Newsletter #1861

Reading 5 Arsenal 7
Chelsea 5 Rags 4

What absolutely astonishing games. Rather surprised to find myself missing the Capital One Cup!

Not as much as we’ll miss young Micah Richards though. His Paul Lake-esque collapse late in the game on Saturday was worrying enough; since then he has had surgery and is looking at 6-8 weeks in plaster and around 16 weeks before he gets a sniff of the first team.

Let’s just hope those estimates prove accurate. One simply doesn’t bear to contemplate. Rest easy Micah and Godspeed with your recovery.

A thought-provoking issue again this evening. Thanks to all those who are providing such rich content recently. Thanks also to Gary James for his book “The Manchester City Years” and I’m happy to include a review as our ‘And Finally’.

Next Game: West Ham United, Upton Park, 3 November 2012, 17.30pm


Manchester City put pressure on Chelsea and Trafford with this narrow victory over a highly skilled Swansea side. That City won without being anywhere near top form speaks volumes for the quality and resilience of the squad.

This game saw Roberto Mancini pitted against Michael Laudrup again. Their most famous meeting was as players at Wembley in the 1992 European Champions Cup Final when Roberto’s Sampdoria were beaten in extra time by Michael Laudrup’s Barcelona (City coach Attilio Lombardo was a team mate of Roberto’s and Txiki Begiristain was on the subs’ bench for a Barça side who started with one Pep Guardiola). This time Roberto came out on top but again the margin was narrow, and it was a bumpy ride.

City’s first half showing was lethargic and laboured. It was as if the players were suffering a collective hangover after the crushing defeat in Amsterdam. That it took 38 minutes for City to register a shot on target said it all. Indeed, Tévez’s angled shot from Nasri’s incisive pass was our only shot on target in the opening half.

Our passing was laboured and easily read by a well-organised Swansea side who played delightful passing football (they will surely avoid relegation on this showing) and were at least as likely as City to score. Indeed, they would have taken the lead if it wasn’t for Joe Hart coming out to smother Michu’s attempt after Ki Seung Yeung split the City defence with a superb pass to play in the Swansea number 9. Joe Hart to the rescue… yet again.

City’s cause was not helped by the fact that we were missing David Silva’s silky skills in midfield. It wasn’t helped either that Aleksandar Kolarov was asked to play on the left of a four man midfield and then bizarrely, after twenty odd minutes, on the right, where he looked like a fish out of water. Scott Sinclair, who managed 8 Premier League goals last season, must be wondering what he needs to do in order to get a game. Surely a right winger with a knack for scoring goals in the top flight is better suited than a left back to a right winger’s role? There were other changes, though, which worked better in this game: Nastasic came in for Lescott at centre half in a back four, and Carlos Tévez replaced Edin Dzeko up front.

What we saw in the first half was a disjointed, lethargic City who didn’t look like scoring, and a small but audible section of the crowd booed the City players off at half time, which proved to be the end of Kolarov’s evening as he was injured and replaced by Balotelli.

There has been a lot of exaggeration and lies in the press about dressing room revolt at City this week (difference of opinion maybe, but revolt, nah!). Well, the players made a nonsense of that as they positively responded to Roberto Mancini’s half time team talk and astute tactical switch, playing football at a tempo that had been lacking in the first half, and indeed in Amsterdam. In complete contrast to the first half, we didn’t even have to wait a minute before we had another shot!

Tévez was withdrawn into an attacking midfield role behind Agüero and sub Balotelli, and from there, he dictated the pace of the game with some purposeful running and prompting. Suddenly City played with real purpose. There was good work from Agüero, Nasri and Balotelli; then Tévez freed Richards to cross but there was no one on the six yard box to capitalise.

The visitors again forced Joe Hart to make another important save when the dangerous Michu headed Pablo Hernandez’s right wing cross goal-wards.

Then, just after the hour City struck the decisive blow. Gael Clichy advanced diagonally from left back and squared to Tévez who smote a searing, dipping drive that beat Swansea’s goalkeeper Michel Vorm at his right hand post. It takes an exceptional strike to beat the excellent Vorm, and this one was out of the top drawer. Sadly, Vorm sustained a bad groin injury as he landed and he was stretchered off to applause from all sections. Hopefully he will make a speedy recovery.

