Newsletter #911

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A busy issue tonight to keep you going over the Bank Holiday weekend.

We’ve a match report thanks to Gavin on our last home reserve game (3-0) of the season against the lollypop men. The analysis of the West Ham performance continues, along with opinion of the way forward. We’ve also the continuing debate on the “best fans'” behaviour, some more great Maine Road memories, plenty of requests and opportunities for you to get thinking and contributing.

Don’s news summary covers recent games, potential squad changes and a special Goat section. Anyone with Goat view, news or memories then send them in for our end of season special.

We travel down the M62 on Saturday to Anfield as Fowler will no doubt be hoping to make a point to the Blue faithful, let alone to Monsieur Houllier.

Next game: Liverpool, away, 3pm Saturday 3 May 2003
Countdown: 10 days

NEWS SUMMARY

General News

Saints Simmer at City Sinners: There are storm clouds gathering over the South coast, and they are being blamed on MCFC. Southampton have claimed on their official website that City have only sent the former Dell dwellers 1,300 tickets for the final ever game at Maine Road, rather than their entitlement of 3,000. City have cited safety reasons for the move. Saints’ officials see it differently, and have written to the Premier League to complain. Southampton want the Premier League to ban the selling of the “missing” 1,700 tickets, to impose a substantial fine as a deterrent to other clubs attempting to flout the regulations for their own end, and to consider deducting points from City. Chairman Rupert Lowe said: “It is an absolute disgrace. We believe City have hidden behind a safety committee smokescreen in order to secure more tickets for their own fans. That is just not right. It is a distortion of the competition and puts us at a serious disadvantage for a game which could have a lot of prize money on it. It is also very unfair on our supporters who traditionally turn out in their numbers for the final away game. Many go in fancy dress and make it a day out. They are now going to miss out on a big occasion.” Managing director Andrew Cowen added that “We are absolutely furious at the flagrant breach of rules designed to keep the competition fair. The denial of our rightful allocation will give City an unfair advantage in a game which could have a lot of prize money riding on it. If we lose out on that as a result of this game then we reserve the right to recover what could be a very considerable sum – on top of the punitive damages we feel the League are duty bound to impose.”

Reshuffle at JD Sports: There are interesting goings on at John Wardle’s sportswear company, JD Sports today (Thursday). After announcing disappointing financial results, JD revealed that Wardle has stepped down as their Chairman to become Executive Deputy Chairman. This prompted speculation that Mr. Wardle was perhaps preparing to make permanent his position at City, but all he would say was: “My position regarding the football club is well known. By stepping down as chairman of JD I will have a lot more free time. I will be able to take my foot off the gas a little and not have to work seven days a week.” Just to make matters even more intriguing, JD announced that a new non-executive director had been appointed – none other than Chris Bird! Bird is much in demand this week, because according to newspaper reports this week, Celtic’s chief executive is leaving, and the name on the top of their wanted list is said to be C. Bird esq. Clearly Bird is highly thought of in some quarters. [Thanks Sarah Longshaw for the Celtic item]

Reserves Win at Home: The Reserves have found their winning ways again. Following last week’s triumph over the League leaders Aston Villa, the second XI duly dispatched Sheffield Wednesday 3-0 in a home fixture. The goals came from Gerard Wiekens and Jon Macken (twice). Team: City: Ellegaard, Jihai Sun, Jordan, Wiekens, Howey, Horlock (Whelan 76), Belmadi, Vuoso (Flood 73), Macken (Croft 73), Goater, Shuker. Subs: Murphy, Gilder.

Simply the Best: It’s official – the best grass in the country is in Moss Side. City’s groundstaff have won the Premier League Groundsman of the Year award. Maine Road was voted the best pitch over the other shortlisted candidates of Arsenal and Blackburn Rovers. Head groundsman Roy Rigby commented. “I’m delighted to have won this most prestigious of awards. It really has been down to great teamwork and dedication over the whole season,” he said. “Lee Jackson and Gary Conway, our assistant groundsman, have been so eager to learn and are now experts in the art of how to maintain and care for our pitch. The fact that we have won the award for the first time in this, our final season at Maine Road, makes it even more special. I feel proud that my team in our own way, have given this stadium the send off it deserves.” This award follows a similar accolade for the turf and drainage at the Carrington training centre.

Friendly Date Announced: City will play a friendly fixture with Oldham Athletic on Saturday August 2 at Boundary Park. The Blues have already confirmed a pre-season visit to Lincoln City.

International Blues: Richard Dunne featured for the Republic of Ireland in their 1-0 over Norway in Dublin on Wednesday night. Blackburn’s Damien Duff scored the only goal. Dunnie hopes that an international appearance can help his chances with the Blues. “Every time you get a chance to play it gives you the opportunity to impress people,” said Dunne. “Playing against Norway gives me the chance to play centre-half as well so hopefully I can impress Kevin Keegan.” Two of City’s Danish contingent were also missing training this week. Niclas Jensen played in Denmark’s single goal victory against Ukraine, while Mikkel Bischoff featured in the equivalent under-21 fixture.

Almost Blue: On the eve of Real Madrid’s European battle with a team from the outskirts of Manchester, the M.E.N. revealed one of those “the one that got away” stories. Instead of making a monkey of Fabien Barthez in the white of Madrid, Luis Figo could have been doing the same in City’s blue. It seems that during the reign of Brian Horton, a promising Portuguese winger was brought to his attention. “It was Malcolm Allison who alerted us to a kid called Luis Figo who was getting rave reviews for his performances with Sporting Lisbon,” remembered the Port Vale manager. “Malcolm also told us that Figo wanted to join a bigger club and fancied playing in England. We made contact with his agent and invited him over to Manchester. We took him to Stanneylands Hotel in Wilmslow to find out what it would take to bring Figo to Maine Road. In a nutshell, we couldn’t afford him. The fee alone was more than £2 million, which was a great deal of money in those days. But the entire package would have cost a lot more than that so reluctantly we had to abandon our interest in signing Figo. It wasn’t long after that when Figo got his wish to join a bigger club. He signed for Barcelona and what’s happened to him since – as they say – is history.” Mrs. Barrie, a long time admirer of the Portuguese international, was reported to have been “devastated” by the news. “I might even have watched your lot more often”, she told sources close to this News Editor.

Goat News

King for a Day: KK has revealed that Shaun Goater will lead team out as captain when City take on Southampton in Maine Road’s finale. “I have told Shaun that he will definitely captain the side on the last day, whatever happens,” confirmed the boss. “It will be an emotional day. I shall certainly start with him, though I don’t know at this stage if he will finish the game in the side. Shaun has never let me down. Every game he has come in to the side he has done very well and you know what you are going to get from him. I will include him whether we play with three up front and change the system or if I ask someone else to do a different job. I may leave one of the other forwards out of the side and explain to him that I am including Shaun because I think it is the right thing to do. I have promised Shaun he will be the captain and I will stick to that.” Goater broke the news last week of his intention to graze in pastures new next season, and KK understands his decision to move on. “Shaun is 33 now and feels he wants to play,” said the City manager. “We all know Shaun loves it here, we all know what we think of him and he certainly knows what the supporters think of him. I have told him I would be very happy for him to see out his contract with us but it is his choice and that is the way it has to be. We will want money for Shaun and there is a sell-on clause for Bristol City. But the most important thing is that we make the move right for him. We are going to miss him on and off the field. We will miss him at training, when we are all eating together and when we go to away games. Shaun is a good team player in every respect. He is on the players’ committee and he will be hard to replace.”

I’ll Be Back! Even if Goater does move on soon, we may not have seen the last of our number ten. “One of my ambitions is to come back and work at Manchester City in some sort of capacity, maybe coaching young strikers,” he said. “I love the club and it is in my blood. There were bad times early on but they only went to make the good times all the more sweet. I have a special bond with City fans and I hope they feel the same towards me. That bond will never be broken no matter where I play my football.” Goater seems resigned to a change of scene this summer. “Nothing is forever and I am a realist. When new strikers were coming in I thought playing alongside them would be brilliant. I welcomed the challenge, but it’s been more than two months since I started a game and the light at the end of the tunnel – if there is a light – is very dim. I saw my footballing future here, but now it probably will be elsewhere. There are just too many barriers for me to break through.” He added: “If I had played five games and not scored I know I would have been dropped, but the manager feels Anelka and Fowler will work so he is sticking with them. Things for them can only get better, and they will. But if I can’t get in during that period, then there is no chance when they are firing on all cylinders. My mind’s set,” he said. “The decision has been made because I want to be playing. The fans have been great. That’s why it’s been such a difficult decision. That’s all I’m getting from the fans. It’s hard to look someone in the face and tell them I want to leave. Even though I’ve not been playing regularly, I still see the fans. They still tell me: ‘You’re my number one’, ‘I love you’. While I wasn’t playing, they were still telling me ‘don’t go, please stay.’ I was genuinely saying to them ‘I’m staying. I am not going anywhere.’ Because that’s the way I honestly felt. But it’s gone on too far. My last game was back in January. I’ve been fully fit and available since then. The decision has been made because I want to be playing football. I know I’ve got a few more seasons left in me.” Of his final appearance as a City player, Goater concluded that “I aim to enjoy the last few weeks here and the last day of the season is sure to be an emotional affair,” he said. “I am emotional and when I last led the team out at Grimsby I felt proud to do that and that feeling will be multiplied I am sure against Southampton. There is bound to be a tear or two but I hope also there is a goal for me – that would be a sensational way to say thank you and see you soon to the fans.”

