Newsletter #1708

News tonight from Alex with reaction to the Aris and Fulham games and Mancini is finally thinking of silverware. There are more fixture changes ahead for the Blues in April, injured Blues and roving Blues.

We have a match report on the Villa game thanks to Phil, opinion on the Fulham fall-out and the usual requests with one especially for the far flung Blues.

Next Game: Wigan Athletic, home, 5.30pm Saturday 5 March 2011


General News

You’ll Need a New Song! City manager Roberto Mancini has warned fans that they’ll need to start coming up with a new song after pledging to bring an end to the club’s 35 year trophy drought. The Blues have become famed for their chant of “35 years and we’re still here!”, but with good progress being made in both the FA Cup and the Europa League, Mancini believes there may be some silverware lining the trophy cabinet this season: “We have a big chance of winning something. We have two options. If we win one trophy it will lead to more trophies. This is important for our team. When I accepted this job I knew it was difficult but it is a big challenge and I believe we can win a trophy.” Last night’s stand-in captain Pablo Zabaleta is also keen to bring some long overdue silverware to CoMS: “We have a great chance in the FA Cup, to try to come back to Wembley after a long time. Now we have a great chance, we play at home again with our fans, so it will be very important to us.”

No April Fool: April’s fixture list has taken a bit of a battering with a number of different changes due to television coverage and cup competition involvement. There’s so many that it would be all too confusing to write them down here and so if you want further information, check them out at the official club website:

Games Galore: The ever changing fixture list does represent the progress City are making this season but Mancini isn’t happy with the way his side are expected to play so many games in such a short space of time. FA Cup replays, Europa League commitments and a push for the top four means that City’s players have to be prepared to play two, possibly three, games a week. Like many other managers before him, Mancini has criticised the planning of the way the fixtures fall and believes the continental leagues are much better organised: “I’ve never seen in my life a team playing every three days in February and March. I think it is a big problem, something has to change. For all teams and players it is impossible; I think they should have more respect for the players. They are not machines. At the moment I only have 15 fit players. Usually when I have 18 or 19, I can change six or seven players and have them fresh for the next game. It makes it impossible to play at 100% because all the players are so tired.”

No Excuses: Though his manager isn’t impressed with the overwhelming number of fixtures City face between now and the end of the season, Joleon Lescott has stressed that this should not be an excuse for the Blues. Lescott, who probably put in his best performance ever in a City shirt last night in the 3-0 win over Villa, has been in impressive form of late and seems to be feeling the benefit of playing consistently. Still fighting on three fronts, Lescott has explained that he and his team-mates wouldn’t have it any other way: “We are not looking for any sympathy. We want to play in these games. We want to win every game in every competition. We recognise that is not going to happen but we still have to try. We know it is going to be tough. But if you are at the top or going to be one of the best, you will reach semi-finals and quarter-finals of competitions, which just means more games. It is going to be a long season but that is how we want it.”

Squad News

No Pain, No Gain: Though some will criticise Mancini as covering his back should City not achieve this season, the bulging fixture list is certainly taking its toll. The Italian manager is currently without Vincent Kompany, Adam Johnson and Nigel de Jong, amongst a number of others and these players will be needed back as soon as possible if the club are to achieve this season. Though Mancini has a number of talented players to call upon, there’s nothing better than having your first XI fit and raring to go, as the boss explains: “I think that if we want to win we need to play very well, but it is important that get some of our missing players back as soon as we can.”

Attack! Last week’s 3-0 win over Aris not only helped the Blues progress through to the final 16 of the competition, it also gave Mancini a chance to test out his new strike force. Dzeko, Balotelli and Tevez played in front of the creative David Silva in a formation that questioned the manager’s Italian roots. Mancini has become famed for playing typically defensive football and yet last week’s games represented a complete change of ideology. The subsequent tie at Fulham is only the second time that Mancini has been able to try his new method and he believes that, over time, 4-3-3 may be the way to play: “The first half they worked together well with the ball. The second half we were tired. They need to play more games together, to get used to each other. I think they can play together sometimes.”

Under the Knife: Shay Given faces a lengthy spell out on the side-lines after undergoing shoulder surgery last week. The Irish ‘keeper suffered the injury in training last week and has had to have an operation in order to help him overcome it. The 35-year-old has since been covered by Stuart Taylor on the City bench but a club spokesman has assured fans that Given is expected to make a full recovery – it is just too early to say exactly when that will be: “Shay has had his operation, and the surgeon said he felt things went very well. Shay is very fit and strong, so we’re hopeful that his recovery will be a quick one. He recovered ahead of schedule from the problem at the end of last season, and although it’s still too early to say how soon he will be back in contention, once he has recovered from the operation we’ll be working on his rehab as soon as possible to get him fit again.”

