Writer: Johnny Baguette
Date:Saturday April 25 2009
THE VITAL CITY ZEN
THE EUROPA LEAGUE: YES WE CAN?
The end of a long, gruelling rollercoaster of a season is in sight. Can City find the resources to make that longed for 7th place finish?
Based on what has gone before this past 10 months including a continuingly shocking rate of injuries, then the answer would have to be a resounding NO.
But.. it would also be classic City to take the issue to the wire as they did when Fatty Fowler's pisspoor penalty kick against Middlesbrough ensured we would not be going into Europe under Stuart Pearce a few years back.
Despite our tough looking run-in, rival teams results could prove key in deciding who is destined to make that coveted inaugural Europa Cup campaign.
Outside of the usual Big Four dominance and Villa and Everton's valiant efforts to dislodge them, we've seen a generally poor Premier League standard this season with no margin for error as technically poor sides either kick their way to safety or cancel each other out.
Should the erratic pattern continue in this final run of games, we could be looking at a nailbiting last couple of weeks if City can get something on Merseyside.
Here are the main seventh place contenders respective final fixtures as we enter this crucial weekend:
West Ham v Chelsea
Stoke City v West Ham
West Ham v Liverpool
Everton v West Ham
West Ham v Middlesbrough
Everton v Man City
Man City v Blackburn
Man Utd v Man City
Tottenham v Man City
Man City v Bolton
Fulham v Stoke City
Chelsea v Fulham
Fulham v Aston Villa
Newcastle v Fulham
Fulham v Everton
Blackburn v Wigan
Wigan Athletic v Bolton
West Brom v Wigan Athletic
Wigan Athletic v Man Utd
Stoke City v Wigan Athletic
Wigan Athletic v Portsmouth
Man Utd v Tottenham
Tottenham v West Brom
Everton v Tottenham
Tottenham v Man City
Liverpool v Tottenham?
Yes We Can? Give us your thoughts both here and in the Vital MC Forums!
YOUTH CUP EXIT
Arsenal Youth 4 City Youth 1 (agg 6-2)
The Blues' defence of the FA Youth Cup ended in front of over 9,000 fans at the Emirates Stadium as Arsenal ensured that a first half thumping was enough to see them off. Still, the MCFC Academy talent conveyor belt shows no signs of slowing down.
City have certainly missed a box to box midfielder in the engine room this season and the news that Michael Johnson played 60 minutes in City Reserve's 0-2 defeat to Middlesborough at The Riverside is a positive development indeed.
Further good news in this unprecedented season of injuries is that the livewire Valeri Bojinov saw out the whole game.
City's initiative in dishing out inflatable bananas and City flags on the night of the recent Hamburg humdinger in return for a donation to The New Children's Hospital Appeal was an absolute success.
£8,212 was raised for the charity that City and notably manager Mark Hughes have worked closely with.
POINTS OF BLUE INITIATIVE CONTINUES
The club's next 'Points of Blue' meeting with the fans at SportCity is lined up for next Thursday, April 30th starting at 1830 GMT+1.
Blues are asked to check in at the Main Reception in the Eastlands West Stand.
WHAT'S IN A WORD? THIS WEEK'S QUOTES
'This was a difficult game for us. We had to match their commitment. Maybe we switched off a bit for them to get back on level terms but we kept going and had enough to see the game out.'
- Sparky Hughes reflects upon City's 4-2 fight to the death with battling West Brom.
'It was a hard game, mainly because of Thursday. That game took a lot out of some players, and I found it difficult on the legs, so we were just glad to get the win.'
- Wayne Bridge, who for me has been a big disappointment following his arrival from Chelsea chips in with his view of the game. Hopefully a rare game free midweek will see some freshness return to those tired legs.
'We have to look at how the squad is. We've probably lost Pablo Zabaleta for a number of games and the opportunities will present themselves. We still need to win Premier League games, that's important for us. But if the opportunity presents itself to blood a young player, we'll have a look at that.
- Hughesy hints at the likes of the excellent Vladimir Weiss, Ryan McGivern or Adam Clayton becoming the next MCFC Academy graduates to break through into City's first team as the club's treatment room building extension plans are signed for.
'The manager gives me total confidence, and he and the whole team help me to produce my best football for the club. That goal gives me a lot more confidence to score more in the matches that we have left.'
- Robinho is on song and and certainly on message when his positive comments regarding the club this week are taken into account. Here's to him digging in for the long run at City and silencing the critics.
'You have to be humble when winning as well as losing - last year we won the trophy with some dignity and I hope we did the same in defeat at Arsenal. We'll regroup, rebuild and take a look at what happened.
We have been to the semi-finals, at least, three times in four years, and we have the opportunity to play Arsenal again in the league play-offs. Maybe that will be time for revenge or not, but we will be ready for it and we will have a go.'
- City Legend and MCFC Academy manager Jim Cassell reflects upon City's FA Youth Cup exit at the hands of Arsenal.
'Until an ex-team-mate of mine from that 1994 team goes on and really achieves something then I would not agree they are successful managers.'
- Sunderland and Ireland walk out merchant, cowardly, vicious career wrecker, all round tosspot and Ipswich Manager Royston Vasey Keane questions Mark Hughes and Steve Bruce's managerial success rates from the safety of his first East Anglian press conference.
'Success is relative. With limited resources, maybe just competing in the Premier League against some of the best teams in Europe can be viewed as a success.'
- Mark Hughes calmly responds to the thug's bitter sniping.
WE WEREN'T REALLY THERE? THE FINAL SCORE THIS WEEK 10 YEARS AGO
Football League Division One
Maine Road, 24th April 1999
CITY 1 (1) - 2 (2) Wycombe Wanderers
Scorer: Goater 45
City: Weaver ,Edghill, Vaughan (Allsopp, 35), Wiekens, Morrison, Horlock, Brown, Bishop, Dickov, Goater, Cooke
Sub not used: Whitley
Attendance: 29, 337
10 Year Match Memories:
'The Pink' Headline said it all: 'THAT'S TORN IT'
@ Goodison Park
FA Premier League
Saturday 25th April 2009 @ 15:00 GMT+1 BST
The Citizens Last 6 PL games: WLWLLW
The Toffees Last 6 PL games: DWLWDD
Johnny On The Spot?
Goodison Park is a difficult enough place to go in the modern era and City have to go there and face a side brimming with confidence and a public living in dreamland.
This week saw them become FA Cup finalists after disposing of the rags (due to the astute David Moyes' 'referee mind control' according to a deranged Sir Alex Taggart) and sitting pretty in sixth place in the Premier League after a creditable point at Chelski.
City meanwhile come into this on the back of hard fought home victories over Hamburg and West Brom. Other than that, we've little to cheer about as this season's relentless injury list builds again. The drive of Bellamy, SWP and Zabaleta would have been beneficial here. De Jong is also doubtful.
Still, MH has brought back Petrov and Bojinov carefully and sooner or later they are going to click into gear. City are drinking in the last chance Europe saloon for next season and I'm banking on the Elano inspired resurgence to play on those surely fatigued Everton legs and bag a point.
Everton 1 CITY 1
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Date:Saturday April 25 2009
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