Sunday, 14 November 2010

Regime change on film

For all those City history buffs out there, if you haven't had chance to watch then this Granada documentary is certainly not one to be missed.

The year is 1980 and City are struggling in the lower reaches of Division One. Malcolm Allison is the man at the helm. He is undergoing his second spell at the club – only ten years earlier Allison had been a key part of City’s European Cup Winners Cup triumph.

Allison tries to arrest his team’s decline in form but as he goes about his work the threat of the sack increasingly begins to emanate from the boardroom – most starkly in the form of Chairman Peter Swales. What follows is an unusual and highly rare look behind the scenes of a club undergoing a managerial change.

There’s some fascinating footage in here: Allison’s pre and post match talks, his tactics on the training ground and the squad’s difficulty in getting to grips with the those tactics, Swales giving his manager two games to save his job, the sacking of Allison, Allison saying goodbye to his players, the interview and subsequent appointment of John Bond, and Bond’s frank assessment of his predecessor – which takes place in right in front of Allison and Swales.

Click on the links below to access the documentary. If only we had this fly on the wall stuff nowadays.

Part 1 -

Part 2 -

Part 3 -

Part 4 -

Part 5 -

Part 6 -

More comments on our recent fixtures coming soon.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

An interview with the enemy

Something to get the derby juices flowing. An avid United fan - from Greater Manchester - lays the law down on Roberto Mancini, 34 years, the importance of Baconface and the recent Rooney transfer saga.

1) How long have you been a United fan?

All my life, my granddad is a red, and so are my mum and dad. We are all season ticket


2) Where do you sit in Old Trafford?

We sit in the corner of the North stand and East stand, directly across from the tunnel. (Block N2401)

3) If you could have one player from City’s squad, who would that be and why?

I think Joe Hart has a bright future, England no 1 for the foreseeable future. I would like to

see him work with VDS for a season or so and take over the role when he feels it’s time to retire.

4) There have been a few murmurs recently about the future of Roberto Mancini, mainly due to a string of recent defeats and his cautious tactics. How do you think the Italian has performed since coming to Eastlands last year?

I think failing to deliver Champions League football last season was a major blow. The Tottenham game was a cup final at home and he fielded a defensive team like in most other

matches. In my opinion a game of that magnitude is something you should be looking to win not starting with 3 defensive minded midfielders. That mentality was summed up in the game at Wolves, 2-1 down and he takes a striker off and puts Zabaleta on. Those sorts of decisions will not win you the league; you need to be throwing strikers on trying to nick a goal if not two.

Overall I think the Italian has failed to deliver so far, failure to win a major trophy in the summer may well spell the end of Mancini’s short reign in charge.

5) Why do you think City has failed to lift a trophy over the last 34 years?

Since I started watching football closely I have never seen any consistency at City. Since

Fergie took charge 24 years ago he has seen at least 10 different managers come and go, you can’t expect to win anything unless the manager gets to stamps his mark on the team.

This season’s carling cup was a perfect opportunity to forget about last year’s semi final defeat and put the 34 year hoodoo to bed, yet Mancini showed WBA no respect and crashed out at the first hurdle.

6) Do you think the Blues can break their duck and win a trophy over the next few years?

I think they should do, the squad is capable of challenging for honours. I just think the longer the run continues the harder it will get, no matter how much money you spend.

7) The recent Rooney saga must have been a shock to your system. Do you think that is a sign of United’s decline?

It was a massive shock, one which I don’t think some fans will ever forget. Whether it was a ploy to get more money, to make the Glazers spend some of the Ronaldo transfer kitty, or he really did think United had no ambition and he wanted to join a club that hasn’t won a major trophy since 1976 you don’t go against the grain. You don’t say that Manchester United, a club who has won over 20 trophies since 1976 has no ambition.

I think Sir Alex played the situation out very well, but I don’t hold my breath, we may never see Rooney in a United shirt again. The whole matter can be put to bed till at least January. And while Fergie is in charge Man Utd will be successful.

8) How important has Sir Alex Ferguson been to the success of your club in the modern game?

Immensely important, Fergie has an unquestionable will to win. In his time at OT he hasn’t just built 1 great team but 3 or 4. He is the boss, he commands respect from his players and they believe in him. You only have to look at players who have played under him and gone on to manage themselves. Mark Hughes, (brushed out of the door at City prematurely) Steve Bruce, Paul Ince, Roy Keane and Bryan Robson all learnt from him.

The fact he is still it at helm after announcing his retirement in 2001 shows the passion he still has, his desire to ‘fucking knock Liverpool off the perch’ still remains.

9) How do you think both teams will fare in the league this season?

I think the league will be close, just like last season between United and Chelsea, United to win it by a point.

