Friday, 27 February 2009

Manchester City v FC Copenhagen: City hit the Mark!

So it's back to Denmark in the next round to play Champions League drop-outs Aalborg who stuffed Deportivo in both of their tie.

Ticket's On Sale as from 9am today!
UEFA Cup – Round of 16 (First Leg)
MCFC v Aalborg Thursday 12th March 2009
Venue – City of Manchester Stadium
Kick Off – 7.45pm

The result tonight was a pleasing one and a convincing performance to compliment. Today saw the resurgence of the unfairly maligned Brazilian star Robinho. He simply is brilliant in full force. The manner and style in which he reads the game is beyond most premier league players ability! He was unlucky tonight not to score, but generally had a hand in all that was good tonight and set up a goal.
Bellamy was good tonight, caught off-side too often, perhaps unfairly on occasion. But Off-sides are no bad thing, they show an intent and your more likely to win from having for off-sides than corners! We perhaps rely too much on the quite crude tactic of knocking the ball long in hope that Bellamy pace will enable him to get on the ball, i don't want to see it all the time, but tonight it got us a goal and can't really be complained about.

Steven Ireland does seem to the Off-side gene, he doesn't understand the rules and was often found waving his arms around in the off-side position tonight. Look up Stevie! Micah Richards also struggles with basics, why he failed to make a throw in, 3 times in one game is madness. I'd have him in training tomorrow doing nothing but throw-ins!

Solid performance from the midfield today. Kompany wasn't given the same licence as he had at anfield to get forward, instead he sat back and enjoyed controlling the middle with Mad Pab!

The defence gave a decent display, a few errors here and there. Dunne let Ailton slip a few times, but was pretty comfortable. More amusing was his trip north was spoilt by the off-side flag. Richards gave a more improved performance going forward today played some good balls into the attackers. Bridge, I am still weary about. I am conscious he hasn't really played football for a long time. But his defensive skills are dodgy at the moment and his final ball was less than convincing today.

The 1st half was average. We looked to make life difficult for ourselves and struggled to make an impact. Bellamy chance hitting the post the main positive from the half. We came out in the 2nd more confident and assured and gradually improved. Only a defensive lapse at the end spoilt a decent result.

The fan's from Copenhagen were very entertaining tonight. Loud through out, some good English chants thrown in as well, shame city fan's are not that bothered about a rare Uefa cup run.

West Ham next, hopefully the catalyst of a good performance has got city going for the rest of the season. The talk of changing room unrest hasn't helped, Bellamy and Robinho performed in a very professional manner tonight. Even if only three players congratulated Craig on his 1st goal and a forced bug uncomfortable hug for second with Robinho gave me a slight worry. I only hope they keep up their performances on pitch and leave the rest to the tabloids.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Manchester City v FC Copenhagen:Uefa cup preview.

Didn't report after the Liverpool match for various reasons. But i was happy with the 2nd half performance at Anfield. I hope it was the mark of a side who want to improve rather than simply raising the game for a big opponent, something we saw last season.

An average draw at Copenhagen in the 1st leg saw city struggle in the final third and at the back. Poor finishing and poor marking generally presided over our away form this season. We are lucky to have the Away goal today, so hopefully we can put in a good performance tonight and win comfortably like we should be doing against a side that haven't played much football.

Team wise, Kompany is a major doubt with a damaged toe which leaves us light in the midfield. Hopefully that means we only play one DM at home which would be Zabaleta. Gelson is also still injured so it leaves us with little option. SWP could feature but has a slight ankle injury, but i fully expect him to start.

Shame we can't sell out at home for a Uefa cup run! Hoping for a good performance tonight.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Liverpool Vs Manchester City: Preview

Difficult challenge tomorrow! Of course our away form will fill most of the discussions. But i hope the challenge of playing a Big, football playing side will motivate the team and produce a performance deserving of our support.

Our Uefa form does not seem to translate across to league form. The midweek game wasn't the best performance, but certainly an improvement on what we have produced this year. We were still calamitous at the back and failed to capitalise in the final third.

SWP is suspended for some bizarre reason, but Richard Dunne returns. So i am hoping Hughes will either give a chance to Felipe Caicedo upfront or see Zabaleta move to the right wing, which he has played before. Kompany retains his midweek role in the midfield and Dunne returns to the defence.

This is a game that we shouldn't expect anything from, that's why i am hoping we can pull something out of the bag. We have a horrible record Vs Liverpool. The Fink Tank predicts only 12.1% chance of winning and only 19.2% of a draw. Not a promising statistic.

Highest odds on a 2-0 loss. I hope otherwise!

