Tuesday, 31 March 2009

FootballFanCast.com- Robinho article

On August 31st 2008 football fans, managers and players were all waking up with anticipation and excitement. Transfer deadline day always has the power to give the football world some shocks and shake-ups- and this was to be no different.

In fact, it proved to be a historic day. Fans of Manchester City were left pinching themselves as their club, struggling for finances and shrouded with controversy, due to their allegedly-corrupt chairman at the time Thaksin Shinawatra, not only became the wealthiest club in the world, but also broke the British transfer record by signing Brazilian Robinho for £32.5 million.

Stunned, bemused, confused, excited were just a few of the adjectives used during that day, along with a plethora of profanities. It was true. A crowd of City fans turned up at Eastlands chanting ‘we’ve got Robinho’ in a stunned, giddy manner. Robinho was pictured meeting Mark Hughes for the first time in an airport, then went on to declare just how happy he was about signing for Chelsea in his first press conference as a Manchester City player- a great way to endear yourself to the City faithful.


But didn’t he endear himself to them. The samba star scored on his debut with a sublime free kick during City’s 2-1 home defeat ironically against Chelsea. A hat-trick against Stoke City and a jaw-dropping goal against Arsenal, not to mention assists all over the park and Robinho was flying. His quirky persona off-the-pitch was winning him more fans and his hefty price-tag was looking a small price to pay for such an influential and flamboyant player. He was even getting on the bus and mingling with the public to go on shopping trips in his spare time. Robinho was playing for Manchester City, in the Premier League, and didn’t everybody know it.

What has happened? Where has Robinho’s form gone? He hasn’t scored a goal since before Christmas and strangely, he seems to be playing with a severe lack of confidence- his penalty against Sunderland at Eastlands proved that. It is widely-documented that when City play away Robinho tends to go missing- it’s as if City are playing with 10 men.

The Brazilian’s off the pitch dramas haven’t gone amiss either. The drama surrounding his sudden disappearance from City’s training camp in Tenerife in January was quickly followed by allegations of rape that were strongly refuted. Even his fellow country-man Pele has recently accused Robinho of taking drugs whilst back at home in Brazil, although Pele has been quick to stress that his quotes were taken out of context.


A player of Robinho’s calibre and stature will always be thrust into the media spotlight, but he has endured a lot of unfair and harsh criticism. The 24 year-old is still in his first season in the Premier League and is among the top scorers. His goals have proved to be vital for City and without them the club would undoubtedly find themselves in a perilous situation. He links up consistently well with Shaun Wright-Phillips and Stephen Ireland, supplying a dangerous attack for City and clearly relishes playing in the same line-up as Elano. The beauty of Robinho is that he is the kind of player that is capable of producing moments of magic that can turn a game on its head and mean the difference between gaining a point and taking all three.

With that in mind, have the media treated Robinho unfairly? He is quite a difficult player to accommodate for in a team, but the vast majority of managers would quite happily bend over backwards to have his skill and threat in a side. What with Martin Petrov and Michael Johnson returning from injury soon, Hughes will be left with the unenviable decision of whether to drop Robinho until his form returns.

But that is the thing with Robinho: he is unpredictable. At the moment we don’t know which Robinho will turn up to Eastlands and whether he will continue to suffer from travel sickness. All we know is what kind of a talent he is when he is on form- he can leave opposition defenders trailing in his wake and causes opposition managers all kinds of headaches. He does struggle with the physical aspect of the game, against teams like Wigan Athletic and Bolton Wanderers, but that should improve the more he adapts to the Premier League.

The likes of Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry, Gianfranco Zola were all players with the kind of calibre that made the Premier League exciting. They were the type of players that you were thankful played in England. Robinho is no different. His transfer has been the talk of the football world all season. A lot of City fans are still baffled that Robinho has been playing in the sky blue shirt this season and he has continued to thank the fans for their loyal support, stating that they are ‘the best’.

Perhaps with a couple of seasons under his belt, Robinho will prove to be a true asset to a team, and will produce consistent displays of instrumental football. He has the potential to be a true ambassador and advertisement of what the Premier League is all about. Whether he will be playing his football at City or another club in the league remains to be seen. But with City in the UEFA Cup quarter-finals, he stills has time to prove even his most vindictive critics wrong during what has been the most eventful debut season in the Premier League.

