Newsletter #1612

The hype leading up to our visit to Stamford Bridge at the weekend clearly didn’t affect the team as we turned in an excellent performance to beat Chelsea 4-2. Match view tonight from Phil, with opinion on the game and the fourth spot place. Results elsewhere meant we slipped to fifth but still have that game in hand.

We also have opinion on just how far we’ve come, team spirit and the usual requests.

Next Game: Sunderland, away, 4pm Sunday 14 March 2010


Who would have thought that City would get anything at Stamford Bridge, least of all a thumping, comprehensive 4-2 victory over the league leaders, Chelsea? The answer to that is clearly Roberto Mancini and is his players. A combination of skill, pace, organisation and endeavour brought this richly-deserved win against the team that is expected to win the League this season. Every player performed well for City, and to top that, there were four world class performances from Carlos Tevez, Craig Bellamy, Joleon Lescott and Gareth Barry. City must take heart from this terrific, memorable victory.

City were well set up by Mancini to counter attack against a physically strong Chelsea side, and looked very comfortable for half an hour, before Joe Cole started to find gaps as Chelsea found new ways to probe the City defence. Lampard made a diagonal run onto Cole’s clever pass and with the City defence caught flat-footed, he swept Chelsea in front with a shot just inside Given’s right hand post.

It hadn’t been a classic first half and we feared the worst. Was this to be another 6-0 drubbing at a ground where we hadn’t scored for 8 years? Carlos Tevez, Craig Bellamy et al had other ideas, and they exploited some appalling Chelsea mistakes. John Terry had let it be known through his mates that Wayne Bridge was a ‘bottler’ for pulling out of the England squad. The only person who bottled it in this match was John Terry: because he gave a lily-livered performance up against the might of Carlos Tevez. Indeed, an enduring image of this game is how Tevez made a fool of him for the first goal after Mikel’s poor defensive header set up the City striker who never gives up a lost cause. With his low centre of gravity and strength the tricky Argentine is very hard to stop and even a nudge by Terry couldn’t stop him getting a decisive touch that just beat Hilario to give City an unexpected equaliser. It was also fitting that it was Bridge’s long clearance that started off the whole move.

It was a crucial goal and Lescott should have added to this when totally unmarked at the far post from a free kick, but he placed his header well wide. There is a school of thought that says this may have been a blessing in disguise. Would Chelsea have approached the second half differently (i.e. at a higher tempo) had they been trailing? It probably would not have mattered because this was a top drawer performance from Manchester City. Player for player, City were better than Chelsea. How often have we been able to say that?

Buoyed by Tevez’s opportunism, City began the second half with renewed enthusiasm and it was no surprise when Bellamy gave City the lead with a brilliant goal. Barry, who was relishing the contest, played a superb defence-splitting diagonal ball down the left, and with Chelsea’s full backs nowhere to be seen and Mikel in hot pursuit, the Welshman drove towards goal and slotted a right-footed shot past the despairing arm of Hilario. It was exhilarating stuff.

The pace quickened further as Barry robbed a defender and drove towards goal, forcing Belletti bring him down in the box and earn a red card. Referee Dean duly pointed to the spot, applying the law: it’s a pity the Phil Dowd didn’t dismiss Vidic 25 hours later, but of course there’s one rule for Manchester United and one rule for everybody else. Never underestimate the power of the establishment.

Carlos Tevez duly despatched the penalty for his 21st goal in a sparkling season. How we have missed this wonderful little player. As you read this he will be in Argentina with his family and hopefully his new baby daughter is progressing well.

Hailing from the mean streets of Buenos Aires, naturally Tevez is not one to be intimidated, and he squared up to the odious Terry after a bit of hustle and bustle in the box. It was almost as if to say, that one’s for you, Wayne Bridge. Indeed, it was great to see Tevez stand up to such a horrible bully and it’s just such a relief that the Manchester City shirt is not being sullied by such a vile individual as Terry. It was also a relief to see Tevez get up after Ballack’s nasty foul on him, which earned the obnoxious German a second yellow card: it should really have been a straight red.

City’s defence, led by Kompany and the foot-perfect Lescott, withstood whatever Drogba, Lampard and Co. threw at them, giving City the perfect springboard to attack. City were really troubling Chelsea, especially with the strong, pacy running of Bellamy and Tevez wreaking havoc in a Chelsea back line that wilted under pressure, and it was no surprise when we scored again, Tevez showing perfect timing with his superbly weighted defence splitting ball to substitute Wright-Phillips who crossed for Bellamy to sweep in at the far post, and more delight for City fans.

