Man City not singing the blues yet
City fans are remaining optimistic - and there are ten great reasons why they should stay positive
Manchester City has been everywhere – apart from among the 3,200 Blues fans who witnessed the debacle of St Mary’s on Sunday.
It is something in the DNA of football supporters who follow their team away that they tend to be more optimistic, less critical and have a greater sense of perspective than the rest.
So it was at St Mary’s, when Roberto Mancini’s name was being sung even as the Blues’ slippery hold on the Premier League trophy was sliding further.
With the mist clearing from St Mary’s, the only way to look for disappointed Blues is forwards, so we at M.E.N Sport have come up with ten reasons to be cheerful for the rest of this season.
IT’S BEEN A GOOD SEASON
Obviously, in comparison to some of the performances of last season, this campaign pales. But, unless they come up with some kind of catastrophic collapse, the Blues will still enjoy their second-best season of the Premier League era.
The memorable games have been a bit thin on the ground as well – maybe Newcastle and Norwich away stand out – and the goals have not flowed as freely, but for fans whose memories span back beyond 2008, it has been another blast.
The Champions League offered few positives, but those fans at the Bernabeu were allowed to dream for a while, when Edin Dzeko and then Aleks Kolarov put the Blues ahead, that glory beckoned.
THE SKIPPER RETURNS
Vincent Kompany was touch and go for Saturday’s trip to Southampton, but in the end it was decided not to risk another recurrence of the calf muscle strain.
With another week of training and strengthening work, he should return for the FA Cup fifth-round tie with Leeds on Sunday.
Not only would that be a big boost for the defence and the return of an influential figure, but it would open up Roberto Mancini’s options elsewhere, with Javi Garcia freed up to resume a midfield role.
TEVEZ EXPECTED BACK
The striker has faded from the scene after a strong start to the season, scoring just once in his last 11 appearances.
He was absent at Southampton for genuine family reasons but is back in training this week, and should get a run out on Sunday.
It was Tevez who sparked the win over Watford in the third round with a spectacular free kick, and his poor run of form cannot last.
The manager was furious with his team – and with himself – after the defeat at
Southampton and has promised changes.
Joe Hart would probably have been replaced by Costel Pantilimon anyway, as in the two previous rounds of the Cup, but his boob at St Mary’s confirms it.
As well as Kompany and Tevez, probably in for Gareth Barry and Edin Dzeko – with Javi Garcia shifted into midfield – James Milner should also be restored to the team, while Jack Rodwell and Scott Sinclair should also be on their toes this week.
With new bosses Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain now having their feet under the table, City can begin the restructuring of the team in earnest, after the abortive attempts of last summer.
Changes can be expected, with a top-line striker, a new midfielder, a young, strong defender and possibly a class wide player all being discussed.
City stood still after winning the title.
Now they need to spend well to go to the next level, and the summer months could recapture the excitement of the first four summers under the new owners.
FINANCIAL FAIR PLAY
With the detail emerging, it appears that City should emerge from the introduction of financial fair play rules – both Uefa’s version and the watered-down Premier League one - unscathed, after all.
City’s £375million-plus Etihad sponsorship deal was expected to some under Uefa scrutiny, but unless it can be fully proved that the Abu Dhabi government has any influence on City, nothing can be done.
City are owned by Sheikh Mansour as an individual and he has half-brothers in key positions at Etihad, but they have no sway over the club.
In fact, if Etihad and other similar sponsors were to expand their deals with City, they would probably be untouchable.
REACTING TO ADVERSITY
The Blues have developed a knack of bouncing back strongly from bad defeats. They lost at Sunderland on Boxing Day and promptly won their next six, before the charge slowed with draws against QPR and Liverpool.
And of course, when last season dipped to a new low with defeat at Arsenal, the Blues rattled off six successive wins to dramatically grab the title.
City’s away support at St Mary’s was tremendous and Mancini must be thankful that they continue to sing their support for him on a difficult day.
Away fans have longer memories than most and the City anthem ‘We never win at home, and we never win away’ got a loud airing, followed by a black-humoured chorus of ‘We’re staying up’.
If ever a sense of perspective was needed, that provided it. Winning the title last season was not the end of the City story, it was a beginning and there will be more great days to come.
THE FA CUP
At home to a Championship club in the fifth round, City are three games from the final, and the FA Cup takes on fresh significance with chances of winning the league receding rapidly.
To win the famous old trophy twice in three seasons, with a Premier League trophy wedged between, would have been beyond the wildest dreams of every City fan just five years ago, and City have a realistic chance of finishing the season on a real high.
