2  2  5 12 17  5  7  7  26  32  -6  22
13 Blackburn R.    20  4  4  2 13 11  1  2  7  7 24  5  6  9  20  35 -15  21
14 Burnley         20  5  4  1 14  9  0  1  9  8 31  5  5 10  22  40 -18  20
15 Wolves          20  3  2  5  9 15  2  2  6  8 21  5  4 11  17  36 -19  19
16 Wigan Athletic  19  3  3  3 10 13  2  1  7 11 31  5  4 10  21  44 -23  19
17 West Ham United 20  3  3  4 18 20  1  3  6 10 17  4  6 10  28  37  -9  18
18 Bolton Wndrs    18  2  4  4 16 21  2  2  4 10 15  4  6  8  26  36 -10  18
19 Hull City       20  4  3  3 13 16  0  3  7  7 26  4  6 10  20  42 -22  18
20 Portsmouth      20  3  0  7 13 16  1  2  7  5 16  4  2 14  18  32 -14  14

With thanks to Football 365

[Valid3.2]Heidi Pickup,

Newsletter #1597