Let’s Go Back In Time, Rio

April 17, 2011 by · 10 Comments
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Bitter loser Rio Ferdinand has criticised City striker Mario Balotelli following the fracas at the end of Saturday’s FA Cup semi final which saw City book a return to Wembley for the FA Cup Final.

Writing on his Twitter account, Ferdinand said “If you score a goal and give a bit to opposing fans I kind of accept that. But at the final whistle, go to your fans and enjoy it, not opposing fans.”

Interesting words Rio but what a short memory you have. Let’s go back 18 months and a derby at Old Trafford. Michael Owen scores a last minute winner for United and what does Gary Neville do? Run and celebrate in front of the visiting City supporters.

And let’s not forget that the same player flashed and kissed the United badge in front of visiting Liverpool supporters after United had beaten them.

The funny thing about the whole situation is that Ferdinand acted like a child being wound up by a younger brother. He is 31, captained England and lifted every major trophy, yet he allowed himself to be wound up Mario who is really just beginning his career.

The sensible thing for Ferdinand would have been to walk away but instead showed his complete bitterness at the result by trying to land one on Mario and ended up looking a complete fool.

On another note, I must say that many of the United fans I have spoken to have been quite gracious in defeat and some are even wishing us well in the final. Obviously there are going to be those that will want to see Stoke beat us (I say this as Stoke are 5-0 up at the time of writing), as they see City wining a trophy as unthinkable.

I remember a similar situation when Leeds went head to head with United in 1992 for the league title and we were saying how United winning the league was unthinkable and that it couldn’t be allowed to happen. It didn’t that year but the following year it happened.

No doubt many of United’s hate infested blogs, you know the ones I’m referring to, will be firmly on Stoke’s side on May 14th and, although it will be a very difficult game, we will go there with the belief that the FA Cup will be in our possession by the end of the game.

What a day for City Fans.

April 17, 2011 by · 1 Comment
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Saturday’s semi cup final against the old bitter rivals Man Untied was a day no city fan will forget any time soon. The build up around Wembley was electric. I found myself in the Green Man pub where they had a BBQ in full effect, the City faithful were singing their hearts out and we even had a good spell of the sun for a bit what more could you ask for ? 

OK maybe shorter queues for the bar, but apart from that the place was hopping great atmosphere created by great fans. As the time drew near a mass exodus from the pub and headed towards the amazing Wembley stadium singing all the way. On arrival to the stadium the number of blue shirts swelled and became a sea of blue with the odd red one wandering through a looking as out of place as a McDonald’s burger on the menu in a Michelin star restaurant. Inside the gate and it’s wide open space bars and food well over priced food!! If you don’t like Carlsberg though there is not a lot more on offer. I headed in and took my seat everyone is looking around not knowing what to except. I was sat beside father and son duo Ian and Luke Jackson from Roachdale pictured on this piece. Ian took footie mad Luke down to London to watch what has to be the biggest game for any City fan in years. The look on his face as he watched on as his City heroes battled it out on the pitch with the old enemy Untied. I got chatting to Ian and he told me how Luke is football mad and plays for Pennine Juniors Black under 7. I want to say congratulations to him as he plays up front and scored a hat trick on Thursday night gone. Luke is also at the Bolton academy. The lad eats and sleeps football.

I could bang on about what happened in the 9th minute the Ginger getting sent off  Toures goal, or the fact Ballotelli was near to starting a riot at the end of the game but this is all stuff you would have read or seen already by now. What got me was the emotion of the fans. The look on Luke’s face and his eyes as he watched on transfixed on the game. Every corner , shot, save, throw in, and of course that one goal that decided the outcome of the game.

The man sat on the other side , I’m sorry I didn’t get his name now, a total stranger just like Ian and Luke at kickoff but after going through 90 minutes like that with someone you’ve never met before changes that. They become someone you will always remember. Strangest thing to hug a total stranger in such joy and ecstasy that City can on their day provide to us mere morals. It really does make all the bad times City have put us long suffering fans through disappear in a flash. To see the look on Luke’s face at the end of the 90 mintues was as good for me as the goal and game itself. I hope for all the young and upcoming blues there are many more days like that one for the future. It’s all about the fans for me, in the long run City will win, City will lose, players, managers, owners will come and go but the fans will always be there generation after generation just like Ian and Luke and that’s what makes the club great.

