Minggu, 30 September 2012

Addicks snap up Razak on loan

Razak: Moves to The Valley on a three-month loan

Razak has made two appearances for City this season and took in loan spells in the Championship last term with Portsmouth and Brighton & Hove Albion.

The 19-year-old watched Charlton's 1-1 draw with Blackburn Rovers on Saturday and the Ivorian is looking forward to the chance to play regular first-team football.

"I'm really looking forward to meeting the team and working with the manager," Razak told Charlton's official website.

"It's been hard for me to get into the first team at City, and I come here hoping to prove myself with what I do on the pitch and hopefully I can do that on Tuesday.

"This is a very tough league, but you have to be ready for it. This is my third loan spell in the Championship so I'm ready for it."

Addicks boss Chris Powell is confident that Razak will be a useful addition to his squad for the remainder of 2012.

Powell said: "Abdul's a talented young midfielder and someone who I feel will complement my squad well.

"He's had experience of the Premier League and the Championship and we look forward to working with him."

Jumat, 28 September 2012

Fulham v Man City preview

Berbatov: Injured in training

Fulham striker Dimitar Berbatov will miss out after sustaining an injury in training.

The Bulgarian will miss the next two weeks after sustaining a problem with his hip/upper thigh on Friday in the final shot of practice.

Mahamadou Diarra (knee) remains out but his injury is not as bad as first feared and he could be back in a month. Kieran Richardson, Ashkan Dejagah and Philippe Senderos are all back in training but will not feature tomorrow according to manager Martin Jol.

City midfielder Samir Nasri has recovered from a hamstring injury and is available to play against the Cottagers.

The Frenchman was substituted in the first half at Real Madrid on September 18 and missed last weekend's draw with Arsenal and the midweek League Cup defeat to Aston Villa.

Jack Rodwell is missing however after injuring his groin in the warm-up before the Villa match. Right-back Micah Richards (ankle) is back in training but is short of fitness.

< p>Fulham (from): Schwarzer, Stockdale, Riether, Kelly, Hangeland, Hughes, Baird, Smith, Riise, Briggs, Sidwell, Duff, Kacaniklic, Kasami, Karagounis, Ruiz, Petric, Rodallega, Trotta.

Man City (from): Hart, Pantilimon, Wright, Maicon, Zabaleta, Kompany, Lescott, K Toure, Nastasic, Kolarov, Clichy, Milner, Sinclair, Y Toure, Barry, Garcia, Nasri, Silva, Aguero, Dzeko, Balotelli, Tevez, Razak.

Kamis, 27 September 2012

New boy Maicon defends Mancini

Mancini (r): Spat with Lambert

Mancini fell out with Aston Villa counterpart Paul Lambert during his side's Capital One Cup defeat at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday.

Lambert was annoyed at Mancini talking to the fourth official, and the Italian reacted to his objections.

It is not the first time he has fallen out with the man in the opposite dug-out.

He almost came to blows with Everton's David Moyes two seasons ago, while during last year's crucial Manchester derby in April, Sir Alex Ferguson blew his top for the same reason Lambert got wound up last night.

However, rather than view it as a sign of weakness in a manager struggling to work out why last season's champion team have slipped so alarmingly during the early weeks of the current campaign, Maicon feels it is an essential factor in any high-profile manager.

Speaking at the launch of City in the Community's latest Connell Award with Manchester Futsal Club, Maicon said: "He can get passionate but that is the way he should be, a passionate coach who demands high standards."

The Brazil full-back added: "If he gets angry he reminds everybody of the standards required.

"There is a minimum requirement that is always there. The players know they have to perform at that level."

Mancini even earns a comparison with Ferguson's famous 'hairdryer'.

"All winning coaches are the same so if Sir Alex has the hairdryer, Roberto has the same passion," Maicon said.

"All winning managers are the same. They show this passion to the players because they really want to win and the players can feel that.

"Roberto is no different. He's a winning manager."

Having spent three years working with Mancini at Inter Milan, Maicon was happy to rejoin his former boss in the summer, bringing an end to his six-year stint at the San Siro.

He has not noticed any major differences, other than his manager now being slightly thinner than he was before.

Yet that sense of familiarity was one of the major reasons behind his decision to join City.

"Roberto is one of the main factors in choosing this club," Maicon said.

"To have someone I have worked with who can help me. I know what he wants and what kind of manager he is."

Unfortunately Maicon has not been able to cement the union quite as well as he wanted.

The 31-year-old has been sidelined since picking up a heel injury on his debut at Stoke last month.

And while he hopes to be fit for Saturday's trip to Fulham, Maicon knows there are major issues to address given last night's defeat means the Blues are now conceding, on average, two goals a game this term, and have now gone four matches without a win in all competitions.

"It is difficult to say why it is happening because I only just arrived at the club," he said.

"The beginning of the season is difficult and a lot of clubs are conceding goals.

"But I know that Roberto is very focused on it. He wants to improve and we have to improve quickly because we can't afford to have any more distance between us and the teams at the top of the league."

Such difficulties are not what most City fans imagined their club would be experiencing so soon after that landmark Premier League title triumph.

Maicon is not worried though.

He is still relishing life in the Premier League, despite being warned of the rain-lashed Manchester climate by fellow countryman Robinho, the first of Sheikh Mansour's marquee signings but someone who never settled in the city.

"I used to see the Premier League in Italy," Maicon said.

"Even if I have only played one game, the atmosphere is even better than I saw.

"Robinho warned me about the weather and he also said that the city itself and the people were very nice. I agree with everything he said.

"I consider myself very lucky to be part of the Premier League."

Selasa, 25 September 2012

Mancini focused on title tilt

Mancini: Will make wholesale changes

Mancini would like to select an entirely different team to the one that drew 1-1 with Arsenal in the Premier League on Sunday.

City travel down to London on Saturday for another league game against in-form Fulham and, with the champions stuttering to three draws from their first five games, that is very much Mancini's focus ahead of Tuesday night's cup clash.