Whither the Goat? Now the speculation has begun on Shaun’s future employers. Having originally brought the Goat to Maine Road in 1998, Joe Royle’s Ipswich Town were the early contenders for the big Bermudian. This move seems unlikely as Ipswich are in administration, so cannot purchase players. The other contenders for his signature are Wigan Athletic, the newly crowned champions of Division Two. Wigan could certainly afford Goater, and First Division football would undoubtedly appeal to our legend, but Goater might be put off by the negative reception he received earlier this season at the JJB stadium. Apparently Wigan fans still think that Shaun handled the ball into the net during the 1999 Division Two play-off semi-finals.

Transfer News and Gossip

Declaration of Intent: Just like he did last year, KK sounds like he’s rehearsing his negotiations for transfer funds via the media. He makes it pretty clear that he wants to do more than simply find replacements for Peter Schmeichel and Marc Vivien Foe. “There is one thing absolutely clear and it has to be said,” he emphasised “And that is if we get another goalkeeper, a top class one and we get another top class midfield player we are only where we are now. That is because we are losing Peter Schmeichel and are set to lose Marc Vivien Foe. That is the first thing that the club and the supporters have to understand. We have to get another goalkeeper because of the Nicky Weaver situation and we need another midfield player of the pedigree of Marc Vivien Foe, an experienced international one. If we get those two players – and that will be a tough task – then we are not going to move forward anywhere. The things we can move forward on are the players playing better together because they have got to know each other. We can also move forward with players, like David Sommeil playing better because they have got to know the League better. We have Mikkel Bischoff and Joey Barton. When a kid like Joey comes through like he has it is a bonus. It shouldn’t be with the money which is spent on Academies but it is nowadays because of the influx of foreigners and so our kids are trying to replace players like Nicolas Anelka for instance if they are a forward. I am just publicly letting the supporters know that if we sign a midfield player of real good quality we would only be where we are now.”

Nice Nottingham: As we all know, when KK starts sending a player out on loan, it’s not a good sign for the player’s City future. The pair of players currently on loan elsewhere may have realised this, and sound like they would like to stay where they are, thank you very much. Darren Huckerby wants to continue sampling the delights of his home town; Nottingham Forest are guaranteed a First Division play-off place, but Dazza fancies staying even if Forest fail to clinch the third promotion spot. “I would consider staying even if Forest don’t get promoted,” said Huckerby. “It would be the perfect club for me and I have enjoyed my time here.” Paddy McCarthy meanwhile is also enjoying himself at Nottingham’s other club, Second Division Notts County. “If I do have to take a step down a level or two to establish myself as a regular, I will do that,” he stated. “I am prepared to move if it means I get the chance to play first-team football. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Meadow Lane. It is a good club. I haven’t spoken to the manager about it but I wouldn’t mind coming back. We will have to wait and see what happens.”

‘Keeper Musings: KK has confirmed that he will go out this summer and find a replacement for Peter Schmeichel. You get the impression that the Boss Man was none too impressed by the comments attributed to Carlo Nash recently, who said he was unhappy about his deputy status at the club. Although Nash denies making such claims, KK you feel ain’t impressed. “Carlo has done excellently as a number two this season to Peter but from what he has been saying he doesn’t want to be a number two. That situation will sort itself out,” said Keegan. “Carlo’s goalkeeping has improved this season and he has worked hard and approached it in the right way but whether he is willing to fight someone for the number one jersey next season is debateable from some of the things he has said. I am not going to look for a number two, I am going to go looking for the best I can get with what I have got available in terms of finance. That is my job. Carlo has two years left on his contract but depending on who we sign if Carlo comes to me and says I am 29 – nearly 30 – and I want to play every week, a bit like Shaun Goater has, then we will have to look at that. If players don’t want to play for you and don’t want to stay at the club then you are better moving them on at the right time and with the right deal – as much for their own sake as your own.” KK was quick to praise the progress made by 19-year-old Kevin Stuhr Ellegaard. “When Peter goes I will have Carlo Nash and Kevin Ellegaard and don’t underestimate how close Kevin is to Carlo and Nick Weaver,” declared the City chief. “He has progressed well. Everyone is really pleased with how he has come on.” Keegan knows however that Ellegaard is one for the future, and that a more experienced goalkeeper is required for next season. “It is no good going for the next kid that might be,” he ventured. “You often need experience in the Premiership and I will try and get the best I can for the club.”

Tabloid Tittle Tattle: City are reportedly interested in signing Blackburn Rovers’ winger Keith Gillespie on a Bosman free transfer this summer. KK has worked with Gillespie before, at Newcastle United, where Gillespie was part of the deal that took Andy Cole to Old Trafford. The Blues face competition from Birmingham City for the Northern Irish international. According to the Sunday People, City hope to replace the departing Marc Vivien Foe with Gavin McCann of relegated Sunderland, while Oldham Athletic’s Clint Hill is being watched by City’s scouts. The 24-year-old centre half has only just returned to action after suffering a broken leg. [Thanks to Mr. Dickens for his assistance on this item]

Ex-Blues’ News

Cookie Crumbles at Grimsby: Grimsby Town have been relegated from Division One, and Terry Cooke won’t be featuring for the Mariners next season. The 26-year-old winger has not been offered a new contract, and despite being popular with the Blundell Park fans, Cooke hadn’t started a game for three months, before last Saturday’s appearance against Reading. “It’s been a very frustrating season for me. I’ve been working hard and in training and keeping my head down and my mouth shut,” said Cooke. “But nobody’s offered me anything and at this stage it looks like I’ll be a free agent in the summer. I think I can hold my head up. I’ve been a model pro, coming in, working hard and getting on with it. I just want to get another club this summer and start again. I don’t think I’ve been played to my strengths this season or used to the best of my ability. I haven’t played brilliant week-in, week-out but I’ve never had a massive stinker. When I’ve had a run of games I think I’ve done well. Then, all of a sudden, I get the chop again for no reason. It does knock your confidence and you wonder what you’ve done wrong. Nobody has said anything to me.” Cooke is grateful for the support he has received from the terraces, at least. “The fans have taken to me. There has been a lot of expectation on my shoulders when I’ve been coming on – I don’t know what they’ve been expecting me to do! But it’s nice to be appreciated and it’s a shame that they haven’t seen more of me in a Grimsby Town shirt.”

Stags Down: Keith Curle’s first season in management has ended in disappointment, as Mansfield were relegated to Division Three. They were demoted in unusual circumstances. Needing a victory at Tranmere Rovers, the Stags were losing 2-0 at half time, when a home fan decided to climb up a floodlight pylon. When the spectator refused to budge, the Police insisted that the game was abandoned on safety grounds. Town’s relegation was confirmed in any event, after Chesterfield and Cheltenham both won. Rhys Day has been unable to assist Mansfield’s struggle after breaking his jaw a fortnight ago.

Simmo Gets Vote of Confidence: Another ex-City player has been under pressure this week. After a series of poor results that has seen Rochdale slip down the Third Division, irate ‘Dale fans have been calling for the sacking of player-boss Paul Simpson. Simmo was given a less than ringing endorsement by his bosses this week. “Paul Simpson will remain the manager of Rochdale Football Club for the remainder of the 2002/2003 season,” a club statement read. “Paul has been made aware of this decision and once the season has concluded the board will sit down once again to discuss the situation.” His contract runs out in the summer, and after an exciting FA cup run that saw Rochdale reach the fifth round, Simpson seemed certain of a new deal. Results since those exploits suggest otherwise, however.

