Newsletter #953

A bumper issue tonight as we have the reaction to last night’s first “real” European game, which saw a 3-2 win for City against a determined Lokeren side. The main talking points from the game were Keegan playing pop with the fans for booing (and I have to agree on this – how many times have we had this debate now?) and the defensive errors. However, the team did not give up last night despite going 2-1 down and all credit that they did fight back. The Lokeren fans had a great time, thoroughly enjoyed the match and the stadium and put the City boo-boys to shame.

Don’s news has reactions to our two games this past week, more on the Etuhu/SWP saga and news on ex-Blues. We have loads of opinion on the defensive frailties, KK’s “outburst” and the usual requests.

Managerless Spurs are the visitors on Sunday, so anyone who fancies doing a match report please think on. Meanwhile, sit back and read.

This one goes out to 3,303.

Next game: Tottenham Hotspur, home, 4pm Sunday 28 September 2003 (TV game)


General News

Former Agent Sues: An arbitration panel heard this week how a football agent is claiming £100,000 off City, along with boss Kevin Keegan. Agent Wayne Lindsay is demanding compensation from both City and KK after claiming the Blues’ boss refused to give Shaun Wright-Phillips a new contract unless the England Under-21 star ditched him as his representative. The press reported that Lindsay was seeking around £100,000 in compensation after Wright-Phillips eventually signed a new deal on July 1 last year, which was negotiated by his stepfather Ian Wright. Lindsay says he has an official document which confirms a deal to act on Wright-Phillips’ behalf for a two-year period from January 2001. Both Keegan and the club deny the accusations. A Football Association spokesman said: “We are aware of the case but at this stage it is a legal matter between the parties concerned.” The relationship between the Blues and Lindsay soured when Dixon Etuhu – also represented by Lindsay – was in dispute over his contract and was eventually sold to Preston for £400,000.

Toon Reserves Triumph: City put out virtually an under-21 side for their reserve team clash with Newcastle United on Monday night. The youngsters could not stop the run of recent defeats, which saw the second XI lose 1-0 at Ewen Fields. Eyal Berkovic was the only senior player in the team, but the Israel international’s presence could not prevent the visitors leaving with the points after Michael Chopra scored the only goal of the game two minutes into the second half. Once again, Berkovic was on the field for the first half only. City: Ellegaard, Warrender, Collins, Murphy, Bischoff, Jordan, Bennett (Logan 74), Whelan, Elliott, Berkovic (Ireland 46), B Wright-Phillips. Subs: Schmeichel, Lee-Matthews, Smith.

Ex-Blues’ News

The Simpsons: It’s been an interesting week for members of the Simpson clan. Paul has been appointed as Carlisle United manager on a full-time basis after a short trial period as caretaker. After losing his job as Rochdale manager in the summer, Simmo led United to their fifth point of the season in a 2-2 draw away to Southend. Elsewhere, it sounds like Fitzroy Simpson was involved in an unpleasant incident recently. Fitz now plays in the Nationwide Conference for Telford United, and has reportedly made a complaint to the FA about alleged racial taunting made by Dagenham and Redbridge manager Garry Hill. Two of Hill’s own players, former Chelsea striker Mark Stein and defender Mark Smith, have asked to leave the club. Stein said “Other players heard him say it – from Dagenham and Telford – they told me about it after the game. It is disturbing when our own players hear those sort of things.” Hill has made no comment on the matter. Simpson is understood to have written to the FA, the Nationwide Conference and the Professional Footballers’ Association asking for a full investigation into the incident.

Where Are They Now? Part 372: As you know, we like to unearth the whereabouts of former City legends, but this week I could only find news of Big Bad Bob Taylor. Taylor is the new manager of Watton United. Watton, as you all know, is of course in Norfolk, way out west of Norwich. “I want the club back where they used to be and where they belong, in the Ridgeons League,” declared the former City striker. We all have to start somewhere, I guess… In other news, Richard Edghill is continuing to make progress at Queen’s Park Rangers. The Division Two club have offered a new one month deal to Edgy, who has been at Loftus road on a short-term contract.

The Referee’s A Prosser: Last Saturday, Paul Ritchie has had the rare honour of being shown the red card after the game had finished. Ritchie was playing only his fifth game for Walsall, at Millwall. The former Scotland international faces the prospect of a massive suspension and fine after an incident involving referee Phil Prosser at Millwall on Saturday. The incident is being investigated by the police, the Football Association and his club. He is alleged to have used foul and abusive language and assaulted the official. Ritchie had already been cautioned when the referee showed him a second yellow card in the tunnel for remarks made by the Scottish defender. It is understood that Ritchie then made contact with Prosser. If found guilty, Ritchie could face a 12-match ban.

Browne Eyed Again: Former City striker Gary Browne was named in the York City reserve team squad to face Notts County at Meadow Lane this week. It will be the Northern Ireland Under-21 international’s second appearance for the Minstermen’s second string as he looks to impress and earn a permanent deal at Bootham Crescent. The Northern Ireland Under-21 international left the Blues during the summer and is currently without a club, but featured for York reserves on Wednesday (thanks Sarah Longshaw).

