Newsletter #901

Greetings from Vancouver Island to Blues everywhere. I’ll be standing in for Heidi for the next two issues. So this one comes via the Rockies as a change from the Alps.

We have a bumper issue tonight with lots of variety including requests, Don’s roundup of a busy week on many fronts and, after a bit of a break, for which he apologises, Gavin’s Reserve and Youth Team reports.

Plenty of opinion as always with the debate still raging on the perceived reasons for our defensive weaknesses and what to do about them.

As the day of departure draws ever nearer, nostalgia for Maine Road is building apace with 2 lovely reports on last ever trips to the Holy of Holies; particularly Andrew’s in which he waves in real time to his wife 12,000 miles away! That’ll be a tape to treasure for sure.

Next game: Bolton Wanderers, away, 12pm Saturday 5 April 2003
Countdown: 45 days


General News

Dead End For Maine Road: Sale Sharks Rugby Union side will not be moving into Maine Road, it was revealed this week. It seems highly likely that the stadium will be demolished to make way for a series of new developments that could include housing, retail outlets, youth and sports facilities. The leader of Manchester City Council, Richard Leese, said: “We have explored fully a range of options with Sharks RUFC and we cannot find a situation which benefits both the city and the club. We were very keen to see rugby at the stadium, but will now move forward and discuss with the residents a wide range of options to improve the area using different routes. It’s been very helpful to explore all options with Sharks and we’d like to thank them for the time they have put into examining the possible development. We wish them well in the future.” Sale chief executive, Niels de Vos, said: “We have been very interested but unfortunately it is not possible to proceed to a successful conclusion which gives confidence that Sharks can operate viably at Maine Road. We are confident that both sides have done everything within their power to try to succeed but it is now time to move forward in another direction.”

So Far So Good in Semis: In the FA Youth Cup semi-finals, City drew 1-1 yesterday (Wednesday) with Middlesbrough at the Riverside. This sets up an interesting second leg of the tie, due to be played at Maine Road next Tuesday, April 1. City took the lead in the seventeenth minute, with a Paul Murphy header. The lead lasted only nine minutes, because Boro equalised through Christopher Brunt. Despite a number of close calls, the score remained the same for the remainder of the match. City Youth team coach, Alex Gibson said after the game, “It was a very good result. We took that early lead, which was great, but then Middlesbrough equalised and we went to pieces a little bit. We stopped passing and gave the ball away easily. We stopped defending so the half time talk was quite important and the lads got their confidence levels up again. I thought we did very well in the second half and overall it was great game. It is the first goal we have conceded in the competition, we have had a great run so far and the players have been a credit to the club.” Team: Keiren Westwood, Danny Warrender, Paul Collins, Nathan D’Laryea, Chinedum Onuoha, Willo Flood, Paul Murphy, Jonathan D’Laryea, Karl Bermingham, Lee Croft, Jamie Tandy. Subs: Craig Smith, Kasper Schmeichel, Ian Bennett, Bradley Wright-Phillips, Carlos Logan.

International Blues: It’s internationals week in Europe, and a couple of KK’s lads have been called up for duty. Shaun Wright-Phillips has been named in David Platt’s U21 England squad for the forthcoming Euro qualifiers, for matches against Portugal and Turkey. Richard Dunne has received a belated call-up to the Republic of Ireland squad for their forthcoming European Championship qualifiers, away to Georgia and Albania, due to withdrawals of Leeds duo Gary Kelly and Ian Harte. Niclas Jensen is on international duty for Denmark for their Euro qualifiers against Romania on March 29 and Bosnia in Copenhagen four days later on April 2. Eyal Berkovic did not get into Israel ‘s squad for the forthcoming matches with France and Cyprus over the next 10 days, due to his recent hernia operation. Kevin Horlock meanwhile retired from international football. He withdrew from the Northern Ireland squad for Saturday’s Euro 2004 qualifier in Armenia, and has just released this statement: “It is with regret that I announce my retirement from international football. This has been a difficult decision to make, and one which I have taken after due discussion with my family. I wish to stress that this decision has been made for family and personal reasons alone,” he explained.

