In the immediate aftermath of City’s historic* victory over Chelsea last night, I was in a jovial mood. City won 2-1 thanks to a Sergio Aguero spot kick and a fine goal from Samir Nasri after Carlos Tevez provided the assist on his return to the City first team. In truth, the scoreline could and should have been better from City’s perspective, as they dominated the game from start to finish. Having said that, it doesn’t really matter as it was an extremely important game which City needed to win, regardless of the scoreline. Needless to say, I was delighted with the result.

Nasri chips City to victory after a fine performance

Some of the night’s other results and post match comments only added to my sense of joy. Tottenham scraped a draw against Stoke whilst Liverpool threw away a two goal lead to lose 3-2 in the last minute to Queens Park Rangers.

Among the many angry Liverpool fans airing their frustration on the BBC live text coverage, Mo, stated, in direct response to the defeat, “We probably could have won the league if we didn’t drop so many points against lower opposition…”. Right…OK. So what you’re saying is, if Liverpool weren’t so bad, they would be great. That is an obvious statement, so obvious that it doesn’t need to be said. So obvious that if someone does say it, they serve no purpose at all other than to portray themselves as a complete and utter idiot.

The one that tickled me the most was in response to City’s victory over Chelsea, victory being the key word here. Mark Weatherby wrote on Twitter, “As a Manchester United fan I’m not that unhappy at the result. It shows City can be beaten at the Etihad.” Sorry, what was that? City won. Yes, they won, they did not lose so quite how he came to that conclusion is beyond me. If anything, City should have won by a greater margin. They were the better team by a considerable margin for the majority of the game. Making that statement in response to the 3-2 victory over Tottenham, for example, may have made more sense. After all, that was a game which City very nearly lost. What a moron.

Football is a funny game sometimes, or at least some of the morons that tweet and text about it are!

*By beating Chelsea, City set a new Premier League record of the most consecutive home league victories in the Premier League era. A run which now stretches to 20 games and beats Manchester United’s previous record of 19 games.

Words by Rob Toole

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I have a love / hate relationship with football. For as much as I love the beautiful game and the unrivalled joy and excitement it brings, there numerous reasons why I detest it.

Little, if anything, can compare to the emotional attachment that comes with football. On an almost religious level, football has the ability to make a good day bad and bad day good. An insane reality given that all it comes down to is twenty two men running round a field kicking a ball.

Nevertheless, that is the reality and such emotional attachment means one has no choice but to take the rough with smooth. For example, in this moment, I find football extremely irritating. I loathe the culture it’s embedded in, yet I am unable to detach myself from it due to my unconscious emotional attachment to the sport.

The twenty four hour media circus that surrounds football is the object of my hatred. No longer can you merely watch a game of football and not be privy to all sorts of nonsense splurging out of journalists, commentators, pundits, footballers, managers and referees mouths. I can just about handle spats between players and managers but it is the rest of the aforementioned clowns that get me. Impartiality has deserted the supposed analysis that comes with every kick of a football match due to the fierce tribal nature of ex-football professionals turned pundits. Their loyalty to their former clubs is intrinsic with every piece of analysis they convey.

Some of you may suggest that my current disillusionment with football is down to Manchester City’s recent blip in form and unfortunate refereeing decisions. I can assure you it’s not. After all, I am used to disappointment when it comes to football. For the best part of my life, City have been slumming away in English football obscurity. I am hardened to disappointment so the odd defeat here and there barely scratches the surface.

Love: City

As mentioned, it is the media which gets under my skin. There seems to be some insistence that there is always a story out there when, in reality, there isn’t. Recently, the BBC ran a story entitled “Andreas Villas-Boas says he doesn’t need help at Chelsea”. Somehow, a story was made out of this but all that would have happened is that a journalist would have asked Villas-Boas whether he needs help and he would have denied it. It’s a non-starter: the story is started and finished in the headline itself. Quite how this turned into a 477 word article is beyond me.

Then there are the contradictions. Take Mario Balotelli: every time he steps on the pitch all of his rather harmless, eccentric shenanigans, such as handing out money in a Santa suit or using a school toilet in Rusholme, are brought up and cast in a negative light. The relevance to his footballing ability is nonexistent yet it is forced upon you, as a spectator, relentlessly by the media.

