Tuesday, 30 December 2008

I thought I would introduce a little bit of belated festive cheer as we head into a no doubt frantic transfer window by sharing the 12 days of Christmas, sorry City, with all you fellow Blues. Take a deep breath...
“On the first day of Christmas my City gave to me, Mark Hughes’ job at City.

On the second day of Christmas my City gave to me, Robinho dancing and Mark Hughes’ job at City.

On the third day of Christmas my City gave to me, three Brazilians, Robinho dancing and Mark Hughes’ job at City.

On the fourth day of Christmas my City gave to me, Uwe chipping Schmeichel, three Brazilians, Robinho dancing and Mark Hughes’ job at City.

On the fifth day of Christmas my City gave to me, five Shaun Goaters… Uwe chipping Schmeichel, three Brazilians, Robinho dancing and Mark Hughes’ job at City.

On the sixth day of Christmas my City gave to me, Kinkladze versus Southampton, five Shaun Goaters… Uwe chipping Schmeichel, three Brazilians, Robinho dancing and Mark Hughes’ job at City.

On the seventh day of Christmas my City gave to me, Weaver’s saves at Wembley, Kinkladze versus Southampton, five Shaun Goaters… Uwe chipping Schmeichel, three Brazilians, Robinho dancing and Mark Hughes’ job at City.

On the eighth day of Christmas my City gave to me, Bell, Lee and Summerbee, Weaver’s saves at Wembley, Kinkladze versus Southampton, five Shaun Goaters… Uwe chipping Schmeichel, three Brazilians, Robinho dancing and Mark Hughes’ job at City.

On the ninth day of Christmas my City gave to me, nine Sheikh’s shaking, Bell, Lee and Summerbee, Weaver’s saves at Wembley, Kinkladze versus Southampton, five Shaun Goaters… Uwe chipping Schmeichel, three Brazilians, Robinho dancing and Mark Hughes’ job at City.

On the 10th day of Christmas my City gave to me, 10 goals past Huddersfield, nine Sheikh’s shaking, Bell, Lee and Summerbee, Weaver’s saves at Wembley, Kinkladze versus Southampton, five Shaun Goaters… Uwe chipping Schmeichel, three Brazilians, Robinho dancing and Mark Hughes’ job at City.

On the 11th day of Christmas my City gave to me, 11 pies that Andy Morrison ate, 10 goals past Huddersfield, nine Sheikh’s shaking, Bell, Lee and Summerbee, Weaver’s saves at Wembley, Kinkladze versus Southampton, five Shaun Goaters… Uwe chipping Schmeichel, three Brazilians, Robinho dancing and Mark Hughes’ job at City.

On the 12th day of Christmas my City gave to me, 12 signings in January, 11 pies that Andy Morrison ate, 10 goals past Huddersfield, nine Sheikh’s shaking, Bell, Lee and Summerbee, Weaver’s saves at Wembley, Kinkladze versus Southampton, five Shaun Goaters… Uwe chipping Schmeichel, three Brazilians, Robinho dancing and Mark Hughes’ job at City.”
Brazilian ace snatches last-gasp equaliser for City
Manchester City striker Robinho scored a vital goal deep into injury time as Mark Hughes’ side grasped a 2-2 draw with Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park.

It was Sam Allardyce’s team who took the initiative, and the lead on the stroke of half time through Benni McCarthy. Jason Roberts gave Rovers a two-goal advantage with a strong header on 84 minutes.

But City never gave up hope and the introduction of youngster Daniel Sturridge paid dividends when he scored and then set up Robinho for the equaliser with almost the last kick of the game.

The late clinical strike saved Hughes’ blushes after returning to his former club for the first time since he began his career at City in the summer. The Welsh manager had been faced with chants of ‘you’re getting sacked in the morning’ from his former fans but Robinho’s goal silenced the home contingency.

Coming back from two goals down, City demonstrated a passion, fight and desire that had been severely lacking of late. Apart from Nedum Onuoha replacing Micah Richards, Hughes had stuck with the same side that beat Hull City so majestically on Boxing Day and both teams started lively and vibrant.

It was the visitors that had the best of the early efforts, with in-form Felipe Caicedo and Robinho both guilty of missing superb chances to give City an early lead. Robinho could have had a penalty when Andrew Ouijer fouled him inside the box, but Howard Webb remained unconvinced and waved the sky blue protests away.

Rovers closed City down consistently and the visitors surrendered possession time and time again through sloppy and inaccurate passes and bad timing. Hughes’ flair players were being successfully marked out of the game and the home side looked dangerous on the break with Roberts and Brett Emerton looking hungry.

It was City’s inability to keep possession that led to Rovers taking the lead right on half-time. Emerton and Roberts linked up and it was McCarthy’s strike that gave Rovers the advantage and changed Hughes’ team-talk.

After the interval City created chances, with a Shaun Wright-Phillips’ header bouncing off the post from an Elano cross and chances from Stephen Ireland and Robinho proving to be opportunist. Hughes’ blues piled on the pressure and pushed forward. A double substitution from the under-pressure City manager saw the arrival of Darius Vassell and Sturridge to the game as City searched for an equaliser.

But with City pushing forward, Rovers struck again and increased their lead as striker Roberts headed a Christopher Samba cross over Joe Hart. It looked to be game over for City until Sturridge’s strike late on gave the blues hope. The Rovers defence looked shaky and it was Sturridge who set up Robinho, who calmly struck home to give City a much-needed point.

Rovers were well-organised and did a superb job of keeping City’s flair players at bay. But a player of Robinho’s calibre only needs one chance and the home side’s shaky defence late on made the mistake of gifting the Brazilian too much room on the left. With the Premier League being so close this season, the point for City was vital to avoid another embarrassing defeat.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

FootballFanCast.com- Robinho mentality article

Football FanCast columnist Emily Brobyn felt that Robinho was right to criticise Manchester City's ‘small club' mentality.
For years and years, Manchester City Football Club have been seemingly plagued. The football club that has an endless managerial merry-go-round with a lack of long-term stability, that spent years flitting between different leagues until finally returning to the Promised Land. Perhaps the only club that could be confirmed as ‘The Richest Club in the World', sign Brazilian Robinho and still be hovering dangerously close to the relegation zone just before Christmas arrives all in the space of a few months. Just what is going on at Eastlands?
It goes without saying that the ‘richest club' tag has brought with it not only a whole lot of money, but an exceeded amount of expectation and pressure. Glory fans have jumped on the Robinho bandwagon, not knowing really what they are getting themselves into. New chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak's first game was watching his new acquisition crush Portsmouth 6-0 in a match that can only be described as a ‘master-class' by City, sending out a distinct message to the Premier League while the January transfer window was still very much on the horizon.

Since then, it has all gone downhill faster than the takeover was sealed. Success in progressing in the UEFA Cup has proved to be a welcome tonic to inconsistency and floundering in the Premier League. City fans are yet to see any reflection of the £19 million pounds that was spent on Brazilian Jo, with the striker either keeping the substitute bench warm during games or leaving City playing with 10 men when he actually stands on the pitch.

Hughes' best signings have proved to be Pablo Zabaleta and Vincent Kompany, who have put in confident and assured performances consistently for the Blues. It has been argued how much input Hughes had in the Robinho transfer, but it is certain that without the Brazilian's goals and general creative presence in the team City would be in a catastrophic position, one far more traumatic than the current league placing suggests.

Much was made of Robinho's outburst to the media regarding City's ‘small club mentality'. "City have good players but the mentality of a small side," said the 24-year-old, winner of two La Liga titles with Madrid. "They are content with just finishing fifth or sixth. They are content with little, thinking just a draw might be good enough. What they lack is the mentality of champions. I have learnt that being second is worthless so I want to inspire a winning mentality. You can only be content with winning."

He is right, as regards City having a small club mentality. But City are not content with finishing fifth or sixth. City are not used to finishing that high up in the Premier League at all. How can a club have a winning mentality if they are not winning, if they have such a clouded and unreliable history? There is no mentality of champions because being successful isn't something associated with City. As soon as a goal has been conceded by Hughes' men this season, the players' heads have gone straight down. Confidence has been severely lacking for a club that has more money than sense.

