Wednesday, June 30, 2010

David Silva is a Manchester City Player...


With most of the world's attention on the World Cup (although not really for the football — mainly dodgy goals and vuvuzelas of course), I wasn't really anticipating new signings. There has been an awful amount of rumour surrounding Yaya Toure, which would have been the more understandable announcement with Cote d'Ivoire knocked out of the tournament.

However, we have signed a player still in the tournament, and with a great opportunity to add "World Cup winner" as well as "Manchester City player" to his resume. Welcome to the club Lionel Messi David Silva.

So much about this signing makes sense. Silva is just 24, and has already played at the highest levels for club and country. He's played in the Champs League with Valencia, and was part of the Spanish side that won Euro 2008. He can play as a winger or attacking midfielder, and gives us that creativity that we were so lacking in the latter half of last season.

He's been a long term target for Chelsea and less believably, Manchester United (yeah, and where would they get the funds to buy him?!)

For mine, this is as significant the acquisitions of Robinho and Tevez. Roberto Mancini said of the signing:
"I think that David Silva is one of the best midfielders in Europe, and I hope he will be a very important (well he would say that, wouldn't he?) player for Manchester City.

"I am so pleased he is coming to us, I think he can make a big, big impact for Manchester City. In signing David, we are showing the World that we are bringing the best players here and that we hope to compete to win the Premier League. When players see what is happening at Manchester City and the ambition they are attracted to what we are building and want to be a part of it.

"I hope he does very well for Spain in the World Cup and then joins us for our pre-season, ready to compete in the Premier League. I am very excited about seeing him playing for Manchester City."
And so are we, Roberto...

Sydney Blues: Supporters' Club 5-a-side Tournament

It's that time again... thanks to Lee and the team at Footy Fans Down Under, we have another Supporters Club 5-a-side tournament to contest.

The tournament is run biannually, and this will be our third attempt at it. Frankly, our record isn't too flash so far. In the previous two tournaments, we have failed to get out of our group, with a record of 2-2-4 from our eight matches. With City's fortunes improving on the pitch, it's about time we got our act together and showed everyone else how the boys in blue play football.

Supporter's Club 5-a-side Tournament Details
Date: Sunday 15 August 2010
Time: No later than 10:00am
Location: Harbord Bowling Club, near Manly
Cost: $20 each, paid on the day
Bring: Footy boots (plastic moulded), Manchester City home kit

Here's the brief details, but there will be more to come as the event gets closer:
Whilst it’s 5-A-Side squad numbers can be up to 12, plenty of games will be played so a good idea to get a good squad number, a rolling sub system will operate.

The Event will be held on Sunday 15th August and we'd love to see your team there, Clubs are already signing up and it's sure to be a great day.

The competition venue will be the Harbord Bowling Club on the Northern Beaches, it has bar facilities aswell as food available etc so ideal for teams bringing supporters along, venue for after competition presentation to be confirmed – we have moved from our previous venue due to the demand and this will enable us to use more pitches.

Again we will be using synthetic surfaces so all good from a weather perspective.

Look forward to hearing from you soon and of course to registering your team, information will also be available via

If you can confirm you are good to play, please send an email to saying you are in, and you'll be added to the list.

Football ability is not a major requirement — even I managed to find the back of the net twice last time — but a sense of humour is. Brendo should be there to serenade us on the ukelele and I can back him up on concerto vuvuzela. Roberto Mancini might even make another appearance...

You have plenty of time to think about it, but it really is a top day out.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

City's Ever-Changing New Kit

The main criticism of the new home kit is the simple fact that we have one! It's the fifth new shirt in as many years, and when you include all the changes to away and third kit too (there were nine different kits used in the three seasons before this one), it becomes an expensive exercise at the beginning of each season.

From top-left: This seasons new kit, 2009-10 home kit, 2008-09 home kit, 2007-08 home kit, 2006-07 home kit, 2004-06 home kit...

The last time we used a home kit for consecutive seasons was back in 2004-05 and 2005-06. Isn't this something we used to take the piss out of the Rags for?

Hopefully, Umbro can use common sense and announce that this one will be in for a while. I mean, how many times can you improve on a sky blue and white shirt?

World Cup Update

Carlos Tevez netted the first (and second) goal by a Manchester City player last night, bagging a brace as Argentina cruised past Mexico 3-1 to reach the final eight.

Jerome Boateng's German side knocked out England in the other round of 16 clash, and in the process ending the World Cup for Gareth Barry, Shaun Wright-Phillips, and Joe Hart. Whilst not breathtaking, Boateng had a solid game, playing out of position at left-back. And at just 21, Jerome looks a solid prospect for the future.

Nigel De Jong's Oranje take on Vladi Weiss' Slovakia at Durban tonight. It should be noted that the referee of this clash was the same one that handed out 9 yellow cards in the match between Germany and Serbia... which is not a good sign for the tough-tackling midfielder!

In the other clash, part-time City player Robinho will look to open his World Cup account against Chile. Although, the tournament favorites haven't exactly blown me (or their opponents) away so far, so it would surprise me if Chile gave them a run for their money.

And lastly, Roque Santa Cruz will start his THIRD GAME IN A ROW for Paraguay tomorrow, against the dangerous Japan. That's assuming of course he doesn't pick up a knock getting out of bed...

So even though Australia and England are no longer in the tournament, there is still plenty of good football on show – and a great chance to see our very own on the game's biggest stage.

Monday, June 28, 2010

New Manchester City Home Kit Leaked?

This is most likely what the boys will be wearing in the 2010-11 Premier League and Europa League campaign. Out of all the mock-ups and fake kits, this appears to be the most genuine, and I'm almost certain this is the real deal.

Whilst similar to last year's kit, there are a few minor changes. The white crew neck is gone, replaced by a blue collar, and the shirt now has white cuffs... but my favourite change is the one that you won't be able to see when you're wearing it — the miniature City scarf at the back of the neck.

I didn't think they were able to improve on last season's kit, but on this occasion, I think Umbro have outdone themselves.

Don't forget, we will be placing an order for the kit when it's released, so if you're in Australia and you want to save a couple of bucks, get in contact.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

They Think It's All Over...

Despite a tumultuous lead up to their final must-win group match – there were rumours of in-fighting, questions asked of the manager, and a mauling in the press back home – the team were able to hold on and secure a one-goal victory over Serbia. (You thought I was talking about the Poms, didn't you?)

Unfortunately for the Sheilaroos, four points was not enough to escape from Group D, as was the case in 2006. The side contains a lot of the names that were part of that amazing World Cup in Germany four years ago, however many of those players are four years older are also past their prime, and for others, their replacements were simply not in the same league. And as for the manager...

Those that criticise Roberto Mancini's "defensive" style of play should consider themselves lucky that they don't support a team managed by Pim Verbeek. Whilst he did well to lead to South Korea to third place in the 2007 Asian Cup – further examination reveals that they hardly set the world alight. Indeed, after scraping through the group stage, the side registered consecutive 0-0 draws in the quarter final, semi final, and third-place playoff, each match going to a penalty shootout. So not only had the Korean defence manage to hold out their opposition for over 6 hours of football – they weren't able to score either.

Australia were the amongst the first teams to secure qualification for South Africa, just behind the Netherlands and on the same date as Japan. However, the style in which they did it left a lot to be desired. Many matches were dour, drab affairs, with the defensively-minded Verbeek exclusively opting to play 4-5-1, even against the minnows of Asian football. Apart from a couple of big defeats over Qatar, that helped to boost the goal difference, the team looked very, very ordinary in attack. But, you only need one goal to win, and that was enough on most occasions – even if the manager earned the name "Verbleak" as a result of his tactical outlook. Flair players or goal scorers such as Nicky Carle and Scott McDonald were left off the plane, and the squad was stacked with midfielders. Australia's 23-man squad contained as many goalkeepers as it did strikers – and even then one of those (Kewell) is generally considered to be a left-winger.

It may have not been the prettiest formation, but it was our best one. Inexplicably before the first match against Germany, Pim reverted to a more attacking 4-4-2, although that was with attacking midfielder Tim Cahill partnering Richard Garcia (yet another midfielder) up front. Lucas Neill and Craig Moore were selected in central defence – both of whom possessed the sheer pace of Didi Hamann in full-flight and the turning circle of the Pasha Bulker. Predictably, the Sheilaroos were torn to shreds, and the cause was not helped by a red to Tim Cahill.

The second match against Ghana was a much more positive affair, as the Aussies returned to a formation in which they were much more familiar with. However, this was short-lived when Harry Kewell was sent-off for handball on the line in the 23rd minute – the second debatable red in as many matches for the Socceroos. Unlike the previous encounter against the Germans, the side were able to rally and hold on for the draw.

This meant that Australia would go in to the final match against Serbia requiring a miracle. They would first have to defeat a Serb side containing such class as Krasnic, Vidic, and Stankovic, and then hope for a result the either way – either a Ghanaian win, or a Germany victory big enough to overcome the massive goal difference.

And by jingo, they almost did it. Late goals to Tim Cahill and the much-maligned Brett Holman, combined with the 1-0 lead Germany had opened at the time, meant that the Socceroos were just two goals either way from qualification with twenty minutes still to play. It was not to be however as Ghana undeservedly qualified on the back of two penalty goals, both of which on the account of handball by the opposition.

