Newsletter #1764

A match report tonight as we kick off our first Champions’ League campaign, a look at our upcoming games there, continuing opinion on whether you’re a “half full” or “half empty” type, and a couple of farewells.

Next Game: Fulham, away, 3pm Sunday 18 September 2011


When is a point at home a good point? Answer: when you’re trailing in your first Champions’ League game to high class opposition with 16 minutes to go and you grab an equaliser.

It was a special occasion. The sort that gives you goose bumps. We’ve seen that Champions’ League logo on the TV and heard that rather pretentious theme tune many times, but never in a game involving us. Seeing that logo plastered all over the stadium and hearing the tune (why do the players all have to stand to attention to it?) reminded us that we are well and truly on the highest stage, and a high quality match underlined this.

City started off in dominant style, seeking to get an early breakthrough. Nasri fired just wide in the 4th minute, and Dzeko headed wide when well placed. Silva, Nasri Agüero et al probed for openings, but Napoli, as can be expected of most Italian sides at this level, were well set up to soak up City’s onslaught. They got eight or nine men behind the ball, with their defence, led by the combative Paolo Cannavaro, expertly covering all angles, meaning that it was hard to find incisive passes to breach the Neapolitan back line.

This was exacerbated by the fact that we missed overlapping speedy full backs, Richards and Clichy who may well have given us a better chance of getting behind the Napoli defence. There was, though, a logic to Mancini’s choice of Zabaleta and Kolarov, in that they gave us arguably a little more defensive nous, and it could be said that he was vindicated in that Kolarov actually saved a point for us. The nagging feeling though is that had we had the quicker full backs on, we might have exploited our overwhelming domination of possession better in that first half and perhaps put the game to bed. We definitely lacked the width that our overlapping full backs had given us in previous games.

Napoli, backed by an impressive, noisy following of around 2,000, did not come to Manchester merely to defend. They are a very good side with attacking talent such as Cavani leading the line and the tricky Lavezzi and playmaker Hamsik in support, and with Maggio, the fulcrum of their midfield, we always had to be wary of their counter-attacking qualities.

It was Lavezzi who had the visitors’ first clear-cut chance of the game when Kompany misread his intentions and he crashed a shot against the bar. Eastlands sighed with relief. This was a bit of a wake-up call and City tightened up. Whilst we always had to be wary of Napoli’s pace on the break, we continued to dominate possession. Kolarov had a free kick tipped away by De Sanctis in the Napoli goal.

Yaya Touré hit the bar himself after intercepting a botched Napoli corner, making a driving run, and exchanging passes with Agüero.

The visitors weren’t averse to the odd cynical challenge and the booking count by the end of the game was four for the visitors to our one! City, though, were largely frustrated by expert (legal!) defending, but we made problems for ourselves. Instead of shooting on sight, City tried to walk he ball into the net and chances to at least work the goalkeeper, or get a deflection, were lost. We just could not make our 74% possession count in terms of chances and goals before the break. Too often we took an extra touch. Call it first night nerves, or merely shot shy, it gave the opponents heart and they grew in confidence after the break.

We did well enough for a while but disappointingly ran out of ideas and fell away in the middle of the second half as Napoli started to enjoy more possession. With that possession came opportunities for both sides as the game opened up. Hamsik’s volley was cleared off the line by Kompany. At the other end, from a corner, Lescott hit a free header a foot over the bar when he should have done better.

Barry and Yaya Touré had to work overtime in central midfield, with the latter in particular enjoying a particularly good all round game. We had a warning when, after being outnumbered in defence, Zabaleta was forced to throw his body in the way of a goal-bound shot, but we didn’t heed the warning and it was not long before we were punished.

Barry exchanged passes with Nasri ten yards inside the Napoli half but a poor touch by the England midfielder gave the ball away to Maggio who drove on deep into the City half. With Napoli enjoying a 3 men on 2 advantage, he played an inch-perfect pass to Cavani in the inside right position, and he showed why he was the leading scorer in Serie A last season with a coolly drilled finish that went through the Hart’s legs. The away end celebrated manically.

City could have wilted at this point, like so many of our previous sides did, but not these boys. They showed the character and quality to fight back. Agüero cut in from the left and his curling shot hit the bar and was cleared to Zabaleta who won a free kick as he advanced towards the box. Agüero and Kolarov stood over the ball, but the Serbian placed a shot that beat Napoli’s wall and left the goalkeeper standing. Eastlands celebrated in relief!

