Newsletter #792

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A great game on Tuesday night saw us come from behind to win 2-1 against Birmingham with goals from Jensen and Horlock. This result ensures that the top-of-the-table-tag continues as we are 3 points behind Wolves and still a couple of games in hand. We are now left without Weaver for the rest of the season due to cartilage damage and KK is looking for a loan replacement.

Tomorrow night sees us over the Pennines to face a depleted Bratfud so anyone watching live or at home please consider sharing your views.

Tonight however sees Don’s comprehensive news round-up, three match reports (live, TV and reserves) thanks to James, Carol and Gavin, plenty of opinion on players past and present and the end-of season P word which I don’t want to mention.

A good weekend to everyone and happy Mothers’ Day to all you mums out there.

Next game: Bradford City, away, 7.45pm Friday 8 March 2002 (TV game)

NEWS SUMMARY

General News

Reserves Triumph Again: Twenty four hours after meeting in first team action, City and Sheffield Wednesday’s reserve sides took the field at Hillsborough. The game resulted in another triumph for the Blues but it was a little less straightforward than the seniors’ game. The Owls thought they’d enliven the game by having their goalie sent off after eight minutes for a handball outside the area. Clearly relics of Old City lurk in the seconds, because we then allowed Wednesday to take the lead. Reality set in during the second half, as two goals in three minutes from the Chrises Killen and Shuker ensured a City victory. City’s line up was: Brian Murphy, Joey Barton, Stephen Jordan, Glenn Whelan, Paddy McCarthy, Phil Gilder, Chris Shuker, Jeff Whitley, Chris Killen, Terry Dunfield, Terry Cooke. Subs: Gary Browne, Kevin Ellegaard, Gary Furnival, Ciaran Kilheeney, Adam James.

New Season Ticket Offer: City’s website have announced details of a new two year season ticket deal. City’s 25,000 season ticket holders have been given the chance to buy a two year ticket, effectively freezing the price for the second year. This also ensures a huge fan base for the move across the City to Eastlands in the 2003-2004 season. Chairman David Bernstein said that the two-year package on offer would “substantially improve cash flow”, making more money available for players. The M.E.N. reckons that this could be in excess of £16 million. The chairman insisted that the main purpose of the offer was to reward the loyalty of the fans. “Time after time, our supporters are praised for their fanatical support and loyalty. It is not often that a club can offer a real reward. We feel a price freeze is some acknowledgement of how much we appreciate our fans,” remarked Bernstein.

Eyal Speaks Out: Eyal Berkovic has been giving some forthright views to Israeli TV this week. He did not make too many complimentary comments about former club Celtic and their manager Martin O’Neill. Eyal reckoned that City had the potential to be a bigger club than Celtic, and thought he’d been mistreated by O’Neill. “I feel cheated in only one thing, that he never told me I had no future at the club. If he had said, ‘Eyal, you’re a good player but I am not going to count on you’ then, fair enough, I would have thanked him for his honesty.” Moving on to the current love of his football life, Eyal said “I’m looking forward to the next practice and looking forward to meeting the guys in the dressing room. My dream is to play with Manchester City in the Champions’ League. I think it is realistic. With West Ham we got to fifth place in the Premiership and fifth place today is almost a place in the Champions League. I think we can make it.” Having stated that Real Madrid had wanted to sign him before they landed Zidane, he showed how much of a good judge of a player he is. He told KK not to sign Ali B, but is man enough to admit now, “I was wrong. I apologised to Keegan. He is an excellent player.”

Pearce in Testimonial Action: Our Captain is due to be one of the stars in action in Matt Le Tissier’s testimonial game at St. Mary’s on Tuesday May 14. Le Tissier’s Southampton team will take on an England all-star side. Other players expected to appear are John Barnes, Alan Shearer, Peter Beardsley and Jamie Redknapp.

Boss Applauds Board: After the Coventry game last Sunday, KK was full of praise for the backing he has received from the Board. He illustrated the point with a naughty comparison between the two clubs. “Coventry are one of the best sides in the division, but you could see the difference between the two teams. When I joined the club I was told by the board that I would not have to sell anyone and that there was a bit of money to spend as well. Coventry had to clear the decks completely. They had a lad from Doncaster in their line-up, I’m not saying anything against him, but when we lost Eyal Berkovic we were able to bring on Niclas Jensen, a Danish international. We should be good enough to get out of this division, if only to repay the board for not making me raise cash by selling. I think we are getting the rewards for that now because it is a crucial part of the season and we are missing around five players, but we have the squad to deal with it.”

Forest Do City A Favour: Nottingham Forest gave us a pleasant surprise last night, when they twice came from behind to hold Wolverhampton Wanderers to a 2-2 draw. This means that Wolves only have a three-point lead on City, having played two more games. City’s vastly superior goal difference means that a win against Bradford on Friday will put the Blues back on top of the League, at least until Saturday tea-time at least. Wolves face Birmingham on Saturday afternoon.

Reserves Hit By Wind Troubles: City were unable to play their Manchester Senior Cup tie with Oldham on Wednesday, due to gale force winds at Ewan Fields. The game was postponed for twenty four hours. Football’s only deep vein thrombosis sufferer was due for a comeback in this game. Alioune Toure, out of action since November, was included in the starting line up. City’s announced side was: Kevin Ellegaard, Tyrone Mears, Stephen Jordan, Glenn Whelan, Paddy McCarthy, Joey Barton, Chris Shuker, Terry Dunfield, Gary Browne, Alioune Toure, Terry Cooke. Subs: Adam James, Brian Murphy, Ciaran Kilheeney, Phil Gilder, James Almond.

City Do A Ton: City became the first English team to score one hundred goals in all competitions when Kevin Horlock struck the winner against Birmingham on Tuesday. “It is no mean feat to score a hundred goals this season. We have missed a lot of chances along the way, but I suppose you shouldn’t get greedy,” said KK “I guessed it was a hundred goals as the fans tell you, don’t they. They know more than we do! I had no idea we were at ninety eight until the match with Birmingham. We have players who are inventive so we are going to score goals. We now have players who have character as well who are going to stand up and get us something out of the game in the difficult periods of a match when your backs are against the wall. Birmingham showed that they can be dangerous from set pieces and they got us early on. We had to bounce back from that and we did.”

