Newsletter #789

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An extremely disappointing performance and result (0-0) down at Walsall saw us glean one point and KK lambast the performance, whilst Wolves did the business at Edgeley Park and stretched their lead to 5 points (although we do have two games in hand).

One of those games will be played on Wednesday night when Willie Donachie returns to Maine Road.

Tonight’s issue contains a match report via Israel thanks to Benny, plenty of opinion from all four corners of the globe, an ode to Dicky, the usual requests and a lovely Why Blue.

Anyone who fancies having a go at a report from Wednesday, please do so and let’s hope we have a more exciting game and committed performances on our hands.

Next game: Sheffield Wednesday, home, 7.45pm Wednesday 27 February 2002

MATCH REPORT ‘TV’: WALSALL O MCFC 0

The obvious pressure from Wolves’ win must have got to the players as it did the fans. The fact that we are by far the best team in the division only deepens the frustration felt after the goalless draw at Walsall. Israeli TV again showed the game live, which is a luxury I understand was not shared by those in the UK. You didn’t miss much:

The game started with a scrappy first 5 minutes. This was nothing unusual. Nerves and adrenalin were still high and it would take a while for City to settle and then dominate. That turning point never came. Weaver did very well collecting any potentially dangerous balls in the area. City were absorbing wave after wave of Walsall attacks. Obviously to catch them on the counter and then blow the game wide open. 10th minute Walsall FK; Fitzroy Simpson takes it; would he score against his old club? Thankfully no, his effort goes harmlessly out of play. Hmm. 15 minutes gone, City were obviously biding their time and KK had everything under control. Even the Goat was back defending; lingering doubts appeared in my mind. City string together 11 passes and in doing so they give themselves their best chance, alas Super Kev’s shot is blocked. All we get is a corner. It is a short corner. Why do City take short corners? Walsall counter only for Dunne to clear. 20th minute, a beautiful pass from Berkovic to the Goat… must be 1-0. Nope, he shoots right at the ‘keeper; plenty of time yet, the Goat will soon be fed. Another great pass from Berkovic to Tiatto leads to another shot straight at the ‘keeper. Halfway through the first half and frustration is mounting, will we ever score? Is this doomed to be a 0-1 defeat?

Optimism disappears although we are not playing badly. The good passing game continues. The absence of Wanchope is so obvious; we are crap without him, Hux just isn’t up to the task. 25-30th minute Walsall start to pressure City. City revert to their “Wimbledonesque” performance, the whole team is at 6’s and 7’s. Pathetic. Jensen, a bright spot in this sea of dark blue, sends in a perfect cross for either Berkovic or Hux. Either not both! They tangle with each other and another chance is wasted. Yet another City corner is taken short (why?) and Hux gets p****d at the linesman. City break well in the 44th minute as Hux lays off a nice ball for super Kev to blast over; frustrating. Walsall squander a great chance in the last minute of the half and we go in goalless. Disappointed yet somehow optimistic of getting three points even though we are playing badly and thus showing our championship calibre.

Second half. City immediately get a corner which of course comes to nowt. Frustration continues. Goat is slightly hurt in a collision on 51′ but he continues. Jensen once more is very impressive as he wins a corner from which Tiatto volleys wide. Another Jensen cross to the Goat is not controlled and the shot never comes. 60′ Hux fouled in the box, nothing given. Frustration continues. I remember thinking at this point that we haven’t played this badly all season. 64′ Berk once again finds the right pass as he lays off a great ball for Hux, yet again the shot goes wide. Too many great City moves are fizzing out to nothing. Ali B’s absence was now making itself apparent as too much pressure was being put on Eyal. Another City corner comes to nowt as both SWP and Eyal have shots blocked. 70′ Walsall corner, Weaver makes a hash of punching/catching, luckily he does get the ball on a second attempt. 72′ Pearce takes a beautiful FK and basically places the ball on the head of the Goat only to see it headed well wide. City now lose confidence. As usual Hux collects his collection of offside flags. 78′ Weaver pulls off an amazing save to keep the Blues in the game. Killen’s introduction for Hux is way too late as all City’s passing counts for nothing as there is no final touch. End to end stuff for the last 5 minutes with Super Kev missing an easy chance on 91′ summing up City’s day. KK says this is a point gained. I vigorously disagree.