City are nine points clear of fifth-placed Arsenal, so it would take a remarkable collapse for them to fall out of the top four this season.
That means they will be in the Champions League again next season, probably with a stronger squad, and hopefully with a kinder draw at the group stage.
The Blues need to retain their place at Europe’s top table, for financial reasons as well as football ones, and to qualify for the third season running would be an important achievement in itself.
Guardiola backs De Bruyne to break Messi-Ronaldo stranglehold on Ballon d'Or
Pep Guardiola believes Kevin De Bruyne could be the man to end the stranglehold Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have on the Ballon d'Or.
Real Madrid star Ronaldo won the prestigious world player of the year award for a record-equalling fifth time in December, meaning either he or Barcelona playmaker Messi have claimed the prize every year since 2008.
But the form of De Bruyne in Manchester City's outstanding season has elevated the Belgium midfielder to the elite level in the eyes of his manager, and Guardiola believes is a potential winner.
"No doubt," said Guardiola after watching De Bruyne lay on three more assists in Saturday's 5-1 thrashing of Leicester. "He is not (just doing it in) one game. It's the whole season, every three days playing that way. Every three days.
"But he knows and everyone knows, to be there you have to win titles - and titles and titles, especially one. But the way he's played it's difficult to find one (better) in Europe."
When asked if the 'one' title he was referring to was the Champions League, Guardiola said: "Of course. You have to be there in the latter stages. Without the latter stages you will not be nominated."
Guardiola, however, is not looking too far ahead just yet.
The quadruple-chasing Premier League leaders resume their Champions League campaign at the last-16 stage in Basel on Tuesday and Guardiola is well aware City exited at this point last season. His immediate aim is negotiating a path into the next round.
He said: "The next step forward from last season is to achieve the quarter-finals. That is our only concern. Against Basel we try to make two good games and do it better than last season.
"We arrive good but we have to know the Champions League is another competition, completely different.
"The Champions League is (about) how you control the bad moments and the emotions. That is the Champions League. We scored six goals last season in the last 16 and were out."
De Bruyne, who has now provided 18 assists for team-mates in all competitions this season, insists he is not interested in individual praise or talk of the Ballon d'Or.
The influential midfielder said: "To be fair, when I am busy playing football I don't care (about that).
"I am doing what I have to do. It is something you reflect on after you get something like that. I am not busy with that before.
"I do everything to win titles with the team. What happens after is an extra.
"I am very pleased with the way everything is going for me. I am playing this way because the team is playing this way. It makes it easier for me, it makes it easier for them.
"At the end, if you get an individual honour, it is beautiful."
Sergio Aguero and the curse of making brilliance the norm
Sergio Agüero’s four goals for Manchester City against Leicester City on Saturday evening brought his tally for the season to 28, with three quarters of that total coming in the Premier League.
By full-time at the Etihad, the Argentine was level with Mohamed Salah, both in the league and overall, trailing only Harry Kane in England.
He has outscored Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Suárez and even Neymar at club level this season, yet he seems to have reached the landmark almost silently
When we talk of players having a good season, Salah’s and Kane’s names come up, as do those of Agüero’s Manchester City teammates Raheem Sterling and Kevin de Bruyne, yet away from the Etihad we haven’t heard the same glowing write-ups for the Premier League’s second-highest scorer.
That may, at least in part, be less down to his present achievements and more to do with what he has done in the past.
Kane’s numbers over the last 12 months have been breathtaking, not to mention unprecedented from an English striker. Sterling has looked like a different player this season, while Salah’s goalscoring form is doubly impressive in the light of the Egyptian’s past struggles in England.
But with Agüero the achievement is almost diluted by the expectation – this is just what he does, right?
This season is the fifth in a row – and sixth for City – in which Agüero has reached 28 goals.
We have always known he is capable of scoring goals, and the question mark has been around his fitness. Yet for a player with his past to reach the total quicker than ever before (one game quicker than in the 2013-14 title-winning season) ought to be a much bigger deal – especially given the manner in which the goals arrived.
Some will call his first goal a mere tap-in, others will praise the quality of pass from De Bruyne, and while both of these things are true to a point, it wouldn’t be a goal without Agüero’s run.
Considering the Belgian’s form this season – the first-time ball beyond six stretching defenders for Raheem Sterling’s opener is evidence enough for his quality – it can be tempting for teammates and opponents alike to be bamboozled by his quality to the point they’re left on their back foot by an instinct to stand and gawk.