Transfer News and Gossip

Kitson Rumour Dismissed: Sunday’s big transfer rumour had West Ham’s Paul Kitson on his way to Maine Road on a two year deal. Seeing a name like Kitson was frankly disappointing, as we had been promised a big name signing last week by the M.E.N. – unlikely targets included Kevin Phillips, Alan Smith and Robbie Keane. Later in the day the Kitson move was denied by West Ham, who still needed the 31 year old as cover until the summer at least. We need not have worried, however…

Macken’s the Man: … because Monday tea time brought much better news, as City moved in for a player of the calibre we had hoped for. Imagine this correspondent’s surprise to turn his car radio at 5.00pm to hear Radio 5 Live announce that City had agreed a fee of £5 million with Preston for Jon Macken. This fee tops the £3.65 million paid by JR for Paulo Wanchope. Macken you may recall scored with a forty yard lob against City earlier in the season, and played a Dickov-like game at Maine Road, generally being a pain to the City defence but with the un-Dickov ability to score (again) against us. Preston boss David Moyes was philosophical about the sale of his star man. “I am disappointed at the loss of Macken but on receiving an offer of £5 million I considered that a fair price,” he said. “The timing is not good, but sometimes this happens in football. I’ve done everything I could to keep him here. We had an obligation to let the player know about such an offer and the opportunity to be almost certainly playing in the Premiership next year.” Boss Kevin thought Macken was one of the best strikers at holding the ball up, prompting the player to say “I think I hold the ball up well and believe it is a big strength of mine. But I also like to think I can score goals as well, which is the main thing.” City’s record signing continued, “I heard about the move on Tuesday afternoon. As soon as I was told I just couldn’t believe it at first. It didn’t take me long to make my mind up; as soon as I was told it was Manchester City, I was on my way here!” Macken will wear the number eight shirt recently vacated by Simon Colosimo. Our friends in Trafford will also benefit to the tune of £1 million, as the Reds inserted a sell-on clause when flogging their reserve striker to Preston back in 1997. Chairman David Bernstein signalled City’s intention to strengthen for the Premiership by announcing “We are determined to continue to improve the quality of the squad and we have lacked cover up front,” he said. “We have acquired a quality forward who will help our promotion drive and if all goes to plan improve the quality of our squad in the Premier League.”

Ex-Blues’ News

Etuhu’s Views: Dickson Etuhu has been speaking to the Evening News about his stormy return to Maine Road last month, and about life at Preston. Etuhu was clearly shaken by his experience. “It was very difficult and I’ll never let that get hold of me again – I’ll never let that happen again – it was a new experience,” he said. “Blues fans booed me every touch of the ball I made. It did get to me a little bit. But, hey, I was at Manchester City a couple of weeks before and everybody loved me. Now everyone hates me. It’s okay. They have to do that, don’t they?” Etuhu received a better reception from his former colleagues. “The City lads were great to me,” stated Dickson. “I’m still friends with the players and I wish them all the best.” Life at his new club is going well for the player – “I’m settling in well and I’m glad I’m here at Preston. The manager and players are great – I love it.”

Reactions and Comments

SUnday Service Continues: Sunday’s demolition of Coventry City was followed by the usual fulsome praise from a vanquished manger. Roland Nilsson said “I think we did alright for 15 minutes but as soon as they scored we lost our shape and that opened up the gaps in our side – and Manchester City just destroyed us. They were the best team we have faced this season. We were trying to minimise the spaces for them to play, with Lee Hughes and (Youssef) Chippo attacking more than defending, but I think that’s where we lost our shape and didn’t control it well enough. They both had to stay back most of the time and we came under a lot of pressure.” Of City, Nilsson said “If you give them space, they will destroy you, and that is what they did. We need to re-organise quickly, the players are very low.” Mystic Kev predicted that “We are going back to the Premiership if we keep playing like this,” adding that “I don’t know how many chances we had today but it was quite a few. You’ve got to be happy, because Coventry are one of the best sides in the division.” The boss highlighted the performances of two players in particular, namely Dazza Huckerby and Shaunie Wright-Wright-Wright. Huckerby is hot stuff at the moment, “His football up to the penalty area – and sometimes in it – was absolutely world-class. No one could handle him and I’m talking about no-one, even at the top level. If he could just put goals on to 50% of his football at the moment, I think he would have got more than Shaun Goater.” Kev went into verbal overdrive over SWP, especially after Shaun’s sublime chip for City’s fourth goal. KK opined “Shaun Wright-Phillips will play for England, he’s an absolute certainty – it’s just a case of when. He’s got too much going for him. It may not be this year, it may not be next year, but he will. Bill Shankly once said that of me and I did go on to play for England. I am saying it now about Shaun Wright-Phillips. He is a clever player as we saw by his second goal yesterday. If they show that goal on slow motion on TV it will never go in. It just seemed to take an age! But it was a clever goal and that is why I said Shaun Wright-Phillips will go on to play for England. He has not just got ability, courage and a heart as big as himself, but he is a clever player. Put all those things together and there is only one place that you will end up playing and that is at the very top. That is where Shaun Wright-Phillips is going and hopefully he is going there with us.” Shaun’s performance was even more remarkable as he played with five stitches in a gash received four days earlier against Sheffield Wednesday.

Sun Will Shine, Says KK: Kevin Keegan gave his latest signing Sun Jihai a “gentle introduction” to the action last Sunday, when he brought the Chinese international on for a debut fifteen minutes at the end of the Coventry game. Keegan said: “I think you can tell how much I rate him from the fact that I paid £2 million for him. He is a very strong lad and has two wonderful feet. It is hard to tell if he is left or right footed because he is so good with the ball at his feet. He is a certainty to be a Premiership player. There is not a doubt in my mind. This was just a gentle introduction for him so he could learn a little bit more about Manchester City.”