It was to be Kolarov’s last kick of the ball as he was replaced by Clichy and Johnson came on for Nasri, giving us a different threat, and widening our attack.

Johnson was soon into the action and in the dying minutes he played Dzeko in with his back to goal. The Bosnian turned but fired wide.

Kompany gave us all a heart-stopping moment when he played an uncharacteristic short back pass but thankfully Hart managed to scramble the ball away off his opponent.

That was the last meaningful action and the City and Napoli fans in the South Stand clapped each other. Whilst the vast majority of fans contributed to a cracking atmosphere, unfortunately there had been pockets of trouble outside the away end and Mary D’s, and curiously, a small bunch of Scousers came looking for ‘revenge’ after their encounter with Napoli last year. One wag mischievously enquired later on, if the City fans joined forces with Napoli to repel the visitors from the other end of the East Lancs road! It has to be said that most Napoli fans were mingling with City fans without a hint of trouble. MCFC as a club certainly did much to welcome visiting fans with a ‘Benvenuti’ sign on the Main Entrance, as well as interspersing Manchester music with various Italian tunes, such as their national anthem, not to mention, and rather predictably, Dean Martin’s Italian-ish ‘Amore’! Thankfully it was a largely trouble-free night, and hopefully it will be the same when we go there.

Whilst the result is slightly disappointing, Napoli are a very good team who deserved a point, and this game represented a massive step up in class from playing Premier League sides like Wigan, Bolton and even Tottenham. Considering the opposition and it being our first game at this level, it was not a bad point for us. Indeed, it was like being a newly promoted team. However, if we are to qualify, we will need to at very least make up for the dropped points with an away win. What better place to start than away at Bayern Munich?

Onwards and upwards to Fulham on Sunday where we can have no hangover, and we must go for the three points.

Att: 44,026
Goals: Napoli Cavani (68), City: Kolarov (74)
Ratings: Hart: Couldn’t be faulted. Did what he had to do well, including that last ditch ‘Hart’ stopper: 7
Zabaleta: Caught upfield a couple of times by Napoli’s swift breaks, but used the ball well and made a good block to deny a certain goal in the 2nd half: 6
Kompany: Commanding for the majority of the game, cleared a shot off the line, but surprisingly fooled by Lavezzi in the first half and gave a heart-stopping moment near the very end: 6
Lescott: Largely respectable performance, but should have hit the target with a free header and should have got much closer to Cavani for their goal, but got drawn to the ball: 6
Kolarov: Not really exposed in this game. Shed blood for the cause, breaking his nose in the first half. Almost scored before the break and rescued a point in the second: 7
Barry: Good industry but a couple of poor touches gave possession away, one of which cost us: 6
Yaya Touré: A masterful performance in central midfield: 8
Silva: Probed and prompted but it was much harder to find a man in forest of Neapolitan bodies: 7
Nasri: Went close in the first half, but a quieter game on this occasion: 6
Agüero: Worked well in tight spaces: 7
Dzeko: Led the line very well: 7
Johnson (for Nasri): Gave us better width and delivered well: 7
Clichy (for Kolarov): Spritely down the left: 7
Tévez: N/A
Best oppo: Lavezzi: This tricky if scruffy little customer linked superbly with the impressive Cavani and the intelligent Hamsik and Maggio: 8
Refwatch: Jonas Eriksson (Sweden): A little fussy but that was to be expected in Europe. Controlled the game well: 7

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


Although City wanted to win their first encounter in the Champions’ League against a very good side in Napoli, a draw does not mean all is lost; this game produced a lot of experience for the City squad to learn from.

Credit to Napoli who came to Etihad Stadium to play football; they showed a stubborn defence and a lively attack. We cannot complain about the City effort, maybe a little because of the result.

Experts have called the group that City are in as the group of death, meaning that there is no clear favourite; along with Bayern and Villarreal there is more exciting football to come. For City to succeed the home games must be taken advantage of.

I will not give an account of the game for I know that Phil Banerjee always gives a good one.

My thanks to all the hard work by Heidi for so long keeping this newsletter MCIVTA alive and she is still with us until October, when the new editor Phil Alcock takes over.(something tells me he is a City fan).

Action now goes back to the Premier League where City must keep up the results to stay ready to pounce for the top spot!

Come on you Blues!

Ernie Barrow <britcityblue(at)>


I watched the Villarreal/Bayern match live on German TV and have to admit Bayern are going to be tough opponents, especially considering that a number of players (like Schweinsteiger) had an off-night and still impressed.