Whilst City definitely improved after the break, we were unable to dominate, and Swansea came more and more into the game with their patient passing game, weaving intricate patterns on the Etihad pitch. There weren’t a great deal of chances for either side, which is testament to better defending from both teams.

Micah Richards, who had been suffering from cramp, then sustained what looked like a serious knee injury as he ran back into the box to defend, and he required oxygen as he was stretchered off to universal applause. Hopefully he will make as quick a recovery as possible.

Swansea prompted and probed, and as if to prove a point about formations, Roberto Mancini brought on Joleon Lescott for Agüero during the Premier League record 12 minutes of stoppage time as City finished with a back five.

Whilst we hadn’t been convincing in this game, we at least ended on a positive note, on the last kick of the game: Mario Balotelli’s fierce drive being tipped over by substitute goalkeeper Tremmel.

The important thing was that City won here. It is the mark of Champions that they can win without playing well. If United had won playing like this they would get plaudits and bouquets. Not City though, who get an unfair amount of criticism, even when the job is done. City showed enough character and tenacity in the second half at both ends of the pitch to dig out a result here, and those qualities and Tévez’s wonder strike deserve credit. Also deserving credit is Roberto Mancini for galvanising the team and making the necessary adjustments to get the win here.


Hart: Two brilliant saves from Joe were vital in clinching this victory. What a great goalkeeper he is, and easily our best performer thus far in 2012/2013: 9 (Man of the Match)
Richards: Was defending really well including one brilliant first half covering header to cut out a cross and deny Michu. It was very sad to see him injured and hopefully he will be back soon: 7
Kompany: Whilst this was a better performance than of late, he is trying too hard, at times positioning himself too far up the pitch and lunging in too soon. An example being when the City defence was split in the first half with a pass that put Michu clean through. This was, though, a very tenacious display from the City captain, which was encouraging, as was the fact that he and Nastasic looked comfortable as a partnership: 6
Nastasic: One slightly short back pass aside, this was an assured showing from the young Serb. His highlight was when he pinched the ball inside the Swansea half and showed good skill on the ball to set up an attack: 7
Clichy: Solid and dependable in defence, his drive helped set up Tévez to score the winner: 7
Nasri: Opened some doors with some incisive passes after the break. More of the same please: 6
Barry: Industrious but even he struggled in that first half. Made important interceptions to maintain our lead. 6
Yaya: Again a presence in midfield but like Barry it took until the second half before he got into his stride. 6
Kolarov: Is better running on the ball from full back, than in a more advanced role. A right winger he certainly is not, but nevertheless he worked hard in a role where he really struggled. Hopefully his injury is only minor: 5
Agüero: A quiet game for Sergio who missed the clever interplay of Silva: 6
Tévez: He changed the game in the 2nd half with his drive and determination and his strike was worthy of winning any match: 8
Balotelli (for Kolarov 46): Worked hard, better attitude: 6
Kolo Touré (for Richards 81): Solid cameo.
Lescott (for Agüero 95): n/a

Best oppo: Michu (or to give him his full name Michu Perez Cuesta): Silky skills, great movement, and an eye for a goal, he has all the attributes of a good all round centre forward. It is easy to see why he has already scored 6 Premier League goals: 8

Refwatch: Martin Atkinson: Unnoticed, which is always a positive: 7

Att: 46,801


Every time I see City it is clear that the pre-match entertainment in City Square is excellent. Hosted by Fanzone Danny and Natalie Pike, interviews with ex-players, celebrities and performances by local bands set up the match really well. On this occasion I heard two really good Manchester bands, Black Lights and The Quangos playing live, and they went down very well. Black Lights’ performance of their single The Enemy was a particular highlight. Credit to MCFC for this excellent addition to our match day experience (blimey, starting to sound like a marketing man…).

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


A win is a win, but a bad performance is a bad performance!

Sorry to see Micah go off injured; a player who tried so hard.

My man of the match goes to Tévez, not just for his well-deserved goal, but for his non-stop running and effort.

