This Is How It Feels

Oh, what a night! Last night was one of the most incredible games of football I have seen. It’s certainly City’s best European performance at the Etihad and, from what I can remember, no European game at Maine Road has bettered it (older Blues may talk about the ECWC semi in 1970 – I was only a baby – but surely last night bettered that too?). I’d go further and say that in terms of overall performance, atmosphere and style, considering who City were playing, that that was the greatest City game of all time.

Pre match MCFC V Real Madrid waiting for the team

Obviously, we had the high drama of Agueroooooooo in 2012 but most of that game had been a frustrating mess of a match. Yesterday was brilliant, breathtaking and wonderful from the moment we got up yesterday through to leaving the stadium many, many minutes after the final whistle. The game was incredible – I don’t normally do superlatives so when I do I genuinely mean it.

There’s a certain amount of ‘completing the circle’ in City’s European journey – Alan Oakes captained City’s first European Cup game against Istanbul’s Fenerbahce in 1968, so the entire continental journey started there and this year the Blues have reached the final to be played in that city. It also felt appropriate that the man we’ve been singing about when we’ve sung our going to Istanbul chant these last few years was the man who scored twice. Ber-nar-do!

Players pre match MCFC V Real Madrid

I know we’ve been to a Champions League final before but this year it feels different. City have suffered at the hands of English clubs Liverpool, Spurs and Chelsea over the years in Europe and it never quite felt right. Playing continental royalty like Real Madrid and Bayern Munich and now Inter Milan takes it to a different level. This time it just feels right. Football can shock and it’s the unpredictability that makes it such a wonderful game, so nothing can be taken for granted at all.

Champions League at Porto

Many Blues have waited a long time for this. I was a toddler when City last won a major European trophy and I always dreamed of seeing City match or eclipse what Mercer’s men did in 1970. From Marsh’s debut to Pleat’s jig; ‘Look at his face’ to Tueart’s overhead; Beating AC Milan to Hutchison’s own goal; FA Youth Cup winners to Ball’s ‘hold the ball in the corner’; Bournemouth 3-3 to Morley’s Bradford goal; Reeves’ wonderful FAC goal to York away; 5-1 to 6-1; Bananas at Stoke to relegation at Stoke; FMC Final to Dickov’s rescue; Swales Out to Thaksin’s Albert Square singing; Kippax Last Stand to Etihad’s safe standing; Foe’s last goal at Maine Road to Aguerooooooooooo; Pearce’s good luck beanie to Bernardo’s cup; the invisible man to Emptyhad; James up front to Walker in nets… it’s been a long time!

The young Gary

As I said, I know we’ve been to a CL final before but, to paraphrase Barry Davies, ‘look at this season…. Just look at this season!’

Congratulations on reaching the final to Pep, the players, the management, the officials and, most importantly, those fans who have been to City’s lowest points and are now experiencing the highest. Rival fans will not agree unless they’ve experienced it themselves but multiple relegations are character building and make moments like this even more incredible than they already are.  You don’t need to experience a relegation to enjoy success, but if you’ve suffered relegations (I’ve been through five) and those dismal, dismal days then reaching points like these are heightened.    

Final moments MCFC V Real Madrid 2023

I’m sure there’ll be the usual negative voices about money. Show me a truly successful club who hasn’t spent! Not only that but City have beat Bayern and Real in this campaign (plus in the PL the usual collection of clubs that have been spending big for decades)… hardly poor relations. Hardly clubs with no history of success. These are European giants. Real Madrid have won more Champions League/European Cups than all English clubs put together. They are European aristocracy. Last night and this entire campaign so far has been a massive achievement for City, overcoming major obstacles and competing in a Premier League that in the last 12 years or so has seen more of the top clubs challenge and tighter points totals between 1st and 2nd than in previous decades.

It’s too early to celebrate and football can be cruel, but let’s ensure we all enjoy these moments. Malcolm Allison once said to me: ‘Celebrate every success as if it’s your first, because it could be your last.’ As a man who had been to the top and helped City win a European trophy I guess we should always remember his words. Hopefully, we’ll be celebrating on Sunday and then again next month.

Champions League Porto 2021
Champions League trophy at Porto 2021

Foden’s Late Winner

On this day (26 February) in 2022 Phil Foden’s late winner for Manchester City at Everton gave Manchester’s Blues a six-point lead over Liverpool at the top of the Premier League.

The game had followed a defeat to Tottenham and some had suggested the initiative in the title race would soon switch to Liverpool but Foden’s goal ensured City retained in control. Everton fans thought their club should have had a penalty as they felt City midfielder Rodri handled a dropping ball inside the area, but a VAR check determined he hadn’t.

Despite considerable noise from the home fans, the first half had been fairly even but in the second City demonstrated their superiority time and time again. Everton ‘keeper Jordan Pickford had to make a number of significant saves, including a double stop to deny Kevin de Bruyne and Bernardo Silva in quick succession. It looked like City were going to be frustrated but in the 82nd minute a Bernardo Silva cross was blocked but not cleared well enough and Phil Foden nipped in, rounded Pickford and scored the only goal of the game.

