Newsletter #954

A frustrating 0-0 draw on Sunday as we just couldn’t finish off the 20-odd chances the reports were suggesting we had (I lost count). On the plus side, there was some excellent play, the crowd got right behind the team and the sun shone. In case anyone needs a reminder, just think back to where we were 5 years ago: dumped out of the Worthington Cup by Derby (2-1) and scraping a 2-2 draw against Northampton putting us 8th in Division 2 after 9 games. I’m quite happy here thanks (!

As things stand, we are now 5th in the Premiership on 12 points in 7. Tonight we have match views on the Fulham game, the fall-out continues over Keegan’s booing comments, opinion on the knockers and the usual requests.

Finally, Simon has offered to run a poll for the preferred stadium name so that we at least know what to call the place.

Next game: Wolverhampton Wanderers, away, 3pm Saturday 4 October 2003


Dear Blue people,

The ongoing debate about the name for City’s new ground suggested a poll was in order. After a brief discussion with Heidi, she thought it was worth a go, though ‘er indoors reckons it reeks of a cunning plan: anyway, the results will be posted approximately two weeks from the date of this invitation to take part and say your piece. There are about 3,300 subscribers to McVittee, so it is hoped that all will participate.

Write your choice in the “Subject:” line of your email and send it to the special email address indicated below. Polling will be open for the next four issues, closing on Friday 10 October. Votes cost nothing, and we will publish the results in a few issues time.

Proposed names have been culled from past issues, so please choose one from these.


  • Hyde Road
  • Maine Road
  • New Maine Road
  • Blue Camp
  • The City of Manchester Stadium
  • The City Stadium
  • The Commonwealth Stadium
  • Eastlands
  • Manchester City Ground
  • The Citadel

Jack Buckley <votes(at)>


A Weekend of Extremes

We had the dubious pleasure this weekend of watching two league matches and not seeing a single goal! On Saturday we went along to 3rd Division Macclesfield (our new home side) to help boost the lowest gate in the division – (regular attendance of some 2,000 supporters). Macc were playing York City and neither team could really make things happen (but why should McVittee readers care!) A point of interest – Paul Lake, ex-City hero, who was on the GMR ‘phone-in after yesterday’s match, is on the Macclesfield coaching staff [Physio I understand- Ed].

On Sunday, we were part of the 46,000+, the Premiership’s highest gate – but still the result was a goal-less draw. However, it wasn’t for want of trying, as City saw chance after chance narrowly miss or be expertly saved (McManaman’s shot on the half-hour). Sommeil and Distin were once again working to create a strong defence (just as well in the first 20 minutes when Seaman looked decidedly dodgy at least twice, coming off his line). The midfield did what was required, with McManaman very obviously running the show and Bosvelt providing grit and determination (does anyone know why Barton was excluded from the squad?).

However, it was obviously going to be one of those afternoons. The weather was glorious, the crowd answered Keegan’s criticism in fine voice, by really getting behind the team, City had plenty of chances and completely dominated the game, but at the end of the day goals win matches and we just couldn’t find one!

Sarah Longshaw <sarah(at)>


Oh for Shaun Goater to toe-poke a goal! City overwhelmed a Spurs side that look relegation bound on this showing, but despite lots of chances couldn’t turn one of them into a goal. Wanchope bewildered but allowed Casey Keller to make some good saves, Anelka’s sights seemed set on the advertising hoardings, Sinclair likewise and even cannonball Tarnat couldn’t get past the defensive wall.

Fowler came on for Wanchope and showed one touch and shot that hopefully (?) signals a return to some sort of form. I listened to Fanzone on Sky – much better entertainment than the official commentary – but I’m a bit concerned about the views expressed on Sun Jihai. He seems to be in danger of becoming the ‘Edghill’ of the side – blamed for everything that goes wrong. It was claimed he can’t cross a ball yet he put in more crosses than Ternat and Sinclair put together, City’s second goal on Wednesday came from a Sun cross and he produced the only pull back across the goal from the by-line against Spurs. True, he’s still a bit naïve in defending but is never phased and doesn’t shirk a challenge so let’s give him some credit.

