Newsletter #981

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City won this year, as the reserves dominated the Rags to finish 2-1 up in the Senior Cup on Tuesday night. Terrific play all round from the boys in Blue and both BWP and Elliott on the scoresheet.

Back to the first team and we extended our winless streak to 13 games (a feat previously accomplished back in 1985-86). A disputed penalty decision from début referee Walton last night saw us share the points with Charlton. A frustrating first half where the City team looked as though they had been brought together just 10 minutes before kick-off fortunately gave way to a more dominating performance in the second, but frustration once more as we failed to nail those chances. On the positives, Fowler scored again, Anelka, Distin, Dunne and Sibbi all had a reasonable game. Hopefully we’re almost round that rather enormous corner that people are mentioning.

Don’s news has reaction to both Charlton and Leicester, and the reserve game, the Berkovic move and other potential transfers together with ex-Blues’ news.

We also have opinion on all things team, performance and transfer related plus the usual requests.

Apologies to anyone who sent in other articles, but I’ve experienced some problems with the mail server this week.

And so to Pompey this weekend, with speculation continuing as to whether Eyal will finally get a game this season albeit for the other side.

Next game: Portsmouth, away, 3pm Saturday 10th January 2004

NEWS SUMMARY

General News

Fair Play to City – Again? Rejoice! Rejoice! City may be sliding down the league faster than a toboggan on the Cresta Run, but fear not – we’re well placed in the Premier League’s Fair Play League! At the halfway mark in the current season, Chelsea lead the Fair Play League with Arsenal a close second. Fulham are third, Manchester United fourth, Charlton fifth and City sixth. As we all know, at the end of the season, the highest-placed Premiership side who have not already qualified for the Champions’ League or UEFA Cup will go into a draw with other eligible European sides.

Like Father, Like Son: Kasper Schmeichel is in line for his first international call-up after impressing Denmark Under-18 boss Hans Brun Larsen. “We have seen Kasper at Manchester City, and it’s not impossible that we could call him home to play in the under-18 national team,” said Larsen. He told Danish newspaper BT that he had been impressed by the teenage Schmeichel, but he resisted making the comparison between father and son. “I know many will,” he recognised. “One could say that Kasper doesn’t shout and give the same amount of instructions as his father did. On the other hand he looks more fit than Peter did in his last active years, and he looks to be built in the same way.” The teenage Schmeichel only turned 17 in November, and he has been on the fringes of the City first-team squad all season. “I think it’s hard to say anything about his playing personality yet,” said Larsen. “But it looks good, and a man who in the circle around Manchester City’s first team at age 16 can’t be all that bad.” Denmark Under-18s’ next fixture pits them against Slovakia in mid-March, and they also have a training session scheduled for March 1-2.

Quality Football to CoMS? It’s been reported this week that City will hold all three games of a pre-Euro 2004 mini tournament in June, featuring England, Japan and an as yet unchosen European nation. City’s board had indicated that they hoped to stage internationals, a European final, or a pop concert, and this is the first event they have secured. There is some speculation that England’s final warm up matches could include a game against a seeded Euro 2004 nation, such as Italy or Germany, although an official announcement will not be made until the final team is confirmed.

Pearce Persists: Stuart Pearce has signed another six-month contract with the Blues and is set to stay as assistant coach until the end of the season. The former City skipper agreed a six-month deal at the start of the season but has now had that deal extended. The contract still has the proviso that if he is offered a manager’s job then City will not stand in his way. “Stuart’s deal here has always been if a role comes along that he wants and feels is right for him then he is totally free to go and apply for it,” explained Kevin Keegan. “He would normally come and ask me if that was to happen. He has a six month rolling deal if you like and is here to the end of the season. Stuart will be the one who decides if he leaves here, I won’t be going to him and saying it is time for him to go. We think the world of him. He does a great job. He is part of the back room staff and a very important part. But if he comes to me tomorrow and says he wants to go to a certain club then he knows that he is only asking out of courtesy, that no one will stand in his way. He wants to be a manager and he is ready to be a manager. He has a big input here and works very closely with Derek Fazackerley on the training. Stuart likes it here and enjoys it but eventually he will want to go and do his own thing. The day he goes will be a sad day but for him it will be a good day as it means he is going on to better himself.”

Spur to Beat Leicester: Should City overcome Leicester next week in the FA Cup, the Blues will face Tottenham Hotspur in the Fourth Round. The tie would be played at the COMS, on Sunday 25 January. This game will be shown live on BBC. Spurs have already beaten City 3-1 in a Carling Cup tie at White Hart Lane this season, and also managed to hold the Blues to a 0-0 draw at Eastlands earlier in the campaign in the Premiership. City fans will also get to see the replay against Leicester on TV, as it will be shown live on Sky at 7.45pm on January 14.