It was still one of the best performances I've seen by the National team in quite some time. Despite crashing out early, the boys showed that Aussie spirit that they are known for, and that was so lacking in the clash against Germany. I suppose that's one thing that separates the Australian fans from the English – I find it extremely difficult to understand those people that are not just are nonchalant towards the National team... but to go far as to actively support the opposition! Although if the Socceroos featured such Grade-A wankers as Rooney, Cole, Terry, and Ferdinand, I'd find it difficult too...

In the aftermath, some members of the squad have already announced their desire to continue to Brazil in 2014. Cahill predictably confirmed he'd be there, so did Harry Kewell; although by then his groin would be held together with a bit of chewy...

So thanks to the Sheilaroos for another unforgettable World Cup, and hopefully we can make the Second Round (or better) in Brazil.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

World Cup Zombies

I hope everyone is enjoying the World Cup as much as us here in Sydney?

For those people annoyed that some games are on during the working day, spare a thought for us here on the East Coast of Australia where games have been played at 9.30pm, Midnight and 4.30am (!!).

There has been a surprising amount of buzz around the cup, somewhat dampened by Australia's lacklustre performance against Germany, accompanied by their two most recognisable players (Jesus aside) getting sent off by pretty dubious decisions. A theme of this World Cup I think?

The men in the offices of Sydney seem to be like walking Zombies many nights - staying up to watch their favourite teams. There are many ethnic groups in Sydney too supporting their various teams such as Greece, Portugal, Italy, Korea, Brazil, Argentina, USA, Serbia and New Zealand in particular, so it's not just the Australian games being watched. Everyone seems to keep a keen eye on England too, and whilst most won't admit it, I think they are most people's second team to watch (if not support). There's been a bit of cheer from across the Tasman Sea, with The All Whites performing much better than anyone could've expected. Indeed the Sydney Morning Herald hailed their first game as Australasia 1 - Slovakia 1! Don't expect the Kiwi's to put down the oval ball just yet though.

Anyone within earshot in the last few weeks (essentially in the Greater Sydney area) will have heard me espousing my views on England's tactics, and what is going wrong.
In the event that Fabio Capello (Managerial career highlights include 5 Serie A titles, 2 La Liga, Champions League etc etc) wants to listen to me (Managerial career highlights Owens Park Mixed football title 1999-2000 with Tree Court C) then here's what I'd tell him ahead of tomorrow morning's game (OK - evening if you're in the UK) against Slovenia.
  1. Rooney has to play as a solo striker. It means he stays forward, where he is dangerous. Yes he will have to put some effort in and get knocked around, but he won't be dropping back into the 'hole' in search of the ball. This is good because...
  2. Steven Gerrard must be pushed forward to play behind Rooney. He has the vision and the passing ability to free Rooney, and whoever else is playing down the flanks. I suspect he'll once again have to play on the left, which is a shame as in central midfield he's one of the best in the world, but on the left wing he's probably not even one of the best in England. If he does play on the left, he has to stop coming inside so much, so that he can free up Ca$hley Cole (one of the better England players thus far) to make his runs down the flanks without having defenders double up on him. Gerrard can drop back occasionally, and let Frank Lampard do what he does for Chelsea and...
  3. Shoot! Several times (and not just Emile Heskey) we failed to take shots when presented with the opportunity. I think it's a lack of confidence with the ball. It's very hard to be positive, and to play long passes when the ball is likely to fly off with the merest touch - but they need to at least try. Teams at this level are not going to let you pass it into the net.
  4. Joe Cole. I hate to admit it - but Terry is right. Personally I think Manchester City's own Adam Johnson would've been a great choice for a spot on the wing in a game like this, but we have to go with what we've got.
  5. Don't play Emile Heskey. Really. Don't. He might make chances, but he's got the finishing capacity of "Nasty" Nigel De Jong. I know he's not there to score, but if your one decent chance in a game falls to him, then you're jiggered. Even if this means playing Peter Crouch. (Worth a click, that one!) I think it's more likely that Defoe will start, with Rooney again dropping off, but there we go.
  6. Gareth Barry just needs to take Robert Koren out of the game. He's Slovenia's lifeline, stifle him, you stifle the team and let England play.
Anyway, here's hoping that we get through! I'm also supporting Australia (who have a tiny chance of progressing) and play at 4.30am tomorrow morning. If England don't, work will be unbearable - and I'm not just talking about the sleep deprivation!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Lesson In Pride Turns One!

You may have noticed a few cosmetic changes to the site, and we will be doing some more over the next few days. This is in celebration of the first anniversary of the blog. I certainly didn't think I could be bothered to keep it going for that long!

