- So another comfortable home win – eventually. For once, City were made to work fully for their victory, but their superior class told in the end.
- The team-sheet was as expected, apart from the debate over you-know-who. It’s been debated to death, you will have your own opinions, but whilst you can argue that Pantilimon has done nothing wrong so deserves to keep his place, some will counter argument that he hasn’t had to do much (nothing spectacular at least), so that’s hardly a surprise. Either way, it’s not looking good for Hart, though he can probably expect two starts against Leicester and Bayern Munich -but then what do I know?
- Swansea offered far more in that first-half than most visitors to the Etihad, after another storming start from City. Yet again we could have scored in the first minute, and once Negredo had scored many naturally felt another procession was on the cards. We have become spoilt of course and expect this as standard, but Swansea had other ideas. They pass the ball about superbly, and caused City plenty of problems and could have gone into the break level if not for some very wayward finishing.
- There is a point to make here though that this is what separates the top teams from those that occupy mid-table and below. All teams can fashion chances, but the top teams tend to be more clinical – and so it proved on Sunday. Some of the play continues to be breathtaking – the best I have ever seen.
- But in that first half it seemed too open, with too much space for the Swansea players to break into. Pellegrini tightened things up in the second half, though City probably also wore down their opponents as is often the case nowadays. By the end, the Swans were all at sea (Ha, hilarious! I should be a headline writer!).
- You wonder what damage Swansea could have done with their first choice strike-force available, but then City were missing their first-choice central defensive pairing, so it evened itself out.
- So no hogging of the MOTM award by Sergio Aguero this time round, the Argentinean more subdued than usual. Samir Nasri certainly wasn’t however and he continues to fill the void left by David Silva. Laurent Blanc once commented that Nasri is more a striker than a midfielder and you can see the logic in that when he breaks on goal. Like his vital goal at home to Chelsea in the title-winning season, he is ultra – cool in such situations, something he has over David Silva. It was great to see him bag a brace.
- So it seems we have another player who can take a free-kick.
- The stats: that’s 8 goals in the last 7 games for Alvaro Negredo. His free-kick was the fourth one scored by City in the league this season (there have been 19 scored in the league in total so far). Samir Nasri has scored more premier league goals this season already than last season (3) and has scored more than once in a game for the first time since December 4th 2010. In total, that’s now 29 home goals in the league this season, two more than any other side has scored home and away (thanks to @OptaJoe for all that).
- Joleon Lescott and Micah Richards have been in the papers over the weekend, talking of leaving if they cannot get playing time. Of course Lescott is doing just that due to injury and was great against Spurs for 45 minutes, shaky against Plzen and good again against Swansea, but he knows he is back up and that will not change. Like Gareth Barry, he is approaching the twilight of his career, a career that will end elsewhere.
- Richards is a different kettle of fish however. It’s hard to truly judge the player when he injures himself on such a regular basis, but the Richards of now bears a striking resemblance to the erratic Richards under Mark Hughes that seemed to spend too much time in the gym and not enough on the field. He is a link to the old days, the Jim Cassell academy, he is a popular figure and a club cheerleader and we all hope he stays, but I cannot justify a first team place for him at the moment and if he demands time on the pitch, this could prove the tipping point.
- If Lescott and Richards were to leave it would naturally lead to media criticism over the de-Anglicisation of the team, but the fact is that the English players would get more time on the pitch if they were as good as their team-mates, and I’m not sure they are anymore (for everyone’s sanity we’ll leave Joe Hart out of the argument). The new academy and the batch of youngsters ripping up trees bode well for the future, but there may be a gap of a few years before we see a new English element in the first team.
- As Paulinho pout in another underwhelming and error-strewn performance earlier in the day against United, it becomes more baffling with every match that Fernandinho is overlooked by the Brazil manager. The selection for the team is often erratic, but let’s hope for the player’s sake that a move to a higher-profile league gets him the recognition he deservers. If Jo is regularly getting on the pitch for Brazil, what possible justification is there not to give Fernandinho a run-out? Maybe his style just doesn’t suit in a position that Brazil are quite strong in at the moment.
