on we go...
Our jam-packed January continues with the visit of Brighton & Hove Albion on Wednesday evening.
Graham Potter’s side always look to play football so it should be an open, entertaining game.
It’s rare we start midweek games at 6pm, but so many aspects of the game are different right now.
It’s hard to believe that it is 11 months since we last had fans inside the Etihad and during that time, we’ve missed out on a number of tributes.
First there was the loss of Glyn Pardoe, then David Silva’s final game at the Etihad was played to an empty house and on Sunday, just the applause of a few hundred gathered inside the ground rang out after the one minute silence for Colin Bell.
This is when behind closed doors games hits home.
We can all imagine the ovations, flags and deafening chants that would have echoed around the stadium and, when this all finally ends – and it will – no doubt we can pay our respects then.
Pep Guardiola recently said that football was sort of existing in a different world, and he was right.
There are so few sports operating at present, but football has managed to continue.
It’s been so important for so many people to have a distraction and something to look forward to.
City have been steadily slipping through the gears in recent weeks and it’s been fascinating watching our progress up the Premier League table.
We’ve been so used to setting the pace in past seasons that to see us move through the pack and to be just on the shoulders of the leaders in the style of a classic long distance runner proves the old saying ‘it is a marathon, not a sprint’ is a wise one.
Enjoy the game and let’s hope the lads continue what has been an impressive start to the New Year with three more points.
Hello everyone and welcome to Graham Potter and his Brighton staff.
Graham is a manager who has a great and admirable story to tell having initially gone abroad to Sweden to coach at Östersunds FK where he stayed around seven years and led them through the divisions, to a cup success and into European competition – creating history all along the way.
Here at City, we came across him first at Swansea City when we played them in the FA Cup in 2018-19 and then he moved to Brighton where he is now attempting to build on his first season in charge.
They won a tough game in the FA Cup on Sunday night and joined us the fourth round following our own 3-0 home win over Birmingham City.
People who have followed our trajectory since I arrived in Manchester will know that we have treated every game, in all competitions, in the same way. We never think a game is not important and we always stick to our philosophy.
That is why we are now in a fourth Carabao Cup final in a row, the FA Cup was won two seasons ago, and reached the semi-final last season. Every ninety minutes is important - there is always something to be learned or improved and there are always reasons for wanting players to get more game time or play in certain combinations.
At the weekend Kyle Walker and Gabriel Jesus came back after illness and Benjamin Mendy played for the first time in a while. Zack Steffen was able to get another 90 minutes from the start and the way the match went we were also able to give some of the younger players time on the pitch that will help them progress and improve.
So, for six or seven players, Sunday was really good. Every game we play, we try to win whilst keeping the players as fresh as possible for all the other games that are coming up.
In the next week we have three matches here at the Etihad all in the Premier League and our aim is simple – to win them all and make more progress up the league table. Of course, it will not be easy because as we have seen already this season the Premier League is so competitive. It is possible to drop points at any time.
But we have been improving steadily and since we lost at Spurs in November, we have gone 13 games in all competitions without defeat. We hope to make that 14 tonight but just because we have been playing well in wins at Arsenal, United and Chelsea does not mean we have the right to succeed against Brighton, too.
We must find our tempo. play with the rhythm and intensity we have shown recently and continue to take our chances when they come.
Enjoy the game everyone and stay safe.
Our Club Ambassador looks ahead to the visit of Brighton and a manager he rates very highly...
I was at the Birmingham FA Cup tie on Sunday and I thought we were superb in the first-half.
You could see that Pep was trying to get the game won by the break so he could bring some of our younger players on, and that’s exactly what we did, going in 3-0 up.
That is with no disrespect to Birmingham who came into the game in the second-half and left with a respectable scoreline, but it was all very comfortable.
It would be so easy to just turn up and do just enough in games like this, but every player was on their toes, industrious and determined to play with style.
The attitude from every player and all the backroom staff is spot-on and has been all along and I’ve nothing but respect for all of them.
On Wednesday evening we take on Brighton & Hove Albion and this is a game I’m really looking forward to.
I’m a big fan of Brighton manager Graham Potter who is proper football man. He has worked hard to get where he is and has had a fascinating journey through management.
He has set his team up to play a lot like we do and he likes to see his players express themselves.
He always seems calm and in control and never looks panicky or stressed, which is a great sign of somebody with the perfect temperament for management.
I know they are finding it difficult this season, but it is good experience for Potter who will learn such a lot from last season and this.
