Thursday, June 27, 2013

APACHE DOWN

There is little hint of the drama unfolding far beneath us. Amid the clatter and the excitement of a full blown Manchester City away day excursion high in the rafters of the stadium, nobody has realised what kind of mini soap opera is being enacted down at the edge of the pitch, nor the long term consequences this will have. We are all so busy being enthralled by the glamour and the glitz of the Champions League, our senses at once sharpened by the giddy heights of it all and dulled by the massive amounts of Oktoberfest liquids we have been imbibing for the last 24 hours.

It is the 27th September 2011. We are in Munich watching City being given the old run-around by a Bayern Munich side that will go on to lose the final the following May and win it a year later. City had started the match in confident style, denied two reasonable penalty shouts before the strangely effective lurking skills of the semi-mobile Mario Gomez started to unravel the stitches of our great Manchester Plan.

Strike One
This was a match where Manchester City learned a great deal about what Champions League football was going to be like and a little about how life with Carlos Tevez was meant to be. Picked off by two successive acts of cold assassination, the pressure had been building nicely towards a crescendo, but nobody saw what was coming next. In an act of self-propelled petulance, substitute Tevez refused to warm up. Mancini, as we would later see on television, visibly shaking with rage at this act of sabotage, used Milner and then Kolarov instead, hardly in the same league of high impact substitutions as the wily Argentine. Lest we forget, to cap an evening of dubious behaviour, Edin Dzeko would also throw a gale force dicky fit as he was hauled off, hurling his top to the ground and shouting in the face of the manager. It would take quite some weeks for the carnage to settle.

It will take a lot longer for City fans to forget.

Considering the effort the little man from Fuerte Apache has put in since and indeed before this act of football treachery, it would be trite to dismiss his departure yesterday to Juventus as an opportunity to shout "good riddance". In fact, unless the club has a devious plan to replace like with like, City have lost a galvanising force of nature which has few equals in the modern game. For Tevez in full swing was one of those amazing sights that football fans are afforded from time to time: the player who, by sheer force of character and willpower, can lift an entire team and carry it forward. Here was a man, scarred physically and mentally by his down at heel upbringing in the Buenos Aires slums, who could shift mountains.

His physique, his power, his acceleration and his low centre of gravity reminded one of a rough cut version of other compatriots who have gone before him, without the incessantly twinkling feet perhaps, but still capable of superhuman feats of propulsion. Certainly his influence on games could be as profound. Corinthians, West Ham and Manchester United supporters will bear testimony to the motivational impact of this buzzing whirling dervish at the centre of the team's efforts. He dragged the Hammers away from the drop and played a full part in United's successes before falling foul of his manager's rod of iron and - opting to throw sand in his face - moving across the city. This was typical Tevez. Fuerte Apache might have taught him how to fight for his life but it had introduced none of the social skills of respect and integration.

No oil painting

Here was how one (less than simple) transfer could divide a footballing hotbed like Manchester. The welcome billboard was either a work of genius or a low shot to the family jewels, depending which side of the divide you lived on. What was unarguable was that Tevez was made for moments like this, the pin up boy of a local tiff that threatened to bring the house down. Unseemly skirmishes were often where he felt most at home in fact.His own homemade billboard reading RIP Fergie, after City's league triumph put paid to Ferguson's "not in my lifetime" quote was another example of a man, whose boundaries of decency have always been slightly blurred.

The effect of Tevez on City was immediate. He was in the vanguard as City's fortunes and appearance began to change radically. On the way out: Dunne, Caicedo, Bojinov and Ben Haim. In came Adebayor, Gareth Barry and Joleon Lescott. Tevez was part of the first significant wave of new investment after the panic attack of Robinho the summer before. In that first season, he would show up particularly well in the 3-4 defeat at Old Trafford and in City's first semi final appearances for 30 years, in the Carling Cup v United again. Tevez, displaying a taste for the big occasion, scored twice to put City ahead in the first leg at the Etihad and another in an unlucky reverse in the second leg. There would be no silverwear at the end of that first season, but, within twelve months, Tevez was lifting the FA Cup to thousands of delirious blues at Wembley. Champions League football would follow too and this is where the Argentine battler would blot his copybook good and proper.

