Newsletter #1692

News and reaction tonight to the Bolton game, media reports of player unrestand transfer rumours, including an admission from Robinho that he isn’t suitedto English football…We’ve also a look at whether this could be our season as we prepare to travelto Upton Park.

Next Game: West Ham United, away, 3pm Saturday 11 December 2010


General News

Credit to the Club: The England 2018 bid may have come to a disappointing end but those involved in the Manchester side of it couldn’t be prouder. One member of the bidding committee was City’s Eddie Afekafe. Eddie, who works as a social inclusion manager with the club, gave a rousing speech to Fifa about how football had changed his life and how a 2018 World Cup in England would leave a legacy that would do exactly the same for many other local people. Though Eddie’s words ultimately fell on deaf ears, City legend Mike Summerbee claims that the young City ambassador couldn’t have done any more: “Eddie was magnificent. He is employed by Manchester City and is a credit to the club, the city and football as a whole. I honestly thought he could have swung it because what he said came from the heart. He came from an underprivileged background. He has worked his way through. He has become a diplomat and an ambassador for the club. He is a very special lad and we are proud to have him.”

Raise Your Game: Fourth in the league and coming up to the busiest time of the football calendar, Roberto Mancini has called on his players to raise their game over the festive period. During the early stages of the season, the City boss predicted that “it will all come together for City around Christmas time” and so the pressure is now on the Italian to deliver. Arsenal, United and Chelsea all sit above City in the table, but with neither looking keen on claiming the title, a good run of form over Christmas could see the Blues lift themselves even further up the league. Ahead of last weekend’s home win over Bolton, Mancini rallied the troops: “We have four home games between now and the second day of the New Year. It is a chance for us to make progress. What is important at this busy time is that we have everyone fit. All players will be important during these weeks when we play every few days and sometimes twice in three days. They have to be physically and mentally ready to play at any time.”

Temperatures Rise in the Snow: It may have been a cold day in Manchester when the Blues faced Owen Coyle’s Bolton Wanderers on Saturday, but temperatures rose significantly during second half stoppage time. Ahead by a single goal, Mancini decided to quash the aerial threat of The Trotters by replacing club captain Carlos Tevez with midfielder James Milner. As someone who could both break up play in the midfield and attack any threat in the air, Milner seemed a sensible replacement in the dying minutes of the game but City’s Argentinian skipper didn’t agree. Whilst coming off, Tevez and Mancini exchanged words and Mancini gestured to push Tevez in the direction of the benches to make City’s top goal scorer sit down. The exchanges inevitably hit the headlines but the manager has refuted any suggestions of infighting: “I’m happy for that. I’d like all the players to be like Carlos. At the moment, every player wants to stay on the pitch but I needed a player like Milner on there because he is taller than Carlos and better at set pieces. I have no problem with what Carlos said.”

Though he offered no public apology, Tevez stated that any friction was the sign of two men who care deeply about making the club successful simply differing in their views as to how it should be done: “Anything that goes on between us off the pitch or in the dressing room stays there and he and I keep on fighting for the club.”

Only Days Earlier: The Mancini/Tevez spat came only days after the sports sections of the national newspapers were full of photos of a supposed ‘fight’ between Jerome Boateng and the controversial Mario Balotelli. Though training ground bust-ups happen at every club, any activity at City these days is now heavily scrutinised and yet again the word ‘crisis’ was banded about. Again, City’s Italian gaffer laughed off suggestions that the club was in turmoil and assured fans that Boateng was only dropped from this weekend’s tie against Bolton as part of the club’s rotation policy: “What happened yesterday was nothing; it was a normal situation that maybe happens at every club every week. He (Balotelli) played well today (against Bolton), all that was missing was a goal, but he can still improve in all parts of his game. Jerome was in the stands because I can’t put three defenders on the bench. Two weeks ago it was Joleon, a week before that it was Micah, it’s a normal situation.”

Santa Stroll Success: Despite freezing cold conditions at City’s City of Manchester Stadium, 900 dedicated fans still came out to raise money for charity in the club’s Santa Stroll. Manager Mancini and club Executive Chairman Garry Cook were present as 900 blue Santas lapped the Eastlands pitch on a cold Sunday. All money will be donated to City charity projects (including The Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Appeal), and club ambassador Paul Lake wanted to thank all those involved: “I can’t say thank you enough everyone who joined in with the event and helped put it on and make it such a success. The weather wasn’t as kind as it might have been but I think everyone had a great time and got into the spirit of the day. It was a real family occasion and the Santas looked really impressive. I think you might see a few of them at away games between now and the New Year! Most importantly of all though we have made money for charities and that was the prime purpose so we’re really pleased.”

