Newsletter #1805

A bumper issue today with some great contributions and some new faces writing for us too, which is great. Thanks to all.

Response to Ernie’s Tévez-related article in the last issue has prompted some debate as indeed the wee Argentinian has himself. Our other mad-cap forward Mario has been hitting the headlines again too, though for all the right reasons and there is a link to the recent BBC Radio 5 documentary on the life and times of the eccentric one.

Enjoy the read as much as you all seem to have enjoyed the win over Blackburn at the weekend.

Next Game: Bolton Wanderers, home, 3:00pm Wednesday 3 March 2012


Superb performance. Simply sublime throughout! Three-nil flatters the utterly lame Blackburn (actually the nil alone flatters Blackburn but they’re not my concern beyond the fact that I’d like to see one or two of our NW teams stay up at the expense of Wolves and/or, better still, the Hughes-led QPR).

I’m sure Phil B. will do a great job of individual ratings but for me MotM is too tough to call (Yaya maybe), as this was one performance without a single bad or even mediocre showing. Our worst player by default was Joe Hart, simply because he had hardly any part in the match; he certainly did nothing wrong.

So given what I have said, I’d like to concentrate on a couple of players who I consider somewhat under-used and for whom I was glad to see given a start: I refer to de Jong and Zabaleta. I mean just how magic were both of these players (again) yesterday, when given their chance?

And another top outing for Kolarov; he’s been proving me wrong and Mancini right recently, although the cynic in me says that he was allowed to be a winger with hardly a major defensive duty last night. It was only after our first goal that I remembered Yakubu was on the pitch, and even at 2-0 he was still as isolated as Vanessa Feltz at an orgy. Vincent and Joleon could have shared a deck-chair, cocktail and cigar most of the time. Anyway, beyond yesterday’s match, Phil the ed asked us to comment on what the returning Phil the Floridian-tanned one had to say. I know it’s not the usual thing around here but I’ll quote and respond to a few points:

“(is my memory failing me, or is that the snowiest City home game in living memory? I certainly don’t recall Maine Road or The Etihad being covered in snow like that for many years – Birmingham (h) in 85/86 being the last time I recall significant snow/slush on our pitch).”

I remember the frigidity almost welding my bum to a Platt Lane allotted bench space (“seat” is too generous) back in the late ’70s for a match against QPR, which was a joke for pure football but fine in that we won 2-0. The pitch was a 2″ carpet of pure white and the ball was bright orange.

“The point is, though, that with Platini’s regulations that are designed to help the Establishment clubs reassert their dominance”

Call me paranoid but I have also given this the alternative name of “The anti-City ruling”. Hey! It wasn’t a problem when Chelsea, with their lesser home support but big 14 credentials were (ahem, ahem) supposedly “buying” it (like it was always non-bought!). And also, let’s not forget that the creation of the Champions’ League represented the biggest inequality (and thus for years created a virtual closed-shop in this country) that football has ever seen.

“Even though Tévez has apologised to Roberto Mancini, his team mates, and the fans, can he be trusted? Is he a gamble worth taking?”

I briefly mentioned that it seems to be worth it last week but I’ll expand: First off I don’t have a clue as to the mood in the dressing room about it – and that is absolutely key – but if last night is anything to go by, it seems that a fire was lit under all three of our other strikers. For me, this is a case in which pragmatism wins out over idealism – just, and I mean only just!

Tévez changed his excuses constantly – wanting to be closer to home, Manchester itself, Mancini, bonuses for bankers (I might have dreamed that last one!) but he also went off about the night in Munich when de Jong came on before him. Now, I admit I was spitting feathers at the time – 2-0 down and Dzeko replaced with Nigel – but I now see the logic in the decision, and even if not, it’s not Tévez’s job to play manager.