Reactions and Comments

Hammer Time: City slipped to yet another home defeat on Sunday, this time to West Ham United. You sense that KK is getting increasingly frustrated with the lacklustre shows by his team – it must be particularly galling, as the Blues had gone into Sunday’s game on the back of an unbeaten run of three games. “Every time we have got ourselves in a decent position we haven’t capitalised on it,” said Keegan. “It has happened four or five times now, which tells me that somewhere along the line we are not quite there. It wasn’t a game for the purist but you couldn’t question the commitment of either side. It is two steps forward, one step back, that has been the story of our season,” he continued. “If I am honest I am not really happy at the way the season has gone but I think some people at the club are, and I am pleased for them. I was very disappointed. Every time we have got in a position to catapult forward in the Premiership we don’t do it. There is just a little bit missing but we will see if we can put that right in the summer. There was plenty of effort there and we had enough chances to have won the game even though West Ham have dug in and fought for their lives,” he said. “But that is seven home defeats this season in the Premiership and that isn’t good enough. The winning break in the game could have gone either way but it went theirs and good luck to them. From our point of view it was a bad goal to give away. If you look at it clinically, like we have to do, then Djamel Belmadi did not track Jermain Defoe back and they got a corner. We then didn’t get people out to stop the cross from the short corner and we didn’t mark in the box. Jon Macken had just come on but he has just let Don Hutchinson run off him. That is what happens when you change players sometimes. You change it trying to win it and there is always the danger that you lose a bit of shape and organisation. I don’t think we deserved to lose the game but we did and I am very disappointed as I have been a few times this season, it is not a new experience. I wanted to win desperately. We could have gone up to eighth position with a win yesterday.”

Brooking Off the Fence at Last: The national media spent most of the after match period highlighting the emotional antics of West Ham’s caretaker manager Trevor Brooking. Brooking, put in charge of the Hammers’ last 3 games following Glenn Roeder’s minor stroke last week, is best known for his mumbled inanities on BBC TV and radio, so the press pack couldn’t believe the gesticulating and shouting coming from the touchline from Mr. B. KK is a former roommate of Brooking’s from their time as England internationals in the 1980’s, and was impressed by the débutant manager. “He was a nightmare!” stated the City boss. “He was in my technical area all the time. He didn’t know what to do. I love Trevor to bits. I said to him that if he retires now, he’ll go down as the most successful manager in the history of the game! I really hope he can keep them up but he still has a tough task. It always looked as though one goal would win it and it doesn’t give me any pleasure that a team managed by Trevor beat us.” The bellowing Brooking later commented: “Nobody thought a point would be enough today. We took a bit of a gamble at the end with three up front and I was delighted to see the ball go in, even if I didn’t know who scored. When you sit in the stand you can see all the angles and who isn’t being picked up. In the dug-out it’s just a mass of bodies. You yell out to people and they can’t hear you and it really is difficult. I’ve no intention of extending this beyond the two games we still have to go but at least this result keeps everything bubbling for us. This win gives us a bit of hope. The four teams above us – Bolton, Leeds, Fulham and Aston Villa – will be looking over their shoulder. It’s been a terrific week and this win keeps us bubbling along for another week. In our position, to be honest, the point was not going to be enough, we had to get all three. There are two weeks of the season to go and my voice might just about last that long – maybe I should declare now.” Brooking later confirmed that Les Ferdinand, who had been carried of after colliding with Peter Schmeichel, had not broken his leg as was first feared.

Disappointed Distin: Captain Sylvain Distin was not overly impressed by the day’s proceedings. “I am very disappointed as we expected to win the game and we in the end we lost. West Ham played well but we did not do well and that did not help us,” he remarked. “It was not our worst performance of the season but we I am still very down about it. We have been aiming for a top ten finish so this result was disappointing. I am sure the fans feel we let them down, now I will spend a couple of days reflecting on the game to see where it went wrong for us. I was surprised when they got that goal and I felt we deserved to score in the first half but our performance in the second half slipped and we let them in.”

Squad News

Baby Please Don’t Foe: Shaun Wright-Phillips thinks that City must try to keep Marc Vivien Foe once the Cameroon international’s loan period ends at the end of the season. KK has made it clear that Lyon’s asking price for Foe is too high, so there is a real danger of the player not appearing for the Blues next term. Shaunie thinks that this would be a mistake. “It is very important that Marc stays, he is a vital part of the squad,” said SWP. “He has been a big influence over the season and helped us reach the top ten. Marc is very popular with the lads and we don’t want to see him go. He is excellent at breaking play up and has scored nine goals, which is a lot from midfield in a competitive Premiership. Believe it or not I feel if we can keep him then he will score even more next season. I hope there is a way. If not he will be hard to replace.” Wright-Phillips is happy with his own form since moving into a midfield berth, but he knows how he can improve. “My confidence is really high at the moment and I believe I can create plenty of chances for other people,” he said. “The next step is to start scoring more goals. That is what I am building towards just now.”

Peter’s Warning: Peter Schmeichel was asked this week for his views on the state of his current club. Denmark’s greatest thinks that City may be missing an opportunity for stable long-term development. “You sense that it is on the right track but they must get things right behind the scenes,” he warned. “It has been a joke for 40 years. I don’t know what it is or why there are power struggles but it is just seems to stick to Manchester City. When I came here I felt things had changed and the club was moving in the right direction. But it has not proved the case. We have had Chris Bird and the chairman leaving – how much that was connected I do not know. I can tell you that those sort of things do not help the football club. It does not help the players.” He also reiterated his decision to quit the playing side of the game in two weeks time. “Every morning it takes me an hour to get going – these days I need four or five parts of my body strapped up just to get through a training session. You’re supposed to be happy in your work. You’re supposed to wake up every morning and look forward to the challenges of the day. But now my body is not happy any more. I always promised I’d move on when this moment arrived. My first career is over and I have to go out and find my next one. If I can find one half as exciting as the one I’ve just let go, I’ll be the luckiest man in the world,” he concluded.

Ali’s a Squad Man: Ali Benarbia would like to spend the final season of his contract with the Blues, despite starting only 19 games this season. Since Eyal Berkovic’s injury, last year’s player of the season has regained a place in the starting line up, and he hopes to impress KK in the last two games of the campaign. He said: “I just enjoy playing and life at Manchester City where there is so much to look forward to in terms of the new stadium and team development. I still have another year of my contract left but I will not be asking for any guarantees as far as my first-team place goes. I have never asked for them in my career and I shall not now. It has not been easy for me to show what I can do because I have not played on a regular basis,” he said. “But I feel I can still give a lot to the team. I had a good start to the season but then didn’t get into a good rhythm of playing every game. Instead I featured in one or two and then waited another couple of matches to start again.”

Don Barrie (news@mcivta.city-fan.org)

MATCH REPORT: MCFC RESERVES 3 SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY RESERVES 0

City Give the Owls the Hoot

A much more experienced line up for City than last week against an ineffectual Villa side nearly slipped up against a youthful and little known Wednesday team. Three goals in the second half though secured the victory for City and with it a slim chance at the title. Goals from Gerard Wiekens and a brace for Jon Macken ensured the three points.

The first half was a game where both sides were competing on whose defence could look most like a schoolboy’s defence. Both sides left gaps big enough for super tankers to get through. Steve Howey was the major culprit for City along with Jihai Sun’s love of watching the ball, not the play. It was this ball watching that nearly caused City to go a goal down in the first minute. Fortunately for City, the Wednesday forwards were not composed and Kevin Ellegaard was able to smother the attempt.

City’s only clear-cut opening in the first half came on five minutes when Kevin Horlock played a good ball over the top and Matias Vuoso beat the offside and ran onto the ball but John Kennedy in Wednesday’s goal pulled off a fine save to deny him. City were again lucky not to go a goal behind on twenty-six minutes when Wednesday’s number eight, Lewis McMahon, was given the freedom of the right hand side and was able to cross to Jon Shaw, but fortunately his finish was poor and he put his shot wide.

The roasting that the players would have received at half time certainly did the trick as they won a corner in the first minute and Gerard Wiekens scored with a good header when Kennedy failed to collect. City should have doubled their lead eleven minutes later when good work by Vuoso found Shaun Goater and he played Horlock in on goal but the he missed an easy chance from eight yards out and put his shot narrowly wide.

Four minutes later Vuoso did his best to burst the ball when a thunderous 15 yard shot hit the post after a good one two with Jon Macken. Macken finally got on the scoresheet moments later when Goater was able to pass into space for Macken to run on and strike a goal. Five minutes later Macken was denied another by a great save by Kennedy when he volleyed Horlock’s cross goalwards.

City scored their third and final goal on 70 minutes when Wednesday’s number eleven, Liam Needham, clumsily brought down Sun Jihai on the right hand edge of the penalty area. Macken stepped up well and converted the penalty by sending the ‘keeper the wrong way. City then made all of their three substitutions within four minutes, which seemed to null some of City’s forward play and allowed Wednesday some more possession. This then led to Ellegaard pulling off a fine save from a free kick by Wednesday’s number seven, Laurie Wilson.

The game ended with City creating three good chances as it went into injury time. The first, Goater was just unable to connect with a good cross from Lee Croft, after Glen Whelan had found him out right with a lovely long pass. The other two were good shots from Djamel Belmadi and Willo Flood, whose shots were saved and went narrowly over respectively.

