Newsletter #1867

I’m sure we’d all agree Sunday’s game is going to be a key moment in our season. After the disappointment of the Champions’ League, getting back on the front foot will mean we can quickly move on and focus on the rest of the season.

Lose and it brings Chelsea right back into the frame and gives Rafa the best start possible.

All to play for then though possibly without young Vinnie K who is struggling to be fit.

Enjoy the game wherever you watch it.

Footnote: This edition was pulled together before Saturday’s games, the weather brough Internet connection down however so apologies for the delay.

Next Game: Chelsea, Stamford Bridge, 25 November 2012, 16.00


City gained a very creditable draw against Real Madrid in this Champions’ League tie, but we are now free to concentrate on the League and FA Cup after a very disappointing European campaign overall.

We could have been three down very quickly, and it took some desperate defending and Joe Hart to be at his brilliant best to keep the score down to just one. It was our failure again to start at a high enough tempo that cost us. We paid the price for standing off Real Madrid and paying them too much respect. The controversial 3-5-2 formation (Zabaleta, Kompany and Nastasic being the back three), and our poor application of it, was also a key factor in us falling behind, with Benzema running from behind the ball watching Maicon and volleying in Di Maria’s cross at the far post. The players may not like 3-5-2 and it may leave us vulnerable on the flanks, but this goal was the result of poor marking more than anything else.

For 25 minutes City were totally outclassed by the visitors as City gave Real Madrid far too much time on the ball. The formation didn’t help (it creates uncertainty in our players’ minds) and we struggled to deal with Real’s quick passing moves. Real were light years ahead of us in this period: their football had great fluidity and their attacks were incisive. In contrast our passing was laboured and our movement inadequate.

If only the players had given Real the hostile reception that Cristiano Ronaldo received: his every touch was booed in this game, and rightly so. Inevitably, though, Ronaldo was at the centre of Real Madrid’s best work, and he exploited the uncertainty of our players in the three-at-the-back formation, running from a nominal starting position on the left. Khedira scuffed Ronaldo’s cross wide; another Ronaldo cross was headed wide by the impressive Benzema. Then the Portuguese playmaker’s goal-bound lob forced Nastasic to make a goal line clearance. The clearance fell to Ronaldo but Hart miraculously saved it. Real Madrid were giving us a thorough working over.

Mercifully Roberto Mancini ditched the 3-5-2 after 25 minutes, with Zabaleta moving to left back and Maicon becoming a more orthodox right back. Then we created our first chance, with Silva’s long range dipping drive being tipped over by Casillas. We were still vulnerable at the back, and clever Real interplay sliced open our defence again, Hart somehow thwarting Khedira who was one-on-one with the City goalkeeper and seemingly favourite to score. What a brilliant goalkeeper Joe Hart is.

With our players far more comfortable with 4-4-2, we started to get into the game and play at a faster tempo. Maicon cut inside from the right and exchanged passes with Sergio Agüero before shooting wide.

City were winning tackles and enjoying a lot more of the ball: a pattern that continued for the rest of the game as Real Madrid were forced more and more onto the back foot. David Silva took centre stage after the break with his elusive, mazy running and range of highly intelligent passes. His judgement was impeccable. He knew just when to pass and when to run and was a pure joy to watch. Alonso was booked for a crude foul on Silva, but he was not deterred, showing great trickery in a run before releasing Agüero who forced a save from Casillas. Another glorious bit of prompting by Silva set in train a lovely move involving Nasri, Agüero and Dzeko, which resulted in the Bosnian testing Casillas’s handling.

Behind Silva was Yaya Touré, holding midfield together superbly with his strength and skill. Rarely does this equally brilliant footballer waste a pass, and his best was near the end: a lovely dipping pass that landed right on Maicon’s right boot.

City had to beware of real Madrid’s danger on the break. Kompany, Nastasic and Zabaleta showed their tenacity and excellent reading of the game to repel all invaders, in particular Ronaldo.

