Saturday, 30 July 2011

Who makes the 25??

With a little over a month left of the transfer window Roberto Mancini's squad is beginning to take shape however it is clear some big names aren't going to be on the 25 man squad when it has to be registered.  This is based on the feeling Carlos Tevez will leave,  my best guess is.

Goal Keepers
Joe Hart, Stuart Taylor, Gunnar Nielsen.

Defenders

Micah Richards, Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany, Kolo Toure, Joleon Lescott, Aleksandar Kolarov, Gaël Clichy

Midfielders

Nigel De Jong,  Gareth Barry, James Milner, Yaya Toure, David Silva, Adam Johnson, Shaun Wright Phillips, Vladimir Weiss

Strikers

Edin Dzeko, Sergio Aguero

True that is only 20 and quite possibly leaves space for some of the "outcasts" like Nedum Onuoha or Craig Bellamy to make the cut.  It also shows some great transfer policy by the club as the likes of Mario Balotelli Stefan Savic etc.. are Under 21's and therefore free to be picked regardless.

It also leaves space for any other deals the club has in the pipeline!  Making this has made me realise one thing.  I am glad I am not a manager!

Saturday, 23 July 2011

MCFC 6 Pompey 0 my favourite game!

Having been to by my best estimates 300 Manchester City games you might ask why have I picked this this particular game?  Well for me it was a special moment as for the first time I took both my sons together to a game, It was Lucas's first ever game at 2 years old, Connor had been a fair few times having both the boys though made this special.  Lucas loved meeting Moonchester and as the build up to kick off gathered pace he seemed to be taking it all in as by his standards he seemed quiet.  There was all the excitement of the ADUG takeover with Thaksin introducing Khaldoon to the crowd from the directors box. 

When the players came out both boys were cheering and genuinely seemed to be having a blast.  Then 13 minutes in Jo scored I celebrated looked and realised the noise had scared Lucas he was sobbing!  I got him calm only for Richard Dunne to score..yes you've guess it the waterworks started again!  So had to go through the effort of cuddling him trying to explain that the noise was every being happy that City had scored, fair play to Connor he tried as well once he'd finished celebrating the goal.

Half time came the boys happily scoffed their sweets and drinks.  Out came the players I looked and realised Lucas was copying everyone clapping even managed to babble "MON CITY"  Connor was also doing his best to make noise. 

57 Minutes in marked the moment we had all been waiting for as Robinho smashed in a well taken goal I looked there was a hint of a whimper from Lucas but he seemed to be a little better even trying to copy me as the Invisible Man song did the rounds.  68th minute SWP smashes in a great goal from a tight angle Lucas is now laughing and jumping around.  When Ched Evans scored making it 5-0 he jumped into my arms and kissed me then hugged a now gob smacked Connor whom only seemed able to utter the words 5-0 It's 5-0 Dad!!!

Well it got better 83rd Minutes Gelson scored making it 6-0 both boys (and their dad) were stunned and overjoyed.  I don't think I could have picked a better game to take them to.  Connor was singing the Invisible Man song as loudly as he could and when Bluemoon hit both boys had their arms up even if Lucas wasn't fully familiar with the words.

The full time whistle went we cheered clapped the players off and slowly made our way home tired and delighted.  

Friday, 22 July 2011

Bluemoon Rising was it too soon?

We have all heard the arguments from fellow blues and rivals that the film Blue Moon Rising was released perhaps a season too early.  I've seen others write that only City could release a film where the end result was disappointment.

I did touch upon this a little on my "R.I.P Typical City" article earlier this month.  But after reading a thread on Bluemoon titled "Blue Moon Rising II"  I noticed the same arguments once again have surfaced.

I have always said for me the film was released at the perfect time as it was about the hopes and dreams being a Manchester City fan, as we could see the good times on the horizon though perhaps dare not dream just how quickly after 09-10's so near yet so far ending that season 10-11 delivered the dream and then some. 

