Vital Points in the 2012 Title Race

People often talk about last game of the season title winning goals (and we do love the drama and memory of those) but often goals in games earlier in the season can be decisive too. On this day (22 January) in 2012 a clumsy challenge in the dying moments from Tottenham’s Ledley King on Manchester City’s Mario Balotelli gave City a penalty and the chance of three points. You can read about the game and see highlights below:

The game was played on Sunday 22 January 2012 with a 13.30 start in Manchester. City’s match stats were:

City: Hart, Richards (c), Savic, Lescott, Clichy, Milner, Barry, Silva, Nasri, Aguero, Dzeko (Balotelli 67)
Unused: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Kolarov, Onuoha, de Jong, A Johnson
Goals: Nasri (56), Lescott (59), Balotelli (pen 90+5)
Booked: Clichy, Balotelli

Referee: Howard Webb

A tight and nervous first half ended goalless and it felt as if the game could well end in a 0-0 draw, however the second half brought 5 goals and plenty of drama.

After 56 minutes Silva found Nasri with a brilliant through ball. The Frenchman was through on goal and he fired the ball past Friedel to make it 1-0 to the Blues. Three minutes later from a corner, the ball fell to Lescott at the back post who sent the ball the yard or so needed to increase City’s lead.

2-0 and we thought City were home and dry but then, within a minute, Spurs scored. Defoe pushed forward around the onrushing Hart to score a fairly easy goal.

As was the case at times during 2011-12 the nerves set in and it wasn’t long before the visitors equalised. Bale picked up the ball from 20 yards out after City had struggled to clear their lines. His stunning effort found the top corner.

Both sides looked for the winner and the general mood around the stadium was one of missed opportunity. It felt like this was going to be one of those days, especially as Spurs had a great opportunity around the ninety minute mark. But then with less than a minute of added time to play, a Clichy clearance fell nicely for Balotelli to run on to. As he moved into the box a clumsy challenge from King brought Balotelli’s run to an abrupt end. Inevitably, referee Howard Webb awarded a penalty. Balotelli stepped up and scored to give City the points.

I know we will always talk about the final day of this 2011-12 season (and rightly so) but without Balotelli’s penalty v Spurs and the resultant three points the title would not have made it to City. There are plenty of these moments in title winning seasons.

Subscribers can read what I said about this game in a piece I wrote in 2012 here:

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Highlights here:

https://www.mancity.com/citytv/match-highlights/2012/january/city-v-spurs-22-jan-extended

I was sat in the North Stand that day. Were you also at this match? If you were why not leave your memory as a comment or email it to me for possible future use on this website?

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Aguero’s 6th in 3

On this day (21 January) in 2020 Sergio Aguero scored his sixth goal in three games as Manchester City defeated Sheffield United 1-0 at Bramall Lane. You can watch highlights of the game below.

Aguero had come on as substitute to score the only goal. The goal was described as a ‘tap in’ from a Kevin de Bruyne cross towards the end of the second half, but the goalkeeper was close at hand. It had been a tight game but the win meant City means could strengthen their place in second place. The Blues had 51 points but were 13 behind leaders Liverpool.

https://www.mancity.com/citytv/match-highlights/2020/january/sheff-utd-v-city-extended-highlights-21-jan

Were you at this match? If you were why not leave your memory as a comment or email it to me for possible future use on this website?

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If you have enjoyed this free post and would like to support my research and writing then please subscribe. Annual subscribers (£20 per year, sign up here) get access to everything posted on the site including PDFs of 2 of my out of print books and archived content like my exclusive audio interviews with John Bond, Malcolm Allison etc. Not only that but you’ll be helping to support this site’s development.

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Goalscoring Feats

This season has brought so many wonderful moments for Manchester City with goalscorers in particular getting the headlines for some outstanding performances and record-breaking achievements. Erling Haaland is, of course, attracting a lot of attention for his exploits, while Phil Foden has also continued to impress. It was particularly satisfying when they both scored hat tricks against United in the Manchester derby back in October. This was the first time two players had scored hat tricks in a Manchester derby and their lifetime of City support and connections adds a great deal to the achievement. 