Nevertheless, if his teammates are alright with his return, then it can only be a positive for us, it’s like an extra signing after the window has closed. And, as good as Sergio in particular has been this season, I’ll stick my neck out and say that IMO Tévez was still better for us last season than any of our other front three have been for us this campaign. Anyhow, I’ll leave you with a teaser; you might have to think long and hard to figure it out:

Can anyone come up with the only routine situation and place in which, after the usual amount of 2nd half fouls and substitutions, and also one player booked for time-wasting, the fourth official lights up a board showing 2 minutes? I’ll give you a gentle hint: it happened once again last Thursday night!

Cheers, best and all things crossable still firmly XXX’d.

Steve O’Brien <BODSnVIMTO(at)>


City cruised to a superbly-crafted three-nil victory over struggling Blackburn that delighted the City faithful. City’s win had everything: skill, pace, power, supreme skill and deadly finishing, as well as rock solid defending that snuffed out the merest threat at source.

This win was our 13th home league win of the season, out of 13, and better still, our 18th out of 18 to make it almost a year since we dropped points at home. Even better than that, our last league home defeat was in December 2010. How times have changed!

The game followed the pattern of several encounters here this season. The visitors defended in depth and City eventually had too much class and variation in attack, finding an opening around the half hour mark. As a result, the game opened up and City took advantage of the increased space to add to the score. Not that City played like they expected the Rovers defence to concede.

The City players deserve great credit for their persistence, professionalism and skill to work the openings. The magical David Silva led the attack as we prompted and probed for openings. In the second minute he threaded an intelligent pass through for Johnson who crossed but Balotelli’s goal-bound strike was well saved by Rovers ‘keeper Paul Robinson. Indeed the Rovers’ ex-England ‘keeper stood between City and a comfortable lead, beating out stinging long efforts from Adam Johnson and Aleksandr Kolarov.

City were not to be denied with a superbly engineered goal in the 29th minute, which encapsulated all that is good about this Manchester City side. Yaya Touré showed intelligence and strength to win the ball in midfield, after Rovers made a rare foray in to the City half, and he played the ball to Silva who advanced down the inside left channel before sweeping a ball wide. Alex Kolarov sprinted forward, crossed sharply from the bye-line, and Mario Balotelli nonchalantly flicked a diagonal strike with his instep, past Robinson into the net. It was an effortless top drawer finish from a young man who possesses a superb, natural talent that is rare. The replays on the screen showed him lifting his shirt to reveal a new slogan expressing his love for his girlfriend: “Raffaella ti amo”. He even offered us the hint of a smile!

Rovers tried to hit back but the nearest they got was when Pedersen was tackled in the box by de Jong, leaving referee Jones to quite demonstrably ponder whether an offence had been committed. Replays later showed that he had made the right call, as de Jong had got to the ball a split second before Pedersen to make a superb tackle. It was close though, and the referee deserves credit for taking the time to get it right. Too many make knee jerk reactions.

City dominated heavily, as Silva and Yaya ran the game. In another thrilling move, the Spanish magician went on a mazy run down the centre, played a one-two with Kolarov, and his effort was well saved. From a corner, Kompany showed brilliant technique to volley a back heel goal-wards, forcing another super save from Robinson.

The skills on show took the breath away and a Blue near us commented, “It’s brilliant even when we miss” after a lovely move that saw Balotelli play in Agüero, who fired just wide from a tight angle. Agüero has to be commended here, because he was pushed just before he addressed the ball, and he showed the honesty and persistence to take the shot when many other players would have gone down and justifiably been awarded a penalty. “Sergio, Sergio…”

He had his due reward seven minutes after the restart when Robinson blotted his copy book by palming a Silva corner straight to him, and he lashed home a powerful volley into the net.

The game was way beyond Rovers’ reach, and Roberto Mancini could afford to make some changes: Dzeko on for Balotelli and Pizarro coming on for Yaya Touré, who had fallen heavily when running onto a ball. Hopefully the hugely influential Ivorian has no lasting ill-effects and will be fit for our next game as he is such a colossal influence on this wonderful team. The substitutions made an almost immediate impact, and scored a lovely goal. Pizzaro curled a low pass forward down the left, which Kolarov stretched his legs to reach, and Dzeko headed home the Serbian’s brilliant towering cross in text book fashion.