Thursday, 19 February 2009

FC Copenhagen 2:2 Manchester City: Typical City.

An unconvincing performance tonight. City flattered at times, but failed to show any real quality in the final third. Another poor showing at the back meant we failed to capitalise on some poor defending.

Our first goal was extremely fortunate. The goalkeeper made a serious error to which gave Nedum his second goal for city. Amusing at the time, but considering it was one of our best chances on goal, highlights our lack of quality in the final third. The Second goal, taken competently by Steven Ireland, but was again made easier by poor defending and a rare good ball from SWP.

We created a few other chances, but poor finishing let us down and we eventually paid the cost through typical city defending. The return of Dunne clearly didn't do us any favours, there seemed to be a competition at the back of who could make the most errors in 90 mins. Both goals coming from set pieces raises the question about what we are actually doing in training. Two free headers is very poor.

Bellamy spent most of the game off side whilst Robinho dipped in and out of the game. I am worried about our home form if he continues to fail to find the net. He has been vital to our home form this season, we can't afford that to end. The lack of substitutions worried me. We have a big game on Sunday and we were not playing particular well. Gronkjaer came on and caused us problems at the back, we didn't adjust to this new threat.

Overall i am generally happy because we have the away goal and a draw was pretty much as i expected. An improvement on the Portsmouth performance isn't surprising as it couldn't get much worse. We are in a good position to beat them at home and have an advantage.

Not sure where this leaves us for Sunday.

FC Copenhagen Vs Manchester City: Uefa Preview.

A nice break away from the disappointment that is our premier league season. There is aspiration from city fans, that we can actually can get to the final in this tournament despite our poor domestic form. We have been quite fortunate in the teams we have been drawn against. Copenhagen are not a bad side but it could of been worse. We certainly have the quality to beat them. Ignoring the nonsense their coach Solbakken has come up with this week, the game should be competitive, and hopefully the team will play with some pride and spirit.

Robinho, the most recent scapegoat is likely to be fit as will Richards. SWP and Dunne will also be available for the fixture. So a pretty decent squad available. Gelson has remained home due to injury, which may lead to Kompany returning to the midfield with the absence of De Jong from the Uefa squad.

Hughes has been calling for the same spirit that enabled us to beat a struggling Schalke side. This game was some time ago, in November. Our most recent European form has been less convincing. A poor display at home to Paris St-Germain and then a woeful loss to Santander leave me with some worry with today's fixture.

i am hoping for a draw at least so we can put a few past them at home. Fingers crossed!

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Portsmouth 2:0 Manchester City: Poor showing!

Keep it short today as I'm still too angry!

Know one played well today, we were flat had no tempo and struggled to create anything of value in 90 mins. Robinho was awful today, he didn't look interested and that worries me and I'm sure it will worry the owners. The midfield didn't function today, Elano started out left and then moved right, Ireland started out right then moved into the middle. It looked confused and led to some poor performances from out attacking players. Bellamy looked pretty redundant on his own, his final ball was often poor today. The quality of passing today was very poor, lost count the amount of times Elano lobbed the ball up to the only man up the field, funny enough they rarely worked.

Clumsy defending again let us down. Logan looked inexperienced and struggled generally with Nugent, who doesn't look any better than Jon Macken. We treated Crouch like berbatov today, standing off him and letting him dribble. Very poor showing generally. The second goal came far too easily, no marking at set pieces again. Bridge looks poor in defence and his mistake cost us another goal, Johnson was able to get two shots on goal.

Very poor result, continuing our woeful away record. It created intense pressure on Hughes, there is certainly a prevailing air of discontent surrounding the club at the moment with fans and players. This is not an acceptable result!

Friday, 13 February 2009

Portsmouth Vs Man City: Preview

A replay of the called of fixture in January. Our last game in hand. This is our chance to improve the terrible away record of 1 win all season. We beat pompey 6-0 early on this season with great ability and flair, but this was Pompey under Harry Rednapp. The recent sacking of Tony Adams means Portsmouth will be headed by Paul Hart the father of ex-city player Johnny Hart in the 50's and 60's. Brian Kidd the ex united assistant has also joined Harts team. They will be hoping for some of that new manager luck, which statistically would of come to Adams anyway.

This is the most important time of Hughes City career, the closing end of the season is as the cliche ridden Andy Gray would say 'the business end'! He has to get them team finishing strongly and improve on 1 away win all season.

With the recent exposure of Elano class Vs the world champion the other night, confirming it to be pretty difficult to leave him on the bench as Hughes has been doing. Despite him being involved with most of our league wins this season. With SWP suspended unfairly for three games, it will give Hughes a chance to either utilise Elano or Bellamy on the right. Possibly use Caicedo upfront.