Had we indeed won something that year I don't think the films ending would have worked as well.  It showed the lads and Helios heading to West Ham and the song hit "34 years and we're still here" they were singing it loudly and proudly.  And that's why for me the film was indeed released at the right time it didn't matter we hadn't won anything we love Manchester City there had indeed been progress so as the film title puts it the Blue Moon was indeed rising.

Now for a slight confession. See the man and lad behind the pie in the screen shot from the film?  Yes that's me and my son Connor we were extras in the film's flashback scene "It's the pie!"  We had an absolute blast filming took place at the Etihad Stadium.  It was an experience I will never forget.  I was so excited to see the film and like a big kid made up to see my name in the closing titles.  Though one slightly annoying point I was on screen longer celebrating Carlos Tevez's free kick V Chelsea than the bit I got paid for!   That said I don't think my views are biased towards the film....OK perhaps a little but still it is a great film one which as the Times put it in their review "Entertaining, funny and at times, poignant" and as I put it a fitting tribute as we lay to rest "typical city"

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Thank god for ZABMAN!

Robinho, Jo, Santa Cruz, Elano, Giovanni  and probably sooner than later Carlos Tevez are all from the latino continent of South America all despite very good efforts by some have failed to settle at Manchester City for various reasons.  Be it rumoured partying by Jo home sickness by Carlos or just the season ticket for the treatment room of Santa Cruz.

True there have been fair efforts Robinho's now legendary bus ride to the Trafford Centre and his keenness to use his new language whenever he could.  But all in all things just don't seem to go well for South Americans at M11 3FF.....Or do they??  Step forward everyone's favourite accident prone player Pablo Zabaleta.

He probably is as familiar as Roque with the way to the treatment room at both Carrington and the Etihad Stadium.  That said season 2010-2011 was quite possibly Pablo's best in the blue of City.  It was only right he got to be on the pitch as the full time whistle blew signaling the end of City's 35 year wait for a major honour as the Fa Cup was lifted.  Pablo's committment to the club is something that doesn't need to be questioned.  Even with his father seriously ill you really got the impression Pablo felt guilty that he was there at his bedside, despite the fact everyone knew this was exactly what Pablo should be doing at a time like that.

Certainly his fathers illness showed Pablo just how popular he is.  He admitted to be taken aback by the amout of goodwill messages he received.  His tweets in both Spanish and English keeping people updated were always packed with messages of thanks.

On the pitch he has matured.  And this is where I pay him credit effort and determination aside I always had him down as being a red card waiting to happen.  He seems to have calmed that side down, he is still the tough tenacious never say die player we all knew.  The standard of his performances has also increased.  Added to this his mastery of english (note to Mr Tevez done in 2 years less than you've been in England) shows a happy and content player..if a little accident prone as the Zabman Video proved! but take that away and you would be taking part of the man who is widely liked and respected.

Well as we sing "DO DO DO PABLO ZABALETA!"

Sunday, 17 July 2011

My own mini City

March 10th 2010 was a dark day for me.  It marked the day any person who cared about Chester City Fc had known was coming but didn't want to accept, the day the club was wound up in the High Court.

Moving to Chester in 1989 I had started to attend games on a regular basis when the club opened the Deva Stadium  in 1992 when MCFC fixtures didn't clash.  Chester City really did remind me of a miniature version of MCFC the management changes the ownership changes the false dawns the new hopes the shattered dreams.

Club Owner Stephen Vaughan had long since lost fans support, crowds were down to 300-400 in the Conference Premier.  There are various reasons behind this perhaps the biggest was many fans believed the club were being used as a front for some of Liverpool's gangsters.  At first many didn't want to believe or accept it.  Then in 2008 the club held a minutes silence for a "club benefactor" Colin Smith. The press headlines saying "Cocaine King gunned down"  meant the rumours did indeed appear true and that news also marked a decline in Chester City which lead to the relegation to the Conference.  They went into administration and were hit with a 25 point penalty.  Rumours were rife the club was leaking money at an alarming rate.

