Newsletter #1873

Well Newcastle was rather a pick-me-up tonic wasn’t it? Some lovely football played and, perhaps more importantly, to a man showing the right attitude. Well done chaps, now let’s hope this is the start of a sustained period of better play.

Some interesting debate today combining post-derby hangovers with Newcastle providing the hair of the dog. Andy Longshaw puts out an interesting point around press coverage and the And Finally belongs to Mr G James.

Happy reading and hope your Xmas shopping is going well.

Next Game: Reading, Etihad Stadium, 22 December 2012, 15.00

MATCHVIEW: Newcastle United 1 Manchester City 3

City’s supreme quality and strength of character saw a swift return to winning ways after last week’s sickening derby defeat. It was very encouraging that we have picked up the pace again, but there should be no doubting this side’s character.

Yet City had to weather an early Geordie storm as Newcastle started much the quicker and we allowed the Magpies far too much room. It took Joe Hart’s brilliance to thwart Papiss Cisse’s snap shot from giving the Geordies an early lead. This was a perfect illustration of why City should be starting games quicker, pressing opponents further up the pitch and pushing out quickly as Newcastle were allowed too much room to cross the ball on for this chance.

Having seen off the home side’s early pressure, we started to play and our goal in the 10th minute was a perfect example of this City team at its very best.

Yaya Touré showed great vision to thread a pass from central midfield to find Nasri in the inside right position and clear with only Krul to beat. Nasri unselfishly and coolly squared the ball to Agüero who swept the ball into the empty net. It was truly sublime, glorious football.

Indeed, once City had got going, the game swung in our favour. City pushed for more goals, denying Newcastle space to play in, pressing far up the pitch.

City played fabulous, intricate football in tight spaces, which mesmerised the Newcastle defence. Captain for the day Yaya Touré, Silva, Tévez, Nasri, Agüero and Zabaleta really turned on the style, cutting the Newcastle defence to ribbons with a series of angled passes and neat touches. Tévez forced Krul to save smartly with his legs, and spurned another good chance, then Nasri hit the post from a tight angle after highly intelligent skill from Silva.

Newcastle had no answer to our quick, eye of the needle passing football where movement and precision is the key. No legal answer that is, and Newcastle’s otherwise impressive captain Fabricio Coloccini resorted to a body check to flatten his fellow Argentine Carlos Tévez, which earned him a booking.

Newcastle forced a double save from Joe Hart, who demonstrated his immense professionalism to remain as alert as ever in order to preserve our lead, but this was a rare Newcastle foray amongst wave upon wave of City attacks.

City were irresistible and it was only a matter of time before we scored again.

It came in the 39th minute when Silva’s corner was headed in powerfully by Javi Garcia off the shin of Santon, who was ineffectually standing on the post. It was clear that the players were delighted for the ex-Benfica man, particularly Pablo Zabaleta, who was as ever, the perfect team man and the epitome of everything that is good about Manchester City. Indeed, Zabaleta shone through as our best player in this game, snuffing out the threat of his countryman Jonas Gutierrez, by nicking the ball off before he could turn. Zaba was as usual willing and able to supplement our attack whenever possible, giving us that extra option to outnumber Newcastle’s left side.

Whilst everyone at Manchester City had cause to be very disappointed with Samir Nasri after his performance and part in the Rags’ winning goal last Sunday, and our manager and fans have expressed our feelings, he has not been ostracised at City, nor should he be. He would probably have lost his place here in the starting line-up had James Milner been fit, but he more than justified his inclusion here as an important member of City’s slick attack. The hope is that he has learned from his mistakes. Roberto Mancini expressed his feelings about two and a half men being in that fateful wall immediately after the derby game but he has since expressed the view that “everyone can do a mistake”, and “it is important that next time it will be different”.

This was echoed by David Silva who said “We don’t blame him”. This is much to Roberto’s credit and to indeed the squad, not that anyone in the media would give them that credit. It all goes to emphasise that there is no problem with our squad’s spirit despite what biased outsiders in the media might say. If they do actually disagree in public it is a desire to do better, rather than a sign of a lasting problem.

Whilst Roberto would perhaps be better keeping criticism in house at times, the players have his respect even if they don’t like everything that he says.

