Monday, May 31, 2010

EA Sports: Manchester City 1 - 1 Stoke City

New signings Matt Coleman (28) and Diego Milito (12) combine to equalise against Stoke City. It's the off season, alright?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Curious Case of Stephen Ireland

Rumours have been circulating for weeks, and apparently have been confirmed as truth — Stephen Ireland wants out of Manchester City.

It’s an astounding fall from grace for “Superman”, who this time last year was being hailed as the long-term future of the club after a season in which he was undoubtedly our best player in Blue. However, in the twelve months since, the Emerald Prince’s crown has slipped.

He’s always been a character, has Stevie. And by “character”, I mean “total whack-job”.

There’s been his hair. His aquarium. His taste in cars. His taste in cars again. His Bebo faux-pas. His lack-of-hair this time. His lost iPod. His training regime. His tattoos. And of course, his dead grandmother (or both). What goes on inside that head of Ireland's sometimes is anybody's guess.

In his early playing days, under Pearce especially (but also games under Sven), he looked like a little boy lost. Stuck out on the wing sometimes, but even when in his preferred position in the hole, Ireland failed to deliver, and quickly became a target for the boo-boys — all this despite many players saying that he was the "most skillful player they'd played with". When rumours of a potential move to Sunderland at the beginning of the 2008-09 campaign surfaced, the common feeling amongst fans was “I’ll drive him there myself”.

Then suddenly, Stevie got good.

In a somewhat ordinary season (takeover aside, considering how much money we spent), Ireland provided most of the highlights. The pin-point pass to set up Shaun Wright-Phillips in his re-debut against Sunderland — the team he was all but nailed on to join. His lung-busting runs to set up Felipe Caicedo twice against Hull in a game he dominated single-handedly, as well as similar efforts against Hamburg away and Everton, in both of which he was the beneficiary of Robinho’s trickery.

I’m not sure whether it was the change of system employed by Hughes at the start of last season, or the excessive amount of training he did in the off-season, or the end of that telepathic relationship he had with Robinho, but right from the start, you could tell something was not right.

Sure, he’s had dizzy spells and injuries this season, as well as not being able to play in his preferred position, but that really doesn’t explain just how badly Ireland has played when he has been able to take the field. His effort and stamina — two of the major positives in his game the season before last — were nowhere to be seen as he allowed a man twelve years his senior who had played 80 more minutes in the match to ghost past him and score the winner (yes we are talking about the Ginger Pig in the Derby, sorry to bring it up).

So now, instead of fighting for his place, Stevie has decided to throw in the towel. Maybe a new manager will get the best out of Stevie, but he’s had four different ones so far at City and put in one season of solid performance.

Just like his partner in crime, Robinho, it’s hard to believe that a player can go from such heights to such despairing lows in such a short period of time.

I hope Ireland gets back to playing some decent footy — but I just can’t see it happening in a blue shirt. If at all.
The Emerald Prince being substituted before a rousing reception in the last game of the 2008-09 season v Bolton. Where did it go wrong?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

EXCLUSIVE: Danny Tiatto interview

To his detractors, he was a ill-tempered, ill-disciplined, and downright dirty player. To his fans, he was hard-working, committed, and could always be relied upon to give “110%”. You either loved him or you hated him — but whichever it was, didn’t particularly bother Danny Tiatto.

“As far as I'm concerned, Danny Tiatto doesn't exist.” These are the famous words once uttered by Manchester City manager, Kevin Keegan, towards the end of Tiatto’s days at the club. That’s right, these were comments about his own player.

“I can't abide people going on with an attitude like that. Tiatto will be fined the maximum I can. It was stupid and I won't put up with it.” Yep, that’s Keegan again.

“He's not in my plans – he's not an issue.” No that’s not Keegan this time. They’re the words of Queensland Roar coach, Ange Postecoglou, shortly before terminating Danny’s contract with the club.

By his own admission, he’s not the most popular player to have ever played the game. At a time when other home-grown superstars Mark Viduka and Harry Kewell were highlighting the ability of Australian players in the English Premier League, Danny Tiatto was there too. He may not have had the skills of the former, and definitely not the boyish good looks of the latter — but Danny was forging a career of his own.

He made 139 appearances over five seasons for Manchester City, and probably would have been many more if not for the six dismissals he accrued in this period.

