The VCZ: End Of The Long And Winding Season
THE VITAL CITY ZEN
END OF THE LONG AND WINDING SEASON
It's the last Vital City Zen of Manchester City's 10 month long season as the rollercoaster begins to grind to a halt...
As somebody once said, the louder you scream the faster the ride. This correspondent won't be alone in my relief that a season often bordering on an ordeal is over and we can now regroup.
On the playing front, 56 games are almost gone and we've next to nothing or no statistical progress to show for it. Two horrendous domestic cup humiliations, less points accrued than last season and a gruelling 16 game European campaign that saw City lose 8 out of 13 Sunday league games that followed a Thursday UEFA Cup game paint a frustrating picture.
On a straw clutching tip, there have been some breathtaking performances this season, we're a little better known in Europe and we are almost sure to finish as The Premier League's 5th top scorers after the tiresomely untouchable Big Four, but that's about it.
There is much to reflect upon for everyone associated with MCFC following a gruelling campaign that saw us all under intense media spotlight throughout. As fans, we've come in for some unprecedented stick that saw us transformed from loveable perennial fall guys to hated threats almost overnight. However, there are signs that we are beginning to learn from our pals at Vital Chelsea in how to brush the unaccustomed accusations off!
Back to football matters and on the squad rebuilding signings front, Mark Hughes has done generally sound business for the club. Recent City fans roadshow stars Pablo Zabaleta and Vincent Kompany have been brilliant for us, adding bite and determination that promise to be a cornerstone of next season's England based campaign. Shay Given has proved an essential purchase in every sense of the word and Wayne Bridge has slowly started to assert himself as he rids himself of his Chelsea arse splinteritis.
Vital Man City legend Shaun Wright-Phillips return from Chelsea was a veritable master stroke.
On the downside, despite scoring some important goals and adding tenacity and breathtaking pace to the team, Craig Bellamy succumbed to the knee problems Vital Hammers warned us about. Tal Ben-Haim was bloody awful and the jury remains out on Nigel De Jong.
We understand that Jo and Robinho's signatures were approved by Hughes but wheels were set in motion out of his hands.
Everton loanee Jo was to all intents and purposes dreadful, whereas Robbie has netted 15 goals for the club that have confounded so many of the critics who have branded him a failure.
Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of this season has been Hughes' ability to help nurture and bring on City's Academy graduates. To his credit, he has regularly named 5 or 6 players of Academy origin in his 18. He has overseen the spectacular resurgence of Stephen Ireland and Nedum Onuoha. He's also shown faith in Danny Sturridge, Ched Evans and Kelvin Etuhu, but none of them have truly siezed their opportunities. Just about all of City's squad outside of the mysterious Glauber Berti have been given their chance to shine.
At the very top of the club's hierarchy, His Highness Sheikh Mansour has exuded calm authority in his statements and Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak and Executive Chairman Garry Cook are developing into a highly professional partnership that is steadily establishing itself, learning all the time and taking on board the fan's views via City's excellent communications team.
As for the gaffer himself, he's been an ambassador for the club, showing plenty of support for the City fans roadshow for starters. There are many stories knocking about of his general all round good bloke behaviour. But tactically out on the pitch we've seen some absolute howlers. Failure to explore all the options with substitutes remaining benched, relentless reliance upon the one up front style that City fans can't stand and players too often played out of position. There have been far too many training ground strains for my liking and the players need to start being forced to go across to our travelling fans after EVERY away game.
That said, some of the attacking one touch football has been breathtaking and a joy to watch. The goals scored tally is testament to that fact.
In his defence, Sparky/Leslie/Bluesy has had those injuries and a good deal of suspensions to deal with in a wafer thin pre January squad, but at the end of the day, the general mood is one of disappointment at the sides tendancy to fail to scrap and show urgency.
On a couple of occasions earlier in the season, the City boss appeared to rush back Kompany, SWP and Robinho too soon from injury and the ploy backfired. However, the careful handling of Martin Petrov and Valeri Bojinov's return from serious injury should be applauded.
Now Hughes has been granted the stability and time both he and City's hierarchy have been calling for and he'll know more than anybody else that it's time to deliver.