Rovers deserve credit for the way they doggedly worked to stop City and keep the score down, but they lacked the imagination to trouble City. Joe Hart was a virtual bystander and had to wait until the 92nd minute to make a save. They may have won at Old Trafford and drawn at Anfield but too often there are tales of performances as colourless as this one. Rovers will be lucky to survive, which will be a shame not only for them, but for us too: we have a good record against them, it’s near, we get about 6,000 tickets and we have had some great days out at Ewood (that mad promotion-clinching afternoon in 2000 being perhaps the most memorable).

This day was all about City, though, and another five-star show, reasserting our position at the top of the League. Football doesn’t get much more enjoyable to watch than this, and it is appreciated all the more, because of the journey we’ve been on over the years. Indeed, it is an absolute privilege to watch this team.

They are like a well-oiled machine and the understanding between the players is so good that it’s almost telepathic. The team spirit is excellent too. There is an absence of ego and a willingness for everyone to work for each other and celebrate together. Again, it is impossible not say how grateful we are to Sheikh Mansour for making all this possible: for enabling Roberto Mancini to have the resources to work his alchemy to deliver a team as wonderful to watch as this one.

Attendance: 46,782

Goals: Balotelli 29, Agüero 51, Dzeko 80.

Hart: Hard to mark, but did what very little he had to very well: a measure of his supreme professionalism, and powers of concentration: 7
Zabaleta: Creative and inventive down the right all evening: 7
Kompany: Skilful on the ball and solid all match: 7
Lescott: Like his partner, his reading of the game was excellent: 7
Kolarov: Two excellent crosses provided goals for Balotelli and Dzeko, and he might have had a third assist had he crossed rather than shot late on. He is proving that when he gets a run of games, he is a class act: 8 (Man of the Match)
A Johnson: Combined well with Silva in particular. A decent show: 7
de Jong: Neat, tidy and making a strong case for a regular spot as he was more progressive than he has been earlier in the season: 7
Yaya Touré: A world class talent, he dominates a match with his skill, vision and physical presence, making him such a pleasure to watch. Let’s hope he his quickly over his injury that he sustained after a heavy fall: 8
Silva: Like Yaya Touré he makes the game look so easy with silky skills, passing and excellent ability to find space. Back to his very best, he was always a threat: 8
Agüero: Scored his goal clinically. Hard working and so enjoyable to watch: 8
Balotelli: He takes a lot of criticism (a small amount of it deserved), but he deserves credit here for the way he found space and his superbly executed finish to open the scoring: 8
Pizarro (for Johnson 70): Fitted in seamlessly, and soon made his mark: 7
Dzeko (for Balotelli 78): Was on less than 90 seconds when he headed his goal superbly: 7
Milner (for Yaya Touré 85): Too late to mark, but his workrate always shows: n/a

Refwatch: Mike Jones: Low profile, which is how it should be. Got the one big decision that he had to make right, in turning down Rovers’ penalty appeal: 8

Best Oppo: Paul Robinson: Blotted his copy book for the second goal, but was the main reason that City didn’t run up a cricket score: 7

Phil Banerjee <phil.banerjee(at)>


I watched the clinical dissection of Blackburn on Saturday at my local pub, Fox Goes Free, surrounded by a few geriatric Rags, resplendent in my City shirt, scarf and bob hat when this young chap wanders over to me and asked if I was a City supporter? Considering my get-up and the wild cheering every time City scored, I wonder what tipped him off?

‘Yes, I concurred that I was indeed a true card-carrying Blue’, to which he acknowledged he was a City supporter and had been cheering for them… even five years ago, when City had a bad team! I almost spewed my Boddingtons! A bad team, five years ago? Doing my best Monty Python Four Yorkshiremen impression, I exclaimed, “Bad team… five years ago… LUXURY… I can remember City fielding a team that included Barry Betts, Cliff Sear, David Wagstaffe and Jackie Plendeleith!”

