Writer: Johnny Baguette
Date:Friday December 25 2009
The City of Manchester Stadium
An earthquake of a week in which Garry Cook dropped more Clangers than The Soup Dragon ends with Roberto Mancini taking City into battle against uncompromising Stoke...
'I have good communication with the players, and I have a good relationship with the players. I appreciate that some players were close with Mark. It's a good thing for a manager. The top four is still the target. If we do a good job in the next five or six months and get in the top four, then next season we can arrive on top.
'For this we must change the mentality. We must want to win always, home and away. If we have this mentality we can change the situation, and I think that the players have this mentality.
'Stoke is a difficult, physical team, typically English. I watched them against Villa - they played well. It will be hard for us. But I hope it will be a good day for the supporters.'
'I know one of the lads who worked under Mark very well, and they are devastated that they are no longer a part of what is going on there because they believe Manchester City are going onwards and upwards in the next year or so.
'As for us, we cannot afford to get wrapped up in the circus that will be going on at City this weekend, and leading up to the game.
'There is bound to be some sort of reaction, good or bad, but you can toss a coin which way it will affect them. I am sure they will be fired up for it and if they start well, we could be in for a very difficult afternoon. But if they don't, then it could work in our favour.'
Mancini's first press conference revealed an increasingly serious injury list which threatens to destabilise his first two games in charge.
Defensively, he faces a crisis. Bridge, Lescott and Onuoha are all definitely out and Richards faces a late fitness test. He will be joined in running on the spot by Adebayor and Wright-Phillips.
A far from ideal situation for the suave Italian to start with. Kompany, De Jong and Weiss will all come into the equation.
Bellamy has been an absolute revelation in the Sky Blue of MCFC and a player clearly behind the man who signed him Mark Hughes whose sacking was dealt with in the most pisspoor fashion last weekend. Bellamy was openly riled and Eastlands will be holding it's breath to see how one of the team's driving forces reacts out on the pitch to the loss of his late career mentor.
Tony Pulis fairs better injury wise. Shawcross is doubtful with Faye out.
Huth returns from suspension.
Tuncay has been a pain in the backside in the past against City and is highly likely to be in amongst Stoke's threats on Boxing Day. He's always full of verve and endeavour and Barry for one must keep tabs on his roaming role.
Carlos Tevez: "El Apache" scored 5 goals in 5 league and cup games in December.
Stoke have only 1 one of their last seven games.
The Citizens are unbeaten in the last 11 league games at SportCity.
City's defence: The Blues have conceded 3 goals in each of their last 3 matches.
The Blues have kept only 1 clean sheet since August.
VMC City Video Link: City Squad Christmas Message
VMC Forum Link: MATCHDAY THREAD: Man City v Stoke City - Saturday Dec 26 Boxing Day - 3pm UK Time KO
Lee Mason, Lancashire. Lanky lad Lee takes charge of his second Eastlands game of the season having officiated the opening day win over Wolves. He's a steady yellow card flourisher. Current Season Record: Games:17, Yellow Cards:54, Red Cards: 5
So, 'il campione di classe' (the Champion of Class) 'Mancio' is Manchester City's manager and he has wasted no time in stamping his authority on The Blues by ordering tonight's Manchester hotel Christmas bonding stopover, having restricted his squad to one glass of wine each with their families. Our enemies and the majority of sports hacks have been handed a field week of City dissing fun thanks to hapless City CEO Garry Cook's bungling and Blues worldwide will now be banking upon the City side responding with a confident win while the hacks queue up for the golden egg of City's hierarchy falling flat on their face. When you take into account current form, injuries and the battering City's image has taken this week against an always uncompromising Stoke side, then it would be a brave Blue to be certain of a City victory. But win we must and I'm banking on another we'll score more than you session unless Mancio can add some defensive stability inside 4 days of training. Johnny On The Spot: CITY 2 Stoke 1
A: Wolves, Mon 28 Dec 19h45 GMT
A: Middlesbrough, FAC3 Sat 2 Jan 15h00 GMT
H: the rags, LCSF, Wed 6 Jan 19h45 GMT
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Date:Friday December 25 2009
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