The Vital City Zen: Come Out Fighting City
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THE VITAL CITY ZEN
COME OUT FIGHTING CITY
The transfer window is shut, the bets are off and the hacks can now focus on shoveling snow as opposed to the brown stuff they've been heaping on Manchester City throughout January...
Outside of what was perhaps with hindsight too early a mid season move for the likes of Kaka, we can surely look back at a successful month of transfer business far removed from the previous two excruciating Januarys we trudged through.
Shay Given, Craig Bellamy, Wayne Bridge and Nigel De Jong, even though they do not have the luxury of time on their hands to settle in, all have the credentials to bolster a squad that at times was down to only 18 fit players for crucial fixtures last December.
Mark Hughes concurred: 'We have spent a significant amount of money but we have been able to address a number of the key areas that needed strengthening so all in all it has been a good month.'
Bluesy has wisely chosen to hang on to as many senior players as possible, no matter how dubious their qualities, in a bid to ensure depth in important areas ready for the second phase of the UEFA campaign and what now amounts to a fight to ensure that the club maintains it's Premier League status. Pisspoor, unacceptable defeats such as the debacle at Stoke last weekend mean that City remain in a far from comfortable situation.
We've known all along that this squad has enough talent within it to make things happen. Superb performances against Arsenal, Portsmouth, Hull and Schalke have shown rich promise that has never been fully delivered.
But that talent counts for nothing if you aren't prepared to battle when things are going wrong. The Stoke result was a massive let down considering the way the club and fans had come together the previous week against a tidal wave of criticism. It reminded us that all too often this season we've allowed ourselves to be all too easily out fought by technically less gifted sides and that has to stop.
With only 15 league fixtures remaining, 4 of which are away to Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea and the rags, the stakes are high.
Essentially, the time for excuses is over. This is Mark Hughes' side now and he has to get them firing, battling and working for each other like never before.
Time to come out fighting, City.
ALLARDYCE'S ROQUE SANTA BRUISE?
It remains to be seen whether or not the results in Blackburn's remaining league fixtures will suggest that Sam Allardyce should have cashed in on selling Roque Santa Cruz to City in order to finance team strengthening across his relegation zoned squad.
I know I am not alone in being thankful that this deal did not go through, whatever our sides current failings are up front. I still believe that Hughes had RSC blinkers on throughout his repeated bids for the striker which were beginning to verge on the desperately embarrassing.
Interestingly, Hughes has chosen to hold on to the likes of Benjani, Vassell and Evans who look certain to leave City next summer barring a dramatic upturn in goal scoring form. He's obviously determined to take on the remainder of the season with as much strength in depth as is possible.
With Bojinov nearing a return, a striking pool nucleus of Bellamy, Bojinov, Sturridge, Caicedo and Robinho doesn't sound like bad weaponery to have on board. I maintain that it is high time the manager started to operate with two of these players operating as a partnership.
Meanwhile, we all know there are far better strikers out there than Roque Santa Cruz and I'd stake my bakery on the belief that he will never play for Manchester City, despite talk in the papers of Hughes being prepared to go back for the player at the end of the season.
JO TO IGNITE ON MERSEYSIDE?
Quite honestly, I wouldn't bet against it. Everton gaffer David Moyes is no mug and one of the more determined managers out there who revels in proving people wrong.
Witnessing some of Jo's hapless, floundering efforts up front for City this season, any Eastlands regular could be forgiven for thinking that Moyes has lost the plot.
Yet Jo was always successful at CSKA Moscow when playing alongside and off a regular strike partner such as the barnstorming Vagner Love, something he has not had the benefit of at City. Furthermore, you don't make the Brazilian national side without having something about you.
He's clearly not suited to a lone striker role and his confidence looks shot to pieces. If Moyes can get the lad to lose the head down, shoulders slumped look about him, his loan may yet prove to be an astute piece of business.
WHAT'S IN A WORD? THIS WEEK'S QUOTES
'When I left Santos and signed for Madrid I was convinced I was going to be the best player in the world. Now I'm at City and I think the same. I think that in Manchester I can fulfil my dream of being the best.'
- Robinho repeats his intention to stay with City and to go for it, despite the best efforts of the Laandaarn based sports hacks to will him to Chelski.