Reserves Win: After their Christmas and New Year lay-off, City Reserves returned to action on Tuesday with their first mini-derby of 2004. The Blues made a winning start, beating the Reds 2-1 in the Manchester Senior Cup at Hyde. Goals by Bradley Wright-Phillips and Stephen Elliott secured victory for City after United had opened the scoring. City welcomed back Danny Tiatto into playing action, and he managed 85 minutes before being substituted. Team: Schmeichel, Flood, Jordan, Wiekens, McCarthy, Negouai (Tandy 69), Croft, J D’Laryea, Elliott, B Wright-Phillips, Tiatto (N D’Laryea 85). Subs: Matthewson, Onouha, Murphy.

Transfer News and Gossip

Keeping Tabs: Just like last week, the sporting journals focussed on City’s search for goalkeeping cover for David Seaman. It was reported that KK had lined up a loan deal for Chelsea’s ‘keeper Neil Sullivan. The deal fell down however because Chelsea’s first choice ‘keeper, Carlo Cudicini, picked up a groin strain. Sullivan played in Chelsea’s FA Cup tie at Watford, and having seen Sullivan’s ineffective display, which cost his team a goal, perhaps City have had a fortunate escape. Another more surprising rumour re-emerged this week – City were apparently set to make an official bid for Leeds’ goalkeeper Paul Robinson this week, according to the Daily Mirror. Tottenham Hotspur were also said to be in for the 24-year-old England international. Hearts’ Scotland Under-21 ‘keeper Craig Gordon has also emerged as a likely January transfer target. Goalkeeping coach Peter Bonetti travelled to Dens Park on Tuesday night to watch Gordon in action for Hearts in their SPL win over Dundee. Gordon has been first choice at the Edinburgh outfit since taking over from Tepi Moilanen in October after previously acting as understudy to Antti Niemi, now at Southampton. It is doubtful whether Hearts, with debts of more than £17 million could afford to turn down an attractive offer for the player.

Pompey Chimes Soon for Eyal: At the time of this issue, BBC Radio Sports News was saying that Eyal Berkovic was about to join Portsmouth on a free transfer, in time for him to face City on Saturday! The club are clearly anxious to be rid of Berko, as at the start of the week KK was asking for a fee of £750,000. The Boss announced that “There has been an approach from Portsmouth for Eyal. At the moment it is just an initial inquiry but we will see what develops. If it worked out right, Eyal needs to go. He needs to play football and I need to reduce the number of midfield players in my squad.” A few days later, our manager reported that not a lot had happened. “The ball is in Portsmouth’s court,” Keegan said. “They know what the situation is but at this moment in time we are nowhere near doing a deal.” When recently asked, KK answered “I have now handed the Eyal Berkovic business over to the Chairman. There is an offer from Portsmouth, which I think the Chairman and Peter Storrie the Chief Executive at Portsmouth are discussing. That may or may not go ahead but at this stage it is looking like a possibility. Eyal knows what is going on so everyone who needs to know does so. It is now whether our Chairman and I guess their Chairman can sort out a deal at the end of the day.” Stand by for a nightmare début…

Striking Out: Despite the injury to Paulo Wanchope and the departure of Darren Huckerby, KK is sure that he has enough cover in the forward department. “I am not short of strikers as I have a number of players who can play in that position,” said the boss. “I have the three in Nicolas Anelka, Robbie Fowler and Jon Macken. But I also have Antoine Sibierski who can play up there. Trevor Sinclair is another option, he too can play as a striker while at a push Shaun Wright-Phillips could also play as a striker. I was well off in that department. If I had been really short I would not have let Darren Huckerby go. Certainly with Paulo out through injury now I suppose it makes me worry just a little bit if anything happens to one or two of the strikers. But at the moment I am not worried about that department. If I got a couple of injuries that would be different. I think it would hit any club if they lost one or two of their main strikers. We are no different from that point of view. But I believe we have strength in depth in the squad that other clubs don’t have.” Keegan also insisted Nicolas Anelka, who has been linked to a move to the swamp dwellers, is not for sale. “I don’t want to sell Nicolas Anelka, so the issue is not even worth discussing,” said the City chief. “I haven’t fallen out with him and if someone is intending to make an offer they haven’t done so far.” So no strikers on the horizon, but this has not stopped City being linked with Hearts’ striker Mark de Vries. Dutch news hound Henk Timmer writes: “This week biggest Dutch morning paper De Telegraaf reported Man City are amongst several clubs interested in Hearts’ Dutch striker Mark de Vries (28). His asking price is £1 million. Olympiakos Piraeus have already made an offer of £500,000 but that was refused. He scored 6 goals so far this season; last season he scored 15 goals (if memory serves well). He has not played at the highest level in Holland, having been with First Division sides Dordrecht’90 and FC Volendam.”

The Young American: Thanks to Merkin Muffley for the following item: Manchester City are believed to have been watching New York/New Jersey MetroStars’ teenage forward Eddie Gaven. The 17-year-old became the youngest ever player to sign a contract with MLS aged just 16 years and two months, although Freddy Adu has since eclipsed that record by joining DC United. After impressing with his creativity and strength, Gaven has attracted attention from a number of quarters and is reckoned to be one of the best young Americans around. He can play equally well in an attacking midfield rôle or up front. City would be unable to sign the New Jersey-born starlet at the moment, as he would be unable to acquire a work permit, but it is understood that scouts from the Manchester club have been keeping tabs on his performances. Gaven is aware he has a lot to learn in the game, and admits the Under-17 World Championships, where he represented his country, taught him a few things. “The whole thing was a great experience for me,” he said afterwards. “It helped me see the level I need to get to. Those guys from Spain and Brazil. Hopefully, one day, if I keep working, I can get to the level that they are at.”