Then just before an away game in February '10 the players finally had enough after months of not being paid they refused to board the coach to go to Forest Green leading to the game being postponed .  Added to an earlier game being abandoned due to a fans protest pitch invasion,  It was painfully clear the club had zero future.  The fans supporters group CFU (City Fans United) were already making plans for a phoenix club.  This despite being laughed at by Vaughan saying all members were "a bunch of fools in a bingo hall".

So fast forward after March the CFU had enlisted the help of Supporters Direct a group that supports and encourages fan ownership and community involvement.  Along with reps from FCUM AFC Telford and AFC Wimbledon it was made very clear fan ownership and was a very workable option.  It was also very simple anyone could join the CFU and £1 of the membership fee paid for 1 share in the club, renewable each year.

The new club's name was voted on with a return to City's original name Chester Fc being the winner.  Local Graphic designer Martin Huxley designed the clubs crest coming up with a simple yet classic design.
Chester City Council granted the club the lease of the Deva Stadium the club appointed Neil Young as Manager.  The club applied to the FA for placement in the football pyramid. The news came through Chester had been placed in the Northwest Counties League (step 9 ) which was a shock previous phoenix clubs like AFC Halifax Town and AFC Telford starting in step 8 which in Chester's case should have been The Evostick North Division One (Northern Premier League Division One North).  Chester appealed and the FA accepted they had indeed made a mistake.

The season started with a 1-1 draw V Warrington away followed by the clubs first ever league win V Wakefield again away.  The came an unforgettable  Wednesday evening at the newly christened (by sponsorship) Exacta Stadium, Trafford Fc were the first home opponents and were soundly battered 6-0 in front of  over 2,700 (league average is approx 400)
 Half time in the match even saw Chester "sign" Perry Groves and Pat Nevin, no they weren't coming out if retirement it was part of a deal with Radio 5's Colin Murray he would donate £2,00 to Chester if they signed Groves and Nevin and named them as unused subs through out the season.  He even kept listeners of his show updated throughout of Chester's progress.

Crowds were healthy at the Exacta averaging out at over 2,300, the league record was beaten V Bamber Bridge when over 3,300 packed out the ground.  In the end the title did go to Chester but it really was only just 3 points clear with an 8 goal margin over Skelmersdale United going into the last game, Chester lost 2-1 away at Garforth Town while incredibly Skelmersdale did indeed score 7 but already relegated Ossett Albion scored 2 meaning yes Chester were league champions by two goals!
The triumph was bitter sweet you may notice some of the players in the youtube video above wearing t-shirts bearing the face of someone.  That someone was Club Director Richard Wightman a man I had the pleasure of calling a friend for over 12 years, who sadly passed away in January through ill health.  Wheelchair bound all his life he had never let anything get him down despite his health problems his death was a terrible shock and rightly he got a huge turn out as family, friends and supporters paid their final respects.  Seeing his coffin enter Caldy Valley church draped in the clubs flag was unbearable his effort and commitment was key to convincing many disillusioned fans Chester Fc were the real deal and we did indeed have our club back.  The T shirts I mentioned simply showed how much he will be missed with his picture on them taken at the clubs first ever friendly at Colwyn Bay smiling so happy that he had played a part in getting the club started.  R.I.P Rich I will always remember you mate.
 
12 months on from that Colwyn Bay game the club continues to go from strength to strength season ticket sales are rocketing towards 1,000 the first two friendlies of pre season have attracted crowds of over 1,800 to the Exacta.  It's certainly an exciting time for me being a Manchester City fan and it's also an exciting time for me as a Chester Fc fan the future looks oh so good where as for both teams just a few years ago there the addiction and love for them but little else.  And certainly in Chester's case not bad for a bunch of fools hey Mr Vaughan!

Thursday, 14 July 2011

R.I.P Typical City??

The very successful 2010-2011 season for Manchester City could just have marked the end of what City fans loved to call "typical City".  Well perhaps loved is to strong a phrase, loathed would perhaps be more apt.