If City are to be crowned champions, they have to rely on Manchester United taking at least four points from Middlesbrough within a week. This might not be that unthinkable as United have shown some form recently in the Reserve league. But most importantly we need to have a tighter defence when we travel to Newcastle Falcons’ ground next Tuesday and pick up the three points. As far as Belmadi is concerned, unless he is doing wonders in training I feel that his recent reserve performances have not been quite good enough for us to sign him up permanently if we are to move forward and strive to be European contenders.

Ellegaard: Pulled off some good saves, but was rarely tested. 7
Sun: Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – isn’t consistent with his play. 6
Jordan (capt): Best of the defenders, got forward down the flanks well as well. 7
Howey: Better second half, but all over the place in the first. 6
Wiekens: Has never been able to partner Howey in the centre, but a good goal. 7
Horlock (77): Put his foot on the ball well and good distribution. MoM. 8
Belmadi: Some good stuff, but ultimately should have opened up their defence more. 7
Vuoso (73): Again another good display by the Argy, progressing all the time. 8
Macken (73): Apart from a dodgy 10 minute period, played very well. 8
Goater: Unlucky not to be on the scoresheet, we’ll miss him at Maine Road. 7
Shuker: Good running at the defence, I’m sure he’ll find a good club in the summer. 7

Subs:
Whelan (77): Little time to impress when the game was already won. 6
Flood (73): Added a little balance to the team. 6
Croft (73): Needs to produce a better final ball more often to progress. 6

Not Used:
Murphy, Gilder.

Sheffield Wednesday:
Kennedy, Foster, Lowe, Crane (Greenwood 71), Burrows (capt), Orlik, Wilson, McMahon, Shaw, Smith, Needham.
Not Used:
Poulter, Douglas, Knowles, Hill.

Goals: Wiekens (46), Macken (64, 70)

Att: 770

Gavin Cooper (blueboy@mancity.net)

OPINION: BEHIND CLOSED DOORS

Peter Schmeichel has come straight out with it and says Manchester City are a joke because of the struggle in the boardroom. I have thought this for some time and I will speak my mind. If anyone should resign from Manchester City’s boardroom it is Dennis Tueart. He is the one responsible for us losing David Bernstein as chairman, he has the desire to become chairman of Manchester City. Please God forbid! Now that David Bernstein has left, let it be someone new to the club to be chairman, and not John Wardle’s puppet. Truthfully spoken Peter Schmeichel.

Also, I very much support and respect our manager Kevin Keegan, but his comments on the MCFC official website kind of baffle me, quote: “We replace Schmeichel in goal with another goalkeeper, and replace Mark-Vivien Foe in midfield we will still be in the same position for next season”.

Sure Peter Schmeichel has been a brilliant goalkeeper, but because of age we must move on, true he will be hard to replace. But I question his wisdom on Foe, he is inconsistent and that’s part of why Manchester City are inconsistent; again, for the kind of money they are talking about there has got to be a better replacement. Not very enthused comments coming from the manager I respect!

We all have our bad days.

Ernie Barrow (Britcityblue@aol.com)

OPINION: COULD THEY SELL ALL THEIR TICKETS?

The following article is from the official Southampton football club website. It would appear that, after Southampton refused to accept a reduced allocation of tickets for the match, City still took away 1695 of their tickets on safety grounds. I’m sure this was a deliberate ploy by the club to give more tickets to City fans for what will be a once in a lifetime experience, but I’m also sure that, given the chance, Southampton and any other club in the same position would do exactly the same. The response is so over the top from the Saints that it has to be seen to be believed. There is another article on the site which calls for City’s potential place in Europe to be recinded as punishment!


Saints have lodged a furious official protest against Manchester City’s disgraceful decision to restrict them to just 1300 tickets for the final game of the season. And they have even threatened to sue City who have flouted Premier League regulations by slashing the Southampton allocation for what will be the last league game at Maine Road. Tickets are like gold dust in Manchester for what is sure to be an emotional and historic occasion and City asked Saints not to take their full complement of 3,000 seats.

But when Southampton turned the request down flat and insisted on their full quota, City hid behind “safety considerations” and sent just 1305 tickets. Understandably Saints are livid at a decision which they privately suspect had been taken weeks ago – and which City would not have reversed under any circumstances. Now they are looking for instant and major retribution. Saints want the Premier League to:

  • ban the selling of the “missing” 1695 tickets on safety grounds;
  • impose a substantial fine as a deterrent to other clubs attempting to floutthe regulations for their own end;
  • consider deducting points from City.

They have also reserved the right to take legal action to recover any prize money they may lose on the result of this game – on top of any fine levied by the authorities if it is proven the integrity of the competition has been compromised.

Chairman Rupert Lowe slammed City saying: “It is an absolute disgrace. We believe City have hidden behind a safety committee smokescreen in order to secure more tickets for their own fans. That is just not right. It is a distortion of the competition and puts us at a serious disadvantage for a game which could have a lot of prize money on it. It is also very unfair on our supporters who traditionally turn out in their numbers for the final away game. Many go in fancy dress and make it a day out. They are now going to miss out on a big occasion.”

Managing director Andrew Cowen has fired off a stinging letter to the Premier League accusing City of breaching paragraph 7.1 of their Customer Charter. He is seething that City were able to safely police a volatile local derby with United but supposedly cannot cope with 3,000 Saints fans who have an exemplary behaviour record and who would be in party mood ahead of the FA Cup final and with no fear of relegation. The ultimate irony is that City and the Greater Manchester Police actually asked the Premier League to allocate them a low-key final fixture – and even singled out Southampton as preferred opposition! Around eight weeks ago Saints firmly turned down City’s request for them to reconsider their application for their full allocation.

Further debate failed to resolve the wrangle so it went to the Premier League for a decision. They came down in favour of the visiting club but now City’s safety committee have ruled that only 1305 tickets should be made available. Bizarrely that number of tickets were dispatched from Maine Road prior to the Premier League’s final meeting with City and its safety group yesterday! Of those, 149 are obstructed view, 11 are for disabled supporters and 60 are complimentaries for the players leaving just 1085 unobstructed view seats for sale.

These will be allocated to Saints supporters who have been to most away games this season and the club are currently trawling through the database to work out the most deserving cases. They will all receive letters inviting them to purchase a seat for the clash on Sunday May 11. Cowen fumed: “With all the hassle over FA Cup final tickets, this is the last thing we need! We are absolutely furious at the flagrant breach of rules designed to keep the competition fair. The denial of our rightful allocation will give City an unfair advantage in a game which could have a lot of prize money riding on it. If we lose out on that as a result of this game then we reserve the right to recover what could be a very considerable sum – on top of the punitive damages we feel the League are duty bound to impose. This denial for once only ‘safety’ considerations is a distortion of the competition. Every club faces occasional fixtures where additional measures are needed to meet risks of public disorder and it is up the host club to take whatever steps are necessary to comply with the rules.”

“I have some difficulty in believing that the risk of public disorder at this game is so great that the fixture cannot be managed at any price! We had a similar problem two years ago for our last ever game at The Dell – but we played it strictly by the book even though our capacity was less than half of City’s. There was never any question that we would not honour our obligation towards Arsenal and if extra costs were involved as a result of that then we took it on the chin. Premier League regulations are quite specific. City must be capable of meeting rule 7.1 irrespective of the opposition or whether it is the last game at the stadium.”

Steve Smith (steve589@hotmail.com)

OPINION: BOSNICH?!

In light of the news about Mark Bosnich, why don’t we sign him? His ban would finish in September, he could train during the summer and play from the end of the September.

He could be offered a small salary and then a pay as you play contract with the offer of another permanent deal if he performs. He would be an ideal replacement for Rudolph!

Graham Lord (gooch@spidernet.com.cy)

OPINION: ENCORE UN BLEU?

It has been reported this week Bolton will be unable to meet Paris St Germain’s £4 million asking price for Bernard Mendy and I’d love to think KK might be lining up a bid. I’ve seen Mendy a few times this season as a marauding right wing-back for Wanderers and I think he’s an outstanding player.

Having already proved that he’s more than up to scratch in the Premiership, surely £4 million isn’t beyond our means for Lilian Thuram’s future successor in the French national side, is it? As an under-21 regular, he is very highly thought of at Clairefontaine, the French national training camp, and we must remember he is still only 20 years old with his best years still ahead of him.

A star already, a superstar in the making – remember where you heard it. Go on Kev, get the chequebook out!

