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Monthly Archives: February 2011

Ultimately it has been a disappointing week for City due to the unfortunate defeat to Manchester United in the derby clash at Old Trafford on Saturday.

The week started with the distraction of a brief international break which saw England pit their wits (if they have any) against Denmark in a remarkably pointless fixture. Seemingly, the fixture was scheduled to justify Fabio Capello’s pay packet. Not that he should be on the Football Association’s payroll after such a dismal World Cup in South Africa last year. Nonetheless, the fixture registered of absolute no interest to me and I was only reminded of it by stumbling upon the BBC website to see the score was one all. I found out the next day that England won the match two one in the end. Great!

Following the international break, the media started their usual barrage of hype leading up to the Manchester derby. The usual and rather predictable topics came to fruition. For example, do City have the team spirit and togetherness to beat United? United’s experience of having been there before should see them through. What I found particularly notable was the Manchester Evening News’s 12 page pull-out ‘Derby Special’. It was fascinating to see how the same article could be re-written in a slightly different way across twelve pages. The only differences between articles were whether the journalist preferred City or United. If City had a chance the journo was leaning towards City, if United were going to effectively rule out City’s title hopes the journo was a red. Of course all of this pre-match hype was accompanied by the fans’ opinions on derbies gone by and their predictions for the game ahead, all of which were absurdly bias and showed about as much intellect as an earth worm. This kind of idiocy is usually found on the bluemoon forum and I imagine the United equivalent, not that I intend to confirm that for you. Surely all the hype would mean the game would be a disappointment?

The game started very brightly for City and they should have taken the lead after David Silva combined well with Carlos Tevez and Yaya Toure to carve open the United defence. Unfortunately, Silva poked the ball just wide of the post from a tight angle. The game continued at a good tempo with half chances falling to both teams. It was United who took the lead after Nani collected a through ball from Ryan Giggs to steer the ball past Joe Hart just before half time.

City, in retrospect, probably were the better team in the second half as they took the game to United. Their endeavour was rewarded with a goal after Edin Dzeko, a second half substitute, powered a shot towards goal which cannoned off Silva’s back and completely fooled Edwin Van der Sar and put City back on level terms. A slightly fortunate goal but fully deserved.

City continued to press and the game looked as if it could go either way. It was not to be City’s day though as they were undone by a fine strike from Wayne Rooney. There is no need for me to explain the goal as I’m sure there are plenty of other people to do that for you. What I will say is that I’m not sure what I find more amazing, the goal itself or the fact that Rooney actually scored a goal. It is just a pity for me and for City that a striker that has been absolutely useless for almost a year found his form in the latter stages of this game. The goal took the wind out of the City’s sails and United held onto the claim the three points.

Ultimately, it was a disappointing day and week for City. The game was entertaining and I felt that City did not deserve to lose and were undone by a ‘freak’ goal, if you will. I say ‘freak’ as it came from an out of form striker and it was rather a good goal. However, at least City went for it in this game as apposed to milling around waiting for United to do something, which has been the case in some other recent derbies.

It has been suggested in the post match fallout that City’s title hopes are over. Quite an absurd thing to say with eleven games left of the season. For sure, it will be difficult for City win the league, yet unexpected things can happen in football. For example, no one expected United to lose to Wolves last week and no one expected Arsenal to surrender their four goal lead to Newcastle either. I also seem to recall that no one expected City to beat Chelsea earlier in the season, as at that stage Chelsea were top of the league and had won all of their games. My point being, all is not lost. Even if City do not win the league it is great from a fans’ perspective to be involved in the title race.

In other news this week, I was outside the local shop after the game and found it rather amusing that there were some rather loud and drunk Norwich City fans singing about how great Manchester United were. I couldn’t figure it out until I remembered that is part of United fans ‘gold and green’ protest against their American owners and a signal of how they want to return to their roots of Newton Heath. The same Newton Heath that sits under the shadow of the City of Manchester stadium. The irony is lost of most of the Norwich, sorry, I mean United fans. I suspect most of them do not know where Newton Heath is. Nevertheless, as long as the Americans are piling debt onto United I’m sure it won’t be long until United return to their lowly roots of Newton Heath. Sound bitter? Well, I am!

