The Last Time MCFC Scored 4 Or More At Anfield

After today’s (7th February 2021) 4-1 victory over reigning Champions Liverpool by League leaders Manchester City it’s worth highlighting a few of the records and the significance of today’s win in City’s history. It was the Blues’ greatest win at Anfield for over 80 years.

In 1937 the Blues managed a 5-0 victory on Good Friday (and three days later won 5-1 at Maine Road). That season the Blues went on to win the League – hopefully this is a good omen for this season.

As the above advert shows, it cost 3 shillings for a return train fare to Anfield that day (sadly no fans were allowed today).

Here’s how the MCFC match programme remembered the victory:

I love that advert – so appropriate!

Here are the League results and table following that historic win at Anfield. It’s interesting to see which clubs are no longer members of football’s top division and which of today’s giants are missing.

Here are a few snippets from a Liverpool based newspaper telling the story of that day:

The Blues have struggled to win at Anfield over the last 40 years (I don’t need to go through the stats, City fans get bombarded with them every time there’s a game at Anfield! You can check all results here if you really want to: https://bluemoon-mcfc.co.uk/History/Matches/Opponent.aspx?id=15 ) and so today’s resounding victory over Liverpool is significant. Of course, it is only one result and anything is possible this season.

Here’s a few stats:

  • Sterling became the third player to score 100 or more goals under Guardiola, after Barcelona’s Lionel Messi (211) and City’s Sergio Aguero (120).
  • Of all players to score at least 10 goals within the top five European leagues (England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain) this season, only Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Braut Haaland (20 years 2021 days) is younger than Phil Foden (20 years 255 days).
  • Since netting his first goal of the season on 15 December, Ilkay Gundogan has scored at least three more Premier League goals than any other player (nine).
  • At 20 years and 255 days Phil Foden is the youngest player to score and assist in a Premier League game at Anfield.
  • Oleksandr Zinchenko made his 50th Premier League appearance today.

Let’s hope we don’t have to wait another 80+ years for City’s next 4 goal plus win at Anfield!

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Manchester v Liverpool

Today marks the latest in the series of games between one of the Manchester clubs and a Liverpool team. Yesterday (6 February 2021) we saw Everton score an equaliser deep in extra time in their 3-3 draw with United). Much will be made of the Manchester-Liverpool rivalry today and it is true that the two cities have been rivals for over 150 years (it certainly predates the building of the Ship Canal!) BUT the football clubs have not always been rivals.

The footballing rivalries came during the late 1960s but intensified in the late 70s. Prior to this one-off seasons may have seen grudge matches or significant games between clubs from the cities but nothing more than that. In fact for many, many years Manchester United and Liverpool, for example, were extremely close. They once put forward a suggestion to the Football League that all home teams should wear red and away teams white – the rest of football soon got wise to the plan!

There was also the time when United and Liverpool ‘fixed’ a game of football. It’s a long story (amazingly United’s solicitor was part of the ‘neutral’ investigating committee!) and can be read here: https://gjfootballarchive.com/2021/01/14/match-fixing-manchester-united-v-liverpool-a-long-read/

The rivalry between the footballing clubs developed in the 60s and there were many significant games between all the clubs in the two cities with several prominent matches (there were significant grudge matches between Everton and City for example in the 60s and at one point Liverpool’s Bill Shankly told the media that City were Liverpool’s biggest rival!).

I’ve covered one particularly bitter moment in the City-Liverpool rivalry from the 80s here: https://gjfootballarchive.com/2021/01/14/on-this-day-illegal-jumping-alf-grey-and-manchester-city-sorry/

I hope today’s game between City and Liverpool goes well (for the Manchester side of course) and it’d be great if one of the Blues could score four goals as Fred Howard did on his debut against Liverpool – see: https://gjfootballarchive.com/2021/01/18/imagine-scoring-four-goals-for-mcfc-against-liverpool-on-your-debut/ – and Frank Roberts did: https://gjfootballarchive.com/2021/01/17/the-flu-limits-mcfcs-selections-but-they-beat-liverpool-5-0-roberts-4-goals/

Ellie Roebuck signs new three – year deal with Manchester City

City goalkeeper Ellie Roebuck has signed a new three year contract, committing herself to the Blues until the summer of 2024.

The 21 year old moved to the Academy Stadium in 2015 as a teenager, having previously been on the books at Sheffield United’s Centre of Excellence, and has already lifted a number of trophies with City.

The England international also scooped the inaugural Barclays FA Women’s Super League Golden Glove award in 2019/20 with ten clean sheets.

The 21 year old has become a key figure for City in recent seasons, figuring prominently throughout the 2019/20 campaign. Joining City in 2015 as a 15 year old, the shot stopper signed her first professional contract with the Blues in January 2018 having made her professional debut as a substitute against Birmingham City two years earlier.

Playing her part as the team won both the FA Continental Tyres League Cup and Women’s FA Cup in 2018/19, the 2019/20 campaign saw the young keeper make her mark as she conceded just nine league goals in 16 games and kept ten clean sheets in the process.

