Super 6 – 8th July 2020

Manchester City 3-0 Newcastle United
Sheffield United 0-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers
West Ham United 1-1 Burnley
Bristol City 2-1 Hull City
Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 Preston North End
Brighton and Hove Albion 0-2 Liverpool

Leave a comment with your Super 6 predictions.

Super 6 – 26th November

Manchester City 3-0 Shakhtar Donetsk
Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 Olympiacos
Real Madrid 1-1 Paris Saint Germain
Juventus 1-1 Atletico Madrid
Red Star Belgrade 1-3 Bayern Munich
Atalanta 2-1 Dinamo Zagreb

Leave a comment with your Super 6 predictions.

Super 6 – 2nd November

Manchester City 3-0 Southampton
Aston Villa 0-2 Liverpool
Arsenal 2-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers
West Ham United 2-1 Newcastle United
Sheffield United 1-1 Burnley
Brighton and Hove Albion 2-1 Norwich City

Leave a comment with your predictions.

Super 6 – 22nd October

Manchester City 3-1 Atalanta
Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Red Star Belgrade
Galatasaray 1-1 Real Madrid
Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 Stoke City
Preston North End 0-2 Leeds United
West Bromwich Albion 3-1 Barnsley

Leave a comment with your predictions.

Super 6 – 1st October

Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Bayern Munich
Manchester City 3-0 Dinamo Zagreb
Juventus 2-1 Bayer Leverkusen
Leeds United 2-1 West Bromwich Albion
Middlesbrough 1-0 Preston North End
Blackburn Rovers 1-1 Nottingham Forest

Leave a comment with your predictions.

Super 6 – 24th September

Arsenal 2-1 Nottingham Forest
Colchester United 1-3 Tottenham Hotspur
Luton Town 2-1 Leicester City
Portsmouth 2-1 Southampton
Preston North End 1-4 Manchester City
Sheffield Wednesday 1-1 Everton

Leave a comment with your Super 6 predictions.

Super 6 – 21st September

Burnley 1-1 Norwich City
Everton 2-1 Sheffield United
Manchester City 5-1 Watford
Bristol City 2-1 Swansea City
Wigan Athletic 2-1 Charlton Athletic
Sheffield Wednesday 1-1 Fulham

Leave a comment with your predictions.

Super 6 – 31st August 2019

Chelsea 3-1 Sheffield United
Crystal Palace 2-1 Aston Villa
Leicester City 2-1 Bournemouth
Manchester City 4-0 Brighton and Hove Albion
Newcastle United 1-1 Watford
West Ham United 2-2 Norwich City

Leave a comment with your predictions and how you did.

Growing the Grecians #94 – You can’t please all of the people all of the time

Re-read Growing the Grecians #93.

A win last time out against QPR was a welcome boost and our first win in front of our fans in the league. Hopefully it will be a nice boost and we’ll see if we can record back-to-back wins…

Date: Saturday 7th October 2017
Opponent: Manchester City (1st)
Venue: City of Manchester Stadium
Odds: Manchester City=1/6, Draw=5/1, Exeter City=10/1
Weather: Drizzle, 13C
Referee: Mr. Andre Marriner

Ok, maybe back-to-back wins is asking a bit much as we’ve got arguably our toughest test to date, but it’s nice to dream. It would be the most amazing way to mark Jagos Vukovic’s 250th career league appearance and Jonny Hayes’ 125th league appearance for us! I tweak our tactics, electing to counter attack and play more directly.

Unsurprisingly, we’re defending straight from kick off. And I mean straight from kick off. Manchester City attack from the start, Nathan Ake brings down Nangis and Mr. Marriner produces a yellow card. A centre back on a booking with just 89 minutes left; what could go wrong???? It certainly doesn’t make our task any easier.

Manchester City create their first clear chance in the 7th minute when Isimat-Mirin heads towards goal from 10 yards out. It’s close to Ben Amos and he tips over the bar for a corner.

Federico Cenci picks up his seemingly customary yellow card in the 14th minute for a foul on Savic. Two players booked within the opening quarter of an hour away against one of the league’s potent attacks is not how I’d have hoped things would be going. Still, at least they haven’t scored.

Spoke too soon. Two minutes later, Ayew picks the ball up on the right wing, runs all the way across to the left side of our area, gets into it and shoots low from 12 yards into the net, with the ball going underneath Amos’ arm. A tackle or two along the way would have been nice, but it would probably have led to a third yellow card if we were lucky or Ake being dismissed if we weren’t.