After the game City manager Pep Guardiola commented that after a difficult first half City: ‘Deserved [the] win and three more points. Goodison Park has always been so difficult. When a striker go with Rodri and they defend really well it is always difficult. You have to find the situations and the second half was much better. We moved the ball a bit quicker, we attacked quicker. The second half they were a little more tired. We were solid behind, we don’t concede much.’

There had been a show of solidarity with Ukraine, where war was taking place following an invasion by Russia. The City players wore Tee-shirts with the Ukraine flag on the front and the message ‘no war’ on the back and City’s Zinchenko received some good applause from both sets of fans as he warmed up as substitute. Pep: ‘What a moment. Thank you so much for all the people. Zinchenko was very pleased. He was warming up. It means what the people want to say. That is why thank you so much for the all the people here and we are looking forward to the next week at home in the derby we can show to Zinchenko and to the Ukraine citizens, what we want.’

The City victory meant that they had their last ten matches against Everton in all competitions, making it Pep Guardiola’s joint-longest winning run against an opponent in his managerial career (equalling 10 v Watford). Highlights of the game here:

Midfielder Kevin De Bruyne made his 200th Premier League appearance in this game and his 80 assists was the most of any player within their first 200 matches in the competition’s history.

Everton’s manager was the former City player Frank Lampard who had been appointed on 31 January 2022. He commented: ‘One of the reasons I took the job was my feeling of growing up and understanding the history of the club and seeing them as First Division champions and playing here and feeling what the crowd can do. They affect games and I love working in those circumstances. The next two or three weeks will be hard but from what I have seen today, if we keep doing that we will be alright.”

Within a year there were demonstrations against Everton’s owners and Lampard was dismissed.

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Ten Consecutive Wins Record

Manchester City became the first English side to record 10 consecutive top-flight league wins at the start of a year on this day (17 February) in 2021. They defeated Everton 3-1 with goals from Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez and Bernardo Silva. These were those odd days when we weren’t allowed to go to games but you can see highlights here:

5-0 Champions League Win

On 15 February 2022 Manchester City defeated Sporting 5-0 in the Champions League game at Lisbon. A crowd of 48,129 witnessed the game and you can see highlights here:

The victory took City through to the quarter finals and the goalscorers were: Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva (2), Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling. It was an incredible performance and Bernardo, whose every touch was booed by the home fans, was particularly impressive that night.

Were you there? Feel free to leave your comments on the game in the comments area below. Thanks

Swansea and City

It’s Swansea v Manchester City tonight in the FA Cup and so I thought I’d put together a few historical facts and stats about games between the two clubs.

Game One: The first competitive meeting between the two teams came in Division Two on 25 September 1926. The Blues had been relegated the previous May and the historic first meeting with Swansea Town (Swansea was not a city at this point) ended in a 3-1 City victory at Maine Road, before 24,314 fans. George Hicks, Tommy Johnson & Frank Roberts netted for the Blues.

The return game also ended in a 3-1 win on 12 February 1927. Hicks and Johnson both scored again, with Johnson netting twice. A Swansea crowd of 20,345 watched on.

The first top flight game between the sides didn’t come until 21 November 1981 (following Swansea’s promotion) and saw two each from Kevin Reeves and Dennis Tueart (the first a penalty 4 minutes before half time) help City to a 4-0 win. Here’s film of that game – see if you can spot the fan carrying two pints (presumably of Greenall’s or Grunhalle!) back to his seat (the days when we were allowed to drink in our seats or on the Kippax – well, not quite all of us. I was just 14 at the time!):

The first Premier League meeting came on 15 August 2011 – another 4-0 City win. This time Dzeko, Aguero (2) and David Silva each scored at the Etihad before 46,802. Film of that game here:

Incredibly the first FA Cup meeting didn’t come until 16 March 2019 and this saw City win 3-2 at Swansea (OG from Kristoffer Nordfeldt, Bernardo Silva & Sergio Aguero). City had been losing 2-0 (a penalty from Matt Grimes in 20th minute and Bersant Celina netted the other in 29th minute) up until Silva’s 69th minute goal. The action from this game can be viewed here:

Prior to tonight’s game of course: In terms of all time record the two teams have met on 36 occasions:

Played 36; City won 25; Drawn 4; Swansea won 7.

Breakdown by competition is:

League P34; City won 23; Drawn 4; Swansea won 7

FAC P1; City won 1; Drawn 0; Swansea won 0

League Cup P1; City won 1; Drawn 0; Swansea won 0.

The highest scoring game between the teams came in August 1927 when City beat Swansea Town 7-4 in Division Two. 34,316 watched a hat trick from Tommy Johnson and other goals from Peter Bell, Charlie Broadhurst, George Hicks and Frank Roberts.

Here’s hoping tonight’s game brings as much entertainment as that one did.

While you’re here, it’s worth taking a look at something else already posted on It’s a profile of Tommy Hutchison who was a cult hero at MCFC and also spent time with Swansea City: