Manchester City - City Lose In Italy
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Napoli 2 - Manchester City 1

Stadio Sao Paolo

Tuesday 22nd November 2011 7.45 PM


City Lose In Italy

It was make or break time tonight in the Champion`s League for Roberto Mancini`s Blues as a win would guarantee a place in the knock out stages. City had only played Napoli once before in the reverse of this fixture which ended in a 1-1 draw. When it came to Italian opposition though, City had only lost once in seven outings.

Mancini rang the changes in tonight`s team and the team sheet read as follows: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Lescott, Kolarov, De Jong, Toure, Milner, Silva, Dzeko and Balotelli. This was a very attacking line up with two strikers playing at the top of their game, backed up by the brilliance of Silva, the power of Toure, the resilience of Milner and the tough tackling of De Jong. We were in for a night and a half.

Lazio kicked off right to left in an atmosphere that was incredible. City were soon back in possession and moving the ball forward with Silva over on their right.

First cross of the game came from Milner as Zabaleta played a sweet ball over the full back. The cross was inch perfect, but Dzeko got in the way of Balotelli who was as usual in the right spot.

Five minutes in and City were starting to hold onto the ball as the attacking midfielders rotated at pace swapping positions and keeping the Italian side guessing. This great movement allowed Toure the chance of a shot centrally from the edge of the Napoli box. The shot was high and wide, but City were soon back in possession winning the ball straight from the goal kick.

A minute later and Balotelli had crept in from the left side of attack and found a great position between full back and centre half. Dzeko found the Italian and Balotelli struck a wicked shot which flew just wide of the post.

On seven minutes the Italians found themselves in possession on the edge of the box. Kompany put in an inch perfect tackle on Cavani who went down writhing in agony as if shot. City broke in numbers, but were caught on the counter almost conceding to Napoli in their first real attack. Hart however was well positioned to save the ensuing header.

On ten minutes, Napoli had another chance as they broke once again with pace. Lavezzi cut in from the left side and played a great ball to Cavani who shot with power but wide of Hart`s left post. Twice now City had given the ball away cheaply and both times Napoli had chances on goal.

Napoli`s front three were showing some great movement in the final third of the field and when they had possession, the City players were struggling to mark up properly and allowing chances.

Best save of the game came on sixteen minutes as Inler struck a wonder shot from thirty yards out. The ball dipped and curled but Hart was up to it and tipped the ball over the bar. The resultant corner was swung in to the near post. Kolarov attempted to divert the ball out for another corner but only succeeded in striking Hart leg and sending the ball into his own net for Napoli`s first goal. One nil to the Italians and City had it all to do.

City`s third shot came just before the twentieth minute after neat passing between Toure and Milner found Silva free on the edge of the Napoli box. Silva shot well and on target but the Napoli keeper had positioned himself well and saved with ease. This was followed by more theatrics and dare I say it cheating as another Napoli player went down pole axed from a soft tackle.

Twenty five minutes in and Silva found Milner on the right. Milner cut in and crossed with his left foot. The ball was inches from Dzeko`s head but just a little too hard.

As the first half hour drew to a close, City were making things hard for themselves. One nil down to a goal that has to be put down to poor near post defending and putting themselves under pressure by losing the ball cheaply with far too much regularity.

Luck seemed to change for City on thirty two minutes as Napoli defended terribly as Dzeko put a weak cross into their box. The cross fell to the Italian`s centre half who strangely opted to pass to Silva, running into the box. Silva shot and all Napoli`s keeper could do was deflect the shot into the path of Mario Balotelli who side footed into an empty net. One all and game on.

City nearly had another tap in with three minutes of the half left. Balotelli had switched to the right and found Silva on the left with a lovely cross field ball. Silva stopped the ball with one touch and played a straight ball between full back and centre half for Kolarov to run onto. The full back shot against the keeper and the ball rebounded into Dzeko`s path just as a Napoli foot took it away.

As the ref blew for half time, the score line was pretty fair. City had maybe edged it with more shots on target, but Napoli had broken with real pace. One thing was for sure though, Mancini would make sure City didn`t give the ball away as cheaply in the second half.

City kicked off the second half with no changes and were guilty almost immediately of giving the ball away cheaply in the centre of the pitch, this time Toure was the guilty party.