It does seem to have acted as a bit of a wake up though and two minutes after conceding, Rainer Breu shoots from 20 yards. It’s a low effort and Hart saves it comfortably, but at least we’ve got to the right end of the pitch and shown that we can fleetingly cause them problems.

However, our effort seems to have the same effect as poking a bear with a stick. Nangis shoots just wide from 12 yards in the 22nd minute. One minute later, Kompany fires wide from 16 yards out. A minute after that, Ayew finds Nangis 12 yards out. As he did two minutes earlier, he shoots wide. It looks like a matter of time before there’s another goal.

Three minutes later, there’s another goal. It’s from a Kompany pass. A loose pass that Breu picks up and shoots from 18 yards, beating the dive from Hart to find the bottom corner and record his 4th goal of the season to draw us level – we’ll take that! The stadium is stunned into silence. Apart from a section going crazy.

It’s not just the crowd who seem stunned and Manchester City take a few minutes to get going again. Hazard shoots from 12 yards in the 37th minute, but has the same directional problems as Nangis from that distance. Isimat-Mirin earns a yellow card in the 39th minute for a foul on Breu – it seems we’ve got them rattled.

The important thing is that having drawn level, we hold on until half time. In stoppage time, the ball falls to Aguero. He’s 12 yards out. I can think of plenty of other players who I would prefer to see shooting against us from 12 yards out on the stroke of half time. Actually, no I can’t – he shoots wide and we go into the break with the scores level.

We start the second half as we started the first – a booking. This time, Fabio Mora enters Mr. Marriner’s book for fouling Hazard. Ten minutes later, a cross from the right finds Hazard 8 yards out. He hits an absolute thunderbolt that crashes off the bar before we clear to safety.

In the 57th minute, Nangis gets the wrong side of Ake and collects a ball over the top. Ake has already been booked, so any kind of a challenge is going to be fraught with danger. Nangis runs for 20 yards and elects to shoot from 18 yards, but fires harmlessly over the bar.

Rainer Breu is forced to go off injured in the 62nd minute and I bring on Adriano Gazzoli as his replacement. Gazzoli goes to the right wing, Hayes moves across to the left wing and Cenci plays as our striker.

Hazard takes an outswinging corner in the 67th minute. Defensively, it seems as though we’ve decided that Aguero 8 yards out doesn’t need marking. Unsurprisingly, a free header by Aguero from 8 yards out is on target. Thankfully, one of our defenders has stayed switched on – Gennaro Riccardi is manning the near post and he puts the ball behind for another corner, which we defend much better.

With 16 minutes to go, Aguero tries his luck from 25 yards, but is unable to get his shot on target. Three minutes later, he is able to get a shot on target from 18 yards out. Amos gets down quickly and makes a save, with Ake completing the clearance. Before the throw in can be taken, Bradley Johnson replaces Oliver Norwood, with the ex-Manchester United man coming on to a crescendo of boos.

In the third minute of stoppage time, I bring on Michel for Federico Cenci. It’s partly to ensure he doesn’t pick up a second yellow card, partly to play with no striker (Michel comes on as an attacking midfielder), but mainly to try and run the clock down.

We’re five minutes into stoppage time. I’m pointing frantically at my watch. Aguero is 30 yards out on the left hand side. He looks up. There’s few options ahead of him. He hits a wickedly curling shot. It’s a magnificent effort. The only thing that’s better than the shot is the save from Amos. A full length dive and he pushes it round the post for a corner. We defend the corner and Mr. Marriner finally blows his whistle for full time.


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Man City #FM12

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Man of the Match: Ayew
Ratings: GK-Amos (7.0), DR-Mora (6.9, booked), DCR-Ake (7.2, booked), DCL-Vukovic (6.9), DL-Riccardi (7.0), DMC-Olivier (6.8), MCR-Matip (6.9), MCL-Johnson (6.9, sub 77), AMR-Hayes (6.9), AML-Cenci (5.9, booked, sub 90), ST-Breu (7.2, G, sub 62). Subs-Gazzoli (6.4, on 62), Norwood (on 77), Michel (on 90). Unused-Mello, Jenkins, Byrne, Hrubesch.
Attendance: 46,531
League Position: 12th
Match Stats:

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Man City #FM12

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Charlie Howard, the spokesman for the fans, indicates that the fans are slightly concerned following our 1-1 draw at Manchester City. I accept it wasn’t pretty and we rode our luck, but considering we were 10/1 underdogs (and 5/1 to even get a draw), I’d say they should be pretty pleased that we’re travelling back to Devon with a point against the league leaders.