Surely our finishing can’t be this bad again and provided the midfield can continue to cover our defensive weaknesses then this season should be OK.

David Lewis <dfl(at)>


Imagine my anger this morning to turn on the Pay Per View Channel and find that instead of City-Spurs and a 5-1 home victory they were showing some complete dross of a game between a team in blue and a team in white [it was a lovely shade of purple in Manchester! – Ed]. It seemed to consist of the blue team missing open goals all game long. If they cannot get the games right then I don’t see why I should keep subscribing.

What a week… I suppose we can take some comfort that we moved up a place and didn’t lose any of the three games. But the two games I saw, admittedly from the point of view of a TV screen, suggests there is still some way to go to find both a settled team and a team with a little more variety in the opponents’ half. There are an awful lot of balls pumped forward and not as much attacking down the wings. Perhaps things will improve a little when Barton comes back but I don’t see where we are going to consistently use Reyna.

I’ll keep this brief. It was a poor team performance as much as anything (though I did think the defence did pretty well) and there are questions still to be answered about who should partner Anelka up front. The chance to finish in the top 6-8 remains but we can forget much higher. Chelsea, Arsenal and United will take some catching by anyone this year but I don’t see any clear leaders from the rest of the league… so it might as well be City.

Best wishes to all, John Pearson <john.pearson(at)>


This was not a dull game, more of a frustrating game. City had 21 shots on goal and could not produce that one goal which would have given us the three points. The main culprit to miss was Wanchope, when at times it seemed easier to score than miss. I was very much wanting to see Fowler given his chance again at the break, but this did not happen until 15 minutes from full time, I still feel he should have been given at least 30 minutes; late substitutions unless for injuries hardly help the cause.

David Seaman had a good game, although Spurs only had 5 shots at goal. This showed how much City dominated the game. It almost looked like Spurs had been watching the Lokeren game tape, for their tactics seemed the same. The big difference: City had far more chances to score in this game than against Lokeren, but could not take the opportunities given.

We all know that City can do better than this; training has got to have more shooting on goal this week at Carrington. City will see more teams come to the City Of Manchester Stadium with the same tactics now, and unless City can get that first goal quick, be prepared for more frustrating games ahead. We of course hope that all teams will come to Manchester to try to play football and win their games, and not just play defending.

This was not a game of a point won, but rather of two points lost. Next game versus Wolves.

Come on you Blues!

Ernie Barrow <britcityblue(at)>


Was reading about Keegan’s comments yesterday regarding the fans and he is really out of order. He must have been watching a different game to me as although we have 70% possession it was all in the middle of the pitch with little thought or effort being put in by most of the players. Keegan’s team selection didn’t help; by dropping Wright-Phillips and Sinclair he made the team very central, all our forward play was attempted passes through the middle, their full backs were able to tuck in and we couldn’t get past. With Sibierski roaming this meant Sun was playing right-back but was expected to cover the whole right hand side on his own.

A number of the players were strolling about; the four of us that attended only rated Sibierski, Reyna and Bosvelt were OK but with the four midfielders that were picked were too central, we should always play 1 proper wide man (2 ideally).

I think a number of fans are getting fed up of the defensive errors. Seaman looks to be totally past it, he is slow and worst of all his judgment seems to have gone. He has cost us 3 goals already. He also appears not to be shouting to players (Sinclair vs. B’Burn, Sun vs. Lokeren).

The biggest worry for me is that the two centre backs that looked so good in 4-4-2 last year are now looking so bad this year. It can’t help when Sommeil seems to criticise the rest of the team when he is making bad errors but the biggest weakness at the moment is Distin as he seems to have been hit with the captain’s curse. Hopefully he will prove that form is temporary and class is permanent.