On the contrary, take Ryan Giggs. Every time he plays no one breathes a word about his eight year affair with his sister-in-law even though this amounts to be far worse than anything Balotelli has done. Then again, it is right that they don’t mention it as it bears no relevance to his footballing ability. It just seems to suit the media to stay quiet on Giggs’s affair. Perhaps it is because he was the golden boy, who could do no wrong, a few years ago when he won the BBC Sport Personality of the Year and the media do not want to be perceived as being wrong: cynical, perhaps, but definitely food for thought.

Hate: the media

So when I say I have a love / hate relationship with football, I really mean it. Nothing can beat the excitement on match day, the build up to a game, the atmosphere, the emotion, the joy, the anger, the addiction. What I really love is the game of football. What I really hate is everything else that comes with it.

I had a dream the other night. It was a dream where Man City won the FA Cup. That was it: nothing more, nothing less, a game of football without the trimmings, without the drivel and, most importantly, without the hype. It was the team I love, playing football, pure and simple. If only that were a reality the world of football may be a better place.

Words by Rob Toole

“Mario Balotelli flew off the handle after his red card in Sunday’s 1-1 draw at Liverpool.

Manchester City’s hothead striker banged the visitors’ dressing room door so hard the handle broke.

 Balotelli then charged off to find a TV monitor to see the clash with Martin Skrtel that led to referee Martin Atkinson showing him a second yellow card.

 Team-mate Aleksandar Kolarov went to calm him down and took the City star back to the dressing room, while the handle was easily replaced without apparent need for repair.

 Balotelli and boss Roberto Mancini clearly felt the reaction of Skrtel and the Liverpool players led to him being sent off.

 And the striker, 21, will not face any internal disciplinary action despite the third red card of his City career.

 Balotelli has been involved in a string of controversy since his £21million move from Inter Milan 15 months ago.

 He has had training ground bust-ups and once threw darts at some youth team players at City’s Carrington base.

 More recently, he and some pals accidentally set his house alight after a firework prank.”

The words of Neil Curtis of The Sun. Is it any wonder that so many people have it in for Mario Balotelli with idiotic journalism like this cluttering the nation’s newspapers? This article does nothing more than represent a personal vendetta towards Balotelli.

First of all, let’s be clear, Balotelli should not have even been sent off in the match against Liverpool. One suspects, the goading of the Liverpool players, namely Charlie Adam, the epitome of mediocrity, and the Anfield crowd swayed the referee’s decision somewhat. Opinion on the matter may be divided but it is irrelevant, in truth. The farcical journalism of Mr Curtis is what bothers me.

Curtis claims “City’s hothead striker” banged the dressing room door “so hard” that it broke, but then contradicts himself, almost immediately, by stating the “handle was easily replaced without apparent need for repair”. Surely it can’t have been as ferocious as first suggested. To completely disprove his own point, he later states “..the striker…will not face any internal disciplinary action”. Perhaps that is because he didn’t do anything wrong.

Uncontrollable psychopath Mario Balotelli

Mr Curtis, after clearly realising he has failed to make an argument for the first half of the article, then lists some of Balotelli’s previous shenanigans to further tarnish the reputation of the ubiquitous Italian. Though he rather conveniently omits the story of Balotelli giving £1000 to a tramp outside a casino and the occasion where he confronted some schoolyard bullies to help a friend.

This article isn’t worthy of being classed as journalism such is the vicious nature of it. It is the stream of consciousness of a moron, a personal attack on Mario Balotelli. I am not surprised though; shoddy journalism is part and parcel of the modern game of football. What a shame.

Words by Rob Toole

City returned from the international break with an almost routine victory over Newcastle on Saturday. In a game where City could have been frustrated by an unbeaten and organised Newcastle team, City were worthy winners after defeating their opponents with guile and patience.

England outcast, Micah Richards, was outstanding as City ran out 3-1 winners. Sending a message to England manager Fabio Capello, Richards bagged a goal and posed a constant threat to the Newcastle rear guard with surging runs down the wing. City’s other goals came courtesy of spot kicks from Mario Balotelli and Sergio Aguero. City never really looked in danger of surrendering the three points in spite of Newcastle hitting the woodwork and scoring a late consolation goal.