Real Madrid’s players dived and wasted a lot of time for a so-called top team.

Ronaldo naturally was the worst diving cheat, and got the stick that he deserved, with every touch meeting boos, and later on there were chants of “You’re just a sh** Lionel Messi” and “He’s gonna dive in a minute”. There is no worse diver in football and there probably hasn’t been a worse exponent of it in the history of football. But he was by no means the only one. They were all at it. Any excuse to dive or waste time was taken. It was not the behaviour of a so-called top team. If they were so good then they would have out-played us like Dortmund did. The fact is that Dortmund are a superior team to Real Madrid and have deservedly won the group.

But Real’s football is an extension of their manager’s character. He has been very successful, but his brand of football is not known for its beauty (unlike, say, like Pep Guardiola), and he doesn’t court popularity with his behaviour to say the least!

Many City fans at this game made clear their/our (depending on your take) feelings with a “**** off Mourinho” and a rousing chant of “Mancini wooah…”

Despite all Mourinho’s success, I cannot imagine this arrogant, obnoxious loud-mouth (his critics are less kind!) ever being in charge of our club. His lack of dignity and class would not go down well in Abu Dhabi, nor would eye gouging. He just doesn’t fit the character of our club, and whilst Roberto can be abrasive on occasion, he is respectful. Mourinho has a poor track record in that respect. Something that will not be lost on the owners. Furthermore, for all his success, the ways his teams play would not go down well here. Diving, cheating or dull, win-at-all-costs football is highly unlikely to find favour here. Where’s the romance in that?

We weren’t helped I this game by a partial referring performance. It is well known in Spain that Real Madrid are used to having preferential treatment; well they got plenty here. Nasri was booked for a fair challenge on Modric. Zabaleta got the ball when challenging his turf hugging countryman Di Maria, to the side with a good tackle, and showed his irritation to the Argentine winger. Granted Zabaleta was coming from behind but his impact with the ball was diagonally on Di Maria’s right hand side, so a booking was not warranted.

One of the worst bits of refereeing was when Khedira was flattened by a Silva free kick; the referee allowed play to go on as Real Madrid played on and attacked, but when the ball was won back by City and we launched an attack of our own, the referee stopped play.

Mancini went for broke. On came Tévez for the fading Nasri and we fielded three strikers to crank up the pressure on Real Madrid.

City almost equalised when a lovely Maicon cross was turned goal-wards by Agüero, but it hit Casillas in the ribs and the ball was scrambled clear. It was only a temporary reprieve for the visitors, as, with 16 minutes to go, Agüero chased a ball into the box and was pushed over by Arbeloa in the inside left position. The referee didn’t hesitate to point to the spot and issued a second yellow and red card to the ex-Liverpool full back. Agüero duly despatched the penalty and it was game on.

City probed for the winner, whilst being ever mindful of Real’s threat. Zabaleta tenaciously won the ball and fed Tévez who combined with Dzeko before forcing a low save by Casillas.

Yaya found Maicon with an inch perfect lobbed pass, but his searching cross was cut out. Real wasted time with some very slow substitutions (as well as rolling around for as long as they could as if they had been shot), then Yaya fired well over (two points to Wigan!) from Maicon’s cut back after good work by Tévez. Silva tried an impudent chipped pass into Tévez’s path but he couldn’t quite reach it, and that was it. It had been a good second half for City and we can come out of the game with our heads held high. However, this has been another disappointing Champions’ League campaign that has been blighted by poor performances and results in other games.

The biggest cloud in this game, though, was Vincent Kompany’s injury, which he sustained in going for a ball with Ronaldo. He seemed to wrench his knee and might have got his studs caught in the turf. It was an accident and there was no foul but Vincent fell clutching his knee and hobbled to the touch line. Surprisingly he carried on until the end, and he left The Etihad on crutches, which may have been precautionary. Hopefully the injury is not serious.

I’m not alone in wishing that 3-5-2 were ditched, unless we are attacking and need a goal late in the game. It is formation that leaves gaps down the flanks.