Thank You Michael Carrick

April 16, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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Yaya Toure was today’s hero as City booked a place at Wembley for the FA Cup Final on May 14th, but we mustn’t forget the contribution made by Michael Carrick in helping us get there.

With the game poised delicately at 0-0, Carrick superbly passed the ball to Yaya Toure, who charged past Vidic to nutmeg Van Der Sar in the United goal and send City to the FA Cup final.

With both teams missing key strikers, United were still favourites to win the tie, given their recent record against the blues. Prior to the game, Roberto Mancini had only one success against the reds since arriving at Eastlands and that was in last season’s League Cup semi final first leg when the blues won 2-1. However, United won the second leg 3-1 to send the blues crashing out.

So it was something of a revenge game at Wembley today and that revenge was deservedly dished out by a cool finish from Yaya. It was Carrick’s useless attempt to pass the ball on the edge of his own area, rather than thump it away, that presented Yaya with the chance and once he had the ball, he wasted no time in punishing the midfielder.

United had their chances, when Dimitar Berbatov saw his first half shot brilliantly saved after an excellent build up, then less than a minute later, missed an even easier chance when he somehow scooped the ball over the goal from about two yards out.

United are always a threat and minds will no doubt have been cast back to the semi final they played against Oldham Athletic when Mark Hughes grabbed an equaliser in the last minute to force a replay and City fans everywhere would not be able to relax until the referee had blown the final whistle.

However, things got better for City when ageing ginger minger Paul Scholes was dismissed for a disgusting tackle on Pablo Zabaleta. Scholes went in with foot high and studs showing when it connected with Zabaleta’s thigh, earning him an instant red card.

After that, United couldn’t find a way back and even five minutes of Fergie, sorry injury time couldn’t help them this time as City booked a Cup Final date with either Bolton or Stoke.

There was some unsavoury scenes at the end as Rio Ferdinand tried to have a pop at Mario Balotelli, after the Italian nutter apparently flashed the club badge towards the United fans, not that there were many left to see him do it. But despite Balotelli’s actions, Ferdinand should not have reacted the way he did and just wouldn’t let it drop.

And I thought it was City who were supposed to be bitter.

Semi-Final build up

April 16, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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The semi-final against United represents City’s biggest game since Gillingham. Whilst many play down the importance of the tie, the consequences of winning, or dare a mention losing it, are massive.

Winning would represent taking the old enemy on and beating them on a big stage at Wembley. A win would humble United and force them to take us more seriously; it would be a bitter pill to swallow for them. Winning would certainly not guarantee that City would win the tournament, as a match against Bolton or Stoke would surely be a tricky one. It would also display fears to the contrary that City cannot win games without Carlos Tevez.

A loss is unthinkable, and would be unbearable as it would give United another chance to directly reign supreme over us in the derby stakes, it would also leave City contemplating another year being trophy-less one. And whilst qualifying for the Champions League (which is by no means a forgone conclusion) would represent real progress for City fans, missing a chance to win a major trophy again would be a big blow for City.

It does represent real progress that City are now putting themselves into contention to win major trophies, reaching semi-finals in consecutive years is pleasing, but there is obviously a massive difference between putting yourself in contention and actually winning a tournament. I genuinely feel that winning the FA Cup in conjunction with qualifying for the Champions league this year could catapult City into the upper echelons of European football quicker than we may have imagined.

I think the winning feeling would be infectious throughout the club, and as soon as we do win something, I think we can expect many more trophies to follow. So hopefully City can directly end years of torment by beating United in the semi-final and if they do it could set them on the road to something special.

Bad day at the office for City

April 13, 2011 by · 1 Comment
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Watching the City-Liverpool game on Monday night it was hard not to be disappointed, at times I was livid with certain individual’s performances. The fact that Mancini came out immediately after the game and put his hand up and blamed himself for City’s poor performance was poignant, I would like to see some his players come out and own up for their awful showing as well.

To a certain extent I can see why Mancini did blame the result on himself, the fact he rested Silva and De Jong (even with the semi-final against United next week) was a mistake, such games cry out for De Jong’s tenacity and Silva’s attacking flair. Also not having anyone attacking the rookie right back John Flanagan was a big mistake, the opportunity to test him earlier on and try his nerves was missed.

With this in mind the team shape appeared lob-sided, with Johnson attacking down the right there was practically no-one on the other side other than Kolarov, on paper it was supposed to be Milner who occupied that flank but instead he was more central along with Barry and Toure.