- Another poor turnout from the away team’s support. This is not criticism, simply pointing out that if you insist on charging fans £50 a pop then ask them to make a huge cross-country (sorry, countries) trek on Sunday, we shouldn’t be surprised when the majority say “sod that”. Half-price tickets for City’s match at Fulham are a start, a move replicated by other Premier League teams, but it needs to go much further than the odd reduction. £20 needs to be the norm, £30 at the most.
- The true tests are almost here. Two tricky away games where anything could happen, that could shape City’s title campaign at such an early stage. Here’s hoping that Manuel Pellegrini has worked out how to solve this particular problem. For the record, City are not alone in this respect. United have conceded 20 goals in their last 10 away games and have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last nine. But then they have Tom Cleverley in midfield.
- Calling Negredo the beast gets creepier with every passing week. As for “feed the beast…” – just NO.
- Wow, and once more – wow.
- What I thought would be a tight game, settled by one moment, either of genius or perhaps one ghastly mistake, proved to be just that for a good 14 seconds.
- As usual the team line-up provided plenty of ammunition for the Pellegrini doubters, due to the big issue of the month – the goalkeeping spot. I, like many others, presumed Hart would be back in the team after the international break, especially after his strong performance against Germany. However I have since seen some logic in Pellegrini’s actions. Whoever was picked did not significantly alter City’s chances of victory, and it can be seen as quite clever from the manager to draft Hart back in for a game of less significance on Wednesday. Thus, Hart can find his feet without the media spotlight that would have accompanied him at the weekend, and what’s more, by sticking with the same keeper for the Spurs match, the game was about the football, and was not clouded by other issues. Hart will start on Wednesday, and after that, who knows?
- So City scored after 14 seconds with their second shot after Spurs had kicked off. And it wasn’t a bad goal celebration from Navas either, after what was probably the earliest goal I have ever seen at a football match. That’s one way to settle the nerves.
- Spurs threatened only briefly, between the first and second goal, but they looked dangerous and it was important that City came through that period without conceding. Once the second goal had gone in however, there was little to worry about thereafter.
- But fear is ingrained into my psyche, and I was still worried at half-time. I don’t think I truly relaxed until the 5th goal went in, but I think I celebrated the 4th goal more than any other as deep down I knew that that was the goal that had sealed the match once and for all.
- But for City’s dynamic duo upfront, new heights were hit yesterday. Aguero was undoubtedly the best player on the pitch, often unplayable, always a nightmare for Tottenham’s defence. Negredo was not far behind, and the understanding between the two is as good as anything I have seen. By the time Negredo smashed in the fifth goal, I had run out of words to describe the attacking display. And it could, and perhaps should have been more than six. Cue the song.
- In fact, the attacking players were so good, I forgot David Silva existed. Sorry David.
- Navas was superb from beginning to end, showing us exactly what he can offer. Some of his crosses were sublime, precise and deserving of more goals. For a player who supposedly cannot shoot, a brace of goals is very welcome indeed. He should start again next week.
- A shout out too for Fernandinho, who continues to be magnificent, and Joleon Lescott, who did well when he came on. Demichelis too was fine, a player already getting plenty of criticism for reasons that escape me as he is a squad player filling in and doing his job.
- As we all know by now, Yaya Toure is twice the player when bombing forward than when he is lying deep. He was poor in the early stages, sloppy in possession and seemingly well off the pace. But he slowly improved, and was predictably at his best when surging forward, when he is almost impossible to dispossess. He really is wasted anywhere else.
- Did Nasri mean that chip onto the crossbar? Well he didn’t look up and seemed genuinely upset it didn’t go in, so I will give him the benefit of the doubt.
- This side lost at Sunderland. Repeat that to yourself, as it really does beggar belief. This is surely a psychological or tactical problem. City need to approach their away games in an identical matter to those at home. Perhaps some form of hypnosis would help?
- Some stats: Sergio Aguero has scored more goals than the entire Spurs side. Manchester City have scored more goals at home than any other side has home AND away, a record total at this stage of the season for the top division in England. That cherished “scored most goals after 6 home games” trophy is the one piece of silverware that has continually eluded City, so that’s another monkey off our backs. It should also be noted that City have scored an average of 2.7 goals per game over the past fifty home league games and have now scored in 56 consecutive home league games. City also have the best home defence.