The toughest nut will be Franc Ribery who is not afraid to take on 3 defenders and usually wins. His was the pass from the goal line that ripped open the Spanish defence. The commentator actually said that they are on an ego-trip, they are so confident. Yet I can see flaws in their defence and am unsure about Neuer in goal as he sometimes flaps a bit. Even Boateng manages to look comfortable for most of the game, but then lapses.

So, roll on the day (I am getting some stick from colleagues and neighbours who are Bayern lovers) and thankfully my brother-in-law has confirmed he is bringing my ticket over with him. It just shows how far we have progressed when all tickets have been sold locally and I could not get one “legitimately”.

For those travelling: the Oktoberfest will be in full swing (starts this Saturday for 2 weeks) and the Allianz Arena is impressive: it is lit up every night and looks like a giant bright tyre (red when Bayern play, blue for 1860 and white on off-nights), and you’ll love it. Like most German stadiums, you have to get a cater-card and put money on it as cash is not accepted at bars and fast-food outlets inside. The S-bahn drops everybody off at the foot of the hill (bit of a walk up to the stadium). Coaches alight just outside the arena.

If anybody wants additional info (assuming I can help), just drop me an e-mail. You’ll love the adventure. See you there.

Paul Ardern <Paul.Ardern(at)>


Some people are never happy but I laughed out loud when I read Sam Duxbury’s statement in MCIVTA 1763‘Apart from now scoring we haven’t come too far in all honesty’.

Now, correct me if I am wrong, but I was of the opinion that scoring goals wins football matches, scoring goals makes you a successful team, and scoring goals gets you to the top of the league (well 2nd anyway!). Of course the defence has a massive part to play also, and they do for us.

Now, I know we have conceded a whole 3 goals this season and it is good to analyse how we could put this right but if we continue to post a +12 goal difference every 4 games we will win the title, simple as!

Let’s look at our defensive stats from last season: Joe Hart’s record clean sheet tally, our defensive record that, shared with Chelsea, was the best in the whole division (not too bad when according to Sam ‘We don’t have any quality defenders’). So if all we have improved on now is scoring goals then that sounds good to me.

Finally, on the Kevin Keegan point. That team scored goals at will, conceded a few yes but ultimately ran away with the league. A duplication of that in the Premier League: yes please!

Mat Howden <Matthew.Howden(at)>


I cannot believe some of the articles I have read on how we should have gone for the kill against Spurs as I think in many ways they showed naivety about how the game was really going. Yes we were 4-0 up but Spurs were dangerous in an attacking sense for virtually the whole game and in particular Defoe after he came on looked very likely to score. Mancini realised this and he brought on Savic to counter Defoe, which actually worked very well and made Spurs look less like scoring; had we gone for it we could easily have seen a 6-3 or a 5-2 as easily as going on to win by more. Spurs had good chances before 3 of our goals and Mancini got it spot on – don’t waste energy when you don’t need to, don’t throw away a 3 goal lead by being greedy for more and recognise the enemy and counter their biggest threat (Defoe). Great tactical nous and coaching in my view!

Still it is good that people can find things to complain about when we have just won 5-1 away at our bogey team.

Richard Williams <mooncester(at)>


Sam Duxbury: “mainly because we don’t have any quality defenders” Er, we have the best defence in the league.

Kompany is one of the best centre backs in the league, if not the best. Richards is developing into a top class right back. Clichy isn’t amazing at defending, he was bought for his attacking abilities paired with his reasonable defensive attributes. Should we need a different style player, we have Kolarov for that. Lescott was excellent against Wigan and has improved vastly alongside Kompany. Pab Zab is fantastic cover at either right or left back and always does a great job when he plays.

Actually, I’m beginning to think your comment was intentionally ironic.

The standard criticism of Mancini last year was that we played too defensively, and didn’t get forward quickly or positively enough. Now, because we conceded a single goal against Spurs, from a set piece, and two (incredibly well taken goals) against Bolton, we are poor defensively? Absolute nonsense. If we have to play defensively, we have the best players in the league to do it. We have been without de Jong since the opening game remember, and he is one of the best defensive midfielders in world, never mind the Premier League. Barry has been excellent this season, after he failed to inspire many last year, and Touré has been reasonably effective now he has reverted back to his preferred defensive rôle.

