Newsletter #1811

Another day, another whopper of a game. Should be a humdinger tonight I have a feeling, with both sides missing key players at the back and each with all to play for.

We of course have the side-line of the “Return of the Tev” and it will be intriguing to see/hear the response should he get on the pitch or the crazy possibility of him actually warming up!

Personally, I’m so sick to the back teeth of the whole episode to the point where I have absolute ambivalence toward him. I support City, not Tévez, and won’t be doing anything to prejudice the former to show my feelings toward the latter! Not everyone may share the same view though!

Enjoy it and cross all your fingers and toes!

Next Game: Chelsea, home, 21 March 2012, 7.45pm

MATCHVIEW I: CITY 3 SPORTING LISBON 2 (Aggregate 3-3, Sporting go through on away goals)

City were just a fingertip away from qualifying for the Quarter Finals of the Europa League but, in all truth, we did not deserve to go through. We paid the price for being desperately awful for three quarters of this two-legged tie against a club that, like ours, was once managed by our very own Malcolm Allison, progresses.

For the first half of this game, and a decent portion of the second period, we were incredibly poor. We played the ball too slowly, the quality of the passing was not good enough to test Sporting, and at times it was downright awful. It was impossible not to feel sympathy for strikers Agüero and Balotelli who worked hard to find space, but the best that they got in the first half were long balls. Too many long balls.

David Silva had his worst game thus far, and he uncharacteristically gave the ball away on a couple of occasions when playing simple passes. David Pizzaro, who had started off in a deep “holding” rôle, started off well spraying the ball around but even he was afflicted by the team’s malaise and lost his range and direction. Kolarov can normally put in a fantastic ball from the left, but even he managed to produce a Tony Vaughan-esque cross that flew yards over and behind the goal.

Roberto Mancini has come out and said that he got his tactics wrong, and he is right. Whilst it is understandable that he might want to draw out Sporting to open up space, we would have been better playing at a high tempo, testing them with sharp one-twos and incisive passes, as well as raining crosses and shots into the box. Yaya Touré was stationed too deep in the first half (presumably to protect the dreadfully insecure partnership of his brother and Savic) in a rôle that does not make the best of his talents.

Instead, Sporting got a foothold in the game and time on the ball. Sporting didn’t just come to defend and they were a quick breaking team with Diego Capel on the left flank providing a test with his strong, pacy running. Their first goal came when they gained a soft free kick just outside the box in the inside left position when the merest contact (if any) on Insua from the pursuing Balotelli, saw the Sporting man go down as if pole-axed. He may even have slowed down to invite the contact from Mario.

It was the invitation for Matias Fernandez to hit a brilliant, powerful bending free kick past Hart’s outstretched left arm to spark bedlam in the away section and a number of Sporting fans in the 2nd tier of the Colin Bell Stand. The Sporting players spent more than a minute celebrating each goal and yet there was only one minute of stoppage time (not that we would have done anything with an extra minute, given our stultifying ineptitude before the break).

If that didn’t flatten the atmosphere then Sporting’s second goal certainly did. A poor header by Kolarov saw our left side exposed to a cross from Izmailov, whose low cross eluded Kolo Touré to allow the excellently named Dutch bean pole Ricky van Wolfswinkel to say “Dank u wel” and sweep in Sporting’s second at the far post. Cue more time wasting celebrations, and no bookings.

Our squad seriously lacks depth in the centre of defence. Neither Kolo Touré nor Savic are leaders and are not assertive enough. Kolo does not relish the aerial challenge and the coltish Savic runs around, reacting rather than anticipating. Both of them need a strong centre back alongside them and the return of Vincent Kompany and Joleon Lescott would not be a day too soon. Surely we will need to bring in another central defender next season (now that Nedum Onuoha has been sold), or at the very least bring Dedryck Boyata back from Bolton.

If we don’t strengthen in this area we will have problems again next season that will cost us. We would have been better playing Richards at centre back (he, unlike Kolo and Savic, is a very powerful header of the ball) with Kolo and Milner at right back.

Roberto made changes at the break, bringing on de Jong for Adam Johnson who had been starved of decent service and spent a fair amount of his time tracking back. The changes took a little while to work, but it freed Yaya Touré to play in a more advanced rôle in support of the strikers. Dzeko soon came on to give us a three man attack with Yaya just behind in the play making rôle.