- But proof that stats are sometimes irrelevant can be seen by the fact that Spurs had 53% possession yesterday. What’s more, away from home, City have made more passes than at home, have a better passing accuracy, on average 6% more possession, and only 2 fewer shots than at home. Go figure.
- Sandro, when he wasn’t vomiting on the pitch or conceding own goals was busy tugging players at will, and can be considered very fortunate to have remained on the pitch. Especially when you consider…..
- The Nasri penalty appeal. There’s no doubt in my mind it was a penalty and a red card. Of course Sandro did get the ball cleanly at first, and it can be construed as a good tackle – and every referee will see it that way to avoid making a tough decision. But touching the ball is irrelevant if he takes the player as well, and as far as I can see that is precisely what he did. If that had happened outside the area a free-kick could be guaranteed, but I will say that if it had happened the other way round I’d probably be applauding a fine tackle, so perhaps I should move on.
- Personally, I wouldn’t have minded Guidetti getting a run-out. Aguero will have been disappointed to have been hauled off when on for a hat trick, but the logic from Pellegrini in subbing him and then Nasri is obvious – he can ill-afford them to get injured right now. Though knowing City, one of them would tear his cruciate ligament walking down the tunnel.
- James Milner’s pass for the 6th goal – the pass of the week, possibly month.
- How Kyle Walker gets into the England squad remains a mystery, even in a squad as underwhelming as the current one. It’s just increases the shame that Micah Richards is made of glass, and to think that Walker beat Aguero to Young Player of the Year remains one of the most ridiculous decisions ever.
- Cardiff City ensured a perfect day with their late equaliser against Manchester United, and City suddenly find themselves in the top four. Wayne Rooney has got away with it again, but does that really surprise anyone anymore?
- Bloody Match of the Day: win 6-0 and we’re the penultimate game. #topbantz
- Oh, and for balance, Alan Shearer did something approaching analysis on Soldado. See Alan, it CAN be done. And do try and check out Soldado’s “heat map” for the game. As he takes kick-offs, there is a huge glow in the centre circle.
- Just the one player in Garth Crooks’ team of the week. I wonder what we’d have to do to get two players in there?
- So nothing to moan about after thrashing key rivals 6-0, right? Ha, don’t be ridiculous! Whinging at the line-up, whinging afterwards on radio phone-ins and message boards at our defence (half of which is now injured/ill), Jason Manford’s singing, and the substitutions, the WIFI or even the tram queue. It’s what we do.
- I’m not sure how Messi’s going to get in this team.
- So for the fourth season in a row we witnessed abject failure at the Stadium of Light. Every year we manage to lose a different way, and the referee is often their man of the match, but as usual we only have ourselves to blame.
- Oh how my colleagues laughed when I predicted a 1-0 win for Sunderland in the work predictions league. Well they’re not laughing now. And to be honest, nor am I.
- And whilst Sunderland should have been down to ten men for most of the match, and whilst there was a foul leading up to the goal, thus giving credence to the argument that a draw was deserved, the inability to score against a depleted and out-of-form Sunderland is quite simply unacceptable.
- And to state the obvious – what a frustrating, annoying, gut-wrenching, insipid performance.
- And to state another obvious point – HOW DOES THIS KEEP HAPPENING??!
- One obvious problem is that we are too reliant on key players, with insufficient cover should they be absent. In previous weeks the loss of Vincent Kompany has been felt heavily and this weekend it was clear to see the drop in the level of the performance without David Silva. Add Sergio Aguero to the mix and you probably have a spine there that City need to keep fit to perform at their best. This has to change.
- And all this against a side with two players suspended, barely a fit left-back at the club, and two dinosaurs patrolling the centre of defence, one of whom has been injured for 22 months. And despite all that, and all the domination of the ball, and the numerous shots, the keeper was only really tested once.
- And thus we gift Sunderland’s first clean sheet of the league campaign. Only Peterborough have failed to score against Sunderland before yesterday. Though whilst they had only one victory from the previous ten games, most of those winless games were watched over by an angry fascist.
