Thursday, 26 January 2012

Is there enough consistency at the FA?

By Andy Leggott (@andyleg66)
Balotelli's alleged stamp in the direction
of Parker's head.

Consistency is the word on everybody’s lips following the FA’s decision to charge Mario Balotelli with violent conduct for his alleged stamp in the direction of Scott Parker’s head. The very fact that the challenge has caused so much debate and disagreement suggests that no-one can be certain whether there was intent in the challenge and it would appear that once again the FA have acted on reputation rather than fact.

Don’t believe me? How can they possibly explain then the decision to charge Mario whilst dismissing the alleged elbow from Lescott and similarly the alleged eye gouge by Peter Crouch in the Stoke v WBA game played the day before? Ask yourself if the Balotelli and Lescott incidents were reversed who would have suffered then from retrospective punishment? I’ll tell you who; Balotelli would without question. It has been written elsewhere that there is a pattern emerging in just which players most often face retrospective punishments. I don’t have any facts to hand but how many times have you seen clear cut examples of violent conduct brushed away using the FA’s convenient get out clause of ‘the referee saw it and chose to take no action at the time’. Rooney at Wigan and Huddlestone at Bolton immediately spring to mind and like Lescott and Crouch both are England internationals. Even if we delve back to the days when Leicester City were a fixture in the Premier League there is undeniable evidence of one rule for the English lads and one for Jonny Foreigner. What evidence you may ask? The then England captain’s (Alan Shearer) clear stamp on Neil Lennon is all the evidence you need. For those that haven’t seen it, or may simply have forgotten about it, I suggest you look it up on YouTube; now that is a stamp to the head and no retrospective action taken at all.

Why always him? Mario always seems to have his name in the
papers - this time for the wrong reason.

I cannot begin to understand the lack of consistency that quite clearly does exist in the corridors of power, without believing that an agenda exists, but I do have major concerns about the standards of refereeing this season. Let’s take Sunday’s referee, England’s alleged best official, Howard Webb. You can take one of two views of the Balotelli incident; firstly that he deliberately attempted to stamp on Scott Parker or secondly that it was accidental. Howard Webb quite clearly took the latter during the game as he was looking directly at the incident at full speed. If, as various media outlets claim, the stamp was deliberate then how poor a decision was that from Webb? He shouldn’t need super slow motion as a basis on which to make his decision and quite clearly, in this instance, he has. If, as he now claims, he should have issued a red card how exactly did he miss the challenge when looking directly at it from 5 yards? If I was a Spurs supporter that would be my primary concern rather than jumping on the media driven bandwagon for Balotelli to be hung, drawn and quartered. Howard Webb’s ineptitude may have cost Spurs a tilt at the title but sadly all the focus is on Balotelli.

Webb did have an opportunity to put his hand up and admit he may have made a mistake by simply admitting to the FA that he ‘saw it and chose to take no action at the time’. However this didn’t fit with the day long media driven agenda, or that of Howard Webb, so a simple ‘no I didn’t see it but if I had I would have given a red card’ sufficed and kept Webb’s reputation intact and allowed the FA to bow to media hysteria and charge Balotelli with violent conduct.

Before people jump on this as a defence of Balotelli please think twice. I don’t know whether Mario meant to stamp on Parker because I’m not privy to his thought process at the time. The super slow motion made it look bad but there was, in my opinion, sufficient doubt as to the level of intent. Given that Howard Webb came to the same conclusion when watching the incident at full speed there should have been no charge to answer. That there was speaks more about the workings of the FA and the standard of refereeing in this country.

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Match Report: Liverpool V Manchester City

LFC 2 (3) - 2 (2) MCFC
Written by Tom Smart

After the disappointing first leg at the Etihad Stadium, City had it all to do to overturn a 1-0 deficit to which the Merseyside team took to Anfield. The blues had just come off the back of a dramatic and enthralling victory in the league over title contenders Spurs, whilst Liverpool slumped to an extremely disappointing 3-1 defeat to strugglers Bolton Wanderers. With the other semi-final the previous evening proving to be a spectacular and victorious night for Championship side Cardiff, the winner of the 2nd semi-final certainly had incentive to go on to Wembley and truly believe they could lift the trophy.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Match Preview - League Cup Semi-Final: Liverpool vs Manchester City

Manchester City go into this tie on the back of a sensational 3-2 victory against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday and will hope to secure their 4th Wembley visit in just 10 months.

Monday, 23 January 2012

City vs Tottenham: Match Report

By Tom Smart
A spirited and enthralling 2nd half at the Etihad Stadium allowed Manchester City to go 6 points clear at the top of the league with a 3-2 win over Tottenham Hotspur, albeit temporarily. Manchester United narrowed the gap back to three points in the day’s late kick off on what proved to be a ‘Super Sunday’ for Manchester against their North London opposition.
The first half ended in a 0-0 stalemate as both teams cautiously eased into the game with Spurs having the better of the play in the opening 15 minutes, keeping possession and encroaching on the City goal. Despite this spell of domination Spurs were unable to conjure up a chance and allowed City to wake up and begin to press back.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

City vs Tottenham: Match Preview

City go into this game five points ahead of their opponents, who could only manage a draw at home to struggling Wolves last weekend. City, on the other hand, strengthened their title bid with victory at the DW Stadium, as they overcame Roberto Martinez's Wigan Athletic.
Dzeko was inspirational in the reverse fixture
last August

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Exclusive Interview with Mike Summerbee

Mike Summerbee is one of Manchester City's most well known ex-players. Making an impressive 452 appearances in ten years at the club, Summerbee was part of one of the most successful City sides in our history. He kindly took time out to speak exclusively to us about his playing career, as well as his views on the current team.

