Tag Manchester City

Tag Manchester City

Hughes loses dignity as reds take derby

September 21, 2009 Tags: , Matches 5 comments

United put the upstarts City in their place in a Manchester derby classic. It was a match full of drama, goals and plenty of hapless defending, with the winner coming from a former Liverpool hero. You couldn’t write a script this good. But as United fans filtered out of Old Trafford delirious with the result, Mark Hughes was busy ruining what little respect the red side of the city may have held for him.

For the neutral it was a match that had everything; most fans will have left with a few extra grey hairs. Three times United took the lead in normal time, only for City to peg Sir Alex Ferguson’s side back on as many occasions. While ‘plucky’ City can be pleased with their character in fighting to keep on terms, in truth the home side were vastly superior.

But for some truly awful defending – gifting City their first and third equalisers – United would have won at a canter. It was a point not lost on Ferguson after the game.

“We made three horrendous mistakes which you don’t even half associate with our team and it kept them in the game,” Fergie told Sky Sports after the match.

“I am unhappy about the goals we conceded because it spoilt [an otherwise] really emphatic victory – we could have scored six or seven.

“The fact that we made the mistakes probably made it the best derby game of all time so you-re left wondering, what would you rather have had – won 6-0 or won the greatest derby game of all time, and I would rather have won 6-0.”

Before all the drama, the derby came to life as early as the second minute, with Rooney holding off two City defenders to slot past Shay Given in the visitor’s goal. Patrice Evra created the chance, finding space on the left flank to cut back for United’s leading scorer. Magic.

City were back in it within a quarter hour, Ben Foster losing the ball to the returning Carlos Tevez, and Gareth Barry slotting home the little Argentinian’s pass. Comedy defending but it wasn’t funny for United’s number one. That Foster is still playing with such nerves six weeks into the new season is deeply worrying. Foster, talented though he is, got himself out of position on more than one occasion, gifting City their first equaliser. With Edwin van der Sar back inside a month, Foster has even more reason to feel under pressure.

United were dominating possession and the chances continued to flow, especially in the second period. Dimitar Berbatov in particular will regret not taking at least one of his four good opportunities before being substituted for Michael Owen.

United’s pressure was telling though and City’s expensively assembled central defensive partnership struggled all afternoon with United’s pace and movement. Ryan Giggs was utterly peerless, having a hand in all four United goals. At 35 years old, Giggs can still tear them apart after all these seasons. It was the Welshman’s running and passing that helped create a dozen chances for United in the second half.

In the end for all United’s free flowing attacking football City lost the match by defending set-pieces and crosses poorly. United’s second and third came from the unlikely head of Darren Fletcher, who had yet another storming game in central midfield.

In between Craig Bellemy twice pulled City back into the game. His first an outstanding strike from 25 yards, after cutting in from the left onto his favoured right boot. City’s third equaliser came with just seconds to go, Rio Ferdinand guilty of being lazy in possession and gifting the Bitters a chance at an undeserved point.

But as long as Ferguson lives and breaths United will continue to play until the final whistle. Giggs’ wonderful pass released Michael Owen in the 96th minute, the striker’s first touch was true and his neat finish sent the home crowd into raptures. Fergie’s Mourinhoesque arm-pumping dance down the touchline was bliss personified. His staff and substitutes invaded the pitch in an end reminiscent of that in the same stadium against Sheffield Wednesday in 1993.

In the post-match analysis Fergie couldn’t resist the opportunity to goad the defeated opposition.

“There has been a lot of expectation on Manchester City and with the spending they have done they have to win something,” Ferguson told Sky Sports.

“For us, it’s unusual for us to accept that they’re the top dogs in terms of media attention but you know, sometimes you have a noisy neighbour and have to live with it. You can’t do anything about them if they keep on making noise but what we can do, as we showed today, is you can get on with your life, put your television on and turn it up a bit louder.

“As far as the players are concerned, they showed their playing power and that’s the best answer of all.”

Watching despairing City supporters’ faces – still bitter after 34 years without silverware – as United’s fourth hits the back of the net was sheer poetry. That their team contained the returning Carlos Tevez iced the cake.