- When you lose various players to injury all at once, is it really sensible to swap round other players also? Why did Pellegrini feel the need to swap round the full backs? Zabaleta has not had his greatest season, but he is still a better option than Richards at the moment. The Daily Star (yes, I know) reported yesterday that Arsenal are to revive their interest in Richards. I’m not sure how to feel about that.
- Javi Garcia – the ultimate stick to beat Pellegrini with. The Chilean does not help himself when he continues to pick this player. The stats show him as one of the most accurate passers in all of Europe, but that somewhat masks his many other deficiencies. We can surely do better. Yes the manager’s hand was forced somewhat by the raft of injuries, but there were still numerous options available to him. Milner in the middle, Navas stretching them out wide, even Kolarov in a more advanced left-sided role. Anything.
- Still, Javi Garcia isn’t to blame for City failing to score. Or for the goal that they did either.
- And what great timing for Yaya Toure to have one of his “can’t-be-arsed” days. For all his immense class, he has days where you want to throttle him. It’s a shame no manager seems prepared to substitute him.
- I’m a staunch supporter of Pellegrini (hey, I staunchly supported Alan Ball for almost a fortnight), but for the first time I doubt some of his actions. The tinkering is too common for me, and he had not yet got the whole squad to apply his ethos – but these things can take time.
- The away form must improve – will we still be chanting this mantra in March? The problem slowly dawns that the unthinkable could happen – finishing outside the top four. It’s a bit early to be panicking on that front, but if the away form doesn’t pick up soon…
- And has there ever been a great dichotomy between our home and away form?
- Still crap at corners. As you were.
- As an aside, however, studies show the in-swinger corner to be the most dangerous. Roberto Mancini eventually realised this and as a result City scored from 15 corners in one season, more than anyone. Do we not have a single player who can curl a ball in (with pace)?
- With every poor away performance comes extra pressure in the following match. And that match is Spurs, who whilst also having their own rough patch, are above City in the table and have an excellent squad. In the meantime the players and fans alike have a fortnight to stew over the defeat. The defeat also puts extra pressure on maintaining the excellent home form. If that tails off at any point, then City really are in trouble.
- And yet the league remains wide open. It was a weekend of big teams falling over in spectacular fashion. It was also a weekend of sterile domination. City, Spurs and Arsenal all dominated in the stats, with greater possession, shots and passes and all lost. And whilst no City fan should ever support United at any point, their victory has helped keep the pack close. The clubs with new managers have had troublesome starts as three new men attempt to impose their new ideals on the team, whilst the longest-serving manager sees his team at the top. This may not be a coincidence.
- (Of course many City fans wouldn’t allow Pellegrini six months of failure, let alone eight years.)
- And perhaps linked to the above, City remain favourites for the title. So whatever the bookies know that we don’t, let’s keep calm for now. At least the international break has come at a good time considering the injury list. God bless the World Cup play-offs.
- I didn’t watch the match live due to a christening, for a beautiful little girl with her own battles ahead in life. It was all the perspective I needed – it is, after all just a football match, and sometimes we’d all do well to remember that.
- I’m still p***ed off though.
- Sometimes, there are more important things than a football match. Sometimes there are wider issues that need dealing with, that cannot be swept under the carpet, that cannot be forgotten by covering our eyes and ears and pretending that everything is ok. There is a cause at stake here, there is a persecution against a group of people that shames the government of Russia and shames also its people.
Free Pussy Riot.
- So City are thRough to the knockout stage of the Champions League, and with two games to spare. Naturally, the pro-Mancini camp will argue that he would have qualified from this group, but let’s forget the past and just acknowledge a job professionally done. Mancini struggled against Ajax and even at home to Villareal, but what’s done is done.
- And let’s not forget that City can still win the group. This may seem unlikely, but the game against Bayern Munich will be a dead-rubber of sorts, and there may be some reserve players on show. It may well resemble a glorified friendly, but City will be keen to avenge the defeat in the Audi Cup final (and that other game).
- But looming on the horizon is the distinct possibility, perhaps a probability, that City will face a top, top team in the last 16. Should they lose, will the team be considered failures once more? Probably by some.
- Qualification with games to spare though is a huge plus considering the log-jam of games in December.
