Newsletter #802

A packed issue tonight, with Don’s post-promotion news round-up, a reserve match report from Gavin, there’s plenty of opinion from the FA points deduction to potential targets via the songs and celebrations. To round off we’ve a few requests, a travel warning for Gillingham and time to get voting for your internet player of the year.

Anyone off to Kent on Saturday, or watching from the comfort of their own armchair/pub then please consider a report.

Next game: Gillingham, away, 1pm Saturday 13 April 2002 (TV game)


General News

Not-So Sweet FA: KK clearly thought that this would be a good week to settle a few scores with his old employers at the Football Association. The Boss man must feel that he did not quite get the support he wanted in his time as England coach. “I have a lot of good staff around me here,” said Keegan, “Arthur Cox in particular. That is the same Arthur Cox the FA wouldn’t employ because he was over sixty. When Sven-Goran Eriksson wanted someone over sixty they let him do it. But he was a foreigner so I suppose it is harder to knock. It is the most annoying thing the FA did. And it still rankles because I wasn’t allowed to take the people I wanted and that was wrong. Arthur’s knowledge of football is way better than mine. Now we have done it here and we have the chance to do it in the Premiership and maybe make a few more people eat their words. My return to management was always worthwhile even if we had just made it to the play-offs I would still be saying it was worthwhile. This is a great club and it is a great club to manage.”

Oasis to “Blue Moon” It: I’m not too sure if this is true, and if it had appeared on April 1 I’d have ignored it, but Noel Gallagher has said that his band Oasis will be recording the City anthem “Blue Moon” in the near future. The mono browed guitarist said: “I’m going for it… definitely, definitely. Elvis did a good job on Blue Moon and now it’s our turn. Currently, it’s sung a bit downbeat, but now we’re up there in the Premiership. I’ll have to convince Liam to sing it. It’s just fantastic. I can’t thank Kevin and the chairman enough. It’s the most exciting thing. Can you imagine City fans going to Europe? We’re on the march.”

Cox to Assist: Arthur Cox has earned himself a promotion. KK has appointed his mentor as his Assistant Manager. Cox will combine this new post with his current position as Chief Scout. David Bernstein publicly endorsed the appointment, saying “Arthur has been a tremendous influence this season and a key part in Kevin Keegan’s team. He has been instrumental in bringing in some of our new signings and his knowledge of football and his experience is immeasurable.” In a clear reference to KK’s comments on Cox and the FA, the chairman said “We have no qualms about Arthur Cox’s age. His age brings experience and also an independence of judgement which are important to any management set up. Arthur has an extremely modern approach to the game and his age is certainly not a problem in any way. He has very clear thoughts about the game, is certainly not a, “yes” man and his contacts and networking are first class.” It is unclear where this leaves Stuart Pearce, who is still hopeful of procuring a post on the coaching staff.

Three on International Duty: A trio of Blues’ players have been called up for international duty next week. Kevin Horlock has made Northern Ireland’s squad for the game against Spain in Belfast, while Niclas Jensen return to Copenhagen to represent Denmark against Israel. Ronnie de Boer lookalike Richard Dunne hopes to play for the Republic of Ireland against the USA at Lansdowne Road.

Wardle Looks Ahead: The man who has bankrolled City in recent years has been giving his views on the club’s championship success. Deputy chairman John Wardle was clearly delighted with the progress made this season, and is even allowing himself a dream of things to come. “We know Kevin is going to ask us for money to strengthen the side and it will be there when he does so,” confirmed Mr Wardle. “We would be very foolish to bringing someone of Kevin’s stature and ability to the club, to go for promotion and then turn around and tell him there is no money. If that happened then we would be back in the First Division. There will be money for Kevin and he knows it. Now we have clinched the championship it is a case of onward and upward, not just onward into the Premiership, we have done that before. We have got a very experienced manger here and that is the guy that has made all the difference along with Arthur Cox, who is an unsung hero. I have such great respect for him. His knowledge of football is beyond anyone I know. Together we have exactly the right men in exactly the right positions to drive this club to great things. We couldn’t have a better chairman and manager and they couldn’t make a better team and each of them has a team that works for them and that’s why we have had success this season.”

Reserves’ Derby Draw: City’s reserves maintained their excellent recent form on Tuesday, when they drew 1-1 with United. This means that the Blues have lost only once in eight games. City’s goal was scored by Ciaran Kilheeney, his first at this level. City: Royce, Edghill, Jordan, Wiekens, Mears (Croft 59), Ritchie, Barton, Gilder, Killen, Kilheeney (Orr 88), Shuker. Subs: Westwood (GK), Furnival, Tickle.

