Newsletter #955

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Another bumper issue tonight with match reports from Spurs (thanks to Sharon) and the reserves at Bolton (thanks to Gavin). Don’s news contains reaction to Sunday’s game, news on internationals, a despicable scam cashing in on the Foe tragedy and the Boss Man’s thoughts on games and the poisoned chalice of England.

Reaction continues to the knockers and booers, there’s more news on Lokeren and a review by the Belgian authorities, the usual requests and details on Gary’s new book.

Finally we have a new feature on Premiership Stats thanks to Rob, which will be appearing on a monthly basis. And you have just three issues to go to get the stadium votes in to <votes(at)mcivta.city-fan.org>

We visit Premiership strugglers Wolves on Saturday, so please consider sending in your views/reports.

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

NEWS SUMMARY

General News

City Win in London: Players’ agent Wayne Lindsay’s legal action against KK and the club ended on Friday. After three days of legal argument, Lindsay’s solicitors made the following agreed statement. “Our client accepts that the allegations were entirely without foundation. He also accepts that City and Kevin Keegan each acted at all times properly and honourably in relation to their dealings with the agents and their players.” Lindsay, you may recall, had alleged that KK had made Shaun Wright Phillips change agents, under the threat of not offering SWP a new contract. The claim for £100,000 has been dropped by Lindsay, who has agreed to pay the club’s legal costs thought to be £125,000. “These allegations are just nonsense and anyone who had investigated them would have known it,” Keegan said. “I have received an apology and costs, so now we just get on with life.” He also said he was unhappy at the coverage of the case by one Sunday tabloid. “I am not happy when a national newspaper devotes two pages and a back page which insinuates, doesn’t actually legally accuse me of doing something wrong. It has been cleared up now and if they had actually investigated it, which is the least they should do, then the story might have been the other way round.” A club spokesman said, “We are delighted with the findings of the tribunal. This is very much the outcome we expected. The club have wholeheartedly backed Kevin Keegan in challenging what has always been a completely unfounded allegation and we were 100 per cent confident he would be exonerated from any blame. The fact the case was halted only three days into the allotted three weeks speaks volumes. We could not have had a better outcome.”

An Edgy Reunion: The Third Round draw of the Carling Cup was made this week (that’s the League Cup to those of us who can still remember DT’s overhead kick in 1976), and this time all the English clubs who have been involved in European games were involved. City were handed an away tie with QPR in their first game in this season’s Carling Cup. The game will take place on Tuesday October 28. The draw gives David Seaman and Trevor Sinclair the chance to face one of their former clubs. And wouldn’t you know it, there’s likely to be an ex-City skipper in the opposition ranks that night. Richard Edghill last played for the Blues in the Division 1 Championship winning season and is currently a regular in the QPR squad. “Football has a habit of going round in circles and to that extent I am not surprised that we have drawn City in the next round,” he said this week. “The lads were joking about after we beat Sheffield United saying that it would be great if we could play City at their new stadium. It didn’t quite work out that way completely but I suppose the fact that we are at home gives us more of a chance of progressing. It will be a bit of fun for us and I might be able to prove a point or two.” City fans face a fair amount of travelling that week. The Blues are at Chelsea on October 25, face QPR three days later, and then head for the south coast and Southampton on Saturday November 1. KK reckons he’s got the solution for his players – “We might have to go on a camping or caravan site in the south of England for a week or so!” quipped the manager.

It’s a Conspiracy! You could forgive Nicolas Anelka for living up to his pre-City nickname of “Le Sulk” this week. Last season, the FA Premier League’s Dubious Goals Panel chalked off one of Ann Elk’s goals in the home game with Everton, crediting an own goal by Tomasz Radzinski and denying Nico his hat trick. Well dang nab it, if this shadowy committee aren’t at it again this week. Anelka’s goal against Fulham last month in the 2-2 draw, clipped the heel of Zat Knight, and has been officially entered on the records as an own goal by the Fulham beanpole defender.

Foe Scam Warning: The club have alerted fans to an email scam, hoping to trade on the fans’ memories of Marc Vivien Foe. Appearing under the headline “DO NOT BE DECEIVED” on the club website, the statement read: “Manchester City have recently become aware of a number of scams which aim to trick supporters into parting with money and are warning all fans not to be taken in by them. Firstly, a series of e-mails purporting to be from the widow of Marc Vivien Foe are currently being widely circulated around the UK and beyond. The mail, which is sent by ‘Lillian Foe’, urges supporters to send their personal contact details by return e-mail, and is followed by a request to pledge money to what is, in fact, a fraudulent fund. The e-mail itself contains a large number of spelling mistakes and factual inaccuracies, including the claim that Marc was a Manchester United player. Whilst the vast majority of e-mail users are not taken in by such fraudulent mails, the National Criminal Intelligence Service report that a significant minority do in fact respond, and unwittingly help the fraudsters net in excess of 150 million pounds a year. Under no circumstances should fans respond to this e-mail. Instead they are urged to delete the message immediately, so as to prevent the fraudsters from benefiting in any way from Marc Foe’s tragic death.” As always, details of the genuine route for donations to the MVF appeal can be found at the end of this issue of MCIVTA.

Call Up for Micah: City youngster Micah Richards has been honoured with inclusion in England’s under-16 squad to face Northern Ireland on Friday 17 October at Rushden and Diamonds’ Nene Park stadium, kick off 8pm. “The game is a great platform for the new U16s players and I am sure that they will provide tough opposition throughout the competition,” remarked England coach John McDermott. “Representing England at any level is a real honour and I am sure that the new lads will prove themselves worthy of that honour.” Richards has made five appearances for the City Academy under 17’s so far this season, scoring one goal. Meanwhile Richard Dunne has been forced to withdraw from the Republic of Ireland’s senior squad because of an ankle injury. Dunne will miss the make-or-break Group 10 European championship qualifier against Switzerland on Saturday week.

Lokeren Unlocked to City Fans: Following reports that City fans will be banned from Lokeren town centre, Belgian police have relaxed guidelines for City fans travelling to Belgium later this month for the match in the UEFA Cup. A statement on the Lokeren club website said: “Just as with any home game of Sporting Lokeren, the local police department will lead the game in an atmosphere of hospitability. However, due to the expected number of English fans more stringent rules will be in effect.” The Superintendent of Lokeren Police, Dirk de Smet was quoted as saying “The behaviour of the Mancunians during the away match convinced us of their proper behaviour and good intentions. So hereby I want to make clear that every Manchester fan with a ticket is welcome in Lokeren.” Lokeren’s website said that Blues’ fans would be welcome to attend, under the following provisos; one, all English fans must be in possession of a ticket for the game; two, all English fans must have their passports with them, and three: disorderly or drunk fans will be arrested.

Poor Run Continues: City’s reserves lost their opening Manchester Senior Cup game, an away fixture with Bolton Wanderers. Reports suggest that City made a bright start to the game, and should have lead by more than the Gerard Wiekens goal that separated the teams at half time. The Blues couldn’t maintain this momentum in the second half, and lost courtesy of two Mario Jardel strikes. Team: Weaver, Flood, Jordan, Wiekens, Bischoff, Negouai, Croft, J D’Laryea, Elliott, Bermingham, Ireland (Tandy 76). Subs: Schmeichel, N D’Laryea, Warrender, Collins.