Monday, 30 March 2009

City's UEFA Cup quarter-final second leg against Hamburg at Eastlands has now been confirmed as a sell-out. The offer of £5 for adults and £1 for juniors has attracted an unprecedented demand and the club confirmed the tie as a sell-out earlier today.

This just begs the question- where were all these fans throughout the UEFA Cup competition? Where were they against FC Midtjylland? Or at the freezing cold tie against PSG? Or at any of the away ties? Could City be possible attracting glory fans? Or people who are going to exploit the real fans by selling tickets on at a much bigger profit?

Sunday, 29 March 2009

According to reports, 19 people are believed to have died in the crowd after a wall collapsed during the Ivory Coast's 5-0 World Cup qualifying victory against Malawi.

The incident occurred at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium in Abidjan. Hundreds more people are said to be injured when the 50,000 sell-out crowd panicked during the stampede.

It's definitely been an interesting weekend for our City players on international duties.

Our skipper Richard Dunne scored for the Republic of Ireland in their 1-1 draw with Bulgaria with Shay Given playing in goal. Nedum Onuoha skippered the England under-21's in their 5-0 thumping of Norway, with Joe Hart featuring in goal for the majority of the game. Craig Bellamy captained a Wales side that lost 2-0 to Finland at the Millennium Stadium.

Elsewhere, Nigel De Jong played for a Holland team that beat Scotland 3-0.

Robinho, Elano and Felipe Caicedo all feature in tonights game, Brazil vs. Ecuador.

Valeri Bojinov and Micah Richards had earlier withdrawn from international duty due to injury worries.

Friday, 27 March 2009

‘I travelled 375 miles, from the TV studio to the terraces, to watch 45 minutes of football’

BBC Formula One’s new anchor Jake Humphrey spoke to Footy Pundette about Des Lynam, Delia Smith, Jeremy Goss and the future of his beloved club, Norwich City.

It’s the opening weekend of the 2009 Formula One Championship and the exclusive coverage of the sport has returned to the BBC. Jake is anchoring the coverage alongside the likes of Eddie Jordan and David Coulthard. Is he excited? I think so.

“I'm a huge Formula One fan. I've watched it for years and I think it's the most fascinating sport. What I love about it is that it's not just a guy driving a fast car, there's loads of tactics involved, strategies for the races and stuff.

“I think it's a sport that people watch on the BBC and I think it belongs on the BBC and I'm absolutely delighted that I'm the person who has been asked to present it.”

It’s fair to say that Jake has had a varied and colourful career so far. After suffering an academic slump in his A-Levels, a period of work experience at Rapture TV led Jake into unexpectedly becoming a television presenter.

Since his break, Jake moved to the BBC and made his name as a kids’ presenter, fronting Fame Academy, The Saturday Show and Newsround.

“I grew up watching Zoe Ball and Jamie Theakston on Live and Kicking and it was an absolute dream of mine to do Saturday morning kids’ television,” Jake says passionately. “Live television is incredibly nerve-wracking but I’ve always felt really at home in a television studio. “

“I liken being a presenter to being a swan; if you watch a swan going across a river it looks very graceful and just glides along. But if you look under the water its feet are going mad to keep it moving. It’s like that with presenting; part of the skill is to make it look easy.”


After a while, Jake decided to enquire about making the transition from children’s to sports presenting. Having become a recognised face on the BBC, Jake found that in order to become a sports presenter he would have to prove himself.

“I went to BBC Sport and told them that I wanted to do sport in the long term. I told them that I would do whatever it took to prove that I was capable of being a sports journalist. So I got an ISDN kit and travelled to League One and Two games and did basic reports for those games.

“It paid hardly anything, I’d drive to the middle of nowhere and I might do a five second report in the second half then I’d drive home. But it was that groundwork that was really important to prove to the people at BBC Sport that I didn’t just want to come here and be famous. I wanted to be a sports journalist. That’s when the opportunities came up. I’ve been very lucky."


Since joining BBC Sport, Jake has become the youngest-ever presenter to host the hat-trick of programmes Football Focus, Match of the Day and Final Score. In 2008 he presented at the Superbowl, Sports Personality of the Year, the Olympics and the European Championships. It would be easy to think that Jake would be getting carried away, but the secret to his success is to stay grounded.