But another United old boy, the City manager Mark Hughes, was unable to lose with dignity, complaining about the amount of added time and United’s ecstatic reaction to the winning goal. Hughes also went on to defend Craig Bellamy, who hit out at a United fan, just as he had supported Emmanuel Adebayor’s in the wake of the striker’s deliberate stamp on Robin van Persie a week ago. Hughes should be bigger than that.

“They did seem quite excitable at the end of the game. It was reminiscent of Brian Kidd and Sir Alex in days gone by. And I saw Gary Neville running on like a lunatic as well, so it showed how much it meant to them,” said Hughes.

“It’s something we’ll take out of the game. We knew we could come here and compete against the United of today.”

Compete City did, but bitter City remain.

Classic United versus City

September 18, 2009 Tags: , Matches 1 comment

To whet your appetite ahead of the weekend’s 152nd Manchester derby, which began in 1881, here are some modern classics. Forget the Blue Noses who mention Dennis Law’s back-heal, or the five goals scored at Maine Road in 1989. Consign them to history. Think about United’s five in 1994, comeback from three down a year earlier or Roy Keane’s assault on Alf-Inge Haaland in 2001.

Manchester City 2 – 3 Manchester United, Maine Road, 1993
One of United’s greatest ever comebacks – this time in City’s backyard. Trailing by two Nial Quinn goals, United returned with strikes from Eric Cantona and Roy Keane, winning it in the final minute of the match. Sweet.

Manchester United 5 – 0 Manchester City, Old Trafford, 1994
With that 1989 match at Maine Road still all too fresh in supporters’ minds, United’s flying Russian winger Andrei Kanchelskis went on the rampage, scoring an Old Trafford hat-trick. It was the match that finally shut the Blue Noses up and allowed right-minded Manchester folk to lift their chins up once again!

Manchester United 1 – 1 Manchester City, Old Trafford, 2001
Roy Keane’s long running feud with the Norwegian Alfe-Inge Haarland led to this horror tackle by the midfielder. Keane saw red and was banned for three matches. Keane’s biography, in which he suggested that he wanted to hurt the City player, cost the Irishman a further five match ban and £150,000 fine. Such a pity then that Keane and Carlos Tevez couldn’t meet on the pitch this weekend, some of a crueller disposition might say.

OT welcomes City’s nouveau riche

September 18, 2009 Tags: , Matches 1 comment

City arrive at Old Trafford this weekend having usurped the champions as the wealthiest club in the Manchester, with ambitions of extending that superiority to the pitch. The City ‘project’ has come some distance since last summer, with more than £200 million spent on a series of high profile, if over-expensive, new players. If there was any doubt that the club’s Abu Dhabi-based owners are serious about breaking into the Premier League’s top four, then there shouldn’t be any now.

The Eastlands outfit cross town in good form, having won four Premier League games in a row, including a controversial 4 – 2 win against Arsenal last weekend. But manager Mark Hughes heads back to his old stomping ground with around £100 million worth of talent unavailable. Carlos Tevez is unlikely to be fully fit, Roque Santa Cruz has yet to play this season and Emmanuel Adebayor has taken it upon himself to perform boot-based facial surgery on an old team-mate, while picking a fight with his former club’s supporters.

Sir Alex Ferguson, meanwhile, will hope to pick from a full squad – less the suspended Paul Scholes and injured Owen Hargreaves and Rafael da Silva. Rio Ferdinand will face a late test on his fitness, having picked up a minor groin injury after the victory over Tottenham Hotspur last weekend. Johnny Evans stands by to partner Nemanja Vidic, while Ferguson will pick from Michael Carrick, Anderson and Darren Fletcher in central midfield.

There will be a close focus on United’s tactical outlook for the match, with the manager having used Wayne Rooney as a lone striker against Besiktas in midweek and in the home game against Arsenal. Are City to be considered a genuine threat this season, or will the manager go for the jugular and include Dimitar Berbatov alongside Rooney?

With Hughes missing key talent and United at home, Ferguson must sense that now is the time to set down a marker.