Not Good for the CV? KK had expected to face another former England coach last Sunday, but Glenn Hoddle’s sacking meant that only our Boss Man and Sir Bobby Robson remain in the ex-England managers’ club. With some of the wild rumours flying around this week about Newcastle United, there was some speculation that only KK would be still in a job. “Along with Glenn and Sir Bobby, we are all very much hands-on managers. But I think we’re very much a dying breed. In five or six years, I believe there will just be a coach and someone on the board who will be getting the players to come in – a bit like they do on the Continent already. However, I wouldn’t just want to be a coach. There is more to football management than that. I have got a lot of people who I can trust and work with at City. But I don’t particularly want anyone else to meet the players or to sign them. I want to look players in the eye and see why they want to come to Manchester City. I have turned down five or six players who, on ability, I wanted at the club but when I met them their attitude towards the club wasn’t right. I think in this country there is within the media a frenzy if you’ve been England manager and then gone to a club to get them out because it’s a big story. I suffered from that myself last week with an agent, but it was just a load of nonsense and we’ve got to live with it. Glenn lived with it very well and so did Graham Taylor. And, like myself, I’m sure they wouldn’t swap anything. But we’ve got to accept what’s likely to happen. The only secret to being successful in management is to win. I don’t know anyone who has been sacked for being successful. However, if you have a run of results that are not very good, that’s when being an ex-England manager or being a big name footballer works against you.”

Transfer News and Gossip

One In, Out Out? There’s been precious little transfer speculation this week, not surprising really as no deals can go through until January. The MCIVTA tabloid perusal team has, however come up with a couple of nuggets (cheers dad). The News of World reckons that Middlesbrough are lining up another bid for Danny Tiatto – apparently Boro had one bid for the Aussie turned down last summer. Chelsea striker Eidur Gudjohnsen is a top target for City, according to the Daily Express and Daily Mirror. He has slipped down the Stamford Bridge pecking order but City boss Kevin Keegan is ready to offer £7 million, according to the Mirror. Middlesbrough are also reported to have expressed an interest.

A-Loan, Together: Now there’s three City players out on loan in the Nationwide Leagues. Joining Darren Huckerby and Chris Shuker comes midfielder Glenn Whelan, who has joined Third Division Bury on a month’s loan. Whelan made his senior City début at the end of August when he appeared as a 73rd-minute substitute for Paul Bosvelt in the Blues’ UEFA Cup qualifying round second leg clash with TNS at the Millennium Stadium. Bury boss Andy Preece hailed the performance of Whelan as he made his début in the Shakers’ 2-0 victory against York City on Tuesday. Whelan teamed up again with former City colleague Terry Dunfield who was back in the Bury side for the first time this season after summer surgery to repair a dislocated shoulder. “It was good to have Glenn in to freshen things up,” Preece said. “We’ve probably brought Terry back sooner than we thought and we’ve got to look after him and he’s got to look after himself. But he and Glenn work well together and hopefully we can keep it going at Torquay on Saturday.” Meanwhile the love-in between Darren Huckerby and Norwich City continues apace. Hucks scored in both of Norwich’s victories, against Crystal Palace and Reading respectively (the Royals featured the Great Goat himself, who has not scored since Reading boss Alan Pardew left for the East End of London; can we have our Goat back now, please?). “I think things are looking really positive. We’ve adapted well so far and we’re hopefully only going to get better,” Huckerby said after Reading game. Worthington is obviously keen to secure Hucks permanently. “I’d love it, I’d really love it,” he said, doing the worst KK impression heard this season. “Nobody more than me wants to keep him here, but at the end of the day money is the bottom line. It’s down to Manchester City and obviously the thoughts of the boy but keeping him here is something this club as a whole will be working very hard to do.” Even the folk in Norfolk love him, because Teamtalk.com have reported today that the Norwich supporters are reportedly planning to put their hands in their own pockets to try to keep Huckerby at Carrow Road. Elsewhere, striker Chris Shuker netted on loan for Rochdale in their 2-1 defeat to Macclesfield at Moss Rose.

Reactions and Comments

“I Wish I Hadn’t Said That”: Having eaten a hardy Sunday breakfast, your News Editor retired to the comfort of the chaise longue and opened his copy of ‘The Observer’. He nearly spilled his cup of Earl Grey on his best cravat as he read the following pre-match thoughts of Boss Man Kev: “In fact we possibly played some of our best football of last season in the two games against Spurs. Both the games were worth watching, and I doubt if this one will be a 0-0 draw. Not that you see many 0-0 draws any more. The way football is at the moment if you are not scoring at one end you are most likely to be letting them in at the other. Newcastle had a 0-0 the other day and I think it was the first one in about 70 games.” It sounded like KK was tempting fate, and wouldn’t you know it… Later that day, a stadium record crowd of 46,842 were in the COMS to see City fail in front of goal against Spurs. The nought-nought was due to superb goalkeeping from Kasey Keller, a first-half goal-line clearance from Stephen Carr and a profligate City attack. Having averaged over two goals a game in their nine outings so far this term, the Blues found they had left their shooting boots at home today as they somehow failed to hit the net despite twenty four shots on the Tottenham goal. In his after match comments, KK admitted that “It is disappointing. We have made enough chances to win two or three games. But through people not making the right choices in front of goal and some good saves, we have not been able to score any. I think Spurs are very fortunate to go away with a point. But they worked hard for David Pleat, and sometimes if you stick at it you get more than you deserve.” In other interviews he added, “It was a travesty of justice here today. If we had been talking now of a four or five nil victory now on the chances which we created I don’t think it would have been unfair. I think that scoreline would have been a fair reflection of the possession and the chances which we created. For a multitude of reasons we never finished them off and that is the only disappointment.” Ever eager to accentuate the positive, KK spotted that “We had a clean sheet, which was good. We defended very well and we limited them to very little. But the name of the game is to win and you have to score goals. It didn’t happen for us.” A number of the not so magnificent 24 efforts at goal fell to Paulo Wanchope. “Paulo worked hard to get into the situations and then I think he was trying to be too precise,” explained da Boss. “What we said to him at half time was that sometimes you need a bit of violence, just to hit the ball and let the ‘keeper worry about it. But Paulo was trying to place it. And you must give Kasey Keller the credit as he made the right decisions. We certainly should have finished one or two off and the players know that. It is a point more than we got against Spurs at home last year, to that is a plus and the clean sheet was good. Sometimes football can be cruel and I think our lads can count themselves unlucky. Spurs got away with it against us, and that will happen to us sometime hopefully.”

Pleat Finds Relief In Eastlands: Having sacked their manager Glenn Hoddle the previous Tuesday, caretaker manger David Pleat was a mighty relieved man at the end of Sunday’s proceedings. Thankfully not clad in his infamous brown suit and platform shoes, Pleat mused that it had been a traumatic week for him and his players, and admitted that “I would have felt like Robin Hood if we had won here and after what happened at City in 1983 I could never have set foot back in Manchester,” Pleat said. “We were very much on the back foot in the second half, but we defended well and I couldn’t fault the effort. I would give nine out of ten for determination, but we lacked quality and gave away possession far too often. The scoreline was much better than the performance but on balance I would prefer to be a lucky caretaker than a good one,” he said candidly.

Dennis Dumbfounded: Dennis Tueart was one of Sky TV’s studio pundits on Sunday. The King of all Geordies had been in upbeat and effusive form before the game, but the frustration of watching City’s failure to score left him fidgeting in his chair like a man in need of the Germaloids. “In the first half it was a terrific performance, we opened them up many, many times,” he said. “It was just a question of getting that first goal. In the last 15 minutes everyone got anxious and tired and they just couldn’t get that goal. When you don’t score you have to look and say why. And you can’t say that City didn’t create the chances, we created some gilt-edged chances. Spurs just got the breaks today. You think it is going to be your day,” he said. “There was lots of good movement and we were creating chances. I think Kevin Keegan will be disappointed that the shots on target ratio was so low compared to the shots on target. Of twenty three attempts only eight were on target. We had done what we intended to do, which was play football and create chances and get our goalscorers into good positions, but it just hasn’t happened.” There was bad news later about Steve McManaman, who limped off in the closing stages. Macca is set to miss Saturday’s trip to Wolves after sustaining a hamstring injury, although KK is confident the forthcoming international break will limit his absence to just one league game. “Steve was magnificent,” said Keegan. “He ran until he couldn’t run any more.”

