Newsletter #1869

One felt it was a big win on Wednesday. Not a great performance by any means, but the reaction of the players at the end and the ovation they gave the crowd suggested it was ‘more’ than 3 points.

Let’s hope so. The end of the season will tell us.

On a slightly concerning note was the performance of Javi Garcia. One view is he is just taking time to recover from injuries and adjusting to the pace of the Premier League. The other view is rather alarming! Either way, he needs to get up to speed sharpish, it’s too an important position for us to be carrying someone.

Our hoodoo side this weekend, with the Toffeemen arriving. Hopefully they will not use their usual tactics of trying to induce us into a coma and then hitting us on the counter attack in the 89th minute. Thank heaven they sold Cahill!

Enjoy it one and all.

Next Game: Everton, Etihad Stadium, 1 December 2012, 15.00


Mario Balotelli scored his first goal of the season to set City on the way to an important win at Wigan that puts us a point being the leaders and six clear of stuttering Chelsea.

There was a time when Wigan were our bogey team (since they have gained promotion to the Premier League) but now we have won our last six games against them.

Roberto Mancini made three changes: Dzeko, Kolarov and Milner were replaced by Balotelli, Maicon and Garcia. Pablo Zabaleta moved over to left back to accommodate Maicon who was in for Kolarov; Balotelli came in for Dzeko and Garcia occupied Milner’s central midfield rôle. In effect, it was City’s 4-5-1 (or, as an overcomplicating journalist might say, 4-2-3-1) against Wigan’s 3-4-3. Formations, Schmormations!

Chances were at a premium in an even first half as Wigan’s feisty midfield denied City space and forced us into mistakes. Ronnie Stam and ex-United reserve captain Jones were particularly aggressive and sharp in the tackle without being dirty.

Wigan had chances to score, with Aroune Kone being their most dangerous threat. He forced a save from Joe Hart early on after Garcia missed out on a crucial challenge then later in the half headed over from a tight angle after Stam beat two City defenders down our left. Kompany also had to block a Beausejour shot. For City, Agüero fired wide when he cut inside after 20 minutes but it took until the 2nd minute of first half stoppage time before we forced our first shot on target, Yaya Touré showing lovely skills to cut in from the left hand by-line and forcing Al Habsi to make a sharp save at his near post.

City raised the tempo at the start of the second half and more chances started to come. Silva forced a save from Al Habsi and Yaya Touré fired over after the lively Balotelli squared the ball to him. Balotelli should have done better than to head wide when an excellent Maicon cross found him at the far post after more good work from Silva.

But City had to be wary because, given the chance, Wigan are no respecters of reputation – a happy 1-0 win over Stretford last season being a case in point – and have the armoury to score goals. McCarthy’s searching right wing cross and a rare momentary lapse of concentration by Kompany gave Kone a free header ten yards out, but he missed. It was a lucky escape for us. Had he scored it could have been a very different game.

Silva exchanged passes with Agüero before firing over, but City were starting to get pushed back by Wigan’s impressive pressing in midfield. There was a danger that the game might run away from us. The leaden-footed Garcia was repeatedly outpaced and robbed in midfield (plus he had the turning circle of a large Mediterranean cruise ship), and this put our defence under pressure.

Wigan’s threat was real, Beausejour’s cross flashed across the City box and was headed wide by Jordi Gomez.

With the game into its last quarter, Roberto Mancini had to do something to turn the tide, as Wigan snapped into tackles and disrupted our play. On came the popular James Milner to give us more pace and mobility and off went the hapless Garcia, who must be wondering whether English football is for him. Then, a few minutes later, Sergio Agüero was surprisingly replaced by Aleksandar Kolarov. On the face of it a left back on for a striker doesn’t make sense when you’re trying to win a game, but he’s a clever man is our Roberto. The move paid immediate dividends as City’s new 3-6-1 formation totally outnumbered Wigan in midfield and gave our midfield increased flexibility, and more licence to attack. Taking advantage of our numerical supremacy in midfield, David Silva freed Milner down the right, and he squared to Maicon who nutmegged a Wigan defender with his pass to Silva, who turned on the ball and squared to Barry.