Here to Stay? Shaun Wright Phillips has followed up his comments from last week with a pledge to remain a Blue for as long as it is in his power to do so. Seven days ago, we reported that SWP was chuffed to be back in the fold for City after a long spell on the subs’ bench and after rumours suggested that a move to Liverpool could be on the cards in the summer. However, the England winger has moved quickly to dismiss the speculation: “Football works in mysterious ways. If I am wanted here I will stay. I never wanted to leave in the first place. I still see a bright future for me here. It is just about getting chances. I have played a few games recently and now I just want to keep doing well.”

Rumour Mill

Double Dutch: City have been linked with two Dutch players this week as Mancini looks ahead to plotting his team for next season’s Champions’ League. Rafael Van der Vaart has been simply superb for Spurs this season and crucial to their impressive run in the Champions’ League. If reports are to be believed then City are supposedly planning a bid for the Dutch midfielder and should City qualify for Europe’s elite competition at Spurs’ expense, Van der Vaart may be persuaded. Also on the radar is Ajax’s Gregory Van der Wiel. The attacking right back is said to have been a target for City ever since Roberto Mancini took the reins at Eastlands and should a move for Barcelona’s Dani Alves fall through, Van der Wiel would prove the perfect alternative.

Roving Away: Roque Santa Cruz seems to plotting his move away from the club after stating that he has never felt more at home than at Ewood Park. The Paraguayan striker moved on loan to Blackburn Rovers in January after struggling to make an impression on City boss Roberto Mancini, and he is clearly keen to stay with the Lancashire club. With Balotelli, Dzeko and Tevez all impressing at Eastlands, a move may prove the most sensible option for Santa Cruz: “The club is a home to me, it is like a family, and I know every employee by name. We sometimes go out together. I have never felt happier than at Blackburn. I just want to play – and Blackburn’s offer suited all parties. I’m confident we’ll find a solution that will enable me to stay.”

Post-Match Reaction:

Aris’ Greek Tragedy: City progressed through to the 2nd knock-out round of the Europa League with a convincing 3-0 win over Greek visitors Aris last week. Going in goalless following the 0-0 draw in Greece the week before, City knew that it all came down to this game at Eastlands and Mancini’s side easily overcame their opposition. Edin Dzeko scored an early brace, which was added to late on by Yaya Toure’s deflected strike and City strolled through to the next round. The Blues now face Ukrainian outfit Dynamo Kiev in the last 16 of the competition and Mancini is expecting a tough test: “Dynamo have big experience, they have always played in the Champions’ League. It will be a very hard game because they are a good team. I don’t know if we can win it, it’s a long tournament. I think we should only think about the next game at the moment and go from there. But my confidence is good. I have always thought that we can reach the final.” Edin Dzeko’s brace was enough to set the Blues on their way and yet the Bosnian admits he was disappointed not to complete his hat-trick: “I think I can play much better. I’m not happy with my last chance in the first half, it’s happened two times in the last two games and I have to work.”

Hughes Proves a Point: Unfortunately, the Blues couldn’t replicate that performance in the weekend’s 1-1 draw against Fulham. Despite going a goal in front through Mario Balotelli, City looked tired as they struggled to recover from Damien Duff’s equaliser and the game ended with each side taking a point. The returning Mark Hughes claimed after the game that he was not happy with the way Mancini had treated him in the post-match handshake as he alleged that the Italian did not “pay me enough respect”. In all honesty, there seemed very little in the Welshman’s claims but it proved good chip paper for the rest of the week. Speaking only about the performance, Mancini admitted he was disappointed with the result: “The performance was so-so. I think that we didn’t play well but in the first half we scored one goal. When you score one goal, you finish the first half one-nil and you should start better the second half but it is possible that when you play every day – and at this moment we have a lot of players injured – we have some problems.”

Houllier the Villain: Further cup success for City as they beat Aston Villa 3-0 to progress to the FA Cup quarter-finals. David Silva and Joleon Lescott starred for City as goals for Yaya, Balo’ and the Spaniard proved the difference. But for the travelling support, the matter wasn’t one of the score-line but of the team line-up. Houllier made a massive eight changes to his side’s weekend XI and the Villains effectively surrendered their only chance of silverware this season. A trip to Wembley is beckoning for City but Reading still stand in their way.

