Friday, December 30, 2011

WBA 0 City 0: Never has there been such finesse and nostalgia...

Yes, you're eyes are not deceiving you — it's a new post on Lesson In Pride, months after apparently giving up on the lucrative career of professional football blogging (and how can you possibly compete with the 'tatical' observations of one Duncan Jenkins?).

It may seem strange that with the many amazing events that City have been involved in over the past six months or so — qualification to the Champions League, winning the FA Cup, leading the top division at Christmas for the first time since 1929, and of course, the small matter of beating the Rags 1-6 at Vermin Towers — it's a turgid, frustrating draw away at the Hawthorns that has finally inspired me to get behind the keyboard. Okay, it's the culmination of a few things, but yes, that 0-0 is the catalyst for this post.

I haven't done mountains of research into this, and I am more than happy to stand corrected — but I'm convinced that fanzines and blogs are more active when the team is doing poorly than doing well.

Whether people can't be bothered to devote a lot of time and effort to something that will be read by a few hundred people (at best), or the ease of use of Twitter (people's attention spans can be maintained over 140 characters more often than over a whole post), or whether blogging is just not the done thing anymore — but it can't be a coincidence that so many quality Manchester City blogs (as well as this one) have fallen by the wayside over the past couple of seasons. A simple scroll down the fan-sites on will show a large percentage that now lie dormant.

Following City these days is a much different proposition than it once was. Not better, certainly not worse, but different. I know It certainly doesn't seem as fun as it once was. I suppose there's more pressure when you're expected to pick up three points every week, not just enough points to stay up for another season.

There's the constant questioning of your support — worse still if you're an overseas supporter with no trace of a Mancunian accent (keeping an old SeasonCard on your person is a good deterrent from accusations of bandwagon support).

There's the unrealistic expectations of some supporters (whether or not they have been supporters prior to 2008 is another question), who believe the sky is falling just because we've dropped points away to West Brom. Christ, in 2005 we would have been celebrating that solitary point well into January...

Conversely, there's the 'York Away' brigade, who debunk any criticism of the team and their performance with "we're in the top four, just think of where we were back in 1998 and be thankful". As generous as Sheikh Mansour is, I don't think he's spent the GDP of South America to languish in the lower divisions playing Huddersfield Town and Carlisle.

It may be difficult to explain, but the result at West Brom was a reassuring one. Typical City™ hadn't reared it's ugly head for a while, but there it was at the Hawthorns. The pangs of nostalgia I felt when we were chasing a decisive, game winning goal (which would of course never eventuate) were uncanny. As good as it is to win matches by four and five goals (and boy is it good), there's a different kind of emotion when searching for the one goal that you know will decide the match, and the anticipation that comes with it.

I'd like to think I fall somewhere in between the Chicken Littles and the Happy Clappers, and it concerns me that there seems to be these two distinct elements of our support. But I think the exact point where I thought "you know what, this isn't what I signed up for" was in the pub at 3am against Norwich, where a chorus of fans in this season's City kit (none of whom I had seen before) started a stomach-curdling chant of "Now you're gonna believe us/we're going to buy the league".

Gaining new supporters, or worse, bandwagon-jumpers is inevitable as we become a more successful football team and a better club. However, if the majority of our support can remain grounded whilst things are going well, yet level-headed and measured when things are not, then City will hopefully never be as plastic and soulless as that mob up the road.

Merry Topofthetablemas, and Happy Blue Year. Sorry for rambling. And here's to posting more often.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Can you please do us Aussie fans a quick favour?

That's right folks, it's time for more VOTING!

Except this time, it's not to get us a free junket to the other side of the world. You'll be doing City fans all around the country a favour.

Fox Sports, the Australian broadcaster, only has the rights (and capability) to show five fixtures on the final day. Unless the Bolton v City match is one of the five selected, then we won't have the chance to celebrate the conclusion of a successful season with a live screening of the game.

So click the link, click the game, and you're done.

Ta very much!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

City 2 West Ham 1; and a gratuitous Bin Laden reference...

Manchester City look to have all but secured Champions League qualification (you can read a bit more about that below) after grinding out a 2-1 victory over bottom-placed club West Ham United. And with Manchester United and Tottenham failing to pick up a point between them, a good weekend quickly turned into a great one for City fans. And Arsenal fans too, I suppose. Well, except for one, of course...

Manchester City were always going to be too strong for West Ham considering the difference in league position, and of course the matter of City having spent almost as much money on players in the off season as the US had in Afghanistan etc...

The task was made even tougher for West Ham before the clash, with Scott Parker missing the match to sign a contract with Tottenham with injury. Not even director David Sullivan could be bothered making the trip up to the match, such was his resignation to the outcome. But aside from a calamitous opening fifteen minutes, in which even the goal-shy Nigel de Jong managed to get on the goal sheet (and not from a mistimed slide tackle, amazingly), the Hammers didn't disgrace themselves by any means.

They could have concievably drawn the game too, had Carlton Cold's late effort found the net. It seems quite apt that a player with that name goes around for West Ham. Just like the beer, the Hammers were a lot bigger in the 90's and struggle to remain relevant today. And I'd hardly describe anything they do on the football pitch as "crisp"...

Carlton Cole — definitely a poor man's Becks...

It looks like "that's yer lot" as far as West Ham go for this season. Professional-overseer-of-relegations and Toad-From-Toad-Hall-understudy, Avram Grant, is still of the belief his side can amass 39 points and avoid relegation — if their season followed that same trajectory (seven points in the next three games) they'd be leading the league by 16 points.

Of course, the chances of that happening are about as likely as those of him being around to celebrate when they eventually attain that tally, in September 2012, are about as unlikely as Nigel de Jong ever scor... oh.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Race For Fourth (Or Third?) — 4 games to go.

Manchester City moved within touching distance of the all-important Champions League place, courtesy of a 2-1 victory over West Ham. Coupled with Tottenham's recent failures against West Bromich Albion and Chelsea, fourth place is really City's to throw away.

It's at this point where the maths become extremely simple.

Tottenham sit on 55 points, with four matches to play — and two of those are formidable fixtures against City and Liverpool away from home.

The absolute most points they can amass from those fixtures is twelve, which would bring their total to 67. Therefore, with Manchester City currently sitting on 62, and with a vastly superior goal difference to the chasing pack — all it will take is five more points from the next four fixtures for City to be almost mathematically certain (massive goal-difference swing aside) of finishing in the top four.

Even the most pessimistic fan would find it hard to devise a scenario where City could now miss out on qualification. Being as conservative as possible, Manchester City should pick up a minimum of four points from the final four fixtures.

Both Everton and Tottenham have presented many problems for City in the past, so it's difficult to predict wins against either of the two — as long as City don't lose on 10 May against Spurs at Eastlands, then qualifcation is all but assured.