The site was originally named "Sydney Blues", and was to be a way for City fans from right around the country to keep up with the news locally. However, as we discovered more and more of our readership was from the United Kingdom, we took on the name "Lesson In Pride" and became a more general City blog, whilst trying to retain that local flavour.

Not only has it been a successful year for Manchester City, it's been a great one for us off the pitch too. We've had mentions on the club site, we've been involved in a couple of successful tournaments, and of course it was a great honour to be presented with the "Heart of the City" award by the club. But probably the highlight has been meeting so many new City fans from home and abroad, some of who has become good mates outside of organised meet-ups.

Hopefully we can continue to grow on the back of the Blues' most successful season in the Premier League — and with the Ashes coming to Sydney in the new year we can probably expect a new wave of ex-pat Mancs as well.

A massive thanks to all of those who read and contribute regularly.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Sydney Blues WC2010 Schedule and Screenings

Unfortunately, the World Cup is a little bit more difficult to co-ordinate, for a couple of reasons. The time of the matches makes it difficult; the fact that there will be thousands of people in the CBD doesn't help; and of course, half of us go for England and the other half go for Australia!

So here are the tentative plans for meet-ups in Sydney:

The N-F-I
Match 1: Australia v Germany
Time: Monday 14 June, 4:30am
Venue: Moorebank Hotel/Royal Exhibition Hotel/Lowenbrau/Your bedroom

I've drawn the short-straw and will be stuck at work at the Moorebank Hotel in Sydney's west during the first match (at least I'll be getting paid to watch football I suppose), so you're more than welcome to join me there for beers on the house.

If not, the Royal Exhibition hotel near Central is a good bet, if you want to be filmed by a Channel 10 news crew as you stumble out into the chilly winter air. Or, the Lowenbrau near Circular Quay might be good to wind-up the opposition. It's up to you.

The Live Screening
Match 2: Australia v Ghana
Time: Saturday night 19 June, Midnight
Venue: Sweeney's Hotel, then to Darling Harbour

This is the most viewer-friendly match of the lot, and a must win for the Sheilaroos, so we're going to go where the atmosphere is. Sweeney's is located about a two-minute stroll from Town Hall station and a good opportunity to sink some pre-match schooners before heading down to the Live Site at Darling Harbour.

I'm not sold on the Live Site though — it will no doubt be heavily policed and they'll probably be complete tools about it. So the other option is we can stay in the pub and take advantage of full-strength beer.

The Double Header
Match 3: England v Slovenia, followed by Australia v Serbia
Time: Thursday 24 June. England game at 12am, followed by Australia at 4:30am.
Venue: Cheers Bar

We're going to return to our spiritual home of Cheers for this clash, considering that both nations will be playing on the same night. Both of these matches will be incredibly important in determining just who makes it through to the round of 16, and whether in fact Australia and England will meet in the next round. And besides, it will be a long, long night, and there's less chance of us getting kicked out of Cheers than most other places!

If you have any questions, or suggestions, please let us know on one of the multitude of ways you can contact us!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

OFFICAL: Jerome Boateng signs.

Stolen from the Club Twitter. You can read about his signing now on the Official Site.

Welcome to the club Jerome, let's just hope you're more like Kevin-Prince than George. That's the third player in as many seasons we've pinched from our feeder club Hamburg — Vincent Kompany, Nigel De Jong, and now Boateng.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

City and the World Cup

Just in case you were wondering who to support when Australia aren't playing (or after we fail to qualify for the group stages), here's a full list of players representing City, as well as their country, at South Africa. So there will be a reason to watch almost every game at the World Cup, if there was not enough to do so already!

Argentina: Carlos Tevez
Brazil: Robinho
Cote D'Ivoire: Kolo Toure
England: Gareth Barry, Joe Hart, Shaun Wright-Phillips
Holland: Nigel De Jong
Paraguay: Roque Santa Cruz
Slovakia: Vladimir Weiss

In addition, former some former City players are on show in the World Cup, such as Elano (Brazil), David James (England), Nicolas Anelka (France), Georgios Samaras (Greece), Chris Killen (New Zealand), Dickson Etuhu (Nigeria), Gelson Fernandes (Switzerland), and DaMarcus Beasley (United States).

And of course, it's interesting to compare and contrast that with the amount of players we had at the 2006 tournament...

England: David James
United States: Claudio Reyna

During the World Cup, I'll be putting up match reports for Australian games as let's face it, there has been bugger-all news from the club since the end of the season, and no signings to report as yet.

Best of luck in the World Cup to all City players, and of course, the Australian and English national teams, depending on your persuasion.