So for those who perhaps aren't fully familiar just what is typical City? Well it's best summed up in the roller coaster we call Manchester City and the ability to take one step forward one game only to take 2 backwards the very next.  A classic example would be the 1961 Fa Cup tie V Luton Town, City were 6-2 up when the game was abandoned only to lose the replayed game 3-1

A more recent example would be the 1989 home game V Bournemouth.  All City needed was a win to ensure promotion to the old Division 1 3-0 up and cruising at half time City threw it away and drew 3-3.  That meant fans had to endure a nervy game at Valley Parade V Bradford City where Trevor Morley's late goal gave City the point they needed .

City also hold the dubious record of being the only League Champions to be relegated the very next season. There are numerous examples all of which with gallows humour City fans would always write off as typical City.

Last season marked a change in untypical fashion City qualified for the Champions league in ironic circumstances when Peter Crouch scored an own goal at the same end and virtually the same spot just 12 months earlier he had broken City's hearts.  Then City followed that up with a convincing performance to beat Stoke City and win the FA Cup.  Surely typical City would strike in the last game of the season when all the team had to do was at least equal Arsenals result and they would be automatically on the Champions League group stages.  No they won 2-0 and yes they finished a best ever 3rd in The Premier League.

I've heard people say the film Bluemoon Rising was released a year early it should have been done once we had won something.  My answer hasn't really changed and that is it's fine as it is a tribute to typical City as if you compare 09-10 to 10-11, It does indeed show the bluemoon has indeed been on the rise long may it contine and be a fitting eulogy to "typical City"

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Tevez the puppet?

So Manchester City have received a large bid from Corinthians for the services of want away Carlos Tevez.  If that is indeed the case as "Sky Sources" would have us believe despite being below market value it would remove the chances of in the short term facing him in the Champions League and therefore is certainly worth considering.

But wait why would Corinthians want him back? He went on strike to engineer his move to the UK back in 2006.  Why would they want to risk a heck of a lot of money by Brazilian football standards on a player that has done the dirty on them in the past?

Step forward his agent Kia Joorabchian.  The man who owned Tevez's registration whilst he was in Brazil and whilst he played for both West Ham and Man Utd, and the man who got a substantial cut of the fee when City signed him.

I am utterly convinced this whole saga is down to "Honest Kia" he seems to have the power to manipulate Tevez to do his bidding and Carlos in a misguided sense of loyalty is trying to help his friend.  A move to Brazil would open it up so "Honest Kia" could once again hold a share of his registration so his biggest cash cow will once again be earning him a nice little income.

What basis is there for my feelings?  I honestly question if Tevez is the brightest academically in 5 years he has failed to master English when you compare that to fellow Argentina international and Blue Pablo Zabaleta who is fluent despite being in the Country a full 2 years less.

Tevez always appears a little awkward when interviewed not fully comfortable.  I started thinking something wasn't quite right when I took Connor to a fans forum and Tevez was there with Kolo Toure.  Kolo walked in on his own Tevez turned up with a large group in tow tow admittedly two were his brothers, but who were the others?   Why did he need so many when he was meeting fans who were fast falling in love with him.

Something just doesn't sit right with this whole saga yes Tevez may well be unsettled with life in England and because of this want to move.  But my gut feeling honestly is there is much more to it than an unsettled player whom just a few weeks ago it was announced was happy to stay with City.  "Honest Kia" can say what he likes but for me he is like a puppeteer controlling Tevez and getting him to do and say exactly what benefits Joorachian the most instead of what is best for Carlos.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Top NBA Star to the Cheshire Jets??

We've heard the stories in the past regarding footballers conning clubs to get contracts the most infamous incident being Ali Dia who turned out once for Southampton in 1996 after a person claiming to be George Weah recommended him, he came on as a sub and was subbed himself just a few minutes later when reality set in with the Southampton Bench.

Now imagine a top NBA player like LA Lakers Ron "Metta World Peace" Artest showing an interest in playing for Cheshire Jets. Yes I'm serious yes this might well be happening!

How has it this situation come about? well basically there is the very real threat there won't be an NBA season this year due to ongoing wrangles this has left players looking for games whilst the situation is resolved.  Artest via his twitter page indicated he might well like to try the BBL (British Basketball League)  The Jets have moved quickly establishing dialogue with the player and Artest seems keen to come over.

