Newsletter #943

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Tonight we have two great match reports thanks to John (Charlton) and Gavin back for his reserve games. The main City news this week was the ludicrous fine imposed due to Southampton’s complaint about away ticketing for the final game at Maine Road, and the departure of SuperKev to the Hammers and speculation on further transfers.

We also have continuing news on the ticketing, the new stadium (will we ever agree a name?!) and TV together with the usual requests.

Finally, news from the Player of the Year awards tonight where SWP again won Young Player of the Year, and Sylvain Distin Player of the Year.

Pompey visit on Saturday for our first home league game this season and Monday night sees us at Blackburn for the live TV game.

Next games: Portsmouth, home, 3pm Saturday 23 August 2003
Blackburn Rovers, away, 8pm Monday 25 August 2003 (TV)

NEWS SUMMARY

General News

City Fined: The Premier League has fined City £25,000 for reducing Southampton’s ticket allocation for the last ever game at Maine Road. Saints were allocated 1,305 seats, less than half the 3,000 stipulated in Premiership rules for stadiums with a capacity of over 30,000. A Premier League disciplinary commission has also told City to offer half-price tickets to Saints’ fans for this season’s corresponding fixture on 17 April. That could cost Manchester City an estimated £40,000 in revenue. Southampton Director Andrew Cowen said: “We are very sorry that the dispute went to a commission as it is important that clubs try to resolve differences themselves. However, the judgement vindicates our position and it is entirely appropriate that the majority beneficiary of the penalty will be the people who were disadvantaged in May. Manchester City have a magnificent stadium and I hope that as many of our fans as possible will take up the offer of the commission ruling and give the team their full support on April 17 and hopefully we will get the same result.” On the club website, under the headline “Southampton Ticket Dispute Resolved” (nice bit of spin there, boys), Deputy Chairman Bryan Bodek commented: “Whilst we are naturally disappointed that the recommendations of the Safety Advisory Committee were not wholly accepted, we are nevertheless pleased that the matter has now been resolved. We are satisfied that the FAPL Commission have thoroughly investigated the circumstances and we have accepted the fine imposed. We do not intend to make any appeal against this decision.”

KK Is Top O’The League! As if we didn’t know already… I’m grateful to subscriber Steve Gerrard for pointing out that Kevin Keegan sits proudly at the top of an online League managers’ table. It’s at the following URL: http://www.leaguemanagers.com/tissotmpl/ So we’re third in the Premiership, and have the top manager in England; can we stop the League now please?

Stadium Just Like Nothing on Earth: According to the local Evening newspaper, City could host a European final next season after receiving a ringing endorsement from UEFA’s observer at the TNS match. “This is a beautiful stadium. It’s like watching football in a theatre. I am very, very impressed,” said Dusan Maravic. “It has 48,000 seats, a great atmosphere with no black spots, and viewing is just excellent. It truly is a stadium for the 21st century. All the criteria has already been met and the place has been open less than a month. As far as I am concerned, it is already a top ten stadium in the world. It is at the same standard as the stadia used during the World Cup in Japan and Korea. The directors’ box is like first class on a plane and the spectator facilities as a whole are top class. The arrangements for the press, TV, corporate hospitality, but particularly the surroundings with all the car parking marked out, are impressive.” Chairman John Wardle said: “That’s the second top level endorsement for the stadium we have had in the last couple of weeks. We have had a visit from Tord Grip, who works so closely with Sven Goran Eriksson, and he was impressed with everything he saw. We want to bring as many big games as possible to Manchester. We want England matches, England under 21’s, UEFA finals, everything to boost the city’s prestige.”

Reserves Lose: City’s reserves lost 1-0 to Sunderland on Wednesday. Played at the Durham’s Archibald’s Stadium, the Black Cats, featuring our own dearly departed Jeff Whitley, triumphed courtesy of a Gerard Wiekens own goal. KK was in the crowd, prompting speculation that he was checking out Sunderland’s Michael Gray. Team: Weaver, Flood, Jordan, Wiekens, Bischoff, Mettomo, Huckerby, Negouai, Macken, Wanchope, Glenn Whelan. Subs: Ellegaard, Nadum Onuoha, Croft, Murphy, Tandy.

Fixture Switched for TV: The date of City’s trip to Goodison Park to face Everton has been moved as it will now be broadcast live on pay-per-view television. The game will now take place on December 7th, and will kick off at 2.00pm. The match will be broadcast in the UK on Sky’s Premiership Plus channel.

Transfer News and Gossip

London Calling for Kevin: KK did some pruning of his squad this week. First to leave, with much sadness for many City fans, was the ever dependable Kevin Horlock, who joined West Ham United in a £300,000 deal. Horlock began his career with the Hammers before moving on to Swindon Town in 1992 and City in January 1997. “He is talking to West Ham and if he agrees terms it is a done deal,” said Keegan on Friday. “He is not a player I was looking to get out but we had an offer, so I had a chat with him and now it is up to him. I could understand it if he didn’t want to be spending all season on the bench.” Horlock duly took the hint, and rejoined the club where he began his league career. West Ham MD Paul Aldridge confirmed: “We welcome Kevin back to the club and we look forward to him settling in quickly.” He duly made his début for the Hammers last Saturday in their 0-0 draw with Sheffield United. His new manager Glenn Roeder said later: “Experience is going to be key this year. With Kevin’s experience and a recent one of winning the First Division with Manchester City where he played a big part a couple of years back, added to the fact that he is a very versatile player who can play in three positions on the left side, he is a good acquisition. He has an excellent left foot with good set play deliveries and he is a safe passer; he will retain the ball for us more often than not, and he can play in defence as well. No matter who I spoke to they said he is excellent in the dressing room and once he gets to know the lads he will create the right spirit in there and bring people together. People will like playing with him and he is very much a club man.” He played 211 league and cup games for the Blues, scoring 42 goals, and will always be remembered for his vital goal in the 86th minute of the Second Division play-off final in 1997. He also enjoyed an excellent season as the midfield anchor in the Division One Championship winning side of two seasons ago.