City have been playing with a lack of courage, spirit, endeavour or passion considering players are supposed to be playing for their future. The club's much-discussed ‘soft centre' has been exploited time and again, with too much flair and a lack of grit meaning that once dispossessed in midfield, City struggle to impose their presence on games. If things are to change, signings must be made that will see money well spent on tackling problem areas on the pitch and encouraging City's mentality to adapt.

Something is missing and at the moment there is a way out. It's lucky that this season the Premier League is so close, where a draw and certainly three points can catapult a team up through several league positions. But a complete overhaul is needed, the club needs to get rid of the supposed dead wood and buy sensibly and appropriately in the transfer window. But will this be as easy as it sounds? The bottomless pit will tempt magpie-type players: who see the glitz and shine and are blinded by the zeros on the end of a cheque so much that it distracts from the club they are actually committing their future to. January will undoubtedly prove to be a month full of controversy and shock- but will City discover that money can't buy you exactly who or what you want (as already proven by Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Iker Casillas).

Is Mark Hughes the right man for the job? Has he got the guile and equipment that is needed to take City forward into a new era? Is he the kind of manager that is capable of attracting top-quality players to accompany Robinho? He lacks in charisma, he is short of endearing qualities and is always too quick to moan or shift the blame onto the referee, something that a certain Swedish manager tended to shy away from. He is also very short on people skills and seems to have got City in a rut of hoofing the ball up-field instead of playing it out from the back. Garry Cook, the executive chairman, has insisted that Hughes is the man to deal with the current situation and lead City forward, but some fans remain unconvinced.

In the current climate where chairmen demand instant success, a climate that has seen Paul Ince relieved of his duties at Blackburn Rovers after just six months in charge, Hughes is right to be feeling the pressure. He is still a relatively young manager learning his trade, but now the Middle Eastern millions have come to town, success is more or less expected at City. Considering Sven Goran Eriksson was remorselessly shown the door after a season where City finished 9th, just how long will Hughes have to turn it around and implement a winning mentality into a club that has been labelled ‘typical City' at any given opportunity. Perhaps the consistency should begin with giving Hughes a shot at being a consistent manager for City instead of making a rash decision too early and plunging the club into uncertainty and turmoil once more.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008


Hughes’ Blues in freefall after last-gasp Everton winner
Mark Hughes’ Manchester City remain out of the relegation zone on goal difference after Tim Cahill’s 93rd minute winner for Everton sent all three points to Merseyside.

It looked like the unattractive game of football would end with honours even, until Cahill out-jumped Micah Richards from a Leon Osman corner to head home the winner in stoppage time.

City hover dangerously close to the bottom of the Premier League table after another unconvincing display at home, with the visitors being short on strikers themselves.

The first half was a very open affair, with Everton having the first chance after just nine minutes. Mikel Arteta’s fierce 25-yard free kick hit the bar and Marouane Fellaini’s follow-up flew over the woodwork.

But City looked lively and creative, with Elano and Benjani linking up well, feeding Stephen Ireland, whose effort flew over the bar. Brazilians Robinho and Elano also forced saves from Tim Howard. At the other end, Arteta’s powerful effort produced a superb save from England under-21 goalkeeper Joe Hart.

Shaun Wright-Phillips nearly gave the home side the lead on 41 minutes but his stinging shot clipped the top of the bar and Hart was called into action again, doing well against a Fellaini effort from 12 yards out.

At the break, Hughes was forced into making a change, introducing substitute Jo who replaced the injured Benjani. Jo has been a regular fixture on the City bench of late and for all the impact he made, could have still been occupying that spot.

David Moyes’ side went close again on 58 minutes but Phil Neville’s cross was thwarted by Pablo Zabeleta. Ireland’s side-footed effort 15 minutes later was saved well by Howard.

The game looked to be being played out to a draw by both teams, until Richard Dunne conceded a corner late on. Osman delivered into the box, and Cahill sprung above Richards to head the ball past Hart deep into the net.

Both teams had gone close to taking the lead, but it was Mark Hughes kicking out in frustration at full time that spoke volumes. His inconsistent side lacked courage, spirit, endeavour and passion. Robinho was played despite an ankle injury, and had to be replaced by Darius Vassell in the second half. City fans are still yet to see anything that warrants the £19 million pounds that was spent on Brazilian ‘star’ Jo and Benjani is now confirmed as being absent from the Christmas fixtures due to a hamstring injury.

Where will City’s goals now come from? Valeri Bojinov is targeting a January comeback from injury, but that doesn’t help Hughes’ side over the festive period. Even more worrying is the lack of form from defensive pair Dunne and Richards, who are leaking goals and are both lacking in confidence. If Hart wouldn’t have been on top of his game, the score-line could have been a lot more different. Hughes has got a job well and truly on his hands now, with City travelling to Racing Santander in the UEFA Cup on Thursday, then a trip to the Hawthorns to take on fellow relegation strugglers West Bromwich Albion on Sunday

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Can I have a word?
Wow. What a week it has been for Manchester City. It's strange, but I truly thought that Arsenal were there for the taking, what with their off-the-pitch distractions at the moment- and my philosophy turned out to be correct. Robinho ran their nervy defence riot and the 3-0 score line was incredible.

Then on to Schalke in the UEFA Cup. I didn't really believe we had a chance over there, I knew confidence would be boosted with the Arsenal result, but there's no way I expected what happened. In the first 10 minutes Schalke looked to be a well-organised, hungry side. But their creative attacking left them exposed at the break, and Shaun Wright-Phillips, Benjani and Stephen Ireland were more than happy to venture forward to look lively for City. Daniel Sturridge also had a superb game. The 2-0 score was more than justified for a City team who travelled to Germany and looked composed and confident in Gelsenkirchen.

As for the derby...I really did think leading up to it we could win convincingly. But on the morning of the game I woke up feeling sceptical. Perhaps the week had just been too good to be true. But City looked lethargic and lacked hunger and passion. Mark Hughes shuffled the pack and, unfortunately, got it wrong. I thought that Pablo Zabeleta should have played from the start and Dietmar Hamann just doesn't have the legs anymore.

Much has been spoken today about Robinho's latest interview to the press. A certain tabloid red-top newspaper has completely taken his comments out of context: it's ridiculous that this 'sensational' reporting actual sells newspapers and that fans buy into believing comments like 'Robinho has slammed his Manchester City team-mates as a bunch of losers'.

The thing to do when you read an article is to look directly for the quotes, as the quotes tell the true story. Robinho is quoted to have said that 'City have good players but the mentality of a small side'. In no part of the interview does he mention the saying 'bunch of losers'. It's this kind of reporting that causes havoc within teams and amongst fans. It can initiate unwanted unrest and disharmony. Robinho is basically trying to inspire his team-mates to become better players and think like Champions if they are to attempt to compete at the highest level in the Premier League.

Keep the blue faith,

Cristiano sent off as City slump to derby day defeat
Manchester United midfielder Cristiano Ronaldo was sent off as Wayne Rooney’s 100th Premier League goal condemned City to a 1-0 defeat at Eastlands.

City, fresh from beating Schalke 2-0 in the UEFA Cup midweek, looked lacklustre and unorganised. Right from the start, the visitors dominated possession and exposed City’s self-confessed ‘soft centre’. Dimitar Berbatov, who was linked with City on transfer deadline day, forced Joe Hart into making a superb save. Chances were also created by Rooney, Ronaldo and Evra.

But it was Mark Hughes’ side that had the best chance of the first half. In-form Stephen Ireland’s speculative effort looked to be headed towards the net, with defender Micah Richards thinking the ball wouldn’t need a touch, but the effort clipped the post.

United remained determined and resolute and the breakthrough was inevitable. On 42 minutes, poor defending from City resulted in Michael Carrick being allowed a shot on goal. His effort was only parried by Hart and the ball rolled to Rooney, who delighted in tapping the ball into the net in front of the horrified home crowd.

Hughes made two changes at the break, putting Vincent Kompany into midfield and introducing controversial Brazilian Elano and defender Pablo Zabeleta to the game. Immediately City looked more interested and positive moving forward. But serious chances and creativity was hard to come by, and the home side in their anxiety to equalise, left themselves exposed at the back with United’s counter attacking.