Chelsea looked more of a threat with nine men than they did with ten or eleven but it was too late, despite their late penalty consolation. Manchester City had outplayed Chelsea and gained a well-deserved victory. The race for fourth place is most definitely on. It’s time to back Mancini and his boys all the way to that end.

Given: Superb handling throughout 8
Richards: His positional play and tenacity was good: his inexperience still shows when he gives away the odd unnecessary free kick in dangerous areas 7
Kompany: Caught flat footed by Lampard’s movement for Chelsea’s opener, but otherwise read the game superbly and always there for crucial interception 8
Lescott: An absolutely brilliant centre half’s performance 9
Bridge: Poised and calm on a very trying afternoon which says much about the strength of his character 7
Zabaleta: Like his colleagues, tenacious, committed, energetic 8
De Jong: Such a crucial cog in the City machine with his tackling and common sense distribution 8
Barry: Back to his best in this game in a complete box-to-box performance 9
Johnson: Skilful, progressive ball carrying bought us time, and free kicks 7
Tevez: Absolutely awesome in everything he did 10
Bellamy: Always a threat and a willing worker: two top class finishes were a rich reward for a first class performance 10
Johnson; His trickery caused Chelsea problems and earned us free kicks 7
Wright-Phillips: Offered pace and greater directness when he came on: delivered a searching cross for the fourth goal 7
Santa Cruz: Too late to mark n/a
Sylvinho: Too late to mark: n/a

Refwatch: Mike Dean: The best refereeing performance in a City game this season 8
Best oppo: Joe Cole: Bright and inventive. If City are looking for a playmaker… 7
Worst oppo: John Terry: Absolutely hilario-us. There is a thing called karma. It’s just such a relief that the Manchester City shirt is not being sullied by such a vile individual as Terry 5

Footnote: With all the furore that surrounded this game it is important to note that City won because we were the better team, but the match report cannot go without mention of another issue that has had national prominence (too much prominence when you think that people in Haiti and other spots round the world are having a tough time). Bridge had to endure the boos, taunts and cat call from many (but certainly not all) Chelsea fans, and he did himself proud here. He has done nothing wrong to Chelsea, having been a good servant to them in the past. Understandably in the circumstances, he was particularly delighted whenever we scored and Tevez was happy to showcase him after one of our goals. Wayne Bridge was absolutely spot on not to shake Terry’s hand. Whether he should give up his career because of one appalling individual is his choice: a brave and understandable choice but it is to be hoped that he doesn’t regret it. Terry’s form is being affected by his own self-inflicted problems and as he is Chelsea captain this may be having an effect on his team mates. He has lost respect in his dressing room (who can trust him?) and it was noticeable that several of his team mates were friendly towards the popular Bridge on this occasion. Football is poorer for having the likes of John Terry in its midst in more ways than one.

Phil Banerjee <Philban65(at)>


Like all City fans, I revelled in the 4-2 result and the disintegration of the Chelsea defence and Ballack’s indiscipline. Tevez played like a man twice his size against Terry and Bellamy’s goals were superb. Given was outstanding, keeping us in the game and, in my opinion, was the main reason we won. The defence generally were solid, although Richards is still a bit too gung ho giving away free kicks. I am sure Johnson will come back stronger after his first poor game for us.

Notwithstanding all of the above, we should not get carried away by the win. The tactic of dropping the whole midfield and defence so deep and playing a zonal marking system allowed Chelsea to dominate the play. Even with 9 men Chelsea still had most of the play in our half. Our first goal was lucky and, on another day, Drogba could have scored at least a couple.

So, a great result, but I am sure others will have a go at me for saying that we have to be more positive and learn to dominate games like Chelsea.

Steve Higginbottom <Steve.Higginbottom(at)>


Roberto Mancini’s tactics for this game were spot on; from the start I liked his line up. Today I saw Shay Given as captain, shouting out more to his players. I can now see the reason why Mancini made Shay the captain, so as to get the defence in front of him to be better organized.

It was the defence letting in silly goals that got Mark Hughes fired, and this is why Mancini has concentrated his efforts more on defence. A very good win that will also delight United fans, but make no mistake this was done for City, and Wayne Bridge.

If City can play the rest of the season in the same spirit and with the same commitment then City should be a safe bet for a top four finish, and Roberto Mancini will then deserve his three year extension as the manager/coach of City.

At half time I thought City had done enough to have deserved the 1-1 draw, although I must add that if Chelsea had Peter Cech in goal he just might have made a bit of a difference, but let me not take anything away from City’s very good win.