Squad News

S.O.S. (Save Our Seaman): Prior to the Spurs game, City personnel were still defending goalkeeper David Seaman from attacks in the press. “If David makes a mistake, it’s magnified and he understands that,” said KK. “No-one, though, lives with pressure better than David Seaman.” Referring to Lokeren’s first goal in the UEFA Cup, Keegan said, “The first goal I don’t think was totally his fault because I don’t think Sun Jihai helped either. But the best thing in football is that we always have another game and another chance. And when you are playing, it’s good to make people eat their words. David wants to play, the reason he left Arsenal was to come here and play football. Make no mistake, he is a top-class goalkeeper. If you say to me does he make mistakes then I’d say yes. But, by the same token, so did Peter Schmeichel at his very best, so did Peter Bonetti, our goalkeeping coach, so did Gordon Banks. ‘Keepers know when they make mistakes the ball ends up in the back of the net. But don’t forget, David has played in goal all season and we have only lost one game. If we had lost a few games and some of those goals that people are talking about had been costly, I could understand it.” Teammate Trevor Sinclair also took up the cudgels in defence of Old Safe Hands. “David comes in to train before most of the other lads even get here,” he said. “He is training with young kids and not looking out of his depth. Everyone has got the utmost respect for him. He is doing a good job for us. There have been a couple of situations so far like when I headed the ball past him against Blackburn and he got the blame. The other night Sun Jihai headed it up in the air and was maybe a bit indecisive, yet everyone seems to want to get on David’s case. Being an England No. 1 people will always have something to say about him. At the World Cup it was difficult, not just the goal against Brazil but because we went out anyway, so we were all low. We know how much he puts in at the training ground and rightly or wrongly he does get a hard time.”

Bischoff’s Back: It was good to see defender Mikkel Bischoff back in the first team squad on Sunday. The twenty-one-year old, who has recovered from an ankle injury, has made just one appearance in the top flight when he started in the draw at Maine Road with Blackburn last season. He was named on the bench for Sunday’s encounter as Richard Dunne was injured. “Richard Dunne was injured with a sore ankle. So I brought Mikkel Bischoff in. I have absolutely no qualms about naming him on the bench. If I had to put him on in the game against Spurs it would not have been a problem for me. Mikkel is close and all he needs now is games. But of course to get games he needs to be playing. I am confident that he can play at this level and that is why I had no hesitation in playing him at this level.”

Communication’s Let Me Down: Following the Spurs shut-out, captain Sylvain Distin was pleased with his side’s clean sheet. “It was definitely a performance on which the defence can build,” he said. “We must remember that next time we go out at Wolves. Communication is vital and we did that well against Spurs, but it is not just about the back four and the goalkeeper. Defending is the responsibility of everyone; the midfield and the strikers too. We had a poor game as a team in the UEFA Cup and it was vital for the team to show a good reaction against Spurs, and I think we did that even though we didn’t win the match. Before the game we spoke about how important it was not to let the opposition score because in the three previous matches we made some mistakes that were not so much stupid but showed, perhaps, a lack of concentration. When I talk about defence I do not mean just myself, David Sommeil and the full backs, it starts with the strikers. We have to work as a team. There is no specific reason why our concentration has dipped on occasions other than you cannot be at 100 per cent in every minute of every game.” Distin also revealed that his adjustment to the rôle of captain has not been easy. “In the beginning it was not hard exactly but I don’t like to shout; I am not that kind of player,” he confessed. “I felt I didn’t know how to be a good captain but I had a chat with the manager and he told me to be myself and show a good example with how I play. There are not many players in the side who like to shout and that has been a bit of a problem, there is a lack of communication sometimes and that is something on which we are working. It is hard when it is not part of your personality because you have to force yourself to be more voluble but it is coming. We are like that throughout the team in midfield and attack. We have a lot of experience, much more than last season, but not as much communication maybe.”

I’m Backing Barton: KK has moved quickly to assure Joey Barton that he has a bright future with Manchester City. The 21-year-old midfielder was left out at the weekend for the first time in 14 matches but Keegan stressed it was no criticism of the player. “Neither Joey nor Eyal Berkovic was injured for the game against Spurs,” he said. “I have a big squad and the rules state of course 11 to start and five subs so they missed out against Spurs but on another day would not. We have got three very good holding players at the club. Paul Bosvelt who is an international, Claudio Reyna who is an international and Joey. He is still learning his trade but is now an under-21 international, so competition is fierce. But I have talked to Joey and told him he will get another chance and when he does you wouldn’t bet against him taking it,” Keegan concluded.

Don Barrie <news(at)mcivta.city-fan.org>

MATCH REPORT ‘LIVE’: MCFC 0 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0

I’ve got a moan about the new ground! I know, it isn’t like me to moan (at least not since Huckerby started knocking them in for Norwich instead of missing them for us) but I just can’t help myself. It’s the ladies toilet doors in the new place, you see. They don’t creak. The ones in the Kippax always did, every game either I or my mum would nod sagely at the “eeeeaaaaahhhhwww” noise made when swinging open one of the doors and say “must bring some WD40 next game”. We never did, and now we won’t get the chance. It’s not fair! I want to go back to Maine Road! It’s just ruined the place for me – I don’t care that I’ve got a fantastic view, loads of leg room, the pitch is superb, the team is playing the best football I’ve ever seen them play, the season ticket (“beep!”) card is well cool and makes lots of other clubs’ fans (paper? pah) jealous, we’re playing in a proper European competition, we’ve had the best start we’ve ever made in the Premiership, we’ve got not one but two world class players on the pitch every game and they’re playing for us not the opposition, it’s just not good enough.

Back from sunny Menorca the night before and as we’d flown into Manchester and stayed with the folks I didn’t have too far to drive to the game, for once. I took hubby up to the top tier so he could get the full majesty of the new place on his first visit – it probably won’t stop him telling me how Bolton’s ground is nicer but it’s worth a try. On the pitch, Barton was replaced by Bosvelt from the Villa game line up so the full team was Seaman, Sun, Distin, Sommeil, Tarnat (Shoot!), Bosvelt, Macca, SWP, Sinclair, Anelka ad Wanchope. The Spurs fans were showing just how much they’ve had to shout about in recent years with a rousing chorus of “Only one Ricky Villa” at kick off. How sad, that the only thing you’ve got to shout at is a fluke goal from 20-odd years ago. It’s about time Spurs gave up on the “should be challenging for the title” rubbish and accept that their recent league placings completely reflect where they deserve to be. Nowhere.

We thumped ’em in the first half. I couldn’t list all the chances we had as there’s no way I’d be able to remember half of them (21 shots on goal apparently in the match, felt like twice as many in the first half alone). I just don’t know how we went in at half time at 0-0. The best chance by far came from – unsurprisingly – McManaman. He collected the ball on the edge of the area and completely fooled the defender by stepping to the wrong side of him and creating himself about 5 yards of space in which to get a shot off. Keller just managed to push that round for a corner, and when Anelka fired in a stinging shot from the corner someone on the line just managed to stick their leg out and stop it going in for what would have been a well deserved goal. However, if that were the best chance then the prize for most shocking chance spurned goes to Wanchope. Hang on, make that chances. The first – but not the worst – was after a wonderful cheeky back heel from Anelka, when Wanchope could only shoot weakly straight at Keller. The worst was when Wanchope ran on to a long ball, but with no defender even in the box could only shoot weakly at Keller. A pattern was forming. Sinclair put across a great cross aimed for Macca’s head, but he kept up his great record of scoring chances with his head and couldn’t even make contact. Spurs had a couple of chances too – it wasn’t completely one way traffic, although it did feel like it at times. Someone (probably Keane, it was all he did all afternoon) dived just outside the box to get the free kick. Anderton hit it like Tarnat (Shoot!) but Seaman got down well to his left to save it, then pushed it out for a corner when it started to slip from his hands. Should he have held on to it? Well probably, but Anderton wellied it really hard so it was a good save. Just what he needed.

I haven’t got a clue what was going on at half time but instead of the usual penalty shoot out there were three people dressed in grass skirts and flip flops running around with lilos. Who says there are no good variety performances any more?

