Newsletter #956


A shocker of a performance and result on Saturday as we went down 1-0 at Wolves.

Tonight we have match report thanks to Richard, views and opinions on the game, knockers and some trouble experienced at the game.

Next game: Sporting Lokeren, away, 8pm Wednesday 15 October 2003 (UEFA)

MATCH REPORT: WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS 1 MCFC 0

Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends, we’re so glad you could attend. Come inside, come inside. There behind the glass there’s a team that claims it’s class. Be careful as you pass, move along, move along. Come inside the show’s about to start. Guaranteed to blow your head apart…

A good General normally has his battle won before it starts but today ours had a rush of blood to the head that gifted tactical position to the opposition. We have played 4-5-1 away twice and won twice and we had played 4-4-2 once at Fulham and nearly lost – a tactical formation that most Blues on here would concede cost us that game. So what does Kevin do – he plays 4-4-2 again! In addition Barton was omitted from the team (again) as was Sinclair. Now pardon me, but anyone could tell you how Wolves would play today:

  1. They would be direct.
  2. They would be in your face from the kick off.
  3. They would close you down quickly and try and disrupt your play.

Now KK’s selection left us with two strikers, one ball winner in midfield (Bosvelt), two attacking midfielders (Siberiski and SWP) and that left the unknown prospect of Claudio Reyna to play alongside Bosvelt. I say unknown, as for Sunderland and Rangers he always played on the right in some capacity. To say I was alarmed was an understatement. Where was the get up and go in midfield? It looked awfully lightweight for the battle ahead. Reyna had to perform as a ball winning box-to-box midfielder or we were in trouble.

The match started and straight from the kick off we were poor. Wolves had 3 chances from crosses from the right that either Seaman saved, Distin intercepted or Wolves players nearly got on the end of. Sun was dreadfully exposed, often facing two Wolves players. Where was the covering play from Reyna and SWP in midfield? Nowhere as far as I could see. At this point Reyna realised that he had been tasked to defend a bit and dropped back a bit and the Wolves chances subsided.

Alas there was pitiful movement in our midfield. A midfield, may I remind you that normally works the ball forward in pretty triangles up the pitch before releasing the ball down the channels (left, right or centre) to create a chance. Bosvelt was dispossessing the opposition, passing it and then… nothing. No one was moving into space to receive a pass so all Bosvelt could do was pass the ball back to a defender. As the half wore on it became clear that our midfield was simply not performing. The combination that KK had picked was completely dysfunctional.

I must also at this point give a highly commended rating to Distin. When Wolves attacked, and bypassed the wall that was Bosvelt by hoofing it over the top, Distin calmly dealt with it. In fact he did this all afternoon. An excellent performance by him it has to be said. This defensive wall that both Bosvelt and Distin created meant that though our attacking game wasn’t working, Wolves were limited to trying a few long range efforts, which Seaman saved well (but which didn’t really shouldn’t have troubled a good ‘keeper).

However, I must emphasise that there was simply none of the movement in midfield that we have previously seen this season. Without the movement all we could do is hoof the ball over the top for Wanchope or Anelka to run on to. Wanchope had a good chance on 30 minutes. However, instead of shooting, he took it on, was crowded out and put it wide. Anelka too was similarly ineffectual, being limited to one 30-yard shot that went wide and a couple of runs down the right that Wolves defended well – but where were the runners from midfield for Anelka to pass to?

Half time: 0-0

Surely Wanchope, SWP and/or Reyna would be taken off and Barton and Sinclair brought on to establish the 4-5-1 pattern that had been so successful in previous away games? Alas the answer was no. No changes at half time and more of the same c**p was being served up. Indeed, it was worse this half. At times it seemed that Bosvelt was the only player playing in midfield. But he was still playing magnificently, which resulted in Wolves continuing with the same ineffectual shots from 30 yards that any good ‘keeper should save.

Then Sibierski started to wake up. He had a few good runs and a beautiful 30 yard shot that curled inches over the bar at the top right hand corner of the goal. Then inexplicably KK subbed him for Sinclair. Quite a bizarre substitution as Reyna and SWP were having nightmares. After the substitution, Sinclair went to the right hand side and SWP swapped to the left.

The substitution gave us width, with Sinclair out right. However, a worrying hole was left in the centre of midfield. Bosvelt was now facing a two-against-one situation on a regular basis. Alas it was from this situation that the Wolves goal came. Wolves attacked twice down the centre, Bosvelt couldn’t hold the line and Sommeil and Distin had to step forward to hold the line. This resulted in 3 similar situations, with Tarnet virtually being pulled back to be a centre half. This left Camara out on the wing with no-one marking him. Where SWP was goodness only knows but he wasn’t there so Camara managed to get 3 unchallenged crosses in. The first was cleared by Seaman, the second was saved by Seaman but it spilled out of his hands for Sommeil to pass it back to Camara who obligingly knocked it back in again. Bosvelt picked up one of the Wolves runners from midfield but where was Reyna (come to that Anelka or Wanchope too for they had enough time to funnel back and help the defence by picking up the runners)? Sommeil lost the ball in flight and the unmarked Colin Cameron arrived in the penalty area and headed a beautiful goal. As you can imagine the Wolves fans (who had supported their team well throughout the game) went mad.

City at last woke up and upped the tempo. On 82 minutes Paulo Wanchope received the ball down the right channel and drilled a right-footed shot against the outside of the right post.

Wolves were indeed rocked back on their feet and the City crowd were starting to cheer. And we had a series of attacks down the right with good interplay between Sun and Sinclair. Sun was now motoring forward at every opportunity (probably because it was do or die and he didn’t have to worry about SWP being dispossessed) and a number of corners followed. Now as you know we rarely score from corners but in the 93rd minute Trevor Sinclair delivered an out swinging corner from the right to the far post, where Sun Jihai leapt like a salmon and delivered a bullet header, hard and low to the left of Michael Oakes. Alas he somehow got down to it and parried it away.

The final whistle went. Game over. Why could we not have played like the last 10 minutes throughout? Alas the unthinkable (to me) had happened. We had lost to Wolves, the team I hate most in the entire league since going down to Wembley in 1974 and playing them off the park yet losing. I could not believe it we had lost. My worst fears had been confirmed.

Full Time: 0-1

Yes my head had been blown apart (Apologies to Emerson, Lake & Palmer).

Performance Ratings:

Kevin Keegan 2. Poor team selection and bad substitution decisions. He even had a go at the City crowd for not getting behind the team again in his post match press conference. Bl**dy hell Kev, what do you want? Wolves fans cheered their team on because they were making chances. We hardly had anything to cheer till after they scored. And by then it was too late.

David Seaman 7. A couple of good saves. Could do nothing for the headed goal but shouldn’t have spilled the previous shot.

Sun Jihai 6. Average 1st half, better in the second half as he got forward a lot more. After Sinclair came on and played on the right he got forward with confidence as he knew Sinclair wouldn’t give the ball away.

David Sommeil 5. Two mistakes at the end lower his score from 7. He should have hoofed Seaman’s spilled save into row Z – instead he gave it back to Camera on the right who seemed to have all the time in the world to cross to Cameron – who David should have picked up – as he was a free defender.

Sylvain Distin 8. Did everything he had to do after a couple of dodgy moments early on.

Michael Tarnat 4. Defended well but didn’t do anything with it when attacking. Too many long balls that were meat and drink to the big Wolves defenders.

Shaun Wright-Phillips 2. Worst ever performance in a City shirt. Took three touches to control the ball and normally lost it. Passing was appalling. Defensively he was all at sea, not marking anyone. Allowing Wolves to get too many crosses in from the right in the first half and the left after the substitution. No movement to try to get into space either.

Paul Bosvelt 8. A very good performance. Alas football is a team game and the rest were pretty poor to be honest. He did everything he had to – he got the tackles in, intercepted the ball but had to pass to a defender most of the time because all the midfielders were standing like statues queuing up to get marked.

Claudio Reyna 3. No wonder Sunderland went down (and yes I know he was injured). He’s a right sided player so what was he doing in the centre? Gave the ball away too much. No movement to get into space when Bosvelt or a defender had won it.

Antoine Sibierski 4. Average. Don’t understand why he was substituted though. There were far worse on the pitch at the time. And he was starting to get better. Again no movement to try to get into space.