- So questions remain over the defence, but perhaps we should just accept a more adventurous style that in conjunction with a high defensive line may lead to more nervy moments.
- With that in mind, it seems to have got to the point that we are so spoiled as City fans that an opposition team actually having some chances, or scoring a goal is now unacceptable and a sign of our frailty. Of course the defence has made some poor decisions this year, but sometimes other teams construct a good move, a player does something brilliant, and balls fall their way. Quality players will sometimes get past our full back or win a header in the six-yard box. It happens. And to state the obvious, a more adventurous style leaves gaps at the back and works the defence that little bit harder.
- How humorous to observe the debate in the media over the past fortnight or so as to which was the superior front two – Van Persie and Rooney or Suarez and Sturridge – well who cares, because there is no one better than beauty and the beast (a cringeworthy description even if it is actually quite accurate). Add a revitalised Nasri and Silva and that is a front four of supreme talent, that can score 12 goals in 2 matches without even appearing to break sweat (more than an entire season under Stuart Pearce). And into that mix will come Jovetic. If Aguero can stay fit (if), he should break records galore.
- And well done to Kun, City’s leading ever European goal scorer. He does alright.
- The Beast of the Match? No, just no. It’s not big and it’s not clever. Stop it now.
- And whilst we’re at it, I do not want to feed the beast, or watch Merlin.
- We still can’t take corners. There must be someone better at them than David Silva.
- Another underwhelming atmosphere. I have commented before that the Champions League has not captured the imagination of City fans, but this is not helped by Group games. It can be guaranteed that the atmosphere for the knockout stage(s) will be somewhat different. And to go over old ground, the lack of a full stadium is not an opportunity for playground taunts, but a damning indictment of the cost of modern football, the tipping point already reached for many.
- Of course Alex Ferguson probably saw it slightly different.
“Aye, CSKA battered City. Battered them. They could have had four or five by half-time. That Brazilian lad kept fouling Tosic, five times, got away with it. If CSKA could have got to half-time level, they would have won that game. City were a wee bit lucky, no doubt about that.”
- Though that’s probably better than how the tabloids might describe it – The beast slayed the royally routed Russian rejects as Sergio soared, scored and skewered the compliant cowering commies.
- Jamie Jackson managed to get SHEIKH MANSOUR’S BILLIONAIRES into his match report. Again. Impressive work.
- The racism issue hung in the air all night. I might have a Russian GCSE but I can’t understand a word of it anymore to be honest (I couldn’t then either), but there seems to have been little incident on the night, bar some vile cards left on public transport and the dreaded lighting of a flare, a crime worse than GBH. The CSKA fans before the match seemed more interested in taking photos of their pints of bitter – I guess they don’t have Robinsons’ Dizzy Blonde in Moscow.
- I didn’t quite understand the booing when the Russian announcement came over the tannoy. Do City fans now hate the Russian language too?
Down with the Cyrillic alphabet!! Death to the funny letters, especially the B that is pronounced like a V!
- For the first time I got the tram back to town, and it wasn’t bad at all. Apart that is for the fact that there were no trams waiting at the stop after the match, or for some time afterwards, but let’s not be harsh on Metrolink. After all, how could they possibly have anticipated a thousand people suddenly needing a tram at 09:40pm on a Tuesday night?
But once trams appeared, it took 12 minutes from queue to Piccadilly station. Not bad at all.
- Ashley Young, you are an utter disgrace of a man.
(for the record, Gordon Strachan thought it WAS a penalty to United.)
The following article is of course completely fabricated.
Dedicated to Rosie. So much more than a dog.
I live for football, always have. It has given me so much. I have no organisational skills, am rubbish with money, and am in it for the love of the game. The game has give me a bit back. Me and Sandra moved into a modest house in Sandbanks, in Dorset, and we still live there now.
But for me, it’s all about finding new players, bringing on talent. In the summer of 1997 I got a call off Joe Jordan on one of those new-fangled mobile phones that were all the rage at the time – I had a Samsung Tab – anyway, Joe says he has seen a hot new kid worth looking at, from South America, went by the name of Messi. I was sceptical, but said to get him over to have a look.