He also represented Australia on 23 occasions, but again discipline was an issue, as he was suspended in crucial stages of the Socceroos’ World Cup qualifying campaign in 2002.

Despite, or maybe because of, his attitude, Tiatto was extremely popular with supporters of his own club — if not fans of opposition clubs. He was adjudged Manchester City’s player of the season in 2000-01, and again in 2004-05, this time for Leicester City.

Danny was nice enough to speak to us at Lesson In Pride on the eve of the World Cup, so maybe… just maybe the “hardman” act was just that — an act.

A big thanks to our contacts at the club for passing on his details, and of course, Danny himself for giving up a few minutes to talk with us.

LiP: Firstly Danny, do you still keep an eye on City’s results?

Tia-tia-tiatto: Definitely, yeah. I had a good time there, so I do see how they’re travelling.

Your time at Manchester City was the longest spell at a club during your career. Do you look back at your time with the Blues fondly?

Yeah as I said, I spent five years there — it was an enjoyable time. We got promoted a number of times while I was there, and got relegated and then promoted again, so yeah, a good and enjoyable time.

It would have been interesting, if nothing else.

Definitely, yeah!

What do you think about the changes to the club in the years you’ve left?

Pretty good actually, I wouldn’t mind being there myself at the moment!

Especially with some of the money being thrown around...

Yeah, there’s some decent coin being thrown around... you know the club has always had great potential but just never reached it. But with the new owners, they’re definitely going in the right direction, spending some money and they want to win titles.

The term “hardman” is used a lot to describe you. But you don’t get to play in the Premier League or represent your country without also being incredibly skillful. Are you disappointed that some people choose to neglect this about you?

It doesn’t really bother me too much, I achieved my goals of playing for Australia, and playing for Man City... playing in the Premiership, so being labelled as that doesn’t really bother me at all. I done what I had to do to get myself there, and like I said it didn’t bother me, it was just a label I got just because I got sent off every now and then. I don’t think it hampered my progress in becoming a professional footballer.

Probably the two most popular players at City last season were undoubtedly the hardest-working — Carlos Tevez and Craig Bellamy. Is that why you gained the following and support that you did?

They’re the boys you want in your team, they get stuck in, they work hard, and every now and then they’re going to get themselves in a bit of trouble, but that’s the fine line you have to walk as a footballer if you want to achieve things.

Rather than those ‘Fancy Dan’ types that run off back home to Brazil in January... but the less said about that the better...

Back to the Carnivale... yeah look you need hard workers and that’s the main thing.

The rise in the popularity of the Premier League in this country in the early 2000s can be attributed to the amount of Aussies playing the League — yourself, Lucas Neill, Kewell, Mark Schwarzer and Mark Viduka — are you happy with the legacy you guys passed on, where people in Australia are more passionate about the game than ever?

Yeah definitely, there’s always been interest, but all the Australian players have not just paved the way for the Australian public to watch the games, but also for other young Australians to come through and perform in the Premier League.

And what about Australia’s chances in the World Cup?

We’ve always got a chance... but we’ll see how we progress. If we win that first game, I think we’re well on our way really.

You’re 36 now... Is there enough life in the legs for one last hurrah in the A-League? There was a lot of talk at one point about you joining the Melbourne Heart?

Definitely not the A-League, I’m a bit all over that sort of stuff, I’m just having a kick-about with my old Melbourne Knights team and just having a bit more fun for the next year or so.

Finally, Kevin Keegan was once quoted as saying "As far as I'm concerned, Danny Tiatto doesn't exist." Can you confirm that you are the real Danny Tiatto and are in fact a real person?

Ha ha, I’m the real Danny Tiatto mate. And yeah, I loved Kevin Keegan as much as he loved me...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

2009-10 Season Review

The end of the season has come at the right time I think — both the players and the fans were starting to lose enthusiasm after a rigorous campaign. Sorry for the lack of posts, but I needed a break from the Blues! But have you been under a rock the last nine months? Here's what you may have missed:

The Good
Biggest win: Burnley 1 Manchester City 6
Burnley's defenders were for whatever reason unwilling to mark, tackle, or track the runs of our players. And for some reason they were so far up the pitch! The amount of room afforded to City's attackers was quite frankly embarrassing. And as a result, Burnley found themselves 3-0 down after only six-and-a-half minutes. All season, we have been a team that prefers to counter-attack using the blistering pace of the likes of Bellamy and Tevez, and Burnley played (or rather, didn't play) right into our hands. The sight of fans streaming out after just seven minutes was quite surreal.