'I'm happy to come here, play some football and help Sunderland achieve their targets.'
- The quite frankly dreadful Tal Ben-Haim, alledged as the fifth columnist who went to see Executive Chairman Garry Cook over Mark Hughes' methods becomes a Mackem loan star.
'Del Piero is a great friend. David Beckham is a friend...now he is at Milan. Kaka? To me it seemed like pure folly from the outset. Maybe in three years time he will regret not joining Manchester City.'
- Oasis Commander in Chief Noel Gallagher turns a few sky blue toes up and goes on to dedicate 'Don't Look Back In Anger' to Silvio Berlsuconi's political pawn at the band's Milan gig.
'The profile of City has changed dramatically and there are some fantastic players here with the promise of more to come. There is the nucleus of a very good team here already and I would like to think that I can add to that.'
- Ireland's Number One Shay Given is clearly delighted to have joined The Blues.
'Dunnie is one of the best centre-halves I have ever played behind. He is a fantastic player. We go back over a few years with the Irish squad and know each other well. The partnership between the centre-half and the goalkeeper is an important one and hopefully we will improve as well.'
- Given goes on to offer support to the beleaguered and currently suspended City skipper Richard Dunne.
'The owners of the club plan to take Mourinho, I think, they will manage to do that. Everyday I read in the papers about that and I think these are not just speculations. The bosses really try to make Jose come back to England. It's even possible that this will happen in the winter. If not, it will happen in the summer, Mourinho may end the season with Inter, where he tries to win the Italian Cup. It also possible that Didier Drogba will come to Manchester.'
- Valeri Bojinov is close to a comeback and he's been having a few words with Bulgarian.news.bg's sports hacks...
'There is a reluctance to knock balls into the box because we do not have that physical presence, and defenders are likely to clear balls from those areas.'
- Mark Hughes bemoans City's lack of creativity and inability to 'mix it' in that wretched Stoke defeat.
'I saw the Premier League game between Stoke City and Manchester City. I noticed that millions have been invested by certain people there very badly. I saw that they can do absolutely nothing, even though they were very expensive.'
- Out of nowhere, Bayern Munich's Uli Hoeness comes over all bitter and twisted in a Manchester City critique.
'When you see better players coming in to the club it just makes you want to be even more a part of it. But it has always been that way for lads here who have come through the ranks because they have had to compete with senior players along the way and seen new players every season anyway.
'The ambition has always been to keep doing better and better. We feel as though we have the real solid foundation for success and I would love to be part of the growth at City in the same way as say John Terry has been at Chelsea. It is great to be in at the beginning of what might be something so exciting because we have had a few tough years. Hopefully this season will be the start of something very special.'
- Firm fan's favourite Nedum Onuoha expresses his delight at staying Blue.
WE WEREN'T REALLY THERE? THE FINAL SCORE THIS WEEK 10 YEARS AGO
Football League Division One
Maine Road, 6th February 1999
Man City 3(0) - 0(0) Millwall
Scorers: Dickov 61, Cooke 71, Horlock 75
City: Weaver, Crooks, Edghill, (Morrison,23), Wiekens, Vaughan, Horlock, Brown, Pollock, Taylor, Goater (Dickov,58), Cooke
Subs not used: Bishop
@ The City of Manchester Stadium
FA Premier League
Saturday 7th February 2009 @ 1245 GMT
The Citizens Last 6 PL games: LWDWWL
Boro Last 6 PL games: LLDLLD
Internet: www.middlesbrough.vitalfootball.co.uk/ www.mfc.premiumtv.co.uk
- Vital MC will bring you our weekly Mag 7 Fans Q&A with Vital Boro before the weekend.
Johnny On The Spot?
Boro have scored one goal, which was at home to Sunderland, in their last six league fixtures and are in deepening trouble. This is yet another game City absolutely must win and anything less than that can only be seen as another abject failure to reassert themselves in the Premier League this season.
The UEFA Cup ties are on the horizon and it is essential that we go into those with a stabilized league position. I'm banking on Boro's terrible run of form to continue and for City's new boys to settle in further with a comfortable home win.
City 3 Boro 0
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