Haaland’s goalscoring feats have caused some to ask about club records and the players who have achieved them. So for today’s piece I’m taking a look at a few past achievements to remember some of those who have done amazingly well for City over the decades while helping to highlight seasonal records that can be aimed at. 

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City 2 Spurs 1

Ten years ago today (11 November 2012) League Champions Manchester City defeated Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 with goals from Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko. The game. was played before a sell-out 47,208 crowd at the City of Manchester Stadium (now Etihad). The City team was:

Hart; Zabaleta, Clichy, Kompany, Nastasic, Barry, Yaya Toure, Kolarov, David Silva, Tevez and Aguero with Maicon, Dzeko & Garcia coming on and Nastasic, Tevez and Aguero substituted.

Aguero’s 200th (& 201st)

Today (5 August) in 2018 Sergio Aguero scored his 200th and 201st goals for Manchester City as they defeated Chelsea 2-0 in the Community Shield. You can watch the goals here:

https://www.mancity.com/citytv/match-highlights/2018/august/chelsea-v-man-city-community-shield-extended-match-highlights

Manchester City 5-1 Newport County

On this day (June 16) in 1947 the Western Mail carried this match report of Manchester City’s 5-0 victory over Newport County, which was played on June 14. The game was remarkable for a number of reasons:

  • Prior to the 2019-20 Covid affected season this was the club’s latest finish to a season. 2019-20 ended in August (Champions League) with the League campaign ending on July 26 2020. The 1946-47 season had been affected by snow and frozen pitches, causing many games to be postponed.
  • City played with only ten men for much of the second half due to an injury to Billy Walsh
  • The Blues won 5-1 with George Smith scoring all five goals. No player has ever scored more goals for the Blues in a League game (Sergio Aguero of course also scored 5 v Newcastle in October 2015). Denis Law did score 6 goals in a FA Cup tie v Luton but this was abandoned and wiped from the records.
  • Roy Clarke made his City debut and, as City were promoted, he became the first man to play 3 successive league games in 3 different divisions when he appeared in his next City game. He’d joined from Cardiff (Division 3); made his City debut in Division 2 then played in Division 1. Subscribers can read more about Roy Clarke here:
  • City had achieved promotion over a month earlier (May 10) when they defeated Burnley 1-0 in front of a Maine Road crowd of 69,463. You can read about that game here:

69,463 watch MCFC and Burnley in Division Two

  • City were promoted as champions.

The Final Whistle – MCFC v QPR, 13 May 2012

On this day (13 May) in 2012…

I’m sure it gets boring to some but for those of us there that day the drama and the emotion can never be forgotten. Here’s my own personal film of the moment the final whistle went on that incredible day when MCFC won the Premier League title in 2012.

I know the camera’s all over the place (I was jumping up and down like everybody else) and the sound isn’t great but I hope it helps to show what it was like to all those who couldn’t be there that day.

https://gjfootballarchive.files.wordpress.com/2021/02/2012-aguerooooooooo-sd-480p.mov

You can also read this 3,400 article about the day:

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‘Where do you want your statue?’

In November 2020 I was delighted to be one of the speakers at a blue plaque unveiling for former Manchester City boss Joe Mercer in his home town of Ellesmere Port. It set me off thinking about permanent tributes to footballers and so for this article I’m taking a look at the tributes already made and questioning what else could be developed.

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Sergio Agüero’s Retirement

Today (December 15 2021) Sergio Agüero has announced his retirement. The man is a true footballing legend (I don’t use that word lightly!) and deserves to be acclaimed for his incredible achievements and career. He has brought immense joy to millions throughout his career. As a tribute I am posting here a free to read feature on Sergio’s Manchester City debut on August 15 2011. Enjoy this flashback to a time before he became renowned in England for his major contribution to the Premier League!

Sergio Agüero’s Debut

Sergio Agüero joined Manchester City from Atletico Madrid for a fee reported to be around £35 to £38m depending on which sources were to be believed. During 2010-11 the player had netted 20 league goals for the Spanish side.  City boss Roberto Mancini commented at the time of the transfer:  “Agüero can play any position – he can be the main striker, he can play behind the striker, he can play left or right.  He is not tall but he is quick and strong and he can score a lot of goals.  Now he can play behind Dzeko, Carlos or Mario.”

