… the main difference being that you can now “see a man in blue passing to another man in blue”. Last season, I met a Manchester City fan on holiday in China and he kindly agreed to sit in the hot seat for a Who are You? questionnaire, which appeared just before what turned out to be Mark Hughes’s final match in charge. I returned to the Far East to find a candidate for this Sunday’s equivalent fixture. Peter Kelly* is a regular at the Malaysian hotel where I spent a great week in January, and he even forked out to kit out the hotel staff’s own team, suitably named Kelly’s Heroes. He’s back there now but, before flying off to Penang, did the honours with some smashing answers …
Salut! Sunderland: We beat you with that late penalty earlier this season but what was Carlos Tévez thinking of when he missed that fabulous early chance?
… that he had already scored is my guess. He does miss quite a few, but gets back into position time and again and doesn’t fret. All great goalscorers do that.
You’re out of Europe now. Must have been a disappointing way to go out, but what were your minimum expectations for the season and how do you assess progress towards meeting them?
Balotelli appears to play by his own rules, my guess is that he has this season to sort himself out or we sell him back to italy, even if we take a loss. As a City fan for over 50 years I have hopes, but no expectations. Expectations turn you into a United, Chelsea or Liverpool fan, no one has a right to do well or win things, but they all believe they have. My hope still is top four; we may have spent a fortune but gelling a team takes time, and maybe a cup, or at least a final. I am happy where we are today despite the defeat to Chelsea, which, frankly, they deserved. No complaints.
Sheikh Mansour must have removed all the misery of being a Man City supporter, but has his money also taken away some of the fun?
Absolutely not! We can now watch terrific players, in Carlos Tevez a genuinely great one, play in light blue. We see a man in blue passing the ball to another man in blue. It was not always thus! however, the realist in me says we can still end up with egg on our faces, we always have in the past.
Would you describe how intensely you feel the rivalry with United, not least given that they have tended, in the past at least, to regard Liverpool as their natural enemy?
I was a teenager when we were last a great team, the intensity in the late 60s and early 70s was mutual. We hated them and they hated us. It has not changed at the supporter level and look how thin skinned Alex Ferguson was with the “Welcome to Manchester” poster for Tevez. Look at the team he put out in last year’s Carling Cup semi final games, as strong as if it were a Champions League semi. He does not want to relinquish bragging rights in Manchester.
Liverpool have, rightly, been considered a more important opponent in footballing terms and United fans have taken to being patronising over the last 15 years, but if/when we start winning things it will heat up again very quickly.
I hate Manchester United as much as i have ever done. I have supported an Argentinian team against United in the World Club championship games in 1968, so no can accuse me of coming to this because of their recent success, we were old division one title holders at the time.
Are the greatest players you’ve ever seen in City colours at Eastlands, or do you hark back to Colin Bell, Francis Lee or other stars of the past?
Colin Bell for me, at the moment, is still the greatest player i’ve seen in a City shirt. if we keep Tevez for a few more seasons and he continues like this, maybe that will change. David Silva is the real thing, supremely talented and after a very slow start, took him a while to get the pace of the games, is contributing very well, except with goals. Kompany and de Jong are the other two I really like. I’ll give some of the others the benefit of the doubt at the moment, on the basis it took Thierry Henry a season to get himself sorted out.
Who do you especially rate among the men bought with Abu Dhabi money and who should be, or should have been, allowed nowhere near the shirt?
Think I’ve answered that in previous question, although Kompany was a Sven purchase. Robinho was lovely to watch, but obviously didn’t want to play for City. Balotelli at the moment was a waste of money, Joleon Lescott does not impress, but I assume our approach was to get a better player than we had in each position and to hell with the cost. Wayne Bridge was very poor for City, yet on Saturday he handled Lennon and Bale brilliantly, perhaps he didn’t like the North (Midlands)
Peter Reid, Niall Quinn, Dave Watson, Tony Coton, Claudio Reyna … the list goes on of people with close ties to both our clubs. do you have any stand-out memories or thoughts on any of them or on past games between our two clubs?
The stand out games for me were the 4th( i think) round of the FA Cup in 1973. That was the last hurrah of the great City team and it made me realise we were past our best. I had moved to Brighton, but still managed to see 37 of the 42 league games in 1971/72, when we were in poll position to win the division one and fluffed it. So iI went to Maine Road for the cup tie and it ended 2-2. I couldn’t believe it, I was in denial that we couldn’t have walked over a 2nd division team, but we didn’t they were just as good as we were. I couldn’t get from Brighton to Sunderland for the replay. We took the lead but lost, deservedly again, 3-1.
That was what made us buy Dave Watson, a terrific player. Niall Quinn was a favourite of mine; we should have kept him but rumours of disageements with our then chairman appeared to settle his fate.
Is there anyone in sunderland’s team who mancini should consider for city?
