The on topic thread 3.0

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largebus

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RPCB

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I never would have imagined anyone would have had an issue with this and then Lucy Zelic had a massive sulk about it. 😂

Meanwhile, innocent Men, Women and Children are being slaughtered in Ukraine and all over the world. Is Marcus Rashford holding a Sherrin really an issue?
 
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Cruyff14

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Jatz

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Hahaha * me, the inferiority complex Australian football has is just pathetic.
 

glenferry23

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He was told on many occasions not to have that large mound of sugar in his backyard.


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sorted

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I never would have imagined anyone would have had an issue with this and then Lucy Zelic had a massive sulk about it. 😂

No one should care what Lucy Zelic thinks. But Football Australia should know better. Do they really think that Marcus Rashford holding a Sherrin promotes Aussie Rules over football?
 

typeclub

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I want a Marcus Rashford signed sherrin now. Next Australia will be offended that a soccer player takes a photo with a Koala.
 

royboy2

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I want a Marcus Rashford signed sherrin now. Next Australia will be offended that a soccer player takes a photo with a Koala.
It will be a lot harder to get your hands on a signed Koala
 

Cruyff14

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moomba Magma spookism

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In January 2012, Manchester City were wobbling. They had just been knocked out of the FA Cup by Manchester United and beaten in the League Cup semi-finals by Liverpool. A few weeks earlier, they had lost to Sunderland in the Premier League and although they were still top of the table, neighbours United were looming.

They then suffered defeat at Everton, without a key player, and Roberto Mancini decided he needed to think of something to gee up his troops.

“We were in a difficult moment and I needed to get a reaction from you all,” Mancini said when interviewed by former City defender Micah Richards a few years ago.

“I was thinking, ‘How do I get a reaction from these players?’. So I said, ‘Without Yaya Toure, you are a s**t team!’.”

An interesting approach to motivation, perhaps. But then again, you should probably remember that this is the manager who, on the infamous last day of that season when he thought the title was slipping away, reacted to City going 2-1 down at home to relegation candidates Queens Park Rangers by yelling “* YOU! * YOU! * YOU!” at his players.

But also, he wasn’t wrong.

There’s a decent argument to be made that, while David Silva or Sergio Aguero was the best of that first tranche of truly elite players that City signed in 2010 and 2011, Toure may have been the most important.

He was tempted from Barcelona in 2010 with the promise of huge piles of cash, yes, but also the promise of being the fulcrum of the next European super-team.

It’s always tricky to quantify exactly what a “statement of intent” means in the context of a transfer. But if it is a thing, then recruiting such a brilliant player from what was arguably the best club team in the world is most definitely a “statement of intent”.

If City provided intent, Toure brought action. Aguero scored the most important goal in that period of City’s history (in their whole history, even) in the final moments of that QPR game, but Toure has a good case for numbers two and three on the list.

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He got the winner in the FA Cup final in 2011, having also dragged City to that final by beating United in the semi-final almost on his own, pushing everyone else aside and taking control to win the club’s first major trophy in 35 years.

And then there was Newcastle United away on May 6, 2012 — the penultimate game of the season.

Scroll back a few weeks and City were done, finished, the title having slipped from their grasp and about to shatter on the floor, like Agent Kujan’s coffee cup at the end of The Usual Suspects. City were playing Arsenal and needed a result, partly because they had dropped four points in the previous two games against Sunderland and Stoke City, and partly because United had beaten QPR earlier that day to move eight points clear at the top of the table.

They didn’t just lose instead at the Emirates, they imploded.

Mario Balotelli, as if attempting to prove Mancini’s recent assertion that it was difficult to “trust” him, had a good go at getting sent off in the first half, then finished the job in the last minute. Joe Hart howled about how “stupid” that red card was and the whole City team had been. Balotelli smashed a TV in the dressing room and wasn’t seen again until the final day — Mancini had told him he would never play for the club again. The Arsenal fans did the Poznan after Mikel Arteta scored the only goal.

Season over, chalk another Premier League up for United and Sir Alex Ferguson. Typical City.

The understandable focus on that game was Balotelli’s reign of terror on Arsenal ankles, but arguably a bigger factor in the defeat was Toure having to go off after 17 minutes, suffering the after-effects of a meaty challenge from Alex Song.

In public, Mancini declared the title race to be over but in private, he tried to convince his players that they weren’t done. Assistant Brian Kidd, a veteran of tight title races on the other side of Manchester while on Ferguson’s staff, assured Mancini that United would drop points in the following weeks.

The pressure off, City cut loose in their next three games, beating West Bromwich Albion 4-0 and Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-0, those games coming either side of a terrifying demolition of Norwich City, courtesy of Aguero and Carlos Tevez — back in the team after six months away following a row with Mancini during a Champions League game against Bayern Munich.

Meanwhile, United were proving Kidd right. They lost to Wigan Athletic, then threw away a series of leads at home to Everton in a 4-4 draw. After that game, Everton’s Marouane Fellaini sent a text message to City captain, and his Belgium team-mate, Vincent Kompany that read: “Right, now it’s up to you *ers.”

Kompany took that responsibility on himself, scoring the winner in the derby on a balmy Monday evening at the end of April.

It had only taken 22 days for that eight-point lead to vaporize. City went into the final two games of the season level on points but with a superior goal difference to United. Win those two games, and they would be champions.

If winning the derby was the break, the trip to Newcastle six days later was holding their serve.