Bruce Praises City: How good it was to hear ex-Red Steve Bruce having to praise City on Wednesday night after losing 2-1 to our Mighty Blue Machine. The least loyal manger in the Football League (is it three or four clubs he’s walked out on?) was forced to admit that City “were very, very good. In fact, that is probably the best Manchester City team I have seen. City will win the title, I’ve no doubts about that. I’ve seen them play a few times this season and they’re far and away the best team in the division.” Our Kevin, ever the perfectionist, thought City could have finished their chances better. “We should have scored more,” he commented. “Perhaps we overplayed things at times; nevertheless we played some great stuff.” KK set out the aim for the season, saying “I want to win the championship with the best side in the division. We again gave ample proof of the quality that is in the side. I thoroughly enjoyed the match which contained a lot of quality play.”

Squad News

The Way Agents Work: There was an interesting look into the murky world of the footballer’s agent in Saturday’s Daily Express. Under the headline “Tug of War for Shaun’s Name”, we read of the battle to become the agent of our hottest property, SWP. You may remember that when Dickson Etuhu left Maine Road, KK said “I’ve got no problem with Dickson but I wouldn’t like to see his agent round here again.” The problem is that Etuhu’s agency, L&G Sports Network, also represent little Shaunie. The Express claims City are ready to increase Shaun’s wages from a mere £900 per week, to a much healthier four year deal worth £1 million. Now it’s being reported that Ian Wright wants his adopted son to sign with his own agency, a move which KK supports (quelle surprise). A spokesman for L&G commented “Shaun is the innocent party in this. We are resigned to losing him because of the influence of his stepfather. But we are quite entitled to seek compensation because his contract with us does not run out until next January. City are in breach of rules here by encouraging him to change agents.” The article also alleged that “friends” of Shaun were disgusted at Ian Wright’s sudden interest in the player, claiming that the former England star had only shown an interest in his son once he had played in the lucrative Premiership last season. What heart-warming folk work in that industry…

The Walking Wounded: Speaking before the Birmingham game, Boss Kev gave an update on the more seriously injured squad members. Paulo Wanchope’s target is a return in the Friday night game at Bradford. “There is no chance of Paulo being back for the Birmingham game”, said the boss. “If it was a Cup Final he could have played but at this moment in time I and the physio want to get Paulo fit to play every two days. That’s what we will be doing. We are working on strengthening his muscles and he will be there when we need him. He is a player who I respect. He has done an excellent job for us so far this season. We want him back, but we want him back fully fit.” Eyal Berkovic limped off against Coventry after turning an ankle. “We don’t yet know the extent of the injury,” explained Kevin Keegan. “But anything like that is worrying. It was a bad tackle and the player didn’t even get a booking. But we have proved that we can still win without Eyal Berkovic. We have Ali Benarbia in there and Danny Tiatto while Kevin Horlock is having a great season for us.” Latest reports on Eyal suggest that he is unlikely to be fit for the Bradford clash, but may well be OK for Tuesday’s trip to Gresty Road to face Crewe.

Relief of the Goat: The ever-candid Shaun Goater thanked the Maine Road crowd for their support after finally converting one of numerous chances against Sheffield Wednesday last week. The Bermudian freely admitted that up to the eighty-eighth minute of the match, he’d been having a nightmare. “What a night for me that was,” he reflected. “Nothing went right and I was having an absolute horror. The gaffer did everything he could at half time to keep my head up but in the end, it was the crowd’s response that got to me. They must have been tempted to have a go about the number of chances I had missed but they just kept chanting for me. It is not something that I normally notice because I am so in tune with the game, but it was unbelievable and it got to the point where I was determined not to leave the pitch without having scored. I was just so grateful that the final chance came along and I was able to thank the fans properly. I have never felt so relieved to score a goal. I didn’t want to walk off having felt I had let the supporters down after they had done so much to gee me up and almost will the ball into the net. My team mates were great, too. They could see I was having a bad time and in those situations you couldn’t blame them from shooting from all angles rather than passing the ball to me, but they were incredibly supportive and kept their belief in me.”

In the Steps of the King: Jon Macken’s family has been quick to point out the significance of his new squad number. Macken explained, “A lot of my family and friends are Manchester City fans, real Blues so it is a dream come true for me. It certainly means a lot to me to have the number eight shirt which of course was Colin Bell’s squad number. It is a special number and it was my dad who was quick to point out to me that it was Colin Bell’s number. I know it is a lot to live up to so it is up to me to listen and learn, to work hard and hopefully I can succeed here. My first day at City has been tremendous, seeing the facilities. I feel I have got that improvement in me and can become a better player under Kevin Keegan and his coaching and also by listening to other players. It is always been a dream of mine to play in the Premiership and hopefully we can achieve that promotion this season. I am looking forward to playing in front of packed houses at Maine Road. It is a special atmosphere and I have always enjoyed that atmosphere every time I have played there.” Macken was a non-playing substitute at the Birmingham game on Tuesday.

Strength in Depth: KK has been talking about the strength in depth of his current squad. At Birmingham on Tuesday, Keegan was able to recall Richard Dunne, Stuart Pearce, Ali Benarbia, Danny Tiatto and Lucien Mettomo. Also on the bench were KK’s latest pair of signings Sun Jihai and Jonathon Macken. This was bad news for two long term squad members, Gerard Wiekens and Richard Edghill, who didn’t even make the bench at St. Andrews. “I’ve had to leave Gerard off the bench and that hurt because he has not had a bad game for me,” commented Kevin. “The same goes for Richard Edghill. Neither of them has let me down this season. It is a sign of the strength in depth we have here at the moment.”

Howey Back Soon: Steve Howey was another Blue casualty at St Andrews on Tuesday. The Geordie limped off with a leg injury which makes him extremely doubtful for Friday. Lucien Mettomo and Richard Dunne are both now available to replace Howey (Dunne was only given a one match ban by the FA for his sending off at Newcastle). KK is not too worried about Howey’s injury though: “I’ve known Steve long enough to know that he sometimes just needs an arm around him and a few gentle words. He’ll soon be OK,” reckoned the Boss.