Nicolas Anelka 4. Can’t do anything if he doesn’t get the ball. However, he gave up towards the end and But I still think he was shocked to be substituted.

Paulo Wanchope 4. Not good. Had all City’s best chances. Tried to walk the ball into the net instead of shooting. To be honest he’s no better than Fowler.

Subs:
Sinclair 6. Quite good. Got into space.
Fowler 6. Looked better than Wanchope and Anelka (and that’s saying something).

The City away crowd 5. I was going to mark us down as c**ap today. But when you realise we didn’t have anything to cheer it wasn’t that bad. At least we didn’t boo.

Blue Anorak a.k.a. Richard Mottershead <richardjohnm(at)hotmail.com>

MATCH VIEW I: WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS 1 MCFC 0

We had a feeling it was going to be a bad day when what should have been a one and a half hour journey took nearly 3!

Where do I begin? Good seats at least but really difficult to generate a real away atmosphere when the away area is only 20 rows deep and runs the full lower length of the side of the pitch. But we tried and it probably sounded better from the other side of the pitch than it did in the middle of it.

The following is a random selection of the thoughts and emotions we had or went through: they were poor and on the day, we were worse. Ince moaned, Blake elbowed, Ince moaned again, Rae kicked anything that moved and we groaned (a lot). Why weren’t they up for it? There was no passion there at all. How come we miss McManaman already? Why was our build up play so slow and laboured – we could have kept the ball all day but not gone anywhere with it. By the time the ball came back to Sun Jihai or Tarnat for the 3rd or 4th time in the build up they then just launched long, hopeful balls that (I’ll get you) Butler absolutely lapped up. Anelka looked like Bambi on ice as he seemed to have chosen the wrong studs, Wanchope worked hard but really was ineffective, SWP would have been the key if we’d got it to him quick enough. Reyna seemed to get deeper and deeper as the game went on, although he did start brightly. Sommeil was solid. Sun nearly nicked a point for us in injury time which, like the Fulham game, would have papered over some worrying cracks that have only really been evident in the last 2 away games. Why are we so inconsistent? Yes I know it’s City but why oh why oh why?

Anyway, had a good read of my KOTK 15th anniversary issue on the way home, which went some way towards brightening up what had been a s**t day.

Come on City – there is so much potential for us to get better if we can just be more consistent. If only they could feel what we felt when that final whistle went – my sister and I were so absolutely gutted that we couldn’t talk to each other about it for half an hour afterwards.

P.S. Thanks to the bloke who was on his own and let us swap seats so we could be miserable together!

Alan Frost <Alan.Frost(at)threadneedle.co.uk>

MATCH VIEW II: WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS 1 MCFC 0

Shameful(!) result vss. Wolves today. However, I was interested in an earlier interview given by KK, in which he apparently stated: “A win today against Wolves will see this club back in the top four in the league: WHERE IT BELONGS!”

Comments like this make him look a chump. As we all know from past experience this is Manchester City Football Club: statements like this invariably have a habit of backfiring on us. So, why tempt fate? Honestly put, we’re still quite a way off being a real force in the Premiership. Far better for all involved is that our manager should immediately learn his lesson and keep his mouth firmly shut for the remaining league and cup games. Let the players speak for him, by obtaining the desired results, on the pitch – the only place it really matters!

After today’s dismal performance, it must be back to the drawing board for KK and his staff; meanwhile, I hope the players donate this week’s pay to the MVF Appeal, by way of an apology to the Club, and, to the fans!

“Manchester City FC” deserves a lot more than what happened today, at Wolves.

Graham Keller <ride4311(at)ride.ri.net>

MATCH VIEW III: WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS 1 MCFC 0

The people who are superstitious might have predicted this one, a “third” fraustrating game in a row, only this time it brought a defeat. Wolves deserved their first win ever in the Premier League 1-0. This must go down as City’s worst performance of the season. We all know that City can play better, for we have already seen it this season.