4. Manchester City
Games played: 34
Goal difference: +22
Recent form: 4 wins, and 2 losses. 12 points from the last 18 (4th).
Points: 62

Upcoming Fixtures:
A Everton (7th)
H Tottenham (6th)
FA Cup Final: Stoke City
H Stoke City (10th)
A Bolton (8th)
Predicted points total: 66 (4 more)

5. Liverpool
Games played: 35
Goal difference: +15 (7 worse off than City)
Recent form: 4 wins, 1 draw, and 1 loss. 13 points from the last 18 (2nd).
Points: 55 (seven behind City)

Upcoming Fixtures:
A Fulham (9th)
H Tottenham Hotspur (6th)
A Aston Villa (13th)
Predicted points total: 62 (7 more)

6. Tottenham Hotspur
Games played: 34
Goal difference: +7 (15 worse off than City)
Recent form: 1 win, 4 draws, and 1 loss. 7 points from the last 18 (13th).
Points: 55 (seven behind City)

Upcoming Fixtures:
H Blackpool (17th)
A Manchester City (4th)
A Liverpool (5th)
H Birmingham City (15th)
Predicted points total: 63 (8 more)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The M-word Debate: Tin Hat Time

It's important (and the done thing, reading other blog posts) to preface this post by saying most certainly do not agree with or sing about Munich — especially the 'Runway' song, and I tend not to refer flippantly to the Rags by that particular term either. Of course, calling them Munichs is just about as geographically accurate as calling them Mancs...

But unlike many others, I don't see how the now-infamous song belted out on Monday night at Ewood Park has manage to cause an international incident.

There is a section City support who refer to fans of Manchester United as "Munichs". There are many City supporters who say they would never chant anything unpleasant or inflammatory about Munich but see no issue with using the word itself as shorthand for United and their supporters. On Monday night, there were several thousand of them. If the 1958 disaster is not being mocked, or directly referenced, then is the term in isolation offensive? Certainly distasteful, but no more so than racist/homophobic chants towards opposition players or fans?

Manchester United fans have sung about Hillsborough. They've mocked Marc Vivien Foe. They've mocked the Leeds fans who were stabbed in Turkey. It's not a valid argument to justify any form of offensive chanting, just because they're the ones wot done it too — but there is more than one guilty party in this equation.

Most curiously, I have witnessed (with my own eyes) United fans almost goading City fans into singing about the disaster, by themselves making aeroplane gestures — undoubtedly in the hope that they can claim pantomime outrage when a City fan returns the favour.

Perhaps when United cease using the disaster to their advantage, and City fans cease referring to a Bavarian beer-loving town in an unnecessary wind-up, the chants will stop. And then the perished can finally rest in peace.

Hopefully, that day will be soon. City fans who are against the references to Munich can do their bit and not sing about it. There will be some that do — but ultimately, that's their choice.

I'd prefer if we didn't though. We cop enough unnecessary and unsubstantiated flak in the media as it is — let's not give anyone anymore ammo. Be impeccable.

Manchester Remembers — brought to you by AIG.

Spotted: Sydney Blue at Wembers!

The inside back of yesterday's Daily Telegraph (the Australian one), featured Fox Sports commentator, Sydney Blues hall-of-famer, and all-round top bloke, Simon Hill, giving his all from the stands at the semi-final of the FA Cup Sponsored By Ian.

Simon will be one of the several Australian Blues making the pilgrimage to London for the final, so if you spot the man at The Roundabout/The Green Man/Wembers (and he's not hard to miss, with him being 6'4" and all), buy him a pint.

Nice one Si!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bobby Manc: World's Sexiest Athlete?

No, not Roberto. Although he is fairly dapper. And those flowing locks... *swoon*

Anyway, here is Roberta Mancino, who I'm assuming is either a relative of Roberto, or the alias he uses at 2am on Canal Street...

Mancino is a BASE jumper/sky-diver. And I know what you're thinking. Yes, she's done it in the nude. Wow!

Some fairly NSFW links are below

This eez important!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Race For Fourth (Or Third?) — 6 games to go.

Whilst many people have talked about the unpredictability of this season, there have been some elements that have been painfully too familiar.

United cantering to another title, despite being written off as "not that good" and "past it" — a mistake people have been making for years — and unfortunately, players such as Bryan Riggs and Paul "I got there as soon as I could" Scholes are still able to have an impact, despite their combined age of 104.

Arsenal playing the best short-pass-tippy-tap-tippy-tap-olé-olé football this side of Barcelona (and Brisbane Roar), but finding ways to throw away points that even Manchester City haven't thought of yet. It's amazing they're still anywhere near the title race, considering they've thrown away a four goal lead at Newcastle, conceded a 102nd minute equaliser against Liverpool, and lead by two goals in both fixtures against Tottenham, only for the games to finish 2-3 and 3-3 respectively.

And as for City... after spending more on new players this year than the entire GDP of Kiribati, we find ourselves in the exact same quagmire that we did last season — a battle for fourth place with Spurs, including a ding-dong winner-takes-all home play-off in the final days of the campaign.

Using a bit of statistical analysis and plain old guesswork, we've tried to predict how the season will turn out.

4. Manchester City
Games played: 32
Goal difference: +20
Recent form: 2 wins, 1 draw, and 3 losses. 7 points from the last 18.
Points: 56

Upcoming Fixtures:
A Blackburn (16th)
H West Ham United (19th)
A Everton (7th)
H Tottenham (5th)
FA Cup Final: Stoke City
H Stoke City (13th)
A Bolton (8th)

Predicted points total: 66 (10 more)
Trying to be as realistic/conservative as possible, Manchester City should pick up at least ten points from the final six fixtures.

Winning the next two matches would mean that City would be in the box seat for qualification to the Champions League. However, Blackburn and West Ham are both in danger of relegation — and of course, matches against relegation threatened teams are notoriously tough at this stage of the season. And West Ham have the same results as City over the last six matches (2-1-3 for seven points), so they're not to be taken lightly. Having said that, with the Blues on a high from their recent FA Cup semi final win, these two teams should present little danger for City.

The games against Everton and Tottenham however, may present a problem. Both are teams that we City struggled to beat in recent seasons — we've lost four on the trot at home against both clubs. There is also a short turn-around between the two games to consider (the Everton game is on Saturday, the Spurs game just two clear days later on the Tuesday), which means that Mancini may be forced to rest key players like David Silva and Nigel de Jong ahead of the clash against Tottenham. City may only take one point from these two fixtures — if any.

The game against Stoke, just three days after the FA Cup final against the same opponents is an interesting prospect. Especially when a Manchester City win could inversely help Stoke qualify for the Europa League by virtue of being the Cup runners-up and the winner (City) qualifying for the Champions League.

Conservatively, we've predicted that City will only win one of the last two fixtures — a win against Stoke and a defeat at Bolton (most likely on the back of goals to Daniel Sturridge and Martin Petrov). Even so, City should manage enough points to sneak ahead of Spurs, even with a defeat at the Reebok.

There's still a slight chance that City can even overhaul Arsenal and claim third place. The Gunners have drawn five of the last six games, with the only winning coming against the hapless Blackpool. But ultimately, success in the FA Cup, and reaching the fourth and final Champions League qualification spot should be the main focus for the team and the fans.

And I'm sure we'd all take that if offered.

5. Tottenham Hotspur
Games played: 32
Goal difference: +8 (12 worse off than City)
Recent form: 1 win, 4 draws, and 1 loss. 7 points from the last 18.
Points: 54 (two behind City)

Upcoming Fixtures:
H West Bromich Albion (11th)
A Chelsea (2nd)
H Blackpool (18th)
A Manchester City (4th)
A Liverpool (6th)
H Birmingham City (15th)

Predicted points total: 65 (11 more)
For the second consecutive season, an away match against Manchester City will be key in deciding fourth place — and we know what happened last time. But wins against West Brom, Blackpool, and Birmingham, with draws at City and Liverpool, should see Tottenham fall one point short.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Rags in Sydney — They Do Exist!

I usually leave the "merciless slagging of opposition supporters" to the tosser at Republik of Mancunia (don't visit the site, it's bad for your health), but I couldn't resist on this occasion. I stumbled upon this on Saturday night... it's a membership form for the Manchester United Supporters Club of NSW.