The second half was a different story with Newcastle starting off at a high tempo, penning us back in our half. It seemed like we had dealt well with a Newcastle corner with Silva, of all people, heading the ball away to the right hand side of our box. Coloccini followed the ball out and hooked it back over his head into the box for Ba to head in. A couple of City players had played Ba onside and Joe was caught in no-man’s land.

City had to dig deep for a sustained period as Newcastle built up a head of steam. Every City man had to play his part but pleasingly Garcia and Kolo Touré in particular stood tall and City saw out a difficult period in which Newcastle’s muscular and aerial threat came to the fore. City did well defensively and the nearest Newcastle came to scoring was when Papiss Cisse fired just over and Ba hit the side netting.

Gradually City managed to get a foothold of possession in the second half and relieved the pressure as we drew the sting from Newcastle’s attack. City made the points safe at the end of a sustained passage of possession in and around Newcastle’s box. Silva played in Zabaleta on the left and his superb left footed cross was swept in clinically by Yaya for City’s decisive third goal. It was a well-worked goal that was well finished by Yaya and much praise is due to Silva for showing great composure and vision.

That was game over and City’s sixth straight win against Newcastle (the last defeat being in 2005). Whilst we were excellent for 35 minutes of the first half the second half was a little disappointing and we didn’t dominate until the latter stages.

This game showed yet again that we are a far better team when we start with Agüero and Tévez up front. They give us better movement, energy and quality. So the message is clear, Roberto. Agüero and Tévez up front! It was good that Javi Garcia and Kolo Touré had good performances on Tyneside as it gives them confidence and Roberto more options, and Samir Nasri also put the previous Sunday behind him which has to be a positive. Roberto Mancini’s main conundrum will be whether to bring back Gareth Barry for Reading next Saturday, and if fit, Vincent Kompany. Whatever he decides, it should be our strongest side.

A West Ham fan recently told me that he didn’t like Manchester United’s football because it was “played with a snarl”, going back to Ferguson’s earlier teams. Well City’s football is played with a swagger and a smile.

Aren’t we lucky?

City: Agüero (11), Garcia (39), Yaya (78)
Newcastle: Ba (51)

Att: 49,579

Hart: One vital save when City were under pressure early on was the foundation of this victory. Made other important saves to preserve our lead so he can be forgiven for being caught in no-man’s land for Ba’s headed goal: 7
Zabaleta: Consistently the best right bank in the Premier League, he balances his defensive and attacking duties superbly. He has a very good left foot for a right footed player and proved this with his cross for Yaya’s clincher. His obvious pain as he stood against the post after we conceded that late goal at the end of last week’s derby defeat showed just what a special man he is and such a favourite. A great club man and a City legend: 9 (Man of the Match)
Kolo Touré: Stepped into the huge void left by Vincent Kompany to give an authorative performance at centre back. He can be very pleased with this performance: 8
Nastasic: Steady and solid as usual: 7
Clichy: Mr Reliable again: 7
Nasri: Played his full part in some lovely football including an unselfish assist for the opener so it was such a shame that his afternoon was cut short by a painful groin injury. This was a very good comeback after his derby nightmare: 8
Yaya: Led by example, holding midfield together superbly. That pass to free Nasri up for the opener was one of the best passes of the season, if not the best. His goal made it three goals in two games at St James’s Park for the giant Ivorian: 8
Garcia: Very good to see him have a solid game here. Whilst doubts remain about his lack of pace and mobility, his aerial ability and tenacity were notable features of this game, and he played an important part in City dealing with Newcastle’s muscularity to secure the three points at Newcastle. Took his goal well: 8
Silva: City are so much better when he is fit and on the ball. Merlin is a delight to behold on many a cold winter’s day: 8
Agüero: Good to see him back on the score sheet. His movement, work rate and intelligence dovetailed superbly with that of Carlos Tévez. should have added to his tally late on in the game, though: 7
Tévez: His energy, skill and drive deserved a goal, and with better finishing he would have. He and Agüero must play a run of games together now: 7
Kolarov (for Nasri 37): Didn’t really get into the game. Hope he recovers from his injury soon: 5
Dzeko (for Kolarov 72): Decent cameo: 6
Lescott (for Tévez 80): Slotted into a back five seamlessly. No way should the paper talk about him going back to Everton come to fruition. We need him, and besides, even if it was a good time to sell him (even Champions have to finish some time), for all Moyes’ carping (as well as taking £24 million in exchange for Joleon), if there is one club that doesn’t deserve him, other than you-know-who, it is Everton. We owe that club no favours whatsoever. n/a

