Newsletter #1729

FA Cup winners 2011. It sounds so simple yet hardly begins to sum up the journey most of us have experienced as fans of Manchester City. Whether you pick the ’69 FA Cup final, the ’76 League Cup, the ’99 Play-off final. Highs and lows all the way, and plenty of lows during our spell visiting York, Grimsby et al.

To City fans everywhere this is what we have been wanting for a long, long time. The FA Cup may have lost its appeal in these days of multi-millionaire players, managers and club owners and an international TV-driven audience. But it hasn’t for the true fans – and this is why Saturday 14th May 2011 will live long in the memory for us all and signals a new era in the history of MCFC.

Now to push on for third place!

Next Game: Stoke City, home, 7.45pm, Tuesday 17 May 2011


Manchester City richly deserved to win the FA Cup at Wembley with a dominant performance to end our 35 year trophy drought and send us all home celebrating long and loud on a wonderful day.

One of those wonderful banners that adorns every cup final showed a picture of Tony Book, resplendent in red and black with the slogan ‘Patience is a virtue’.

City have made us wait for an eternity on an odyssey that has taken us to such places as York and Wycombe, but that somehow makes winning the FA Cup all the more sweeter. Many of us are now pinching ourselves, and asking the question: “Was it real?” It most certainly was for real. As it sinks in we can be forgiven for finding ourselves saying out aloud: ‘we won the FA Cup’.

Wembley was populated with passionate fans from two clubs who genuinely supported the teams from start to finish in this game with a sense of wonderment at the novelty of being at a Cup Final. Indeed both sets of fans were a credit to themselves in this game. Our half of the stadium was naturally bedecked in beautiful Sky Blue whilst Stoke adorned their end in their red and white. The emotions of the occasion were heightened by the strains of the traditional Cup final hymn ‘Abide with me’. If only more genuine fans could have got in to see it. The FA must do far better than to allocate a mere 25,000 tickets to each club (though Stoke got an extra 3,000).

Putting his best foot forward, Mancini selected Carlos Tévez to lead the City attack. As expected, Mancini recalled Gareth Barry into central midfield, but he sprung a surprise by fielding Mario Balotelli on the left of the attack.

Alex Kolarov’s return was less of a surprise but many of us expected that Pablo Zabaleta would retain the left back berth after some convincing displays in both full back positions. His broken nose, though, may have left him vulnerable to Stoke’s aerial threat. Fans will always have their own ideas about the starting line up, but one man takes responsibility and stands or falls by his results. In Roberto Mancini we have a man who can stand proud after returning the glory days to this dear old football club. His team were superbly prepared for the task ahead.

On high, a City hero of yesteryear looked down and observed a 24th minute ‘Poznan’ in tribute to him. Indeed, the memory of Neil Young was done proud by the City fans and his successors on the pitch.

With Nigel de Jong commanding the midfield from the word go along with his able lieutenants Yaya Touré and Gareth Barry, City quickly took a grip of this Cup Final and rarely looked like losing it. The midfield battle had to be won for us to earn the right to play our football against a feisty Stoke City who command respect, and win it we did. The physical battles were being won from the word go, with Mancini outwitting Pulis with his three man central midfield to Stoke’s two, which featured long throw specialist Delap and City old boy Glen Whelan.

In attack, David Silva was quickly into his stride, prompting and probing from his customary free rôle. Indeed, City as a whole passed the ball round the lush, green Wembley turf in pleasing fashion. It was inevitable that chances came as we passed the ball round Stoke with great fluidity.

A combination of brilliant saves by Thomas Sorensen and near misses kept Stoke in the game for longer than they merited in all fairness. That is not being unkind to a team that thoroughly deserved to take their place against our very own City, but a statement of how City dominated the Final. Indeed, it was not very long before the Stoke goalkeeper was forced to beat out a powerful goal-bound Tévez drive. Balotelli cut inside into the inside left channel and his curling in-swinging shot forced a finger-tip save from Sorensen. Between these two saves. Yaya Touré’s powerful out-swinging drive curled just wide of the right hand post. City’s intricate passing and movement was creating space for these opportunities as Stoke hung on.