Credit to Joe Hart who kept us in this game.

We know that the team can play better than this, we have seen it; come on City!

If the players do not perform on the pitch as professionals, how can we blame the manager?

Come on you Blues!

Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)>


I have been busy of late and so no chance to get my thoughts into an email but for what they are worth herewith some observations:

Do I imagine it that Yaya Touré sometimes plays with a problem and accordingly plays poorly? I noticed it last season; in some games he seemed to go missing and in a recent match where the whole team played poorly, Yaya seemingly stayed stuck in mid field when he hardly seem to get about! So does he play with a niggling injury from time to time that he does not report to management?

Alternatively, does Mancini allow him to play knowing this and thus am I to begin to think “In Mancini I do not trust”!

Joe Hart: how good is he? Well he played excellently against Dortmund. I was thinking of the goalkeepers that City have had over the years; he along with Bert Trautmann must be about the best. One thing I see as a fault in Joe’s play is that he punches the ball away when I would have thought it would have been better to go out and catch the ball!

Having watched the West Brom match I am left wondering if the referee realized at half time he had got his quota of “cards” for this month back on track and thus gave nothing in the second half! Oh yes he gave at least one other card to a Baggies player for dissent but I cannot imagine the players changed after the break, but it would seem the referee did!

It bothers me that a referee seems to be prepared to pull a card out for every tackle and thus when they do not then there is the look of not being consistent as happened also in this match against the Baggies!

Listening to the TV commentators, they were all the time contradicting themselves, first trying to agree with the referee and then complaining when he did not give a card and thus why was not another player being sent off because he should have been given two cards!

Perhaps the International Football Association Board should make a rule change, which is “no tackles are allowed” because after the performance of the referee in the West Brom match, particularly in the first half, it is necessary in my mind so we all know what we are watching.

It was a match spoilt by the sending-off and it would seem there were at least two other Premier League matches that had teams reduced to 10 players that weekend and so most likely those matches were also spoilt as a result.

I can understand the referee as a result of a tackle deeming it to be a foul and then giving the appropriate free kick but I would be of the opinion they should be without cards in most cases, and although cards I thought were brought in to the referees’ control so they were able to make it clear to the spectators that they had cautioned the player, that has now gone and cards are used poorly by referees and now it has got out of control and to my mind cards should no longer be used; perhaps then the referee will get a better grip on what a foul tackle is and when a player should be sent off.

Of course my problem is I was brought up on the 1950’s football and I could not imagine the likes of Dave Ewing or Roy Little lasting 5 minutes under the kind of refereeing we see today and thus then the danger of the match being stopped as too many had been sent off!

Another thing that has gone by the “best used date” is numbers on players’ jerseys etc.; or should that now be shirts, although I have heard them called “Guernseys”? In rugby I know where a player with number 1 or 10 is playing but in football the numbers do not mean a thing: a long time ago I knew number 5 was a central defender! Now it is meaningless!

Oh yes, I consider City were lucky with the result of the West Brom match and perhaps they were in need of some luck.

Then, after starting this email and typing in the last sentence I get to watch the Ajax match; I am seriously beginning to think Ernie Barrow’s “In Mancini I trust” slogan should be dropped completely (I have noted Ernie’s recent comments on this) I am seriously think more like “In Mancini I do not trust” simply because the defence is falling apart and the attack has no clue as to how to score.

I noticed last season that many goals City scored were on the break and again in this Ajax match and the Baggies match, goals came from City breaking forward faster than the their opponents’ defence could get back. In other words, where is the creativity in attack? Richards and Zabaleta seemingly have more chances than the supposedly brilliant forwards!

And now to the Swansea match and it would seem a carry on from the Ajax match with no ideas at all! City managed a win but I am left wondering how that happened!