I never saw the game, I listened to the commentary from the MCFC website, so I cannot say too much. I just wonder if Gary Owen has any hair left. Man of the match for City. it sounded like no player deserved it, that’s how bad City played. As City fans are we in for another one of those seasons? We have been used to it for years, but really I thought this is the season to put all that behind us. Oh well, it’s early in the season yet, lots more to come, but can we take many more of these fraustrating games? Or will City become the bookmakers’ friend?

You can point out a City fan anywhere; they are prematurely losing their hair, or are going grey. All we can do is give support to our City team, and wonder will the next game bring us a pint to celebrate, or one to drown our sorrows.

Bambi (Wanchope) has been given his chance but has failed to take it, it’s time to give Fowler a full game again; if he fails then let’s get another striker who can score.

The way the team have started playing is enough to drive one to drink.

Come on you Blues (you are capable of better!)!

Ernie Barrow <britcityblue(at)aol.com>

OPINION: WOLVES GAME

I don’t often have a moan. But having listened to the match today on the audio commentary, I have to agree with Gary Owen. That has to be the most inept display by any City team since the bad old days of the 80’s. We were s**te. If we had played well and got beat I could take it. Fifth in the Premiership. Not any more. The only saving grace is that those around us lost. We could end up in the nether regions. I love this club. Please don’t let me down again.

Dave Kilroy <davekil(at)ntlworld.com>

OPINION: WOLVES GAME

Memo to KK – We’re not a top 6 club yet – and squad rotation doesn’t really seem to work for us so ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ – why keep changing the team!

I know that McManaman was injured for Saturday’s trip, but why not then replace like for like and play Berkovic – after all, whether KK likes him or not, City are still paying his wages and he might as well earn them (apart from that he is the sort of player who could have done something vs. Wolves, who after all he has played against more recently than others – the season before last!). Also – why not play Barton, I don’t think I heard Bosvelt mentioned once in the radio commentary (or was he trying to be the invisible man out of the song!).

As far as Seaman is concerned, I would also be tempted to give Weaver a go, as Seaman’s recent mistakes and tentative approach seem to be affecting the confidence of our defence.

The other thing that completely bemuses me is, why, after such an abysmal performance, are the players rewarded with three days off training. What incentive is there to win? I’d have had them in on Sunday!

Memo to Derek Fazakerly – ‘Don’t give the players the wrong idea’ Writing in Friday night’s Manchester Evening News, Derek says ‘We always seem to go into an International weekend on the back of a defeat’ – well, that’s alright then, at least we’re consistent!

Now we have to pull ourselves back together and face Lokeren (who we didn’t really do that well against at home) away! All I can say is, I’m glad I didn’t go to Molineux!

Sarah Longshaw <sarah(at)longshaw.demon.co.uk>

OPINION: WOLVES TROUBLE

I was at Molineux on Saturday for the Wolves game. We were sat on the far left of the Steve Bull stand as you are looking at the pitch at entrance JL10.

We were bombarded with spit, dog ends and verbal abuse from the Wolves ‘fans’ above us. The police were watching them, but did absolutely nothing. The stewards were finding it funny. When telling one of them about the spittle that was dripping from my friends hair, his reply was “You sure it’s not rain, love!”. I was there with my 14 year old son, there were children much younger than him there and several elderly people, yet this taunting carried on throughout the match. When the police left to take up their positions outside towards the end of the match, this abuse intensified. Many City fans were understandably getting very irate, and threats of “We’ll see you outside!” from the Wolves fans were thrown.

I have emailed WWFC and copied it to City, the FA and the Premier League. No responses as yet though. If there’s anyone out there who’s reading this and was there, it might be a good idea to do the same, I have the email addresses if anyone wants them.

On a different matter completely, why are there no car parks around the ground? Don’t local businesses or schools want to earn themselves a bit of money on match days? We were coming up from the south and got caught in a 5 mile tail back on the M6 and we were running late. Had to abandon the car in a housing estate somewhere! Luckily it was still in one piece when we got back to it. Not sure whether I’ll be going there again after the performance (both on the field and off) on Saturday; if I do though, I’ll be taking the train!

Mads <madeleine.hawkins(at)btinternet.com>

OPINION: LOOK NORTH

I’m a City fan staying in Scotland at the moment. I have watched a number of Glasgow Rangers games and I think we should sign their ‘keeper Stefan Klos. He is absolutely outstanding and has been so I’m told for a few seasons now. I can’t believe no-one from the Premiership including City didn’t even enquire about him. Watch the Old Firm game tomorrow. He’ll probably win the game for Rangers.

