Newsletter #1617

News from Alex tonight on the proposed stadium developments, player news and views and reaction to the Sunderland game.

We also have opinion on the FA, blue plates and the usual requests.

Next up, a trip down to Fulham.

Next Game: Fulham, away, 3pm Sunday 21 March 2010


General News

Welcome to Manchester: In a development that could ultimately cost £1 billion, Manchester City FC, the local council and New East Manchester Ltd. have agreed to collaborate in order to regenerate East Manchester. Last week it was reported that the club planned to replace their current training ground in favour of a brand new, state-of-the-art one, but it was revealed this week that the project is much more expansive than that. Whilst a new training ground remains top of the priority list, Sportcity looks set to face a complete overhaul with new leisure and sports facilities being created. Having worked together to build the City of Manchester Stadium, there’s no doubt that the collaboration is capable of great things and all three parties will be working tirelessly to ensure that the project creates a greater Manchester for both locals and visitors. Club Executive Chairman, Garry Cook, explained how this agreement reflects the long term commitment of the club’s owner: “Manchester City has been and always will be at the heart of the community it serves in the City of Manchester. The longer term considerations for the area reflect the long term commitment of our owners to the club and the community it serves.”

Tough Times Ahead: City Chief Roberto Mancini believes his side is perfectly poised to finish fourth this season but feels that they must now raise the stakes in order to fend off competition from Aston Villa, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool. The Italian knows exactly what it takes to earn success, having won three Serie A titles with former club Inter Milan, and has sounded the rallying cry ahead of City’s challenge for that elusive Champions’ League place. The rest of the season looks set to be defined by the visits of Spurs and Villa to Eastlands but Mancini accepts that the club’s fixtures against less glamorous sides, such as Wigan and Burnley, will be just as important: “Now is a vital time for us. There will be no such thing as an easy game for the rest of the season – they just don’t exist! Every one of these last games will be difficult. We have to really want to reach that fourth place, and show that in the way we play each game. That’s the reason for everything we will do now for the rest of this season. We have a lot of experienced, international players who will be important but all our players will need to play a big part. We have a good chance, we have games in hand over Tottenham and Liverpool, but it all depends on us. It won’t be easy, so we’ll have to keep our focus every time we play. All the games here are difficult, and there is always something to play for. In Italy sometimes there were games where it almost didn’t matter, but I have found that’s not what it is like here, and I like that. Grounds are full, it’s noisy, it’s exciting and for that I think that English football is beautiful. If you are not at 100% for every game, you are at risk because you know that the other team will be.”

City Must Be Form-Idable: City legend Colin Bell spoke this week of the exciting times ahead for City and also of their current form. The club’s ‘greatest ever player’ declared that whilst City’s results haven’t been poor, their form must improve if they hope to become one of Europe’s elite. Bell reckons that Mancini has been overly cautious at times and has the players to go out and wow audiences with their performances: “The position is very good, but the way we are performing is not what I’d like it to be. The problem has been all the injuries, plus a new manager coming in, and people getting to know the new system they are playing. Nothing has been settled completely since the new manager came in, in terms of what team he wants to play. If he had the opportunity to get all the players fit, it would be an easy job to get the right team playing, and playing all together. We have not been playing too well. The results we have been getting are fine for the way we are performing, but everyone would be happier if we were performing well and picking up points the way we should be picking them up.”

Though Bell may remain unsure about Mancini’s tactics, one man who has full confidence in the Italian is fellow compatriot Fabio Capello. The England boss stated this week that he believes City are a stronger outfit now than they were under Mark Hughes and he expects Mancini to steer the Blues to success: “Mancini is an Italian manager and he is working very well. The results are good. I hope he will realise the ambitions of the owner. He changed a lot, the style from Mark Hughes is very different. Now I think the team has more confidence and they can beat every team. I was there and Chelsea was a really important game for all the players. Beating Chelsea away is not easy for the best team in the world. Yes, they can reach the top four.”

Squad News

In Good Kompany: City’s Vincent Kompany has been named Etihad Player of the Month for February. The Belgian defender turned in a string of impressive performances against the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and Bolton Wanderers in order to claim the award and ran out with 38% of the vote. Craig Bellamy came second with only half the amount of Vinnie’s votes (19%) and the returning Wayne Bridge claimed 11%. Kompany joins Carlos Tevez, Craig Bellamy and Shay Given as a winner of this season’s monthly award.