Sadly the second half was more of the same. Spurs’ tactics boiled down to counter attacking then passing the ball to Robbie Keane, who would then dive in the area. Scintillating stuff, can see why they’re on the up now Hoddle’s gone (let’s hope not). As the game went on and on it looked as if we were never going to score, and sure enough we didn’t. The cheekiest chance was late on when Anelka let rip with a rasping shot from the right hand side of the penalty area despite having his back to goal – how the ‘ecky thump does he get shots off like that?! Wanchope had another chance to score but only managed to get his hat trick of misses when instead of passing the ball past Keller into the net he passed the ball past Keller for a goal kick. He should have gone down for the pen when Dean Richards fouled him. Sinclair was replaced by Sibierski, then Wanchope by Fowler – who despite the number of people who are moaning (City fans? Moan? Surely not) about him got a great reception, as usual. We were obviously destined for a point at best though when McManaman pulled up with leg injury and had to be replaced by Reyna, as without him there was very little coming from midfield. Which brings me to my second (but only serious :)) moan. Bosvelt. His purpose in the team. What is it? Is it a holding player like Horlock but better (otherwise why sell Kev?)? Is it a strong tackler? Is it a link man between defence and midfield? Is it to give Sinclair and SWP a bit of support by offering them an easy pass inside while attacking? It’s a serious question, as I can’t work it out. I don’t know what he’s doing there. It only goes to show how good Macca’s performance was, again, on Sunday as he was doing Bosvelt’s job for him. This is the first time I’ve seen Bosvelt in the flesh, so to speak, and I hope there’s more to come from him as imagine how good Macca would be if he was playing with 10 others rather than 9? It’s wonderful to watch the way that Macca and Anelka create space for themselves though – that and the way that no matter who had the ball Macca was in a position he could be passed to. And how many of his passed went astray? Er… Obviously not so many. Better stop now, I’m about to start drooling.

So all those chances but no goal. I know which boss – caretaker or otherwise – would have been happier last night. Spurs are exactly the sort of team that we should be thumping several goals past at home – and yes, OK, it’s better to be creating to chances than not, but if only we’d managed to take just one of them… we’d be fourth. Which realistically is as high as anyone out of Arsenal, United or Chelsea could possibly aspire to be. How things have changed:)))

And in case you were wondering, I don’t really mind about the doors.

Sharon Hargreaves <sharon.hargreaves(at)ntlworld.com>

MATCH REPORT: BOLTON WANDERERS RESERVES 2 MCFC RESERVES 1

City Trotted by Super Mario Brace

Two second half goals from Bolton’s new slimming Brazilian forward, Mario Jardel, overturned City’s first half goal from Gerard Wiekens. City’s decision to extend their half time break on to the field of play for the second half allowed Bolton to dominate a large portion of the half and for Jardel to capitalise on some schoolboy errors from City’s defence.

It all looked so promising for the many City fans in the first half at Lancashire FA’s headquarters in Leyland, Bolton’s new reserve home for the season. City were by far the better team in the opening exchanges in the first half with Jonathan D’Laryea and Christian Negouai, back from his undeserved suspension, dominating the midfield. Indeed, Negouai nearly got on the scoresheet from a good cross by D’Laryea.

City’s goal came from a Stephen Ireland corner; he was making his full début having made two substitute appearances previously. The ball came into the box and kindly fell to the feet of Gerard Wiekens, who was able to bundle the ball in over the line. Ireland had a great opportunity to double City’s lead soon after when Willo Flood sent in a lovely outswinging cross to the far post, but Stephen couldn’t quite find the target with his well struck volley.

I don’t know what happened at half time as they came out like a team that was still enjoying the half time break. They just had no enthusiasm and consequently allowed Bolton to dominate the play. One time City target Glen Little, who was virtually anonymous in the first half, was now being able to orchestrate Bolton’s waves of attack from the centre of the park. So it wasn’t long before Bolton levelled the scores. A marauding run on Bolton’s right by Jonathan Walters was not checked and he was able to cross to Jardel in the box, Mikkel Bischoff was not strong enough to hold him off and he was able to turn and shoot into the top right hand corner.

Three minutes later, City nearly went back into the lead from a fine solo run and shot by Lee Croft, but Jeremy Bon, the Bolton ‘keeper, saved well. Bolton’s second goal came from the David Seaman School of Errors when Nicky Weaver, after making a good save from Jermaine Johnson, found the ball behind him but instead of picking it up, kicked it straight at the feet of Jardel, who did not look a gift horse in the mouth and the twice European Golden Boot winner duly smashed the ball into the back of the net.

As the half wore on, City substituted Ireland for Jamie Tandy and along with the fact that Bolton used all of their three substitutes, this seemed to give City a bit more impetus in the dying ten minutes of the game. Indeed, City had two great chances in the last minute and the first minute of injury time to draw level from Stephen Elliott and a fine volley from Tandy, but it drifted just wide. This was Bolton’s first win of the reserve campaign and their season seems to be mirroring ours as City’s only victory this season has come against Bolton in the league four weeks ago. Having being title contenders for most of last season, we now find ourselves becoming the whipping boys of the division. The loss of quality senior professionals from our reserve squad and lack of pace and inventiveness will surely worry most City fans should the first team suffer injuries and suspension at the same time as none of our players are showing the required quality to warrant a place on the first team bench at present.

Weaver: Looked OK apart from his howling error of judgement. 6
Flood: Let Jermaine Johnson have too much space in the second half. 5
Jordan (capt): Seems to have gone off the boil since a good start to the season. 5
Wiekens: A slightly better game than of recent times. Gets MoM (just!) 7
Bischoff: Good apart from the first goal. Needs to build up his strength. 6
Negouai: Went very quiet for most of the second half. 6
Croft: Did attempt to be creative, but needs to release the ball quicker. 6
J D’Laryea: Worked well in the first half but again faded for most of the second. 6
Elliott: May as well have not been there and should have scored at the end. 5
Bermingham: Didn’t get in the right positions all night. 5
Ireland (76): Good first half, became overwhelmed in the second for his full début. 6

Subs:
Tandy (76): Nothing inspirational for his brief spell. 5
Not Used:
Schmeichel, Warrender, N D’Laryea, Collins.

Bolton:
Bon, Shakes, Smith, Buval, Comyn-Platt (Talbot 76), N’Diwa (O’Brien 46), Little, Niven (capt), Jardel, Walters (Taylor 78), Johnson.
Not Used:
Ashton, Vaz Te.

Gavin Cooper <blueboy(at)mancity.net>

OPINION: PREMIERSHIP STATS

Since the Geist Index retired (Wallace Poulter) there haven’t been any predictive (sic) tables on MCIVTA, so, how about the Premiership Rankings:

Pos     Team                    Pts     ChPts   Last
1       Manchester United       81      -2       1
2       Arsenal                 77      -1       2
3       Chelsea                 73       6       4
4       Newcastle United        63      -6       3
5       Birmingham              59      11      13
6       Liverpool               59      -5       5
7       Everton                 57      -2       7
8       Manchester City         56       5       9
9       Southampton             56       4       8
10      Blackburn Rovers        56      -4       6
11      Fulham                  54       6      14
12      Middlesboro             53       4      11
13      Aston Villa             45       0      16
14      Charlton Athletic       44      -5      12
15      Leeds United            44      -3      15
16      Tottenham Hotspur       43      -7      10
17      Bolton Wanderers        42      -2      17
18      Portsmouth              39      -3      18
19      Leicester City          25      -1      19
20      Wolves                  19       0      20

How it works: Points (Pts) are calculated from last season’s totals by replacing last season’s results with the same results for 2003/4. Promoted sides take the results of the respective relegated sides: Portsmouth (champions) take West Ham’s (18th), Leicester (2nd) take West Brom’s (19th), and Wolves, Sunderland’s (20th). The ChPts (change points) column shows how the points total compares with last season. The last column indicates last season’s finishing spot.