If there is anything Mancini is good at doing, it’s setting his team up to be defensively sound. This is why we can play with four out and out attacking players, and still not suffer defensively. Silva/Nasri/Johnson etc. know they have a job to do when we are not in possession, and they do it; combine that with a couple of hard working DM’s and the best back line going and you’ve got an excellent unit, as has been shown so far this year.

There is just no pleasing some people.

Sam Brooks <sambrooks(at)>


Mancini’s Defence and everything else

Let’s get one thing straight: no matter what anyone’s opinion is, we have many things to cheer – the Chairman, his board of directors, the Manager, the players and the fans. Come on City! In the words of the England song back in the days of Ron Greenwood: “This Time, More Than Any Other Time This Time”.

Oh yes, second in the league after a few games.

City Till I Die, Sam Duxbury <sammy459(at)>


So SWP went to Chelsea to ‘chase a pay packet’ did he? (St. John Cox MCIVTA 1763). I was as desperate for him to stay as any Blue but the facts are that the money City received meant that we didn’t go into administration.

I for one will be writing to Shaun to thank him for saving the club he never wanted to leave, despite what his daft and vindictive dad may have said, and wish him well at QPR.

As for Blues being unhappy at only winning 5-1 at Spurs, perhaps we should have gone gung-ho and lost 5-4. Spurs had a track record last season of pulling goals back in big games so let’s be happy at 5-1 and not be swayed by United’s freak result against Arsenal’s reserves.

Dave Wallace <dw001e8104(at)>


I thought I’d add my first memory of Shaun in a City shirt. I’m pretty sure it was his first league game as a Blue.

We were at Port Vale, it was a bit of a miserable game, I had a recollection that they’d gone 1-0 up and we were not playing well. Terry Cooke had a particularly poor game. I think it was in the second half when Shauny came on, and gave his marker a torrid time. His name barely went on the back of his shirt and his shorts were so long they nearly touched the tops of his socks. Anyway, we went on to win 2-1, and (IIRC) go top of the league.

He did claim one of the goals, and it would have been nice (and well deserved) but in the end it was put down as an own goal.

Despite the Chelsea episode, he’s been a loyal and decent servant to the club, probably fair given that the club game him a chance when he’d been rejected elsewhere. But now is probably a good time for him to find a new club; hopefully in QPR he’ll get a chance to play regularly once again. I’d like to wish him lots of luck. Except against us, of course.

Euan Bayliss <euan(at)>


I am very sorry that Garry Cook had to resign but if his position became untenable after recent events, then he had to go.

I can’t say that I was initially impressed with him when he first came. Less so when he made a crass remark about Richard Dunne not selling many T-shirts in Beijing. Dunne was a fantastic servant to this club who was well respected and Cook’s comments were rather disrespectful, not to mention out of tune with City fans and indeed the club. It was possible to move on from that though.

Whatever gaffes he made, Garry Cook did brilliant work at City and he rightly is praised for that. Just one look at City Square tells you this guy had a vision. He was responsive to customer needs with regards the ticket office. We don’t have to get wet thanks to his initiatives! There are countless tales of how well he has connected genuinely and sincerely with the fans. Indeed, he will be a very hard act to follow.

I wish him all the very best of luck in his future career. I also hope that one day he will be able to visit City again. Whatever mistake he has made, he should visit us with his head held high. He would certainly get a warm welcome here.

I hope that Dr Onuoha makes a full recovery and can put this unfortunate episode that should never have happened behind her.

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


I’ll be in the Maldives when City play at United and Villarreal. Does anyone know any places in the Maldives that show the games?

Simon Moorehead <simonmoorehead(at)>


The charity cricket match in aid of Haughton Green Community Centre is at Denton St Lawrence’s Cricket Club on Sunday 18th September. The doors open at 12pm with food, drink (bar opens 12.30), kids’ fun activities and the cricket, in the format of a 20:20 beginning at 2pm. If any of the guys have whites then perfect but the club will also help with kit. If you can attract as many Blues from the branches to come along then great and City vs. Fulham will be shown in the club house too.

Gary Yates has a very talented group of guys coming along with Neil Fairbrother, Warren Hegg, Graham Lloyd and Ian Austin to name but a few but we will be mixing up the LCCC stars with our lads and our representatives (and proper cricketers) to make a game of it.