But Alex Ferguson’s side were reduced to ten men when Ronaldo’ peculiar hand-ball from a corner left referee Howard Webb with no choice. Webb had already booked the Portuguese winger after a vicious challenge on Shaun Wright-Phillips and his bizarre handball from a corner left him seeing red. Ronaldo was very reluctant to leave the Eastlands pitch and had to be escorted off the turf and consoled down the tunnel.

This incident incited City and spurred the home crowd on. But the equaliser was not to be. In fact, United nearly doubled their lead in the dying minutes after City goalkeeper Hart went up for a corner, leaving his goal exposed. Rooney seized the opportunity and his accurate lob was only blocked by the scampering efforts of the blushing Hart. United were deserved of their win. City looked tired after their mid-week display and Hughes looked to shuffle his pack by playing Kompany in defence in the first half.
Dietmar Hamann’s retirement should surely be around the corner and, although Vassell and Benjani are industrious, they both are lacking quality in their delivery. Elano, fresh from his outbursts to the media, came on looking like he had a point to prove, but created nothing. His free kick was ballooned far into the crowd. But United’s tackling was questionable to say the least, with Wright-Phillips bearing the onslaught of Carrick, Darren Fletcher and Ronaldo. United now move to third while City languish just two points off the relegation zone.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

FootballFanCast.com- Robinho article

Back in August, the media speculation about Robinho coming to England to play Premier League football was in overdrive. The only club who could realistically afford his wages, Chelsea, looked set to land the want-away Brazilian striker from Real Madrid.

That was, until, Manchester City became the richest football club in the world. Transfer deadline day was dominated by the news that super-rich Arabs had launched a bid to buy Shinawatra’s shares from City and, when the news was confirmed, City immediately went about making an impact by making enquiries in the transfer market for some of the most sought-after names in football. David Villa, Ruud van Nistelrooy and even a cheeky last-minute bid to hijack Manchester United’s Dimitar Berbatov transfer were all names linked with the Eastlands club.

But what hadn’t been anticipated was the activity that was happening over in Madrid concerning City and a 24 year old Brazilian. Chelsea were so confident they had signed Robinho that they had printed his name on hundreds of replica shirts ready for the sales rush from excited fans.

It didn’t happen. In a dramatic last-minute conclusion to an already hectic deadline day, the transfer of Robinho from Real Madrid to the Premier League for a record fee of £32.5 million was confirmed- although it wasn’t to Chelsea, much to Luiz Felipe Scolari’s fury. It was to now super-rich Manchester City, who offered a higher wage package.

Immediately, critics and pundits alike scoffed and ridiculed the very idea that Robinho would be a successful player at Manchester City. His move was slated by Pele, who suggested that Robinho was in need of “some serious counselling” after snubbing the chance to play for Chelsea. In fact, it was perhaps only City manager Mark Hughes that understandably praised the move. Whatever the backlash, Robinho became a bona fide City player and boy, hasn’t he made an impact.

Immediately the City store sold a record number of replica shirts with his name on the back. He scored his first goal, a superb free kick, on his debut against Chelsea and has never looked back. Influential all over the field, a player of his calibre has the ability to create something out of absolutely nothing and leave the opposition players reeling in his wake.

At first, it seemed such an odd move. But now it’s blossomed and flourished and both parties appreciate one another for who they are. Manchester City. The unequivocal darlings of the English media. Although no media outlet would dare admit it, the tabloids all love the drama that resonates from Eastlands on a regular basis. Robinho- the superstar, cocky Brazilian. The man with enough trickery in his arsenal to beat Arsene Wenger’s men 3-0 almost single-handedly.

Robinho has come across as having quite a quirky character too. He has made it perfectly clear that he loves the attention he laps up from City fans: the headline ‘City fans think I’m God’, taken from a popular red-top tabloid, speaks volumes. Missing the start of the Wigan game because he was milking the Blue army’s applause, suggests a player with a very high opinion of himself.

Why not? £32.5 million worth of talent, and it’s proving to be paying off already. Grabbing a hat-trick against Stoke, Robinho outlined his intentions after that game to score 30 goals this current season. He is still understandably struggling with the physical aspect of the game, and does get barged off the ball. But when he’s running at the opposition, baffling them with his samba skill and genius, he is utterly captivating. A joy to have in the Premier League. A joy to watch.

He has also been grabbing the headlines for other, more comical reasons. His deal at City is estimated at £6 million a year, yet he was spotted getting public transport to the Trafford Centre with his girlfriend. He allegedly watches Coronation Street to try and improve his understanding of the English language, leading to him developing a nickname at Carrington training ground as ‘Ken’. When he was appointed captain against Hull City, he took his responsibilities very seriously, approaching the referee every time with caution, hands held politely behind his back when querying decisions. These humorous anecdotes only add to his character and help to soften his cocky persona.

Robinho’s latest display, against Arsenal in City’s 3-0 victory at Eastlands, was nothing short of amazing. His goal was an example of why the beautiful game is so attractive and mesmerising. He links up consistently well with Shaun Wright-Phillips and Stephen Ireland, supplying a dangerous attack for City. A lot of sceptics thought that he wouldn’t want to ‘muck in’ and help his team out, whereas the truth is that he plays a fine team game and encourages everybody playing around him by tracking back and running all over the pitch. His work-rate is exemplary: the home game against Tottenham Hotspur was a fine example of this, a display that saw him rewarded with the captain’s armband at the KC stadium.

What does the future hold for the Brazilian? Rumours are flying around at the moment linking him with a move to Chelsea, but Robinho has spoken out adamantly today. He said: "Chelsea? This question belongs to the past. I'm a City player and I only think about making the club successful.“I don't regret the choice I've made - I'm very happy at the club."

Believe the hype, we’ve got Robinho- and he’s going nowhere.

Monday, 24 November 2008


City’s Brazilian on fire to gun down Wenger’s men
A sublime Robinho goal condemned Arsene Wenger's Arsenal to their fifth league defeat this season as they were beaten comprehensively 3-0 by Manchester City at Eastlands.
A goal from in-form Stephen Ireland and a late penalty from Danny Sturridge piled more misery on Wenger, who had dropped his captain William Gallas for his brutal comments in the media leading up to the match.
Captain Richard Dunne was back from suspension and looked much improved as City's defence looked strong and played well together as a unit, with Richards and Dunne looking a useful partnership again. The defence wasn’t scared to put a foot in or move forward.
But it was Robinho was produced an all-round display of splendour. His chip over Manuel Almunia was an example of why the game is just so beautiful. The Brazilian ran Wenger’s men riot and stole the show.

The first half was littered with tense and nervous exchanges, which made for quite a dull match for the viewer. Both teams had a couple of chances, but it was the home side that made the breakthrough just before half time. Arsenal’s defence faltered, with Gael Clichy slicing a clearance. It fell to Stephen Ireland, and the in-form midfielder made no mistake with a confident finish past Almunia.
City emerged in the second half with confidence and flair and it was once again the fine skills of Robinho that saw Mark Hughes’ side double their lead. Shaun Wright-Phillips, fresh from an impressive performance for England in mid-week, laid an inch-perfect pass on for Robinho, who then exquisitely chipped the stranded Almunia to make it 2-0 to City.

Robinho could have had a hat-trick if his back-heel wouldn’t have been ruled offside, he also forced Almunia in producing a couple of fine saves and had an effort cleared off the line by Johan Djourou.

Arsenal did have a couple of efforts, with Niklas Bendtner shooting straight at Joe Hart and Robin Van Persie’s goal being disallowed for unsporting behaviour after he took the ball off Hart. But City were dominant in attack and increased their lead further when substitute Daniel Sturridge was fouled by Djourou. He coolly finished the resulting penalty in style, topping off a miserable day for Wenger and Arsenal.

City can take many positives away from the result. Although Robinho ran the show, Ireland once again looked hungry, passionate and devoted. More footballers should look to him as a great example and he will hopefully develop into a superb player. Both Elano and Sturridge came on and looked hungry and like they wanted to prove a point, although their time was limited. Although the left back position has been an issue for a while at City, Javier Garrido has been putting in decent performances of late. Wright-Phillips looked confident and fiery after international duty and his pass for Robinho’s goal was pinpoint accuracy.
Perhaps now City can build on this result to try and piece together some consistency. They face a very difficult week; Schalke away in the group stages of the UEFA Cup and Manchester United at home on Sunday. With City you never know what to expect, hopefully Hughes’ Blues can continue to impress and with Robinho on fire it will never be dull!