“When you are at BBC Television Centre and working, this is just a job,” Jake confesses. “It’s just like being at work. It’s not glamorous; I still jump on the tube and come into work, sit in the office and write scripts.

“If the phone rings I’ll pick it up and say ‘hello BBC Sport’. The trick is to have a nice home life, stay grounded and to just remind yourself that you are just doing a job.”


Away from the cameras, Jake is a self-confessed football fanatic and supports Championship side Norwich City. He remembers the Canaries’ glory days and the team’s ventures in Europe in the early nineties fuelled Jake’s love for the game.

“Jeremy Goss’ fantastic goals ignited my love affair with Norwich,” laughs Jake. “It’s still strange that I see Motty (John Motson, BBC commentator) around and I think that’s the man who commentated on my greatest night of football ever- when Norwich beat Bayern Munich at the Olympic Stadium. I suppose at 10 years old I must have thought it was brilliant, it’s only when you get a bit older that you realise it’s not always as good as that.”

A downside to Jake’s career is that he doesn’t get to watch Norwich at Carrow Road as often as he would like to, although every now and again he makes a considerable effort to get there.

“When it was Iwan Roberts’ last ever appearance I was in Glasgow filming The Saturday Show.

“I came off air at 11am in Glasgow, got a flight to London, jumped into my car at the airport and drove all the way to Norwich. I got there for the start of the second half, so I saw Roberts’ last 45 minutes as a Norwich City player. It was well worth doing; the guy’s an absolute legend and he’s a hero of mine.

“But it’s a lovely little family-run club. I love going down to Carrow Road and watching games, it’s fantastic. It’s nice to get back among my fellow Norwich fans when I can.”


Although Jake is aware that to compete in the elite in football a club needs to have significant financial backing, he remains realistic when looking at the Canaries’ future.

“Norwich have about 20,000 season ticket holders but have got no money,” Jake states. “For a long time football has been running in an unsustainable way. I think the sport needs to re-aline itself, although I don’t know in the short-term what the answer is. We are very lucky that Delia Smith and Martin Wynn-Jones, her husband, are really loving and committed fans who think the club are fantastic.

“I think that we’re in safe hands, but it’s a really tricky predicament. Do you risk the club going into administration by buying expensive players who might get you into the Premier League? Somebody has to be the person to stump up the cash and the only way to do that is to try and find a rich person to come and back us. It’s scary.”

Back to his career and Jake is quick to recognise the figures that have helped him to the position that he is now at in his illustrious career.

“There are quite a few people that have been sources of inspiration. Just at BBC Sport alone, the first guy that asked me to do Football Focus was the editor, Steve Bolton. The first guy to give me a chance at BBC Sport was Lance Hardy, and then Niall Sloane, who is the head of Formula One and Football, he took me to the Euros and offered me Formula One. Dave Gordon, who's the head of the Olympics, asked me to go to the Olympics.

“My all-time favourite presenters would be Des Lynam and John Motson. I think Motty is an incredible professional. I just thought that Des Lynam was a consummate professional, very chilled-out and relaxed. You can always name and reel off some famous names that are inspiration, but I think for me it’s the guys that work behind the scenes at BBC Sport.”


At the tender age of 30, Jake has got a lot of mileage left yet in his career. Having been involved in so many landmark sporting events already, is there anything left for the Norwich fan to achieve?

“The London 2012 Olympics is going to be the biggest sporting event of any of our lifetimes. We should all be so delighted and honoured that the Olympics is going to be here in our capital city. I would love to be one of the presenters for that. That would be my second Olympics and hopefully I would have done a few years of Formula One by then.

“I'm just interested in having a long career and being in BBC Sport. I'd love to present Top Gear. Hopefully through Formula One I will have some involvement in it, perhaps the Star in the Car, I'd like to go on there as a guest. I'm not sure how fast I would be though that's the problem! I'd like to beat Jay Kay and stick myself at the top of the leader board!”

The Formula One season returns on the BBC this weekend. Read Jake’s BBC Formula One blog exclusively here.