Three minutes into the half and disaster struck. De Jong gave the ball away once again. Cavani of Napoli played the ball out wide and showed excellent movement running into the box for the return ball which found him perfectly. He struck the ball cleanly but near to Joe Hart and City`s keeper got a hand to the ball. Unfortunately Hart`s hand wasn`t strong enough and he could only deflect the ball into the side of the net. Two one to Napoli and City were really under the cosh.

First substitution of the game came on fifty six minutes as the injured Inler was replaced by Dzemaili. Whislt Napoli were down to ten men, City had had a period of possession which ended with a poor shot by Silva. As the ball went out, the substitution took place.

City took this opportunity to move Silva inside and immediately started to see more of the ball. This began to lead City to hold on to the ball more. They won a free kick on the right which was swung in toward Dzeko. It looked as if the big Bosnian would get his head to the ball before he fell to the ground pushed by a Napoli player. It looked a stonewall penalty, but the ref waved play on. Silva protested, as Balotelli had in the first half. The protestations merely earnt him a yellow card. .

Twenty minutes into the second half, City were seeing more of the ball in the final third of the field, yet despite this could not find that telling pass that would unlock the Napoli defence. Indeed each time it looked like something may happen, possession was lost, or a poor ball played in.

With twenty two minutes to go, after a period of possession, City once more lost possession. Hamsek pounced on the loose ball and played a wonderful pass through to Lavezzi. The covering Kompany lost his footing and allowed Lavezzi a clear shot. The Napoli striker hit the ball with venom but this time Hart was up to the task and pushed the ball wide for a corner.

At this point, seventy minutes in, Mancini withdrew De Jong and replaced him with Nasri in an attempt to inject some trickery and passing ability into the team.

Napoli were dropping deeper and deeper and making it hard for City to break through. It seemed obvious that going down the middle of the pitch whilst Napoli parked the proverbial bus was playing right into the Italian`s hands. Yet this was exactly what City did. .

The Italians were playing a clever game, getting away with a number of fouls on Silva and Balotelli for which the referee gave nothing and also wasting time overacting.

On seventy eight minutes, goals could have been scored at both ends. First Balotelli was put through on goal but he shot at the keeper and then Maggio was put through at the other end and only a wonderful save by Hart kept the score line at 2-1.

With ten minutes to go, Balotelli was involved again as he nicked the ball of the Napoli left back. The defender clearly brought the City striker down but the ref once again waved play on.

At this point Aguero entered the fray for the sake of Dzeko and within a minute, Cavani had been replaced by Pandev.

With six minutes to go, City took off Zabaleta and replaced him with Johnson. Milner moved to right back and Johnson went to right wing.

This change nearly paid dividends as Johnson played Aguero in. The Argentinian waltzed through the Napoli defence but his shot from a tight angle was saved by Napoli`s keeper.

Seconds after this, Kolarov earnt City another yellow as he challenged from high and to the side.

With two minutes to go, Dossena was replaced by Fernandez as Napoli sought to slow down the impetus City had begun to build with the introduction of Adam Johnson. Possession lay solely with City as the side drew to an end as Mancini`s men sought that all important goal that would ensure at least a share of the points.

City had three minutes left to score but every time they were fouled the ref seemed to wave play on and every time a tackle went in on a Napoli player a free kick was given. The seconds were ticking away and then it was all over. City had lost. In truth the probably didn`t deserve to lose, but poor marking and an inability to keep possession gave the points to Napoli.

Star Player

Mario Balotelli - Played his heart out and got kicked from pillar to post. Scored one and could have had more.

Player Ratings

Joe Hart - 8

Unlucky with the first goal and kept the score line down to something reasonable. Napoli could have had at least two more had it not be for Joe

Pablo Zabaleta - 6.5

There is a gulf in class between Pablo and Micah Richards. City missed the attacking fullback tonight.

Vincent Kompany - 6.5

Looked off balance and nervous tonight. Could not mark up a lot of the time.

Joleon Lescott - 7

Played well for the most part and has probably looked better than the Captain this year.

Aleksander Kolarov - 6.0

Most of the good attacks came from when Kolarov went forward, but he did get caught out of position too much. Didn't have the pace to get back. Also lost the ball too much.