Mike Holden (MikeHoldenMCFC@aol.com)

OPINION: END OF TERM REPORT

I watched the West Ham game and as bad as we were I was still appalled by the attitude of the commentators and the ability, or lack thereof, of the ref and the linesmen. Case in point: the second half saw a number of dodgy offside calls by the baldy linesman on the Kippax side. The commentators were rightly bemoaning his performance, but where were their cries in the first half? As for handballs, some conspiracy theorists amongst us may believe there is a concerted effort in the F.A. to protect established Premiership clubs. The decisions against us, West Brom et al should in theory even out over the course of a season, but it certainly does not seem to be the case. How can a team as attack minded as ours not be awarded a penalty all season?

Enough of griping about things that are out of our control; our team and how it can be improved.

‘Keeper: Schmeichel will be a huge loss and needs replacing with someone of comparable ability. I have heard names like James, Martyn, Hoult, Jaaskelainen and Sorensen mentioned. Hmmmm, has anyone looked at the league positions of their various clubs? Granted, the ‘keeper is not solely to blame for their positions and Paul Robinson at Leeds is getting major interest from the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal. Why are we not considering him? Why not look abroad to Notario or Cavallero or Westerfeld in Spain?

Defence: I like the move to a flat back four. It has always been my preferred system and is way more successful than any other. If it’s good enough for Brazil, then it’s good enough for us. Distin and Sommeil are showing the signs of becoming a good partnership and Jensen, at whom I directed much ire earlier in the season, looks far more composed at left back than spectating at wing back. Dunnie, as much as I like him, is no right back and I’d love to see Stephen Carr, Steve Finnan or Michael Reiziger in place for next season.

Midfield: Joey Barton’s emergence has been one of the highlights of the latter part of the season. Foe, however, has been a huge disappointment. Yes, he may be our second top scorer, but even with that he has been profligate in front of goal. At times he looks like he couldn’t be bothered, and times when he is committed he looks extremely clumsy. I’d far rather have Super Kev in there or Eyal if we’re playing an attacking game. With Danny T on the left and SWeeP on the right our midfield doesn’t look too bad and without buying a Viera would we really be improving on Eyal in another attacking player or Joey Barton in someone to break up play? What we do need is more crossing, SWeeP cutting in is pretty good, once in a while, but whipping balls in would be far more worthwhile. Jensen’s crossing on Sunday was abysmal, although granted this may have been largely due to having nobody in the box when we went forward.

Attack: Keegan will no doubt stick with Fowler for a while, but if the situation has not improved by September, then things have to change (when you’re in a hole Kev, stop digging!). Ideally I’d like to see a target man in there, big strong lad who will win things in the air but who also will throw himself at everything in the six yard box. The important thing here is getting into the six yard box. I know what you’re thinking, there’s a certain 33 year old Bermudian who seems to fit the bill but if he’s not around we need a direct replacement – Carew? Anelka has been great all season, despite losing his shooting boots recently. One thing I would like to see is when we go forward, the full back and wide midfielders should support each other and allow Nic to get in the box rather than making himself available for a short pass.

And Finally… Training – we are awful at set pieces both defending and attacking. What the hell has Stuart Pearce done all season? Porous defence, at sixes and sevens defending corners and no-one to take a decent pop from a free, this used to be his bread and butter and if he can’t pass any of this knowledge on what has he been doing? These basics need to be sorted, we’ve got to walk before we can run. No need to practice penalties though, we’ll never get any!

Sean Cassidy (sean_cassidy@iol.ie)

OPINION: CRISIS, WHAT CRISIS?

Okay. So we’re not setting the world on fire at the moment. But it’s important that we keep some perspective. MCFC has been involved in promotion or relegation for the last four years, so it’s no surprise that, with nothing left to play for other than pride this season, everyone’s all but given up the ghost. Not acceptable, but no surprise.

In my humble opinion, two things need to happen over the summer break to make sure that we start next season firing on all cylinders. Firstly, certain players need to go. They’re not cutting it. We all know who they are. Some of them are our favourites, others have been loyal to the club for years. But unfortunately none of them are Premiership quality. Secondly, we must invest in quality midfielders. Every game I have seen this season (bar the derbys of course) we have been resolutely rubbish in midfield. Recent performances against Tottenham and Sunderland gave me heart that a new formation was the key, but alas that was not to be. The only real bright hope has been the emergence of Joey Barton. I don’t want to tempt fate but he really does play like Gerrard and if he continues improving, come next season he’ll be a huge talent. But, let’s dream about those summer transfers… fantasy football.

To stand any hope of finishing in a European spot next season I would like to see any three or four of the players below move to City:

Reitziger from Barcelona, McManaman from Real Madrid, Matt Holland from Ipswich, Jaap Stam from Lazio, Nigel Martyn from Leeds, David Dunn from Blackburn, Nicky Butt from the Filth, Rafael Van Der Vaart from Ajax, Ray Parlour from Arsenal.

CTID, Ahsan Naeem – Melbourne, Australia (ahsann@mushroommusic.com.au)

OPINION: A FOWL WASTE OF MONEY

I have noticed lately that a lot of people is concerned about the capture of Robbie Fowler. A waste of money, past his best and so on. If I got it correct we paid £3 million for his services and we have to pay another £3 million after a number of matches. I haven’t seen all the matches he has played but I know he hasn’t been at his best. What surprises me is that Keegan has played him every week to get him fit! Fit for what? Pre-season? I guess it is not easy to put a player like Robbie Fowler on the bench but when he has been injured almost all season I think Keegan should have matched him more “carefully” and used Goater instead. At least the Goat knows where the goal is, we all know that! I believe Fowler will pay us back but it won’t be until next season.

What surprises me a little bit is that no one ever says anything about Nicolas Anelka and his performances this season. I haven’t seen too many matches, being based in Norway, but I have seen some and almost every time I have been disappointed with his performance. Whenever he gets the ball he holds on to it, stops, makes some fancy moves but there is no progress at all. If they give him the ball the opposing defenders always get back in time. It seems that he never knows when to run with the ball and when to pass it. He has scored some important goals but to be honest I can’t remember a single one of them, except from the one against the Rags, a tap in (I don’t have to think too hard to remember any of the Goat’s goals…). Anelka is the striker in PL that has been caught offside most times. With his pace I find that unbelievable! How hard can it be? He has started every single match this season (40) and managed 12 goals. Foe has 9 in 38 matches (and he was supposed to be a defensive midfielder?) and Goater has started 15 matches (14 as a sub) and scored 7 goals. I think Anelka should at least score between 20 and 30 goals to be worth his money. He has cost us £13 million and he has to do a great lot more to convince me. He is young and has got plenty of talent. Hopefully we will se more of him (and the partnership with Fowler) next season.

Shaun Goater is still my favourite and he will be missed when he leaves us, that’s for sure! – “Who let the Goat go?!”

I will be over for the Liverpool match and hopefully we can show them what a pair of strikers they let go! If there is one match the partnership between Anelka and Fowler should work this is the one!

CTID, Kjartan Aanestad (kjartan_aanestad@hotmail.com)

OPINION: REALITY CHECK

I woke up last Monday after the West Ham game in a cold sweat. If we play as badly and lack the movement against Southampton then the 7 million Turkish lire man (because that’s all we should pay) will be City’s last ever goal scorer at Maine Road.

As a sideline Belmadi probably did enough not to earn himself a contract, Distin looks a steal as does Sommeil, Barton is fantastic but I’m wary that we put too much on him too soon.

Our lack of width since switching too a back four has meant that Anelka is often playing wide to receive the ball and then not having an option inside of him. An attacking midfielder to perform this rôle would help out the front two no end. Any ideas?

Mark Robison (mark.robison@britanniahotels.com)

OPINION: WEST HAM “PERFORMANCE” I

Not the best performance I’ve ever seen from City. Thought it was almost down to the depths of the game against West Brom in January. There seems to be a distinct lack of fluency about City and a lack of inventiveness in the midfield. When Benarbia tried something, more often than not on Sunday his pass was behind the man. Foe? Well I forgot he was playing in the second half. Not worth £7 million by a long way. Drifts in and out of games far too regularly. Looks like we’ve given up for the season, just glad that we didn’t hit this run around Christmas as we’d be in serious trouble. This season really has tailed off after the promise around the turn of the year.

Ed Bodey (edbodey@hotmail.com)

OPINION: WEST HAM “PERFORMANCE” II

I do not want to be too critical but was the TV coverage watched by P J Carey of a different match than that I was watching from Upper Kippax, Block GG? If it was as good as he or she says, I’m staying home next time MCFC are on the box!

Regards, and it must be better against Soton, surely.

Peter R Jackson – sky blue since ’56 (prjack@globalnet.co.uk)

OPINION: WEST HAM “PERFORMANCE” III

I’d have written earlier about our performance or lack of it but I was staying in Manchester for a few days, so was away from my trusty home computer in the south west.