The closest Stoke came in the first half was when Kompany blocked Jones’ drive on the edge of the box. Kompany himself went on the attack after he intercepted a ball and advanced into the Stoke half with a powerful run and give and go pass, but his shot was gathered by Sorensen at the 2nd attempt. Our main concern was Stoke gaining set pieces and throw-ins near our box, but the execution of these was generally below their normal standard. Huth, who had passed a late fitness test to play, was very lucky to stay on the pitch after his forearm smash on Balotelli, and a lunge which scythed Micah Richards down wasn’t too clever either.

City’s best chance of the half fell to Silva after Mario Balotelli ran onto Tévez’s piercing chipped diagonal ball into the box. The Italian’s touch didn’t quite bring the ball under his control but presented Silva with an inviting chance but the Spaniard hit the ball into the ground and it agonisingly bounced over the bar to give Stoke another escape, and leave us wondering if we were ever going to score.

Stoke were very fortunate to go in level at the break. However, given their manager’s motivational and tactical qualities, it was inevitable that they would improve after the break and they pressed us more in midfield. Still, with Etherington clearly not fully fit and unable to play at his usual pace, they created very little. Pennant won a few free kicks down the right, sometimes theatrically, and got the occasional cross in but none of these came to anything as City’s defence held firm: Hart’s handling was faultless; Richards was everything you want in a right back; Lescott proved particularly assertive in the air; and Kompany was consistency personified.

The game had become more scrappy as we were denied space and were having to rely more and more on counter attacks. From one of these Tévez darted down the right and centred but Silva took an extra touch when he could have shot first time when well placed, only to turn into a Stoke defender and the chance was gone. Pulis introduced central midfielder Whitehead for the fading left winger Etherington and with his narrower 4-3-3, Stoke became more direct, reverting back to more long balls and the wing play of Pennant.

The pace of the game quickened into the last quarter. De Jong intercepted and tackled as if his life depended on it. This hurried Stoke along again as we reasserted our dominance and the fluidity returned to our play.

Balotelli played Yaya in down the left and the Ivorian cut the ball back for Tévez who shot wide of Sorensen’s right hand post. Barry was even more wayward with a shot from outside the box. Stoke’s one and only chance came from a rare aberration in the City back line when Jones got the wrong side of Lescott when pursuing a long, bouncing pass with just Hart to beat. It was a heart-stopping moment for Blues as we observed the potential nightmare at the far end, but thankfully the advancing Joe Hart smothered Kenwyne Jones’ point blank goal-bound effort, much to our relief. Key moments like these help decide games, and City wouldn’t be City without giving us a scare.

Mancini brought Johnson on for Barry on 73 minutes as City went for the kill.

Then in the 74th minute came the decisive moment. Silva advanced down the inside left towards where the City fans were sited, and passed to Balotelli, who wrong-footed the Stoke defence with a clever back heel that the Spaniard gathered and returned to the Italian prodigy. His shot was blocked, only for the ball to break to Yaya Touré who hit an unstoppable, net-bursting left foot shot right past Sorensen to send us all into raptures. The players peeled off to the same North West corner where they celebrated Yaya’s goal against United and jumped onto of him and we did a joyous ‘Poznan’ in the stands. Could it be? At last, could it be our time?

City continued to attack and Silva went close to scoring when his sharp effort from the left was parried by Sorensen. City never looked in any real danger and kept possession intelligently for all but the last couple of minutes, which Stoke did little with despite a succession of long balls. Roberto Mancini’s well drilled troops held firm to the last and Stoke’s aerial threat was nullified, which is no mean feat.

Grown men and women had tears in their eyes as it concluded. Handshakes, hugs and embraces were exchanged at a historic moment on an unforgettable day. City had done it. The best team had won. City had won the Cup.

To see our captain Carlos Tévez being presented with the cup by City fan, Corporal Mark Ward of the Mercian Regiment who hails from Stockport, was very special indeed. Every one of those Blue boys deserved their winners’ medals and it was so wonderful to see them parading the FA Cup in front of us. The players, management and coaching staff are so in tune with us with their celebrations, particularly their Poznan. Indeed we didn’t want the celebrations to end as Wembley reverberated to ‘City are back’ and ‘Mancini wooah…’ Many of those celebrations are still going on as we speak!