I think City need more English players to prepare for the Champions League – if we get there – and Jordan Henderson looks like he would fit the bill. When Gyan first came he looked lively from what I saw on TV, but seems to have fallen away (answered before Asamoah skinned Lescott to score vs England – ed).
Name this season’s top four in order, the bottom three and – assuming City are already mentioned (in your first list!) where Sunderland will finish.
Chelsea – United – Arsenal – City. My logic is that Ferguson will target the Champions League, three victories and nine premiership or two CL victories and 10 premierships? If he has to prioritise it’s got to be the former.
Wigan – Blackpool – Blackburn to go down. Sunderland seventh. Bolton have a cup semi and possibly the final, Everton are too erratic.
The Eduardo question, as we called it last season, has become the Walcott question. Was theo naive or brave to apologise publicly for diving, and has cheating – diving, feigning injury, sly tugs, trying to get opponents booked or sent off etc – become so prevalent that we might as well accept it as part of the modern game?
Every sportsman who ever played has pushed the boundaries to the point where the ref says stop. So it’s up to the FA, in England, to empower the referees and get the game back on track. I would love to see a referee have the bottle to start awarding penalties for the argy bargy in the area, booking and sending off in accordance with the laws of the game. If that leaves a team with too few players to continue then award the game to the opposition. Let’s get back to the game we love and get rid of all the blather about “it’s part of the modern game”. It shouldn’t be and the authorities should act.
What did you make of the 2010 World Cup and how disappointed were you that England lost out in the Fifa vote for choice of 2018 venue?
Hopes again. I hoped we would do well, I had no expectations. It has been obvious for 20 years now, since Bobby Robson nearly pulled it off in Germany, that the skill level of eEnglish players is far below that of Continental or South American players. Romanian full backs have more ball control than many of our vaunted strikers, Jermain Defoe can trap a ball further than I can kick one. How many English players are targets of foreign clubs? Precious few. Frank Lampard was aparently a target for Barcelona a few years ago. Can you imagine it? He wouldn’t get a reserve game with their style of play.
But while we have the most entertaining league in the world, because we play at 100 miles per hour, it’s what the fans want, we’re not going to get quality ball players. The grass roots is also wrong, with winning apparently being everything at junior level. Let them play for fun, love the football, talent will out. I have seen better ball control on Copacobana beach from 10 year old kids than from some Premier League players.
However pleased you may be with what it has meant for City, is all the money swirling around at the top of the game creating a fool’s paradise and ruining football?
Good question. On balance no, you can’t stop progress and it does allow us to see great players in England, but the fans are getting short changed and the cash is not filtering down to the lower levels. I live in north Wiltshire so also have a season ticket for Swindon Town. The club has been in administration twice, nearly gone bust a few times, the football is woeful, but they still want over £300 for a season ticket or £20 a match. I would love the money to be more fairly distributed to keep a flourishing lower league structure in place. In reality does it matter if Rooney, Tevez, Terry get paid £50k, £75k or £150k a week? It’s still riches beyond 99.99 per cent of the population’s wildest dreams.
I believe you will be in Malaysia when the match is played. Will you find a way of watching it?
Premier League football is the most popular televised sport in Malaysia, you can watch every Premier League game, live or delayed telecast if there are too many 3pm kick offs. Midweek 8pm kick off matches entail a 3am or 4am alarm call depending on time of year. We kick off at 4pm on the sunday, so that will be 11pm in Malaysia, I’ll find somewhere to watch it, hotel room or bar.
And what will be the score?
Ah, after the debacle at Chelsea we need to come out strongly. With the international break, where Carlos has not been selected for Argentina so he will have a fortnight off, 3-0 to City is my punt.
* Peter Kelly on Peter Kelly
I’m 58. I’ve been retired for nearly 6 years now, I was product marketing director in the financial services industry for 20 odd years prior to retirement (or them actually sussing me out, as my friends would have it). My mum took me to the end of the road to see City bring the cup back in 1956. I was four. It just stuck. The Trautmann heroics were also an influence. We’ve been going to the Rasa (the Shangri-La Rasa Sayang resort at Batu Feringgi, Penang) for 20 years. Now I’m retired we can go a couple of times a year so have got very friendly with all the frontline staff in the gardens, poolside bar and the coffee shop. They are mostly young lads who love their football, so we have lots in common. When Izzy and Azmar told us they had started a team and they were the managers, we went along to watch training – a leisurely jog along the beach, and a match (they got hammered by a bunch of middle aged, but experienced club players who just wound our lads up verbally so that they took their eye off the ball – literally.)
They explained how they funded the team, balls, training kit, playing kit etc and we said we would love to help and support if we could. They introduced us to Albert Koo, the Shangri-La purchasiing director – he’s the Chinese chap in the photo – and we agreed how much we wanted to put in and Kelly’s Heroes were born. (That’s the team up above, with Peter and his partner Debbie in the line-up – ed.)
Interview: Colin Randall