Sunday, September 30, 2007

Ireland Coming Through His Difficult Times

This article may be a bit belated given the well documented events of Stephen Ireland's sudden and somewhat bizarre exit from Eire's national team squad a couple of weeks ago, but lest we all forget, he deserves some praise and respect for playing through what is obviously a difficult time.

Those people who have experienced such a personal trauma will understand the affect it has on the individuals concerned and close family.

That Stephen has been able to carry on playing and been able to maintain anything approaching his best form is not only a testament to him personally but also to the Club and management team for supporting him and showing trust in his ability and professionalism. He had a decent game yesterday against Newcastle and was unlucky not to have scored had it not been for a trademark point-blank save from Shay Given.

Stephen has taken a fair bit of flak in some of the papers and fan sites over this episode, but if those individuals concerned had been through what Stephen and his partner have been through they probably wouldn't have been quite so critical.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Time To Take City Seriously

City have often been the butt of many jibes about being a club that cannot be taken seriously. Some of the criticism has been deserved, but last week's battling performance against Fulham and today's 3 - 1 win over a decent, but Owen-less Newcastle has sent out a message that we are a much tougher proposition than in previous seasons.

Even the reddest of the many anti-City hacks must now (grudgingly) accept that Sven's influence has transformed City's fortunes and the club is unrecognizable from the lumbering, mis-firing team of the last few seasons.

For the second week running, City went a goal behind, but instead of crumbling like they would have previously, the teams' newly found confidence and self-belief meant they were soon on level terms with a quality finish by Petrov from a tight angle.

Although Newcastle had their moments in the first half, City were the dominant side after the break and with Mpenza wrong-footing Given with a clever header from Petrov's cross almost immediately from the restart, there was only ever going to be one outcome to this match.

City contained Newcastle without too much difficulty for the remainder of the match which was rounded off with a sensational free kick by Elano from 25 yards which flew past Given into the top of the net before he could move such was it's power and accuracy. Sky TV measured it at 76mph.... not quite as fast though as Didi Hamann as recently clocked by the Cheshire police ;-)

This was probably City's best performance of the season so far and was especially memorable for the performances of Martin Petrov and Elano who were both just outstanding. Petrov for his trickery, strength and pace down the wing and Elano for his silky skills and reading of the game. Sven took some stick for spending "big" money on these guys, but they look now to be very shrewd investments with many clubs sizing them up with envious eyes - expect some big-money bids in January, but luckily for us, we don't need the money.

Just a couple of thoughts to finish with:

1. Seeing Joey Barton sitting uncomfortably behind the Newcastle bench, probably thinking " what the hell have I done ?" .... ditto for Distin

2. Wondering what life would be like if Big Sam had been appointed City manager instead of Sven and being very grateful that the right choice was made