This week I conducted a very special interview with former City player Jeff Whitley. Jeff's problems have been very well-documented but the interview and discussions that we had were very interesting and make for a fascinating feature article.

Thanks a lot to Jeff for his time, it was the best interview I have done so far and I have the upmost respect for him.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

It's good to see that Robinho's instrument of choice is the tambourine, much like City fan Liam Gallagher.

Here he is larking about on Barra Da Tijuna beach in Rio De Janeiro, half the world away from the home of his domestic club. He is 'preparing' for the Ecuador vs. Brazil and Brazil vs. Peru international games.

Let's hope he can make sweet music on the pitch for City when he returns.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

What is the deal with Pele? Does he have this weird grudge against Robinho or some inside knowledge or insight into the fellow Brazilian?

After saying that Robinho needed 'serious counselling and was badly advised' for coming to City back in September 2008, Pele has now come out and stated that Robinho and his country-man Ronaldo have both used recreational drugs at a party in Sao Paulo.

Robinho is said to be 'upset and disappointed' at the slur and has threatened Pele with court action unless he retracts his initial statement. This is the absolute last thing that Robinho needs at the moment, but just where has it come from? One can only assume that Pele's original quotes have been completely taken out of context.

Robinho- let your football do the talking. Lets get some of that samba magic back on the pitch to shut up the growing list of cynics and critics.

Former City midfielder Garry Flitcroft has been announced as the new manager at Leigh Genesis F.C.

Garry is joined at Leigh by former blue Mike Quigley and the pair tackle their first match at Frickley tonight. Good luck guys!

Monday, 23 March 2009

Did anybody else make the same mistake as I did during the match on Sunday? When I looked at the touch-line and noticed activity, I was adament that the elusive Glauber Berti was about to make his first City first-team appearance.

But alas, it wasn't to be. It was Javier Garrido. From a distance I can be forgiven for getting the two confused, especially since Garrido has decided to grow his hair. Will Berti make his debut before the end of the season? Could he score the winner that puts us through against Hamburg? Will he score on derby day? Stranger things have happened in the world of Manchester City...

Manchester City 1-0 Sunderland

A goal from man of the match defender Micah Richards was enough for Manchester City to beat a 10-man Sunderland side at Eastlands.

Sunderland's George McCartney was shown a red card early in the game after beign adjudged to have held Shaun Wright-Phillips back in the penalty area.

Minutes later Steed Malbranque hauled Richards down in the box but Robinho failed to net the resulting penalty, with Martin Fulop saving comfortably.

City had plenty of chances to take the lead, but it was the impressive Richards who broke the deadlock, heading home from Elano's free-kick.

It was the home side that started the brightest and the in-form Wright-Phillips almost gave Mark Hughes' side the lead after a delightful ball from Valeri Bojinov, but his shot went just wide.

Wright-Phillips broke with pace down the right again but this time it seemed that Sunderland defender McCartney had held him back. Referee Steve Tanner immediately consulted his linesman to obtain a better perspective of the incident, and decided to issue McCartney with a red card.

Sunderland, down to 10 men, then suffered another set-back when Malbranque fouled Richards in the area. Tanner awarded City with a penalty, but Robinho failed to convert, opting to try to trick Fulop. Instead, the tame effort almost rolled into Fulop's arms.

Sunderland coped well with the loss of McCartney and limited City to lofting hopeful through-balls over the midfield- a tactic that didn't pay off. Ricky Sbragia's side remained resolute and strong against a City side that looked tired following the drama of their Thursday night UEFA Cup penalty shoot-out.

City did always pose a threat and on 50 minutes the break-through came. Elano's free kick fell to Richards, who out-jumped Anton Ferdinand and headed the ball home for his first goal since 2006. Mark Hughes' side nearly doubled their lead when Richards found Elano but his effort went inches agonisingly past the post.

Shay Given was rarely called into action but it was Richard Dunne who prevented Andy Reid from netting an equaliser, making a superb block tackle just as Reid was about to strike at goal from a dangerous range.

City needed a second goal to calm the nerves, but shots from Elano and Robinho forced Fulop into making superb saves. Although, it was a game where City had to grind the result out against a Sunderland side heading towards a relegation battle.

The result leaves City in 10th spot in the Premier League on 38 points heading into the international break. Up next is Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium...