Ex-Blues’ News

Creating a Stink at Mossley: The Oldham Chronicle reports that former Blue Jason Beckford is having a dream start to his managerial career. The 33-year-old brother of Darren is in his first season as manger of non-league Mossley, and the team’s long unbeaten run has been rewarded with a second “Manager of the Month” award from Boss man Beckford. December saw Mossley with a 100-per-cent record from six matches, and Beckford stated: “The award is recognition for the work the boys have done, and I view it as very much a team effort. To have strung together a 21-match unbeaten run has been really good, and it is a reward for the lads who have taken on board what we have been telling them. There is the odd game when we are not going to be at the races – we didn’t play well at Curzon on Saturday – but we have shown resilience on those occasions,” Beckford added.

Quiz Question – No Answer Necessary: Which Bermudian legend scored last Saturday for his current team on his return from a long standing injury? No, I can’t guess either!

Wakey Wakey! Joe Royle’s favourite terrier, a.k.a. Jeff Whitley, is hoping to earn himself a new contract at First Division Sunderland. After a less than auspicious start to his career with the Black Cats (he was dropped after oversleeping and missing the club’s first game of the season), Jeff has become a regular in the side. He said: “I was delighted to get a deal here and my first task was to get in the team, which thankfully I managed to do after taking a little while to settle in. I feel very much part of this club now. I was at Man City a long time from being a kid, but I feel at home here at a great club and among a smashing set of lads who are all working hard for each other. We’re striving as a squad for promotion and, while I’d obviously love to stay at the club in the long term, all I’m thinking about at the moment is the job we have to do this season. It’s pointless getting distracted by other things. We all want to do well this season, try to get promoted and then the future can take care of itself.”

Kinky Goes for Hat-Trick: Anxious to play for three relegated Premiership clubs, Gio Kinkladze has been given a two week trial at Leeds United. The Georgian genius has been without a club since leaving Derby County in the summer, and a potential move to Greek club Panathinaikos fell through last month. Kinkladze will train with the Leeds squad this week in the hope of securing a move back into The Premiership at Elland Road. Leeds’ caretaker boss Eddie Gray is looking to bolster his squad and he will put Kinkladze through his paces before deciding whether or not to follow up his interest.

Reactions and Comments

Still in the Cup: City stretched their winless streak to 12 games last Saturday, as Leicester City led twice in the FA Cup, before Nicolas Anelka levelled the scores. The replay will take place at The Walkers Stadium on Wednesday, 14th January. Poor defending again handicapped the Blues’ efforts to gain the elusive victory, as KK was quick to point out. “It was a hard-fought tie but, all things considered, a draw was a fair result. We started off very sloppily and gave away a goal early on. We maybe could have stopped the move two or three times but we didn’t and then we got back in the game and made another mistake,” he conceded. “Richard Dunne has been playing very well but he asked a lot of himself for the second goal trying to bring down a tricky ball at full stretch. He would have been better advised to let it bounce and then challenge for it. At least we are still in the hat and I think we deserve to be still in there but we didn’t do enough to say we were unlucky. We weren’t quite as creative as I would have liked us to be all over the pitch. We never reached the level we did against Liverpool. Neither goalkeeper has had enough to do. David Seaman has not had a save to make apart from the two that have gone past him and I can’t remember Ian Walker having much to do either. Both sides can play better and both sides can be more creative and yet it was always a good cup-tie because it was on a knife-edge.” The manager strove to build confidence when commenting: “If we can keep playing like we have in the last two matches then things will turn and hopefully that will be the case against Charlton in our next game,” he said. “The spirit is still good because we believe we have done enough in some of the 12 games since we won to have come out on top. I know the fans are desperate for us to end this spell and I can assure them that the players are just as desperate. Things are not going our way at the moment. We have made mistakes and people have capitalised off them but we haven’t done the same at the other end.” With a long injury list, Leicester’s team was what they call “makeshift”, so manager Mickey Adams was delighted with his side’s performance. “We acquitted ourselves well, considering the difference between the sides is about £50 million,” he said. “I have spent nothing – and if you look at my squad it is probably worth nothing! But we showed a lot of endeavour and never gave up. I’ve got to admit, my players do amaze me. We had to have a last minute re-shuffle when we lost Ben Thatcher this morning, but the lads just got on with it. They never give up, and they showed real resolve today. As a football club we keep it simple, and it’s a ploy which works well and it was a great bonus to score with our first effort – that’s what Paul Dickov does best. Obviously I’m very disappointed with the two goals we conceded. It doesn’t matter how old you are, you can always keep learning from mistakes, and we will do that.”