The Italian said: "We can't play with the same players. We need to recover because afterwards we have another hard game in London. We will change all the players if it's possible. We are unlucky with the draw because we always get difficult games."

The League Cup is the one domestic trophy Mancini has not won since taking over as City boss in 2009, with his best run coming last season when they lost to Liverpool in the semi-finals.

He added: "We want to win again the championship, that's our target. If we win also the Capital One Cup, then okay, but the target should be the championshi p again."

Mancini will include youngsters Denis Suarez, Abdul Razaq and Luca Scapuzzi in the squad while Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli are likely to lead the line after only being used as substitutes against Arsenal.

But City will be without four players after James Milner and Maicon joined Samir Nasri and Micah Richards on the sidelines.

Maicon took a kick to his leg against Madrid and is unlikely to be out for long but Milner was due to see a specialist on Monday about a toe problem.

Several players will get the night off completely, and David Silva is likely to be one of those.

The Spaniard was City's most influential player for much of last season but, like several of his team-mates, he has struggled to find the same form this campaign.

Mancini conceded Spain's international demands will not have helped, with Silva playing a key role in their Euro 2012 victory, while this season he has already made trips to Puerto Rico and Geo rgia.

"It is difficult for him," said the City boss. "He's human and probably he's not 100%. I don't think he needs a rest but he played the European Championships and afterwards he travelled twice away, once to Puerto Rico, so for this reason he could be not fresh."

Mancini is also trying to bed in his new signings, particularly Javi Garcia, Maicon and Matija Nastasic, who all arrived from other European leagues on the final day of the transfer window.

Defensive midfielder Garcia was a big-money signing from Benfica, and Mancini added: "Javi Garcia, Maicon and Nastasic all need time. Benfica has a top squad, they win every game. Here it's tough, every game is difficult."

Lescott keen to end at City

Lescott: Loving life at City

Lescott has established himself as a key figure at the Etihad Stadium since his arrival from Everton and remains under contract until the summer of 2014.

The England defender is keen to commit to the club for even longer but recognises that he must keep performing to a high level if he is to earn an extension.

"I've got this season and one more. I'd love to extend it and finish my career here," said the 30-year-old. "Going knocking on doors isn't my style. I don't think my mum would be happy if I did that. I just continue to be professional.

"I know where I've come from. A few years ago I was playing away at Plymouth on Tuesday nights. Now Tuesday evenings mean Champions League.

"I'm grateful for what I have now. So I won't rock the boat."

Lescott has accepted that he will not play every game because City's squad is so strong, although he admits it was disappointing to be rested for the Champions League clash with Real Madrid last we ek.

"Obviously it hurt but the manager picked the team and I wasn't in it," said Lescott, who returned to the starting line-up against Arsenal and scored in a 1-1 draw. "It's a great stadium, a great occasion for the club and you want to pit yourself against the world's best, like Cristiano Ronaldo.

"But I just have to work hard. It's happened before over the last couple of seasons.

"I've played, been left out. It's happened before during my career and I'm ready for the fight."

Minggu, 23 September 2012

Man City v Arsenal reaction

Koscielny: Found the net for Gunners

The champions had to settle for a third draw from five games in a 1-1 stalemate after Laurent Koscielny equalised eight minutes from time.

City took the lead in the 40th minute with a header from Joleon Lescott but were flattered by it and a point was the least the visitors deserved.

The game came five days after City suffered a last-gasp defeat by Real Madrid in their opening Champions League game, leaving Mancini less than happy.

The Italian is particularly concerned his side have not yet kept a clean sheet, with Koscielny's strike the seventh they have conceded in the league already.

Mancini said: "I'm very sorry today for the players because it was difficult after Madrid but I'm worried because we conceded a goal. We need to improve and we need to work.

"In the last four games we've conceded three goals from set-pieces. This can't happen. I'm frustrated but the players are frustrated about this. If you want to win, clean sheets a re important."

The result left City in seventh, four points behind leaders Chelsea and three adrift of Manchester United, and Mancini urged his team to forget about last season.

He said: "What we did has finished, it's history. Now we are like all the other teams and I don't like that we drew three games. Probably we're missing two points, from the game against Stoke maybe."

Mancini, though, shrugged off an incident after the game where he appeared to push striker Mario Balotelli, a late substitute, down the tunnel.

He admitted the Italian is probably unhappy about his lack of playing time, but said: "I don't remember what happened after the game. I don't know if he was asking me something, it was not important. Tomorrow I'll ask him."

Arsenal largely dominated the first half and would surely have taken the lead had Gervinho not taken a truly dreadful touch when played through by Aaron Ramsey.

The Gunners' failure to capitalise cost them in the 40th minute when Vito Mannone flapped and Lescott headed in David Silva's corner.

Mannone partially redeemed himself with a fine save from Edin Dzeko's shot while Sergio Aguero wanted a penalty at the start of the second half when he felt he was tripped by Koscielny.

The Argentinian was making his first appearance since suffering a knee injury on the opening weekend of the season, and he would have doubled City's lead with 10 minutes to go but for a smart stop from Mannone.

It proved a crucial moment as Arsenal broke down the other end, Santi Cazorla forced a flying save from Joe Hart and then sent in the corner from which Koscielny fired into the top corner.

It was a tremendous finish from the defender, who was only playing because captain Thomas Vermaelen had been struck down by flu.

Both sides had chances to win it late on but Mannone saved Vincent Kompany's overhead kick and Aguero fired wide from the follow-up while, not fo r the first time, Gervinho missed the target when well placed.

City were certainly better after Mancini strengthened his midfield at half-time by replacing Scott Sinclair with Jack Rodwell, and he said: "The first half Arsenal played more because we had one player less in the middle.

"The second half we were better for 30 minutes but in the last 15 minutes we dropped too deep.

"I think we didn't play very well but we had some great chances to score at 1-0 and you need to score. We need to improve this. When we have a chance we need to score and close out the game."

Arsene Wenger felt Arsenal were unfortunate not to get more than a point but took great heart from the performance of his side, who again showed the pre-season doom-mongers may have been overly pessimistic.