Transfer News and Gossip

The Speculation Begins: City had barely completed their lap of honour round Maine Road, and I had barely completed my delayed celebratory can of Stella, than some pretty astounding speculation began on who KK would be signing in the Summer. This was probably started by the great man himself, who declared that “We are looking to bring in the very best to this club, and the next three or four signings will be be top-notchers. We have got some great players here already so, if I am going to better them, they are going to have to be proven top-class players. I want more than mid-table next season, but wanting is not enough. We are going to have to spend big, we are going to have to attract big names.” Here is just some of the more lucid pieces of speculation.

Keegan Targets Effenberg and Davids: The two biggest names to be linked with City were heard early on in the weekend. Stefan Effenberg and Edgar Davids were supposed to be at the head of Kevin Keegan’s wish list. The most consistently reported rumour concerns Effenberg. Thirty three year old Effenberg, currently captain of Bayern Munich, has made it clear he would like to play in the Premiership, with his preferred location being in London. Fulham have failed to tempt the former German international to join them this week, so a move for Effenberg has become a possibility. No fee would be involved, but the player would expect a hefty wage packet. Edgar Davids seems a less likely target, as his wage demands would surely be astronomical, and one wonders if he would be happy to have no European football to look forward to next season.

Dunne Doppleganger Linked: Barcelona’s Frank de Boer was another player mentioned in the same breath as MCFC this week. De Boer has apparently had a wretched time in La Primera Liga this season, and is keen for a fresh start to his career. He said: “The Premier League is without doubt one that I am very keen on and I think that I could adapt to the English game.” One Spanish pundit, who has been critical of De Boer’s lack of pace this season, showed an admirable knowledge of City’s squad by saying that if the Blues did snap up de Boer, the Dutchman and Richard Dunne could compare diet plans!

Fantasy Island: The Easter Bunny’s award for putting the most eggs in one basket goes to the good ole Mancheter Evening News, which this week managed to name twenty eight potential targets for KK in one article. They ranged from Francis Jeffers to David Weir, from Oliver Bierhoff to Kevin Phillips. Here’s a snatch of their goalkeepers section, “He would like to take David James or Bolton’s Jussi Jaaskelainen, but would also jump at giving a short-term contract to Leeds’s Nigel Martyn or David Seaman of Arsenal, should either become available.” It read more like the contents page of a Panini sticker album than a hard news story, but I guess the truth’s in there somewhere.

Confusing Rumours: City were also linked with moves for Leeds striker Robbie Keane (again), with a fee of £7 million being mentioned, and Ipswich’s midfield anchor Mattie Holland. Ipswich look doomed in their struggle to survive in the Premiership, so the press think Ipswich will not be able to hang on to their captain. Both these stories were swiftly denied by the players concerned. “I’m happy to stay and fight for my place. We have a big squad so of course the manager can’t play everyone from the start,” said Keane. “I feel good and sharp. I haven’t started a game for a while and haven’t played as many matches as I would have liked, but there’s not a lot I can do about that. Of course it’s frustrating because nobody wants to be on the bench.” Holland was equally forthright, saying “I have four years on my contract and unless the club say otherwise, I will be staying. I have not thought about a move. I want to stay in the Premiership with Ipswich Town. We have made it difficult for ourselves but it is still not impossible.” Just to confuse matters, up pops a report of the Internet claiming that Keane is frustrated at being left out of the Leeds team, and would love to play for KK.

Villa Clear Out: It’s been reported that Aston Villa boss Graham Taylor wants to promote the youngsters at his club, so is keen to offload some of the senior pros. MCFC have naturally been linked with a couple of the potential cast offs, namely Paul Merson and (gulp) Peter Schmeichel. The Dane with the scarlet proboscis is said to be keen to find a new challenge after an uninspiring season at Villa Park.

Friedrich in Talks: There was finally some concrete news of a possible signing on Tuesday evening. Axel Schuster, manager of German second division side Mainz 05, confirmed that defender Manuel Friedrich had visited Manchester with a view to a transfer. The 22-year-old, recently voted the best defender in his division, had to return to Germany on Tuesday night to play for his club on Wednesday. Mainz’s boss confirmed that “We have held discussions with Manchester City in the last two weeks and there is concrete interest in Manu. I have spoken with him today, and he is very impressed with the training facilities in Manchester. If Manu comes back and says he wants to go and is happy in Manchester, we will find a solution and he can go. Kevin Keegan is a great name in Germany and, of course, he can speak German. It helps when you are dealing with a foreign club if the manager can speak the same language.”