There’s a moment in an episode of The Simpsons where Homer is stood guard watching a mountain of sugar, only to spot an Englishman with a cup of tea and ask him where he got the sugar for the cuppa.
“I nicked it,” he replies, “when you let your guard down for that split second. And I’d do it again.”
It took just one split second of hesitation from Harry Maguire to make room for Agüero, who then proceeded to do it again, and again, and again.
The ‘New Maradona’ tag attached to Agüero as a youngster is understandable, and of course it was only ever going to stick during his marriage to El Diego’s daughter Giannina, but there’s an argument that – along with Carlos Tevez – the Manchester City man is one of the least typically Argentine forwards to represent the national side.
The model of the ball-carrying forward, with its path through from Maradona to Messi via the likes of deeper-lying players such as Pablo Aimar and Andrés d’Alessandro, sees end-product and beauty flow into one another. The same is not true of Agüero, whose opportunism doesn’t care for aesthetics.
Take his second goal, utilising the well-honed technique of – to use its official title – ‘kicking the f*ck out of a football’.
This may be exactly why this season has been so fruitful for City’s top scorer – while he may have been in richer veins of forms in the past, he has never been surrounded by a range of teammates with such complementary qualities.
De Bruyne, David Silva and Bernardo Silva each have the quality to take on creative responsibilities on their own or together, while a reborn Sterling and a Leroy Sané more familiar with the Premier League have been able to make the devastating bursts of pace from deep or round the back of defences.
This allows Agüero to stick to his strengths and not waste energy carrying teammates, as he may have done in past incarnations of the Manchester club.
By not needing to worry about covering for weak links, he has been able to take a more single-minded approach and return to making the sort of runs he was making as a young goal-getter with Atlético Madrid.
It’s this sort of front-facing play that makes room for goals like his third, running off the front as if almost expecting a mistake from Kasper Schmeichel, before producing the sort of chipped finish that simply doesn’t exist in the playbook of out-of-form players.
And then we have the fourth goal. The coup de grace.
It’s an unwritten rule of football that goals which bounce down and in off the underside of the crossbar are better than those which do not – let’s call it the Yeboah rule – but this goal feels like even more of a step up after the three close-range finishes which preceded it.
It’s like readying a cherry for an ice cream sundae, dousing it in alcohol, and throwing it on top with one hand while using the other to set it alight, all while blindfolded.
It’s made even better by the curl on the ball being almost unnecessary, as if he has decided to beat Schmeichel with power while simultaneously conducting a plane to fly over and write ‘goal’ in the sky. He might as well have scored two goals in one.
There have been better all-round hat-tricks scored this season, but there can’t be too many to involve so few touches: a first-time finish to put City 2-1 up, two for each of his second and third strikes, and three to get the ball out of his feet and slam in his fourth of the evening.
We might not have seen the mazy dribbles of Salah, or the variety of Kane (all eight of Agüero’s touches for his four goals came with his right foot), and this might be why he has flown under the radar a little more than others.
This is just normal or Agüero. It’s just what he does, and we’ll respond to each of these goals with a nod and a ‘well, obviously’.
Still, we’ve been doing that an awful lot lately, and he surely won’t mind going about his business without any extra pressure.
Scoring 28 goals quietly is a luxury you have to earn, and Sergio Agüero has done just that. With three months of the season to go, he could yet hit heights which even his greatest advocates feared had passed him by for good.
TOP 50 MOST EXPENSIVE SQUADS BOLLOX
1. Manchester City - £777m
2. PSG - £713m
3. Manchester United - £661m
4. Barcelona - £641m
5. Chelsea - £524m
6. Real Madrid - £439m
7. Liverpool - £408
8. Juventus - £396m
9. Arsenal - £356m
10. Everton - £323m
11. Bayern Munich - £321m
12. Tottenham - £316m
13. AC Milan - £269m
14 Atletico Madrid - £263m
15. Monaco - £253m
16. Borussia Dortmund - £237m
17. Roma - £231m
18. Southampton - £202m
19. Crystal Palace - £199m
20. Inter Milan - £192m
21. Napoli - £180m
22. West Ham - £157m
23. Wolfsburg - £144m
24. Leicester - £143m
25. Sevilla - £141m
26. Bayer Leverkusen - £140m
27. Stoke - £132m
28. Valencia - £130m
29. Newcastle - £128m
30. Watford - £124m
31. Lazio + Swansea £117m
33. West Brom - £115m
34. Borussia Monchengladbach - £108m
35. Schalke - £107m
36. RB Leipzig - £104m
37. Sampdoria - £100m
38. Marseille - £99m
39. Villareal - £97m
40. Fiorentina - £94m
41. Burnley - £102m
42. Lyon - £88m
43. Bournemouth - £86m
44. Torino - £83m
45. Brighton - £79m
46. Hamburg - £78m
47. Lille - £71m
48. Huddersfield - £68m
49. Sassuolo - £66m
50. Hoffenheim - £61m
Manchester City could secure Premier League title against Manchester United at the Etihad
Manchester City last won the Premier League trophy in 2014.