Weaver’s Woe at Brum: It’s been confirmed that Nicky Weaver has damaged his cartilage and will miss the rest of the season. Weaver went off in the 33rd minute of the Birmingham game, and Kevin Keegan is now expected to sign a goalkeeper on loan as back up to Carlo Nash. Boss Kev had told GMR that he wouldn’t want to put pressure on an inexperienced ‘keeper at such a crucial time of the season. He said: “We will find out this week what the full extent of Nicky’s injury is. Brian Murphy is a good young ‘keeper and will be fine as cover if Nicky is only out for seven to 10 days. But if he is going to be out for a while then we are going to have to bring someone else in because we can’t risk going into the next couple of months without two experienced ‘keepers.”

Don Barrie (djb1305@yahoo.co.uk)

MATCH REPORT ‘LIVE’: BIRMINGHAM CITY 1 MCFC 2

We rolled up at St. Andrews in plenty of time feeling slightly nervous about the possibilities of both a slip-up by City and a punch-up with the Brummie heads, given recent trouble between the two sets of supporters. As it turned out, we needn’t have been worried on either count.

First of all, we saw no trouble. I saw plenty of people who looked prepared for trouble if needs be – there were a few faces present that I haven’t seen for a while and they hadn’t got any more attractive over the intervening period. There was a definite atmosphere of potential trouble but, as far as I know, nothing happened thankfully. We made it safely back to the railway station anyhow, desperately trying not to smile. I definitely wouldn’t recommend a nightime stroll in Digbeth to everyone!

As for thinking City could drop points here, I knew we would not after four minutes when Birmingham dared to score first. It came out of a nothing free-kick at the other end of the stadium, I guess our marking must have been slack but I couldn’t see for sure. Johnson buried the header and Weaver had no chance. From then, I just knew we would win and I was proved right.

It was simply supreme football from our Lord Kev’s team from then on, with only a couple of scares from the midlanders. The game seemed to consist entirely of wave after wave after wave of sublime attacking football from City. It was a total joy to watch. I think the Independent newspaper summed up the game quite well: “Bravely, Birmingham attempted to match fire with fire against the First Division’s most potent attacking force but were ultimately worn down by the sheer weight of City’s will to score.”

As half-time approached and City still hadn’t scored, I was just beginning to get nervous again. Then up popped Niclaus Jensen to bang away his first goal for the club. 3,000 adoring City fans roared their approval, those who hadn’t nipped off early to beat the queue for a beer or a pie anyway.

I have been in two minds about Jensen and, mostly thanks to television, have seen nearly all of his games for the Blues so far. I decided last night; I reckon he will do the business for us in the Premiership. He is never going to be world class but he will be a solid and dependable player who is excellent at the basics of his job and likes coming forward when the time is right – another inspired signing by Keegan, who really does seem to know his players.

Both before and after our equaliser the Brum ‘keeper, Ian Bennett, was having an inspired night, keeping SWP at bay, sometimes with the help of his woodwork. Shauny seems to be brimming with confidence at the moment, he’s just unstoppable. He did tire badly towards the end of the game and I think he has more than earned a breather and a rest in one of the two upcoming games. That could give Macken a chance to make his full début.

Bad news for Shauny was an unlucky booking in the 87th minute, which looked like the referee was giving simply to up his average bookings ratio with the FA. It wasn’t a bad challenge and it was a shame because I had hardly noticed the ref until then. Some good news for Shauny is that the England U21 manager David Pratt, sorry Platt, was in the crowd and can only have been impressed. Incidentally, it was probably my fault he didn’t seal his hat-trick against Cov, I had a quid on 4-2 correct score at 50-1 and was, I admit shamefully, screaming for him to miss. At least my winnings paid for my night out in Brum and the chance to roar on the Blues to greater heights.

As for Weaver, he was looking OK again, almost as confident as in the Coventry game. I missed the incident where he got injured – thanks to hunger pangs – so I didn’t realise he had been subbed until I saw him grab a cross out of the air with ease and said “that looks like Nash” to the mate I was there with. “It is”, he replied as I read the name on the back of his shirt. Anyway, my namesake didn’t put a foot wrong once he came on, mainly because he had practically nothing to do. I do prefer him in goal, if only for the confidence he brings to the defence, and it’s not because I like having my own name on the back of my shirt, honest!

Everyone played well except for Goater. He had another bad game, by the standards of the rest of the team, missing two or three good chances and some even better ones that he hit straight at Bennett. Although he tries his damndest, I do not see how he will be first choice in the Premiership when we get promoted. In current form, he needs 4 or 5 chances before he scores. If Macken can be a good foil for Wanchope and/or Huckerby, the Goat may be on a starvation diet next season. I cannot believe I am saying that after he has scored 29 goals already but I am.

City exhibited their tendency to overplay the ball and we should have scored more but who’s complaining? We did the job we went there to do against a team I reckon will finish in the top six despite this defeat (and then perform their annual cock-up in the semi finals, naturally). Devlin and the aforementioned Bennett looked good for them. Stern John was rubbish and not just because he’s got a silly name!

Our winner came midway through the second half. It was a deflected effort and we thoroughly deserved it. I think Super Kev was man of the match; he was a rock in midfield, scored the winner and cleared a ball off our goalline in the last minute. Ali B was a contender too, he was magnificent again, barely missing creative partner Berkovic, but the Northern Irishman really shone last night in a team of very bright lights. It was an excellent team performance, as good as the one against Newcastle I would say, and more important to boot.

Pearce was Pearce and got booked. Howey was Howey and was subbed. These two didn’t have much defending to do but they did it well. Tiatto put a lot of good work in, in the middle. Dunne perhaps was not entirely up to scratch and he did give away the free-kick that led to their goal. Sun Jihai, Ritchie and Macken were the unused subs.

Hopefully, Forest will have done us a favour by the time you read this but, even if they don’t, I won’t mind too much. I am really enjoying this run-in and the tussle with Wolves for top spot. Realistically, only West Brom can catch one of us now but since the Baggies lost Jason Roberts for the season, I think we can count them out.