Ex-Blues’ News

Colosimo’s Antwerp Deal: Simon Colosimo has earned himself a short term contract at Royal Antwerp. Having been released by City at the end of last year, Colosimo unsuccessfully had trials with Stoke City and Racing Genk, before impressing the Red’s Belgian feeder club. Let’s hope the Aussie doesn’t return to haunt us during some future derby game.

Cooke Scores: Terry Cooke finally got to show his mettle on Saturday for his new club Grimsby Town, and duly scored to help Grimsby earn a vital point at Norwich. The draw leaves the Mariners two points clear of the relegation zone in Division One.

Championship Winning Reactions and Comments

Rejoice, rejoice, we’ve done it! City were promoted after Millwall kindly beat Wolves on Friday night. The championship was secured the next day as City thrashed Yorkshire’s finest, Barnsley, 5-1. I never thought I’d find myself celebrating a victory by that club in South East London and their neanderthal followers, but football likes to give up these little ironies from time to time. There was so much after match comment over the weekend that I could have produced a “Championship Special” issue on its own, so here are a few choice extracts.

Part I – Super, Super Kev!

Looking Back: “I am not one for looking back,” said our manager Special K, “The only thing that matters to me now is what happens to Manchester City for the rest of this season, and how we are going to approach life in the Premiership. Early on, because I didn’t know the club, the supporters or many of the players, I found it stimulating and interesting, but I also found it frustrating – maybe because I had worked with the very best players with England. But, once we got a few things sorted out here, and did some straight talking, the players have been fantastic. This group of players have probably given me more pleasure than any group of players I have ever had. The way they have gone about doing it and the way they have listened has been reflected in their performances since Christmas. I think they now know that, if we step that up again, we have not a lot to fear in the division above. There are some good sides there, and some great players, but we are a good side and we have some great players – the challenge is on for them.” He singled out Ali Benarbia for special praise. “Ali is amazing, the best player I have ever worked with and I have worked with some good ones. He has absolutely everything. I still can’t believe we got him for nothing. He deserves his chance to play in the Premiership at 34.”

Plands for Next Season: The boss seems to be preparing the board for some buy ins during the close season. “It’s not like when I went up with Newcastle, when we were able to take a short cut,” he said. “We know now that we’re not going to get into the top six just because Kevin Keegan is here and we play good football. The game has changed. You’ve got these superclubs in the Premiership now who spend £28 million on players. If the board allow you to pay top-whack for players and pay them top wages, you invariably finish in the top six. That’s no mystery, but you have to be prepared to pay the price. The players we’ve got have all earned the chance to play in the Premiership,” Keegan commented, “but we will strengthen and the players who are here know that.” The word ‘consolidation’ is not allowed to be used. “I hate that word,” said Keegan yesterday. “It means you are trying to accept mediocrity. If you accept that, you will only end up going back down and then you’ll only have yourselves to blame. We have to make an investment otherwise we will just become another team in the Premiership and happy to stay there. We have players here who can make an impression in the Premiership and they deserve that chance. But I want to add three quality signings. We need to keep this club driving forward. It is all there for us. We have the fan base and, in another year’s time, we will be moving into one of the best grounds in the country. The momentum has to keep going. In many ways, we are just going back to where we should be. But the fans deserve a celebration and, all being well, after the Portsmouth game we will go on our lap of honour.”

And In Conclusion: “We’ve scored more than 100 goals to win this title and conceded 50 and I guess you could say that’s my style,” Keegan said. “But we will take that style into the Premiership because that is me. It is just the way we like to play football. At the start I wondered what I had inherited and I don’t think everything was right. But we told the players what we expected, we told them what they could and couldn’t do. It was up to the players if they wanted to stay on the ship or jump ship and we have now seen the results. It didn’t look for a long time like we had a championship in us,” he said. “At the New Den I thought the club had turned. We showed great character in a ground with none of our own fans there. A lot of players, seven of them on the pitch against Barnsley, were part of the side which got relegated last year. This Championship is right up there with all of my successes in the game. There is a nice feeling about winning something. Not many people win Championships and I have got three now as a manager. I don’t have a Premiership one. I have two First Division titles and one from the Second Division which I won with Fulham. It is a nice feeling, but I think this one has been more enjoyable than most because I have really enjoyed working with these players.”

Part II – The Thoughts of Chairman Dave

“For the first time for four years as Chairman and about twenty years as a fan I can sit back and enjoy the match today,” said City Chairman, David Bernstein after Milwall’s win over Wolves secured City’s promotion. He also confirmed that KK will have money to spend on new players. “I can’t give any numbers but when Kevin came in we made a commitment for the First Division and a commitment for if we went up to the Premier League – and we’ll be able to meet that commitment and probably exceed it,” Bernstein said. “So we will have substantial sums available. Kevin is looking at some high-quality players to add to what is a very good squad already. We want to make an impact in the Premier League. We’ve got great momentum going at the club and we want to keep that going.” Of the performance on the pitch, Bernstein commented, “We thought it might not be this one, we felt we had a couple of years to do it. But we have invested very heavily in the squad, we’ve kept our squad completely intact and we’ve added to it by bringing in additional quality. We’ve backed Kevin to the hilt, so it was a risk in a way because if we hadn’t gone up this year or next year, we’d have had a bit of a problem. But we’ve invested, we’ve gone for it and we’ve been successful. I think all in all we have deserved it. I think we’ve played really good football this season, we’ve scored a lot of goals and we’ve played in some great matches both in the League and in the FA Cup. I think all in all we have been the best side, I think it is a just result.” He looked forward to City’s move to the City of Manchester Stadium. “It’s fantastic. It comes along every week I go there,” enthused Bernstein. “It’s a beautiful stadium with a 50,000 capacity and will be one of the best stadiums in the country. The thought of playing Premier League football there is quite fantastic.”

Part III – The Players

Gizza Job, Says Weaver: Nicky Weaver must be a worried man, what with KK’s reported interest in Ian Walker and a number of other goalkeepers. So it’s probably a good time for the injured Weaver to butter up the boss. “When he first came in, the confidence wasn’t there because we’d got relegated last season,” said Weaver. “He just instils confidence in you and, when you go out on the pitch, he makes you feel 10ft tall. Before games he doesn’t stop telling you how well you’ve been doing. He’s also been good for team spirit. We do a lot of things together, and he also makes training enjoyable. He’s so enthusiastic it rubs off on the players. You’ve listened to him on the telly and the radio and he just loves the game. When someone is that enthusiastic, it rubs off on the players. When he took over at Newcastle they were in a similar situation to Man City in that they were a massive club just waiting to ignite again,” he said. “Obviously Newcastle went up to the Premier League and did wonders. If he could do the same for us it would be brilliant and we are pretty similar clubs, so there’s no reason why we can’t do what Newcastle did.”

It’s Good to be Back: It’s generally agreed that Kevin Horlock has been a lynchpin of this Championship winning side. Having played in three divisions for the Blues, Horlock is well placed to gauge the potential progress of this current squad. “We were disappointed last time when it passed us by too quickly and before we knew it we were back in the First Division. I am sure the lads have learnt from that and, with the new manager coming in, I am sure we will prepare better for it and be ready for it,” said the Northern Ireland international. “There have been a lot of quality additions brought in by the manager who have helped us enormously, and I am sure there will be more. I am sure we will be able to hold our own in the Premiership.”

Support the Boss: Stuart Pearce reckons that City have got the best man for the Manager’s job at the club, provided KK gets the support of the Board. “This club is certainly going places. In Kevin Keegan we have a manager who will drive Manchester City on all the time,” declared the Blues’ skipper. “He will not accept just being in the Premiership. Make no mistake he will want to achieve more once he is in there,” he continued. “As far as Kevin is concerned he likes things done yesterday, and the club is very fortunate to have someone of his stature in charge. Whether at times the chairman and the board think `Hang on a minute Kevin, slow it up a bit’, I am not sure. But the bottom line is that when you ask a man of his stature to come into your club, you have to back him all the way. If the club do that he will take them places. Promotion means a lot to me personally, especially as it has been great to have had some form of influence on this club’s return to the Premiership,” said Pearce. “It is a big club – and I probably didn’t quite realise how big until I got here. From the first day I walked in here – and this is no disrespect to anyone who has come before – there has been a big change in what is available to us. There is a totally different product now, the facilities have got a lot better. And now the quality of training is a lot better than it was on the first day I got here – and that is progress,” added Pearce.

