Everyone is getting in on the Who are You? act. Football’s greatest ‘from the other side’ interview – yes, we would say that – has been conducted by deputy editor Malcolm Dawson and associate editor John McCormick in recent weeks. And now Sixer finds Tony Morehead*, lifelong Man City fan, to preview the New Year’s Day game at the Etihad. Any Salut! Sunderland reader with kith and kin who’d make great candidates should let us know. Meanwhile, let Tony explain the unexpected assertion that City have weaknesses up front …
Salut! Sunderland: Were you surprised at how easily you ripped us apart at the Stadium of Light, especially after those four successive 1-0 defeats? Or just another day at the office?
To be honest, with our form over the past few games, and the ease we’ve been scoring goals, it was to be expected. The defeats had to end at some point, and in those defeats were a goal from a questionable penalty, a possible offside, and Sunderland had only around 8 shots on target in the four games, so it wasn’t as if we stopped playing, we just couldn’t find the back of the net.
In truth, City look capable of beating anyone and usually do. Why do they occasionally stumble, especially in Europe?
We were new to the Champions League, and our style of play doesn’t really fit it, so it has taken a while to get used to. On top of this, we have had groups with Real Madrid or Bayern every year we’ve been in it, due to the seeding system. We also hold the joint highest points total for not qualifying from a group in 2011, 3 more points than we qualified with this year.
So is Mark Hughes a distant, unnecessary memory or did he do a useful job?
Although he is not universally liked at City, and probably took us as far as he could, he did a job with us purely for signing players of the calibre of Kompany and Zabaleta (albeit playing Kompany in midfield in his first season).
Your assessment of Pellegrini?
Although, coming in, he was somewhat a unknown quantity for the majority, he has proved himself by winning the league in his first season, and a tin pot at Wembley. However some of his tactical decisions and substitutions are puzzling, such as starting Negredo and an almost full strength team away at West Ham after being 6-0 up on aggregate, leading to an injury decimating Negredo’s season, then playing a severely under strength team against Wigan and getting knocked out of the FA Cup.
Aguero , Toure, Silva, Kompany … you can almost start and end anywhere in your squad, but who do you personally rate as the finest players on City books and where, if anywhere, are you still weak?
My personal favourites are Toure, Nasri and Silva, however we are strong all over the field. The only place you can find weaknesses are up front, and the depth in defence, as shown by our current injury crisis, with us having no fit strikers, and at the bare bones at centre half.
How do they compare with greats of your past, Colin Bell, Francis Lee etc?
For me, the current crop are the best players we’ve ever had, and individually I’d say Yaya Touré is the best player that’s ever worn the blue shirt, even better than Colin Bell.
And do you ever miss Maine Road and the days when sky blue did not necessarily pass to sky blue?
I’ll always miss Maine Road, and the atmosphere was tremendous, and intimidating for away teams, and especially fans, with the environs of the ground, particularly the many alleyways and the not so salubrious location it was in.
Are there any lessons to be drawn from all the money you and a small number of other clubs, have had and is it broadly good or rotten for football?
This has to be looked at in perspective, as there have been a number of teams spending vast amounts for years, and from our starting position we had to catch up if we wanted to challenge, and you can see from this year’s net spend that we have to shell out less than we did for the first few years of the money. The answer to the question depends on who you support, as some teams may get left out, but the drip down effect could help as a whole.
Your highs and lows as a City fan?
Low- 12/12/1998 – York City 2-1 Manchester City. Lowest position in our history, 12th in Division Two (3rd tier). I was there with my son.
High- 13/5/2012- AGUEROOOOOO. This needs no explanation.
The best and worst players you’ve seen in City colours?
Yaya Touré is the best player to ever wear the blue shirt, as mentioned previously. Georgi Kinkladze gave us hope, lighting up a bad team. Looking at bad players, the list is endless, however one that stands out is Jamie Pollock, famous for scoring the most spectacular own goal of all time.
What will be this season’s top four and bottom three?
In no particular order: Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United, Spurs
Leicester, Burnley, hopefully QPR
Where will Sunderland finish if not already mentioned?
Do you really enjoy lording it over United?
Yes, we do.
And your thought on Sunderland: club, fans, city, region, Poyet, the Quinn legacy we share with you (while probably having the lion’s share of it)?
I’ve always enjoyed visiting Sunderland, the fans and locals have been friendly, and we enjoyed the League Cup final last season, with a great atmosphere inside and out of Wembley. Sunderland fans have always amazed me with the attendances, for the size of the city. I love the region, and spend a lot of time there, as I am currently engaged in completing the Northern League.
Poyet is a passionate man, but looking from an objective point of view, he is still to convince that he has what it takes. A perfect example was you beating Newcastle, then losing at home to Hull. Quinn had an almost identical record at both clubs, however he has stayed on with you and become part of the club furniture, so understandably he is seen as more of a Sunderland man. Always loved at City, even if it’s just due to his Disco Pants.
Name one thing the football authorities or City should do to improve the lot of the ordinary fan?
Ticket prices need to be reduced, perhaps introduce a cap on prices.
Guess the Man City vs Sunderland score and maybe win a prize: https://safc.blog/2014/12/manchester-city-vs-safc-guess-the-score-cricket-score-or-awayday-shocker/
Diving: too prevalent to be worth fighting against any more or still needs to be stamped out?
Having seen it happen again and again this season, it remains something that needs to be eradicated, however the real question lies in how we do this.
Best and worst ref in the Premier?
Best would be Chris Foy. Worst is Phil Dowd (M Salut and Sixer would spring to his defence – Ed).
Will you be at our game and what will be the score?
I will be at the game, however I never predict scores. My only hope is another City win.
* Tony Morehead on himself:
My name is Football Tony, aged 62. Followed City since 1967, home and away, and occasionally Europe. Taken all the s**t down the years, it’s about time we gave it back.
Interview: Colin Randall via Pete Sixsmith
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