Newcastle were no pushovers. This was the year they finished fifth under Alan Pardew, with Yohan Cabaye at the peak of his powers and their Senegalese strike pairing of Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba scoring 29 league goals between them. City visited St James’ Park four days after Cisse had scored that pair of absurd goals against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, the 2-0 victory that night leaving Newcastle level with fourth-place Spurs with two matches left and with a genuine shot of making the Champions League.

Toure called them “one of the best teams in England”, and City team-mate Gareth Barry later said: “This was the game where United fans and players thought, ‘Maybe Newcastle could get something off them’.”

Everyone was pretty tense, then. Everyone, it seems, apart from Toure.

“Everyone was nervous before the game,” said Nigel de Jong in a documentary City produced to celebrate the 10th anniversary of that season. “Yaya stood up and said, ‘Guys, everyone relax. I’ve got this. You’re with big Yaya’.”

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In fact, Toure seemed to go round most of the City team, assuring them that he would score and take them into the final game of the season — a mere formality at home to a QPR fighting to avoid the drop.

“He told me the day before that he was going to score,” said Joleon Lescott. “It was like he’d already been to the game, scored his goal and come back to training.”

He saved the best line for his captain. Kompany recalled: “He comes up to me and said, ‘Vini, with heading, elbows, fighting: you’ve done well this season… but now it’s my time’.”

Toure had essentially decided that he was winning this game (and this title), and if everyone else wanted to come along with him then that would be fine too.

The first hour of the match could have gone either way. Barry had an effort cleared off the line, Tim Krul in the Newcastle goal made a few terrific saves but Ba, Cisse and Cheick Tiote had presentable chances for the hosts, too.

Then, after 61 minutes, the change that decided the game arrived. This was the day Mancini familiarised the world with the concept of taking off an attacking midfielder, replacing him with a defensive one and that somehow being an offensive substitution.

Which, of course, was only possible because he had Toure.

Toure had always been an adaptable player (remember, he kept Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo quiet playing as a centre-back for Barcelona in the 2009 Champions League final), often feeling like that kid at your school who was your best player in about five different positions.

In his Camp Nou days, he had mostly been used as a defensive midfielder, but once Sergio Busquets broke into the first team, Pep Guardiola decided that he had no more use for Toure. For a manager who is usually so willing to shift players’ positions, it feels extremely short-sighted, in hindsight, not to see the potential of Toure as an attacking force.

Mancini did, though.

Toure had started the Newcastle game alongside Barry in the middle of what was basically a 4-4-2/4-2-2-2, sitting deeper and providing the solid base for Silva, Samir Nasri, Aguero and Tevez to provide the attacking flair.

Most of the time, those four were enough to get City the points, but occasionally something more was required. Off came Nasri, on came De Jong, and Toure was pushed from his deep role into the No 10 position. It was as if Mancini was calling in a grown-up: ‘Yes, yes, you lot are very good, but step aside, kids.’

The tone of the game changed immediately.

It’s amazing how moving one player about 10 yards further up the pitch can alter things so significantly, but then again, this was Yaya Toure.

After 70 minutes, Toure picked up the ball about 40 yards out, fed Aguero on the edge of the D, took the return pass and casually hammered the ball into the bottom corner. Job done, he told you so, what was everyone worried about?

The words “casually hammered” were carefully chosen, because the most remarkable thing about the shot was the effort/backlift-to-power ratio. It looks like Toure put no oomph into the finish whatsoever, appearing closer to a pass than a shot, but the ball absolutely flew into the bottom corner, bending around the attending Newcastle defenders and past Krul.

That wasn’t quite that, though. Toure had a glaring chance to make it two not long after, put clean through on goal but in trying to go around Krul he simply tripped over his own legs. Then he missed a free header. Aguero spurned a sitter too, with the game still in the balance. Typical City?

Toure then appeared to put the final nail into the coffin of that concept, the idea that it didn’t matter how much money they had, City were City and they would make a mess of things somehow.

With 90 seconds remaining, City broke from a Newcastle corner and Gael Clichy found Toure about eight yards out, the midfielder having sprinted from his own six-yard box to fulfil his new responsibilities as an attacker.



It looks like a simple goal, but with the tension of the moment in mind and the fact that he had belted from the other end of the pitch, it was just as extraordinary as the first. He took a careful first touch, then ensured his footing was just so before lashing the ball into the roof of the net. Job done, he told you so, what was everyone worried about?

They really did think it was job done, too. Mancini was careful not to publicly say the title was in the bag, but in the tunnel afterwards, the players celebrated as if it was. “I was sure winning at Newcastle, that’s it,” said Aleksandar Kolarov.

After the game, a group of City employees got to the train station early and had some time to kill, so went to a nearby pub. The Newcastle fans present, happy that the blue side of Manchester was going to deny Ferguson’s red machine for a change, spotted the group and insisted on buying them all drinks, wishing them the best for the final hurdle the following Sunday.

That final hurdle looked more like a twig raised an inch from the ground. The hard work was done, the formalities would be completed against QPR.

It turned out a little differently of course, but in that moment, it felt like Yaya Toure had won the Premier League.
 

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Jatz

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Don't get me started...please.
 

Bradesmaen

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Leicester already has a decent squad, they just had a lot of injuries last year.
 

Jatz

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Leicester already has a decent squad, they just had a lot of injuries last year.
Which should mean we'd come up with some better contingencies if that occurs again.

I'm pretty pessimistic about this coming season.
 

Bradesmaen

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UEFA giving the referee job of a final to a Ukrainian based on her being Ukrainian.. she's woeful.
 

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