Thursday, November 28, 2013

THE CONDENSED READ: VIKTORIA PLZEN



Viktoria’s fans, scant but singing, jumping, making hay (and hops) whilst proud of club’s showing, of its gritty skill. Indomitability in action, will to win, or not to go down.

 ***

And what a show it was. Goals, a custom in this part of town, shot down on us in clouds of buckshot, mists of napalm. City, always inflictors of havoc.

***

A match that could run without passion, without action, without injury or much mishap, grown into a doughty show of skillful might, staunch spirit and lusty back and forth football.

 ***

City first , x marks spot. Small man, big spirit, broad of thigh, with a contract for accuracy, blasts ball into goal with air of an individual in utmost form.

***

On top of our world, on top of all worlds. But Viktoria find solution straight away. All straight in forty six rounds of a clock. All still to play for.

***

But City, and not Viktoria, carry forward thrust, hold solutions. A quick fix from a Gallic foot and again hosts find a way to command. Not for long. Two two!

***

Boiling, bubbling in a glacial mist, a match to warm hand and body, mind and soul. Nasri in and out, Hart a salmon in front of his trusty goal posts.

***

At last a flood of action to warm hands in polar conditions, an outpouring of joy for a crowd in wintry grasp, no stubborn chill as myriad goals fly in.

***
  
Spanish boss is calm and placid at this grand show of harmonious attacking. Just two topics of inquiry still hold forth in our brains. First, which man will guard goal?

***

And two: which four individuals, strong of arm with skill in coordination, shutting doors, bolting portcullis, barring ways of approach, can do a job of work in front of Hart?   


> (fin) ^



.....(* Ode to Georges Perec and Raymond Queneau   *300 words    * 10 x 30 words    *No letter 'e').....






Monday, November 25, 2013

IN APPRECIATION OF SERGIO AGUERO

Those of us long enough in the tooth to remember watching with mesmerised pleasure the forward play of Francis Lee, Neil Young, Rodney Marsh, Mike Summerbee, Dennis Tueart, Peter Barnes, Brian Kidd, Uwe Rosler and in more recent times Shaun Goater, Nicolas Anelka, Shaun Wright Philips, Carlos Tevez, Bernardo Corradi and a host of lesser mortals, will sleep easy at night knowing there is always a shot, a header or a gently billowing goal net to send us into our dreams.

Or an air guitar riotously celebrating your only meaningful goal of the season. Dreams can turn weird sometimes.

Unless I am mistaken, however, City's current side - heavily endowed as it is with attacking intent, bristling as it is with such fulminating power and gossamer delicacy - is home to perhaps the greatest forward the club has ever employed, a player of such athleticism, professionalism and potency that this season's goal tally already outranks that of Tottenham Hotspur, the team still nursing its bruises from meeting him and his team mates in such coruscating form at the weekend.

Sergio Aguero, in his present incarnation, must be tantalisingly close to the very top of the football tree right now. Praise is due to the ferreting work of master digger Fernandinho, the blossoming partnership with Alvaro Negredo, the supply line - constant and inch perfect - from Silva, Nasri and Navas, the bombing distractions of Yaya Touré and Pablo Zabaleta, but up at the pointy end where the tackles are flying and the elbows are constructed from steel and iron, City possess possibly the most potent attacking force seen on either side of the Manchester divide for many a long year.

"Alegria" in Buenos Aires and Manchester
Drifting back 24 hours to the Tottenham game, still fresh in the mind with its vivid colours and sharp vital smell of sweat well spent, the 47,000-plus at the Etihad were treated to a masterclass from the stocky Argentinean. What he delivers to a football pitch appeared so far beyond the likes of Dawson and Kaboul to counteract, they might as well have been fashioned from papier maché. Indeed at times it seemed as if they were. One decent burst of rain and they would have been completely finished.