City the Best – Eyal: Eyal Berkovic has been comparing life at City to the time he spent at Celtic and Blackburn Rovers. “I enjoyed it at Blackburn last season but I think this is a much better team,” declared Berkovic. “We have played some tremendous football, scored a lot of goals, have defended well and we have been attractive to watch. I want to enjoy these two weeks and feel what it is like to be the champions, but then we must all get our minds on next season which will be a difficult one for us. I won lots of things in Israel but this is my first silverware in England. I am glad to be at this club and I hope to be here for a long time,” he said. “I have an excellent relationship with Kevin Keegan and this is what brought me to Maine Road, but I think I have a good relationship with all the team too. That is one of the main reasons why I am so happy here. Everyone is excellent with me. I have never been as happy as this at a football club especially in England. I want to enjoy the moment and continue to play well. This is why I came here because I knew there was potential to win things. This isn’t the end either. We are very ambitious and that means the players as well as the staff. With some good buys in the summer we can be a very, very good team next year. It was difficult to watch on Saturday because you always want to enjoy the day, play and be part of the game, but we have had an excellent season and that is especially pleasing for me after a couple of very bad seasons at Celtic. We wanted to achieve something here this year and we have.”

Part IV – Other Tributes

Claridge Hails City: I particularly enjoyed Steve Claridge’s tribute to the Division One champions. The Millwall striker, whose penalty on Friday night against Wolves ensured City’s promotion, is a well known gambler, and has been in trouble with the authorities for betting on teams he played for. Mindful of an FA charge being landed on him, the scruffiest player in the league said, “Manchester City are the best team in Division One by an absolute street. After we played them for the second time, I bet on them for the league. They’re miles ahead of anyone. They’re different class. They’ll have no problem in the Premiership – they are that good. I played against Fulham last year and this Man City side is better.”

Sir Alex Speaks: Even Alex Ferguson was prepared to welcome his old chum Kevin back to the Premiership. “It will be great to have him back,” said Mr Trafford. “He has done a fantastic job and he has done it his way, with the team playing some great football.”

Buzzer Likes What He Sees: Former City star Mike Summerbee gave his own tribute to the work done by Super Kev and the team. “Kevin’s done a fantastic job and the biggest things he has going for him are his infectious enthusiasm and his personality. He’s created a wonderful atmosphere at Maine Road. He’s put a smile on everyone’s face with the style of football his team play and he has the charisma to attract big-name players to City. From his own point of view, after the England situation, I think he has landed in the right place at the right time. You can see how much he is enjoying himself again.”

Squad News

Busy Chris: Chris Killen has had a busy season. He’s made a couple of first team appearances, had a successful goalscoring loan spell at Port Vale, then found that KK thought that he could be the next Steve Howie. “It was a bit of a shock to hear the gaffer say that, as I’ve always felt my best position was as a centre-forward,” Killen admitted. “But he’s not the first one to have said I look like a central defender and that I would be suited to the rôle. I would be willing to give it a try and it wouldn’t bother me in the slightest if I had to drop back. If it means I have a better chance of getting into the first team then I am willing to give anything a go. The gaffer has also been good after training. He’ll single you out and pick up on things where he thinks you need to improve and will stay behind after training to give you extra coaching. I enjoyed my loan spell at Port Vale and scored a few goals which was pleasing, but for now I’m more than happy to be here. I would have liked a longer contract, but that is all the club were prepared to offer me,” said Killen. “The place is buzzing at the minute and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, so in the end I was happy to sign. We’ll be in the Premiership next year and I want to be around for the good times.”

Psycho Tribute: Stuart Pearce has just won his first championship medal since his non-league days at Wealdstone twenty years ago, and Boss Kev was quick to praise the veteran defender. “Stuart would have gone to Euro 2000 when I was England manager if he hadn’t broken his leg,” the Blues’ chief revealed. “He is a very special guy. I don’t know many footballers who would have tried to run off a broken leg like he did when he was with West Ham! But he has been crucial in leading the dressing room. A manager can’t do that, the captain must do that and his performances on the pitch have been first class too. His name has been one of the first on the team sheet along with the likes of Ali and Shaun Wright-Phillips. I haven’t got a clue what he is going to do next year but I would like him to be part of our Premiership plans. I have discussed it with the Board and they want him to stay. But Stuart must do what is right for him.” Pyscho himself has been his usual honest self, realising that he can’t see himself playing in the Premiership aged forty. “I would embarrass myself in the Premiership,” he stated. “When I reached my late-30s, I thought that I could turn up with a smile on my face and, if we win, lose or draw, shake people’s hands, and not be the growling fella with no personality during a football match – but I’m afraid I can’t. It hurts too much to play badly, and it hurts too much to lose. It annoys me too much to come away from matches having played badly and got beat, especially now when I know that I have not got the physical ability to hold my own against good players. I am honest enough to know that I will not be able to do it in the Premiership. Even in this league, players that would not have been able to live with me 10 years ago cause me a lot of problems now. I wouldn’t leave this club to play elsewhere, I don’t really see the point. I love playing football but, sometimes, the lower down you go it gets more physical. It is the right time to pack in, and I could not reach a better high now. Hopefully, Manchester City will get a better left-sided centre-half – I think they need a better one than myself.” Chairman David Bernstein has expressed his hope that a rôle for Pearce can be found, but that no special position will be created for the former England international. This has lead to speculation in some quarters that Pearce will not be at Maine Road next season, but surely such a motivated individual cannot be allowed to walk away.