On the injury front, there’s good and bad news. The good news is that Ilica Perak and Alain Besse resume full training. The bad news is that Regis Olivier pulls his hamstring and will be out for 3-4 weeks.

There’s plenty of activity in the loan market. Burnley offer to loan Jon Rune Svendsen for 3 months; all parties agree and he moves. Aaron Walker joins Aldershot on loan for a month after an offer is accepted by all. We welcome back Adolfo Mannino from loan at Chesterfield. He barely has a chance to put his bags down before Rochdale offer to loan him for a month. I accept, so does he and he’s on his way. At least packing should have been easy! AFC Wimbledon would like Chris Hjort on loan for a month. I accept the offer, but he’s not keen and rejects it. Luton would like Nathan Holland on loan for a month. I agree and he also agrees to the temporary switch. Damien Lambert is the subject of a month-long loan offer from Oxford United and he makes the move after all parties agree.

Wrexham offer to extend the loan spell of Valery Tamitu for the 3 months – all parties agree and he’ll stay there until the New Year. Doncaster Rovers would like to extend Kevin Bjerkestrand’s loan by three months. I agree, but he rejects the extension. We also receive a three month loan extension offer from Crawley for Michel Krejcik and he’s happy to stay there.

I also make a couple of new signings on free transfers. @AshTheNeon is unlikely to be surprised by the nationality of our new signings:

Niclas Lindegaard (ST)

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Lindegaard #FM12

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Rune Poulsen (DM/MC)

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Poulsen #FM12

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Read Growing the Grecians #95.

Read from Growing the Grecians #1.

Growing the Grecians #39 – Now we need to ask Michael Vaughan about the score

After our mid-week victory at Norwich, we continue our league campaign at the weekend.

Date: Saturday 1st October 2016
Opponent: Sheffield Wednesday (10th)
Venue: St. James Park
Odds: Exeter City=6/4, Draw=2/1, Sheffield Wednesday=13/8
Weather: Dry, 18C
Referee: Mr. Kevin Friend

For the second Saturday in a row, we welcome a team from Sheffield to Exeter. Lubomir Zapotoka makes his debut for us and it’s his first ever league game in his career. Adriano Gazzoli makes his league debut for us, whilst Dacian Varga reaches his 325th career league appearance. We start well and two minutes in, Michel tries to chip Flinders from 20 yards, but he backpeddles and pushes the ball over the bar. Three minutes later, Zapotoka plays in Federico Cenci and he shoots from 12 yards, but straight at Flinders. There’s a rebound, but the ball gets headed safely back to him by a defender. Sheffield Wednesday’s first chance falls to Upton in the 10th minute, but he shoots wildly from 14 yards and the ball flies wide. A minute later, Gazzoli is played in by Michel, but his shot from 18 yards is easy for Flinders, who doesn’t even have to move to make the save. Luca D’Avanzo enters Mr. Friend’s book in the 16th minute after a foul on Atajic. The game quietens down, with the next chance coming in the 32nd minute when Varga has a chance to mark his milestone from 12 yards, but only shoots at Flinders who holds onto the ball. A minute before half time, Michel crosses from the right. Varga comes steaming in at the far post and connects with a diving header 6 yards out. It flies in for his second goal of the season. What a way to mark your 325th career league appearance!

We start the second half as well as we ended the first; Bertin Matip takes an outswinging corner in the 49th minute and Cenci, 6 yards out at the near post, gets his 8th of the season. Cenci has an opportunity to double his tally in the 56th minute following a through ball by Michel, but Flinders is able to parry his fierce drive and Sheffield Wednesday clear the ball to safety at the expense of a throw. Michele Marconi’s re-introduction to first team football following his injury continues in the 67th minute when he replaces Gazzoli; Marconi goes upfront and Cenci moves out to the right wing. Matip has a drip from 25 yards in the 71st minute, but Flinders keeps it out and the defence clear to safety. Malone fouls Vilhjalmsson in the 78th minute and joins D’Avanzo in Mr. Friend’s book. Jay Spearing comes on in the 82nd minute to replace Bradley Johnson as we look to see the game out. We go close to adding a third in the 85th minute – an inswinging Matip corner is met by Cenci at the near post, but his header from 6 yards goes just over. Mr. Friend makes a third booking in the 89th minute after Connolly fouls Cenci and I make a final substitution in the 90th minute, bringing on George King for D’Avanzo as I don’t want him sent off in a game that’s now won.