Wardle Will Dawdle: John Wardle has told the M.E.N. that he will stay as acting chairman for the remainder of the season. He was initially reluctant to do so, but has been persuaded by the level of support he has received. “I have had dozens of letters, emails and conversations over the telephone with supporters wanting me to take the job on a permanent basis, said Wardle. It’s all very flattering, of course, but being chairman on a full-time and permanent basis is just not me. Reluctantly, I’ll keep the job until the end of the season.” Most commentators still believe that Sir Howard Davies will eventually succeed Wardle in the full time rôle.

Reserves Held: City’s Reserves were denied a victory against West Brom this week when the visitors equalised in the last minute. The game finished 1-1, with City taking the lead in the eleventh minute through Jon Macken. The point gained took City into second spot in the reserve league. Teams: City: Ellegaard, Jihai Sun, Jordan, McCarthy, Howey, Ritchie, Barton, Vuoso (Elliott 82), Macken, Goater (Gilder 46), Whelan. Subs: Murphy, Tickle, Orr.

Don’t Go, Psycho! Stuart Pearce’s coaching contract runs out this summer, and his boss has made it clear that he wants the former England left-back to stay at the club. “Stuart has a done a great job, I will have to sit down with the acting chairman John Wardle and discuss that position,” stated Kevin Keegan. “Obviously, when we originally gave Stuart a year’s contract we honestly felt that was all that he would want. That wasn’t for our benefit it was for his. I know he wants to go into management eventually but he has worked really hard here this season. He has been able to give time and space to players that we cannot do. Stuart goes off and works on an individual basis with players, especially young players like Mikkel Bischoff. Stuart has been there and done it and that is his strength. He is an excellent communicator and one-on-one he is terrific. One of the great things for a coach is being able to still do what you are asking the players to do. You can actually show them what they are doing that you think isn’t right. Stuart’s future has to be decided between now and the end of the season because he needs to know we need to know what he is thinking. I definitely want him to stay but it would be his decision. His family is still a long way away and he might have other things in the pipeline. We haven’t got an over-big staff here, it is just right. The ability that Stuart has to do that one-to-one coaching is priceless. Truthfully if we didn’t have Stuart then myself, Faz or Arthur Cox would not have the same quality time. He has dipped into a lot of things, that was his rôle. He has worked with the kids, watched players for us and been abroad. He has been a jack of all trades but that is what he wanted.”

Go East: Chris Bird’s commercial legacy has shown itself this week, with the announcement of marketing and football deals in China. Bird made a number of trips to the Far East in his time as City’s commercial supremo, and the club have now announced a merchandising deal that gives Chinese sportswear company DZJ Sports the rights to City branded clothing and souvenirs in China. The first store is due to open in Shanghai this month, with a further two dedicated shops planned for Beijing and Dalian, the home town of Jihai Sun. On the football front, there are talks ongoing with representatives of Chinese League club Shanghai Shenhua to agree player exchanges and tournaments between the Academies of both clubs. “This agreement is a great step forward for the club’s growing presence in the global market,” said retail chief Duncan Martin. “The opening of the first store marks a very significant step forward for the club’s worldwide audience.” Benjamin Lee of DZJ Sports, said: “We are very excited to have reached this agreement with Manchester City. The club has a rapidly expanding fan base here in China and we see huge potential to develop our partnership in the coming years.”