That quarter-final will be the most important game in City’s recent history as the club desperately seek to end a 35 year long trophy drought and it is crucial that fans turn out in their thousands for the game. The game will probably end up on TV and given the clogged fixture list of late, it’s understandable why fans haven’t been filling the 48,000 seater stadium. But the Reading game is massive and it’s the fans’ duty to replicate an atmosphere similar to that of Hamburg in 2009. We’ve proved we’re the best fans in the world over the last 35 years, now we need to show the rest of the country by selling out a week on Sunday.

After last night’s game, City’s Italian boss admitted that he could empathise with his French counterpart and was now solely focussed on the coming games: “This performance was very important for us. I needed to rest one or two players and I thought it was a risk to play Mario alone up front, but he played very well and scored a fantastic goal. I wasn’t surprised by Aston Villa’s starting eleven because Gerard Houllier has a lot of experience and he knows it isn’t easy to play with the same players every few days. Now we need to concentrate on Wigan in the League and then Dynamo Kyiv in the Europa League. It’s more important we focus on our next two games before we think about playing Reading.”

Alex Rowen <news(at)>


City easily despatched a weakened Villa side to progress to a home sixth round tie with Reading. The fear before the teams were announced was that we’d find an improved Villa side challenging enough to, at the very least, drag us back to Villa Park for another energy-sapping replay. Unfortunately for the three thousand or so Villa fans who’d braved the M6, Gerrard Houllier left out Ashley Young, Mark Albrighton and Stewart Downing from their starting line up, making the City players’ job so much easier. It’s reasonable to think that after Birmingham’s well-merited trophy success last Sunday, Villa too would fight tooth and nail to try to win a trophy. Thankfully Houllier and his warped sense of priorities are not our problem. Leicester and Notts County presented tougher challenges than Villa did, and we can expect that Reading will represent far more awkward opponents the 6th round. You can only beat what is put in front of you and City did this confidently and decisively.

It took City just 5 minutes to score and 26 minutes to put the game beyond the reach of Villa’s enthusiastic youngsters. Vieira flicked on Kolarov’s left wing corner, it hit Villa’s Clarke on the hand and Yaya Touré volleyed home the loose ball. Yaya turned provider for the second goal, lofting a superb long pass that Balotelli took on the bounce, floating the ball over Friedel’s despairing dive and in off a post. It was a brilliant, almost nonchalant piece of finishing from the richly talented Italian – and his tenth goal of the season.

In between this Villa huffed and puffed. Bannan forced a save from Hart and skied one over, and Barry gave Agbonlahor too much room on our right but he curled his effort a yard wide.

The Villa fans booed Barry’s early touches. After twelve years’ sterling service, and a dignified exit, any reasonable person would conclude that he deserves their cheers not boos and definitely not chants of ‘One greedy b——“. It’s not as if he signed for Birmingham or The Baggies and if he’d been so greedy then he could have downed tools and demanded a move to lucrative Liverpool a year before. Instead, he stayed and gave them another good year of professional service. The only conclusion is that those chants say more about the moronic Villa boo boys than anything else, and I am happy to report that on this occasion Barry was unaffected by the boos and had another very good game in the City midfield engine room.

City started the second half a little slowly but to no avail. Despite still having experience attackers like Heskey and Agbonlahor, Villa didn’t have the quality to break down a solid City rearguard in which Micah Richards excelled. Brave and determined, he is looking like the player who was a regular England starter just 3 years ago. Inside him, Boateng was calm, assured and read the game superbly. He was ably supported by Lescott to his left and by the supremely professional Pablo Zabaleta, who looks more and more comfortable at left back.

Villa got more than a little feisty at this point. Petrov had already been booked for a bad challenge on Vieira in the first half. The cocky young buck Clarke followed him into the book after what is best described as a rugby hand-off to Balotelli’s face as he advanced in a thrilling City move. Even Mark Clattenburg couldn’t “miss” Agbonlahor’s wild challenge soon after that and he duly earned a yellow card.

The young right back Herd should have joined them as he too made a series of wild challenges, but we have to remember that the referee in this game was Mark Clattenburg. Whilst we are the subject of Clattenburg, how could he possibly have thought that Rooney’s elbow on James McCarthy at the weekend was anything other than a straight red card? Fear is a very powerful emotion.

Back to the game and City were not intimidated by the rustic qualities of Houllier’s ‘selection’.

David Silva makes all the difference to City’s ability to create. The little playmaker from Gran Canaria lit up another game with his skill and incisive passing. He gives City the invention that we need to break down any defence anywhere, and Villa, despite Dunney’s best efforts, were no match for his cleverness. Yaya Touré’s and Barry’s power, energy and skill complemented this superbly in our midfield.