Mean to Me and Making Me Blue: The second departure of the week was goalkeeper Carlo Nash. The 29-year-old completed a £150,000 move to Middlesbrough. Nash went with a lot less grace than Horlock, however. “It was never my intention to leave Manchester City but once the club had accepted an offer for me and made no effort to convince me to stay, I knew it was in my best interests to move on,” said Nash, who played 41 times for City. “I spoke to Kevin Keegan in the summer and he wouldn’t make any commitments to me, so I had a feeling that I wasn’t really wanted. Then when Boro’s interest surfaced, he was quite cool about letting me go. I didn’t need to be a brain surgeon to work out that I wasn’t in his plans. I have no problems with that and respect his view, but it took the decision right out of my hands. I had no option but to leave for the sake of my career. I want to be at a club where I am competing fairly for the number one jersey and that just wasn’t case for me under Keegan. No matter how well I did in training or in matches, I would never keep my place in the team if Schmeichel or Seaman were fit. It’s not their fault. After all, they are big name, top-notch goalkeepers, but it’s demoralising to lose your place when you’ve done so well. I had absolutely no incentive because I wasn’t involved in a fair competition.” He says that he is ready for the challenge that faces him and is just relieved that he is back competing on what he sees as being a level playing field again. “I moved to Boro because it was nice to feel wanted again but I want to make it clear that I never wanted to leave City myself. I was forced out,” he said. “I got the feeling that Manchester City never wanted me to stay. City have unbelievable fans and I will miss them but I had to go. I was going nowhere while Kevin Keegan was in charge. I accepted that and now I have moved on for the sake of my career.”

Wanchope Wanted: Bad news for Paulo Wanchope’s fans. Spanish Primera Liga side Malaga have announced that the have made a bid for Paulo. The offer, said to be worth £2.3 million, was made last week. “We are expecting a reply from Manchester City,” said club president Serafin Roldan “However, we realise that we will have to be patient.” Malaga, who finished 14th in the Spanish league last season, have also been linked with Barcelona’s out-of-favour striker Dani and Argentinian forward Martin Palermo as they look to pep up their forward line.

Which Defenders Are Hanging Around? The Rumour Mill has ground in overdrive this week concerning a clutch of defenders. Last week’s sure fire transfer of Lucien Mettomo seems to have died a death. “It looked like Lucien Mettomo would go to Wolves but I think he is just going to come back into the fold now and battle with the guys at the back for a place,” reported Lord Keegan of Eastlands. Today it’s been reported that Wolves now want to take the Cameroonian on loan. One man who could be on his way out of City, at least temporarily, is Paul Ritchie as Walsall would like to take him to the Bescot Stadium. Gerard Wiekens meanwhile has been linked with a loan spell at Derby County. Rams’ boss George Burley is thought to be interested in a season-long loan switch, as he is keen to bolster his defence after a poor start to the season. KK reported that Derby had yet to get in touch, however. The rumours concerning Richard Dunne linking up again with his former international manager Mick McCarthy at Sunderland, have resurfaced yet again. “I don’t know anything about Sunderland being interested,” insisted Big Kev. “Richard Dunne is a very important part of that squad and was on the bench at Charlton ahead of some very good players.” These reports all concern outward bound transfers, so any replacements on the horizon? Well, the M.E.N. reckons that KK will swoop to sign Liverpool right-back and best mate of Michael Tarnat, one Markus Babbel. All well and good, but the national press reckon Babbel is destined to join Blackburn Rovers. There’s been a late addition to the “Keegan swoops for…” file today (Thursday). City are lining up a £2 million bid for Leeds’ Danny Mills, according to today’s Sun “newspaper” (thanks to ‘BabyBruv’ for that item).

Rotherham Miss Out: Rotherham manager Ronnie Moore has failed in a bid to bring Jon Macken and Darren Huckerby on loan to Millmoor. Moore told the Sheffield Star: “I tried for Macken and Huckerby. They both played in the reserves on Wednesday but Kevin Keegan doesn’t really want either of them to go.”

Midfield Pair Considered: KK is said to be keeping a watchful eye on the transfer status of Barry Ferguson and Steve McManaman. The Blues’ boss has said publicly that he would like to bring in at least one new face before the transfer deadline but City made it clear that they had made no official move for either player. Blackburn were said to be chasing the Rangers midfielder, although a price tag of £5 million sounds a bit much for KK’s tight budget. Once again McManaman has been the subject of transfer talk. “The departure of McManaman is now closer than ever,” although the smart money is on Macca joining Newcastle United, as they will be able to meet the player’s wage demands.

Ex-Blues’ News

Palmer Fancies a Tickle: Stockport County are pondering a move for former City youngster David Tickle. The 19-year-old left-back has joined Country for a trial and has an opportunity to earn a longer-term stay at Edgeley Park. Boss Carlton Palmer commented: “He’s been training with us, but I want to see him in at least one reserve game before making a decision. He was recommended to us as being a very good left-back and he looks pretty competent in training. There’s no need to panic about anything, we’ll just have a look at the kid and take it from there.”

The Ex-Files Weekend Update: As Ian Barton reported in MCIVTA 942, the Goat has been fed in pastures new. Shaun Goater marked his home début by scoring the last goal in Reading’s 3-0 victory over Nottingham Forest on Saturday. Elsewhere, Jeff Whitley got up in time to be named on the bench for Sunderland’s home game with Millwall. Mick McCarthy must be a worried man, because the Wearsiders lost 1-0, and have now clocked up 17 consecutive league defeats, only one game behind the all time record. Meanwhile, the News Summary’s favourite ex-City striker after Robert Taylor, namely Lee Bradbury, has gone on loan from Portsmouth to Derby County. Badbuy limped out of Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Gillingham with a foot injury but Derby are hopeful the 28-year-old will be fit for the weekend’s home clash with Reading. Derby are so impressed with Bradbury that they have opened talks with Brazilian striker Junior who recently left Walsall.