If KK retains the loyalty to Seaman and Fowler we will be looking to stay up rather than finish top 6, he reckons Seaman needs until Xmas to settle in? We could be in serious trouble if he waits that long.

As for all the fans telling people that boo to stop going, get off your high horses. I pay my money, I make my choice. I am supportive of this team and players until they don’t try or don’t look interested, then I have no time for them whatsoever.

Glyn Owen <Glyn.Owen(at)>


In reply to Paul Fagan and all the other Fowler hating Muppets we seem to have:

It appears that there is a feeling to get Fowler out of City, or have a go at him no matter what. As soon as his name was announced on the team, people behind me were having a go already. The guy was never the fittest at Liverpool, but scored goals; let’s cast our mind back a few years to the treatment dished out to one Shaun Goater when he first arrived, and how he was felt about him when he left?

Did not Fowler score a very important goal the other night? He is a goal poacher, not a creator; he will score plenty for us, if given the ball in the right areas not 30 yards from goal. Wednesday night was his best so far.

So all True City Fans, lay off his back, as long as he wears a Blue shirt get behind him…

David Kay <david.kay(at)>


I am tired of all this knocking. Leave Seaman alone. He has made some mistakes, but he has also shown his quality. How many of you thought that signing old ‘Red nose’ was a mistake? Yet a year later Schmeichel has been elevated to the status of a god, and rightly so.

Tim Howard is playing behind the tightest defence of last season, even an inept ‘keeper can look good when protected!

Seaman wasn’t the one who cocked-up his header, and he wasn’t the one marking nobody for the second goal on Wednesday. Maybe Seaman should be more vocal, maybe our defenders need to not be so casual. As the players get better acquainted they will gel. Even Schmeichel took a while to bed-in.

As for Fowler, he is trying. Last season ended at the wrong time for him. He did manage to find the net, something that is being over-looked by his accusers, and he worked hard, and even set up a couple of goals for the Elk. Now that he has a goal, and competition for his place, I honestly think he is only going to go from strength to strength.

We also need to be careful, least we go back to the days that away games were the only games worth going to as the boo boys stayed at home and moaned constantly. If they choose to stay away from COMS, then all the better. Though I suspect that they don’t read MCIVTA, as they are only interested in glory and basking in it. The sooner they b**ger off to the Swamp, the better.

Mark Jones <M.Jones01(at)>


City’s new home shirt, a few material snags?

I recently sent three severally damaged children’s size new City home shirts back to the manufacturers, Reebok, together with a detailed letter of explanation for their return. The shirts were unacceptably ‘snagged’ and ‘bobbled’ after normal use and one of the shirts was in a poor and damaged state after only one wearing straight from purchase. All three shirts were purchased from different retailers at different times. I also sent in a Small Junior size Le Coq Sportif City shirt owned and worn for two years by the same child as one of the new shirts I sent back. This was in order to illustrate the poor performance of its Reebok successor.

Reebok examined all of the new shirts and subsequently agreed to refund the full purchase amount for all three shirts together with the printing costs associated with name lettering. I have not received a written reply to my accompanying letter, which contained several questions on the apparent poor quality of the fabric, but I did receive the following rather empty public relations Product Quality Statement:

Reebok takes pride in its product quality. Should any consumer be unhappy with the quality of any Reebok item then contact should be made with our Consumer Hotline on 0800 305050. Dave Smythe, Customer Operations Director

Instead of a written reply, I was told over the telephone that “Reebok had not had sufficient numbers of shirts returned to suggest a major problem and that they only had approximately eight City shirts sent back to them directly”. Given that all of my friends who own a replica shirt have continually moaned about its poor quality, I found this very hard to believe. Especially as the shop from which I made a purchase, have taken the shirts off the rack and put them behind the counter because they told me that “too many were getting snagged whilst people were picking them up”.