Best oppo: Tiote: So aggressive and tenacious: 7

Refwatch: Marriner: Barely noticed: 7


Balkan Trouble

Aleksandar Kolarov is being investigated for making alleged racist comments to two people waving Albanian flags in the home crowd as he warmed up. Clearly with history of tensions between Serbs and ethnic Albanians in Kosovo this is a sensitive issue. It is not clear whether there was any provocation (waving a national flag should not constitute as provocation) or racism from those fans who were waving Albanian flags. I hope that Aleksandar is not guilty of racism, but if he is, then he has to be punished firmly and given some education as to what is and what isn’t acceptable.

Idiots Again

Why do idiots have to throw things at other supporters? This time it was a Blue smoke bomb, and thankfully no one got hurt, though some Newcastle fans got covered in blue residue from the bomb. Of course it’s not just City fans who throw things (e.g. last season a Newcastle fan threw a firework at City fans at The Etihad), but there is no place for this in football. Ban the perpetrator(s). They bring shame to our club and, more importantly, danger to everyone else. After all, such idiocy is only going to provoke rival fans to throw things back at us.

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


It’s a long time since I gave up on reading the sports pages in the Mail on Sunday as the level of anti-City bias was getting ridiculous (although I must say that Gary Neville does write some of the more sensible words around and for some reason he writes for the Mail). I never read the rest of the paper as I prefer news and well-thought-out opinion to the combination of tripe and bile that masquerade as news in the Mail.

My intellectual challenge on a Saturday is to read some of the news in the Telegraph to get an alternative view of life and challenge my usual thoughts and opinions. This has meant that my main source of topical sports reading has been the Saturday Telegraph sports section. This has also been regularly irritating with some digs at City and Mancini but I put up with this and just about survived the derby match edition, which had two pages of fawning over united followed by two pages of negative stuff about City (you know who you are Mark Ogden). However, last Saturday was the final straw as they published a pathetic cartoon of Samir Nasri that would have been more at home in the Match magazine that the boys grew out of years ago alongside more negative stories about Mancini and City.

So, my question is this: is there a weekend newspaper that anyone would suggest that provides anything like unbiased coverage of City written by grown-ups?

Andy Longshaw <andy(at)>


The game at St James’ Park brought out the best in Mancini’s style of football, non-stop attacking football with fast passing that at times confused the Newcastle defence.

Roberto Mancini must have seen his mistake in not starting Tévez, for today Tévez started in the line-up and his work must have infected his team mates, who also worked fast and furiously. A complete team performance all around – the team gets man of the match! In fairness Newcastle hit back whenever they got the chance, but it was the City quality that won on the day. As the team came off, Mancini was there giving all his players a pat on the back and a thank you for playing his kind of football.

Off the pitch this week, MCFC showed the business side of the club, besides the monetary side of it, when it came out what the club is trying to achieve in the future. It is trying to set up the Academy in the same style as Barcelona, in the hope of developing future stars. This might take two or more years to find and create a star.

In the meantime, Roberto Mancini, who recently signed a new five year contract, can’t wait until players come through the Academy, he wants to sign players that will fit into his team right now, so as to win trophies whilst he is the manager.

The average age of the of City players in the squad is only 24 years old, which might make it tough for future Academy players to get into the team, that is if they are playing well!

I look back and I found out that Messi (the World’s best) started at the Barcelona Academy when he was just 13 years old, so I anticipate that MCFC will be looking for younger children with natural skills to be developed by the best coaching staff, at the best academy in football.

I don’t think that Mancini has a lot to fear; bringing in the wrong kind of player right now is his biggest fear, but he has to be allowed to do this, whilst some players have to go to make room for the new, that is if Mancini is allowed to follow his dreams.

The future certainly looks extremely bright for Manchester City Football Club, we are lucky to have such brilliant owners, who have proved that they don’t intend to leave – they are here for the long haul.

