Newsletter #1909

First off, apologies to one and all for the sluggishness of this edition, the lame excuse of being crazily busy with work (blame The Times… long story!). However, I hope this is worth the wait, with some outstanding contributions including Phil B’s much-awaited end of season Headmaster’s Report and one of the most touching ‘and finally’ articles I can recall.

On top of that young Manuel is now officially in post, alongside the Remaining Brians of Kidd and Marwood (why?!). Thankfully the latter is not being let anywhere near the first team transfer policy and as a result we have bought two players already!

Without further ado… read on McDuff.

Next Game: tbc


2012/2013 was always going to be a difficult season for our boys after winning our first title in 44 years. Our opponents tried that bit harder and were more familiar with our style of play. Our dismal failure to progress through another tough Champions’ League group in which we finished bottom (though Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid were very good sides who made the Semis), and our inability to put up a defence of our title in the second half of the season eventually cost Roberto Mancini his job, though unfairly in many fans’ opinions. It was a failure in terms of winning trophies, but most City fans will not have been overly disappointed. Had we strengthened the squad with top quality signings last summer and had we retained a back four rather than disrupt the team with experimentation with 3-5-2 at times we may have done better. Our team didn’t deliberately not try in some games, but at times there was a lack of mental strength and application, e.g. at Southampton and Everton. The lack of width in our attack sometimes played into our opponents’ hands and games that we were winning last season were only drawn this time around. Here is how the Boys in Blue performed in a season when we finished runners-up in the League and the FA Cup in 2012/2013:

Joe Hart: The winner of the Golden Gloves award with the most clean sheets, but this was a season when his standards fell from last season’s zenith. Started off the season brilliantly, and single-handedly kept City in some games e.g. Real Madrid away but his form and confidence suffered a little, his worst game being the Southampton débâcle, when he conceded a goal attempting a throw out before he had caught the ball. His distribution is still erratic and needs long hours of work on the training ground. He is, though, still a top goalkeeper, and with his intelligence and having many years on his side, he can reach the heights again: 7

Costel Pantilimon: Handling was very good in the Cup matches and he was surprisingly left out of the FA Cup Final. Hopefully that was not related to his stating that he would probably have to leave to get more first ream football to boost his international prospects. He was only answering one of the many questions that are asked in Cup Final weeks. He has never moaned and if he goes he will leave with our best wishes: 7

Pablo Zabaleta: The best right back in the Premier League, Zaba combines excellent reading of the game and positional play with good attacking skills and instincts. The only City player who can say that he has improved this season, and in Zaba’s case that improvement is from an already high standard. Already a very good attacking full back, he has added another dimension to our attack in 2012/13, appearing even more frequently in our opponents’ penalty box. Zaba does all this without neglecting his defensive duties where he closes the door between right back and centre back highly effectively, with excellent positioning and reading of the game. He is pro-active and when the opportunity arises, is quick to win the ball before his opposing wide man can receive it. As ever he is a model professional and example to all. By some distance City’s best and most consistent performer, and richly deserved Player of the Year: 9

Micah Richards: Suffered an injury-ravaged season, picking up a knock in the Olympics and then, having regained fitness, another painful knee injury against Swansea in November. Very rusty on his return at right back but he was settling down when the season ended with him standing in for Kompany at centre back: 6

Maicon: Chances were limited by the supreme form of Pablo Zabaleta, and by a series of injuries. His attitude was excellent and he came on for a few skilful cameos, mainly at right wing back and hopefully he will have more luck in the final year of his contract: 5

Vincent Kompany: Started off rather shakily, with his customary poise absent, he was diving into challenges and not getting the ball. Settled down to be more like the high class performer we know to form a high class partnership with Nastasic. His recurrent calf injuries are a bit of a worry and these amongst others disrupted his campaign: 7

