BBC BLOGS - Phil McNulty
IN ASSOCIATION WITH
« Previous | Main | Next »

Man City come out of the darkness

Post categories:

Phil McNulty | 23:45 UK time, Saturday, 5 December 2009

Manchester City's latest ploy to turn up the sense of anticipation at Eastlands - apart from spending hundreds of millions of pounds of course - is to plunge the stadium into darkness seconds before kick-off.

As the house lights are dimmed, creating an atmosphere akin to the start of a rock concert, a giant "Blue Moon" is beamed from the Colin Bell Stand and City's old anthem is belted out on cue.

Mighty effective it is too - and symbolic, because when City follow up this drama with a victory as significant as this one against Chelsea, there is a genuine sense of a club coming out of darkness into light.

Mark Hughes singled this out as a day when City could lay down "another marker about our intentions". And so it proved after a game the purist may have sniffed at, but your average man and woman in the stands would have loved.

Some called it "The Clash Of The Cash" - a collision between chequebooks from as far afield as Abu Dhabi and Russia. In the end it came down to good old-fashioned guts and Manchester City deservedly won the day.

In some respects Chelsea produced the template City and Hughes are trying to copy as they play catch-up on the Premier League's elite, helped by unlimited cash resources and naked ambition.

Roman Abramovich attempted to bridge the gap between Chelsea and those in front by wielding his mighty financial firepower, then appointed Jose Mourinho to apply the finishing touches with his guile and coaching expertise to bring home the title.

Hughes is using even bigger resources to fast-track City and two wins in the last four days, against Arsenal in the Carling Cup quarter-final and against Premier League pace-setters Chelsea, will have cemented his status as the man to lead the Eastlands "project", as it has become known.

And if City's aim is to ruffle the feathers of those they intend to challenge, then this objective has been achieved spectacularly in their last two games in front of a passionate Eastlands gallery that is starting to believe.

Hughes' technical area etiquette, or lack of it, sufficiently upset Arsene Wenger for the Arsenal boss to decline the traditional handshake at the final whistle. And on Saturday Chelsea felt the gusts of a wind of change inside Eastlands when they were bundled out of their smooth stride on a wonderfully tumultuous and madcap evening.

Carlo Ancelotti and Mark HughesHughes (r) was able to grab the limelight from Ancelotti at Eastlands

Carlo Ancelotti graciously accepted Hughes' hand at the final whistle. Having observed closely, it is fair to say City's technical area is not for the faint-hearted - but both managers kept their distance and met with dignity at the end.

Of course, for all the talk about handshakes, the place where all accounts are settled is on the pitch and this is where City delivered.

I was highly critical of City's tame approach in their recent draw at Liverpool - and rightly so because they reacted to the sight of a wounded and below-strength opponent by cowering behind the door for an hour until they were forced to show attacking intent. It was dismal and dour stuff.

I left Anfield convinced how City fared this season would depend on how willing Hughes was to take the shackles off his team.

Here, their hand forced by Chelsea taking an early lead courtesy of Emmanuel Adebayor's own goal, City showed the courage and conviction they lacked at Liverpool and fortune favoured the brave. It was a lesson they must learn when they have such striking talent at their disposal.

If City can take the self-belief they showed here (flying in the face of conventional wisdom that says once Chelsea take the lead the credits can start rolling) and produce it away from Eastlands then they can seriously consider a place in the top four.

If Hughes takes the cautious approach on his travels when City have proved what rewards real attacking intent can deliver, then a huge opportunity will be squandered. There is a top four place there for someone - and City can be in that mix if they are brave enough away from home.

And if City cannot take increased self-belief away from a wonderful Saturday night at Eastlands, then they never will.

Hughes' men showed great resilience to gather themselves after an opening ten minutes in which Didier Drogba should have scored, Adebayor did score in his own net and Chelsea gave every impression of being ready to take City to the cleaners.

Carlos Tevez grabbed the winner for CityTevez's goal proved the difference between the sides

And yet City found reserves of character to not only fight their way back into the game and equalise through Adebayor, but win the game with Carlos Tevez's free-kick early in the second half.

This being City, it was never going to be easy and Eastlands was knee deep in chewed fingernails at the end of five minutes of stoppage time, coming after Shay Given had saved Frank Lampard's late penalty.

It was the sort of win City's Abu Dhabi paymasters will have wanted from Hughes when they backed him with their fortunes - a victory they could parade as a sign of a growing Premier League power.

And they were helped by a Chelsea side that lost its way after an imperious opening, hustled and hassled in midfield and wasteful in attack, with even Drogba missing an easy late chance.

Ancelotti was calm itself in the aftermath, a sharp contrast to the agitation of Wenger, despite some criticism of referee Howard Webb. He pointed to facts: "We are top. We have two points more than anyone else. We don't have reason to be worried."

But it is a sign of the extra layer of unpredictabilty in the Premier League this season that Chelsea can find themselves hailed as impregnables one week after swatting Arsenal aside, and then be only two points ahead of Manchester United the next after defeat at their neighbours City.

And isn't the Premier League all the better for that? There is an added dimension to the title race this season - the leading contenders may just suffer more defeats, and for the uncommitted this adds new twists to what has become a familiar storyline.

If Ancelotti has a worry, it may be that Chelsea could have become complacent after their early supremacy - and there is no escaping the brutal truth that Petr Cech is not the goalkeeper he was.

Cech is usually brilliantly protected by John Terry and company, but here he was on the receiving end of an aerial barrage from set pieces and was unconvincing and exposed. Even Tevez's decisive free-kick flew ominously close to the once peerless keeper without Cech getting a decisive touch.

But even below their best, Chelsea showed they could still turn the screw as the tension mounted, and Ancelotti has good reason to raise that left eyebrow in his usual sanguine manner and shrug off this unexpected reverse. He still has an outstanding team at his disposal and Chelsea have demonstrated they have the knack of recovering from defeats.

For City's fans this was a landmark day. They have now taken a second scalp of the big four at Eastlands (we will count the beating of Arsenal in the league as evidence as opposed to that acrimonious Carling Cup win) and only lost to Manchester United in late, and highly-contentious circumstances.

This was impressive stuff from Hughes' side and he believes it will establish the foundations for a serious push this season: "We have frustrated our fans and ourselves, but I sense after the two performances we have had and the two back-to-back wins, this will be huge for us.

"We know what it takes to win against the bigger teams. Once we get the hang of how to beat the lesser teams we will be OK. We are really on a journey. We are not where we need to be yet but we are getting there quickly."

City have shown they possess courage and character at Eastlands. They have yet to prove it away from those home comforts - if they can do that then there really will be a shining light after the darkness they have had to endure.

You can follow me throughout this season at http://twitter.com/philmcnulty and join me at Facebook (requires registration)

Comments

Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    So, just to clarify, Manchester City have spent gazillions of pounds, they've beaten Chelsea and they might make the top four if they start winning away from home.

    Hard to know what to comment about, really. Throw us a bone.

    I missed the game. Would anyone like to fill me in about how and why Manchester City were able to beat a Chelsea team that looked so good the week before against Arsenal? All I got from this was "impressive stuff". Thanks.

  • Comment number 3.

    For the first time this season Man City looked like the real deal. They attacked with gusto, pace and power, competed in midfield and defended with courage and commitment. And they had the wonderful Shay Given, who has to be worth 10-15 points a season to them. Chelsea could and should have at least drawn, but they reacted badly to being hustled and put under pressure with 6 bookings and once again Peter Cech looked quite vulnerable. I see 7 teams going for the 4 Champs league places this season and Spurs are home to City on 16 December, which should be tasty.

  • Comment number 4.

    Beating any team out of the big four does not necessarily mean you are automatically challenging for a place in the top four, even if you are man city, tottenham, aston villa or burnley, and you have all the money in the world. In the end, its your overall performance in the season. 7 straight draws, and more to come will definitely not help man city's season, and i believe by may, the best they'l get is a 6th or 7th place finish

  • Comment number 5.

    Shay Given would benefit any great side.

  • Comment number 6.

    "and only lost to Manchester United in late, and highly-contentious circumstances."

    What are the highly contentious cisumstances? Are you talking about the extra time that was added at the end of the game? Because if you are there are 2 things wrong with that Mr McNulty.

    1. The time was at the end of the game because a football match goes for 90 mins of time on. If 90 mins of time on has not been played then they keep playing until it has, regardless of what the running time says.

    2. That time on was there for Manchester City to win it, just as much as Manchester United to win it. There is nothing controversial about that. Man U took the opportunity, Man City did not.

    Simple.

  • Comment number 7.

    @#1
    The apostrophe usage is correct here, given that 'Hughes' ends in the letter 's'.

  • Comment number 8.

    Not sure what #1 is on about - grammar is perfectly correct, unlike his use of a split infinitive and uncapitalised letters to start a sentence.

    City did well and deserved to win, but as Hughes said, it will be how they fare against the 'lesser' teams that will ultimately decide their league position. Beating those teams home and away on a consistent basis is perhaps the hardest thing to accomplish in the Premier League.

  • Comment number 9.

    #1 What are you on about? Nobody likes a smart @rse.

    Phil, are Liverpool still your tip? :) I was disappointed that they were hardly discussed at the end of MOTD last night, I am sure that the fans still trust Rafa! Also that dive by Stevie G was glossed over wasn't it?

    I suspect that it would have been different had it been one of those 'cheating foreigners'.

    Well done City. I thought that they rode their luck but then you have to against a strong side like Chelsea. Just as last season it appeared that Chelsea would sweep all before them but I can see more defeats as the keeper just isn't the same as he was. It's a shame but the free kick that beat him was very average and should have been stopped.

    The champions played in London yesterday, did you see them?

    Ginger.

  • Comment number 10.

    To Mark...I used the phrase "highly-contentious" because Manchester City clearly felt there was too much time added on at Old Trafford. My view at the time, and stated again since, was that the six minutes that were eventually added on gave City that time to score as well as United.

    Perhaps I should have made it clearer it was "highly contentious" from City's viewpoint as opposed to mine!

  • Comment number 11.

    Phil, after re-reading your use of that phrase and your comment at no.10, I understand that you were referring to the view of the City fans, not yours. I withdraw my objections.

  • Comment number 12.

    To Ginger...I got to grips with reality a few weeks ago and withdrew my Liverpool title tip. No point ignoring such clear evidence to the contrary.

    Got to say the penalty incident involving Steven Gerrard did look suspicious - but the referee would suggest it was not totally conclusive. I can only offer my own opinion and I would not have awarded a penalty. It's always tough to say someone has definitely dived - I was one of the few who felt Eduardo did not dive against Celtic.

    It is best to keep away from title tips now, but that was an excellent result for Manchester United.

    And one for Chelsea fans. What did you think of Petr Cech's performance yesterday? I have made my feelings clear that I do not think he is the goalkeeper he was. Am I being too harsh?

    And surely City fans have plenty they want to talk about after yesterday? Got to say I loved it from first to last.

  • Comment number 13.

    After Snowy Hughes And The Seven Draws, this was a great win. But the nagging suspicion is that Hughes's managerial abilities are not adequate for the task. Money alone is not enough. If I gave you the finest ingredients in the world to make the world's greatest cake, you could only do it if you were a great chef.
    Hughes couldn't turn any of those draws into a win and seems unable or unwilling to learn from mistakes. Rafa is the same. They keep going around in a circle.
    It will require a top manager from the continent, with their superior tactical abilities and thinking on the game, to turn City into champions.
    By the way, if the premier league is now so open and vibrant, why is the focus on whether a side can achieve FOURTH spot???

  • Comment number 14.

    Despite his own grammatical shortcomings, #1 is indeed correct. The correct usage of the apostrophe would be "Hughes's hand". An apostrophe should only be used on its own if Hughes was plural, as in the Hughes family, e.g. the Hughes' dog.

  • Comment number 15.

    Does this mean now that Wigan are going to push for fourth also, as I seem to remember, they beat Chelsea 3-1? You should know Phil that 1 result doesnt make a season, otherwise, Liverpool would have won the Premier League and Champions league last season after their perfomances against Manchester United and Real Madrid. City have potential and may make fourth spot if Villa and Spurs do not play to the standard they are capable of.

  • Comment number 16.


    I might start to believe City as a real threat as you claim them to be if they hadn't won based more on luck than any real dominance, which on another day would've been 3-1 to the blues.

    Your article is most definitely aimed at pleasing the arm chair supporters who come crawling out when they take some points off the real deal. Big deal, one game. Bit like the Arsenal's who were gracious yesterday. ho hum. pathetic.

    I wouldn't hesitate putting money on City to draw their next game if not come off feeling hard done by as Chelsea were.

    See you at the bridge.

  • Comment number 17.

    It's ridiculous to say City were lucky to beat Chelsea. It was a close game and City went up one level to slug it out with Chelsea and exposed their three weaknesses. 1. Lack of pace. 2. Dodgy discipline when decisions do not go too well for them. 3 Lack of pace in midfield and central defence and too many over 30's. That said they are still a top team and likely to finish 1st or 2nd.

    Can't understand why Cole and Malouda aren't in their starting line up more often, full backs have an easy time against Chelsea. Will they sign anyone in January? They might regret some lost points given how many of their players are off to Africa. Why this is happening in a World Cup year just amazes me.

  • Comment number 18.

    Having watched the game last evening, I was impressed with Citeh - ok, impressed is not the word, possibly cheered them on, as a United fan, that must a first! I think the win will not mean that Citeh will be guaranteed a place in the top 4. Chelsea could have made it a draw - but then Citeh were more inspired.
    What's with the BBC iD again? I am stuck with a single name.
    I think Man U will make it four PL titles in a row!

  • Comment number 19.

    OK, so it was a great and much needed win for City, and Hughes, but I think the scoreline, even though it was only 2-1 did not reflect the match at all.

    You mention that Chelsea didn't deserve to win, im not too sure I agree with that - they missed a penalty - which they deserved to score. One of City's goals looked very much like a handball, and although his hands were in close to his body and he looked as though he tried to move them out of the way - he didnt. The ball hit his hand in the opponents box, after being hit towards him from a full 20 yards out. Thats got to be a handball.

    Then in the final few Drogba was through on goal and shot tamely wide, by his standards that is a howler. Fair enough, there is no guarantee the brillian Given would not have saved, but still......

    I think the fairest result would have been 2-2, or 3-3 for that matter, and looking at the chances I think Chelsea created more opportunities.

    Cech is not the keeper he 'once' was, he's not even the keeper he was earlier in the season, like you said I think too much of his impregnability was down to the likes of Terry & Carvalho.

    By the way, im definetely not a Chelsea fan - cant stand them.

  • Comment number 20.

    No mention of the handball for City's first goal, or the fact that it wasn't a free kick (not to mention a yellow card) for their second goal. I guess "Howard Webb is a terrible ref" makes worse copy than "Man City come out of the darkness."

  • Comment number 21.

    @17...

    You mean why are they having an African Cup of Nations in a World Cup year? That might as well be most of their World Cup. Only a few of them qualify for the WC, so to take it away would be daft.

  • Comment number 22.

    First of all I want to commend Chelsea and City for a cracking game,however I have always felt the midfield diamond formation is vulnerable to two fast and tricky wingers like Wright Phillips and Robinho.
    Chelsea at least deserved a draw considering the penalty miss.
    Once again Shay Given proved he is the best goalkeeper in the premiership.
    Mark Hughes has to learn how to control himself in his technical area as he was prowling all over the place,screaming and on one occasion strayed into Ancelotti's area,a more aggresive manager might have taken exception to this.
    Petr Cech has declined as a goalkeeper since his head injury,and while he is still a good goalkeeper he is likely to cost Chelsea points this season.
    Finally while this is one of the most open and exciting title races in years I do not feel City,Villa or Spurs are consistent enough to threaten the big boys.Once the second half of the season starts the top four will get their act(s)together and go on unbeaten runs and the pretenders will be left behind fighting for the Europa league spots.

  • Comment number 23.