Lay off the Legend! For the second time in a few months former City hero Paul Dickov scored then was booed from the field, for doing what we used to love him for doing – irritating the hell out of his opponents. It seems that some City fans have forgotten Wembley in 1999. Dickov opened the scoring in this tie on four minutes, then later had became embroiled in a heated row with the Blues’ bench. “I took him off because I didn’t want him to get into trouble,” said Micky Adams. “But Paul Dickov epitomises everything that is right about our football club. Even when he’s had a personal tragedy he just loves playing football.” (Dickov has been coping with the sudden loss of his father, who died recently). The player said after the game: “I like this stadium. I think I have scored more times here than at Maine Road! It was great to score after just a few minutes to keep the goals coming. That’s eight I have got this season and I am delighted with that. The goal is one of those things we work on in training, Scowie flicking it on to one of us running into the box, and it’s nice when it comes off.” The penalty for Manchester City was not contested but Dickov claimed: “I think I should have had one when my old mate Richard Dunne nearly my kicked my head off! I thought it was a foul and the only question I had was whether it was inside or outside the box. But the main thing is that we are still in the competition. The manager said before the game that we just had to be sure we were in the hat for the next round and we are, but getting through is still going to be hard. They’re a good side and will come down to the Walkers to give it a right go, but we are the home team now and that will make a difference.” Of the crowd reaction, Dickov said “The crowd are fantastic here, they’re very passionate about their team and I expected a few boos – but it doesn’t bother me, as you probably would have seen.”

The Crying Game: Many press reports focussed on the muted goal celebrations from Nicolas Anelka, fuelling more speculation that the Frenchman is unhappy at City. KK dealt with the point in typically forthright way – “I don’t know if he smiles or not,” he said. “I’m just bothered whether he scores or not. He can cry for all I care.” SWP chose a more diplomatic approach when asked a similar question. “Nicolas is just that type of player,” said Sweep. “He believes in himself and believes he can do better. He wants more from himself as that is just how he is. Until he gets more from himself and more goals the way he wants to score them, then you will see him back celebrating.”

Unlucky 13: With five minutes to go last night, it looked like City had done enough to secure that precious victory, as they led Charlton Athletic courtesy of Robbie Fowler’s fortieth minute goal (the other highlight of the first half came after five minutes, as your News Editor found the match ball sailing in a lazy arc towards him; he effected a dramatic clearance by punching the ball pitchwards, but I digress). Then referee Phil Walton awarded a debatable 84th minute free-kick against Sylvain Distin for his challenge on Scott Parker. From Radostin Kishishev’s free-kick, Walton then ruled that Richard Dunne had handled the ball and awarded a penalty. “The referee bought the free-kick,” said a disappointed KK later. “That was unlucky and the penalty was very harsh. He gave it very quickly and in the end it’s cost us two points and a victory. If something can go wrong for us at the moment, it is doing. David then got a hand to the spot kick, saves it but Di Canio follows up when nine times out of ten that would not happen. Our overall performance tonight was good and but we need a win to get our confidence back. We just have to keep going.” Charlton boss Alan Curbishley felt his side fully deserved their share of the points. “We deserved to get back into it because we had the best chances,” said Curbishley. “City have been playing well recently without getting a result but I did feel the game would turn for us.” Curbishley had words of encouragement for City as they slipped to 14th in the Premiership after a run of 13 games without a win. “They have too many good players for it not to happen. Things can change very quickly. It is only three games ago that we had not won in six matches and we could easily have gone into this game without a win in nine. Fortunately for us we managed to dig out a couple of wins, which are vital at the moment because everything is so tight.” KK later stated that Claudio Reyna was another injury victim. “It’s bad news because it looks as though Claudio will now be out for two or three weeks. It’s certainly something we could have done without. Claudio was in a lot of pain after pulling a muscle below a calf.” One bright spot in amongst the gloom and doom is that Robbie Fowler has scored in his last three league games for the club. The City boss said: “It’s good to have Robbie firing again. The goals are starting to come for him.”

Squad News

Bischoff Back in Training: Defender Mikkel Bischoff is back in training having recovered from a fractured ankle. The Dane says he will regain his match sharpness by turning out for the reserves, and says he hopes to be in Kevin Keegan’s thinking for first-team duty by the end of the month. “The plan is that I shall play for the reserves in a couple of weeks and if all goes well, I might be in consideration for the first team in a month’s time,” the stopper told Politiken. “I am now hoping to go without injuries and take my opportunity when it comes. Keegan has just changed the way he plays his system from 4-4-2 to 3-5-2 with three central defenders which is an advantage for me.”

I’m Backing Bosvelt: Paul Bosvelt has played himself back into KK’s side by showing a more positive side to his play. The Boss man revealed that “Paul hasn’t had a run in the side. He has worked very hard and has done a lot of extra training when the sessions have finished. I don’t know whether he has had difficulty adapting his style to the English game. I said to him before the Liverpool match that although he has been trying very hard his style of play looks like he is not bursting a gut. I told him in England, maybe not in Holland where he is established, and at Man City you have to go out and show the fans what really is inside you. I know what he has got as he is a very determined person who does not like being left out. He has been to see me a few times. I thought on Sunday he did show it. He challenged, he ran, he harried he fought for everything, never gave up and used the ball excellently. And that was good enough for me and more importantly good enough for Paul Bosvelt.”