I felt like saying: “Pull up a chair mate and I will give you a history lesson on Bell, Summerbee, Lee and Young!” Then I realised that with City’s current chart-topping performances being beamed around the planet, we must be recruiting a whole new generation of fans whose first exposure to City would be watching Tévez holding the FA Cup, Kompany hopefully holding the Premier League Championship and the on-going exploits of Silva, Agüero, Balotelli and Dzeko.

This is obviously not your granddad’s Man City! Still, it is great that we are winning over new fans while giving our existing fan base something to cheer about.

Couple of things about our wins over Blackburn and Porto. Kolorov may not be God’s gift to defending but he is very effective going forward and was probably the best City player on the pitch on Saturday. Definitely use Clichy in the top matches ahead, but Kolorov’s attacking talents definitely help break down teams like Blackburn, Bolton, Stoke and Wolves who just want to park the bus in midfield. Also, now that Mancini has figured out how to use de Jong in his European set-up, for heaven’s sake, give the guy a new contract and let’s set-up the team for the next three or four seasons to come.

Had a horrible dream last night. Howard Webb was named referee for City’s key match against United with Mark Clattenburg and Chris Foy named as linesmen! Gary Neville and Lou Macari did the TV commentary. No worries though, we still won 3-1… here’s hoping.

Keith Sharp – Toronto, Canada <>


At times last season, I had the odd doubt about Roberto Mancini. Not so now. He understands the mentality of the modern player better than they understand themselves.

I anticipate that he will welcome Carlos Tévez back to the club with open arms… but I think he will avoid picking him for Premier League games unless his form for the reserves or in the Europa League is truly exceptional. We are top of the league without Tévez.

I know everyone loves Balotelli’s eccentricities, but personally, my favourite current striker is Edin Dzeko. The way he’s maintained his work-rate and kept his head through the odd lean spell this season is temperament to his personality, professionalism and work ethic. I thought the way he recovered his composure after the Munich rumpus provided Tévez with a lesson in how to accept your own frailties.

It smacked of a young man with a passion for the game and the club, willing to accept criticism from his manager, but also aware that he is still learning his way. Other than the obvious, he reminds me a little of he of the famous Disco Pants, Niall Quinn, in that he is invaluable to the squad, but sometimes fails to get the praise he deserves.

Come the end of the season, I’ll remember his goals at The Swamp and WHL.

There has been a lot said of the evil that our club’s financial might could wreak on football. I can understand that. Let’s face it, we were all on the other side of the fence when Chelsea lucked in. But so far, there has been a certain class about the way the club have handled the new found riches. If nothing else comes of this season, Mancini and The Board deserve a lot of credit for having the wherewithal to stand up and say a resolute “No” to Joorabchian. Our club remains something to be proud of.

CTID, Jon Marshall <jon_g_marshall(at)>


I have just noticed on Joleon Lescott’s player profile, on the MCFC website that he is fast approaching 100 games for City but has only been booked 3 times. Is that some sort of a record for a defender in the modern age?

A bit strange that this hasn’t been publicised anywhere or is it positive news and all the press want is negatives when City are concerned?

Tony Roberts <Tony.R.Roberts(at)>


Well Carlos has apologised and wants to get back into the team. Hmm.

Carlos is a great player, of that there is no doubt; he is one of the best I have ever seen wearing a City shirt.

To refuse to warm up is totally unacceptable, but when you have spent your whole life with people bending over backwards to do anything you say, and treating you like a superstar, then the kind of petulance he displayed is understandable, though this does not condone it.

It’s a bit like when my 5 year old doesn’t get his own way. Maybe if Mancini had sent Carlos to the naughty corner in Munich and he had apologised when he came out, this would have been resolved a long time ago.

He is obviously hard to handle and has been treated like a talented but precocious child, Mancini gave him the captaincy not because he deserved it, but to flatter his ego. It’s not just Carlos, many modern footballers don’t have a grip on real life (because they don’t experience it), and some don’t realise that how they behave would cause offence.

