Wednesday, 25 February 2009

So, here we are, almost into March 2009 and where are we? Well at the moment City are occupying 10th spot in the Premier League after earning a draw at Anfield on Sunday. I think everybody anticipated a defeat at the hands of Liverpool, but without their influential captain Steven Gerrard, I had a sneaky feeling the Blues could get something out of the game. In fact, at one point I thought we would go on to win it.

But no, it wasn’t to be. Are City incapable of defending a lead? Will we ever score from set pieces? Will Glauber Berti ever play a game for City? Am I asking too many questions? Perhaps so but then again I am inquisitive.


Mark Hughes has today spoken out about the impact that Craig Bellamy has had on the team since his arrival in the January transfer window. I cannot lie, I really wasn’t Bellamy’s biggest fan before he signed for us, but I have to commend him. He certainly has made an impression on the team and fans alike: his pace and ability are of a very high standard and he looks hungry. I will let Hughes do the talking for now:

“I needed to bring in a guy that had drive and personality and outstanding pace, which would give us a threat that we didn't have before Craig came.

"The fact that he is able to stretch teams and give them a problem with his pace and ability on the ball, that enables other players in our team to have more space."

Hughes also gives a nod to the impact that Bellamy will have on the much-discussed dressing room ‘situation’ at City:

"I think it is important to have players who have that will and that mentality and certainly Craig has that in abundance

"I think it's good for the dressing room. As they gel as a group, because it's still very early, once they get three or four games together, I think you will see that mentality come to the fore even more."


I will also give a mention to the upcoming game tomorrow: the second leg of our knock-out UEFA Cup home tie against FC Copenhagen. With the tie evenly poised at 2-2, it was vital that City scored the two away goals, and realistically should have brought a win back to Eastlands with them. Stephen Ireland’s strike after conceding was a very welcome surprise, but it was just a disappointment to concede late on in the game. However, I expected a lot more from Copenhagen, and if City continue to play in the same vein as Thursday and Sunday at Anfield, with the same gritty midfield…well, I don’t want to curse it by saying! But it could bode well to progressing further in the competition.


If you have any opinion on the work that I do, whether it be good or bad, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me. I’m on facebook and my email address is above. Also, I haven’t written for King of the Kippax for a while…I will be back with a bang in next month’s addition so get buying your copies mid-March!

Keep the blue faith,

Monday, 23 February 2009


Here's a little bit of a laugh for you. The person above, in case you have never seen him, is Brazilian 'star' Glauber Berti. He actually allegedly plays for City yet has never made a first-team appearance for the club. The picture of Berti was taken in a Manchester club/bar where he was inevitably spending the thousands of pounds he 'earns' a week. This is the description of Berti as written on the official City site, ...
"Formerly of Atl├ętico Mineiro, Palmeiras and FC Nuremburg, Glauber Leandro Honorato Berti joined City on a one-year deal after leaving the Bundesliga in August 2008 and can play either as a central defender or a left back.

"Berti has one cap for the Brazilian national side, which he earned in a 3-0 win over Guatemala in 2005, but due to his family background he acquired Italian citizenship in 2006.

"He is yet to make his first appearance for City, but he has featured on the bench on several occasions."
Comedy or just plain stupid? YOU decide.

United's rivals City earn draw to dent Liverpool's title hopes

Liverpool's hopes of winning the Premier League title were dealt a huge blow after stumbling to a 1-1 draw against Manchester City at Anfield.

City took the lead after the break when Craig Bellamy's shot took an influential deflection off Alvaro Arbeloa.

After controlling possession in the first half, under-par Liverpool equalised through Dirk Kuyt to set up a grandstand finish.

Shay Given was forced to make a superb reaction save to a Yossi Benayoun effort late on but City left Anfield with a well-deserved point, leaving Rafa Benitez's men seven points adrift of Manchester United.

The telling statistic of six draws at home will prove vital in piecing together where Liverpool's title challenge went wrong, but without the injured skipper Steven Gerrard, the home side didn't look as convincing and threatening.

In fact, despite the dominance of Liverpool in the first half, City's tactics nearly proved to be a winning formula. Hughes played Nigel De Jong, Vincent Kompany and Pablo Zabaleta in midfield, providing the tenacity and grit that has been lacking previously. This allowed Stephen Ireland, Robinho and the lively Bellamy to venture forward and City were unlucky not to take all three points back to Eastlands.

The best chance of the first half fell to Ireland. His pass to Robinho allowed the Brazilian to venture forward, providing a perfectly timed ball to Ireland whose sidefooted his shot tamely at Jose Reina.