Here's to the next campaign and everyone associated with City emerging all the stronger for a regrouping break that in truth, cannot come quick enough.
NEW KITS AND SPONSORS IMMINENT
One of the worst kept secrets around SportCity this past few weeks is the upcoming announcement of the mega deal with Umbro and Etihad Airways. Stand by for three stylish new kits to be hitting the City stores any day now. And to think we used to slate the rags on that issue...
HERE COMES THE SUMMER er, RUMOUR - THE UNDERTONES
Nevermind 'Ronnie snubs City' ad nauseam, how about 'Goofy snubs half cut hacks who invented the nonsense story in the first place?' I digress.
Last January, we were looking at hiring a B747 Jumbo Jet to bring all our 'Street of Shame' invented signings to Ashton New Road. Well, this summer we're going to need an A380 Super Jumbo because the sad scribblers are already at it before the sodding window even opens...
Diego Forlan, Ronaldinho, David Villa, Franck Ribery, Roque Santa Cruz, Lionel Messi, Mario Gomez, Kolo Toure, Yoann Gourcuff, Quasimodo Tevez, Sergio Aguero, Michael Owen, Vagner Love, Diego, Batuhan Karadeniz, John Terry, Diego Milito...to be continued...
Meanwhile, file under 'The Blackburn factor is not the answer and never will be': Roque Inexplicable Santa Cruz, David Superstar Bentley and Chris Nonsensical Samba.
As for the Eastlands exit door, it's highly likely to see a lot of action. Ben-Haim, Jo, Gelson, Mills, Vassell, Garrido, Benjani, Evans, Sturridge, Schmeichel, Etuhu, Ball and Dunne can all have justifiable question marks placed against their squad numbers.
Bored Spanish hacks unsurprisingly dreamed up a £132 million transfer of the brilliant Lionel Messi from temporary Blues favourites Barcelona this week, flying directly in the face of City Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak's assertion that City will not be going daft spending wise this summer.
Continuing a welcoming trend, the club swiftly issued a statement silencing upcoming hysterical reactions throughout English football and from Michel Platini before they started.
You get the feeling there will be more of these released this summer and they'll be much appreciated across Planet Blue:
'MANCHESTER CITY Football Club note with interest the reports circulating in the Spanish media that the club has made an offer to the Barcelona player Lionel Messi and that he has turned down the chance to join the club.
'While acknowledging that Lionel Messi is a world-class player of the highest calibre, Manchester City would like to make it clear that the club has at no time made an approach to Mr Messi or his representatives.'
PUBLICITY: DECENT CLOBBER AVAILABLE SOON FROM 'HILARIOUS SPURS GOADERS UNLIMITED'
Manchester City fans are reknowned for our cutting edge music and fashion tastes.
www.prettygreen.com is no exception to that rule. Let's see those desert boots in August.
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WHAT'S IN A WORD? THIS WEEK'S QUOTES
'Looking further ahead, maybe it is a blessing, although it doesn't feel like that at the moment because we are all disappointed that we are not going to be involved. But maybe in certain games this year, we have travelled into Europe on Thursdays then come back to play a League game on Sunday and not performed. It's happened on occasion. So maybe going into more free weeks might help us next season. We certainly benefited from them in recent weeks after Hamburg, and that could well be the case for next year.'
- Mark Hughes looks to the positives after City's non attendance in Europe next season was confirmed in front of a gloating Tottenham faithful.
'I have been very lucky this year because the two teams I have played for, both the England Under 21's and City's first team have had the best player atmosphere I have ever been involved in. In years gone by there would have been one clown or someone who disrupts the atmosphere, but in both places it's absolutely perfect. This is a great place to play.'
- MCFC Academy graduate and England Under 21 captain Nedum Onuoha, the man who almost like a new signing came back into the side in January to help shore up the City rearguard, reveals heart warming news of City's team spirit. He's been absolutely outstanding for The Blues this season. A future City skipper in the making. Ned is the Thomas Cook Player of the month for May.
'I think people see me as a reasonable and realistic man, and I think given what we have done this year and the ambitions we have this summer, a top-six finish next year should be a reasonable and achievable target.'
- Cool as fcuk City Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak lays down the gauntlet to Hughes, Bowen, Niedzwiecki, Hitchcock and Hodges.