Everyone (the public, City management, players, fans, my cat) knows that Carlos will be off as soon as he can (when City receive a decent offer). In the meantime, if he gets a chance to play he will have a point to prove, which could be very useful to us.

It is in his own interest to prove just how great (in his mind) he is, so that another club will come and snap him up.

As for disruption of the dressing room, I don’t believe that it’s an issue, since his stay will be a temporary one. No one can take anything he says or does seriously; it will be a bit like a prolonged visit from Santa, enjoy it while he’s here, but he will be gone soon enough.

Mancini doesn’t have to treat him with kid gloves any more; he (Mancini) said that maybe he’d been too nice to him in the past, and I agree with that. Carlos will have to do as he’s told now. So if he’s fit, and if it suits the team, I say let him play.

Barney <alanbarnshaw(at)>


Haha. Interesting views from Ernie. Tévez is back because he’s so poisonous and inflated no-one else will touch him. And his apology story has gone along the lines of “I’m sorry… but the manager still treated me like a dog and it’s everyone else’s fault.” Not great portents for a pain-free return.

We have a right to be miffed and fans shouldn’t take him back for nothing. Tévez is going to have to expect the flack that might be coming his way and I hope he has the mettle and the desire to change our minds on the pitch. However, let’s not forget this started because Tévez was stuck on the bench to begin the season in the bottom half of our list of strikers.

He might have a renaissance, but even before we signed Kun he had stopped making things happen and seemed uninspired for me. He scored 4 goals since this time last year, in 20 games, with only a dogged rather than dominant performance in the FA Cup final as a bit of gloss. He’ll be lucky to play, and that might solve a few problems if the bedlam dies down while he trains for a couple of months.

A stat I love is that if he finishes this season we’ll be the club he has spent the most time at in his senior career. I’d like to hope he sorts himself out and finds a reason to finish his time in football positively with the Blues but I can’t see Tévez ever taking the easy option, swallowing his pride, not slagging off all and sundry on Argentinian radio, and signing for e.g. Paris St Germain or a club in Qatar like he’s not going to go through the whole débâcle again.

Well, Que Sera, eh? Wouldn’t be the Blues without drama.

Paul Hunt <paul.h.a.hunt(at)>


Now that Tévez has returned to Carrington, many of us have mixed feelings about his return.

First of all, I think that he has a lot of apologising to do, first to manager Roberto Mancini, the rest of the players, and of course the supporters and fans and not forgetting the owners.

Then Tévez has to get match fit and, if selected to play, he must produce goals and make them. This can be the opportunity for Tévez to play his best and get his wish of a transfer for the right fee.

When MCFC get the right fee, under the new rules they will have earned income to buy a new player who truly wants to be part of the MCFC set up.

The team have done very well without Tévez so far, but in recent games the goals have not been coming fast, and at times we have had to play a hard game against teams with eleven players behind the ball and refs that have not always been fair.

Now it is up to Tévez, come back and do a good job, or be another Rodney Marsh?

Things will change with good karma!

In Mancini I trust!

CTWD, Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)>


There is a strong possibility that our long rested “friend” will make an appearance for the Citizens either against Bolton next weekend or Swansea the following Sunday.

It is my suggestion that the whole stadium should simply turn their backs and remain silent when he is introduced either as a starter or coming on as a substitute.

Further, if he scores it would be great if this were treated with complete silence also. I think this would convey our contempt for the man and his behaviour in a dignified and restrained way whilst letting him know in no uncertain terms that he is no longer welcome at our beloved club.

John Hetherton <jhetherton(at)>


Not sure if anyone else noticed in the recent Villa programme that Roberto Mancini was born in Wrexham, Wales! Sounds suspiciously like Mark Hughes, who was at Villa with QPR the previous home game!

Sue Revell <sr007a7032(at)>


Hi there, if any London based Blue is aiming to drive back to London straight after the Chelsea home game on Monday 19th March I am looking for a lift and would be very happy to share costs. Alternatively, if anybody is looking for a lift I am considering doing the driving if I can get one or two to share costs. Please email if you are interested in either option.