Even 5-0 up at half-time, there were still plenty of nerves! When the teams emerged for the second half, it became apparent that there was a fair bit of surface water appearing on the pitch. There was a real change of the game being abandoned, and I daresay if the scoreline had not been as convincing as it was, the match would have been postponed because of the waterlogged surface. But having said that, if it wasn't for the rain, we could have quite conceivably scored 10 without too much effort.

It had all the makings of the most typical Typical City™ moment of all time. 6-0 up in the second half and the game wasn't enjoyable with the fear of the match getting called off! Thankfully the weather held to an extent, even though the simplest ten-yard pass would end up in a puddle. And yet, we still played our typical brand of passing football. If the 1967 clash against Spurs was the "Ballet on Ice", then this match was Swan Lake.

The game petered out in the last quarter, but the three points were more than truly wrapped up and hour before. With Spurs losing at Sunderland, the seemingly impossible-to-overcome goal difference of 9 was now down to just 2. As it stands, City now sit in fourth, on equal games played with Spurs and a slightly easier run home. And hey, call us obsessed, but the Rags lost at home to Chelsea too. I don't think the day could have gone better.

Shock win: Chelsea 2 Manchester City 4
There was only ever going to be one story from this match — the rivalry between Wayne Bridge and England's Bastard John Terry. And it could not have been handled any better by the City left-back, subtly but significantly snubbing the outstretched hand of Terry pre-match. It was a great way to make a statement.

Carlo Ancelotti and Roberto Mancini have gone head-to-head many a time in the Serie A, as the managers of rival clubs Inter and AC Milan. Mancini had the measure of Carlo back in Italy, and this continued into his managerial career in England. City were tactically perfect in this match. Content to absorb pressure, City were more than happy to hit Chelsea on the counter. With every successive wave of attack, Chelsea would commit more and more men forward, with up to six men in the box at times. This allowed the blistering pace of Craig Bellamy and later, Shaun Wright-Phillips, to run riot down the flanks.

4-3-3 continues to be our best formation. It's one that we played with moderate success at times under Mark Hughes, and has seen limited airings under Mancini. Despite his fantastic individual quality, we actually look better going forward as a team without Emmanuel Adebayor. So that will be a selection headache for Mancini in the coming weeks when the Togolese striker returns from suspension. Whilst Roberto was previously criticised for playing a very defensive midfield three, the difference in this match was that Gareth Barry was in a slightly more advanced position, where he could feed Bellamy and Johnson on the wings.

All credit to Carlito Tevez for a sensational return in extremely difficult circumstances. The striker only returned to England a day or so before the match after flying to Argentina to be with his family because of complications during the birth of his daughter, Katie. We struggled in the games during his absence, and hopefully his return (and this result in particular) can see City build some momentum in the coming weeks.

Best performance: Manchester City 4 Arsenal 2
Man of the match I gave to Craig Bellamy, in what was his best performance in a Manchester City shirt. His positioning and tracking back was fantastic, and he took a smart chance to give City the lead on 73 minutes. But the play of the match was Bellamy sprinting all the way back to deep into his own half to dispossess Rosicky, then carrying the ball all the way back into the Arsenal box to feed Shaun Wright-Phillips for the goal.

However, it could have just as easily gone to Emmanuel Adebayor, scoring his fourth league goal in as many games. A mesmerising run down the sideline and up the byline, leaving several Arsenal defenders in his wake, really deserved a goal but Wright-Phillips couldn't convert.

Nigel De Jong's first start of the season, and his contribution as always was unheralded, yet significant. A two-man holding midfield of De Jong and Gareth Barry may be the preferred option against the 'better' teams.

Unfortunately, City's performance will be overshadowed by the antics of Adebayor, but this will be covered separately.

