Newsletter #439

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This issue has a belated match report from the Burnley game, and a more recent one versus Burnley Reserves; the latest squad news (including the departure of Clough) and plenty of opinion.

As there is a home game next Monday, my intention is to issue MCIVTA 440 on Sunday evening. It’s bound to be shorter than usual but I think preferable to waiting ’til Tuesday evening.

Next game, Preston North End at home, Monday 12th October 1998

MATCH REPORT

CITY RESERVES vs. BURNLEY RESERVES

My second reserve game in a season – something I haven’t done for over thirty years! City lined up:

	    Wright
Morley   Crooks  Fenton(A) Reilly
   Porteus    Bishop    Brown
   Russell     Greenacre  Bailey

In the end this turned out to be a pretty one sided win for a City team containing six players with first team experience.

City scored after 10 minutes through Bailey who was set up by Andy Porteus on the left wing. Porteus provided the cross from the right for Russell to score and make it 2-0 just before half time.

Russell scored a very good goal after sixty minutes and was immediately substituted – I wonder who’s in the squad for Monday?

Burnley scored after 72 minutes and City immediately restored a 3-goal lead through Greenacre and three minutes later Bailey scored after good work by Michael Brown.

The team:

Wright Played well and had to make a couple of good saves.
Morley Pretty impressive as an orthodox right back.
Reilly Better than last time I saw him but I can’t believe he could play left back if he tried forever. I think last year’s handbook lists him as a midfield player.
Crooks Calm and assured as a centre half. He looks bigger and stronger than he did last season.
Anthony Fenton Played well alongside Crooks. Won some important tackles.
Porteus A strong performance on the right of midfield. Set up the early goals. Seemed to tire but came back strongly at the end of the game.
Brown Much better than when I saw him at Oldham. Another one for Monday’s squad?
Bishop Quite unreal. He ran the game without ever putting in a tackle. He has the ability to stop the ball and think before passing. If he could get to first team fitness then Pollock, Bishop and Horlock would make a strong three in a 5-3-2 formation.
Greenacre Needs to be bigger and stronger. Effective at this level but not any higher.
Russell Scored two good goals, but wasn’t over evident apart from that.
Bailey Two more goals. This lad has a great record in the second team as a goalscorer. A bit on the lightweight side but he seems to play in a way where it’s not as obvious as Greenacre.

I’d never seen Porteus and Morley but have read the comments in Teamtalk about them joining Carlisle. Given that one performance can’t be taken as an accurate reflection of their abilities, I would not think selling them is too clever an idea. A spell on loan might help them. They can’t be straining the finances either.

It’s five wins and two losses so far this season.

Roger Haigh (r.haigh@x400.icl.co.uk)

MATCHVIEW – BURNLEY

As this was my first taste of Division 2 football, it was very thoughtful of City to provide me with a perfect summary of the season-to-date (erratic inconsistency in the space of 90 minutes, great hope for the future, but despair for the present, Goater looking poor, but scoring, Bradbury looking terrific, but not scoring, etc.).

Overall There is no doubt that this was two points dropped against a mediocre team. All the talk of these draws eventually turning into wins is optimistic. With our current reliance on late equalisers, it is more likely that we will turn the draws into defeats. As everybody recognises, this team is not the finished article and some personnel changes are still needed. While the backs could be blamed for conceding sloppy goals and the forwards blamed for missing chances, the source of most problems on Saturday was midfield – lack of creativity, lack of forward runs, lack of bite in tackling. I never thought I would call for Pollock or Brown to return to the team, but inbetween their suspensions, they might be the best we have to offer. We also need some width in midfield, as the “wing-backs” are not up to the job, and it is unfair on Bradbury to be expected to both create the chances from out wide and get into the box to finish them.

Weaver 7/10 Did nothing wrong, but doesn’t inspire absolute confidence. This may come in time, as he and the centre backs settle more.
Fenton 8/10 Excellent for 89 minutes, but everybody knows why he doesn’t deserve a 9 or 10! Commanding in the air, and confident on the ball, but perhaps too confident – why play the ball around in the box when a good hoof was the best option? It was very encouraging the way he played himself back into the game after the blunder, without any obvious encouragement from those around him. He is the one player we are at risk of losing to a bid from a higher division club.
Wiekens 7/10 A good organiser, solid most of the time. Brings an air of confidence to the team, which is lacking in some other players.
Vaughan 6/10 Despite looking like a disaster waiting to happen, he didn’t do much wrong. However, the BBC teletext for the Millwall game said it was Wiekens (not Vaughan) who had been sent off. I know which I would rather see suspended for three games.
Edghill 4/10 Some of the comments in MCIVTA 438 said that this was a better than average performance. God help us! Hardly made a tackle worthy of the name, and doesn’t get in position to cross the ball as often as a wing-back should. As his ratio of good crosses to bad crosses is similar to Goater’s ratio of goals to chances, he should follow the Bermudian’s example and keep trying more often.
Tiatto 3/10 Commitment = 10/10; Honesty = 10/10; Skill = 1/10. I was very disappointed. The crowd was very annoyed when he was taken off, but I think that’s just because they all wanted Edghill to go. Danny deserved to go. Has no composure on the ball, and gives away possession even more often than Vaughan; this makes the left flank very weak. However, the fact that he was dire might prove that getting kicked in the head at Millwall is not good preparation for a game.
Mason 4/10 Was he fit? Covered a lot of ground until he tired near the end, but no memorable contributions. Looks more like a creative, attacking midfielder, but spent most of his time covering back without getting in any important tackles.
Whitley 5/10 Honest effort, but looks nothing special. At least he had the courage to go for a long range shot in the middle of the second half when the likes of Horlock would have laid the ball off. There must be better in our vast squad.
Horlock 4/10 Probably the biggest disappointment of all. Disappeared from the game for long spells. Mediocre delivery from dead balls is not sufficient reason to keep him in the team. Without a Pollock or Brown in midfield, we are getting over-run. Would Horlock be better at left-back?
Goater 7/10 Tried hard, took his goal well; misses chances because he gets in position to have a go. As has been said many times on these pages, he is an excellent 2nd Division striker, but has his limits.
Bradbury 9/10 Man-of-the-match. He was the one player who looked a class above everything else. Vital contribution to the first goal and most of the other chances created in the dazzling first half hour. Good to see him using his strength to beat defenders. Kept going for headers, even when he was being thumped by their big centre-back. As his confidence improves, he will hopefully develop a killer instinct in the box. At the moment, his tendency to drift wide to pick the ball up and drag defenders away from goal means that we are better suited to playing with three up front.

Referee 5/10 I thought he was terrible, but if I was neutral, I probably would have thought he was okay. Someone near me in the Kippax shouted that not only the players and the grounds, but the referees get worse in Division 2 as well. I disagree – I was at Anfield on Sunday for the Liverpool-Chelsea game, and Graham Poll was abysmal. Chelsea are a cynical, negative shower of posers, while Liverpool have Paul Ince (need I say more?) – the referee virtually lost control of the game, and flashing yellow cards around didn’t help. Our ref on Saturday showed only one yellow, so he was probably right to ignore the series of little tiffs between Whitley and their number 10 (Cooke?).

Eamonn Lonergan (Eamonn.Lonergan@Irish-trade.ie)

NEWS SUMMARY

Paper talk has been linking us with moves for a few players, all of the rumours probably without much validity. One of the daftest has to be that Royle was after Jordi Cruyff – a rumour quickly quashed by Joe Royle (they really do get you out of hospital quickly these days!).

Perhaps the most welcome news is that Nigel Clough has finally departed for pastures new, er, his house actually! It seems City have bought off the remainder of his contract, for a figure which hasn’t, and probably won’t ever be made public.

Other news: Weaver has been called into near-action, on standby for the England Under 21’s and Carlisle are reported to be on the verge of completing a long-term loan deal for some as yet unnamed City players. Rumour has it that they might be Heaney and reserve team players Neil Morley and Andrew Porteous. Lastly, Brannan is waiting to see if the Canaries – for whom he has been playing on loan – will stump up some money to buy him. He is reported to be on offer at £350,000.

Thanks to Roger Lee

NEW CITY SQUAD

Latest changes to squad

At long, long last Nigel Clough has left the club. Of course he has gone nowhere, he’s just taken a whack of money and vanished. Thanks for small mercies.

Tommy Wright
Nick Weaver
Michael Brown
Gerard Wiekens
Tony Vaughan
Richard Edghill
Anthony Fenton
Nick Fenton
Murtaz Shelia
Richard Jobson
Danny Tiatto
Kakhaber Tskhadadze
Kevin Horlock
Jamie Pollock
Lee Crooks
Gary Mason
Jeff Whitley
Jim Whitley
Michael Brown
Neil Heaney Transfer Listed
Ian Bishop Transfer Listed
Ged Brannan Loaned to Norwich
Paul Dickov
Lee Bradbury
Shaun Goater
Alan Bailey
Danny Allsopp
Chris Greenacre Transfer Listed
Ray Kelly Transfer Listed
Mikhail Kavalashvili Loaned to Grasshoppers Z

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