The Odd Couple

Mancini swore he would never play for his City again.Tevez disappeared from City's radar for golf filled months until being offered a way out of the impasse by his back-tracking coach. A public apology was printed in the programme and the debate began in earnest as to whether City fans really wanted to see him back in the sky blue shirt at all. Never one to be embarrassed by such niceties, Tevez was back in and, despite looking overweight, produced a significant impact on City's run-in. He returned against Chelsea, a fitting opponent, given his prolonged success against the Londoners across the seasons. A hat-trick at Norwich, his third celebrated with a golf swing into the away fans, underlined City's resurgent form on their way to an emotion-filled title success over QPR.It also revealed an attitude in Tevez that was more take it or leave it than sorry for the times.

Tevez had played in each one of those last agonising games on the way to clawing the title away from United's grasp. Goals had flown in from short, medium and long range. he was not to be knocked off the ball. His eye for a chance was sharp and unerring. His influence had been unquestioned, yet still to many he was persona non grata. The size and volume of his welcome in Turin says two things about Tevez: he is a world renowned star and he is moving to a league that is on a gentle rebound from years of neglect. Still, he will look good in the number ten shirt of the Vecchia Signora and will join his erstwhile striking maverick Mario Balotelli in amongst the cypress trees of northern Italy. There he will find an adoring public and one or two decent restaurants. Whether the Caribinieri will be lenient with his wayward driving skills remains to be seen. What is certain is City have lost a wayward genius, a human metronome and a one man argument in one fell swoop.

Ciao, Carlos, and thanks for the memories.





Wednesday, June 26, 2013

SEASON REVIEW: THROUGH OPPONENTS' EYES

In this final part of the five part series, we ask esteemed one club football writers and bloggers, supporters and media types for their opinions on all things City 2012-13. 

PART FIVE:

How has your view of City changed since the money flowed in? 