Reactions and Comments

Blues Show No Mercy: City’s 3-0 defeat of Charlton was the first ever victory on the opening day of a Premiership campaign for the Blues. Now KK wants to see his side continue in winning ways, avoiding the “good result, bad result” sequence which afflicted City too often last season. “The big question mark and the big challenge for us is to play like that every week,” Keegan said. “It is no good winning like that away from home if we don’t build on it especially at the City of Manchester Stadium. If we find that level of performance every week then we can honestly look at the top six but what we cannot do now is let ourselves down against Portsmouth next Saturday. Our workrate was excellent, our pass selection intelligent and we never allowed Charlton to relax. The critics and pundits talk about it being a five-team league and that teams like us are making up the numbers. I have told the players that the only way to make people talk about them is to make them do so with performances on the pitch and that has started already.” Keegan was delighted to see Antoine Sibierski score on his League début. “Antoine is a wonderful signing for us. He’s not only a playmaker but also a goalscorer. If you look at his record in Nantes and Lens he’s a nine, 10, sometimes 12 goals-a-season man,” said Keegan. “He can also score goals with his head. When you put all the things together you need to find a way to play to his strengths. If we manage that then the team will do very, very well.” Keegan was apparently pleased by the performance of Robbie Fowler: “I know he didn’t score but I feel that was Robbie’s best performance in a Manchester City shirt,” the manager added. “As long as he works as hard as he did in that game I don’t care if he doesn’t score for six or seven games. His record speaks for itself and I am not worried about his goals, they will come. He might have even got one yesterday had he not been pulled back. I would rather Mark Fish had left Robbie and not got sent off.”

Cross Curbs: The mood of Charlton boss Alan Curbishley was jet black after the game. In time honoured fashion, the defeated manager chose not to dwell on the shortcomings of his own team, but railed instead about referee Mike Dean. It’s fair to say that Curbishley didn’t agree with the award of City’s penalty after 12 minutes. “The penalty was an absolute disgrace. I can’t see in a million years how it was a penalty. We’ve had the same referee before and not been very happy with him. He missed a couple of penalty shouts for us – definite handballs in the box,” said Curbishley. “There was the sending-off as well – if Mark Fish hadn’t pulled back Robbie Fowler then Simon Royce would probably have done the same thing and got sent off. That was the way the match was going. The referee had a very poor game. I’m going to have a good look at the tape before I think about saying any more. But it looked like Wright-Phillips fell over – not one of the Man City fans appealed. I’m amazed at the decision.” KK’s view of the penalty was: “People will say maybe we were fortunate to get the penalty but I’ve got to say we weren’t up shouting for a penalty – we were watching the ball. We’ve had better chances turned down but technically he got it right,” he said.

Vive Le Elk! Both managers agreed that Nicolas Anelka was a major force in the match. “When he plays like that Nicolas is as good as any striker in the Premiership – there is no doubt about it,” Keegan said. “He scored 15 goals in a side that struggled last year and he will tell you himself he should have got another ten. He’s a wonderful player. He’s got so much going for him – that electric change of pace. His finishing is excellent and if he ever gets a bit better then he would have a great chance of winning the Golden Boot. We should certainly provide him with chances.” Alan Curbishley, once he’d calmed down, gave credit to City’s number 39. “Nicolas looked very sharp against us – I was very impressed with his performance. He seems to be playing at the same level now as when he was at Arsenal,” he said. “He has so much pace and it was that speed which gave him the time to look up and pick out Sibierski for that second goal. He always looked a threat. When you’re 2-0 down at home and you’ve got him up there, he’ll really hurt you as you go looking to pull one back. He’s a fantastic player and his presence makes a major difference to them. Kevin Keegan has the luxury of having Anelka, Robbie Fowler and Paulo Wanchope, who is looking really sharp again, to play up front.” Anelka said later that he felt little pressure when slotting home the penalty: “I was happy to take it,” he said. “Of course there was pressure because to score first means that the home side have to come out and attack and to chase the game and that makes it very different for them and a little easier for us. It was a good result for us, especially away from home, and I hope we can continue that kind of form. There is no reason why not. The new players have settled in very quickly. I don’t set myself specific goal targets but I will be trying my best to better last season’s total of 14.”

Squad News

Haaland Retires: City have formally announced the retirement of former captain Alf Inge Haaland. Haaland had all but said this in Norway about a month ago, but confirmation was given today. “I have had a great career in football, something I would not change for the world. I have had ten good years injury free and consider myself to have been lucky to have the opportunity to play football as a career,” said Haaland. “City have been very supportive throughout my time with the Club and I would particularly like to thank Kevin Keegan and the Physio team for their dedication.” KK commented: “I know I will be joined by all City fans and everyone at the Club in wishing Alfie Haaland all the luck in the world. He certainly deserves some luck after what has happened to him. It is always a great shame when any footballer is forced to retire at an early age through injury and no one could have shown more dedication and commitment to regaining his fitness than Alfie. I wish him all the very best for the future.” Haaland joined the Blues from Leeds in the summer of 2000 and was made Club captain after just three games. He made 35 league starts for City.

