Writer: Johnny Baguette
Date:Friday April 16 2010
The City Of Manchester Stadium
Saturday 17th April 2010
City legend Gary Owen exclusively links up with VMC for The Blues' crucial end of season run in which starts with the 155th Manchester derby and City's bid for revenge...
'We need our fans to keep doing what they do each week and get right behind the team from the first minute to the last. They can inspire us to even greater heights and they have a huge role to play against united.'
Sir Alex Ferguson:
'It is the most significant derby for a long time. City and Spurs are trying to get into the Champions League for the first time in their history. It is the first time since I have been manager that we are facing City when they have a genuine chance of achieving something.
'Carlos had a good first season with us, I must admit. In the second he didn't feature in as many games. I cannot dispute that he is having a great goalscoring season.I have no regrets about that whatsoever There is no bitterness from me. Players leave here from time to time. Some do well, others don't. We move on.'
'We've gelled as a squad at the right time and we're hitting the right notes just when we need to. We're finishing the season strongly, and we'll want to carry on at the start of next season in the same sort of form.'
'What Carlos has done this season is to prove everybody wrong. He has had his critics but when it comes down to it, football is about winning and Carlos is a winner. Probably looking at his situation now, any team would regret selling a player of his quality. I am sure Carlos would swap all of his goals this season to score the winner against united on Saturday.'
"City have the capacity to be genuine contenders because they have so much money and they are targeting the big players. But the first trophy is always the hardest one to win and until they do that, there will be a lot of pressure on them.They reached the Carling Cup semi-finals this season but came up against us and they were knocked out of the FA Cup by Stoke, so there`s still a bit of work to do. I think if they finish in a Champions League spot this season, for them that will be as good as winning a trophy.'
Lionel Messi, FC Barçelona:
'I have learnt a lot from Carlitos. He has proved this season he is one of the best strikers in the world and Manchester united have shown just how much they have missed him. He needed to be somewhere he was valued. He is such a nice guy, he must be with a club who really want him and respect him.'
Joe Cole, Chelsea FC:
'If united beat Manchester City on Saturday then we know we have to win at Spurs; if they lose we can put the final nail in their coffin.'
VMC City Video Link: Mancio Derby Press Conference
City boss Roberto Mancini will be in the technical box having been given a suspended fine of £20,000 by the FA following his touchline ball wrestling session with Everton manager David 'Gollum' Moyes last month.
While Joleon Lescott, Martin Petrov and Michael Johnson remain on the sidelines, Wayne Bridge could return to the side after his hernia operation.
Mancio confirmed on the press conference link above that Stephen Ireland and Patrick Vieira are both fit back in contention but Sylvinho will face a late fitness test.
Pablo Zabaleta returns to the squad after completing his 2 game 10 bookings suspension.
An element of mystery surrounds Micah Richards situation within the City squad and as to whether or not he is injured.
'Regarding City's full back situation, particularly left back. In the League Cup Semi Final first leg at Eastlands we played it very narrow. Mancini seems to want to make his full backs come in more.
'I know it's important to keep compact, but against people like Paul Scholes who have a good passing range, even Michael Carrick, playing to wingers into a 30 yard parameter becomes a good ball almost every time. If the fullback is in a position to meet the diagonal ball as it's coming in, that creates doubt in the midfielders mind. Javier Garrido runs in quick sand and Antonio Valenica would have him for breakfast on current form.
'We gave advantage to united's midfielders in that first leg. We made them look like world beaters as they repeatedly knocked it wide. We were forcing the likes of Scholes to play it wide which meant we had to move the whole defence to accommodate that wide ball. It's smething we have to be aware of.'
'Carlos Tévez,will be up for it, maybe even too up for it! He feels he can score a goal every time he walks on to the pitch, but for me, Craig Bellamy has been our catalyst alongside Tévez this season.
'Bellamy is due a goal after making a few and because of his pace I think they will select Rafael to play against Bellamy in an attempt to match his pace, something Gary Neville no longer has.
'Bellamy is such a winner and good luck to young Rafael because he's going to need it. Bellamy could be the difference in this game.'
The rags will be without Anderson and Wes Brown plus their classic perma-crocks Michael Owen and Owen Hargreaves.
Their goal scorer Wayne Rooney is sure to be hurried back into action against tougher opposition despite repeated ankle problems.
Meanwhile Ryan Giggs and Rio Ferdinand are alledged as 'doubtful' by their manager but it's probably his time honoured 'pretend we've got selection problems' ploy.