Al Habsi spilled Barry’s drive, blocked Balotelli’s shot from the rebound with his chest but was powerless to stop his second shot from hitting the net. Mario gave Carlos Tévez a big hug on the touch line to celebrate. A few other players off the bench joined in. Who doubts our squad’s spirit this season? “Campeones, Campeones…”

Then, four minutes later, in the 73rd minute, City put the game to bed with a beautiful goal to savour. Yaya Touré played a delicious ball out to Maicon on the right, took the return pass and squared to David Silva on his left. Silva found Kolarov on the left wing and his cross found its way back to the Spanish playmaker, who was surrounded by four Wigan defenders in the box. Seeing that his route to goal was blocked, Silva held off a defender, turned and took his time to pass back to Barry, who cleverly squared to Milner who took a touch and drove an unstoppable curving shot into the top right hand corner. It was a much-deserved goal for a very popular player and it capped off a wonderful team move of real intelligence.

As we have seen previously, City are so much better when Silva and Yaya are playing. Yaya Touré and David Silva were stroking the ball round beautifully in midfield, and making use of the whole width of the pitch as they maximised their team mates’ talents.

They exchanged passes again in midfield and Yaya drove down to the bye line, his cross was half cleared and Maicon shot wide. Yaya again shot wide after more interplay with Silva.

The only cloud on the night was a recurrence of James Milner’s hamstring injury that forced him off. The cold night cannot have helped him get his muscles warmed, despite his extensive half time work out. He left the pitch to strains of “There’s only one James Milner”, and his contribution, no matter how brief, was well appreciated by Roberto Mancini and Brian Kidd too. It is good to see this excellent professional getting more chances and we can only hope he is fit soon.

This wasn’t a classic performance by the Champions (sounds great doesn’t it!), but we ended up playing some sumptuous football in the last twenty minutes.

Nastasic is looking like a very good young defender indeed, and we have good depth at centre back. We miss having Nigel de Jong in the squad. It is a long season and whilst Roberto Mancini has reliable midfield lieutenants in Yaya Touré, Gareth Barry and James Milner he could do with more depth. Daniele de Rossi has had problems with his coach at Roma this season, and Mancini is a long term admirer. It would be no surprise to see him here in January.

Hart: Beaten to one ball by Kone when he might have done better. Generally good decision making and handling, including one very good throw down the centre to Silva on the half way line: 7
Maicon: Played some lovely balls, and his defending was generally ok, save for a couple of lapses in concentration: 7
Kompany: Barring one moment when Kone ran free behind him, and one loose pass, this was another solid performance where he made important blocks and headers to nullify Wigan’s threat: 7
Zabaleta: The best right back in the Premier League made a seamless transition to left back. A quality player, he moved without disruption to right sided centre back and then later to central midfield. Legend: 7
Nastasic: Foot perfect. This was an immaculate performance. He consistently got in front of his man, was sharp in the tackle and dominant in the air. His highlight was him preventing Kone from getting a clean header in late on. Beautifully read, and very professional: 9 (Man of the Match)
Garcia: Very poor indeed. He was repeatedly caught in possession, easily outpaced, and his passing was poor. He was also very weak in the tackle and was knocked off the ball easily. He didn’t do himself any favours either when he harrumphed in frustration when one of his team mates didn’t read his through ball. In mitigation he is adjusting to the pace and quality of English football, as well as settling into a new club in a new country for him, but the improvement does not look like it is coming and the growing suspicion is that he is not good enough: 3
Barry: Gave a strong performance in midfield, though he too was caught in possession, but only once. He worked very hard in midfield, won tackles, made blocks, passed the ball simply, and teed up Milner’s goal: 8
Silva: Playing at his delightful best. Little passes followed by darting movements into space typified his game. 8
Yaya: Showed some lovely touches, and great running power: 8
Agüero: Some clever interplay: 7
Balotelli: Worked hard all night and his persistence paid off to give us the lead: 7
Kolarov (for Agüero 68): 6
Milner (for Garcia 60): Gave our midfield bite and much more mobility. What a great strike that was. 8
Kolo Touré (for Milner 81): Too late to mark