This is rumoured to be City's new kit. The away kit is rumoured to be red and black diagonal striped with the third choice kit potentially being black. Well, it looks slightly better than the pictures of the fakes that were circulating last week...

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Just what is going on with Brazilian ace Robinho? His attempt at a penalty kick during City's 1-0 victory against Sunderland was nothing short of embarrassing and his selfish attempts on goal infuriated substitute striker Craig Bellamy. His drop in form hasn't gone un-noticed.

Could it be that the usually colourful character of Robinho is suffering from a lack of confidence on the pitch? Or is there more to it than meets the eye. His fellow country-man Elano did everything he could to bring Robinho more into the game today but he struggled to make any kind of impact.

It's been widely-discussed that Robinho doesn't travel well unless it's in Europe. Sometimes it's like playing with 10 men; he is such a difficult player to fit into a side. But the beauty of Robinho is that he has the power to turn a game and to create something out of nothing. The worrying statistic is that he hasn't scored for City since the end of last year. Will the Brazilian find his form in time for City's UEFA Cup quarter-final against Hamburg? Let's hope so.

City fans have such a fantastic sense of humour. The above picture was posted on the Bluemoon forum on one of the popular Glauber Berti threads and it had me in stitches. A take on the 'My First City Game', the mock-up pokes fun at the continued absence of Berti from the City line-up. Comedy at its finest, bravo blues.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Have you recovered from the drama of Thursday night yet? Who would have thought it. At 2-0 up City were cruising into the UEFA Cup quarter finals with five minutes to go. Then it all went devastatingly wrong.

Since the drama, every City fan has been able to laugh and say the saying 'typical City'. In reality it was a disaster. The game itself was very poor and not worthy of featuring in a European competition. City never looked like creating anything and only had one real attempt on target- when Robinho hit the bar. Aalborg threw everything at the City defence in the closing stages- and didn't it pay off.

I, like thousands of other blues, was absolutely dreading the penalty shoot-outs. Form goes completely out of the window and our season was resting on the efforts of the penalty takers and our goal-keeper, Shay Given. Thankfully Ched Evans, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Elano and Richard Dunne had the bottle to step up and all found the back of the net- setting City up with delicious quarter-final ties against SV Hamburg. We are favourites to win the Cup- I can't remember the last time we were favourites for anything, but I am very excited. The first quarter-final for over 30 years...exciting times are ahead...

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Manchester City's forgotten man Danny Mills has recently spoken out about the future of 'his' manager Mark Hughes, despite the fact that he hasn't played for City since 2006.

"He will definitely be there next season and looking to add to the squad.

"We are all a bit disappointed with the league position...it has been quite a difficult time as individuals and a very unsettling period for the club."

Disappointed with the league position? Difficult time as individuals? I'd forgotten that he was still at City never mind qualifying to speak out about the future of Hughes.

It's great to see that Valeri Bojinov is back to scoring ways. Although he is ineligable for the UEFA Cup tie against Aalborg, he netted against Bolton Wanderers' reserves last night in a 5-1 victory for City. The sooner he gets back to full fitness and into the first team the better I say. Just wrap his knee up in cotton wool before he takes to the pitch, please.

Another day, another spotting of Brazilian signing Glauber Berti spotted doing activities unrelated to anything on City's pitch. This time he was seen outside the Radisson Edwardian hotel in Manchester pranking around with fellow countryman Elano. It's a hard life.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

It's only the best for you blues. I conducted an exclusive interview with former Manchester City goal-keeper Tony Coton for a university assignment and he spoke very frank and honestly about the truth behind his departure. He's a tasty treat, a little snippet of the interview...

"I remember when I first came to the club having a particularly bad time with the fans. It took me a bit of a while to settle in and I got a bit of stick replacing Andy Dibble and at that time I didn't think I would ever win them over.

"Brian Horton was a fantastic man and what I call a friend now. He was very good with the players and I think he was harshly treated by the regime then. I still feel that Alan Ball was brought in to be a puppet for Francis Lee, as proven on more than one occasion. So from the day that Francis Lee and Alan Ball came in, I didn't know at the time but my days were well and truly numbered.

