Good afternoon to everyone for today`s game against Tottenham Hotspur, and I would like to extend a warm welcome to the staff and supporters from Spurs that have made the long trip up from London.
It's been a busy fortnight since our last Barclays Premier League game here at home, but that was a day where Robinho grabbed all the headlines with his hat-trick. He took his goals superbly, could have had a couple more and worked unselfishly for his team mates, as he showed when setting up Stevie Ireland for a chance in the dying seconds of stoppage time. The way he sympathised with Stevie after he had not taken the opportunity showed how much of a team player he is, even on a day where all the attention ended up on him. Aside from Robinho's performance, I thought the win over Stoke was a fine all-round display by the whole team and showed that when we attack like that we can pose problems for anyone.
I was hoping that the win over Stoke would have set us up for our subsequent away fixtures at Middlesbrough and Bolton, but unfortunately events did not pan out as I would have hoped. The game at the Riverside was a classic example of what can happen if you don`t take your chances, we really came out of the traps in the second half but did not convert two good opportunities - and then got punished. We chased the game well after 'Boro had taken the lead but they hit us with a sucker punch at the end. Defeats like that are hard to take when you have had some good chances to make it a different story.
Last Sunday`s defeat at Bolton was more disappointing for me because we were not as dynamic as we know we can be, but I won't offer any excuses. We were not good enough on the day to break down determined opponents who were fighting to get out of trouble, and I know our home support will be expecting a big improvement today.
Those of you here on Thursday night will have seen an entertaining win over FC Twente in the UEFA Cup, and at 3-1 up with nearly 30 minutes to go I thought we had the game wrapped up, but we made it hard for ourselves and for everyone watching. Having said that, Robinho hit the post twice and we created a number of other chances, all in all I thought we were good value for the win. The three points were the perfect start to the group stage, and we are nicely set for our trip to Germany to face Schalke 04 on November 27th.
It's something of a surprise to be welcoming Harry Redknapp back to the City of Manchester Stadium today for his second visit of the season, but this time as Spurs` manager. He will be looking to redress the balance from his last time here, when we beat Portsmouth 6-0 in September, but I don't think that result will have any bearing on today`s game. Moving to White Hart Lane must have been a big decision for him, but he has certainly had an impact in a short space of time. Harry is a real football man who knows the game inside out, and it's clear that he`s already had an effect at Spurs when you look at their recent results. Few people inside the game expected them to stay in trouble with the quality of players they have, and from the outside looking in, Harry appears to have worked his magic once again and galvanised their squad. We will have our work cut out today and I think it should be an entertaining game.
It only seems like two minutes since the last international break, but after today's game we will lose several of our squad for a few days while they join up with their countries for a host of midweek international friendlies. I`m pleased our squad has so many international players, but my only concern is that we get them all back fit and well for next Sunday`s trip to Hull.
Manchester City does an incredible amount of work in the local community, and I was pleased to see Richard Dunne and Elano helping out at two Creating Chances events over the last couple of weeks. It`s important to remember all of those less fortunate than ourselves, especially at this time of the year and more of our squad will be dropping in at further Creating Chances events in the very near future. Today is also the day that we remember the servicemen and women who have served their country down the years and in current conflicts as we observe a moment`s silence just before kick off.