Overall, City are doing well, having picked up 5 more points than they did in the corresponding fixtures last time round, while Spurs have dropped the most points. The big improvers are Birmingham, who have collected 11 more points (out of their total of 14); incredibly, on the last 38 games against the whole division, they would finish in the top six. Chelsea are the only team in the top seven to improve (about £25 million per point so far). Wolves already look relegated, and Porsmouth’s good start looks less good when you consider West Ham’s performance against the same teams last time round.

Cheers, and here’s to Europe next season too.

Rob Martil (<rob(at)cmat.co.uk>

OPINION: BIG MAC

Just to make a point about the form and presence in the City team of Steve McManaman. I guess I wouldn’t be the only one who had reservations about Macca coming to us and performing at the highest level. After seeing some of his England performances and watching him occasionally replace Guti after 70 minutes for Madrid Globetrotters I was reticent about how he would fit in, how bothered he would be and more importantly how good he would be. The words “Charlie”, “Time” and “Big” sprang to mind.

Need worry no more.

From minute one against Aston Villa until minute 85 last Sunday he’s been superb – a breath of fresh air. I sometimes feel like he’s doing the hokey cokey because he is constantly waving his arms here, there and everywhere. On Sunday he was even checking with David Sommeil to see whether he could carry on or not. It’s as though we’ve found a man of real captain material. Next time you watch him play you’ll be able to count on the fingers of one hand how many times he wastes the ball, always choosing the right or simple option. None of this ‘eye of the needle’ stuff when not required.

What has amazed me most though is his enthusiasm. He’s like an older Joey Barton. He wants the ball constantly, if it goes out for a throw in or a disputable free kick and he thinks it should be ours he jumps up and down at the ref.

What looked like a gamble now looks a sure fire certainty. King Kev can keep Christian Negouai chomping at the bit for a little longer!

Mark Robison <mark.robison(at)britanniahotels.com>

OPINION: VIEW FROM THE SILKMAN

I’d like to thanks Sarah Longshaw for coming along to support Macclesfield Town last week. A pity that the Silkmen couldn’t manage a goal (well, at least one that wasn’t incorrectly ruled out for offside!) and with a bit of luck we’ll get an overdue win against Rochdale tonight. We really are a bit desperate for support. Our average is about 25% lower than the next worst supported club and it doesn’t take Carol Vorderman to show that those maths wont add up for ever and three out of the last four seasons have seen the lowest supported club relegated (if you all want to come along next time City aren’t playing then the fixtures can be found at http://www.mtfc.co.uk/…).

Bearing that in mind, it is a testament to the quality of our backroom and management staff (including the legend Paul Lake; on Saturday, as ever, the most talented player on the pitch was our Physio!) that we have managed to hold our own at this level as well as managing to compete even higher.

This brings me on to the subject of booing players and the team. Although people will always use the excuse “I have paid my money, I have the right to boo” it serves no purpose whatsoever. Do these people think that the players don’t know that they have underperformed?

At Macclesfield, our fans were (and still are) big fans of having a good old boo and it has done nothing to help. All that it has done is build an animosity towards our manager after he had the guts to tell them to stop it, and although he was not very tactful about it, in my opinion he was right to do so. This ‘feud’ has rumbled on for months now (one section of the ground revelled in the title ‘Boo boys’ and spent one game booing just to make a point) and I would be gutted if a similar situation were to occur at City. Keegan has worked utter miracles for us. His only failing (except his defensive frailties – (c) Tabloid Hacks) is to have raised expectations to a level where some of us turn up at each game and expect to win and be thoroughly entertained. Surely City fans know better than most that it’s not always like that!

Hey… it was only a touch more than five years ago that City were getting (a very flukey :-)) three points at Macclesfield Town. A bit of perspective please!

Tom Rance – Silky Blue (both shades) <tommy(at)mtfc.co.uk>

OPINION: LOKEREN DETAILS

I know a lot of City fans (including myself) have been concerned about reports recently that City fans could be arrested or even deported for making their own way to Lokeren town centre. I wrote to City about this and the reply is below.


Thank you again for your email. Firstly, please let me assure you that the Club has no reason or desire to misinform our fans on any account, and certainly not about something as important as travelling in Europe for competitive matches.

I can appreciate fans’ confusion at what appears to be very mixed messages coming from the two clubs involved in this fixture. The information printed in the programme, on the leaflets which have been distributed at home games and on the club’s official website was approved by Lokeren and the Belgian authorities and was correct at the time of going to press, to the best of our knowledge. For reasons I cannot explain, the official Lokeren website continued to publicise their normal directions and information for away fans without any reference to the restrictions in place, despite these restrictions being made at the club and Belgian authorities’ say so. From this Press Office alone at least five emails were sent to the club and to its website requesting that this information be changed to ensure a consistent message was sent out to fans but unfortunately this request was never met and their website continued without mention of restrictions.

In order for Manchester City to receive the 4,000 ticket allocation, as opposed to the 800 originally offered, the club had to agree to strict regulations regarding travel to the stadium and in the surrounding area. These terms were agreed in order to give as many fans as possible the opportunity to be part of our first real night of European competition for nearly a quarter of a century. On being told the nature of these restrictions we pointed out to the Belgian authorities that a great many fans would undoubtedly travel independently, regardless of any advice we issued to the contrary, but were told in no uncertain terms that only fans who gathered at the meeting point to travel to the stadium would be allowed to attend the match. Anybody not doing so risked arrest and deportation.

In the past 48 hours the Belgian authorities have relaxed these rules to allow for independent travellers. We now understand that shuttle buses will run from Lokeren train station and from a separate car park to and from the stadium, thus making life much simpler for those who have already booked their travel. These changes have been made due to pressure from both this club and our fans for the authorities to make allowances for independent travellers and we are, of course, very pleased that a degree of common sense has prevailed.

Manchester City’s intention has only ever been to keep our fans informed of all the facts to ensure as safe and problem-free trip for everybody. I am disappointed that you think we would have anything to gain by deliberately misinforming our fans – it is clearly in the club’s best interests that the game goes off without issue and that our fans have a safe and enjoyable time in Belgium.

Now that we have this additional information from the Belgian authorities that the regulations are being relaxed we will of course update the news on our website and issue to our other local media.

[It sounds as though both sides have worked hard to reach a sensible compromise here, and we should be grateful the authorities are relaxing some of the draconian practices we witnessed during Euro2000 – Ed]

<kingkev(at)ntlworld.com>

OPINION: LOKEREN DETAILS II

Just thought I would echo what someone said on the last MCIVTA about the number of loyalty points being reduced for Lokeren if you bought the all inclusive Thomas Cook package (available to 1,600 point holders instead of the general tickets, which were 1,730 points). As a season card holder with in excess of 1900 points this doesn’t directly affect me, but the principal does – and if I had 1,700 points, for argument’s sake, I would be livid.

What next? Bonus loyalty points if we buy the next replica kit? Extra points if we buy a pie at each game and get a little card stamped?

Richard Ellor <richardellor(at)hotmail.com>

OPINION: DOWNMARKET RAGS I

Attention all Blues… According to Ian Hyland, Sunday Mirror columnist, we are “Blue Scum”!

On Sunday morning (28/09/03) I was shocked to read the following on page 59 of The Sunday Mirror…

Ian Hylands TV Week…

“Fourteen minutes into Blue Scum v Lokoren (BBC3, Wednesday) David Seaman achieves something he hasn’t managed in two whole episodes of The Think it’s All Over. He makes the viewer laugh. And it’s not a giggler, it’s a belly laugh”… etc.

The words Blue Scum appear in bold, and I am furious at the candour, disrespect and most importantly, the childish irresponsibility of this description. Sure, a few of us call our old chums from Old Trafford scum from time to time, but none of us do so in a national “newspaper”!

The article goes on to slate Seaman for not being particularly funny on They Think it’s All Over (he has a point there) and that this is affecting his performance (some would say he has a point there too). He can slate our ‘keeper, and we can agree or disagree with him (I think Seaman was very good yesterday BTW), but he has no right whatsoever to call us or our club “Blue Scum”.