    I sggest you re-name your column Eastlands blog. You seem to focus on practically no-one else these days.
    There are 20 teams in the Premiership by the way - or is it only money that talks these days?

  • Comment number 24.

    To adversitystrikes...Chelsea felt there was a handball before Adebayor's goal, but Chelsea were also wrongly awarded a corner that led to their goal.

    It was a game that I really enjoyed. It was fast, furious, great fun for neutrals like myself and nerve-jangling for the partisan - and I should know having ended up sitting next to a female City fan who took shelter from the deluge in the press area. She certainly lived those last 20 minutes.

    I wonder if Chelsea's wonderful start (for 10 minutes they gave a masterclass) and their early goal made them complacent. Ancelotti did not appear hugely disturbed by the result afterwards.

    For City, the way they approached the game was a real lesson. I was bitterly disappointed with their negative approach at Liverpool - here they contested everything fiercely and attacked whenever they had the chance.

    It is the way forward for them. There is a massive opportunity for someone to break up the so-called "Big Four" this season, and the way to do it is by showing tactical courage and self-belief. City showed this yesterday and if they can repeat the trick away from Eastlands they have a chance.

  • Comment number 25.

    @16 Our next game's against Bolton... still sure you want to make that bet?

    @13 + @17 The lack of pace from Chelsea is, I believe, the reason for playing Richards (and then Onhua) ahead of Zabaleta at right-back. With 2 players in front of him, both of them well able to outpace him, Ashley Cole made very little impact (apart from winning that corner) the whole game.

    Barry and De Jong (Man of the Match) seemed to be winning balls at will in midfield. Ballack, especially, was largely missing apart from when it was time to barrack the Referee. Speaking of which, did anyone else notice that before his booking, Terry was making it quite clear to his team mates only HE, as captain, should approach the ref, but afterwards it was the usual Chelsea "How dare you penalise us, don't you know who we are?!" performance.

    And on the subject of "performance"... could someone with a better understanding of anatomy explain to me how, when Onuha hit Drohgba in the RIGHT shin, he should go spinning to his LEFT as he tumbled to the ground? Fair enough, it WAS a penalty. Onuha is still young, and maybe naive for getting within 3 yards of Droghba when he's in the box and Chelsea are behind... but the only thing missing from that particular vignette was a Grassy Gnoll.

  • Comment number 26.

    What a blue contrast. A Tale of Two Cities?
    Chelsea wiped out the Gunners with their width at the Bridge. At Eastlands their width apparently was laid bare especially when Ashley Cole was hemmed in by SWP and crunched by Micah when he had the temerity of rushing end to end! Sadly there was no end crosses for Drogba to latch on.

    City's Aerial Threats at set pieces are for real, as suggested by a Citizen, second to none. Chelsea defence (Terry, Ivanovic, Ballack et al) were at sixes and seven under City's Blitzkreig.

    This City's squad (Tevez, Robinho, Ade, Given, Kolo, NDJ, Barry, Richards, SWP, Lescott, Bridge) is for REAL. Their superb performances. Superbia in Proelia, battling after a goal down, to beat the TOP Premier team, augurs well for City's ambition to be a Top 4 tier EPL team.

    Now thats the Blueprint for 'forging a Winning Mentality'. Congrats!

  • Comment number 27.

    Great to see the Premier League becoming so competative again - instead of expecting Man U and Chelsea to beat almost every team in the leageu there are freak results being thrown up all round an nobody can assume they will take three points from any game. This is just the wake up call the top teams need.
    Obviously I would like to see Liverpool commanding a monopoly and am disappointed to see regression from last season, especially as we are one of the top four teams least equipped to coped with increased competition. Though well done to City for pushing the elite and getting in the mix but with Villa and Spurs also in the mix to upset the table toppers it promises to be a competative year with unpredictable results all round.
    Hopefully this will continue for a long time and the new top teams won't just reorganise the elite, but hopefully they will energise the 'big four' hoping them to improve and as a consequence the quality of the league and English football. Most major European leagues are becoming less competative so it's great to see that the opposite is true of ours.

  • Comment number 28.

    I just have to make a point here to Phil and all u Liverpool doubters. The season is a long season and from the growing trend which was anticipated at the start of the season the top 4 teams would definitely lose more matches, I even stick my neck out that it would be a minimum of 5 matches, but then again Liverpool has lost 5 already and we are not even in Dec, but i tell u all dont right the Reds off, at least not yet.

    They usually emass a gr8 amount of points in the second half of the season and i'm hoping this season wouldnt be different, and i believe thats where the real test will come. I see the Chelsea team crumbling like that of Scolari when Ancelotti (who IMOO isnt as gr8 as the English hype coach) is found out. the English have a way of making people look too good, just like when Scolari first arrived with all the funfare.

    The Chelsea system can be bridged by a good team with terrific wingers, when u deploy this system they are toast unless the Italian comes up with a variety, but if he decides to stick with the diamond the he would need Essien and Lampard at their very best with Mikel deep in the middle.

    He got his selection wrong against City, cos the duo of Ballack and Deco were ineffective and had no business spending as much time on the pitch as they did and this allowed city to fully control the middle with the combatant De Jong doing a Yo-man's job. all credit to City for not bringing their heads low upon conceeding the first goal and giving Chelsea a good fight, but something needs to be done about the defence.

    In conclusion I believe the Reds are still in the title race, I see Chealsea losing some more matches esp Jan during the Nations Cup even with the relatively average teams they would face, Arsenal coming good if they can keep their good players in Jan and also making 1 or 2 quality buys in the transfer market, City if they maintain the current momentum and some more big money signings should also challenge, United still very unpredictable esp with their injury crisis in the defence would be interesting to see what Sir alex comes up with in the transfer window. the likes of Villa, Spurs would fade as the championship progresses.

    all in all this would make a very interesting season.

    Common u reds, Its time. In Rafa We Trust.

  • Comment number 29.

    Its funny. As a villa fan, if we get an impressive result (like our 2-1 victory against Chelsea, for example), the press never mention it. Or, if we have a young player who is playing out of his skin and really pushing for a World Cup starting place (Milner - hugely impressive recently), still no mention. However, Spurs get a draw against us last week - Blog on how Spurs are on a march to steal a top 4 place. Then City win for the first time in 8 Premier League games. Anther blog.

    Impartial BBC? Don't think so! Really disappointing. I personally don't think City have a cat in hells chance of the top 4. Why? Because they struggle against teams like Hull...

  • Comment number 30.

    Some people are so blinkered - as Phil says, the corner that ultimately led to Chelsea's goal shouldn't have been given. Also, let's get it right here folks, after being on top for the first 20 minutes, Chelsea were overpowered by a hungry City team who went on to dominate most of the remainder of the game - only for the last 10-15 minutes were Chelsea able to claw their way back into it as City went into their shell a little trying to hold what they had.

  • Comment number 31.

    @24philmcnultybbcsports,
    Mr McNulty how can you describe yourself as a neutral? You backed Liverpool for this title,and until a few weeks ago everyone of your blogs were written to emphasise this point.At least try to be consistent.
    Wonderful game though.

  • Comment number 32.

    The thing that annoys me is that all of sudden just because City beat Chelsea they are nailed on certainties to be in the top four. I even heard one fool of a journalist saying they could challenge for the title. The truth is they won't finish in the top four as they are too inconsistent. Liverpool have consistently made the top four and as soon as they have a bad run everyone's saying they won't get into the top four. They will finish either third or fourth, guaranteed.

  • Comment number 33.

    Disappointing blog again Philip. Your impartiality is slipping, true citeh deserved some praise but Chelsea were simply poor. In addition you need to move on from 'shakegate', Wenger has principles which if i'm assuming correctly you're saying he should abandon and abide to professional courtesy. Nonsense.

  • Comment number 34.

    I may be being defensive over Mr Cech, but on the whole he actually quite a solid game yesterday. Yes there was the obvious where Carvalho had to help him out and head it away from under the crossbar, but if you were to watch him for the whole 90mins, he dealt with the high ball very successfully, and at times, he in fact dominated crossed in a way that perhaps he hasn't for a while.