All In The Mind: Having overrun Chelsea at Stamford Bridge only two weeks before, City again failed to capitalize on a great result by struggling against one of the league’s weaker sides. The Blues travelled to the Stadium of Light last weekend and despite having the majority of possession, it took a last minute wonder strike to earn the Blues a solitary point. 21-goal-favourite, Carlos Tevez, feels the issue lies in the minds of the City players and has called on his team-mates to take the ‘big match’ mentality that has seen them earn eleven points against top four opposition this season, into every game: “Against the bigger teams we’ve been playing very well and we’ve had some great results, but with the so-called weaker teams we have not done so well – not necessarily because we have not played so well, but because the result has not gone our way. The thing now is for us to make sure we keep calling on the spirit that we showed at Chelsea, and continue to play the way we are doing.”

Strike While the Iron’s Hot: Micah Richards agrees with his Argentine team-mate that the club is capable of finishing fourth this season but the defender believes that the form of strike duo Tevez and Bellamy will be the key to City’s success. With thirty goals between them already this season, the Blues’ tireless strikers have taken the pressure off Emmanuel Adebayor’s shoulders, which in turn has seen him contribute a number of excellent performances. England Under 21 skipper Richards declared this week that whilst Mancini has brought a solidity to the side’s back line, it is the goals of ‘Tev’ and ‘Bellers’ that have kept City in contention for fourth and their form in front of goal will be telling come the end of the campaign: “Craig and Carlos give us a real edge and I think the team that eventually finishes fourth will need something a bit different and, hopefully, we have it. I’d much rather play with them than against them, especially the way they’re playing at the moment! They’re both on fire and cause the opposition so many problems. In Craig’s case, I actually think he’s better suited as a left winger than an out-and-out striker because he’s so quick and can scores goals from wide out, too. Carlos never gives defenders a moment’s peace and I’d already say they’re in a two-horse race for the club’s player of the season award. When Carlos was at United, he wasn’t labelled as a goal-scorer, but he’s come here, is the main man and the fans love him. I think he’s proved he’s as good as anyone in the Premier League and probably the world, too. The same could be said of Craig. He came here with a bit of a reputation and some people questioned the wisdom of signing him last season. But he’s been fantastic for us and never gives less than 110% for the team. He’s a great character to have around. He drives us on and is a real asset to our side.”

Ambition: Joleon Lescott was the first to be criticized when things weren’t going right at the beginning of this season, having failed to settle in City’s back four following his £24 million move from league rivals Everton, but all has been forgiven as the 27-year-old has steadily improved since his return to the first XI. Injury kept him out of the middle of the campaign and when Roberto Mancini replaced Mark Hughes in December, questions were asked of Lescott’s future at the club. Now Lescott seems to a key member of the squad again and hopes that good form for his club could see him feature in his country’s World Cup bid this summer: “No-one enjoys being on the bench, whether for your country or your club. If you do, then you deserve to be there. I was disappointed, but I didn’t go there expecting to play. I know I’ve got to progress and improve at club level then hopefully when an opportunity comes, I can do a job. But I’m pleased with the way things are going since I came back. This is a massive opportunity for us at City and for me as an international – hopefully we can continue our form, get fourth place, and I can go off to South Africa with the England squad.”

Learning from ‘The General’: Nigel de Jong has been a revelation at CoMS ever since his £17 million move from Hamburg last year and the holding midfielder has admitted that the best is still to come. The Dutchman’s consistent, no-nonsense performances have earned him ‘fan favourite’ status in his short 12 months at the club but the 25-year-old hopes to become one of the club’s greatest ever players and believes that playing alongside Premier League legend Patrick Vieira will help him on his way. Having watched Vieira dominate English football during his time at Arsenal, de Jong hopes to be just as successful at City: “I admired English football from a young age and especially the ‘midfield general’ type of player over here like Ince, Keane and Patrick Vieira. He was a player I really admired for his competitive spirit and it’s great that he’s here. What I really respect about him is his winning mentality. He’s still hungry for success, he’s hungry for the ball out on the pitch. He’s 33 and he still has it, and it comes out in every aspect of what he does. In training, in games, he’s always out to win and it’s great to see. As a young player there’s so much I can take from him. Of course the game has changed a bit since he left England, but he’s still up there. I think he’s one of the biggest players in the world, he carries himself so well and has a real charisma. He’s an inspiring character, he has a big list of trophies that he’s won, and you could say he’s been there and won that. That’s a nice thing to have around younger players in a squad.”