New Start for Nicky: One reason for Carlo Nash’s swift departure could have been the return to full fitness of Nicky Weaver. KK is impressed with the development in the 24-year-old’s character during his time out of action. “I am absolutely delighted that Nick is back playing and injury free, he has worked terrifically hard,” praised the Blues’ boss. “He has done it properly and looks the part. I look at him and think ‘yes maybe we can build something around him now’. A year ago I didn’t feel that way about him. Nick has got our respect back for the way he has worked and worked. I think the penny has dropped. He has certainly grown up.” Weaver remarked: “It is great to get back to match action after so long in the gym. I have been working really hard at my fitness and I know I am still young enough to have plenty of seasons left in me. I think the manager is correct when he says I have grown up. There has been plenty of time to think about things and get them in perspective while I have been out injured. All I want now is for a season free of problems so I can have a good run at things. Of course it is exciting that David Seaman has come here. He is the best English goalkeeper or his generation and one of the best of all time. You would have to be stupid not to be able to learn from him.”

International Blues News Extra

Get A Grip on Yourself, Eyal! What on earth is happening with Eyal Berkovic? No sooner has he reached an uneasy peace with his club manager than he falls out with his national coach. Berko had originally been named in a 20-man squad to face Russia in Moscow, and coach Avraham Grant had reportedly flown to England to secure Eyal’s release for the game. Grant refused to elaborate on the reasons for the player’s late omission, but hinted that Berkovic would not be in the squad for the must-win Euro 2004 Group One qualifier in Slovenia in September. “The squad travelling to Russia is the one which will also go to Slovenia, these are our best players and they are the ones expected to play,” he said.

Play for France Again? Pah! If Eyal wants to take a few lessons in falling out with a national boss, he need look no further than his City team-mate Nicolas Anelka. Whilst he’s been as good as gold in his time in a Sky Blue shirt, there still seems no chance of seeing him in French blue for a little while. Nico still has, err issues with coach Jacques Santini. Anelka was quoted in Paris Match magazine this week: “If he gets down on his knees in front of me and says ‘sorry,’ then I’ll think about it afterward,” Anelka said. “I don’t need the French team. What I achieve with Manchester City satisfies me.” Anelka added that his problems did not lie with the French team, but with the manager. “I have nothing against the France players, they are my friends,” he said. “It is the system that sickens me. I’m not going to force myself to kiss up to anyone. I prefer playing for Kevin Keegan. He is excellent because he doesn’t take himself too seriously. That’s the way to progress. If you take yourself too seriously you stagnate, you no longer try things.”

Blues in Action: Believe it or not some City players did turn out for their countries this week. In Dublin, Ireland beat Australia 2-1. Danny Tiatto started the game for the Socceroos, but was subbed on 69 minutes. It must have been a useful work out for Danny, as he strives for full fitness. Richard Dunne began on the subs’ bench for the Republic, and made an appearance with five minutes to go. A small City milestone was reached at Ipswich’s Portman Road on Wednesday night. Trevor Sinclair became the first City player since David White in 1992 to play for the full England squad (pause while News Editor shudders at the memory of Whitey missing a straightforward chance in the first five minutes against Spain). Back in 2003, Trevor played the last half-hour as England triumphed 3-1 over Croatia. On Tuesday night, Ireland’s under-21 side beat Poland 5-1 in Gdansk, with City striker Stephen Elliott bagging a hat-trick. England’s under-21 again chose not to call on the services of the inform Shaun Wright Phillips, and duly lost 3-0 to Croatia at Upton Park. Shaunie said of his omission: “I can’t worry about things that are not under my control. It is hard enough keeping in City’s side. All I can do is play to the best of my ability and then see what happens. There is always next time. I feel I am playing reasonably well and if I can do that in the Premiership week in and week out then that’s all I can ask of myself.”

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

MATCH REPORT: CHARLTON ATHLETIC 0 MCFC 3

I emerged from Charlton station at 1.30 on Sunday to the sound of “We’re not really here” and the sight of massed Blues crowding the pavement outside the nearest pub, surrounded by police. No change there then.

Outside our end, tickets were on sale to away fans. Now I don’t know if we’d have sold out anyway, what with a Sunday kick-off and warnings against travelling by train, but I think the ongoing ticket fiasco left City too little time to deal properly with the allocation. More surprising was having to pay a fiver for the programme, which was a first-game-of-the-season special. I don’t think they sold out either.

The teams came out and I think most of us were grateful to see Di Canio introduced to the crowd wearing a suit and tie (with a huge knot in it, of course). Can you guess what we sang as he was being welcomed?

Our Paulo was on the bench. Team was: Seaman, Sun, Sommeil, Distin, Tarnat, W-P, Sibierski, Barton, Sinclair, Anelka and Fowler. The other subs were Weaver, Dunne, Tiatto and Berkovic.

Before kick-off, the teams lined up around the centre circle. The pitch-side announcer who, refreshingly, was declaring his loyalty by wearing his Charlton shirt, asked the crowd to observe a moment’s silence. When it became clear that this was in memory of Marc Vivien Foe the City fans spontaneously burst into applause at this gesture, and the whole ground then joined in. The announcer went on to ask us to remember the Chairman’s wife who had passed away after being in a coma for nearly 3 years following a serious allergic reaction to a wasp sting. After lots had muttered “Jesus” under their breath, the City fans touchingly applauded once more, and again the Charlton fans joined in. The silence was observed impeccably.

Anyway, the game. We got a corner in the first minute of so but nothing came of it. After that Charlton had most of the possession and we kept conceding free kicks. Much of the attacking was down our right side, but nothing came of it. Seaman had to catch or punch the odd cross, but that was about all he had to do all half. Sibierski was booked for a trip. It looked innocuous, but the ref had booked a Charlton player for fouling Barton about 60 seconds earlier.

Out of nothing, we got a pen. W-P broke into the right corner of their box and headed to the by-line. Two defenders came at him and (I’ve seen this bit again on the telly) one of them barged into him as he changed direction and knocked him over. Straight away the ref pointed to the spot. I don’t think anyone expected it and, having seen it again, it’s one you don’t expect the away team to get. A couple of defenders argued, but the rest of the Charlton team were probably as surprised as we were. Anelka, off a short run-up, drove the ball hard and low to the ‘keeper’s right, just inside the post.

