Posts Tagged Manchester City

Top 25 teams on the continent

While Manchester City are basking in the glory of a historic title win. Their arch rivals Manchester United are trophyless unless you count the Community Shield.  The English Premier League has been turned upside down. While in Italy an Old Lady is back on the throne. In Spain, Barcelona are hurting and Atletico Madrid are the new UEFA Europa League champions.

Here’s how it all adds up on the European Power Index.

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Chelsea: What Went Wrong?

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Chelsea’s season started off with a roar under Carlo Ancelotti  but now it seems likely to end in a whimper. I have been trying to make sense of why bad things happen to good clubs ( mood music would be good here) and here is what I think are some of the reasons (excuses as some cynics might point out) why we’ve lost our form in the last few weeks:

1. Champions League

Let me be the first one to confirm to everyone out there that YES, we were rubbish on the night. Now, having said that I do however feel that we have been getting a very raw deal from referees in the Champions League. Last year against Barca was truly horrible and its probably because of that terrible display of referreeing that this year’s ‘pretty bad’ referreing is not being paid much attention. We had at least one if not two sure shot penalty claims in the second leg at home. The Inter defenders were groping our players to the extent of the whole thing being  nauseating and very disturbing! Even if we don’t consider these penalties which we should have got in the second leg, I cant help but think about that foul on Florent Malouda in the box in the first leg, which once again was a sure-shot penalty. Had that penalty been given, it would have completely changed the tie.

2. Jose Mourinho

What can I say?  He is the Special One and his tactics were spot on. He knew exactly how to wind Drogba up, how to stop Chelsea playing and how to utilise his most potent weapons in the magnificent Wesley Sneijder and the incredible Samuel Eto’o. He knew exactly how to play us and play us he did. Mourinho is a great tactician and that is the reason every single club with dreams of conquering the world and money to spend, want him. I was never one of those who agreed with Roman’s decision to sack Mourinho but then I guess Roman had his reasons or may be just his ego (which I am guessing is hurting reaaal bad right now).

3. Carlo Ancelotti

The past few weeks, ever since the Champions League exit, more and more of us are singing woeful laments about losing the Special One to Inter. Now I have nothing against singing (except I prefer hitting the happier notes), but lets not forget that Carlo Ancelotti is a great manager with 2 Champions League trophies to his name. He has a lot of experience handling big name players and managed to get more out of  Kaka than Real Madrid are managing to now and more importantly he got more out of Andriy Shevchenko than Mourinho ever could. His only fault this season to me seems to be his rather conservative use of our younger players, may be thats an after effect of having come from the slightly more laid-back Serie A.  Hopefully, he has learnt albeit the hard way that ours is in fact an ageing squad!  I feel its too early to count him out and that he will get it right at Chelsea, he just needs time.

4. Injuries

We are not a very ‘lucky’ team, are we? We don’t get decisions our way and well, we get the worst injuries at the worst time. Michael Essien is probably my favourite mid-fielder and his absense has had a huge impact on us. Ashley Cole’s injury was a major blow too, especially seeing the form he was in!  Add to that Petr Cech (who actually is our only goal-keeper) and then our substitute goalkeeper Hilario (which probably worked to our advantage!).  And now when its crucial for us to win all our matches, Ivanovic who’s been probably Chelsea’s best player this season is injured. I know other teams have had their share of injury problems with  United playing with an entirely make-shift defense at the start of the season and Arsenal were without  RVP and Cesc and so we shouldn’t really use our injury problems as an excuse but all I am saying is it affected us and probably we should have coped better with it but we didn’t.

5. John Terry’s Off-field Scandal

As much as I’d like to believe that revelations about JT’s personal life have nothing to do with our football. It seems they do. Basically because JT and the rest of the team are human and negative news as much as they try and not let it affect them, affects them all the same. Remember the Manchester City game? I mean I don’t think even Manchester City thought that such a result was possible but with the whole Wayne Bridge ‘will-he-wont-he-shake-hands’ nonsense reaching  fever-pitch on the day wound Manchester City up so much that it cost us 3 (precious) points.

Those were the gory details of our fall from top of the table, but the good news is, it is not over yet. We have a game in hand against Portsmouth tonight which helps us make up a bit of ground. Our destiny is in our hands and our plan really can’t get simpler… win all the remaining games. Ktbffh.