Until now, it was only rumour that this organisation still existed — considering they can't even get a team together to play in the five-a-side tournaments anymore. After a quick perusal at this membership form, it's no wonder why they're so anonymous.

Now at the Sydney Blues, I know we've always tried to be as inclusive as possible and it's never been about making money. It's about getting as many people in Blue shirts yelling at a television screen as possible, and spreading the word about City in a country infested by Rags.

We offered scarves this season (which went down a treat apparently, considering we ordered thirty and have none left), as a way for fans to spread the word all over the globe. They've been sighted in Manchester a few time since, and even popped up in Ukraine and Greece.

Meanwhile, the Sydney Rags supporters club apparently has the hide to charge $60 a season for a membership card, and er... a t-shirt. And a monthly magazine.

Unfortunately, we don't offer a snazzy membership card, but you do get a lifetime subscription to this fine website. And the pleasure of our company, of course.

Next season, we will most likely have "proper" membership (yes, you can get a card if you like), and that will also entitle us to a place in the queue for tickets, in case we feel like a pilgrimage to Wembers again.

Rest assured, it won't be $60. How obscene.

[Edit by Gav - we weren't going to link to their site, but this is too good to pass up - have a look at the final photo of the set. Check out Sydney Blue stalwart, Brendo doing some awesome photbombing!!!]

City 1 Rags 0: We're the famous Sydney Blues and we're going to Wembley!

Normally, we'd do some kind of post-match postmortem, using big words and ham-fisted analogies to make some sort of judgment or comment about the game.

We won't do with this game for a number of reasons — the most pertinent of which is that I don't actually remember that much about the game. I know Berbatov missed a couple of sitters in the space of a couple of seconds. I think we did actually score a goal (that happened, didn't it?), and I remember Wigan winning away at Blackpool because I had them on my multi. Apart from that, nothing.

The one thing that will always remain with me was the sheer unbridled ecstasy of Yaya Toure's goal. I don't think anyone there has celebrated like that in their lives! I had a half full beer at the time, where that went afterwards is anybody's guess. Rohan probably wore it, most likely.

We've had countless nights at Cheers in the past, and this was probably the biggest yet. I would say most memorable, but again I (and I suspect many others), don't remember that much about it.

So to everyone who joined in with the laughs, the songs ("Can you hear United sing? No, noooo.... shooooooooooooooooooooosh"), and the many renditions of the Poznan, thanks for coming down. I know there were some new faces I've never seen before, I'll try to remember your names next time you're down there and I'm more sober. Especially "Troy Dann" in his bloody big hat.

You're all legends.

More photos from the night are on the Lesson In Pride facebook page, here.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Liverpool 3 City 0: You build me up, just to tear me down...

You would have thought after all these years of supporting City, we'd have learned by now.

How many tiiiiiiiimes (Sydney Blues in-joke right there) have we thought "maybe, just maybe, this is the end of Typical City™".

All we need to do is beat Middlesbrough and we're in Europe. Bring on the trophies.
We've been taken over by a Thai Prime-Minister, we're set for life. Bring on the trophies.
We're in the top four at Christmas, sign Sven up for life. Bring on the trophies.
We've been taken over by rich Arabs and they've just bought Robinho. Bring on the trophies.
We've just smacked Sunderland, get past Liverpool and we'll smack the Rags in the FA Cup. *This* time, we'll take home a trophy.

We fell for it. Again.

So just when we'd thought the Blues had turned the corner after the 5-0 demolition of Sunderland, Mancini's men put up one of the meekest displays seen this season, as they were beaten like a Southport DJ who refused to play Phil Collins convincingly by three goals to nil.

However, a sight more heart-breaking than any opposition scoreline was that of Carlos Estevez trudging up the tunnel with a hamstring injury that almost certainly will keep him out of the FA Cup semi final on Saturday.

In situations like this, it's important to try and keep a sense of perspective about things, and not over-react. Many of the same City fans that were calling Mancini a tactical genius last week are now calling for his head.

"We did not play for the first 20 minutes, when Liverpool played very well. But tonight I made some mistakes, so it is my fault. The players could do better, but I made mistakes."

"I’m sorry for the fans, because we only started to play after 20 minutes. It’s for me to know what I did."

"Liverpool started quickly, they are strong at home and we conceded a lot of chances to them early. After that we played, but not in the first 20 minutes. With all the other teams having won at the weekend, it was important to win this game but it is important we forget this and prepare for the semi final." said Mancini, conveniently overlooking the fact that we played shit in minutes 21 through 93, as well.

Although it was nice to see him admit that defeat was his fault (although there were not many players who could hold their heads up after that performance either), how about accepting responsibility for the fact we're on track for a lower points tally than last season despite spending over £100 million?

I really don't want to turn this into a slag-the-manager/slag-the-players post. Because that's not what this website, or indeed the Sydney Blues, is about. There's enough people out there tripping over themselves to put shit on the club as it is — and some of them even claim to be City fans. But there is I one burning issue I have with the manager — and it would be interesting to see if I can ask him this in the flesh (without hearing the words "important", "strange", or "this is a football").

How come every crunch game, every must-win game, every game where something big is on the line — we fuck it up? And it can't be chalked off as another occurrence of Typical City™.

I can't think of him winning an absolutely critical game. I know loads that we've lost. Carling Cup semi second leg, Rags at home, Tottenham at home, Everton at home, Rags away, Kiev away and home, Chelsea away, Liverpool away and etc and so forth.

The manager has this weekend to prove us wrong. Save your job Roberto — and more importantly, save our season.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Carlos Tevez Nominated for Player of the Year Award. Rightly so?

City's talismanic captain Carlos Tevez has been nominated for the prestigious PFA (Professional Footballers' Association) Player of the Year gong. The rest of the players on the shortlist are:

  • Charlie Adam (Plucky Little Blackpool)
  • Gareth Bale (Tottenham Globetrotters)
  • Samir Nasri (Arse)
  • Scott Parker (West Ham United)
  • Nemanja Vidic (Rags)

Whilst Tevez's contribution has undoubtedly been instrumental in this season's campaign, I find it hard to agree that he's been the most influential member of our team, let alone the entire Premier League. He has contributed nineteen goals in the league, but is in a bit of a rut recently (by his standards anyway), having just scored twice in the last ten appearances in all competitions.

I also have some questions about other members of the shortlist — namely Charlie Adam — who started the season with a bang (great for those of us smart enough to pick the lad in fantasy football), but it's no coincidence that as Adam has faded over the course of the season, so have Blackpool.

Additionally, the nomination of Gareth Bale (on the back of THREE GOALS IN MILAN!!!11!! LOL TAXI FOR MAICON!!!1!!) proves that the Tottenham Globetrotters circle-jerk is still alive and well, despite Spurs losing by four goals in Madrid this morning. Of course, it would be no great surprise if he did win, considering Bryan Riggs won the award two seasons ago on the back of twelve appearances and one (!) league goal.

So in response, our completely non-partisan and unbiased nominations for the LIP Player of the Year, are as follows:

  • Vincent Kompany (Manchester City)
  • Nani (Manchester United)
  • Kevin Nolan (Newcastle United)
  • Samir Nasri (Arsenal)
  • Rafael van der Vaart (Tottenham Hotspur)
  • Javier 'Chickenburrito' Hernandez (Manchester United)
  • Honourable mention: David Silva (Manchester City)

Have we got it even more wrong? Let us know.