After that, the game was ours. We didn’t overwhelm them, but rather kept them at bay with ease and occasionally got things together in attack to create a chance. Midway through the half Seaman received the ball, threw quickly down the right to W-P who in turn slipped the ball through to Anelka. He bore down on goal, then pulled the ball back to Sibierski who side footed the ball past the defenders on the line. Cue another celebration right in front of the City fans.

It was nearly three before half-time. Sinclair moved in from the left wing to collect a bouncing ball and out of the blue hit a high volley that was dipping right into the top corner. Their ‘keeper, Royce, made a marvellous save.

Charlton made 2 changes at half-time and predictably tried hard to get back into the game. They had 2 chances, both from balls played between the centre-half and left back. Seaman blocked both and the was about it. The game was really up in the middle of the second half when Mark Fish, having mis-controlled a pass, was sent off for pulling back Fowler as he ran in on goal.

It could have been an important moment for Fowler. If he had scored, it would have done him the world of good. On the other hand, if he had missed… The general consensus was that he played OK for the first half and did a lot of running and closing down defenders. In the second half he kept losing the ball, however. More than once we sang “One Robbie Fowler” but we really wanted Paulo, who spent quite a lot of time warming up early in the second half. We still sang his name when the inevitable substitution was made with about 15 minutes left, but he didn’t wave. I do think it would help him win us over if he would acknowledge the fans. The last one to the ignore the crowd was Nicky Summerbee, if I remember rightly. The impression I have is that the fans really want Fowler to succeed, and not just because the club lost a bit of face and spent a lot of dosh when they tried and finally bought him. However, the cheers and jeers will become more finely balanced soon unless he shapes himself, in my view.

Paulo was Paulo. There was a couple of flicks, one of which deflected to W-P who thumped the ball again the bar from about 25 yards before their ‘keeper moved. Then there was a far-post volley from an Anelka cross that the ‘keeper saved well and, of course, he lost the ball a couple of times trying something too fancy. But he did look like doing something. Finally he passed to Anelka whose cross-shot was parried to Sun who shot home, to his obvious delight, from a very tight angle.

That was about it, apart from Tiatto replacing Sinclair late on, Sun getting booked for a late tackle and Seaman teasing the crowd by flicking his ponytail when he was asked to get his hair cut for the lads.

I think that Anelka was the best player on the pitch. W-P and Sinclair also did well in patches and the defence generally looked solid. Sibierski had a quiet game, really. But he scored (and I don’t think Berkovic would have supported the attack as he did when he scored) and he’s a big lad and so can and did win some balls in the air in our box and theirs.

A good start is so important to the season and this looked a difficult fixture. I can’t wait for a full house on Saturday.

John Marsland (jm@iansnipe.com)

MATCH REPORT: SAFC RESERVES 1 MCFC RESERVES 0

Black Cats and Woodwork Deny City

The Blues sent a strong team up the A1 to the Archibald Stadium, the home of Durham City AFC and the continuing venue for Sunderland reserves. However, all of City’s first team quality and experience failed to overcome a deflected shot from Sunderland’s Thomas Butler on the twentieth minute. City hit the woodwork three times in vain attempts to get back onto level terms and possibly win the game.

It was also Paulo Wanchope’s first start for City in a competitive game since he got injured in February 2002. The plus point of this being that he managed to complete nearly eighty minutes, but had one of his more frustrating games on the pitch last night. The referee also has to come in for some mention, as he seemed to make a large number of decisions that swayed towards the home side when the home crowd reacted to an incident. Indeed, the most bizarre decision that even shocked the home crowd, happened in second half stoppage time, when for some reason he decided to show Christian Negouai a straight red card for an innocuous challenge on ex-City player, Jeff Whitley.

Sunderland’s goal came when Thomas Butler jinked his way past Mikkel Bischoff, who was playing out of position at right back and was able to get a shot off with Wiekens in between himself and Weaver, leaving Weaver unsighted. So when the shot took a deflection of the backside of Wiekens it was no surprise that Weaver saw it too late to stop it creeping in at the near post.

City only managed a few shots at goal in the first half, with Willo Flood and Jon Macken able to get them on target, but fail to beat the impressive Michael Ingham, who spent most of last season on loan to Darlington, Stockport and York. After about thirty minutes City changed their formation from a 4-3-3 to a 3-4-3. This allowed Bischoff to go back to his central position and Captain, Stephen Jordan, was pushed further forward. This gave a better shape to City, but they were failing to cause Sunderland’s well organised defence many problems.

In the second half City dominated most of the play and created a quite a few openings for themselves, but just like last week at home to Wolves, they failed to capitalise on these half chances. It was either shots that were just wide or the woodwork that appeared to be City’s nemesis on a fixture that was played at the same time last season. However, City’s undoing last season in their three nil defeat was the lighting fast David Bellion. Let’s hope he doesn’t repeat that this season for United. City seem to lack some width in their reserve line up at present. Having watched Chris Shuker play for Rochdale on Tuesday evening against Stoke in the Cup, even though he didn’t play all that well, you have to ask, why was he signed for one more year and then farmed out to Rochdale when he spent a loan period at Walsall last season? Either we have him at our club for another season to bolster our reserves or let him move to a top Second Division club or a lower First Division club, which is obviously his level.