The Fink Tank Predictor suggest on the form alone we only have a 30.8% of winning which is understandable. Portsmouth statistically being favourites at home, despite their own poor form, City's woeful away record obviously reduces our chances. I am sticking to my guns and will continue to believe we will go on to win as it has to come eventually.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Manchester City 1:0 Middlesbrough: Poor game, Good result.

Yesterday for me was a flat, negative and generally disappointing performance. We managed to carve out a few opportunities, but it took Bellamy to finally take some responsibility and actually take a shot for us to get in front.

I thought yesterday we saw the best and the worst of Steven Ireland, he was lauded by some as a genius yesterday. His diving head move and the ball across of the box are examples of Ireland energy attacking drive. But yesterday his game was littered with mistakes. His passing quality is very poor at least 1/3rd of his balls went adrift. When he gets forward, he doesn't see the options around him. He benefited from Bellamy being very quick to cover his poor final ball. Robinho too was very poor, he was generally taking shots that were not on, but he does have great vision and was still able to release ireland into the box. SWP is another, his work rate was fine, tracking back was great, but going forward he simply ran into trouble every time. He is no doubt going to be suspended now, so a break might do him good.

The team was flat, the tempo was slow and we really were not that good. Two defensive midfielders at home, is that really necessary, especially against a team struggling to get any results at all. Elano is one of the best passers in the league, if Hughes is to persist with Bellamy on his own, we need elano's ability to cut defences in two with a simply pass. Let's not forget how often he was able to release Petrov. Caicedo came on and added bulk, he is skillful and strong, Bellamy would be a lot more effective playing with him, rather than on his own.

The defending again was shaky at times. Both Richards and Bridge caught out on numerous occasions. Richards is simply lazy, walking back whilst Boro are on a break is unacceptable. It was only Given that kept us in the game. A great goalkeeper can win you games, nothing against Hart but it don't think we would of had a clean sheet yesterday if he was in the nets. Given made several top class saves and it was his saves that got the crowd going, and that alone should signal the lack of quality in the final third, we simply didn't do the business.

I would of liked another attacking player on much earlier yesterday, i don't know why we were so risk averse. I would of removed Richards and put Zabaleta at right back.
We have a better side than Boro, we have great creative players, we simply didn't perform. A very laboured performance, we could of had three, but so could of Boro, that doesn't give a fair example of the game. Not a great performance, but three points that puts good amount of difference between us and the bottom group. City are beginning to look functional, but lack all the creative spark and flair that we had at the start of the season. It's not entertaining and difficult to watch.

A quick point on Jo. He has been labeled a misfit, bad influence all sorts of insults and attacks. He has been given 6 starts and Hughes hasn't let him finish one of them. He's a 21 year old, clearly talented striker. He was never given a fair chance Hughes wouldn't use him even when it was obvious we needed height and target in the box. Moyes takes him, a bit of confidence, he came out as a tall Target man, who take on players, use both feet and scored two goals. I find it difficult to see how Hughes failed to get anything out of him. Everton play 5 in the midfield and 1 up top, which isn't very different to what we do. I'm sure our owners will be looking on and questioned why a 19 million investment is playing well away from the club.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Manchester City Vs Middlesbrough: Preview.

Another TV game! I don't like it when city are on TV, we tend not to perform to our ability and always disappoint the neutral fan. Not a fan of the 12:45 kick off either, but on with the game.

Our Home form has obviously been our saviour this season with 7 of our 8 wins coming at home, i am expecting city to take three points again tomorrow. Mark Hughes has called for patience in our games. We know teams will come and form a solid midfield and try and stop our attacking players from linking up. Boro will have the likes of Digard and O'neil back in the side to compact their midfield. We have great ability going forward and tend to play with more comfort and freedom at home. So hopefully we can overcome a well organised but ordinary Boro side.

Tomorrow will see a home debut for Shay Given which i am quite happy about. I think he will instill much needed confidence in our back four and hopefully start to eradicate our calamitous edge which has cost us so many games this season. Wright-Phillips is also allowed to play tomorrow after the FA extension on his appeal. This too is great news, as he is an obvious quality member of the squad. Otherwise i expect a pretty similar side to what we have been seeing. I hope Hughes will be more inclined to use caicedo, as his physical presence alone adds a new dimension to our attack. Elano has been in good form, he probably deserves a start, but i think Ireland will still be favoured by Hughes.

I am genuinely confident as i believe we have made progress already this January with a reinforced midfield and defence, we look more comfortable against physical sides. Our difficulty to break down Stoke is a worry, but our away form is clearly influenced by other factors. I hope this improvement continues as we need a strong finish to the season for Hughes sake alone. Time is only given to those who deserve it, results are now the necessary!