Matija Nastasic: The only signing from last summer that has improved the team (hopefully Rodwell will follow suit). He quickly adjusted to the English game and looked equally at home in the Champions’ League, showing maturity beyond his tender years. He deserved to be first choice at left centre back more often than not as he is better on the ball and quicker than Lescott: 8

Kolo Touré: Performed well when called up and looked like the classy defender that we signed. He performed particularly well in the defeat at Everton, standing up well to the muscular handful that is Victor Anichebe. He is too good a player not to be playing more and he expressed his desire to move on to find more regular action. Kolo will sign for Liverpool next month and leaves with our thanks and best wishes: 7

Joleon Lescott: Did nothing wrong to lose his place to young Nastasic but waited patiently and did a decent job mostly when called upon. Not as comfortable against pacey, intricate passing teams in Europe and his uncharacteristic failure to challenge for an in-swinging corner at Ajax cost us a goal and incurred the wrath of Roberto Mancini. Slotted in well in the League when called upon, and as centre back is not a priority area for strengthening hopefully Joleon will get a year’s extension to a contract that has just 12 months to run: 6

Karim Rekik: Made a steady enough League début but chances were always going to be limited. Had difficulties in a loan spell at struggling Blackburn, eventually finding himself on the bench. Has performed well in the U-21 Euros for Holland and with more maturity and encouragement he may get more opportunities here: 5

Gael Clichy: Generally a very reliable performer at left back, who combines pace, tenacity and the ability to time his tackles. He did, however, have two or three poor games, most notably in the Cup Final, where he had a torrid time at the hands of McManaman, which will have been noted by opposing managers. A popular, classy defender, he needs to work on his crossing to improve on the attacking aspects of his game: 7

Aleksandar Kolarov: A full back’s first job is to defend. Kolarov is weak defensively as he does not possess the pace nor the ability to read an opponent nor does he have the necessary positional sense. Half decent going forward, his game is more suited to being a left wing back where he can put his crossing ability to use but that is not a formation that suits City. Clearly he is not good enough as an orthodox left back. Involved in a heated altercation with the South Stand in the last game, he looks like a player on the move, with Italy his likeliest destination: 5

Gareth Barry: Another very good season in the Premier League for this superb professional. A quintessentially strong and powerful presence in the midfield engine room, his partnership in central midfield with Yaya Touré should not be underestimated as it plays an important part in allowing us to dominate opponents. His highlight was his stoppage time winner against Reading and his rare low was his nightmare at Southampton, which included a hapless own goal. Occasionally plays a blind pass and this has been punished twice in each of the last two seasons in Europe and it led to Zabaleta being sent off in the Cup Final. To progress in Europe, the signing of Fernandinho may signal a change but there is no doubting Barry’s value to the team in the cut and thrust of the Premier League. With one year left on his current deal, and playing well, surely he is worthy of a contract extension. 8

Jack Rodwell: Started off first choice in central midfield and after a neat enough start, played some silly misplaced passes in early games, which cost us a couple of goals before a series of hamstring problems sidelined him for long periods. Showed plenty of promise late on in the season (losing his man for Wigan’s winner at Wembley is best forgiven and forgotten), with some decent box-to-box performances, scoring a couple of goals on the final day, which suggest he has a lot more to offer. His reading of the game will improve with experience. Doubts remain though whether he can stay fit for very long. If he can stay fit we may have some player on our hands. If…: 6

Javi Garcia: Too slow, too easily turned and does not read the game quickly enough for the English Premier League. Opponents can run behind him easily and his passing is not particularly good either. His one strength is his heading and he scored on his début at Stoke. A far inferior player to the excellent Nigel de Jong, City have a decision to make whether we should keep him. He didn’t improve enough through the season to suggest we should persevere: 5

Yaya Touré: An elegant playmaker, he can be a delight to watch and he has formed a potent partnership with Gareth Barry over the last three years. For much of the time he is a top class, dynamic, highly skilled midfielder of pace and power, and controls a game, but a few times, most notably in the Cup Final he looks ponderous, slow and sadly, disinterested. Signed a new four year contract before the end of the season and his inconsistency grew after that. Hopefully he is not too comfortable: 7