All that is left is to pay tribute to the Manchester City players, Roberto Mancini, his coaching staff for their skill and expertise; Sheikh Mansour of Abu Dhabi and his board for giving us the opportunity to compete at the highest level. They all deserve this success. We can thank them all from the bottom of our hearts.

Att: 88,643
Hart: Smothering Kenwyne Jones’ point blank effort was crucial: 8
Richards: Powerful in defence and in his support of the attack, he can be very proud of his first Wembley Cup Final: 8
Kompany: Found Jones a handful but fought effectively all the way. He may not have worn the captain’s armband until later on but he continues to impress as a leader: 8
Lescott: An assertive performance on the big stage. Almost foot perfect save for Jones getting the wrong side of him for Stoke’s one chance: 8
Kolarov: Set piece delivery and decision making not up to scratch. Continues to be disappointing: 6
De Jong: Another fine leader on the pitch. He led the City midfield in dominating this match with a typically intelligent, aggressive and dynamic display, thus laying the firmest foundations of victory: 9 (Man of the Match)
Barry: Played an important part in the domination of midfield: 7
Yaya Touré: Once again the Wembley hero, he deservedly goes into City folklore after a superb midfield performance: 8
Balotelli: Worked hard for the team and was unlucky not to score the opening goal in the first half. His clever back-heel threw the Stoke defence out of kilter in the build up to the winning goal: 8
Silva: Graced the Wembley turf with his skills and vision. Should have scored at least once: 8
Tévez: A real threat on several occasions even when he struggled for fitness in the 2nd half: 8
Johnson (for Barry 73): Held ball well, used it intelligently: 7
Zabaleta (for Tévez 87): Stiffened right hand side: n/a
Vieira (for Silva 90): The great steadier was not on the pitch for long enough to mark: n/a
Best oppo: Thomas Sorensen: But for his brilliance, City would have been out of sight by half time: 8
Refwatch: Martin Atkinson: Somehow failed to send Huth off (maybe he was unsighted), but got most decisions right: 7

This report is dedicated to all City fans, past and present, everywhere.

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


A Tale From Virginia

As the whole world knows by now, Manchester City have broken its 35 year duck of trophies with a deserved 1-0 victory over Stoke City in the FA Cup final this afternoon at Wembley, courtesy of an emphatic finish from Yaya Touré with just over 15 minutes to play. Touré hammered home a loose ball from just about eight yards out as an afternoon of pressure from City finally told.

It’d be easy to say there are no words to describe the feeling but it’s my job to try. As a relatively recent Blue (this is my twelfth season following the club) I always make a point to seek out the perspectives and feelings of those City fans who have been around all those 35 years, and even longer, the ones who truly have the right to sing “thirty-four years and we’re still here”, like the lads in the film “Blue Moon Rising”.

So it was my good fortune and truly special treat to watch the game with a City fan who has been around much longer than 35 years, Ernie Barrow, formerly of England but now living in the United States in a rural area outside Richmond, VA, where I live. I’ve known Ernie for a few years, and always take pleasure, when people say that I am the biggest City fan around, in saying “no, that’s not true, let me tell you about this guy out in Hanover County.”

Ernie is known to many City followers worldwide for his frequent posts to the MCIVTA newsletter (Manchester City Information Via the Alps), one of the earliest, highest quality, and most enduring Internet City communities. Ernie is known for his relentlessly optimistic outlook, but an outlook that is informed by detailed knowledge and good judgement.

Such is Ernie’s love for all things City that he has actually succeeded in converting some of his neighbours into hard-core Manchester City fans. What are the odds that along a rural road 20 miles outside Richmond, VA you’d find six passionate City fans (plus two dogs), half wearing the kit, watching an FA Cup final with such intensity that even the Jehovah’s Witnesses who showed up to knock on the door got quickly scared off?

Ernie is a generous and welcoming host, provided not only the TV but also beer (from Bud Lite to Boddington’s), chips, donuts, and of course his famous sausage rolls. His home is covered in City memorabilia. And better still, he’s full of City stories, old and new.