So what awaits him well having played regular games in front of nearly 19,000 at the Staples Centre    The Northgate Arena holding approximately 1,200 will certainly be a huge difference!  Artest though to his credit appears to have done some background checks saying on his twitter he would come to England knowing there won't be much financial gain for him...or will there?  He is a well know celebrity in the USA on TV and even released rap records.
This move could benefit Artest if he want's to further his other interests by breaking into the UK market, as well as being a huge boost to the BBL which only returned to Sky Sports last season, just a few appearances by Artest in a Jets Kit could be huge for all the clubs generating interest and possibly commercial partners.  I sincerely hope Jets owner Peter Hawkins and Coach Paul Smith pull this off.

In a sensational update The Chester Chronicle has reported Artest has agreed to the deal and will head to the UK to finalise the move.

Why do other clubs want the Etihad deal investigated?

The press have been full of stories claiming other clubs are asking for the Manchester City-Etihad deal investigated.  True they may claim unfair on the basis that the Mansour family are on the board of Etihad but there is a lot more to it than simply that.

Take Barcelona they will this season have a shirt sponsor in the Qatar Foundation.   They always have proudly stated they won't have a shirt sponsor...so why the change?  The BBC report in that link points out that Barca were over £300 million in debt in '09-10.  They even last summer had to get a loan to pay the players wages.

Real Madrid weren't much better a little under £300 million in debt .  Then of course there is our arch rivals from Trafford.  Despite making huge operating profits their parent companies debt climbs year on year.

Perhaps Italian football is in better shape?  Ok perhaps not both Milans are in debt despite recent success domestically and in Europe.
No wonder they are crying for UEFA to investigate the deal they are all terrified they won't meet the criteria of the new fair play rules.  It's pure bitterness of course the Mansour connection at Etihad helps but they have committed to a lot of different sports teams and venues around the world they wouldn't do it if it didn't make sense to their business plans.


Perhaps the best example is that Barca shirt deal for £25 million a year.  If the Etihad deal is as now reported is £400 million over 10 years is that bad value for shirt sponsorship stadium sponsorship and "campus" sponsorship?  The Bluemoon is rising and it's making the old guard panic.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Press on the attack but do we care?

Manchester City's new sponsorship arrangement with Etihad Airways seems to have the press in an frenzy be it The Daily Mirror's Oliver Holt or BBC's Phil McNulty.  They are just two in a list of people on the attack.

You have to ask what are they afraid of?  is it simply as some City fans believe the press hate the thought of their cosy little top 4 being broken up by a upstart like Manchester City ?  Point is City are no upstarts we have a history that a lot of clubs could only dream about,  Yaya Toure's goal winning the FA Cup for City was the first major honour in 35 long years which has seen some dramatic relegation's promotions new managers and umpteen false dawns.

City despite it all have continued to be well supported by a loyal fan base that have endured things that I seriously question fans of other clubs would willingly put up with whilst still turning up.  Relegation to what is now League One in 1998 saw the club at an all time low yet attendances at Maine Road were up near capacity.

Shiekh Mansour took over back in 2008 from being poor little Manchester City suddenly the club were thrust into the news for good reasons.  It took just 3 seasons to turn a mid table side into automatic Champions League qualifiers doing well in that competition is a license to print money attracting commercial partners people wanting private boxes for matches etc..

Yet the press seem to be almost hell bent on knocking City down even questioning if the Etihad deal is legal despite as many reports quoted the club openly spoke to UEFA to see what was and wasn't allowed.  Perhaps it is they don't want change from their ever faithful big 4 ?  Newsflash Liverpool haven't been top 4 for the last two seasons,  Arsenal for the last few years have promised so much and delivered very little to the point players seem to leave whilst still at their peak.  If Chelsea had managed to do a similar deal for the rights to Stamford Bridge would there be the uproar? I really doubt it.  Facts are a product that stays still goes stale the SPL is a prime example with winners of the title being both Glasgow clubs for a long long time