After outclassing opponent after opponent, it is now possible that they could round off their scintillating season in the sweetest way possible; by securing the title at home to cross-city rivals Manchester United. It would be a fitting end to what has been an outstanding season for Pep Guardiola‘s side.They currently sit 16 points clear at the top of the Premier League, having lost just once all season, and boast the best goal difference of 59. Six wins required City’s 5-1 victory over Leicester City on Saturday means they only require six more wins to secure their fifth top flight title. And by a stroke of good fortune, their sixth fixture is at home to Jose Mourinho’s United side on April 7th. Manchester City’s next six games Arsenal (a) Chelsea (h) Stoke (a) Brighton (a) Everton (a) Manchester United (h) While City have already shown they can put together endless strings of victories, as shown by their 18-match winning run in the first half of the campaign, it won’t be a straightforward procession to a potential rival-goading finale at the Etihad. City face Arsenal and Chelsea next in the Premier League, and you can’t rule out a tough away day on a Monday night in Stoke. League Cup final along the way Added to this mix is the League Cup final on Sunday 25th February against the Gunners, and their Champions League round of 16 fixtures against FC Basel. But title rivals United also have to face Chelsea and Liverpool, therefore City may not need to win all six games. If they can continue their remarkably efficient campaign, then the title could be wrapped up in the sweetest possible fashion. (i)
RANDOM ARCHIVE BOLLOX
Re: The Citizens
by btajim » Sat Jun 28, 2008 8:50 amKing Kev wrote:btajim wrote:King Kev wrote:
Do you ever refer to City as 'The Citizens'? Do you know anybody who does?
No and no.
What's the official Chelsea nickname? The Pensioners Blackburns? Rovers Are Tottenham just "Spurs" Yes or do they have something else?
I used to know them all, and all the ground names too. Like Alex says, it used to be essential if youwere going to be taken seriously in playground football disscussions.
The Blackburn nickname is Rovers? I wouldn't have thought that. The official nicknames are supposed to be more unique and not just taken from the name of the club. Plymouth are The Pilgrims and not Argyle.
To me, it's "City" when talking about the Club but I refer to myself as a "Blue."
Manchester United 'target Isco to stop Manchester City'
Oh, Isco. How is this happening to you again? After spending his entire Real Madrid career threatened with being offloaded to a variety of Premier League clubs as he struggled to make the Bernabeu first team, the 25-year-old Spaniard seemed to have finally turned his life around.
Dislodging glamorous rivals like James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale to become an indispensable member of Real’s 2016-17 La Liga and Champions League-winning squad, Isco’s future as a Galactico looked secure.
But here we are again – less than a year later – and Isco is once again struggling to make the Bernabeu first team and facing the threat of being offloaded to a variety of Premier League clubs. Specifically, a variety of Premier League clubs from Manchester.
The Star claims Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has made the playmaker a priority summer signing, mainly because he wants to stop him moving to Manchester City.
Pep Guardiola’s side are apparently “frontrunners” to land Isco, but Mourinho fears this would give them a further advantage over the Red Devils in next season’s title race, so he has ordered United chiefs to bring him to Old Trafford instead.
Although Mourinho’s bosses would probably prefer it if he developed a more imaginative, tactical method of competing with City rather than simply buying all the players Guardiola wants. David Sullivan could have come up with that one.
4th time History
Sergio Aguero deserved the match ball after Manchester City's 5-1 victory at home to Leicester, right?
Kevin de Bruyne had other ideas. He made a bold grab for it instead - after all, he had made three assists.
But it wasn't too long before the Belgian gave in to his team-mate, who had taken his tally for the league season to 21 with four goals on the night.
It was the third time Aguero had scored four times in a single Premier League match - that is a record.
Robbie Fowler, Michael Owen, Frank Lampard, Dimitar Berbatov, Yakubu, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Andy Cole. They've all done it twice, but Aguero is out in front on his own. (BBC)
MCF.net members should always endeavour to obsequiously use Mr Nools daily 'word bollox' in one of their posts that day
drunken or intoxicated
"After what will most likely be a very ebrious Wembley weekend, I plan to have a dry March."