Weaver– 5th straight game in goals, improved kicking, one good save – 7
Pearce – Good, strong, timely challenges. A wise head in defence – 7
Dunne – Solid in defense as usual. Deceptively quick – 7
Howey – Excellent game, numerous saving tackles in defence – 8
Jensen – Good crosses, good speed, no-one to benefit – 8
Horlock – Poor passinng, poor crosses – 4
Tiatto – Nothing much, forgot he was playing. Maybe my expectations of him are too high – 5
SWP – Superb in defense. Cleans up the mess made by other players’ mistakes. Some excellent challenges – 8
Berkovic – Deadly passing through the Walsall defense. 3 of his 1st half passes should have been converted into goals – 8
Hux – Still offside way too often (unjustly perhaps). Works very hard but he just can’t finish – 6
Goat – Pathetic. The great man is allowed to have an off day. Maybe next time he can have one while Chop is fit – 2
Killen – Played for around 15 minutes and impressed me; he had one chance but with KK playing him out wide nothing could be expected from him – 7

Overall: a point gained? 2 points lost? We’ll have to wait and see. Just a very frustrating evening in Tel-Aviv. :o(

Best wishes to all Blues.

CTID, Benjamin Bloom (bennyblue25@yahoo.com)

OPINION: PROS, CONS AND THE FUTURE

As a Dutch City fan, I often try to fill in the more vulnerable places in the City line-up with players I see a lot and ‘know’ football wise. After the piece I sent in last season about Royle needing an attacking and creative midfielder and the appearance of two of those the following season (which was too late), I am now making a stand for three positions. Hopefully next season these will be filled, which will be on time, as far as I am concerned.

The first is a goalkeeper. Carlo Nash is a valuable second goalie, capable of replacing anyone for a couple of matches, but not good and consistent enough for the longer run. Nicky Weaver is not progressing enough for a player his age. Besides that, at Premiership level you need someone more reassuring, which is definitely not Weaver’s main characteristic.

My suggestion would be any of the younger goalies in Britain, although some might be unrealistic because of having just signed and long term contracts. Leeds’ Robinson, Arsenal’s Wright and Liverpool’s Kirkland are highly talented and more solid options. As far as Dutch options go, I think Westerveld and Waterreus would both add a great deal to the team’s defence, although Westerveld has just transferred to Real Sociedad in Spain. Waterreus is slightly older, but very fit, experienced and mad about the English game. He would jump at the chance of trading PSV for an ambitious Premiership team, even one without European football in their first season(s). The third one is Harald Wapenaar of FC Utrecht, my Dutch favourites. Also thirty years old, but still a couple of years left and week in week out saving us points with excellent displays.

Secondly, a right wing back. Sean Wright-Phillips would be a lot better in the right midfield position, which would clear the way for a bit more balance in the team. Also at Utrecht, we have a Belgian guy called Stijn Vreven, who was eyed by Bolton Wanderers and Derby County at the beginning of this season. He has but one dream, to play in England, and he would be a sensation with his style of play, which is working, running, tackling and keeping the opponents’ left midfielder way back in his own half. He’s not the most gifted player, but he’s the best you can have as a team player who will give everything to his club while he is on the pitch.

The current City strikers generally have enough of the qualities that will be needed in the Premiership, but Shaun Goater is the only true finisher. Huckerby has a lot of pace, Dickov creates plenty of trouble and Wanchope has his moments of genius, but each one of those always end a season scoring ten to twelve goals. You need one guy up there who, generally speaking, is hated by the rest of the team and completely incapable of any sort of football we know, except for scoring loads of goals. At Heerenveen there’s a forward called Marcus Allb

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