Aguero, low to the ground and built on legs that could belong to a Mongolian horse wrestler, is apparently almost impossible to knock off the ball. This power and low centre of gravity, allied to a close control of the ball that is second to none, reminds the casual observer of his countryman Diego Maradona. Who will ever forget the Mexico World Cup of '86 and those trademark slalom runs over wild scything tackles? Maradona carried Argentina to the world title that year, through sheer force of character, will power and edge of the seat skill and bravery. This heady package would well apply to Aguero too, a modern day reincarnation of his countryman's physique and ability to hold possession amidst the most horrendous buffeting from the sport's less well endowed.

There is a speed off the mark, the first milliseconds of which take place inside the mind, that allows him to leave his marker completely for dead. Once caught, if it is possible to do so, try to dispossess the whirling feet of the ball, by foul means or fair - and Spurs quickly realised that their best, nay only, chance of success was by the latter, and see where it gets you. In Dawson's case, flat on his backside. In Kaboul's, facing totally the wrong direction. In Walker's, gulping greedily on the thin air left behind.
Pray for Kyle Walker
An icy breeze tickled their cheeks. He has gone, accompanied by the roar of the crowd and all you can do is bask in how oafish you look.

The touch with his left foot to divert Navas' quickfire cross past Hugo Lloris in the Tottenham goal for City's third yesterday was the work of a man supremely confident in his ability to dispatch the ball, any ball, into the net. The ball was smashed across at speed, two defenders had the chance to do something about it but failed, leaving Aguero with a split second to rerarrange his feet, change his body position and get some sort of meaningful connection on the ball. It skimmed lightly off his instep, the only touch that would do the job, and slipped diagonally past the wrong footed keeper. Sublime artistry at breakneck speed. Made to look like a stroll in the park.

But this, as we know, is not nearly the whole story. Watch any passage of loose play in midfield and look for the so-called superstar striker, digging in, chasing back, involving himself in the blur of one touch passes that carve out a new passage of possession for his team. No, prima donna goal hanging for the league's top scorer. No ghosting into special positions to pick up the crumbs for this man. Sergio Aguero plays a full and energetic part in shaping the chances that often culminate on his own toe end.



Football is a team game. Some players rise above this to elevate themselves to another level. Yet others, and there are very few of these, manage to stand out whilst remaining an integral part of the whole. For this, Sergio Aguero, we salute you, a truly outstanding footballer in an outstanding team.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

PROBLEMS PROBLEMS

You can find an abridged version of the following article at the official MCFC site


TRY GOOGLING “Manchester City away form” (don’t do this at home, kids) and you will find yourself bombarded by a shocking variety of headlines featuring the words “worried”, “perplexed”, at least one “bamboozled”, “negative effect on the title”, "worried for the future", "no chance at all", "Javier Garcia Murdered my Uncle Theofilius" and “bringing down a plague of locusts on the entire community of Greater Manchester”.

I may have made the last two up, but I'm pretty sure you get the approximate picture. It is a calamity, wrapped up in a disaster, cushioned with grief and waiting to explode all over us. Manuel Pellegrini’s hair, already a whiter shade of pale, must be turning peroxide with the worry.

Clearly, if anything can be said to be clear in football these days, City’s perfect home record is going a long way to balancing out what is happening away from Fortress Etihad, but let us take a minute or two to analyse the four away defeats that are providing so many people with ammunition at the moment.


Each one has been by a single goal. 3-2 at Cardiff and Villa, 2-1 at Chelsea and 1-0 at Sunderland. All close at the finish, despite City's evident profligacy upfront and hopelessness at the back..

The two matches, let us call them five goal thrillers for want of a more appropriate phrase (somebody must have been thrilled by them, let’s face it), saw City leading in both and finishing with overwhelming possession, corner, shots-on and -off stats (yes, I know, but bear with me). Anyone who witnessed the Chelsea match will not be able to say that defeat was deserved there either. City matched the home side overall in a feisty contest, beat them on all statistical data available and fell to an aberration when Joe Hart came out to collect Matija Nastasic instead of the ball.in the very last minute. 

As for the Stadium of Lright last weekend, where do you start? Sunderland – the home side, lest we forget- started the match in a kind of worried crab formation, scuttling backwards and sideways, running away and half coming back again. They then scored a goal. One cannot really say that it was out of the blue, but to say it had been coming would received some funny looks from all around. They then reverted to scuttling about under their shell. 


