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During the close season there is often very little to write about football that is worthwhile. Obviously, transfer stories capture the headlines but the majority of football coverage focuses on speculation which quite frankly bores me to tears.

Thankfully the City website has been jam packed with videos of all sorts to keep the City faithful entertained during the baron months. The City website provides a vast array of videos that cast shame on their rivals websites. Though the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal have similar sections on their sites, you’ll be hard pressed to find the same level of content in comparison to City.

City offer videos ranging from training, in depth interviews, First Team and Academy match highlights, behind the scenes features to more light-hearted features like #AskSergio in which Sergio Aguero answers fans’ questions from Twitter. Last season City debuted the particularly excellent ‘Inside City’ feature which gave an insight to the working of City on a weekly basis: anything from training to charity work was covered. One episode even featured behind the scenes footage of the promo event for Joleon Lescott’s clothing line.

City’s most recent posts are extensive features of their recent pre-season tour of Austria and current tour of China. I don’t know about you but I would much rather be able to see what is actually going on at City instead of reading the ramblings of some listless journalist from The Daily Mirror speculating about what is going on.

Words by Rob Toole

*Videos taken from MCFC’s Youtube channel for the purposes of embedding on this blog.

 

 

 

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GUEST BLOG

written by Robert Pollard – 14th May 2012

With both Manchester City and Manchester United going into the last match of the season with a chance of lifting the 2011-2012 Barclays Premier League trophy, it promised to be a great final day of the season. However, what ensued will go down in football history; a day of the highest possible drama that brought a fitting end to one the most entertaining seasons in recent history.

It was Manchester City who won the coveted prize; their first league title in 44 years, a period in which their fans have suffered ridicule on a grand scale. Relegation to the third tier of English football saw them branded as a laughing-stock, with even their own staff recognising their problems. Former player, and one time chairman of the club, Francis Lee famously claimed City would ‘win cups for cock-ups’, and Joe Royle, the manager who rescued them from their deepest slump, coined the phrase ‘cityitis’, a word which described City’s unerring ability to grab defeat from the jaws of victory.

But all that was forgotten as they clinched the biggest prize in English football in the most dramatic of circumstances, scoring two late goals to seal the trophy their fans, players, management and owners had long craved. Manchester United did what they had to do on the final day – beat Sunderland away. Their 1-0 victory had, at one stage, seemed enough to snatch the title from their rivals, but City’s late, late salvo changed it all within minutes, scoring with their 43rd and 44th shots of the match. It seems poetic that the team so often praised for their ability to produce late drama have been usurped in exactly that fashion.

Roberto Mancini, City’s Italian manager, must now begin to take some long overdue credit. He took the job when many others were shirking it, coming to a new country to take the reins at a club where expectations had soared due to their new-found wealth. Since then, despite success, he has received little praise. When City do well it is to be expected; when they don’t it is a failure on his part. An FA Cup success, qualification for the Champions League, and now a Premiership title, all delivered in the space of two-and-a-half years, mean his excellence deserves to be recognised. He found himself trailing United by 8 points but managed to win the last 6 matches of the season – including a win against United – to take the title. This is a remarkable achievement. You feel if Harry Redknapp, or another similarly well-liked manager, had turned round such a deficit and won the league he’d be carried on the shoulders of journalists through the streets of London. However, Mancini is not afforded such favourable press.

The hard work starts here for Mancini and creating a team capable of dominating for a long time his the task he is charged with and he has an outstanding set of players to achieve this. Vincent Kompany grows in stature every day, with his performances, leadership, professionalism and interview style now a vital part of Manchester City. Every club needs a leader and City have one of the best. The spine of Hart, Kompany, Yaya Toure, Silva and Aguero is the best in the league, and provides a frightening prospect for opposing sides. This City team is young and hungry for more success.

A special mention must also go to Pablo Zabaleta, one of the best full backs and undoubtedly the most valuable utility player in the Premiership; his grit and determination is something City fans will long remember in what has been a tiring campaign. Gareth Barry, who may not feature quite so heavily in a title-winning side again as he enters the twilight of his career, has also been excellent. City must now use the momentum this title has created to push on and become even better.

Manchester United also deserve great credit for their season. They have had crippling injuries to deal with, most notably the absence of Nemanja Vidic who, along with Kompany, is the best central defender in English football. Sound logic would suggest if he had been available all season, United may well have been lifting the trophy. Sir Alex Ferguson will spend this summer and United will be a force again next season. Only a side managed by Fergie could have kept pace with such an excellent City side, and they came so close to an unlikely 20th league title.

If city were ever going to become champions of England, one suspected it would be dramatic, heart-in-the-mouth type stuff, but even by their standards this was remarkable. Never will there be a final day quite like yesterday.

Robert Pollard is a freelance journalist. You can follow him on Twitter and Passions Just Like Mine

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

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

“Five to one baby, one in five, no one here, gets out alive”. The immortal words of Jim Morrison of The Doors have been ringing around my head ever since City’s 5-1 thumping of Tottenham Hotspur in London last Sunday. Whilst Morrison’s words can loosely be associated with the game, it is worth noting City came out of the tie alive and kicking! Tottenham, on the other hand, started the game dead on their feet and left the field of play flat on their arses, quick frankly.

Such was the immense force at which City took the game to Spurs, the Londoners never really stood a chance. Edin Dzeko’s four goal haul and an individual effort from Sergio Aguero ensured City maintained their 100% start to the season.

