Tuesday, 29 September 2009

This week on Blue Tuesday sees the return of another City legend- yes, the mighty Shaun Goater will be appearing as a live guest all the way from sunny Bermuda. He will be chatting about City and answering questions from both fans and the studio guests. The show also has David Clayton and Steve Redmond on, it's unmissable as always. Tune into 95.1FM BBC Radio Manchester at 6pm to hear more.

So the Derby game has been and gone and wow, what an astounding tie it really was. As soon as city went a goal down after two minutes, I immediately had a terrible feeling they could be on the end of a whipping from Ferguson’s men. But it was a testament to our character and belief that we bounced back and got back into the game.

It was no real surprise to see Carlos Tevez wanting to make a point against his old side and the initial equaliser was all down to his tenacity and then Gareth Barry’s cool finish. Craig Bellamy played out of his skin and scored two superb goals- he gave Rio Ferdiand the run-around from start to finish and his blistering pace left Ferdinand trailing in his wake. Nigel De Jong and Barry were , once again, both excellent in the centre of midfield and Shay Given kept the score-line respectable with a flurry of outstanding saves from Dimitar Berbatov.

The question mark did hang over our defence- Kolo Toure and Micah Richards looked out-of-sorts and struggled throughout the 96 minutes. It was City’s incapability of dealing with set pieces appropriately that allowed United to pile the pressure on and force the breakthroughs. But we have come a long, long way and our resolve never faltered. Ferguson described us as 'noisy neighbours'- the threat from City will soon be deafening.

All of the post-match talk was surrounding the decision of Alan Wiley, the fourth official, to add time onto the game and then the referee to add more time on after that. I will not moan. We should we played until the final whistle and not allowed Ryan Giggs to play that exquisite through-ball to Michael Owen. What I will say though, is that the fourth official added four minutes of extra time on AFTER Bellamy had scored and subsequently celebrated. It’s questionable where those four minutes came from (yes there was a substitution ), but I will question whether time should now be added onto the game for EVERY goal celebration. Why did the referee deem Bellamy’s celebration excessive? It was no more than any of the other celebrations?

The media has been saturated with people speaking out positively and negatively in light of Ferguson’s so-called ‘magic watch’. I do think that referees are afraid of Ferguson and his ‘hairdryer’ treatment and I remain adamant that, if that would have been City scoring in the dying seconds of the game, the Scottish manager would have been up in arms, demanding an immediate F.A. inquiry. One rule for one…

In contrast, City’s Carling Cup third round home tie against Fulham was a…dull and quite tedious affair. For me there was two highlights during the game: Zoltan Gera’s goal (incredible) and the performance from Carlos Tevez. Fulham have proved to be a tricky side on more than one occasion recently (their 3-1 victory at Eastlands last season was testament to their ability) and it was no great surprise that City needed extra time to overcome the Cottagers. Scunthorpe in the fourth round…here’s hoping…

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Former Manchester City striker Uwe Rosler will be on 'Blue Tuesday' this evening as our live interview. Rosler, who is currently managing Norwegian side Viking FK, has said that he is 'very excited' to have the opportunity of appearing on our show and that he still has a very special place in his heart for City and their fans.

Not only that, but we also have an interview with Ricky Hatton lined up and we will be dissecting everything about one the most amazing Derby games to date. Tune in and get involved- it's your show!

Friday, 18 September 2009

Has the furore over the Adebayor saga overlooked the issue of racist abuse from fans?
After a big-spending summer, Manchester City could always expect to be this season's big talking point. But few can argue that one of those signings, Emmanuel Adebayor, has grabbed the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

The FA has now charged Adebayor with violent conduct for aiming a kick at Robin van Persie's face in City's 4-2 win over Arsenal.

He's also been charged with improper conduct after running the length of the pitch to celebrate his goal in front of the Arsenal supporters.

The penalty means an immediate three-game ban ruling the Togo striker out of City's derby clash with United on Sunday (19 September 2009).

"I just want to say sorry to everyone," Adebayor said after the game, describing his actions as 'silly'. "People who know me know how I behave and what happened today was emotion. I was over-emotional."