Defining moments:
  • Snaring Carlos Tevez from the Rags, and the bitterness that followed.
  • Carlos Tevez scoring about a million goals between November and the end of the season, and making himself a club hero in the process.
  • Beating Barcelona at Nou Camp.
  • New recruit Emmanuel Adebayor slotting home from 18 yards just three minutes into the season, when the whole world was waiting for us to fail.
  • The unbelievable rise of Adam Johnson from Championship player to first choice winger for the fifth best team in the country.
  • Johnno's last-minute strike at Sunderland.
  • Marton Fulop's more-than-satisfactory appearances for the club in a time of crisis.
  • Adebayor's performance and length-of-the-field celebration in front of the visiting Arse fans.
  • Doing the double over Chelsea, and the Rags still unable to win the League!
  • PLUS having the pleasure of watching the best side I've ever seen in Blue!

The Bad
Heaviest defeat: Tottenham 3 Manchester City 0
Wow, what a shite game. Not even at the races. Some players, like Sylvinho and Barry, were completely outplayed. Some others, like Adebayor and Robinho, didn't look like they could be arsed.

The disappointing thing is Spurs' game plan was quite obvious to see. Long ball to Crouch, or to Lennon on the right to take on Sylvinho. And if we can see that at 7am in a pub in Sydney, it should have been patently obvious to Hughes and everyone at the ground.

Yet, what was our game plan? I couldn't tell you. Bemusing subs and tactics, by a manager out of ideas and maybe running out of time.

Adding injury to insult, Joleon Lescott is to undergo knee surgery and will be out for up to two months. And with Kolo Toure heading to the African Cup of Nations next month, that £40m central defence that we were so patiently waiting for to gel, is now gone. We would have been better sticking with Onuoha and Richard Dunne.

Shock loss: Hull City 2 Manchester City 1
I think the honeymoon period is well and truly over. Elements of Mancini's team selection were extremely confusing. The out-of-form Stephen Ireland was played on the right wing (or rather, on the right side of central midfield because he surely didn't play as a winger), and again the tired and negative combination of Nigel De Jong and Gareth Barry were played in midfield.

Our team is horribly unbalanced. There is no link up between defense and attack. At times, we essentially play a 5-0-5 formation, with no emphasis whatsoever on winning the midfield. Mancini to his credit, has seen this, which is why we were linked with box-to-box midfield type players in the last window, such as Flamini, Gago, and Mariga. We really could have done with one of them today.

When Patrick Vieira replaced Craig Bellamy midway through the second half, I just about wanted to cry. Three defensive midfielders when 2-0 down? Haveagoyamug. The team were very narrow, which is surprising because the only way we usually attack is down the flanks.
The one shining light of the match was the performance of debutant Adam Johnson. He looked to be the only threat, and giving much needed width the team. Great to see a player from the Championship look so at home in the Premiership.

Worst performance: Manchester City 3 Burnley 3
Whilst this wasn't a loss, this was a hard result to take at the time — and it hasn't got much easier when you consider how much we missed out on Champs League by.A match that was essentially a must win after a torrid October, to build some sort of momentum leading into the international break. And for the second home game in succession, we let a match-winning lead slip against very beatable opposition.

After keeping clean sheet after clean sheet in August, our defence are now leaking goals at an alarming rate. Burnley had scored just two goals on the road this season, and put three past the hapless City defense. Positioning was absolutely woeful on occasions, as Burnley attacked sometimes two or three against one.

We didn't look too bad after going 0-2 down, and in the opening stage of the second half we were sublime. But we missed ample opportunities to go two goals ahead, with Tevez inexplicably missing from six yards, and Petrov unable to find Adebayor from the right (?) wing.

With Nigel De Jong in the team we've recently been criticised as too defensive minded. With Stephen Ireland in the team we looked vulnerable through the middle. Tough one for Hughes.

Defining moments:
  • The ridiculous seven consecutive draws in October and November.
  • Anyone of the three Fergie-time losses to United in the League and the Carling Cup.
  • Aaron Lennon making Sylvinho his bitch at White Hart Lane.
  • Being doubled in the League by Everton and Tottenham.
  • Still having Jo, Benjani, and Felipe Caicedo on our books.
  • Shay's dislocated shoulder.
  • Tevez picking up an injury on International duty.
  • Tevez missing key games over the January period due to a family emergency.
  • Adebayor missing seven games through suspension — four of which were from a Stoke player's dive.
  • Ade getting shot at!
  • John Terry being a twat.
  • Missing key defenders Lescott, Bridge, and Toure — often all at the same time.
  • Kolo Toure being on the whole, rather rubbish.
  • Santa Cruz unable to string two minutes, let alone two games together before getting crocked again.
  • The indescribable form slump of last years' Player of the Season — Stephen Ireland.
  • Michael Johnson's continual battle with supposed injury, his weight, and fellow nightclub patrons.
  • Robinho being a mard-arse whenever he stepped out on the pitch.
  • Robinho pissing off mid-season to play in the Brazilian league with his mates.
  • Yeah... just bloody Robinho basically!
Lastly, a big thanks to those from both here and abroad who have followed us in our first season... we look forward to next year and have some exciting Sydney developments in store!