Weaver: Competent game, but could he have covered the near post for the goal. 7
Flood: Did nothing wrong again, he is definitely making progress. 7
Jordan (Capt.): Steady game and didn’t deserve to be booked. 7
Wiekens: Stood off Butler slightly for the goal. Otherwise steady. 7
Bischoff: Went from zero to hero once he moved to centre half. MoM 8
Mettomo: Nothing got past the Cameroon international all night. 8
Huckerby: Has yet to show any form in the early season. 6
Negouai: Had a really good match, bet he was as bemused as us at the sending off. 8
Macken: Worked tirelessly to compensate for his lack of creativity. 8
Wanchope (77): A frustrating evening for the Costa Rican. 6
Whelan: Got much better after a slow start. 7

Subs:
Croft (77): Was unable to make any more impact up front. 6

Unused:
Ellegaard, Onuoha, Murphy, Tandy.

Attendance: 739.

Gavin Cooper (blueboy@mancity.net)

OPINION: TEETHING PROBLEMS

Just thought I would throw in my views on the new stadium. Brilliant stadium, shame about the ticketing/stewarding! Left the pub 45 minutes before kick-off for the TNS game. Walking towards the South Stand (Blocks N1 & N2) we noticed a rather large gathering of people (yeah ok, a footie match was due to get underway, but you know what I mean!). Would you believe it, only one entrance was open (not sure which) and the other had crash barriers round it! Tempers got a bit frayed as people (some genuinely) started to join the spiralling queue at the wrong points. Stewards unwilling to tell people what was going on, stewards unwilling to let people use P1 or P2 without reason and then the whistle to start the match was heard and all hell broke loose! Fortunately, for us, we had wound our way to the front by this time, but I would have hated to be a parent with young children in tow. Come on City, you really need to get your act together before someone gets seriously hurt in a major crush or it kicks off because of some numb nut trying to push in!

One other beef is about tickets. We ordered 2 tickets (Barça) and 2 (TNS) via the credit card hotline, paying £1.25 each for the privilege. To obtain a receipt we then had to trudge to the ticket office in person and wait almost half an hour for someone to print one for us! The day before the Barça game, we received the official ones!

Anyone know if the travel club will be around at the new stadium? The only thing I’ve heard is that you can buy a coach ticket when buying a match ticket. If anyone can shed any light on this I’d be extremely grateful.

Finally, (gee, once I get going I can’t stop!) has anyone else opted to have their name in the Walk Of Pride? Again, I’ve had to make a telephone call (albeit to a very pleasant lady) to enquire as to where the certificates are!

Anyway, apart from that…

Helen Murtagh (H.Murtagh@mmu.ac.uk)

OPINION: LIGHTIN’ UP

The stadium is fantastic, however, I’m a smoker and whilst I’ll go along with the smoking ban in seated areas it doesn’t take a genius to work out that at half time the smokers are all going to pile into the bars and food areas and light up! I did and I don’t think I smoked a fag so quickly, 3rd tier in the new Kippax, no extractor fans, you could hardly breath. I was soon back in my seat. Does anyone know if they plan to put extractor fans in?

Paul Garner (paul.garner@uk.bureauveritas.com)

OPINION: NEW ERA

As one of the first subscribers to MCIVTA, but one of the laziest contributors, I just want to say thank you to everyone who contributes and the team who put it all together.

It’s been about five years since my last moan and rant, so I thought it high time to make a contribution.

Firstly, the Charlton game. Really excellent. I don’t remember seeing a City side that was so motivated and with so many options up front for a very long time. Anelka was outstanding, but for how long do we have to wait for Robbie to be ‘match fit’. If he isn’t, let him run the line for the game, and put on Paulo, who looked lively towards the close.

SWP is really enjoying the supply and strength from defence and looks very exciting. Maybe an England place soon? Sinclair is very solid and looks already settled, working well with Tarnat, who I think had a superb game, and has great distribution skills.

Seaman will last the season, but you have to start wondering about Weaver. Sibierski and Barton make a better pair than Ali and Eyal, and if I were KK, I would tell Berko to shut up and enjoy the bench, or go. Sun? Still not a great Premiership player, but capable.

Secondly, the stadium and the new strip. My first game will be the Arsenal at the end of the month. As a London Blue, and 5th year Season Ticket holder, it’s not that easy to get up for every game, but I’m very excited by all that I hear (as long as I don’t want to eat or drink or need to get a ticket). Saying that, my Charlton and TNS tickets arrived by post within three days!

It’s a little disheartening playing in a strip sponsored by a bankrupt firm, but I understand the logic. Yes, it’s great to be back in Sky Blue but I still think they could have been a little nicer.

Lastly, the club and departures. I still think the way Bernstein was treated was a disgrace and I think that Chris Bird has a lot to answer for. We owe Bernstein a hell of a lot, and I think that he was stabbed in the back.

Good luck to the Goat, he is truly a football statesman, and will be forever a Blue. Reading seem a decent club, and I hope he does well.

SuperKev was never going to grab any headlines, but he worked hard and looked like he was giving his all. I will always remember his goal at Wembley.

MVF, a real tragedy, and I thought that the silence before the Charlton game was impeccable and poignant. The mutual respect for the loss of the Charlton Chairman’s wife and the Charlton fans’ respect for Foe (they clapped with us when the silence for MVF was announced over the tannoy) was appreciated.

So, a great start to what has to be a great season. My predictions? The Elk will score a hat-trick in the UEFA Cup Final, we will pip the Rags to the title on the final day of the season by a goal difference of one, thanks to a 30 yard scorcher from Sun in extra time, and Berko will happily sit on the bench all season. Okay, maybe the last one is a little too ambitious!

CTID, Miles Webber (miles.webber@btinternet.com)

OPINION: SOTON TICKET FARCE FINE

The following text has been taken from Southampton’s Rivals.net website, The Ugly Inside. What I cannot understand is, how can we be found guilty of anything when they couldn’t even fill their 1,300 allocation?


Manchester City have been handed their punishment for failing to give Saints their full entitlement to seats for the last ever game at Maine Road.