Words by Rob Toole

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A mixed week for City, with some positive activity on the pitch and in the league table. This week also saw the passing of a City legend, Neil Young, who died at the age of sixty six.

The week started with the closure of January transfer window. There was no high drama in Manchester as the deadline approached on Monday night. Chelsea and Liverpool, however, flailed around vast piles of cash on the out of form Fernando Torres and the inexperienced, injured Andy Carroll respectively. A welcome rest bite from media scrutiny for City who, for once, did not grab the headlines with a big money buy at the close of the transfer window. Nonetheless, City youngsters Andrew Tutte and David Ball left the club. Tutte headed for Yeovil Town on loan until the end of the season and Ball joined up with Peterborough United on a permanent deal.

City’s first challenge of week fell in the mid-week clash away to Birmingham City. City started excellently after David Silva ran rings around the Birmingham defense before laying the ball off to Carlos Tevez inside the penalty area. Tevez took the ball wide of the goal and managed to squeeze the ball into the far corner of the goal with the aid of a slight deflection off Martin Jiranek. A great start inside four minutes which signaled a potentially great evening for City.

However, City threw away their advantage with some atrocious defending on what seemed to be a rather standard free kick routine from Birmingham. David Bentley’s free kick was crossed into the box and eluded a sea of bodies before the faintest of touches by Nikola Zigic fooled Joe Hart which allowed Birmingham a way back into the game. Birmingham, on this occasion, taking advantage of the seemingly increasing soft centre to City’s usually solid defence.

City fought their way back into the game after Aleksandar Kolarov sublimely converted a free kick on the edge on the penalty area. The powerful, curled effort left Birmingham ‘keeper Ben Foster with no chance of saving it. Yet, it was City who were left ruing their defensive shortcomings and lack of a killer instinct as Birmingham finished the game with a point. Patrick Vieira clumsily gave away a penalty which was confidently converted by Craig Gardner. Ultimately, the night ended in frustration as Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea all picked up three points in the Premier League clashes the night before whereas City left Birmingham with one point.

Come the weekend, City were looking for three points and perhaps more importantly, a clean sheet, against West Bromwich Albion in Manchester. Before the game the crowd gave a minute’s applause to pay tribute to Neil Young, the City legend, who passed away earlier in the week.

City started the game at a frenetic pace with Tevez hitting the post after a fine Kolarov cross. City were soon rewarded a goal after Kolarov was brought down inside the penalty area by Steven Reid. Tevez stepped up and confidently put the ‘keeper the wrong way. A relief for Tevez, I’m sure, as he missed his previous two spots kicks against Leicester City and Blackpool.

City continued the onslaught and found themselves two goals to the good after Silva played a neat one two with Tevez, who calmly slotted the ball into the back of the net. In all honesty the game could have finished as a cricket score due to the ferocity and frequency of City’s attacking play. However, in the end City had to settle for only three goals, the third goal came from a second Tevez penalty which was rifled into the top of the net. A fine day for Tevez who completed a hat-trick on his twenty seventh birthday and a fine day for City who ended the day with three points and a clean sheet. At the end of the week City look in a more positive position in the league table after Manchester United lost to Wolves, Arsenal drew with Newcastle and Chelsea lost to Liverpool.

Next week: the Manchester derby at Old Trafford on Saturday which is sure to be a hotly contested game, as always. In the meantime be prepared for the onslaught on verbal diarrhea from the media as the excitement builds to the big day.

Words by Rob Toole

Good news! Emmanuel Adebayor is no longer a Manchester City player. So, a good start to the week but it ended on a slightly dejected note with the one-all draw with Notts County on Sunday.

