A Citeh point of view
Kevinho - from Vital Man City answers some questions ahead of the Citeh v Pompey game this weekend.
So, we are over half way through now, are you happy with how your season is going?
I am very satisfied at how things have gone so far this season, things would be even better if we hadn't drawn those 7 matches in a row which ultimately sealed the fate of Mark Hughes as we should have won at least 4 of those 7 games. We're still in the FA Cup with a favourable draw at home and we reached our first domestic cup semi-final in god knows how many years but the less said about that one the better!
Was it the right time to get rid of Mark Hughes when your board did? You cannot have been happy with how it was handled though, right?
Mark Hughes was an enigma for me from the early days of his reign in all honesty. I thought that he was lucky to avoid the sack the previous Christmas when we were 18th in the league, but he bought well to strengthen the team and we finished last season to good effect. He was then backed by the owner during the summer but I feel that he made 2 or 3 questionable signings to be honest and they were some of the main culprits who let him down and cost him his job. After what he spent on new players 7 matches without a win wasn't really good enough and I think that the correct decision was made.
I wasn't happy with how things were handled though as reports in the media suggested that Hughes was lied to about his job not being under any threat and how the chain of events unfolded on the day of the Sunderland match but at the end of the day he agreed the targets with the board and we were in real danger of falling short. I wouldn't feel too sorry for him as he would have received a pay-off more than what most supporters would earn in a lifetime!
What about Mancini then, are you happy with him?
After we had a largely unproven manager in Mark Hughes, I felt that he needed replacing with a top manager to get us to where we want to go and I had 4 managers in mind. Guus Hiddink is in charge of Russia and has close ties to Chelsea and both Jose Mourinho and Pepe Guardiola are in charge of the best team in Italy and Spain respectively and would have been nigh on impossible to get, particularly mid-season and with City not yet being in the Champions League. Roberto Mancini was the other name on my personal shortlist and he had the added bonus of being available and had just reached a final settlement with Inter from when he left them about 18 months ago and was ready for a return to football.
I must say that Mancini seems like a really top bloke and he already seems to have the full respect of our players. He also seems to have tightened up the defence to some degree and has shown that he can change tactics mid-match to turn the game to our advantage, a quality which Hughes unfortunately lacked. I'd like to see him given some money to bring some of his own players in and I just hope that he is given the time to see the job through and isn't replaced in the summer because somebody else might be available then.
Having had time to see players who do you think has been your best signing since last summer and why?
There can only be one answer to that question and it is Carlos Tevez. Back in the summer we had United fans whining that we only wanted him to get one over on them but he has already scored 18 goals this season and he works tirelessly for the team from the first whistle to the last and we really appreciate the grafters at City, yet this guy is a world class player at the same time. He had a slow start to life at City which was due to missing most of pre-season with injury but a certain Brazilian really could have done with taking a leaf out of this guys book for the level of effort which is required.
Will there be more arrivals before Monday at 5pm?
I certainly hope so as our squad is a little light with injuries and the loan departures of Robinho and Weiss. I also expect Benjani to have been offloaded too before the window shuts.
Our defence was our Achilles heel earlier in the season but since Mancini has come in Vincent Kompany has been excellent at centre half and Micah Richards looks like the player he was before Hughes arrived at City, so I think that our main area of weakness is in the centre of midfield, where we have been linked with Fernando Gago (Real Madrid), Mathieu Flamini (AC Milan) and McDonald Mariga (Parma). I also feel that we need another striker as we are now a little light in that department despite all of the media ridiculing during the summer when we had 9 of them! We haven't been linked with too many but Amauri (Juventus) and Antonio Cassano (Sampdoria) are about the only ones who we have been linked with.
What were your expectations, or hopes before the season kicked-off? Have they changed since?
My expectations this season have been like a yo-yo as I suspect that they have been for a lot of City supporters. I initially went for 5th as I thought that we would fall short of the top 4 but would be good enough to see off the rest of the Premier League. After we won 5 of the first 6 matches then I began dreaming of the top 4, particularly with Liverpool faltering and then looking in total disarray. When we were drawing every match it looked like a Europa League spot maybe beyond us but since the appointment of Mancini I am now much more confident that we can finish top 4 - I think that we have Spurs to beat for the last Champions League place personally.
I think that the best Pompey can hope for at the moment is to STILL have a club come the end of the season - from an outsiders point of view what do you make of the goings on at Fratton, if you even care that is?
Well I'm glad that we're not in your boat to be perfectly honest as I don't think that I have ever seen anything quite like what you guys and your club have been going through this season, sure plenty of clubs suffer from severe financial problems but the constant merry-go-round of new owners, failing to pay the players on time on 4 occasions and the temporary cutting off of your official club website has been something else. Am I also right in thinking that you bought a centre half from Watford in August for £3 million and he didn't play a game for Portsmouth and that he has since been old to Newcastle for £1 million during January? I really hope that you can overcome these problems and survive as the mismanagement of your club from several individuals in recent years has been a total disgrace.
Who is the main threat that Pompey need to watch out for on Sunday?
Its that man Carlos Tevez with 18 goals so far this season again! He'll run and chase all match long and he'll no doubt pop up with a goal or 2 along the way. He is easily the most improved player in the Premier League in my opinion but then again that is only to be expected now that he is getting a chance out on the pitch and that he is appreciated by his manager.
Clearly you would not take any of our players now - would you? But would you send any Pompey's way if you could?
Unfortunately I don't think that you have too many decent players left who aren't on loan from other clubs as the best players were sold in the last year, most of them to Harry Redknapp at Spurs.
I'd let you have Benjani for free as he is Portsmouth through and through and he has hardly been a success at City.
Go on, who is going to win?
Well I'm sorry for having to do this but when I was doing my predictions a month in advance, I had this one down as being City 5 Portsmouth 1 and I've seen little to alter my opinion to be honest, no doubt this prediction will come bake to haunt me.
All of the best for Portsmouth in the future (after Sunday!).
Questions answered by Kevinho from Vital Man City. Answers that paultsmouth gave are online NOW!
Do not forget that there will be a 'Pompey match day live' feature during the game, so join others on Vital Pompey as it unfolds - assuming you are not at it of course!
PLAY UP POMPEY!