The Premier League campaign opened at the Etihad Stadium – the City Of Manchester Stadium had been renamed during the close season – with the visit of newly promoted Swansea City. This was to be Swansea’s first season in the Premier league.  

New signings Stefan Savić and Sergio Agüero made their City debuts as substitutes that day while another summer arrival, Gael Clichy, started the match.  Clichy had made his first appearance at Wembley against Manchester United in the Charity/Community Shield the previous week.

The match opened in a worrying manner for City.  The team wore their new all-blue kit which had caused some fans to criticise the break with tradition (as it often does when City drop the white shorts – maybe I’ll write an article on City’s use of blue and white one day, comparing the successes in seasons with blue shorts to ones with white?) and the loss of white shorts, however it was not the kit that brought the worries in the opening period it was the pressure exerted by Swansea.  They came looking to make their mark following promotion and they did all they could to play football in a positive manner.  

Swansea pressured the Blues throughout the opening thirty minutes.  Mancini’s side clearly had the quality but the visitors seemed the more determined.  However, the Blues had been soaking up the pressure and taking stock of what Swansea had to offer.  Whereas earlier City sides may have become anxious during the period of pressure, the new Blues were more than equipped to deal with a determined opposition.  

The game remained goalless until the 57th minute when David Silva dodged past Leon Britton before progressing from City’s half and well into Swansea’s.  He passed to Adam Johnson, who raced forward, cut inside and then tried to curl a shot past the Swansea ‘keeper.  The shot was saved but the ball dropped in front of Dzeko who, from six yards out, sent the ball home.

A minute or so later Sergio Agüero came on for Nigel De Jong and within nine minutes of his arrival the Argentinian made it 2-0 with a simple tap-in.  Three minutes later he played his part in the third goal.  

Agüero lifted the ball over the advancing Swansea ‘keeper and then managed to hook it back to a waiting Silva on the penalty spot who sent his own shot into the net. 

By this time Mancini’s side were in total control of the match, although Swansea were still playing decent football themselves and certainly did not adopt negative tactics as many other sides may have done.  

Shortly before the end Agüero made it 4-0 with an absolutely brilliant swerving 30 yard shot.  Afterwards Mancini was delighted with his new signing:  “I’m not surprised by what I saw tonight.  Agüero has scored a lot of goals in Spain and Argentina – he’s a fantastic striker.”

Two debut day goals – significantly he was only on the pitch for around 31 minutes – made Agüero a hero from the start and caused the wider football world to look at City’s new signing as a hugely positive arrival to the Premier League.  

Highlights of the game can be viewed here: 

https://www.mancity.com/citytv/match-highlights/2011/august/city-v-swansea-60-seconds

Norwich Suffer

A flashback to a high scoring win for Manchester’s Blues on this day in 2013…

After the 2-1 last gasp defeat at Chelsea in their previous League game, manager Manuel Pellegrini took the decision to drop goalkeeper Joe Hart for this important match with Norwich. The decision brought much scrutiny City’s way but Hart’s replacement Pantilimon had little to do as the Blues thrashed Norwich 7-0.  The win lifted City to fourth in the League but more significantly demonstrated the fire power the Blues possessed and demonstrated to all that Pellegrini’s men were determined to mount a serious challenge for the title. Seven separate scorers – including an own goal – made this City’s largest top flight win since 1968. Afterwards Pellegrini was delighted that his side kept striving for more: “Normally a team 4-0 ahead finishes working.”

City had a 100% home record in the Premier League but away from home life was not so easy. At Sunderland in the next League game the Blues were unfortunate to lose 1-0. The BBC’s Sam Sheringham explained: “Referee Mike Dean’s leniency was on display once again in the build-up to the opening goal. The official opted not to penalise Bardsley when he appeared to bundle over Milner, allowing the full-back to race on to Brown’s long pass and curl a precise finish past Costel Pantilimon.”

The Blues were back down to eighth in what seemed likely to be a tight title race.

Match Stats:

2013-14

2 Nov   Norwich City (H)                        W 7-0 Silva, Nastasic, Negredo, Toure, Aguero, Dzeko & Johnson (OG)              47,066

10 Nov Sunderland (A)                         L 0-1                                        40,137

League Cup

30 Oct  Newcastle United (A)                 W 2-0 Negredo, Dzeko             33,846