Result: Exeter City 2-0 Sheffield Wednesday
Man of the Match: Michel
Ratings: GK-Bond (6.9), DR-Zapotoka (7.6), DCR-D’Avanzo (7.1, booked, sub 90), DCL-Vukovic (7.1), DL-Malone (7.0, booked), MCR-Matip (7.8, A), MCL-Johnson (6.9, sub 82), AMR-Gazzoli (6.3, sub 67), AMC-Michel (9.0, A), AML-Varga (7.7, G), ST-Cenci (7.6, G). Subs-Marconi (6.7, on 67), Spearing (on 82), King (on 90). Unused-Spasov, Koch.
Attendance: 8,714
League Position: 2nd
Match Stats:

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Sheffield Wednesday home league #FM12

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A pleasing performance and result, especially the debut of Lubomir Zapotoka who looks as though he could provide some competition for Catalin Rentea when he returns from injury. Michel and Bradley Johnson both played well enough to be included in Team of the Week, with Johnson’s mid-week performance and Michel’s weekend performance being crucial in winning the two matches. Gazzoli hasn’t made the most of his chance and considering the number of chances we had, a couple of more goals would have been nice, but overall, we go into the international break in good shape and with a couple of players due back from injury when we return to action.

Slaven Bilic is, unsurprisingly, appointed the manager of Derby County. At Norwich, Brian Laws steps into the hot seat.

Leeds United return with their loan offer for Philipp Langer, removing the ability to buy him through the loan spell. All parties agree and Langer joins them for three months. Richard Ibrahim joins Plymouth Argyle on loan for a month. Coventry City and Millwall make offers to loan Clement Baud for a month; I accept both offers and he chooses to go to Millwall. MK Dons offer to loan Martin Brandt for a month and he joins them, whilst Wycombe Wanderers would like Miltos Makris on loan for three months – I agree, but he doesn’t want to join them. There are offers to extend loans and I agree to them both – Burton and Sasha Chirico (he rejects the extenion) and Ivan Byram at Newport County (he accepts the extension).

I make a couple of signings; both are young players who I hope will develop at the club and become important players in the future. I sign both players on free transfers and they are Tunisian midfielder Amine Ben Ahmed and Czech midfielder/attacking midfielder/striker Miroslav Smejkal.

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Amine Ben Ahmed #FM12

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Smejkal #FM12

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On the Saturday of the international break, I arrange a friendly against Manchester City to keep the players match sharp and earn some extra money. The game is televised, so we earn even more from the fixture. We record a 4-0 victory, but George King strains his groin and will be out for approximately 3 weeks.

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Man City friendly #FM12

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With things going well at the club, I approach the board with a request to improve the training facilities at the club. The board agree with my reasoning, but advise me that there is currently no money to make the improvements so have to reject the request.

Read Growing the Grecians #40.

Read from Growing the Grecians #1.

Manchester United 1-2 Manchester City

Manchester City claimed bragging rights in Manchester courtesy of an excellent performance from man of the match Kevin De Bruyne, allowing Manchester City to maintain their 100% start to the season at the home of their local rivals. Manchester City started well, keeping the ball and moving the defence around. De Bruyne opened the scoring in the 14th minute, although the goal came from an unlikely source as Iheanacho flicked a long ball on and De Bruyne nicked the ball from Blind, took a touch to steady himself and rolled the ball past De Gea, sending him the wrong way. City kicked on from the goal and continued to stretch the United defence, particularly when City attacked down the left. City’s second goal came in the 36th minute when a shot from De Bruyne hit the post and landed at the feet of Iheanacho, who made no mistake from 6 yards. A second goal was no more than was deserved, but six minutes later, the game changed; Bravo came out to collect a free kick, collided with Stones and dropped it and Ibrahimovic made no mistake. It was a technically superb finish from Ibrahimovic, who managed to guide his shot past covering defenders. Although an excellent finish, he should never have been given the chance and Bravo’s coming out so far was surprising because the distance and angle would have required an outstanding header to have put any pressure on the City goal, never mind scoring.