His email address is i.hyland@mgn.co.uk and although I don’t have an editor’s email address (the editor should have spotted this and got it toned down and should also apologise for his/her oversight), I do have a news email address, which is news@sundaymirror.co.uk.

Better still, there is a freephone number where Joe Public is supposed to call in with stories: 0800 289441, if we call this number we can cost these muppets some money as they will pay for the call. Lines are open from 10am-6pm, seven days a week.

If you echo my sentiments, please distribute this to friends, colleagues, other City and football websites and fanzines.

If you don’t I’d be keen to hear your opinions on freedom of speech.

Stephen Webb <stevo(at)elvispresley.com>

OPINION: DOWNMARKET RAGS II

Please find below an email I sent to the Editor of the Sunday Mirror following and article by Ian Hyland of that newspaper in which he refers to MCFC as Blue Scum. If you have not seen the article it can be seen at the following address: http://www.sundaymirror.co.uk/hyland/

I have emailed the Sunday Mirror Editor, The Press Complaints commission, and MCFC and have had replies from the Club in which they have expressed their disgust and have, themselves contacted the Sunday Mirror. They will be keeping me informed of the situation, and when I am given any kind of explanation I’ll let you know. In the meantime, below is the email I sent to the Sunday Mirror.

I daresay that many McV readers will be unaware of this article so if they feel as I, The MCFCCSA, and MCFC themselves feel, i.e. disgusted, please feel free to mail your views to mailbox@mirror.co.uk and/or editor@mirror.co.uk (an address I assumed was the editor. It wasn’t returned so presume it reached its intended recipient).

Email reads as follows:

I would like to refer the editor-in-chief to Ian Hyland’s column in the Sunday Mirror, which I have just had the misfortune to read.

In it, he refers to David Seaman of Manchester City on the BBC1 panel game show “They Think It’s All Over”. He also refers to another programme on BBC3, which was the Live UEFA Cup game between Manchester City and Sporting Lokeren OV. Unfortunately, Mr Hyland sees fit to describe Manchester City as “BLUE SCUM”, and I quote from the column below.

NO SAVING DAVE: FOURTEEN minutes into Blue Scum vs. Lokeren (BBC3, Wednesday) David Seaman achieves something he hasn’t managed in two whole episodes of They Think It’s All Over (BBC1, Tuesday). He makes the viewer laugh. And it’s not a giggle. It’s a great big belly laugh as he’s left floundering in no-man’s-land watching the ball loop over his head into an empty net. Again.”

As far as I understand it, the Sunday Mirror is a relatively respected national newspaper, with readers across the country, as well as overseas, and on the world wide web. However, Mr Hyland has chosen to use this column to show his personal hatred for Manchester City for whatever reason. His use of the term “Blue Scum” is fit only for the terraces of Old Trafford or Manchester United fanzines such as “Red Issue” for example.

It’s quite possible that the editor has not fully proof read this column and if and when he saw “Blue Scum vs. Lokeren” on BBC3, he did not associate it with an actual football match, but some kind of alternative programme that BBC3 and BBC4 often broadcast. However, if he did realise what Mr Hyland was referring to, then he should explain how this column has been allowed to be published. Mr Hyland is perfectly entitled to his opinion about the week’s TV programmes, and his “humorous” comments about them, I’m sure, amuse those with low intellect. However, when he simply refers to a football team he doesn’t like as “Blue Scum” then that is not what is expected from a national newspaper and I, as well as other Manchester City supporters expect that Mr Hyland issues an apology in the next issue, or some kind of explanation is offered from the editor in chief as this description of Manchester City FC was not funny, was not in context to the article, and was quite clearly a complete and utter abuse of his ability to write a column in a national newspaper. It also insults the many thousands of Manchester City supporters who, having bought the newspaper will have been wishing they had never bothered.

You will notice that I have copied Manchester City FC in this mail, as I believe that the club should be aware of this article and in particular Mr Hyland’s abuse of the club.

I await your comments at your earliest convenience.

Thank you, Lance Thomson <lnt(at)btinternet.com>

OPINION: THE KNOCKERS I

A lot of us City fans have been frustrated mainly due to the last 2 games. But let’s make a reality check before some of the critics take it too far. We are not the club backed by a Russian billionaire. The players that manager Kevin Keegan has brought in since he joined the club in general have all been doing well (sure, we can’t wait for Robbie Fowler to hit form). Manchester City had to spend £20 million on the new stadium (which we are all very proud of).

Some fans are looking at the stars at other clubs and saying we cannot compete with them; what total rubbish, what a defeatist attitude! KK did not have the funds to get every player that maybe he would have liked. But John Wardle has provided the funds to help KK when possible, considering the budget that he was given he has done very well, and should be applauded for it. We have some excellent players, and play great attacking football; City should fear no team this season.

Since Kevin Keegan arrived we won the Division One Championship with a record number of points. First season back in the Premier we got into Europe in the UEFA Cup (maybe not the way we would have liked to, the main thing we got in). And now we are 5th from the top of the Premier League, it’s early yet but our club are on track, a couple of hiccups and some fans have the knives out. A reminder: the club who won the Premier Championship last season had hiccups to start!

The more our players play together I feel we shall get better, for several are new to the squad. David Seamen was an excellent signing for more than just playing in goal now, but he has the experience to help Weaver and our young Danish prospect for the future, Kevin Ellegaard. From the Academy we have SWP, Joey Barton playing in the first team, and now Jordan is almost ready to be included on the bench. Another young player who is back from injury is another Danish player Mikkel Bischoff. So we can all stop our moaning and get behind our beloved City. Save the boos for the Evil Empire when we play them, that’s if you have to boo!

I understand all City fans want the best, to help us be the best cheer them on, give the team the support they deserve.

Come on you Blues!

Ernie Barrow <britcityblue(at)aol.com>

OPINION: THE KNOCKERS II

On the subject of expressing criticism of poor performance, I too am not, and never have been, one who boos – a booer? – but I am unrelenting in my insistence that professional sportspeople earning tens of thousands of pounds/dollars/whatever each week have an obligation to perform to the expectation of those salaries. In other words, they have an obligation to give value for money or take a pay cut every time they don’t. And we know that’s not going to happen.

Key to my insistence is this: players’ salaries are not plucked from some money tree but are paid by the spectators, the ticket buyers, the ordinary working stiffs like you and me who pay to watch. Even if we watch on regular TV, pay-per-view, or speciality channels, and never actually sit in a stadium to see a game, the same principle applies. Players’ wages are paid from ticket sales, TV revenues and overpriced merchandise sales – don’t get me started on merchandise. Fans, wherever they may be in the world, are contributors to those salaries.

So to those who would mute criticism, or suggest that expressing negative opinion of negative performance is somehow out of line, I would ask why? If you continually screw up at work, or perform below the expectations of your boss, will someone not mention it? Would you not be placed in some insecure position? At Christmas, might you not be in danger of losing the annual bonus? I know I would.

I appreciate the economics of modern sport but why should underperforming, overpaid footballers be different, in principle, than the rest of us? I genuinely do not understand? I am not of the booing persuasion, as I have said, but Mr Keegan is way out of line in criticising those who are.

And just as an afterthought, and as a person who has followed City boy and man for lo these 35 years, I wonder whether fan tolerance of mediocre performance has contributed to the rollercoaster ride that is the lot of the City fan. Are we like tolerant, overindulgent parents who suffer underperformance too gladly? Perhaps someone better qualified might be able to speculate on that.

In the meantime and just for the hell of it – BOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Take that Mr. Keegan.

Chris Cobb <cobsun(at)magma.ca>

OPINION: THE KNOCKERS III

  1. Real City fans should never boo the team.
  2. Recently Fowler has really been on the ball, he’s trying all sorts andit’s not quite coming off but it will, given a few more games, and when itdoes work he’ll be another Goater.
  3. I played in goal all my life and it’s all about confidence, in yourself,from your own players, from your own fans. David must start reclaiming thesix-yard box as his. The mentality that no one is going to beat me mustcome to the fore again. Remember David has played for many years behindone of the best defences in football and now he’s behind City’s defence, abit of a difference! The understanding will come so come on give him abreak he is without question a world class ‘keeper.