Trevor Bevan <mate.bevan(at)>


The aftermath of the Ajax defeat has not been a happy time for Blues, and there is plenty of talk in the stands and bars about formations and harsh words spoken by Roberto Mancini. There is also talk that with Txiki Begiristain joining City as Director of Football (a role he held with Barcelona) this week, and with ex-Barça chief Ferran Soriano already being Chief Executive, Pep Guardiola could join City as manager sooner than we think (he is taking a sabbatical like Mancini did before coming here). I like and admire Guardiola, love the football that his Barcelona team played. His tactics of a pressing game and of giving the players six seconds to get the ball back is inspired. It is, however, more than a little premature to suggest that he is on his way here, one would think, even if Guardiola is an excellent coach. Roberto Mancini is a legend here and most of us are very grateful that he was won us the FA Cup and the Title, but that does not make him infallible, or above criticism.

His public criticism of players this season has left a bad taste in the mouth.

Micah Richards naively stressed in a TV interview that the squad are not used to playing three or five at the back. Maybe he shouldn’t have been so open about tactics? Roberto Mancini responded by saying that whilst Micah had been asked a question and that he had not had much chance to practice it due to injury, but he also gave the barbed response:

“With this system we have got a result every time. Maybe Micah doesn’t know this because he has been out for two and a half months. If you are a top player, it is not important what system you use. If you don’t understand that, then you are not a top player and cannot play for a top club.”

Roberto is wrong on a couple of counts. Firstly, Micah is a top player, as are the rest of the defence. They are Champions after all. They struggle with a three at the back system that they have not had time to practise enough (Roberto’s responsibility), and in any case, there are doubts that it suits their strengths.

Roberto also had a dig at Joleon Lescott, sarcastically saying it was his fault that he didn’t tell Lescott to jump (for Ajax’s second goal). This follows on from the dig that he had at Joe Hart after the Real Madrid defeat. None of this helps Roberto’s cause. He will only lose respect in the dressing room if he continues to round on players like this. It doesn’t really matter whether the players like the manager or not, but it is important that they respect him.

Without respect, the manager has no credibility. At the moment Mancini has respect, as the players do carry out his orders, but could he have more? Public criticism of the players should stop and should be kept behind closed doors, and yes, maybe some media training for our players wouldn’t go amiss.

Roberto built the meanest defence in the country for the past two seasons, playing with a rock solid back four, so why change it? He is wrong about the back three getting a result every time. Using a back three/five has only served to unsettle our defence. It has brought results all right: losing results at Real Madrid and Ajax, not to mention a lucky point at Anfield. Furthermore, there is too much rotation of players and not enough continuity.

Roberto Mancini rightly is cut a lot of slack by most fans. He has made good use of the players and Sheikh Mansour’s generosity to win the FA Cup and the League Championship. He deserves great credit for that and will always enjoy legendary status at Manchester City. He needs, though, to do much better in Europe, and get past that Group phase and into the knock-out phase. The Sheikh will reasonably expect to see progress in Europe, but this season we have gone backwards in that respect. Roberto will probably get another shot at Europe next season, but if he cannot show that he has the players onside this season (and the owners may expect that he delivers silverware too), he may find he is out of a job. Harsh, but true. Hopefully that will not happen. I’m certainly not alone in wanting Roberto Mancini to win many more Championships and Cups here.

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


Looks like we’re out of this Champions’ League again and could be bottom of the group as well.

While I never want to see City lose, I really rate this competition’s importance as a poor third behind the Premier League and the F.A. Cup. I realise that our owners probably won’t agree, along with many City fans, but I thought it might be worth expressing this minority view. The CL to me is a badly designed and usually a tedious competition, which is really just a mechanism for maintaining the European status quo. The likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United, Bayern Munich and all those other famous names keep raking in the money along with U.E.F.A. and thus shutting out any possibility of other historically famous clubs getting a sniff.

The chances of a resurgence at Villa, Everton or perhaps eventually Forest will be made even more remote as long as the CL continues in this format and even more so as the new financial restrictions start to bite. Unless a club has a rich owner like City, the money from the CL keeps those big clubs in their positions in their domestic leagues as well and so distorts nearly all of the European Leagues. I’ll still go along to the matches of course because I’ve supported City through thick, a lot of thin and through a kaleidoscope of club mismanagement over the years but this competition is to me a distraction from the main event and a risk for players to sustain injuries.