Brighton are a well-run club with a fantastic stadium and I hope they are in the Premier League for many years to come.
It will be a good game and they will create chances, too, but they are coming up against a City season in great form who will be looking to continue the way we have been playing and keep our momentum going.
Enjoy the game, stay safe and keep well.
The Season So Far
Campaign to date...
Brighton started in disappointing fashion with a 3-1 home defeat to Chelsea.
Hopes were high on the south coast that Graham Potter’s men would kick on this season after finish the interrupted 2019/20 season in 15th position.
A 4-0 win over Portsmouth in the Carabao Cup and a sparkling 3-0 win away to Newcastle United quickly restored optimism at the Amex – with a 2-0 cup win at Preston making it three wins on the bounce.
But September ended with back-to-back defeats to Manchester United, though the first of those games was harsh on the Seagulls to say the least.
After striking the woodwork five times and levelling the scores at 2-2 five minutes into added time, Brighton conceded a VAR-awarded penalty 10 minutes into added time and after the final whistle had seemingly blown!
Bruno Fernandes converted and the Reds won 3-2, returning to win 3-0 in the Carabao Cup a few days later.
That seemed to knock the Seagulls’ confidence and a 4-2 defeat at in-form Everton made it three losses in a row.
A dismal month was ended with successive 1-1 draws away to Crystal Palace and at home to West Brom as Potter’s men struggled for form.
November would be better, however, even though it started with a narrow 2-1 defeat away to Spurs.
The poor run at home continued with a 0-0 draw with Burnley, but the Seagulls’ first win in seven away to Aston Villa was a timely confidence-booster.
Villa had been flying, but had their wings clipped by Potter’s men who were showing better form on the road than at home – goals from Danny Welbeck and Solly March secured a 2-1 win.
And Pascal Gross’ penalty three minutes into added time secured an impressive 1-1 draw with Liverpool a week later to finish a positive month.
But again, Brighton couldn’t build on those results, losing 2-1 to Southampton at home, 3-0 away to Leicester City and drawing 0-0 away to Fulham.
And only a late equaliser from Welbeck prevented Potter’s men becoming Sheffield United’s first victims this season, with the basement Blades having to settle for a 1-1 draw at the Amex leaving the hosts without a home win in six.
A 2-2 draw away to West Ham United continued Brighton’s decent form on the road, but yet again, failure to win on home soil kept the Seagulls hovering above the bottom three as Arsenal left the Amex with a 1-0 win.
And that record on home soil looked set to worsen when Wolves led 3-1 at the break in the first home game of the New Year, but a spirited fight-back earned a 3-3 draw and a vital point.
Finally, Brighton narrowly saw off League Two side Newport County in the FA Cup on Sunday evening, drawing 1-1 before triumphing on penalties to progress to the last 32.
Starting to win matches at the Amex will undoubtedly be the key to how Potter’s side progress in the second-half of the campaign, though their form on the road will be a source of encouragement.
CITY V brighton:
This fixture may be 97 years old, but there have been surprisingly few meetings between the sides during that time...
Tonight's clash will only be the 25th in all competitions, with Brighton only ever winning five of those meetings.
The first game was in 1924, with City coasting to a 5-1 win at the Goldstone Ground in the FA Cup.
There would be no further meetings for 55 years, with a first ever league meeting ending with a 3-2 win for City. The Seagulls exacted their revenge in the return fixture, thrashing City 4-1.
The 1980/81 season saw City getting the better of the meetings, winning 2-1 on the south coast and drawing 1-1 at Maine Road.
The 81/82 clashes would again see the games fluctuate in fortunes, with City again hammered 4-1 at the Goldstone Ground but John Bond's side returned the favour, winning 4-0 at Maine Road later in the campaign.
Brighton took a point from their next visit to Maine Road after a 1-1 draw, but when the teams were paired in the FA Cup just five weeks later, a 4-0 victory for Brighton at the Goldstone - the third time in four visits City had shipped that many goals - saw Bond quit his post.
As the Blues hurtled towards relegation, even a 1-0 away victory towards the end of the 82-83 season wasn't enough to fend off relegation.
Indeed, Brighton were relegated with City, ensuring the recent flurry of matches continued.
The 1983/84 Division Two (now Championship) game at Maine Road ended 4-0 to City, with Billy McNeill's side settling for a 1-1 draw in the return.
Neither side won promotion that season, ensuring a sixth consecutive campaign where City and Brighton met - you wait 78 years for a first league meeting and then half-a-dozen come along in one go!
City drew 0-0 at the Goldstone and beat Brighton 2-0 at Maine Road in '84/85 on the way to promotion back to the top flight.
The Blues' relegation from the top flight saw a resumption in the fixture three years later, with City edging a 2-1 home win and Brighton winning the return 2-1 in what would be the last ever meeting at the Goldstone Ground.
There were no further clashes until a 2008 League Cup tie that the third tier Seagulls won on penalties after holding Mark Hughes' side to a 2-2 draw at the Withdean Stadium.
Since then, there have been seven meetings - all of which have been won by City.
Two of those meetings were more significant than the others - the 2019 FA Cup semi-final - a 1-0 win at Wembley for the Blues - and who could forget the final day of the 2018/19 campaign?
City needed a win to be crowned Premier League champions and, despite falling behind, won 4-1 at the Amex on an unforgettable day.
Last season's victories of 4-0 at the Etihad and 5-0 at the Amex, bring our history in this fixture right up to date.
Premier League Stats: Neal Maupay
Squad number: 9
Hit woodwork: 1
Headed goals: 3
Right-foot goals: 7
Left-foot goals: 6
Penalties scored: 4
On target: 54
Shooting accuracy: 41%
Yellow cards: 3
Red cards: 0
Clubs: Nice, Saint-Etienne, Brest, Brentford, Brighton
International caps (France U21): 2
International goals: 1
Club career appearances (all comps): 266
Club career goals (all comps): 79
City and Brighton have had some connections over the years, but not that many...
Michael Robinson left City for Brighton after just one season at Maine Road.
Signed from Preston for £700,000, he left for the south coast for a cut-price fee and later played for Liverpool.
In 1983/84, City’s legendary goalkeeper Joe Corrigan spent one season with Brighton after a spell in North America was curtailed early, playing 42 times for the Seagulls including a return to Maine Road that saw a standing ovation from the City fans that lasted several minutes.
Neil McNab made more than a 100 appearances for the Seagulls from 1980 to 1983 before joining City and playing for seven seasons as well as skippering the Blues.
Gareth Barry’s career began with Brighton, though he never made a first team appearance for the club before he moved to Aston Villa.
Barry would go on to make 175 appearances for City between 2009 and 2013.
In 2012, Wayne Bridge was loaned to the Seagulls for the season and made 42 appearances during his stay – just 16 less than he made in four years of being with City.
Aaron Mooy never made a first team appearance for City before joining Huddersfield Town.
He later joined Brighton – initially on loan – and played 32 times before moving to Shanghai.
Abdul Razak is yet another City player who had a loan spell with the Seagulls, making six appearances during a brief stay in 2012.
And youth team graduate Taylor Richards left for the south coast in 2019, though has been loaned out by Brighton to Doncaster Rovers having made just one first team appearance so far for the Seagulls.
Lee Geum-min joined City in 2019 and the 45-times capped South Korean international is currently on loan with Brighton for the 2020/21 campaign.
Finally, two managers have been in charge of both City and Brighton.
Brian Horton managed City for 22 months between 1993 and 1995 and spent 11 months in charge of Brighton in 1998/99.
Steve Coppell was – famously – City boss for 33 days before quitting his post in 1996.
He would later spend the 2002/03 campaign with Brighton, managing the club for 49 matches.
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Last week, like most of the football world, I was shocked and deeply upset to hear that Colin Bell had died.
I was 12 years old when Colin signed for City, and as unbelievable as it sounds now, my parents used to let me go to watch City’s away games on my own.
My Dad was a part-time Red so he was never going to take me, and I went to De La Salle College, in Salford, where I was, (as far as I was aware), the only City fan in the whole school - so I had no Blue mates.
I just used to get the coach on my own to wherever we were playing - paying with the money from my paper round.
So I was at Derby to see King Colin take his first steps to greatness in a City shirt on 19 March 1966, where he made one and scored one, in a vital 2-1 win in our push for promotion.
When I left the ground I couldn’t find the coach anywhere. I wandered around for a while and finally asked a ‘friendly' looking PC, who decided it’d be safer taking a lone 12 year-old back to the police station, than trying to stop all the fighting around the ground.
The Derby police treated me quite regally. They thought I’d been separated from a parent, but I told them I’d travelled alone.
They rang the Baseball Ground to see if they could put me on the City team coach (I was beside myself with excitement) but sadly it’d left a few minutes earlier.
Then they drove me around Derby trying to find it, but it was long gone.
Finally they took me back to the station, bought me some fish and chips and rang home, and my worried mum had to go to the pub where my dad was, and give him the (erm) good news, and he had to drive to Derby to collect me. The police didn’t seem concerned that he’d been in the boozer for a couple of hours but the less about that the better!
Needless to say, I was grounded and banned from going to another away game on my own that season. But I think the police had something to do with that too, as they took my Dad into a room and gave him a rollicking for letting me wander around England on my own at 12 years old.
I’d managed to see us at Bury, on 12 April by convincing my Grandad to take me, but then it was the big one. We were playing Rotherham away on Wednesday evening, 4 May. If we won, we’d be promoted. I had to go.
I had no idea where Rotherham was, but the coach left at 5pm so it couldn’t be far. So I just went straight after school.
I thought it’d be worth being grounded again if we won and of course we did - with King Colin scoring the only goal to send us up to Division One.
Needless to say, it hadn’t occurred to me that my parents would think I’d been abducted on my way home from school, I just wanted to see us get promoted.
Like many City fans of my generation, Colin Bell was the greatest footballer we’d ever seen.
We’ve had many great footballers play in the famous sky blue, but Colin was different. He wasn’t a ‘character’ like Mike Summerbee or even Franny, he actually seemed quite shy, but he never hid out on the pitch. He seemed to cover every blade of grass at Maine Road in every game.
After his cruel injury in the League Cup game v United, it seemed like we’d never see him play again. Then just over two years later, on Boxing Day, he came on at half time v Newcastle and it was so emotional. It was probably the most emotional moment in all the years I’ve watched City - and I’ve been there when we’ve won every trophy - bar the Cup Winners' Cup -( I didn’t think I’d manage to wing that one. I couldn’t imagine my Dad having to come to Vienna to find me).
Nearly all the City fans around me were in tears. It was an occasion that will be forever remembered by everyone who was there that day. But it was a moment tinged with sadness too. I think we all realised that Colin was never going to be the player he was prior to his dreadful injury.
I’m featuring a few photos tonight that I’ve taken of one of our greatest players of all time.
The photo of King Colin signing an autograph was taken when I was at Art School in 1973. I love how he’s ‘in the zone’ and barely engaging with anyone around him.
The formal player portrait was a shot I took in the late 70' when City inexplicably asked me to take the team photos and head shots for a couple of seasons. I managed to pluck up the courage to ask Colin to pose for me. I was so nervous, I’m amazed there’s no camera shake on it. I love the shot though. He looks so regal.
The portrait of Colin with his Mexico 1970 cap is from a lovely afternoon I spent at his house photographing him and getting lots of gossip from the Mercer/Allison days. He clearly hadn’t been as shy as I thought. The medal is his European Cup Winners’ Cup medal from 1970 and the boots are a pair he wore towards the end of his career.
The photos with Brian Kidd were taken as a favour for Kiddo who told me how much he revered Colin.
The photos with Eyal Berkovic were also taken in the final season at Maine Road for my book.
I told Colin I’d like a shot of him with the player in 2003 who played in his position. There was a eyebrow raised, but at least Eyal seemed to enjoy the moment.
Finally, I had to use a shot of Bell flanked by Lee and Summerbee, from Colin’s Testimonial evening at the Social Club on 25 Feb '79. In my mind they’re still the greatest triumvirate to grace English football, and no, I’m not inviting counter-claims here. They just were.
RIP King Colin. You were an absolute joy to watch and to spend time with. You will be sorely missed by everyone.
Name: Tomiwa Kukoyi
From: Alabama, USA
Favourite player: Kevin De Bruyne
Tomiwa’s story: “I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t a soccer fan. My mom told me that once when I was about a year old, we went to a sports store to pick up my older brother’s soccer uniform and I wouldn’t leave the store until they bought me a soccer ball. I guess I must have raised a mighty fit I’ve played since I was four, my two brothers play, and so does my dad whenever he finds a moment of free time (which is very rare these days!).
I have loved many teams in my 12 years but became a Cityzen in 2017. My favourite game has to be the game against Liverpool on January 3, 2019 because that game marked the turning point for City. John Stones saved the ball by 11 centimetres and for me, that was very exciting to see. My favourite memory is definitely Kompany scoring against Leicester in the 70th minute of the game.
That goal helped us win the Premier League title, and that was just awesome! I love playing defence, I am the centre-back on my team, but have been known to play goalie, and midfield sometimes like my favourite player Kevin De Bruyne. I love talking to my dad (a United supporter) and trying to convince him to leave the dark side!”
For the second instalment of my new series of insights into the passion of various MCFC supporters, I asked fellow Wythenshawe ‘lad’ Billy Duffy for his thoughts on his beloved Blues.
Billy grew up just around the corner from me as a kid and we used to bump into each other from time to time at the local bus stop and take an interest in what each other was listening to. As the years went by I found myself as a member of the Manchester band The Fall and around about the same time Billy dipped his toes into the music scene as guitarist with a band called The Nosebleeds who at one point introduced the world to a fledgling crooner as their frontman. His name was (and still is) Stephen Patrick Morrissey who of course then went on to from The Smiths.
From there Billy went to an outfit called Theatre Of Hate which in-turn led him to join a band called SOUTHERN DEATH CULT who later truncated their moniker to simply …………..
The rest is history.
The Cult first conquered America and the rest of the world followed suit.
At one point Billy and I were re-united not in a music venue - but at Maine Road of all places! But I’ll let Billy tell you all about that shortly.
After a period of living on the West Coast of the USA, Billy is back in the UK, which I’m sure he was hoping would lead to him being able to watch City on a regular basis again. Sadly - due to the ongoing pandemic - this isn't the case.
ONE DAY THOUGH BILLY…ONE DAY!
OK BILLY - WHAT IS YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY OF GOING TO A FOOTBALL MATCH?
“I’d say walking from Claremont Road bus depot to the Platt Lane end with my dad as a kid in the early seventies. Feeling the energy build as we got closer to Maine Road through the back streets of Moss Side was electric....”
WHAT IS THE MOST PECULIAR OR MEMORABLE THING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED TO YOU AT A MATCH?
“It was when I played a charity “businessman + ‘celebrity’ game” before Paul Lake’s testimonial in 1997… you might remember it Marc as I played in front of you! Anyway, afterwards my dad (who might have had a wee dram) mentioned the game wasn't up to much but the #5 for the ‘away kit team’ was half-decent... I had to laugh as he had no idea that was actually me.
"Also, the sheer size of the pitch at Maine Road was intimidating… you could almost see the curve of the earth on it!”
IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME AND PREVENT ONE MATCH FROM BEING PLAYED -WHAT MATCH WOULD THAT BE - AND WHY
“The 1981 FA Cup final replay v Spurs... it broke my heart as we should have beaten them in the first game. Also, it seemed to signal the beginning of the ‘dark ages’ at Manchester City.”
WHICH TEAM ARE YOUR LEAST FAVOURITE OPPONENTS - AND WHY?
“It used to be Arsenal or Liverpool generally as if we escaped with less than a four- goal drubbing, I’d call it a great game! How times have changed... I suppose though it has to be United… for all the obvious reasons.”
WHAT IS YOUR MOST FAVOURITE MAN CITY TERRACE SONG OR CHANT - AND WHY?
“Has to be “Boys in Blue...' - I’m a 10cc fan and you can’t beat a good tune....”
WHAT IS THE MOST MEMORABLE CITY GOAL YOU HAVE WITNESSED?
“Easy… Agueroooooo! 93.20”
IF YOU COULD INVITE ANY MAN CITY PLAYER - PRESENT OR PAST - TO YOURS FOR TEA AND BISCUITS - WHO WOULD IT BE - AND WHY?
“I’d say Billy Meredith... apparently he was at my dad’s first wedding and had quite a career in Manchester football. I’m sure he had a few tales to tell.”
HAVE YOU EVER SHED A TEAR - OF JOY - OR PAIN - AT A CITY MATCH?
“Tears of pain were shed plus several prayers made around 90 minutes into the play-off game v Gillingham in ’99… then came a tear or two of joy after the penalties.”
WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST ABOUT MAINE ROAD
“I miss the swell in the old Kippax particularly in a derby and the feral atmosphere created in there with the ‘away’ fans so near (yet so far)... bonkers!! It was unusual to have the standing side at a ground and it made Maine Road extra special to me... all other grounds had away fans at the other end to the hard-core fans and not as dangerously close (aside from I think Sheffield Wednesday).”
WHO DO YOU THINK WOULD WIN IN AN ARM WRESTLING MATCH… YAYA TOURE - OR KYLE WALKER?
“Andy Morrison every time!”
IF YOU COULD PICK ONE CURRENT CITY PLAYER TO BE ON YOUR PUB QUIZ TEAM - WHO WOULD IT BE - AND WHY?
“I’d go for KDB… he seems an eloquent and well-read fellow.”