Manchester United came out strongly in the second half and put pressure on the Manchester City players in the way that the City players had been doing to United in the first half. Bravo in particular was put under pressure whenever he had the ball and he was lucky not to concede a penalty and be sent off when he dived in to recover after a heavy touch and caught Rooney, although Rooney got revenge (and a yellow card) later on. Rashford, a half-time substitute, found the net, but it was ruled out as his shot hit a clearly offside Ibrahimovic. Whilst Manchester United increased the pressure, Manchester City broke dangerously at regular intervals, going closest to extending their lead when De Bruyne hit the post. United played a series of long balls forward towards the end of the game, but City were able to hold on and claim the victory.

Juventus 1-0 Manchester City

Juventus claimed top spot of Group D and secured their qualification for the last 16 with a match left following a 1-0 victory over Manchester City. Juventus started well, but Manchester City soon came into the game and Fernandinho wasted their best chance of the half with a wildly struck shot over the crossbar. Moments later, a cross from Alex Sandro found Mario Mandzukic unmarked at the far post and he sidefooted a volley past Joe Hart and into the net. Manchester City appealed for a foul by Mandzukic (who looked around after the ball went into the net), but the goal was allowed to stand.

The second half followed a similar pattern to the first of Manchester City seeming to have more of the ball, but Juventus looking more likely to score. A header from Fernando following a corner hit the post and was claimed by Gianluigi Buffon and Raheem Sterling, who came on as a substitute, connected poorly with a cross and it went wide for a corner after a deflection; besides these two chances, little of real note was created. Juventus came close to doubling their lead when Morata lifted the ball over an onrushing Hart, but Sturaro could only hit the post with his touch as he tried to divert it goalwards.

Whilst Manchester City had 59% of the ball, they created relatively little that was threatening on the Juventus goal and Buffon, with the exception of the header tipped onto the post and some poor backpasses from the defence, had quite a quiet evening. Juventus will top the group if the avoid defeat in their final game against Sevilla, which could result in Manchester City facing Barcelona in the last 16 for the third consecutive season. It must a concern for Pellegrini that the team seems to rely on Aguero for goals, is currently short of striking options and didn’t look like scoring throughout the game.

Manchester City 1-2 Juventus

Manchester City’s first game in the Champions League ended in a defeat against last year’s finalists. The first half saw an early chance for Manchester City, but a good save from Buffon denied Sterling, who really should have scored. At the other end, Pogba had a header denied for offside. However, as a whole, chances were at a premium and Juventus would have been the happier side at the break.

Manchester City opened the scoring in the second half from a corner; Kompany climbed all over Chiellini, who headed it into his own net. The official behind the goal appeared to see the challenge and allow it, which again begs the question as to what their exact role is if they are going to miss obvious fouls or not make the referee aware of them. Sterling also missed another great chance. A fantastic cross from Pogba was touched home by Mandzukic and Morata scored the winner with a fine curling effort from the edge of the area.

Manchester City moved the ball around quite slowly and allowed Juventus to get players behind the ball. Juventus were disciplined in keeping their shape and looked dangerous when they did attack. Manchester City seemed happy to keep the ball without creating chances at times and looked nervous at times. Also, Bony was too often isolated and did not hold the ball up well. Juventus were easily the better team tactically and Manchester City will need to play at a higher tempo and with more purpose to cause teams problems in the Champions League this season and progress beyond the group stages.

Mourinho bans the doctor

Jose Mourinho reacted furiously when physio Jon Fearn and doctor Eva Carneiro raced on to the pitch towards the end of their 2-2 draw against Swansea to treat Eden Hazard. Mourinho was angry because the treatment left Chelsea with 9 players after Courtois had been sent off earlier and has recently said that Fearn and Carniero were naive, do not understand football and they will not be on the bench for Chelsea’s game at Manchester City this weekend.

I think that Mourinho is an excellent manager, but he is wrong in this case. The first duty of the physio and the doctor is to ensure the safety of players and if they have any concerns, they have to react. Also, they were called onto the pitch by the referee.

Mourinho’s accusation of them not understanding football may be true (although as they are employed at a football club, I would assume they have some understanding of the game), but they are not at the club for football reasons; they are there for medical reasons. I would not expect them to be delivering half time team talks, just as I would not expect Mourinho to treating injured players. If a player is injured (or believed to be), surely it transfers from being a football matter to a medical matter?

I believe that Mourinho was wrong to criticise the physio and doctor and that they reacted correctly in the situation. I also believe that he should not ban them from the bench.