Manchester City manager Mark Hughes was quick to attempt to douse the enraging flames of the situation.

"You need to cut him a bit of slack," he said. "He's an over-emotional guy and he was just caught up in the moment. He was just trying to share the moment with the fans in the corner.

"He's got a special affinity with the guys in that corner of the field and the Arsenal fans just happen to be close to that area too."

Racist abuse

Yet some are asking whether Adebayor deserves the punishment issued to him. The player claimed that he'd been insulted by the away fans throughout the game. So do the Arsenal supporters have any part to play in the furore?

Let's not forget the Kick Racism Out Of Football campaign: if the alleged racist abuse and banana-throwing is true, does that make Arsenal fans just as guilty of incitement as Adebayor?

Also, what part does Robin van Persie have to play in the saga? His initial tackle on Adebayor was also aggressive and he allegedly gesticulated at home fans in an offensive manner.
Take a step back and some of these claims and counter-claims read like a playground squabble. Violence and racism have no place in the game, but surely both players and supporters have a responsibility to at least act their age...

And if there is racist language being directed at players, it would be good to see stewards take action and, with police support, get them out and ban them.

It was always going to be an emotional day for Adebayor: facing his former side for the first time and allegedly enduring torrents of abuse.

Whatever the provocation, he's a highly-paid professional footballer. If he has emotional 'baggage', then surely he should leave that in the dressing room and conduct himself appropriately.

If he'd done that, City wouldn't be without their top striker for what could be three crucial games.
Published on the BBC Manchester website. Check the site weekly for articles related to 'Blue Tuesday'

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Monday, 14 September 2009

Emmanuel helps City to gun down top four rivals Arsenal

Mark Hughes’ new-look Manchester City have had it all their own way so far this season. Three consistent victories with clean sheets had thrust City into the driving seat, heading towards their top four target. But Hughes and City fans alike had earmarked the visit of Arsenal to Eastlands as their first stern test, a challenge to see just how far they had come to really competing with the big boys.

In the lead-up to the game, the blues’ innovative marketing division had splashed specially designed cartoon-style pictures of former Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor across the city centre as part of their ‘top four’ intimidation efforts. Adebayor had spoken out after the Portsmouth game saying that ‘he wanted to repay the faith and love’ that City had shown him. The script had already been written, but would Adebayor be able to play the leading role or would he be cast as the villain?

He managed to pull off both. Not only did he get on the score-sheet, but his behaviour and antics during the 90 minutes have attracted an unprecedented amount of both criticism and column inches. It seems that everybody has got an opinion on both the tackles that Adebayor issued on Robin Van Persie and his goal celebration, when he ran the length of the pitch to celebrate in front of his former fans. What people have failed to mention is the torrents of racist abuse that Adebayor was forced to endure during both the pre-match warm-up and throughout the game from the Arsenal fans. They incited the reaction and it was the travelling fans who charged down towards the pitch and Adebayor and threw objects. The fans shouldn’t give the abuse if they are not willing to tolerate any form of response. Banter is part of the game.

Where is the line drawn? Will players get banned from celebrating all together in fear of the response they will receive from away fans? Wayne Rooney kissing the United badge in front of Everton fans, Gary Neville flaunting himself in front of furious Liverpool fans, Thierry Henry running the length of the pitch to celebrate before Tottenham Hotspur fans. Even the recent flag-waving antics of Nathan Tyson for Nottingham Forest in front of despairing Derby fans...football fans will always give players abuse and torment, that is just part of the game, but should they react with such fury when, on the odd occasion, a player turns the tables and basks in his glory as a way of revenge.

The Togo striker receives an incredible wage for his job and with that does come a responsibility to compose himself both on and off the pitch. He has issues with how he was treated during his time at Arsenal and that should have been left off the pitch. He should have taken the upper hand and been a true professional, but the celebration was a gut reaction, one that he has since apologised for. If the F.A. were to ban him then it should be as a response to the Van Persie incident alone. The referee Mark Clattenburg issued a yellow card as a result of the celebration- it should be left at that.