The Frenchman said: "I'm pleased because I feel it was the minimum we deserved today. I'm pleased as well with the quality of our performance and our spirit. I'm a bit frustra ted because I feel there was room to do more.

"We had early chances and of course very late chances, especially the chance of Gervinho at the edge of the box where we missed the target.

"But overall I hope the game will reinforce our belief, our confidence and reassure us about our potential in this league."

Jumat, 21 September 2012

Prem to discuss spending controls

Premier League: Clubs to discuss spending controls

The 20 clubs have been split into two groups of 10 on a geographical basis, with the southern group to meet on Monday and the northern group on Wednesday.

The majority of clubs are in favour of some kind of cost control measure - the sticking points are likely to be which measure is adopted and what the sanctions will be for breaking the rules.

Ideas include adopting UEFA's financial fair play system where clubs must break even, or clubs only being allowed to spend a maximum percentage of their annual income on player costs - for example 70%, the system operated by the European elite club grouping G14 a decade ago.

Another proposal is limiting increases in spending on player wages to 10% a year, as suggested by Sunderland owner Ellis Short.

Perhaps the option most likely to win universal approval is clubs having to be able to guarantee they can operate for several years in the future rather than just one.

Under the guaranteed liabili ty plan, if club have players on five-year contracts, as most do, they would have to be able to prove they can guarantee those funds for the length of those contracts.

In the case of Portsmouth, the club twice went into administration when some of their biggest costs included paying the salaries of high-earning players who were under long-term contracts but whom the club could not afford.

The clubs most opposed to cost control measures are Manchester City, Chelsea and Fulham but even they might be inclined to accept a system to guarantee financial liabilities.

The sanctions for breaking the rules are unlikely to be as drastic as UEFA's system which threatens to exclude clubs from European competition if they do not come close to breaking even.

In the Premier League, a transfer ban or fine is much more likely to be agreed to punish transgressions.

Top-flight clubs will have more income than ever before to spend when the new 3billion-plus dom estic TV deal comes into effect next season, and the league is hopeful there will also be an increase overall in the value of the overseas rights - though it is likely to drop in some territories due to the economic situation.

The league issued an invitation to tender today for the rights to show top-flight matches in north, central and south America and the Caribbean.

Meanwhile, Premier League chiefs have been delighted with approach of both Liverpool and Manchester United ahead of the clubs' meeting this weekend and are hopeful that the pre-match handshake will go off without any controversy, such as players refusing to take part, and that fans will refrain from any offensive songs relating to Hillsborough and Munich.

The league have no intention of ending the routine despite Anton Ferdinand refusing to shake John Terry's or Ashley Cole's hand last weekend.

They expect Luis Suarez, who caused uproar last season by ignoring Patrice Evra's attempt ed handshake, to this time shake hands.

England manager Roy Hodgson's remarks on Thursday about the dearth of English players and the timing of some live TV matches on Sundays caused a raised eyebrow with league chiefs but it is understood they are not intending to react directly to the FA.

City star Barry gets defensive

Barry: Ready for massive game

City have won just two of their five competitive games, coming from behind to beat promoted Southampton on the opening weekend and then seeing off QPR 3-1.

They have also had to come from behind to snatch draws at Liverpool and Stoke, while on Tuesday they conspired to concede twice in the final three minutes to lose 3-2 against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu.

With in-form Arsenal due to visit the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, Barry realises now would be a good time to hit top form again.

"It has not been an ideal start to the season," he said. "We finished last season with a great defensive record.

"This time we are scoring a lot of goals but conceding at the same time. I am sure as the season goes on it is something we can work on.

"We have started pretty steadily in the league, undefeated. But this game against Arsenal is massive.

"They are a great side and we have got to try to continue our fine home form."

Rabu, 19 September 2012

Barry takes the positives

Barry: Tracks the run of Di Maria

The Premier League title-holders went down 3-2 in their eagerly-anticipated Champions League opener at the Bernabeu Stadium after conceding twice in the final three minutes.

Karim Benzema and former Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo struck in a dramatic fightback after Aleksandar Kolarov looked to have snatched an unlikely City win six minutes from time.

That late drama came at the end of a remarkable 22-minute period in which all five goals were scored, Edin Dzeko first putting City ahead against the run of play before a Marcelo equaliser.

Barry said: "We knew they were going to have the ball for long periods.

"We didn't set out to frustrate them but we set out to work hard and hit them on the counter-attack. As we showed throughout the game we are pretty dangerous.

"Yaya (Toure) had a great chance and if that goes in it is 2-0 and a different game.

"We played a good game and there are a lot of positives but overall we are disappointed.

"Playing away is always tough in the Champions League. To have got so close to the three points is disappointing but there is great stuff we can take from it."

City had inspired goalkeeper Joe Hart to thank for keeping them in the game in the first half, the England number one having saved brilliantly from Ronaldo twice early on.

He also denied Angel di Maria and Gonzalo Higuain while Sami Khedira volleyed over after another Ronaldo effort was deflected.

Marcelo narrowly missed the target twice early in the second half but finally found his range, with the aid of a possible deflection off Javi Garcia, after Dzeko's well-taken strike.

Kolarov's free-kick evaded Xabi Alonso to put City ahead for a second time but Real roused themselves magnificently in the dying stages.

Hart even saved from Ronaldo again with the score at 2-2 but the Portuguese could not be denied his goal indefinitely as Vincent Kompany ducked under a shot which found its way in.

Barry, who had been making his first start of the season after recovering from an abdominal injury, said: "Even at 2-1 we knew it was going to be a lot of hard work.

"There were still five minutes plus injury time, so a lot can happen, particularly against a great time like that.

"But having gone 2-1 up you're not expected to lose the game then, so we were pretty down at the end.

"We are scoring a lot of goals but conceding at the same time. I am sure as the season goes on that is something we can work on.

"There were a couple of deflected goals and it is tough for the goalkeeper once they have got their shot away."

City are now playing catch-up in the tough-looking Group D, which is comprised of domestic champions.

They face Borussia Dortmund at the Etihad Stadium in their next match in a fortnight and travel to Ajax in late October.

Barry, 31, said: "We matched them and on another day c ould have come away with the three points.

"I am sure it will be a great game when they come to the Etihad Stadium but before that we have to try to make sure we get some points on the board."

City must now try to put the game out of their minds as they continue their Premier League title defence with a visit from Arsenal this weekend.

Midfielder Toure said: "It was a pity because we had the victory very close and we lost it with two goals in the last two minutes.

"Let's see what we can do next game, which will be very important for us.

"Real Madrid is always Real Madrid. They really wanted to win, with the support of their fans. They have a great team, with a great coach."

Selasa, 18 September 2012

No excuses from honest Hart

Hart: Kept City in the game

Real scored twice in the late stages to beat the Premier League champions 3-2, with former Manchester United forward Cristiano Ronaldo netting the 90th-minute winner.

"You can't go 2-1 up with five minutes to go and lose the game," Hart told ITV1.

"Who else can we blame? We can only blame ourselves."

Aleksandar Kolarov's free-kick, a cross from the right which curled inside the far post when Xabi Alonso failed to kick the ball away, put City ahead for the second time in the 85th minute.

They had earlier led through Edin Dzeko, only for Marcelo to level.

Karim Benzema fired Madrid level at 2-2 and Ronaldo thrilled the home supporters late on.

Hart said: "They're a very good team; so are we.

"We dug deep, got a lead twice and we lost it, so we can only blame ourselves.

"It's hard to come off the field after losing 3-2 and be positive. I'm really sorry.

"We're not a team that should come here and pat ourselve s on the back for doing well.

"We're a team that gets results."

Dzeko told Sky Sports: "We led 1-0 and then 2-1, then we gave away these two goals at the end.

"This shouldn't have happened because if you want to win big trophies you shouldn't lose this game.

"I hope we can get stronger because it was almost like we had not enough experience.

"We were 2-1 and in three or four minutes we gave away two goals. It was too easy... too easy."

Madrid boss Jose Mourinho was thrilled with the result and also the performance of his team.

"It's a good win because the honour of my team is back," Mourinho told ITV1.

"It's a big victory against a big team.

"We didn't deserve to suffer so much because we should have won the match much before the last minute."

Asked if he had any sympathy for City, who were clearly suffering, Mourinho said: "No, that's football.

"We deserved to win. I think we did a better match tha n them."

Senin, 17 September 2012

Mancini aiming for Euro glory

Mancini: Wants to rule Europe

City begin their second successive season in the continent's elite competition as the English champions having continued their remarkable recent progress by winning the Premier League last May.

That came after FA Cup success in 2011 brought the club a first trophy in 35 years, but while Europe might seem the next logical target, Mancini is setting no bold targets for this particular season.

Speaking at the Bernabeu Stadium ahead of his side's mouth-watering Group D opener against Real Madrid, Mancini said: "If you drive a Ferrari you can win, if you drive a Fiat Cinquecento, probably not.

"In the past we have been working for this. I think we beat good teams but we have played together for two years and we needed time.

"I am sure we will arrive to win this trophy in the future. I do not know when, but I am sure because we are working for this.

"If we want to improve every year it is possible."

City failed to progress beyond th e group stages last season having been given a tough draw against Bayern Munich, Napoli and Villarreal.

This year the assignment is even tougher with the champions of Holland and Germany, Ajax and Borussia Dortmund respectively, also lying in wait as well as nine-time European champions Real.

Mancini said: "I think it was a good experience last year - we did a good group but it was not enough.

"I think the group will be stronger this year but it will be difficult for all the teams.

"I think it is important now that we go to the second stage. After February anything can happen, but now it is difficult to say what we can do."

Much has been made of Mancini's rivalry with his Real Madrid counterpart Jose Mourinho, but the Italian insists it is not a factor.

The pair have actually only come up against each other in one previous European tie, when Mancini's Lazio met Mourinho's Porto nine years ago.

Despite that, it is assumed tensi on has existed between them since 2008 over the manner Mourinho succeeded Mancini as Inter Milan boss.

Mourinho then went on to take Mancini's Serie A winners to Champions League glory.

But the Italian said: "We don't have a personal relationship. I met him two times for Porto against Lazio and I met him in Milan but I have only met him four or five times.

"I know him as a manager.

"I think tomorrow will be a good game, Real Madrid against Manchester City, but I think the most important thing will be the fantastic players on the pitch."

City are yet to hit their stride domestically having been held to draws by Liverpool and Stoke and laboured to wins over Southampton and QPR.

But their performances better those of Real Madrid, who have won just one from four and were beaten at Sevilla at the weekend.

Mancini said: "I watched their game - it was a difficult game - but when you start a season after a European Championship or a W orld Cup, the first six, seven, or eight games are difficult - for us, Real Madrid, for every team.

"I think we can have a chance. We should be focused on the game and our play."

Striker Sergio Aguero, who was linked with a switch to the Bernabeu last season, appears to be winning his fitness race to play.

The Argentinian has been out for a month with a knee injury suffered in the Premier League opener against Southampton.

Mancini said: "Sergio is okay he is not 100% because he didn't play any games but his feeling at this moment is good and he has trained with the team for the last five days. He has a chance."

City also go into the game lifted by the news that Spain playmaker David Silva has signed a new five-year contract at the Etihad Stadium.

The club were anxious to tie the 26-year-old to a new deal after his outstanding role in last season's title win.

Silva, signed from Valencia in 2010, said: "I'm very pleased because I've been here for two years now and I feel very happy here at the club, in the city and with all the people.

"We've won the Premier League title and two other trophies too, and the team is growing and we are now aiming at the Champions League, and so that also is another reason to want to stay here and try and win it."

Sabtu, 15 September 2012

Resilient Potters hold City

Javi Garcia: Celebrates goal for Man City

Peter Crouch gave the hosts an early lead at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday despite a suspicion of handball but Javi Garcia marked his City debut by equalising before the break with a free header.

Garcia almost snatched a last-minute winner but Begovic pushed his header from a corner onto the post and Shawcross chased back after Edin Dzeko lobbed the goalkeeper in injury time.

It meant a fourth consecutive 1-1 draw in this fixture and Stoke's fourth draw of the season.

Stoke had thrown on former England striker Michael Owen for his debut in the last minute but his introduction came too late for him to make an impression.

Garcia had been one of three debutants in the visitors' side along with Maicon and Scott Sinclair, while Steven Nzonzi made his Stoke bow and Charlie Adam his first start.

The champions made a positive start as Sinclair broke into the box to whip in a low ball but Robert Huth cleared.

Carlos Tevez also foug ht off the attention of Nzonzi to get away a shot from long distance but it was deflected narrowly wide.

Stoke went ahead in contentious circumstances after 15 minutes when Crouch, with his back to goal, benefited from a touch with the hand as he controlled a Jon Walters cross and turned Joleon Lescott.

He then enjoyed another slice of luck as the ball took a ricochet off Garcia but he still showed nimble footwork to tuck the ball away.

It was far from the spectacular volley which lit up last season's fixture between the two sides but, with no offences spotted, he gleefully accepted it all the same.

City looked for a response and Tevez played in Mario Balotelli with a superb through-ball.

Balotelli, cleared to play after successful eye surgery during the international break, had looked in the mood and dealt well with Stoke's attempts to rile him throughout.

He wrong-footed the defence with a smart turn but clipped a well-struck left- foot effort over the bar.

Yaya Toure whipped a long-range free-kick just over after Balotelli had received some rough treatment - not for the first or last time - from Andy Wilkinson.

City's equaliser came from another free-kick, which Stoke surprisingly failed to cope with, after 35 minutes.

Garcia was allowed a free header as he ran in to make firm contact with Tevez's curling cross. The closest Stoke player to him, Adam, appeared to have been impeded by his own team-mate Marc Wilson.

The visitors almost went ahead moments later as Maicon forced Begovic to tip around the post with a powerful low volley.

Stoke made a positive start to the second half and Garcia, signed on deadline day from Benfica for a reported 18million, was tested defensively.

He mistimed one tackle on Nzonzi, made another fine effort to win the ball from Walters but was then booked for a crude challenge on Michael Kightly.

Crouch thought about recreating his stunner from six months ago as he flicked up the ball outside the box and attempted to volley but he miscued horribly and Joleon Lescott cleared.

Kightly, coming into the game after a quiet first half, also got forward but saw his shot blocked by Maicon.

Toure, so often City's talisman, attempted to spark his side into life and charged forward to play a fine-looking ball through for Sinclair.

Sinclair failed to reach it as Shawcross stretched out a foot but the ball rebounded for Toure, who continued his run and brought a superb save out of Begovic.

The game was interrupted when Balotelli went down after an apparent off-the-ball clash with Wilkinson, the pair having shadowed each other most of the afternoon.

Referee Mark Clattenburg spoke to the players but took no action and replays did not suggest anything serious had occurred.

Balotelli, however, maybe feeling wronged, snatched at a shot moments later and failed to work Begovi c.

Owen received a huge ovation when he warmed up but manager Tony Pulis resisted the temptation to use him until the last minute.

City pressed for a late winner and Samir Nasri turned in the area and went down under pressure but nothing was given. The Frenchman then stung the palms of Begovic with an 18-yard effort moments later.

In a frantic finish, Garcia was denied brilliantly by Begovic and Shawcross did just as well to prevent Dzeko snatching victory.

Jumat, 14 September 2012

Good time for Brit trip - Mancini

Mancini: City travel to Stoke on Saturday

City dropped what might have proved two vital points in their ultimately successful title bid when they last visited the Britannia Stadium in the Barclays Premier League in March.

That game came amid a difficult spell for City in which their championship hopes seemed to have been lost as they fell eight points behind Manchester United.

Yet after staging a dramatic recovery in the closing weeks of the season to pip United on goal difference, their fightback from 1-0 down to secure a point at Stoke was seen in a different light.

Nevertheless, Mancini is glad the notoriously tricky trip is coming when there is less pressure and, such is the anticipated difficulty, next week's mouth-watering clash against Real Madrid is at the back of his mind.

Mancini said: "We need to think only about Stoke because we never win there - it is a difficult pitch - but it is better we have this game now than the end, like last year."

City have not won at S toke since both clubs were in the third tier in 1999 and have never triumphed at the Britannia Stadium.

Six months ago they were grateful for a Yaya Toure equaliser after Peter Crouch had struck with a stunning long-range volley.

Mancini said: "Stoke is one of the worst pitches [grounds] in the Premier League because it is very difficult to play there. They are a strong team.

"For us, it is very difficult, but not only for us, for all the teams. It is important we try to play football like we do.

"I think that they have good players because this year they have changed, they have brought in good players.

"They are very strong, they are tall, but with this kind of football they stay always in the Premier League.

"For them, this is important. They have good players with experience.

"We have experience for this, all our players know this game, and we know it will be a tough game."

Adding to Mancini's difficulties preparing for the match has been the recent international break.

City made five signings on transfer deadline day last month but Mancini has had to wait a fortnight for the opportunity to work with all his players together.

Mancini said: "After international break, every game is difficult.

"We had six or seven players here and we worked for one week with those players. Today is the first training session with all the players."

Mancini expects some tiredness but hopes now after bolstering his ranks with the likes of Maicon, Javi Garcia, Scott Sinclair and Matija Nastasic, he has the squad depth to cover that.

He said: "Always is the wrong time for the international break but we have a lot of players.

"I am sure that someone is tired but we haven't time to recover."

On the positive side, no players have returned from international duty carrying new injuries ahead of a game in which Stoke could hand a debut to former England striker Michae l Owen.

Forward Sergio Aguero, City's top scorer last season, is also hoping to prove his fitness after resuming training following a knee injury.

The Argentinian, who was forced off in the season-opening defeat of Southampton at the Etihad Stadium, will be given a fitness test.

Mancini said: "We try this morning with Sergio and after training we decide. He is getting better - maybe."

Fellow forward Mario Balotelli is cleared to play after undergoing laser eye surgery.

The Italian had encountered difficulty wearing his contact lenses after being affected by conjunctivitis.

Mancini said: "Mario is okay - Mario now sees everything."

England midfielder Gareth Barry is close to returning after overcoming the abdominal problem that kept him out of Euro 2012 but this weekend's game will come too soon. Micah Richards remains out with an ankle injury.

Mancini must also consider how many of his new players to hand debuts to.

He said: "Garcia is okay, Maicon the same, no problem. Nastasic arrived yesterday for the first session. They are all okay.

"Today is the first training together after the international break. After this training session we will decide."

Kamis, 13 September 2012

Lescott: England must adapt

Lescott: Says England must be patient

Defender Lescott was one of five England players booked by Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir, who also sent off skipper Steven Gerrard for two yellow cards in the World Cup qualifier at Wembley.

Four of the bookings in the 1-1 draw came for leading with the arm in aerial challenges.

Lescott said: "Maybe the bookings give the impression England were a physical team. That was not the case.

"If you look at the challenges and the cards given, they were a bit harsh but it is different to the Premier League.

"We know being as physical is not allowed at international level so we know we need to be patient at times. They let things go in the Premier League.

"It is something players have to get used to, definitely. But most of us have played at international level before so we know what it is about.

"Did we have a bad rub of green with the referee? Maybe, but like I said, we know the standard of refereeing is totally different to the Premie r League."

Gerrard's red card means he will miss the home clash with minnows San Marino next month.

Lescott said: "He was gutted. He showed his determination throughout the game and got man of the match. He is a player who wears his heart on his sleeve.

"On another night, I don't think it is a red card.

"San Marino won't be the toughest game in the group but Steven is not happy to miss any game."

Despite England's unhappiness at some of the refereeing decisions, Lescott believes the Ukraine performance served as a reminder that qualification for the 2014 finals will not be straightforward.

He said: "Qualification is not always plain sailing. I think if you look at the game we played against them in the Euros, it was our toughest in the group.

"We knew it wasn't going to be easy, they've got good players, and are a good unit, so overall we were pleased with the performance but maybe not the result.

"We created enough cha nces to score more goals and if that happens, then everyone goes away happy."

Rabu, 12 September 2012

Aguero steps up recovery

Aguero: Stepping up recovery

City have published a series of photographs on their official website of the Argentina international doing work at their Carrington training ground.

The pictures show Aguero, who sustained the knee problem in the Blues' Premier League opener against Southampton on August 19, stretching and running with a club physio and doing some ball work.

City had been optimistic, following the results of a scan on the injury, that the 24-year-old would be back in action by mid-September, although a caption with the pictures said: "Whether (the league match on Saturday away against) Stoke is too soon for a return or not remains to be seen."

Selasa, 11 September 2012

Bunn set for lengthy lay-off

Bunn: Knee ligament damage

The 19-year-old, who spent time with Rochdale, Preston and Oldham last season, joined Alex until January last month and was enjoying a second start when he suffered an awkward fall in the second half of Saturday's 0-0 draw against Tranmere.

Bunn left the field on a stretcher and may miss the rest of the campaign after learning surgery is needed to repair his cruciate and lateral ligaments.

Crewe manager Steve Davis said: "He's been with the consultant over in Manchester and has found out that he's got some extensive ligament damage - his lateral ligament and his cruciate ligament.

"So he's going to need a couple of operations to put that right and obviously an extensive rehabilitation period depending on how well that goes. It could be the season to be honest.

"We're just disappointed for him. He's a lovely lad, he came here to get some games and was enjoying his football."

Senin, 10 September 2012

Milner sees the bigger picture

Milner: Knows all-round contribution is vital

The Manchester City ace scored the fourth goal in England's 5-0 victory over Moldova as Roy Hodgson's side started their World Cup qualifying campaign in style.

Milner, 26, has played a part in every international under Hodgson and has enjoyed a pivotal role in the new regime.

"If I was to never score another goal for England but we won the World Cup - and I was running around doing the not-glamorous things - I'd be delighted with that," he said.

"The main thing is contributing - whether it is with assists or doing the job you have to do for the team. That is what I'll do and hopefully that will mean scoring more goals.

When Milner first burst onto the scene as a 16-year-old at Leeds he had a reputation as a goalscoring midfielder playing through the middle.

Although his game has since adapted and seen him turn into a wide player Milner revealed he still prefers a central role.

He said: "It is always nice scoring goals and con tributing as much as you can. I think my best scoring season was at Aston Villa when I was in that more central role.

"I still think central is my best position. That is why Manchester City signed me from Aston Villa because I was playing the middle.

"It is down to the manager to pick the team and if he asks me to play wide, that is where I'll play as well as I can and perform as well as I can."

Milner has also been operating as a winger under Hodgson but believes the way the former Liverpool boss deploys his attacking players utilises his own attributes.

"I think the way the manager wants us to play is very different to maybe how you sometimes play at Manchester City and how we played under the previous manager," he said.

"The manager wants you coming in little pockets and playing in there and linking in with the strikers and midfielders and I think that probably helps as well. It adds more to my game than staying as wide as I can.

"I think you saw the other night there was a good freedom to the system. The other boys in the middle interchanged very well, rotation allowing them to get on the ball and wide men coming off the wing."

Minggu, 09 September 2012

Barry closing in on City return

Barry: Nearing a return

Barry has not played for Roberto Mancini's team this season after being sent for surgery over the summer, but he is now closing in on a return.

He has got some minutes under his belt for the Elite Development Squad and hopes to return to Premier League action as soon as possible, although he will not be rushing things.

"I've had two outings with the Elite Development Squad now - 45 minutes against Middlesbrough and 80 against Liverpool and I felt a lot better in the second game so things are progressing nicely," Barry told the club's official website.

"I had a double hernia operation which meant an initial four weeks out, but then I tore a muscle in rehab which set me back a little bit, but I don't think I'm too far off now - touch wood! I'm just taking things one day at a time but I'm feeling quite strong again which is really good.

"The medical team and sports therapists will have a discussion, though I'm not asking too many questions. I had a comeback date prior to the muscle tear, but things don't always go to plan."

Barry admits it has been frustrating having to watch his team-mates after previously enjoying good fortune to avoid serious injuries.

"This is the longest period of my career that I've been sidelined with injury and the comeback game against Middlesbrough was my first match for three-and-a-half months," he stated.

"Being out so long does give you time to think about things and it makes me realise how lucky I've been in terms of injuries and the amount of games I've played throughout my career.

"I've been training with the first team for a fortnight now and getting back into the swing of things again.

"I'm not a good spectator and I don't enjoy watching the games - I'd much rather be out there playing so I'm obviously really looking forward to getting my season off and running again."

Sabtu, 08 September 2012

Nastasic won't seek out Vidic

Nastasic: Will seek advice from Kolarov

The 19-year-old central defender, signed on deadline day from Fiorentina, has often been described as the "new Vidic" but he has not spoken to the Manchester United player.

Nastasic told City TV: "We didn't talk because I am aware of the rivalry between Manchester City and Manchester United.

"Of course we can have a chat off the pitch but we never talked about matters on the field."

One Serbian that Nastasic feels more comfortable speaking to is his national team and now City team-mate Aleksandar Kolarov.

Nastasic said: "When I heard about the possibility of my transfer to Manchester City, we did talk. He told me a little bit about his experiences. But there is still time. We are playing together for the national team so we will talk some more."

Jumat, 07 September 2012

Kompany wants Belgium to shine

Kompany: One of Belgium's stars

The formidable Manchester City defender and inspirational captain is one of a rapidly-growing number of talented Belgians playing in the Premier League.

Belgium have not featured at a major tournament since 2002 but a current crop that also includes the exciting Eden Hazard, Marouane Fellaini and Mousa Dembele look destined to change that.

They were considered the best team not to reach Euro 2012 and Wales are set for a stern examination as their World Cup qualifying campaign begins at the Cardiff City Stadium on Friday.

Kompany, also the national team skipper, said: "I'm proud of all of them.

"There are almost too many to name now, there are so many Belgian guys now in the Premier League.

"When I signed four years ago I was the first, then Fellaini came just after that and (Thomas) Vermaelen.

"Ever since it has been a very good competition for Belgian players.

"Not only do we showcase our talent in the Premier League b ut I hope at the international level as well now.

"We do sell a few beers as well - but we do have a few more things than chocolate and waffles!"

Belgium have nine Premier League players in their squad to face Wales, including the recently arrived Hazard, Jan Vertonghen and Kevin Mirallas.

Another highly-rated player, Axel Witsel, this week made a 32million move from Benfica to Zenit St Petersburg.

Kompany expects the top-level experience to prove hugely beneficial for the national side.

The 26-year-old said: "The reason we just about didn't qualify for the Euros - even though we had big talents in the team - was because there is still a difference between success or performing every week at the top and supposedly being able to play at the top.

"The step has been made now by many players - Vertonghen, Hazard, Dembele.

"There are so many players now that play at the top of the competition and that will add so much experience.

"At international level the teams that do well are the more disciplined and the more experienced. By definition our team was very young so it was very difficult."

After winning the Premier League last season, Kompany is set for another exciting year with City.

The Eastlands outfit bolstered their squad by making five signings on transfer deadline day last week and have a Champions League group to look forward to that includes Real Madrid, Ajax and Borussia Dortmund.

But as eager as he is to get back to work in Manchester, Kompany is happy to put it on hold to focus on international duties that also include a game against Croatia next Tuesday.

Kompany said: "Everybody knows I have big ambitions with Manchester City but everyone back home knows I have huge ambitions with my national team.

"We have a side now with Belgium who deserves success - not just because of the quality that is in the group, but because of the type of players we ha ve.

"We have the character, the personalities."

Wales have been hit by injuries ahead of the first qualifier but now also boast a young squad with increasing top-flight experience.

Kompany said: "We'll know a lot about them and I presume Wales will know a lot about us.

"Most of the players play against each other now in the Premier League. I think it will be a good game.

"Wales have got a lot of hope in their team and the hope people in Belgium now have to qualify for the World Cup is unreal.

"It does bring pressure with it but we need to be able to deal with it."

Kamis, 06 September 2012

Mourinho hush on Ronaldo future

Mourinho: Real Madrid coach won't talk about Ronaldo

The Portuguese coach was unhappy when pushed for a response about Ronaldo going public over his unhappiness at the Bernabeu.

After being asked about the issue in his position as coach and general manager, Mourinho stated that he was not keen to say anything about this, but a reported from AS asked again.

"Excuse me, but this interview is quite interesting," he stated when pushed with a second question about Ronaldo..

"I am here to talk about everything and I have responded with in-depth answers and with sincerity.

"But do not ask me about Cristiano. you should understand me. I ask that you do not insist on an answer."

Meanwhile, Perez has tried to play down the reports that Ronaldo wants to leave the reigning La Liga champions.

"If he wanted to leave he'd have said so when the transfer window was still open," president Perez told Marca.

"There are other reasons behind it."

Rabu, 05 September 2012

Clubs to discuss spending limits

Whelan: Wants to see limits put in place

The league's top executives have produced a discussion paper on financial controls for the chairmen to consider which could eventually lead to clubs being forced to break even every year - or face sanctions.

It would mean a serious blow to clubs such as Manchester City and Chelsea who have return significant losses in recent years.

There is strong support at other clubs for such controls - Wigan chairman Dave Whelan on Wednesday said measures to cut spending were needed urgently, while Manchester United originally sparked the move at the league's meeting earlier in the summer.

No decision will be made on any measures on Thursday - instead two groups of 10 clubs, each with clubs mixed up to reflect size and region, are to be formed to discuss the options in more detail.

Whelan's own club Wigan have also operated at a loss - the Latics returned a net loss for the year ending May 2011 of 7.2million - but even he is in favour of the controls.

Whelan said: "This proposal has come from Manchester United - I think City haven shaken them up a little bit - but I think there should be some controls on spending.

"Some clubs are spending way more than they can afford and get into trouble - look at Portsmouth.

"The Premier League is so big and powerful and there is so much money around that the clubs try and chase it. Something has to be done so we will support these measures."

United's chief executive David Gill has been one of the driving forces behind European clubs accepting UEFA's financial fair play rules for clubs in the Champions League and Europa League to only spend what they earn, and he wants the Premier League to follow suit.

The Football League have also introduced a similar system into the Championship and Gill believes the top flight should bring in similar measures.

Gill said last week: "A lot of clubs would be happy just to introduce the financial fair play regula tions into the Premier League now, some wouldn't, but that's a debate that has to have happened. And it will happen.

"If you look at it we've got financial regulations in the league below us, the Championship, and the competition above us, the Champions League, so we need to do it.

"The Premier League being the best league in the world, the most commercially effective league in the world, I think there's a real opportunity to introduce some sensible rules that effectively improve and enhance the long term or medium term financial stability."

At least 12 of the 20 top-flight clubs ended the 2010/11 season in the red with Manchester City's losses of 197million dwarfing even Chelsea's 68million and Liverpool's 49million.

Critics of financial fair rules argue that it will forever favour those clubs such as Manchester United and Arsenal who make a profit and rule out wealthy benefactors such as Roman Abramovich and Sheikh Mansour putting money into clu bs.

Selasa, 04 September 2012

Galatasaray still keen on Toure

Toure: Could move to Turkey before Wednesday's deadline

The Ivory Coast centre-back has struggled to earn a regular first-team place under Roberto Mancini, who further bolstered his defence with the signing of Matija Nastajic last week.

The arrival of Nastajic is likely to push Toure further down the pecking order at City, and he is now a top target for the Turkish side ahead of their transfer deadline day on Wednesday.

His former Arsenal team-mate Emmanuel Eboue signed for Galatasary in August last year, and Terim believes he could play a key role in persuading Toure to follow him.

"We have to bring someone in, obviously a defender," said Terim. "We're interested in Kolo Toure from Manchester City. We can ask for help from Eboue if we need.

"We have to complete this transfer by Wednesday, which is UEFA's Champions League list deadline."

Senin, 03 September 2012

Sinclair misses pen for City U21s

Sinclair (l): Hit the post in Under-21s run out

The winger, signed from Swansea last week in a deal reportedly worth up to 8million, hit a first-half spot-kick against the post against Liverpool at Kirkby before being taken off after the break.

England midfielder Gareth Barry also played most of the 2-2 draw as he continued his recovery from the abdominal injury which ruled him out of Euro 2012.

Sinclair otherwise had a promising game and his penalty blushes were spared when Jordi Hiwula struck from the rebound before Denis Suarez added a second from the spot.

The City goals came either side of Marc Pelosi efforts for the Reds.

No worries for Kompany

Vincent Kompany: Happy with City's defence

City have conceded seven goals already this season, but they remain undefeated after three games with two wins and a draw to their name.

And Kompany has dismissed suggestions that they are showing a new frailty at the back, having kept 17 clean sheets last season.

"It doesn't matter. We've always proved to be solid come difficult times," he said when asked about not keeping a clean sheet thus far this term.

"Come December, January and February we'll show it. At this time everyone tries to play the game nicely.

"We left ourselves exposed but at the end of the season we won't do that."

Minggu, 02 September 2012

City teen held after death crash

The 18-year-old was arrested after a silver Mercedes and a red Nissan Micra collided in north Manchester, leaving a 32-year-old man and a 37-year-old woman dead, and two teenagers, believed to be 15 and 16, with serious head injuries.

It is believed that Meppen-Walter was driving the Mercedes. The 32-year-old man was driving the Micra with the 37-year-old woman in the front passenger seat and the two teenagers in the back, Greater Manchester Police said.

A second man, aged 19, who was driving a grey Volkswagen Golf, was also arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.

At around 10.15pm on Saturday police were called to Bury New Road at its junction with Sherborne Street following reports of a collision.

Officers attended and the 32-year-old man and 37-year-old woman were pronounced dead at the scene while the teenagers were taken to Hope Hospital, where they remain.

A Manchester City spokeswoman said: "It is a devast ating tragedy for this family and also for the Greater Manchester community at large. Manchester City Football Club offers its heartfelt condolences to the family and all affected by the events of yesterday evening.

"The situation is subject to an extensive investigation by Greater Manchester Police and therefore we are unable to make specific comment on the incident itself at this time."

Sources said that Meppen-Walter, who was born in Bury, Greater Manchester, was driving a "low-powered" Mercedes at the time of the collision.

The defender joined City in July 2010, according to the club's website.

The youth-team player has been a regular in the England under-17 side, according to the website.

Sabtu, 01 September 2012

Hibs swoop for McGivern

McGivern: Joined Hibs on loan

McGivern, 22, who has 16 full caps, has joined the Easter Road club until January.

McGivern has made on appearance for City, as a substitute in a 5-0 league win over Sunderland in April 2011.

But he has played 75 first-team games in loan spells with Morecambe, Leicester, Walsall, Crystal Palace and Bristol City.

McGivern said: "I'm just really excited about playing for Hibernian and helping the team to do well in the SPL.

Obviously growing up in Northern Ireland I'm well aware of what the SPL is all about - it's a good, competitive league with passionate supporters.

"Hibs have enjoyed a decent start to the SPL season so far; I'm looking forward to be able to help to build on that start.

Stephens earlier left Hibernian to join League Two club Barnet.

The 20-year-old made 29 appearances for Hibs in two years after joining from Norwich.

But the Wales Under-21 international was out of favour under manager Pat Fenlon and has been allowed to leave.