He adorned his performance with a richly deserved goal when Zabaleta’s right wing cross was cleared to him and he sweetly struck a low shot to give City a deserved three goal lead. This was clearly a much better performance than Sunday’s against Fulham, but the Cottagers provided a far sterner test. So will bottom of the table Wigan on Saturday evening, and we will have to perform at least as well as this in our next game.

Hart: Without wanting to sound like a stuck record, he must work harder on his kicking: 6
Richards: A terrific all round performance to win the dual against the speedy Agbonlahor. Made some clever runs going forward, and some important headers, interceptions and tackles, including one perfect meaty tackle to thwart Agbonlahor: 9
Boateng: Solid, and cool. Centre half is his best position: 7
Lescott: Another who did his reputation no harm. Several good interceptions and an assured performance will have done his confidence no harm: 7
Zabaleta: The captain for the night was his usual superb, solid self: 7
Vieira: Some nice touches: 6
Barry: A superb all-action performance in midfield: 7
Yaya Touré: Great energy, box-to-box, and a brilliant through ball that set up the 2nd goal: 7
Kolarov: Some very good delivery from the flanks: 6
Silva: He doesn’t have a left foot, he has a wand: 8
Balotelli: A sumptuous volleyed finish. Keep listening to Mancini, ragazzo: 7
Att: A very mid-eighties Maine Road 25,570
Tevez: A livewire cameo: 7
Jo: n/a
Boyata: n/a
Best oppo: Richard Dunne: Here, there, every… 7
Clattenburg: Struggled to keep control in the second half. This man is utterly clueless: 1.

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


I did a stupid thing last night after the Villa game. As I had a train to catch, and not being able to walk fast with my dodgy calf (some people really should know when to pack in playing five-a-side), I hailed a taxi to get me back to Piccadilly. The black cab was already stationary, and the driver nodded to me. As I made to get in, I noticed a youth trying to gazump me as he was talking through the closed window to the taxi driver. Anyway, I climbed in and before I’d shut the door the same youth, complete with spots, poked his head inside.

I offered “Do you want to share a cab?” “Yes”, he replied and he was followed in by three other scrawny mates, making it a full cab of five, then another lad joined in and threw himself to the floor. The savvy, eagle-eyed taxi driver then said assertively: “I can’t take six. Five is the maximum.”

“Oi vowt thet the Manc gows”, squeaked the same spotty youth in a Brummie accent (yes, the one I’d offered to share with), and he raised his right hand. Up went at least two other scrawny hands, meaning that the West Midlands Taxi Sharing Referendum had a decisive ‘majority’, and the Spotty Youth looked at me very smugly. Truly delightful.

A moment of tension followed. Call me foolish, naïve or stupid, but I wasn’t going to move so I sat in my corner of the taxi. My thoughts were that I was going to be late for my train while this situation ‘resolved’ itself. I just smiled and said “Oh come on, you’re not serious!”. The not-at-all-famous five (I’m surprised Houllier didn’t offer them a game) pondered for a moment, sitting still, but the spotty, correction, spottiest one, held his smug pose.

The taxi driver opened the doors of his cab; he certainly wasn’t for moving either. Suddenly, the five Brummie youths scuttled out, all looking rather silly, Prince Acne being the last to leave. Imbecile. Aside from this, many of us have had spots in our youth, and they’re pretty horrible things to have, but I can’t help wondering, though, whether in one of his more boastful, “alpha male” wannabee moments, Prince Acne offers “Oi’ve got considerablay more spots than yow!”

Anyway, the taxi driver pulled away and I caught my train after all, but not after he’d scolded me in a fatherly manner for my foolishness in offering them to share his cab. No one is too old to take a bit of ‘tough love’ (certainly not a forty-something dad-of-two like me), and he was right.

I reflected that I was fortunate that the five Brummie youths hadn’t beaten me up or worse as scrawny as they were I imagine that I would have struggled to say the least. I’m glad that these silly boys weren’t quite as nasty as some people can be in our society.

Not the most exciting story, I concede, and I don’t assume that everyone is a daft as I was on Wednesday night. The thing is that when the need arises, I’ve been daft enough to share a taxi with fans (both Blues and otherwise) since the 80s and never had a problem. Maybe I’ve been lucky. Whatever, I don’t intend to rely on luck again.

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


A great article by Marc Starr; he must speak for most City fans when he mentions his feelings. I can still remember that cup final against Spurs like I can the play off final against Gillingham; both make me cry but for entirely different reasons. When I played I was a very poor loser and still hate it when City lose now. However, I would never walk away without looking my opponent in the eye; perhaps in Mancini we have someone as childish as Fergie with his stupid attitude to the BBC. Maybe he actually felt guilty knowing he had taken another man’s job whilst he was still employed. Who do you blame when you have all that fire power but no fire? The reason Sparky flicked his hand away was because he realised at the last minute that Mancini didn’t look him in the eye, a bit like when you go to shake someone’s hand and they pull away at the last minute.

Mancini should stop moaning and get his players to do the business and don’t blame the number of games when he has all those players to pick from; they are probably not injured, just happy to take the money and need an excuse not to get picked.

Anyone who thinks that we can get a player for a reasonable amount is living in cloud cuckoo land we have to pay over the odds because players still don’t see us a safe bet, only as a good earner.

Sam Duxbury <Sammy459(at)>


Umbro are producing a TV advert for the release of next year’s Man City shirts. They want to show how diverse the fan base is around the world. The different places people watch the game, the people they get together with.

We are looking for large groups of fans who get together to watch the matches on television. The more interesting the location the better, but even if you just watch it in your local hotel bar or at someone’s house, the important thing is that you are getting together with your friends to support Manchester City. It’s the atmosphere that we want to capture.

The advert will be shown worldwide on the Internet and on domestic TV Channels. Show the world how good the City fans are.

If you would like to get involved in this and you think you can show us the special way you support the Blues, please contact me on this email address.

Thanks, Joe Thornber <joe(at)>


Dynamo Kiev versus Manchester City
Manchester One Night Trip

Provisional Times:

Thursday 10th March 2011
Depart Manchester at 07:30
Flight No. LS6209, arriving Kiev at 13:00
Check in opens at 05:30 and closes at 06:30
Once again we are flying with JET 2 and check in will be at Manchester Airport Terminal 1 Lower Level
Transfer from Airport to hotel, remainder of the day, free time.

Friday 11th March 2011
Flight No. LS6210 departs at 15:45, arriving back in Manchester at approx. 17:30

We will be staying at 3 star hotel TBC.
Further information will be released as it becomes available.
For further information, call the Manchester office on 0161-775-7500 or the London office on 0207-935-6129.
All flight times subject to confirmation

Brian Campbell <brian(at)>


Begging here. One ticket please for the Chelsea game.

Miles Webber <miles.webber(at)>


1 March 2011

Chelsea               2 - 1  Manchester United     41,825

28 February 2011

Stoke City            1 - 1  West Bromwich Albion  25,019
West Bromwich Albion  1 - 1  Wolverhampton Wndrs   26,170

League table to 02 March 2011 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  28 13  1  0 39  9  4  8  2 23 18 17  9  2  62  27  35  60
 2 Arsenal         27 10  1  3 30 12  7  4  2 27 15 17  5  5  57  27  30  56
 3 Manchester City 28  8  4  2 22 11  6  4  4 22 14 14  8  6  44  25  19  50
 4 Chelsea         27  9  2  2 26  9  5  4  5 22 14 14  6  7  48  23  25  48
 5 Tottenham H.    27  7  5  1 19 10  6  3  5 19 21 13  8  6  38  31   7  47
 6 Liverpool       28  8  4  2 23 11  3  2  9 13 24 11  6 11  36  35   1  39
 7 Bolton Wndrs    28  7  5  2 25 17  2  5  7 14 21  9 10  9  39  38   1  37
 8 Sunderland      28  6  5  3 18 14  3  5  6 15 21  9 10  9  33  35  -2  37
 9 Newcastle Utd   28  4  6  4 31 20  5  3  6 12 19  9  9 10  43  39   4  36
10 Stoke City      28  7  3  4 20 15  3  1 10 12 20 10  4 14  32  35  -3  34
11 Everton         27  5  5  3 21 18  2  7  5 14 18  7 12  8  35  36  -1  33
12 Aston Villa     28  6  5  3 22 16  2  4  8 13 31  8  9 11  35  47 -12  33
13 Fulham          28  5  6  3 17 14  1  8  5 12 15  6 14  8  29  29   0  32
14 Blackburn R.    28  6  4  4 17 11  3  1 10 18 35  9  5 14  35  46 -11  32
15 Blackpool       28  4  3  6 22 24  5  2  8 20 31  9  5 14  42  55 -13  32
16 Birmingham City 26  4  7  3 13 15  2  5  5 12 20  6 12  8  25  35 -10  30
17 West Brom A.    28  5  5  4 22 23  2  3  9 14 30  7  8 13  36  53 -17  29
18 Wolves          28  7  2  5 21 19  1  2 11 10 27  8  4 16  31  46 -15  28
19 West Ham United 28  4  4  6 17 21  2  6  6 16 28  6 10 12  33  49 -16  28
20 Wigan Athletic  28  3  6  6 16 30  2  6  5 11 19  5 12 11  27  49 -22  27

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1708