Best Oppo: McCarthy: Decent ball player: 8

Refwatch: Halsey: It is great to see him refereeing after his and his wife’s serious illness. You sometimes get the impression, rightly or wrongly, that he is trying to compensate for playing those valid minutes of injury time at Wembley in ’99! Not so on this occasion, which was a decent enough, uncontroversial evening for him. All the very best wishes to Mr and Mrs Halsey: 7

As much as I’d have loved to have got to this match, it was not possible (away games are a rare thing for us at the moment) and I watched this match on TV. I never thought I’d say this but Niall Quinn is getting to be a very annoying summariser and pundit. It’s as if he’s over-compensating for having been a City player and perhaps doesn’t give us the credit we deserve. I hate to say this because I have always admired him.

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


Last night at Wigan, he started off at left back, doing his job at about a “7”.

Approximately on the hour mark, Bobby decided to re-arrange the set up to match Wigan’s, with dramatic and immediate effect.

Part of that was to position Zaba on the RHS of City’s defence. As RB when City went forward and Maicon overlapped, and between Maicon and VK as part of a back 5/3 centre backs when Wigan attacked. Again, getting a “7”.

Then, when Milner got injured, Zaba replaced James in midfield with Kolo taking over the defensive duties.

There he gets an “8” in my estimation. At one stage he took on a lung bursting 40 yard run, after starting a City counter-attack. Unfortunately, Silva couldn’t thread the required return to him to complete the move. The vision he displayed, the energy at such a late stage, was breathtaking (MOTD omitted the move).

I went to bed racking my brain to think of another City player, down the years, who could have been utilised so effectively, in three different positions in one match.

I gave up and then tried to think of anyone who has played the game who could match Zaba’s versatility/effectiveness and again drew a blank.

He is unique and at 27 we’ll get another 4 seasons from him.

Is he arguably the most effective player that has ever played for City? Please start the debate.

In my own little way I’ve decided Zaba needs more recognition, so here’s a little ditty for the City fans to sing about him.

To the French playground song “Alouetta”.

“Zabaleta, Pablo Zabaleta.
Zabaleta, he’s the one for me.
Any job we need to do,
Zabaleta’s right on cue.

(ED – For starters on this debate I’ll throw out the name of Ian Brightwell)

Pat Knowles <patricknowles(at)>


Picking up one or two points from the last issue, with regards Phil Lines’ entertaining piece about Bacon Face’s statue by the Swamp, I promise not to go down to the stadium with a pot of red or purple paint to add any extra authenticity to his conk. I can only concur that such an act would, of course, be “appalling”, though not as appalling as that monstrosity of meccano and naff red neon that constitutes Owed Trafford. Ugh… the stench…

Anyway, as discussed in the last issue, there was a time when United had a manager who was a thoroughly decent human being and I have to agree with the editor about the late and much missed Dave Sexton, whom I liked and respected too. He was far too decent to be United’s manager!

Dave Sexton won the FA Cup as manager of Chelsea in 1970 in one of the most (in)famous Cup Finals of all time (versus Leeds – a real kickfest I’m told, I was only 4), and this weekend it is the draw of the FA Cup 3rd Round. Ok, it’s not been on Monday at 12:30 for years, but like many I’ll be tuned into a radio somewhere. There has been some debate as to who we would like, and all sorts of theories about cold balls and warm balls, which may have some credence. I’d like to think not. Hopefully we will not get a “big” team, and ideally someone from a lower division.

Personally I’d like to draw Leicester City again because we always seem to beat them in this competition and it’s not too far to travel. If it’s away it’s fine as we’ll get loads of tickets behind the goal at the King Power Stadium/Crisp Bowl/Walkers (whichever you want to call it), and if it’s home I’ll treat my mum to her first City game! She may not see it as a “treat”, but she would get an inkling of what I have been watching for the last 32 years. Failing us getting a decent home draw, Derby has a great atmosphere, and they have great, passionate fans, so that would be nice. I haven’t been inside Donny Rovers’ new ground (went to their old Belle Vue for that interminable game in the League Cup that ended in defeat), so that would be a good’un too.