Whilst Roberto Mancini will probably play with a back four in most games, I doubt that Roberto Mancini is going to drop the 3-5-2 formation per se. He will stubbornly persist in working with it in training, and we will see it in some games.

We seem to play different tactics when we go into Europe. Surely we are better playing our natural quick passing and the formation we are comfortable with? Had we pressed Real Madrid like we did after the first half hour we might have won this game and others in the Chimps League: Ajax away springs to mind. We should adopt a pressing game to earn our right to play like we did here. Dortmund were supreme exponents of this.

For Manchester City’s sake and indeed Roberto Mancini’s sake, I hope he ditches 3-5-2 and just lets the players get on with playing their natural game. When we draw Barcelona, Bayern and Paris St Germain next season, it would be good to see City playing OUR football, rather than tying one arm behind our backs with unfamiliar tactics and formation. Mancini’s critics say he cannot deliver in Europe, and his track record of two group stage eliminations at City, and his best performance of reaching a quarter final at Inter, suggest that they may have a case.

The fact is, though, that we are still new to the Champions’ League and Roberto deserves at least another crack at it. If Roberto is given another chance, he must learn from his mistakes. He has earned the right to another chance, having delivered the FA Cup and the League Championship here, after 35 years without silverware. Whether the owners will see it that way is another matter, and the end of this season, whether we have won the title or not, will be very interesting.

0-1 Benzema (9)
1-1 Agüero (pen) (74)

Hart: His performance in the first half was game-changing: 8 (joint man of the match)
Maicon: Let his man go for the goal, but performed better in the second half, particularly when he was attacking: 6
Zabaleta: Maybe he should have been in position to cover for Maicon to prevent Real Madrid’s goal, but his performance at left back was excellent: 7
Kompany: This was his best performance of the season so far. Running into the form that he showed, brilliantly last season. Hope his injury is not serious, and that he is back as soon as possible: 7
Nastasic: A very solid performance. Read the game well and made an important goal line clearance. He and Kompany are looking like a partnership: 7
Kolarov: Save for one excellent tackle, he didn’t really get into this game, and was subbed at half time: 5
Silva: Back to his best. He ran the game in the second half and was the best player on both sides in that period: 8 (Joint MoM)
Yaya Touré: A very good, controlled performance in central midfield, showing awesome strength and a good range of passes: 7
Nasri: Worked hard but faded before being withdrawn: 6
Dzeko: Struggled to get into the game, and whilst his contribution improved after the break, it paled when compared with Benzema’s: 6
Agüero: Came alive once City had more of the ball and from then on, he was always a threat to Real Madrid’s back line. Finished the penalty coolly: 7
Tévez (for Nasri 60): His introduction helped up the ante. Caused problems for Real Madrid with his tenacity and quick thinking: 7
Garcia (for Kolarov h-t): A good, steady half, which suggests that he is settling in: 6
Milner (for Agüero 88): too late to mark

Best oppo: Ronaldo: Hate to say it, but he was the tormentor in chief. Unlike Lionel Messi, though, he will never be universally adored because of his disgraceful diving and petulance: 8

Refwatch: It wasn’t a dirty game but he was very card happy, yet he failed to book a single Real Madrid player for diving. Putting it kindly, the Establishment moves in strange ways: 1

Attendance: 45,740


Are we to loyal to our heroes? Maybe we are, but I’d rather be like that than Roman Abramovich. Roberto Mancini has brought us many happy days so we are bound to cut him a lot of slack. I’d love to see him put right what has gone wrong in Europe this season and qualify out of the group next year. The League is the most important thing and like many Blues, I am more than happy to wait, if “wait” is the right word, for European success.

Abramovich’s supporters can say Chelsea have won ten trophies in nine and a half years, but in that time he has sacked 7 managers, including Mourinho, as well as Chelsea legends Ray Wilkins and Roberto Di Matteo. Where is Chelsea’s soul? With their fans only, it would seem. I have to say that I have always admired Roberto Di Matteo as a player, manager and as a man. He has managed a transitional period at Chelsea very well, and brought a European Cup and FA Cup that AVB (Aliens Versus Bredator) would never have won. Di Matteo is a gentleman and I don’t doubt that he will get another job soon.