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

FootballFanCast.com- Reality Check article

Football FanCast columnist Emily Brobyn reflects on a rocky time at her beloved Manchester City and calls on her fellow City fans to show patience.

When the Abu Dhabi United Group for Development (ADUD) made their move for the takeover of Manchester City Football Club on transfer deadline day, it shook the football world to its very core. Pundits, critics and fans alike were completely stunned at the move that transformed City from a mediocre club to the richest club in the world. On the same day, to signal their intent, City signed one of the world's best players for £32.5 million- Brazilian ace Robinho.This kind of development at a football club immediately puts pressure on the team to produce results and progress almost to a higher standard than first expected. City have been no exception. Since the 'money' has arrived, it almost seems like people has expected instant success and for the Blues to rocket into the Champions League places simply due to the fact that they can afford to sign any player now and their wealth dwarfs Chelsea's Roman Abramovich's.

The thing is that time needs to be taken to carefully assess which players are not up to the challenge that lies ahead (and right now to be honest) and which players are available and are required to help with the task at hand. It doesn't help that some of City's fans are quick to jump onto Mark Hughes' back and demand that he is relieved of his duties as manager only four months since joining the club. Like I always say, Rome wasn't built in a day. Instant success was never going to happen this season, and perhaps it hinders Hughes that Sven had such a good start last season at the club.

Maybe fans are comparing that situation with this. But the last thing we need is to be manager-less at this stage of the season. The new owner Khaldoon Al Mubarak has issued Hughes with a vote of confidence- now City fans need to do the same. Stop all this petty speculation about Jose Mourinho- why would he want to leave Inter Milan for City, for a position kind of similar to something he has already been in within the Premier League? Recent headlines suggest the Brazilian contingency are unhappy with Hughes' management style- don't believe everything you read. This kind of sensational speculation reporting is designed to create disharmony within fans and to cause panic, to sway followers against their pressured manager. Have your own opinions instead of buying into a tabloid article that is written simply to cause chaos.

Another thing is- the players. At the moment there seems to be indifferent levels of confidence in the team. Nobody could ever doubt the soaring confidence level that Robinho has- and that his ability has the power to win City games and influence other players around him. But the disastrous form of captain Richard Dunne seems to be affecting the team as a whole- his recent own goals and howling error against Tottenham on Sunday have cost City valuable points and league places. The imminent three match ban that the Republic of Ireland international will serve for the sending off should prove to be make or break for him- whether City miss him and he can gain his confidence back with a break from the game, or whether it's time to start finding a genuine replacement for him.

Of course, the blame doesn't lie solely with Dunne. Micah Richards has been suffering with form too and I personally believe that his best position is at right back, where he can link up dangerously with Shaun Wright-Phillips, but then where would Pablo Zabaleta go? We desperately need to invest in a quality and reliable left back, a position I feel is our most troubled. Should Vincent Kompany play in defence instead of midfield? The problem with City's midfield at the moment is there is a plethora of flair players but a lack of gritty midfielders who can boss the engine room and win possession to create attacks. At the moment everything from the opposition seems to be going through City's 'soft centre', and players are getting dispossessed far too easily. We need the kind of players who can get a foot on the ball and take the game by the scruff of the neck.

The financial revolution at City has seen them transformed into a scalp. The mega-rich club that every team wants to beat, especially at Eastlands. Opposition teams seem to take great pride in defeating the club that the media always seem to build up for a fall. Realistically Eastlands should be a fortress that rival teams fear on the fixture list, but again that will come with the development of a team worthy of securing results and putting fear into fellow Premier League sides.

No fixture at the moment is a 'safe bet'. No City fan can look at the fixture list and be confident of securing a point, or three for that matter, purely because there is no consistency in results and form. Take Stoke at home for example. With no disrespect to Stoke, I should have gone to that game pretty confident of a win, but I had a niggly feeling that something might go wrong. On that occasion it happened to be The Robinho Show, with the Brazilian securing his first hat-trick. But then it was Bolton away. Going into the game City had the better form and confidence and Gary Megson's team were definitely there for the taking. But sloppy play and schoolboy errors saw City go down to a 2-0 defeat, another three points let slip.

As a City fan, I have seen a lot worse at the club, and I mean a lot. We all have. Things need to be sorted quickly though; looking at the fixture list at the moment makes for uncomfortable viewing and I can't predict where the points are going to come from. We have a difficult group in the UEFA Cup and Schalke away is quickly approaching. Keep the faith, good things come to those who wait. If we want to be a success and do it right, time is needed for that.

Dunne off as Bent spurs Harry to victory
Another suicidal performance from Manchester City captain Richard Dunne helped condemn Mark Hughes’ side to a dismal 2-1 defeat against in-form Tottenham Hotspur.

Despite the visitors starting the brightest, it was City who took the lead in the 16th minute. Shaun Wright-Phillips broke well down the right and set up Darius Vassell, whose shot was parried by Heurelho Gomes, only to land at the feet of Robinho. He made no mistake of firing home and giving City the lead. Ireland went close to doubling City’s lead on 24 minutes but Gomes produced a good save.

But it was on 26 minutes when the match was turned completely on its head. Gelson Fernandes committed a challenge on David Bentley- and was promptly dismissed for his second bookable offence, after first fouling Luka Modric. The decision had an immediate impact as Luka Modric forced Joe Hart into a spectacular save.

But it was inevitable that the equaliser would come, and calamity captain Richard Dunne played a big part in it. Dunne completely missed a long ball from Modric, allowing Darren Bent to pounce and slot home under Joe Hart. The City players’ confidence had been shot at and Spurs thrived on the home side’s sloppy passing and technical inadequacy.

After the break, Spurs continued to dominate possession and Modric was at the heart of every Spurs attack. But City refused to lie down and die; Wright-Phillips had an effort saved by Gomes, who was also forced into making a sublime saved after Dunne’s header from a Garrido cross had powered towards goal.

City’s resistance was futile and Redknapp’s team took the lead on 65 minutes when Jermaine Jenas’ through ball found the in-form Bent, who shot the ball home off the post. But the Blues didn’t give up hope and Robinho continued to rally the troops. In the 75th minute his 25 yard shot was palmed past the post by the active Gomes. Gomes was once again forced into action when Stephen Ireland shot at close range.

City misery continued on 83 minutes when Dunne hacked down Bent as he was through on goal. Mike Dean had no option but to show the red card to the defender who had blatantly fouled the Spurs striker who would have possibly gained a hat-trick. Card-happy Dean continued to flash the red cards on the 90th minute when Assou-Ekotto committed a harsh foul on Pablo Zabaleta.

The result condemned City to another defeat and Dunne’s glaring error raising questions about his place as captain and defender in the side. Dunne wasn’t the only one to blame- Spurs took full advantage of City’s 10-men handicap and Modric controlled everything through midfield- an area where City lack grit and power. Micah Richards is struggling with form and, although Dietmar Hamann is just the type of player the Blues need, he is struggling to cope with the fast pace of the Premier League nowadays. With City just two points off the bottom of the table, Sunday’s game at Hull will prove to be a six-pointer and unfortunately one that Hughes must win if he is to keep the fans, critics and new owners at bay, despite today’s vote of confidence.

Sunday, 9 November 2008


Another howler from City captain gifts Bolton the points
On paper, this game should realistically have been a convincing away victory. In reality it was far from it. City went into the game riding high on the back of a superb 3-0 win against Stoke. Bolton were low on confidence and form after a home defeat at the hands of Everton.

It should have been a forgone conclusion. In fact, it was a hapless, hopeless display from the visitors. City played like a bunch of over-paid schoolboys, lacking penetration in attack and looking unreliable and nervy in defence.

However, Mark Hughes' men had the best chances in a very dull first half. Ched Evans and Stephen Ireland went close but their efforts were thwarted by Bolton goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen, and a Robinho effort whistled over the crossbar.

The second half began with Robinho going close again for City, but Bolton began to grow in confidence and gain possession. Kevin Nolan went close but it was in the 77th minute that substitute Ricardo Gardner broke the deadlock. City pushed for an equaliser but looked unconvincing, and their offence attempts left them exposed and vulnerable.