The Rumour Mill

The Italian Job? The City boss has moved quickly to distance himself from the Italian national job this week after he was hotly tipped to replace Marcelo Lippi when he leaves the post after this summer’s World Cup. Mancini may still have to prove himself at City in order to win over the critics in this country but the former Inter Milan manager has a top drawer reputation in his native Italy and would be a popular choice come July. The man himself, however, has no plans to move, despite talk of current Inter manager Jose Mourinho possibly replacing Mancini in the summer: “No. I have said maybe in 10 years. I don’t know. No. It’s not for me now.”

Real Class: If reports are to be believed then Real Madrid duo Gonzalo Higuain and Fernando Gago are top of Mancini’s summer wish-list. Having tried and failed to sign Gago in the latter stages of the winter transfer window, it is thought that the Italian boss will re-ignite his interest in the midfielder and also attempt to sign his fellow Argentine team-mate in the process. Any double deal would cost upwards of £50 million but with Higuain currently stalling over a new deal at the Bernabeau, City will hope to flex their financial muscle in a bid to attract the two South American stars. Real Madrid, however, have no intention of letting either player go and have played down reports that Higuain is unsettled in La Liga: “The negotiations for the new deal are advanced but without pressure. Real want to be with this man and we want him to finish his career at this club. It is normal that rumours have appeared after the knock-out in the Champions’ League but we have not received a formal offer for Higuain.”

‘Keeping the Rumour Going: Although the agent of Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has again dismissed any talk of a transfer for his client, press speculation continues to link the Italian number one with a move to Eastlands: “There is no way Buffon will be leaving Juventus for City. These links are pure speculation. And Buffon himself is very annoyed by them.” Catania striker Jorge Martinez may be about to sign on the dotted line. The versatile striker has made waves in Serie A this season for struggling Catania and whilst his agent is shocked that there has not been much interest from Italy’s top sides, he claims that his client is currently in talks with the Blues: “Many Italian clubs have expressed an interest in Jorge, but the only negotiation at the moment is with Manchester City. We’re talking about a player who can play in four or five positions and I don’t understand why more top Italian clubs have not taken note. He would like to stay in Italy with a top team, but at the moment it is more likely he will go to England.”

Post-Match Reaction

No Luck Against Black Cats: Mancini’s men were unable to continue the club’s successful recent history against Sunderland last weekend as the Blues returned with only a point from Wearside. City had beaten Sunderland in all of the clubs’ last nine meetings, but it took Adam Johnson’s 91st minute wonder strike to earn the Blues a point. Kenwynne Jones’ ninth minute goal put the home side ahead in a half that City failed to impress and to make things even more difficult, Wayne Bridge was substituted just after the half hour mark and has subsequently undergone surgery on a hernia. The defender may now expect to be out for at least a month, if not the rest of the campaign. The second half was a different story though, as the Blues began to dominate, but an inspired Craig Gordon kept his side ahead with a string of superb saves. When it looked as though Mancini’s men had missed out on any points whatsoever, £7 million January signing Adam Johnson struck a beauty with his left foot, which looped over both the defence and the on-looking ‘keeper to earn the Blues a 1-1 draw. Mancini admitted that this wasn’t the result he was hoping for, but revealed that he was simply relieved to gain anything from the game: “This was two points lost but I was pleased with the way we played in the second half. We had several chances to score before we did. Three or four of them were really good ones and Craig Gordon saved Sunderland on several occasions. He was a hero for them in the end but we should have done better with them. I don’t know why we started so slowly because we have a very important prize that we are aiming for. We still have a game in hand and Tottenham have to come to play at our stadium as do Aston Villa so things are still in our own hands. There is no change in that respect. We have ten games to play and if we want to reach the top four we have to win our home games. We still have a good chance. Sunderland played well in the first half but we were not good. We showed good character after the break and perhaps we deserved to win the game but we didn’t take out chances.”

Of his last minute goal-scoring hero, Mancini declared: “Adam Johnson is a very talented player and I think he will be representing his country on a regular basis before too long. He proved today what an asset he is to our team and he gave us a huge lift in the closing stages. He has so much natural ability and Sunderland struggled to contain him today. But he knows he has a battle on his hands to start in our team because I have two very experienced, very good players competing with him in Craig Bellamy and Shaun Wright-Phillips. As a manager, it’s a good problem to have because all three players know they will have to be at the top of their game to win selection. I thought Bellamy and Wright-Phillips did well today, but Johnson changed the game for us today and I was very happy with his contribution and I think there is much more to come from him.”