"I met with Alex Ferguson and he told me exactly what my role would be; to be number two to Peter Schmeichel. If I'm being perfectly honest, I went for the money. I went for the pay day. City wanted me out, United were going to pay me well, going to give me a signing-on fee. I'd still get the experience of being at United and having a ball."

I will post my feature article of the whole interview on here soon so keeping logging onto http://www.emilybrobyn.blogspot.com/ !

There was a very interesting interview in the Mail this weekend regarding Stephen Ireland. Ian Ladyman exclusively grilled 'Superman' about all the controversies that have occurred during his career, and this extract was particularly intriguing...

"May 11, 2008, on the A1 between Middlesbrough and Manchester. He is in his girlfriend’s car. 'It was the last day of the season and we had lost 8-1 at Boro,’ he remembers. 'I didn’t get the team bus. I got Jessica to drive me home and I thought to myself: "This can’t carry on. My career and my reputation are not right."

'After that game we didn’t even get a b******ing. I was so depressed at seeing that people didn’t really care. People were laughing. It was the worst moment of all for me.

'I decided that wasn’t a route I was going down. I didn’t want to live my life travelling home from big defeats with a smile on my face."

This is a very interesting insight into just how desperate the team became during the Sven days. I have speculated before in a couple of articles that the team had deliberately allegedly sabotaging games. The 8-1 at Middlesboro was an example of this. It was a blatant protest from the players at the imminent departure of Sven. The 'laughing' that Ireland refers to was the players laughing at Thaksin, mocking the fact that they had showed a big example of what 'player power' can do. So...the Ladyman interview certainly did make for a very compelling read over my cornflakes.

Friday, 13 March 2009

City cruised to a 2-0 victory against Danish side Aalborg last night, handing the Blues the advantage to proceed through to the UEFA Cup quarter-finals.

Aalborg were poor considering that they had arrived at Eastlands with a 16-match unbeaten run to protect, and had previously beaten Deportivo La Coruna 6-1. City scored through goals from Felipe Caicedo and Shaun Wright-Phillips and will go to Denmark next Thursday knowing that it is theirs to mess up. In fact they should have scored more, with Stephen Ireland, Wright-Phillips and Robinho all going close to increasing City's advantage.

My only disappointment was the crowd. 24, 503 was a shocking crowd considering City were in the last 16 of the UEFA Cup, with a real shot at winning their first trophy for 33 years. What's going on? Do you guys not want to see City progress? Where were all the fans? Credit crunch....it was on telly....any excuse eh....

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Cash-strapped Valencia have finally confirmed that they have held talks with City over the potential transfer of star player David Villa.

No figure has been agreed for Villa, but Valencia could be forced into cashing in on the 27 year-old to ease their financial worries.

By the look of Villa, above, he looks keen to join in on the fun at games at Eastlands. But will Robinho have left before he arrives...

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Instead of writing my usual match report, I thought that I would offer my opinions of Manchester City of late. The 2-0 home victory against in-form Aston Villa was a superb if not surprising result. Given the inconsistency of City lately the result was a welcome tonic and provided City with a much-needed three points. Shaun Wright-Phillips was man of the match-a much-deserved award as he produced an inspired display of influential football. He provided City with both the width and creativity that had been lacking for them against West Ham.

The controversial figure that is Elano put in an impressive performance. His penalty was buried deep into the net and he was unlucky not to get a second later in the second half. Yes he is very temperamental and hot-headed, it’s clear to see that he doesn’t see eye-to-eye with Mark Hughes, but he is a nifty player to have. He’s a talent that is capable of producing moments of subliminal skill, despite his inconsistency.

I have been so impressed with both Vincent Kompany and Pablo Zabaleta. The pair conduct their business seemingly unnoticed, but they have been crucial additions to City’s squad. Zabaleta was a revelation in midfield against Wigan at home, and he continued to provide the grit and tenacity that City have needed to balance out the flair of other players. Kompany in my opinion, should be City’s captain. Like Zabaleta, he’s a flexible player in terms of whether he is playing in defence or midfield, I prefer him in defence. These two keep their heads down and put in consistent, impressive performances on a regular basis.