Today his old story was about being at the 1969 FA Cup final, the last time City won the competition. Ernie was in the stands behind the goal when Neil Young scored the winner (though he admits that he was too sloshed at the moment to fully appreciate it!). He recalls the fact that Princess Anne, there to represent the royals that afternoon, wore red and black, the same colours as the away strip City wore that day, leading City supporters to chant “Princess Anne/She’s a City fan.” And he recalls the way the trophy was carried by the players around to the fans at day’s end.

His more recent story came from last summer’s pre-season friendly between City and Inter Milan in Baltimore, in late July. Ernie had gotten the all-access ticket, and he spotted former City winger Mike Summerbee (part of the 1969 Cup-winning squad), someone he had met decades ago. He had a chat with Summerbee as well as current City executive Garry Cook, who bought him a drink and graciously invited him to come visit City of Manchester Stadium next year.

Ernie was not able to make that trip this past season, but he does plan to take Cook up on the offer next year. But today was all about capping an excellent season and getting the trophy.

City dominated the first half of the game; David Silva missed a glorious chance to score from close range, and a terrific save by Thomas Sorenson denied Mario Balotelli’s curling effort. Mancini fielded two proper strikers (Balotelli and Tévez), and that more offensive posture paid off as City were able to control the ball longer and with a greater variety of passes (including balls over the top) than we’ve seen in the single-striker formation.

The second half was more even and quite a bit more tense, as the game became choppier and Stoke City had a fair few set pieces and throw-ins from good positions. The best opportunity for Stoke though came on a long ball to Kenwyne Jones who had the beating of Joleon Lescott but was quickly closed down by Joe Hart, who made an excellent save with his leg.

For the second straight game, Mancini made a sub to change the course of the game. Barry came off and Adam Johnson came on, and it wasn’t long before the goal came, though Johnson himself wasn’t directly involved in the move. Yaya Touré pounced on the opportunity created by a ball played into Balotelli, and City finally had the lead.

The remainder of the game was an impressive display of how to defend a 1-0 lead. City did not get pulled back too deep, kept pushing forward for a second, and held Stoke City to no more than a half-chance. When the final whistle blew, there could be no doubt that Manchester City had well-earned the silverware.

Meanwhile, in rural Virginia, I jumped up and down; Ernie had a huge, huge smile and a glow to boot. We sat and watched every minute of the post-match coverage, then departed saying “see you in August” when City begin their next campaign.

It’ll be a very happy three months thinking about City until then.

Thad Williamson <twillia9(at)>


What can I say, I was playing Cricket when the match was on, but lucky enough to see most of the 2nd half as we were batting. All my team-mates knew I was rooting for City, and when Touré scored, I just ran around the pavilion shouting “Get in there… come on City” – not the expected behaviour of a Club Captain!

The last 5 minutes including extra time was me just checking the clock, urging it to go faster. I was so glad Zabaleta got a few minutes because he deserved to play after all his heroics recently. I am going to retract everything I said about Balotelli, most of it was justifiably based on his eccentricities, but, give credit to the young man, he put in a shift and was one of our better players on the day,; long may it continue, and all he now needs to do is add a few goals, cut out the histrionics, and put in displays like Hernandez. Our defence was fantastic, and de Jong was just immense in the middle. Touré, Silva and Tévez were not at their brilliant best but they were still a lot better than anything that the opposition had. Silverware at last… time to take down that banner at Man U.

Arsenal lost today, so that should give City all the impetus to go and grab 3rd place, which would mean we would not have to go down the qualifying route for the Champions’ League.

Looking ahead to next season and beyond, City have a lot of dead weight to offload, whilst also considering who to bring in, to make us much stronger in the League and the Champions’ League. I can see Tévez being bought by Real Madrid, though I would not buy Kaka; at 29 his best days are behind him, and I would be very surprised if he settled in Manchester. Benzema is a player I like, but as we already have Dzeko and Ballotelli, I am not sure if Mancini would go for him. I would like a striker who is good around the box, fast and with 2 good feet, and Defoe fits that bill. Fabregas would be a fantastic signing for us, a goal-scoring attacking midfielder, who would complement Silva and really give us that player who can retain possession. The other player I like that plays a similar rôle is Wesley Sneijder. We definitely need a top quality left back, and Leighton Baines would be a good acquisition. However, knowing the way Everton are, they will do another Lescott on us, and we will have to pay way over the odds!