City had 63% ball possession and made 574 passes to Sunderland’s 298. Martín Demichelis and Aleksander Kolarov alone made more passes forward than Sunderland did. City had 24 shots to Sunderland’s 5. On top of everything, on a day when three of Jupiter’s moons aligned themselves with the top of Romark’s bald head to cause what experts call “severe confusion of the senses”, the winning goal was scored by David Bardsley, ex-United reserve, local black sheep and a man who gets forward to shoot at goal once every Blue Moon.


Most stunning of all, of the top 18 pass combinations between players during the match, only two featured passes between home players and that was only because one of the club’s sponsors demanded Ki be on the ball from time to time. (Bardley to Ki, 10 times, and Ki to Brown ten times. I can almost visualise that pretty triangle going round and round and round and back again until the ball rolled apologetically out into touch).

Haul your minds back to Cardiff, if you will. It’s ok, I’ll hold your hand. There'll be no bother, I promise. 70% possession for City; 561 passes completed to the home side’s 191; 17 of the top 18 pass combinations between City players. 16 shots to 9. (Yawn).

And on to Villa Park if you will: 67% possession for City. 487 passes completed to Villa’s 192; All eighteen of the top pass combinations during the match were between City players! 13 corners to the home side’s 2.

Off we go to Stamford Bridge, where you might expect it to have been a slightly different story. None of it. Although Chelsea, as you would expect, gave City a much tougher game than either Cardiff or Villa had managed to do, City had 54% of possession, had 6 of the match’s nine corners, made 404 passes to the home side’s 332. Of the pass combinations, 12 of the top 18 were between City players.

Now, I love a stat as much as the next man. I understand that all of those little numbers can be made to jump about in your favour almost at will. George Osborne might be able to cover over a few cracks, but these numbers tell a clear story of the Blues’ season so far on the road. Massive amounts of possession, a vast majority of the successful passing, more corners, more shots on goal than each of the hosts in each of the games. Much, much more.

I can blather on about this for months but let's allow those beautiful numbers to do the hard work:




Opponent
City possession of the ball/Opponent
City shots on goal/opponent
City/opponent passses completed
City top passing partnerships

Cardiff


70%   /30%

16 - 9

561  - 191

17 out of top 18

Aston Villa

67%   33%

21 - 8

487  -  192

All 18 top passing combinations


Chelsea


54%  46%

15 - 12

404  -  332

12 out of top 18

Sunderland


63%  47%

24 - 5

574  -  298

18 out of top 20

Norwich City


68%   31%

27 - 7

711  -  292

17 out of top 18




The stats for the demolition of Norwich are not far beyond what we see for the Cardiff, Villa and Sunderland matches. The Chelsea match delivers similar patterns in slightly more balanced terms. City actually had more possession at Cardiff than during the seven-nil stroll against Norwich. Norwich had more shots on goal losing 7-0 to City than Sunderland had beating us 1-0. Both Villa and Cardiff made significantly fewer passes in beating City than Norwich did in getting toasted. So, how can this be? 

Is it down to Joe hart's dandruff endorsements? Or Javi Garcia's tug boat impersonations? Is it Yaya's off days or Señor Pellegrini's oddly taciturn configurations? Is it the Sun and Pluto in Uranus? Is it Vincent Kompany's hamstrings? Is it Romark having yet more revenge for Big Mal's early 70s shenanigans?   

Maybe we should be looking - apart from the obvious individual errors and odd choice of players - at the one area of the side that nobody has mentioned yet: the attack. For all its 28 league goals, how many chances have been missed?

Experts blame the goalkeeper (now goalkeepers plural, after one paper decided Pantilimon should "take a look at himself" after Sunderland's winner last weekend), poor choice of tactics, inappropriate line-ups, lapses in defending and the evil eye of Isabat al-’ayn but perhaps in reality it comes down to something we have been aware of for decades.

And the two magic words will not be uttered here, if you don't mind too much.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

TO HE WHO WAITS....