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World’s Richest Football Clubs Revealed

With the awards season upon us, its no surprise that Deloitte’s sport unit have revealed the world’s richest football clubs list . Real Madrid who have dominated this particular list for the last 4 years have yet again topped it with annual revenues of 401.4m euros. The phenomenal figures based on data from 2008/09 season also see’s Real Madrid become the first global sports team to top annual revenues of 400m euros according to the Football Money League. Real Madrid’s arch rivals Barcelona take the second spot ahead of English Premier League Champions Manchester United who drop to third. Manchester United had dominated the list for 8 years until Real Madrid dethroned them. The authors however, do point out that Manchester United would have been top of the list had the value of the pound not fallen. Despite the exchange rate issues, seven of the top 20 teams listed in the rich-list are from England. Tottenham (15th), Manchester City (19th) and relegated club Newcastle United (20th) making it in the second half of the list. All the 20 clubs are from the ‘big five’ Eurpean leagues with Germany contributing 5 clubs, Italy 4 and 2 each from Spain and France.

World’s Richest Football Clubs

  1. Real Madrid: 401.4m euros
  2. Barcelona: 365.9m euros
  3. Man Utd: 327m euros
  4. Bayern Munich: 289.5m euros
  5. Arsenal: 263m euros
  6. Chelsea: 242.3m
  7. Liverpool: 217m euros
  8. Juventus: 202.3m euros
  9. Inter Milan 196.5m euros
  10. AC Milan: 196.5.m euros

This Deloitte review however, may be a little misleading as it does not include the cost of transfer fees or player wages, or VAT and other sales taxes, and concentrates solely on day-to-day income from football business. The income includes money from ticket sales, sponsorship, merchandising and other commercial revenues, television monies, corporate hospitality, and non-match day stadium use. With Portsmouth becoming the first Premier League club to enter administration, and giants such as Manchester United and Liverpool in financial trouble despite performing well in the league shows that the problem of overspending is still a major concern. The Deloitte list however does indicate that their is still a lot of money in the game and with careful administration through measures such as wage-ceilings and prudent transfer fees, football can get through this precarious financial period unscathed.

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Togo pull out of Africa Cup of Nations after brutal gun attack

Adebayor, right, escaped injury Togo pulled out of the Africa Cup of Nations last night following the gun attack on the team bus on Friday in Angola, which killed at least four people. Their forward Thomas Dossevi voiced players’ criticism of the Confederation of African Football (Caf) for refusing to postpone the tournament’s start so that the squad could “bring our dead people home”. Reports from the newswire AP claimed that Dossevi had said Togo would have been willing to participate if a delay had been agreed.

According to Alaixys Romao, Togo midfielder, the players were at the airport waiting to return home, and were also encouraging other teams to pull out of the competition. “We’re waiting for the plane to return to Lome,” the Grenoble player told L’Equipe.

“We’re also talking to the other teams in our group to try to convince them to boycott the competition too.” Togo were due to kick off their campaign against Ghana on Monday.

Manchester City confirmed their striker Emmanuel Adebayor – the Togo captain – was returning home. “He is on his way back from Angola but we are not sure exactly where his flight is headed,” said City spokesman Simon Heggie. “The lines of communication between the club and Emmanuel have been open all day, we have spoken to his advisors and his girlfriend and he is coming home.”
Adebayor said that in the aftermath of the attack many of the squad’s players wanted to go home. “I think a lot of players want to leave. I don’t think they want to be at this tournament any more because they have seen their death already,” he said. “Most of the players want to go back to their family. No one can sleep after what they have seen. They have seen one of their team-mates have a bullet in his body, who is crying, who is losing consciousness and everything.”
Even though the Organizers have so far insisted the tournament will go ahead as scheduled, Togo’s coach, Hubert Velud, has strongly recommended it be called off. Angolan authorities, on their part continue to maintain that their country is committed to hosting a secure competition and said they would step up security.

The Front for the Liberation of Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC), the separatist group which which was earlier reported to have claimed responsibility for the attack, have now denied they carried it out. A denial statement from the group stated, “We vigorously condemn this barbaric act and repeat the commitment to strive for dialogue, reconciliation and peace in Cabinda.
The incident refocuses the attention on security issues while organizing sporting events on the African continent. FIFA will have to redouble its efforts to insure the World Cup in is made absolutely to safe for everyone involved – the players,organizers and the fans.

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The Open Season: Stronger than Ever EPL

barclayspremierleagueIt has been a weekend of quite a few revelations in the English Premier League. The results from Saturday’s and Sunday’s matches really are an eye-opener, showing us just how much the league has changed since its inception and just how different this season is from the seasons in the past. Being in the top 4 is no longer a done deal or a privy of the traditional top four clubs with Aston Villa, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City hard on their heels threatening to replace them should they even for a second, take their eye of the ball. Aston Villa quite literally displayed this by scoring off two set pieces in their match against Chelsea.