The home side had half-chances that were scuppered by Albert Riera and Benayoun but were left stunned when City took the lead early in the second half. Robinho, whose form has been indifferent of late, passed to Kompany who in turn set up Bellamy. His shot was deflected past Reina off Arbeloa to give City an unexpected lead.

Anfield was stunned into silence as the home fans watched their title dreams slip out of their grasp. But Liverpool rallied and pushed for a leveller and, once Kuyt had netted, City fans faced a nervy finish. But, despite all City's defensive frailties this season, Hughes' side played out the 90 minutes for a draw.

Despite City's abysmal away form, they showed character and purpose against a Liverpool side that lacked leadership and creativity. The absence of Gerrard was significant, illustrating just how important a player he is for Benitez's side. Robinho looked happier, suggesting that he relishes playing in a 'big occasion' game, but was substituted late on. The midfield presence of both De Jong and Kompany proved crucial in City earning a point, and they will now look to the UEFA Cup, with the second leg against FC Copenhagen at Eastlands on Thursday night. Benitez will be left wondering if Liverpool's title challenge can be salvaged- and when Gerrard will be fit again.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009 Hughes' future article


Football FanCast columnist Emily Brobyn feels it is a matter of when, not if, Mark Hughes leaves Manchester City.

The news of Luis Felipe Scolari's impromptu sacking from Chelsea sent shockwaves around the football world. Scolari lasted a mere seven months as Chelsea's hopes of securing their first title since the 2005/06 season drifted into the distance. Is this deserved? Did he have long enough in the role at Chelsea or have Roman Abramovich and Peter Kenyon sold the Brazilian manager short, despite his £7.5 million pay-off?

But Scolari isn't the only victim of power-mad chairmen who see fit to hire and fire managers who have barely decorated their offices after moving in. Tony Adams was only in charge at Portsmouth for 16 games, after being installed as a permanent replacement for Harry Redknapp, before being shown the door by chairman Peter Storrie. Paul Ince was another manager who was dismissed after a run of poor results, having only been in charge at Blackburn Rovers for four months.

Perhaps the catalyst for this unsavoury trend was the example of Sven Goran Eriksson at Manchester City. The former England manager was an unexpected answer to City's vacancy back in June 2007 and made an immediate impact, guiding the Blues to the top of the Premier League. But Eriksson was encouraged to join City through former chairman Thaksin Shinawatra, whose promises of a substantial war-chest failed to materialise much to the shock of the Swede. It is alleged that Eriksson knew he would be unemployed by the end of the season and that this contributed to City's appalling form during the second half of the season. It is also speculated that City's monstrous 8-1 defeat at the hands of Middlesbrough on the final day of the 2007/08 season was a direct protest by the players at the imminent departure of Eriksson.

Mark Hughes arrived at City in the summer of 2008 in a whirlwind of flashbulbs and, at the time, hope. Many City fans were still resentful over Eriksson's departure and remained unconvinced over the Welshman's appointment. Despite Hughes' record as a manager, he was somewhat tainted by his links for former club and City's arch rivals, Manchester United. Then, along came the money...

There is no doubt that the minute the billions arrived at Eastlands, the job at hand for Hughes increased in expectancy. Sheikh Mansour and Dr Sulaiman Al-Fahim reassured the Welshman that his job was not being negotiated and wasn't at stake, as superstar names and world marketing strategies were being discussed in City's boardroom. At that time, the season was a hopeful, optimistic one for the blue half of Manchester. The silky samba skills of Robinho had been delivered by the Sheikhs in a frenzied last-minute deadline day as a signal of their intent at turning City from football's ugly ducklings to an enviable force strong enough to penetrate the ‘top four'.

That was the intention. For some reason or another, it has failed to materialise. Jo and Tal Ben-Haim, two signings that, contrary to popular belief, weren't sought after by Hughes, have since gone out on loan and have been quick to point the blame in the direction of the City manager. It comes as no surprise that these two players were implicated as being ringleaders in the dressing room revolts that have become a regular occurrence at Eastlands, with an alleged 10 players voicing their displeasure at everything from Hughes' training methods to his lack of relationships and correspondence with players.