It will take a massive screw-up from City to throw promotion away. We all know City are capable of it, having seen this sort of thing too often before, but it really does feel different this time. Come on folks, we’ve scored a hundred goals in all competitions (11 against Birmingham), the team is playing joyous Premiership-class football, Maine Road is buzzing again and even some of the Rags I know are making grudgingly positive noises about us. Face facts, we are going up – unless I read we have re-signed John Burridge as cover for Carlo, that is.

All we need to do to make sure of survival after promotion is to buy a fast central defender and maybe another holding midfield player to cover for Horlock. Mettomo looked total quality last night but we are still lacking pace at the back, which is a big issue, I do admit. Once we are up, sufficient money will appear; I have no doubt of that! We should be aiming at a top half finish and not just comfortable survival.

There is an excellent interview with David Bernstein in the latest Bert Trautmann’s Helmet, which spiced up the train journey home. Also, it carries the sorry news that Noel Bayley plans to hang up his pen after next season. Apparently, part of the reason for this is that you sorry mob out there are not buying enough copies. Get your arses in gear and start buying it, and don’t rely on MCIVTA for everything! You really are spoiled these days with all this free stuff on the web as well, you know. It is not going to last forever, believe me!

I, for one, would miss Bert greatly, if nothing else, it’s got the best name of any ‘zine in the country. Apart from the one-off I did a few years back called “Wigout!” that is.

James Nash (J.Nash@mdx.ac.uk)

MATCH REPORT ‘TV’: BIRMINGHAM CITY 1 MCFC 2

Well say what you like about ITV Digital and their mucking us all about with stupid ruddy kick off times which really do p**s us all off, but they have their uses on occasions! So when I saw their advert Monday night saying they would be showing the full match on Tuesday night from 10.30pm, a tape was put in, friends who like me weren’t able to go to the game were invited to watch and have a few beers, even though we did know the score beforehand!

Panic set in however just before the game kicked off when the teams were announced and the Dunneymonster was shown as playing! How? He had a three match ban didn’t he? Didn’t this ban take into account Coventry, Brum and Bradford? Was KK aware that if he played we might lose the points?! Aaaarrrggghhhh! Fortunately commentator Peter Drury remarked that his ban was only for one match – how come neither the programme or the MuEN didn’t know this? Chris Bailey did make a minor mention of it in his match marks on Wednesday night.

Anyway, conceding a soft goal four minutes into the game didn’t help with Dunney being the culprit in giving away the free kick. The defence seemed to stand still to allow Michael Johnson a free shot. 1-0 down and not looking good. However, this seemed to spark the team into life and from the TV point of view we started to overrun Birmingham with the Goat and the Huckster coming fairly close. Niclas Jensen equalised for us at the end of the first half which was only deserved. Unfortunately Nick Weaver did some damage to his knee and was eventually replaced by Carlo Nash. Hopefully not too serious for NW but I must admit to being somewhat relieved to see Carlo back in goal – the defence always looks more solid and happier with him there. Messrs Pearce and Purse were having a fairly friendly running battle with tackles flying in which would make most of us wince but both had smiles on their faces which was nice to see!

Half Time 1-1, the beers were replenished and we settled down for the second half wondering if new signing Jon Macken would make his début. Seems we carried on where we left off although Birmingham did start to look a little menacing! Super Kev scored our second in the 67th minute (another non-tap in!) and the 100th in all competitions this season! SWP was having another blinder, the Goat was looking subdued but to be fair to him he kept on plugging away and was unlucky on more than one occasion not to add to his impressive season’s tally (please get to 30 Goat before van Nisteldonk!), Huck was driving us mad with either being caught offside or not passing when someone else was in a better position but hey! His speed was bothering the defence all night! Dodgy barnet though! Anyway Stern John, I think it was, missed the best Brum chance of the night when clean through and should have scored but he sliced his shot well wide, much to the delight of the Blues fans behind Carlo’s goal. If I didn’t already know the score then I would have been rather worried!

Still, 3 more points, Wolves only drew with Forest last night – it’s in our own hands, we need to win the two games in hand – keep going boys!

Carol Darvill (carold@city-fan.org)

MATCH REPORT: SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY RES 1 MCFC RES 2

Shuker Stars through the Sheffield Sludge

The frustrating evening was finally rewarded for all us City fans that made the effort to travel across the Peak District in wintry conditions with a win, coming from one nil down. It was a very young and inexperienced side, which saw goals from Killen and Shuker earn a deserved win after seeing their side go one nil down in the first half. There was surely a doubt as to whether this fixture was going ahead as weather in the area had taken a turn for the worst; but fortunately the worst of it held off and despite the state of the pitch a good game of football ensued.

It all started brightly for City in the third minute, when Shuker forged his way into the box and cut a cross back that was fortunate to be intercepted before it reached the boot of Killen. Three minutes later the referee confirmed that officiating a game of football was not his forte as he decided to send off keeper Richard Siddall for handball outside the area. The reason I say this is that it quite clearly came off his chest and some two minutes earlier he decided that Killen’s boot was his hand also, although we were just punished by the award of a free kick against us rather than the sending off of a vital player.

Sean Roberts replaced the luckless ‘keeper at the expense of number 8 Stephen Santry. The game saw some good possession by City and some good inter-passing. As City only had one recognised striker in Killen (though Keegan seems to have other plans for him), City’s clear cut chances were few and far between; Cooke, who was playing up front alongside Killen, drifted wide on numerous occasions. Numerous corners and shots were created mainly through the industry of Shuker and Barton on the left. But the break came not to City but to Wednesday when Sheffield’s number 7, Calem Connolly, had a fierce shot saved by Brian Murphy to earn them a corner. From the ensuing corner Carlin Itonga scored from a flick on by the increasingly “dirty” Michele Di Piedi. City finished the half creating a few chances, the best of which fell to Cooke who was twice denied by the substitute ‘keeper.

The second half continued as the first ended. City piled on the pressure, with Shuker floating a great cross only to see Whitley head straight at the ‘keeper. Gary Browne was brought on for Phil Gilder, who was increasingly becoming ineffectual in the game. Some minutes later Shuker split the Wednesday defence to send Killen clear but again the ‘keeper was up to the task. Then on 64 minutes city equalised. Dunfield passed to Cooke on the edge of the area, who found Killen unmarked in the box and he slotted the ball under the Wednesday ‘keeper.