Monday, April 4, 2011

City 5 Sunderland 0: Blood on the dance floor...

There's something magical about a big Manchester City win. You just can't beat it. On the back of one ninety-minute display of "totale calcio" by City, the dark clouds of an deteriorating 2010-11 season quickly disappeared, to be replaced by a glorious, intense double rainbow.

Last week, fourth looked a million miles away. Now, with that win, plus just about every team in our vicinity failing (draws to Arsenal, Chelsea, and Tottenham, plus defeats to Liverpool and Bolton. Unfortunately the Rags won, but annoyingly, they've been nigh on invincible all season). We have a big chance to make history, and it's time for City fans to keep the faith.

Yes, it may have been a five-nil thriller — but it was only Sunderland. A team that has been in free-fall since selling Darren Bent in January. A team that has not scored in seven hours of football since February 12, and has collected one point in the last twenty-one available. It's not that impressive a result, really.

Not everything is black and white in football — indeed, the scoreline sometimes does not tell the whole story, and can often unfairly flatter or shame a team. In this case, the winning margin was not so much of importance, rather the manner of victory was. We looked dangerous every time we had the ball. It's very difficult to remember the time we dominated a match so convincingly.

You are not alone if you believe that Roberto Mancini and his tactics are too defensive/negative/Italian. There have been occasions this season where he has definitely told players to keep it in the closet, rather than go all out for the win. However, it's a myth that is easily believed by the tabloid junkies — just like the one about the Tottenham Globetrotters being some bastion of good old-fashioned attacking football, despite scoring less goals than all three promoted clubs this season.

Now that the team is back from an international break — and the manager can no longer peddle the tired "we are tired" excuse — we saw a different Manchester City. And it's no surprise that we looked so good in the first match of Adam Johnson's return (scoring nine minutes in was definitely not a bad way to signal it either), plus with Yaya Toure in a slightly deeper role in defensive midfield, and dare I say it, without Gumboots Gaz to slow everything down.

Mancini is now in a bit of a jam. Does he stick with the tactics that have so far led the side to third in the league and the semis of the FA Cup Sponsored By Ian, or does he go with this new cavalier attitude that we saw against Sunderland against the better sides like Liverpool and United? Seven games left in the league (one of which we'll be there in the flesh), and it's already shaping up to be a grand finale. I have butterflies already!

In honour of Mohammed al-Fayed's curious decision to build a statue of Michael Jackson at Craven Cottage, this post is littered with MJJ song titles. How many can you find? Leave the answer in the comments. Shamone!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Could City's "tiredness" and "defensive crisis" been avoided?

The rather meaningless international break — or 'Interlull' as it's more appropriately called — is usually looked forward to as a chance to recharge the batteries towards the end of a busy campaign (especially in days gone past, where we didn't exactly have a whole host of international stars... we might have sent Paulo Wanchope to a CONCACAF qualifier occasionally).

But with today's City consisting almost entirely of full-team or Under-21 internationals, there is always the possibility of one or two coming back crocked. Last season, it was Robinho and Tevez, now apparently it's Micah Richards and Jerome Boateng.

It's a big blow for Maicon, who is arguably our most improved player from the season before. He'll likely be out of the game for a month, but has even resorted to setting up a Michael Jackson-esque oxygen tent in his house in a bid to speed his recovery.

"It is not what I wanted to hear at all," lamented Richards, in a quote we lifted directly off the Official Site.

"I felt sick when I was told. I knew from experience when I did it that it felt like a bad one but I was hoping for the best."

City's defensive options were weakened further with the news that Jerome Boateng suffered a knee injury breaking into a jog for once training with the German squad.

Coupled with the absence of Pablo Zabaleta (who had returned to Argentina to visit his gravely ill father) and Kolo Toure (who is now the face of Subway's 'six sandwiches with six grams of fat or less' ad campaign in the Ivory Coast), City are down to the bare-bones defensively. It is suggested that Derrick Boyata and the uncapped Reece Wabara will join the squad for the next match against Sunderland.

Exiled-blue Chief Ned Onuoha is currently on loan with the Black Cats, and thus is not allowed to play in the contest.

In football injures are to be expected, and a to a degree, planned for (although drug suspensions and family bereavement certainly aren't), perhaps some questions need to be asked about Roberto Mancini's loan policy.

What would we give to have Onuoha lining up at right back this weekend? Or Bellamy giving us some fresh legs (well, as fresh as those 31-year-old knees could be) in the last twenty minutes when we desperately need a goal? Or Emmanuel Adebayor getting caught offside for the tenth time in the match? Or Wayne Bridge... doing whatever Wayne Bridge does?

There's almost a full team (a total of ten players) plying their trades at other clubs — many of whom at City's expense — who could at least be giving us another option instead of Yaya Toure slogging his guts out for 90 minutes every single match.

It could well be the difference between third and fifth.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Etihad Coming Home: We (well, you) did it!

As you may or may not have noticed (I'm going to go with the former, considering we've been flogging it like a Flemington favourite for the past six weeks), we were finalists in the Etihad Coming Home competition, in which two fans could win a trip back to Eastlands for a match.

We're still waiting on the final word from the Official Site, but by all accounts (ie. email confirmation), we did it!

We haven't got exact details yet, but the game that we will 'come home' to is the clash against Spurs, which has been rescheduled for 10 May.

We thought we were in a with a chance, considering our visible our campaign has been, but never did we think we could actually win. Especially when last years' winner, David and Steve Salt, accrued over 20% of 8000 votes. How were we ever going to get two-thousand-or-so votes?

Thank you to everyone who voted and campaigned on our behalf, and commiserations to the other entrants — it's just a shame Ol' Sheikhy can't put his hand in his pocket to send them all

Now for the Academy Award-style speech... feel free to leave now...

We'd like to thank:
  • The fellow members of the Sydney Blues, and especially Brendo The Jet, for without whom there would be no club.
  • Sydney Blues-in-exile Andeh, Adam, and Bri for getting behind the bid — we need to catch up for a pint of Coopers (if they have it) in Manchester.
  • Fellow City bloggers Jack from TLDORC and Danny from Bitter and Blue for giving us a shout-out.
  • Christian and the team from The Football Sack, as well as Lee from Footy Fans Down Under.
  • The two sexiest men in Australian television, Ricky M and Frank (you're wasted on 513 Ienco...)
  • Ricardinho and Damo from the Bluemoon forum for letting us campaign there, as well as Dave Mooney from the Bluemoon Podcast for plugging us mercilessly.
  • Rozzi and the crew from Bluewatch forum — pints will definitely be distributed at Mary D's lads.
  • Members of the 'Send Blue Roo Home' facebook page, and the various Facebookers and Twittererers who voted or encouraged others to do so.
  • A very special thanks to Monnie and honourary Sydney Blue, Steve Kinsey, for their campaigning at various pubs and football matches.
  • Lastly, every person that voted, and especially the loyal readers (all twelve of you) of the Lesson In Pride blog.
And of course, it wouldn't be an acceptance speech without thanking the academy, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and God Bless America!

Monday, March 21, 2011

[VID] Archive footage: Tottenham Globetrotters v West Ham

LiP has managed to get our hands on some exclusive archived footage, believed to be of one of the most cavalier sides of their era — the Tottenham Globetrotters.

The Globetrotters were said to be a breath of fresh air, at a time where dour, scarf-wearing foreigners were boring the pants off spectators. With Gareth Bale, the bestest left-back come left-midfielder in the world to call on, Tottenham were soon banging in goals for fun with their ultra-attacking, devil-may-care attitude.

