Newsletter #1860

Well it wasn’t quite meant to work out like that was it?! A sluggish start but a lovely goal set up by the impressive Milner (well he was for the first half at least), followed by something approaching a collapse.

Some concerned articles for this issue as one would perhaps expect as our European hopes for this season teeter (maybe they have already tottered?!) on the brink.

My own Wednesday evening was saved by joining the London Blues at the Blue Anchor. Despite the result a good atmosphere and a big thank you to Tony for making me feel so welcome.

Next Game: Swansea City, Etihad Stadium, 27 October 2012, 17.30


It will take a miracle now for us to qualify from our Champions League’ group as we now sit bottom of the group with one point after another defeat. Full credit to the young Ajax side who deserved their win, but we made it easy for them.

It is rare for a Roberto Mancini side to look disorganised, but that was how we looked, particularly in the second half. Ajax dominated the first twenty minutes, as we started off too slowly. We needed to start with a tempo and impose our power and supposed superior quality on them but we let the famous old Dutch club gain confidence. City scored against the run of play, but it was a superb goal. Micah Richards split the Ajax defence with a superb pass, James Milner delayed his pass perfectly and Nasri’s crisp finish was impressive. We should have pressed Ajax all over the pitch after that and made the game safe, but failed to do so. They had been troubling us down our left with two players on one, and that was where their equaliser came from. Clichy was left with two players to deal with and was caught in two minds, and Ajax’s right back van Rijn had acres of space to cross for Siem de Jong, who scored with a super finish. De Jong should have been closed down quicker and James Milner was slow to get back with his man on this occasion.

We started off the second half at a higher tempo and Ajax’s second goal came against the run of play. It was the result of a very good header by Moisande and very poor defending by Lescott, who was very slow to react. Moisande should not have been allowed to get that header in. Even so, there was no one on the far post to clear it, Clichy being a couple of yards too far forward. Why don’t we have players on the post?

We should have held our nerve and regrouped but Mancini complicated matters by switching to 3-5-2. Gael Clichy in particular looked lost, waving his arms as it say what should I do? Vincent Kompany also looked lost with it. He is always better in a back four whether it is in a man marking or Mancini’s preferred zonal marking system.

For the third Ajax goal Gareth Barry was bundled off the ball and robbed in a dangerous area, Kompany was rounded too easily and Ajax enjoyed a bit of luck with a deflection.

After that we didn’t take our chances: Dzeko squandered two good ones, and Nasri was fouled in the box at least once as he was about to pull the trigger. The game petered out for us in the last 8 minutes and the inquest began.

When asked if the players are uncomfortable with a back 3, Micah Richards agreed, saying, “It’s something that we’ve not worked on a lot. We’re used to a straight back 4. It’s twice we’ve gone to a back 5 and conceded but the manager likes it and if we want to do well in it, we’re gonna have to work a little bit more.”

When asked if the players like three at the back, Micah replied: “The players just want to play. It’s a hard system because we’re not used to it. The players prefer a 4-4-2 but he’s the manager. We’ll do what he says.”

All pretty brave not to mention revealing stuff from Micah, but it didn’t take a genius to see how badly prepared we were.

Mancini took responsibility for the defeat saying: “It is my fault. I underprepared the team.” He repeated himself saying “It is my fault. I take all this.” Some admission.

Mancini is correct, though to an extent, he may be taking the pressure off his players who have to take responsibility too. We have to prepare properly for any competition, and he has to learn from this. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. Mancini’s sides are normally very well prepared, but twice this year (Everton also) he has admitted to being under-prepared. Clearly we have much to be grateful to Mancini for, but he over complicates the game at times. Granted we need to be flexible and our ability to change tactics within matches helped us win the League, but we change our system too often when we play in Europe and it handicaps us. We should play our normal formation and passing game. Surely our players are going to have the best chance of doing better when they do what they are used to doing? The only thing that we should change is that we should press our opponents more so that we can impose ourselves on our opponents more and play our football, which is brilliant at best.