I urge Kevin to come up to Scotland and have a look at him.

Mo Johnstone <mj011a9323(at)blueyonder.co.uk>

OPINION: THE KNOCKERS I

Having read the numerous posts regarding knocking, booing, the right to knock, the right to boo etc., I would just like to make a simple point that most people seem to have missed.

We all go to the game with much the same aspirations, win, be entertained, have a laugh, ridicule the opposition when required etc., so do the people who boo the team actually think that this action helps? Anyone who has been involved in team sport and man management should know that the way to motivate human beings is to encourage rather than undermine. Believe it or not, a professsional footballer knows if he has made a mistake or is having a stinker without people reminding him. In any event, that is what KK is there to do. No one denies that people pay their money and have a right to express their feelings but maybe the moaning would be best left to the boozer after the game.

Booing may be a reaction that makes an individual feel better but it does absolutely nothing to help the team win and be successful.

Jon Mayor <Jon.Mayor(at)davislangdon-uk.com>

OPINION: THE KNOCKERS II

I’m a Mancunian exiled in Wolverhampton so I’ve had a pretty poor weekend. On Saturday the team never really got out of bed. A totally inept and under achieving performance with not one player performing to their capabilities. However, I’m not going to vent my spleen on them but leave that to the man that I trust to get the best out of each player or move them on – KK. Instead I’ll turn my anger to some of the City fans. I’ve been a Blue for 55 years and I’ve watched players suffer and wilt from the barracking that they have received; fortunately most of them came through it with different management styles or clubs. Colin Barlow, Neil Young (remember him, leading goalscorer a few times), Joe Corrigan (went on to become capped by England), Ian Bowyer (a European cup winner), the Goat (say no more) and recently Edgy, a player who always gave his best for the Blue shirt.

I think there are two distinct issues at stake here:

  1. Barrackers. Rounding on individual players each time they touch the ballis not on. Imagine if you were at work and were constantly harassed andbadgered; would it make you do the job better – would it hell! Because theyare paid a lot of money for doing what they do (the going rate) doesn’t meanthey cannot make mistakes. This type of behaviour really angers me and hasgot me in to many arguments, mostly with the prat from London who used to sitbehind me in the Kippax and constantly boo Edgy. It doesn’t do the player anygood, it doesn’t do the team any good, it’s not in the least constructive andI question whether they really are Blue. So if anyone around aisle 136 feelsthe need to barrack individual players they’ll find an old bearded geezerwith a walking stick on their case pretty quickly!
  2. Booers. Booing the team off at half time after a bad overall performanceis slightly different although I don’t condone it. It doesn’t comment onindividual performances but on the team as a whole. I still don’t think it’sconstructive and would prefer to leave it to KK to sort out. I think the onlyperson it’s likely to provoke is the Boss man himself, remember it’s his teamout there and in a way it’s him you’re criticising. Nobody is above criticismbut I’ve waited a long time for exciting football and some success and I feelvery close to it now. I don’t want some half-baked dipsticks with an inbuiltLemming culture spoiling the chance. He’s a very principled man and I fearthat if he feels he hasn’t got the support and loyalty of the fans, he’sgoing to have a long and hard think about what he’s doing (does anyone reallythink he’s here for the money?).

I think the barrackers are only a handful, the booers should think back a bit and look at the 86 teams below us in the football league and remember it was only a few years ago that the 86 was only 35!

Spleen vented.

On a totally different issue, I need some help. I’m moving to Spain next year Antequerra, Malaga Region. Does anyone know of any Blues’ groups in that area? Secondly for the techies, I’m with freeserve anytime for the Internet; can I take my subscription and email address with me or will I need to subscribe over there? If any one has any experience or advice I would be grateful.

Dave Sterrett <Blueds(at)ctid1.fsnet.co.uk>

OPINION: SPATS?