The change worked when Agüero took Yaya’s incisive pass and hooked it past Patricio in the Sporting net to give us a foothold. Six minutes later he was felled in the box as he made a darting run in the inside right position. Balotelli coolly stepped up to dispatch with a minimum of fuss (Patrick Vieira says that Balotelli takes fifteen penalties in training and scores fifteen!). Eastlands lapped it up. It was game on!

Silva was sacrificed for Nasri as Roberto played his last card. Sporting were rattled as we attacked them from all angles at a high tempo. If only we’d done it before! Seven minutes from the end of normal time, Kolarov swept a corner in, Dzeko flicked on and Sergio Agüero pounced to sweep the ball in to put us 3-2 up on the night and level on aggregate. The stage was set for a dramatic late winner, and it was almost snatched by none other than Joe Hart when his superb goal-bound header from de Jong’s cross drew a gasp of anticipation in the stands, but Patricio made an excellent reflex save to tip it round the post. It was the last meaningful touch of the game, and had it gone in, it would have been such a special moment, especially for Joe Hart.

The visitors were guilty of some disgraceful time wasting tactics: defenders and goalkeeper taking turns to go down “injured” in the last few minutes and the five minutes stoppage time. Not very “sporting”. The referee did not add on enough time on for the time they wasted in stoppage time, and the Sporting players celebrated like they’d won the Cup when the referee blew the final whistle. That said, our comeback was too little, too late. The tie was lost in the first 135 minutes of this tie: we were insipid in Lisbon and awful for the first 45 minutes here.

We have to play at a higher tempo if we are going to win the league. We have to deny space to our opposition, especially Chelsea, Arsenal and United. We have to keep Stoke City away from our box with their long throws and delivery from their fast wingers. We cannot afford to stand off anybody. We need to learn the lessons of the first half, take the positives from the second half and go into overdrive for the rest of the season. That will not be easy, but we have to regain that ability to change the pace of our game, and attack from all angles, using the width of the pitch. We have to use every advantage at our disposal.

The main thing to be learned from this game is that Yaya Touré must be played in his best position, i.e. in an attacking midfield role. He frees up space for the likes of Silva and the strikers to work their magic. He has great technique, skill and vision: in short the complete footballer. Hopefully we will harness these great talents to win every game that remains.

Att: 38,021

Hart: Couldn’t be faulted for either goal and we saw what a good header of the ball he is!: 7
Richards: The only good defender in the back four had his work cut out, curtailing his runs forward: 6
Kolo Touré: Clumsy in possession and lacking assertiveness: 5
Savic: Without wishing to be unkind, he is not a good enough player for Manchester City. Even allowing for his inexperience and adapting to the English game, he does not have enough to suggest that he will ever be good enough: 5
Kolarov: Found wanting in defence and in attack in the first half, but was a leading player in the comeback with some excellent left wing delivery: 6
Johnson: One good cross aside, he wasn’t able to get into the game as an attacking force due to a lack of service. Worked hard defensively and there are good signs that he is learning to track back properly: 5
Pizarro: His performance suffered along with the rest after a bright start: 6
Yaya Touré: Outstanding in everything he did: 8 (Man of the match)
Silva: Underpowered and off colour but no lack of effort: 5
Agüero: Never stopped working. He had a hand in each goal: won the penalty and took his goals superbly: 8
Balotelli: A little naive when he gave away the free kick that lead to the opening goal, but his work rate and desire were commendable. Another brilliant, nonchalant penalty: 6
De Jong (for Johnson 54): Ok he may be a bit of a “Knightrider” with his sideways passes, but he brought composure to midfield, giving us a platform to build on: 7
Dzeko (for Pizarro 54): Some good touches, including the flick on for our third goal: 6

Best oppo: Fernandez: Smote an excellent free kick to score. Why his coach Ricardo Sa Pinto took him off is a mystery as they missed his clever, creativeness. Rightly booked for a ridiculous dive, though: 7

Refwatch: Tom Harald Hagen (Norway): Handled the game well. Needs to use his stop watch more consistently: 7

Footnote. It was a good atmosphere and the Sporting fans that we met before the game were very friendly. I got talking to a Celtic fan too, who follows them because the similarity of their strip to The Bhoys. The Sporting lads even asked me to join them in their group photo outside The Etihad, and the camera didn’t break! I offered them a “Bem-vindo” (welcome) and they wished us well in perfect (though of course I really don’t think they wanted us to win!). Very convivial. Pity about their team’s cheating and time wasting. Sporting fans, but not a “sporting” team, I’m afraid.