Okay, we let in two of our goals with four at the back in this game, but let’s ditch this 3-5-2. It clearly doesn’t work for our players. It allows too much space for the opposition down the flanks, allowing them to get two on one in those wide areas. Furthermore, the central three are not comfortable with it. Whilst I prefer man to man marking, our defence can and has already made zonal marking work, so there is no reason to change that. What we need to do is keep a settled back four and not make too many changes in personnel.

Whilst there can be no excuse for not preparing properly, whatever the system, the fact remains that too many very good players played badly in Amsterdam. The players must take responsibility like the manager has. The Champions’ League may be as good as over but we have to at least get a win over Ajax in the next game in the competition, even if it is for pride (not to mention the nefarious UEFA “coefficient points”).

Our main target this season was always the League, but even in such a tough group we should be doing much better than this. Much better.

Hart: Did nothing wrong. Given no protection: 6
Richards: Great killer pass for the goal. 6
Kompany: Has developed a tendency to dive in (and not get the ball). Looked ponderous at times: 4
Lescott: Slow to react for Ajax’s second: 4
Clichy: Was playing well until he got lost when we switched to a 3-5-2. We moved back to a back four then he struggled at right back: 5
Barry: Robbed for the 2nd goal, and struggled with the pace of the young Ajax side who played round him. He is always best when we play at a higher tempo, which we didn’t do anywhere near enough in this game: 4
Milner: Switched off momentarily for de Jong’s goal but worked very hard in central midfield and timed and delivered the pass for the opening goal perfectly. Less effective when switched out wide, but never lacked for effort: 6
Nasri: took his goal well, but didn’t do enough defensively: 6
Yaya: Didn’t look fully fit and cut his ankle in a bad challenge by Blind: 5
Agüero: Lacked service but tried to create with little success when given the chance: 5
Dzeko: Didn’t get into this game until the 2nd half and didn’t take his chances: 5
Kolarov: His delivery wasn’t up to his usual standards: Booked: 5
Tévez and Balotelli: n/a

Best Oppo: Siem de Jong: Started and finished the first goal. A lively presence all night: 8

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


I don’t know if any reader noticed that in the MCIVTA 1859 I did not end with my usual “In Mancini I trust”; I did it deliberately and, after reading the BBC Football site where Mancini claims he did not prepare his team for the game versus Ajax, I shall leave it out again until a genuine improvement comes.

With such a massive game in the European Champions’ League, how can any manager say that they never prepared the team? That is totally wrong!

I feel sorry for the City fans that travelled to Amsterdam to see City under-perform. The team looked as if they had no plan, and no signs of motivation. Sorry, but I am not going to put on tinted glasses to write about my favourite team.

As professionals they failed; the defence on occasions stood like statues! For the second Ajax goal, from a corner, where was the defender by the post? Elementary!

I am not going to pick on players, everyone knows who they are; to me the team failed!

Mathematically, City can still be in Europe, but after last night’s performance I doubt it. You will not catch me putting a bet on it and I don’t care what the odds might be.

Let me give credit to Frank de Boer and Ajax for showing some determination in winning the game.

How many fans have bought the nice new black and grey shirts? I sincerely hope that you will get more use with them. Miracles can happen, but sorry I don’t have the faith for this one. Now come on City, get out there and prove me wrong.

Come on you Blues, we will stay with you forever!

Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)>


We can dissect the switches to 3-5-2 in both the Dortmund and Ajax games as much as we like. What is even plainer than the dislike and unsuitability of this system to all our defenders, has been the ineffectiveness of Yaya in both these matches. Yes he is a game-changer but when he’s off form he is proving to be a liability and a passenger that we simply cannot afford to carry in Europe.

With Roberto’s willingness to move the forwards round game after game, including first half substitutions when off form, where is the Plan B when Yaya is not powering forward and dominating the middle? Granted there is no like for like replacement but surely we cannot keep a player on the park who contributed nothing at either end of the pitch for 90 minutes? With Rodwell looking far from the finished article at this level, what price the release of de Jong now?

Still I keep the faith, 3 Euro wins on the trot and into the knock out stages we go.

Peter Blyth <blythie44(at)>


Mancini was at it again blaming himself. I assume he thinks he is taking the pressure off the players.

