Monday, January 29, 2007

U21 Confusion Reigns at City

All the talk about whether Pearce should or shouldn't take on the role of U21 Manager has left me and I guess a lot of others totally confused. There are so many conflicting claims and counter claims that the whole issue is becoming very muddied.

It seems that Pearce has accepted the role subject to City's approval, which after last night's hurried press release doesn't look likely for the moment anyway, with a three-way battle between Pearce, the FA and the City Board now looming.

Pearce is adamant the level of involvement is minimal, but the outgoing U21 Manager. Peter Taylor has said that anyone new coming into the job would need to provide a "lot of commitment" to the role ???

The other thing I find curious is that roughly speaking the U21s have a similar schedule to the full England squad. If therefore an U21 Manager could do the job on a part time basis, that surely begs the same questions about the role of the senior team management - doesn't it ?

Pearce, and City now both find themselves in awkward positions, with most City fans bewildered about why all of a sudden managing City is not a full time role. I think if we were sitting comfortably in the top 4, it would be a slightly different matter, but with our current form and quality of football that is keeping fans away in their droves, Pearce's' priority at the moment should be Manchester City Football Club and nowhere else.

Pearce has also now provided the Board with ammunition to get rid of him if they are minded to do so. It would be a tragedy and completely un-necessary if such a meaningless issue ultimately led to his downfall. Come on Stuart, it's just not worth it !

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Curse Of Managing England

It's been reported today that the FA have targeted Psycho to be the next U-21 manager after it emerged that the two had a five minute chat where the subject cropped up.

All today's media reports reminded me of the feverish speculation before last year's World Cup when Sven departed. I remember the likes of Curbishley, Pearce, Pardew being touted as the best young English talent before the FA bottled it and played it safe by appointing McClaren.

It's interesting to see that since McClaren's appointment, the other names in the hat have not enjoyed the best of times to put it mildly.

Curbishley parted company with Charlton very soon afterwards, Pearce presided over one of the worst runs City have had in a long while, and Pardew was unceremoniously booted out of Upton Park by the Hammers' new owners. Furthermore, Peter Taylor, who has just stepped down as U-21 coach hasn't exactly had the easiest of times at Palace during his England stewardship.

The signs are clear therefore the Psycho shouldn't touch the U-21 job with a bargepole. It's a poisoned chalice of role and he needs to distance himself from it fast. If he hasn't already realised he's got one hell of a job on his hands at Eastlands already, which requires his full-time and undivided attention.


Why can't El-Tel do the U-21s anyway.... better still why can't McClaren do the U-21s and Venables the proper England job? Wasn't that why he was brought in ? ;-)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Mido Not The Answer For City

It's been widely reported that City have tabled a £3m bid for Spurs' Egyptian striker Mido.

One the one hand it's nice to see City being linked with international strikers instead of Division 1 players for a change, but I don't really see Mido as the answer to our goal-scoring problems.

Last night's Carling Cup semi final between Spurs and Arsenal confirmed to me that Mido is pretty much like the two strikers we already have ( Samaras and Corradi ), namely big and slow. On a number of occasions last night, he got absolutely nowhere near good crosses and his lack of pace was clear to see.

I also have some nagging doubts about his fitness and temperament and his ability to last a full season. Our last couple of strikers (Messrs Anelka and Cole) were also known for being aloof and moody and I don't think having such players doesn't anything for team spirit.

What we're crying out for up front is pace, and clearly, despite Mido's undoubted talents, this isn't one of them

Reduced Pricing - Just The Ticket !

It's great that City are still in with a chance of a decent FA Cup run this year, but it still goes against the grain that despite being a double season-card holder, cup games are not included in the hundreds of pounds that I, and other card holders pay each year.

There is, quite rightly, increasing fan objection to paying high ticket prices and it's great to see the likes of mcfcsupporterstrust championing the cause of the average supporter like you and I.

Even Blackburn Rovers are now suggesting that ticket pricing needs to be reviewed and brought down to more affordable levels to stem the flow of spectators away from the game, which is increasingly being played in emptier stadia. What a shame it's Blackburn making these noises and not City, but well done Rovers for considering fans for a change.

Premiership clubs will all receive a massive windfall next season from overseas TV rights on top of the existing millions from Sky TV. Surely it's not beyond the financial means of Premiership clubs to use this money to reduce pricing and reward long-standing (and suffering in City's case) fans, by including Cup games within the price of season cards.