The second half saw Chelsea become frustrated after Bellamy’s great goal from a very acute angle, a similar goal as against United at the Swamp. Chelsea consistently were fouling the City players and ended up playing with just nine players.

With Peter Cech out for a month with his injury, and the Chelsea red carded players it will be tough playing their next few games; City have done a lot of damage today!

Come April 17th City can help Chelsea get their three points back, when City play United in a revenge game for knocking City out of the Carling Cup.

Maybe it took the two disappointing games against Liverpool and Stoke to wake up the team, and get them play the football that Mancini had them playing when he first took over, plus this game was a kind of game for Bridge.

The game today will give the manager, players and supporters more faith going into the rest of the season, now we must not falter against any of the lower clubs who will be fighting for their Premier League lives.

Congratulations to manager and every player today; my player of the match: the whole team – well done.

Time for everyone at MCFC and all City fans to concentrate on the rest of the season, and to get behind the team manager Roberto Mancini and his players to get the club into the top four.

What happened in the cup games is now in the past; we were all disappointed, but we must move on.

Come on you Blues!

Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)>


Can City do it? Having checked the last 4 years’ league tables 20 wins should be enough. So 7 more wins from 11 games.

On paper there are some tough games but then there are good opportunities with Villa, Spurs and Everton, still to come at home. After the double over Chelsea and helping our charity case from Stretford I think we have a chance; just hope we don’t keep the typical City tag and blow it.

This will be a good achievement considering the injuries, change of manager, African Cup and suspensions that have happened so far and no doubt more to come. Imagine where we’d have been if there was only the African Cup that disrupted the season. A settled team would have done a lot better so all things considered I’d say we have to be happy with the progress made this season (so far).

Mike Lloyd <wythyblue(at)>


There have been times over the past 12 months when I have considered (and I was part of the original team producing MCIVTA in the very early days, meeting with Heidi, Ashley, Paul and Steve at the Tabak when I could get up from Bristol, and all good clean fun it was as well) unsubbing from what seemed to me to have become a major moanfest.

So can I say this? We have been s***e for 30 years or more; Rome was not built in a day. I was surprised when Hughes went, as whilst he had his faults, when we were good under him, we were very very good. However, in that he was not brought in by our new owners, it was not a complete surprise. Mancini has been here, what is it, two months, and already people are talking about his successor. The papers do not help, and The Telegraph the past few days has been a total disgrace, the more so as these articles do not allow comments; but please, City fans, give Roberto a break, we have had injuries galore, the absence of Tevez, and the failure of Ireland yet to recover from how Hughes misplayed him, Adebayor contesting with gunmen and his own stupidity (when he is good, he is very very good.

It does seem to me, that bar that bloody Delap, Mancini has made the defence much better. Lescott seems to be heading back to his best, and Bridge has impressed, and Micah too. All great teams build from the back, and once we can get the midfield working better as a bridge between defence and attack, things will I am sure improve. Add to that, Johnson seems to be a great buy, and Mancini clearly has no qualms about bringing youngsters in, unlike Hughes.

How long was Widow Twankey given to make his mark at our out-of-town neighbours? And why can’t she stop going on about us if she does not perceive us as a threat? We can still use United to cap our season with real progress, beating them towards the end of the season to finish their hopes of ending as Champions, and at the same time, securing fourth place and a place in the Cash Cow League.

It’s not that long ago I was at Maine Road watching the worst game of professional football I have ever seen in all my years, a 0-0 draw with Bristol Rovers. Don’t forget that. Things will get better, and I have faith in our new owners, and faith in Mancini. Keep the faith and get behind the team.

[Thanks for reminding me of that one Jeremy. And who can forget York… short memories in play sometimes me thinks – Ed]

Jeremy Poynton <j.poynton(at)>


When I first submitted my rant that appeared in MCIVTA 1611 Heidi sent me a message saying “of course you wouldn’t feature on that site would you Ernie?” Or words to that effect. A gentle leg-pull, I think. I hope. Anyhow the intention of my post wasn’t to blow Izzett’s or my trumpet; the site is up, it’s a co-operative of dedicated City fans of a certain mindset. It’s replaced a bulletin board that went tits up on us and we needed a new home, so I designed one, using proprietary software, first site I’ve ever done. And, like City, it’s not perfect, it’s still “Work in Progress”.

There are no more than 2 dozen regular contributors, long term ‘recidivists’ in the main so it’s never going to have the mass appeal of, say, Blue Moon and though anyone is welcome to join in we recognise Izzett wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea. We are by no means evangelical.