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Reason For All City Fans to be Very Worried About Next Season

Well, that's it for another season for City fans all over the world. How do you feel about it?

When I was back in Manchester I was always quite glad to see the back of the football season - it meant it was cricket season, the sun would be shining, and rather than eating pies on a Saturday I'd be chucking them at the opposing batsman and maybe getting fit in the process!

I'm not gutted about the fifth place finish, although the official site seems to be delighted about our "highest ever finish" in the EPL. I'd really rather they didn't remind us of that failing.

I have, however realised that we've had something of an awful downside on us missing out on Champions League football and instead going into the Cup-Winners Cup Fairs Trophy UEFA Cup Euro Vase Europa League. Something all true football fans and City fans should be dreading.

Sunday football.

All Europa games are played on Thursday, meaning we're going to have to get used to those dreadful Sunday kick-offs next season. This might be a slight inconvenience for you guys back home, but think of us out here in Sydney! This means almost every kick off will be post-midnight and on a Sunday night. Great.

From memory, my friend who works for Blackburn Rovers fan told me that they didn't have a single home, Saturday 3pm game until December a couple of seasons ago! Now maybe I'm old fashioned, but I love all the games being on at the same time, getting into the habit of going to the game on a Saturday, making it part of your weekly routine. These dodgy kick-offs are not conducive to a happy family life either, but go on we must, and the WAGS will just have to suffer I suppose! Did anyone else quite enjoy all the drama unfolding yesterday? I must say there is something good about being in a pub with 5 separate games of football on the TV at the same time :)

Just to give you an idea of what us beleaguered Sydney Blues have to go through, check out our recent fixture list.

Next season awaits - and as much as I'm being a whinging Pom, I'll be back in Cheers watching.

Wherever you are in the world, the end of the season is time to relax, take stock, and chill out. Perhaps now is the time to treat the girlfriend to a weekend away somewhere, do some shopping, treat her right.

After all the World Cup is just around the corner and you're going to need some credit in the bank :)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

So... where to from here?

So, we've missed out on the Champions League. Or more correctly, the opportunity to qualify for the Champions League. Disappointing yes, but not a tragedy.

Assuming Roberto Mancini remains manager of the club for the 2010-11 season (and there's no reason he shouldn't be), we have a somewhat solid foundation to build a title-contending football team.

He has already proven to be much more astute in the transfer market than his predecessor. In the January window, he picked up the impressive Adam Johnson and the improving Patrick Vieira for a combined total of £7million.

One advantage of not qualifying for the Champs League as it finally puts this notion of building a "Galacticos mark II" to bed. This off-season would have been about more ridiculous pursuits like John Terry, Samuel Eto'o, Fernando Torres, and of course that old favourite rumour, David Villa. Mancini instead can buy talented young players, rather than superstars. The pursuit of names such Jerome Boateng and McDonald Mariga is a key example of this practise.

And you can guarantee that he won't spunk massive amounts of money on players that were often injury prone, but worse than that, we these were players that weren't being sought after by other clubs! The transfers of Roque Santa Cruz for £18m and Joleon Lescott for £22m are the two that stand out as verging on the obscene. Despite spending all this money, we were left with a terribly unbalanced team, with no creativity or play-maker in the middle of the pitch. Out of all of the mistakes Hughes made, this was probably the daftest.

Still, Sparky was adamant that the target set for him and the club was top six and/or 70 points. The infamous "Trajectory". As it turns out, with one match to go this season, we have fulfilled the first part of the criteria, and will fall just short of the second. On that basis alone, the season should be considered a failure, right?