Despite a ground capacity of 48,000, the biggest home attendance of the season so far was 42,192 against the Blades way back in October and the average league attendance this season is around 39,000. Playing in empty stadia is a depressing experience for both players and fans, so please City, take a lead from Blackburn; get the ticket prices down to bring the supporters back to the ground.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

City's Latest Transfer Target Revealed

Stuart Pearce has admitted he's finding it tough trying to attract new players into the club; I wonder why ??

Reports earlier this evening suggest that a new signing is imminent, details here

Should stiffen up the defence ;-)

The Saints Are Coming !

Like a lot of Blues, I was expecting to be having a football free weekend, as after all, it's the 4th round of the FA Cup, but amazingly our name is still in the hat; in fact, we're only four games away from the Cup Final !

City take on Southampton at Eastlands on Sunday with a 3pm kick off and it will NOT be televised live, so if you want to see it, you'll need to get yourself along to the ground.

The 3rd round against Sheffield Wednesday had a disappointing turnout of just 25,621, but I guess that's not a big surprise as it was televised and the Christmas / New Year fixtures have taken their toll on fans' finances and self-punishment thresholds.

As it's a Sunday kick-off, travelling away support will be a lot less than had it been a Saturday with a maximum of 3000 Saints expected to take the long haul up from the South Coast.

Bradley Wright-Phillips faces his former club for the first time, and he'll be trying his hardest to do an "Anelka" and prove a point by scoring against us. I would think BWP getting on the score sheet is an odds-on certainty like most City old boys. Similarly, City goalie coach, Tim Flowers , will I'm sure be looking forward to the visit of his former club and I would hope be wanting a City victory.

Apart from wanting to get to the next round anyway, City should be motivated by the fact it was Southampton who beat City at the last ever game at Maine Road, and I also seem to remember a dreadful game against them at Eastlands in the KK era, when we were just shockingly awful and Kevin Phillips and James Beattie combined to (deservedly) hammer us 3 -1.

Saints' teenage wonderkid and Rags target, Gareth Bale should be playing, so it'll be a chance to see how good he really is, although with our current blunted and toothless attack, he may have a quiet afternoon.

Make no mistake, it's going to be a tight game against an in-form team with an excellent manager, but the Cup is important for City and after last weekend's season low-point against Blackburn, I'm expecting the players to redeem themselves and give the blue half of the city something to cheer about.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Play Me Where ?? ..... I Should CoCo !!!

There's been a lot of wild speculation about the possible reasons behind Inter Milan's Francesco Coco's unexpectedly quick departure during trial with City that lasted just two days.

Could it be that he was spotted turning up on his first day puffing on a Woodbine? Was it that he showed a bit of an attitude? Was he unfit and totally unprepared to the rigours of a trial? or was he just complete pants?

Coco's explanation is rather curious:

"It didn't work out because the coach wanted to use me in a different position to what I am used to, full-back. "After two days we realised that there was no point in wasting time as they already have two players in my position."

So why would City invite an out-and-out left back all that way for a trial and play him out of position? It just doesn't stack up! After much close investigation, I think I can now exclusively reveal the answer though.......

Was it just total coincidence that City held their annual pantomime last weekend? No not the yearly drubbing by Rovers, but the Live4City (formerly Junior Blues) event. It's obvious they must have been short of a player to complete the cast, so who better to make up the numbers and play in a crucial position than a footballer with the splendidly appropriate name of "Coco" !

...... Oh yes it was !!!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Who'd Be A Football Manager ?

I can barely bring myself to put some words together about City's performance at the weekend against Blackburn. I thought we'd reached this season's low point against Bolton, but boy was I wrong.

It's at times like this, that once the initial frustration and utter disbelief that any team of professional footballers, let alone the from the club that you support can turn in such a dire performance, that you have to feel a bit of sympathy for the manager, no matter what your underlying opinions of him are.

Pearce may well have had a feeling of impending doom judging by his pre-match interview, during which he looked decidedly uncomfortable and tetchy. The first forty-five minutes did absolutely nothing for his well-being and overall demeanour as he, with the rest of us, witnessed a "performance" that at best can be described as gutless, although the description was a lot more colourful from the regulars in the Colin Bell stand and no doubt other parts of the steadily emptying stadium.

The second half was a marginal improvement, but that said, relative to the first half it was still an awful spectacle and a huge relief when the the game ended and we only lost by three goals, with Psycho looking just as bewildered as the rest of us in complete disbelief of what we had just witnessed.

