Vital City Zen: The Four Tops?
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We'll be living on Manchester City Cloud Nine if we make it to the away game at Fulham a week on Saturday having beaten the rags again and triumphed over Schalke and PSG in Europe, that's for sure!
Of course that may well be asking for too much, but based on previous erratic form, getting something out of this season shaping fortnight of tough fixtures was always going to be a tall order.
The four games that started with that morale boosting win over The Arsenal are all beyond massive and to have started with a win like that was beyond our wildest dreams.
One third into the season,we now know for sure that Mark Hughes' young side thrives on confidence. Frustratingly, it's clear that on their collective day they could take any side apart, even without the likes of Petrov, Bojinov and Johnson tearing about the pitch. 29 goals in the Premier League alone is a tremendous feat considering those absences and underlines that this side can run riot if their tails are up.
The only thing I would ask that we remember going into this crucial phase of games is that even though qualification from the UEFA Group stages is vital not only to our season's ambitions and the club's hopes of securing top quality players signatures in January, we still have a young squad with insufficient strength in depth and a lack of options.
Should Mark Hughes and his management team secure leading us into what for City fans remains unchartered European waters in the modern era as well as ensuring we see off Taggart and co yet again, then he can be assured of absolute respect for a hell of a job well done.
UEFA GROUP RIVALS WATCH
All five clubs in UEFA CUP Group A won over the weekend in their respective national leagues indicating that our group could go down to the wire for that vital knockout qualification. City's confidence boosting win over Arsenal was matched by our Euro rivals:
PSG 1, Lyon 0: The Parisians are playing better than for a number of very ropey years. Beating OL is no mean feat and they are up to 5th in Ligue 1.
Schalke 04 3, Borussia M'gladbach 1: This Thursday`s opponents are back on track after a rough patch dismissing Borussia to stabilise their league position. That's 7th in the Bundesliga.
Racing Santander 3, Espanyol 0: Racing's form is improving. From looking like certs for relegation they are now mid table in the Spanish Liga BBVA.
FC Twente 6, Heerenveen 0: Twente gave City a run for their money and can't be ruled out of the group's final reckoning. They are back on the up to 6th in the Dutch Eredivisie.
THE JANUARY MEN: THIS WEEK'S PLANE LOAD OF SPORTS HACKS TRUTH OR DARES
………Kolo Toure - Arsenal, Ginaluigi Buffon - Juventus, Ashley Cole - Z List Celebrities, Ricardo Oliveira - Real Zaragoza, Wayne Bridge - Chelsea, Clarence Seedorf - AC Milan, Michael Turner - Hull City, Lucas Podolski - Bayern Munich, Chris Samba - Blackburn Rovers, Mario Balotelli - Inter Milan, Lassana Diarra - Portsmouth……………....to be continued
FOCUS ON ITALY - FROM BIANCHI TO BUFFON
This correspondent took time out to watch some Italian football last weekend and it was impressive stuff. Most noteable for a couple of City connections and potential City transfer targets.
Ginaluigi Buffon's agent's rumoured meetings with The Blues hierarchy needs no introduction. That aside, I was impressed with the finishing of Genoa's Diego Milito and the left wing marauding of Torino's Roberto Stellone who tore AC Milan's defence to shreds.
Meanwhile, Rolando Bianchi was woeful for 'Toro' and looked as out of sorts and off the pace as he ever was at City. The biggest surprise however was to see Ousmane Dabo embarking on an advertising board hurdling run after lashing in a cracker for Lazio. What's all that about then?!
SUPERMAN IRELAND NAILS GRANNYGATE
City's increasingly brilliant Academy graduate has started to receive hate mail at Carrington as his refusal to return to Republic of Ireland colours continues. This has prompted our Superman to reveal exactly what happened during the Granny Gate affair.
Surprise, surprise 'The Street of Shame*' had a hand in stirring the merde. Credit is due to Ireland for maintaining a dignified silence until being forced to speak out. His explanation should make some individuals thoroughly ashamed of themselves.
Let's hope that Stevie manages to remain focused as he is now one of our most important players.
Our number seven has strived to set the record straight about what happened when his girlfriend telephoned the then Ireland manager Steve Staunton's secretary shortly before the Republic were due to play Slovakia. She had suffered a miscarriage but advised the secretary there had been a death in the family.
Ireland did not reveal what had happened to his team mates and went on to score in the 2-2 draw. But when he returned to Ireland the press were reporting that his grandmother had died.
'I feel it is maybe time to say something because I'm getting a very bad press in Ireland, with hate mail being sent here to the training ground.