Many of us have waited so many years for this, with arrogant United fans enjoying all their trophies; now the tide has turned.

A message to all the new City fans, the majority who are young, enjoy the football, cheer on your team, sing at games and have the fun with the chants, but always hold this club in the highest regard and with pride, then we welcome you all as City supporters and fans, the more the merrier for we are City the greatest club in the world!

In Roberto Mancini I trust! Come on you Blues!

Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)>


The website I use for watching all the games for free: AtdheNet.TV

Philip Telford <telfordpnt(at)>


For some strange reason I didn’t want to get heavily involved with conversation last week. It wasn’t just the result but the sickening manner of it – Nasri should have been ashamed of himself and Balotelli again proved himself a waste of space. Please let him be gone by January because otherwise I reckon he’ll take Mancini down with him come summer. Let’s also hope he gets stuck with a hefty legal bill.

Anyhow, after a Barça-like first half performance on Saturday I’m bouncing back. Actually, it’s not just that, I also watched Sports Personality of the Year last night and it had me welling up on several occasions, not least when Bradley Wiggins deservedly won it.

All those years when I was living in the States, whenever I came home for Crimbo I always had my dad tape this for me, but this year it was truly special. For me the only sad thing was that Mo Farah didn’t even break the top three!

The best bit of the night, for me, was when Kompany and Agüeroooooooooo came on stage to represent City*. For those who didn’t see it, the entire crowd all turned around and did the Poznan, it was utter goose-pimple stuff.

*It was for winning the Premier League; given our Euro form I never held out a whole lot of hope of our competing for Best Team with the Ryder Cup lads or the loose connection of sportsfolks representing the UK in the Olympics.

Cheers and a very Happy Xmas and New Year to each and all.

Steve O’Brien <bodsnvimto(at)>


My man Zaba goes from strength to strength.

Had a few replies to the Zaba debate with Ian Brightwell the only one coming near Zaba as “The most effective City player ever” (ED – Paul Lake also played a number of roles from right back to centre forward).

On a lighter note, one response from a John Boyle put up Dave Connor from the late sixties team. Mentioning the 1969 FA Cup Semi Final at Villa Park, where Malcolm Allison had him man-mark Alan Ball so effectively out of the game. Which reminded me of Ball’s remark in the Sunday Press the following morning: “He even got on the InterCity with me back home to Lime Street.”

Gol TV here in Spain gave the Newcastle game great live coverage, getting carried away about 5 Argies being involved. They dwelt on Gutierrez engaged in a deep (one-sided) conversation with Zaba just before kick-off. G all friendly and chatty while Z was already in Battle Mode. Eyes bulging and his mind focused on the game ahead. A study of a pro who only got more serious when the game began.

I know there were great performances throughout the City team, especially Yaya, Silva, Nasri and Joe Hart, but Zaba led by wonderful example. His concentration unwavering, his tackling unflinching and giving great support to Nasri up and down the RW. Then somehow getting into the left-sided wing back position, to make the assist for the third goal.

Overall, this performance puts us back on track and supports Mancini’s statements after the derby that we are a better side than the Reds. I predict that come the first Monday in February, we will have a two point lead over United with the added bonus of Yaya’s return to propel us to winning the League once again.

Incidentally, I thought the Balotelli stuff was overdone last week, as he wasn’t half as bad as reported (ED – Agreed). As with all things Mario, it got a bit out of hand. The one that took the biscuit though was Richard Williams in the Guardian. He blamed Mario for starting the United breakaway for their first goal, by “misplacing a pass meant for Kun to De Gea” when Mario in fact had hit a perfect pass that Agüero mis-controlled and he let it run to De Gea, who then started the transition.

I just wish he could regularly give good performances, score his quota and things work out, but even I now realise (after the revelation today of the dispute over the £340,000 fine), that he’ll be off once someone is prepared to pay both what City want and his wage demands.

Which leads to the next debate. Would Falcao fit into City’s formation and would he be the right replacement for Mario. Let the debate begin.