    On the free kick; yes perhaps Cech should have done better with it, but it was hit with some pace, and was perhaps a bit unsighted so again I feel you’re being a bit harsh. More importantly, Mr McNulty, you have conveniently failed to mention the contentious nature of the free kick being given in the first place. If Johnny Evans can get away with a karate kick, yet Carvalho gets booked for making a clear challenge, there's something wrong.

    Chelsea didn't really deserve anything more than a point (no doubt we got a bit complacent after the opening period), but I do feel we were hard done by yet again, and until Man City stop getting a little help from the man in black (or whatever other colour they where...), this raving about serious top 4 contenders is perhaps a little premature. Of course they've got a chance, but there's no need to get carried away.

  • Comment number 35.

    28. At 10:15am on 06 Dec 2009, Scouser4life wrote:
    ------------
    A debate about the game between the Chelsea and Man City and we're talking about Liverpool... Great!. The only thing I would be talking about re Liverpool and this game would be how sweet its going to be when Man City take Liverpool's place in the Champions League

  • Comment number 36.

    Every week one of the top 4 hopefuls has a good result and they get touted as contenders for the top 4. Isn't that just obvious?

    Isn't the top 4 the least Man City expect?

    Basically it's the same every week. Last week Spurs looked like top 4 material, this week City. I'm sure Villa will have a good result in a couple of weeks and they'll be 'looking good for the top 4' or something along those lines.

    There's been 15 games, that leaves 23 remaining. This shows how fickle and sensationalist the media are. One bad result and you've had it. One good result and you're certainties for the top 4.

  • Comment number 37.

    'Not sure what #1 is on about - grammar is perfectly correct, unlike his use of a split infinitive and uncapitalised letters to start a sentence'

    As well as his inability to spell 'apostrophes'

    Man City beat Chelsea and an Arsenal reserve side and suddenly they're 'fourth spot' contenders. Perhaps that means Wigan are, too? Again, the over-analysis and rush to predict a long term outcome on the basis of one game rears its ugly head.

    The fact is, they've already drawn too many games they should have won. Yes, they were very impressive against Arsenal in the league earlier this season, but their form in the run-up to the Chelsea game has been patchy. Their record against the 'big four' so far has been pretty good, but the numerous draws suggest an unwillingness to raise their game quite so much for many of the other teams in the EPL. Their inconsistency will, I feel, prove to ultimately deny them Champions League qualification. Spurs look the more likely contenders in that regard.

  • Comment number 38.

    ps. In case anyone thinks I can't count, I maintain the 'over analysis based on ONE game' comment, as the league is where it really matters for Man City (as is the focus of this blog and debate) and I don't really regard beating a reserve side at home in a second-tier cup competition as evidence of anything much. Other people seem to, however.

  • Comment number 39.

    Defeats so far this season...

    Chelsea - 3
    Man Utd - 3
    Arsenal - 4
    Tottenham - 4
    Aston Villa - 3
    Man City - 1
    Liverpool - 5


    Last Seasons defeats...

    Man Utd - 4
    Liverpool - 2
    Chelsea - 5
    Arsenal - 6
    Everton - 9

    Yes, that's right... Arsenal got Champions League football this year after losing 6 and drawing 12! I think Man Utd, with their injury crisis, and Chelsea with the inevitable January absenteeism will both lose more than 4 games each this season

    I think it's well past time we stopped talking about a "Big 4", don't you?

  • Comment number 40.

    Superb blog Phil.

    I was at the game and it was a fantastic atmosphere, I wasnt nervous or anxious, I wanted to see City put in a good performance irrespective of the score and they did, I get the feeling the media had probably sharpened their knives in advance but on this occasion it wasnt City on the pointed end.

    People coming on here and saying Villa or Wigan didnt get the same plaudits for beating Chelsea are missing the point, against Wigan Chelsea finished with nine men, against Villa it was basically a set piece smash and grab by Villa, Chelsea dominated and had more shots, corners possession, the BBC stats showed last night that City had the most shots on target, attempts, corners etc so for the first time Chelsea were beat without a hint of luck on controversy.

    As for City you made the point about needing to beat teams who park the bus, thats what the good teams do and now City need to learn the same and yes they need to be more adventurous away from home.

    Chelsea will be in the top 2 but their keeper has not been the same since his injury and once again they lost discipline when up against it.

    Good luck to your mob Everton v Spurs today.

    Cheers.

    PS I had to laugh at the “City getting help from officials” jibe.

    Zero penalties given to City even though we should have at least five and four given against some highly dubious, yeah the ref’s love us.

  • Comment number 41.

    To joe strummer...I think all this does is emphasise an added excitement in the Premier League this season. Those challenging for a place in the top four - Manchester City, Spurs and Aston Villa - have all shown the capability to get good results, but true consistency has yet to be proved.

    I really do believe there is a massive opportunity for someone to break that top four cartel this season, but consistency is the key.

    And I see I support Manchester City now. I think that's almost everyone in the Premier League now. I am at Birmingham City in 10 days, so I will brace myself for the charges of being one of their lifelong supporters as well if I write something faintly resembling praise.

    All good fun though - great result for Oxford United again yesterday in case you hadn't all noticed. Thought I'd point that out.

  • Comment number 42.

    Phil,

    As one of those 'not guilty' of accusing you of supporting any particular team, your response to those wind up merchants who frequently perpetrate such pointless garbage about you and other BBC sport contributors is both petty and childish. I would have thought someone in your position to know better than to descend to their level.

  • Comment number 43.

    So Man City have spent trillions, a decent result against a top team (who themselves have spent trillions) and now they are"real deal top 4 challengers". Let's face it, Man City are a medium sized club - like Chelsea -who might make it because of oodles of cash. Hmmm reminds me of Blackburn and Uncle Jack's Millions (young 'uns, ask your Dad). So, while everyone gets excited about the big 4/5 I am laughing because an unfashionable club, who have tradition and history and have won the biggest prizes there are, are doing it the right way... Good foundations, not spending beyond their means, top manager, good players who will likely contribute toward England hopefully winning the WC AND have already seen Chelsea off this year... Yes, that's right, I'm a Villa fan. Now we don't seem to have the press drooling over our every move like City/Chelsea/Arsenal/Utd, but look at the facts and compare us to the Young pretenders of Man City, who up until 2yrs ago were a bit of a nothing team... We are above them, making one of their players (Dunney) better than he ever was with them. We too took Chelsea too task. We too are in the semis of the League Cup and we still have a true tradition that while doesn't count for anything in terms of league position, I am sure that most City/Chelsea fans would love... Oh, and we are above City...

    As an old fashioned footie fan, I am proud that we are doing it right - and it will pay dividends for us long after our rich friends in the Middle East/Russia have gone bankrupt/got bored... And after years of the press ignoring us (usually last on MoTD, toward the back of the reports etc) I am glad that we can go about our business unnoticed by all - means that we avoid all of those plastic fans.

  • Comment number 44.

    To Rupert P Matley
    ------------------------------------------

    I really think you need to get out more mate.

  • Comment number 45.

    'I think it's well past time we stopped talking about a "Big 4", don't you?'

    Not yet. Wait until May and see where everyone ends up.

    Good luck to Man City, it's been a long time since they were near the top of the top division, and I personally would like to see it as it would add more spice to the Manchester derbies to have both teams vying for contention, great for us 'neutrals' (in a 'Manchester' regard). However, I feel for Man City ti ultimately break into that top four spot, you need a different manager. Mark Hughes is very good in getting a group of largely unspectular players to be better than the sum of its parts. From what I've seen so far, I don't think he's as good at managing multi-million pound so called 'superstars'. The way they play sometimes, it seems that they're not all 'singing from the same hymn sheet' except for when the 'big boys' come calling. Egos need massaging more than say, those he had to deal with at Blackburn.

    Just a personal opinion,, mind. I'll happily be the first on here to admit I was wrong if City end up in fourth (of third!) spot come May.

  • Comment number 46.