Four minutes later a good cross by Cooke found Shuker about 15 yards out but the ‘keeper held onto his shot. He would not have to wait much longer though as Killen found him running clear into the box to score another fine strike; his fifth in three games. All five of his goals have been first class – with Berkovic having injury problems, maybe it’s time to bring him into the first team squad and a place on the bench? Five minutes later saw Killen substituted as thoughts of Sunday’s game loomed; having no strikers on the bench would be unthinkable for a Kevin Keegan side. This substitution gave a reserve début to Ciaran Kilheeney. He was rewarded with a fine shot four minutes later, which was brilliantly saved by the ‘keeper. Also right at the death he hit a Shuker cross onto the bar.

The game finished 2-1 but that scoreline does not show out how one-sided this match was, mainly down to Shuker of course who gains my Man of the Match award for the third game in a row; he brings a smile to my face much like Wright Phillips used to a couple of years ago. However, as much as I like him, I cannot see him making it in the Premiership for a little while as he has to learn more how to use his size against better defenders, but I would never rule it out as he has made great strides forward in these last few months. I have to finish the game on more of a sour note that Mr Nicholson the referee never gave the City players the decisions they deserved and quite unbelievably sent a ‘keeper off for playing the ball with his chest.

Let’s hope the final round robin game in the Senior Cup against Oldham at Hyde on Wednesday gives us the 100% record that we deserve.

Sheffield Wednesday: Siddall (GK) s/o 6 mins, Oates, Wood, O’Connor, U’ddin, Gibson, Connolly (48mins Shaw), Santry (6 mins Roberts GK), Di Piedi, Morrison (70 mins Muller).

Manchester City: Murphy (GK), Barton, Jordan, Whelan, McCarthy, Gilder (55mins Browne), Shuker, Whitley, Killen (74 mins Kilheeney), Dunfield, Cooke.

Goals:
32 mins Sheffield Wednesday – Itonga
64 mins City – Killen
69 mins City – Shuker

Gavin Cooper (Blueboy@mancity.net)

OPINION: DICKOV

I haven’t contributed in years but I just thought I would make a quick point about PD. People remember that goal and talk about him also scoring vs Blackburn the following year. But, in fact, for me, his rôle at Blackburn was as important as at Wembley.

When he came on for fat, ineffective Bob Taylor, we were 1-0 down, playing poorly, and facing the play-offs. He then proceeded to make his presence felt up front, and in fact had a crucial rôle in all four goals. He set up Horlock to cross for the Goat (1-1), pressurised Dailly into that own goal (2-1), took away two defenders for Kennedy to score (3-1), and of course scored the 4th himself. Without him that day, we might not have gone up.

A true City legend.

Mark Braude (markbraude@hotmail.com)

OPINION: TURNING TO THE DARK SIDE?

As distasteful as it may be to many City fans, could it be that we’re actually turning into Manchester United? I’m referring to our stats for the season so far (as of Thursday, March 7), which bear a striking resemblance to those of our beloved Manchester rivals. Compare:

Points per game:          City - 2.06,  Utd. - 2.03
Win %:                    City - 64,    Utd. - 63
Draw %:                   City - 14,    Utd. - 13
Loss %:                   City - 22,    Utd. - 23
Goals for, per game:      City - 2.33,  Utd. - 2.43
Goals against, per game:  City - 1.25,  Utd. - 1.23

Now we just need to get about half a billion quid, lose any sense of true passion or loyalty associated with supporting the team, and we’re there!

Mike Maddox (mwmaddox@ucdavis.edu)

OPINION: RUN-IN

Kevin Keegan has stated that he thinks that Wolves are favourites for the Championship having looked at both teams’ run in. I don’t want to tempt fate just yet, but does anyone out there know Wolves remaining fixtures? I’d like to know which of the teams below us are going to be able to influence the final positions at the top, ’cause at this stage of the season, like most fans I’m sure, I’m trying to work out where we will finish come the last day of the season!

I have to admit that when they went 8 points ahead of us, I started to get a little nervous, because in the past City have been pretty good at shooting themselves in the foot, but this team seemed to be made of sterner stuff. If they can cope with the pressure, I’m sure I can! I’m writing this after City’s 2-1 win at Birmingham (another great result and performance), so here’s hoping Forest can take something off Wolves tonight.

CTTPPS (City ’til the promotion party starts) and beyond! Steve Herd (steve.herd@baesystems.com)

OPINION: PLAYERS

Driving up from Bristol for Sunday’s game, I opened the Observer’s Sports Monthly to find SWP listed as No 1 in their Top Ten Best Players Outside the Premiership. A lovely moment. Obviously Shaun either doesn’t read his press or is too modest (yep) to let it go to his cool head, as his two-goal non-stop star performance was a real treat come 1pm. Just a point on his valuation by OSM of £5 million in the light of the signing of Jon ‘half-way line’ Macken yesterday: I can’t help thinking JM falls rather short of the ‘class striker’ KK was looking for, and that this smacks of a Michael Thomas ‘let’s make sure he can’t do that to us again’ decision. Go on, Jon, prove me wrong!

By the way, did anyone else wonder what Alfie Haaland was doing captaining the British Women’s Curling Team in Salt Lake City?

10 games to go; keep the faith.

Mark Barratt (mark.barratt@rchme.co.uk)

OPINION: GOING TO GET YOU

The new signings of Sun and Macken are not just with promotion in KK’s eyes but as Premier League players (and I better be careful, if we get there).

I think we are ready now for promotion and to take on the Premier League. We don’t need any more players (unless something special happens).

Wolves we’re coming after you – Grrrrrrrr.

Come on you Blues, Ernie Barrow (Britcityblue@aol.com)

OPINION: GOOD THINGS IN SMALL PACKAGES

Oh and while I’m enthusing about the great man (SWP), can someone at the club get him a shirt that fits!