Transfer News and Gossip

You’re on Your Way: KK has told Steve Howey to find another club, after the 31-year-old refused to travel with the squad for the game with Chelsea. To say the Boss Man was displeased is an understatement. On the club website KK admitted that he has had a “heart to heart” chat with the player. “There are opportunities there for others now,” he said. “We have got to sit down and discuss the situation in its entirety but if he doesn’t want to sit on the bench, how is he going to get back in the side? It happens at football clubs. From the conversation I had with him, there is no long-term future for him at this club. If he wants to stay at home when we are travelling and try keep his place in the side that way, it will be very difficult. There is no criticism from me; the only thing I can say is ‘well done Stevie but your agent has got to find you another club’. He can’t sit here, not travel and then hope to play again. I wouldn’t allow that of any player. I think the world of Stevie. He still has a year left on his contract and the challenge is there for him to get back into the team. It’s difficult because I have known him for so long but he has got to move on.” There seems no way back for Howey after such a public dressing down, although his agent agent Phil Smith did attempt to pour oil on the troubled Maine Road waters. He said: “The reason was related to Steve’s specific fitness regime, and while not meaning to compromise his commitment to the cause he acknowledges that his words have spiralled this situation into something that appears altogether more sinister. Steve Howey wishes to pledge his full backing and absolute loyalty to a manager that has played a very full part in helping him further his career at both Newcastle and Manchester City. Steve hopes that he can deal with this situation with the manager as quickly and expediently as possible to avoid further confusion and apologises for the fact that it has left the manager without the services of the player this weekend.” Press speculation has Howey on his way to Division One play-off hopefuls Sheffield United.

Move for Full Back? Speaking of defenders, City have been linked with a move for Argentinian full-back Martin Vitali of Racing Club. The Blues might face competition from Fulham for the player, who the Cottagers see as an ideal replacement for Steve Finnan, who has been linked with summer moves to both City and Liverpool.

Ritchie Goes In Ram Raid: Earlier in the month, KK was bemoaning the fact that he couldn’t help players like Paul Ritchie to find first team football. Today (Thursday) is transfer deadline day for Nationwide League clubs, and Ritchie has got his wish, with a loan move to Derby County for the rest of the season. Earlier in the season Ritchie spent three months on loan at runaway Division One leaders Portsmouth, and he joins a club in deep trouble on and off the pitch. Manager John Gregory is currently suspended pending an internal investigation, while the Rams are fifth from bottom of the First Division. Former City player and Derby reserve team coach Mark Lillis has taken temporary charge.

Ex-Blues’ News

Whitley Bays for Sunderland Move: Following two disastrous league defeats, new Sunderland manager Mick McCarthy has decided to give Jeff Whitley a chance to revive his career. Having been released earlier this month by KK, Whitley had been linked with Leicester City and Notts County. Whitley is now training with the Black Cats, with a view to signing up. “Fresh faces would help lift the desperation here. Jeff has been training with us. He’ll play for the reserves and I’m looking forward to seeing him. We are always looking at and assessing players – it’s an ongoing thing. The team obviously needs changing. We are bottom and are the worst team in the league. Fresh faces would help me lift the desperation here. If the worst does happen and we go down, I want fresh faces, people who want a fresh challenge, people who will be able to get this club back in the Premier League. The players here know they are playing for their futures.” True to his word, McCarthy gave Whitley a game this week. The Zambian born midfielder played in the Reserves against our old chums from Trafford. Sunderland won 1-0, with Whitley’s main contribution being a clearance off the line from a goal-bound header. “I’m here to train and it’s a chance for me to impress people,” Whitley said. “I’m delighted to have been given a chance at a club like Sunderland. They are a great club and I’m enjoying my time here.” Elsewhere, former City youth player Ciaran Kilheeney has signed for Exeter City. The 19-year-old Stockport-born player was released by the Blues earlier this season and had been playing for Mossley.

Reactions and Comments

What an Insult: It’s not often that KK loses it in public with his players, but he was certainly the curmudgeon after City’s abject performance at Chelsea last Saturday. “I am very disappointed and I have told the players that in no uncertain terms. It is something like £40 to come down here and I have told them that they did not give the fans value for money,” said the great man. “I don’t like to slag my players off but it looked like our season came to an end here today and I find that the biggest insult to me and my staff.” From his own side, KK only picked out Peter Schmeichel for praise: “I thought he kept a very good goal and pulled off some good saves and was dominant with crosses. He deserved better protection from those in front of him.” Keegan paid warm tribute to Chelsea’s Italian Gianfranco Zola stating: “He is the most wonderful player and I’ve not got anything like him at my Club. He’s got bundles of energy and total commitment and he got them going today when the game was pretty flat.” Keegan added: “It was a very hot day today and we looked lethargic but to be fair so did Chelsea for the first half-hour. Then Zola got going for them and we had no answer. We will never know if the miss by Niclas Jensen early in the second half made any difference but the fact remains we did not do at all well. I don’t want to say a lot more.” But he said plenty more. “If anybody is thinking we are safe in this division now and there is nothing left to play for, then that is the last way you can think,” he said. “We’ve either got to start all over again or look for new players in the club. Some of them against Chelsea were just not good enough – simple as that. I think every player has always got to play for his future no matter what is at stake. On Saturday’s performance I could have changed 10 of them, but I know, really, we are better than that.” Chelsea boss Claudio Ranieri was naturally pleased with his side’s performance. “These three points are very important for us. Firstly for the table because we want to achieve a Champions’ League place. Secondly it was good petrol for that [FA Cup tie with Arsenal] match.”

A Change Gonna Come: On Monday, KK was obviously still seething about City’s surrender. He told BBC GMR: “I said to them afterwards ‘Come on tell me something, some of you answer me back’, but they couldn’t. I think we will look in the summer for some good players, who are going to cost very little and there might be plenty around. We are nowhere near where I want this club to be and nowhere near where this club wants to be. A lot of people have let themselves down first and foremost.” City’s defensive frailties certainly need to be addressed – that’s 49 goals conceded in 31 games, only West Ham and Sunderland have worse Premiership records. Danish defender Niclas Jensen had a good chance to reduce the deficit when Chelsea were leading 2-0, but missed the target. “I feel very sorry for the supporters. I don’t know what happened but none of us can be satisfied. I don’t really know what to say,” said Jensen later. “So many of the fans spend so much time and money to come and watch us and they deserved better than they received. Chelsea are a very good team but we made it easy for them. It was embarrassing. There are no excuses and it is not easy to find the words to say how I feel. Peter Schmeichel kept us in the game for more than half an hour but then we were poor.” Of his miss, the Dane commented, “If I could have taken that excellent chance to score early in the second half then maybe it would have been different but it just wasn’t good enough and we deserved the criticism from the supporters. Of course we want to make up for this defeat as quickly as we possibly can. There are seven games left to go and we must fight as hard as we can to make sure we win all of those. What we cannot let happen is that we drift to the end of the season. The last seven games are as important as the first seven.”

Squad News

Foe Not Lyon Around: Last week KK announced that he would not purchase Marc-Vivien Foe for the fee agreed with Lyon, as fluctuations in the currency markets meant that City would have to pay another £1 million on top of the original figure of £6 million. This week, Foe himself revealed his wish for the deal to go through, and proved it by flying back to France to talk to his club. Foe said prior to the Chelsea game that “I am only the player and it is not my job to negotiate deals or prices. I am under contract at Lyon at the moment and it is up to them. I have told Kevin that my ambition is to play with City so if there is any chance for me stay then I am going to take it. For a player in his last year of a contract I feel Lyon are asking too much money for me but we will have to see what happens. I know there are other clubs waiting for me but the really important thing for me is for City and Lyon to sort out a deal,” he continued. Foe did return to Lyon to speak to club officials about his future before flying back to link up with City ahead of Saturday’s game. Kevin Keegan revealed how the negotiations were going. “We have sent a fax to Lyon telling them that we will not be taking up the option we had and that we would like to talk to them,” confirmed the manager. “We will be in communication with them again over the next week. A lot of things have got to fall into place for a deal to happen. They have got to be willing to take a reduction in what his value was this time last year when the market place was different. He played with tonsillitis last weekend [in the home match with Birmingham] and he perhaps didn’t have his normal energy levels but he didn’t make excuses and he is a great professional. I have had a meeting with him and I know he would like to stay. I also know that there are other clubs waiting. What we don’t know is what Lyon are really going to ask those other clubs for him given that Marc only has one year of his contract left. Another loan is not an option because in essence that would mean Lyon freeing him to us. They may take a reduce fee and cut their losses or they may take the opposite view and decide to keep Marc for the final year of his contract, we will not know until we speak to them.”