However, there are some mitigating circumstances that explain why we just fell short of the said target:
  • The media on our back whenever we had a shit result
  • The media on our back when we fired the manager responsible for those shit results
  • The terrible form of last season's Player of the Year
  • The terrible form of last season's top goal scorer
  • The aforementioned top goal scorer going on holiday in January to play football with his mates in Brazil
  • Our best striker picking up an injury on International duty
  • Our best striker missing key games over the January period due to a family emergency
  • Our second best striker missing seven games through suspension — four of which were from a Stoke player's dive
  • Our second best striker... getting shot at!
  • Missing key defenders Lescott, Bridge, and Toure — often all at the one time
  • The injury to our goal keeper, forcing us to loan Sunderland's third choice stopper (who did quite well in fairness)
  • The inability to recall the Premier League's best keeper from loan to cover for said injury
  • The six-and-a-half minutes of Fergie Time at Vermin Towers
  • Conceding injury time goals on three separate occasions to the Rags
So let's not harp on the initial disappointment and look forward to West Ham. We've had a good run, and I'm already looking forward to next year's campaign. I don't want to get off this ride just yet.

Monday, May 3, 2010

So it all comes down to this... (Tottenham Hotspur Preview)

The Overview
Forget all the bullshit 'Race for Fourth' posts. Forget all the speculation. Almost as soon as the match against Spurs was rescheduled for the last week of the season, the general feeling was that it would come down to this match to decide fourth place. And so it has turned out that way — it will be Manchester City v Tottenham in what is effectively a play-off final.

The winner will qualify for the final Champions League spot, the riches that come with it, and the possibility of taking on the elite of European club football. The loser will have to be content with the Europa League, and travel to such powerhouses as Ukraine, Romania, and Russia every few weeks. Both teams desperately want the former. If newspaper scuttlebutt is to be believed, for Roberto Mancini, it determine whether he has a job or not next season.

What happens if... Tottenham win?
It's season over for both clubs. With an unassailable four point lead over City, Spurs will qualify for the Champions League, regardless of what happens on the final day against Burnley. City could then finish as low as 6th, if they lose the final game to West Ham and Villa overcome Blackburn.

It's a draw?
Tottenham will still be a point ahead of City, but be two goals behind on goal difference. Regardless of what happens between City and West Ham, Spurs will only have to beat Burnley to ensure 4th spot. But if they fail to do so, then a City win will see the Blues move up to 4th.
A draw will also ensure that City cannot finish lower than 5th.

City win by one goal?

A win will see the Blues leapfrog Spurs into 4th spot, with a two point advantage.
A one goal win also see City extend their goal advantage over Tottenham from two, to four (one more for City, one less for Spurs).

If Manchester City then win the final match over West Ham, they are assured Champs League qualification.

If City can only draw with the Hammers, then Tottenham will need to beat Burnley by at least five goals, as teams that are equal on goal difference are separated by goals scored, which City comfortably leads.

If City lose to West Ham, then Spurs will only have to beat Burnley to secure 4th. A draw would still not be good enough.

City win by two or more goals?
City will of course still be two points ahead — but a draw against West Ham would all but guarantee fourth. If Spurs lose by two goals to City, they will have to beat Burnley by at least seven goals to catch the Blues.

The Betting
Manchester City $1.95 / Draw $3.45 / Tottenham Hotspur $3.70
Just about even money for City, but I'm nervous enough as it is, without the added pressure of staking money on it.
Odds courtesy of

Sydney Fans: Where to Watch It
At the moment, it will be 'The Heart of the City', Cheers Bar, at 5am on Thursday morning. But we are also toying with the idea at watching it at Triple Ace Bar near Central Station, which is the home-pub of OzSpurs. I'm not sure whether this is particularly wise considering so much is at stake. We might not even be allowed in. We'll have confirmation of the venue soon.

If you live elsewhere in this fine country, check the Facebook link for details on where to meet with fellow Blues. Melbourne fans will be meeting at Charles Dickens, Perth fans at Kangaroo Arms, and Brisbane Blues will be at the Pig and Whistle.

The Fearless Prediction
I just can't do it. I don't want to jinx it by predicting a win, nor do I want to sound pessimistic by predicting a draw or loss. But I haven't been this anxious before any match before in my life, including Derbies. The one relieving factor is that our fate is in our own hands — we won't be relying on good fortune or favours by other clubs to qualify. All we have to do is win one, possibly two games.