Newsletter #1930

Depressing wasn’t it?!

Obvious it was going to happen in a way but, as highlighted by an article in this edition, with no Plan B, just knocking on the door of a packed defence was never likely to work. I think we could still be playing and not have scored.

Even worse, the goal conceded was one that I’d bet a pound to a penny, Joe would have stopped! Grrrrr.

Oh well, hopefully Joe will be starting for England against Germany, will have a blinder and he’ll be back on the front foot again.

Very interesting and thoughtful edition today. Thanks as ever for your contributions.

Next Game: 24 November, Tottenham Hotspur, Etihad Stadium, 13:30 GMT


Credit to Sunderland for their win, I’m not going to take anything away from them. There were a few players who started that didn’t play versus Norwich. For the City team, some players were just given a game.

Sunderland are still a bogey team; did someone forget to warn our manager? The City team all looked as if they were playing with one of my old hangovers. Well I guess Pellegrini is doing his job for the owners right now… getting into the last sixteen of Champions’ League.

In any game we shall always miss Merlin when he is not playing… but there was never an excuse, other than our manager didn’t start with the strongest team possible. Right now (I know that there are many more games) we don’t look like a team to get into top four!

The only way that I know is to start with strongest team, and make changes as per the opposition. Make players fight for their place in the team… they can show it in training as well as in previous games.

Many will say “Typical City”; win 7-0 one week, lose 1-0 the next to another bottom team! The bottom line, to me, is a team not prepared properly by Pellegrini.

We will do better. Come on City!

When Pellegrini first came to City, he saw all the very good players, plus 90 million pounds to spend. He said: “I am going for four trophies.” Sorry Manuel, the Premier League is not that easy. But as City supporters and fans, we all have to get behind our manager; he still has time to do better… and we are all in this together 🙂 Got to have that Mancini “winning mentality”.

CTWD, Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)>


I have been a silent MCIVTA subscriber since about 1999 and am now prompted to post after the recent Chelsea winner.

It is interesting to read various opinions, both from ‘experts’, pundits and the like as to Joe Hart’s current ‘problem’. As an ex-goalkeeper, albeit amateur, and goalkeeping coach for over 55 years, schooled in the Trautmann era of wet caseys, green woolly jerseys and no protection for goalies from any opposing player at all. My opinion is that whilst goalkeeping is not an exact science, there are some basic do’s and don’ts that I believe are still valid in today’s much faster paced game that were relevant in years gone by.

I still hold the opinion (and only my opinion) that:

  1. If you are on one on one with an advancing forward, you must narrowthe angle and stay on your feet.
  2. If the advancing forward has your defender shoulder to shoulder withthe attacker, stay in goal. The theory being that your defender may getthe ball or distract the attacker sufficiently to put him off. The ‘keeperalso has distance/time to react should the attacker get a shot away.
  3. The previous item also avoids confusion if all defenders are aware ofthis rule (viz. Chelsea)
  4. The ‘keeper must instil his full authority and take full command of thepenalty area with his defenders. The ‘keeper’s voice must be the loudestin the team!
  5. Generally, the ‘keeper should make any ball entering the 6 yard boxhis, with determination, no half-hearted attempts of flaps at the ballare accepted… the 6 yard box is his!
  6. Be decisive! If the ‘keeper decides to ‘go’ for the ball, any ball… donot falter and make it yours.
  7. Create full rapport with key defenders as to their rôle/ positioningfor when the ‘keeper has the ball for distribution. All players shouldmake themselves available to receive the ball and create space. Give the’keeper options. All pro ‘keepers can throw the ball accurately to thehalfway line, why not utilise this method of distribution more?
  8. This one is a pet hate of mine and I have to mention it: penalties. Thepropensity of ‘keepers to ‘choose’ left or right then commit is almostthe accepted way nowadays of how to defend a penalty; this method is alottery. Goalkeepers should stand still and be prepared to move to the ballthe split second it leaves the penalty taker’s boot. How many penaltiesare scored by kicking straight down the middle when the ‘keeper dived outof the way?! Stand still! Let the taker choose which side, don’t make iteasy for him.

Finally, any ‘keeper must exude confidence, demonstrate alertness, be vocal and commanding; any weakness will be exploited by the opposition. Whilst Joe Hart has all of these traits in abundance (hats off to his early coach) any faltering will be seen as failing, which can and does unfortunately, lead to lowering of confidence and form. Who would be a ‘keeper?? Joe is still the best I have seen since Bert and he will be back to his his best soon, mark my words.

In the old school days, if you were small, not very good or shy (or a prisoner of war), you were put in goal and had to evolve from that lowly position. Thankfully these days, the importance of the goalie is recognised and are coached from an early age.

Great teams have great goalkeepers (unless you are Paddy Roach).

Leave Joe alone please, he is not a machine.

Think yourself lucky back home; we have the wonderful Mark (Bozzer) Bosnich as the Foxtel expert ‘soccer’ pundit Down Under. I rest my case…

Tony Lingard – in Brisbane since 2000 <Tonylingard(at)>


Interesting article by Kjartan Aanestad in MCIVTA 1929, with his analysis of Joe Hart’s contribution to City’s self-inflicted woes, especially in away games. I take a more rounded view and my take on things involves everyone and everything that has resulted in just four points from 18 away from home.

Except for the Stoke and West Ham games, they fall into two groups. One being “self-inflicted” and the other “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”.

Cardiff and Chelsea fall into the first and Kjartan gets it 90% right except for not mentioning the negative input of the changeover from man-marking to zonal or vice versa at set pieces at Cardiff.

As for Villa and Sunderland, we were the victims of incredibly poor refereeing decisions.