Phil Banerjee <phil.banerjee(at)>


Just got home from work, and I have been shocked to learn of Frank Horrocks’ death.

I remember the day that Frank took over as Hon Secretary of the Official Supporters’ Club from Mrs Whelan.

Over the years I met Frank so many times at Maine Road, a gentleman and a fantastic City supporter who did so much for many City supporters over the years.

Frank held all of the branches together and he went out of his way for everything to be a success. I know that he personally helped me to get tickets for games: I used to have two season tickets in the North Stand, which was new back then, but after the first two years I went back deep sea and to cruise ships, I gave up my season tickets being away for such long periods of time, and after that it was always Frank who helped me out when I came back on leave.

The last game I saw with Frank and his son, we were in the main stand together, it was during our last season in the old Division one, against Wolves. The game was nearly called off because of the fog, everyone was kept outside Maine Road until about 30 minutes before kick-off. I remember City won 1-0.

I wish all Frank’s family and friends my best wishes, just remember someone had to go and start a supporters’ club for Joe Mercer and Malcolm Allison’s team.

God bless, R.I.P.

Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)>


I keep seeing ‘In Mancini I Trust’ (started by Ernie) in MCIVTA. Well I’m sorry but here’s one Blue at least who doesn’t have much faith in our manager.

As the pressure mounts and the opportunities for silverware diminish he gives the impression of someone who is finding it increasingly difficult to cope with that pressure.

On one hand one might admire his stance in taking the blame away from the players for recent lacklustre performances by stating he got it wrong or under-prepared for games (e.g. post Everton, Swansea and Sporting). On the other hand surely the reason he receives his bumper salary is to get it right in the first place. Is saying “It’s my fault” not an admission that he isn’t good enough?

His whole demeanour recently is one of a man who is just hoping everything will sort itself out and doesn’t have a clear idea of how he’ll make it happen. I for one am sick and tired of him prefixing, or suffixing, every sentence with “it’s very difficult, we have to play every three days” as if that a) should be a surprise and b) we’re the only team that has to do it.

Surely that’s why he has been allowed to spend vast quantities of Sheikh Mansour’s money on a squad that should be able to cope? A squad that, despite the money lavished on it, is looking decidedly threadbare in key areas, whilst over-laden in others. We’ve been fortunate this season in having a long period without players missing through injury whilst some of our rivals have not been so fortunate. Now that we are being plagued by injury and suspension the ‘two players for every position’ mantra is looking somewhat misguided.

This brings me on to the second part of my rant. ‘Lily’ Savic. ‘One for the future’? Maybe. Unfortunately that future has become the present and he continues to look like a rabbit caught in car headlights. Perhaps I’m seeing what I want to see but I got the distinct impression, in the first half against Sporting in particular, that his team-mates had little or no confidence in him, leading to players being pulled out of position in an attempt to cover for him. He continues to make rash challenges and gets turned easily by rushing in when holding position would be the better option. His lack of judgement is only surpassed by Mancini’s lack of judgement in allowing ready-made ‘cover’ players like Nedum Onouha and Dedryck Boyata to go out from the club when Savic is so obviously not ready.

Why not move Richards to the centre and play Zaba, or even Clichy on his wrong side, at right back? The answer can only be that Mancini thinks Savic is adequate cover. At the end of the day it’s his call and he has to stand, or fall, by it, but it does leave me, and a few other Blues I’ve spoken to, concerned.

O.K. rant over. As for the remainder of the season, I don’t care if we romp over the line, or stumble over it, as long as we cross it in first place. I began supporting City as a 9 year old at the end of the 1967 season when my boyhood hero, goalkeeper Ken Mulhearn, was transferred from Stockport County to Manchester City, who then of course went on to win the league. What a sound switch of allegiance I probably thought at the time, not knowing the pain and suffering I would have to endure from about 1976 onwards.

Having just had a back operation last Friday I would like to use the analogy that last year’s F.A. Cup win was like an analgesic to reduce the pain. Let’s hope the long term prognosis is one of complete recovery and a pain-free future. Come on you Blues.

