going by train then you can get a ticket to Ashburys (see below), which is quite
close to the ground, for the same price as Piccadilly or Victoria.
If you decide to drive over then I haven't any first-hand knowledge of parking. Parking in the streets around the ground is residents only, so you either have to park some distance away or use a car park. There's an official car park, but it can take you up to an hour to get out after the game. Smaller unofficial car parks cost the same, but you'll probably get out much quicker. An option is to park well away from the ground and catch a tram in.
Getting to the ground
You catch the tram (every 6 minutes) from Piccadilly, and the nearest stop to the ground is Etihad Campus. It remains to be seen how long you'll have to wait for a tram after the game. Another way to get there is by train from Piccadilly to Ashburys, which is a 15 minute walk from the ground. The journey time is only 4 minutes. The good thing about this option is that a ticket bought to Manchester Stations (as opposed to Piccadilly or Victoria) is valid through to Ashburys. Alternatively you could walk all the way, which should take you 25-30 minutes. The bus is a better bet. Service and special buses leave from the north side of Piccadilly Gardens (outside Nobles Amusements). Finally there is of course the taxi option.
There aren't many pubs around the ground, and most of those that there are should be avoided. The Townley, only a five minute walk from the ground, should though be ok if you get there early and are discrete. The Grove Inn, a 10 minute walk away, apparently tolerates away fans, as does the Bradford Inn. The Bridge Inn, very close to the Grove, should also be ok. The Grove and the Bradford are the only ones with cask beer.
When travelling over by train our usual pre-match haunt was for a long time the Waldorf, near Piccadilly, a proper pub with a decent range of beers and basic food. It has though recently been done out and gone a bit upmarket. Alternatively, some of our lot prefer Sinclairs, which is a Sam Smiths pub over towards Victoria. Being Sams, it has cheap beer. However, they no longer have hand pumps, plus they'll only serve you in plastic glasses. A couple of pubs that are worth the hike are the Crown and Anchor (beer nothing special, but excellent pub food) and the Unicorn (lively, relatively cheap belting beer).
It goes without saying that there are a few Wetherspoons outlets around. Possibly to be avoided is the one in Piccadilly Gardens, imaginatively called Wetherspoons. If you arrive at Victoria you might want to check out the Seven Stars. But the best is probably the Waterhouse, which is not your typical Spoons and gets good reviews. Next door to the Waterhouse is the City Arms, which is a belting pub with around eight real ales on at any one time.
City centre pub map
Football Ground Guide