“They’ve had a softish start to the season with two or three easier games, but the result against Arsenal on Saturday was the one that surprised people. Scoring four goals against Arsenal was an emphatic result,” said Ferguson.

“When you get off to a good start, it definitely galvanises you and gives you the confidence. And of course, they have such a big squad and a lot of players – they have about seven centre-forwards. But when you have spent that kind of money, and the wages they are paying, you have to win the league with that kind of investment.

“That is where the difficulty will come for them and it will be very difficult for City when you see the likes of ourselves, Chelsea and Liverpool and Arsenal.

On the terraces fans are looking forward not only to United’s team taking City down a peg or two but welcoming the liar Carlos Tevez back to Old Trafford with a special brand of warmth and affection. Ferguson, though, isn’t concerned about the little striker’s return. “I am not bothered whether Tevez plays or not,” said Ferguson. “Manchester City’s best player won’t be playing. Adebayor is their star player”

Ouch.

Poll: the Manchester derby result will be…

September 18, 2009 Tags: Polls No comments

United take on City at Old Trafford Sunday in the 152nd competitive Manchester derby. United leads the fixture by 61 wins to 41 in competitive matches, although there were also 44 matches during the war. This derby has a little extra spice, however, due to the £200 million that City has spent on new players in the past year. For the first time in decades City actually has a competitive side.

The Manchester derby result will be...

  • Narrow United win (46%, 73 Votes)
  • Comprehensive United win (44%, 70 Votes)
  • The unthinkable (11%, 18 Votes)
  • A draw (2%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 159

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Kidd joins City cashwagon

September 7, 2009 Tags: , Shorts No comments

Brian Kidd, the former Manchester United player and assistant manager, has joined the oil-fuelled revolution at Manchester City as technical development manager for the club’s academy. Kidd will act as both coach and mentor in the club’s academy, returning to the game after a brief spell as Portsmouth’s assistant manager under Tony Adams and Paul Hart last season.

Kidd played more than 200 league games in an 11-year playing career at Old Trafford, scoring in the 1968 European Cup final as a teenager. He later had three seasons as a player across town at City, before spending a decade in coaching roles under Sir Alex Ferguson, eventually becoming the manager’s assistant.

But Ferguson voiced his doubts about Kidd’s ability to succeed him at Old Trafford in the book Managing My Life. Kidd responded by damning the book as a fantasy. The row, which erupted in 1999 when Kidd was manager of the soon-to-be relegated Blackburn Rovers, ruined a successful relationship between the two men.

Later Kidd took on coaching roles at Leeds United, where he suffered significant abuse from the club’s fans, England, Sheffield United and Portsmouth.

A small club with a small mentality

July 26, 2009 Tags: Opinion 3 comments

Sir Alex Ferguson broke his relative silence on Manchester City’s controversial city-centre poster campaign with an outspoken attack on the Eastlands outfit. Ferguson hit out at City’s spending, their mercenary players and that Carlos Tevez poster – branding the club a “small minded and arrogant.”

While Fergie doesn’t normally pick fights with clubs that pose no threat, he has clearly taken exception to a Deansgate poster that proclaimed “Carlos Tevez – Welcome to Manchester.” Manchester City fans, who have waited 34 long and bitter years for a trophy, have often found amusement in the fact that Old Trafford is located in Stretford, and the club itself paid for the prominent billboard.

Carlos Tevez Billboard

Carlos Tevez Billboard, Deansgate

“That billboard really is City, isn’t it?” said Sir Alex ahead of today’s 8-2 victory against Hangzhou in China. “They are a small club with a small mentality. All they can talk about is Manchester United. That’s all they have ever done and they cannot get away from it. That is stupid. That arrogance will be rewarded in the right way. It’s having a go at us.”

“I don’t look on City as my biggest challenge. They think taking away Tevez is a triumph. It is poor stuff. I thought a long time ago that he would go to City. Now I don’t have to deal any more with players who are miserable because they are not playing. I have good professionals here.”

Another player prone to throwing a strop is Emmanuel Adebayor, the former Arsenal striker, who signed for City in a £25 million deal last week. The deal was delayed despite a fee being agreed amid rumours that Adebayor had been offered to United. A rumour confirmed by Ferguson, who revealed that Adebayor had all but begged to join another Champions League club before joining City.