I believe the reason for this is a collar size that is too small for the shirt! My eldest daughter (Kirsty – 19 – also diminutive and also a star) often complains that she can’t get the small shirt over her head, yet the medium shirt, which she can get over her head, hangs off her in a similar effect to that demonstrated by the great man, with shirt sleeves nearly down to the wrist! – Though SWP probably has to wear large instead of medium.

So Le-Coq-Sportif (if you’re reading this), for goodness sake increase the collar size on the next batch of shirts!

Anorak (richardjohnm@hotmail.com)

OPINION: MACKEN + KEEGAN = WATCH OUT

Macken, alright. Macken £5 million, get worried. Macken £5 million Keegan, you start thinking goals.

Macken, Ali B, Eyal, Paulo, Shaun, and Moonchester, you start thinking trophies.

Joe O’Brien (joe_ob@hotmail.com)

OPINION: SEASON TICKETS

This season I paid £370 to watch 23 matches from my seat in the Main Stand, that’s just over £16 a match. Next season I will be paying £400 for what might possibly be only 19 matches if we maintain our present league position. That works out at £21 a match, an effective increase of 31%.

I just wanted to say that, if City continue to play the sort of vibrant, exciting, skilful and entertaining football that I have been privileged to watch so far this season, then it will be worth every penny and I for one am not complaining. Indeed, compared to what other supporters have to pay for poorer fare, it’s cheap at the price.

Graeme Nicholson (graemeandkaty@thenicholsons.freeserve.co.uk)

OPINION: BANGING THE DRUM

On Wednesday 27 February I was with my dad and friends in the North Stand (as usual) for the match against Sheffield Wednesday. The atmosphere in the North Stand is always great.

Against Sheffield Wednesday the atmosphere was even better than usual. Everyone in the North Stand was singing “Blue Moon” for about 20 minutes non-stop and was rocking to the beat of the drum. I don’t agree with Scott Turton. I think the drum was fantastic. I think we should have our own band to play at every match.

Max Gruber (aged 12) (max.gruber@virgin.net)

OPINION: BIRMINGHAM FUN

Please say an enormous thanks to the guy in the pink fleece! Singing to him gave the poor Brummies something to do while we took them apart on the pitch and he took it in such style – particularly when the fleece was being waved to celebrate our goals. I’m not sure I’d want to suggest we adopt pink as an away colour but it added to an already great atmosphere.

Nigel Gibson (nigel.gibson2@btinternet.com)

REQUEST: D&G BLUES

The next meeting of Denton & Gorton OSC will be on Monday 11 March 8.30pm at Denton Conservative Club. Our guests for the evening are John Wardle and Alex Williams.

Anyone wishing to come along who needs directions etc. please contact me.

Heidi (heidi@mcivta.freeserve.co.uk)

REQUEST: MILTON KEYNES FOR BRADFORD

For the live match on ITV Sport (Friday, kick off 7:45pm) we are meeting up at The Bull, High Street, Stony Stratford.

Give me a call if you would like directions or any other information.

If for any reason there is a problem with the Bull, then we will go to The White Horse, which is just across the road.

Steve Maclean – Secretary, Milton Keynes Branch, Manchester City FC Supporters Club (Stm1@stm1.freeserve.co.uk)

REQUEST: BRADFORD IN ST ALBANS

A number of Hertfordshire based Blues are meeting at the Peacock Pub, Hatfield Road, St Albans to watch the Bradford match on TV – if you are in the area – come along and cheer on the Blues.

Martin Reynolds (martin.reynolds@accenture.com)

REQUEST: BRADFORD IN NEWCASTLE

Having to work at Telewest Arena in Newcastle this weekend, can anyone tell me where I can watch the Bradford match? Directions and phone number would be helpful as I don’t know Newcastle.

Griff (r.griff@psion.net)

REQUEST: PALACE IN ITALY

Big possibility I’ll be working in Rome or Milan at the time the City vs. Palace game is on; any Italian Blues out there who might know if the game is on the telly in any of the local pubs? No problem travelling to Turin if needed. Cheers!

Christian de Lange (christian.de-lange@canon.no)

REQUEST: BERT 42

Just a quick one liner to let everyone know that the new issue is out and it includes an exclusive and in-depth article with City chairman David Bernstein, plus views on City’s TV coverage, the great wall of the North Stand, reviews of new books and a homage to Paul Dickov!

Noel Bayley (noelbayley@iname.com)

REQUEST: ‘KEEPER’S JERSEY

I coach a kids’ soccer team in the US and need a goalkeeper jersey. Does anyone have an old City one they would be willing to sell me or know where I can buy one (preferably online). I have a small budget otherwise I would just buy a new one from the City store. Kids are 8 years old so needs to be M kids size.

Paul Faulkner a.k.a. ColoradoBlue (paul.faulkner@wcom.com)

REQUEST: COVENTRY VIDEO

Did anyone manage to record the game last Sunday and fancy shipping it to Tokyo? Postage and packaging will be paid.

Marc Bailey (BAILSY@bloomberg.net)

RESULTS

Recent results from 4th March 2002 to 6th March 2002 inclusive.

6 March 2002

Coventry City         1 - 0  Sheffield United      12,963
Nottingham Forest     2 - 2  Wolverhampton Wndrs   21,010
Sheffield Wednesday   1 - 2  Wimbledon             18,930

5 March 2002

Birmingham City       1 - 2  Manchester City       24,160
Crewe Alexandra       2 - 0  Barnsley               6,258
Gillingham            2 - 1  Grimsby Town           7,025
Millwall              2 - 1  Preston North End     11,071
Norwich City          0 - 0  Rotherham United      18,485
Stockport County      1 - 0  Bradford City          4,148
Walsall               1 - 0  Burnley                5,611
West Bromwich Albion  1 - 1  Watford               19,580
Crystal Palace        0 - 0  Portsmouth            15,915

League table to 06 March 2002 inclusive.