Anyway, well done to Mancini and the team, they made all us City supporters very, very happy on Saturday, and things look very rosy indeed, and better times are in the offing!

Come on City, go for 3rd place!

Glyn Albuquerque <glyn.albuquerque(at)>


Congratulations to Roberto Mancini, the coaching staff, all the players, and to all the supporters who were lucky to be at Wembley.

The club now have the chance to have some stability, which has been lacking for so many years. MCFC must keep Roberto Mancini, let him build his squad ready for the Champions League. I hope that Carlos Tévez stays with the club and to raise above his head more trophies!

A very exciting week for all us trophy-starved City supporters and fans world-wide. Long may Roberto Mancini reign over Manchester City!

Well done you Blues. Tear down that sign at the Swamp.

Ernie Barrow <britcityblue(at)>


Saturday was a very special day for all City supporters around the world. I sat alone at home glued to the TV set and enjoyed the moment.

I would still like Adebayor and Bellamy in our team rather than “Mad Mario B” and Dzeko.

Justin Arthur – South Africa <jarthur(at)>


Wow!. We won the cup ee-aiy-addeeo we won the cup! Thirty-five long, long years and now we have that most beautiful of trophies, the FA Cup, bedecked in sky blue and white ribbons. A wonderful day and super spectacle with both City and Stoke fans putting up a magnificent showing full of passion, noise and emotion. We were always in the ascendancy, tears and champagne flowed on a truly memorable, joyous day when a strange camaraderie emerged between the City and Stoke fans.

And we got the Poznan going for Neil Young at 15.24 hrs!

There are those who will begrudge us this success but I, like most long suffering and loyal City fans, don’t give a flying wotsit. Thirty-five years and we’re still here.

David Walker <davidjwalker1(at)>


Just a couple of thoughts on a few of the key players from Saturday.

Joe Hart: Who knows what would have happened if Kenwyne Jones had have taken Stoke’s only chance of the game. But with two crucial saves in the semi and then standing up to Jones just as City fans (if not the team) were starting to get more than a little anxious, Hart has written his name all over the trophy.

Kompany/Lescott: Apart from Lescott’s error in allowing Jones to get goal-side, the centre-back pairing were almost flawless all afternoon. Much derided last season and the first part of this season, to Kompany’s great credit, in the last few weeks of the season Lescott has started to look like a genuine centre back. Much was made of Delap’s long throw; Kompany and Lescott dealt with everything in the air we ease.

Balotelli: Supposedly Mancini’s big risk, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Balotelli might actually be a big game player. Apart from a silly challenge on Pennant he never looked like losing his rag, despite the close (ahem) attention of Huth. Same in the semi. You may point to the second leg against Dynamo Kiev, but with the race for 4th looking tight and a domestic cup semi against Trafford, I didn’t consider that one of our key games this season. Expect more antics and theatrics, but I predict when the pressure is really on we’ll see a different side to the moustachioed Italian plumber.

Yaya Touré: Talking of big game players – two Wembley appearances, two winning goals.

De Jong: I don’t care what ITV say, without doubt the man of the match, and for me City’s player of the season. That’s why Mancini rested him against Liverpool and that’s why we then got spanked. Stoke had nothing in midfield. Everyone looked at everything else – Etherington’s fitness, Pennant’s ankle, big game nerves, wrong tactics – but the simple reality was that de Jong was everywhere and broke up everything. With Kompany and Lescott taking care of set pieces and de Jong destroying everything in open play, Stoke were restricted to one single chance the whole game. De Jong was the platform on which City’s dominance was built.

Finally, Roberto Mancini: This is his 10th trophy in a little under 9 seasons of management with 4 different teams in 2 different countries. If I were him I’d take that statistic and shove it up the collective arse of the xenophobic British media. But he has too much class for that. In the 35 previous years, 20 different men have tried and failed. Mr Mancini, take a bow.

James Gregson <jamespgregson(at)>


I am an Australian Blue. I would like to have been there but others more worthy will there to cheer the lads on. I cannot agree just to be part of the final is enough, we need to win it!

