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[Archived] Manchester City V Rovers Preview


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Part 1: Bit of Pre-amble

Well, following the disappointment that was(or wasn’t) the transfer window, and what with everything that’s going on surrounding a probably, now downgraded to possible, takeover (maybe), it’s good to have an actual football match to concentrate on. A top flight game, facing one of the richest football clubs, if not the richest football club in the World. Not too bad really considering our constraints over the last few years.


Since we last played Man City, in January this year, the difference in spending power has meant that a lot has changed for the two clubs. Or has it? Well maybe not as much as we might think. Here are the line ups from that match at the City Of Manchester Stadium:

City: Given, Richards, Zabaleta, Garrido, Petrov, Barry, Benjani , Tevez, Kompany, de Jong, Bellamy. Subs (involved): Boyata, Santa Cruz, Robinho

Rovers: Robinson, Chimbonda, Samba, Nelsen, Givet, Emerton, Andrews, Nzonzi, Pedersen, Dunn, Di Santo. Subs (involved): Hoilett, Olsson, Kalinic

Looking at the City line up for their last game – Hart, Lescott, Kompany, Richards, K Toure, Barry, de Jong, Milner, Y Toure, Johnson, Tevez. Subs (involved): Adebayor, Silva, Jo – it could be argued that City have kept the spine of their team and added some further quality to it.


If only the same could be said about Rovers. Whilst we clearly don’t have their budget (for boardroom biscuits), even relatively speaking we haven’t added much to our squad. Ironically, given our opponents, our only additions are in the form of a loanee from their darkest rivals and, arguably, City’s best player during the January encounter – it remains to be seen if these two additions make our squad stronger this season than last – as is Mr. Williams’ assertion.

Current players connecting City and Rovers are unlikely to be involved in this match for a number of reasons, Craig Bellamy has gone all “man of the people” and lent out his services to his home town club; Roque Santa Cruz, although name in City’s 25, has gone back to his pre-Rovers fitness levels; and Shay Given can’t seem to find a way past man of the moment, Joe Hart. Barring an injury to the latter this week, unlike City, we are therefore unlikely to have to face any ex players...

Parts 2 and 3 to follow...

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Part 2: The Match

Seems a fait accompli on paper so is there anything that could swing it in our favour? A few straws to not so much clutch at as pretend to clutch at then at the last minute nonchalantly run your fingers through your hair:

England & International Matches

After a full programme of competitive International matches, noteably Joe Hart, Gareth Barry, Adam Johnson and James Milner for England but also Silva and Kompany, there is the possibility of a little fatigue creeping in and maybe taking their eye off the ball and being complacent about little old Blackburn.



Benjani puts on a brave face having seen the size of our practice nets

A striker with a good pedigree who knows the City defence inside out Benji might just have a point to prove. If he can stay fit, and avoid further injury to those knees (and Benni Macs across from Ewood), we might just have a very decent player on our hands. Well either that or someone has just come up with a new plot for a Horace McCoy novel. He was the catalyst for City’s victory in January and may well give their defence something to think about. (As he breaks down whilst jogging towards the City end, Mame Diouf could then steal in past the distracted Lescott and Toure to nick a goal!).

Hughes Gone


# We are the Cheeky Girls #

Although not in the dugout in January, an obvious omission from this fixture is Mark Hughes, who we will instead catch up with a week later – assuming he hasn’t jumped ship to Villa. (In which case, er, it’ll be the week after). It’s not longer a grudge match for us and maybe we can concentrate on what’s happening on the pitch...

One thing which does seem fall in our favour this time out, is that we have a settled defensive unit and if we can cut out the mistakes we made last time, such as letting a defender run the length of the pitch to score, we may give City a sterner test. I don’t envisage a 4-4-2 but maybe we’ll see Benjani up front with M Diouf on the right. Benji will surely have a point to prove against his former employers and prove to the best player in this season’s encounter... (Here’s hoping anyway!).

That Feeling

It’s arguable that the corresponding fixture in January changed our season and following the 4-1 defeat, we went on a great run which ultimately led us to the top half finish. The dressing room after the game will have been an awful place and I’m sure they won’t want to have that same feeling again...

Part 3: Q&A

I managed to track down the World’s most grounded Man City fan, Craig, who co-incidentally also happens to be a colleague of mine. I put a few questions to him about City, Rovers and Saturday’s match:

1) Having lived through it some years ago, I know what it’s like to be the envy of the league and have everyone be resentful of your club. However, money doesn’t always buy immediate success (e.g. Leeds, Villa, Spurs). How long do you think it’ll realistically be before you win the Premier League?

It takes time for the manager to find the best team and to get them to play together (I know - excuses are coming out already), but given the amount of investment, the expectation of the club is very high! Personally, I think (hopefully!) a trophy this year and the Premiership in the next 2 to 3 would be fantastic - but after 34 years, winning anything would be good!

2) Similar question: I’m sure you’ll harbour ambitions of winning the league this season but having missed out on the Champions League places last year and already had a mixed start to the season, where do you honestly think you likely finish come May?

Top 4 (see above re getting the team to gel).

3) Where do you think Rovers will finish this season?

Realistically, I think mid table to 5th place.

*Cough* *Cough* *Cough* It's okay Craig, I think I can carry on...

4) Your Manager: What is the City fans’ view of Mancini? Should Hughes have been given longer? Is Mancini he the man to finally bring you success or another nearly-man?

Hughes should have been given longer in my opinion, as City have always suffered from changing managers before they can build a team properly, but you don't know what goes on behind the scenes. In my opinion, Mancini is starting to stamp his authority (note the departure of some of our previously "key" players) and the team are starting to play with some real discipline and organisation in mid field/defence. If the front players start to score more goals, we could have a good season. Hopefully, the owners will give him time......watch this space!

5) Sheik Mansour has spent nearly half a billion pounds (I know, I couldn’t believe it either) over the last 3 years and brought in a lot of highly paid individuals. He will, no doubt, be hoping Mancini can mould these into a team. Who do you believe the team will be built around? In other words, who is your MVP and why?

We are fortunate enough to have a number of key players but if I was to single out one, it would be Yaya Toure. As above, the team will be built around organisation in mid field and defence (Italian stylie) with (hopefullly) significant fire power up front. Clearly, the depth and strength of the squad will start to be a significant factor as the season progresses - hence the investment (even though some of the figures are mind blowing!).

6) We’ve been linked with Jo and even signed Benjani on a free transfer from you (it’s therefore nailed on that he will score against you) but since Sheik Mansour has been involved with the club, who do City fans consider to have been the worst signing for you?

Given the amount of games played last season and recent performances, Lescott has less than lived up to expectations and yes (you knew this was coming!) Santa Cruz has some catching up to do to say the least.

7) There’s no denying that Joe Hart has shown massive potential and cemented himself as England’s number one (largely thanks to Paul Robinson’s decision to retire). The forgotten man, Shay Given (another Rovers cast off on City’s books) now seems consigned to the shadows. It’s great to have competition for the number 1 shirt but, for you, who should it be: Seamus or Joseph? What’s your reasoning?

Given our lofty aspirations, I think the reasoning is strength and depth to the squad. The last thing we want is a repeat of the situation last season when Given got injured and Hart was on loan for some crucial end of season fixtures. However, it will be tricky for Mancini to keep them both happy without regular starts (as with the rest of the squad), but he seems to be rotating through different competitions i.e. in principal he has a Cup squad and a League squad - it's up to the players to prove themselves when they get chance to play to secure regular places, including the goalies! Hopefully Given will get his chance soon. You have clearly got a great Goal keeping Coach at Rovers - Given is fantastic - cheers!

8) One of the sad things about the money is that it could put a lid on your highly successful production line of youth players. I imagine their immediate chances are restricted at the moment but do you have any promising youngsters coming through? If so, who is likely to be the next to break into the first team?

The Academy is still up and running and producing some promising youngsters, notably Greg Cunningham (ex academy) and Alex Henshall having recent good performances in the first team and in the academy team respectively. Henshall is hotly tipped as a future first team player. Noting the comment about the current restricted opportunities for young players, the rules on the 25 man squad allow the selection of young players (under 21) outside of the named 25 man squad, so there are still opportunities for young players. Obviously, they would still have to 'muscle in' on some regular first team player slots, but chances will increase through injury etc as the season progresses.

9) If there is one Rovers player that you think you’ll need to keep quiet against you on Saturday, who would it be?

Not seen a lot of the games, but reading the match reports, Mame Biram Diouf seems like a handful and looks like we're going to have to limit Samba's influence.

10) Finally, what is your prediction for the score on Saturday?

2 - 0 to City (Sorry!)

No apology needed. For the record, I’m going for a frustrating time for City’s millionaires and a 0-0 draw.

Paddy Power doesn’t share my optimism though and is currently (5th Sept) offering Blackburn eights for the win, or if you fancy Sam’s plan A to come off you can get 12/1 on my 0-0.

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Great previews!

Big game for us but even bigger for Mancini- failure to get 3 points against us and Chelsea will be a near unsurmountable 7 points ahead of City and the early season knives will be being ground for him.

The big question is can Vince repeat his first half form against Arsenal? If he can and there are no mistakes at the back, this could be close. A third consecutive 2-1 defeat is my best bet but I think we will give them much more of a game than last year.

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Can't say I'm looking forward to this one. We got blasted into oblivion there last season and a fear the same sort of result. In saying that I don't think that City are all that and are very unpredictable. Yeah they have thrown a lot of money into the team, to try and get instant success, which if successful will have been bought rather than earned. But those players will take time to get used to Premiership football. If we could get a draw I'd be happy.

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If we try and play football like the first half against Arsenal, you never know, we may get a draw or at least an encouraging performance. The pace of Diouf could cause them problems, if we provide him with good service. If we sit deep and lump it forward like we did in the second half we don't stand a cat in hells chance.

Will Sam have learnt something from the contrasting halves against Arsenal? Probably not, he'll probably start with Benjani and long ball if to him in complete isolation.

1-1 or 5-0 to them.

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I had the unpleasant experience of sitting with this lot at Sunderland oh by christ are they aloof and over confident on how they will win everything this season.

There is little doubt they will pick up trophies but oh how we would love to see them fail again. it was distinctively untasteful being with their fans in the sofl and I want so dearly my Rovers to win.

Nice read Jisty but I cant see anything but another Rovers defeat.


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Nothing other than a defeat here I'm afraid. Three losses from the first four games will highlight the clubs regression in the overall quality of the squad over the last three seasons and will really put the pressure on for the next game at home to Fulham.

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Nothing other than a defeat here I'm afraid. Three losses from the first four games will highlight the clubs regression in the overall quality of the squad over the last three seasons and will really put the pressure on for the next game at home to Fulham.

Far too early to come out with statements like that den!

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