Man City will come in the top 4, and maybe challenge for the Europa League.

10) Turning to Wednesday night what’s your thoughts on the game? (United’s main danger man, City’s main danger man).

It’s a derby; maybe the most eagerly anticipated in my life time. Anything can happen. I think it will be tight. The team that can keep their heads not let the occasion get to them and keep possession will win.

City’s danger man is without doubt the ‘money grabbing whore’ he is your talisman, without him you struggle. He still feels he has a point to prove to Fergie, the man who rightly thought he wasn’t good enough for United.

United’s danger man is dependent on how bad the speculated injury crisis is. Nani has been our best player this season; if he is fit he will cause your defence problems.

11) And your prediction for tomorrow night game?

2-0 United.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Now we must look to the players

Its fair to say its been a week to forget at Eastlands, compounded by the 2-1 defeat to Wolves. The 3-0 defeat to Arsenal, an injury sustained to our talisman Carlos Tevez, followed by the alcoholic excesses of Adam Johnson, Gareth Barry and Joe Hart all captured perfectly on camera for Roberto Mancini to see for himself. Nice work.

Defeat at Molineux…

In all of this, the killer blow was surrendering a 1-0 lead to capitulate against Mick McCarthy’s men. Victory at Wolves and the exploits of messrs Barry and co would have quickly faded. Victory at Wolves, and the absence of Tevez would not have been so clear for all to see.

But defeat, combined with the arguments of Vincent Kompany and Emmanuel Adebayor on the pitch, added to the fact that James Milner and Yaya Toure were so clearly arguing on the during the Arsenal game (to say Nigel De Jong had to split them apart would be to dramatise things, but he certainly had to adjudicate), and the media find themselves enjoying a nice little feast. And all of this without knowing the reality of what is going on inside that dressing room and inside that training camp.

The BBC Manchester phone in after the game was predictable enough. There were comments of doom and gloom: getting rid of Mancini, our tactics are all wrong, we’re too defensive, why don’t we start with Adam Johnson, why did we withdraw Adebayor and replace him with Zabaleta when we were trying to get us the goal that would’ve drawn the game.

Any comments about sacking Mancini are just wide of the mark - we are fourth in the league and still a strong candidate for Champions League football. Any criticism about his team selection, substitutions or tactical approach to the game do not get to the heart of why we lost. I went to last season’s visit to Molineux, where our discipline and clinical finishing ground Wolves into the ground. We were on the wrong end of things here because we did not demonstrate these qualities, both of which are fundamental to winning a game of football. So what do fans expect?

At the back and in the centre of midfield we lacked the assured air that we had both last season at Molineux and indeed earlier in this campaign. Despite a lack of concentration from Micah Richards, and a lack of cover from James Milner we were unlucky for the Wolves equaliser, a deflected cross landing in the path on the onrushing Nenad Milijas, just high enough for him direct the ball beyond Hart into the far corner of the goal. The second goal was absolute madness. A speculative cross, a defensive header straight to a Wolves attacker, a parry from Hart going straight to another Wolves attacker who did the honest thing and put us out of our misery. I’m not sure exactly how many bites of the attacking cherry we wanted to lavish on Wolves for their winning goal. We simply weren’t good enough at the back, and we were punished for it.

But more tellingly we lost because of how we performed at the other end of the pitch. Wolves were rocking in the opening 10 minutes as chance after City chance went begging. A surging Adebayor run just failed to find the lurking Mario Balotelli. To add to this the Italian spurned a superb, low driven Milner cross, and narrowly shot just over the bar after a neat one-two with Adebayor. In the second half an excellent run by Yaya found Adam Johnson who cut the ball back only for Adebayor to place into row Z. Our other strikers have simply got to start stepping up to the plate. Tevez cannot do it all on his own. We have more than enough in our locker to get by without him against a defence like the one we faced at Molineux.

…and its repercussions

We can harp on all we want about managers, tactics and substitutions, but it was the players that lost us this game, not Mancini. It is they who must now carry the can and bear the brunt of the pressure.

A good start might be to stop remonstrating with each other on the pitch. In a sense it is a good sign, they care about winning. And I’m not na├»ve enough to think that disagreement doesn’t exist on a football pitch, of course it does, and in every team, but perhaps we need to start controlling our disagreements a bit better. At the moment they are betraying a lack of concentration. There’s a sense that we are complaining about our lot rather than getting on with the job of doing something about improving it.

All eyes now turn to our trip to Poland on Thursday, and perhaps the sterner test of West Brom this coming Sunday. The spotlight will be on us at the Hawthorns and of course the game will be important. But for me nothing has changed and we are still very much in the mix. Chelsea have set the pace, but it is another thing entirely to sustain it. We on the other hand are still up there despite not playing particularly well for the most part.