Stephen Ireland has had his best season to date at City. Although he has been slightly off the boil recently, it is fair to say he has played a key role in City’s matches and has warranted being in the position of being one of the first names Hughes will put onto his team-sheet. He is capable of creating something out of nothing and some of the goals he has scored this season have been captivating (anybody remember his goals against Hull at the KC stadium?). He’s a dedicated play-maker who has proved that with overcoming difficulties and working hard you can be successful. Other players would do well to take a leaf out of Ireland’s book.

City’s hopes of silverware this season have come in the form of the UEFA Cup. A home tie against Aalborg on Thursday will be tricky and City will be looking to go into the second leg in Denmark with the advantage. So far though, the side’s performances in the UEFA Cup has overall been quite inspired, particularly the 2-0 victory against Schalke. Progression to the quarter-finals is well and truly there for the taking.

Realistically, achieving 7th spot in the Premier League is within City’s grasp. However the away form of the Eastlands outfit has been appalling and City still have to play the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United on their travels. Home games against Sunderland, Fulham, West Brom, Blackburn Rovers and Bolton will be crucial in increasing City’s points tally and improving on last season’s 9th position finish.

Monday, 9 March 2009

It is in the public interest that I introduce you to a real character and a somewhat amazing City fan.

The person in question shall remain nameless to protect his identity, but he is seen at every home match at Eastlands frantically screaming and cheering on City.

What is the relevance of this, you may ask. Well, the guy, who happens to sit a few seats away from me, namely in North Stand Level One, Block 132, Row AA, Seat 885 is an absolute legend and I urge you all to buy him a pint if ever you cross his path. He is the most animated person I have ever seen in my life. I liken him to a kettle; when he arrives at the game he slowly simmers, until the point where he almost boils over with rage. If I had the money I would pay for anger management classes for him, but I don’t so instead I am reaching out to all fellow blues. You HAVE to meet this City legend.

Who knows, he may even party with Glauber Berti. But one thing is for sure, there is never a dull moment with him around. Even if the action on the pitch is lacking, he will be there with his threats against away fans (yes, even from Block 132) and general rage. Share the City love with him.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

With Craig Bellamy out for around three weeks with a knee injury, I think Mark Hughes should give a welcome debut on his return from injury to popular striker Valeri Bojinov. Bonijov's time at City has been plagued by injury, but City fans are aware of the potential the striker does possess, as demonstrated with the Bulgarian's strike against AC Milan during pre-season. He isn't fully match-fit, but with options limited for Hughes, will Bojinov feature tonight against Aston Villa? I for one, certainly hope so.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

My 100th post has been and gone on my blog and hasn’t flown by. Nothing has really changed though, apart from City progressing through to play Aalborg in the final 16 of the UEFA Cup. The performance from the team was consistent after the 1-1 draw against Liverpool and once again Crag Bellamy proved to be worth his weight in gold, scoring a second half brace. I will be the first to admit that I really wasn’t his biggest fan at first, but I am glad that he is winning me over with his antics on the pitch. His pace and skills are something to be saluted and he could prove to be a very profitable acquisition, despite his £14 million price tag.

But at Upton Park, against West Ham, we looked a different side. Both Robinho and Stephen Ireland have looked out of sorts lately. We really needed somebody who could grab the game by the scruff of the neck and the quality in the final third was non-existent. The tough run will be continued, against Aston Villa at home on Wednesday, and I fear a backlash from Martin O’Neill. His side were 2-0 up then concede two late goals to Stoke City and O’Neill looked devastated and baffled in the post-match interview. Is this where the wheels come off the Villan’s recent run of form or where they punish us for their Saturday troubles? In light of the circumstances, I would be happy with a point.

At the moment I am really busy with university work. I’m in my final year now and I have to simulate running a newspaper with my fellow course-mates. I was at Deepdale, home of Preston North End, on Saturday and it was my first time in the press-box. After the game I went along to the manager’s press conferences and subsequently I wrote a match report, along with various different features. I’ve also got a lot of work involving a solo project that I’m working on. I’m trying to be really ambitious and have done well with the interviews I have conducted so far (BBC’S Jacqui Oatley and Jake Humphrey, Colin Bell, Tony Coton, Paddy McGuinness) and I’m currently sorting out questions for the first ever female football manager, Donna Powell, and the Bolton Wanderer’s kit man. It sounds a bit random, but all will be revealed!