MIKE HAMMOND, who has followed the Blues through the thin years of hollow laughter and salty tears, recalls a never-to-be-missed trip to Moscow to see the Manchester City he grew up watching lose to Oldham and Carlisle United play in a country and in a competition he never thought he'd live to see happen: 
Moscow 2013    
In common with (very) many City fans, my formative years were a study in masochism, upset and self-deprecation. ‘We never win at home and we never win away’ might seem now like an amusingly ironic song, but for many of us it happened to be the soundtrack to the first 20 years of our lives. At the same time, Liverpool, Villa, Spurs and Everton were conquering Europe and the TV would beam into our living room images from exotic locations of casually dressed young men living the high life following their club across the continent.

During this time (the glory years I’ll call them) the nearest I came to seeing City in Europe was….. Well there wasn’t a nearest. Let’s face it, we were shit. I did make myself a promise though – if we ever made it I’d be there. Looking back, this was an easy promise to make, like saying I’d leave my wife if Michelle Pfeifer ever turned up in my local. A possibility yes, not very likely though.
Fast forward a few years and I’ve been lucky enough to make good on my promise more times than is good for either my bank balance or my home life. It seems trite and (a little ‘small-time’?) to say it, but I’m having the time of my life (those of you who follow me on twitter may well have already worked this out) and have made some fantastic friends on these trips. When the draw was made for the 2013/14 Champions’ League group stages there really was one tie above all others that stood out.
When you think of Russia and Moscow what’s the first thing that comes to mind? I’m thinking of queues for loaves of bread and thousands of tanks rolling through Red Square demonstrating the might of the USSR. I’m also thinking about bitter cold weather, Cold War spy movies and politicking that can divide families and nations. On the whole though, I’m thinking how god damn miserable everyone in the Soviet Block seems to be.
I don’t know about you but I’d never dreamed I’d go to Russia. It never even crossed my mind. It seems an exotic, bewitching and bewildering place to go. Add in the red tape and the expense and it makes it more of an expedition than a holiday. So first things first, we had to get there.
This proved, on the whole, pretty straight forward. Easyjet fly direct from Manchester for one thing! We also used a very small independent travel agency specialising in trips to hard to get to places to sort out the visa and accommodation. Lupine Travel could not have been more helpful and held our hand through the whole process from first e-mail enquiry to boarding the return flight home. Recommended.
So what’s Moscow like? First impressions: Chaos. The drive from airport to hotel was like a cross between the Indy 500 and a stock-car race. I’m not ashamed to say I was terrified. It’s also big – big 5 lane motorways, big buildings, big shopping centres, big statues of Lenin and big hotels. Big.
We arrived late, so after a quick check-in, it was time to explore. Our hotel was built on the outskirts of Moscow in preparation for the 1980 Olympic Games. Sitting on a Metro line, it was only 5 stops from Red Square so pretty easy to get about. That first night however was spent in an around the bars, restaurants and shops of the hotel, and I won’t lie to you, it was a shambles.
“Fancy another refreshing shot of ice cold vodka Mike”?
“No thanks Neil, I’m fucked”
“Don’t forget we’re 3 hours ahead – its only 02:00am at home!”
“ok pal, sling it over – and can you ask the belly dancer to jiggle a little more?”
This was the night we nearly stole a coach… Like I say, pretty poor show but I must say it set the tone for the trip.