Nigel De Jong - 6.5

Didn't offer the usual combative style we are used to.

Yaya Toure - 7.0

Tried his heart out but looked off balance and his first touch seemed to abandon him tonight.

James Milner - 7.5

Probably the pick of the three 'defensive' midfielders.

David Silva - 7.0

Played some good passes but struggled with the packed midfield.

Mario Balotelli - 8

The best City player on the pitch. Could have had three. Kicked from pillar to post.

Edin Dzeko - 6.0

Won a few headers.

Nasri - 6.5

Didn't have much of an impact when he came on.

Aguero - 7.5

Some mazy dribbles and nearly scored. Should have been on twenty minutes earlier.

Johnson - 7

Put in a couple of crosses. Should have been on twenty minutes earlier.

Manager Rating

Roberto Mancini - 6

A big mistake changing the full backs and should have changed things a lot earlier. The first time I have seen Mancini make tactical mistakes.

The journalist

Writer: Redmond6 Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Tuesday November 22 2011

Time: 9:53PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
Much as I'd have taken only two defeats by the end of November both away in the CL, it's a great shame we didnt show more urgency tonight and went for it.
Johnny Baguette
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22/11/2011 22:07:00

horrible to think about playing on thursdays again; hope we can isolate it from our league form
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22/11/2011 22:36:00

balotelli was definitely the best on the pitch, but he could've done finished better. he was everywhere though and tracked back. i give him credit for that, made some great runs to get into positions to score even though he missed and had some great passes
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22/11/2011 23:46:00

We have to just put this game behind us. We can critisize the tactics, but the result still stands. Few teams play 3 4 3 and we failed to come to terms with the speed of the front three and in the end without Hart would have been caned.
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23/11/2011 00:51:00

Agree JK - but we play our two slowest full backs against a team that has pace to burn.
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23/11/2011 05:18:00

What a waste! Embarrassment to English football!
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23/11/2011 06:59:00

^What a knob! Embarrassment to Spurs fans everywhere!
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23/11/2011 07:09:00

200 m loss last fiscal year, but hey at least you got the group stages to show for, what do you call that - great return on investment..
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23/11/2011 07:22:00

How's that SICK SWAN doing Nerdy?
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23/11/2011 07:45:00

Now Europa would be funny.
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23/11/2011 08:31:00

Funny how?
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23/11/2011 08:46:00

Is the Honeymoon period over now, Liverpool awaits another bananna skin maybe
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23/11/2011 10:17:00

Dzeko- good squad player, Kolorov- good squad player, Zaba- good squad player, De Jong- good squad player etc. Aguero- first teamer, Richards- first teamer, Clichy- first teamer (imho!) etc. Afraid Mancio got it wrong. should have got Johnno and Kun on at half time. And that's not hindsight! It was foresight.
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23/11/2011 10:17:00

The last time were beat we then went on a what was it a nine game unbeaten run? scoring for fun along the way. No reason we can't repeat that.
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23/11/2011 10:30:00

Aaaah BabyBluedud... I've nothing more to add... 1 fans embarrassment over 500 million pounds worth of embarrassment...
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23/11/2011 10:54:00

Glad to see no Spurs fan has come on & taken the pi$$ - yet. I doubt whether we would have got much out of this group involving Napoli & Bayern last season. By comparison, our group was a lot easier.

You have a serious mountain to climb against Munich, but keep the faith, you're at the Etihad & I'm pretty sure you can do it, we were given a slim chance against Inter at WHL & no chance gainst AC in the San Siro & look what happened. Not that I have a vested interest in Citeh not dropping into the Europa of course! ;-)

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23/11/2011 11:05:00

Fair play Spuds-u-like, it's good to know there are decent Spurs fans out there. I can't see us progressing but you never know, stranger things and all that.
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23/11/2011 11:12:00

We've nothing to be embarrassed for Mix, we got beaten by a very strong opponent. Now losing 5-1 on your own turf, that is something to be embarrassed about. Btw Mix, you never responded to me on 'The Rivals' article on Vital Spurs, is this because I proved you were talking out of your arse? Too embarrassed to reply?
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23/11/2011 11:15:00

Cheers Bluedub, as you say, stranger things have happened. Mind you, you have enough quality & CL experience in the squad to cause them problems & the result is very far from a forgone conclusion. Yaya, Aguero & super Mario (I love that guy!) in a squeaky 3-2 is my forecast.