A second Bolton goal always looked inevitable and it came in the form of yet another Richard Dunne own goal. Dunne intercepted a Gardner cross that was intended for Kevin Davies, and duly directed it into his own net.

In all honesty, the three points were well-deserved to the home side who took full advantage of a very poor City performance that highlighted several issues within the City camp. For me, Dunne lacks leadership as a captain and question marks remain over whether he is a solid enough defender. Micah Richards is giving Hughes a bit of a headache as to which position he performs in the best (it's right back for me Mark) and Pablo Zabaleta needs to calm down a bit- he's a rash defender who is hot-headed and is going to be a regular feature in the referee's notebook if he isn't careful.

Too much is being expected from Vincent Kompany as a holding midfielder. City have missed the kind of role that is played so well by the injured Michael Johnson, and is Dietmar Hamann simply too old now to fulfil the role required from him? As for Ched Evans- the Welsh striker has great potential, but is he capable of spearheading a Premier League attack at such a young age?

There are many questions and points being raised after City's dismal performance, but the one point I don't agree with is that certain people are already beginning to question Mark Hughes' role as manager at the club. He has only been in the position for a matter of months, give the guy a chance and get off his back. The last thing City need is for the mood to turn unsavoury towards the players and staff. Keep the faith, City may be the most unpredictable team but at least life is never ever dull following them!

Monday, 27 October 2008

Robinho Pots hat-trick as super City shine

Brazilian samba superstar Robinho scored his first hat-trick for Manchester City as the Blues swept aside Stoke in an enticing 3-0 victory at Eastlands.

City started the brightest and in the early exchanges a fierce shot by Robinho was pushed away by Stoke goalkeeper Sorensen. But the Brazilian was more clinical on 14 minutes after strong build-up play from Elano and Wright-Phillips, who linked well with Ched Evans. His pass fell to Robinho, who slotted home from 10 yards.

Despite City looking in control, Stoke did press forward and forced Joe Hart into making a couple of superb saves. It did look at one point like the visitors would sneak an equaliser before the break but City defended their lead resiliently.

After half time City came out determined and doubled their lead almost immediately after a great run from Daniel Sturridge, who replaced the injured Ched Evans, resulted in him setting up Robinho with a sublime accurate pass, who scored his second goal past Sorensen with ease.

From then on it was damage limitation as far as Stoke were concerned. City were passing with confidence and it was almost inevitable that Robinho would get his hat-trick. In fact, he had many chances to make his goal tally even higher, forcing Sorensen into making a save from point-blank range after Wright-Phillip cleverly set him up.

The £32.5 million man’s hat-trick was completed on 72 minutes after another assist from Sturridge resulted in Robinho calmly firing home. The remaining minutes were played out, with Stoke having a couple of half chances, and Stephen Ireland missing an absolute sitter in the final minute after Robinho threaded a fine ball through to the youngster. His effort was blasted over the bar with only Sorensen to beat.

The 3-0 victory was more than convincing, but with no disrespect to Stoke, these are the kind of games that City should be winning comfortably if we are to be taken seriously as contenders for European football, and to attract world-class players to join the hat-trick hero at Eastlands. City are so unpredictable at the best of times that, before kick off and no matter who the Blues are playing, you can never accurately predict a safe, sure victory.
Micah Richards once again played superbly in the right back role, providing a dangerous outlet down the right with Wright-Phillips and moving forward well. It was also great to see Daniel Sturridge put in an impressive performance, albeit at the expense of Ched Evans. Sturridge linked up sublimely with Robinho and will give Mark Hughes something to think about with his team selection from the next game, at Middlesbrough midweek.

But Robinho stole the headlines, and the show. He was at the heart of every City attack and Stoke were simply spellbound, offering no answers to the Brazilian magic he was weaving. In a rare post-match interview, Robinho admitted that he would like to reach a 30 goal tally for this season. At this rate, it is more than a realistic target, and with City being the highest scorers in the Premier League so far this season, there should be many more goals to come from Hughes’ samba-rific Blues.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Ireland’s equaliser spares captain Dunne’s blushes

A freakish volley into his own net from Richard Dunne almost handed a much-needed victory to Joe Kinnear’s determined Newcastle at St James Park.

Many Newcastle fans would have seen justice in City’s own goal after an early penalty decision by controversial referee Rob Styles went in the visitor’s favour. On 14 minutes, Shaun Wright-Phillips went on the offence and threaded a perfectly weighted ball through to Robinho. Newcastle defender Habib Beye appeared to make contact with the ball first before Robinho went down, but Styles, who was 20 yards away from the incident, gave a penalty and showed Beye the red card. Robinho wrong-footed Shay Given for the penalty and coolly converted to give City the lead.

However, the 10 men disadvantage seemed to suit Newcastle and, as City casually passed the ball about without creating many openings apart from long-distance efforts, Newcastle’s determination grew. The equaliser was inevitable and it came on 44 minutes, albeit with a large slice of luck. The ball pinged into the Newcastle area, pin-balled against two City defenders and Damien Duff, then fell to Shola Ameobi, who sliced his effort into the net off his right shin.
After the break, it was another huge element of luck that gifted Kinnear’s side the lead. A Geremi corner fell straight to City’s captain Dunne, whose spectacular volley flew into the roof of the net to give 10-man Newcastle a priceless advantage. City looked disjointed but nearly snatched a goal to level the game when Stephen Ireland’s low shot forced a superb save from Given.
But Kinnear’s men couldn’t hang on for the three points, and it was Ireland who equalised on 86 minutes with a low drive after a through ball from Robinho. In fact, the in-form City youngster almost stole victory from under Newcastle’s noses but his effort flew inches past the post.
Newcastle fans may see a draw as injustice due to the controversy surrounding the penalty, but I have seen penalties given for less before. I do however disagree with the red card. City were very unconvincing: how many own goals has Dunne scored now? Has anybody seen anything from Brazilian ‘star’ Jo to suggest he warrants the £19 million price tag? Is Hamann too old now?
The positives for me were Stephen Ireland and Micah Richards. Full of confidence following his player of the month award, Ireland has matured into a player who can produce match-winning performances and score vital goals. Playing at right back in the absence of Pablo Zabeleta who is serving a suspension, Richards produced a sublime performance that should have England manager Fabio Capello sitting up and taking notice. Linking up dangerously with Wright-Phillips on the right, Richards moved well between defence and attack before he was forced to be substituted with an ankle injury.
Realistically, this was a game where City should have taken advantage of having the extra man if they want to match the ambitions of their new Arabian owners. In truth it was a brave and tenacious display from Kinnear’s men who are desperate to get back to winning ways. City were average, and now need to look to the home game against Stoke as a must-win if they want to attract top quality team-mates for Robinho come January and progress higher in the Premier League standings.

Sunday, 19 October 2008


So much has been made of Robinho’s arrival to the Premier League and, more relevantly, to City. It has literally been a media and fan frenzy- at recent home games I have never seen the Citystore SO busy. Brazil shirts, scarves and Robinho on the back of shirts have been flying off the shelves- he has been a marketing sensation and the Pompey and Liverpool home games were both sold out. But what do we actually make of him?

Yes he is hugely skilful, there is no questioning that. We have already been treated to step-overs, dribbling, jinking, back-heels and the like...all things very worthy of featuring on showboat on Soccer AM but things that might not necessarily win City games. Don’t get me wrong, he is a huge talent, but the Wigan game just proved that the physical nature of the Premier League game sometimes just isn’t for him. Plus how long will it take for City to realise that hoofing the ball up to Robinho from defence and just hoping he will do something with it just isn’t working?! Not that I was complaining when his sublime free kick against Chelsea hit the back of the net (albeit with the help of Mr Lampard).

Another thing that really pisses me off about him is his ego. Okay, okay, so if you had just been purchased for the British transfer record fee of £32.5 million, and had the power to snub Chelsea for a team offering higher wages, perhaps you would feel a bit smug. But to have an interview in a popular red-top tabloid with the headline ‘City fans think I’m God’ and to miss the actual kick-off of a game because you are too busy milking the crowd’s applause (ahem, Wigan away)...well it’s just a bit much really. And very reminiscent of a certain Mr Anelka.