Punters at the time simply could not get enough of their revolutionary new style of football, in which a pacy winger would try to land crosses on the head of street-light masquerading as a footballer, who would then knock them down for Rafael van der Vaart.

Enjoy this piece of history!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Etihad Coming Home competition: Voting closes Sunday!

If you didn't know already (and it's hard to see how, considering we have been absolutely flogging the life out this on Facebook, Twitter, the blog, and various forums), but the Etihad Coming Home competition — in which two City fans from around the world will be flown back to Manchester for the match against Spurs — is closing soon. Like, very soon.

Two of the Sydney Blues regulars, Matt and Gav, are a one-in-eight chance of going back home. But we need your votes to make it happen!

So if you like what we do at Lesson in Pride, please drop us a vote (if you haven't done so already). To do so, click the link below and vote for Matt Coleman.

The Sydney Blues are a proactive organisation — no matter the opposition, or if the kick-off is at daft o'clock, we meet up to cheer the lads on, just as we would if we were at Eastlands. To see an example of this against United last month, watch the following vid (and watch out for flying beer!):

To see the entry that got us into the final eight, and was shown on the big screen against Blackpool, watch this one instead:

As much as we love watching the games and making droll observations from Down Under — it's not the same as watching it in the flesh. So please help us to make a dream a reality!

For more information on how you can send us home, like the cause on Facebook.

City 'til we die,
Matt Coleman (Crouchy).

Friday, March 18, 2011

City 1 Kiev 0: More "Waluigi" than "Super Mario"...

Manchester City limply exited the Ropey League at the Round of 16 stage — despite winning 1-0 on the night — after failing to overturn the two-goal deficit inflicted from the first leg by Dynamo Chicken Kiev.

It was a valiant effort by those ten players that could be bothered staying on the pitch, dominating the game for long periods despite the numerical shortfall.

For not the first time this season (or even not the first time against Dynamo Kiev), Mario Balotelli has let down the club, and probably more concerning than that, the manager that has defended him so vehemently. He was only on the pitch for 35 minutes, but even it that time managed to miss a gilt-edge chance, and throw his toys out of his pram on a regular basis.

At his wit's end, Mancini has turned to Super Nanny Jo Frost for inspiration, and relegated Balo to the naughty chair before Sunday's game at Stamford Bridge.

"I don't think he'll be in the squad," he mused.

"If Mario thinks, he could be a fantastic player. But this is his problem. When he does stupid things like tonight it's difficult for him, for me and for the team."

Whether City would have worn down Kiev to at least force extra-time we'll never know, but Mancini certainly seemed to think that they were a chance against a team that never looked like scoring an away goal that would have killed the tie.

Defenders of Joey Bartelli (if there are any left) will suggest that his petulance is due to 'his tough up-bringing'/'being racially abused his whole life'/'his homesickness'/'being just a kid'/'not being tucked into bed as a child' or a combination of the lot. But this constant defending and mollycoddling of Balo is part of the problem.

It's probably the same excuses he used, or people used, to explain his attitude when he was six. And twelve. And sixteen. And now at twenty, with the potential and the talent to be absolutely anything, he is still a little boy. An arrogant, petulant, ill-tempered boy who may wear a Blue shirt, but does not play for City.

I'm not sure if he can play for the club again this season, unless he has a complete attitude overhaul. His cards have been marked. Opposition teams are going to goad him into a reaction, and referees are going to penalise him knowing he has a reputation for doing so.

Maybe Baliability would benefit from some time in the reserves, but you'd get the impression he'd just stink up the pitch for the whole 90 minutes.

I try to like him, I really do. I found him quite refreshing at first. I even bought myself a Hatotelli... but it's extremely difficult to defend a player that has such disdain for the club that pays his wages.

Say what you like about Jo's shitness (and believe me, we have) at least you get the impression that he actually tries to not be shit.

Baliability needs the assistance of an adult to complete even the simplest of tasks, such as dressing himself, or going pot-pot.

It's still the wrong way around Mario! Oh forget it...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

'Council House' no more: Manchester City to rename stadium

Manchester City have been granted permission by the Council to sell the naming rights to their (well, the council's) stadium.

The Blues hope that not spunking millions of pounds on footballers like Roque Santa Cruz a sponsorship deal at the City of Manchester Stadium will help the club to become more financially self sufficient as new UEFA financial "fair play" rules kick in next year.

The ruling means that football clubs who want to take part in European competition have to be funded by the Spanish government break even over a three-year rolling period, starting from the 2012-13 season.

The move mirrors that of Premier League rival Arsenal, which sold the 15-year rights of its stadium to Emirates airline for nearly £100m in 2006 — however it is believed that particular deal was heavily front-loaded to pay for the construction of the stadium.

The most ideal candidate for naming rights would be rival Emerati airline and club sponsor Etihad — although calling the ground "Etihad Stadium" would lead to some confusing conversations for Melbourne-based fans.

At any rate, a naming rights sponsor would not only help to balance the books for City, it will also end the clunkiness around the City of Manchester Stadium/COMS/Eastlands debate that still hasn't been decided upon since moving from Maine Road seven seasons ago.

As long as the club doesn't go down the same egotistical path of Wigan's DW Stadium (HRH SM Arena?) or sell the rights to the highest bidder at the expense of a half-decent name like many American stadia (Minute Maid Park, Petco Park, Consolidated Transnational Stadium, Preparation H Arena et al), then I think it's a great idea.

Manchester City to play all home games at Etihad Stadium? Result! Oh...

Monday, March 14, 2011

City 1 Reading 0; Micah's head gives City fans a semi...

Manchester City set up a mesmerising, tantalising semi-final with Them Lot Down The Road, after edging past Reading in a now customary less-than-inspiring performance.

Lack of depth has been a recent concern for City, however Mancini was able to call on the fit-again Nigel de Jong, and Subbuteo Wright-Phillips for this match — the latter of which showing a glimpses of the form that made him a terrace favourite for many years. It was fitting that the by far the best two players on the pitch were involved for the goal, with Maicon Richards nodding home a David Silva corner to ensure progression.

"It felt amazing," he declared, thankfully managing not to swear unlike last time the defender scored a header from a corner in the FA Cup.

"To come through the youth academy and to get us so far in the competition is an unbelievable feeling. We have United in the semis, which makes it more special. We can't wait."

"It makes it more interesting. If we want to win the competition we have to beat the best." Richards whooped, whilst wearing his favourite sequined fur robe.

Richards wasn't the only one getting all giddy about the prospect, with the club releasing a range of Wembley-inspired merch just minutes after the final whistle. There's nothing that says "small-time" like a piece of cheap commemorative tat to celebrate the fact that we're not quite as shit as we used to be.

It's foam hands this season, next we'll be shouting "DE-FENSE! DE-FENSE!" when the opposition has the ball. An oversized thumbs down from me.

Man City are my favourite soccer ball team. We're number one! USA! USA!

The (over) commercialisation of the game is not something limited to clubs of course. The fact fans of two teams from Manchester (and surrounds) will have to spend an inordinate amount on tickets, as well as an inordinate amount on train/fuel to travel all the way to Wemberleeeeeee for a cup semi-final is ridiculous.

I mean, if we have to travel miles from Manchester to a soulless dump full of cockneys and day-trippers, couldn't they just have held it at Old Trafford? (Insert obvious joke about 'it may as well be a home game for them if it's in London' here).

The semi-final will be played on the weekend of 16/17 April, which is when the match between Manchester City and Tottenham is due to take place.