‘Player power' is certainly not a thing that should be encouraged. No one player, or a collective, should be bigger than the club. But if the manager is failing to motivate the players (the ridiculous cheques that they pick up every week should be motivation enough), is getting the tactics wrong and is fighting a battle of approval against the terraces, then how long should he be given to attempt to turn the club's fortunes around? This season is on the verge of being a waste; it is only because the Premier League is so close that City could either be challenging for Europe of fighting relegation. Which is it to be? Hughes has a fearful fixture list ahead of him, with away trips to Liverpool, West Ham and a UEFA Cup tie against Danish champions FC Copenhagen approaching. It is well-known how disastrous City's away form is- can something be conjured up?

But should the blame lie solely with Mark Hughes, or with the revolting players who remain intent of ousting him out of his position? These selection of players are aware that they are playing for the World's Richest Club, that they still pick up ludicrous sums of money whether they play superb or diabolical and many of them have inflated egos that make them difficult to deal with. Being cocky or difficult makes Hughes' job harder, but other managers have to deal with it. How about Alex Ferguson and Ronaldo? Ferguson has come across difficult players before- and has always emerged triumphant. Martin O'Neill and Phil Brown both have superb reputations. It is the sign of a good manager that they are able to deal with troublemakers appropriately and perhaps Hughes should learn to exert the power that he has at his disposal- before it's too late.

The off-the-pitch circumstances that have been reported haven't made life any easier at Eastlands. The allegations put towards both Robinho and Micah Richards, albeit in very different situations, have been unwelcome distractions. Michael Johnson, once tipped to be the next Colin Bell, is one of many City youngsters who are falling victim to a growing drinking culture at the club. Fortunately, Johnson has time on his side to get fit again after being sidelined through injury. But the temptations of drink and frivolity should his discouraged by the manager who should rule with an iron rod if necessary, especially when his reputation and job is at stake.

I personally believe that the job has become far too big for Hughes. I have been impressed by his signings, with Vincent Kompany and Pablo Zabaleta proving to be revelations. Shay Given is a proven, consistent figure between the goalposts and every City fan was grateful to see Shaun Wright-Phillips return to the club. But if he cannot communicate, encourage and control the dressing room, then what hope is there? Several high-profile players are alleged to be involved in the mutiny against Hughes, with two of them displaying just how capable they are of playing to their potential for their country last week. If Hughes doesn't have the management skills required for the task at hand, then why is he still in that position? Why is Mark Bowen conducting a lot of the activities? If players are alleged to be sabotaging performances as public protests against the manager, why don't fans voice their feelings?

A good example of Hughes' inexperience was demonstrated during his time as manager of his own country, Wales. His side won the first four games during the qualifying campaign for Euro 2004 and needed just one win, against Serbia-Montenegro. Hughes changed the tactics to playing just one striker upfront, and as a result, Wales failed to qualify. Perhaps it was Hughes being over-cautious, but many managers would have pushed on for the win and stuck with tactics that had already proven to be a winning formula.

Many City fans still remain hopeful that the season can finish positively and that Hughes can bring stability and consistency to the club. However, others fear for the future of the club under Hughes' guidance, despite the vast wealth at his disposal. Sven was given four months before he was informed of his future, even though he had done tremendously well for City. How long are City's new owners prepared to waste on finding out that Hughes is a liability with no hope of any longevity? Rumours are mounting that, if City go out of the UEFA Cup at the hands of FC Copenhagen, Hughes' time will be up and an interim manager will be drafted in until the end of the season. Will the players pull their finger out or continue their campaign against the Welshman? Or will it ultimately be Hughes' fault for proving to be severely lacking in the most vital areas of football management?

Monday, 9 February 2009


Sparkling debut for Shay as Bellamy gives Boro the Blues
Debutante goalkeeper Shay Given pulled off a string of saves to help guide Manchester City to a 1-0 victory over troubled side Middlesbrough.

The Irishman, signed from Newcastle United for £8 million, denied Afonso Alves four times to keep his first clean sheet for the Eastlands outfit.

Craig Bellamy fired the home side into the lead with a low 20 yard shot on 50 minutes after a spell of persistent and stubborn pressure from City.

The result leaves Gareth Southgate's side joint bottom of the Premier League with City moving to 9th position towards Europe.

The Blues started the brightest and Bellamy went close straight away following Stephen Ireland's through ball.

But the game lost any spark and energy during the first half hour with both sides surrendering possession far too easily and lacking in ideas and creativity.

Given was called into action on the half-hour mark, producing an impressive shot-stopping save from Alves from six yards out.

Bellamy went close again following a deflected pass from Shaun Wright-Phillips, but was denied by Boro goalkeeper Brad Jones.

At the other end Given notched up another fine save, reacting well to Alves' tricky 20 yard effort.