The fact that Milner through a hissy-fit when he was subbed was laughable, as he had been absolutely anonymous during the game, such petulance also allows for critics to say that all is not well in the City camp again, something that Jamie Redknapp brought up several times, even though many players at many teams throughout the country show visible resentment to being subbed off every week and nothing is made of it.

Most performances could be put down to simply a bad day at the office, but other players I am a little bit worried about, such as Edin Dzeko. Foreign players will always need time to settle in the Premier League, yet Dzeko has not shown many signs of settling, his touch and the amount of time he needs on the ball has been particularly worrying so far. I know patience is a virtue with new signings, and Andy Carroll certainly showed how to alleviate the pressure placed on a big money striker in one performance, so I will remain hopeful over Dzeko.

As for the team Mancini sent out against Liverpool, regardless of the players not in the team, any City fan would have thought they would still be able to get something from the game. So for them to capitulate like they did is simply unacceptable, they also let their manager down.

On a side note, the injury to Carlos Tevez is particularly worrying, it seems a given that he will miss the derby next week, which is disappointing in itself, yet if he is out for the rest of the season then that would be a huge blow to City. If that is the case then the rest of the team must show that we can win without our talisman, and players such as Balotelli and Dzeko must step up their game.

Boring Boring City

April 10, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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If the win against Sunderland highlighted anything, it is that when City are in the mood they can make it all look very easy.

Winning resoundingly against an admittedly poor Sunderland team proved that City can accommodate the right mix of defensive solidarity and attacking flair in the team. And this all came after several jaded looking performances, particularly against Chelsea.

Mancini attributes City going off the boil in recent weeks to having to play every three days for a lengthy period of time, yet if City are ever to prosper they will have to learn to deal with high pressure games coming thick and fast. And I don’t have many criticisms about our manager but one minor peeve is his refusal this season to use youth players more. With the exception of Boyata the rest of the youth prospects don’t really get a look in. I appreciate that it is difficult to bed in youngsters when City desperately need to finish in a Champions League spot, but I believe they could have alleviated some of the pressure off some first team players by being used when the fixtures started to pile up.

Regardless of this, after the 5-0 win against Sunderland, City are exactly where I had hoped they would be at this time in the season, which is in a Champions League spot and still in a major competition. And for a team that plays boring football they’ve still scored more goals than most in the division, and interestingly they have scored more than a Tottenham team which is heralded as an easy to watch attacking force. At times Mancini might favour a defensive approach to certain matches, but he does this for the betterment of the team.

City don’t have many easy fixtures left in the league, so it is important to just take things on a game by game basis, hopefully the performance against Sunderland will instil confidence back into the team as we will need grit and determination to get what we need from the upcoming fixtures. But personally I don’t care if we get into the Champions League in style or if it is the ‘boring’ City that gets us to the promised land this season.

Balotelli’s Wake Up Call

March 21, 2011 by · 2 Comments
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Mario Balotelli has been given a big wake up call from both City and Italy.

The striker was dropped to the bench for City’s game at Chelsea on Sunday and has now also been dropped by the Italian national squad. The effect it has had on him may well save his City career as he has finally admitted he has a problem and has appealed to Italy coach Cesare Prandelli to help him.

“I spoke with Balotelli, he realised that he acted stupidly,” Prandelli revealed. “He said ‘I need help I always ruin everything,’” Prandelli continued.

Being relegated to the City bench would have been bad enough for the young striker, who has previously claimed that he could over take Lionel Messi as the world’s best player, but to be dropped form the national side could just be the kick up the backside Balotelli needs to improve his attitude.

The striker made an immediate impact at City, scoring on his debut as the blues qualified for the Europa League group stages but, after a short period out of action, got himself sent off for the first time after scoring two goals at West Brom. He has gone on to score 10 goals in 20 appearances for City but his recent red card against Kiev has again highlighted the dark side to his game.

There is no doubt that Balotelli has talent and there is no doubt he can score. If he can control his attitude he can be a great player for City and Italy. And the fact that he now recognises the problem is a big step towards rectifying that problem.

Last week, Balotelli apologised and begged forgiveness for his actions. The best way he can justify his request is by letting his performances do the talking. Only then, when we see the real footballer at work, will we be able to forgive him.

City Heading For Spurs Crunch Again

March 21, 2011 by · 3 Comments
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You can see it coming can’t you?