After Reebok’s assertions about limited returns, I paid a visit to the new ‘Reebok City’ souvenir shop and told an assistant that I’d bought a City home shirt a couple of weeks ago and that it was now snagged and bobbled. He commented that I was “one in about 20,000” and that they experienced many problems with the shirt and had sent “loads back to Reebok”. He told me to bring it back and that I’d be given a full refund or be offered a replacement. He also told me that the snagged shirt would be sent back to Reebok as “it’s their problem, not ours”. The assistant went on to comment that there had been no similar problems with the new away shirt, it was the home shirt that was being continually sent back to the manufacturers who were “well aware of the problems”.

I then went back to Reebok and told their Consumer Relations Team Leader of my conversation with the shop assistant at ‘Reebok City’. She re-iterated that Reebok had received only eight returns direct from customers and added that they had received only 1% returns of the total sold from retailers. She continued to deny that Reebok had experienced any major problems with the shirts.

It would appear that somebody’s telling ‘porkies’ and given that “It’s Reebok’s problem”, I’ll leave that up to you to decide whom. These shirts are supposed to last at least two years – if not certainly more than two months – before they noticeably deteriorate. However, one of the three I returned was not fit to clean my car with and the other two were on their way to a similar state.

As a product recall would cost Reebok a huge amount of money, it would appear that they’ve put their corporate heads in the sand and will replace shirts as and when returned. If a majority of people are prepared to accept such poor quality and not send them back then Reebok have a comparatively small problem. Such a policy is a far cheaper option than admitting that their shirts aren’t up to scratch (no pun intended) and re-issuing new improved shirts free of charge to all previous purchasers.

My impressions are that Reebok are well aware of the shortcomings of their shirts and I wouldn’t be surprised if they introduce a subtle fabric change in the coming months. In the meantime however, if you own one of these shirts and are not happy with its quality after a bit of wear and tear, contact the above number and organise a replacement or take it back to your retailer. If that one snags and bobbles do the same again and again. We all know how much these shirts cost and I don’t think that the comparative quality of the product is good enough by a long way. Reebok should not be allowed to get away with selling such a sub-standard product and if you’re not happy, it’s up to you to do something about it, I’ve done my bit.

Steve Worthington <steve.worthington(at)>


Totally disgusted with Man City selling Lokeren away tickets on 1600 points as long as you travel with Thomas Cook at £300.00 a trip. Where does that apply to the loyalty system. Surely this pure blackmail?

Mike O’Brien <mike.obrien(at)>


I was frustrated throughout Monday trying to get through to the ever-engaged Ticket Line at MCFC from 8am as tickets were on open sale.

I was gutted when I finally got through around 1.30pm only to hear they had stopped ticket sales over the phone I could only get a ticket if I called into the ground in person. Travelling from Carlisle in Cumbria and leaving work to do so was out of the question.

I had to watch the game on TV and I was very upset to see thousands of empty seats where travelling supporters could have given their support. Does Manchester City want supporters?

I am a referee at local level and most Saturdays I am officiating in a local league, therefore I cannot get to any weekend games; I have to rely on the midweek games to see City live, but I am getting very despondent when I am unable to follow the team I have supported for many years.

I was unable to get to the Barcelona game because they stopped tickets being sold with loads of empty seats around the ground.

Can anyone tell me why City are not selling tickets, yet leave unfilled seats all around the stadium? Come on guys, give us all a fair chance.

A Nearly Big City Fan, Steve Lewer <steve.lewer(at)>


Reality check:

  • 5th in the Premiership
  • Still in 3 Cups (including Europe)
  • Best squad ever (arguably)
  • Genius of a manager

and still they moan… 8/9 games in and they are moaning!

Can we do that if we don’t do anything of note by the end of the year please?

Stu Catterson <scatterson.manly(at)>


In response to Vernon Thomason’s message about fans booing the team at half-time at the Lokeren match, I’ve two observations:

  1. How do the ‘consumers’ of your services express their displeasure withyour performance when it’s well below par?

    In my view, booing is a pretty tame expression of dissatisfaction by anunhappy audience, compared with what the rest of us would experience in thereal world. These guys are on huge salaries and the least we should expectis that they communicate with one another.
  2. 2 Vernon blames the ‘new fans’ for usurping the “good name and reputationthat supporters like me have built over the years”. This is the sort ofinverted snobbery which takes us into the same realms as ‘MUFCPLC’, that weall deplore.

    Firstly, if a crowd of less than 30,000 was made up of so many (booing)‘new fans’, where were the ‘real/old fans’?

    Secondly, just because someone is ‘new’, doesn’t make them less of a Bluethan someone who’s had a season ticket for years. Some of the ‘new’ Cityfans have been following the club for longer than Vernon’s 30 years, butjust happened to have travelled about a bit in-between times. Let’s notget narrow-minded about whether fans are ‘new’ or ‘old’; Blues are Blues,full-stop.

    And finally, Vernon must have a very short memory – or maybe wasn’t in theground (?!) – if he thinks that there was no booing at Maine Road. We’reall struggling to adjust to the atmosphere(less) City of ManchesterStadium, but there’s no need re-write history and pretend that we didn’tboo some of the dross that’s been served up over the years.

Let your hair down, Vern. Boo a little.

Gary Chapman <gary(at)>(‘New/old’ supporter for 33 years and intermittent season ticket holder for28 years)


City vs. Lokeren on Wednesday was one of those games that any City fan that regularly goes to the games should have expected the outcome beforehand; you still get frustrated but shouldn’t get too upset about it.

On Wednesday too many fans were too eager to vent their disappointment on Seaman and the rest of the defence at and before half time. I felt p**sed off as well but still went away from the ground feeling entertained. Any amount of booing etc. won’t improve the situation and will get players to have even less confidence. I am sure KK knows the situation and is trying to give them time to gel. Don’t get on his back as well because I’m sure he doesn’t need it!

I know a lot of the big mouths around us were not normally sat there for league games so maybe not season ticket holders, I don’t know why this should make a difference but just an observation.

Simon Challiner <simon(at)>


“Never had a Team Booed… Since the Last Time”

Keggy seems to have a short memory; at the Villa game at half time City were booed off when we were 1-0 down and lucky not to be 3-0… and they responded pretty well in the second half.

I always have a dilemma with booing; if you clap your team off at half time when they have played awful are you saying “City, that performance was acceptable”.

If you voice your concern by booing are you in danger of breaking their fragile egos or will it gee them up to move up a gear?

If you remain silent at half time and refuse to clap will that really get the message across to the team that you are very disappointed with their performance?

Personally I think a quick rendition of “What the **** is going on” is probably the PC solution.

Mick Sheeran <Mick_Sheeran(at)>


First of all I’ve been supporting this club for about 18 years now and this is the best squad and we have the best manager in my time! Graham, you said that it is totally ok to start booing and whining after a substandard first half. Well I don’t think the first half against Villa couple of weeks back were that good either but that went well… or do you have a different opinion? People should give our lads at least chance; I don’t know if you knew this but a football match lasts 90 minutes.

The nature of football (and nature of City!) is that sometimes things don’t go that well even if the players are trying as hard as they can!

What our back line needs now is trust from supporters. I very sure that Seamo, Sommeil, Distin and Sun the man are first to admit when they have made errors; errors unfortunately are just part of the game!

You are talking about “frustrated fans”, well I don’t know where you were in the 90’s but being in the Premiership (5th) and in the UEFA Cup doesn’t exactly make me frustrated compared to 10th position in the 2nd Division with a Vans Trophy clash coming next week! I’m proud of our manager, I’m proud of our players I trust them very, very much.

Booing is a very strong statement that should be reserved for times when it might be (hopefully never) needed.

Oh, and I know one club where people start to whine after few mistimed tackles and few errors; I let you Graham figure out yourself!