Rob Fielding <rob.fielding(at)btopenworld.com>

OPINION: THE KNOCKERS IV

I do not often write but on this occasion I feel compelled to. We have the makings of a very good team, an excellent manager and a decent goalkeeper. I have supported City for most of my life (54 years), I have seen flying pigs (early Joe Corrigan), clumsy centre forwards (I remember Glyn Pardoe at centre forward) and George Poyser for God’s sake!

Spurs were completely outplayed but we could not buy a goal in spite of the many chances. We have a very good team, sometimes it just does not go in for us (in the case of City) over the years more often than not but we need to be patient. If we are not, KK will lose patience with us and I do not see another manager that will give us the kind of football we all love to watch. City have always brought their own brand of excitement but this year it looks as if it will be good play. Let’s get behind the team and stay behind them as we always have.

J Heavis <JHeavis502(at)aol.com>

OPINION: THE KNOCKERS V

Why not a chant to the effect of “we never boo the Blues”? I see several advantages to this:

  1. Those who hate the booers can sing it when they start.
  2. When we start singing it, the team know they are playing c**p. But…
  3. It is more supportive than booing, and…
  4. It doesn’t give the opposing fans a lift.

All my efforts to go further resulted in cheesy c**p. Puns on ‘drowning our Blues in booze’ and rhymes involving ‘lose’ but nothing better. And it will need a tune. Is anybody out there good at this stuff?

Bernard Molyneux <bernardmolyneux(at)yahoo.com>

OPINION: THE KNOCKERS VI

Just wanted to respond to comments by David Lewis (MCIVTA 954): I too am slightly disturbed by the willingness of many fans to get on the back of Sun Jihai. Several people near me were groaning whenever the ball went anywhere near him. I didn’t think he did much wrong on Sunday, and although he does do the odd crazy pass – who doesn’t? -he’s been very impressive this season in getting forward and putting crosses in (not to mention winning penalties!). Most worryingly, the majority of the comments made do not refer to his football ability.

Tom Willis <psc8taw(at)leeds.ac.uk>

OPINION: KEEPERS, KNOCKERS AND NAMES

Give Weaver a run out? Help. Short memories lads. He’s better than good ole Seaman? No. I was there in 2000/01! Unless you know better and he is a much improved version? He was great in Division 2, granted. Wembley hero and all that. Granted.

New name for ground? We are City, we are City, super City from (New) Maine Road! Nothing else quite fits really does it? Just has to be Maine Road for me… sorry for staying in the past!

Booing? I thought the crowd were shouting SHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT No? We Blues are great at moaning, always have been. Was talking to some Tottenham lads outside on Sunday, and you thought we moan.

Also, regarding the atmosphere at the new ground; really hope it improves and that our new found identity (stand/ground) crisis is a thing of the past sooner rather than later. We are the East Stand. Too many people just sit riveted to their seats unless we are winning. It’s awful. Get up and get involved. Get behind the team, be vocal.

Also can the new (old) supporters behind me please stop going on about sitting down pre-match, all the way through the game, half time. Bl**dy hell, it’s getting bad when I can’t stand up for an attack! Go back to your tellys.

Come on City, finish off the millions of chances you create. Looking good. Much better than Swindon away, Walsall, Lincoln, Macc, need I go on? 5th in the Premier League. That’s brilliant that is.

Mark <Leaguecup1976(at)aol.com>

OPINION: MIKE’S RANT!

Firstly I’d like to comment on the Lokeren away fiasco. The club are in breach of trade and industry laws by applying a differential in loyalty points to people booking on their overpriced official trip (lower) against people making their own arrangements (higher). This is illegal and I’ve written to the Dept of T&I to ask them to investigate this matter. Hopefully MCFC will be forced to follow the maxim of their slogan ‘Supporting Our Supporters’ instead of trying to rip them off.

Most of us are happy with the way things are going with our club. There are areas that need looking into though.

The marketing of the club is woeful. The people concerned don’t seem to have a clue how to tap into a true supporter’s psyche.

1. Reebok. First Advice was always a risk. A start up company with a terrible logo. Embarrassing. When the company went bump shortly after Reebok had produced a high percentage of the shirts they should have scrapped them. There was city talk (that’s the square mile, not MCFC) back in late April that First Advice were in trouble. Surely someone at MCFC could have been given, erm, advice in this area?

Surely Reebok and or MCFC had insurance to cover this possibility? If not they are not as well run as they think they are.

It would have been a terrific PR coup to send the shirts to a third world country and then get a new sponsor (which we did anyway with Thomas Cook).

Instead what do we do?. Fleece the fans. The club shop sells the new home and away shirt at full price (I know there is a discount for ST holders). In many shops, Lillywhites (Piccadilly, London) for example, they are available for £30. Surely Lillywhites don’t get a better deal off Reebok than MCFC – and if they do, the club should sort that out at once. Or: are MCFC trying to maximise profit? Can’t blame them for doing it. It belies their sloganeering, that they are Supporting their Supporters though. Why didn’t City do a special shirt for Europe (like Southampton did)? It could have had the Thomas Cook logo and a special UEFA badge. I’ll bet the suits thought of it and decided that the fans wouldn’t put up with four new shirts in a season. Yet out of all of them The UEFA one would appeal most. If we get to the final we’ll have one though. So why not give us the opportunity of getting some wear out of it? Or are the shirts such poor quality that MCFC don’t think they’d last until May 2004?

2. Corporate hospitality. Like it or loath it: it’s here to stay. I don’t subscribe to the theory propagated on the dreadful Blue View that it’s these morons who keep the club afloat. Get real. Most football clubs could let the fans in free of charge if they wanted. It’s Sky TV money that runs football. MCFC have got too much corporate space. Of course they’ll sell it out occasionally. But it is particularly galling to see empty seats in the area that corresponds with my season ticket seat at Maine Road.

All the decent central positions on both sides are for morons who have very little interest in the club they are watching. They can’t even be bothered getting back into their seats until 10-15 minutes into the second half. Keegan hates it, we all hate it. The marketing suits at COMStad don’t care. So long as the seats are sold. It doesn’t matter whether or not the people who go are interested. The fact that they keep offering hospitality a week before a big game at £50 a throw shows that they are having problems filling the space.

Good. Hopefully some of those seats might be released to real fans in a couple of seasons’ time.

3. The Ticket Office. I don’t care if they work their b**ls off. Lots of us do, every day. If we fcuk up we get a rocket from our bosses.

The set up with tickets at MCFC is truly appalling. I know we can’t sell UEFA tickets on the day. Don’t make it impossible to sell them on any other day either though. It was pitiful that we only had 29,000 for the Lokeren home tie. Southampton had a bigger crowd that night, as did Leeds (in the Carling Cup) against Swindon or someone. I know Leeds sold the tickets at £10. I don’t care about the price. They were able to sell 30,000 bits of paper quicker and more efficiently than us.

If the poor kids in the ticket office are overworked get some more staff. It fascinates me that people are prepared to spend up to three hours queuing for a ticket and that the club still think this is an OK system. Apparently fans also had to buy a Citycard at the same time if they didn’t already have one. So if you just wanted to go to the Lokeren home game for whatever reason, it would cost you at least £40.

Don’t forget the club motto: Supporting Our Supporters.

4. Thomas Cook. We were promised that good value official trips would be the norm with Thomas Cook on board. What do we get. Total rip off prices. With the best will in the world, would somebody at MCFC care to justify how £395 for a 4* hotel in Brussels, coach transfers and a charter flight constitutes good value. Without taking the p**s, I can have a weekend in New York including scheduled flights, a top hotel like The Mercer (nice name) and Manhattan transfer (not the band) for approx £350. Ah! I’m forgetting – the all important match ticket is thrown in. And despite what City tell you, it is possible to book a Lokeren trip with no loyalty points at all.