But when all is said and done, maybe Robinho is perfect for City. The Yin to City’s Yang. The extravagant, unpredictable player who is world-class one minute then misses an absolute sitter (vs. Liverpool) the next. So much has been made of his move to City, with Pele and the vast majority of critics and ‘pundits’ slating the transfer and Mark Hughes (surprisingly) praising it. I guess only time will tell whether the huge fee will pay dividends and if the samba dancing celebrations will continue.

A sneak peek of my new column featured in King of the Kippax, City's biggest fanzine. If you like what you read, the new issue featuring my full column, will be out in November.

Monday, 13 October 2008


City stunned by last-gasp Liverpool winner

Despite Liverpool being unbeaten so far this season, City fans were right to air on the side of optimism going into this game. A comfortable 2-1 victory against AC Omonia in the UEFA Cup boosted confidence at Eastlands after the drab defeat against Wigan, and a win against Rafa Benitez's Reds would push City further towards the European places in the Premier League.

The match started quite evenly, with City seizing the initiative, and the lead, on the 19th minute. In-form Shaun Wright-Phillips raced down the wing and passed to Robinho, whose ball was cleared by only to the feet of Stephen Ireland. His volley was blasted into the net to put City ahead.

Liverpool had a couple of half chances but it was the home side who doubled their lead four minutes from the break. A foul by former City player Albert Riera saw City awarded a free kick five yards outside the area. Spanish defender Javier Garrido stepped up- and curled his right-foot shot straight into the top corner of the net.

With a two-goal lead, City looked to be cruising to a prolific victory. But Benitez's half-time team talk saw Liverpool go on the offence immediately after the break, and a classic attack from Steven Gerrard resulted in Torres slotting home from six yards. The comeback looked set to be on- but it could have been game over just nine minutes later when Wright-Phillips ran the length of the pitch and passed the ball to Robinho- who then missed an open goal from just two yards out.

Perhaps City fans should have took that as a sign of what was to come, as two minutes later Pablo Zabaleta was sent off for a studs-up challenge on Xabi Alonso. Liverpool were full of confidence and the equaliser was inevitable. It came on 73 minutes when Torres headed home from a Gerrard corner with Joe Hart left fumbling after misjudging the ball. Torres was guilty of missing a sitter and a chance for his hat-trick after mis-queuing his shot from two yards out just a few minutes later.

A late injury to Martin Skrtel set up a grandstand finale, with both teams having 10 men due to Benitez's substitutions. There was definitely one goal left in the game, and with six minutes of injury time, substitute Dirk Kuyt scored to take all three points home for Liverpool.

It seemed harsh on City having been two goals ahead, but against the likes of Liverpool the lead should have been defended and record signing Robinho was guilty of missing the chance to put the Blues 3-1 ahead and effectively kill off the game. Lessons should be learned for Mark Hughes, and questions raised as to if he has the right defenders and the right quality to sabotage the top four sides in the Premier League.

Up next for City is a trip to the North East to face Joe Kinnear's troubled side, Newcastle United. It should be a perfect time for City to play the Magpies, but a result is never guaranteed when you are one of the most inconsistant sides in the League. Shaun Wright-Phillips is the man of the moment and, if his club form continues, it should make for a very interesting spectacle.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Can I have a word?
I must apologise for the lack of stories or features on the blogsite at the moment, I have restricted access to the internet so as soon as my situation is resolved I will inundate the site with new material!

Tuesday, 23 September 2008


Hughes' Blues turn it on to blitz Portsmouth

Ever since the ADUD group shook the football world by staging their takeover of Manchester City and capturing the shock signing of Robinho on transfer deadline day, there has been a huge air of expectancy milling around Eastlands. The 3-1 defeat at the hands of Chelsea was disheartening but not discouraging and the 2-1 UEFA Cup victory against AC Omonia in Cyprus was definitely a big step in the right direction.

On paper, the match against Portsmouth should have been a close call. It turned out to be a completely comprehensive display of football brilliance and talent from City. It only took Jo 13 minutes to break the deadlock by skipping past the Portsmouth defence and slotting home. The Brazilian trio of Elano, Jo and Robinho teamed up superbly throughout the 90 minutes and it was 2-0 when Elano’s crafty corner skimmed low along the goal-line for Richard Dunne to knock home from unmissable range.

Harry Redknapp’s side went close with a couple of half chances from Peter Crouch and an effort was cleared off the line from Pablo Zabaleta, but it was after the break that Mark Hughes’ men went on the rampage. Robinho was simply world class as he left Portsmouth bewildered with his trickery and skill; step-overs, back-heels and dummies galore were all part of his samba magic show. His goal, City’s third, was both well-taken and well-deserved.

City’s favourite son Shaun Wright-Phillips made it four with a sublime and fierce shot from an acute angle and substitutes Ched Evans and Gelson Fernandes completed the rout.

It wasn’t that the visitors were poor. It was the fact that City was simply spellbinding. All the different elements came together: new signings Robinho, Jo and Zabaleta were much more settled and former youth stars Wright-Phillips and Ireland were both influential and threatening in creating opportunities and taking chances. Vincent Kompany played superbly in the centre, going about his job with timely tackles and precision through balls with style and ease.

At the final whistle, City fans rose to their feet and met the 11 players with a thunderous and rapturous ovation. The 6-0 score-line was certainly warranted and sent out a clear signal of intent both to the Premier League and to the new chairman, Khaldoon Al Mubarak, who was introduced before kick-off. A new precedent has been set for the so-called Top Four and, although it is still early days, City now sit pretty in 5th position in the Premier League while their neighbours United languish in 15th. With performances like this, it surely won’t be long before critics and Hughes’ fellow managers alike have to start taking City seriously as a potential threat to the Champions League places.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Chelsea crash City's party in clash of the cash

It had been billed as the ‘clash of the cash’ with Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea travelling to Manchester to play the team that everybody’s talking about- City. With new owners and a superstar new player, in the shape of £32.5 million man Robinho, the sell-out ground was well and truly buzzing with anticipation before kick off.
After 13 minutes City fans were in dreamland. A superb Robinho free-kick whistled straight past the stranded Petr Cech to give City the lead. The new star man, who Scolari had desperately wanted at Stamford Bridge, had showed the visitors exactly what they have missed out on, pointing deliriously at the City crest on his sky blue shirt. It was definitely Braziliant.
The lead was cancelled out almost immediately with Ricardo Carvalho slamming home from a Joe Cole corner. With the match poised at 1-1, both teams had chances to go ahead, with Stephen Ireland’s shot fizzing over the crossbar and Malouda’s header crashing against the bar. But after the break Chelsea stormed into the lead with a superbly-taken goal from Frank Lampard and a classic third by former City player Nicolas Anelka sealing all three points for the Londoners. A late sending off for John Terry gave City hope, but the comeback goal never came, and it was Abramovich who left the happier owner.
Despite the 3-1 score-line, there were plenty of positives to encourage City- new man Robinho for a start. He looks a class act, with plenty of dinks and trickery, as well as tracking back and helping out when required. He was linking up well with Wright-Phillips, and together they will terrorise many Premier League defences and prove to be priceless for Mark Hughes. Another City debutant, Pablo Zabaleta, looked more nervous. He made quite a few mistakes but later on committed a superb tackle and charged up field with the ball. But the Argentinian has yet to really train with City, he will certainly be one to watch.
People who went to Eastlands yesterday expecting City to sweep aside the team that nearly won the Champions’ League purely because of the signing of Robinho need a reality check. Rome wasn’t built in a day- and Chelsea were indeed worthy winners and will probably go on to win the league this season on that form. But the ingredients are clearly there for City to build on and up next is Europe- a UEFA Cup first round trip to AC Omonia in Cyprus. The next Premier League tie comes just three days afterwards, with City facing Harry Redknapp’s Portsmouth at home.
A lot of talk has been made in the press regarding City’s Arab takeover- with a lot of negative reaction. People doubting the major cash injection, thinking that the money will change the face of football forever. The reality is that, in the modern age of football, billions are needed for a club to achieve success. To improve a club’s infrastructure and to buy better players. The vast majority of opposition fans that I have spoke to are happy for City and are excited for the times that lie ahead in the Premier League.
Generally, the fans who are bemoaning the takeover are merely disheartened and jealous that Sulaiman Al-Fahim didn’t choose their team to invest in, but are the same fans that are sick and tired of it always being the ‘Core Four’ fighting it out for the title. If Hughes spends wisely during the transfer window come January, there realistically could be a fifth team in the hat for the title next season. Blue is definitely the colour- but this time it’s the sky blue of Manchester.