Dzeko heads in his second goal

Historically, Tottenham have been somewhat of a bogie team for City. In the past City have had an uncanny ability to lie down and surrender at Tottenham’s will. Even last May at Eastlands, Tottenham controlled the game despite City coming out 1-0 winners on the night. On that occasion, thanks can go to the greatest City player there never was, Peter Crouch, who confirmed City’s qualification to the Champions League with an own goal. However, the clash on Sunday was a different story entirely and perhaps signals a change in fortune for City against Tottenham.

The game was even for the first half hour with both teams finding half chances. However, City’s superior quality soon began to tell with debutant, Samir Nasri, blending in superbly with City’s slightly more established talents such as David Silva and Edin Dzeko. Some of the link up play was phenomenal and Dzeko was there, time and time again, to finish off the fine passages of play.

City’s second goal demonstrated the excellent aerial ability of Dzeko, but it was the Bosnian’s fourth goal (City’s fifth) which stole the show. After a neat one-two with Gareth Barry on the edge of 18 yard box, Dzeko glided a sweet left footed strike into the top left hand corner of the Tottenham goal.

Tottenham humbled by the irrepressible City

There were too many fine moments to mention all of which can be seen by clicking here. The manner of victory was seriously impressive. To beat one of the top five teams in England so emphatically away from home has sent a serious statement of intent to the rest of the Premier League. It really does look like City mean business this season. Whether they will go onto win the League remains to be seen but few could have asked for a better start to the season.

Words by Rob Toole

Sergio Aguero ensured City flew out of the traps in their first Premier League game of the season against Swansea last night. City comfortably cruised to a 4-0 win over the newly promoted Welshmen.

Inoculated City had the pleasure of watching the game in 3D for the first time; a trivial experience and ultimately good fun. Initially it may have been a bad idea. As I sat in the local, bearing nerdish looking 3D glasses, Swansea took control of the early proceedings, rather embarrassingly. City’s multi-million pound team were mere spectators of the Premier League new boys for the first 20 minutes. The onlookers, including myself, were only able to hide their shame behind 3D glasses. Fortunately, the pub was sparsely populated so my personal misfortune was not too apparent. Getting an ear-bashing about the Community Shield from a United fan in tow didn’t do much to lighten the mood.

David Silva was influential against Swansea

Self consciousness aside, City finally woke up and went onto dominate the game. Edin Dzeko opened the scoring with a simple tap in after David Silva and Gareth Barry hit the woodwork earlier in the game.

It wasn’t until Sergio Aguero, son-in-law of Diego Maradona, was introduced that the show really started. Aguero, nicknamed Kun, almost immediately after coming off the bench swivelled and shot from the edge of the area troubling the Swansea keeper. Yaya Toure should have done better with the follow up.

Sergio Aguero celebrates his first goal for City

Moments later the debutant opened his City scoring account with a tap-in. Before Aguero’s introduction Silva ran the game with his wide array of skill and vision. Aguero somewhat took the spotlight off Silva by setting him up for a simple finish to make it three for the night. Aguero deftly lobbed the keeper and pulled the ball back for Silva to complete a fine move.

With the game drawing to a close Aguero fired a thunderbolt of a shot from 25 yards into the left of the goal leaving the crowd breathless. The quality of the strike cannot be overstated: to curve the ball up and down so quickly is a skill few possess.

With the embarrassment of the 3D glasses far from my mind, here’s one City fan that went to bed dreaming of a glorious future which seems surreally possible. With players like Aguero and Silva who can stop City now?

To see the match highlights click here.

Words by Rob Toole

The Premier League season starts this weekend and as always expectations for City are high. With a debut season in the Champions League, this will no doubt be City’s priority along with the Premier League. All in all, City will compete in four tournaments. Here are Inoculated City’s predictions for the season ahead.

Premier League:

City have strengthened their squad again this summer, the most notable addition being Sergio Aguero. The other additions have not been as seismic as in recent transfer windows which should benefit the team spirit which seemed to be growing towards the end of last season. Make no bones about it; City will endeavour to win the Premier League. They have the quality but whether they can balance the challenges of the Premier League and the Champions League remains to be seen. City will not win the League for one reason: they are Manchester City.

Prediction: 2nd

Champions League:

Progression from the group stage of the Champions League is imperative for City and they will achieve this. Quarter-Finals are a realistic goal but City’s inexperience of regularly playing top European teams will be their downfall. Few will expect City to win this competition but being in it next season is seen as inevitable which means pressure. It will be exciting to welcome top European teams to the right side of Manchester.

Prediction: Quarter-Finals

The "Promised Land" of the Champions League

FA Cup:

As FA Cup holders, City would love to retain this trophy. If City make a sustained push for the Premier League and are still involved in the Champions League, one would imagine that the FA Cup would fall by the wayside due to the nature of the English footballing calendar. City will give it everything but will not be lifting the FA Cup this season.

Prediction: 5th Round

League Cup:

City should try to win this trophy as this is their most realistic chance of silverware this season. The tournament is over by February and City will have success. Not many teams take this tournament seriously and City should take advance of this. After all, there are only so many trophies to win so City should go for broke.

Prediction: Winners

A word of caution: these predictions have been made with an air of optimism and may not reflect your own views. Trying to predict City’s next move is like trying to predict the weather; impossible. Sit back and enjoy the season ahead.

Words by Rob Toole