Once upon a time, when money was short.....
  • Phil Lythell Chelsea ESPN correspondent, season ticket holder, writes at Shouty and Spitty 
  • "As a CFC fan, there was never any chance of pouring scorn on City's big money approach. As with Chelsea, shame that many promising academy prospects have been pushed aside, though demands for success call for pragmatism rather than romance. Owners have demonstrated some patience though perhaps stance changing with recent sacking of Mancini. Obviously disappointed that there is another team between Chelsea and silverware so main difference is City becoming a genuine rival rather than an opportunity to pick up six points. No negative impression though...".
  • Luke O'Farrell writes for ESPN, EPL Index and blogs on all things Everton.
  • "Aside from the Everton gripe mentioned earlier, it has barely altered. It's hard to begrudge the money and the trophies, since most would probably swap positions in a heartbeat...." 
  • Pete Sixsmith 's chosen dish is Sunderland (gristle and all). He writes at Salut Sunderland
  • "It has changed a little. They no longer seem to cock up as spectacularly as they did in the past, but there is always the hope that they may do. Decent club, good fans. Lend us a few million, please...."
  • Peter Thorne aka Billy Blagg has been writing on all things West Ham for ESPN for many years
  • "City, like Newcastle and Liverpool, are kind of old school clubs as far as I'm concerned and I actually get a deal of satisfaction from seeing the likes of Arsenal squealing 'not fair' 'cos you're in a position to steal some of their players instead. As I've indicated, City are a breath of fresh air at the moment and you'll not be troubling Div III anytime again soon, I suspect....."
  • Matthew Evans is a West Brom season ticket holder and ESPN correspondent
  • "Well, City have hit the jackpot really. Could have happened to any club, just so happened that the riches fell at City's lap. I thought the club were being very well run, unlike other clubs funded by rich foreign backers, however the treatment of Mancini does make me question that. Can't begrudge the fans getting this success, they put up with more than their fair share of bad times and stuck with it...."
  • Marc Duffy follows Newcastle through thin and thinner and writes for ESPN
  • "From 'exactly the same as us' to 'I'm jealous..."
  •  
  • Chris Rann runs the excellent George Weah's Cousin and is Saints ESPN writer
  • " You make me physically sick. Well actually you don't, I wish you wouldn't waste all that money on English mediocrity like Milner and Barry though. Seriously, I like watching great players so keep bringing in the stars...."
  • Simon Hughes remembers cheering Brian Labone and Gordon West from the unreconstructed Gladwys Street:
  • "Yes, but I still feel the love. They'll be easier to get on with without Mancini in that stupid scarf. Also, please drop the Poznan...."
  • John Wilson still has a poster of Peter Lorimer above his bed:
  • "Pleased to see them lose more often because the owners think their money will bring sucess. Don't mind the team, or the managers, but object to and don't like rich business treating a team like City as their little toy. City were just City, as they always have been. Suddenly loads of money started coming in and the whole character of the club has changed. The owners don't care. They treat city as their little play thing. Because city haven't had much sucess (and crave for it) even some of their fans make their excuses for the ridiculous amounts of money spent changing their club cos they want a cup !! Its equally good fun seeing your side promoted from league 1 to the championship !!!..."
  • James Whittaker, ESPN's Stoke reporter 
  • "I’m not a fan of foreign owners buying clubs as play-things and it feels a bit like that in your case and the way in which the management is shifted out and players collected rotting in reserves only adds to that. Any team with such riches, such as Chelsea when Abramovich came in, will upset the balance of the league with their recruitment. As a football fan, that model is everything that is wrong with the modern game though perhaps we’re lucky being owned by a local fan...."
  • Chris Dottie is an Evertonian child of the Kendall era and resident of the city of Gaudi and Messi
  • "When I speak to their fans, not too much, they are still very decent football people with a sense of perspective. The statements and actions of the club itself however have made them a lot less likeable - where the fans are grateful for their good fortune, their managers and executives seem to display a good dose of arrogance and disdain for the lower orders. When we've got Victor Anichebe leading the line, complaints of a lack of strike power from a club that's spent squillions on Kün Aguero and Carlos Tevez stick in the craw. They are also a constant reminder of the unpleasant truth that money makes the world go round. I'd rather they won the league than any other realistic contender, but the empire-building in New York and the replacement of Doncaster Belles with City's ladies team make me feel very uncomfortable...."     
  • Phil Mison has been reporting on Fulham affairs across all media since the late 80s 
  • "No."
  • Dave Glenn is a regular visitor to Old Trafford
  • "Turned into Chelsea. Not won the league that somehow is their property after one season therefore we sack the manager. If RM had won a trophy would the fact that he is a tosser behind the scenes been ignored?..."

    I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who took part in this and gave freely of their time to share a few thoughts on the current state of Manchester City. Clearly, City retain an affection from supporters of many other clubs, despite the changing football landscape and the sea change in our own club's fortunes. Where opinions have changed, it is also heartening to note that it is not the City fans that have changed others' opinions, rather administrators or the general (sometimes perceived) attitude around the club. Whilst many onlookers will not realise the lengths the club has gone to ensure most still feel a solid attachment to City, it is obvious that modern times have brought about many alterations to the way we experience going to the match, being with friends and family at the game and getting behind the team. However, most of the negative sensations are being felt across all clubs, whether they are challenging for honours or not. Football has changed radically since 1992, as have attitudes towards and within the sport. Whilst pessimists and nail biters like those airing their opinions here still see a need to go, football will remain in good health.

                                          

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

SEASON REVIEW: THROUGH OPPONENTS' EYES

PART FOUR
Continuing the series wrapping up last season with the view of Scousers, Saints, Hammers and Mackems, amongst others. This is what they had to say to Question Four

 Your side’s matches with City last season: memories that stand out, talking points?