Alan for City: He’s never played for City and he probably never will, but Red Bull Salzburg star Alan has thanked the City faithful for the rousing reception he received during last week’s Europa League tie. Not many away players (if any!) get quite the reception the Brazilian born forward got when he came on as a second half substitute and though he clearly remains bemused as to quite why City fans were chanting his name for the best part of half an hour, Alan has thanked the 37,000 strong home support: “I’d just like to thank the City fans for the reception they gave me. I appreciate the affection and all the support and affection you’ve all shown me. I love you guys!”

Chopping and Changing: Two Premier League fixtures have been re-arranged for next February. Derby day at Old Trafford has been moved back to February 13th (1.30pm) and the home tie against Fulham will now be played on Monday 28th February (8pm). Fans have been asked to note that both fixtures are subject to further change depending on the three clubs’ progress in domestic and European competitions.

Squad News

Silva Wins Double Gold: Spanish winger David Silva has been named Eithad Player of the Month for a second consecutive month. The World Cup winner may have a taken a month or two to fully adapt to the English game, but now he has, there seems to be no stopping the playmaker. City beat off interest from Spanish giants Real Madrid to sign Silva from Valencia in the summer, and fans are now seeing why there was such prestigious interest. Although Vincent Kompany finished a competitive second with 20% of the vote, the creative Silva won his second consecutive award with 28%. Captain Carlos Tevez finished third (13%).

Title Charge: It’s anybody’s game. That seems to be the thinking amongst the Premier League heavyweights this season with none of the top four putting together a consistent enough run to stay top of the table for more than a couple of weeks. Arsenal now top the league for the first time in nine months, taking advantage of Chelsea’s recent poor run of results. Ahead of the action packed festive period, Carlos Tevez has called on his side to put themselves in contention for the title going into the New Year. He believes that if no-one wants to grab hold of top spot then City should stake their own claim – though he has also warned that City fans should be patient in their approach to City’s impending success: “I think it has been such a topsy-turvy season so far, with everyone beating everyone else. What we have to do is start believing that we are a big club, get our act together and concentrate, and be strong enough mentally to go five or six matches. It’s a case of thinking about it properly and getting our mind-set right in order to get those half dozen wins in a row which will give us that belief that we can be champions. Three years ago Manchester City were a team who used to finish in the bottom half of the table. Nowadays we are always battling to be in the top four and trying hard to become one of the great teams. But people need to remain very patient. You don’t build a great club overnight.”

Cheers Boss: Certain sections of the media would have you believe that Adam Johnson and Roberto Mancini’s relationship is fraught and that the young England winger is planning a move away from the club due to irresolvable differences with his Italian coach. According to AJ himself, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Though the former Middlesbrough winger has admitted that he would love to play more first-team-football for the club, Johnson believes Mancini’s advice is benefiting his game and will make him a much better player in the long run: “From the moment he came in the manager he has helped me a lot. He has seen a lot in his career and all his advice is starting to show a little bit in my game. It is about running off the ball, my movement and stuff like that and when to get a shot in. It is also about not wanting the ball at my feet all the time, and maybe trying to get in the box and on the end of a few more crosses.”

The Rumour Mill

Going Nowhere: It was reported last week that six players had been given the go-ahead to leave the club in January. Shay Given, Wayne Bridge, Shaun Wright Phillips, Emmanuel Adebayor and Roque Santa Cruz are all expected to seek alternative employment come the winter transfer window, but centre back Joleon Lescott has said he has no plans to move anywhere. The England international joined from Everton for a fee of £24 million and has never truly made an impression, but the centre-back has stated that he is ready to battle for his place in the XI: “I’m fully committed to Manchester City. It’s going to be tough; every player in the squad knows that if they go out of the side the player coming in is just as good. We all know there is healthy competition here. I played near enough every game at Everton. Coming here I felt I was going to play, and I did under Mark Hughes, but this season I have not played as often as I would like. But with the way Vinnie and Kolo are playing, I can’t really complain. I like to think I can play in the team, and that I am as good as Vinnie or Kolo, but when that chance comes you have to take it.”

If Lescott did leave the club, Brazilian defender David Luiz is said to be top of Mancini’s wish-list to replace the former Everton man. Luiz has been on Mancini’s radar ever since claiming that he hoped to join a bigger club than current employers Benfica. In a shock move however, Luiz committed himself to the Portuguese club this week, claiming he fully intends to see out his five year contract at Benfica: “If it was only a question of money, I would not be at Benfica as I am now. I have decided to stay and I did not want to leave at the end of last season. I am happy at Benfica and I remember that my deal finishes in June 2015.”