Patrick Knowles <pjamk(at)>


Ignoring the fact that we lost a derby match we should have won (on the basis of chances created), there seems to be a wider malaise this season, namely, an inability to beat the better sides. I don’t need to mention the Champions’ League, but also look at the games vs. other top sides – Liverpool, Everton, Tottenham, Chelsea, Arsenal and yesterday’s opponents. Add these six into the Champions’ League 6 games and we’ve won only 1 of 12 against the better sides. Four losses and 7 draws make up the other 11.

We seem to have lost the ability to take half chances and need 4 or 5 chances to get on the score sheet. Unless we sharpen up in front of goal we’re going to finish the season empty handed (unless you’re from the Arsenal school of qualifying for the Champions’ League being as good as a trophy).

I know it’s not exactly radical thinking, but Silva, Agüero and Tévez should surely start every game? I’m less than convinced by Nasri, he looks short of a yard of pace to be top class and doesn’t want to tread where it hurts. If Milner is fit I’d give him a run, or even Scott Sinclair – if he doesn’t get a run in the side we’ll never find out if he’s got it. There are some passengers in the squad – Nasri and Javi Garcia plus Mario, and this is where we should be looking to strengthen.

All is not lost yet, but we need to recapture that spark against the top teams and make sure we pick up the balance of the points.

Alastair Hayes <hayesa1(at)>


Another wonderful edition, even though the subject matter was not so palatable.

I’ve been around for 34 years and I’m so grateful for the recent trophies. What I don’t like is a team that cost fortunes behaving like an Alan Ball team of the 1990s (Ryan Giggs winner anyone?).

We should be better than this now, we are the Champions, so let’s put this shame behind us and start putting together some performances that will enable us to retain our title. MCFC OK!

Jeff Roycroft <jeff.roycroft(at)>


A defeat to the Rags and now you’re all at it, in Mancini I don’t trust. Why did he think a second rate footballer would win him the game? Tévez and Agüero up front with a tried and tested goal scorer coming off the bench if required.

Sam Duxbury <sammy459(at)>


I’d like to thank all City fans who have bought my books this year and hope that anyone receiving them for Christmas enjoys their present as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them – particularly the last few chapters of “Manchester The City Years” about the Mancini successes!

For anyone who lives outside the UK and hasn’t been able to get it (I know a few people have asked in the past) can I please let all Blues know that I’ve had reports that the Book Depository are selling my book (and my others) with free worldwide postage and at a discounted price. I was a bit suspicious at first but apparently City fans in Germany and USA have already received copies ordered via their website, so it does sound like it’s worth looking in to.

I know it’s been difficult for fans to buy any of my books overseas before, so this is excellent news. If you’re in the UK almost all Waterstones are supposed to be stocking it now, so pop into your local branch to have a look if you’re interested.

Thanks for all the positive comments over the years. MCIVTA readers have always been supportive and helpful. Merry Christmas to you all.

Gary James <city(at)>


17 December 2012

Reading               2 - 5  Arsenal               24,125

16 December 2012

Tottenham Hotspur     1 - 0  Swansea City          35,783
West Bromwich Albion  0 - 0  West Ham United       24,186

15 December 2012

Newcastle United      1 - 3  Manchester City       49,579
Liverpool             1 - 3  Aston Villa           44,607
Manchester United     3 - 1  Sunderland            75,582
Norwich City          2 - 1  Wigan Athletic        26,677
Queens Park Rangers   2 - 1  Fulham                18,233
Stoke City            1 - 1  Everton               27,008

League table as at 20 December 2012

                    P  GD Pts
 1 Manchester Utd  17  19  42
 2 Manchester City 17  18  36
 3 Chelsea         16  11  29
 4 Tottenham H.    17   5  29
 5 Arsenal         17  13  27
 6 Everton         17   7  27
 7 West Brom A.    17   3  27
 8 Norwich City    17  -6  25
 9 Stoke City      17   2  24
10 Swansea City    17   4  23
11 West Ham Utd    17   1  23
12 Liverpool       17   0  22
13 Fulham          17  -1  20
14 Aston Villa     17  -9  18
15 Newcastle Utd   17  -7  17
16 Sunderland      17  -6  16
17 Southampton     16 -10  15
18 Wigan Athletic  17 -14  15
19 QPR             17 -15  10
20 Reading         17 -15   9

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1873