  • Phil Lythell Chelsea ESPN correspondent, season ticket holder, writes at Shouty and Spitty 
  • "Community Shield was entertaining but was most memorable for Hazard's attempted backheel then went drastically wrong. First league meeting was Benitez's home debut - dreadful game but a point secured and a fair result. Throughly outplayed at Etihad, Chelsea never got going and City's midfield ran the show that day. Lampard's missed penalty very costly but, in truth, City were streets ahead of Chelsea..."
  • Luke O'Farrell writes for ESPN, EPL Index and blogs on all things Everton.
  • "Unlike the rest of those at the top, Everton have the hex over City and the four point return could easily have been six. The only aspect that rankled was the lack of class from Mancini and several others. This notion of the Merseyside paupers bullying the Manchester millionaires is the easy way out, there was minimal credit for the football on display...." 
  • Pete Sixsmith 's chosen dish is Sunderland (gristle and all). He writes at Salut Sunderland
  • "Talking points? Beating you at The Stadium of Light and it not being in the last minute. I thought City were poor on that day. My mate took his family there on a hospitality day out - said it was priceless to watch his Mag supporting son-in-law sit there with a rictus grin on his face. We were totally outclassed at your place. Humph!!!.."
  • Peter Thorne aka Billy Blagg has been writing on all things West Ham for ESPN for many years 
  • "The gutsy draw early on at UP really marked us down as difficult to beat (at home anyway!) but it wasn't that much of a game. The match at your place was really just another bad awayday for us but with the Premier League as it is at the moment, these are games we're just happy to compete in....."
  • Matthew Evans is a West Brom season ticket holder and ESPN correspondent
  • "Albion's home game with Man City made me believe they'd be champions again this year. Down to 10 men but still managed to come back from one goal down, admittedly West Brom didn't help themselves but it was the spirit of champions so surprised things turned out as they did...."
  • Marc Duffy follows Newcastle through thin and thinner and writes for ESPN
  • "None. Our performance at the Etihad was utterly disgusting and one of the reasons I lost faith in Pardew. I didn't expect a result, I did expect some effort....."
  • Chris Rann runs the excellent George Weah's Cousin and is Saints ESPN writer
  • "Well, nearly beating you on the opening day, and playing you off the park at home were both pretty memorable. Gareth Barry's delectable finish into his own net has to 
  • be up there, but Rickie Lambet's goal at the Emirates was a special moment for us...." 
  •  
    Gareth slots in
      
  • Simon Hughes remembers cheering Brian Labone and Gordon West from the unreconstructed Gladwys Street:
  • "Another good year against City. Robbed in the away game by a very poor decision from the ref. Home one marked by Osman being captain and scoring a beauty. A much loved and underrated player...."
  • John Wilson still has a poster of Peter Lorimer above his bed:
  • "The thrashing in the cup ! Leeds were playing terrible and City were coming back from a heavy defeat. We were obviously going to be hammered so I didn't even watch the match...."
  • James Whittaker, ESPN's Stoke reporter
  • "Not too many talking points really, we did best against you in the cup as there were no points at stake for our negative former manager. The home games were less painful and the away game followed the trend of every other away game to that point, surrender.."
  • Chris Dottie is an Evertonian child of the Kendall era and resident of the city of Gaudi and Messi
  • "Trepidation before the games, looking at City's line up and thinking that our luck had to run out. Still no - at the Etihad we were unlucky to only draw because of the type of penalty that is normally only given at Anfield or Old Trafford - a sure sign of your new status. At Goodison we got our fully deserved 3 points and even Jelavic scored. My main memory is Distin giving Dzeko a bit of a clatter early on as a loosener to see if he was up for it or not. Dzeko spent the rest of the game looking as if he was about to run off down the tunnel for his teddy....."
  • Phil Mison has been reporting on Fulham affairs across all media since the late 80s 
  • "We gave up 6 points and deserved nowt...."
  • Dave Glenn is a regular visitor to Old Trafford in hisJean Paul Gaultier tennis socks
  • Nasri ducking – just perfect....."

 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

SEASON REVIEW: THROUGH OPPONENTS' EYES

PART THREE
Continuing the series wrapping up last season with the view of Geordies, Saints, Throstles and Hammers, amongst others. This is what they had to say to Question Three


