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WH Smith and the City shop
Fairly quiet on the transfer market with only Jack Rodwell arriving from Everton.
6ft 2" 21 year old Rodwell played 85 times for Everton scoring 4 goals as a defensive midfielder. He has played a couple of times for England and many times for the Under 21 side With injuries to Barry and Richards he will be a useful addition to City's midfield.
With Van Persie ending up at Old Trafford the pre- season form of Carlos Tevez has eased the situation up front. His pre-season linking with Aguero has looked very good and Tevez has looked much fitter. The pre season tactical line-up 3-5-2 has caused a lot of talk so we will wait with baited breath to see if we play three at the back in the opening game against Southampton.
Another important piece of news involves the hiring of ex Barcelona general manager Ferran Soriano as the new City chief executive.
I recently attended the launch of the new book by Garry James. It was held at the new National Football Museum in the Urbis building in Manchester.
There were quite a few people attending and you will recognize some of the faces below
It was my first visit to the museum and it is definitely worth a visit. There is no entry fee.
Alec Williams of City seems to have spotted someone
Joe Corrigan demonstrates how he caught the ball!
Ex City manager Brian Horton
Chris Eccles of City interviews Denis Tueart
Ian Cheeseman of Radio Manchester interviews actor John Henshaw
Gary is happy to see so many people attending
Below are a few images of the displays in the museum
Not the easiest of draws in the Champions League this season with games against the Champions of Spain, Germany and Holland to contend with but great for the supporters with home games against Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Ajax to look forward to. Real Madrid are the pick and I shall look forward to watching that game in particular. In the past I was lucky enough to go to Hampden Park in 1960 to see Real Madrid beat Eintracht Frankfort 7-3 with stars like Puskas and Di Stefano starring - Ferenc Puskas scored 4 and Di Stefano 3. What a game - a crowd of 127,000 and the German side had a player called Stinka - can't remember what sort of a game he had! I also saw them beat United at Old Trafford 3-2 the following season. I was in the press box that day. In 1968 City beat Ajax three nil in a friendly -Owen scored a couple and Colin Bell the third.
The transfer window is coming to its end with a bit of a burst of action by City. Already we have seen Adam Johnson depart for Sunderland and Nigel de Jong move to AC Milan so on the plus side the surprise move was the signing of a third keeper - Richard Wright who mainly played for Ipswich, Everton and Arsenal .He is 34 and had a couple of games for England in 2000.
The Scott Sinclair saga looks like coming to a conclusion with the Swansea winger finally ending up at City after terms were agreed between the two clubs and Sinclair passed his medical. He is 22 and scored 28 goals in his 82 games for Swansea. He represented team GB in the recent Olympics
Other moves that are likely include Javi Garcia from Benfica. He is a 25 year old defensive midfielder and would replace de Jong's role. Over 6ft in height he can also play as a central defender which would be useful. He scored 6 goals for Benfica in 73 games. He has one Spanish cap to his credit.
Another interesting move is that of Inter right wing back Maicon who has 66 Brazilian caps to his name. He is 6ft and takes a pretty good free kick. However he is 31 but has lots of experience so Zabaleta and Richards will have a bit of competition.
Providing a permit can be sorted out Fiorentina defender Matija Nastasic will also arrive at City with Savic heading the other way. Nastasic is only 19 and the 6ft 2" defender is already a Serbian International.
No doubt we will all be waiting with baited breathe until the final moments of the transfer window.
Well all the above transfers went through without a hitch and there was also the departure on loan of Santa Cruz ( to Malaga) and Boyata to FC Twente. The five signings that went through might not have been the managers first choice with Van Persie gong to United and Rossi staying in Italy but they are not at all bad as we shall see in the coming weeks.
By the way there is no truth in the rumor that Mancini offered Atl. Madrid £50 million for Colombian striker Falcao at half time in their match against Chelsea !!
John Bond - our manager from 1980 to 1983 has passed away aged 79. He took City to the Cup Final in 1981 which was lost to the Ricky Villa's goal . Very sad indeed.
The visit of Real Madrid to Fort Etihad recently brought back memories of watching this great Spanish side in past years. I cannot remember them ever playing at Maine Road at all but I did see them a couple of times at Old Trafford against United and I was lucky enough to be in the 130.000 record crowd at Hampden Park Glasgow that saw them slaughter Eintracht Frankfort 7-3 back in 1960. It was a wonderful exhibition of football with Puskas 4 and Di Stefano 3 sharing the goals for the winners of the European Cup. They used to play amazing football and certainly did not have to dive around as though shot like some of their present day players.