Best of the Rest: Another player plotting his move away from the club is on-loan defender Nedum Onuoha. Onuoha, who has spent this season on loan at Sunderland, admitted this week that if he return to the club next summer and is no longer needed then he will search for a new club: “I’m ambitious and, if I get back there in pre-season and the manager is still adamant he doesn’t want me and I’m not good enough, I won’t argue.” As replacements, City are said to be lining up a £15 million for Sporting Lisbon’s Daniel Carrico or a £10 million deal for Espanyol’s Victor Ruiz. A move for Ruiz may include City also moving for club team-mate Javi Marquez, though the playmaker has also attracted the interest of Tottenham Hotspur and Wigan Athletic.

Some reports have suggested that City are planning mega money moves for Barcelona’s Andres Iniesta, with a figure of £60 million being banded about, and for Tottenham’s Gareth Bale. A deal for Bale has been quoted to be worth £50 million or could include an exchange with City striker Emmanuel Adebayor. Spurs’ boss Harry Redknapp has dismissed any suggestion that he is interested in former Arsenal star Adebayor: “I’ve never made any enquiries for Adebayor whatsoever” but is believed to be interested in City’s Shaun Wright-Phillips. Any move for SWP would face stiff competition from Everton and West Ham, if the price was right.

In a week that City were linked with Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema, the suggestions that Mario Balotelli was planning a move away for CoMS have been quashed by his agent: “Balotelli went to City and will remain there for several years. It is impossible for him to join Milan in June, almost impossible.”

Post-Match Reaction

Scoring is Our Goal: A tantrum, a red card, an unpopular referee; this game seemed to have everything but the seemingly inevitable opening of the floodgates. When Carlos Tevez met Yaya Toure’s incisive through ball after only four minutes to score City’s first at home for four games and hand the hosts an early lead, the Blues looked on track to put four or five past Bolton Wanderers. But the goals never came. Despite making seventeen goal scoring opportunities, City couldn’t build on Tevez’s early opener and yet still came away with all three points. Excellent performances from David Silva, Mario Balotelli and Pablo Zabaleta led the Blues to a comfortable victory, but had manager Mancini wishing that his side would only score more: “We deserved to win but we made it hard for ourselves. If we don’t score when we create so many chances this is what can happen. I’m not sure if it was one of our best performances, we also had a lot of chances against Blackpool and Birmingham, but we must improve when are in front of goal, especially at home. Their ‘keeper made four or five good saves, and we were selfish at times. We made mistakes when we could have scored, but that is football.”

Nigel de Jong believes there were many positive to take from a confident City display and emphasised the need for his team-mates to take this momentum into the weekend’s trip to West Ham: “It was a tough game but they didn’t really give us a lot of problems because they didn’t create a lot of chances. OK, the last 15 minutes were difficult because we were playing with a man less, but they still didn’t create one good chance. We can blame ourselves for that because we didn’t score. That was the only flaw in a very good performance from the whole team – especially the first 20 minutes. We won every second ball as well and we took a grip of the game. We produced a good performance and now we need to take that into the next game against West Ham.”

Coming on as a first half substitute for the injured Kolo Toure, Joleon Lescott helped the Blues to an eighth league clean sheet this season and whilst many will focus on the club’s lack of goals, he feels the Blues’ defence should be given more credit: “It’s probably a bit more exciting and it means a bit more to get that kind of a 1-0 win. We’ve kept a few clean sheets this season, but we knew that Bolton was going to be a tough test, and maybe last season we could have failed that kind of test. We should have had more of a lead in the first half and into the second. They were not half-chances either, they were decent opportunities to score, but sometimes you have to win the game with your defence.”

Ex-Blues’ News

My Fault, Not Yours: He cost £32.5 million and despite a promising start to his City career, ended up leaving for AC Milan only two years later. Robinho was possibly the most anti-climactic signings in recent years and before joining Santos on loan during his final season at the club, seemed to have fallen out with manager Roberto Mancini. It was this relationship that was blamed for the Brazilian’s eventual exit. Speaking this week however, Robinho blamed his own failure to adapt to the English game for his move to Serie A but also claimed that his move to Eastlands was good for City even if his own performances didn’t live up to the hype: “Mancini is an excellent coach. I never had any problem with him. He was always a good coach, and always respected me, and I always respected him. The problem is that English football is not an easy game for me. I believe it (moving to City) was good for me and for City, because I opened the doors for other big players to come to City. Maybe if I hadn’t signed there, no other big player would have signed there. I was the first of the big players present in this club. So it was good.”

Alex Rowen <news(at)>


For the first time this season (or in my living memory for that matter) I find myself thinking that we have got a real chance of winning the league.

There has been some real evidence that the team is finally starting to gel and that Mancini is finding the right balance in recent games. Fulham at the Cottage and Bolton anywhere are never easy games but we played some sublime stuff and won both games pretty comfortably. I know Bolton was only 1-0, but it should have been more with a bit more luck. We played well against Salzburg also, but they were pretty poor opposition in my opinion.

