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Monthly Archives: September 2011

City succumbed to a 2-0 defeat away to Bayern Munich last night in their second Champions League group game. A first half brace from Mario Gomez was enough to seal City’s fate on the night. In truth, Munich were far superior and deserved the victory. The German’s blistering form this season continued as City’s equally positive progress this season faltered somewhat. Munich are undefeated this season, without conceding, and they were clearly intent on continuing their unbelievable form last night. With one point from their opening two group games, City face a tough challenge to progress to the knock-out stages of the Champions League. Though, all is not lost as four games remain.

Unfortunately, the game will not be remembered for events on the pitch. The refusal of Carlos Tevez to come on as a second half substitute has, rather unsurprisingly, stolen the headlines. In a second half where Munich continued to control the game, Roberto Mancini ordered Tevez to warm up and replace Gareth Barry. Tevez did not move from the bench meaning Aleks Kolarov went onto the pitch instead, much to the anger of Mancini, the City staff and of course the fans.

Carlos Tevez refuses to play against Munich

Exactly who does Carlos Tevez think he is? For someone who portrays himself as an exemplary professional, last night showed a simply unacceptable side of the want-away Argentine. Tevez reportedly earns in the region of £250,000 a week and cannot be bothered to run around a football pitch for 30 minutes. That is just offensive, offensive to Mancini, his colleagues, the club and to his profession. Not only has Tevez incurred the wrath of Mancini and the City faithful he has also attracted deserved criticism from the wider footballing community. Mancini stated ‘If I have my way he will be out. He’s finished with me.’ I think you will be hard pressed to find someone who disagrees with the sentiment.

During the summer, I was of the opinion that if Tevez leaves City, great because he clearly doesn’t want to be there. Then again, I also thought that if Tevez stays, great because he will give it his all when on the pitch. Sadly, I have been proven wrong. His refusal to even take to the field of play is just a step too far. The sooner Tevez leaves City the better.

On what should have been a night to remember for City, playing one of the great European teams in arguably the best football competition in the world, the Champions League, it will be a night most City fans and players alike will want to forget sooner rather than later.  Even though City lost the game, the occasion should have been remembered for marking City’s arrival at the summit of European football. In reality, it will be remembered for the moment Carlos Tevez over stepped the mark and perhaps epitomised all that is wrong with modern football. The sooner City put this rather ugly episode behind them the better.

Words by Rob Toole

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For those of you that cannot quite believe how brilliant City’s start to the season has been, Inoculated City has compiled some rather compelling statistics from throughout the season which prove that City’s blistering start is not an illusion.

General Play

75% – City have won 75% of headers in their own penalty area this season, more than any other team in the division. 26/09/2011

18 – David Silva has created more goalscoring chances from open play (18) than any other player in the Premier League so far in 2011/12. 24/09/2011

1394 – Barcelona (768) & Man City (626) produced the most passes in the Champions League this week yet neither side managed a win. 14/09/2011

26 – City had 26 attempts on goal against Wigan on Saturday, more than any other side in Game week 4. 12/09/2011

133 – Man City players have made 133 touches in the opposition box so far this season, no other side has reached 100 yet. 26/08/2011

92% – Manchester City have played a higher proportion of short passes than any other Premier League side this season. 25/08/2011

90% – David Silva has completed 101 of his 112 passes this season in the Premier League. 21/08/2011

31 – City had 31 attempts on goal versus Swansea. Almost 4 times as many as the visitors. 16/08/2011

It's looking good for City

Form

11 – City have now scored in 11 consecutive Premier League games. The longest current run in the division. 19/09/2011

4 – Man City have joined Chelsea (1997), Man Utd (2001) & Arsenal (2004) as the only Premier League away teams to score 5+ at Spurs. 28/08/2011

36 – It has been 36 matches since City last dropped out of the top 4 in the Premier League. 22/08/2011

And Finally….

One for the cynics who still think City are boring….

18 – It has been 18 Premier League games since City last registered a no score draw. 28/08/2011

Thank you to Opta City for the stats.

Words by Rob Toole

City earned a deserved and hard fought victory over Everton yesterday lunch time. City ran out two-nil winners in Manchester courtesy of strikes from Mario Balotelli and James Milner to finally overcome the stranglehold which Everton have had over City in recent seasons. Everton, going into this game, have won the last four Premier League encounters with City.

The game offered a different spectacle to what we have become accustomed to this season and this was mainly down to the negative tactics employed by Everton’s manager David Moyes. City had to work hard and be patient as Everton put all their players behind the ball in an attempt to stifle City’s attacking flair. This seemed to be working until the hour mark when Roberto Mancini introduced Mario Balotelli in place of Edin Dzeko.

The Italian youngster seemed to change the game in as much that he scored a goal to put City into the lead but he also added a different dimension to City’s attack. His pace, quick feet and directness was something that Everton could not cope with. Balotelli put in a fine performance against Birmingham earlier in the week and Mancini had clearly taken note.