The reason for sounding off was I’m absolutely sick of all the moaning, whingeing and negativity and I thought Marwood’s post, no 300, on particular was a masterpiece of sound thinking. Harold Macmillan, PM back in the sixties said, “You’ve never had it so good” and that’s true of City today. Anyone really want to go back to the days of Alan Ball, Franny Lee, Frankie Clark, Swales?

The future is Blue, it’s bright but it won’t happen overnight. It serves no purpose to holler “Hughes out”, then “Mancini out”; it serves even less purpose to give Ireland and Ade a hard time. The one is an overgrown kid, not the sharpest tool in the box, with loads of natural ability but whose confidence has (temporarily, we hope) deserted him; the other is a guy who, with proper handling and encouragement, could be the most devastating forward we’ve ever seen in a sky blue shirt. I’ve just re-run the ‘Pool game; Ade is loaded with talent and he covered every yard in that game, distributing the ball well.

I enjoyed that match hugely. There won’t be many of you who remember a masterpiece of a 0-0 draw in the early 70s against QPR but the ‘Pool game had the same vibe. A game for people who like the technical aspects as opposed to the superficial excitement of goalmouth incidents (usually caused by defensive cock-ups anyway, of which there weren’t too many on Sunday). A game for people who’d played a bit themselves. A game for those who could see through all the Sky-inspired bullsh*t. “Drab draw”, “Bore Draw” my ars*.

Sorry but, as I’ve said, I just don’t understand the mentality of someone who buys a season ticket then spends his Saturday or Sunday afternoons rubbishing the team. Shame I no longer live in Manchester and can’t often get to games so I could have the pleasure of giving these eejits grief in real time. But I shall continue to do it through the medium of Izzett, MCIVTA as long as long-suffering editors let me.

CTID, best, cheers, Ernie Whalley <bluevalentine(at)>


To call this a terrible season off-field is to understate things badly. The betrayal of Wayne Bridge is being played out in the national media, Tevez’s daughter has been gravely ill and Adebayor’s friend died in his arms, murdered, after the whole Togo team was shot at.

I’ve been really proud to see the way the team has gathered round. They are bonding through it all. What a terrific character Tevez is to dedicate his goal to Bridge after all the Argentinian has been through. And it was great to see Craig Bellamy firing all cannons at “JT” in the post-match interview, in support of his team mate. Even though I think Bellamy was trying to grope his way to a “no comment”, his contempt for the odious Terry was irrepressible. Good on him. And good on the team for stuffing Chelsea. The best response after John Terry’s “friend” spent the week calling Bridge a “bottler” in the papers. Who is the real bottler when you have to get your friend to do your sliming for you in the press?

If the team stands shoulder to shoulder like this they’ll win the Premier League next year I swear it. You can’t beat a phalanx of Spartans. And money can’t buy a brotherhood like that.

Money can get rid of it though, particularly in the hands of an imbecile like Garry Cook. If any of the band of brothers doesn’t fit his marketing profile, they’ll be out as fast as Richard Dunne, who is today contesting the Carling Cup final. And we have no idea whether to expect Mancini to be here next year, the club’s assurances now being worth exactly zero. So who knows? I think it would be a shame to see things broken up when something real seems to be building. Having said all that, kudos to Cook for failing in his attempt to buy John Terry. At least he did something right.

Bernard Molyneux <molyneux(at)>


In case you missed it, Gareth Barry got into the Mail’s top 50 English stars for the World Cup at number 8, Joey Hart at #4 and Magic Johnson at #16. Les, Bridge and SWP also featured. And they still managed to get a dig in at the club being full of “bickering talented egos”.

Paul Hunt <paul.h.a.hunt(at)>


Football Supporters’ Federation Event – Sit Down, Shut Up!
Vibe Bar, London, Thursday March 4th at 7pm

Sit Down, Shut Up: Are Football Supporters Discriminated Against? is the FSF’s free Question Time-style debate and gives you, the match-going fan, your opportunity to tell it how you see it to our expert panel of football journalists, police, and solicitors (see below).

The event is free but registration is required; email your name to <register(at)> along with any questions you’d like to ask. All registered fans receive a free drink on arrival and non-FSF members are welcome.

Every day the FSF hears from fans telling us that they’re sick of being treated like criminals by over-zealous police, tired of taking orders from doormen dressed up as ‘stewards’, and had enough with clubs forcing them to sit down when they’d rather stand. Is this now the typical matchday experience?

Why are football supporters treated differently from other groups in society? Go to Wembley for a pop concert and you can stand without fear of ejection. Head to a rugby league match and you can drink in your seat. Try either of those at a football game and you could end up with a criminal record.