I’m liking what I’m seeing on the pitch. I like the passion, I like the players keeping each other honest and having a go where they think it’s needed. I like how tight our defence is. Kompany is by far the best centre back in the country at the moment. I like how our full backs are getting forward, taking shots and scoring goals. I like the options we have in midfield to play any type of game our manager wants. We have strong holding midfielders, great ball winners, skilful wingers and a sublime playmaker in Silva. I like our main strike-force of Tevez and Balotelli; Tevez is like a shark around the penalty box, he sniffs chances like a shark senses blood and attacks with equal lethal efficiency. The icing on the cake with Tevez is that we know every time his name appears on the scoresheet, Fergie winces. Balotelli is pure class already and is still considered raw. His goals per game ratio is already impressive, especially when you consider his season is only a few weeks old and he’s yet to get match fit and match sharp. He will be scary with a bit more Premier League experience and a bit more fitness; I’m sure Mancini will sort out him going to ground too easily.

The squad is nearly there, maybe another decent striker after the deadwood of Adebayor and Santa Cruz are shipped out. I’d keep Jo on as I’ve got a feeling about him. He’s not scoring (yet) but he’s working hard and I reckon once he scores a goal or two he’ll come right.

Despite the tabloids and junk radio trying to portray a club in turmoil, I think we have a very healthy competitiveness within the squad. The papers may show pictures of Boateng and Balotelli squaring up in training, but what they don’t show is them having a laugh about it later over a pint of Lucozade Sport. Any of us who have played the sport at a decent level knows this happens all the time and is by no means a sign of endemic in-fighting amongst the squad.

Mancini is the man for the job and is getting it right. We’ve had half a season of experimentation, trying to find the right balance and are still only 3 points off top spot. Now that it’s coming together I really do think this could be a very special season.

Steve Slack <Stephen.Slack(at)>


There are lots of City videos on Youtube posted by a user called mcfcvideos. Most of the videos are highlights of City games over the years, but today (Dec 7th) a tribute to Neil Young was posted.

You can see it here: It shows plenty of Neil’s goals, including two that he scored with his right foot!

To see all the posted clips (357 at the latest count), go here

George Alexander <cymruisrael(at)>


6 December 2010

Liverpool             3 - 0  Aston Villa           39,079

League table to 08 December 2010 inclusive

                             HOME          AWAY        OVERALL
                    P  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F   A   GD Pts
 1 Arsenal         16  5  0  3 19 10  5  2  1 15  8 10  2  4  34  18  16  32
 2 Manchester Utd  15  7  1  0 24  6  1  6  0 11 10  8  7  0  35  16  19  31
 3 Chelsea         16  6  1  1 18  4  3  2  3 12  7  9  3  4  30  11  19  30
 4 Manchester City 16  4  3  1  8  5  4  2  2 13  7  8  5  3  21  12   9  29
 5 Tottenham H.    16  4  3  1 13  8  3  2  3 11 13  7  5  4  24  21   3  26
 6 Bolton Wndrs    16  3  4  1 17 11  2  4  2 11 12  5  8  3  28  23   5  23
 7 Sunderland      16  4  4  0 10  5  1  4  3 10 13  5  8  3  20  18   2  23
 8 Liverpool       16  5  2  1 15  6  1  2  5  5 13  6  4  6  20  19   1  22
 9 West Brom A.    16  4  2  2 11 10  2  2  4 12 17  6  4  6  23  27  -4  22
10 Stoke City      16  4  2  2 12  9  2  1  5  9 12  6  3  7  21  21   0  21
11 Blackburn R.    16  4  2  2 11  6  2  1  5 10 19  6  3  7  21  25  -4  21
12 Newcastle Utd   16  2  3  3 16 10  3  1  4  8 15  5  4  7  24  25  -1  19
13 Blackpool       15  2  2  2 11 11  3  2  4 12 18  5  4  6  23  29  -6  19
14 Birmingham City 16  3  4  1  8  6  0  5  3  9 13  3  9  4  17  19  -2  18
15 Everton         16  2  3  3 10 12  1  5  2  8  8  3  8  5  18  20  -2  17
16 Aston Villa     16  3  4  1 12  9  1  1  6  5 18  4  5  7  17  27 -10  17
17 Fulham          16  2  4  2 10 11  0  5  3  6  9  2  9  5  16  20  -4  15
18 Wigan Athletic  16  2  4  3  8 17  1  2  4  5 11  3  6  7  13  28 -15  15
19 Wolves          16  3  2  3 12 13  0  1  7  5 17  3  3 10  17  30 -13  12
20 West Ham United 16  2  3  3 10 12  0  3  5  4 15  2  6  8  14  27 -13  12

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1692