Saints fans can look forward to a half-price day out at Manchester City’s new stadium to compensate for missing out at Maine Road. Manchester City have had been found guilty by the Premier League for failing to give Southampton their full ticket allocation for the final game of last season. A disciplinary commission today came down firmly in favour of Saints who were given just 1,305 seats for the game at Maine Road instead of the 3,000 they should have received under league rules. City have been ordered to give Saints 3,000 tickets at half-price for this season’s fixture at the City of Manchester Stadium on April 17. That will cost them around £40,000 in lost revenue. In addition, City have been hit by a £25,000 fine and must also pay the commission’s costs. Saints’ Director and principle witness at the hearing, Andrew Cowen, speaking to the official site said: “We are very sorry that the dispute went to a commission as it is important that clubs try to resolve differences themselves. However the judgement vindicates our position and it is entirely appropriate that the majority beneficiary of the penalty will be the people who were disadvantaged in May. Manchester City have a magnificent stadium and I hope that as many of our fans as possible will take up the offer of the commission ruling and give the team their full support on April 17 and hopefully we will get the same result.”

On the final day of the campaign Michael Svensson banged in the only goal to give the Saints a 1-0 win and spoil City’s send-off. It also meant the commission did not have to consider the issue of compensation for lost prize money. A defeat for Saints could have meant £2.5 million slipping away from the Club’s coffers and if that had happened Saints would have been looking for that sort of compensation. League rules state that home clubs have to give 10 per cent of their capacity to the visiting club so Saints were entitled to 3,000 seats. Now that the subject is closed and quite rightly the people who were disadvantaged i.e. the Saints supporters are actually going to get some benefit from the saga in the form of cut price tickets perhaps it can be laid to rest and the previous good relations between both clubs and its sets of supporters can continue.

Mike Holden (MikeHoldenMCFC@aol.com)

OPINION: POTENTIAL

Malcolm Clelland about James McFadden; yes you’re spot on he is a fantastic player with a lot of potential, only two problems: he can have a bit of a temper but we’ll just put that down to youthful enjoyment (remember SWeeP when he first started for us, well not the temper bit) and wants to impress, the other problem is he’s such a good player he’ll probably get shoved down the pecking order then get sold to a First Division club for a pittance then never be heard of again, kind of like what’s happening to another fantastic player called Paul Ritchie (come on give him a chance – I’ve seen him plenty of times for Hearts and you could not ask for more passion). He could solve that bridge between defence and midfield that I think spur us on even more.

Micheal Cavanagh, what’s the name? Well at first I thought Bluecamp was good but now it just gets a bit tacky, so I’ll go with The COMSTAD or Eastlands, both sound not bad.

General, how about building a multi-storey car park, thus turning 3,000 spaces into 6,000 or more and put some greenary on top as all the pictures I’ve seen so far of the place just look a bit ‘grey’. Come on, we need some colour. Scoreboard: of course we need one, a big nice fancy effort to amaze everybody (and put you know who to shame).

Also question: How do you keep Eyal Berkovic happy at a football club? Answer: On a postcard please.

P.S. Macca for City now (he’ll feed the Fowl so he might start scoring goals)!

Gareth Croke (garethcroke@hotmail.com)

OPINION: GET A LIFE!

I have been reading MCIVTA for many years now but until today have never put pen to paper (virtually speaking). I’ve only just realized why this is – I’ve got nothing to complain about. All this whinging is beginning to do my head in. Endless moaning about why the club crest doesn’t appear on the toilet paper at the new stadium. Why my meat pie and bovril is not served to me in my seat by a sexy hostess. Why don’t I have a personal parking space next to Keegan? Why haven’t we signed Zidane or Inzaghi? Why hasn’t Berkovic been sold/shot/persuaded to stay? Why is the new shirt too big/small/blue/etc.? Why, why, why, why? For God’s sake give it a rest. These are the greatest days for City in over twenty years. I know it’s a cliché, but remember York just a few years ago and look at what we have today; a great team, a manager respected throughout the game, one of the top ten stadia in the world, even an England international! Please, please stop moaning, this is about as good as it gets.

Pete McNally – GalileeBlue (mcnally@ayelet.org.il)

OPINION: THE ‘PREMIERSHIP’

Calling all City fans, friends, family and associates. I watched The Premiership last season most Saturdays in the vain hope of seeing City in glorious action. As we all know you had a long wait for a glimpse of the boys in action.

It looks like this is going to be order of things again. Unless you are fan of the others or Arsenal/Chelski you won’t be seeing you team in action for more than a few minutes unless you are playing the aforementioned.

Anyway, why don’t we all email those lovely people at ITV and let them know our feelings. Ask for more time for all teams. It may work. Tell everyone you know, even non-City fans.

Here’s to a wonderful season of victories.

Greg Lonergan – Blue exiled in Londonshire (GregL@ipradvice.org.uk)

OPINION: MCFCTV I

Last issue had a complaint regarding problems using MCFCTV.COM with Windows XP and Windows Media Player 9.0.

I too have Windows XP and Media Player 9.0. I cannot get the streaming video, but I can get the clips by downloading them (choose Download instead of Play, and follow the instructions). Hope this helps.

What I do have a lot of problems with is actually getting into the MCFCTV site. Three out of four times, when I try to sign in, I receive an error message that my username is wrong. I could not, for instance, sign in to listen to the Charlton game, even though I have paid my £10 and have registered.

Daniel Stone (daniel.j.stone@sympatico.ca)

OPINION: MCFCTV II

I’m currently living in Japan, where Premiership coverage isn’t bad, with 2 or 3 live games every Saturday (great to see a 3pm game live, even if it is shown at 11pm here!). Despite this I signed up to MCFCTV.com, which is generally a good service, even if it’s had some teething problems. My one complaint is that when I sign on, before going to the ManCity page, it brings up the THTV (yes, bleedin’ Spurs) site for about 10 seconds! Is this a common thing or is it just my PC? Perhaps, fed up with being unable to sign quality players at a reasonable price, Spurs have paid Sky a fee to upset City fans?