It's true that the manager carries the can for the fortunes and failures on the pitch and rightly so, but he can only do so much and when the whistle goes for the start of the game, it really is down to the players to take control and responsibility; something that seems to have escaped the attention of our squad.

One can only imagine the post-mortem of Clough or Ferguson-like proportions in the dressing room afterwards. I was half expecting a gesture from the club offering a refund to long-suffering supporters having to endure spectacles like this on an increasingly regular basis, but then I quickly came to my senses.

Having said that, it's not such a bad idea, particularly if it were funded out of the players' wages. I'd guarantee we wouldn't see many performances like that again if they had to cough up.

Barton's Clause For Concern

As this year's January transfer window draws to a nervous conclusion, it has once again proved to be an underwhelming month of rumour and general inactivity. Nothing much ever seems to happen in this mid-season transfer window apart from unhelpful speculation and general unsettling of players, managers and fans. Personally, I think it's time to rethink the whole transfer window thing.

Without tempting fate, it now looks like our "crown jewels" of Barton and Richards will stay for a while longer, having learned from SWP's badly advised move to the greener grass of Stamford Bridge, where he now commands a regular place on the bench. It looks like both have realised their chances of international honours are greatly improved by staying at Eastlands as bigger fish in an albeit smaller pond, but nevertheless will be playing week in, week out and catching the eye of the England selectors.

The down side from all this, is that it's now public knowledge that Joey has a clause in his contract whereby an offer of £5.5m for his services allows another club to talk to him. Although it would now appear that he'll stay this time around, he'll be viewed as fair game in the summer when clubs are more serious about new signings.

It seems that such clauses are now common practice, but why did City allow such a low trigger value? What were City's commercial people thinking about when with Joey's potential, they agreed to such a derisory valuation? If City are now considering waving a new contract in front of Joey, they need to ensure that any future financial thresholds are set much higher; we just can't afford to give our best players away on the cheap.

But with every dark cloud comes a silver lining..... if reports are to be believed, it now looks like Joey has parted company with agent, Willie McKay.... allegedly !

Sunday, January 14, 2007

City Need To Wing It

Not a classic at the Reebok yesterday; Bolton games always seem to be dour, uninspiring encounters but a point's a point I guess.

I must admit though feeling somewhat disappointed we didn't come away with all three points in the end. Like Joey said afterwards, 99 times out of 100, he'd have buried that chance... but anyway, the unbeaten run continues... for now.

The return of Sinclair however, confirmed one of City's worst failings this, and previous seasons, namely the absence of attacking wing play. Like it or not, Corradi and Samaras are here to stay for a while longer, so it's important to play to their strengths and get some quality crosses in the area for them to attack.

With the biggest Premiership strike partnership, they need to play in the up front and in the middle - nowhere else. Playing either of them out wide is a complete was of time and confidence-sapping for both players. Such a formation poses no threat to the opposition and puts City un-necessarily on the defensive.The same is also true for Vassell, who for me needs to play in the centre, just behind the front two.

Sinclair is obviously not the long-term solution to this frustrating problem and for a while we've been crying out for a winger or wingers. With the return of SWP looking increasingly unlikely, Pearce really only has a couple of other options in Beasley and Miller, neither of whom are known for consistent quality ball crossing.

It is surprising therefore that so far in the transfer window, City have signed a largely unknown 20 year-old, second division French midfielder who has only played two first team games. Clearly this is not what City need right at the moment.

I think City missed a trick earlier this week when Villa sold Peter Whittingham to Cardiff for just £350k. For a big 23year-old former U21 international who can play either as left wing or at left back and someone who has a few years Premiership experience, that could prove to be one of the best January sale bargains. At that price, it would have been worth taking a gamble with him.

Good wingers are hard to come by and I'm not really sure what the answer is, but without them, playing big strikers up front is rather pointless.

Friday, January 12, 2007

City miss out on Beckham shocker

I was going to save this for April 1st, but by that stage Becks will probably be long forgotten.

It was amusing to see a few papers and websites running stories that City were about to make an audacious bid to bring Golden Balls back to Manchester and great to see Stuart Pearce playing along with the gag.

To be fair though, Becks fits the profile of a typical City signing; declining career, too old, legs gone, unaffordable wages, delusions of self-importance and viewing our club as some sort of pension fund.

It puts the distorted football, or should I say " sahcur" market into perspective that Beckham will earn in a week roughly what we sold Ben Thatcher to Charlton for, although some might say that's probably just about right.

