Opposition View - Man City
Today's interview is with Kieran Brooks of VMC.
How's it going so far? it must be a little deflating, especially after last season's finale.
Second in the table, four points clear of Chelsea and having lost only one league game to the leaders by the thinnest of margins I'd have to say that it's not all bad for mid-December. Clearly we set the bar very high last season with our early form and the incredible final moments so it was always likely to be a tough act to follow. But given where this club has been I'd take this over most other places in the league.....except for top spot, which we want back.
What's the general feeling in regards to Mancini? Happy or not?
I'm pretty happy. Under his management the club has won three trophies in two years, delivered the first league title in 44 years and the first FA Cup since 1969 so he's given me and other Blues some very happy days and fresh memories. He has his faults as do we all and his decisions will divide opinion amongst the fans, I've yet to find a manager that does not, but overall I think he's doing a good job and now he has to earn his corn to ensure City retain the title.
How do you see the rest of the season going?
Crystal ball time! I think City will continue to challenge for the title but dropping points to your title rival is never a good idea so the margin for error is even slimmer now given al the drawn matches. I think Chelsea will be in the mix but beyond that at the top it's more open.
What's the main ambition?
To retain the Premier League title without a doubt. Doing the double would be dreamland of course. Oh, and as always, beating United at the Swamp.
What does it feel like to be in the doldrums/wilderness and some white knight rides in to save the day?
Still a little bit surreal actually. Whenever I feel a bit fed up I just think back to where I was standing in May 1999 when City went 0-2 down in the (then) League Two Play Off final against Gillingham and think of what might have been. So I am grateful like any fan would be that my club was selected but I will never forget where we have come from.
Express how it felt to win the league after so many years without doing so?
In two words - Joy unconfined. In the longer version, it was such a roller-coaster of emotion that afternoon that I'm pretty sure I was wrung dry by the time that Aguero scored. After QPR took the lead I went sort of numb and even when Dzeko equalised I was thinking that the clock would run out on us. I could see the headlines...... 'City Chokers' and almost felt sick because after having gotten into such a good position we were about to hand it all to U*d. When Nasri let the ball run out for a throw I thought the whistle would blow but then those fateful moment unfolded as if in slow motion & I can still see them in my minds eye. It ALWAYS brings a smile to my face as I just imagine the sound of Martin Tyler screaming AguerooooOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! And then...........stunned disbelief mixed with wild, unrestrained joy. Oh, and there was some running around in my living room a bit like Joe Hart was doing at the Etihad.
I'm just gutted that my Sky Box broke and I have lost instant access to my recording of the match and those final moments because I would probably watch them every day.
What's the thoughts on Balotelli? Master or Nemesis?
Ah, Mario. The great opinion divider. He has the capability to provide some sublime moments of footballing skill without a doubt. He demonstrated increased maturity during Euro 2012 and has done so when playing for City this season but as Mancini has said, he needs to work harder for the team. Mario certainly has not done himself any favours with his behaviour in the past but I do think that he can get singled out for things unnecessarily and this gives him a mountain to climb. When you don't turn in performances on the pitchyou are not the only one affected and so I feel that Mancini has to accept that he cannot continue indefinitely continue with his indulgence in isolation of the impact it has on the rest of the squad, the team's performances or the club's success.
Have you any thoughts on Alan Pardew?
Did a great job at Newcastle last season and has shown potential wherever he has managed. I was amazed at the length of contract that he secured but in some ways pleased to see a club publicly state their faith in their long term goals and stability. Clearly has risks attached but who knows what the contract actual says?He needs to keep away from the linesmen though.....
How do you see our season going?
Tough patch at the moment which, unsurprisingly, I'm hoping will extend for at least one more game, but you haven't turned into a bad side overnight. I can see you guys getting it back together (after Saturday please) and certainly challenging for a European place. I like to see Newcastle do well as I feel our clubs have a lot in common. My eldest son used to follow Newcastle after some relatives sent him some NUFC stuff one Christmas .....but he came see the light in the end and is now a committed Blue.
Which (if any) of our players would get in Man City's team? Any you would have to strengthen the squad?
Well you might say Demba Ba because he's banging in the goals but I would also say Guitierez would have a good shout.
Do you see yourselves as going through a bad patch?
Every team does and we certainly haven't been firing on all cylinders this season but we've ground out some results which is usually the sign of a good team. We've started to show signs of improvement but still need to get better.
How do you see Saturday going?
Well after the derby defeat City need to be on their game and out of the blocks from the get go. I can see some goals and we'll need to keep an eye on Demba Ba who ison a hot streak.
Finally, Predict the score.
I think City will come out on top naturally - Newcastle 1 City 3