3. City fans: billy big time or still more or less the same poor masochists as before?
  • Phil Lythell Chelsea ESPN correspondent, season ticket holder, writes at Shouty and Spitty 
  • "Still the same downtrodden lot. No arrogance has seeped in despite success (yet!) and their backing of Mancini was - and is - extremely laudable.."
  • Luke O'Farrell writes for ESPN, EPL Index and blogs on all things Everton.
  • "There will always be those glory hunting types, the ones that accompany any successful side, but the majority of City fans seem to have their heads screwed on and know their football. This was fairly apparent with the show of support for Mancini; the recent advert in Gazzetta dello Sport was a great gesture....." 
  • Pete Sixsmith 's chosen dish is Sunderland (gristle and all). He writes at Salut Sunderland
  • "Had a couple of smashing conversations as we walked back to the city centre after you had cuffed us 3-0 in October. City fans still seem to be sensible and realistic - like us and Everton and not like United, Newcastle or Liverpool.."
  • Peter Thorne aka Billy Blagg has been writing on all things West Ham for ESPN for many years 
  • "We've not had the chance to get fed up with you lot yet. Prefer you to that mob down the road but give it time....."
  • Matthew Evans is a West Brom season ticket holder and ESPN correspondent
  • "Fans level of expectations have certainly grown which is completely understandable considering City won the league but don't think there is too much arrogance about it. I also admire the support/stance the fans have taken on Mancini....."
  • Marc Duffy follows Newcastle through thin and thinner and writes for ESPN
  • "Still the same, definitely...."
  • Chris Rann runs the excellent George Weah's Cousin and is Saints ESPN writer
  • "You haven't quite gone full Chelsea yet. NEVER go full Chelsea. The support shown for Mancini was admirable given a lack of success this season. I'm sure you get plenty more face painters these days, but you were still a great crowd at St. Mary's as we have come to expect...."
  • Simon Hughes remembers cheering Brian Labone and Gordon West from the unreconstructed Gladwys Street:
  • I still retain an affection for City's more mature supporters, but the newer, plastic ones can fuck off.
  • John Wilson still has a poster of Peter Lorimer above his bed:
  • "Not Billy Big Time. Same as before but if City turned into a Barcelona or Real Madrid it just wouldn't suit them..."
  • James Whittaker, ESPN's Stoke reporter
  • "More or less the same I would say. I know a lot of Man City fans and remember sharing relegation with you all those years ago. There will always be idiots everywhere but for the most part, your lot are sound. ."
  • Chris Dottie is an Evertonian child of the Kendall era and resident of the city of Gaudi and Messi
  • "Both. At their best they can represent the plucky traditional supporter like no-one else, at their worst they can be bitter nouveau riche. There seem to be some of each and some who vary between the two, according to their fancy...."
  • Phil Mison has been reporting on Fulham affairs across all media since the late 80s 
  • "City supporters are a pragmatic lot and know they must walk in United's shadow. They do have a sense a humour, unlike unbearable Reds followers...
  • Dave Glenn is a regular visitor to Old Trafford in his velvet catsuit and mauve moccasins
  • " Same bitter deluded tossers as ever..."





Wednesday, June 5, 2013

ANOTHER SURGICAL STRIKE

After months of the strangest speculation and oddest public requests from the player himself, City seem on the verge of signing Fernando Luiz Rosa from Ukrainian champions and Brazilian stud farm FC Shakhtar Donetsk. Like almost all Brazilians who play football, he goes by a nickname, in this case Fernandinho, or "little Fernando". Yet another from the massive unchecked "inho" family. Fernandinho was born in southern Brazil twenty eight years ago, in the city of Londrina of all places..

The experience City require
The question everyone is asking is what exactly can he bring to City? Here is what City's Brazilian supporters branch make of him:

"At the beginning of his career when he played for Atlético Paranense, Fernandinho was an attacking midfielder, but since his arrival in Europe in 2005, the Brazilian took on the new role of second holding midfielder and had to adapt to this new role, especially in approach play, cutting space and tackling. It is certainly true that, playing as a holding midfielder, Fernandinho has became a better player. owing to his great pace, his ability to open up defences, the Brazilian is now described as a box-to box player with a great passing and a surprisingly powerful shot. He will provide what was missing in the last two seasons: greater pace  in midfield. City can now start our attacking moves from the back, and offer some relief and freedom to the likes of David Silva, who will be able to stay in the final third, where the Spaniard is more dangerous...."

It is apparent that Pellegrini is, despite all of this activity having taken place before the official announcement of his new position at the Etihad, remaining true to his Malaga principles of fast attacking football. His first two signings are all about speed and precision. Manchester City 2013-14 vintage is going to be pretty but will be able to adapt its approach to games and will attack wide and fast, with the ability to go long or play the short passing game.

Luciano Silva Pinto , a Brazilian City fan living in Porto Alegre is not sure Fernandinho is necessarily the right choice. "Four or five years ago, yes, but I'm not absolutely sure he is good enough for where City are now. Hernanes of Lazio, the brilliant ex-São Paulo talent, might have been a more interesting acquisition.... Fernandinho must not be seen as a replacement for Barry either. A Fernandinho-Yaya defensive axis would produce problems,,,defensively".

Lazio's super talented Hernanes in his São Paulo days

Our Brazilian branch members continue: "He will also give us a new option: long balls. Fernandinho is able to make long passes and can quickly turn defence to attack with his passing over great distance. He has everything to be a success at City, but it is not entirely clear to me what his function in the team will be exactly. Will he be used as a replacement for Yaya Toure, or will Pellegrini put both together in midfield? Whatever the answer to that, City seems to be hitting surgical strikes in the transfer market with the new signings, and if Fernandinho achieves 50% of what his most famous "brother" did in Barcelona, we can start smiling and dreaming....".

++++

My thanks go to City's Brazilian branch and to Luciano for a very swift request for information on our latest acquisition.


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

SEASON REVIEW: THROUGH OPPONENTS' EYES

PART TWO 

2. Roberto Mancini: Were City right or wrong to get rid?
Continuing the series wrapping up last season with the view of Evertonians, Unitedites, Throstles and Geordies, amongst others.This is what they had to say to the above....
Mancini explains his European tactics

  • Phil Lythell Chelsea ESPN correspondent, season ticket holder, writes at Shouty and Spitty 
  • "Tricky one. Has to shoulder some blame for being unable to supply correct motivation. Record in Europe still poor despite hard group. Spent all season criticising board for transfer policy. Players response after his sacking suggest he wasn't exactly popular. On the other side, only one team can win the title and 2nd is perfectly respectable. Having won the title for first time in 44 years probably deserved one more season - shades of Ancelotti's sacking at CFC a year after winning the double. I don't think Mancini did himself any favours but it was a little harsh to get rid of him...."
  • Luke O'Farrell writes for ESPN, EPL Index and blogs on all things Everton.
  • "Wrong, very wrong. It probably wasn't the season most expected, but few would emerge from that Champions League group. Evident at Chelsea and now City, these foreign money-men are yet to grasp the idea of continuity and longevity...." 
    Cup final woes didn't help
  • Pete Sixsmith 's chosen dish is Sunderland (gristle and all). He writes at Salut Sunderland
  • "Who knows? Managers have short shelf lives now. The players looked as if they wanted rid of him - how else can you explain such a dreadful performance at Wembley. Time will tell if Pellegrini is an improvement. Anyway, we have our own Italian to worry about...."
  • Peter Thorne aka Billy Blagg has been writing on all things West Ham for ESPN for many years 
  • "WRONG! He won the title for you last season - the world is going insane, country = dogs  etc....."
  • Matthew Evans is a West Brom season ticket holder and ESPN correspondent
  • "No. Thought Mancini was a very good manager, most success someone has brought Man City in many a year. Also enjoyed the fact he out-did Sir Alex in the mind games last season. Can't see that Pellegrini is that big an improvement on Mancini...."
  • Marc Duffy follows Newcastle through thin and thinner and writes for ESPN
  • "Absolutely right. I can totally understand City fans loving the man who delivered their first title in a generation, but as a neutral (although I do like City so would want you to beat most) I found it hard watching many of your completely dull games. I work for an Italian company in Milan and the locals there also don't get or rate RM in the slightest and they're overtly proud of their own...."
  • Chris Rann runs the excellent George Weah's Cousin and is Saints ESPN writer
  • "Right. People hark on about harsh sackings, but with the money at his disposal and the squad of players he had, a complete blank on the trophy front a horrendous champion's league campaign completely justifies it for me. He should have done better, simple as that and I think he lost the dressing room. No going back from there, and as someone who comes across rather dislikeable for me, I can see why...."
    Pulis without hat
  • James Whittaker, ESPN's Stoke reporter
  • "Wrong – though that is an outside opinion most probably with few of the facts available to me.(some outsiders thought Pulis should have stayed!)..."
  • Chris Dottie is an Evertonian child of the Kendall era and resident of the city of Gaudi and Messi
  • "Right. You pay an employee millions based on the future not the past and there was no feeling that City were any better placed to challenge next year than this...."
  • Phil Mison has been reporting on Fulham affairs across all media since the late 80s 
  • "I personally found him amusing but his obvious lack of chemistry with owners and big names went against him..."
  •  Dave Glenn is a regular visitor to Old Trafford in his leapord print jumpsuit and gold espadrilles.
  • He deserved another European campaign therefore should have stayed till at least Xmas..."