Carlo Will Go: Carlo Nash has given his clearest indication yet that he’ll look for a new club should Peter Schmeichel decide to stay on for another year. “My future probably rests on Peter and whether he decides to sign on at Manchester City for another year,” said Nash. “I really don’t want to leave this club because I’m very happy here but if Peter signs an extension to his current deal, then I’ll almost certainly be left with no option but to leave. It’s been hard enough on the bench all season because it’s seemed a waste so I can’t imagine spending another year on the sidelines.”

A Fine Pair: Robbie Fowler believes that we may be seeing the beginning of a burgeoning partnership between himself and Nicolas Anelka, although we may have to wait till next season to see the fruits of the hard work put in this term. “It is not been a case of us setting the world on fire yet but we are still learning about one another,” said Fowler. “I know what Nicolas can do and what he is capable of and the Manchester City fans know too having watched all season how good a player he is. It will be nice to get a few more games together before the end of the campaign because I think everyone would reap the benefits of that, especially with next season in mind. I am confident that we will be a success as a partnership. I have great faith in Nicolas and his ability and hopefully he will be just as confident about me. The way the results have panned out of late it has made it harder for the whole side to shine but we can put in a lot of groundwork between now and the middle of May that will stand us in good stead. I wouldn’t say that I wasn’t enjoying my football earlier in the season but it was a difficult time what with coming back from injury and not getting a regular game. It has been completely different since I came to City. Kevin Keegan said from day one that he was going to play me to get me fit and to be fair he has done that. Though I have only one goal to show for it I feel as if I have improved over the last few weeks. All I want to do is my best for City and win as many games as we can between now and the end of the season. What ever follows will follow but doing well for City is top of my agenda.”

Shuk Off: Chris Shuker has returned to Maine Road after a four-week spell with Walsall. The 20-year-old Liverpudlian has failed to find the net after making three starts and two substitute appearances for the Saddlers, the last of which came during Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Crystal Palace. Walsall boss Colin Lee refused to comment in detail on Shuker’s future, saying: “Chris has taken the decision to go back to Manchester City and wait and see what materialises at the end of the season.” Shuker will definitely be leaving City when his contract ends this summer, after Kevin Keegan told him that he had no future with the Blues. If Walsall do not pursue their interest, Wigan Athletic boss Paul Jewell is said to be one of the managers monitoring Shuker’s progress and could step in.

Don Barrie (


Second String Slip up to Baggies


A strong City reserve side faced an equally strong West Brom side, which dominated most of the evening’s play and pegged back City’s early goal from Jon Macken to earn them a well deserved and frustrating point for City fans. The lack of results in recent weeks has left City needing to show some of their early season form and gain results away at Newcastle and Villa towards the end of the season to give them any hope of lifting the title.

The main thing that the reserve team lacks is that for these last few games that we have slipped up on, we have not had either Chris Shuker or Darren Huckerby to run at defences. It appears that at present Shuker has returned to City, up until today, but as it’s deadline day tomorrow, I wouldn’t rule out another loan spell elsewhere as he is not renewing his contract with City. So in replacement for him we have Jon Macken; yes, he can hold the ball up, but he goes one further and actually holds play up and does not release the ball quick enough, or if he decides to turn and shoot, his accuracy leaves a lot to be desired.

Then of course there is Matias Vuoso who is quite plainly not suited to the English game as he has no upper body strength and lacks pace, and so consequently is knocked off the ball too easily. Joey Barton seems to have lost a lot of his form recently as well since the speculation of a starting rôle in the first team. Stephen Jordan I felt produced his worst reserve display last night when I can count on one hand the times he found a City shirt.

City’s goal was quite fortunate, even though it was a good move. The ball came to Vuoso and he held it up and laid it off with a nice back heel to a suspiciously offside Jihai Sun, who incidentally was making his reserve début. He then took the ball to the by-line and sent the ball across the box to the on rushing Macken, who duly dispatched the ball into the back of the net.