    It was a good result and shows that teams like Chelsea and Arsenal are beatable if you have a go. On this point I agree that this performance was in marked contrast to the one against Liverpool. However it is still early days for us.
    It is very interesting to see how public opinion of City has changed with the money. I watched the match in a pub in Liverpool (where I live). Two seasons ago if we had scored and took the lead against Chelsea, most people in the pub would have cheered (there is not the strength of feeling against city that exists for United). However last night, I was the only one to cheer. Even my mates want us to get beat these days, although that could be something to do with me, I guess.
    Hey-ho. We march on and keep improving. SWP has rekindled his form of old in the last couple of games and long may it continue. Personally I'd rest Adebayor and give Santa Cruz an extended run. They have set the standard and need to keep it there for the rest of the campaign. If we can, we will be hard to stop.

  • Comment number 47.

    To #14, sorry, you're wrong here. Follow this link:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostrophe#Possessive_apostrophe

  • Comment number 48.

    'To Rupert P Matley
    ------------------------------------------

    I really think you need to get out more mate.'

    What, and spend more time on here than is healthy trying to predict everything from the EPL to the Conference on the basis of one game of football?

    Thanks, but if that's the case, I'll keep staying in.

  • Comment number 49.

    A team that has bought some of the top players from a lot of the best teams in Europe competing for the top four? Well that IS a surprise. Just so we remember, Wigan also beat Chelsea, so it's hardly a push to believe that Man City could beat any of the "top four" and break into the CL spots. I dont understand why people seem surprised at it, in the same way they seem surprised that an under strength under funded Liverpool team isn't challenging for the title? Hmm...

  • Comment number 50.

    I'm another Citizen-on-Merseyside, and you're dead right JRmaineman... for the last 20-odd years it was fine to admit you were a City fan in even the most rabid of LFC pubs. If nothing else, it offered the opportunity of a freebie 'sympathy pint' and an "Ahh, Ay! You poor sod!"

    Nowadys, even my best mate, an ardent Red, was in two minds about how he wanted the Chelsea match to turn out. And the both of us will be torn this afternoon... do we dare cheer on Everton to take points off Spurs and see Flash 'Arry suffer an awkward post-match interview?

  • Comment number 51.



    Roger Sturmey

    We too are in the semis of the League Cup and we still have a true tradition that while doesn't count for anything in terms of league position, I am sure that most City/Chelsea fans would love... Oh, and we are above City...


    Quiet a bizarre post there Roger!

    History tradition etc check out City and you will see some surprising facts, last 1-11 English players champions of England, Highest attendance outside Wembley, first team to win a domestic and European trophy etc

    You also conveniently ignore the fact that this yank bloke has provided O’Neill with a very decent transfer fund, maybe not in the same league as City and Chelsea but not far off, i.e. Young, Carew, Milner, Heskey, Dunne, Sidwell, in fact in the last few years Villa have spent £130milion (just checked!) so don’t give me this “we’ve done it on a shoestring” nonsense.

    Lets face it the only difference between City and Villa is we have a new ground that we fill, you have an old one that you don’t, oh and our Sugar Daddy has more money than yours.

    Enjoy.

  • Comment number 52.

    To Rupert P Matley... you say "I don't really regard beating a reserve side at home in a second-tier cup competition as evidence of anything much". You are forgetting Manchester City also beat Arsenal's first choice team in the Premier League at home - and 4-2 was a convincing scoreline. Surely beating Arsenal and Chelsea at home is at least a sign of real potential?

    And as I said about my comments about the team I am supposed to support (and in my defence it does seem to be a different one every week and I don't that particular criticism personally) it was a bit of fun, so let's have a laugh about it.

  • Comment number 53.

    'To Rupert P Matley... you say "I don't really regard beating a reserve side at home in a second-tier cup competition as evidence of anything much". You are forgetting Manchester City also beat Arsenal's first choice team in the Premier League at home - and 4-2 was a convincing scoreline. Surely beating Arsenal and Chelsea at home is at least a sign of real potential?'

    Phil, I didn't forget Man City beating Arsenal 4-2. If you read my entire post....

    'The fact is, they've already drawn too many games they should have won. Yes, they were very impressive against Arsenal in the league earlier this season, but their form in the run-up to the Chelsea game has been patchy. Their record against the 'big four' so far has been pretty good, but the numerous draws suggest an unwillingness to raise their game quite so much for many of the other teams in the EPL.'

    As for the stuff about WUMs, fair enough.

  • Comment number 54.

    Sorry, Phil, that was a quote from my previous post.

  • Comment number 55.

    @14 - i think you'll find the phil's apostrophe use was quite correct: when singular item words end in an 's', an apostrophe is added without the further use of another 's'. this has been the accepted grammatical use of the apostrophe in such a situation for some time now

    recently children have been taught that adding a second 's' after the apostrophe (to make 'Hughes's' in this case) is now also being considered acceptable (due to the American use of the second 's', i believe)

  • Comment number 56.

    Phil, your article is a joke! How can you say that City are the most likely to break into the top 4, after one good result against Chelski!! Typical of the BBC to claim that a team will break the top 4 just cos of one good result. Have you forgotten that City have drawn 7 times in a row before this weekend!! They've drawn with Fulham, Burnley,Hull and Wigan included, which are sides you should be beating at home without fuss if you're gonna make the promised land of the Champions League.

    Let's put this in perspective. Spurs have already thrashed Burnley 5-0 at home, destroyed Wigan 9-1 at home, and ripped Hull apart 5-1 AWAY!! Spurs are above them in the league and we have much more balance throughout our side than City do. Defoe is scoring goals for fun, every single player in our team (except Gomes) has scored for us this season which is a good sign and shows we don't just rely on 2 or 3 players. Our bench is strong and we've still got Modric and Gio dos Santos to come back.

    City lack any consistency and will always concede goals with a poor defence. They are good going forward, but lost their only decent defender in Richard Dunne to Villa, which may come back to haunt them, and I hope it does. I guarantee that City will not finish in the top 4. Beating Chelsea means nothing if they can't beat the teams outside of it.

    Spurs, Villa and City will be somewhere in the top 7, but Spurs will put an end to City's hopes when we play them in a couple of weeks at WHL, where we always beat them, usually 2-1!

  • Comment number 57.

    To #43 - lets not perpetuate the Rovers myth yeah?

    Differences/similarities to Rovers in the 90s vs Citeh and Villa

    Jack Walker supported his local club, Randy Lerner and eh....Sheikh...eh...? The important thing that Walker left us with was the wish for us to be financially independant - whilst some limited funding remains from the Walker Trust, our prolonged survival (despite small town status) has basically been as a result of excellant club management by the people in charge, not through continual injections of funds from outside. Would the same be true at Villa Park or Eastlands?

    We were promoted from Div 1 (as it used to be known) based on limited funding, we then had to buy another team to compete at the top with acquisitions such as Shearer, Sutton sitting alongside homegrown talent like Jason Wilcox and long term acquirees such as Colin Hendry and Mark Atkins (so important to us in that season but acquired for £35k). This is different from Villa and Citeh who are established, large city clubs with the support attached.

    Our foundations too were English with some outstanding players (Shearer, Sutton, Flowers, Le Saux, Wilcox, Ripley, Atkins - also David Batty) complemented by a few foreigners. To suggest that Villa are not spending money and acquiring players is disingenuous. We were also outspent in our Premiership winning season by Utd!!

    As regards Hughes, I'll always like him for his success with us - he is under far more pressure now with Citeh and I am in two minds as I wish him success personally but worry about the world for clubs such as Rovers when faced with clubs with unlimited financial muscle :(. Citeh's 'blueprint for success' doesn't bode well for clubs of Rovers' stature in the league (particularly with clubs owned by b/millionaires in the Championship such as QPR) and so, unfortunately Citeh fans, whilst I cheer you breaking up the 'Bore Four', I can't wholeheartedly endorse your success.

    I think Hughes will prove himself - this season I have been somewhat surprised to see Citeh coping as well as they have with gelling together as a team - next year will (IMHO) be your year. I think the point of the blog that Phil is trying to make (and I'll join the general critique against you here Phil for the over hyperbole in your blog) is that Citeh could be challengers for the top 4 place if they add some measure of consistency to their play - the players rouse themselves for the big games but not the away trips to Hull and Wigan.

  • Comment number 58.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 59.