I was expecting a cracking game because West Ham had to beat us, especially given Bolton’s brave performance against Arsenal. Further, West Ham are a footballing side, so this was a game we could win and should have resulted in an intelligent, attacking game (shame Carrick and Bowyer were injured). Frankly, I was appalled. West Ham seemed to have no urgency about their play and it didn’t surprise me that they are languishing near the bottom of the league. City seemed to have little or no interest in scoring (with the exception of SWP).

My pal couldn’t understand why I was so angry at the result. Well the reason is that there are other teams also threatened with relegation. In such circumstances it behoves our team to play as well as they can because their performance can affect these teams as well. I know many of us have a soft spot for the Hammers, and maybe we’d rather see Leeds, Fulham or Bolton relegated but that isn’t the point. It’s the same when we go to Anfield – Liverpool are going for a Champions’ League place as are Newcastle and Chelsea. Again, apart from pride in the club, we should play our best 11 players and they should give nothing less than 100%. Our game against Soton is of less relevance and I expect there to be a celebratory atmosphere although Soton will want to prepare for the Cup Final. In my view we learned that there were 2 players on the pitch who definitely should not be at Man City next season – the first is David James – doesn’t he remind one of Nicky Weaver? – and Belmadi. I’ve only seen the latter twice (vs. Arsenal) and on both occasions he’s been poor. There, I’ve had my rant – whew that feels better!

Ian Burgess (i.burgess@virgin.net)

OPINION: WEST HAM “PERFORMANCE” IV

Well it’s been so long I’ve almost forgotten how to do this. Apologies if any of this is a rerun of what’s already been said but I haven’t been able to read the latest MCIVTA yet. Anyway, for various reasons like never being in the country during the footie season, long though it is, I haven’t seen City in the flesh since the glory days of 97-98. It’s great to see that so little has changed.

Over the years I’ve read about these new skilful players we’ve got, top internationals etc. I was with my brother who’s seen them a lot recently and was himself distinctly unimpressed with this performance to say the least but I’m prepared to believe it was all true and I just returned in a timewarp. Movement for the forward pass option? Any evidence that the team have ever practised attacking or defending from corners and other set plays? Why is it a given that whoever plays and manages City I am never convinced that we’ll comfortably clear any opposition corner? Dynamism and desire in midfield (I exempt SWP from this completely)? A big fat no to any of these.

Maybe it’s because I’ve never been to City games where we don’t need the points (I’ve been to a lot where we’ve given that impression) but the lack of effort was appalling. I read the Independent’s match review the next day and they must have been watching a different game. Benarbia 7 out of 10? I couldn’t believe he was left on for so long. And frankly does Keegan even pretend to rate the Goat any more? What is the point of playing someone who still looks so unfit (this’d be Fowler rather than Shaun obviously)? It’s not like he needs to get match fit, he needs to simply get fit first and he can do that away from the team.

I refuse to continue to rant. Distin was impressive as was SWP and some of the others were passable I suppose. Foe though can just go away. It was good to get back one last time and see the old mishmash of a ground and any other result wouldn’t really have been right?! Or perhaps not. Hope the Southampton game doesn’t fall as flat that’s all. Enjoy.

Thomas Bodey (n.bunbury@uea.ac.uk)

OPINION: WEST HAM “PERFORMANCE” V

Agree with your comments in MCIVTA 910. I got up in the middle of the night to watch that inept performance.

Let’s just hope they beat Liverpool and win the last game at Maine Road, otherwise Birmingham could finish above us, that would be terrible.

Mark Leahy – New Zealand (herbie1@paradise.net.nz)

OPINION : WEST HAM “PERFORMANCE” VI

Ahem, in defence of my positive view on the game on Sunday, in my opinion creating 18 or 19 goalscoring opportunities is generally regarded as a good performance. I could have singled out certain players for heavier criticism (Foe, Macken, Belmadi) but I preferred to praise the more impressive Barton, SWP, Sommeil and Dunne.

I really think on another day City could have won the game comfortably, and West Ham didn’t deserve the 3 points.

Yours through blue tinted glasses,Paul Carey (pj.carey@accbank.ie)

OPINION: MAINE ROAD MEMORIES I

Probably anyone under 50 will not know but one of the first, “sponsors” was not the word then, but people who advertised with City, was HD Moorehouse, who had a chain of cinemas in Manchester, and who had metal plates over tunnels on the open side opposite the Main Stand. We as youngsters seated on these tunnels could see the team first and greeted them by kicking their metal advertising plates with our heels.

Of “Jock” Thompson, a short time manager, whom I think wrote the first club song “Up the Blues” he left to take over a pub, possibly where the song went.

A then newly installed tannoy system sponsored by “Pal, the Hollowground Razor Blade”… first time you could request a record.

Blackpool, then a leading team, whose mascot was a duck which walked (waddled) along the white line.

Everton Toffee ladies, who came and gave sweets to youngsters, then always along the wall.

Yes we did have a Linnecor (spelling might be wrong). Odd we bought him from Chesterfield, played his last game for them against us, I think on a Wednesday, broke his leg, so we signed a Linaker with a broken leg.

Hope these cause the younger fans to ask their elders more about our history.

Peter (safetea@btinternet.com)

OPINION: MAINE ROAD MEMORIES II

In a few weeks time something that has been a major part of and a major influence on my life for the last 55 years or so will no longer be there and I’m wondering how I’m going to react. I hope that the old place gets a fitting send off.

I’m not known to be an emotional or demonstrative person but (apart from some personal moments) my bottom lip and chin have been known to make quivering movements and odd drops of water have appeared in the corner of my eyes, on certain occasions. Now, my friends and family would be amazed and probably not believe this admission but it’s true.

The occasions I refer to are: 1963, a thumping by West Ham and my first taste of relegation, promotion at Rotherham, I think, in 1966; Newcastle in 1968; The League Cups & FA Cup Final at Wembley; Vienna 1970; 1983 Luton at Maine Road and that pillock Pleat; Stoke 98; The end of full time in the play-off final; and the one occasion when everything seemed to quiver and the water gushed, Colin Bell’s comeback game. You might have noticed that the common theme is the ups and downs of being a Blue.

I no longer live in Manchester but remain an exile in the West Midlands. Fortunately my job takes me to Manchester quite regularly and more often than not my car seems to take right and left turns off Princess Parkway and I find myself outside Maine Road.

I can sit there and feel the atmosphere and the memories come flooding back: queuing all night for tickets, the floodlights, the vivid green pitch, the rattles, the scarves, the banners, the bugles, the bananas, the excitement and apprehension, the scoreboard end, the Kippax, the crowds packed so close together my feet sometimes didn’t touch the ground, the chants, Helen’s bl**dy bell, the games, the goals, the players.

Oh yes the players, a thousand of my heroes have played on that pitch, Bert Trautman, Bobby Johnstone, George Hannah, Denis Law, Waggy, Alan Oakes, Alex Harley, Peter Dobing, Kevan and Murray, Matt Gray, Johnny Crossan and then came – Dowd, Book, Pardoe, Doyle, Heslop, Summerbee, Lee, Young, Coleman, Booth, Connor – Willie Donachie, Big Joe, Tony Towers, Rodney Marsh, Denis Tueart, Asa, Dave Watson, Mike Channon, Peter Barnes, Gary Owen, Tommy Caton, Bobby Mac, Gerry Gow, Hutch, Steve McKenzie, Nicky Reid, Trevor Francis, Paul Lake, David White, Bish, Neil McNab, Peter Reid, Quinny, Uwe, Paul Walsh and then came Gio- what a player, so many golden moments but what a waste, Paul Dickov, The Goat, Mark Kennedy, Ali, Eyal, oh and of course King Colin, the hairs are standing up on the back of my neck as I type the name! There are so many other good ghosts about the place, I could be here all night.

So many memories, good and bad, emanate from the place and it’s going to be a sad day. The new stadium’s fantastic but it’s not Maine Road. I’ll probably still go there even when it’s pulled down, so I hope that they leave some sort of landmark or monument to mark its existence. Don’t look back you might say, look forward to a new beginning. No problem but that place was my childhood, my youth, my adolescence, my middle age and now my… let’s leave it at that.

Anyway, the main reason for this mail is can anybody shed any light on the following?

  1. What’s the format for the big day, what time does it all start, anythinghappening before the KO, what happens after the match?
  2. When Maine Road is pulled down are there to be any bits to be sold assouvenirs and if so how will I get a turnstile?
  3. Is there to be an open day at CoMS?

I intend to take a pack of Kleenex just in case those ghosts get the better of me and has anybody got the number of a good counsellor to help me through the grieving period?

Dave Sterrett (Blueds@ctid1.fsnet.co.uk)

OPINION: BLUES, SKY OR LASER?