'On Wayne Rooney, I just do not believe that you can have the two ankle injuries he's had, not train and expect to perform. That ankle will be nowhere near perfect, and if anything he can only do more damage to it.'
'Nani has just signed a new contract. He flattered to deceive when he first joined them. Since Ronaldo's gone he's gained confidence by playing more regulalrly and he's instrumental in assists and making things happen for united. He's got that bit of trickery, he can put a ball in and he can score goals. He is someone we have to keep an eye on.'
City's 10 Game Mini Season Results So Far:
P: 5, W:4, L:1, F:16 A:5 Pts:12 out of 15, GD:+11
City Goal Average Last 5 Games:
3.2 per game.
Both Sides Top Scorers (all competitions):
Tévez: 28, Adebayor: 13, Rooney: 34, Berbatov: 12
El Apache has scored 9 goals in his last 7 matches. 7 in his last 5.
Goals From Corners 2009-2010:
City have the best record of goals scored from corners in the Premier League, closely followed by Villa, Rovers and Stoke:
City: Taken:207, Goals:15, Conversion rate:7.25%
united: Taken:274, Goals: 4 Conversion rate:1.46%
This game could represent SWP's 250th Premier League appearance.
If City win the remaining 3 home fixtures they will achieve a Premier League club record of 14 home victories in a season.
If the rags fail to win for a 3rd consecutive league game it will confirm their worst run of for almost 3 years.
City have only lost 5 league games all season, united, 7. It is two decades since City ended the season with fewer top-flight defeats than united.
The rags have won the last 3 league games against City since 2008's Munich Memorial Derby.
VMC YouTwitFace Video Of The Week: Exclusive reaction to the 97th Minute derby starring Taggart, Sparky and Tiny Tim, The English Patient:
Follow the action and debate live on Saturday via the popular VMC Match Day Live thread.
S Bennett, Kent Mr. Bennett takes command of his second City game of this season having overseen our FA Cup exit at Stoke, sending off Adebayor farcically along the way. But Blue alarm bells will ring at Mr. B's record with united this season. He has reffed united on 3 occasions, all at the swamp wherein united scored a combine 10 goals against Hull, Everton and Wolves without reply. On the plus side. A reknowned 'Homer.' 18 of his games this season have ended in home wins with only 6 away wins .Like our recent officials Mr. Wiley and Mr. Dowd, Mr. B is a yellow car flourishing centurion. Current season record: Games:30, Yellow Cards:110 Red Cards:6 -- Gary's View: 'I think he`ll award a penalty and don't rule out a sending off! I think he will average his 4 bookings. If you are looking for an alternative bet, then a sending off with a minimum of 4 booked might be a good one. He's not my favourite referee. He knows the rules, but he doesn't know the game or how it is played.'
Gary's View: 'We need to come out of the blocks as if our life depends upon it. We have got to go at united from the word go. We gave them the upper hand in the first 25 minutes of the Eastlands cup tie. We made them look how they should not look when playing away from home in the derby. - In derbies it is all about effort, commitment and who wants to win it more. In turn, what the players show will ignite the fans. Their away fans are usually noisier than their home fans but we can show as we have done many times before that our fans can be that extra man. - The City players have got to show that hunger, not just for the derby but for the battle for fourth place after Spurs beat Arsenal. I think the fourth place race will go to the wire with poignantly, the decider between City and Spurs at Eastlands. - We have no need to be afraid of Manchester united anymore. Our players, for once, can stand on a pitch with them, equally. Man for man our players are as good as theirs and in some areas, better. The Premier League tells us they are a better side than us by 11 points. But come Saturday afternoon that could be 8 points with a game in hand for City. We are as close to them as we have been in many, many years. It has taken a last second goal to beat us in each of our defeats to them this season. We could ruin their title hopes on Saturday and for once spoil their party instead of them spoiling ours! Right now, Manchester united would rather be playing anyone but Manchester City.' - Gary On The Spot: 'It's going to be very tight. My heart says City to win by the odd goal. Maybe 2-1, 3-2. I don't think there will be a 0-0. But the way games have been going and considering what is at stake, I think both teams will go out to win it, but also set out not to lose it. The first goal will be vital. There will be sparring up until that goal is scored and my head says that a scoring draw, which it should have been at Old Trafford, will be the likely outcome.'
A: Arsenal, Sat 24 Apr 17h30 BST
H: Aston Villa, Sat 01 May 15h00 BST
H: Spurs, Wed 05 May 20h00 BST
A: West Ham, Sun 09 May 15h00 BST
Date:Friday April 16 2010
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