Does anybody remember that City actually won the game 4-2? Or has the game and score-line been completely and ridiculously over-shadowed by the Adebayor witch-hunt? City produced a performance that showed just how they have managed to find the balance of grit and flair quite wonderfully. The strength of Gareth Barry and Nigel De Jong in the heart of midfield worked quite sublimely with the fire and dedication of Craig Bellamy, who battled hard from defence to attack and was more than worthy of his goal. Both Micah Richards and Shaun Wright-Phillips worked hard down the right to create chances and Kolo Toure was a rock in the heart of the City defence, showing Arsenal exactly what they are missing. Despite all of the Gunners’ flair, they struggled to defend competently and this proved to be their ultimate downfall.

City took the lead in the first-half after a Richards’ header rebounded into the net off Manuel Almunia and maintained that lead going into the break. Arsenal came out all guns blazing and grabbed an equaliser when Van Persie slotted the ball home neatly past Shay Given. But City remained tenacious and Joleon Lescott’s tackle on Gael Clichy was the catalyst for Wright-Phillips and Richards to combine, squaring the ball to Bellamy who calmly finished off the move to give City the advantage. Wright-Phillips and Adebayor then added to the tally and Tomas Rosicky provided a late consolation for Arsene Wenger.

Some City fans may suggest that the score-line flattered their side, but the message it sends out to the rest of the Premier League is four wins in four games. Four times that Adebayor has appeared on the score-sheet. The first real challenge, Arsenal, was vanquished in style. The next, a visit to Old Trafford, may prove to be much trickier, even more so if the F.A. issue Adebayor with a ban that is effective immediately.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

“Some girls think their ticket to Heat magazine is to s**g a footballer”

Football Pundette talks to WAG Jadene Bircham and finds out why her life is more about her children than Christian Dior.

When you hear the term ‘WAG’ what do you think of? Hair extensions, false nails and fancy cars? Spending sprees in Harvey Nichols? Freeloading glamour girls?

The most famous WAG’s have carved out careers of their own; Coleen Rooney has a multitude of various projects and endorsements that earn her millions. But would she have this without her famous footballer husband, Wayne? Cheryl Cole and Victoria Beckham are different in the sense that they were both already in bands before they met their respective partners, Ashley and David. They were already recognised in their own right for their own professions as singers in girl bands but still gain notoriety for being part of huge celebrity marriages. As part of a WAG couple, the power to earn money is phenomenal and the spotlight within the media very much shines on them.

WAG’s have become a national obsession and tend to dominate the headlines of red-top newspapers for doing...what exactly? They have become famous for no particular reason. Their notoriously vacuous existence tends to consist of shopping and watching their men at the football matches, with perhaps a glamorous photo shoot for a magazine thrown in every now and again. Yet the nation is fascinated with them.
But sometimes, there is a break to the stereotype. Enter Jadene Bircham. Jadene, 36, is married to retired footballer Marc Bircham and they have three children together. Jadene had a successful career before she met Marc, having been a successful model. She appeared on Chris Evans’ Channel Four programme, ‘Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush’, as his glamorous assistant and, more recently, has been seen on ITV2 show ‘WAGs’ Boutique’.

“My ambition when I was younger was to do a job that I was happy in. I never once thought about money or status, I always just wanted to be happy. I didn’t select any kind of career other than to be happy. It used to drive my teachers up the wall as it wasn’t the answer they wanted to hear.

“I fell into modelling by luck; at the age of 13 I was scouted by Models One and at the age of 15 I had left school and was working full time all over the world.”

Jadene continued to work when she met and subsequently married Marc Bircham. Some WAGs have Chanel gifts showered upon them but fun and feisty Jadene is keen to stress that she funds any designer habit she may have.

“If I didn’t have my independence my marriage would never work. Before I met Marc I earned a lot of money anyway so I don’t really see a change if I’m honest. I have always worked throughout our marriage and brought in money myself.

“I am a WAG, I’m not snobbish and I have nothing to prove to anyone. I get a little embarrassed when I’m out and people shout WAG at me, but my husband plays football, how can I not accept it?