Tomorrows Ref is........ Steve Bennett!

I predict a Home win. The Fink Tank predicts that City are 54.5% likely to win. There is only a 22.1% chance of an away win. So hopefully facts and complex calculations will play true and city will finish the victors.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

De Jong Not in UEFA squad!

From the Official site

City can confirm that Nigel de Jong will not be available for selection for the UEFA Cup this season.

UEFA rules stipulate that a club can register a maximum of three new players in the January transfer window, and so it was decided that Craig Bellamy, Shay Given and Wayne Bridge would be the new signings included in the squad list submitted at the end of Sunday, February 1st.

One player who has already played in the Champions League for another club this season is also allowed to play in the UEFA Cup, which meant that Bridge got the nod over the former Hamburg SV midfielder.

Confirming the decision, Mark Hughes says: "There are only so many you are allowed to bring in, so we have had a look at it and Nigel won’t be involved. It will be Craig, Wayne and Shay that we were allowed to add.

"We looked at Nigel, but with the cover we have in his area with Vincent and also Pablo that’s what we have gone with.

"We’re hopeful of carrying on in the UEFA Cup, and it would be great to progress further into the latter stages."

One issue! I was led to believe that if the player you signed in the January window was already registered in Europe, which i presume De jong was with Hamburg SV, then he couldn't be re -registered with another club. I can't see how he could be involved at all. Wayne Bridge can be included, because he has been registered in Champions league so is allowed to be registered for Uefa. I presumed this wouldn't come as a shock and more as the presumed.

SWP set to feature Vs Boro!

The FA have given City an extension on their appeal on SWP violent conduct charge. The club now have Monday 11am to submit their evidence. Hughes was quite outspoken in today's press conference with Shay Given. His complaint was aimed at the amount of time the FA took over deciding to charge SWP, considering they wasted little time to clear Lampard. Hughes would be left waiting to hear the outcome of appeal before picking his side on Saturday, which is simply unfair.

He also complained, like me about the severity of the charge. Delap gets a three game for kicking SWP twice, why should Shaun also get three games for a much less severe offence, which was born out being provoked.

So SWP is free to play this weekend, which is great news regardless of what ban he will eventually get.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Violent Conduct Charge for Wright-Phillips!

Shaun Wright-Phillips has been charged for violent conduct
The charge relates to an incident involving Rory Delap in the first half of Man City's 1-0 defeat against Stoke on Saturday.

No action was taken at the time as referee Martin Atkinson did not see what happened, but video footage has now been studied.

Atkinson has informed the FA that he would have sent Wright-Phillips off if he had seen the incident.

Now he is likely to miss 3 games for this charge, if he doesn't win a appeal that must be submitted by Thursday 6pm. I have some issues here. Firstly the severity of his petulant kick is minimal. Delap reacted badly to a fair challenge by SWP and took him out and then preceded to take a deliberate kick at him. He was provoked and in a court of law, he would be dealt with less severely. The ban isn't in proportion to the incident, why does he get the same length ban as the original culprit. Surely Zab and Richards push on Delap afterwards is also counted as violent conduct, there is no consistency!

My next issue is why have the FA allowed the rules to be so flawed that they have let Bosingwa get away with an unprovoked kick on Benayoun.

I fail to see how they can let a player get away with this but give SWP a ban for a little kick in response to being kicked himself. It's not the 1st time the FA have ignored these incidents. It's just difficult to take, when a player committing a worse offence get lets off. Ronaldo too has been let off this season, with his petulant kick on Dawson, the FA decided to take no action. All we ask for is consistency and fairness.

* Good read here! Rick Turner from Bluemoon has written an article The Times Fanzone, a very amusing read!

On Sunday Supplement
Brian Woolnough, Paul Hayward, Neil Custis - it's hard to think of a more dour, miserable bunch of, well, bastards (I'm not sure if that's the correct collective noun for journalists, but it seems apt).

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Work Begins!

We can now sit back and reflect on what has been a stressful and surprising month, we have ended the January window signing 4 players, which in the scheme of things seems to be a decent haul.

Our 1st signing came in the shape of Wayne Bridge, a decent left back who has spent most of the past 5 season struggling to stake a claim to the left back position at Chelsea. He has been up against Ashley Cole, who despite his personality, is a top class left back. Bridge hasn't had the best of starts, two slack defensive errors have led to goals. But, he is an improvement on the inexperienced Garrido and the below standard Michael Ball.