Abdul Razak: Did well on loan at Charlton but on the rare (mainly sub) appearances for City, he has lacked the poise that is needed for the top flight. 5

Samir Nasri: Very disappointing for the most part and his lack of effort was all too apparent far too often. This should have been the season when he kicked on from his first year but too many times he was disinterested, Southampton away being the worst. Samir Nasri has as much ability as Silva but produces far less. Happily by his own admission, he responded positively on the pitch to Roberto Mancini’s public (“I’d like to punch him”) rebuke to finish the last two months strongly with some sparkling displays and he has expressed a desire to stay but it may be too late at City for him, especially if Isco joins Navas as City newbies. His departure would be a shame, if he could produce his best more often: 6

David Silva: It is a privilege to watch this master craftsman at work. Such a highly intelligent playmaker whose sublime passing frequently unlocks opposition defences. His attitude and application are an excellent example and he is always prepared to work hard off the ball and carry out his defensive duties: 8

Scott Sinclair: Not given many opportunities but he looked lightweight and the defensive side of his game needs work. Having said that, his attitude was good and he has an eye for goal, being unlucky not to open his account when cutting in to shoot on a couple of occasions when opposition goalkeepers made decent saves. A player that may well have made an impact under Keegan or Pearce but he is probably not at the level we are at now. Best wishes to him in his recovery from a blood clot under his arm: 4

James Milner: An underrated talent but much appreciated by the fans, James continued to show his trademark endeavour and tenacity throughout the season. His skill and ability to create is actually very underrated, and he links particularly well with David Silva. Even though he is more suited to a central role, he performed creditably on the right flank, both as a defender dovetailing with the overlapping Zabaleta, or supplying crosses and clever passes himself. His stand out moments were a superb long range effort at Wigan and his inspiration of a superb one-touch move that created a goal at Reading. The arrival of Navas will not faze him, as this popular, trusty, reliable performer will shine through. Given the chance in central midfield, City would have a class, box-to-box player: 7

Marcos Lopes: Made his mark with a début as a late substitute and a goal in the FA Cup 3rd Round against Watford. Sadly he didn’t get another chance last season, and hopefully that will change next term: n/a

Mario Balotelli: Was clearly wanting away while he was here in 2012/13 and his spats with Mancini precipitated his exit in January. He left with best wishes, and he has shown his appreciation of our support but it is shame that he didn’t apply himself enough: 4

Carlos Tévez: Fittingly he was the joint top scorer (with Sergio Agüero) in all competitions with 17 goals. Great effort and work-rate, as ever, we were always a better team with him in it. Add to this his skill, intelligence as well as his ability to hold the ball up and time a killer through ball, and Tévez offered a great contribution to the City team. His best moment? His powerful curling shot that won an awful match against Wigan. If only he’d have been paired with Agüero more, particularly in the home derby, our season may have been very different. Not for the first time, he gave what looked like a valedictory wave as he left the pitch to a standing ovation on the last day. His redemption is complete and all is forgiven. There is talk of a move to Milan so that City get a transfer fee, but wouldn’t it be good if he stayed and assisted the transition to the Pellegrini era? 7

Edin Dzeko: His goal tally of 14 League goals in 32 appearances (16 of those as sub) may look decent enough but by no means does it tell the whole story. Edin came off the bench most memorably to score winners at home to Tottenham and on the road at West Brom and Fulham but was frustrated at being out of of the starting line up and made no secret of hating the “Super Sub” tag. Eventually Edin lost interest and that was too obvious towards the end of the season, particularly at Tottenham, where he started but looked like he had already checked in at Ringway (or was it Heathrow?). Granted, he scored a very fine goal at home to West Brom in May but a lack of effort in other games is inexcusable. Manuel Pellegrini might be able to conjure more out of him and get more wide service to him but maybe it is time for us to say thanks for the goals Edin has scored and wish him all the best. We need a more versatile forward who can combine more in our short passing game and who relishes the physical aspects of the game, and a swap deal involving Cavani or Lewandowski may be the way forward: 6