I also watched them beat United 3-2 at Old Trafford with almost the same team the following season. The United forward line that day was Quixall, Giles, Viollet, Pearson and Charlton.
In 1967-68 I saw them lose one nil to United in the European Cup at Old Trafford. George Best scoring the only goal. United had a player called Brian Kidd at inside forward. I wonder where he is now! Only Gento on the wing had survived from the 1960 Real side.
Sad to learn about the death of Derek Kevan who played for City in the middle 60's. He was a goal scoring centre forward netting 48 goals in his 67 matches. He also played 14 games for England.
I first saw him play In 1957 when he turned out for the England under 23 team against Bulgaria in a 6-2 win at Stamford bridge. Also playing that day were Brabrook, Greaves and Johnny Haynes. Later I saw him play for West Brom at Maine Road in March 1959 when he scored against City. I also saw him score two great goals for City against Huddesfield in November 1963 in a 5-2 victory. His partnership with Murray was excellent and he netted another two in a 8-1 win against Scunthorpe on Boxing Day 1963. A sad loss to football.
So we've reached the half way point in the season and like last year we are in second position behind United. However we have some catching up to do in order to repeat last seasons epic triumph but like last year it is not impossible.
It's not very often that Mancini and Balotelli make the BBC 6 o'clock News but the handbags at dawn Carrington episode certainly caused a bit of a stir. As all clubs have their negative training moments it would not be surprising if United's Carrington base which does not have a public footpath nearby does come under attack by low flying model planes with cameras aboard! No doubt Sir Alex will have trained the wolves in the nearby wood to frighten off people with hand controllers!
Back to reality and the good, the bad and the ugly of the first half of the season at Fort Etihad. It was a shame that our home record was broken with that late Van Persie goal after such a good fight back. The lack of concentration at key moments cost us dearly in Madrid and Ajax and an early exit from the Champions League. It was a tough group though and we can only hope we have better luck in the draw next season.
The departure of Yaya Toure to the African Cup is not the ideal start to the New Year and injuries to Rodwell and Richards do not help the situation but the great form of Barry and Zabaleta will help matters and the good form of Silva, Milner and Nasri should provide goal scoring opportunities for the front men. We certainly missed David Silva when he was injured. I don't think we have quite reached the pre Christmas form of last season but despite that City are still in with a fair chance. We have seen quite a few changes to the back four with young Nastasic improving all the time but we still have a very good goals against record so Joe Hart is well protected..
When the opposition have come to defend we have continued to attack down the centre too much instead of using the full width of the park. I wish we would use the wings more and we also tend to waste too many corners. The form of Dzeko has been patchy but he still managed a few goals when it counted. Tevez and Aguero have been in better form and we will certainly miss Aguero for a few games through injury while Yaya Toure is away. There are plenty of rumors about the possible signing of Cavani from Napoli during the January transfer period and we may see the departure of Balotelli. We shall just have to wait and see.
Away from reality a moment and I have been reading Jo Nesbo's Phantom book and surprised to read on page 200 there were several references to City and a Tevez free kick hitting the bar! No doubt after the recent visit of Tom Cruise we shall read in a future Lee Child book about Jack Reacher watching City beating United in a lonely USA motel room at 4 in the morning!
I have added some combination prints from the QPR league winning game to my Photobox collection. Prints from the three images below can be bought HERE
As I expected Mario Balotelli has left the club for AC Milan much to the delight to the Italian press who will no doubt be watching every move he makes! At the moment no positive news of a replacement in the few hours left of the Transfer Window. So it is likely Guidetti will appear on the bench for the Liverpool game on Sunday. Below are a few last memories of Mario in his final game for City against Watford in the cup. City supporters will have mixed feelings about his departure.
So its Barnsley in the 6th round of the Cup. The last time we played them was in 2004-2005 season. We won 7-1 at home in the Carling Cup.Pics from that game can be found HERE
The first time I saw them was in 1946. City won 5-1 and the team that day was -
Swift, Sproston, Barkas, Emptage, Eastwood McDowell, Dunkley Herd, Constantine, Smith, and Westwood - scorers were 2 each for Gerorge Smith and Constantine and an own goal.
The Twang were the latest group to perform their FA Cup Anthem before the game against Barnsley
The Birmingham based five piece band performed their new song - 'We're a crowd'
I checked on my records and discovered I first watched City play Barnsley in the 3rd round of the Cup on Jan10th 1948. City won 2-1 before a crowd of 55,000. The teams were
Swift, Sproston, Westwood, Walsh, Fagan, Emptage, Linacre, Black, McMorran, Smith, Wharton.