Joleon Lescott continued his impressive run of form in the team and he reckons that the Blues will still be favourites for that fourth spot despite dropping points at Sunderland: “Six of last nine games will be at the City of Manchester Stadium, two of them against Spurs and Villa, so home form will be hugely important. We cannot take anything for granted but we have been good at home this season. We feel we lost two points at Sunderland because we missed so many chances to score in the second half but we still feel as though we are in the driving seat in the race for fourth place. The manager told us at half time that what we had produced wasn’t good enough and we improved after the interval. Now we have to carry that forward to Fulham this weekend. We don’t feel we have damaged our ambitions. It is a tight race and is going to remain that way right through to the end of the season. The great thing for us is that we have a clean bill of health, a lot of competition for places, and attacking players who can turn a game in a second as we saw on Sunday.”

Roque Santa Cruz was the man who replaced Bridge in the 33rd minute and the Paraguayan was thankful to Adam Johnson for doing what he couldn’t, by hitting the back of the net. Santa Cruz was frustrated all game by the excellent form of Sunderland stopper Craig Gordon but the former Blackburn striker believes he may still have a huge rôle to play in City’s push for fourth, even if he is not starting every game: “When we had chance after chance it was on my mind that it was going to be one of those days where it didn’t matter how many chances we were going to get, nobody would score! Fortunately Adam wasn’t thinking like that and we were very glad when he grabbed that goal. It was a draw, not what we expected but it’s a point that could be very valuable to us and we’ll just have to keep working hard. It’s better not to lose for team morale, and we played a great game in the second half. But until Adam scored we just could not break them down and it was very hard to take. It was not like it was just one player who didn’t take his chances; it was several of us so in the end it was a great point. Everybody knew that the first half was not good enough” he admits, “and not what we expect from this team. After half time we all tried to get involved a lot more, and then with that extra 10% everything worked out better for us. Nobody can keep it going for all of the 90 minutes, Sunderland had done well by pressing us and not letting us play, but in the second half we dictated the game. Their ‘keeper had a fantastic game, he was saving everything we were throwing at him and on another day we would have scored four or five goals. It’s also important that at least we are always making these chances, all our strikers were involved in the game and it shows that we were doing the right thing. I have not started many games lately but I know how important it is to be prepared and able to contribute as soon as you come on. Most of the squad are fit, and we just need Ade to come back to help strengthen the team even more. You have to expect people coming off the bench to make an impact and change the game. I did what I could on Sunday, and of course Adam scored that fantastic goal as a substitute. That’s just what you need from a replacement, the team’s got to stay as strong even when changes are made and that’s what we all have try to do even if we are not starting every game.”

Alex Rowen <news(at)>


Emmanuel Adebayor continues his four match ban for violent conduct. He is taking his punishment, yet, surprise, surprise, the Football Association continues to employ blatant double standards. Last week Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard was not punished after flicking a V-sign and mouthing obscenities at the referee after being booked for a bad challenge. On Monday this week the same Steven Gerrard clearly flattened Michael Brown with a nasty elbow and escaped punishment. Again under their procedures, the FA say they will not take further action against Gerrard as the referee Stuart Atwell ‘dealt with it at the time’. Atwell’s way of dealing with Gerrard was to duck the issue, avoid punishing Gerrard for his thuggery, and Liverpool were able to substitute him before he hit anyone else. This of course is nothing new, but questions have to be asked of our pathetic Football Association. How long are the referees and indeed the FA going to administer the game with such blatant bias? Have they no shame?

The Football Association is petrified that the existing big clubs will break away to form their own European League outside of their jurisdiction, which would mean a lack of prestige for their own league and, most tellingly, a huge drop in revenues from sponsors etc. So they continue to treat the big four clubs (especially Manchester United and Liverpool) with kid gloves and allow them to get away with appalling behaviour.

We can say ’twas ever thus, and that it is nothing new, but that doesn’t make it right. Why should we accept that people like Gerrard and co can do what they do? Why should we accept the situation where one rule exists for the so-called elite and another for everyone else? If we do accept it, we might as well accept that cheating and violence is the way forward. It’s such a pity that the Football Association are so keen to brush their indiscretions under the carpet and are so accepting of the status quo. After all, football is supposed to be about how many goals you score by kicking or heading the ball into the net, not how sharp a footballer’s elbows are.