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

MATCH REPORT: MCFC 1 CHARLTON ATHLETIC 1

So it’s now 13 games without a win; hopefully this will be prove to be “lucky” for us but if truth be told this game was here for the taking tonight to end this miserable run. Driving home listening to 606 on the radio, a Charlton fan rang in to say Charlton should have won this 0-4. I don’t know what game he watched but it wasn’t this one, through my blue-tinted spectacles City had done enough to just about claim all three points.

The first half was by no means a classic – City were pretty woeful, no movement, misplaced passing, no drive and no shape (Keegan was playing a 3-5-2, which frankly the players looked lost in), Charlton lined up and looked well structured with 4-4-2 but were not much better than City. The only highlight (other than goal) was a smart move, which put Anelka one-on-one but he managed to spurn the chance (would Van Tinselboy, Henry or Owen miss a similar chance – I doubt it). The other highlight was a lovely Charlton move that Di Canio should have scored from, only for him to shoot wide. The goal came when Anelka went on a mazy run and created a chance out of nothing; he beat several defenders before his miscued/blocked shot fell to Fowler whose neat touch and shot made it a rather fortuitous 1-0 lead.

In the second half City picked up the pace (Keegan changed to a 4-4-2, which made us look much more solid). As with many other games at CoMS this season, the second half was all about City domination without a great deal of end result, but at least we were looking fairly solid at the back and I couldn’t see Charlton scoring. Then, after a period of sustained City pressure, Charlton were awarded a free kick, which was floated in to the box and Dunne was adjudged to handle it (from where I was it looked a harsh decision). Di Canio took the resultant penalty, which Seaman saved but the save fell to Di Canio from which he scored – yeahhhh… ahhhhh was heard throughout the stadium. After that both sides could have nicked the win with odd chances but you knew this was going to end in a draw.

Ratings:

Seaman – 6/10
Made a good stop for the penalty and a couple of good stops (especially one from Parker). Had a couple of real scares with misjudging and handling errors, which on another day would have featured on his blunders video – why he always has to take a touch on the back passes and put himself under pressure is beyond me.

Tarnat – 6/10
Made a couple of good runs and defensively was sound. A few misplaced passes especially in the first half and committed a foul throw (which is crime at this level) but he brings confidence to the back four (especially when played at right back and not wing back).

Dunne – 9/10
Class performance from Dunne. Commanding in the air, calm on the ball and mopped up everything that needed to be. Must be Man of the match again.

Distin – 7/10
Fairly commanding performance and certainly the best pairing we have when he partners with Dunne.

Sommeil – 3/10
Woeful performance. To be truthful in the first half everybody was poor, but David didn’t improve in the second half when he was moved out to left back (out of position). Distribution was awful and positioning was worse. Surely we have better options than Sommeil at right back.

Reyna – N/A
Looked like he was going to have his usual “be everywhere” performance, but pulled up early on and was substituted (Keegan said on GMR afterwards that he felt the bottom of his calf tweak and will be out for 1-2 weeks).

Bosvelt – 5/10
Played the holding rôle reasonably well but got caught a number of times out of position and way too many misplaced passes. Shame as he did a good job against Leicester.

Sibierski – 7/10
I’d like to see more of Sibierski, won everything in the air in midfield and Anelka/Fowler/Macken should get a lot of change of the number of flick-ons he was producing. Ran and harried well and was reasonably inventive going forward. I say give him a run in the side. Went off mid-way in the second half with cramp, which was a shame.

Sinclair – 4/10
Waste of space – hugged the line and waited for the ball to come to him, didn’t get involved and when he did wouldn’t take defenders on, which you’d expect him to do playing on the wing. Didn’t look interested and on a number of times held play up when a bit of urgency would have caused all sorts of problems for Charlton. You would think he’d be playing to try to get in the England squad for the summer… wrong… drop him now!

Fowler – 8/10
Looking class again, he would have been MoM for me several times this season if Dunne hadn’t played so well. Fowler has gained that yard of space and the goals are starting to come. Yet again his link up play and runs were superb. I just wish Anelka and him would click; they would be awesome. He also seems to be playing much higher up the pitch rather than playing deeper than Anelka, which I think is the reason for the goals starting to come. Nice to see the crowd shouting his name when he was subbed.

Anelka – 7/10
Much better performance from Nico today – he seems to have that hunger coming back, challenged for a number of balls and was looking to take players on and shoot. Even saw him tackle back on a number of occasions today. Should have scored in the first half but at least he’s showing desire again.

Macken – 7/10
Had little time to impress but when he came on he put himself about and his movement was excellent, lots of movement off the ball and making space for players to run into.

Wright-Phillips – 6/10
Had little to do and didn’t really get involved. Would have liked to have seen him replace Sinclair but think it was forced of KK to swap Sibierski.