Blues on Loan: Jeff Whitley has helped Notts County move away from the Second Division relegation zone. During his loan spell at Meadow Lane, the Magpies have won two games and drawn a third. Another reserve player out on loan is nineteen year old Damien Joyce, who has played a couple of times for City’s landlords at Ewen Fields, Hyde United.

Don Barrie (


City Held by Local Rivals

A crowd of just over three thousand observed a minute’s silence and saw City fail to capitalise on their domination of play. A début reserve goal for Ciaran Kilheeney was not enough to see City win. An equalizing goal on the break by Keiran Richardson cancelled out City’s earlier strike. Both teams fielded a predominantly youthful side with players with first team experience in both defences.

Right from the off City were again showing no intention of being on the losing side against their local rivals by winning a free kick near to the edge of United’s area. City probed at United’s defence but the experience of May and Wallwork in defence quelled everything that City threw at them. That is until the twentieth minute where a ball from the left which was headed on by Chris Killen and was not cleared properly and Ciaran Kilheeney was able to wrap his foot round the ball and send it past Van der Gouw to make it one nil.

This seemed to spark some life into United and they seemed to come back into the game with Kieran Richardson causing City more and more trouble down the left flank. However, it was City who would carve out the next real opening on thirty two minutes when a good long ball by Edghill found the feet of Ciaran Kilheeney running into the area but he was only able to fire at der Gouw and the ball went behind for a corner. City finally capitulated their lead when a ball was fed through to Daniel Nardello who turned Wiekens easily; this led to the ball falling to Richardson on the right for him to fire past Royce to level the scores. United finished the half the stronger when on the stroke of half time a fine strike by Daniel Pugh brought out a good save by Royce.

As the second half started you could tell that the next goal that was scored would win the game, as neither side seemed to have any real purpose about their play. Coupled with the fact that the pitch seems to have deteriorated badly since we thrashed Liverpool two weeks ago. City decided to make a substitution to bring on the ever impressive and débutant to reserve team level Lee Croft. He made an immediate impact by dancing round Lee Roche like he was not there and put in a fine cross. On sixty six minutes Killen was able to run free clear of the defence only to see his shot hit the bar; the rebound fell to Shuker, whose cross was unfortunately headed wide by Killen.

Stephen Jordan was enjoying a good deal of room in this half and good work with Shuker led to him putting in a good cross on seventy two minutes but unfortunately City were unable to capitalise on the quality of their approach play. Minutes later saw a fierce shot by Lee Croft well saved by the ‘keeper. City were piling on the pressure but somehow were unable to find that vital final touch. As the half drew to a close and City were dominating play, Asa Hartford decided to give another reserve team début to Adie Orr in the final home game of the season. I think the majority of the crowd would have gone home disappointed as City had the majority of the play but failed to put the final nail in United’s coffin and seal a victory.

Royce: What little he had to do, he dealt with competently. 7
Edghill: Gave the ball away too much really to warrant a high rating. 6
Jordan: Excellent play, how he was not Man of Match, who knows? 9
Wiekens: Slightly suspect in 1st half, much better second though. 7
Mears (58): Never got going as right midfield is not his best position. 6
Ritchie: Not one of his better matches even with little to do. 6
Barton: Ran Jordan close for MoM, worked tirelessly in midfield. 8
Gilder: Performance showed we missed Whelan and Dunfield. 6
Killen: Failed to light the blue touch paper that he is capable of. 6
Kilheeney (87): Gets better with every game, but still has a lot to do. 7
Shuker: We’ve seen much better performances recently 6

Croft (58): What time he had he made a good début and threatened their defence. 8
Orr (87): Not enough time to make an impact.
Not Used: Westwood (GK), Furnival, Tickle.