And in an amazing piece of segue and a disgraceful piece of shameless self-promotion: voting is still open in the Etihad Coming Home competition, where two Lesson In Pride contributors and Sydney Blues regulars, Matt and Gav, have a one-in-eight chance of seeing that aforementioned City/Spurs game live at Eastlands. But we need your votes to make it happen!

So if you like what we do, we'd really like you to vote for us (if you haven't done so already). You've wasted five minutes reading the rest of the post, so please waste another minute of your time clicking the link below and voting for Matt Coleman.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Kiev 2 City 0; Allergies, excuses, and media blackouts...

Barring an extraordinary turn-around in form in the reverse fixture, Manchester City look likely to crash out of the Ropey League at the Round of 16 after a limp 0-2 loss to Dynamo Chicken Kiev. And by failing to score a vital away goal, the Blues will now need to score at least three in the return leg to progress.

I haven't seen Mancini's post-match interview, but I imagine that it will be along the lines of "we are tired", "we're playing every three days", "it was cold", "the pitch was not good" or some other ham-fisted attempt to justify a flaccid City performance (does Kolo Toure have a pill for that too?) by almost everyone on the pitch — and that includes the referee. UEFA ban coming for LiP methinks!

And not for the first time this season, Mancini is having to defend the performance of Mario "Top Deck" Balotelli, who had to be taken off early in the second half after suffering an allergic reaction to cold weather hard work the grass. He still had plenty of time to pick up a now customary booking, of course.

"He had an allergy, I don't know what, his face was swollen. He wanted to come out for the second half but he had this problem 10 seconds before coming out for the second half. I came out one minute before the players and I didn't see Mario" Roberto explained, without actually explaining anything. Like how he got through the first forty-five minutes just fine.

Mancini opted to start with a midfield three of Zabaleta, Gumboots Gaz, and Yaya Toure...

Speaking of managers speaking, or rather not speaking — earlier this week, Slur Alex Ferguson from That Club Up The Road came under fire for enacting a strict policy of blanking every media outlet possible — whether that be the BBC, Hale Preparatory School's monthly newsletter, or seldom-updated and overly-wordy Manchester City blogs. This blackout even extended to said-club's own television station, leaving a gap in programming that had to be hastily filled by repeats of Bargain Hunt, where two teams scour the lower leagues of Europe to find "value in the transfer market".

As easy as it is to describe Ferguson's bully-boy attitude to the media as "petulant" and "deplorable" (that's because it is), I sometimes wonder whether that would be a better alternative to what Manchester City are doing at the moment.

There's no doubt that City's Official Site is fantastic. There's plenty of fresh content, and most importantly, it doesn't look like a dog's breakfast compared to some other football websites. Watching the kitman going the gurn and doing some bit about the Oscars? Fine. Eating like your favourite Manchester City player? That's okay too. (Or if that doesn't take your fancy, you could always eat like your favourite Manchester City supporter...)

But then on the eve of one of the most important games in the context of this season, the club posts this video on Facebook, showing the team piss-farting about in the hotel before the match — and right in front of the manager too! Maybe if Mario had shown that kind of urgency during the match, the side wouldn't be in the predicament they're in now?

Sure, the friand-eating, square-framed-glasses wearing types that usually work in "Social Media" think this kind of publicity is the greatest thing since bikes came with fixed-gears, but can you imagine this happening at another club? Do you think Ferguson would have stood for that? Is this the kind of thing teams with "winning mentalities" do?

I don't mind the side losing occasionally, but when it seems the team can't be arsed, it winds me up no end. Especially when I then can't be arsed to turn that into 600 or so words of "witty" prose...

#UkraineFact: The national anthem of Ukraine is the Tetris theme Type B.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

City 1 Wigan 0; goals on Silva platters, and you can't spell Tourette's without Toure...

The man with the sexiest feet in world football, Asian Dave Silva, underlined just how important he is to Mancini's City (although to be fair, everything is important to him), scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win over Wigan that was at the same time, a hell of a lot closer than it should have been, as well as a lucky three points.

No matter that it owed so much to hapless Wigan keeper Ali Al Habsi, who produced a howler of Massimo Taibi p
roportions. But City could easily point to the several other chances they had in the first half to kill the game.

It's important to note that this match was City's forty-fifth of the season, just shy of the 48 last campaign. This means that by the time we play Dynamo Kiev in the Ropey League next week, the players will have played the same amount of fixtures by midway through March as they had through the entirety of last season. Let's just hope that tiredness is not an issue and City don't chicken out of a competition they have a decent chance of winning. Chicken out against Kiev... Chicken Kiev... is this thing on?

With City still in the hunt in three competitions, Mancini is probably lamenting his decision to send a total of ten first-team players out on loan.

"Every other team has 20 or 22 players to choose from and you need that if you are playing every three days," Mancini said. "We only have 15 or 16 at present. When we recover all our players it will not be a problem but since January we have been unlucky with niggling injuries".

This situation is definitely not helped then by Kolo Toure's suspension from the club, for taking what is only described as a "specified substance". What the specified substance is, has not been er, specified. But it is thought that it was a slimming pill belonging to his wife. Not too dissimilar from the "my Mum gave me a fluid tablet to get rid of the double-chin" excuse offered by Shane Warne when he tested positive for a diuretic on the eve of the 2003 ICC World Cup, then.

Joleon Lescott's massive forehead must be pulsating at the thought of getting more game time for City, as Toure could face a ban of up to two years as a result.

Where Kolo sits amongst such "luminaries" as Ben Johnson, Adrian Mutu, Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire, and a monthly rotation of continental European road cyclists, remains to be seen.

As it turned out, Arsene Wenger leaped to Toure’s defence, offering that the player merely took a diet pill and had done the same at Arsenal, also, due to weight problems. While that’s far more harmless than injecting steroids or choking down pain-killers like you're on the set of Two and a Half Men, it’s still against the rules — even if the offense is somewhat comparable to jay-walking.

Meanwhile, City will face Reading in the FA Cup quarter-final, leaving the side just one win from Wemberleeeeeee. And despite his side having precisely fuck-all to play for, Gerard Houllier has defended the side he put out in the 3-0 loss to City in the last round, saying "I told the boys you don't have to be ashamed of the performance, you've done well". Proving that the man who thought that a 37 year-old Robert Pires could still play Premier League football is a liar, as well as an idiot.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

[VID] Sydney Blues v Liverpool

Here's the highlights and penalty shoot-out from the recent Supporters' Club 5-a-side tournament in Sydney. This is the quarter final between Manchester City and Liverpool.

Don't forget, some of the best players of all time have missed penalties. Ronaldo. Team Beckham. Roberto Baggio. Not all of them from three yards, however...

Monday, February 28, 2011

City 1 Fulham 1; and Hughes on the defensive (irony overload).

In a result that undoubtedly delighted lazy journalists, United fans (happy anniversary Blues, 35 years and we're still here) and residents of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, Mark Hughes FC held Manchester City to a 1-1 draw at Eastlands — in doing so picking up Fulham's eighth point in the last four meetings between the clubs at the CoMS.

Of course, we could talk about the match — such as how ineffective we looked without David Silva, how we actually looked more likely to score when a striker (Dzeko) was replaced with a midfielder (Uncle Pat), or how on earth I managed to miss a penalty from three yards yesterday — but people will not shut the fuck up about how good it was for Poor Old Hard Done-By Mark Hughes to get revenge against the three-DM-playing, job-stealing, poster child of negative football Roberto Mancini, as if he was the only manager in the history of football to be replaced before his contract had expired.