It all started for Summerbee at Swindon Town, where he made more than 200 appearances for the Wiltshire outfit during his six year stay before eventually joining Manchester City. Mike revealed that eventual City manager Joe Mercer was very influential in his childhood: "I knew Joe Mercer as a young boy when I was at Swindon and he also knew my father very well. They both played at Aldershot together during the war years."

However, whilst Summerbee's father and Joe Mercer went their separate ways, Mercer always kept a close eye on Mike: "I know Mercer always fancied me when I was at Swindon, and when I heard that he was appointed Man City manager along with Malcolm Allison I had no hesitation in getting in contact with him. He fancied a winger and decided to sign me up."

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Post Match Exclusive: Courtney Meppen Walter

The evening of Tuesday 17th saw Manchester City’s academy squad progress into the 5th round of the FA Youth Cup. The winners of this tie were decided early on as Manchester City saw off any competition and took a convincing 3-0 lead within the first half. A 40 yard screamer marked a glimmer of hope for Swindon Town as they pulled one goal back before the break, but this was undone with a 4th from the young Blues.

City vs Wigan: Match Report

By Andy Leggott

City went into the game at the DW as a club in crisis; well according to certain sections of the media they did. After all United had closed the gap to just goal difference and Spurs to two points all on the back of City not yet having played over the weekend. Still a first away win in the league since November 5th needed to be secured if the 3 point lead was to be maintained.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

City vs Wigan: Match Preview

It's a difficult time for both clubs involved in this match. Whilst City look down on the rest of their Premier League competitors, we have lost two consecutive matches for the first time in three years, which is a staggering stat. The latest defeat came at home to Liverpool on Wednesday night - where a Steven Gerrard penalty separated the sides in the first leg of the Carling Cup semi final.

Aguero was typically in lethal form in the
reverse fixture at the Etihad
Wigan's circumstances are much different. Sitting second bottom in the league, they have now gone five games without a win and it is a worrying stat for the Latics' faithful, whom have just seen their side win once at the DW Stadium this season.

As strange as it sounds, maybe City are therefore good opposition for the home side. Whilst it will never be easy to stop such a talented line-up from scoring, Mancini's men have yet to win away from home since a 3-2 victory back at the start of November, which is becoming a worry for many spectators. When playing stronger opposition, Martinez's team seem to rally round each other and perform beyond what is expected of them - and with a depleted crowd behind them, you could never know what happens.

But the odds are certainly against them. With David Silva expected to return from an ankle injury which kept him out of the midweek game against Liverpool, City can make it five wins in a row against Wigan with victory on Monday. If Joe Hart keeps a clean sheet, then it will also be five consecutive games that City have kept Wigan at bay.

Wigan come into this game in some bad form, the
latest defeat against Swindon
Both sides made a quick exit from the FA Cup last weekend, but Wigan's was far more spectacular than City's. A trip down south to Swindon resulted in an unhappy journey back home for the Latics', as Paolo di Canio continues to do wonders for The Robins, who defeated Wigan 2-1.

City are four goals away from reaching the total tally of goals they made in the whole of last season, which is an incredible feat from Mancini, who was regularly criticised after some of his team's perceived negative performances during the campaign.

However, things have changed dramatically. They have become more patient as a team, and rarely start to panic. Not a good sign for Wigan considering their abysmal record when going into the last 15 minutes. They have conceded 11 goals in this period of the game, which is the worst in the league.

Realistically, you can't see beyond City in this fixture. Whilst the last couple of months have been tough ones for the Blues, you'd expect them to grab a much needed at the DW Stadium, especially with the return of their Spaniard Magician in midfield. 

Thursday, 12 January 2012

City vs Liverpool: Match Report

By Tom Smart

Liverpool will go into the second leg of the Carling Cup Semi-Final 1-0 up, with the added incentive of home advantage going into the reverse fixture of this two legged affair.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Match Preview: Manchester City vs Liverpool

Manchester City will go into this tie without club captain Vincent Kompany, as he starts his 4 match ban after his appeal was rejected after a 'two-footed' lunge on Nani during Manchester City's 3-2 defeat to rivals Manchester United.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

City vs United: Match Report

Article written by Tom Smart

‘Eventful’ was the word many described the first Manchester Derby of 2012, albeit those that were in the shoes of a neutral of course.

Before the early Sunday afternoon Manchester derby kicked off, Manchester United announced that Paul Scholes was to be named on the Manchester United bench amid confirmation he had re-signed with the Champions after coming out of retirement. It was an announcement that shocked the football world, in the same week when it had been announced Arsenal legend Thierry Henry was to re-sign on loan for the Gunners for two months. The drama had only just begun.

City EDS Squad: Round up

It has been a busy couple of days for our Elite Development Squad after they made the short journey to Blackpool yesterday for the Quarter Finals of the Lancashire Senior Cup. However, it would have been an unhappy trip back to Platt Lane for Andy Welsh and his team as they squandered their chance to book their place in the semi final.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

City vs Liverpool: Match Report

Article written by Tom Smart

‘A job well done’ is what many City fans will have thought coming away from The Etihad Stadium after seeing a performance that at times seemed lethargic and in need of a burst of energy or fresh legs. Nevertheless the Blues were clinical in finishing opportunities that were created with the 3-0 scoreline slightly flattering the league leaders. The game showed little flashes of brilliance that ultimately engineered enough chances to see off a Liverpool side that in recent weeks has vastly improved in confidence after beating a revolutionised Newcastle side a couple of days before.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

City vs Liverpool: Match Preview

The Christmas period has been one that everyone connected with City will want to forget. After picking up just four points from a possible nine, it is a poor return and it has led pundits to believe that City are starting to crumble under the pressure.

Three key players? Barry, Aguero and
Dzeko need to perform tomorrow if they play