Paul Lake


12 September 2011

Queens Park Rangers  0 - 0  Newcastle United      16,211

League table to 14 September 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   4  2  0  0 11  2  2  0  0  7  1  4  0  0 18  3  15  12
 2 Manchester City  4  2  0  0  7  0  2  0  0  8  3  4  0  0 15  3  12  12
 3 Chelsea          4  2  0  0  5  2  1  1  0  2  1  3  1  0  7  3   4  10
 4 Newcastle Utd    4  1  1  0  2  1  1  1  0  1  0  2  2  0  3  1   2   8
 5 Stoke City       4  1  1  0  1  0  1  1  0  2  1  2  2  0  3  1   2   8
 6 Liverpool        4  1  1  0  4  2  1  0  1  2  1  2  1  1  6  3   3   7
 7 Wolves           4  1  0  1  2  2  1  1  0  2  1  2  1  1  4  3   1   7
 8 Aston Villa      4  1  1  0  3  1  0  2  0  2  2  1  3  0  5  3   2   6
 9 Wigan Athletic   4  1  1  0  3  1  0  1  1  0  3  1  2  1  3  4  -1   5
10 Everton          3  0  1  1  2  3  1  0  0  1  0  1  1  1  3  3   0   4
11 QPR              4  0  1  1  0  4  1  0  1  1  2  1  1  2  1  6  -5   4
12 Arsenal          4  1  0  1  1  2  0  1  1  2  8  1  1  2  3 10  -7   4
13 West Brom A.     4  0  0  2  1  3  1  0  1  2  2  1  0  3  3  5  -2   3
14 Bolton Wndrs     4  0  0  2  2  8  1  0  1  5  3  1  0  3  7 11  -4   3
15 Tottenham H.     3  0  0  1  1  5  1  0  1  2  3  1  0  2  3  8  -5   3
16 Sunderland       4  0  0  2  1  3  0  2  0  1  1  0  2  2  2  4  -2   2
17 Norwich City     4  0  1  1  1  2  0  1  1  2  4  0  2  2  3  6  -3   2
18 Fulham           4  0  2  0  1  1  0  0  2  1  4  0  2  2  2  5  -3   2
19 Swansea City     4  0  2  0  0  0  0  0  2  0  5  0  2  2  0  5  -5   2
20 Blackburn R.     4  0  0  2  1  3  0  1  1  2  4  0  1  3  3  7  -4   1

With thanks to Football 365

MCIVTA FAQ [v1112.01]

[1] MCIVTA Addresses

Articles (Heidi Pickup)          :
News/rumour                      :
Subscriptions (Madeleine Hawkins):
Technical problems (Paul)        :
FAQ (David Warburton)            :

[2] What are MCIVTA’s publishing deadlines?

Deadlines for issues are nominally 6pm, Monday and Thursday evenings by email. Unfortunately we cannot accept email attachments.

[3] MCIVTA Back Issues and Manchester City Supporters’ home page/Twitter is the unofficial Manchester City Supporters’ home page. Created in 1994, it is the longest running of the Manchester City related web sites. Back issues of MCIVTA are also hosted on the site. You can also follow on to get the latest updates.

[4] What is the club’s official web site?

The official club web site can be found at and the official club Twitter page at The club also has a facebook page at

[5] What supporters’ clubs are there?

The Official Supporters’ Club and the Centenary Supporters’ Association have merged to become the Manchester City Supporters’ Club ( The club also recognise the Manchester City Disabled Supporters’ Association (

[6] Where can I find out about Points of Blue?

The committee operates as an interface between supporters and the club. Points of Blue appears on the club website under the “Fans” heading (

[7] What match day broadcasts are available on the web?

Live match commentary can be found on the club website. The Radio Manchester pre- and post-match phone-in is available on the web at

[8] Where can I find out if City are live on satellite TV? provides a listing of Premier League games being shown on UK domestic and foreign satellite channels. A useful site for North American viewers is

[9] Do we have a Usenet newsgroup?

Yes we do: is our home on usenet. If you are not familiar with Usenet, a basic explanation is available here:

[10] Do any squad members have their own web pages?

There are a number available and direct links can be found at

[11] Do any squad members have their own Twitter accounts?

A list of genuine player accounts is maintained at!/MCFC/players

[12] Where can I find match statistics?

Statistics for the current season are available from the club site, but for a more in-depth historical analysis try

The views expressed in MCIVTA are entirely those of the subscribersand there is no intention to represent these opinions as being thoseof Manchester City Football Club, nor of any of the companies anduniversities by whom the subscribers are employed. It is not inany way whatsoever connected to the club or any other relatedorganisation and is simply a group of supporters using this mediumas a means of disseminating news and exchanging opinions.

[Valid3.2]Heidi Pickup,

Newsletter #1764