Monday, June 3, 2013

SEASON REVIEW: THROUGH OPPONENTS' EYES

PART ONE
  1. Why did City fail to hold on to the title? What was your impression of us last season?
We all have an opinion on what went right and what went wrong last season. Ideas shared over a few pints and a badly barbecued sausage this summer will soon have us ready for the next instalment of the Manchester City Story..
Less clear is what exactly other people think about City. Those Delilah-singng Stoke fans, the Evertonians making odd hand signals in our direction, the masses blowing bubbles across Upton Park. Deep inside these groups of apparently City-baiting folk, live individuals just like us! With the ability to think freely and lucidly with out the aid of Talksport or the Daily Mail! With a sense of humour! With rationality (well, mostly) and without the need for a single exclamation mark.This is what they made of City's season.


  • Phil Lythell Chelsea ESPN correspondent, season ticket holder, writes at Shouty and Spitty 
  • "A bit limp, to be honest. Lacked the spark and relentless drive of the title winning campaign. A bit too predictable in their approach and a lack of pace failed to cut teams open often enough. That said, second place and an FA Cup final is not to be sniffed at. Problem is that expectations have been raised which, as a CFC fan, I know about all too well!"
  • Luke O'Farrell writes for ESPN, EPL Index and blogs on all things Everton.
  • "Summer signings. Needing to strengthen after winning the league, the new arrivals were more befitting a side lower down the table. Aside from the brilliant Matija Nastasic, the rest were either too old, too slow, too injured or too bad..." 

  • Pete Sixsmith 's chosen dish is Sunderland (gristle and all). He writes at Salut Sunderland
  • "Poor recruitment in the summer; Scott Sinclair or Robin van Persie - not the most difficult question to answer. I also thought that the sheer intensity of the Premier League caught out very good players like Silva and Aguero. Having said that, it was certainly better than watching Sunderland; we would settle for 12th. never mind second...."                                         

  • Peter Thorne aka Billy Blagg has been writing on all things West Ham for ESPN for many years 
  • I didn't feel it was much more than a kickback from having won the title in such an astonishing way the season before. That ability to go 'OK we've won that but now let's look at next season' is a skill developed over many years and it just seemed that City hadn't got it yet. I think they probably needed to invest a bit over the close season but there wasn't that much wrong, was there?

  • Matthew Evans is a West Brom season ticket holder and ESPN correspondent
  • I think City failed to hold on to the title because of some poor/underwhelming signings in the summer and because the form of the core players(Hart, Kompany, Silva and Aguero) wasn't as good as the title-winning season. On a whole, they just seem to lack that killer touch they had the previous season. 

  • Marc Duffy follows Newcastle through thin and thinner and writes for ESPN
  • I honestly think this was the lowest quality PL we've seen in over a decade. City failed to hold on to the title for several reasons (in my humble) - Mancini's insistence on 'own player knocking' was one. The football you played was another (often too 'safe') and many of your big ones signings are nowhere near their price tag - Milner, Barry, Nasri, Clichy, K Toure - consistent league winners? No. Consistent even weekly looked to be a struggle
     
  • Chris Rann runs (ran? runs) the excellent George Weah's Cousin and is Saints ESPN writer
  • Too many individuals and a loss of respect for the manager I would speculate. Individually it is hard to pick a better team, but often it looked to me like they weren't working as a unit.
     
  • James Whittaker, ESPN's Stoke reporter
  • I think they were so fired up to win the title the first time around, much of the urgency dissipated as soon as they did. Last season didn’t seem to have any momentum or purpose, which is odd given that they were defending their title.
  •  
  • Chris Dottie is an Evertonian child of the Kendall era and resident of the city of Gaudi and Messi
  • Mentality. They seemed a lot less motivated to win a second league than a first, and there seemed to be a definite mercenary attitude this year. Too few Kompanys and Harts who actually care about the club and too many players who don't have any passion for their employer. The manager seemed to get wrapped up in his own psyche and intra-club battles and was unable to develop a more useful spirit and mentality.
  •  
  • Phil Mison has been reporting on Fulham affairs across all media since the late 80s 
  • Sum of the parts did not add up to the whole
  •  
  • Dave Glenn is a regular visitor to Old Trafford in his yellow polo shirt and cut off denims
  • Too complacent, typical season after winning title with not enough players fired up with the same fight and desire that won it last year. RM weakened the squad with sales and purchases in the Summer.


Saturday, June 1, 2013

MEET ME IN ST LOUIS

With City completing an incredibly successful post-season trip to the United States, where the club succeeded in raising its profile on numerous levels, this is the third and final part of our reports from the US which reveals the efforts fans make to follow the club
This is what it's like to be City, Stateside

_______________________________________________________

by Pete Wright
Chairman/President
MCFC Denver




Last week, I had the privilege of driving to St. Louis with my good friend Erick French, also of MCFC Denver. The 15 hour drive was split up between a stop to visit my parents in tiny Rossville KS, which is just outside of Topeka. My parents recently celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary, so originally I just wanted to go see them. Then the news came out that City was going to visit St. Louis. It seemed as if the stars had been aligned perfectly. My wife had to work that weekend and Erick wanted to go, so it became a complete guys' trip.
On the Wednesday morning before the match we set off through Kansas, through 8 1/2 hours we drove what is one of the most boring drives in America, I-70 through Kansas. We spent the night at my parents' place and set off again early Thursday morning for St. Louis. The 5 hour drive seemed to take forever. The eagerness to see City and to meet people from the other supporters' clubs was eating away at me. There had been so many people that I knew from emails and Facebook that it was finally time to enjoy some pints and cheer on the Blues.

We arrived in St. Louis, checked into the hotel and then it was off to the pub. Finding Patty O's was a bit of a trek but in the end we ran into Vic Gregory from the Chicago MCFC group with none other than the great Mike Summerbee with her.Meeting Mike Summerbee was definitely among the greatest things I have ever experienced as a City supporter. I have supported City since 1997 and have always held Summerbee in high regard as a legend not only for City but in all of football. Summerbee stayed at the pub for some drinks, called me "tone deaf" when I led the rendition of "Blue Moon" and posed for pictures with anyone who requested it. He was incredibly gracious and classy, even bringing one person to tears with his words of praise and his own humility. After he left we all remained at the pub for a while longer to increase our blood/alcohol levels and then it was off to Busch Stadium. Any United fans in our path were shamed as they should be and the songs of Yaya Toure and Blue Moon were belted out. 
We made it into the stadium and to our section where we continued our singing, even when we fell behind 3-0. We grabbed more beers and a bit of grub and continued to sing. One warning for those who'd like to visit Busch Stadium, the stadium is brilliant, the food on the other hand, not so much.  $29 got 2 beers and a crappy hot dog. For less you can get 2 beers and a foot-long dog at Coors Field.
The turning point of the match came when a few Chelsea fans wanted to come to our section and hurl abuse. It seemed to be a bad move, because at City, We score when we want!  When the 3rd goal went in they began to disappear, then Micah Richards drilled the 4th and they were gone.


After the match it was back to the pub for more beverages, singing and more pictures (some very incriminating pictures with an inflatable banana).The next day was spent recovering, spending a bit more time with the Chicago group then setting off back to Denver. It was an amazing trip and an experience I'll never forget. We City supporters may have been outnumbered, but that will always be in numbers, never in heart and passion. We showed City how much we love our club on that night and it was a tremendous experience.

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Peter Wright
Chairman/President
MCFC Denver.
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