Top clubs in England and indeed in Europe may wish to hire his services and there is another club in West London that could do with a good manager! Unfortunately, it’ll probably be b****y ‘Arry who’ll get the QPR gig now that Leslie has finally been sacked. I wonder what club will match his ambition now (after all, Fulham weren’t good enough for him)? Anyway, I digress.

Hopefully we can maintain our title challenge with a win at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. Rafa Benitez is very good at organizing teams but we need to play our game. Vinny should only play if 100% fit. All that twisting and turning against anyone, let alone Chelsea’s quick, tricky forwards could do worse damage.

Come on City!

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


I read with a little hilarity the comment on heckling… why does everyone think booing a team is so bad?

After all, the supporters have paid good money to watch a match, and there are a hell of a lot of “very, very overpaid” players in our squad, and some clearly do not pull their weight (e.g. Balotelli). The first half against Swansea was probably the worst 45 minutes that I have witnessed, and if truth be told, I would have led the chorus of boos if I had been in the ground… you should have heard the comments hurled at my TV! Remember we are the Champions and this malaise had been going on for the previous 4 or 5 matches (Champions’ League included).

Think about it, if you were playing a pub football match and you put in a woeful 45 minutes first half, would a few boos at half time (assuming anyone was watching!) not jolt you out of your mediocrity? I would hope it would!

There are times when the team need to know that the fans are not happy with their performance on the pitch, hence the boos. Ideally, none of us want to boo our own fans… but at times this is a necessity! We expect a reaction, and more often than not this does the trick. At a boxing match, why do punters boo? It’s usually when 2 boxers just go through the motions, just prancing around the ring: the same applies to football.

It has been pleasing to see City slowly (too slowly for my liking) get back to some of last season’s form, and it is very apparent that David Silva is the catalyst and integral player in our team. Agüero had been way below his best, and there was a general malaise on the pitch; we were keeping possession all right but playing so slowly, which allowed the opposition to get back in numbers. Mancini was also to blame for our very slow start, with all his changes – especially in defence, and as I have stated in the past, our new purchases are “quantity over quality”. I remember one match, when Javi Garcia came on, and nearly every one of his passes was to the opposition: did no one watch him before we decided to buy him?? It does question what input Marwood had on these transfers (and why Mancini agreed to go ahead with them?)… and perhaps explains why he was moved out of that rôle.

We are currently sitting top of the League but there is a long way to go and every team will be snapping at our heels. Just look at how West Ham got a draw against us, virtually playing 11 men behind the ball in the second half. We really need a couple of dynamic game-changers if we are to retain our title, and the Europa League does us no favours at all. Realistically we only have 2 targets now, the League and the FA Cup.

When is Mancini going to give Sinclair a run, or has he been purchased just to warm the bench? What an absolute waste! I have been reading with interest that we are monitoring Isco from Malaga (voted best newcomer in La Liga last season), a creative midfielder, exactly what we need. We have quality forwards, we now need to have players in midfield to deliver the ammunition to them. I am really hoping that we offload Balotelli in January… one of the worst buys in recent times (not as bad as Jo though!). If at all possible, I would love to have either Falcao or Suarez (what a player – in the same mould as Tévez, but with more skill). Has Balotelli ever produced a performance like him? Never! How was he nominated in the Ballon d’or?

I am hoping the new guys from Barcelona will scour and purchase the best talent around, to take us to the next level.

Just seen that RDM has been sacked at Chelsea: shame and unjust, but I could not care less. I just want City to be the best, and I would really love it if we beat Chelsea on Sunday. We never ever have an easy match against them, plus they have a hell of a lot of quality in their team.

Come on City!