Roebuck also impressed as City retained the Women’s FA Cup in November 20 20 following the continuation of the competition from the previous season. Internationally, she has represented England on five occasions at senior level so far – making her senior debut against Austria in late 2018 – and was a training player in the Lionesses’ 2019 Women’s World Cup squad . One of the game’s most exciting young players, Roebuck has now signed a three – year deal that will see her remain at the Academy Stadium until the summer of 2024.

Speaking about her contract extension, Roebuck said: “I’m delighted to have signed a new deal. It’s really exciting to know that my future lies at City for the next three years – my time here so far has flown by and I can’t wait for what is to come.​

“Signing a three – year deal too is something that’s a massive boost – the Club have shown their faith in me, which is amazing. “City is th e place I want to be – it’s where I see myself developing as a player, so I’m very happy to have it all sorted.”

Manchester City Women: An Oral History (the history of City’s women’s team) is available here:

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Phil Foden

Once again Manchester City fan and player Phil Foden has put in a really good performance in City’s first team and, once again, this has led to some commentating on football to claim that Pep Guardiola does not give the player chances. The general comment being that Pep does not give Phil enough starts or opportunities. So I’ve decided to have a look at Phil’s opportunities so far with City.

Firstly, exactly how many games has Phil appeared in?  Well since making his debut at the age of 17 years and five months in 2017 against Feyenoord Phil has played in 93 first team games for City. That’s not far off an average of 30 a season during his developing years. Not bad going for a player who doesn’t get a chance!

This season we’re 24 games in and already Phil has appeared in 19 first team games. Only Raheem Sterling (22) and Rodri (23) have appeared in more games for City this season so far. That doesn’t look like someone who isn’t being given a chance to me. In addition, no player has appeared in more Champions League games for City this season than Phil – one of three players (with Sterling and Silva) to have made six CL appearances.

‘Ah, but what about in the Premier League then? It’s okay appearing in the cups, but what about getting his chance in the League?’ is something else that those criticising Pep will focus on. Well, in terms of the Premier League, Phil has appeared in 11 games. Only Rodri (15), Sterling (14), Ederson (14), De Bruyne (14), Dias (13) and Walker (12) have appeared in more Premier League games this season.

‘Okay, but what about his starts?’ is another popular line taken. These days it’s extremely rare for a manager not to use multiple substitutes in a game and the days of the same eleven that start a game ending a game are extremely rare. Nevertheless, the argument has to be considered. 

Ever since his first appearance Phil has made 93 appearances in all first team competitions. Of those 93 appearances he has started 45 games, slightly less than half, but that’s considering his entire career. What about this season? Well, so far this in 2020-21 he has started 68% of all the games he has played – and don’t forget only two players have appeared in more games!

Over the last couple of years I’ve been researching and writing the biography of Peter Barnes (due out later in 2021) and the parallels between the two players are important. Like Phil, Peter was given his debut as a 17 year old (Peter was almost 17 years and 4 months old while Phil was a little older, almost 17 years and 6 months) and was heralded as a great, young, local talent who supported City. Both players were twenty when they made their England debuts, with Peter being described as the ‘saviour of English football’ shortly afterwards by those reporting on international football.

The status of both players was similar at the age of twenty yet the main difference is that Phil has actually made more appearances for his club than Peter had by the time he was the same age as Phil is today. Peter had played 88 first team games while Phil has played 93. Okay, some will say that City play more European games today than they did during Peter’s time. Well that is true, although City were competitors in knock-out European competition during Peter’s career. However, there were more League games in Peter’s day than today, so the overall balance is similar.

What I have found most interesting when comparing Phil and Peter’s early careers is that, like Phil, Peter often started a game, put in a great performance and then found himself dropped for the next match. It happened frequently and it did make fans question the management at times, however the media took a different view to fans. They believed and wrote that Tony Book, the City boss at the time, was ‘protecting’ his young star. That no matter how talented Peter was his boss knew how to help his career develop. In essence, the less he played then the better it was for Peter’s development and, ultimately, for his long term England career. With Phil Foden the media perception seems somewhat different – and this at a time when squad rotation is the norm. 

Understandably, as fans we want to see every one of our favourite players appear in every game but for managers they have to think about their club’s chance of success, the development of their players and keeping everyone in the squad happy. That’s not really any different today than it was forty years or so ago when Peter Barnes was making his name.

It’s important to note that Peter Barnes’ City career changed considerably when Malcolm Allison returned as coach and moved on the club’s greatest stars so that he could concentrate on building a new team. Peter left, but Allison’s determination to utilise youthful players failed. Perhaps he needed to exhibit some of the care and protection for his young players that Tony Book did with Peter and Pep Guardiola has been doing with Phil.

So, the point of this article was really to say that despite the criticism that still gets aired by some, Phil Foden is being used effectively by Pep. We may want to see more of him but this season so far Pep has played him more than the majority of the squad. His management through Phil’s development appears to have worked and he should be praised, like Tony Book was in the 70s, for his support of young players.

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