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


As a US Blue who used to own a classic blue 240 Volvo (vintage 1984) I toyed with the idea of getting a private registration plate (or licence plate as they call them here).

The usual options sprang to mind:

“heart symbol” Mancity
Man “heart symbol” City
Blumoon etc.
(it’s actually interesting to do, go on the website and see what plates are available).

However, as most of the available pics involved the “heart symbol” and Man and I live very close to SF, I decided to give it some more thought…

Andrew Johnson <Fastandyj(at)>


Pleased to say that King Of The Kippax number 178 is at the printers and should hopefully be in the outlets at Urbis and Aleef by the weekend.

It’s the usual A4 format 48 pages and packed with City stuff including Blueprint for Football, Gloryhunting, Don Revie, Referees, A Bridge Too Far, and all the regulars, plus some great cartoons.

It’s £2.50 and can also be obtained from: (cheques to) King Of The Kippax, 25, Holdenbrook Close, Leigh, Lancs WN7 2HL for £3.20 including postage. Don’t miss it!

Dave and Sue Wallace <dw001e8104(at)>


I am looking for two tickets for the Arsenal game if anybody has some they can’t use. Please call 07968 894023 or email at the address below.

Mike Carr <M.Carr(at)>


I hope to have the last minutes approved by the end of the week, but the next meeting will be at 6.30pm on Tuesday 27 April.

I attended the meeting on Monday about improving matchday experience; lots of ideas (some of which have been aired by PoB over the years) but the club seems willing to put more effort into things (as witness the Blue Moon effect for night matches). Key issue was the problem of “we’ll make more noise if the team make more effort” so that we do become effectively the “twelfth man”. More on this at next PoB.

It seems the Spurs match is likely to be on May 5th.

Steve Parish <bloovee(at)>


16 March 2010

Wigan Athletic        1 - 2  Aston Villa           16,186

15 March 2010

Liverpool             4 - 1  Portsmouth            40,316

League table to 17 March 2010 inclusive

                             HOME          AWAY        OVERALL
                    P  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F   A   GD Pts
 1 Manchester Utd  30 13  1  1 42  8  8  2  5 28 16 21  3  6  70  24  46  66
 2 Chelsea         29 13  1  1 45 13  7  3  4 24 14 20  4  5  69  27  42  64
 3 Arsenal         30 12  1  2 41 15  8  3  4 30 18 20  4  6  71  33  38  64
 4 Tottenham H.    29 10  2  3 33 10  5  5  4 20 18 15  7  7  53  28  25  52
 5 Liverpool       30 11  2  2 37 13  4  4  7 12 17 15  6  9  49  30  19  51
 6 Manchester City 28  9  4  0 30 14  4  7  4 23 22 13 11  4  53  36  17  50
 7 Aston Villa     28  7  5  2 23 10  6  5  3 16 12 13 10  5  39  22  17  49
 8 Birmingham City 29  7  6  2 15 10  5  2  7 15 21 12  8  9  30  31  -1  44
 9 Everton         29  8  5  2 28 18  3  4  7 18 24 11  9  9  46  42   4  42
10 Fulham          29  9  2  3 21  9  1  6  8 11 23 10  8 11  32  32   0  38
11 Stoke City      29  6  5  4 20 17  2  7  5  8 16  8 12  9  28  33  -5  36
12 Blackburn R.    29  8  4  2 21 12  1  3 11 10 36  9  7 13  31  48 -17  34
13 Bolton Wndrs    30  5  5  5 22 23  3  3  9 14 31  8  8 14  36  54 -18  32
14 Sunderland      29  6  7  2 24 15  1  3 10 13 30  7 10 12  37  45  -8  31
15 Wigan Athletic  30  4  5  6 13 20  3  2 10 15 39  7  7 16  28  59 -31  28
16 West Ham United 29  5  4  5 24 22  1  5  9 13 27  6  9 14  37  49 -12  27
17 Wolves          29  4  3  8 10 20  3  3  8 13 27  7  6 16  23  47 -24  27
18 Burnley         30  6  5  4 20 17  0  1 14 11 46  6  6 18  31  63 -32  24
19 Hull City       29  5  5  4 19 22  0  4 11  8 39  5  9 15  27  61 -34  24

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1617