    Blue defence..

    I admit that City have a decent tradition - my post was not meant to City fans, more those stating that City are the next big thing. You sound like someone that went to Maine Road and so know about the downs as well as ups and so I am sure that you know about the fickle nature of the press. However and you will know this, the media now love you because you are exciting and trendy and give them last minute news stories like the whole Robinho fiasco. I am an old fashioned football fan who to be honest is quite disillusioned.... So some of your comments; fair enough; City do have a decent tradition and were a good old fashioned club, who for me, have been tarnished by the millions and now watch the plastic fans descend. However to quote you about my comments

    "You also conveniently ignore the fact that this yank bloke has provided O’Neill with a very decent transfer fund, maybe not in the same league as City and Chelsea but not far off, i.e. Young, Carew, Milner, Heskey, Dunne, Sidwell, in fact in the last few years Villa have spent £130milion (just checked!) so don’t give me this “we’ve done it on a shoestring” nonsense."

    I never said (or certainly didn't mean to suggest" that we have done it on a shoestring". BUT we spend within our means, something I am not sure City/Chelsea/Utd/le' Arse do. Our most expensive signing was Milner at about £12mill. And if you look at what our net spend is (i.e. with sales - didn't we take 17mil off you for Barry; great player, but we haven't missed him), and out turnover the we are within our means. I hardly think that Randy is a sugar daddy - certainly a bit more generous than Deadly Doug, but look at the players that we develop - before you say it, yes i know that City have done well in this regard (Ireland/Richards/SWP etc) but I fear that those days are over - where do you break your kids when instant success can be bought and must be paid for? That is all I meant by "the right way" - the old way - buy a few, develop a few, have a few from the academy and build. Yes, It may never win us the league, but I am still proud of the way our club is run...

    And finally, City of Mcr stadium is nice, but I still prfer Maine Rd and given the choice between your ground (or any other in the league for taht matter), I'd take the Holte and Villa Park every day of the week - but as a fan (short for fanatical) I would say that. However, IF we ever leave our home, it will be a tragic day indeed!

  • Comment number 60.

    'I never said (or certainly didn't mean to suggest" that we have done it on a shoestring". BUT we spend within our means, something I am not sure City/Chelsea/Utd/le' Arse do.

    Roger, Arsenal not spending within their means.... are you serious? If they had broke the bank and forked out for proven top quality players, they might have won at least something over the last four years!

  • Comment number 61.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 62.

    To #14, sorry, you're wrong here. Follow this link:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostrophe#Possessive_apostrophe

    -------------------------------------------------------------

    Well, as an English teacher, I sincerely hope that I am not wrong!

    The grammar of a language is not the set of concrete rules many believe it to be; grammar simply reflects how a language is used, not how it should be used, thus it is constantly evolving. For instance, some of the English grammar rules, such as avoiding ending a sentence with a preposition, are frequently ignored by native speakers of English, and as such many consider it grammatically correct to say something like "I have nobody to go with."

    What poster #1 stated was the 'rule' of grammar that he might have been taught at school, but since the 'rule' is not frequently adhered to by native speakers of English, the dropping of the possesive S after a name ending in S has become the norm. As the rule has changed to reflect how the language is used, more pedantic or traditionalist speakers of the language would deem it to be incorrect use of grammar, such as here:

    http://www.eng-lang.co.uk/apostrophes.htm

    The Oxford Dictionaries, however, cite either use as being acceptable:

    http://www.askoxford.com/asktheexperts/jargonbuster/a/apostrophe?view=uk

    Depending on your perception of what grammar is or should be, both of us are correct. However, if you are the type of person whom accepts that grammar simply reflects how a language is used, then shouldn't you also accept that common errors such as 'alot' or slang such as 'innit' are perfectly grammatical also?

    Lastly, I'd just like to add that using Wikipedia as a point of reference does not validate your argument in any way whatsoever!

  • Comment number 63.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 64.

    City lost to United and deserved it, there was nothing contentious about the added time as it was justified with City time wasting when they scored, live by the sword, die by the sword, United were on top all game and it was about our defensive frailties that caused us to concede 3 goals rather than City attacking, we see draw after draw after draw with City, they're not big 4 material and with all the money behind them, they never will be. The only time people really talk about Man City is when they play someone from the big 4, and then people rave about how we're talking about them, but any other day of the week we don't waste our breath and this is highlighted especially by this article. City are like Robinho, they'll do well when the spot light is on them (such as when Robinho actually came to City and was outstanding) but 6 months later, coming to January, everyone has forgot about him and City, he actually wants to leave too and their performance drops, I said it at the start of the season and i'm saying it now.

  • Comment number 65.

    47. At 11:12am on 06 Dec 2009, Chohn wrote:
    To #14, sorry, you're wrong here. Follow this link:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostrophe#Possessive_apostrophe

    Maybe YOU should have looked at the link yourself, first. If you had, you would quite clearly see that #14 is correct and you are wrong. Read the section 'Singular nouns ending with an “s” or “z” sound'. I expect you to apologise for your mistake, and for even bothering to bring it up in a blog that cites no relevance to punctuation in the first place.

  • Comment number 66.

    Good point Phil as i also believe it will be City's away form that decides whether they finish in the top four. I dont think there is much doubt that City have bought good players even if a little overpriced. If they can add one player in January who makes a impact breaking into the top four is a definite possibility. They may not need to add to the squad but with the money available it is surely worth trying to add a spark come January. City have done well in beating Chelsea and Arsenal at home but winning your home games is expected if you want to be successfull. I have not been impressed with Mark Hughes attitude although Wenger imo was wrong not to shake hands this has been coming Hughes stalks the technical area like a pantomine horse and you dont need to be a lip reader to understand his bullying and intimidation, maybe when you have won trophies its possible to act in this way and get away with it, but Hughes, Bowen and niedweski are hardly Clough and Taylor and need to remember respect is earned not bought.

  • Comment number 67.



    Roger Sturmey

    I take your comments in good faith and accept them.

    For what its worth I remember when we all supported Villa when they won the League in 81 and European Cup in 82, I think those days have gone and football is far to partisan and probably immature for that kind of outlook to prevail again.

    To the Blackburn fan who seems to have tried to set some record for using the Man Utd slur of “Citeh” in one column, you may be a loyal etc but your first fact is incorrect, when Blackburn beat Leicester in the 92 play off final they were promoted to the inaugural season of Premier League, maybe you didn’t support Rovers then so don’t really know your facts.

    You probably also don’t know that Rovers signed Swindon’s best player Duncan Shearer to derail them and nick their play off place but hardly ever played him, save you high handed pathos when dealing with fans who have been around a bit.

    Thanks.

  • Comment number 68.

    hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha,i love all the chelsea fans not willing to accept that city looked the real deal yesterday and instead of trying to figure out what went wrong are just having a go at phils blog,hahahahahahahahahahaha,oliver jack,that is the most pathetic thing i have ever read on this board,just accept that you were beaten,and if tevez had got his head up in time it would have been 3-1,ancelotti is not making excuses,you shouldnt either,to come on and critisise someone grammar when you should be talking football is awful,and i know this is gramatically incorrect,hahahahahahahahahahahaha,so funny,good blog phil

  • Comment number 69.

    Not wishing to detract from Man City's well earned victory yesterday evening, one which will naturally cement their credentials as genuine top four material (as if that was ever in doubt?), I'd like to comment on something that has been missed by 'almost' everyone observing the full blooded 90 mins yesterday, played out in front of over 47,000 fans in the stadium and millions viewing the game world wide....

    In this day and age when 'cheating' has become part of the norm in most professional football matches, did no one else see Given move 2 yards off his line before Lampard struck the ball for the penalty? Considering his comment of "not being able to sleep properly for over two weeks", and the comment that Henry "conned the referee", shouldn't he now be asking for Man City to be deducted 2 points and Chelsea awarded 1???

    Pots and kettles springs to mind! lol

  • Comment number 70.

    Firstly, if that was a handball leading up to the City equaliser, then that really only cancels out the fact that it was never a corner leading upto the Chelsea opener. So if the referee made a mistake with giving Chelsea the corner then he evened it out.