Kelly, Cunningham, Pallister, Normanton, White, Glover, Smith, Griffiths, Wright, Morris, Kelly J
George Smith and Black scored for City - Lewis for Barnsley. Meadpws from Redcar was the referee.
City beat Chelsea in the 4th round 2-0 but lost to Preston by a single goal in r5.
Well the news that City have sacked manager Roberto Mancini finally came through last night and it was not exactly a shock as rumors of his possible exit prior to the Cup Final spread quite quickly among supporters.
I wonder how much this information affected the players as their performance was well below par.
Mancini was well liked by supporters and his record for City is pretty good. He won the league for the first time in 2012 for 44 years and as I saw both the QPR and Newcastle final winning games to clinch the titles they both will always remain top moments in my memory.
Of all the Premier League managers who have managed at least 100 games his average points per game of 2.05 is third behind Mourinho 2.33 and Ferguson 2.1.
City won three trophies in his reign - the Premier League, FA Cup and Community Shield but it was his failure to progress in the Champions League that has led to his dismissal. It was unfortunate that this season we were in a powerful group but for financial reasons success in the Champions league is a high priority when setting targets.
I am sure he will not have long to wait for another job but he will always have a place in City supporters thoughts.
Good Bye Roberto
and thanks for some wonderful moments
It is pretty certain that the new manager next season will be Manuel Pellegrini who is in charge at Malaga at the moment. He is 59 years old , speaks English and comes from Chili. His previous clubs include River Plate in Argentina and Villarreal and Real Madrid in Spain. His 75% percentage win at Real Madrid is the best ratio of any manager there. He is adored in Malaga and even has a street named after him so watch out Albert Square! He likes the passing game and as one of City's targets Isco is with Malaga I would not be surprised to see him join City in the summer. One of a few negatives is his lack of experience in the Premier League so I hope we won't see an exit of Platt and Kidd as we need some continuity. For the remaining two games Brian Kidd will be in charge of the team. I hope we finish with a flourish as we still need a point for second place and I am sure there will be shouts for Mancini at the Norwich game.
End of season markings
Silva -------7.45 ( 22 games)- last seaaon 7.29
Tevez ------7.29 (24 games) - last season 6.8
Zabaleta ---7.22 (23 games) - last season 7.3
Milner ----- 7.1 - (13 games) - last season 7.0
Aguero ----7.0 - (20 games) - last season 7.7
Barry ------7.0 - (19 games) - last season 7.2
Hart ------- 6.91-(23 games) - last season 7.0
Y.Toure --- 6.9 - (23 games)
- last season 7.23
Kompany - 6.83-(18 games) - last season 7.02
Clichy ----- 6.82-(17 games) - last season 7.08
Lescott ----6.80 (15 games) -last season 7.0
Rodwell ---6.77 (9 games)
Nastisic ----6.70 (15 games)
Nasri ------ 6.64 (17 games) last season 7.16
Dzeko ----- 6.54 (19 games) last season 6.6
Kolarov---- 6.50 (8 games) -last season 6.68
K.Toure ----6.50 (8 games) -last season 6.8
Garcia ------6.26 (12 games)
Balotelli ----6.01 (7 games) -last season 6.8
Comparing last season's marking with this season shows that this season there were less players with 7 and more. This is no surprise as the team performance failed to reach the heights of last season with too many draws and a poor Cup Final display. Though we played some really good football at times our efforts in the final third often lacked dynamism and we failed to finish as well as last season.
I was surprised to see Silva top the list but he had 9 games when he had great games while Zabaleta who I thought would be top of the marking was probably our most consistent performancer over the season.
It looks like our new manager will be Manuel Pellegrini and no doubt he will bring some staff with him from Malaga. He is 59 years old and is highly regarded in Spain. Originally a central defender in his native Chile he speaks English well and has a background in civil engineering so doubt he will be checking everything when work commences on extending our stadium! He previously managed Villarreal and Real Madrid before Malaga and likes attacking football so there is lots to look forward too next season.
Transfer rumors are abound at the moment but I expect to see at least four new faces in the first team squad and also some departures.
following the advert placed in the Manchester Evening News by Mancini thanking City supporters Nottingham University student Adam Keyworth organized a response by City supporters and an advert in Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport thanking Roberto for at last bringing trophies to City.
My image on the left was used for the 'blue moon' background.
With Manual Pellegrini now confirmed as manager and with two new players already bagged for the new season we wait with baited breath to see who is going to replace the departure of Tevez. The major contender seems to be Alvaro Negredo from Sevilla. He is 27 years old and is just over 5ft. He was a regular scorer for Sevilla netting 70 league goals in 139 games in his 4 seasons there. He has also played for Spain 14 times scoring 6. With just Aguero and Dzeko left as strikers at the end of last season we really need 2 new ones as a plan B is essential in case of injuries etc
The departure of Tevez was not unexpected but there have been many rumors concerning replacements for him and Balotelli. It looks like Cavani is Paris bound and first choice Falcao went to Monaco so we had to caste the net a bit further afield.