Having said that, a 'handshake' between Hughes and Mancini spoke volume of the disdain that they have for each other. Hughes is obviously aggrieved because Roberto took his job, Roberto unhappy that he was stuck with Roque Santa Cruz.

Hughes said of the 'snub': "I always think you should offer your hand in whatever circumstances, no matter how difficult it is.

"I did it and did it with sincerity after my team had been beaten 4-1 at Craven Cottage earlier in this season. I acknowledged his team were better.

"Maybe I misread it but I don't feel Roberto really acknowledged the efforts of my team and what we had done by the manner he offered his hand, by not looking at me."

Mancini rightly countered with the accusation Hughes had done exactly the same thing in November following one of City's best performances of the season.

"In London he did the same," said Mancini. "I know he said something but I couldn't understand what."For you it is may be the best thing in the match, for me, no. It is not important. He should be happy. His team got a draw against us."

Spot the difference?

In fact, Hughes was lucky to receive anything other than a bloody lip after the cheeky way he had a dig at Mancini and the club during the week, then having the hide to defend the job he did at Eastlands. Maybe if he spent more time worrying about defense on the pitch rather than off it, he'd still have a job at City...

"If you look at the City side now, I would suggest some of their main performers, and strongest, are the likes of Vincent Kompany, Nigel de Jong and Carlos Tevez. They've had a huge impact for City." he claimed. Obviously neglecting to mention the fact that Vincent Kompany wasn't a regular starter for Hughes, and has come to the fore this season playing exclusively at centre half. Or the fact that under Hughes, de Jong was a destroyer who passed sideways or backwards, but is now vital link between defence and attack.

He's got some nerve if he's claiming Tevez was his signing. He might have signed while Hughes was manager but that's about it.

If you spend several billion pounds on footballing talent, such as: Jo, Tal Ben Haim, Pablo Zabaleta, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Vincent Kompany, Glauber Berti, Robinho, Wayne Bridge, Nigel de Jong, Shay Given, Craig Bellamy, Gareth Barry, Roque Santa Cruz, Kolo Toure, Carlos Tevez, Emmanuel Adebayor, Joleon Lescott, and Sylvinho (enough players to make an entire match day squad and still leave out Jo) you'd expect one or two of them to be not all that bad, wouldn't you?

And he's doubly cheeky for suggesting that the reason those players he did sign, only underperformed because of the new manager.

"Along the way, some purchases haven't worked for whatever reasons, not really in terms of the ability those players have, but because of circumstances and the thinking of the management team and the coaches. And that happens when there's a change in management."

I'd take City under-performing our way to third place this season any day of the week, than what Hughes dished up under his tenure. Alas it seems that it's not only the managers who can't help but reopen old wounds.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sydney Blues 5-a-side: Official team photo

We'll be posting match reports and videos shortly, but here's a look at the worst side to represent Manchester City since Stuart Pearce was manager...

Saturday, February 26, 2011

[VID] Manchester Derby in Sydney

Here's a little taste of how we celebrated/commiserated Derby Day from the other side of the planet. Enjoy!

And of course, if you haven't done so already, please drop us a vote in the Etihad Coming Home competition so we can reprise these scenes at Eastlands!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

[VID] Vansan Kompany v Manchester United: Player Performance

Thanks to the wonderful TheAntMcfc for taking the time to compile this bit of YouTube goodness, showing just about every touch Vincent Kompany made in the recent Manchester derby.

Apart from the unfortunate slip before that goal, Rooney was almost as deep in Kompany's pocket as he was that time with the grandmother...

Well done that man.

Six-Yard Shay to Retire?

Shay Given's City career — if not his football career — is in extreme jeopardy after re-injuring his troublesome shoulder.

Given damaged the joint carrying a bag of balls from the team coach to the training ground during the warm-up for the Ropey League clash against Aris last week. The most pressing concern is that the joint was apparently under no real stress at the time of dislocation.

Given is expected to have a third operation to cure the persistent dislocations, however there is a chance that it would severely limit mobility in the joint, and could mean that Given may have no option but to retire.

As someone who has had frequent shoulder concerns over the years myself, from experience, Shay will have trouble regaining the confidence to have absolute trust in the joint.

But it seems that either City, or Given, or both, knew that there has been trouble for a while.

At the start of the season, Shay was seemingly desperate for a move. Arsenal, Fulham, Newcastle, Celtic, and even Roma were all mooted as potential destinations for the ROI shot-stopper. However, none of these came to fruition, and Given would "fight for his place" until January, and pick up the odd game here or there.

Was this Shay Given's last contribution to the Premier League?

However, once the January window opened, things started to get cold (as they usually do when you leave a window open in winter I suppose). There was a suggestion that Given could drop down to the Championship to get games, but the most likely deal seemed to be an emergency loan to Blackpool (who only have the underwhelming Richard Kingson to choose from), but that didn't transpire either.

In the space of five months, Given has gone from being the hottest property on the transfer market, to a gamble only willing to be taken upon by a relegation-threatened team with one fit keeper. Something just doesn't add up.

Whilst there's no doubt that our current number one (or rather, twenty-five) is the best option we have at this moment in time (and for the next ten years to come), it would be grossly unfair for the career of a talented keeper to end on the back of three Ropey League and a Care-less Cup appearance this season.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Aris 0 City 0; Fresher-in-foil, and pulped programmes...

Regular readers (or more correctly, people who mistakenly click on our links on NewsNow) may have been disappointed relieved to see that we haven't as yet commented on the big Ropey League blockbuster between Manchester City and Aris, Aris, Who The Fuck Are Aris FC from earlier in the week.

We could argue that LiP has better things to do at 4am Wednesday than watch football. Perhaps sleep, or even, you know, engage in a relationship with a member of the opposite sex. But, you don't become the leading only Australia-based Manchester City blog by being distracted by other such frivolities.

Truth be told, apart the odd chortle at the names of a few opposition players — a practice now customary since Alan turned out for Energy Drink Consortium FC — there was nowt much to write home about.

Ricardo Faty and Darcy Dolce Neto were popular choices in the comedy-name stakes — although if Aris are to progress to the next round, he Asda play better than he did on Wednesday, but there's probably Lidl chance of that happening.

Neto also had the annoying habit of going down way too easily when approached by other men. Which in my personal experience with women of Greek heritage, seems to be a common trait...

Personally, I was a big fan of the rice-cracker enthusiast Sakata, who thankfully for the home fans, comes with his own ready-made, fresher-in-foil, terrace chant.

However, a couple of days after the match itself was long forgotten by those that sat through the 90 minutes of blah, it was revealed that this bit of Photoshop genius somehow made its way into the Official Match Programme:

Doctored photograph of the Manchester City squad, starring such players as Lionel Messi, Zlatan Ibrohimivic, and Loyal Wayne. Francesco Toldo makes an appearance as Where's Wally/Waldo. [SPOILER] Wally can be found just to the left of Joe Hart and the right of James Milner.

It was apparently not before Garry Cook thumbed through the programme at a pre-match function that the error was discovered, but how Aris managed to cock this up is anyone's guess. Surely an electronic communique in the weeks prior to the match could have confirmed that yes, City do/do not have a first-team squad size that rivals any NFL team. Even typing "Manchester City ομαδικός φωτογραφία" into Google images (that's "Manchester City Team Photo" for those who don't live in the land of the Doner) reveals a few interesting results, not least of which a Three Wolf Moon t-shirt. But alas, no bloated team photo.