He was tiny! Terrific skills, lovely lad, didn’t say much, but he wasn’t for me. I interviewed him in my car, and sent him on the way with a pat on the back and some words of encouragement. I hope I had helped the lad in my own way. I’ve heard he has done well for himself, but I don’t watch much foreign football.
Then of course there’s transfer deadline day. I’m not one for last-minute wheeler-dealing, but often there is the need to make the odd last-minute tweak here and there. I got wind one year whilst at the Hammers of the availability of Titi Camara. Time was of the essence, so I travelled up to Liverpool by Concorde, and by dusk a deal was secure. I stayed well away from the boardroom itself, as I leave that sort of thing to the chairman. But in the end I got the club a £10m player for £1.5m. The lad didn’t suit our style, and I thought he was a terrific lad, though not the brightest, always rabbiting on about tactics and other stuff that went over my head if I’m honest, but at the time it was one hell of a coup, and it put West Ham on the map.
At Portsmouth, who were in severe financial difficulties prior to my arrival, we sold Crouchy on for a nice profit. Lovely lad, but not the brightest. Terrific feet for a big lad. He had married some glamour model who I didn’t much care for, and I think she had pressured him to move. It was no surprise that Portsmouth struggled after my exit – throughout my tenure there we were down to the bare bones, and in dire need of reinforcements, but there was just no value in the market. The squad I took over was rubbish – some of the lads didn’t even speak English, and we had two strikers who wouldn’t know a sausage roll if it hit them in the face.
At Spurs a rumour emanated that I was after Ruud Van Nistelrooy. I was soon being asked about him repeatedly in the car park at Spurs’ training ground, which annoyed me, as I don’t like talking about other clubs’ players. Daniel Levy was desperate to do a deal, and was prepared to pay whatever it took to get the Dutchman, but I stood up for my career-long principles and insisted we couldn’t go blowing silly wages on a player in the twilight of his career. Thankfully Daniel finally saw sense, though he repaid me by shamelessly sacking me soon after. Spurs only had 2 points when I took over, but football can often stab you in the back.
Of course in between my Pompey spells came a fulfilling spell at Southampton. The offer came out of the blue. Rosie was there when I got home with a wagging tail and a piece of paper in her mouth. Good old Rosie had checked my emails and got rid of the trash. Sandra read the words out to me. It seemed Southampton were interested in me as their manager. I told Sandra that I was worried how a move would be taken by the Portsmouth fans, who loved me, but I needn’t have worried as they were absolutely fine with it all. It was good to go with their blessing, and it made my eventual return there all the more pleasing, and meant I could leave them for a second time (having claimed previously it would be my last job in football) with a clear conscience.
I’ve earned good money in my time, but I am not in it for the monetary rewards. I don’t look at contracts, so I don’t know why clubs keep giving me such large wages and such huge bonus payments. Sandra joked that I should give my £500,000 bonus for getting Spurs into the Champions League to charity, but there are so many good causes out there I wouldn’t know where to start.
Off the pitch, I have had many good men by my side. It doesn’t always work out of course. The fall out with Billy Bonds was one such occasion. There were some spurious rumours that he didn’t like me hogging the pre-match limelight, but the truth is that we fell out over the most trivial of things. Billy and I were discussing the translations of Friedrich Nietzsche’s seminal work Idyllen aus Messina, and a disagreement soon ensued over which was the greatest translation. When a further disagreement brewed over whether he was more greatly influenced by Heraclitus or Rousseau, there was no going back. We almost came to blows and have not spoken since
I was the nation’s choice for the next England manager, no doubt about that. I was having a leisurely breakfast at the Ocean Hotel Health Resort & Spa with Ollie Holt, and I remember quite clearly Ollie telling me that people were coming up to him in the street telling him that I had to be the next boss. I had texts too, telling me the same thing. I’m not great with technology, and can’t read, but I do recall one message from Bobby Moore saying he wished me all the success in my new role, and that I deserved it. True legend was Bobby. Michael Owen text me too, saying all the lads in the England squad were desperate for me to get the job. As an aside, I tried to sign Michel whilst I was manager of Southampton, but there was no helipad at The Dell, so that scuppered the deal. I’ve still got his glossy brochure at home, some lovely pictures in there.