Friday, 5 September 2008


Have a read of this article by fellow media lady Gabby Logan. Comparing Newcastle United’s current predicament to City, it makes for an interesting read...

Yes Robinho has signed for Manchester City for £32.5 million. However, it appeared the 24-year-old's deadline day move had still to sink in when he said: "On the last day, Chelsea made a great proposal and I accepted."

To this a reporter replied: "You mean Manchester, right?" "Yeah, Manchester, sorry!" answered Robinho.

Manchester? Manchester City more like. A great start there from the Brazilian...

FootballFancast.com- takeover article

Football FanCast columnist Emily Brobyn reflects on events at her beloved Manchester City.
Transfer deadline day. A frantic, hectic, nervy 24 hours in football. Where deals can be lost, or thrashed out right up until the chimes of Big Ben at midnight. It is where thousands of fans are glued to their televisions for minute-by-minute dramatic coverage to see the incomings and outgoings at their respective clubs. But this transfer window was different. Not only did the transfer deadline day throw up a couple of huge deals player-wise, it also resulted in Manchester City been transferred themselves. After the constant rumour-mongering and uncertainty surrounding the club, Monday 1st September turned out to be the day that changed the face of football forever.

It had already been an incredible few days for City. The club progressed through to the UEFA Cup proper thanks to a last minute own goal from FC Midtjylland’s Danny Califf and two superb saves from England hopeful Joe Hart. On the same day it had been confirmed that former City midfielder Shaun Wright-Phillips was heading back to the Blue half of Manchester in a deal worth £10 million. Add to that the superb 3-0 victory on Sunday against Sunderland, with ‘new’ signing Wright-Phillips netting two and all City fans were feeling confident and excited about the season ahead, despite the uncertainty regarding Dr Shinawatra’s future.

So imagine the feeling being a City fan waking up to the news on Monday morning regarding an Arab takeover. Sky Sports News was, as usual, all over the story that, if it was to be true, would make City the richest club in the world. I think most Blues were just expecting a bit of a last minute dabble in the transfer market by Mark Hughes in an attempt to lure a striker to the club. Instead they got Dr Sulaiman Al Fahim, the head figure of the Abu Dhabi United Group for Development (ADUD), buying out Shinawatra for £200 million.

Too good to be true? That’s exactly what I thought. But it wasn’t. Before long, Al Fahim was speaking to the press, stating his ambitions for City. How he wanted to turn City into the top force in the Premier League. This year, a top four finish. Next year: winning the League. By 2011, the Champions League would be City’s. The vast majority of football fans would be revelling and sniggering at these remarks. Before you do, take a look at Al Fahim’s bank statements.

£460 billion. Roman Abramovich’s wealth is estimated at £12 billion. Take a minute to think about how Abramovich’s arrival at Chelsea shook the football world. How straight away the Russian started to play fantasy football by throwing millions at Jose Mourinho, giving him an unlimited pot of gold to play with. Many rival fans were shocked as football was turned completely on its head. Nobody had seen that kind of money in football before as Chelsea’s new found status sent them to the summit of the Premier League. It wasn’t long before the trophies followed.

That was achieved with Abramovich’s £12 billion fortune. Think about that compared with £460 billion. Scary isn’t it. Al Fahim, along with Hughes, made an immediate impact by securing the biggest shock signing for years- a deadline day last-minute deal with Brazilian Robinho for a British transfer record of £32.5 million. The Arab Sheikh described the signing as a ‘Ramadan welcome present’. City fans, along with any football fans, were aghast and in shock. The signing showed that Al Fahim means business. Next on his hit-list are the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Fernando Torres and even Cristiano Ronaldo. Paying £135 million wouldn’t be a problem for the Portuguese World Footballer of the Year. It’s loose change to him. Personally, I wouldn’t want him anywhere near the club, but that’s beside the point.

Al Fahim’s arrival has inevitably sent shockwaves through football. The reaction from non-City fans has been mostly resentment and panic. Nobody can quite believe the extent of the new owner’s riches and his much-publicised plans. As for City fans; I for one am still attempting to take it all in. I had a season ticket in the Second Division with City. I’ve been with them through the limited highs and devastating lows. After the home leg of the FC Midtjylland game I will admit that I was beginning to panic about our circumstances in the boardroom. Now I feel like I am dreaming. Every day this week I have pinched myself and read all the headlines in a daze.

But it’s real and it’s happening to Manchester City. Be happy for the Blues, who are always viewed as the eternal under-achievers, the circus act of football. The revolving managerial door is always swinging at Eastlands and the club always seems to be reaching the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Admittedly, Al Fahim looked at Newcastle, Arsenal and Liverpool, but he chose City. Fortune favours the brave. It’s about time that City fans had something to smile about. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but City are in the UEFA Cup with a squad oozing with potential and quality. The likes of Zabeleta, Jo, Kompany, Robinho and Wright-Phillips will prove to be valuable signings along with younger talent like Hart, Richards, Johnson and Ireland. Previous signings like Elano and Petrov should continue to thrive in midfield and, with a rumoured 18 new faces arriving in January, other football fans and managers should rightly feel nervous.

Isn’t it about time a new face broke into the top four? It was inevitable that one day Middle Eastern money would infiltrate the Premier League and it remains to be seen just how much it will influence football. Yes players should play with pride and passion for their shirts and not just for the amount of DB9’s and R8’s they have parked in their driveway, but that’s the way football is nowadays. It’s a business. Every fan wants success for their club and money is needed to drive that success by purchasing top quality players and improving infrastructure and marketing within the club. Along with City’s famous youth academy, this money could prove to turn Hughes’ men into a lethal driving force within the beautiful game. As always, City fans like me are holding on tight to the magic carpet ride that lies ahead, hoping for many happy Arabian nights at Middle Eastlands.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

City on cloud nine after dream week at Middle-Eastlands

If I was to say that it has been an incredible week in the history of Manchester City, it would be a huge understatement. Nobody can quite believe the remarkable events that have occurred lately, transforming City from a somewhat apprehensive club to potentially the richest team on the planet.

After sealing the dream return of Shaun Wright-Phillips to the Sky Blues on Thursday for a reputed £10 million, City then went on to come back from the brink of UEFA Cup heartache to progress through on penalties, largely thanks to Joe Hart’s impressive two saves. Admittedly, Mark Hughes’ men had been largely undeserved of their place in the UEFA Cup following two dire performances over the couple of legs, but sometimes a bit of luck is all you need and Danny Califf’s own goal gifted City the opportunity of extra time and a penalty shoot out.

A trip to the Stadium of Light on Sunday turned out to be an amazing second debut for Wright-Phillips, with the 26 year old scoring two goals and Stephen Ireland adding a third in what proved to be a comfortable away victory for City. It was a convincing display from the vistors, with Kompany continuing to impress and Wright-Phillips and Jo developing an exciting relationship upfront. The result put City into third spot in the Premier League.

Then, along came Monday 1st September. The day that has completely changed the face and future of the blue half of Manchester. Dr Sulaiman Al Fahim, the head figure of the Abu Dhabi United Group for Development (ADUD) has been rumoured to purchase Thaksin Shinawatra’s stake in the club, immediately promising to turn City into the ‘biggest club in the Premier League’. The takeover was just the start, with City promptly putting deadline day bids in for Robinho, Dimitar Berbatov, David Villa and Mario Gomez. As midnight drew ever-closer, the announcement came from Middle-Eastlands- that Robinho had signed for the club in a four-year deal worth £32.5 million from Real Madrid. Jaw-dropping. Unbelieveable. Surreal.

What actually is going on? City outbidding Mr Abramovich? Robinho at City? The richest club in the world? The red neighbours and other football fans reacting with mass jealousy? Air a little on the side of caution, as football foreign sell-outs can end in clubs selling their passion and soul, but Dr Al Fahim’s ambitions and fortunes are set to eclipse a certain Chelski Russians. With Chelski the visitors next for City and having to face both Wright-Phillips and Robinho, it should make for a truly magnificent football spectacle. Never mind the Roman revolution- City fans are ready for the many joyful Arabian nights ahead of them.