Manchester City and Chelsea monitor Tottenham star with his future in fresh doubt
Manchester City and Chelsea continue to monitor the situation of Tottenham centre-back Toby Alderweireld, who is not due to travel to Turin with Spurs for their Champions League tie with Juventus, The Telegraph reports.
Alderweireld, 28, will be left in England to work on his fitness after a spell on the sidelines, but having played 90 minutes against Newport County in the FA Cup last week, he was excluded from Tottenham’s squad for the North London derby against Arsenal despite declaring himself fit to play.
And it is claimed by Matt Law of The Telegraph that Alderweireld is unlikely to be happy at being left out of Mauricio Pochettino’s squad to face Juventus, something that could impact his future at the club.
The classy Belgian centre-half is yet to agree a new deal with Spurs and his current contract contains a one-year extension option, which is scheduled to activate in the summer of 2019. The drawback of this for Spurs is that it will include a very modest £25million release clause, which can be activated in the summer of 2019, if done so at least 14 days before the transfer window closes.
That puts Tottenham in a position where, if an agreement cannot be reached, they may consider selling Alderweireld in the summer to extract as big a fee as they can, with both Manchester City and Chelsea watching the situation.
The two Premier League giants are joined by Real Madrid, who are planning an expensive overhaul in the summer and could look to Alderweireld to strengthen their leaky defence.
City now have three high-quality centre-backs in Nicolas Otamendi, John Stones and club-record signing Aymeric Laporte, but Vincent Kompany’s fitness remains a permanent question mark, Eliaquim Mangala has no future at the club, and Tosin Adarabioyo has been used sparingly by Pep Guardiola.
Once Benjamin Mendy returns, giving Guardiola his ideal left wing-back, the Catalan tactician is expected to utilise a three-man defence more regularly to add more tactical diversity to the runaway Premier League leaders.
Was Pep to make a move for Alderweireld, it could become a similar scenario to that which saw Kyle Walker leave the London club for Manchester City last summer, resulting in a £50million deal after protracted negotiations.
WAG OF THE DAY
- Spoiler: Show/Hide
Tottenham defender Toby Alderweireld will not travel to Turin for their Champions League last-16 tie with Juventus, putting the 28-year-old Belgium player's future at the club in doubt. (Telegraph)
Spanish striker Fernando Llorente, 32, has cast doubt on his future at Spurs by admitting he misses Juventus. (Mirror)
Former Barcelona manager Luis Enrique wants to manage in the Premier League next season, with Arsenal and Chelsea possible destinations for the Spaniard. (Sun)
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte says he has spoken to Enrique as the pair "played against each other" and were opposing coaches. (Express)
Conte says he is a "bit of a disaster" in convincing Chelsea to buy players and "in this aspect I can improve a lot". (Guardian)
The Blues coachsays his players are not being adversely affected by the "rumours" surrounding his future. (Sky Sports)
And Conte has banned smiling during Chelsea's training sessions because "usually when you work you don't smile". (Sun)
West Brom boss Alan Pardew believes part of Chelsea's problems this season are down to the sale of striker Diego Costa, 29, to Atletico Madrid. (Star)
Leicester City winger Riyad Mahrez held clear-the-air talks with his team-mates after his 10-day absence, says defender Danny Simpson. The 26-year-old Algerian did not train and missed two matches after a potential transfer to Manchester City fell through. (Leicester Mercury)
Real Madrid defender Marcelo is convinced Paris St-Germain forward Neymar, 26, will join the club in the future - and thinks his fellow Brazilian will be a "great fit" at the La Liga club. (Marca)
But PSG defender Thiago Silva hopes Neymar will stay with the Ligue 1 club. (Canal+ via Goal)
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is trying to persuade Schalke midfielder Max Meyer, 22, to join the club but faces competition from Liverpool, Bayern Munich and AC Milan. (Star)
West Brom boss Alan Pardew will take his squad to Spain for a warm-weather training camp as they attempt to avoid relegation from the Premier League. (Telegraph)
West Ham co-chairman David Sullivan has told fans to stick by the club after revealing he will be overhauling the way they scout, analyse and sign targets. (Evening Standard)
Part of the changes in transfer strategy at West Ham will involve Sullivan having less influence over new signings, says Hammers boss David Moyes. (Guardian)
Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez tried to sign England keeper Joe Hart, who is on loan at West Ham from Manchester City, in January, but failed as Moyes believed the 30-year-old could still play a part for the club this season. (Mirror)