At least we got Navas and Fernandinho but lost Isco which was supposed to be a certainty!
With City in South Africa with just one striker (Dzeko) all attention is on the internet following the transfer rumors concerning Negredo and Jovetic and as each hour passes it looks like both will be wearing sky blue next season. Whereas Negredo is a powerful forceful striker with a good goal to match ratio as mentioned earlier Stevan Jovetic ( Jo Jo) is more creative and can play in several forward positions. He is only 23 and just over 6ft. He scored 35 goals in 116 games for Fiorentina and 10 goals for Montenegro in his 27 national games. He previously played for Partizan Belgrade.
Of course we could also add a fifth as Ibrahimovic wants to leave Paris St- Germain as they have signed Cavani an early City choice.
So since 2007 City have spent almost 300 million pounds on strikers - remember Bianchi, Bojinov, Caicedo, Benjani, Jo, Robinho, Bellamy, Santa Cruz, Tevez, Adebayor, and of course Balotelli, Dzeko and Aguero and now Jovetic and Negredo. There are rumors that Real Madrid want Aguero. I hope he does not go. I shall never forget his Premiership winning goal against QPR in 0212.
Departures include Maicon who has gone to Roma.
All in all next season could be very interesting indeed .
Watched the second training game in South Africa with my cat George and though we lost through two dreadful errors of judgment - a poor back pass and stupid foul to concede a penalty in the last minute it was a good workout for the players.
I think it was only Sinclair who played the full 90 minutes. Unlike the first game when there was a complete changeover at half time several players had longer spells on the pitch.
Both Richards (first half) and Zabaleta (second) looked on good form as did Kompany (first half). Nasri worked hard and should have scored but Milner scored a cracker from a narrow angle. Despite the result City were on top for most of the game and had most of the possession but failed to find the net on several occasions.
Aguero did not make an appearance and where is Clichy!!
Manager Pellegrini was not there as he had to fly back to Santiago where his 92 year old mother had been taken ill.
It now is certain that Negredo and Jovetic are part of our strike force and will join the City party when they arrive in Hong Kong for their game against South China ( a team I know well
There are now reports that City have made an offer for 23 year old Eduardo Salvio from Benfica. An Argentian right winger he appears to duplicate Navas! Looks like there is going to be plenty of competition for places.
Just heard some really sad news. Bert Trautmann has died at the age of 89. He played over 500 games for City between 1949 and 1964. I first saw him play for City Reserves against Leeds United in November 1949 and shortly after went to see him play for the first team against Derby County on a terrible pitch. City lost 7 nil that day. He was soon to become a keeper of the highest standard and a legend for City. His efforts with a broken neck in the 1956 Cup Final will never be forgotten.
Another City icon who passed away recently was George Smith - he ws 92. I first saw him in September 1944 when he scored in a two all draw with Liverpool at Maine Road. He was a regular scorer for City and played despite a nasty war wound to his arm.
Two great losses to the City Family
Bert Trautmann in action against United on Feb 7th 1960 at Old Trafford '
He is saving from Bradly and played a blinder in a no score draw
individual images here
Bert was presented with a special award at the City v Birmingham game in April 2010
I thnk that was his last appearence at the Etihad Stadium.
There is a lovely video on the City web site showing the visit. Have a hanky handy
South China 6 Kitchee 4 - HK Stadum Oct 1056
South China 2 RAF 1 - Caroline Hill Jan 1957
Shield Final at HK Stadium South China 3 KMB 3
With City playing South China in Hong Kong many old memories of my 2 years in Hong Kong came flooding back. On the left are a couple of images of me refereeing and above a shot of a game between South China and the RAF team I used to manage! So I was refereeing and a manager in the same league! Doubt they would allow that in the Premiership! I was in the middle for 7 of Soth China's games during my wonderful time there.
City won their game by a headed effort by Dzeko after good work by Milner. It was a comfortable victory and they will play Sunderland in the Final of the Asia Cup. I thought Milner and Nasri worked hard and the defence prevented Joe Hart from making any saves. Surprisingly South China who always used to score lots of goals were very defensive and packed the final third. The 'Men in Black' started with 'The Usual Suspects' from last season but we did have a twenty minutes spell from Negredo who looked more than promising.
The pitch conditions were very poor having been battered by heavy rain and the earlier Spurs Sunderland game so I was impressed with the City passing despite the conditions. Normally the soccer season in Hong Kong runs from September to May . July can be really stormy with often several days of continuous rain.
Fernandinho looks to have settled in well and we have still to see Navas and Jovetic.
City won their first trophy of the season beating Sunderland one nil in terrible conditions in Hong Kong. With heavy rain falling for most of the game the pitch was very reminiscent of the one at the Baseball ground where Derby County used to play. With almost their first excursion into the Sunderland half Dzeko scored a wonderful goal after only 9 minutes and he should have scored later but he missed a penalty for hand ball blazing the ball into the stand. We saw Negredo from the start and Navas in the second half. Silva started too but no sign of Aguero yet or Jovetic. A negative from the game was the injury to Nastasic who was stretched off in the second half. A victim of the pitch. Considering the conditions it was a good performance.
Having left the churned up turf in Hong Kong with a trophy City moved to Munich to play AC Milan in the Audi Cup competition. It was an extraordinary first half with City scoring five goals in 36 minutes after some terrific forward play. Goals from Silva, Richards, Kolarov and 2 from Dzeko gave the 'Men in Black' an unbelievable start but then Milan started to play and defensive mistakes gave them three goals. With changes in the second half it was never going to be so exciting and we had to be satisfied with the 5-3 win. However we were playing our second choice back 4 so I doubt we would have conceded those goals had Zabaleta etc being playing. We had our first glimpse of Jovetic who looked pretty good and another 45 minutes of Navas who will give lots of problems to Premiership defenders. Dzeko scored two good goals and his confidence must be sky high at the moment and with Aguero still to come the manager will have a problem deciding on his best attack. However with so many competitions everyone will have their chance. Lots of rotation I think!
City failed to win their second trophy of the season losing to Bayern Munich in the Audi Cup final game in Munich by two goals to one. City started with a strong back four in contrast to the previous day though it was strange to see the return of Boyata. No doubt with the injury to Nastasic the manager is looking at all his options in case he dos not manage to sign an extra defender. In the first half Bayern dominated play and it was a good workout against players such as Muller, Robben and Ribery. I thought Boyata was unlucky to be booked for a great tackle and Kompany did well. City missed a chance just before half time and took a surprise lead when a great run by Negredo ended with a splendid finish. Negredo had another header brilliantly saved by Neuer and might have had another but Zabaleta was unlucky to concede a penalty for a handball and finally Boyata just failed to prevent a cross reaching Mandzukic who scored the winner. I was not all that impressed with the BT coverage and they failed to mention that Bayern subs van Buyten and Boateng had played for City!
Remember these two! Robinho is the one pointing at me and with him is Vladimir Weiss - now with Olympiacos. Reason for the pic ? Well I understand City are interested in young Brazilian wonder kid Victor Andrade who plays for Santos .
He is a very promising 17 year old forward and Robinho is his godfather so I hope he is pushed into our direction.
Further to my earlier note about the tragic death of George Smith there is an excellent article in the Independent HERE
about him. It mentioned the game at Maine Road on April 6th 1946 when he scored all four goals against United in the 4-1 win.
I was there that day and the teams were - City - Swift, Williams, Barkas,:Walsh, Cardwell, McDowell: Dunkley, Herd, Constantine, Smith and Emptage.
United - Tapken: Whalley,Walton: Carey, Chilton, Cockburn: Delaney, Aston, Hanlon, Pearson, and Rowley. Aston scored for United and the referee was R Mortimer. The crowd was 62,254
Another ex City player has passed away - David Wagstaffe who mainly played on the left wing. I saw him make his debut against Sheffield Wednesday on September 7th 1960 . 36000 saw Denis Law score a cracker for City.
The City side was Trautmann, Betts Sear, Barnes , Plenterleith, Oakes, Barlow, Law, Hannah, Hayes, and Wagstaffe Jack Taylor was the referee and one of the best ever.
Back to present day and the final pre-season game against Arsenal which required a bit of internet searching to watch ended with a 3-1 defeat. Though City had more of the play Arsenal had a few breakaways and scored three times. Defensive errors again I am afraid so there appears to quite a lot of work to do in order to sort out the rather statuesque manner of some players. Another left sided defender would be useful before the end of the transfer window so I doubt whether Barry or Kolarov will be departing before someone new comes in. As to the starting line-up against Newcastle I wonder whether we will start with 1-3-4-3 in the absence of Nastasic or a standard 1-4-2-4 . Certainly Milner deserves a start after his displays so far and will Aguero be back - on the bench perhaps. Anyway that's all for this season. Next season's page will be www.rtfract.com/city2014.htm
. See you there!