“At the last minute, from what I can gather, either Emmanuel Adebayor or his agent phoned us after they had agreed a deal with City and then did the same with Chelsea. He was desperate to get to either Chelsea or us.”

Ferguson also attacked City’s spending on wages, which have attracted Tevez, Adebayor, Robinho and Gareth Barry to the club. While each of the four has claimed ambition and trophies were behind their moves, the club hasn’t come close to winning any silverware this millennium.

“When someone offers you that kind of money, it’s a big attraction to people nowadays. That is the reason they have gone there. Do you know what City’s biggest triumph is? It’s getting those players there. I don’t know if they will do anything with them. It is not easy to get into that top four so the biggest success of all is to just get the players there.”

“There will be three teams to beat. Ourselves, Liverpool and Chelsea will be very close together.”

It was a surprisingly dismissive attack by the United manager but only reflective of the fans’ view, who regard City with little more than pity, despite the club’s new found wealth. After all, you can take the petro-dollars out of Abu Dhabi but you can never take the Bitter out of City.

Or as RoM might put it, pity the fools…

Pity the fool, courtesy of www.republikofmancunia.com

Pity the fool, courtesy of www.republikofmancunia.com

City: it’s all about trophies not money

July 21, 2009 Tags: Opinion No comments

Why hasn’t United spent big this summer, despite receiving £80 million for Cristiano Ronaldo? Because manager Sir Alex Ferguson won’t “pay over the odds for mercenaries not willing to give their all for the club.” Now who could have the Glazer’s spokesperson on the Asia tour, Teshin Nayani, be talking about? Surely not. After all, the cross-town ‘project’ is all about trophies, isn’t it?

Carlos Tevez
“City’s boss and owner came with a very good proposal.

“They showed me that City has the ambition to be one of the biggest clubs in the world. This made it easy to make the move. Money was never important.”

Estimated wage: £150,000 per week.

Emmanuel Adebayor
“People who think that I have joined City for the money are wrong.

“If I had made a move for that reason then I would have been playing for Barcelona or (AC) Milan last season. They gave me bigger offers than Arsenal did for me to stay.

“I want to win silverware and trophies. That is my ambition. The team has got quality and a manager who knows what he wants and is a nice guy.”

Estimated wage: £170,000 per week.

Mark Hughes on Gareth Barry
“We can offer an opportunity to give players a chance to make a mark in the game.

“It is about understanding where we are as a football club and where we want to go.

“It is an opportunity to be part of something and hopefully in the near future we will be able to win trophies and be one of the better teams in the Premier League.

“It is not about money, it is about making your mark.”

Rafael Benitez on Gareth Barry
“When you are a player thinking of moving to a new club, you have to make sure it is for the right reasons, because, if it is just for money, you may make a mistake, like Gareth Barry did.

“It is 100 per cent clear that it was down to money.

“I have this idea that everyone in football at this level earns big wages and that money should not be the main thing. You have to enjoy your career, strive to improve and look to play at the highest level you can.”

Estimated wage: £100,000 per week.

Real Madrid on Robinho
“We have sold Robinho for reasons of a human nature and for sporting reasons.

“The fact that he has accepted an offer from Manchester City says that he is not going for sporting reasons.

“It’s an important sum of money. For reasons of human and sporting nature, it has been decided this is for the best.

“It’s a decision agreed by all the coaching staff, who understand it is best for the player and for the club.

“He’s a great kid, but badly advised.”

Deco on Robinho
“To leave Madrid to go to Chelsea is OK, but I have my doubts with respect to City.

“We will have to ask Robinho what happened. It’s not normal to change Real for City, only for the money.

“Robinho has the standing to play in a team which aspire to titles.”

Estimated wage: £135,000 per week.

Manchester City trophies in the last 34 years: 0

United demonstrates just how far City has to go

May 12, 2009 Tags: Opinion 1 comment

To abuse an old cliché, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will be Manchester City. And while Sunday’s derby match served to highlight the gulf between two teams on the pitch, it also served to remind us of the vast difference between the status of the two clubs off it.