I will be with the City supporters in Perth and will have a brilliant time watching the final with all the City ex-pats. I will also be up at a very early hour to watch the game with Spurs and hopefully celebrating Champions’ League qualification. As Nigel de Jong stated, a very big week in the life of Manchester City football club. I hope all of you lucky enough to have a ticket to the game have a fantastic time and hopefully celebrating a win!

Tony Higginson <tony.higginson(at)>


We won’t be proved wrong Glyn, Mancini is not the man: he comes out with different excuses every time. Currently the players are not concentrating for 90 minutes; well he wants to get them to learn how to. Who is giving the instructions? Mancini, Kidd or Platt? You can only have 1 boss. First it was Tévez and in his absence the only decent player is Silva; thank God for him at the moment. If we perform anything less than 100% on Saturday then Stoke will batter us to death. I bet Pulis was laughing his socks off on Sunday.

Stoke were not good against Arsenal; it was more down to Arsenal being as poor as City. Next season we have Liverpool back in the fight and if Dalglish had got his way sooner we would not be in 4th now.

Don’t let Mancini spend any more money. One thing it was good to see on Sunday was possibly the worst 2 central defenders ever to wear a City shirt: Lescott and Distin.

Hope I have tears of joy when travelling back on Saturday. Come on you Blues. City Till I Die. Blue Moon, you saw me standing alone.

Sam Duxbury <Sammy459(at)>


15 May 2011

Chelsea               2 - 2  Newcastle United      41,739
Arsenal               1 - 2  Aston Villa           60,023
Birmingham City       0 - 2  Fulham                27,759
Liverpool             0 - 2  Tottenham Hotspur     44,893
Wigan Athletic        3 - 2  West Ham United

14 May 2011

Blackburn Rovers      1 - 1  Manchester United     29,867
Blackpool             4 - 3  Bolton Wanderers      15,979
Sunderland            1 - 3  Wolverhampton Wndrs   41,273
West Bromwich Albion  1 - 0  Everton               25,838

League table to 15 May 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  37 17  1  0 45 10  5 10  4 29 25 22 11  4  74  35  39  77
 2 Chelsea         37 14  3  2 39 13  7  5  6 30 19 21  8  8  69  32  37  71
 3 Arsenal         37 11  4  4 33 15  8  6  4 37 26 19 10  8  70  41  29  67
 4 Manchester City 36 12  4  2 31 12  7  4  7 24 21 19  8  9  55  33  22  65
 5 Tottenham H.    37  8  9  1 28 18  7  5  7 25 27 15 14  8  53  45   8  59
 6 Liverpool       37 12  4  3 37 14  5  3 10 22 29 17  7 13  59  43  16  58
 7 Everton         37  8  7  3 30 23  4  8  7 20 22 12 15 10  50  45   5  51
 8 Fulham          37  8  6  4 28 21  3  9  7 19 20 11 15 11  47  41   6  48
 9 Stoke City      36 10  4  4 31 17  3  3 12 15 27 13  7 16  46  44   2  46
10 Bolton Wndrs    37 10  5  3 34 22  2  5 12 18 32 12 10 15  52  54  -2  46
11 West Brom A.    37  8  6  5 30 30  4  4 10 23 38 12 10 15  53  68 -15  46
12 Newcastle Utd   37  6  7  5 38 24  5  5  9 15 30 11 12 14  53  54  -1  45
13 Aston Villa     37  7  7  4 25 19  4  5 10 22 40 11 12 14  47  59 -12  45
14 Sunderland      37  7  5  7 25 27  4  6  8 17 29 11 11 15  42  56 -14  44
15 Blackburn R.    37  7  7  5 22 16  3  3 12 21 41 10 10 17  43  57 -14  40
16 Wolves          37  8  4  6 28 27  3  3 13 16 36 11  7 19  44  63 -19  40
17 Birmingham City 37  6  8  5 19 22  2  7  9 17 34  8 15 14  36  56 -20  39
18 Blackpool       37  5  5  9 30 37  5  4  9 23 37 10  9 18  53  74 -21  39
19 Wigan Athletic  37  5  8  6 22 34  3  7  8 17 27  8 15 14  39  61 -22  39
20 West Ham United 37  5  5  8 24 28  2  7 10 19 39  7 12 18  43  67 -24  33

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1729