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Monthly Archives: October 2011

Manchester City Football Club is set to become the home of the Champions League after the club unveiled plans to develop the Etihad Stadium into a Champions league style theatre of football. City officials announced the ambitious project after several months of analysis on how to expand the current stadium. It is thought that The Abu Dahbi owners of the club will plough £45 million into the development to create the Champions League stadium.

The new look stadium, nicknamed ‘the Cauldron’ by City officials, will adopt a Champions League style roof (as pictured) and the capacity will increase from 48,000 to 70,000. Though construction schedules are yet to be finalised it is understood the project should be completed in time for the beginning of the 2014-15 season. If rumours are to be believed, the Champions League final will take place at the ‘Cauldron’ in May 2015. Discussions between City and FIFA are believed to be underway. Both City and FIFA have declined to comment on the matter.

The Champions League stadium has inspired Manchester City

Plans were released in September to develop the land around the Etihad Stadium into a world class training facility for City’s first team and youth academy, named the Etihad Campus. Once analysis of the stadium was completed, several proposals were put forward for the development of the stadium. The “Cauldron” proposal was chosen and the club underwent a period of public consultation before announcing the project. Of the 5000 participants there was 86% approval. Patrick Vieira, City’s Football Development Executive, stated ‘the new stadium will be the final piece in the jigsaw for the club to be considered a truly world class club.’

Although the plans to transform the Etihad Stadium are another positive step from the Manchester City owners, they have already drawn criticism and ridicule from some quarters. The stadium development is generally perceived as arrogant. City are currently participating in their debut season in the Champions League and in stark contrast to their domestic form they performed modestly, at best. Moreover, there is no guarantee that City will even qualify for the competition next season, let alone in 3 years time when the “Cauldron” will be completed. BBC pundit Alan Hansen labelled the plans as “ludicrous”, while Sky Sports commentator Alan Smith claimed City “are completely detached from reality”. Even Tottenham Hotspur manager, Harry Redknapp, got in act going as far to state that City are “ruining football.”

In spite of this, City’s Football Administration Officer, Brian Marwood, insisted the development “isn’t just about Manchester City Football Club. It’s about Manchester as a city and the local community. The stadium will attract people from all over the globe to visit this great city. The stadium will be completely unique and will provide a huge boost to the local tourism industry.” It is thought that the development will create up to 500 jobs over a 3 year period in the Greater Manchester region whilst construction is undertaken. Once the development is completed, it is expected the local economy will grow due to the increased number of people visiting the stadium and local area.

The plans have also received full support from Manchester City Council and the New East Manchester development agency. Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said “This latest announcement again demonstrates Manchester City’s commitment to the community and developing one of the most deprived areas of the country. The club have a proud history of being heavily involved in the community and this looks set to continue.”

Opinion continues to be divided on Manchester City’s impact on football and this latest announcement has only added fuel to the fire. One thing is for sure, however, Manchester City have arrived and will not be going away anytime soon.

Inoculated City

City condemned Manchester United to their worst home defeat since 1955 after thrashing them 6-1 at Old Trafford yesterday. The emphatic and somewhat unbelievable score line has demonstrated a dramatic change in fortune for City who so often fail to dent United’s armour. On a day where most City fans would have taken a draw against their bitter rivals, it was overwhelming to see how City tore apart United with guile and class.

Though I always felt City could beat United at Old Trafford, I certainly didn’t expect the victory to be by such a great margin. United dominated the possession in the first twenty minutes but they were largely ineffective and barley troubled Joe Hart. City went onto crush their opponents with a brace from Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko, respectively. Sergio Aguero and David Silva also etched their names into history with a goal each.

Balotelli celebrates his first goal with a touch of irony

This season, I had thought that as soon as United face an attack with real quality in the final third they would be punished. Recent encounters against Norwich, Chelsea and Basel, in the Champions League, exposed some weaknesses in their defence. Roberto Mancini was obviously aware of their frailties and exposed them to devastating effect. City were set up to press United and show no fear. As well as showing attacking prowess, City’s defensive tactics were spot on. United always have a goal in them but they were nullified by the excellent organisation and work ethic of the City defence and midfield. Whilst James Milner and Silva were constantly threatening going forward they were also dogged in defence, supporting the full-backs to great effect.

United were shattered by City's dominance

The victory is sweet for every City fan. Any victory over a fierce rival always is a delight. The fact that City doubled their goal tally, on the day, with three goals in the dying embers of the game only makes it sweeter. The number of times City have fallen at the last hurdle against United is disgraceful, quite frankly. What better way to exact revenge than by scoring three goals in 5 minutes at the very end of the game. In all honesty, United can count themselves lucky that they did not concede more. Dzeko and Silva both wasted good chances whilst Micah Richards also had a worthy shout for a penalty turned down.

Of all the great performances from City players, Micah Richards was outstanding. Quite how the young right back is not first choice for England is beyond me. Chris Smalling, the United centre-half, seems to be the first choice right back for England. Smalling is a talented player, yet, yesterday’s game alone was evidence enough that Richards is a far superior player. Of all the tackles Richards attempted yesterday he was successful in every one. He also attacked with purpose and breezed through the United rear guard with consummate ease and regularity.

The nature of reality

It seems that yesterday’s performance captures the feeling and essence of the season so far. City have been nothing short of remarkable and are beating teams that they traditionally struggle against. Take the 5-1 against Tottenham, the 2-0 against Everton and now the 6-1 against United. It seems the times are changing. Whether City can maintain their exceptional current form remains to be seen. However, the most notable consequence of yesterday’s game is the air of silence that has descended upon Old Trafford. They are setting the perfect example on how not to be “noisy neighbours”.

Words by Rob Toole

City provided somewhat of a reality check in their most recent Premier League clash with Blackburn. On the day, City ran out 4-0 winners courtesy of goals from four players: Adam Johnson, Mario Balotelli, Samir Nasri and Stefan Savic.

Whilst Blackburn’s fortunes truly do look gloomy, the same cannot be said for City. In spite of what you may have read in the wake of the Munich affair and Carlos Tevez’s alleged refusal to play, life goes on at City and things seem to be on an upward curve.

Balotelli celebrates against Blackburn

Nauseating accusations of a lack of team spirit within City reared their ugly head after Munich. The extraordinary actions of one man, Carlos Tevez, do not necessarily affect the entire team.

The performance against Blackburn alone was evidence enough of an established and growing team ethic amongst the City team and management. How can a group of players who mustered up 19 shots and 4 goals against Blackburn have no team spirit? From a wider perspective, how can a team who have scored 27 goals in all competitions, this season, and remain undefeated in the league, lack team spirit? Take a look at the footage of changing room celebrations after last season’s FA Cup victory and you simply cannot argue.

Words by Rob Toole