Sunday, 31 August 2008


What an incredible week it has been at Manchester City. The fantastic re-signing of Shaun Wright-Phillips has been met with a wonderful reaction from Blues everywhere, who can’t believe that he has finally come home. I understand why Shaun left but I can’t help but think that he was a bit mis-advised about the Chelsea move and would have perhaps suited a move to Arsenal more.

Anyway, their loss is most certainly our gain and I knew that he would settle back into life at City straight away. I just wasn’t expecting it to be so quickly! The two goals at Sunderland in the 3-0 victory will have other managers seething with jealous at just how good a signing Shaun is. The quote from in the week’s media is so endearing and emotional: “Dad, I just want to go back to City”. He’s now back where he belongs, and it’s onwards and upwards for Mark Hughes’ men.

The UEFA Cup second round qualifying second leg was just typical City. We played abysmally for the vast majority of the 90 minutes, and were handed a HUGE lifeline to continue through into extra time and, inevitably, penalties. You could tell that Joe Hart was relishing the situation, and he just proved how much of an asset he could be to Capello’s England. He is the best young goalkeeper around at the moment and will prove to be hugely important to City this season, in the Cups, Europe and the Premier League. Up next for City in the first round proper of the UEFA Cup are Cypriot team AC Omonia. The draw has been kind to the Blues but, like FC M

Mark Hughes has also added two more signings to his squad before the transfer deadline. Glauber Berti, a Brazilian defender, has signed a one year deal at Eastlands from FC Nuremburg. Argentinian Paulo Zabaleta has signed a 5 year deal from Espanyol. Obviously the signings of two defenders will put further question marks on the future of Vedran Corluka, and whether he will be heading to Tottenham Hotspur at the close of business tomorrow. Lets hope not.

The results of my latest poll are in. I asked if you still want Thaksin Shinawatra as chairman of Manchester City F.C. A definitive 71% of you who voted said yes. The new poll is now up and running so get voting!

Keep the Blue faith,


Thursday, 28 August 2008

Welcome Home Shaun


It has been confirmed that Shaun Wright-Phillips has signed for City in a four-year deal. Wright-Phillips left City in 2005 in a move to Chelsea for £21 million, but has now returned to Eastlands for a fee rumoured to be around £10 million in a transfer that has delighted the vast majority of City fans. Welcome home Shaun!

Sunday, 24 August 2008

FootballFanCast.com- Maine Road Finale article

Emily Brobyn's ‘One Moment In Time' is a nostalgic look back at events and occasions and City's past that will no doubt resurrect many impassioned memories for most City fans. Written from her personal point of view, she is hoping that by reliving these moments, whether they were good or bad will prove to be an enjoyable read for all.

As the finishing line was emerging in sight in the 2002/03 season, so was our farewell to Maine Road. I really didn't want to say goodbye and move to Eastlands- but I kept convincing myself that it would be beneficial all round. With a potential 46,000 capacity, it was a must for allowing more City fans to watch their beloved Blues. Plus the ground would be amongst the elite in the country, thus meaning it would be chosen for other sporting events and concerts.But the general feeling within Maine Road was one of sadness and dismay. There was no guarantee of an atmosphere within Eastlands, nobody who renewed their season ticket was sure of whereabouts they would actually be sat and where to park around the ground was a worry. I didn't like the idea that we would be split up from the people around us at Maine Road that we had got to know and developed banter with. Despite all this, City had to move with the times and up roots- for better or for worse.

I really didn't want the season to end. It seemed so long ago since plans had been published regarding moving to Eastlands and I think that many Blues thought it was merely a pipe dream, something that would never happen. Yet here it was upon us. The finale. The last ever 90 minutes of professional football at Maine Road.

I was so upset. Like every City fan I had so many memories of Maine Road; from my first ever match against Sheffield Wednesday to running on the pitch in consecutive seasons when Joe Royle was our manager. The mass fighting when Chelsea and Millwall came to town. The pain of enduring relegation and the pleasure of achieving promotion. The cherished memory of being a mascot and leading my team out in front of a capacity crowd and the even more cherished memory of beating United 3-1 with two goals from Goater.

My personal living memory of course was limited to the mid-nineties and onwards, but thousands of City fans would have their own unique memories of games before this. Other memories link up with match days of course, like the pre-match traditional pint in the Beehive, and this only added to the nostalgia.

May 11th 2003 arrived, and my cousin Sarah and I prepared for the emotional roller-coaster that was ahead of us. I put my hair in pigtails with bright blue streaks and glitter all over my face. Dressed in City's once-famous laser blue home shirt, I wrapped a huge City blue Union Jack around me and we began our final car journey to the ground.

The Beehive car park was full so I parked my car on a street and Sarah and I headed straight to the Beehive. The atmosphere was pensive, but people were determined to have fun and make the most of the historic day ahead. Fancy dress seemed a popular option and Maine Road memorabilia was being sold by vendors on every surrounding street corner. We stood in the sunshine outside the Beehive and I looked over at Bunty's off-license laughing to myself. The banter between the crowd outside the pub and the shop opposite had been so funny, typical of City fans, and now it would never happen again. We made our way to the ground and I savoured the moment, knowing it would never happen again.

I would love to be able to try and express what the atmosphere inside our ground was like that day. Only 34, 957 people will ever truly know that. I wouldn't do it justice even if I tried. It was so emotional and tears streamed down my face as both teams took to the pitch among a sky filled with blue and white tickertape and smoke.

In true City style, we lost. Michael Svensson for Southampton scored the only goal of the game- the last goal ever at Maine Road. The result was irrelevant, although a win would have been a perfect send-off. But in a way the defeat just made me laugh- City never play by the rules, they always ad-lib to the script. They are unique, and that's why we love them.

The only thing that the result did confirm however, was the one thing every City fan had been hoping for- that elusive place in the UEFA Cup via the Fair Play league. We hadn't finished top, but league standings meant that we was high enough in the pecking order to qualify for a place in Europe by default.

Post-match entertainment had been lined up by City chiefs, with the Doves and Badly Drawn Boy (apparently Oasis were unavailable) topping the bill. The players did a farewell lap around the pitch and the music blasted out, with the bands playing on a stage that had been assembled on the pitch.

Cannons loaded with more tickertape and confetti shot into the air and showered onto each and every fan. Even the travelling Southampton fans had stayed to enjoy the spectacle- and fireworks fizzed and exploded over the ground. By this time I was sobbing uncontrollably, and when the party came to an end I didn't want to leave. Hundreds of people joined me as I sat and glanced around the emptying stadium. It was all over far too quickly- the end of an era.

It was a time for reflection and I thought about what my favourite Maine Road memory was. I think I would have to say beating United 3-1 stood out for me. The atmosphere in the ground that day was only beaten for me by Wembley, and the result itself was amazing. I would miss the banter between the stands during a dull game, the bell lady, the strange plastic seagull on the Kippax, the ‘Mr Banks' announcements and the ‘Gene Kelly' eyesore stands. Yes the ground looked like a mismatched stadium built from a Meccano set, but the atmosphere and sense of community was really something to treasure. It had been emotional.

Many people used to say that gypsies had put a curse on Maine Road and that's why we had such bad luck. I think that's rubbish. Perhaps they did curse our ground, but City have always been unpredictable and that will never change. A change of stadium wouldn't change that, especially after hearing so many stories about the builders burying United shirts into the foundations of Eastlands. Trying to plant their own voodoo curse on City. Only time would tell whether it worked or not, as I bid farewell to what I saw as my own theatre of dreams.

I went to bed that night and, as I closed my bedroom curtains, I noticed the clear sky was littered with millions of stars. Glittery dots splashed against a black canvas. There alongside them was the moon, and that night I swear it was a pale shade of blue. Because you never do, do you?

It has been confirmed that Micah Richards has been released from hospital after the dramatic injury he sustained on the pitch today during the team’s 3-0 victory over West Ham. Richards was unconscious for eight minutes on the pitch before being stretchered off and rushed to hospital following a clash of heads with team-mate Tal Ben Haim. It is yet to be confirmed whether he will participate in City’s next game against FC Midtjylland.