Sorry I missed Mix26, I should have recognised him.

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23/11/2011 11:32:00

Even if we beat Bayern, which I do believe is do able, we have to hope for Villareal to at least hold Napoli to a draw, given Villareal's form so far I can't see that happening.
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23/11/2011 11:36:00

I see what you mean Bluedub. Its out of your hands really I know, but I'm sure Villareal will not want to sign off with 6 defeats & they'll be playing for pride. All the pressure is on Napoli & all you can do is hope it gets to them & they bottle it. Its going to be a massive night Dec 7th, Munich might not be fully up for it as they have already won the group which will give you an edge & as I say, all the pressure will be on Napoli.

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23/11/2011 11:56:00

That's a good point mate, I like the glass half full attitude, it's given me a pick me up, cheers mate. Here's hoping.
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23/11/2011 11:59:00

Yes I did,but did u respond to my questions or whip out an article to try defend ur bias view on the topic... The facts are u should be embarrassed if u don't make the knockout stage? I know one team that would have def qualified against all odds...
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23/11/2011 12:09:00

The ultimate prize will be when u join us in the Europe League...we can play our kids against u and let them embarrass u!
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23/11/2011 12:12:00

I responded and told you where you were wrong. I then posted again to show you an article that I thought may be of interest to you, seeing as though you seem obsessed with City." The facts are u should be embarrassed if u don't make the knockout stage?" Is that a question or a statement? It reads like a statement but for some reason has a question mark on the end. What team would that be Mix and more pertinently how do you know that team would qualify against all odds? Did your crystal ball tell you so? Or perhaps it was tea leaves? A gypsy maybe?
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23/11/2011 12:17:00

Mix, you seem to like the use of the word embarrass. To lose a game or even to not qualify through an extremely difficult group ( not that anything has been decided yet ) is not embarrassing, disappointing maybe, frustrating even but not embarrassing. What is embarrassing is shipping 5 goals at home against anyone.
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23/11/2011 12:21:00

If you mean Spurs, Mix, when you say "I know one team that would have def qualified against all odds...", get real fella, Munich & Napoli? You sure? Hardly equates with Werder Bremen & Inter under Benitez does it? Can't defend you on that one mate.

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23/11/2011 12:41:00

Please stop believing the sensationalist tripe you're reading and hearing in the media and have a look at the financial reports of the top clubs around Europe, City aren't blowing them out of the water in terms of wages they are matching them.
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23/11/2011 13:33:00

And then u move on to send me a link from the daily mail???
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23/11/2011 13:34:00

Where's the rest of my post Mix? You know the bit where I explained to you why UEFA decided to introduce the rule in the first place, or the bit where I told you that City weren't blowing everyone out of the water with wages ( like you had suggested ) ? You know the bit where I said we were paying the same as Chelsea and well below Barca and Real? Convenient that you leave that part out when that was where I was responding to the tripe you were spouting. Did you read the article mate? It's from Martin Samuel, he's a very good journalist, he tends not to follow the crowd and says it like it is, all this despite the fact that he writes for The Fail.
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23/11/2011 13:40:00

Thats why I felt I did not need to respond Bd! U give me a whole write up of why the FFP was introduced yet u accept no blame as a club for making a mockery out of it? U post record losses in the PL and claim that your wages are in-line with the other Euro giants??? Do u really know these figures? Or u pulling it out your arse like Tevez! Well fecking done! It took u how many years and what 400 million pounds to get that result! whoop di doo da! Spuds-U-Like that will go down well at VS, unlike yourself I do believe this Spurs team could beat anyone, but it's nice to see some optimism... Besides im just winding them up here...
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23/11/2011 13:44:00

@Mix "we can play our kids against u and let them embarrass u!". Hmmm...we played your first 11 and humiliated them at "THE LANE". Wonder now what we'd do to your little kids... Ye Clown.
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23/11/2011 13:45:00

rojo2010 picking up stompies...
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23/11/2011 13:52:00