After City’s 2-0 defeat at Chelsea on Sunday, the blues lie just four points ahead of Spurs in fourth place in the Premier League table and looking at the remaining fixtures, it’s going to be a close call with Spurs again and another Eastlands showdown is now looking inevitable.

City have played a game extra than Spurs, so if the Londoners win the game in hand, just one point will separate the two sides. Other than the Spurs game, City have three other home games remaining. Sunderland visit on Saturday, while West Ham arrive on May 1st, with Stoke being the final home game this season. City have the potential to win all four of those games so it will be the four remaining away fixtures that could prove to be our undoing.

The blues travel to Liverpool in the week prior to the FA Cup semi final at Wembley, with trips to Blackburn and Everton all thrown into the mix before another potential FA Cup Final rehearsal against Bolton on the final day of the season. Again, all are winnable but they will be games that we will need to win if we want to finish fourth.

But Spurs also have a bit of a sticky run in as well. They have nine fixtures remaining, but the next four in the league are all at home. Wigan visit on Aril 2nd, while Stoke, Arsenal and West Brom all go to the Lane, before they end that run with a trip to Chelsea. Another home game against Blackpool follows, with a trip to Anfield being their final away game before finishing at home to Birmingham.

So six out of nine games are at home for Spurs, but the also have the rigours of the Champions League quarter final against Real Madrid to contend with, as well as a potential semi final, should they get past Jose Mourinho’s men.

Whatever happens in the next few weeks, City have just got to get their act together for the final eight games, but it is looking once again like the Spurs game is going to be the deciding factor in our season.

What Are AJ & Milner Talking About?

March 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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Adam Johnson and James Milner have teamed up with Cancer Research to produce a cancer awareness video aimed towards football supporters.

The City duo have helped produce a video along with the England Footballers Foundation which urges people to have possible signs of cancer checked out. You can check out the video by clicking here.

In the video, AJ and Milner talk about the importance of spotting cancer early and urging others to send a nudge to friends or family about the disease from former England striker Gary Lineker in the form of a new online application called Do Me A Favour.

This recently developed application will see Lineker call your friend by name, state where they live and mention the club they support, before encouraging them to spot the disease early. Cancer Research had one made for me as an example and it is very well done. You can see this here. and the more people that can be aware of cancer, the more can be saved from it. So if you want to potentially be a life save, send someone you know a personalised video. You can do this by clicking here.

Many people are afraid to get checked out, possibly through embarrassment and this applies to both men and women. For men, it is testicular and prostate checks and cervical cancer in women that is particularly embarrassing. But what’s worse? A little embarrassment or death? I know which one I’d choose.

Cancer doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care who it attacks. It could affect you or the person sitting next to you, their families or friends. In recent years, I have lost two family members to the disease. I’m not prepared to lose a third. I also don’t want to lose you as readers to something that can be prevented if spotted early.

So if next time you celebrate a goal at Eastlands and you can feel that lump you’ve had for a while but ignored it, swallow your pride and get it checked out. It could save your life.

Not Fit To Wear The Shirt – Or The Bib

March 17, 2011 by · 10 Comments
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That’s my honest opinion of Mario Balotelli.

The striker again received his marching orders following a disgraceful high-footed challenge on Kiev’s Goran Popov with the score at 0-0. Aleksander Kolarov scored a few minutes later but the hill City had to climb after losing the first leg 2-0, turned into a huge mountain. I’m not going to say that his sending off cost us the tie, but it certainly didn’t help.

Faced with scoring another two goals to stay in the competition, City were lucky not to see Carlos Tevez sent off early in the second half for a high challenge, but I think the referee, who had already endured the wrath of the City faithful, lost his nerve a little and only booked the Kiev man.

But, not for the first time this season, it will be Balotelli who will again be making the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Last week, he had an ‘allergic reaction’ on the pitch due to the wrong type of grass and this week it’s a stupid, reckless tackle that cannot even be classed as a tackle.

If Balotelli wants to have a career at any club, not just City, he needs to grow up and play the game that way it should be played. I look around at some of the young players in the Premiership, younger than the Italian, and they play with so much more maturity and Balotelli would do well to take a leaf out of their books.

But in my personal, honest opinion, I think we would do much better if we got shut of this idiot. Yes he can score goals, yes he can play, but do we really want the baggage that comes with it?

 I don’t like to end a rant like this on a dismal note, so I thought I’d share this link with you. If he has so much trouble putting on a bib, how does he get his shirt on?

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