After this goal, West Brom controlled the game mostly and City only managed to create half chances for Vuoso and Macken. At half time Shaun Goater was replaced by Philip Gilder to try to bolster the midfield and perhaps create more openings. It had little or no effect as West Brom continued to dominate play. Kevin Ellegaard had to be at his best on numerous occasions to keep Bob Taylor and Simon Brown from scoring. He had no chance for the equalizing goal though when a clearance ball from West Brom’s defence on eighty minutes evaded the head of Paul Ritchie and then Steve Howey, who was ball watching as usual, allowing Simon Brown to run on and coolly slot the ball into the corner past Ellegaard.

It’s a real shame for the reserves that the Youth Cup team are doing so well as I’m sure that a number of players in this team could bolster the reserves to help them get back to the top of the table. City’s next game is at Hyde this Friday against an Everton side likely to include Duncan Ferguson. I’ll be amazed from our last few performances if we are able to contain this big man.

Ellegaard: Some great saves, but needs to improve his kicking and distribution. 7
Sun: Good début performance; unlike Saturday, no stupid challenges either. 7.5
Jordan: His worst performance – totally useless! 3
McCarthy: Won everything that came his way – played the ball well. MoM. 8
Howey: His usual mediocre quality that proves again he’s not good enough. 6
Ritchie: Not bad – but marked down for his mistake on the goal. 6
Barton (capt): Won some tackles, but then gave the ball away too much. 6
Vuoso: Tried to create things, but doesn’t have what it takes unfortunately. 6.5
Macken (83): Scored an easy tap in, not good enough for the 1st team. 6.5
Goater (46): Totally anonymous in the first half. 5
Whelan: Did very little in midfield to drive the team forward. 6

Gilder (46): Never made any difference when he came on. 6
Elliott (83): No time to make a difference. 5

Subs Not Used:
Murphy, Tickle, Orr.

West Brom: Jensen, Chambers, Dyer, Adams, Lyttle (Midworth 84), Mkandawire, Collins, Taylor, Hughes, Marshall, Brown.

Goals: Macken (11), Brown (89).

Att: 620.

City’s Youth Leave Second Leg in Balance

Middlesbrough Youth 1 City Youth 1

An open contest at the Riverside Stadium last night was to yield a scoring away draw and gives City the slight advantage of an away goal going in to the second leg, which will be played at Maine Road this Tuesday, 1st April. Both goals came from headers at set pieces and lack of concentration from both defending teams. The goals came ten minutes apart in the first half. City opened the scoring from a header from Paul Murphy, his second in consecutive cup games, and the equalizing goal was by Middlesbrough’s number eleven, Christopher Brunt.

City were the first to show their intention of gaining a result when in the third minute a Paul Collins free kick was whipped in and Paul Murphy headed to the far post, but Middlesbrough’s captain, Andrew Davies, was able to head over for a corner. City controlled possession for the next ten minutes but were unable to create a clear opening. City’s defence was nearly breached twice in the space of a minute by the diminutive Anthony Peacock, whose play was very reminiscent of Gianfranco Zola, and the statuesque figure of Andrew Davies, but both efforts missed the target.

City then won a free kick on the left when Karl Bermingham was fouled. This time Lee Croft took the free kick and Middlesbrough’s defence tried to step out to play the offside trap, but left Paul Murphy free. His header down was very tame, but somehow Middlesbrough’s ‘keeper, Ross Turnball, lost the flight of the ball and conceded what you would describe as a very soft goal, but of course City were glad to accept the spoils of the goal.

This again gave City some impetus and gave more space to play as Middlesbrough started to push out to chase the game. However, the Blues failed to capitalise any further and when Middlesbrough won a free kick on the right, Anthony McMahon stepped up to take it and the ball came over to the far post. Danny Warrender didn’t force himself sufficiently to make the clearance and Middlesbrough’s number eleven, Christopher Brunt, was able to get around Danny and squeeze his header into the bottom corner of the net and evade the diving hand of Kieron Westwood.

This equalizing goal seemed to give much more purpose to Middlesbrough and Andrew Davies was showing much more desire, causing our defence more problems than when his head appeared to drop after we had gone in front. Danny Warrender was able to redeem his mistake for the goal ten minutes from time with a lovely timed tackle to take the ball away from Gary Liddle who had found room to run into the box. Fortunately for City, although their opponents finished the half stronger and were looking increasingly more dangerous from set pieces, they managed to thwart their efforts.