So what of Moscow itself? Well, aesthetically it’s a bit of a curate’s egg. Part wonderfully ornate city part Eastern bloc chic, but it is evolving. The face of the city is changing at a blinding pace: Parks are being redesigned, trees are being planted, and a network of pavements is being created. Last year, the city saw a record number of tourists, with five million people visiting the Russian capital. It’s predicted that the figure will increase by another 500,000 visitors this year.
I’m sure this would increase even more if they made the visa process more accessible and user friendly - and there’s the dichotomy of this place - old habits die hard. One the one hand a progressive city open to inward investment and cultural tourism – on the other it still has an image problem which isn’t helped if your first contact with the country is an unfathomable and expensive visa process.
Moscow reminded me in so many ways of Paris. The Moskva River runs through the centre of the city and is an attraction in itself. You will know all about the Kremlin, Bolshoi theatre and St. Basil’s Cathedral (Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed) but I don’t think anything can prepare you for the beauty of the place – particularly at night. There are of course many examples of old school communist style grey buildings but the city has a modern and lively feel.
One of the highlights of the city is the area around the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour – not only is the cathedral one of the largest in the world with superb golden domes visible across the whole city, but the interior is truly awe-inspiring, which I guess is the purpose?
On the opposite bank of the river to the Cathedral is the Strelka area. Housed on a large ‘island’ this boasts a trendy (if expensive) series of bars and restaurants many of which are housed inside a renovated chocolate factory. You don’t get asked “how would you like your burger cooking”? (Medium rare ta) in McDonalds – but then you don’t get charged nearly £16 for it so swings and roundabouts…
Towering over the area is one of the largest (8th), and weirdest statues in the world. It’s a depiction of Peter the Great stood on a boat and it genuinely makes you laugh it’s so odd. To make it even better, Peter the Great hated Moscow and moved the capital to St. Petersburg, so the current mayor of Moscow is trying to find somewhere to take it off their hands. I love this place!
Getting around Moscow is pretty easy. Once you get beyond Cyrillic script, the Metro is not only efficient and clean, but it’s an adventure in itself. I should say that it’s busy though. Bloody busy. No matter what time of day or night it is the trains are invariably packed. But as there’s another train coming in 2 or 3 minutes it’s rarely a problem.
Many of the stations are works of art in themselves. The Moscow Metro was one of the USSR’s most extravagant architectural projects. Stalin ordered the metro’s artists and architects to design an underground communist paradise. It was a glorious and extravagant present to the people of Russia in return for their sacrifices. I spent a morning with my dad just hopping off and on at various stations (TRAIN SPOTTERS!!!) to check them out. I’m going to whisper it here but - it was one of the highlights of trip.

There are loads of city spaces and parks in central Moscow. Probably the most famous one to us westerners is Gorky Park. I think it’s more attractive in the summer, when the boating lakes and Ferris wheels are operating, but it’s a lovely place for a quiet walk in the middle of the city. It also boasts a full size Space Shuttle! Of course it does. The only downside to the place is that you will spend the rest of the day whistling ‘The Winds of Change’ by The Scorpions. Fuck! I’m even whistling it now.
There’s plenty of bars and café’s around, and Moscow is one of the most connected city’s I’ve ever been too. Virtually everywhere you go there is free Wi-Fi available so staying in touch with home and travelling companions is easy. This also means that you can maintain hourly contact with twitter – and it was through twitter that we met 2 very different and gracious hosts.

Firstly, we met up with CSKA fan Sergei after the match. We had been chatting on Twitter for a couple of days since I posted some pictures and incorrectly identified the locations of them! We met him in Red Square at midnight (John Le Carré anyone?) and his first words were “We hate Manchester United”. From that moment on we got on like a house on fire. Sergei works for the government (and isn’t allowed to leave Russia - pretty quickly glossed over), but I’m not sure doing what. He is, however, a lovely fella and we spent the next 3 hours over a fair few beers getting to know a little more about life in Russia in general and Moscow in particular. His girlfriend lives 1600 km’s away, so it’s maybe not surprising he had time to meet up with a group of Mancs and show us around.

The drive back to the hotel was amazing. Granted I was leathered, but whizzing through central Moscow at 4am passing some of the great sights on (almost) empty roads was a real buzz. We’re in Moscow baby!

The following day we met up with the most generous and beautiful expat in Moscow. Ruth has lived in Russia for nearly a decade, and with only the most tenuous connection – a friend of a friend through twitter - she took us on a mini guided tour which ended up at the (non-descript) door of an amazing Georgian restaurant. Four Mancunians, some with hangovers, really appreciated the opportunity to enjoy an experience that we would never have found on our own. And FYI – Georgian food is tremendous – Try the spicy lamb soup!




By Mike Hammond.

You can follow Mike on Twitter right here 

Monday, November 4, 2013

THE CONDENSED READ: NORWICH home

HOW OTHER FOLK SEE US, PART 310
This week's match reflections brought to you entirely via other people's thought processes:

Alex Ferguson, Lord of Govan : "Norwich were a wee bit unlucky, but remained a plucky opponent right up to the end. I thought City were poor defensively and the manager has let himself down completely with the theatre over the keeper. It showed a true lack of class...."