Barton – 7/10
Typical Joey, played full of commitment and charge, played some lovely balls but also played some woeful ones. If he cut the poor balls out he’d be class but he’s young and will learn.

Charlton Athletic
Looked useful, were well organised and played some nice football at times. The move that setup Di Canio in the first half was probably the best move of the half – Fish also had a great game against Anelka, making a number of crucial tackles. Parker was disappointing after all the rave reviews he had been getting. Hope they get the 4th space spot (if we don’t get it – yeah right!) just to put one up on the likes of Newcastle and Liverpool who think they have a divine right for 4th place this season.

The Fans
Disappointed in the support and atmosphere at CoMS tonight. OK you can argue that the team should lift the fans but other times we have to try and lift the team. Where I sit in Level 3 East, there are so many people who slag the team off when things are going wrong (Sommeil, Sibierski, Anelka, Bosvelt all got it today, probably because the usual target Fowler is playing so well). Yes, we all pay our money and are entitled to moan but support the lads when they are on the field; what point is there in getting on their backs whilst they are playing for the club?

Again the team played well and were extremely unlucky not to collect all three points. So to end a reality check on the panic merchants and the doom mongerers… just stop and think if we beat Boro, Spurs, Charlton and Liverpool like we all agree we should have, we’d now have 31 points and be in close to that 4th spot that Charlton occupy.

Rich Fenton <rich(at)fentor.com>

OPINION: PLAYERS, MANAGERS AND THE SOLUTION

Have to admit that, through working longer hours than I’d like, that I’ve only seen two games live this season (so willing to be shot down by the season ticket holders who may find holes in my arguments), and a few others on TV, but on the basis of the games I’ve seen (QPR away – lucky we were playing a team two divisions below us – and Leicester on the weekend – thanks, John Womby – you are a star, and I hope Chris passes this on to you), a few observations:

  1. Not a fan of Berkovic after his behaviour pre-season, but a few goodperformances could win me over. As has been said on numerous occasionsthis season on this fine organ, undoubtedly our best player. Also, theplayer who will get the best out of Anelka/SWP, i.e. is able to play thepass to use their pace to our advantage. I lost count of the number oftimes over the weekend we broke into good positions, only to wait on thehalf-way until Leicester had an opportunity to marshall their defencebecause we went backwards/had no idea about putting a quick ball into oneof the “speed merchants”. Playing a team like Leicester, the one thing youknow they don’t have is pace at the back. We have it up front, but no oneto create the chances. We’re paying Berkovic’s wages so we might as wellplay him (although suspect he will be off to Portsmouth this week for arelative pittance, in what could be Keegan’s worst transfer decision todate). If not him, then who? I had hoped (as I stated in the summer, to,as it turned out, justifiable criticism) that McManaman could be the answerbut my faith in him, it seems was misguided (to the extent of changing myfirst goalscorer bet on the weekend from Dickov to him – sillyboy). Haven’t seen enough of Sibierski to see if he is the answer but Isuspect not, from what I’ve seen. Not much wrong with the side at themoment, but we need to play to the strengths of our most expensive everplayer, and having him drop back to the halfway line, behind 2-3 of themidfielders does not achieve this. We need a midfielder with thecreativity/wit to pick out/encourage those runs behind the defenders,rather than Anelka having to drop back to the half way to try to obtainpossession.
  2. Fowler. To be fair, the guy didn’t have a bad game againstLeicester. But he didn’t have a particularly good one, either, although atleast he tried more than he did than at Chelsea away last season (when Iflew back from Dubai at vast expense, to see what at the time I describedat the time as the worst City performance I’d seen, but which was probablyno worse than countless other performances I, and I’m sure many othersubscribers to this site, had seen over the years). Given that he hasn’tscored regularly since he was at Liverpool about 4-5 years ago, and Keegannow admits he wasn’t fit for all of last season (at least), why not giveMacken a chance? I’m not convinced he’s Premiership quality, either, butthe goals he’s been scoring in the reserves surely entitle him to a chance,even if only as a sub for the last 30 minutes of games we’re losing/drawing(i.e. every game at the moment).
  3. Transfer policy in the summer was strange, to say the least – how manymidfielders do we now have (including those out of favour)? What cover dowe have if one of our already shaky defenders is crocked?
  4. Richard Dunne – couldn’t believe how slim he looked. Shame he fcukd upfor the second goal, but wish I had his diet. Looked solid (in the nicestpossible sense) apart from the one mistake. Always nice to see someoneknuckle down and show a bit of commitment to the cause.
  5. Which brings me to – Paul Dickov. Very unhappy about the reaction hegot from the crowd. Served us for 6 years. Never the best player, butalways the guy who’d give us 100% and never let us down (cf – other unsungheroes over the years, such as Horlock and Brightwell, who never got thecredit they deserved). We knew he’d argue every decision, wind up thecentre halves, give it everything, etc. – he’s gone on record as sayinghow much he loves the club and scored without doubt the most important goalin the club’s history (possible because one of the other unsung heroes gotthe first), and yet the treatment he got was disgraceful. What do youthink motivates him more – a club he still retains a lot of affection forgiving him a hero’s welcome, or a club where he thought he was held inaffection booing him? Agreed, his goalscoring record wasn’t great, but healways tried his best.
  6. Which brings me to my final point (for those of you who haven’t scrolleddown to the next contribution) – Keegan. Wasn’t at all sure when he wasappointed. First Division – was overseas, but got to see a few games, sawthe results and thought he was great. Last season – flew back from Dubaifor the last derby at Maine Road. Enough said! Ninth was a respectablefinish first season back. Not prepared to be too harsh on him just becausewe’ve hit a bit of a wall this season (so long as it doesn’t go on too muchlonger), but have to say his transfers in the summer were strange to saythe least – no defenders, a 40 year old goalkeeper! If he does go(voluntarily or otherwise), best bet to take over – Mickey Adams – did wellat Brighton, did well at Fulham (until removed by Keegan when director offootball to be replaced by Ray Wilkins of all people) and now done well atLeicester. Given that, whenever he goes, Keggy is going to leave the clubin lots of debt, this guy, given what he’s done with no money elsewhere, isclearly the man to take over. Hell, he’s even got Dicky scoring! I’m noadvocate of getting rid of Keegan (yet!) – we got rid of both Tony Book andMel Machin before they were able to fulfil their potential and Keegan knowsthis is his last chance to do something in England, but he needs to addressthe issues above or, I’m afraid, it’s time to look for Mickey to replacehim (the poor man’s Martin O’Neill – until others cotton on to his abilities).