After Balotelli scored it was notable to see him run straight towards Mancini and embrace him before acknowledging the delight of his team mates. Not that one can read too much into it, perhaps this demonstrates that Mancini has taken Balotelli under his wing and has been working closely with the, on occasion, fiery Italian so that he can fulfil his massive potential. After the game, Mancini praised Balotelli’s patience and work ethic this season as he has had to wait on the sidelines for his chance to shine. Perhaps his celebration was merely a thank you to his manager.

Balotelli embraces Mancini after putting City into the lead against Everton

As the game wore on, Everton did not adjust their tactics in response to the goal and seemed to be happy to resort to damage limitation. However, in the dying embers of the game David Silva took advantage of some sloppy midfield play from Everton substitute, Drenthe, to gain possession. The little Spaniard superbly held up the ball before feeding a sublime through ball for James Milner to tuck the ball home.

All in all, the victory was deserved and notable for the different approach that City had to take to secure the points. It may well be something City will have to get used to as the season wares on as few teams will try and take the game to City. It is comforting to see that City have the guile and temperament to overcome the sternest of defences, like Everton’s, as well the flair and swagger to tear apart teams, like Tottenham.

Words by Rob Toole

City’s lethargic two-all draw with Fulham on Sunday was extremely disappointing. City’s dominance for the first hour was undone by an inability to kill off the game and see off a relatively calm Fulham storm. Sunday’s game followed an eerily similar pattern to that of the reverse fixture in April 2008 when City, who were at home, lost three-two after being two goals to the good. Though City didn’t lose on Sunday it felt like defeat given the quality of the current City team.

Aguero celebrates his second goal against Fulham with Dzeko

Back in 2008, Fulham were the visitors to the Etihad Stadium (formerly the City of Manchester Stadium) and were staring into the abyss with relegation seemingly inevitable. With three games of the season remaining a City victory would have sealed the Londoner’s fate and condemned them to relegation.

City were two-nil up well before half time courtesy of strikes from Stephen Ireland and Benjani and were cruising in much the same manner as Sunday just gone when Kun Aguero bagged a brace for Mancunians. As it was City’s last home game of the season, the party had started. The sun was out, the weather was sweet and the fans were jovial.  Out of nowhere, City switched off and Fulham produced a rousing display of football to go and win the match three-two. Not only did they save the game, they went onto save their season and avoid relegation. City on the other hand went onto to lose 8-1 to Middlesborough in the final game of that season. Though Sunday’s display was not quite as dismal it did bring back memories of the bad old days.

Fulham humble City in Manchester in 2008

It is important to point out that I do not for one minute expect City to capitulate in quite the same manner in light of Sunday’s game. Simply comparing the two City teams from 2008 and now is enough evidence to fill me with confidence in the future (see below). City are in a completely different world, perhaps even universe, to what they were three years ago. This season, City have been nothing short of remarkable but it was oh so different back in 2008.

At the time, Manager Sven Goran-Eriksson was effectively a dead man walking as Thaksin Shinawatra had already publicly earmarked him for the sack at the end of the season. Some sections of the crowd were in protest to save Sven, such was the love for the ever so calm Swede. Only with the beauty of hindsight can we look back and be thankful that Sven only had one season at City. At the time who can blame City fans for wanting to keep him. Sven brought an air of hope to City after two years of slow decline under the rule of Stuart Pearce. Nevertheless, it was right that Sven went.

In 2011, City are a different beast entirely, unrecognisable from the team of Sven. Roberto Mancini is no push over and I’m sure he will eradicate such feebleness from his players. It won’t be too often this season that City throw away such a lead like they did on Sunday. When the going gets tough this season just remember how it used to be! To watch the match highlights of Sunday’s game click here.

City squad versus Fulham on 26/08/2008

Joe Hart (GK), Elano (DF), Sun Jihai (DF), Vedran Corluka (DF), Michael Ball (DF), Gelson Fernandes (MF), Michael Johnson (MF), Stephen Ireland (MF), Martin Petrov (MF), Darius Vassell (ST), Benjani (ST)

Subs: Geovanni, Felipe Caicedo, Shaleum Logan, Nery Castillo, Andreas Isaksson

City squad versus Fulham on 19/09/2011

Joe Hart (GK), Micah Richards (DF), Vincent Kompany (DF), Joeleon Lescott (DF), Gael Clichy (DF), Yaya Toure (MF), Gareth Barry (MF), David Silva (MF), Samir Nasri (MF), Edin Dzeko (ST), Sergio Aguero (ST)

Subs: Costel Pantilimon, Kolo Toure, Aleksander Kolarov, Mario Balotelli, Pablo Zabaleta, Adam Johnson, Carlos Tevez

Words by Rob Toole

Wednesday night saw the inaugural Champions League game for City. Italian side Napoli were the opposition on the historic night in Manchester. The game proved to be an entertaining affair in spite of City’s failure to take all three points.

There was certainly an air of occasion outside the stadium pre-match. City Square was buzzing with anticipation as re-runs of previous European City encounters played on the big screens. The main entrance to the stadium itself had “Benvenuti” (Welcome in Italian) emblazed on it to greet the boys from Naples.

