Newsletter #903

Firstly, an enormous thank you to Martin for standing in and a job well-done for the past two issues. Back safely from Heidiland (as the locals for some reason refer to that corner of Switzerland) where the only City related news came in the disappointing form of a discussion with NCIS. Apparently our games are “amongst the most difficult to police” domestically.

Here in Cityland we have Don’s newsround of youth and reserve games, movers and shakers. The youth team sadly bowed out of the FA Cup as they failed to capitalise on their first half domination. Gavin has sent in match reports for this game and the reserve victory against Blackburn Rovers.

We’ve also opinion on the best midfield options, words from Dickson, and a number of requests.

We visit struggling Bolton on Saturday for an early kick-off on police advice.

Next game: Bolton Wanderers, away, 12pm Saturday 5 April 2003
Count down: 38 days


General News

Defeat in the Semis: There will be no all Manchester final in the FA Youth Cup this season. In an exciting second leg Semi Final on Tuesday at Maine Road, City lost 2-1 to Middlesbrough in front of nearly 6,000 fans. City had much the better of the first half and were disappointed to still be goalless at half time. Boro took the lead after a long run from Anthony Peacock, but Lee Croft soon levelled from the penalty spot after Chinedum Onuoha had been pushed over in the area. Despite frantic pressure, City could not find a winner in normal time, and in extra time the visitors grabbed a late winner through a header from Davies. Despite finishing the game with a flourish, even employing an all out attack 3-3-4 formation, City could not equalise for a second time. “I am disappointed in the result but am pleased with the performance from some of the players,” said Academy Director, Jim Cassell. “I thought if we had knocked in some of the chances which we had then we would have won the game. That is just what football is about sometimes. I am not as disappointed as I thought I might have been as I was desperate for the club to win the Youth Cup. On the night we didn’t get the breaks, they did. We have to pick ourselves up now and play for next year. I said to Paul Power that I thought we would rue the chances that we missed and we did. I think we could have come in 2-0 up at half time. It didn’t happen. We had a chance for what looked to be a very good penalty and then they went up the other end and scored. Then you are chasing the game. We got back into it through Crofty converting the penalty and even in extra time I wasn’t worried as I thought we would create enough chances to win it, but we didn’t.” Cassell thinks that this team can keep up the progress it has made. “There are seven of the players available next year. We know we have to learn to take our chances, but the positives are that we have got to the semi-finals with a very young side. The boys were brilliant in their attitude and in the match we tried several different systems. It was not as if we sat back and let it happen we tried absolutely everything. It has been a great season, we have all gained great experience from it and we still have the play offs with the U17’s to look forward to. We have to pick ourselves up for the next game. That is sport, if you can’t take a defeat then there is no point in taking part and I hope we will be stronger for it. Perhaps the season had caught up with one or two players, you can see that in senior football. But we should not be down the players have been a credit to the club.” Team: City side: Kieren Westwood, Danny Warrender (Bradley Wright-Phillips 104), Paul Collins (Carlos Logan 70), Nathan D’Laryea, Chinedum Onuoha, Willo Flood, Paul Murphy, Jonathan D’Laryea, Karl Bermingham (Dorryl Proffitt 60), Lee Croft, Jamie Tandy. Subs: Kasper Schmeichel, Ian Bennett.

Mixed Reserves’ Results: It was “won one, lost one” for the Reserves this week. They began in inauspicious manner with a 1-0 defeat to Everton on Friday. Playing at Ewen Fields, City’s side welcomed back Chris Shuker after his loan spell at Walsall, while Sun Jihai made his reserve team déebut. They could not prevent Everton winning with goal on 85 minutes, which was especially frustrating as City had spurned a number of good chances. Team: Nash, James, Jordan, Whelan, Howey (Elliott 46), Sun Jihai, Barton, Gilder (Tickle 78), Macken, Vuoso (Orr 80), Shuker. There was a better result on Monday as the Reserves won 3-0 away at Blackburn. Second half goals by Matias Vuoso, Sun Jihai and Chris Shuker ensured a return to winning ways for Asa Hartford’s men. Team: City: Murphy, James, Jordan, Whelan, Bischoff, Jihai Sun, Barton (Orr 81), Vuoso, Macken (Gilder 79), Goater (Elliott 81), Shuker. Subs: Ellegaard, Tickle.

International Blues: Niclas Jensen played for Denmark in their outstanding 5-2 win over Romania on Saturday in their European Championship qualifier in Bucharest. Despite going behind to an early goal, the Danes hit back to boost their chances of qualification for Euro 2004, with Jensen playing the full 90 minutes. Denmark promptly blew their good work by losing 2-0 at home to Bosnia on Wednesday {Jensen played?}. Richard Dunne didn’t even make the bench for the Republic of Ireland either in their dramatic 2-1 win in Georgia at the weekend, or the 0-0 draw with Albania on Wednesday. Shaun Wright Phillips found himself similarly unemployed by England’s under-21 side, against Portugal and Turkey respectively. Meanwhile, young defender Stephen Paisley played for the Republic of Ireland under-21 side on Friday afternoon as they gained a 1-1 draw with Georgia in Tbilisi, and found himself substituted four days later as the Republic lost 1-0 to Albania. As reported last week, Kevin Horlock announced his retirement from international football. Northern Ireland manager Sammy said: “Kevin told me on Tuesday night he was considering retiring and it is a big shock. But I think it’s been brewing on his mind for a while. His wife is pregnant and he has a young family. After losing Magilton and then Lennon, for Kevin to retire as well is a big blow but at the end of the day you have just got to get on with the job. It will be good experience for the young boys.”

New Stadium Curtain Raiser: Saturday, August 9 has been mentioned as a potential date for the opening game at the new City of Manchester Stadium. John Wardle has made it clear that a top European club will be invited to play in the opening friendly. Juventus, Inter Milan and Hamburg (whom KK played for) have all been mentioned. Wardle said “We are determined to have a prestigious club for the first game at our truly splendid new stadium. We want to make it a memorable occasion for our fans – it is what they deserve.”

Perfect Pitch: The hallowed turf at Maine Road has been nominated as one of the best three playing surfaces in the Premiership, it was revealed this week. If MR wins the award for the division, then there is a chance that the pitch may win a national award, which will be decided between the winners of each of the four top divisions in England. Head groundsman Roy Rigby commented, “I’m so pleased that my team have been shortlisted for this award. The pitch has gone from strength to strength in recent times, particularly since we had fibre sand installed into it last year. I’m equally proud of the Carrington team in winning the National Landscape awards. It’s nice to know we are all doing our bit in making the playing surfaces as perfect as possible for our team, whether for training or for a big League match.” It would be a fitting award for staff in their last season in M14.

Sky Blue Reebok: To no one’s surprise on the MCIVTA subscription list, Reebok were officially revealed as City’s kit suppliers this week, in a deal worth