So here’s hoping we end up bottom then I won’t have to go to any of those dreadful Europa League matches either, where at least Mancini and I agree that it’s scarcely worth putting out a decent team.

In Mancini I trust and b*ll*cks to the Chimps league.

Peter Llewellyn <PeterJL(at)>


It was very sad to see some footballers talking about forming a Black Footballers’ Association last week. The existing Professional Footballers’ Association already represents all players equally, regardless of creed, nationality or colour, and does a very good job. Many players have benefited from the PFA’s initiatives in education, with pensions, and with racism.

Creating a new players’ union based on race will only create division at a time when we need unity more than ever in the fight against racism. What’s next: an association of Brummie footballers? Or how about an association for footballers who don’t like fish fingers?

Football needs unity in the face of racism, not organisations, which by their very definition, alienate those who are not in that ethnic group or religious group etc. Surely one voice representing all footballers rather than two is more effective in the fight against racism? The PFA has always fought against racism, but like Kick It Out, it has no power to punish racists. The power, as stated before lies with FIFA, UEFA and national Football Associations. Footballers are misguided if they are attacking the PFA on this issue.

The PFA has appointed players from ethnic minorities for many years and they have got to the very top of the organisation. Brendan Batson and current Chairman, Clarke Carlisle have worked tirelessly for the PFA.

I find it very strange that Rio Ferdinand should pronounce on racism like he has been doing. Wasn’t it he who refereed to Ashley Cole as a “choc ice”? A racist comment if ever there was one.

To encourage footballers away from the PFA is an insult to all footballers, especially people like Batson and Carlisle. Now more than ever, footballers should be standing together rather than dividing.

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


Now, if you are like me, our recent success has provoked the irksome comment of ‘we don’t have any history’. I calm myself with the recognition of just how ignorant those making such comments are and how banal a night out with such people would be.

If you are like Gary James, however, you set about writing the most astonishing account of the club it’s ever been my pleasure to read.

Gary has produced a quite wonderful book with a level of research that I have simply not seen in any football club history for any other club.

He has found new information on the origins of the club which, for history buffs like myself, is just fascinating. He then goes on to detail our season-by-season development, with all the ups and downs that has entitled.

New insights are to be found in how the book is brought to life with pertinent quotes of those involved through to the context he puts key events both on and off the field.

The 605 pages of this incredible book can either be read cover to cover (of which I’m guilty) or can be picked up and have seasons cherry-picked from it. It works either way and Christmas is not going to be Christmas unless you have a copy.

Congratulations Gary, this is a landmark book for the club, for yourself and, in its wider context, for the recording of football history.

I encourage our new arrivals from Barcelona to read a copy!

Phil Alcock <philipalcock(at)>


28 October 2012

Everton               2 - 2  Liverpool             39,613
Newcastle United      2 - 1  West Bromwich Albion  49,731
Southampton           1 - 2  Tottenham Hotspur     31,944
Chelsea               2 - 3  Manchester United     41,644

27 October 2012

Aston Villa           1 - 1  Norwich City          33,184
Arsenal               1 - 0  Queens Park Rangers   60,103
Reading               3 - 3  Fulham                24,093
Stoke City            0 - 0  Sunderland            27,005
Wigan Athletic        2 - 1  West Ham United       19,090
Manchester City       1 - 0  Swansea City          46,801

League table as at 31 October 2012

                    P  GD Pts
 1 Chelsea          9  12  22
 2 Manchester Utd   9  11  21
 3 Manchester City  9   9  21
 4 Tottenham H.     9   4  17
 5 Everton          9   6  16
 6 Arsenal          9   8  15
 7 Fulham           9   5  14
 8 West Brom A.     9   2  14
 9 West Ham Utd     9   2  14
10 Newcastle Utd    9  -2  13
11 Swansea City     9   1  11
12 Liverpool        9  -2  10
13 Stoke City       9  -1   9
14 Sunderland       8  -2   9
15 Wigan Athletic   9  -6   8
16 Norwich City     9 -11   7
17 Aston Villa      9  -7   6
18 Reading          8  -6   4
19 Southampton      9 -12   4
20 QPR              9 -11   3

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1861