'The boss said there'd been a death in my family. My girlfriend had rang Steve's secretary and told her that. She just wanted me home and she didn't want to tell a complete stranger that she'd had a miscarriage.
'My girlfriend was young. I was young. I didn't want to tell everyone my private business. Not only that, I couldn't turn around and say my girlfriend was lying. I had to stand by her.'
The Street of Shame* courtesy Private Eye
WHAT'S IN A WORD? THIS WEEK'S QUOTES
'Chelsea? This question belongs to the past. I'm a City player and I only think about making the club successful. I don't regret the choice I've made — I'm very happy at the club.'
- Robinho backs up his 9 goals in 14 starts for City with an unequivocal dismissal of The Oligarch and scheming Kenyon's Chelski.
'The Arabs at the club have plenty of money and I think they want to build a very strong team. It could be an intelligent move.'
- Juventus legend Gianluca Viallirecommends Manchester City to the great Gianluigi Buffon.
'The more I play with great players the better I will get, that is how I look at it. If you have good players around you it encourages you to work harder and to improve your own game. To be around top players is what we all want to be and the more that come in the better for us, for the club and the supporters.'
- Benjani dismisses the line of thought suggesting City's players are bricking it over the January transfer window.
'We are all looking forward to the match with United. We have good chances to win, although they are very strong. But we play at home. We have to think that in our stadium, we are always favourites.'
- Robinho relishes the build up to his first Manchester Derby.
'It is a big week for us and we are off to a perfect start. The win takes us nicely into the European game and a derby that we are looking forward to.'
- A highly satisfied Bluesy appreciates the significance of the Arsenal victory before 'The Formidable Fortnight' continues against Schalke, the rags and PSG.
'It is a flattering victory for Man City.'
- Arsehole Whinger embarrasses himself, his club and his fans with his begrudging assessment of a game that his team could have easily lost 6-0.
'He had another great game against Arsenal, was very strong and resolute when he needed to be and he's always looking to free people up in the forward areas.'
- Bluesy on the growing influence of Vinny Kompany.
WE WEREN'T REALLY THERE? THE FINAL SCORE THIS WEEK 10 YEARS AGO
Football League Division One
Luton 1(0) - 1(1)Man City
Doherty 76 Morrison 29
@ Kenilworth Road on 28th November 2008
Man City: Weaver, Edghill, Vaughan, Morrison(Tiatto,45), Wiekens, Crooks, Mason, Bishop(Brown, 62), Goater, Taylor, Russell
Subs not used: Dickov
UEFA CUP GROUP A:
Thursday 27th November @ 1800 GMT
Last six PL games: W,L,L,L,D,W
Die Königsblauen Form:
Last six Bundesliga games: W,D,W,L,L,W
Internet: www.schalke04.de / www.supportersclub.de / www.bredbury-blues.de
Vital MC will be bringing you our second UEFA Cup Magnificent Seven Fan's interview with Schalke as part of the big match build up.
Johnny On The Spot?
Win this and we are in business on all fronts. Qualification from the group stage would be all but guaranteed and in the process relieving pressure off the squad in all areas. It would also renew the team's focus upon The Premier League.
But it won't be easy. Schalke can be dynamite at their fantastic stadium and although they aren't prolific scorers, they have a rock solid defence. The importance of this fixture cannot be underestimated.
If City play to their strengths, passing and moving quickly, then the hard work done in overcoming Arsenal can I am sure, be built upon. A lot depends on how Bluesy approaches Schalke tactically. The key will again be our defence who had a solid look about them at last against the hapless Gooners and will have gained confidence from that clean sheet. I think this could be too close to call but I reckon City will nick it.
Schalke 1 City 2
NEXT OPPONENTS BUT ONE
@ The City of Manchester Stadium
FA Premier League:
Sunday 30th November @ 1330 GMT
Last six PL games: W,L,L,L,D,W
Last six PL games: D,W,W,L,W,D
Internet: www.manutd.com / www.manchesterunited.vitalfootball.co.uk
Vital MC hopes to be bringing you a Mag 7 Fans interview with our Derby rivals after the UEFA game.
Johnny On The Spot?
This is the one that of course, always means everything. The rags have always gloated that it's our cup final. Dead right.
If their players had treated it similarly in recent seasons then they might have beaten City more than the 4 times in 12 attempts that they have managed in the Premier League since we were promoted in 2002 under Mad Kev.
As usual, it will be all about who wants it the most. City fans knew that the sands were shifting at Middle Eastlands long before Sheikh Mancity arrived and it's going to be a good feeling lining up against them on Sunday knowing we are not 'debt ridden liddle ciddy' anymore. Bring it on.
City 2 rags 0.
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