Glyn Albuquerque <GlynAlbuquerque(at)>


In response to Chris Ryder (MCIVTA 1866), the phenomenon he has noticed seems to apply to nearly all games both home and away. When teams run out, the away side warm up in front of their own fans. I would imagine that if the away captain wins the toss he elects to attack the travelling fans in the second half. Either that or neither skipper could care less and, as Chris suggests, they just decide to stay put out of convenience.

Swansea seem to be the only team to have attacked their fans in the first half at The Etihad for ages so I can only assume they won the toss and had a specific reason for choosing to change ends (apparently the same thing happened at Anfield a few days later when they played there in the League Cup).

Having reflected on City’s away games to date this season, I think I am right in saying that the Blues played towards our fans in the second half at Stoke, Fulham, West Brom and West Ham and that the only exception to this unwritten rule was at Anfield.

John Clancy <johnnyclancers(at)>


Who would be a football manager particularly in England? Changes at Crystal Palace, Blackpool and now Chelsea! It is quite a lottery! Someone has to lose and I think we have got used to that as Man City supporters.

Why don’t they throw 90 odd managers’ names in to one barrel and the 90 odd Premier/Football League Club names into another and in June/July period when they have made the fixture programme for the forthcoming season, the Football League and Premier League secretaries draw one name from each barrel and that is it for the season! Just like the FA Cup draw, so we could get some interesting matches from time to time!

Then it all changes for the following season and that would give the managers some security of employment: although they and their families may have to move every twelve months but may be generally that is happening anyway!

City against Real Madrid: well City just did not do enough on the day. Dzeko just did not show enough control and may be that is why he only generally plays as a substitute! Who is Garcia and just what did he contribute to the match? Did City play with only 10 men? Is that why it was a draw? Why were Sinclair and Rodwell signed? Up to now they are not contributing anything in my opinion; although maybe Rodwell is like Boyata because of mistakes and goals scored against City from such mistakes they are now surplus to requirements?

Trevor Bevan <mate.bevan(at)>


I live in Japan but I`m going to be visiting England for the festive period, and I`ll be in Manchester the weekend before Christmas. If anyone has a spare ticket I`d love to get to see the game against Reading on 22nd.

Peter Sidell <rockcityblue(at)>


It’s going to be a bit strange watching City in Dortmund and hoping we don’t win. But if that’s what it takes to avoid the Europa Cup then so be it.

On a brighter note go to the BBC website link below if you’d like to vote for Yaya Touré for African footballer of the year.

Dave Kilroy <dave.kilroy(at)>


19 November 2012

West Ham United       1 - 1  Stoke City            35,005

18 November 2012

Fulham                1 - 3  Sunderland            25,646

17 November 2012

Arsenal               5 - 2  Tottenham Hotspur     60,111
Liverpool             3 - 0  Wigan Athletic        44,913
Manchester City       5 - 0  Aston Villa           47,072
Newcastle United      1 - 2  Swansea City          49,403
Queens Park Rangers   1 - 3  Southampton           18,174
Reading               2 - 1  Everton               24,184
West Bromwich Albion  2 - 1  Chelsea               25,933
Norwich City          1 - 0  Manchester United     26,840

League table as at 23 November 2012

                    P  GD Pts
 1 Manchester City 12  15  28
 2 Manchester Utd  12  12  27
 3 Chelsea         12  11  24
 4 West Brom A.    12   6  23
 5 Everton         12   6  20
 6 Arsenal         12  10  19
 7 West Ham Utd    12   3  19
 8 Tottenham H.    12  -1  17
 9 Fulham          12   3  16
10 Swansea City    12   2  16
11 Liverpool       12   1  15
12 Newcastle Utd   12  -4  14
13 Norwich City    12  -9  14
14 Stoke City      12  -1  13
15 Sunderland      11  -2  12
16 Wigan Athletic  12  -9  11
17 Reading         11  -5   9
18 Aston Villa     12 -12   9
19 Southampton     12 -12   8
20 QPR             12 -14   4

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1867