United: Van der Gouw (GK), Roche, Pugh, Tierney, May, Wallwork, Wood (Fox 69 mins), Richardson, Williams (Tate 66 mins), Nardello, Djordic.
Not Used: Williams (GK), Rankin, Muirhead.

Gavin Cooper (


Now that we have secured our rightful place in the top division, I thought it time to start the review of the squad we have now and would need for a successful campaign next term.

I’ve developed my own makeup of a squad that should be able to do the business. This squad does not allow for “one for the future”, which means I have disregarded players such as Toure, Killen, Negouai and Mears. It could be that I don’t know enough about them! My dream first team squad layout is as follows:

2 Goalkeepers – Nash and a new top flight player (James?).
2 Full backs – No one at present springs to mind, Bosman signings?
2 Wing backs – SWP and Jensen look good enough to me.
4 Centre halves – Dunne, Howey and Mettomo with one other superstar as our rock. Big money required for this one (Couto?).
2 Utility defenders – Sun and Ritchie should suffice as general covering players with just about enough pace to cope at the new level.
3 Defensive midfielders – Horlock has produced the goods to turn his future around. Of the 2 others one needs to be top class (Guardiola?).
3 Box to box midfielders – Tiatto and 2 others of Premiership class (Sherwood and Holland?).
2 Creative midfielders – Benarbia and Berkovic should be able to do the biz.
2 wingers – Huckerby and one other (Wilcox?).
1 All round dtriker – Macken for this job.
1 Goal poacher – Goater needs his chance to be injury free in the Premiership.
1 Maverick – Wanchope is the man.
2 Pacey strikers – I’ve made Huckerby a winger so our present squad doesn’t have this. How about Christie and Aghahowa?
1 Top grade goal machine – I like Mpenza but I suppose the majority would like Keane or Tristan (@ 20 million!).

All this means that I haven’t found a place for the following and therefore it’s bye-bye and thanks to: Edghill, Charvet, Wiekens, Weaver, Haaland, Whitley.

There we go, I’ve put my (realistic!) dreams out there for ridicule. It’s too much to hope that we could add this many players to the squad in one summer but the important thing to note is that the spine of the team at present won’t cut it for onwards and upwards. If nothing changes we will struggle in the Prem. Can anyone see KK not recognising our needs? Not likely. A year of pleading with Royle for a creative midfielder yielded nothing; KK had two by the Birmingham game at home!

I’m looking forward to the 99 points and 108 goals. Most of all, seeing a proper trophy paraded. Thank God for the World Cup because I don’t think I could cope with a summer of waiting for new season to start.

CTID, Dave Blyth (


Thank you Manchester City.

Keith Taylor (


Has anyone else noticed the new Daren Huckerby’s new party piece? When a defender comes towards him to challenge him for a 50-50 ball he accelerates and gets to the ball just before the defender. Then, as the sliding tackle comes in, he drops his shoulder, taps the ball sideways (not forwards) past the outstretched leg of the defender, hurdles the defenders leg and moves into acres of space. Once in space he drills the ball past the goalkeeper into the corner of the net.

He did this twice against Barnsley for his 1st and 2nd goals, which are both awesome. I’ve watched them umpteen times and they look better every time I watch them. Now if you watch Ali, this is a trick he uses all the time and opponents just can’t fathom it out. May I say well done Huck – a new trick that will get you lots more goals…

(Note: check out if you want to see these awesome goals again)

While we’re on the subject may I remind you of the player rating I gave to Huck in my MCIVTA match report from the truly dreadful WBA away game on 8th September (the lowpoint of KK’s reign)…

“Huckerby – 0 (Zero) One tame shot in 1st half and did nothing else for remainder of game, no movement off the ball, no pace, no idea. A truly dreadful display.”

May I say what a pleasure it is to be proved totally wrong about a player. I am quite prepared to eat my hat and say Darren Huckerby I salute you. More to the point if you keep this up next year, you will be playing for England…

CTID, Anorak (


Further to Jeremy’s comment about the song from the North Stand about our oriental signing, I would like to mention that the Kippax added a second verse: ‘Does your Daddy own a Chippy Sun Jihai’ – classic – thinking on your feet stuff and not a swear word in sight.

Looking forward to seeing the North Stand totally Blue vs. Pompey (we have all of the stand for this one) and full of flags. I thought these had been banned but what a superb sight, a sea of Blue and White colours against Barnsley at our homeland and being enjoyed by the masses.