I was however pleased to hear Becks say that his primary reason for this unexpected move was so that he could help "take football to a new level in the USA". Now there was me thinking he was just doing it for the money !

Monday, January 08, 2007

All Change For The Cup

City's 3rd round FA Cup replay against Sheffield Wednesday has been switched to Tuesday 16th January. Ticket prices have been reduced so let's hope for a full house, although Sky will now be televising it.

Assuming we get through the replay, we will be entertaining Southampton in the 4th round at Eastlands. Fourth round matches are set to be played on Friday 26, Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 January, but with United ( v Portsmouth) also getting yet another home tie, I'm sure the GMP will not allow the games to go ahead on same day. The prospect of United and City playing on the same day is scary enough, but add to that the bitter rivalry between Pompey and Saints, there is the potential for an explosive situation.

Police will also have to keep a close watch on all north-bound routes as both Pompey and United fans head up from the south ;-)

The odds of BWP doing an Anelka against us must be pretty high, so get your money on it !

Come on City and Play up Pompey !

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Doesn't It Just Make You Sick !

If I'm honest, I wasn't expecting to be writing another article tonight with City's name still in the hat for tomorrow's FA Cup 4th Round draw, but I'm not complaining.... even though we didn't exactly cover ourselves with glory in this afternoon's match at Hillsborough with another far from convincing performance.

To be fair though, Wednesday are an improving side this season and a sleeping giant - rather like City when you think about it. I wasn't there today, due to local junior football priorities, but what fantastic away support for City once again.

I was also listening to the 'Nited v Villa game hoping for an upset there, and it so nearly happened. Once again though with irritating regularity, the Rags managed to score a winner in the 91st minute without deserving it....... and where did the four minutes of added time come from, or should I say "Fergie time". Doesn't it just make you sick !

Still, we'll probably draw them again in the next round

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Pearce hints at City sale bargains

Transfer windows must be a real frustration for Psycho. Every August and January he faces an uphill battle to fend off unwanted raids on our best players, whilst at the same time watching enviously as many other smaller clubs than City seem to be able to magically conjure up substantial transfer funds, whilst City embarrass themselves with pathetic beer-money spending.... and that's if we're lucky.

A quick reality check confirms that at the moment, we're just not able to compete financially with most of the other Premiership teams. It's an unpleasant reality to have to face up to, but why would an ambitious player want to come to Eastlands at the moment?

Faced once again with no transfer funds, Pearce has indicated that he may have to sell off a number of "fringe players" (his words, not mine), to raise a bit of cash, but he stopped short of naming names. His comments however, must cast some doubt on the futures of a number of young players such as Stephen Ireland, Ishmael Miller, Michael Johnson and Matthew Mills who look likely to face the same fate as Flood, Croft and BWP. But realistically, their combined transfer value won't amount to a whole lot.

I guess Danny Mills is another candidate and his departure would certainly help the wages bill, but I would argue that there are a number of players not on the fringes that are better candidates for a New Year exit. Without being vindictive, the likes of Reyna, Jihai Sun, Hamann and Sinclair are not adding much to the squad and are holding back the progress of younger players. We should recognise what they've done for the club in the past ( except for Hamann, who has just been an enormous disappointment) and move onwards and hopefully upwards.

Whatever happens in the transfer window, one thing is for sure - not enough money will be invested in quality players and we'll end up shuffling the pack and the outcome will be pretty much the same as it is now. I can almost guarantee that come the start of Feb, all the fans will still be saying that what we need is a creative midfielder and a 20 goal-a-season striker - some things in life never change.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Cup Omens Not Good For City

Luck is never something that ever seems to be in great abundance if you're a City fan - most Blues will testify to that.

Although we've had a decent run of late winning three games on the trot, prior to Monday's victory against Everton, City have had the Holy Trinity of duff referees for the previous three home games, namely Messrs Poll, Styles and Riley; needless to say we didn't get much change out of any of them, especially from Graham Poll, who just seems to have it in for City.

Anyone remembering his performance last season in the home game against Arsenal will understand what I'm saying - he very nearly caused a riot that night with the most blatant one-sided performance I've ever seen in my life.

It was therefore no real surprise, given City's luck, that " The Thing From Tring" has been appointed for this weekend's FA Cup 3rd round tie against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough; fate has dealt us another cruel blow.