All three goals by Villa were illegal. Both the first and last were offside. VK and Nastasic were not to blame for the third goal, but the referee and his linesmen ignored that the long ball punt was played on by Villa’s centre forward with Weimann well offside at that precise moment.

The second was not a free kick. No way.

As for Sunderland, yes they surprised us all, but the goal was illegal and how the referee, only yards away, could allow play to continue after Bardsley had accosted Milner, is beyond belief. Also, imagine how things would have played out over the last 70 minutes, if Larsen had been sent off, as he should have been. Again, how could the referee not deal correctly with the incident?

They say that things even themselves out over the full season and if true, City have had their share already of things going against them.

Pelle, Txiki and Ferran know what needs attention, changing, and where they have made mistakes (especially allowing Barry and Kolo to go) and January is only 7 weeks away, allowing them to address the shortcomings in central defence and left back. Plus better cover for midfield.

The sustained return of VK and Silva is also vital. Both will have had two long spells out already this season, by the time December comes around.

To conclude, I think today’s media and blog reaction is overdone. We are six points off Arsenal, two off Chelsea and one off United, with 27 games to go. We’ve games home and away with Arsenal and one each with the other two. Similar analysis can be made reference Southampton, Liverpool, Everton and Spurs.

“Don’t panic Mr. Mainwaring” comes to mind and, remember, we were 8 points adrift with only 6 games left 19 months back and look what happened then.

Pat Knowles <pjamk(at)>


I don’t like to disagree with my favourite player, Zabaleta, but it is quite easy to put a finger on why our title bid is being derailed.

After undermining our previous manager for the whole season after he won us the League through signings such as Garcia and Sinclair, instead of Hernandez, Martinez, Chiellini etc., and disruptive comments in the media about the style of play, our beloved boys from Barcelona replace him with a manager with no Plan B, amazing tactical naivety and an inability to make a substitution/tactical change when it matters.

Pellegrini stated after the match that they will continue to play in exactly the same way so we can look forward to more pastings from the likes of Bayern, and more away-day blues.

I would love to be proved wrong but there will be no silverware this season, and the possibility that there will be no Champions’ League next season either, given that we will be exiting the Champions’ League this year as soon as we meet a decent team with an astute manager in charge, and that we will not end up in the top four of the Premier League if we continue to lose away.

It is still early on in the season and there are only six points between us and Arsenal but, along with them, on paper we had supposedly the easiest start to the Premier League campaign and we’ve blown that particular advantage, so without some necessary changes in tactics we won’t be doing any better any time soon.

The question is who Manuel’s successor will be because I can’t see us doing anything with him in charge – I’m so glad the players are happier with him in charge because I would hate anyone on a six-figure weekly salary to be at all unhappy, but say what you like about Roberto, he was a winner, and if he had been given the support and, more crucially the players, that Pellegrini has received I think we would have won our second title last year and we would have overcome our Euro blues this year in the group we’re in anyway.

Mancini certainly wouldn’t have set up to allow Bayern the freedom of the Etihad, or fail to make the required change until late in the second half when there was too little time to claw anything back.

When Roberto was undermined by having Garcia, Sinclair and Rodwell (good but too injury prone to yet rely on) thrust upon him, he still tried to equip the title-winning side with a Plan B of three at the back. However, this didn’t work because two of the defenders, Lescott and Richards, are unable to adapt (Micah finds it difficult enough to stick to his right back duties) and are not of sufficient quality, so he had to continue to work with what he had. He spotted Joe Hart’s problems long ago and would have brought in Begovic to replace Pantilimon (not up to Premier League standard) and give us two world class options in goal. He also gave us the meanest defence for three seasons in a row through zonal marking, and by using Gareth Barry as cover – which MP has thrown out of the window in a return to man-to-man marking and giving Everton one of our most consistent performers.

The result – one of our best defenders last year, Nastasic, is suffering a crisis of confidence, as is Clichy – on top of which Kolo Touré, who was an okay replacement for Kompany when injured, was allowed to go to Liverpool where he plays most of the time in a team currently above us in the league. MP has no Plan B, rotates when unnecessary (in the belief that it looks like ‘tactics’), fails to play our World Cup winning winger even at home (sound familiar?), plays Garcia(!) and sticks to his ‘we’ll continue to play the same way and hope that it works’ mantra!

Oh well – I can still watch the DVD of Sergio’s goal against QPR to keep me happy over the next year (or two). I’m hoping it’s not true, but I think as a long-time City fan at least I am capable of continuing to give my support through trophy-less seasons, but perhaps the owners might consider how they are going to fill the extra capacity they are building if we are not winning or not in the Champions’ League?

Stephen Burrows <stevieburrows(at)>


Just read an article that Pellegrini is going to make a big clean out of certain players, including Richards, Lescott, Kolarov, Hart, Garcia and Dzeko.

We all must remember that we have a new manager who has inherited all the players, and has now seen them all first hand, so as to build what will be a true Pellegrini team.

I do know that everything that we read might not always be true, but some of it will make sense, and of course we all might not like all of the players mentioned to leave.

However, I do think that Pellegrini deserves to build his own team, I think an attacking team.

In Pellegrini I trust! (Ed – I’m not sure everyone else does!)

Taking over from Mancini has been a tough task and Pellegrini is not a young man; he has got to bring instant success or be a failure. I like what Southampton have done, bringing in a young manager, but at City it is different. Pellegrini is experienced and the owners want success, especially in Europe.

It is wrong to judge Pellegrini right now, it is far too early in the season… but City have got to do better away from home. I hold my judgement, but give my support!

Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)>


A lovely article on the BBC website:

Philip Alcock <philipalcock(at)>

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Newsletter #1930