Keep believing your own hype Mix. Spurs will go back to being Spurs soon, don't worry. It'll probably start at West Brom this weekend. Get off the site you bitter little man. We were beaten last night, no one on here making excuses. Fact is, we were beaten by a front 3 that would get into any team in the world.
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23/11/2011 13:53:00

ummm my own hype??? ok then rojo im off...
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23/11/2011 13:56:00

ok im back!
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23/11/2011 13:58:00

Good man, adebyebye
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23/11/2011 13:58:00

and I just spoke with Tevez, he said ur mom needs to stop asking him if she could lick his neck!
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23/11/2011 13:59:00

I know these figures Mix. The financial reports are all available online if you'd care to educate yourself, you might have to pull your head out of your arse to find them though, so I'm not holding much hope that you will see them. How are we making a mockery of the FFP rules?
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23/11/2011 14:00:00

Oh, I know EXACTLY what you're doing mix! Seems like you're having some success. ;-)

Have to disagree with you regarding our current side though fella, I still think we would have struggled against Bayern & Napoli in that group even with today's side. Anyway, this is Citeh's site, so I'm not going to get into a Spurs discussion with you on here, not fair to pump up their comments figures when we could be doing it on VS! :-)

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23/11/2011 14:02:00

No ive not seen them Bd, I shall for my own ummm hype go read them.... By negotioting a R400 million pound sponsorship...
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23/11/2011 14:03:00

lol ;) SUL!
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23/11/2011 14:06:00

You win Mix. Classy stuff. Bunking off school is obviously doing wonders for your mental capacity.
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23/11/2011 14:10:00

First of all Mix, the exact figures from that sponsorship deal have yet to be released, secondly, if the figures don't represent fair value according to UEFA when they investigate the deal then they will as they outline in the rules reduce what City can present on their balance sheet in terms of income garnered from the deal. There is no mockery.
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23/11/2011 14:11:00

Hmmmm that is interesting, seems Uefa could never get the FFP going should clubs continue to find various methods of generating income.They would be spending half the time just trying to pass new rules. Damn u anyway for being so informed Bd! In all honesty I was here just for the laugh today, now im really leaving with my tail between my legs...
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23/11/2011 14:28:00

I've enjoyed our exchange Mix. Cheers
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23/11/2011 14:32:00

lol top work Bd!
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23/11/2011 14:37:00

PL and CL football are different. We weren't gifted with an easy Pot 4 team or we'd be through. Napoli were our Pot 4 team when it could just as easily have been Genk or the Romanian team United have, in which case we'd have done the double over them as well as Villarreal. This was one of the hardest CL groups in recent memory and we are still novices as a team in the CL, maybe at the level in the CL that we were in the league in 2009 when we barely missed out on 4th. We will be back and I don't think too many Blues will mourn for long knowing that CL matchdays are going to be an event every season now and we will do better in future and won't always have such a tough group.
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23/11/2011 16:34:00

Thats what I meant when I said keep the faith earlier. Well said StuMFC, spot on.

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23/11/2011 17:30:00

All I can say is cheers to the likes of S-U-L, and be careful what you wish fort to the rest of the gloaters. There is the possibility that City going out of at the group stage could lead to UEFA reviewing England's qualification coefficient and thus lead to only three berths in next season's CL. I'm pretty confident that City can finish 3rd or better in the PL this season, how confident are the Spurs fans? Would be rather funny to see you work hard to finish 4th only to miss out yet again....
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23/11/2011 19:46:00

Fair comment 5thCB, but its unlikely that the coefficient will be altered after just 1 team failing to get out of the groups for the 1st time in years. Look at Spain, only 2 of their 4 regulary qualify, but they still retain their coefficient.

Come on fella! we're Spurs fans FFS, we're always over & under confident at the same time! ;-)

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24/11/2011 08:02:00

Yeah, but Chelsea and manure still haven't qualified yet either - what happens if all 3 of us end up in the Europa?
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24/11/2011 12:16:00

I'd say the same applies. If 3 were not to qualify this year & again next year, then maybe we should worry, but not on a singular event if things turn out as they might.

If all 3 do drop into the Europa, thats our chances of a trophy reduced! ;-)

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24/11/2011 13:05:00


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