May I say good luck to AFC Wimbledon who travel to Milton Keynes for the first time. I say travel, but many of their fans are boycotting the fixture. The chairman of MK Dons has been on the charm offensive this week, but it doesn’t wash. The owners of FC Franchise, or MK Thieves as they are known in our house, moved the old Wimbledon FC 62 miles up to Milton Keynes in 2003 and “rebranded” them a year later as MK Dons. All the history, dreams and aspirations of Wimbledon fans were taken away from South London, with FA and Football league backing. A shameful episode in the history of the game. So if we draw Wimbledon home or away in the next round I’d be delighted even if I haven’t got enough points to get a ticket at Kingsmeadow! I know I’m pushing against an open door when I say “Come on Wimbledon! Stuff ’em.”

We of course have our own battle with the visit of Everton. Barring Arsenal is there a team that gives us more trouble than Everton in a head-to-head situation over recent years? They will compete very hard in midfield and have a real threat in the form of Fellaini, and a lot of very decent underrated players like Osman, Jagielka and our ex-captain Sylvain Distin, who will probably have shaved off his Movember moustache by kick off time. Remember guys, if you have a concern, and/or are 50 or over, get checked out for prostate cancer. I’ve had a go at a Movember ‘tache myself and I initially tried to go for a Paul Power (one of my first City heroes), but that would take at least another month to grow, so I look more like a dodgy Mexican or someone out of Village People. Anyway, I digress…

I hope Distin gets a good reception for once, because the likes of him, Dunney, SWP, and David James kept us in the top flight. So what if he eventually left for more money at Portsmouth at the end of his contract? He never swore undying allegiance to City. He served us very well. Also serving Everton well is Leighton Baines who is probably out of the game, and Jelavic has been off form recently but he is a real handful, and cannot be taken lightly.

I hope we start quickly and match them for tempo, because we have the better players. We may have to be patient like last year’s home game. Hopefully our quality will shine through and we will take another three points.

Come on City! Win, or as Roberto might put it, Vincere!

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


I am in New Orleans for on the 8th December; can anyone suggest somewhere I might be able to see the match with a few City fans around?

Thanks in advance.

Alan Bentley <abentley(at)>


I will soon be relocating to Hanoi, Vietnam and was wondering if anyone knows of a Blue friendly pub or sports bar in Hanoi.

George Koumendakos <georgekoumendakos(at)>


Great to see Kolo Touré’s shy about being a Premier League footballer ( – he’s been too busy selling cars in Africa!

Got to be one of the best stories ever. (ED – Allegedly!)

To honour the great man I think the current favourite chant can be tweaked next time he puts on his strip and not his Motty style sheepskin!

To the 2 Unlimited theme:

Kolo, Kolo, Kolo, Kolo, Kolo – Kolo CAR SALESMAN!


CTID, Danny Mudd <danny_mudd(at)>


28 November 2012

Chelsea               0 - 0  Fulham                41,707
Everton               1 - 1  Arsenal               37,141
Southampton           1 - 1  Norwich City          29,325
Stoke City            2 - 1  Newcastle United      26,793
Swansea City          3 - 1  West Bromwich Albion  20,377
Tottenham Hotspur     2 - 1  Liverpool             36,162
Manchester United     1 - 0  West Ham United       75,572
Wigan Athletic        0 - 2  Manchester City       19,623

27 November 2012

Sunderland            0 - 0  Queens Park Rangers   36,513
Aston Villa           1 - 0  Reading               28,692

League table as at 30 November 2012

                    P  GD Pts
 1 Manchester Utd  14  15  33
 2 Manchester City 14  17  32
 3 Chelsea         14  11  26
 4 West Brom A.    14   6  25
 5 Tottenham H.    14   2  23
 6 Everton         14   6  22
 7 Arsenal         14  10  21
 8 Swansea City    14   5  20
 9 Stoke City      14   1  19
10 West Ham Utd    14   0  19
11 Fulham          14   2  17
12 Liverpool       14   0  16
13 Norwich City    14  -9  16
14 Newcastle Utd   14  -7  14
15 Wigan Athletic  14 -10  14
16 Sunderland      13  -4  13
17 Aston Villa     14 -11  13
18 Southampton     14 -10  12
19 Reading         13  -7   9
20 QPR             14 -16   5

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1869