    Secondly, it was a great game to watch, and it at least keeps the season interesting until Christmas.

    Have to agree with the earlier point, why African cup of Nations in a world cup year. Overkill!

  • Comment number 71.

    Phil

    First "Chelsea can find themselves hailed as impregnables one week", Who does the hailing? Not the Fans (I know several Chelsea fans who have been worried about them in recent weeks), it's the media! The same media that predicted Liverpool for the title I might add! That is the problem with the media, they try and read too much from the last game. The same applies to City, 2 games ago they were being ripped on for being a bunch of over paid prima-donnas, now they are goig to win the carling cup and be in the CL next season! It makes no sense!

    What does make sense is this, City have done well against the top teams this season, 7 points from 12 is a lot better than Utd have done, add the CC to that and it is easy to see that their mercenaries are easily motivated against the top clubs. Now look at their results against other teams and the picture isn't as good is it? The massive drawing streak for one, it becomes obvious when watching that many of the City players simply don't want to be playing teams like Blackburn away, and that will get worse as the winter wears on, Hughes showed no signs of turning it around before the big clubs rolled up, and unless he is a better man-motivator than many think it'll be drawing as normal in a few weeks.

    One final point you seem to have missed about how they took on Chelsea and Liverpool, they played Chelsea at home, teams always attack more at home, or hadn't you notice that? As I said at the time, a draw away was much better for City than for Liverpool and that still stands.

    Top four teams aim to win all their home games and most of their away games, the only ones they are normally satisfied with a point are the aways against others of the big four. When playing against last years top 4 city have done that, all they need to do is start motivating themselves when against the other teams and they'll become a force. If they don't they'll be lucky to get a CC!

  • Comment number 72.

    Re #14 and many others...

    Yes, I wouldn't trust Wikipedia either. However, I would trust the AP Stylebook, which says this:

    "SINGULAR PROPER NOUNS ENDING IN S: Use only an apostrophe: Achilles' Heel, Agnes' book, Dickens' novels..."

    (Apologies for the lack of link, I'm reading this in a proper paper book!)

    However, some style guides do accept "'s" for possessives on the end of proper names - eg. The Economist use "Delors's". I think this is ugly, though.

  • Comment number 73.

    City have the team on their day to challenge anybody. thought robinho(sp) looked dangerous and worried the chelski defence.I'm just not sure they have the consistency throughout the course of the season to get 4th.
    Spurs and villa look more likely IMO.

    To whoever mentioned the African Cup of Nations, that is their version of the European Championships. it has been this way for a long time and the timing fits for them. Any manager who buys a player from that continent knows the player has a chance of missing a month of the season if their team qualifies. To suggest that they fit in with our schedule is ridiculous

    Got to laugh at no.28. 12points back with lots of teams above them. I'm sure there are lots of supporters from many other teams who back your sentiments. in rafa we all trust (to keep messing it up)

    would finally like to add best wishes to Jimmy Bullard,hope he has a speedy recovery as he has more than his fair share of bad luck

  • Comment number 74.

    To watfordspur86...to quote you "How can you say that City are the most likely to break into the top 4, after one good result against Chelski!!"

    My simple answer to that is that I never said that at all, or anything remotely like it. That is a complete misinterpretation of what I actually wrote.

    Let me quote the blog: "If City can take the self-belief they showed here (flying in the face of conventional wisdom that says once Chelsea take the lead the credits can start rolling) and produce it away from Eastlands then they can seriously consider a place in the top four.

    "If Hughes takes the cautious approach on his travels when City have proved what rewards real attacking intent can deliver, then a huge opportunity will be squandered. There is a top four place there for someone - and City can be in that mix if they are brave enough away from home."

    It does not say anywhere there that I believe City are "the most likely" to break into the top four. They have a real chance, but so do Spurs and Aston Villa, although I regard Aston Villa as the outsiders of that trio.

    By all means take me to task for what I have written, but not something I haven't.

    I was very complimentary about your team Spurs last week, saying they had top four pedigree, but at this stage the consistency of those involved means picking a "most likely" is hazardous. And I am fighting shy of predictions after tipping Liverpool for the title.

  • Comment number 75.


    City have done well against the top teams this season, 7 points from 12 is a lot better than Utd have done, add the CC to that and it is easy to see that their mercenaries are easily motivated against the top clubs

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Poor example of Blackburn away, we won that game 2-0!

    Would you describe Wayne “once a blue always a blue” Rooney as a mercenary?

    Of course not he was just ambitious and trousering 100k per week had nothing to do with it.

    I remember when Fergie went on a spending spree in 89 buying the likes of Pallister, Ince, Danny Wallace etc that band of “mercenaries” as you call them struggled to a bottom half finish but a lucky cup run saved “Sir Alex’s” bacon.

    It was always going to take a while for the new City players to jell and yes if we don’t take care of the so called lesser team we will not break into the top 4, maybe we can have a few “friendly” ref’s brought in to make our job that little bit easier like some of the others have.

  • Comment number 76.

    Yeah Man City, one win in a blue moon..... Alright it's simple, no mystery, they have a decent squad, if they win their game in hand they are in the top 4. I think Arsenal are stumbling and will finish 4th or 5th, to Spurs City Chelsea and United........Couldn't for one second predict the order...but the old order have died off this season for sure...I think I include arsenal in that.

  • Comment number 77.

  • Comment number 78.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 79.

    Nice Blog Phil.

    I think City have got the mettle to not only break the top 4 this year but the determination to push on and do very well in the years to come. It's very easy to draw the comparisons to Chelski, but it seems that City have a better set-up to handle the millions, a coach that I am becoming continually impressed with, and an owner who provides the money without sticking his oar in!

    p.s. Oliver, don't be picky about the grammar, everyone knows what Phil is saying......ohh and when you start a new sentence you normally use a capital letter at the start of the first word.

  • Comment number 80.

    If you look at the build up to Tevez goal Essien is completey put on edge by Abedayor and moves away from the wall leaving a huge gap with 3 city players in it, which is exactly where the ball was struck. Cech is at fault for not organising his wall, and the Chelsea defence for getting so riled, Chelsea were a tad fortunate with first goal, or Given was extremely unlucky seeing as he had made two brilliant stops already. I have said it before, the reason newcastle were so long in the Permiership was I believe Given.
    City took their chances yesterday and defended brilliantly...Chelsea got riled and it shows they are nervous. I think Ancelotti got his team selection wrong. Hughes got it spot on. City will be in Europe next year.

  • Comment number 81.

    Actually Oliver Jack, Phil McNulty's grammar in that instance is correct. There is an 's' at the end of 'Hughes', and so it was Hughes' hand that Ancelotti shook at the end of the match. That rule exists because it's silly to write things lke Hughes's hand, it's much easier just to use one 's'. Perhaps you should learn how to spell apostrophes?

    Good blog, as always.

  • Comment number 82.

    Re #14 and many others...

    Yes, I wouldn't trust Wikipedia either. However, I would trust the AP Stylebook, which says this:

    "SINGULAR PROPER NOUNS ENDING IN S: Use only an apostrophe: Achilles' Heel, Agnes' book, Dickens' novels..."

    (Apologies for the lack of link, I'm reading this in a proper paper book!)

    However, some style guides do accept "'s" for possessives on the end of proper names - eg. The Economist use "Delors's". I think this is ugly, though.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------

    The MLA Style Guide states otherwise:

    add 's to the singular form of the word (even if it ends in -s):

    the owner's car
    James's hat (James' hat is also acceptable. For plural, proper nouns that are possessive, use an apostrophe after the 's': "The Eggles' presentation was good." The Eggles are a husband and wife consultant team.)

    http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/621/01/

    Like I said, it all depends on one's beliefs about grammar: is it a set of strict rules that should be adhered to, in which case poster #1 is quite correct (although his own grammatical skills must surely be questioned), or is it simply a reflection on how language is used and, as such, Phil's usage of the apostrophe is absolutely correct?

    I'd just like to add that if you believe in the latter, poster #1's use of a split infinitive should be perfectly grammatical, though I really can't defend his lack of capital letters or poor spelling.