Next to join was the delightful journeyman striker Craig Bellamy from West Ham. Not being the most prolific, injury prone and ageing wasn't enough to put the determined Mark Hughes shelling out 10 million (at least) for the striker. He provides a drive and bite to the attack and pace with purpose, as opposed to Vassell. Bellamy scored on his debut a 1st for him, considering the amount of clubs he has played for. Again he has never lived up to the hype that once again, i often hear the phrase 'on his day' associated with him. I hope he has Lot's of these 'days' this season. Does he improve the side, probably yes, but I'm not sure he is the answer in a lone striker role.

Nigel De Jong made it three for Hughes, joining shortly after the Kaka deal collapsed. Nigel is a very disciplined defensive midfielder and his position really did need filling. He is the most promising from all the signings, as he is still pretty young, he has great potential and drive. He has to be the most pleasing capture more me during this window.

Finally Shay Given is our last piece of transfer business in to the club this January. He is an experienced Premier league goalkeeper and will provide more confidence and assurance in the back four. I don't agree with he statement that he is the best goalie in the league, it's simply not true, but he is a decent goalie. He does lack a bit of height and that may be noticeable in set pieces. But he will have more confidence and better judgment than the 21 year old hart.

With young Jo going out on loan to Everton, it will be a welcome chance for the lad who hasn't really been able to get used to the league under Hughes for whatever reason. I think Moyes will instill confidence in him and get him used to the league very quickly.

I, like many were hoping for a top quality player to be brought in, especially after all the talk about Kaka, villa and so on... But nothing really materialised and we ended up in a tedious war of attrition with Blackburn over a very over-rated striker. I am happy we didn't pay stupid money for Santa Cruz, to be honest anything over 8, to me is an aberration for Bayern flop. I hope Caicedo will get his chance along with Sturridge for the rest of the season. I would of been bitterly disappointed and angry if we would of let felipe go in exchange. He has great power, presence and ability, give him time and we may just have a top player in our hands.

So Hughes has now spent allot more money and has very much put his mark on the side. It is time to start performing. There now has to be a greater expectation from the club's owner that the team start performing and improve on 1 away win all season! A decent top half finish is a must, with a European place finish being pretty high on the agenda. Our form will have to improve radically if we are too do this. Losing the clubs like Stoke has to come to an end, Hughes has to eradicate what ever is diminishing the performances of the team away from home. We look like two completely different sides. Our next match is at home to Boro. It's on TV, which isn't great because expectation and pressure doesn't seem to do us any favours. It's a match i expect to win at home, a more assured back line, midfield and attack. Excuses have run out!

Monday, 2 February 2009

Window Shut

City are closed for business, no big target man in. Not wasted money on RSC. Hopefully Hughes will give Caicedo his chance and tie up the Sturridge contract.

At least we can now can back to football and improving our fortunes on the pitch.

We have let Jo go on loan, and kept Johnson.

No Santa Cruz

Well the most recent report out of SSN is City haven't made a bigger bid for Santa Cruz. They are not prepaired to pay the inflated sum. I for one am happy, as he is vastly over -rated. But i am disappointed we haven't signed any one it seems. 15 mins to go.

Talk again on SSN is that Caicedo was the player linked to Santa Cruz deal. I am glad we are keeping him, he is younger and has more potential.

Michael Johnson is staying despite an 8 million bid from the toon, whilst Jo has joined Everton on loan.

Window Hazard!

The 'big' snow fall over the night means this tin pot country comes to a halt. So there is talk on SSN today about the window being extended beyond the 4 and half hours that we have left.

No news whats over coming out of City. It looks like Jo Alves will join Everton on loan, which i think is a good thing. I, not like others, think he has decent potential if he can get the games and confidence from his manager.

Michael Johnson has been linked to the Toon, but the club have stated that he is staying at the club. I can't see him passing a medical anywhere to be honest.

No news on Sant Cruz. Although Blackburn have been linked with a better player in Kuranyi, so who knows what will happen?

With talk of Robbie Keane and Quaresma going to Spurs and the collapse of the Arshavin deal at Arsenal, it seems we have no real big targets planned. Not long left to do any business, could be very disappointing end to the window.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Given In, Ben-Haim Out!

Well today, city have made their fourth signing of the January window. Shay Given has signed from Newcastle. I am very happy with this deal as i have been unhappy at not having an experienced keeper for sometime. Joe Hart has great ability, but is five years ahead of himself. He has allot too learn. Given is at the right age to teach and inspire him and Kasper.

Tal Ben-Haim has joined Sunderland on loan, until the end of the season. He has failed to impress at the club after his move from chelsea in the summer. Best of luck to him, I can't see him coming back next season.

New blog link today: We've Got Robinho . Good to see more City Blogs!