City’s mega-rich Abu Dhabi owners are eager for success of course. More still, they’re keen to be seen as punching their weight at the top table of European club football. Their Bitter Blue fans, meanwhile, just want some glory, and they want it now. Starvation for 30 years can make a fan hungry.

But Sunday’s easy win for the Red half of the city not only helped to demonstrate that success for the Blues may well take some time, but that they will have to gain it the hard way. In fact so far are City behind, that Sir Alex Ferguson felt confident enough to leave key plays such as Michael Carrick, Rio Ferdinand and Wayne Rooney out of the side altogether.

In many ways the match on Sunday helped to contrast the gulf between United’s years of success and City’s nouveau riche. City, of course, beat United twice last season without oil-millions spent on Brazillian superstars. But while those victories were gained amid a backdrop of giant killing, City now have pretensions of being one of the big boys of the European Elite. In this context, City rolled over rather meekly.

Ferguson, of course, has evolved this iteration of the United team over many seasons. He endured criticism during years of transition but held fast in his belief that trophies would be the inevitable result of this process. Ferguson’s patience is in marked contrast to the aspirations of City’s new maga-wealthy owners, who are essentially trying to build a top-four side from scratch. Indeed, while the last fantasy-Premier League side, Chelsea’s strategy was to add £200 million worth of players to a side already on the cusp of the top four, City are building from a low base. It will be a tough ride, no matter how much their wealth.

City’s is a huge project that may cost upwards of £500 million over the next three years in transfer fees and vastly inflated wages. This comes without any guarantee of success. Thus, patience is the name of the game for City’s owners and fans alike. If Sunday’s match is anything to go by, they will need it. The question is, with pressure being piled on former United hero Mark Hughes to win silverware, will he be afforded it?

Richest Club in the World® circus arrives at Old Trafford

May 8, 2009 Tags: Opinion No comments

United welcome Abu Dhabi’s Manchester City to Old Trafford this Sunday for the 151st Manchester derby. It’s a tie that always has an edge of course but this time out it’s also a crucial match in United’s hunt for a third Premier League crown in a row. With only four games left, and United needing just seven points for the title, the Reds will be looking to secure a vital win. City, who are still chasing a potential place in next seasons revamped Europa League, come to Old Trafford in decent form, with four wins in their last six. But with the opposition far from clever on the road this year, a season’s double over City should entail after United’s 1-0 Victory at Eastlands in November.

Indeed, it’s been an up and down season for City since the takeover by Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour. The Blue Noses, who in addition to being The Richest Club in the World®, have the Planet’s Tallest Floodlights® and The Widest Pitch in the Known Universe® at The Council House®, have largely fallen below expectations this campaign. This despite spending north of £80 million on a couple of fitful Brazilians, a no-mark Dutch midfielder and a Chelsea reserve. But in the final weeks of the season, they have finally begun to pick up enough points to save Mark Hughes’ job. For now.

Not that Hughes has been all that popular with City fans, who have always had delusions of grandeur. Now, fuelled by millions of petro-dollars, Blue Noses expect instant success. They’re a big club, you know. Massive in fact. Inevitably, even with a place in the Champions League always a remote possibility, some Bitters have been calling for Hughes’ head. They’ve waited 33 years since their last trophy, you’d think another season would make no difference.

City fans, of course, have taken their new owners to heart. Just as they’ve shown blind faith in the string of fools who’ve run the club over the past three decades. It’s a nice welcoming club like that. But then again, they were big fans of the human-rights defying Thai fugitive Thaksin Shinawatra last year so perhaps City supporters aren’t the best judges of character.

Abu Dhabi’s takeover might be different though, as the Emirates principality seem keen to throw money at their new toy. It has to be a long-term project though. Multi-million oil dollars spent this summer are unlikely to attract anything more than mercenaries or leading clubs’ ageing cast offs until City acheive some tangible success. As Kaká proved, money is one thing, but for the very top players trophies are something else altogether. Still, for owners willing to spend £17million on somebody as average as Nigel de Jong then eventually they might just buy their way to some silverware.

Until then, let’s welcome City to Old Trafford, the European Capital of Trophies.