Does anyone know if the club have officially stated that flags, banners etc. will be allowed into the ground on the last day of the season?

Good time to take your cameras and get some silverware on film to show the grandkids in future years and say ‘I was there for KK’s first trophy with City’.

Don’t mean to be boring but please keep off the pitch. Notice how the players and their children were allowed to enjoy the moment as well as us fans after the Barnsley match? A repeat performance vs. Pompey will do nicely.

One final comment, praise to Mr Bernstein and the board for the financial wizardry off the pitch and for keeping us afloat during our darkest days.

CTID, Steve Denton (


With regards to Jeremy Smith’s observations on the Sun Jihai song that is currently flavour of the month after first being heard at Rotherham, I can confirm for anyone that doesn’t yet know that the full lyrics are:

Singin aye aye hippee, Sun Jihai
Singin aye aye hippee, Sun Jihai
Singin aye aye hippee, his dad’s got a chippy
Aye aye hippee, Sun Jihai

Pure City if you ask me, but please also allow me to blow my own trumpet for coming up with the “We’ve got Kevin Keegan, a hundred goals a season, na-na na na!” chant that went down a treat in the North Stand on Saturday.

In my opinion, we have yet to start heaping the level of adulation on KK that he thoroughly deserves (were we worried that he might always be a Geordie deep down?). Things are slowly changing and I dearly hope we will sweep the man off his feet more than the Geordies ever did because the words ‘Keegan’ and ‘mercenary’ could never be used in the same sentence – apart from the fact that I’ve just managed it now, but you know what I mean!

Trust me, there’s nobody more passionate about Manchester City than Kevin Keegan right now and don’t believe the hype about him ever walking out on us. If King Kev ever does walk away it will be because we (or the club) want him to. Therefore, we all have a duty to love him and stick by him even if things do take a turn for the worse at some stage in the future because I bet most of us will only ever truly realise how good he is after he’s gone.

They always said that the City job was a poisoned chalice but there is no job in club football more difficult than suceeding Kevin Keegan and I dread the day when a new man comes in and it’s back to gritty performances and 1-0 wins because even if we are a force back amongst the elite by then it just won’t be the same ever again.

We honestly don’t realise how lucky we are!

Mike Holden (


I’ve always had a certain amount of time for Dave Jones, but I think he genuinely needs to think before he speaks. After our game at Molineux he thought that there “wasn’t much between the teams.” Out of the 24 Div One managers he stands alone in not recognising us as the best team in the league. Has he a problem with us? Maybe his facts are right. They’ve won as many games as us? No. 24 compared to 29. They’ve won as many points as us? Erm 93 compared to 82. They’ve scored as many goals as us? Close 73 compared to 102. Whatever it is, I think it’s only right that we don’t become vitriolic and wish Dave and his team all the very best… in the play-offs.

Back to our boys and a special word of praise should go to Juan the fitness man. I think our second half performances this season have been immense. Darren “Run Forest, Run” Huckerby in particular looks especially nippy in the second 45. The players obviously enjoy the work he does with them and reckon it’s down to the fact that it’s all ball work related. Enjoy the rest of the campaign and roll on next season.

Mark Robison (


You might have found out by yourselves, but I thought I let you know directly from Germany that according to several German newspapers, City are after both Stefan Effenberg from Bayern Munich as well as Manuel Friedrich from 2.Bundesliga outfit FSV Main 05.

I won’t have to tell you anything about Effenberg. You surely do know him: strategic qualities, a “thinking” player, although his behaviour on the pitch is debatable; he must be one of the most brutal players of German football, collecting a lot of cards each season. Public opinion about him in Germany is divided: he often comes about as arrogant, has had a difficult past with the fans of the German national side, and the fact that he plays for Germany’s most popular and most hated club (just like the Rags) does not contribute to a good reputation, either. People generally respect him, but they don’t love him: this is also due to the fact that after a nasty affair including obscene gestures towards the fans, he resigned from playing for the German side.

Plus, over the years he has lost pace. He is 34 now, a fact that might indicate why even Fulham has recently declined buying him. I would not really recommend a transfer. He might still be top class, but with his best years behind him he is not a world class player any more.

In the case of Manuel Friedrich, things are totally different: here we have a 22-year old very talented defender who has been approached by many German top clubs, amongst others Hertha BSC and Dortmund. He is 1,90m (sorry, don