“Football has taken over my life completely. I have two sons who both do football and between them and my husband there is football training nearly twice a night every day and night of the week. It is a huge, huge influence as it’s my children’s and husbands lives.”

WAGs have become role models for young women, who reject the idea of having their own career for a supposed life of glamour. We are in the day and age of easy fame and these young and easily-influenced women who grace glossy magazine covers seem to view footballers as an easy route to notoriety. But Jadene is living proof that being a WAG is more than just false eyelashes and fake tan. She is a devoted wife, mother and shrewd businesswoman, having ran her own media company for years. She is also an ambassador for the Willow Foundation. It’s no wonder that Jadene gets frustrated with the amount of wannabes that use footballers for a free ride.

“There are far too many wannabes in this world. If it’s not WAGs it’s pop stars or Hollyoaks stars. I think the problem is that reality shows are so huge and give people instant status that everyone wants fame. Just some girls think that by shagging a footballer that’s her ticket to Heat Magazine.

“The public are a funny lot: girls want to be you, yet they resent the fact you are married to a footballer. But all in all they are okay. The media have their icons like Posh and Coleen so we are all labelled like them which is tough. But I work in media so I know how the job is, so I really couldn’t give a f**k.”

But having married, had children and enjoyed a successful career, is there anything else that the former model would like to achieve?

“I have loads of ambitions, but at the moment they are for my family. My eldest son is 11 and has just started secondary school, he needs guidance for his career and path in life and my other two children need me. If I can give them the right path in life then all my ambitions are done- other than that I would love to own my own wine bar!”

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

I must apologise for the silence on my blog this Bank Holiday weekend. I have been on holiday, the only holiday that I have had this year, so I had no internet access. But I am now back with a vengeance with plenty to talk about!

First up was the Carling Cup game against Crystal Palace on Thursday night. I listened to it in the car on my journey down south and for the first half it sounded like Palace played City off the park, having plenty of chances to take the lead. But the second half sounded like a different story- and the goals from Shaun Wright-Phillips and Carlos Tevez were well-taken. It was a hard-fought victory in a game where I felt the score-line flattered us. Perhaps the City of old would have succumbed to a cup upset against a tough Neil Warnock side, but this time City rode the storm and came out on top. Great to see Tevez bagging his first goal for the club and from a corner no less! I have spent a lot of time moaning about the lack of quality corners into the box from us, I guess that has shut me up. For now anyway.

Then it was a trip to Fratton Park on Sunday. On paper, there looked to be no contest. But Paul Hart’s side proved to be tenacious and quite stubborn. I think the most noticeable thing about City during the 90 minutes was the fact that they always seemed to look comfortable in defence and reliable, a relatively new trait. Gareth Barry is proving to be a crucial acquisition, providing cover in front of defence and linking up well with the attack. Mark Hughes made a good, positive decision to drop Robinho in favour of Craig Bellamy. The Brazilian tends to go missing away from home and Bellamy provided the necessary steel to aid our victory. Great to see Emmanuel Adebayor on the score-sheet again; three goals in three Premier League games so far and things will only get better for him. There’s so much more to the Togo striker’s game than just scoring: he helps out all over the field and isn’t afraid of getting his hands dirty in defence.

The transfer window saw a couple of familiar blue faces leave the club. First up, defender Tal Ben Haim headed south to join Portsmouth. Then Richard Dunne confirmed his move to Aston Villa. It’s very sad to see Irish defender leave, but it’s for the good of his career that he continues to play first team football as a pose to looking for starts from the bench. It goes without saying that he has been a true legend at City and every single fan is wishing him all the best.

So, it’s a fantastic start to the season so far. However the real test is on the horizon, when Arsene Wenger brings Arsenal to Eastlands in 10 days time. That’s when we will have a better and much clearer of just how far we have come. Will it be a repeat of the 3-0 win from last season? Who would bet against former Arsenal hit-man Adebayor continuing his scoring run against his former side? One thing’s for sure- I am BACK, with all of my anecdotes, opinions and interviews for your viewing pleasure!


Have a look at BBC Manchester’s website to read my article reflecting Blue Tuesday’s talking point of the week, the growing expectations at Manchester City. You can read the article by clicking here.