Wolves 1-0 City; typical City, Wolves should have been there for the taking. Last week against Spurs we created 20+ chances but failed to convert any of them, fantastic approach play but poor finishing, Paulo being the worst offender (not knocking him). Steve Mc ran the show last week, but not available for the Wolves game. I listened to the game on GMR; it sounded a poor game to watch. As we laboured to open up their defence, the game was crying out for someone who could play that telling ball; the players selected are all good players but not one of them can be considered in the same league as Steve Mc or Eyal as a playmaker. Where was Eyal Berkovic, was he injured or does King Kev need to swallow his pride; he is such a good player/playmaker and he runs his socks off for the team when he is selected. Time for them to kiss and make up for the sake of MCFC. Come on you Blues.

Steve Alcock <salcock(at)picr.man.ac.uk>

OPINION: SPATS? II

Wasn’t it very nice of KK to praise the Wolves’ supporters in his post match comments? In his own words:

“Their crowd had to get behind them, which they did. They clapped them off at half time after a very poor first half performance by both teams.”

Or was KK simply having a dig at his own supporters? Of course he was! While I don’t entirely agree with ‘boo boys’, I find Kev’s little dig quite annoying. I was at the home game against Lokeren and a small section of the crowd did boo the lads off at half time, but I’m sorry to say that I agreed with most of the rumblings around me.

KK took the game too lightly and made four changes to the team that drew 2-2 at Fulham. Yet another mistake by Seaman and the defence once again going AWOL. These are the things the fans were upset about and rightly so! KK had a go at the fans after the game and now he has another pop at them a week and a half later.

We have just turned out an inexcusable performance against the worst ever Premiership team (didn’t you just know it was going to happen) and all KK can think about is having another pop at the fans! Give it a rest Kev and start sorting out what is happening on the pitch. The terraces will look after themselves.

Mark Strong <mark.2.strong(at)xanbpm.com>

OPINION: VARIOUS

I agree with Mark Robison regarding McManaman: Reservations before he arrived. Now, wouldn’t be without him. He’s good. He’s vocal. He’s captain in all but name.

I disagree with Stephen Webb and Lance Thompson (but thanks for the shirt, Lance): People can call us what they like. Doesn’t make it true.

In similar vein, I disagree with everyone who takes the view that “real Blues don’t boo”. Real Blues do all sorts of things. It doesn’t make them less Blue. Having said that, what a constructive suggestion form Bernard Molyneux. What about, to the tune of “We Shall Not be Moved”:

We never, never boo the Blues
We never, never boo the Blues
We know when we are playing c**p, but we never boo the Blues.

Hopefully, we won’t need to sing it too often as actually we haven’t often been that c**p lately – and not at all compared to what I have been used to in my 25 or so years of supporting history.

Which reminds me of another thing… as far as many contributors are concerned I am apparently a “new” Blue, having this season been bought (by the uncle who introduced me in the late 70s to the trials and tribulations of City fandom) my first ever season ticket. I object to that. Having been to many, many matches at Maine Road on a regular basis over many years (including the terrible Division 2 season, return trips (often) from London when I lived there, (sometimes) from New York when I lived there and (not often enough but whenever possible) these days from Sydney) I do not regard myself as such. But even if I was, surely I should be welcomed to the fold, not abused.

Finally, the Blue Camp is terrible. And it’s not Maine Road. Maine Road is gone (but never forgotten). I vote for the City Stadium.

Andrea Hanlon <AHanlon(at)ebsworth.com.au>

OPINION: ATTENDANCES

I would just like to raise a point on Mike Stearmen’s comment, ‘pitiful’ regarding the 29,000 attendance for the Lokeren home tie. I am a season ticket holder, but I simply could not afford the £25.00 City were charging for a ticket. I’m sure I am not alone in this.

Mike Stearmen fails to appreciate that the average wage in the North West is considerably lower than the South. Therefore I am sure this equates to more Southampton fans having that disposable income to follow their team in Europe. You can have the devotion the follow your team, but not the money.

Ruth Thompson-Davies <ruth.thompson(at)cis.co.uk>

REQUEST: STADIUM NAME VOTE

You still have until this Friday (10th) to get your votes in on the stadium name, send an email to the address shown below with your chosen name in the “Subject:” line:

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

Meanwhile, some comments from voters thus far: