Welcome to our digital programme for the visit of Birmingham City.
This has been an incredibly sad week for any Manchester City supporter.
The loss of Colin Bell has hit us all very hard and it’s still hard to believe ‘King Colin’ won’t be around on matchdays anymore.
The midweek victory over United was dedicated to Colin’s memory by Pep Guardiola and his players, and it’s hard to think of a more poignant tribute than to beat the Reds at Old Trafford – something Colin experienced many times during his incredible career.
Perhaps winning the Carabao Cup against Spurs next April could be an even greater tribute to his memory.
We pay homage to the great man in this edition, plus have the considered thoughts of his close friend Mike Summerbee in his matchday column.
Birmingham City travel to the Etihad on Sunday hoping to upset the odds and cause an FA Cup shock.
It’s been a while since the Midland Blues played in the top flight, so it’s good to be able to welcome them to Manchester once again.
In another world, they’d be bringing 8,000 fans and playing their part at a full and vibrant Etihad Stadium, but that seems quite a way off the way things stand.
With the country in lockdown once again, watching live football has been a real godsend for supporters around the world.
And the way we have started the New Year, with wins at Stamford Bridge and Old Trafford has served a reminder (if needed) of what a special football team we have.
Let’s hope that form continues with a clutch of home matches coming up this month and well into 2021.
Good afternoon and welcome to Birmingham City and their manager Aitor Karanka.
The third round of the FA Cup is always an exciting time in the English football calendar and even though we are sadly still without fans in the stadiums, I am sure it will create a lot of interest and many talking points.
Aitor is someone I know well from our playing days in La Liga in Spain when he played for Bilbao and Real Madrid. He is a student of the game and knows English football well now after being here for seven years. So, we will expect a tough game and a battle.
We treat every competition we play in with absolute respect and our approach to today’s game has been no different.
It has been a mixed week of deep sadness and joy for everyone at here at City. We said goodbye to one of the Club’s all-time great players in Colin Bell on Tuesday and 24 hours later were proud to honour him in the 2-0 Carabao Cup semi-final win against United at Old Trafford.
Colin not only won trophies during his time here, but also helped to create something special for this club which we are building upon every day.
It was an incredible victory for us to beat United away and it was for him, absolutely. Colin has a stand named after him at the Etihad and he is known by the fans as ‘The King’ [of the Kippax] - it’s because he was something very special and has remained in people’s hearts. He will never be forgotten.
We were very good on the pitch against an in-form United side. When the team has that mentality, they can do something astonishing. Four times in a row now we have reached the final. I’m so impressed. We can look forward to meeting Tottenham in April.
I was delighted, too, in our previous match at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea. We made a big step forward there in the Premier League.
The most important thing in London was not just the 3-1 win but the way we played. We showed great understanding. We played at our tempo, in our style and with our principles.
Now we have five home games in the next six fixtures, and we want to ensure we continue in the same way as the last few games and keep making progress in all the competitions.
Enjoy the game everyone and stay safe.
Our Club Ambassador reflects on an emotional last few days...
I was at Old Trafford for our Carabao Cup semi-final against United, just a day after we lost Colin Bell.
It was very emotional to be there because it is a ground where Colin and I shared many great moments during our playing days with the likes Francis Lee, Alan Oakes, and those we’ve lost such as Glyn Pardoe and Mike Doyle.
United were very respectful of Colin and that was evident in the director’s room and on the pitch, too.
I thought our players gave an outstanding performance - one befitting Colin’s memory and he would have been so very proud of the way we played.
You couldn’t have asked for a better tribute.
I spoke with Pep in the dressing room just after the final whistle and we was very emotional, as we all were.
Pep knew of Colin and everything he had done for this Club, but it’s not easy to talk of players who played long before you arrived, but he has absorbed our history and you could see how much it meant.
His team talk was Colin Bell and ensuring we marked his passing by playing great football and winning that game and I thought the players did us proud – I can’t think of a better mark of respect.
I’m sure Colin’s family would have taken such a lot from that evening.
This Club has a big heart and Colin was a big part of it. He was a quiet man, but when he was on the pitch the only time you saw him yapping was at referees – he never stopped!
And I don’t think he ever got booked – I wish I could have got away it like he did!
It was a privilege to play with him.
Kevin De Bruyne reminds me of Colin and he is almost a replica of him – I can’t think of a better compliment to Kevin.
Beating Chelsea and United has convinced me we are not far away from our best now, and hopefully we can celebrate more trophies this season.
Let’s hope we continue playing the way we are.
I’ll end by saying have the best New Year you can, stay safe and once again I'd like to thank Pep and the players for the respect and warmth they showed this week.
Thanks, Pep – it means so much to so many of us.
The Season So Far
The story of the Blues...
Aitor Karanka had only a month or so to get to know his players after becoming Birmingham City manager on 31 July.
Whether that has had a part to play in Blues’ season so far is up for debate, but the lack of a meaningful pre-season certainly hasn’t helped matters.
Birmingham arrive at the Etihad in 18th position in the Championship, perilously close to the bottom three and on a poor run of form.
It’s too early to say Blues are in a relegation battle, but if Derby, QPR and Rotherham won their games in hand, the Midland giants could be as low as 21st in the second tier.
The campaign began with a 1-0 League Cup defeat to Cambridge, but the Championship campaign couldn’t have started much better with Jeremie Bela scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win over Brentford.
And a creditable 0-0 draw at Swansea was followed with a 1-1 draw at home to Rotherham United, with Bela rescuing a point from the spot in added time.
October began with another 1-1 draw at Stoke, with the home side levelling with just four minutes remaining, but overall, the unbeaten league start was encouraging for the new manager.
Th next three games, however, would highlight a problem Birmingham have not yet managed to solve – goals – with none scored in the 1-0 losses against Sheffield Wednesday and Norwich, or the 0-0 draw with QPR.
Blues did end the month ended on a high with a 2-1 win over Huddersfield Town with Lukas Jutkiewicz's 90th-minute winner ending a six-match winless run and Gary Gardner’s late strike securing a 2-1 win at Preston.
On the cusp of the play-offs, things suddenly looked much brighter and it is was also true that no side had found it easy against an organised and disciplined Karanka outfit.
Things could have got even better had Blues not thrown a lead away to two late goals to struggling Wycombe, with the Chairmen scoring twice in the last 15 minutes to leave St Andrew’s with a 2-1 win.
That was followed by a comprehensive 3-1 home defeat to promotion-hopefuls Bournemouth, leaving Karanka’s side in lower midtable.
Sharing their home ground with Coventry City, Blues then had the unusual test of playing an away match in their own stadium, ‘leaving’ St Andrew’s with 0-0 draw, and further draws with Luton and Millwall followed.
December started promisingly... but ended badly.
Not for the first time this season, Blues threw a 1-0 lead away at home to lose 2-1 to Barnsley.
But skipper Harlee Dean’s late winner at Bristol City secured a 1-0 win at Ashton Gate and two goals from Kristian Pedersen were enough to give 10-man Birmingham another impressive away win at Reading as Karanka's side showed they were capable of challenging for the play-off positions.
However, three losses on the bounce put paid to that.
A late Troy Deeney penalty gave Watford a 1-0 win at St Andrew’s and two late goals were again conceded in a 3-2 defeat at Cardiff.
Worse was to follow with a 4-1 home loss to Middlesbrough – Karanka’s former team – with the hosts again throwing an early lead away.
A hard-fought 0-0 draw at Nottingham Forest – another former team of Karanka’s – was followed by Blues’ worst defensive display of the campaign so far as Wayne Rooney’s Derby left the second city with a 4-0 win.
And a 2-0 home defeat to Blackburn Rovers was hardly the start Birmingham fans wanted to begin the New Year – one that is looking a difficult task on current form with a trip to the Etihad probably not on the wish-list of Karanka or his players given their current form.
CITY V birmingham:
THE STORY SO FAR
Tracing back to when Ardwick took on Small Heath, this fixture dates back to 1892...
To begin, let's just clarify that Manchester City have long been nicknamed 'The Blues', but today's visitors are simply 'Blues'.
Answers on a postcard, but it might stop any confusion in the following history between the sides.
City would win just three of the opening 12 matches against Small Heath.
Under our former guise of Ardwick, the first four meetings saw just a draw prevent a clean sweep for the goal-happy Midlanders who enjoyed a 16-7 aggregate from those matches and included a 10-2 thrashing!
Our first match as Manchester City may have yielded a 3-0 win in a Test Match, but two days later, Small Heath won the return 8-0, meaning we’d conceded 18 goals in just three meetings.
In 1899, the first FA Cup meeting also ended in victory for Small Heath – a 3-2 win – and for a decade (spanning 17 games), there were no draws between the teams, with Small Heath becoming Birmingham City in 1905.
The first meeting between the sides at Maine Road ended 1-0 to City.
Between 1922 and 1930, Birmingham dominated this fixture, winning 13 of the 16 meetings – a run that saw 10 successive losses for City – with the Midlands side considered something of a jinx team.
But the 1930s belonged to City, who finally started to get some joy in this battle and a run of 15 games saw City win 10, draw four and lose only once.
It wasn’t until 1946 that Birmingham again enjoyed a win against City, winning twice in three months in Division Two and the FA Cup, though up until 1955, there were again no draws in the 12 meetings between the two sides.
In 1956, the highest profile meeting yet took place at Wembley in the FA Cup final – or the ‘Trautmann Final’ as it later became known.
The 3-1 win was City’s third FA Cup triumph and famously, Bert Trautmann played out the last 15 minutes or so with a broken neck.
After the final and up until 1972, City again struggled against Birmingham, winning just five of 18 meetings.
Blues handed out 6-0, 6-1 and two 4-1 thrashings during that run, with a goals aggregate of 46-29 in their favour – that also meant the goals average in that run was more than four per meeting!
The 1970s largely favoured City, however, with nine wins and two draws from 14 games.
And though Birmingham won the first three games of the 1980s, City lost just one of the next 12 clashes, winning six and drawing.
From 1999 to 2003, City won eight games on the bounce with a 19-3 goals aggregate.
There have been no meetings in any competition since 2011, meaning hat City’s last loss to Blues was a 3-1 reverse in March 2008.
This will be the 147th meeting between the teams that is currently weighted 67 wins to 55 in City’s favour – though draws remain something of a rarity, with only 24 to date.
There have been several players who have played for City and Birmingham over the years.
We’ll begin with a couple of players who are perhaps the highest profile.
Joe Hart spent a season on loan at St Andrew’s, winning the 2009/10 Player of the Year after making 41 appearances during a highly successful campaign.
Such was his form, that new manager Roberto Mancini recalled him as his No.1 in his first full season at the Etihad.
Trevor Francis was English football’s first £1million pound player and he made his name first with Birmingham.
A precocious teenage talent, he enjoyed eight seasons with Blues before moving to Nottingham Forest where he helped secure back-to-back European Cups.
He joined City in 1981 for one glorious season, helping John Bond’s side to the top of the old First Division at Christmas.
Injuries meant he played just 26 times, scoring 12 goals before being sold to Sampdoria – but what a player.
Tony Coton can rightly claim to be up there with our very best goalkeepers.
TC began life with Birmingham, staying in the Midlands for six seasons before joining Watford where he would remain for six years.
He arrived at Maine Road in 1990 and was voted Player of the Year twice during a wonderful six-year stint.
Ray Ranson came through City’s youth ranks before establishing himself as right-back in the first team from 1978 to 1984.
He moved to Birmingham for four years in 1984 and returned in 1993 for a second, brief spell at Maine Road.
Robert Hopkins enjoyed two productive spells with Birmingham, but his £100,000 move to City was something of a disappointment, with the winger making only a handful of appearances before being sold on after just one season (1986/87).
Utility player Nigel Gleghorn was a City player from 1988 to 1989 before moving to St Andrew’s where he made close to 200 appearances for Blues during a four-year stay.
Goalkeeper Paul Cooper began his league career with Birmingham as a youngster before becoming an Ipswich Town legend for some 13 years.
Cooper had one season with City in 1989/90, though was 36 and at the wrong end of his career.
Finally, Ron Saunders managed City between 1973 and 1974 before being sacked – he later found success in the Midlands with Aston Villa and later Birmingham, staying four seasons at St Andrew’s.
We pay tribute to 'The King' in a song that summed up how City fans felt about the late, great Colin Bell...
The Song: 'A Colin Bell World'
(To the tune of ‘Yellow Submarine’)
Number one, is Colin Bell
Number two, is Colin Bell
Number three, is Colin Bell
Number four, is Colin Bell
Number five, is Colin Bell
Number six, is Colin Bell
Number seven, is Colin Bell
Number eight, is Colin Bell
Number nine, is Colin Bell
Number ten, is Colin Bell
Number eleven, is Colin Bell
The substitute is Colin Bell
The referee is Colin Bell
The man who sells the pies is Colin Bell
We all live in a Colin Bell world
A Colin Bell world,
A Colin Bell world,
We all live in a Colin Bell world,
A Colin Bell world,
A Colin Bell world!
Sung heartily through the late 1960s and 1970s, the words are self-explanatory - City fans felt Colin was everywhere and was the heart and soul of the team
'Yellow Submarine' was released in 1966 by The Beatles as a double A-side with 'Elanor Rigby'. The tune has been adopted by many fans over the years, and in more recent times, City supporters have adopted the song for the 'Going Up, Going Down' chant.
When the editor of this digital programme asked Colin for his Dream XI about a year ago, he said he couldn't as it was too hard.
He also probably didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings by not including them, so we agreed to leave it there.
But we still wanted a Dream XI.
The song above and the graphic below need no explanation to any City fan....
This is a one off, Dream Team tribute to one - if not the - best footballers this Club has ever known.
And when we are back in the Etihad, we can sing it together in his memory....
HERE’S TO BRIGHT BLUE SKIES …
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Name: Jack Morten
From: West Sussex
Favourite player: Aymeric Laporte
About Jack: Jack is a quiet, sweet and loving lad! Very polite and respectful, but he loves his football and his team. With a family of United fans he decided to go Blue, so we all have a good bit on banter in the house on matchdays! Jack’s family are football mad, and although majority Reds, we happily admit City are a joy to watch at the moment. I (dad) am his football coach. He loves football and has been obsessed since we started a team four years ago,
He first started supporting City at around eight years old once he started playing for a team and training. He wanted a City kit to wear at training! He plays centre-half and is an old school type player, good in the air, strong in the tackle and very fast – and he has a sweet left foot. He loves his family, and grandparents! They all come and watch him play religiously!
His favourite game: Has to be the Carabao Cup final at Wembley versus Villa. Even got the away shirt with '20 Wembley' on the back as a memento.
His favourite memory: Seeing Laporte in traffic when leaving the ground and getting to talk to him in his car at traffic lights, it made his first ever trip to the Etihad and I can’t thank Aymeric enough for his time that day. Certainly made a young lad very happy. But also got to see Aguero score his 250th goal!
Adam Morten (Dad)