Why does the Crown Prosecution Service push for the most severe punishment in most cases involving football fans? Would this not be illegal if they followed this procedure with any other group in society? Are we seeing the return of the dreaded section 27? Have we reached a tipping point and what rôle can we all play in improving things for the better?

As any manager will tell you a team is only as good as its individuals and likewise Sit Down, Shut Up: Are Football Supporters Discriminated Against? is only as good as its guests and we’ve got no worries on that score. Your hostess with the mostest for the evening will be Amanda Jacks, FSF policing and stewarding lead, introducing a cracking panel featuring:

  • Tony Evans who will chair the event is Football Editor at The Times.
  • Duleep Allirajah is Sports Columnist for the ‘Spiked’ website.
  • Roger Evans is currently a Superintendent in the Metropolitan Police. He wasthe Police Match Commander at Highbury and has worked across Europe withArsenal and England including Germany 2006.
  • Nick Hawkins is the Chief Crown Prosecutor for Hampshire and the CPS NationalLead on football.
  • Henry Porter is a civil liberties campaigner, novelist, and Observercolumnist.
  • James Welch is a solicitor and has been the Legal Director of Liberty sinceFebruary 2000. Liberty is a campaigning organisation which seeks to protectcivil liberties.

The event will kick-off at 7pm and lasts for 90 minutes, with a 15 minute half-time break for refreshments. We’re sure you’re familiar with that format. If everything goes as well as we hope there might even be some Extra Time…

Located at the Old Truman Brewery, 91-95 Brick Lane, London, E1 6QL and established in 1995, the Vibe Bar is one of the East End’s longest running, and best loved drinking dens. The closest Underground stations are Liverpool Street and Aldgate East.

Phill Gatenby <Safestanding(at)>


28 February 2010

Tottenham Hotspur     2 - 1  Everton               35,912
Liverpool             2 - 1  Blackburn Rovers      42,795
Sunderland            0 - 0  Fulham                40,192

27 February 2010

Chelsea               2 - 4  Manchester City       41,814
Birmingham City       1 - 0  Wigan Athletic        25,921
Bolton Wanderers      1 - 0  Wolverhampton Wndrs   21,261
Burnley               1 - 2  Portsmouth            19,714
Stoke City            1 - 3  Arsenal               27,011

League table to 28 February 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         28 12  1  1 41 12  7  3  4 24 14 19  4  5  65  26  39  61
 2 Manchester Utd  28 12  1  1 39  8  7  2  5 27 16 19  3  6  66  24  42  60
 3 Arsenal         28 11  1  2 38 14  7  3  4 28 17 18  4  6  66  31  35  58
 4 Tottenham H.    28  9  2  3 30  9  5  5  4 20 18 14  7  7  50  27  23  49
 5 Manchester City 27  9  4  0 30 14  4  6  4 22 21 13 10  4  52  35  17  49
 6 Liverpool       28 10  2  2 33 12  4  4  6 12 16 14  6  8  45  28  17  48
 7 Aston Villa     26  7  5  2 23 10  5  4  3 14 11 12  9  5  37  21  16  45
 8 Birmingham City 27  7  5  2 13  8  4  2  7 13 20 11  7  9  26  28  -2  40
 9 Fulham          28  9  2  3 21  9  1  6  7 11 20 10  8 10  32  29   3  38
10 Everton         27  7  5  2 23 17  3  3  7 16 22 10  8  9  39  39   0  38
11 Stoke City      27  6  4  4 20 17  2  6  5  7 15  8 10  9  27  32  -5  34
12 Blackburn R.    28  8  4  2 21 12  1  3 10  9 33  9  7 12  30  45 -15  34
13 West Ham United 27  5  4  4 23 20  1  5  8 12 23  6  9 12  35  43  -8  27
14 Sunderland      27  5  6  2 19 14  1  3 10 13 30  6  9 12  32  44 -12  27
15 Bolton Wndrs    27  4  5  5 18 23  2  3  8 12 26  6  8 13  30  49 -19  26
16 Wigan Athletic  27  3  5  5 11 18  3  2  9 15 35  6  7 14  26  53 -27  25
17 Wolves          27  4  3  7 10 19  2  3  8 11 26  6  6 15  21  45 -24  24
18 Hull City       27  5  5  3 18 20  0  4 10  7 34  5  9 13  25  54 -29  24
19 Burnley         27  6  4  3 18 14  0  1 13 10 43  6  5 16  28  57 -29  23
20 Portsmouth      27  3  2  8 16 20  2  2 10  7 25  5  4 18  23  45 -22  19

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1612