Russell Higginbotham (russell_higginbotham@mac.com)

OPINION: IRREGULAR VIEWING

I know MCIVTA doesn’t like to print newspaper articles without permission so I send the following link to an interesting MEN article on the demise of Saturday afternoon viewing.

http://www.manchesteronline.co.uk/sport/football/manchestercity/stories/Detail_LinkStory=65549.html

Dave Kilroy (davekil@ntlworld.com)

OPINION: WHAT’S THE NAME? I

I have to admit, I agree with the “no to Blue Camp” campaign… look at the egg all over Sunderland’s faces with the “Stadium of Light”.

I reckon it’s better to have stadia named after something that identifies with the local area, rather than some random foreign tie – why not name it after one of the local roads (though “Alan Turing Way” – I think not), or at least someone half decent from our glorious history… Mercer Ground? I always think “Stadium” sounds like a baseball ground.

P.S. What a start! Can’t wait for Saturday!

Jon Marshall (jon_g_marshall@yahoo.co.uk)

OPINION: WHAT’S THE NAME? II

We have all heard of the possible options for our ground’s new name. Why don’t we just stick with “City Of Manchester Stadium”? It contains Manchester and City within the name, and that’s what it was called when it was built for the Commonwealth Games. My 2nd choice would be Eastlands as it reflects the area it’s built in!

To the football, I am extremely proud of the way the team is playing currently and I think KK has assembled a good squad, my only doubt being Fowler, but everyone must be hoping he gets back to his glory days when he was with Liverpool. Personally I would play Wanchope and Anelka up front, with a midfield of SWP, Berkovic, Sibierski, Sinclair, and at the back Sun, Sommeil, Distin and Tarnat.

On another point, I preferred the laser blue of the past two seasons, the current strip reminds me too much of the Coventy strip.

Glyn Albuquerque (Glyn.Albuquerque@uk.Nestle.com)

OPINION: WHAT’S THE NAME? III

Just an idea but for me it would be good to create our own identity. The idea of the Blue Camp is just cheesy – wannabe big club. I know that allegedly the Mackems named the Stadium of light after a local mining disaster but most people think that they have copied Benfica’s stadium name. I suggest something that is 100% Manc, what about Peterloo! unique to Manc and a sense of history.

On the note of music that the lads should come out to, then what about the intro to Blue Monday – everybody knows it. I know some might say (sounds like a song doesn’t it) that New Order are from Salford and therefore must be Reds but I think it would be a great tune to come out to.

Thanks for all your hard work with McVittee.

Tony Farrar (T.Farrar@lmu.ac.uk)

OPINION: THANKS GUYS!

Thanks to all the City fans who offered their help with me trying to get MCFCTV clips of action! I had a lot of personal responses and I am very grateful.

Ernie Barrow (britcityblue@aol.com)

REQUEST: CHARLTON HIGHLIGHTS

There are 10 minutes of good quality highlights of Sunday’s match on the Charlton website:

http://www.cafc.co.uk/index2.html

It’s free and you don’t need to register.

Dan Rigby (dan.rigby@man.ac.uk)

REQUEST: KOTK

Despite being on sale at the Open Day, the Barcelona and TNS games, we are still being asked if we are selling ‘King of the Kippax’ at the new stadium (it will always be ‘Eastlands’ to me – for the new dawn of all new dawns!). The new issue will be on sale for the first time, fresh from the printers, at the Portsmouth game. We’ve brought forward the date for this issue as we completely sold out of the last one earlier than anticipated. We will have sellers outside every stand, and also at the car park end of what must surely become ‘Joe Mercer Way’, which leads from the North car park to the new City store. We’ve retained the name ‘King of the Kippax’ to continue the spirit of the old Kippax stand – and I mean the old Kippax, not that soulless monument we got lumbered with. The spirit of the old Kippax was dissipated throughout Maine Road as it limped to the end of its days, and now has the chance to find its voice again, from every corner of Eastlands – c’mon you Blues! The fanzine contains a cracking interview with Ian Bishop, first reactions to our new home, our new signings, the new season, even, unfortunately, new problems (or are they the same old problems with a new twist?). If you haven’t read it before, give it a try. If you have, you’ll surely want to seek out your favourite regular contributors – like John Burfield, Ged, ‘Tangled Up In Blue’, Dave Miller, Shell Edmonds, Simon Curtis, Howard Hockin, Alan Menzies, et al (Colin Nicholls is having a little break – too busy with other stuff). KOTK is ‘for the fans, by the fans’ – don’t miss it!

Sue Wallace (kippax.editor@opeluK.net)

REQUEST: POMPEY TICKET

Am just back from working in Russia. Has anyone got one spare ticket for the Pompey game?

Many thanks, Martin Lever (martinlever@yahoo.co.uk)

REQUEST: BERLIN BLUE VIEWING

I’m going to be in Berlin on the 31st August for the match against the Arsenal. Does anyone know any bars in Berlin that’ll be showing this match? Or, even better, know where I can watch it with some fellow Blues?

Managed to scrounge a ticket for the Barça friendly, suffice to say I was very impressed!

Great to see that the Goat is doing the biz for Reading.

John Walker (johnawalker@hotmail.com)

REQUEST: MARC VIVIEN FOE MEMORIAL APPEAL

As a result of calls on various websites, emails and talking to MCFC and other authorities involved, together with the amazing response from fans worldwide (as diverse as China, Japan, Australasia, USA, throughout Europe) and from rival clubs, it was decided to launch an appeal fund which would help to fulfil Fo

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