Two guys at a company I work with fancied going. They rang Thomas Cook to, erm, Thomas Cook it. They were initially asked for their season ticket numbers. When they said they didn’t have season tickets they were asked for their Citycard numbers. They told the girl that they weren’t City fans, they just wanted to go to the game. They were told that if they booked the top of the range package (£395) they would be able to go.

£790 later they are booked on an official trip and all the muppets who go to every game home and away are shunted to the bottom of the queue. If you don’t believe me, try it. Thomas Cook want your money. They don’t care what your status as a City fan is. I beginning to think the club don’t either. All MCFC want to do is to devise more ideas to part you from your money.

Wall of Fame? City social? Shirts that last one season but seem to literally be falling apart at the seams already?

We remember where the club was five years ago. We were the people who kept the faith. David Bernstein had a photo in the boardroom of a fan crying. This was to remind everyone what the club meant to the fans. Once we were back where we thought we belonged, it was a knife in the back for Bernie. Watch yourself as your walk up Alan Turing way. The club are out to get you too.

Mike Stearman <mercers_marvels(at)yahoo.co.uk>

OPINION: CAPACITIES

In reply to Andy Chard (MCIVTA 954) on the subject of capacity crowds, there are two reasons why the ground is not quite full:

  1. Segregation from away fans.
  2. There are a lot of hospitality packages unsold for every game, hence theempty seats in the area where the directors sit.

The only game these packages have been sold out for up to now is the upcoming Man Ure game; makes me wonder if the Rags have snapped them up because as far as I am aware anyone can buy them. For anybody who can’t get a ticket to a game this seems like a good way to get one as they are quite reasonable starting at £50; this includes ticket, programme, car parking space and 3 course meal.

Dave McCandless <dave.mccandless(at)ntlworld.com>

OPINION: VIEWING FROM AFAR

I don’t wish to offend anyone who subscribes to MCIVTA from afar and may be unable to attend matches at Our Magnificent New State Of The Art Facility (disappointed personally to see that that wasn’t one of the options to vote for in the naming poll…) but John Pearson’s view of City’s performance versus Spurs left me utterly bemused. I am a season ticket holder and was at the game and, while there is no doubt that the finishing left a lot to be desired, the performance of the team was absolutely first class. It was, in my view, our best performance over the whole ninety minutes at Our Magnificent New State Of The Art Facility thus far. Certainly if John thinks it was ‘poor’ then I would suggest he buys himself a new television set – in view of the fact that he wasn’t even able to correctly state the colour of the shirts that Spurs were playing in it would seem that he has some problem with the picture in any case… hmmm, I wonder if you actually really watched the game, John.

I wonder if other readers agree. Do I win £5?

Keith Riley <kriley(at)rpsgb.org.uk>

REQUEST: FAREWELL TO MAINE ROAD DETAILS

Farewell To Maine Road By Gary James (£25, Polar publishing)

At long last, “Farewell To Maine Road” (the official history of City’s grounds) has been published and will be in the shops from 8th October 2003.

I’d like to take the time to thank all of those supporters who have helped during my research and writing, and I especially would like to thank those 1,500 supporters who pre-ordered the book several months ago. Of course, those of you who have already placed orders with bookshops over the last few weeks have also played your part in ensuring the success of this book. Thanks.

Demand is high, but copies will be available from the City Store at Eastlands. Indications are that it will sell out within a couple of months, however most bookshops should also have a small supply initially. Copies can also be ordered via http://www.amazon.co.uk/.

The book is the sister publication of Manchester – The Greatest City and contains 320 A4 size pages and hundreds of photos. Naturally it tells the eighty-year plus story of Maine Road, together with the key details of City’s time at Hyde Road and their new City Of Manchester Stadium.

Farewell To Maine Road is the only official history of City’s grounds ever commissioned, and as such the story told is a fascinating one. Contained here are stories from every period of the stadium’s life from the sight of the Maine Road site being cleared through to the last poignant moments of its existence. Many of these stories are told by supporters themselves, while others come from players, administrators, journalists, and other officials.

There is also a wealth of information contained within special features on the Junior Blues; supporters’ organisations; crowd control; fanzines; demonstrations; chants and songs; the Ground Committee; going to the match; cult heroes; the Flag and much more.

Familiar stories have been challenged and as a result tales such as the infamous Gypsy Curse are brought right up to date with information revealed for the first time. Other stories include one Maine Road resident’s memories of a German pilot being captured inside the ground and Ack-ack guns & barrage balloons positioned on the Directors’ car park.

There’s even the shocking news that during the 1960s a City director actually met with members of United’s board to ask if the two clubs could merge!

Full of rare and previously unpublished photographs and archive material, Farewell To Maine Road, tells the life and times of this record breaking League venue in the manner it deserves.

Farewell To Maine Road:

  • Is a 170,000-word history of City’s grounds.
  • Contains around 300 photographs, including many rare and unusual imagesof Maine Road.
  • Includes profiles of the key men and women in the development of thestadium from Maine Road architect Charles Swain through to fan Helen Turner(the lady with the bell).
  • Celebrates the great matches staged at Maine Road including the first andthe final matches at the ground. Other games featured include the 84,569record crowd match of 1934 and the memorable victories over ManchesterUnited in 1989 and 2002. It also includes a feature on the firstcompetitive match played at Eastlands.
  • Provides special features focusing on non-City related activities atMaine Road such as professional tennis, international matches, ManchesterUnited’s use of the ground, religious festivals, pop concerts, and rugbymatches.
  • Listens to supporters by including dozens of fans’ memories of what MaineRoad actually meant to them.

Publication Information

Publisher: Polar Publishing
Title: Farewell To Maine Road: The Official History Of Manchester City’s Grounds
Format: Large A4 format, 320pp; Large number of illustrations
Price: Hardback: £25
ISBN: 1899538194
Author: Gary James

Gary James <garyjames(at)footballhistorian.co.uk>

REQUEST: WOLVES TICKETS AVAILABLE I

2 spare tickets available for Wolves away – face value £29 each. Not now going to match so needs to be done by post.

Andy Carver <andy(at)snowgate.freeserve.co.uk>

REQUEST: WOLVES TICKETS AVAILABLE II

One spare Wolves ticket in City end. Call 07789 435999 or email.

Chris Pilkington <chris(at)cpilkington.fsnet.co.uk>

REQUEST: BOLTON TICKET

If any one has a spare for Bolton I would be very grateful. I can be contacted on 07793593087 or e-mail me at the address below. Thanks.

Anne Parker <annemcfc(at)tesco.net>

REQUEST: REDDISH BLUES

The next meeting of the Reddish Branch of the Centenary Supporters’ Association is next Wednesday, 8th October, at The Ash Hotel Manchester Road Stockport at 8.00pm.

Our confirmed guests for the evening are ex-City Legend and recent Masters Champion winner David White and the author of “Attitude Blue”, Chris Murray.

As always everyone is welcome.

Howard Burr <reddishblues(at)btinternet.com>

REQUEST: TRAUTMANN BOOK

I am looking for a copy of the Bert Trautmann biography by Alan Rowlands. if anyone has a copy to sell, please email me, I am in the UK but will pay postage if it is in Europe.

Many thanks, Richard Mansell <email(at)richardmansell.com>

REQUEST: PROGRAMME SALE

Clive Walker has released details of his October programme sale, there are a number of Man City programmes in the list going back to the mid-1960s.

Full details can be obtained by dropping him an email at: <footyfan(at)btinternet.com>.

Ralph – Kiwiland <ralph(at)inspire.net.nz>

REQUEST: MARC VIVIEN FOE MEMORIAL APPEAL

The appeal fund established in memory of Foe is progressing well and we are now able to give an update on how people can contribute:

Financial Donations:

Any branch of HSBC

Account Name/Payable to: Marc Vivien Fo

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