My own opinion is that he should pick his best team and play a system that suits his team, preferably a quick and accurate passing one that puts pressure on the opposition.

I can’t see the owners putting up with it for long.

I do feel though that the close season transfer “strategy” (if you could call it that) was poor as were the players who have come in. No added value.

Russ Alcock <russell.alcock(at)>


Roberto had the good grace to admit he made a strategic botch of the game but, of course, stopped short of admitting that he can’t stop interfering and confusing his players when he should leave well alone and let them get on with it.

How sad to see the desperate move of putting all his firepower on the field at the same time and watching them run around like the proverbial headless chickens. It was a stark admission of defeat from a coach who had run out of ideas.

In fairness to Mancini he had little choice but to start Edin Dzeko after his performance against West Brom, but the fact remains that Dzeko is not a full-game player – at least he has never shown himself to be good for 90 minutes at City. He is a super (perhaps decent) sub and Mancini should tell him to get used to it. He was useless on Wednesday.

Not to pick too much on Dzeko because Tévez was a waste of space and Agüero wasn’t much better. Touré should have been hauled off early in the second half. The tide might have turned in City’s favour if Richards had not had such bad luck. He was City’s best and at least looked like he wanted to win.

Of course, this is a team that needs the architectural skills of David Silva to function at anything close to 100 per cent.

This was a fine mess but if it taught Mancini a lesson then it might be a cloud with a silver lining. None of my money is going on that bet.

Chris Cobb <cobsun(at)>


I just watched the City film from MCIVTA 1859.

I was 11 in 1981 and had a season ticket for Platt Lane. We went to all the FA Cup games except for the Final and Semi-Final. We went to the Liverpool League Cup Semis.

I remember the City TV programme at the time, but wasn’t allowed to stay up to watch it really.

Going onto YouTube lead me to a Garth Crooks interview with Malcolm Allison. Allison reflected on City and that period. The clip after watching the City programme made me quite tearful!

Thanks for posting it.

Andrew Goodman <andycheers(at)>


Great turnout on Wednesday, shame result didn’t go our way – onwards and upwards!

Saturday’s game will be on at The Blue Anchor (Rolls Passage off Chancery Lane) so see you there.

Happy Birthday to Tina – 21 today *cough cough*!

Now looking at 25 of us at Sekforde Arms on Friday 9th November to have pics taken with Champs’ trophy and Charity Shield (from 7.30pm, £5 charity donation).

1st December there is a supporters’ party at Etihad, post City vs. Everton game; would be great if you can make it. Tickets will be around £15 but food and entertainment included (by entertainment I mean 4 Heatons Blue will be doing his annual strip! Sorry Matt couldn’t resist!).

Tony (@MCFCLondon)


21 October 2012

Sunderland            1 - 1  Newcastle United      47,456
Queens Park Rangers   1 - 1  Everton               17,959

20 October 2012

Tottenham Hotspur     2 - 4  Chelsea               36,060
Fulham                1 - 0  Aston Villa           25,693
Liverpool             1 - 0  Reading               44,874
Manchester United     4 - 2  Stoke City            75,585
Swansea City          2 - 1  Wigan Athletic        19,696
West Bromwich Albion  1 - 2  Manchester City       24,891
West Ham United       4 - 1  Southampton           34,925
Norwich City          1 - 0  Arsenal               26,825

League table as at 24 October 2012

                    P  GD Pts
 1 Chelsea          8  13  22
 2 Manchester Utd   8  10  18
 3 Manchester City  8   8  18
 4 Everton          8   6  15
 5 Tottenham H.     8   3  14
 6 West Brom A.     8   3  14
 7 West Ham Utd     8   3  14
 8 Fulham           8   5  13
 9 Arsenal          8   7  12
10 Swansea City     8   2  11
11 Newcastle Utd    8  -3  10
12 Liverpool        8  -2   9
13 Stoke City       8  -1   8
14 Sunderland       7  -2   8
15 Norwich City     8 -11   6
16 Wigan Athletic   8  -7   5
17 Aston Villa      8  -7   5
18 Southampton      8 -11   4
19 Reading          7  -6   3
20 QPR              8 -10   3

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1860