Agüero: His injury in the first game set the tone for an injury disrupted season. His finishing wasn’t quite as sharp as it was last season and his goal output bears that out (12 League goals from 30 appearances in 2012/13 as opposed to 23 goals in 34 appearances in his début season), but he still finished as joint top scorer in all competitions. He scored some brilliant goals, the pick of them being his finish from a sharp angle to snatch a point at home to Liverpool, and most memorably his superb run and finish to secure another City win at Old Trafford. A great talent. With better luck with injuries and even better service, he may surpass his début season’s goal tally next term: 7

There you have it. With very few exceptions, it is “Could do better” for most of the squad. Extra homework for Messrs Hart and Clichy, and no need for detention for anybody this time around. We welcome new boys Jesus Navas (if he scores a late equaliser wait for those “Jesus Saves” headlines) and Fernandinho, both of whom will add pace to our midfield. Next time, I’ll examine those new signings and the arrival of our new manager, Manuel Pellegrini.

Phil Banerjee <phil.banerjee(at)>


I like Phil Lines’ point that the media are pretending not to understand the word ‘holistic’ because it boosts their thicky-cred (MCIVTA 1908). They assume that since we football fans are all thick, we will appreciate their mocking MCFC’s choice of a perfectly good English word used in the right way.

Phil also suggests that MCFC’s approach – in wanting someone who is “just a coach” but also “holistic” is asking for opposite things. Phil’s idea is that “just a coach” implies “stick to the first team – we’ll handle the rest” whereas “holistic” suggests “DON’T just pay attention to the first team, consider the club as a whole”.

Though I see Phil’s point, I don’t think MCFC’s approach is contradictory. They want to switch Mancini’s autocratic style for that of a team player. Where Mancini didn’t bring many (any?) of the youth squad through during his three and a half years in charge, they want someone who will always have an idea of who is coming out of the academy, and who is always thinking of how they might be channelled into the first team squad. Though they want to reduce the say the manager has over transfers, they still want someone who has input on that front, but is willing to work as part of a team. Specifically, they don’t want the manager *demanding* that he get the players he wants and, if he doesn’t get them, embarrassing other people at the club in the media.

These aren’t criticisms of Mancini. I am grateful for his tenure and I think his style of management came at the right time for us. We needed him to steer us away from a period in our history where some of our new superstars (e.g. Robinho, Tévez) thought they were bigger than the club and doing us a favour. He did that. But I also understand the management’s view. Conditions have changed. The genius of Platini’s FFP is that, in his attempt to “save football” he has made it necessary for any club with cup-winning aspirations to become a champion at global marketing first. Either that or survive on the products of their academy (without losing them to “bigger clubs”) or a mixture of both. But Mancini only seemed peripherally interested in “succession planning, youth development, academy plans, sponsorship etc.”, which is why his situation had become precarious.

Bernard Molyneux <molyneux(at)>


Thanks for the great work in keeping MCIVTA coming. I have no idea why I am submitting this, but here goes anyway…

To the tune of Hey Jude:

Naaaaah nah nah nah na nah naaah
Naaah na Naaaavaaaas
Heyyyyy Zuuuuuus

Paul Calder <p.s.calder(at)>


The song can remain the same.

The good thing is that Pellegrini is of Italian parents and has an ‘i’ on the end of his name. You only have to change the cadence slightly and it fits perfectly into the Volare melody. It’s ethnically appropriate and the one aspect of this managerial change over which fans have total control. Try it. It might make those who lament the departure of Bobby M – and I’m one of them – feel a little better.