Martin Preston <martingpreston(at)yahoo.co.uk>

OPINION: TRANSFERS

I’m actually a fan of the limited sales window in the Premiership. It gives players and managers 3 months or so to settle into the new season without the ability to rashly buy players and waste a awful lot of money, something City have been all too good at in past years. Now the time has come around again in this season we need to reflect on what is need by a team, not in crisis, but in need of little clear thinking and strong will.

KK states his need for a goalkeeper and striker. I wholeheartedly agree we need a ‘keeper. It is a real pity that Weaver has continuing problems as I think he would be the man for the job. He has learned much since his past Premiership appearance and from Peter Schmeichel. I’m not sure he will ever be fully fit to reach the top after so long out and with undoubted questions about his knees when he does play. I believe we need a ‘keeper who has presence in his area. Schmeichel did, both for us and our Red neighbours. We need this again.

A striker is something we shouldn’t need. Fowler, Anelka, Macken, Wanchope etc. should be able to do the job. If we need a striker then why sell Huckerby? A new striker will be an expensive luxury because we have proved that we can score goals.

A defender with composure, presence and authority is something vital. Tony Adams had this and Arsenal had massive success, others have a plenty including our neighbours. This is the missing component in central defence and something we should spend on.

But what else is missing? I look at Chelsea, not for money but for an idea. They are doing well, who wouldn’t with that squad but they are not top or even 2nd. Why? Lack of consistency in team selection. A team plays well when they know each other. Arsenal and Man U prove that every single week and every single season. They change 2 or 3 players per game at most depending on injury and suspension (best not go there). City need a steady team line up. If the players don’t like it, tough. Are they there for themselves or the team? They should be happy he team is doing well and working harder in training and reserve games to earn a place. If we kept a steady attacking squad we may do better. I would have thought KK would have learned that from his Newcastle days. He was walking away with the title until he bought and changed several players and his season fell apart. Consistency in the team will lead to consistent results.

I hope we pull things around and don’t do an Ipswich. Europe and relegation!

Chris Marland – Manc in Canada <cnmarland(at)hotmail.com>

OPINION: BERKO

City played some of their best football when Ali and/or Berko were threading through balls for our strikers to run onto.

My frustration with our tactics this year has forced me to ask the question, did anyone ask KK at the fans’ forum why Berko or whether he would get onto the pitch to do what he is paid to do?

What was his answer?

Justin Arthur <jarthur(at)mweb.co.za>

OPINION: THE KK DEBATE

I have been reading the bulletins for the last few years but have never felt inspired (or irritated enough) to write until now. Football is indeed a game of opinions and long may it remain so but I have rarely read such reactionary misinformed garbage as that of Andrew Ranson and ‘Marc’. I would suggest that Andrew focus on Aussie rules – I presume your rantings are based on watching a few televised games…

A few general points:

1) The Premiership is a difficult league and we do not have a divine right to be where we would like to be (i.e. top 6). We are currently on a bad run of luck and this will turn around. In the last few games the team has started playing well again and we are seeing the kind of effort levels we would expect. The most important thing is that we are playing some great football: Liverpool didn’t know what to do in the first half (and the last 15 minutes), Leeds didn’t know what to do at all (except stick 10 men behind the ball and play like Sheffield Utd.). I know I would rather be a Blue following the Liverpool game as we clearly the better side and this bodes well. Yes the defence has cocked up a few times in the last few games but each time we have been a couple of inches from taking 3 deserved points and have not given up (unlike some of the so called ‘support’).