Thankfully the court case was eventually over, a simple misunderstanding blown out of all proportion, but it seems the jokers at the FA, who have never managed a club, never sold 30 players in a year, got duped by a fake jockey or appeared in a Wii advert seemed to think my reputation, previously impeccable, was now tarnished. All my trophies suddenly counted for nothing.
But I am not one to hold grudges. And I look out there now at the footballing world with pride. Gareth Bale is one of my proudest stories as a manager. I can’t remember how many times coaches and assistants said to me, “Harry, you’ve got to play him on the right, or as a holding midfielder.” So-called experts slated me for not even trying him in net, but I knew where his future lay and look at him now. I don’t feel I get enough credit for that, but you win some, you lose some. Look at Andros Townsend now – I knew he was going to be a talent even when I was manager of Bournemouth, and Andros was just breaking into the Spurs’ first team.
But lately it has been tough, no denying that. When I took over QPR, the team was a mess. No manager could have kept that team up, not Fergie, not Arsene, nor me. I was onto a hiding to nothing. I did my best of course, but I don’t think the board understood what was needed to stay up – they bought a lot of players on healthy wages, and that’s not my style at all, so it started going wrong from the very beginning. But we’ll be back, as I have a good set of lads under me, and we sing from the same sheet. And apart from a £10 million house and no criminal record, who could want more than that?
These extracts were translated from the original crayon markings.
Hello Txiki, hello Ferran. I hope you follow my blog and read this. You’re probably too busy though. Why you’d claim to be busy I’ve no idea.
You see, we’re hurting Txiki, Ferran. (Can I call you that? Good)
We’re hurting bad. We thought a new hero was arriving on our beachless shores. We were told it was nailed on by tribalfootball.com and the Daily Mirror. It was 1/12 on Skybet. So as a result we’ve bought the shirts, some have even got the tattoo, and if those people don’t like discos, then there’s no going back. We’d even written a song. It’s been a painful few days.
An as we deal with this hurt, this raw pain inside us, we need answers.
Smoke and mirrors.
I think it’s necessary to give you a brief education on our proud club. And there is a reason for this.
You see, the City of old wouldn’t have stumbled around like a blind, drunken tramp trapped in a badly-chosen metaphor. They’d have acted decisively. They would have blown the competition out of the water to get Lee Bradbury from Portsmouth. They’d have put their money where their mouth is to complete the exciting capture of Jon Macken from the illustrious Preston North End. They’d pounce on any player who had a half-decent game against them, be it a competitive match, a pre-season friendly or even a testimonial, or snapped up anyone that had a nifty youtube compilation online. They’d have used the money set aside to repair a crumbling Kippax stand to capture a player on their radar. They knew how to deal in the transfer market. Sod the consequences, they knew how to get their man, even if it meant paying double the asking price and placing the club into administration.
And the City of old would not be found scrambling around on transfer deadline day for cheap cuts. Yes there was that Mido bloke that we kept trying to get, and we did sign Benjani in September, but those were the exceptions to the rule. With Swales, Lee or Bernstein in charge, City acted quickly and decisively. We were no one’s mugs.
But how times change. Yet again, City have been bullied out of a potential transfer by a lesser club. Real Madrid? Fake Madrid more like. Bayern Munich? Never heard of them. Manchester United? Don’t make me laugh.
All it takes is some bloke called Zidane to waltz in and sign the player. It’s embarrassing. Why wasn’t one of our club legends on the phone to Isco to persuade him? Where’s Ged Brannan? What’s Buster Phillips up to? Why are we not utilising the pulling power of Adrian Heath?
I ask you this. What are we paying you for? PR campaigns in New York? Sound bites? Pointless academy campuses? It’s a mystery to me, to be honest.
And why the lack of communication? I lost a whole weekend scrolling through a 3427* page thread on Bluemoon for updates on the Isco saga, before realising there wasn’t a scrap of new news on there. Fans needed to know what was happening, it is their right to see a club respond to every piece of transfer speculation posted on social media sites by WUMS and your silence on the matter has been deafening and quite frankly disappointing.