Whilst Garry Cook saw the funny side, unfortunately all but a select few copies were destroyed (one can be yours for the bargain-basement price of £182.77 if that's your go). And unfortunately for the fans in attendance, the pulping of the match souvenirs meant that there was one thing less to distract them from the tedium on the pitch...

Friday, February 18, 2011

Sydney Blues: Supporters' Club 5-a-side [Feb 27]

It's that time of year again... thanks to Lee from Footy Fans Down Under, we have another Supporters Club 5-a-side tournament to contest. And we really need to up our game from last time out. 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: 10:30am
Location: Harbord Bowling Club, near Manly
Cost: $20 each
Bring: Footy boots (plastic moulded), Manchester City home kit

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. We're aiming for at least ten.

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.

Information is also be available at the FFDU website.

If you can confirm you are good to play, please join the Facebook event.

Football ability is not a major requirement, 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...

Eurovision: Lech Poznan 1 Braga 0

Just a quick around the grounds in other Ropey League news.

Manchester City sister-club and celebration pioneers Lech Poznan are on track to qualify for the last 32 of the competition, thanks to a 1-0 win over SC Braga.

The build up to the match was marred by a UEFA ruling that Poznan was to play the match in a reduced capacity stadium, due to insufficient stewarding amongst other breaches.

Which brings us to this:

To "ensure" that the stadium abided by the new conditions, Poznan ultras wore hi-vis stewards jackets, partly to make sure that everyone in the stadium was "safe", but mostly as a way to stick two fingers up at the powers-that-be.

That's the kind of wit and banter City fans can relate to, especially considering our Invisible-man-singing, banana-waving history.

Hopefully we get to play them again, and hopefully it's at Lansdowne Road. Come on you Poznan!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

United 2 City 1; and the Greatest Goal of All-Time Evaarrrrr

Just over forty eight hours on from the latest installment of the Most-Massive-Manchester-Derby-of-all-time, we're still digesting the ramifications of Wayne Rooney's Bestest-Ever-Derby-Goal-of-all-time. This is assuming of course that "best", is a synomym for "most shinned".

But anyway, much like the Conquistador of Mexico, and the Belgians in the Congo, football supporters have short memories. Sho-wo-wort memories.

Apparently now Loyal Wayne Rooney is "back" after fluking his fifth goal of the season (sixteen less than at the same date last campaign), after months of indifferent form and generally playing like a busted arse (and getting a 100% pay increase to do so) the sycophantic circle-jerking over the White Heskey has returned.

The Daily Mail is going so far as to suggest that it may have been the best goal scored at Old Trafford ever — despite the fact that Rooney was his rubbish, anonymous self for 77 minutes. And the fact it was shinned. And the fact it wasn't even the best goal scored at the Theatre of Tosspots this season...

David Silva shows immense skill and awareness to arse-volley Manchester City's equaliser.

Slur Alex Ferguson was the first to administer a virtual reach-around to Loyal Wayne: "All the talk will be about that winning goal. It was unbelievable. It was reminiscent of Denis Law although I'm not so sure that Denis ever put them in with such ferocity." Speaking of Denis Law goals at Old Trafford...

Even Loyal Wayne couldn't wait to talk up how good the strike was.

"I think it might have been the best goal I've ever scored... it almost certainly rules City out of the title race unless a disaster happens..."

...yo Wayne, I'm really happy for you, I'mma let you finish but Benjani had one of the best Old-Trafford-unintentional goals of all time...

Unfortunately, Wayne is dead right. That's pretty much curtains for our title campaign. No matter how well we played on the day, no matter how unlucky we were not to get anything — we didn't. And that's what makes this result so hard to take. With so much on the line, so much more than pride to play for, we've come up short against United again.

Despite claims by Summerbee et al that "United should be looking over their shoulder" we're just as far away from them lot as ever.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

New section launched: Eat Like A Fan

On the back of the Official Site launching a new Features section, we too at LiP will be bringing you exclusive access to the day-to-day running of a football supporters club, such as giving you the chance to have the same meals as your favourite Sydney Blues in Eat Like a Fan.

Fox Sports Australia Derby promo — starring us!

Well, one of us. And I suppose it's not really starring. But the voice you hear in this promo is our very own Huddo putting on his hammiest Mancunian accent (which inexplicably goes a bit Scottish at some point).


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Manchester City v United: Derby Day late-mail

It's all well and good to be flippant, ironic, or even some occasions funny (well we try) about City — because let's face it, football is just a game, even if Bill Shankly may assert otherwise.

However, this is Derby Day. This is what being a Manchester City fan is all about.

Whilst avoiding the obvious allegations of being "bitter" and "obsessed", as a Blue, this is the first match I look out for when the fixtures are released. Playing United is the biggest game of any season — but especially this one, considering that it now true meaning in the context of both United's and City's season.

For what is football without its rivalries? The tribalism of your teams' colours as congregate for the away game (or black if you're a United fan *wink*), the frisson one experiences with a hint of danger in the air, as you gesture to the other fans as you make your way down Platt Lane George Street on a Saturday afternoon. You know a fight might just kick off at any moment, and you know you're better than them because of who you support, and they are weak scum, because of who they support. It's a Lesson In Pride, if you will.

But as for the day itself, I hate it and hate it in equal measures. The result is amplified: wins are orgasmic, defeats are crushing, while draws just infuriate.

In his Derby preview, Roberto Mancini loves it. The nutter.

"I like to play this game. I like to play at Old Trafford because it is better to win there than at home" commented Mancini.

"Because when you win away in a derby it is more important for our head and our personality."

"It is a derby and an important game — one team top of the table and one team third. Every game is difficult. Nobody thought United would lose against Wolves."

"But this is a football." Wise words indeed.

If fed, will score.

As for the teams, despite our assertions that the would be fit for the match, it really does seem that Rio Ferdinand will be out for this match, with Chris Smalling the underwhelming replacement at centre-half.

Javier "Chicken Tikka" Hernandez is unlikely to be involved as his transatlantic flight after international duty only landed on Friday, although he'll probably come of the bench and pop-up with a 90+6' winner.

Manchester City forward Mario Balotelli is battling to recover from the knee injury that has kept him out, but even if fully-fit, this is not a match I would play him in. Not only because he's first up after a spell, but also I think he would be goaded into doing something daft by United's persistent fouling.

Nigel de Jong will not be fit to play as he struggles to overcome an ankle injury. And this is the most important out — probably bigger than that of Ferdinand for United. For mine, I don't think we keep a clean sheet (and hence, pick up a result) without him.

I'd expect Roberto to pick pretty much the same XI that dismissed West Brom 3-0. Aleks Kolarov in midfield was a revelation last match, and along with Pablo Zabaleta would provide ample defensive cover against The Smooth Criminal on the left side of the pitch.

Carlos Tevez, with his bulldog-like approach, will most likely start up front on his lonesome, to a chorus of boos from the travelling United fans.

If (and it's a big if) we take the game to United early, I reckon we can get a result. Not a Nostradamus-like prediction by any means, but that's about as confident a statement I can make. They won’t sit back and defend.

And that might well help City, who have taken a few teams apart on the break this season. And aside from a few Mark Hughes-esque defensive performances, we've been strong at the back.

But if Don Roberto reverts to his big-game tactic of safety first like he did against Arsenal, then this could be the longest ninety ninety-six minutes of our lives.

Obligatory mention: don't forget to click this link and vote for Matt Coleman (Crouchy) in the Etihad Coming Home competition. Because it's important. But this is a football.