The start of the second period again saw a lot of possession from the home team, but they never seamed to carve out any real openings for themselves. City on the other hand looked like they were the more dangerous team on the break and their speed of movement caused the home team some anxiety. City’s first chance of the second period came on fifty nine minutes when a Lee Croft corner found the head of Paul Murphy again but David Wheater cleared his header off the line.

The home side nearly took the lead on seventy three minutes when a corner caused panic in the six yard box and an effort on goal was turned away by Westwood but not to safety until fortunately it fell to Lee Croft, who was able to hoof the ball away for a throw in. Four minutes later a long throw in was knocked on to David Wheater who produced an overhead bicycle kick towards the top corner of the goal, but Westwood was able to deny him with a great fingertip save.

As the home side’s legs began to tire towards the end, City pushed forward again. On the eighty fourth minute a move down the left gave an opening for Jamie Tandy to cross into the area, his cross was cleared back to him, and he laid it back to Paul Collins who immediately crossed and found the head of Karl Bermingham; he was unfortunate to see his effort rebound off the upright.

So the game ended with a fair result of a draw. City though must contain Middlesbrough’s diminutive forward, Anthony Peacock, in the second leg. He was given too much time and space to orchestrate matters. They must also close down their Captain, Davies, who won too many headers, if they are to stop Middlesbrough from scoring another goal and thereby conceding only their second goal in this competition so far.

Westwood: Not at fault for the goal and made some fine saves. 8
Warrender: Has to be marked down for his mistake on the goal. 6.5
Collins: Defended reasonably and put in some good crosses. 7
N D’Laryea: Has taken over Nedum’s mantle as the best centre half. MoM. 9
Onuoha: Not showing his great earlier season form, still a good defender. 7
Flood (capt): Worked well all night at chasing down the ball. 8
Murphy: Good industry in midfield and as shown a threat in the box from headers. 8
J D’Laryea: Not his best performance, but still did a good job. 7.5
Bermingham: Worked well for most of the night, seemed to tire towards the end. 7.5
Croft: A much better performance from Crofty, created some good openings. 8
Tandy: Let himself down with some poor decision making on occasions. 6.5

Subs not used: Smith, Schmeichel, Bennett, Wright-Phillips, Logan.

Middlesbrough: Turnbull, McMahon, Harrison, Bates, Davies (capt), Wheater, Morrison, Taylor, Peacock, Liddle, Brunt.

Subs not used: Masters, Knight, Nordgren, Kennedy, Craddock.

Goals: Murphy (16), Brunt (26).

Att: 1,635.

Gavin Cooper (


As you are well aware there have been rumours and stories flying around recently regarding naming some of the stands at the new stadium after former City greats of the past. Whilst this is a most laudable suggestion, it brought to mind something I’ve been thinking about for a long time.

Several clubs up and down the country commemorate arguably their greatest servant with a bronze statue situated somewhere close to the main entrance. For example Wolves have Billy Wright, Everton have Dixie Dean, Leeds have Billy Bremner whilst Liverpool have Bill Shankly. Even the Swamp pays homage to a former Blue on their forecourt! Surely Manchester City should recognize the feats of their greatest and most successful manager, namely Joe Mercer?

I’m not sure how this all works (for instance is planning permission required?) or even whether or not the club would sanction it but I think personally it would be a marvellous and warranted focal point. I might even suggest that the fans would contribute to the cost via a recognized collection scheme on match days.

What do you think? What do other fans think? If people think it’s a good idea then maybe we could compile a formal letter and submit it to the club.

Please let me have your comments.

Ian Penney (


Does anybody else agree that the following 3 midfield players would turn City’s midfield into one of the most solid in the Premiership: Michael Brown, Gary Flitcroft and last but not least Dickson Etuhu? A little bit better I think than what we already have and could probably be brought back to Maine Road for the cost of one Marc Vivien Foe.

While I’m on about the midfield why is it that City are not going down the divisions