Am I the only one who’s disappointed by the change back to sky blue? I’ve never liked a shirt more than last season’s, and I’ve come to associate this more assertive, vibrant shade of blue with City’s resurrection under Bernstein and Keegan. It’s still distinct from the various blues of Birmingham, Chelsea, Everton et al, so why change? Naturally, the traditionalists will be pleased, but what does tradition mean if not just resisting change for the sake of it? The move to a new stadium would have been a great time to adopt the new colour permanently, and the step back to sky blue is just that – a step back.

As for the player of the year, I’ve not seen us so much this year (away travelling, your honour – the TV coverage of the Premiership is better in Australia than it is here!) but, from what I’ve seen, there’s only one player who’s maintained his presence and form throughout a typically erratic season – Monsieur Sylvain Distin.

Is it true about the big screen in Platt Fields on May 11th?

Howay the Blues! Peter Sidell (peterjsidell@mostlysunny.com)

OPINION: BEST PITCH IN THE WORLD (WELL, ENGLAND) I

The F.A. have recognised that Maine Road has the best pitch in the Premier League. Congratulations to the Head Groundsman Roy Rigby and his staff. Stan Gibson would have been very proud of you.

Other pitches on the F.A. Committee shortlist were Arsenal and Blackburn, Ole Trufford was not even mentioned!

Ernie Barrow (Britcityblue@aol.com)

OPINION: BEST PITCH IN THE WORLD (WELL, ENGLAND) II

Manchester City ground staff are celebrating after scooping a top award in the Premiership.

Manchester City groundstaff have won the Premier League Groundsman of the Year award.

The Maine Road pitch won the prestigious award of best playing surface in the Premiership, after brushing off strong competition in Arsenal and Southampton who were also shortlisted earlier this month.

The award, issued by the Football League/Premier League Pitches Committee, has been based on a combination of votes from other clubs within the division, an inspection by a Head Sports Surface Scientist, along with match reports from referees who have officiated at the ground this season.

It is a great honour for Roy Rigby who is the head groundsman at the club and who was quick to praise his staff after receiving news of the award.

“I’m delighted to have won this most prestigious of awards. It really has been down to great teamwork and dedication over the whole season,” he said.

“Lee Jackson and Gary Conway, our assistant groundsman, have been so eager to learn and are now experts in the art of how to maintain and care for our pitch. The fact that we have won the award for the first time in this, our final season at Maine Road, makes it even more special. I feel proud that my team in our own way, have given this stadium the send off it deserves.”

The highest accolade in Football groundsmanship for the Maine Road pitch follows a recent award for the playing surface at the Clubs Carrington Training Centre.

The National Landscapes awards recognised the quality of the turf and drainage at the 20-acre site in south Manchester. The site will remain the training facility for the first team when the Club move to the City of Manchester Stadium later this year.

(comstad@ntlworld.com)

OPINION: ONCE A RAG

What’s he up to now!? We’ve all read or heard the things Schmeichel has been saying recently…

I honestly can’t believe that such a well respected, routined figure at the club would say such things in public!

The fact that I think he’s right is another matter. City have been far too unprofessional in the backrooms. However, airing one’s views in the press will only make matters worse. I have never seen a situation like this improve because of a player’s statements.

I’m Danish and I cherish Schmeichel for his achievements for Denmark. I tried to live with the fact that he was a R*g, and thought it would be great with such a player at City. Maybe it’s time to accept that City should keep away from ex-major club players. It didn’t exactly work out well with Weah either a few years back, now did it?

As for my view on Peter Schmeichel: Once a R*g, always a R*g…

CTID, Kasper Nymand – Copenhagen, Denmark (mokouko48@cityfan.dk)

OPINION: BEST FANS IN THE WORLD? I

Couldn’t agree more with Alex Channon regarding “M” chants. I remember the great debate in McVittee that Heidi refers to back in 2000 and based on experience this season nothing has changed – in fact if anything I think it’s worse now we’re back in the Premiership. The nearest game for me now I live in the South is Chelsea and I’d been looking forward to it all season. My most vivid memory of it afterwards is not of the spineless performance, though that was hard to stomach, but of the quite remarkable bile coming from the several hundred City fans at half-time in the bar area, who made no reference whatever for 90% of the time to Manchester City but instead stood facing the Chelsea fans, who were separated only by a few barriers, and repeatedly bellowed “Town full of M” and the “Runway” song. Some were even tottering around with outstretched arms doing their very best airplane impressions, convinced of the absolute hilarity of their efforts.

Even though I’ve been watching City for many years I was still quite amazed by this. It was as though the Chelsea fans were expected to consider having these songs directed at them as some kind of coded challenge, and to react with an equally cunning jibe. Instead they simply stood watching bemused by the whole performance and clearly under the impression that they were witnessing a species of Neanderthal man generally considered to be long extinct. Of course these fans are in the minority and when I returned to my seat and was surrounded again for the most part by decent supporters I realised that in future I may have to sacrifice the sacred half-time pint since clearly the mindless few have a tendency to congregate in the bar. I cannot agree with those apologists who I know will write in saying that these chants ought not to be taken literally and that they have somehow become little more than a way of declaring one’s allegiance to City. They are sick and make me ashamed of my club which is a truly saddening experience – no less despicable than the some of the chants which can be heard at England games, which surely no-one would try and justify.

In my view the very least the club could do is issue a request for fans to desist from this kind of chanting and categorically state that this is not the kind of support which we want. As long as these peasants continue to follow City any claim we may make to having the best fans in the country is laughable.

[Agreed Simon, perhaps some strong message from the Club on this is needed and sooner rather than later – Ed]

Simon Hope (simonjhope@hotmail.com)

OPINION: BEST FANS IN THE WORLD? II

I would like to applaud Alex Channon’s comments regarding the distasteful chanting that some City fans indulge in, especially away from home, about the air disaster.

When I was younger, I used to participate in these, not so much because I wanted to annoy United fans but because I wanted to be part of the crowd. I almost felt like I could not be a true City fan unless I joined in.

With the passing of years, you could say I have grown up somewhat and I now refuse to sing any songs like the “magnificent men” or “30 years ago” (as it was in 1988) ones. I now believe these songs to be beyond contempt. If I hear my neighbours in the crowd singing them, I will usually turn and stare disapprovingly or pass a “no need for that”-style comment.

There is however an annonyingly large number of songs and chants that still make reference to this, particularly where United fans are referred to as “M’s”. Maybe it’s my memory but I do not recall this always being the case and feel it has changed for the worse in the last three or four years.

I have found a guilt-free way of singing along with such songs by replacing the “M” word with “red scum”. For example:

“Peter Schmeichel is a Blue
is a Blue (x3)
Peter Schmeichel is a Blue
He hates red scum”.

Whilst still being offensive to United fans, it fails to cross the taste boundary that Bavarian references do. If it works for me, maybe it will work for others.

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

OPINION/REQUEST: FANS’ VIEWS FOR EASTLANDS

Some time ago, I met with Chris Bird regarding displaying similar type banners to those that hang over the Stretford End at the Swamp, at Eastlands.

On Tuesday I went into the new stadium with Steve Knott of the Fans’ Committee to see where such banners could be displayed if the club allow them. A couple of areas were discussed (I won’t go into detail just yet as it is down to the club where they are situated but I am hopeful they will be in a prominent position).

It is hoped we can have two banners on display and the most logical thing is for the CSA to fund one and the OSC to fund the other (this is me thinking out aloud and not suggesting it has to be that way).

The next thing the club want to know is what is going onto the banners (my safe standing banner won’t be allowed sadly!) and this is up to us as long as it isn’t offensive etc.

So it is up to both supporters’ organisations to get some suggestions together and then with the Fans’ Committee the two slogans can be decided – assuming of course both the CSA and OSC are happy to go with this plan. My own personal choice for one, to give you an idea, would be ‘Manchester City FC – The Mancunian Way’. But you may have better ideas… please send them in.

Also, around the concourses on each floor there are a couple of hundred large panels that are white and will be just left blank. It was discussed that each branch could adopt a panel and hang a large ‘plaque’ displaying the name of your branch on it. The design would need to be the same for each branch, though different colours can be used to make it more attractive. Obviously there are more panels available than branches, so any ideas to fill the other panels would be welcome (we could have pictures of great players etc.). The panels are quite high up, the foot of them is just out of arms’ reach.

Let me have your thoughts please.

[Anyone with any thoughts on this, please contact Phill directly. My own view is that whilst supporters’ club branches come and go, ex-players are for life, and a wall or panels of City greats would be a fine way to pay tribute – Ed]

Thanks, Phill Gatenby (safestanding@hotmail.com)

REQUEST: LIVERPOOL TICKETS

I know there’s next to no chance for these but if you don’t ask etc. Anyone got any spares for the Liverpool game?

Can contact me on 07718 783212 or email.

Thanks, Gary King (Gary.King@newcharter.co.uk)

REQUEST: LIVERPOOL TICKETS

I have a spare ticket for Liverpool in Anfield End lower tier with City fans. Can meet either in London on Friday or outside match on Saturday.