Balotelli celebrates his penalty against Newcastle

Frustratingly, I was unable to watch the game so put my faith in the BBC live text for coverage of the game. Radio coverage is too stressful and full of idiots, in my opinion, so I opted for the mind numbing BBC text in a vain attempt to maintain sanity during the game. That is not to say you don’t find morons on the BBC, you do, it’s full of them. Somehow I’ve become accustomed to the idiocy of it all but on Saturday Tom Rostance, of the BBC, took it too far.

After City scored their third goal Rostance rightly remarked: “Sergio Aguero takes the responsibility and steers the ball past Tim Krul. That’s 27 goals in 33 games for club and country. Who needs Carlos Tevez?” Fair point. Who does need Carlos Tevez with the likes of Aguero and Balotelli in such fine form. However, after Aguero limped off and was replaced by Adam Johnson he stated: “Ignore what I just said, someone get Carlos Tevez on the phone now! Sergio Aguero goes down holding his leg and limps off…” What a moron. Does he really think the man that has been AWOL for the last week is ever going to play for City again. Without boring you with the details, Tevez couldn’t be further away from playing for City. Rostance is the kind moron one could do without. I know it was only a flippant remark but it was ill-informed and pathetic. It could have been worst though. At least I didn’t have to endure the frustration of the absence of chips at the Etihad Stadium.

Words by Rob Toole

“Right-back has become England’s new left wing since the retirement of Gary Neville, with an apparent lack of options beyond Glen Johnson.” The words of a moron: a moron that epitomises the ignorant views of England Manager, Fabio Capello, and the majority of sporting journalists’ in the country. Said moron is Dominic Fifield, of the Guardian, who was commenting on the most recent squad selection for England’s friendies against Spain and Sweden.

The omission of Manchester City right-back Micah Richards from Capello’s squad was simply astounding given the youngster’s outstanding form this season and the majority of last season. If not more astounding was the general air of acceptance of this travesty, from the media. For Fifield to claim that “right-back is England’s new left wing” is farcical. England have a number of choices at right-back and to compare this to the period in the late nineties and early noughties where England had no left sided midfielders represents incredibly slack journalism.

Micah Richards hasn't put a foot wrong this season

Simply put, Richards is the best right-back in the country at the moment. Based on his current form, he could even be considered the best in Europe at the moment. Glen Johnson, on the other hand, has been little more than anonymous in recent months. It begs the question, how can Capello omit Richards from his squad entirely? Moreover, how can Fifield so boldly proclaim that there is a shortage of right-back options in England?

Infuriatingly, Fifield categorises Capello’s right back options in such a manner that suggests he agrees with Capello’s dire squad selection. Fifield wrote:

“First choice: Glen Johnson

Young contenders: Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Kyle Walker, Martin Kelly

Also hopeful: Micah Richards”

“Also hopeful: Micah Richards”? How disgraceful. According to Fifield, Richards is ranked below two centre-halves (Smalling and Jones) in the pecking order. That just doesn’t make sense. The recent Manchester derby was surely enough evidence to suggest that Richards is far superior at full-back than Smalling and Jones. Smalling and Jones are, without doubt, promising centre-halves but are not worthy of comparison with Richards in right-back. Glen Johnson, on the otherhand, may well have been first choice two years ago but times change.

To top off Fifield’s farcical claims, he refers back to the Gary Neville England era in such a way to suggest it was some kind of utopia. Neville may have been a regular right-back for England throughout the years but you will find few who will hark back to the times when England could rely on the ever dependable days of Gary Neville. Top quality right-backs come in the shape of Brazillian legend Cafu, Spanish phenomenon Sergio Ramos and, dare I say, Micah Richards. Not Gary Neville.

It is little surprise that most people I speak to are disillusioned with the England national team. The combination of idiotic squad selections like this and moronic journalism only serve to alienate the supporters. Throw the fat-cat bureaucrats from the Football Association into the mix and that is enough to make me feel sick.

Words by Rob Toole

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