Jamie Cardigan: "It's clear for all to see that City have been going backwards since Roberto Mancini left the club and here was more evidence to pile up with the rest...."

Paul Dacre, editor, Daily Mail: "There was clear evidence that Manchester City, the screaming anarchic wreckers of all that we understand to be good and correct, were about to field a side entirely composed of non-Englishman. Not even a Welshman would play on this day, let alone a Scot. Further evidence of the dissolving of our society's natural pillars of strength...."

Jeff Mound in the Guardian: "Billionaire City wipe their bottoms on the staunch paupers of Norwich...." 

Bob Splatter, Mail Staff Reporter: "Hart sensationally dropped again in the cruelest of circumstances. Just when Joe Hart thought his long vigil was over, Chilean tormentor Manuel Pellegrini sensationally told him he had been dropped AGAIN...."

Stockport Evening Sentinel: "United and City in Ten Goal Avalanche"

Ted Biscuitbarrel, Daily Telegraph: "Norwich were brought down to earth by two cruel own goals just as they were beginning to take the game by the scruff of the neck...."

Match of the Day expert analysis: "....masterful Manchester United exploded all over Fulham in a display of attacking magnitude not seen since Puskas and Di Stefano ate Eintracht Frankfurt for supper..." ....(....)..... "Norwich City absolutely woeful as they are edged out by Hart-less City...."

Singapore Star + Bugle: "Moyes Messiah Looks Like Busby Now"  ...(....)..."40 Million pound invisible man Fernandinho finally makes himself noticed after twelve games trying..."

Ted Cuttlefish in the carpark, Eccles Asda: "They should win by seven every week, the money they've spent...Just shows, you can't buy class...."

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest analyst Joe Kinnear: "What Man City need is a big guy up front. They've got too many midgets. They should sign that Decko fella.."





THE MOSCOW EXPRESS

In preparation for this week's Champions League return with CSKA Moscow, here's Pat Rose's account of a trip into the unknown to support the Blues in Moscow on a very special occasion: City's first ever competitive game in Russia on 23rd October.






 
Muscovite Musings on 
Manchester City’s October Revolution


November 5th is the night for fireworks (BT City Square from 6.45 pm on Tuesday!); but hopefully not the same pyrotechnics last seen in the home end at CSKA Moscow two weeks ago. It would be good if the final outcome of that game can be repeated though, because it will take us one step closer to our first Champions League knock out stage.

The trip to Moscow was keenly anticipated, although not without some trepidation:




  • Would our visas be accepted?
  • Would we navigate our way round a city in which English seems to be an unused substitute?
  • What exotic sights would we discover?
  • How would City adapt to playing on a pitch that resembled the old Wembley after the Horse of the Year Show?

In the end, nothing disappointed us. Moscow was marvellous, the match was hard fought but entertaining for all that, and the small band of intrepid travellers were excellent company.
The spectacle of Red Square, the Kremlin and St Basil’s Cathedral by night surpassed the home fans attempts at a light show, although I could find no City fans prepared to match their state of semi undress in freezing conditions during the second half


Of course, the best highlight was the sight of the imperious Aguero scoring two excellent goals. But there were other highlights in those two action packed days: the most bizarre being the sight of Lenin lying in state (no inappropriate jokes here about him being more agile than Kolarov as left back – I’ll leave that to the moaners who sit behind me); the meal at the Bosco Café in Red Square was superb; the Invisible Man’s favourite bar Platform 13 and its staff a hidden gem! 


That trip was one of many highlights during October, when a number of us covered the best part of 4,500 miles following City. We had 3 away wins out of 4, never to be sniffed at whatever the opposition (what would have been a well deserved draw at the Bridge would have put the icing on the cake, but for those two minutes of madness)


For me, the lynchpin in all those games was the mercurial magician that is David Silva. He has reopened his delightful box of tricks and, as well as scoring some excellent goals himself, has been the creator and provider of many of the best moments of October 2013.  