  • Comment number 83.

    well it would be a good blog if the faceless moderator would care to explain why my effort was not deemed fit for publication.

    the mind as ever boggles.

  • Comment number 84.

    Good blog Phil - as a City fan I think we were rather lucky on the day, its not often that Lampard misses a penalty and Drogba misses those better-than-half chances. But this time - after asking 7 times - we were worth all 3 points.

    Hughes is doing a great job so far, after being plunged in the deep end of a pool filled with money and expectation he certainly doesnt look like he's drowning or close to it. My only critique of his prowess so far is the dogged and I think ill-conceived methods he is using to try and control a game rather than just go out for the win. Our defence is still all over the place and though messrs Toure and Lescott did show improvement yesterday, either the back 4 still need more time to gel or the wrong personalities have been recruited (as talented as they are, and worth the money we paid for them, sometimes it just doesnt work despite all attempts).

    Either way, our attacking force is one of the best in the League and like you mention, once unleashed we score goals. This past 'week of draws' was endured because Hughes seemingly wants to not conceed, but if we just went hell-for-leather with tactics from the score-more-than-you school we would (I think) be much more successful. Its a tough ask of any side to score 3 or 4 against us and I can see us scoring 3 or 4 in most games.

    Phil, how do you feel Micah Richards is coming along? A couple of years ago he was touted as the next great English wing-back but seems to have been overtaken by Glen Johnson in recent times, and has never replicated that form that grabbed the attention of the big clubs. Theres been talk of it being because of his fitness program (building up his body) which has impacted his pace and skill - what do you think, Phil?

  • Comment number 85.

    Although slightly off topic we all need a laugh so have a look at the picture link below, I beliwve the ref had just awarded a throw in against Man Utd at Old Trafford!

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/article-1233518/PIERS-MORGAN-My-team-decade--theres-place-Keano.html

  • Comment number 86.

    Ancelloti better worry about Chelsea's march foward. Lampard missing the crucial penalty was ominous.First goal was tainted but no excuses for the Tevez goal.

  • Comment number 87.

    Oliver Jack's the one who needs to learn how to use apostophies (and how to spell the word). Well done, Mr McNulty for the correct use of the apostrophe in "Carlo Ancelotti graciously accepted Hughes' hand at the final whistle" and for a good blog.

    By the way: what is it with Liverpool fans that McNulty isn't allowed to mention their team under any circumstances. Are they all a tad over senstive at the moment? Can't imagine why...

  • Comment number 88.

    I don't like commenting on refs, but it wasn't a dirty game, we had 6 booked of which 3 were correct, John Terry's was obstruction never a yellow, Ivanovic clearly won the ball fairly a.cole wasn't a yellow either. I felt the referee favoured city throughout the match. Every time a chelsea player made a fair attempt to get the ball he blew his whistle constantly, I have no complaints with either goal. I felt ancelotti sometimes needs to revert to our old system 433 when t goes wrong. On another day we would of got a deserved point, it just wasn't our night. I don't foresee City getting any closer to us than 11points, but clearly some of their players aren't capable of raising their game for the smaller clubs. Chelsea now have a 9game run against teams from 8th down, expect 27points, if they don't get that sort of return I think Manchester United will pip us for the title in the final third of the season.

  • Comment number 89.

    "And so it proved after a game the purist may have sniffed at, but your average man and woman in the stands would have loved."

    ------------------

    So basically - crap football, lucky the plebs don't know the difference.

    Well, I can't speak for this mysterious couple the "average man and woman", but the first part was right enough...

  • Comment number 90.

    A little too soon to be pouring grace all over the attributes of City in my opinion.

    A very good performance against Chelsea doesn't a season make and I think a good few people have been a little more than underwhelmed at what City have done so far.

    I think Bellamy has been the biggest performer to date and despite not liking the man I have to say I think he has surpassed himself. Tevez is as busy as ever when he gets the chance and the more he plays the more points I see City picking up.

    Too soon to mark them as the next big thing though.

  • Comment number 91.

    Interesting blog, and some differing comments afterwards as well. As a Villa fan I quite like the fact that the media haven't taken us to seriously so far. I think partly this is because of our dramatic fade away last season, and partly because we haven't been consistent enough. Mind you, while you could argue that the amount of draw's man city had in a row is consistent its not exactly what you are expecting surely?

    I honestly think that the 4th place is open to Villa, Liverpool, Man City and Spurs and bearing in mind its only December I think for any set of fans to start getting too excited is dangerous. (Not dangerous as in physically injured, more just emotionally) ;-)

    I do think though that MON has bought well this summer, Downing looks like he could be a real asset, our defence is solid and we actually have what you could call a squad this season. Oh and Milner is have an absolutely amazing season so far...

    Anyway, long may the media continue to ignore us, it takes pressure off us and hopefully we'll be still up there towards the end of the season... (if we some how manage to beat United next week - it would be about time!! - will we see a blog on how we are finally ready to challenge for fourth?)

  • Comment number 92.

    I would like to know how much chelsea's scouts are paid because they are costing us millions. Why didn't they recommend buying Aguero and Pato when they were teens instead of waiting and having to spend 40-50 million on them now. Aguero for 16 million or for 45 milllion, i know which one makes the more sense to me. I think the money we 'invested' in a 30 year old shevechenko could have been better handled...

  • Comment number 93.

    Hardly a beating they handed out, in the end this game meant nothing, they beat Chelsea in the Mourinho season also?

    Chelsea fell away, and Hughes got his tactics right, but only just managed the win.

    If Chelsea were on top, no injuries vs a top City with no injuries. There would still be a chasm, and Chelsea also have consistency so they can reach this more often, city do not.

    What does this mean in the end?




    3 points.

  • Comment number 94.

    RE: Bluedefence
    Spouting your usual anti United drivel as usual; no need to post links, if we need a laugh we just gather round and try to remember when Citeh last one something!

    But well done on beating Chelsea though, credit where it's due; and you thought it was only United who got "dodgy" refereeing decisions.

  • Comment number 95.

    The same things were said when City beat Arsenal in the league, and they didn't do so well afterwards. Too early to call.

    And the top four won't change this season...Spurs/Villa/City will bottle it and Liverpool will sneak in. Just look at Villa last season, had a big lead over Arsenal but got a terrible string of results after January. These teams just don't have the consistency of the established top four.

  • Comment number 96.

    92. At 2:32pm on 06 Dec 2009, messien wrote:
    I would like to know how much chelsea's scouts are paid because they are costing us millions. Why didn't they recommend buying Aguero and Pato when they were teens instead of waiting and having to spend 40-50 million on them now. Aguero for 16 million or for 45 milllion, i know which one makes the more sense to me. I think the money we 'invested' in a 30 year old shevechenko could have been better handled...

    ____________________________________________________________________________________

    Felt obligated to comment on this one...

    I would hardly blame our scouts for us not getting these players- they were recommended, but various factors came into play:

    Aguero- Independiente wanted 20 million for an unproven 19 year old. Even Real Madrid baulked at the fee (perhaps due to them wasting the same amount on a certain Lady Gago..)

    Pato- was brought to Milan by his hero Leonardo. Also cost 20 million, which at the time (and even today mind) was rather ridiculous for an 18 year old, who was hardly the best player for Internacional...

    I won't comment on Shevchenko... Another day maybe.

  • Comment number 97.

    Oliver Jack, I am embarrassed for you. Where else would the apostrophe go? You think it should be Mark Hughe's? Oh dear. Oh dear...

  • Comment number 98.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 99.

    Well done City you made this Utd fan happy. Looking forward to the semi's.
    Can they keep it going? They will have to to get a top four finish as their are a few contenders out there this season.

    Why no mention of your team Phil- you know the one managed by the chap from the 'go compare' advert? The BBC and no-where can I find the reference to Steve Gerrard blatant dive, SKY reckoned he should have been red carded.

    Anyone else read or heard about this? Where?

  • Comment number 100.

    Rock On Arsenal

    we have the beating of you all.

    treble is Arsenals with or without injuries


    No extra time needed. ( thumbs up )

 

Page 1 of 3

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.