Why did you not comment on the rumour that Isco had flown into Barton airfield at 5am on Sunday? Why did you not comment on the rumour that Isco was seen looking at maisonettes in Audenshaw last Wednesday? Why the radio silence once news broke that Adie Mike’s private jet company had a plane chartered for Malaga? Why Txiki, why?!
A simple response to each incident and you could have knocked a good 3000 pages off that Isco thread in a heartbeat. For once think of the fans, especially the really needy ones.
Now I’ve never seen Isco play, but City should have moved heaven and earth to get him. With his signing, City would have dominated European football for 30 years, maybe more. Txiki (if that’s really your name), you need to take a long, hard look at yourself. Preferably in a mirror. I once read on caughtoffside.com that Isco was available for just £7m two years ago, so why didn’t you two go for him then? You purport to be professional high-level businessmen, yet some of your dealings are more akin to those of the Chuckle Brothers. To me, to you. Yet again, City are the laughing stock of world football. I’m beginning to wonder if you share our ambition for this club.
How many times must City be snubbed? Players used to queue up to play for us. Geoff Thomas would have crawled over broken glass to play for us (and still have passed the medical). George Weah had a picture of Neil McNab on his bedroom wall as a kid. Yes we have signed two players already, but no one else wanted them so it was hardly difficult. Even an Apprentice reject could have closed those deals. Maybe even Brian Marwood. I mean, who’s heard of Fernandinho? Don Howe hasn’t and he knows everyone in the game. Even Jo gets to play for Brazil ahead of him. Jesus Navas? How full of yourself do you have to be to call yourself that? I’ll say it as it is – I don’t like him.
I was under the impression that you two were hired to bridge the gap between City and the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona. And yet over 6 months later, those two clubs still seem to be a bigger draw to players. Do you not consider yourself to have failed? Will you be resigning? I won’t hold my breath. If I had such a catalogue of failure at the bank I work in, I’d have been out on my ear ages ago.
So this is a plea from all City fans, on whose behalf I speak. Get your act together, make us proud, and restore some superbia (pride) in our proelio (battle) to be the bestest team in the world. It’s the least we deserve.
* Update: 6327 pages.
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A footballer does a BAD THING. To make matters worse, the referee doesn’t punish him at the time of the incident.
Twitter goes into meltdown.
The offender’s manager comments that he isn’t that sort of player.
High profile player? The Sky Sports Trial begins.
This can last weeks, more than a real-life murder trial. It begins with a 24/7 looping replay of said incident. This incident will be slowed down to virtually a standstill and replayed from numerous angles.
An ex-player who can just about (on a good day) string a sentence together will be wheeled into the studio to give his views, which will include being horrified, may well contain a hint of xenophobia (if the offending player is from foreign parts), and will probably hark back to the good old days.
Ollie Holt will bemoan the lack of black managers in the game.
An ex-referee may also be called upon to give his expert opinion.
These opinions will then appear as news articles on Sky’s (and many others’) websites.
If this is a very high-profile club, there may be the need to interview a police commissioner.
”If he’d done that in the street, he’d be arrested,” the commissioner will state with a straight face.
(Let’s face it, we all know someone who has served “ time” after going in knee-high on someone with a slide-tackle outside Greenhalgh’s.)
Finally, Sky may merge in some “vox-pops” with members of the public, though only those that are disgusted and wish to repeat the line about him being-arrested-if-he-did-that-in-the-street.
Articles will now appear in newspapers. At least one football journalist will unfavourably compare football to rugby, or if the incident occurs during a certain year, the Olympics. Ollie Holt will bemoan the lack of black managers in the game.
Fans of the club of the offending player will point out that other players have done worse things before.
Fans of the club of the offending player will point out that the recipient of the tackle/punch/stream of saliva “made a meal out of it”. Mental notes will be made to boo the fouled player vociferously the next eighteen times the two clubs meet.
Reports emerge that the police are investigating the incident after a member of the public made an official complaint.
The FA announce that there will be no further action against the player as the referee dealt with it at the time.
Twitter goes into meltdown again. It crashes for three hours, meaning posting a tweet takes a whole morning.
Two hundred and seventy articles are published slamming the FA. Various journalists comment on how they have now lost all credibility. Ollie Holt will bemoan the lack of black managers in the game.
Another footballer does a BAD THING…………..