Dave Kilroy <dave.kilroy(at)>


Does anyone have the 6-1 derby demolition on DVD or blu-ray and able to burn me off a copy? I had the game saved on my Sky+ but had to get a new box and have lost it. I was at the game and take great pleasure around 60 minutes into the game when I feature on screen with a beaming smile on my face!

E-mail me if you do to organise postage, costs etc.

Thanks in advance, <stevenpage77(at)>


Hello all.

I’m a Hong Kong-based Blue who’s, unfortunately and unexpectedly, going to have to head over to Manchester/Blackpool for family reasons. I’ll be around for both the Stoke and Sunderland games. Please drop me a line should you hear of any tickets that come up for either/both games. We live in hope… 😉

Thanks a million, Vince Docherty <vincedoc(at)>


So I finally pulled my finger out of my proverbial and put pictures to music. I used a computer. The song was knocked out in an afternoon in my basement. Using low-tech mini-disc recorder, boss drum machine (for the techies out there) and various 2nd hand guitars.

No garage band or pro-tools cheating. Don’t know where the voice came from – I think I had a cold. I went for the Nick Lowe method of pushing the hook up in the mix and just bashing it out. It’s got 50+ hits on youtube and climbing.

It only took me 3 months but it’s up there. Hope the City bloke who’s name eludes me doesn’t mind. As for the other Manchester (ho ho) local… who gives a parc. It’s available as a ring tone and a 12″ remix… one day.

CTID and keep the faith, Andy Johnson <fastandyj(at)>


18 March 2012

Wolverhampton Wndrs   0 - 5  Manchester United     27,290
Newcastle United      1 - 0  Norwich City          47,833

17 March 2012

Fulham                0 - 3  Swansea City          25,690
Wigan Athletic        1 - 1  Liverpool             21,379

13 March 2012

Liverpool             3 - 0  Everton               44,921

12 March 2012

Arsenal               2 - 1  Newcastle United      60,095

League table to 18 March 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 Utd  29 11  1  2 39 15 11  3  1 34 12 22  4  3  73  27  46  70
 2 Manchester City 28 14  0  0 42  6  7  3  4 27 14 21  3  4  69  20  49  66
 3 Tottenham H.    28 10  2  2 30 13  6  3  5 22 21 16  5  7  52  34  18  53
 4 Arsenal         28 10  2  2 31 12  6  2  6 26 27 16  4  8  57  39  18  52
 5 Chelsea         28  9  2  3 31 19  5  5  4 17 13 14  7  7  48  32  16  49
 6 Newcastle Utd   29  8  5  2 22 15  5  3  6 19 26 13  8  8  41  41   0  47
 7 Liverpool       29  5  8  1 18 10  6  2  7 16 17 11 10  8  34  27   7  43
 8 Swansea City    29  6  6  2 19 10  4  3  8 15 24 10  9 10  34  34   0  39
 9 Sunderland      28  6  4  4 21 13  4  3  7 15 18 10  7 11  36  31   5  37
10 Everton         28  6  3  5 15 13  4  4  6 13 18 10  7 11  28  31  -3  37
11 Fulham          29  7  4  4 29 22  2  5  7  8 18  9  9 11  37  40  -3  36
12 Norwich City    29  5  5  4 21 18  4  4  7 18 28  9  9 11  39  46  -7  36
13 Stoke City      28  6  4  4 18 14  4  2  8  9 25 10  6 12  27  39 -12  36
14 West Brom A.    28  4  2  8 14 16  6  3  5 20 21 10  5 13  34  37  -3  35
15 Aston Villa     28  4  4  6 15 17  3  8  3 16 18  7 12  9  31  35  -4  33
16 Blackburn R.    28  4  1  9 20 27  2  6  6 20 33  6  7 15  40  60 -20  25
17 Bolton Wndrs    28  3  2  9 17 28  4  0 10 14 29  7  2 19  31  57 -26  23
18 QPR             28  2  5  7 14 22  3  2  9 15 26  5  7 16  29  48 -19  22
19 Wigan Athletic  29  1  7  7 12 25  3  3  8 13 29  4 10 15  25  54 -29  22
20 Wolves          29  3  2 10 17 35  2  5  7 13 28  5  7 17  30  63 -33  22

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1811