You can and very much should follow Pat on Twitter here


Friday, November 1, 2013

A TALE OF TWO CITIES

NORWICH and City have had some memorable encounters in the past. Here are a few memories from the last 40 years of action between the two sides

96-97: 19th Oct 1996: Steve Coppell's first home game and a flood of relief and optimism rolls over a noisy and excited Maine Road. After a 2-2 draw at QPR and defeat at Reading, Coppell is off the mark with a win in his third game in charge. Little are we to know, he was already passing the 50% mark in his City managerial career. Happily, Coppell had just enough time to leave the lasting legacy of Simon Rodger before he decided to quit, though. 

1980-81: 24th Jan 1981: A packed Kippax watches Tony Powell and Kevin Bond clash with Phil Boyer in this FA Cup 4th round tie won 6-0 by City, pitching new manager John Bond against his old club and his centre back son. In the 3rd round City had beaten ex-boss Malcolm Allison's Crystal Palace side, making people think this strange run of coincidences might mean City were destined for big things. City got all the way to the final before losing out to Tottenham after a replay.  

1992-93: 26th Aug 1992: Terry Phelan makes his Blues debut in a 3-1 early season game in the Premier league's inaugural season. Only 23,000 are present, owing to major redevelopment work on the Platt Lane end.  

1980-81: 4th Apr 1981: With the Cup Semi Final with Ipswich approaching, City are beaten 2-0 at Carrow Road. With a race for places in the big game, John Bond is furious with his charges for a lax display, claiming nobody wants to get injured before the Villa park showdown the following weekend. Everyone survives the game unscathed, but Bond still removed Tommy Booth and replaces him with Tommy Caton for the semi.


2001-02: 13th Jan 2002: Kevin Keegan looks on impassively as Danny Tiatto's temper gets the better of him once again. Tiatto's launches the Norwich physio's water bottles into the Main Stand at Maine Road after being sent off for an innocuous offence against Steen Nedergaard, who gos down like a ton of bricks clasping his face, as if attacked by a madman with an axe. Tiatto, in no way resembling a madman with an axe, is escorted down the tunnel. 

1977-78: 3rd Sept 1977: Mike Channon makes a stunning home debut for the Blues in an impressive 4-0 win over Norwich at Maine Road. It is possibly his best game in a City shirt and the Monday papers begin a campaign to have the ex-England international restored to the national squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

1993-94: 20th Nov 1993: Niall Quinn's goal gives City a  draw at Carrow Road to halt a run of two consecutive defeats to West Ham and Man United.here Alan Kernaghan showcases his delicate centre half skills, as he lumps the ball away from the advancing legs of Chris Sutton.
1982-83: 15th Jan 1983: City smack four past Norwich as the race against time begins. A dreadful slump will take them down the table soon after this game, culminating in defeat and relegation against Luton at Maine Road on the last day of the season. After this game, decorated by two goals from David Cross, City sit 11th in the table.

1999-2000: 12th Feb 2000: Brilliant goals from Mark Kennedy seal a 3-1 win and keep the momentum going, as City charge through the first division on their way back from the depths of the old third tier. The Irishman's goals come in the 82nd and 83rd minutes of a hard fought game and keep City up with the pace setters.

1975-76. 17th Sept 1975: Dennis Tueart converts a penalty in the 2-2 draw in the League Cup replay at Maine Road, during a tie that went to a second replay, won 6-1 by City at Stamford Bridge. City would go on to lift the Cup that season, beating Newcastle 2-1 in the Wembley final.

1973-74: 8th Sept 1973: Frank Carrodus skips a Norwich tackle in the sun-drenched 2-1 victory over the Canaries at Maine Road. Francis Lee, seen in the background, scores one of the goals to seal the home win. More on this game here


2001-02: 18th Aug 2001: After a stunning start to Kevin Keegan's reign at Maine Road, which had delivered a 3-0 win over Watford, City travel to East Anglia and come a complete cropper. Here Paolo Wachope attempts to accelerate away from a Norwich defender in the 2-0 defeat.


Other Tedious Stuff

Poets and Lyricists