                             HOME          AWAY        OVERALL
                    P  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  GD Pts
 1 Wolves          38 12  3  4 32 15 11  5  3 36 18 23  8  7 68 33  35  77
 2 Manchester City 36 15  3  1 51 17  8  2  7 33 28 23  5  8 84 45  39  74
 3 West Brom A.    38 12  3  4 26  8  8  4  7 19 18 20  7 11 45 26  19  67
 4 Millwall        37 12  3  4 35 19  6  7  5 23 19 18 10  9 58 38  20  64
 5 Coventry City   38 11  3  5 30 15  8  2  9 25 24 19  5 14 55 39  16  62
 6 Burnley         37  8  6  4 31 24  9  4  6 27 26 17 10 10 58 50   8  61
 7 Crystal Palace  38 11  2  6 38 20  7  2 10 27 35 18  4 16 65 55  10  58
 8 Norwich City    37 12  5  1 29 12  5  2 12 20 33 17  7 13 49 45   4  58
 9 Birmingham City 36 11  2  5 32 16  5  6  7 19 25 16  8 12 51 41  10  56
10 Preston N.E.    37  9  6  3 33 17  6  5  8 22 32 15 11 11 55 49   6  56
11 Wimbledon       36  6  8  4 23 18  7  4  7 28 27 13 12 11 51 45   6  51
12 Gillingham      37  9  5  5 32 22  5  3 10 21 34 14  8 15 53 56  -3  50
13 Watford         38  9  4  6 33 24  4  6  9 20 22 13 10 15 53 46   7  49
14 Nottm Forest    38  7  9  3 22 15  4  7  8 20 22 11 16 11 42 37   5  49
15 Sheff. United   37  6  8  4 28 23  6  5  8 13 19 12 13 12 41 42  -1  49
16 Portsmouth      37  8  4  6 31 27  4  6  9 21 34 12 10 15 52 61  -9  46
17 Bradford City   36  9  1  8 38 32  4  5  9 22 32 13  6 17 60 64  -4  45
18 Rotherham Utd.  38  7  9  3 28 25  3  5 11 18 31 10 14 14 46 56 -10  44
19 Crewe Alex.     34  7  5  6 17 26  4  3  9 18 28 11  8 15 35 54 -19  41
20 Sheff. Wed.     38  5  5  9 24 32  5  5  9 18 30 10 10 18 42 62 -20  40
21 Barnsley        38  7  8  4 32 29  1  6 12 18 43  8 14 16 50 72 -22  38
22 Grimsby Town    38  7  5  7 23 23  2  6 11 13 36  9 11 18 36 59 -23  38
23 Walsall         38  8  4  7 23 23  1  5 13 16 38  9  9 20 39 61 -22  36
24 Stockport C.    37  2  1 15 12 37  1  7 11 22 49  3  8 26 34 86 -52  17

With thanks to Football 365

MCIVTA FAQ [v1.7]

[0] MCIVTA Addresses


Articles (Heidi Pickup) : editor@mcivta.city-fan.org
News/rumour (Don Barrie) : djb1305@yahoo.co.uk
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Comments concerning this FAQ should be sent to David Warburton using the address: mcivtafaq@warburton.org

[1] MCIVTA Deadlines

Deadlines for issues are nominally Monday and Thursday evenings.

[2] MCIVTA Back Issues and Manchester City Supporters’ home page

http://www.uit.no/mancity/ is the unofficial Manchester City Supporters’ home page. Created in 1994, it is the longest running of the Manchester City related web sites. Back issues of MCIVTA are also hosted on the site.

[3] Club Web Site

The official club web site can be found at http://www.mcfc.co.uk/

[4] Supporters’ Clubs

Manchester City FC recognises three supporters’ clubs: The “Official Supporters Club” (http://www.mancity.net/osc/index.html); the “Centenary Supporters’ Association” (http://www.callnetuk.com/home/sef/) and “The International Supporters’ Club” (http://www.mcfc.co.uk/extra/fanzone/isc.asp)

[5] Fans’ Committee

The Fans’ Committee operates as an interface between supporters and the club. It has its own website, http://www.mcfc-fans.com/ containing info about forthcoming meetings as well as minutes from previous gatherings.

[6] City of Manchester Stadium Progress/Web Cam

The latest information regarding the progress of our new home can be found at http://www.commonwealthgames.com/

[7] Match Day Broadcasts

Live match commentaries and archives of games, reports and interviews can be found here: http://www.mcfc.co.uk/comment.asp. An alternate live commentary service, hosted by Yahoo, is located at: http://uk.sports.yahoo.com/foot/audio/live/schedule/index.html. GMR Saturday Sport is also available live online between 1-3pm, and 4.45-6pm at http://www.bbc.co.uk/manchester/sport/index.shtml

[8] City on TV

City’s games when broadcast on TV are generally carried by ITV Digital; http://www.itv-digital.co.uk/company/home/publocator/locator.html provides a list of pubs that will be showing the games.

Granada television also has the rights to show a small number of games from the North West region. As Sky now carry ITV regional services these matches can be watched outside the intended region by “adding” channels to your Sky Digital receiver. Under “services/system setup” enter the following details: Frequency 10.891 – H – 22.0 – 5/6. Select “find channels” and you will be given a list of the available ITV regions. From here select the regions you want to add. In order to view the channels you have added, you have to make your selection via “services/system setup/other channels”.

[9] Goals on the Net

http://www.citygoals.com/ has available for download, usually within 24-48 hours of a game being played, all the goals from City’s matches.

[10] 01/02 Season Match Day Theme Tune

The music the teams run out to at Maine Road this season is “Nightmare”, by Brainbug, and is available on the Positiva label.

[11] Acknowledgements

Thanks go to John Arnold for providing the information regarding match day music and to Ian Bell for pointing out the alternate live match commentary service.


DISCLAIMER
The views expressed in MCIVTA are entirely those of the subscribersand there is no intention to represent these opinions as being thoseof Manchester City Football Club, nor of any of the companies anduniversities by whom the subscribers are employed. It is not inany way whatsoever connected to the club or any other relatedorganisation and is simply a group of supporters using this mediumas a means of disseminating news and exchanging opinions.


[Valid3.2]Heidi Pickup, heidi@mcivta.freeserve.co.uk

Newsletter #792

2002/03/07

Editor:


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