I imagine that the City management team and some of the players breathed a collective sigh of relief when Adebayor packed his bags for Real Madrid. Albeit, a loan move until the end of the season, with an option for the move to be made permanent should Madrid wish to buy.

It has been an action packed City career for Adebayor. After his £25 million move from Arsenal in 2009 he had a dream start with goals in each of the first four games of the season. This culminated in the now infamous Arsenal game in which he taunted the Arsenal fans and scrapped his boot across Robin van Persie’s face. All good work you may think, until the retrospective red card and three match ban which followed. Which in turn lead to one of the many Manchester City witch hunts in which Adebayor was hung out to dry by much of media. They had a point, for sure: it is not right to stamp on people’s faces but the extent to which the situation was blown out of proportion was absurd. Nevertheless, Adebayor’s form never fully recovered.

When you consider the atrocious terrorist attack on the Togo national team as they traveled to African Cup of Nations in Angola in January 2010 it is hardly surprising Adebayor’s form took a dent. Adebayor witnessed a team mate die in his arms as a result of the attack. One cannot begin to imagine how this affected him and it would be unfair to speculate. City duly gave Adebayor as much compassionate leave as he required.

Adebayor, later on in the season, received a second red card of season which resulted in a four match ban. In total Adebayor was banned for seven games and missed roughly a month on compassionate grounds. This surely would not have helped his form.

For me, it is good news that he has left the club for two reasons. Firstly, his apparent lack of effort. Secondly, his attitude.

At the beginning of the season he kicked up a fuss about not being in the starting eleven every week. In my opinion, his football does not justify a starting eleven place and this kind of moaning attitude does no one any good.

A lot of the time when I have watched Adebayor play he walks around the pitch giving the impression that he is putting in 40% effort. What is frustrating is that I sometimes feel that if he put in just 80% effort he could be a world beater, yet he doesn’t. If you take into consideration the other strikers at City it is hardly surprising he did not get selected much this season. Take Mario Balotelli. He gives the impression, on occasion, that he is putting 40% effort but is twice the player Adebayor is and Carlos Tevez is simply a goal machine. The fact that Jo gets picked ahead of Adebayor speaks volumes about Adebayor’s effort and commitment in training and on the pitch.

It seems as if Adebayor has forgotten how good City have been to him during his time at the club. City allowed him as much compassionate leave as necessary, and he got himself banned for seven games as a thank you. Let’s just hope the “special one”, Jose Mourinho is stupid enough to cough up the reported £17 million for him in the summer.

Anyway, onto the fourth round FA Cup tie away to Notts County on Sunday. City made several changes to the team allowing Jo, Jerome Boateng, James Milner, Patrick Vieira and Micah Richards a chance to impress. The game started slowly and perhaps the best chance of the first half fell to Yaya Toure after a fine piece of attacking wing play by Richards who powered a low cross towards Toure who could not get enough power or direction of his sliding shot from six yards.

Notts County more then held their own in the game and early in the second half capitalised on some poor defending from a corner allowing Neal Bishop to head into the top of the net. County were in dreamland and the game picked up to a more frantic pace.

The introduction of David Silva, in place of Jo, seemed to turn the game in City’s favour. The Spaniard provided a more attacking edge to City’s play and as a result City were able to hold up the ball more easily in the final third. City were saved the embarrassment of losing to County after Dzeko powered in a low Richards cross ten minutes from time. Richards had a fantastic game, after returning from injury, and it was a shame to see him limp off the pitch at the end of the game. After a good, competitive cup tie City will host Notts County in the fourth round replay in Manchester on Saturday 19th February.

In other news this week, it has been revealed Adam Johnson will be out for three months after injuring his angle ligaments during training. This is a big blow for Roberto Mancini and he has suggested that Shaun Wright-Phillips will be staying put, for now, to act as cover.

Next week: City return to Premier League action with an away trip to Birmingham on Wednesday followed by a home tie against West Brom on Saturday.

Words by Rob Toole