Chris Cobb <cobsun(at)>


Great to see transfers coming into City early this time, Txiki Begiristain (Sports Director) at work. Two very good players already signed by City, Jesus Navas and Fernandinho. With all the talk in the media, if you believe it all, City will have a new team for next season.

What concerns me is that with all the buying of ready-made stars by City and, of course I, like many other City fans, do like players coming in to make our team better, but I also think about the young City players – will they ever get a chance?

Not all players will make it into the City squad, but all might not be lost, as other clubs will come in looking for some of them; the young players will have a future, and MCFC earns money for the efforts. We see it as a sport, but behind the scenes it is a business.

The one player that comes to mind is John Guidetti, and is now rumoured to be wanted by Sunderland. My feelings are that if he is not going to get given his chance by the new manager, then good luck to the player, he wants to play!

As I write this, no sign of our new manager Manuel Pellegrini (ED – sorry for the delay in the issue Ernie) – he probably deserves a break after leaving Malaga, I feel sure that he is very much aware of the transfers and what is happening at City.

The City team for next season is starting to look very good, and I think Pellegrini will bring attacking football with width and flair!

Come on you Blues!

Ernie Barrow (<Britcityblue(at)>


I’ve just arrived home from one of the most traumatic and emotional days of my life. Today I attended the funeral of my nephew Jamie Horrocks. Jamie lived and worked in Irlam where he was a fire fighter.

Jamie was Blue through and through and I guess I’m just writing to try to get some thoughts out and express my thanks, through MCIVTA, to all his friends and the people of Irlam for the send-off they gave him today.

People were encouraged to wear blue and white and Jamie himself was dressed in his favourite City top. Travelling in the cortège along with the fire engine flashing its blues, I was amazed at the sights I was seeing. The whole, or what seemed like the whole, of Irlam was lining the streets, many dressed in City tops. Shopkeepers and their customers had exited shops to pay their respects. On arrival at the church of St John The Baptist, I was again taken aback at the number of people outside the church, and the sea of blue and white.

The service was impeccable and there was a focus on celebrating Jamie’s life with some spontaneous clapping. The songs played were some of Jamie’s favourites as well as snippets of City chants, and of course Blue Moon.

I would also like to thank the club who sent a beautiful letter of condolence and flowers.

I don’t know what else to say other than thank you to everybody for their support. It meant so much to all the family and gave strength to Jamie’s mum and dad Paula and Dave and his sister Tammy.

As I said in the eulogy, Jamie, you were a beacon of light who brought brightness to everything and everyone around you. That light may have been extinguished but it will continue to illuminate our thoughts, our hearts and our memories. You will always be missed Jamie, but you will never be forgotten.

God bless you Jamie.

P.S. – Not being a big facebook user I forgot to add, if anyone wants to send condolences a facebook page was set-up ‘RIP Jamie Horrocks’.

Uncle David Kilroy <dave.kilroy(at)>


Final League table 2012 / 2013

                        P / GD / Pts
 1 Manchester Utd      38 / 43 / 89 CLQ
 2 Manchester City     38 / 32 / 78 CLQ
 3 Chelsea             38 / 36 / 75 CLQ
 4 Arsenal             38 / 35 / 73
 5 Tottenham Hotspur   38 / 20 / 72
 6 Everton             38 / 15 / 63
 7 Liverpool           38 / 28 / 61
 8 West Bromwich Alb   38 / -4 / 49
 9 Swansea City        38 / -4 / 46 ELQ
10 West Ham Utd        38 / -8 / 46
11 Norwich City        38 /-17 / 44
12 Fulham              38 /-10 / 43
13 Stoke City          38 /-11 / 42
14 Newcastle Utd       38 /-23 / 41
15 Southampton         38 /-11 / 41
16 Aston Villa         38 /-22 / 41
17 Sunderland          38 /-13 / 39
18 Wigan Athletic      38 /-26 / 36 R/ELQ
19 Reading             38 /-30 / 28 R
20 QPR                 38 /-30 / 25 R

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1909