But City went closest in the first half to taking the lead. Wayne Bridge's cross into the area was met by Ireland, whose strong header beat Jones and smashed against the bar.

Despite Alves' efforts, City edged possession and on 50 minutes Bellamy's powerful shot was delivered deep into the bottom left corner of the net. Bellamy had always posed the biggest threat for City and was deserved of getting onto the score sheet.

Alves still had a say in the game, striking an effort that had Given at full stretch to deny the Brazilian yet again.

With Given in such fine form, Boro found it impossible to penetrate City's goal, despite the sloppy errors made by Vincent Kompany and Micah Richards. City recorded their third win in four games and pushed Southgate's side further into the relegation mire.

The game wasn't pretty and it was far from entertaining in huge spells, with Robinho going missing for the majority of the match, eventually being substituted for the lively Felipe Caicedo. But it is another three points towards safety for Mark Hughes' side, and potentially Europe judging by how close the Premier League table is this season. Three points have never been so vital, what with City facing a run of difficult and testing away days to Portsmouth, FC Copenhagen and Liverpool coming up.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Can I Have A Word?
Well the drama is finally over until the summer...the January transfer window is officially closed. Personally I am satisfied with the signings that Mark Hughes has made. I will admit that I was quite sceptical about Craig Bellamy, but his debut goal against Newcastle United was well-taken and he looks hungry and keen to prove himself despite his arrogance. The rumoured £14 million price tag is inflated, but that's to be expected now that City have the 'Richest Club in the World' label, although this isn't necessarily right.
Midfielder Nigel De Jong has been signed for £17 million to provide some bulk and weight in the centre of the pitch and experienced goalkeeper Shay Given is City's final signing of the window. I think the signings are a step in the right direction, impressive and exactly the type of players that we needed. Jo has gone to Everton on loan and that's a good move for him following a disappointing few months at City.
The Kaka saga was the talking point of the window. I have previously posted on here saying that £107 million for one player was stupid money. I rate Kaka as one of the best players in the world but I just didn't think he was right for City at the moment. We need to build stability and get the right players in before we can throw in a major star like Kaka.
The results of my last vote are now in. I asked who you thought had been City's best player of the season so far and Vincent Kompany just edged out Stephen Ireland. The new poll is now open so get voting!
Keep the blue faith as always,
Lacklustre Manchester City sunk by 10-men Potters
A goal from James Beattie was enough to give Stoke City a 1-0 victory over Manchester City, despite having Rory Delap sent off in the first half.

Delap was shown the red card following a tackle with Shaun Wright-Phillips, but Beattie headed the home side ahead from a Matthew Etherington cross just before the break.

Mark Hughes' blues dominated possession but couldn't break down the Stoke defence, having only one shot registered on target.

The visitors went into the game on the back of a two game winning streak, with Tony Pulis' side suffering a dire run of form.

The Eastlands outfit started brightly with efforts from Robinho and Stephen Ireland looking encouraging.

As always, Stoke's main threat came from Delap's renowned long throws into the penalty area, with Glenn Whelan and Ryan Shawcross being troublesome in the box but failing to really test Joe Hart.

The home side went down to 10 men on 36 minutes, after a crunch tackle with Wright-Phillips produced a rash reaction from Delap, with the player taking an unnecessary swipe at the ball. The referee instantly flashed the red card to Delap, who had been Stoke's main form of attack.
Immediately Manchester City bossed possession to a chorus of boos from the Britannia stadium, with many fans feeling that Wright-Phillips was just as to blame in the incident as Delap.

But just as the game looked to be swinging into Manchester City's favour, Etherington's deep ball into the box met Beattie, who outjumped Wayne Bridge to head the ball past Hart and into the net. The crucial goal came on the brink of half time and against the run of play.

The second half saw Hughes' men continue to control and maintain possession, but really struggle to have any form of impact in the final third of play, with Stoke's 10 men remaining resolute. Robinho's early effort was harmless and Ireland failed to connect a flying header to substitute Elano's cross-come-shot.

It was a testiment to Stoke's defending that their one goal lead remained intact despite the intense period of pressure from Manchester City, but the blues were hugely disappointing despite their mega-money line up. The impressive Pablo Zabaleta was sacrificed for the flair of Elano as the blues searched desperately for a winner.

But in all fairness the equaliser never looked likely and Pulis' side were worthy winners of a match that was both frustrating and ill-tempered. The cauldron of atmosphere seemed to make up for Delap's sending off and the win meant that Stoke moved out of the relegation zone, whereas City slipped to 10th in the Premier League.