Bob Hund <bob.hund(at)>


I am moved to write for the second time in the same season! The last time it was to ask people to stop moaning. This time it’s to ask people to stop moaning about the moaners!

OK, so it’s disappointing when people boo the team. However, it is definitely not a unique experience, and yes, it did happen (quite often in fact) at Maine Road. The fact that no-one booed in the Arsenal débâcles was that both those home losses (4-0, 5-1) were way beyond a casual boo, and had reached the realm of the bizarre. What really gets me about some of the responses is this garbage that it must be ‘new’ fans who are doing it, or ‘glory seekers’ who’ve come to the new stadium. If my memory serves me right we’ve never been short on whinging sods at any stage of our history.

Yes, it is important to remember where the team was four years ago, but the writers don’t need to inflate their own egos by telling us that ‘they were there’. It reminds me that at least 30,000 people claimed to have been at the (in)famous Swindon home game in the early sixties.

Keegan himself should concentrate on his excellent, yet still developing, team and not deal with irrelevant issues. I think that more than anything else the game against Lokeren showed an understandable naïvety vis-a-vis European football, after all Europe is a whole different ball game and 25 years away inevitably leave their mark. As is said here in Israel, when a cup is half full you can look at the empty half or the full half. May I recommend the latter, that way life is much better.

Keep Happy, Stay Blue, Pete McNally – GalileeBlue <mcnally(at)>



“I disagree fundamentally with your opinion, but would fight to the death to defend your right to express it.” (Voltaire, I think)

There is absolutely nothing wrong with criticizing a poor performance, an error which seems to be part of a pattern, a bad managerial decision, whatever, but I would suggest there is a time and a place.

As a City fan who came late to the club, at the age of 18, one of the things that kept me coming was the supportive nature of the crowd, especially at Maine Road. When you think back on some of the things that City fans have endured in recent years, while having to put up with the crowing of the Rags, it amazes me to hear that fans are booing an honest mistake in a European game that we went on to win. If you had told me three or four years ago, that we would be winning European games in a brand new state of the art stadium, the last thing I would have expected to hear as a foot-note is that the home fans would be booing their own players.

The next time you are expressing your heart-felt, righteous indignation, I want you to ask yourself a simple question: Do you think you are making things better or worse? I do not see how singling out any player and giving him grief will help him to improve his performance. The manager is capable of delivering rockets where they are needed, and we have seen the effectiveness of Kev’s half time talks in recent weeks.

There is nothing wrong with having high expectations for all our players, and to want them to have them for themselves; but, if they make a mistake, or are performing below par, let’s try and give them a lift. There is nothing the opposition would like more than to hear the home crowd – usually a formidable force for them to contend with – turn on their own players.

‘Nuff said.

Pat McGibbon <pat(at)>


To say the fans that booed the team off the pitch at half time are not true City fans is a joke. Would we be true City fans if the litany of errors in our defence didn’t get our backs up and we clapped politely as the team headed off? Worse still, could we clap loudly and so that the ever so fragile egos may be massaged into thinking they were actually playing well?

These players are paid buckets of cash and are quite happy to take the adulation of 48,000 people when things are going well, so they should be able for a bit of criticism when they need a good kick up the **se.

Keegan can be a stubborn fool sometimes. Seaman has been culpable for more than half of our goals conceded. He is too slow to come (no pun intended); I don’t know whether this is old eyes, old knees or maybe he’s just afraid of getting a knock these days. Our defence are beginning to lose their confidence in him, clearances are hacked away and defenders are jumping for balls that should be the ‘keeper’s as they don’t think he’ll get there. For Keegan to turn around and give Seaman a free reign until Christmas is madness. When Seaman was the England ‘keeper he could settle behind an ever-changing back four in a matter of days so how come it takes 5 months with us? Time to give Weaver a run out.

So Kevin, instead of bitching about the people who have the best interest of this club at heart and who pay your wages, ask yourself why are they do this, accept the criticism, do something about it and apportion blame appropriately.