Expect a string of inexplicable decisions against us and a succession of cards for the most innocuous of misdemeanours; Poll's appointment alone is like starting from a goal down.

In those unforgettable words of Basil Fawlty....... " thank you God..... thank you so f***ing much !!! "

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Man City January Transfer Rumours Vol 1

It's that silly time of year again where every player seems to be linked to every other club.

Now let me see, what's being doing the rounds so far in no particular order of inaccuracy:


  • Izale McLeod ( MK Dons )
  • Freddy Eastwood ( Southend United )
  • Euzebiusz Smolarek ( Borussia Dortmund )
  • Afonso Alves ( Heerenveen)
  • SWP ( Chelsea )
  • Marouane Chamakh ( Bordeaux )
  • Robert Koren ( Lillestrom )
  • Ivan Klasnic (Werder Bremen)
  • Will Hoskins ( Rotherham )
  • Steve Sidwell ( Reading)
  • Greg Halford ( Colchester United )
  • Blaise N'Kufo ( Twente Enschede )
  • Matthew Upson / David Dunne ( Birmingham)
  • Billy Sharpe ( Scunthorpe )
  • David Nugent ( Preston NE)
  • Will Hoskins ( Rotherham United )
  • Caleb Folan ( Chesterfield )
  • Billy Jones ( Crewe)

  • Micah Richards to Chelsea
  • Bernardo Corradi to Chievo, Verona
  • Joey Barton to the Rags, Everton, 'Boro, Newcastle
  • Danny Mills to Hull
  • Hatem Trabelsi to Arsenal
  • Matthew Mills to Crewe
  • Sylvain Distin to Villa, 'Boro, Newcastle, and now probably Chelsea

Surely it's now time to get rid of this ridiculous transfer pantomime that's played out twice a year; it really is becoming a complete farce !

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year for City

City 2 - 1 Everton

As a new year begins, so does another football fan blog. Some of you may recognise me from my time as a writer on the Vital Football website, but as we head into 2007, I will only be posting articles here on this blog from now on. Comments are very welcome, so please share your views whether they are in agreement or critical of mine, but please consider that children may be looking at the website when choosing your words. Now onto the footy .......

I think even the most optimistic Blues wouldn't have predicted City grabbing 9 points over the Xmas / New Year period, but I don't suppose many of use are complaining too loudly about it now.

The Xmas omens were not good at the Bolton game, during which we were just shocking. It was that bad, that by half time, I couldn't take any more and spared my two lads the torture of another 45 minutes. Little did I realize as I was trudging out of the ground with the storm clouds hovering over us, that we'd end up having one of the most sucessful festive-season run of games for many a year.

Incredibly, given our previous away form so far, we have won back-to-back games on the road against an in-crisis West Ham, despite the return of their prodigal son, and against a rough and tough Sheffield United, who are battling away to keep their Premiership status. Both those games were certainly not pretty, but the narrow 0-1 wins were nevertheless massive results for City.

Today's encounter against Everton was perhaps not the game we wanted in the pursuit of an unthinkable three match winning streak; I can't remember the last time that happened - perhaps one of you "Stattos" can?

As the first half unfolded and developed, thoughts were already turning towards another half-time exit; the quality (from both teams) was that dire. However, a tactical change at the break which saw Samaras replace an ineffective Corradi paid immediate dividends with a well worked goal involving an increasingly influential Beasley.

What a difference a goal makes! Samaras looked a totally different player and you could see his confidence an swagger returning at pace and then-some as he cooly converted a penalty after Vassell was felled by on-loan Rag Howard. City dominated the majority of the second half, and despite a late scare when Osman pulled a goal back with a quality finish, City held on pretty comfortably and stay remain in the top half of the table with clear water between us and the relegation places.

Although Big Sam will grab all the headlines, it was a good team performance today - well for the 2nd half anyway. Other performances of note included Dabo who looked rock solid in midfield, Beasley's trickery on the wing, Vassell running his socks off yet again and Onuoha looking an able replacement for Micah if recent rumours are to be believed but my own personal Man of the Match was Stephen Jordan who didn't put a foot wrong and never missed a tackle.

Well, what a great start to the year, but some tricky games ahead. Sheffield Wednesday away in the Cup is a potential banana-skin given our recent record against lower league clubs in Cup competitions. Local derbies against Bolton and Blackburn follow quickly and will be tight and heavily contested encouters, but with confidence rising, we are now in real danger of putting a real Cup and League run together or are my blue-tinted lenses already getting the better of me?