'Thank you, I love to score goals for Manchester City.'
- Resurgent City playmaker Elano Blumer delightedly picks up the Thomas Cook Player of the Month award for April.
"I've let my football do the talking and now it's up to the club if they want to make an offer or not. They haven't really made a proper offer yet. If they make me an offer, great. But if not, I've got two years left at the club.'
- The brilliant Stephen Ireland gives us all the creeps in an interview this week and plenty of copy for drooling anti-City hacks to pounce upon. Here's hoping the lad is not being badly advised Danny Sturridge style. In isolation, the words don't stand up as a portrayed declaration of leaving City.
'I'm young, I am 23 years old and still have a long future ahead of me. I do not deny that I would return to Italy, but I do not know where. There is a sports director who believes in me and I have always been close to him in all these years, even in difficult moments. I call and he often comes to visit me here in England. He knows, but I prefer not to say his name. If there is something, you will know about it.'
- Fans favourite Valeri Bojinov is alledged to have made these comments this week. If so, it would be disappointing coming off the back of his superb goal at Spurs that sealed a well planned return to top flight football guided by City's medical team and Mark Hughes who has shown tremendous faith in him. Bojinov's undoubted ability has never been in question and many of us see him as an important part of City's future that could save the club millions.
'This time I may have to sell Kaka for real.'
- You couldn't make it up. 18 year old friend birthday party attendee and Italian gaffsmith AC Milan president Silvio Berlusconi declares he is considering selling his January spin pawn Kaka this summer. What`' this then? Yet another of the G14 elite group of clubs lurching into deeper debt Manchester united style?
WE WEREN'T REALLY THERE? THE FINAL SCORE THIS WEEK 10 YEARS AGO
Football League Division One Play Off Final
Wembley, 30th May 1999
Gillingam 2 (0) - CITY (0) 2
Scorer: Horlock 89, Dickov 90
Man City: Weaver, Crooks (Gareth Taylor,85), Edghill, Wiekens, Morrison (Vaughan,61), Horlock, Brown (Bishop,61), Whitley, Dickov, Goater, Cooke
Attendance: 76, 935
Ten Year Memories: This week's end of season frustration can be tempered a little when you consider how close we were to impending extinction this time 10 years ago. Nobody else in the current top flight can attest to have gone through such a fall from grace and fightback from the abyss that City supporters have gone through, so give us a break sports hacks!!
@ The City of Manchester Stadium
FA Premier League
Sunday 24th May 2009 @ 16:00 GMT+1 BST
The Citizens Last 6 PL games: LWWWLL
Bolton Last 6 PL games: LLDDDD
CLICK HERE FOR VITAL BOLTON
Johnny On The Spot?
I feel an end of season thrashing coming on. And no, not 8-1 against us. (Thank you and good night Middlesbrough). Relegation specialist Gary Megson has failed to send the Trotters down and may well opt for an end of season capitulation. City owe Bolton one after our appalling non performance at the Reebok earlier in the season.
CITY 5 Bolton 0
THANK YOU FOR SUPPORTING VITAL MANCHESTER CITY THIS SEASON
Thank you to all the Vital MC Community from myself, Tudor and Eighthsin for all your outstanding contributions this season.
The way this site has phoenixed from the flames inside 12 months has been stunning. Our forums' reputation for rational, abuse- free cutting edge Blues debate grows daily.
We get no financial reward for our efforts, this is a labour of love balanced against our day and night jobs. The bonus is we have a therapeutic way to offload on our passion for The Blues and share the highs and lows with your good selves. It's very often massively rewarding.
The Vital Network's hierarchy have been thrilled at the way our site has taken off and thanks to your input we've become the fastest growing Independent City fan's site across Planet Blue.
Vital Manchester City is well and truly on the map at the heart of the club and our access to Carrington to meet the top man that is Shaun Wright-Phillips was one of the highlights of our season.
Following that interview and our link up with the excellent Manchester band Puressence we are working hard at giving you the opportunity to put your questions to other Blues and Celebrity Blues.
You will see some changes on Vital Manchester City in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.
Keep the faith, enjoy the break and whatever you do, keep it Blue!!
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