As the players made their way to the pitch the Champions League theme tune blared out around the stadium. A surreal moment indeed as up until now this moment has only been familiar to City fans watching Champions League coverage on television.

The game itself was an enthralling encounter of tactical attrition. City started with all the attacking flair that has become customary this season but were up against the toughest defence they have faced so far this season. Napoli were stern in defence and were a dangerous counter attacking threat with the likes of Marek Hamsik and Edinson Canvani providing an attacking output for Napoli. David Silva was at the heart all City’s attacking momentum but he was stopped short of providing some potentially killer passes by some cynical fouls from the Napoli defence.

Whilst City were the better team in the first 45 minutes both team struck the woodwork. Napoli took the game to City in the second half and as a result took advantage of City’s in ability to find space in the final third. Canvani fired Napoli into the lead after taking advantage of Gareth Barry losing possession in the centre of the park.

Kolarov equalises for City with a fine freekick

City fought their way back into the game and finally found the back of the net courtesy of an Aleks Kolarov free kick. Kolarov’s reward was to be substituted immediately. Having said that his replacement, Gael Clichy, provided some of the much need width which City were crying out for throughout the earlier stages of the game. Though City pushed to find a winner they were unable to breakdown the Napoli blockade and the game finished one-all.

On the historic night, a City win would have been fitting but in reality a draw was a fair result. The game was entertaining and provided a different kind of spectacle to that of the Premier League. Inoculated City is sure City will learn and become a better team from this experience.

Words by Rob Toole

City carried on where they left off before the international break with a convincing 3-0 victory over Wigan on Saturday. Sergio Aguero bagged his first Premier League hat-trick in a game where David Silva demonstrated his world class skill yet again.

The score line flattered Wigan somewhat as City had enough chances to hit double figures. Had Tevez converted his penalty the game could have turned into a cricket score. Of all the goal scoring chances, Micah Richards and Vincent Kompany were most unfortunate, both hitting the woodwork in the first half. Wigan can count themselves lucky they only succumbed to a 3-0 defeat at the Etihad Stadium. At this moment, it seems few will get much better results against City in Manchester.

Sergio Aguero celebrates against Wigan

Though Aguero grabbed the headlines for obvious reasons, Silva’s performance cannot be ignored. Inoculated City is fast running out of superlatives for the little Spaniard. Therefore, I will simply refer to him as a genius until his form suggests otherwise. Silva’s mesmerising run which led to the third goal was simply astounding and can, without a doubt, be compared to the skills of Lionel Messi. Though many will scoff at the idea, Roberto Mancini suggested that had Silva been sporting a Barcelona shirt in his current form he could be considered one of the best players in the world. Food for thought indeed!

On a side note, as City put away their third goal of the day, the BBC Final Score report referred to the City fans as the “Etihad faithful”. He was referring the recently renamed City stadium it didn’t quite make sense and proved to be rather amusing. City fans are not faithful to Etihad. They are faithful to City: the City faithful sponsored by Etihad, if you like. Though City are flying high at the moment but it is not courtesy of Etihad Airways. The ignorant cynics out there may disagree bearing in mind the extraordinary sponsorship deal that was struck up between City and Etihad Airways this summer.

Nevertheless, to marvel at the majesty of City’s silk merchants, click here to watch the highlights.

Words by Rob Toole

In light of the rather dull encounter between England and Wales last night I was left frustrated, like many, with the England’s performance. Despite the 1-0 victory the football was far from entertaining. What was most infuriating was the idiotic commentary of ITV’s Clive Tildesley. Quite frankly, Clive Tildesley is a moron!

ITV are not exactly renowned for their first class commentary and punditry yet last night Tildesley’s nauseating insistence that Wayne Rooney’s performance was exceptional was too much to stomach. A prime example was when Rooney tracked back to England’s half to defend and win the ball back. Tidlesley praised Rooney’s desire, work ethic and influence on the game stating ‘that shows how much Rooney wants to be a part of the game’. Ok, that’s all good and well but when England’s only striker on the pitch is defending and lagging behind at left back whilst the rest of team is counter-attacking it hardly poses a threat to the opposition. Rooney is a centre forward and should therefore stay forward.

Clive Tyldesley: Professional idiot

If that wasn’t enough, in the second half, Rooney tried an audacious chip from the edge of the area which went horribly wide, so much so, that it not only missed the goal it almost missed the penalty area. It would normally be a rather insignificant moment of a poor game of football but when Tildesley piped up and said ‘he’s in that kind of mood tonight’ as if it were a good thing it only added to the frustration of the dire spectacle. Anyone would be forgiven for thinking that Rooney was on his hat-trick with commentary like that. On the contrary, Rooney had a poor game as did most of the England team.

It seems that Tyldesley was blind to the fact that it was a terrible game. Rooney was ineffective and had little or no influence on the game. Tyldesley was clearly infatuated with Rooney’s early season form for Manchester United, his hat-trick against Arsenal probably at the forefront of his infuriatingly moronic mind. I may be overreacting but I was under the impression that commentators were supposed to commentate on what they see not what they have seen two weeks earlier. Absolutely disgraceful!

Words by Rob Toole