Reactions and Comments

‘Inept’ City: Last Saturday saw Paulo Wanchope’s first League goal since February 2001, as City snatched a late equaliser in their 2-2 draw with Fulham. “I thought we started very well, enjoyed a lot of possession and played some nice football,” was KK’s assessment of the game. “But then we lost our way after 15 minutes and at half time I told the players how disappointed I was. Then we go a goal up just after half time and I was thinking the lads were ready to push on for another – but that’s when we got worse. Fulham gave us a lot of respect, but then they realised that we weren’t so good after all and went ahead. But then we found a gear towards the end, put them under pressure and got our reward. They had a game plan and it worked for them – there was no need to change it because we were playing so poorly. We were inept for the last half hour after going a goal up – but it was entertaining stuff, which shows we’ve got goals in us. Perhaps today wasn’t one for the purist, but there is plenty for both managers to work on. The fans certainly got their money’s worth. I’m disappointed because we were capable of winning, but I’m not a fool – if you’re 2-1 down in the 92nd minute then you are lucky when you escape with a point,” said Keegan. “It would have been nice had we gone top, but it’s not that important. We will have to wait month or so. We will get another opportunity if we start playing as well as we can. Whether we stay there is another thing. We’re trying to get into that elite group.” Fulham’s second goal had exposed more defensive uncertainty in City’s defence, and the Boss gave an endorsement (of sorts) to David Seaman. “David would be the first to admit he would have been better off staying on his line for Fulham’s second goal,” said Keegan. “He knows he chose the wrong option. Players are picked on form, but at the moment I don’t see any reason to change things. The time to judge players like David is not now, but at Christmas, when they’ve had time to settle in.” In his year as Fulham boss, KK had bought Chris Coleman to Craven Cottage to captain his side, and as Fulham’s fledgling manager, Coleman did his best to lift the morale of his team. “We showed a lot of bottle to come back the way we did in the second half against a team that is flying in the Premiership,” he said. “The players were devastated at the end, but they shouldn’t be too disappointed – we’ve got a point in the bank. I’m delighted for the players. They are a great bunch of lads and I can’t ask for any more from them. I have belief in their ability and they should believe in themselves as well. I was proud of the way they performed in the second half. They showed determination and grit. It was disappointing not to finish with the win, but the players did all they could to win it.”

One to the Chopper! Paulo could hardly contain his delight as his header looped into the Fulham net on 93 minutes, and the Costa Rican was still effervescent afterwards. “I felt fantastic when I scored that goal against Brazil in the World Cup but I was equally ecstatic with that header at Fulham on Saturday,” he declared. “I went a bit crazy with the celebrations and so do did the fans but it was a wonderful feeling. I said I wanted to repay City and the supporters for all their backing while I was out injured and that is hopefully just the first instalment. We should have gone on to win but at least we saved a point, which is encouraging. I suppose it is a measure of the club’s progress over the past two years that we feel so miserable about only getting a draw away from home in London. We didn’t play as well as we can but we have shown again the determination and spirit we have in the side. We are a team and players showed they could take responsibility even when the likes of Nicolas Anelka and Steve McManaman are off the pitch. If we want to be the top six or even closer to the leading positions then those are the kind of games we have to win though one point is better than none when you are 2-1 down in injury time. Now I just hope to get a run of games to build on my comeback.” KK said: “I don’t think anyone deserves a goal more than Paulo. He has been out a long, long time but he has worked his socks off even though he has had setbacks along the way. I hope it is the first of many for him. I think we showed character though sometimes we showed both belief and a lack of belief. The thought process was a little bit slow from some players. They made the wrong decisions and put one another in trouble.”

Squad News

Dazza-Ling Strike: Darren Huckerby’s been doing what he does best, namely scoring in Division One. On Saturday, Huckerby scored his first goal since signing on loan from Manchester City to earn Norwich a deserved point in a 1-1 draw against Stoke. Ex-Blue Chris Greenacre was in the starting line up for the Potters, as Gifton Noel-Williams struck his third goal of the season in the 36th-minute to give Stoke the lead. Halfway through the second half Norwich levelled matters when Stoke failed to clear substitute Paul McVeigh’s left-flank cross and Huckerby tucked the ball inside the near-post with a low right-footed shot from eight yards.

Elliott Seeking More Action: City’s Irish Under -21 striker Stephen Elliott has pleaded with KK to be involved in more games in the run-up to the World Youth Championships. Elliott is in the Republic of Ireland squad for the tournament in Dubai in November, but is now too old to feature for the Academy teams. His progress in the Reserves is blocked by the likes of Jon Macken, Robbie Fowler and Paulo Wanchope, so Elliott said: “I really need to be playing games to keep up my match fitness. I don’t want to be rusty, especially with the World Cup coming up.” City’s Glenn Whelan and Willo Flood are also in contention for places in the Irish squad. Elliott scored a hat-trick for the Republic of Ireland under-21 side in a 5-1 win in Poland back in August.

Calm Down! The least surprising statistic of the year is that Joey Barton is now just two yellow cards away from an automatic suspension, after only six games of the league season. Young Joe refused to compromise his all action style, however: “I had been clattered two or three times late at Fulham and the first time I mistimed a tackle I got a yellow card,” he said. “That is my third one, but needs must and if there is a ball there to be won, then it has got to be won. If I end up getting banned then I end up getting banned, we have a great squad here. I just want to go out and do my very best for the team and if I pull out of tackles because I am worried about bookings then I am not doing that.” Manager Kev is urging his midfield prot