Contact Chris 07789 435999.

Chris Pilkington (chris@cpilkington.fsnet.co.uk)

REQUEST: SOTON TICKETS

Despite two previous postings, the first of which was on the Monday 16th December edition (MCIVTA 873), I am still desperately trying to secure some tickets for the final game at Maine Road vs. Southampton on 11th May 2003.

Can anyone help; I’m desperately after 2/3/4 tickets anywhere in the ground and am willing to pay more than face value (but within reason) if need be. Please reply by email if you have any spare tickets or suggestions of other mailing lists, websites to try or give me call on 0775 2776875.

Many thanks, Eddie Mills (dedwards@rm.com)

REQUEST: SOTON TICKETS

I’ve seen many requests on here for tickets for the last game, if anyone knows whereabouts I can get one, can you let me know please.

(salty12@btinternet.com)

REQUEST: WISHES TO UWE

Anyone wishing to send get well wishes to Uwe can send an email to lsk@lsk.no

George Hamilton (georgehamilton@tinyworld.co.uk)

REQUEST: THANK THE GOAT

If people want to submit messages to the Goat, go to http://www.mancity.net/goater.asp and you can submit your comments. mancity.net will forward your messages to our Goat.

Steve Webb (swebb@rm.com)

REQUEST: FAREWELL TO MAINE ROAD FOOTAGE

Will Manchester City produce a DVD (both PAL and North American version) of “The History of Maine Road”? It would be nice with the highlights of the last day’s events to top it off.

I feel sure that a lot of us fans would want one, providing that is well produced and is something we City fans would want to treasure. Anyone heard anything about this?

I know that there is a great book by Gary James that will be out about Maine Road. His other book that I have, Manchester, the Greatest City is a fantastic book for any City supporter.

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

REQUEST: REDDISH BLUES

The Reddish Branch of the Centenary Supporters’ Association are holding a Family Fun Day at The Ash Hotel, Manchester Road, Stockport on Monday 5th May (May Day Bank Holiday).

Events get under way at 12.00 noon and include a Car Boot Sale, Bouncy Castle, Children’s Entertainer, Disco, Penalty Shootout, Raffle Prizes (which includes an autographed City ball), guest appearances from Moonchester, Moonbeam and Welephant plus lots, lots more – admission is free and as always everyone’s welcome for a great family day out.

For more information visit our website at http://www.reddishblues.com

Howard Burr (reddishblues@btinternet.com)

REQUEST: MEMORIES

Sky are knocking up a Maine Road history piece for the final game there next Sunday, and basically trawling for ideas – it’s as much about the history of the ground itself as City’s time there, but anything you or your City supporting chums could chuck in my direction would be much appreciated. Key moments, great games, and the like – doesn’t matter how bizarre or tenuous it may seem. It will be on the final Soccer Saturday of the season (which is on a Sunday 11th May, 1-7pm).

If any McV readers who would like to contribute their Maine Road thoughts to Sky Sports, please send them to me at the email address below by Monday 5th. Thanks in advance.

Madeleine Hawkins (madeleine.hawkins@btinternet.com

REQUEST: KOTK AND YOMPING BLUES

Congratulations to the members of the Wirral/Merseyside Manchester City CSA who completed a gruelling sponsored walk last weekend as their contribution to the ‘Supporters Club Challenge’. This is a very small supporters’ branch, but they had big enough hearts to tackle an overnight trudge from Liverpool to Maine Road, arriving in time for Saturday’s game (bet they wish they hadn’t bothered). They hoped to raise about £600, but look like achieving a staggering (and I believe they were staggering!) £2,000, with Kevin Keegan among the sponsors. Some members qualify for OAP bus passes, yet they found the strength and endurance to complete the task alongside the younger competitors. Their chairman, Tony Ralls, has promised to write about his experiences for the first issue of ‘King of the Kippax’ for next season. If anyone would like to sponsor, retrospectively, this brave little branch please contact Roger on 0151 606 8221.

Meanwhile, the ‘Maine Road Final’, issue number 113 of KOTK is on sale now (£2.50) – and selling like the proverbial hot cakes!

Sixty pages of compulsive reading for the fans, by the fans, and including 40 pages dedicated to personal memories of Maine Road, ‘Fans For The Memories’. Some recollections go way back (even further than the Ed’s in 1955!), and some only reach back to 1999, which was when Thad Williamson of Cambridge, Massachusetts, became a Blue through playing video games (!), and made his first, and last, visit to Maine Road in January this year.

Sue Wallace (kippax.editor@opeluK.net)

RESULTS

League table to 30 April 2003 inclusive.

                             HOME          AWAY        OVERALL
                    P  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F   A   GD Pts
 1 Manchester Utd  36 15  2  1 38 11  8  6  4 30 21 23  8  5  68  32  36  77
 2 Arsenal         35 14  2  1 39 16  7  7  4 34 22 21  9  5  73  38  35  72
 3 Newcastle Utd   36 14  2  2 35 17  6  3  9 25 29 20  5 11  60  46  14  65
 4 Chelsea         36 11  5  2 39 14  7  5  6 27 22 18 10  8  66  36  30  64
 5 Liverpool       36  9  8  1 29 14  9  2  7 30 23 18 10  8  59  37  22  64
 6 Everton         36 11  5  2 27 17  6  3  9 20 28 17  8 11  47  45   2  59
 7 Blackburn R.    36  9  6  3 23 14  6  5  7 24 28 15 11 10  47  42   5  56
 8 Tottenham H.    36  9  4  5 30 25  5  4  9 20 28 14  8 14  50  53  -3  50
 9 Charlton Ath.   36  8  3  7 26 29  6  4  8 18 22 14  7 15  44  51  -7  49
10 Southampton     35  9  7  2 25 16  3  5  9 16 24 12 12 11  41  40   1  48
11 Manchester City 36  9  2  7 28 25  5  4  9 17 27 14  6 16  45  52  -7  48
12 Birmingham City 36  8  4  6 23 21  5  4  9 16 25 13  8 15  39  46  -7  47
13 Middlesbrough   36  9  7  2 31 20  3  3 12 11 21 12 10 14  42  41   1  46
14 Aston Villa     36 10  2  6 24 14  1  7 10 16 30 11  9 16  40  44  -4  42
15 Fulham          36 10  3  5 24 18  1  6 11 14 32 11  9 16  38  50 -12  42
16 Leeds United    36  6  3  9 22 25  6  2 10 30 29 12  5 19  52  54  -2  41
17 Bolton Wndrs    36  6  8  4 25 23  3  5 10 14 27  9 13 14  39  50 -11  40
18 West Ham United 36  4  7  7 20 24  5  4  9 19 33  9 11 16  39  57 -18  38
19 West Brom A.    36  3  4 11 15 32  3  2 13 11 30  6  6 24  26  62 -36  24
20 Sunderland      36  3  2 13 11 27  1  5 12 10 33  4  7 25  21  60 -39  19

With thanks to Football 365

MCIVTA FAQ [v0203.10]

[0] MCIVTA Addresses


Articles (Heidi Pickup) : editor@mcivta.city-fan.org
News/rumour (Don Barrie) : news@mcivta.city-fan.org
Subscriptions (Madeleine Hawkins): subscriptions@mcivta.city-fan.org
Technical problems (Paul) : paul@city-fan.org
FAQ (David Warburton) : faq@mcivta.city-fan.org

[1] What are MCIVTA’s publishing deadlines?

Deadlines for issues are nominally 6pm, 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] What is the club’s official web site?

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

[4] What supporters’ clubs are there?

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] Where can I find out about the 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] Where can I find information about our new stadium?

The latest information regarding the progress of our new home can be found at www.mcfc.co.uk/article.asp?article=111916&Title=Introduction&lid=New+Stadium

[7] What match day broadcasts are available on the web?

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.

[8] Where can I find out if City are live on satellite TV?

http://www.satfootball.com/pl.html provides a listing of Premiership games being shown on UK domestic and foreign satellite channels. A good site for North American viewers is http://canadatvsoccer.tripod.com/Fixtures.htm.

[9] What’s the music the teams run out to?

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

[10] Do we have a Usenet newsgroup?

Yes we do: uk.sport.football.clubs.man-city is our home on usenet. If you are not familiar with usenet, a basic explanation is available here: http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/0,289893,sid9_gci213262,00.html

[11] Do any squad members have their own web pages?

There are a number available and direct links can be found at http://www.uit.no/mancity/players/

[12] Acknowledgements

Thanks go to John Arnold for providing the match day music information, to Ian Bell for pointing out the alternate live match commentary service and to Damian Quinn, Stephen Webb and Roger Haigh for the Satellite TV info.


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 #911

2003/05/01

Editor:


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