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.