Murray Withers <murraywithers(at)>


Phil, Great job by the way (Ed – thanks!). Could you ask if anyone knows of any Blue pubs in the Reading area where we can watch City games mid-week surrounded by a few more City fans who work away from home Monday-Friday.

Thanks in advance.

Mark Deary <mark_deary(at)>

The Sur-real Balotelli
Wed, 22 Feb 2012
Duration: 78 mins

Mark Pougatch presents a profile of the controversial Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli. Featuring interviews with Rodney Marsh, Paulo Bandini and Gianluca Vialli. We also hear from Pat Nevin who interviewed some of the people who know him best including his sister and his agent Mino Raiola.

I just listened to it and thoroughly enjoyed it, they have balanced views, but I think it comes out hugely positive for Mario in the end. Just the one contra comment from a United fan which was in itself, hilarious and proved the point nicely.

Ciao for now, David Parker <david.parker5(at)>


26 February 2012

Arsenal               5 - 2  Tottenham Hotspur     60,106
Norwich City          1 - 2  Manchester United     26,811
Stoke City            2 - 0  Swansea City          26,678

25 February 2012

Chelsea               3 - 0  Bolton Wanderers      40,999
Newcastle United      2 - 2  Wolverhampton Wndrs   52,287
Queens Park Rangers   0 - 1  Fulham                18,015
West Bromwich Albion  4 - 0  Sunderland            25,311
Wigan Athletic        0 - 0  Aston Villa           20,601
Manchester City       3 - 0  Blackburn Rovers      46,782

League table to 26 February 2012 inclusive

                             HOME          AWAY        OVERALL
                    P  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F   A   GD Pts
 1 Manchester City 26 13  0  0 40  6  7  3  3 27 13 20  3  3  67  19  48  63
 2 Manchester Utd  26 10  1  2 37 15  9  3  1 26 11 19  4  3  63  26  37  61
 3 Tottenham H.    26 10  2  1 29 10  6  3  4 22 20 16  5  5  51  30  21  53
 4 Arsenal         26  9  2  2 29 11  5  2  6 24 26 14  4  8  53  37  16  46
 5 Chelsea         26  8  2  3 30 19  5  5  3 17 12 13  7  6  47  31  16  46
 6 Newcastle Utd   26  7  4  2 20 14  5  3  5 18 24 12  7  7  38  38   0  43
 7 Liverpool       25  4  8  0 14  8  6  1  6 15 15 10  9  6  29  23   6  39
 8 Norwich City    26  5  4  4 20 17  4  4  5 18 26  9  8  9  38  43  -5  35
 9 Sunderland      26  5  4  4 20 13  4  2  7 14 17  9  6 11  34  30   4  33
10 Everton         25  5  3  5 14 13  4  3  5 12 14  9  6 10  26  27  -1  33
11 Fulham          26  6  4  3 24 19  2  5  6  8 17  8  9  9  32  36  -4  33
12 Stoke City      26  5  4  4 17 14  4  2  7  9 24  9  6 11  26  38 -12  33
13 West Brom A.    26  3  2  8 13 16  6  3  4 20 19  9  5 12  33  35  -2  32
14 Swansea City    26  5  6  2 18 10  2  3  8 10 24  7  9 10  28  34  -6  30
15 Aston Villa     26  3  4  6 14 17  3  7  3 15 17  6 11  9  29  34  -5  29
16 Wolves          26  3  2  8 17 28  2  5  6 13 23  5  7 14  30  51 -21  22
17 QPR             26  2  4  7 13 21  3  2  8 14 24  5  6 15  27  45 -18  21
18 Blackburn R.    26  4  0  9 19 26  1  6  6 18 33  5  6 15  37  59 -22  21
19 Bolton Wndrs    26  2  2  9 15 27  4  0  9 14 27  6  2 18  29  54 -25  20
20 Wigan Athletic  26  1  6  6 11 22  3  2  8 12 28  4  8 14  23  50 -27  20

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1805