Unlike past seasons, this season has also seen a lot less draws, which just goes to show that teams are stronger and more confident about being able to take points off of each other and off the Top 4.  Moreover the games in the league are becoming a lot more open and most teams are willing to take some risks to try and win. `Win or lose trying’ seems to be the mantra they’ve come up with after analyzing last years’ results in which Liverpool lost fewer matches than Manchester United and yet ended up second despite having done a double on the then would-be Champions.

There is a newfound confidence in the top half of the table.  West Ham who came back from 2 goals down to draw the match against an Arsenal team in explosive form, goes on to show that more and more teams are beginning to believe that if they take their best game to the top clubs, attack and don’t allow their game to be dictated by the Big 4, they have a very good chance of taking a few points off them. Add to that the fact that the top four are picking points against each other. Manchester United won against Arsenal, Chelsea walked away with all three points in their match against Liverpool and Liverpool beat Manchester United showing that the Top 4 know that a draw against each other just isn’t good enough to guarantee them a top 4 or 5 or six finish in a very competitive premier league season.

Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea are going to have to fight for every point. There are just no more easy games for the top teams this season. Tottenham and Aston Villa have improved their squads. Manchester City with the millions they’ve spent in the transfer market are also looking to break into the top four and have quite an impressive squad.

This time, last season, Liverpool were top of the table at 25 points while Portsmouth were seventh and had only 14 points to show. This season, should Manchester City and Aston Villa pick up any points in their games in hand, the gap between the top 7 would be just six points.

This season is probably the most open Premier League season yet, and also the most entertaining. It is a clear indication that the English Premier League has become stronger despite having lost some of its stars to the La Liga and is probably the tightest, toughest, most competitive league in the world.

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Manchester City Draw Manchester Derby

Ok, first things first, Chelsea won and we’re still top of the table baby! If you are a Chelsea fan, chances are you haven’t stopped smiling this season. We are still unbeaten in the league (God, be praised!) and I hope this phenomenal run of the Blues continues. It was all about two shades of  Blue this week, Chelsea blue and light Blue, hoping for a Manchester City win in the Manchester Derby. The Manchester derby this season had been one of the most eagerly anticipated matches and always seemed like it would be a thrilling game. People couldn’t help talking about it from the moment Carlos Tevez had signed on the dotted line for Manchester City till Sunday Kick Off and it looks like they will never stop talking about it. It truly was one of the most thrilling and unforgettable of derby matches. Manchester United came in all guns blazing and were one goal up in the first 5 mins of the game. I thought, that was the end and that Manchester City were going to retreat and it would turn out to be one of those humiliating nights for ‘the Citizens’ who had dared to question Manchester United ‘s superiority in Manchester. I was forgetting that they had Carlos Tevez, who looked absolutely thrilled to be back and eager to remind his former club exactly what they had foolishly let go. He had said before the match, in an interview that according to him Ben Foster, was the weakest link in United’s team and he proved he was right by poaching the football off of the United keeper for Barry to score the equalizer. City almost took the lead, after Tevez’s shot had hit the post and flew out. It was a good pass from Kolo Toure and really should have been converted. It definitely announced to the hosts that City weren’t going to go down without a fight, they were there to win. Both teams were a goal apiece at half-time but  Fletcher changed all that with his header off Ryan Giggs curved pass, giving United the lead in the second half. United were in it to win too. This is when I think, the true desire of a team really starts to show, when they are losing 2-1, 50 minutes into the game against a team like United. They either retreat and somewhere give up often beating themselves in their head or they attack and they push harder and try and get that equalizing goal. So, I felt this was the time to truly judge how far Manchester City had come as a team. They did me proud when Bellamy scored a scorcher of a goal and City were back in the game. Manchester United were amazingly good in the second half and that made Bellamy’s equalizer even more admirable. Neither team was settling for a draw, it was really ‘Game on’ after this point and Shay Given, once again proved why he is considered among the best goal keepers in  the league by saving 3 almost unstoppable Berbatov shots. At one point, I thought Berbatov gave Given the ‘What you got against me?’ look. It just wasn’t to be Berbatov’s day, as Fletcher, once again scored a goal off of Ryan Giggs pass. Everyone now seemed to believe that Manchester United were going to win after all -everyone, that is except the Manchester City players. Rio Ferdinand, was definitely of the lot that thought  that the game was in the bag and allowed himself to be lazy. Craig Bellamy made him pay. At 90 minutes the game was tied at 3-3, which seemed like the most fair result for a very well played match by both teams. Manchester City had shown everyone, that they were title contenders and you had to  beat them to win. They weren’t going to let big names and club histories and brilliant managers scare them. They were there to play and to win. Sir Alex, decided on an added-time substitution brought Michael Owen on. I love Michael Owen and think he is an incredible footballer and really do wish this hard-on-luck player to do well and score loads of goals. This was till he joined United and I no longer wish him to ‘score loads of goals’. Now, anyone who had seen the game, would bet good money that no more than a couple of minutes would be added on. The game was played in very good spirit with no bad challenges and hardly any yellow cards. The referee, however held up 4 minutes which was puzzling.

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This however, was just the beginning of the entire jigsaw puzzle which was on its way. The game finally went on into the 97th minute. For a minute I thought maybe the referee had passed out from all the excitement. According to Martin Atkinson the referee, he had added 1 minuted into the added time because of the Owen substitution and 45 seconds (which should actually have been no more than 26 seconds) because Bellamy’s celebration had been too long – something that anyone who has seen the match and is not a United fan or Sir Alex will disagree with. So that makes it 5 minutes 35 seconds. The game went into the 97th minutes plus and the winning goal from Michael Owen came in the 96th minute, a full 5 minutes 26 seconds into the 4 minutes added time. Manchester City haven’t got the 1 point that rightfully was theirs but they have come out winners.They should write-off the one point as a friendly gift to an annoying neighbour. The good news for United fans is that Fergie’s Mythical Magic Watch is alive and ticking. Moral of the story for anyone playing Manchester United and leading or drawing the match, is to remember that  the added time at Old Trafford is always ‘as long as it takes.’ According to me, Manchester City drew the match they were playing against Manchester United and lost to Sir Alex’s Watch.

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The Alex Factor

There is something about Manchester United. It’s like the whole world conspires to help them win. A lot of people would argue (the sort that has read ‘The Alchemist’), that the whole world helps when you want something bad enough. I won’t argue with that and Manchester United players certainly want to win every match, every time, but so does every other team in the Premier League. Agreed some, don’t have the luxury of having gifted footballers like Rooney, on their teams but the top five or six English Premier League clubs certainly have top quality players. So how it then, that Manchester United have been winning the premier league for the past 3 seasons despite having lost more games than second place Liverpool last season? Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that Manchester United aren’t a great team. They are or rather were, the perfect mix of talent, youth and experience and had till the last season perhaps the best player in the world at the time in Cristiano Ronaldo who hit unbelievable form. His magic seemed to rub off on the team and they were unbeatable on their day. On their off-days however, they like any other team always had a touch of green. But on such days luck was with them. It was like Lady Luck favoured them above all the rest. Understandable, because ‘Luck’ wouldn’t be called ‘Lady’ if it remained unaffected by the charm of the talented Cristiano Ronaldo! But now that Cristiano has finally moved to Real, I was hoping Lady Luck would follow him there, going by the ill-fated Derby match which looked like it’s already doomed, it seems like Manchester United are still the favourites with ‘her’.
I can’t help but feel bad for Manchester City, who spent so much money on bringing in top (may be slightly overpaid) players with the one of the aims being to beat Manchester United in the derby matches. Carlos Tevez, Robinho and Roque Santa Cruz, very talented players, capable of beating Manchester United are all injured and unavailable for the ‘doomed derby’. Like, things weren’t bad enough for Manchester City, their in-form striker Adebayor did what he did last week and now has to serve out a well deserved 3 match ban. Does this sound like the world conspiring to help Manchester United to win? Manchester United have evened out the odds already and they haven’t even played City yet. It’s like the curse of the Red Devils!
Surely, there has got to be more to this than just luck. Luck can’t always work. I have a feeling; maybe it has something to do with the aura around Manchester United. Their ‘never-say-die’ spirit; try-till-the-end reputation and push-the-limits image that they have worked very hard to acquire and maintain, definitely has something to do with their incredible record. No one, goes to Old Trafford to play 11 men in red, they go there to play Manchester United – the Champions, the Legends, the unspoken Kings of the Premier League headed by the best manager in the world Sir Alex Fergusson. This image and spirit of Manchester United has remained at the core of the team’s self esteem even when individual player have come and gone. Sir Alex really is a genius. He has managed to create a Loch Ness monster of sorts in Manchester. It exists because you buy into the hype, or else it’s just a myth. If you believe the hype, even for a second, it takes control of your psyche. Too bad, most teams buy into the whole ‘Nessie’ of Manchester and, either get too over-awed or too pumped up about playing Manchester United. Sir Alex knows how to use the rival club’s fear as well as their enthusiasm to beat them. It’s not Lady Luck, its Sir Alex. I hope Manchester City go to Old Trafford to play 11 men (some of them past their prime) in Red and not the ‘Champions’, ‘The Red Devils’, Manchester United.

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