2) ‘Enough is Enough. Keegan must go’. Get a grip. I seriously suspect that these are the ramblings of a swamp dweller. Stop whining, stop booing and get behind the team. Life is not always easy and anyone can celebrate in the good times, the measure of true support is what you do when things are going against you. I know, let’s get Keegan out and start the merry-go-round again.

3) During the reign of KK it has to be said that 75 or 80% of his decisions have proved to be correct. That’s pretty damn good by my money. OK there have been some disappointments, like the Berkovic situation, but for a manager to have the respect of the players he needs to play hardball sometimes. It has worked for Dunney and if Eyal doesn’t want to play for us then get rid of him.

A few points about the players:

1) Totally agree with Chris Ffelan about Sunnyboy. Great commitment, getting better all the time and becoming a great crosser of the ball.
2) Wanchope – still needs a good run when he’s fit again and will come good. He is definitely an odd player but can be dreadful on occasions (as can all strikers).
3) Robbie La – Finally getting there. Keegan will be proved right on this one given time.
4) Anelka – really can’t figure him out. When we first signed him he confounded everyone by giving 110% and tracking back as well as scoring great goals. Currently looks as though he can’t be a**sed but still putting a few away, including some fearless penalties. Looking back his form always drifts in and out so we need to stick with him. Once again KK’s man management skills seem to be working where others have failed.
5) Dunnyboy – fair play to the lad. I would have got rid a while ago but I suppose that’s why KK is manager and not me. Another great example of what KK’s man management skills can achieve. There’s nothing quite like seeing the Dunny Monster shoulder to shoulder with a flash striker only to see him bring the ball away with said striker on his a*se!
6) My Little Pony – Has seemed more reliable in recent games but let’s get Robinson in as soon as possible. The perfect choice.
7) Distin – He is pure class and will come back into form as will Sommeil. Neither is firing on all cylinders at the moment.
8) SWP – pure class and getting better with experience.
9) Barton – also improving and perfect for some games. Keegan knows how to get the best out of him and when to reign him in.
10) Sinclair – Has been disappointing since he arrived. I can’t forget how well he played in the last WC. Let’s hope he can get his form back.
11) Reyna – I’m starting to see why Keegan bought him – very tidy on the ball, good distribution and great work rate.

Happy 2004 to all and as Ernie would say come on you Blues!

Harv the Blue (Harvey can’t use his email address as it’s a work one 😉

OPINION: CAPTAIN MATERIAL

Why not make Claudio Reyna the captain?

Claudio Reyna has been the captain of the USA National side, he has had the experience of being a captain with success. He is proving himself to be an excellent midfield player, and above all a team player.

Come on you Blues!

Ernie Barrow <britcityblue(at)aol.com>

OPINION: ODE FROM JAMES

It’s a brand new year we should be full of cheer
Instead we are drowning our sorrows in beer
We’ve got a bloody great team on paper that’s true
And a blooming great ground that’s the colour of blue
We owe a lot of money to the bank or two
And we’ve got a Kevin Keegan but he’s gone cuckoo

Now you must agree that it’s just not fair
Too get beat by s**t when you play with flair
But why, why, why do we attack, attack, attack
When we’re left found wanting so often at the back

Now I don’t want to bleat about the players to a man
Cos I’ve be reading the views of the downtrodden fan
We should have seen off Charlton how much more can we take
Ah f**k it you know what! Keegan’s a fake!

We can wonder and ponder, deliberate and debate
Cos Keegan won’t listen, anyway it’s too late
He said we’d be fighting for a place at the top
But if we keep up this drawing we might just beat the drop

I love City with the whole of my heart
So it worries me greatly cos it’s falling apart
Why should we struggle throwing money away
On overpaid players who cant even play?

We travel to Pompey, three point we require
I wonder if Redknapp will p**s on our fire
Come on you City as we’ll sing you Blue Moon
We’ll get right behind you the invisible man.

James Judge <James.Judge(at)ews-railway.co.uk>

REQUEST: POMPEY TICKET AVAILABLE

I have one adult ticket in the City end vs. Portsmouth on Saturday. Call or email 01737 557803.

David Rothberg <home(at)tace.go-plus.net>

REQUEST: LEICESTER TICKET

I’m a Norwegian City fan currently working in London hoping to travel up to Leicester for the FA Cup replay against Leicester. If there’s anyone out there with a spare ticket I would really appreciate it!

I was thinking about travelling by train but if there is anyone travelling from London by car having room for another one in the car I am more than happy to join and happily share petrol/parking costs!

Kjartan Aanestad (<kjartan(at)aanestad.net> )

REQUEST: LEICESTER AWAY CSA HOSPITALITY

The East Midlands Branch of the CSA are opening their club in Aylestone before the match with Leicester on Wednesday 14th January, which will be open from 4.00pm.

There is parking and we will have an escort to the ground at 7.00pm, which will take 10-15 minutes. Everyone must be booked in so I need your coach company’s names or if you are travelling alone we require your registration and numbers of people.

I have informed the local police and football intelligence unit as required.

Please email or call for further details: 07855 421591.

Dave Kelly – East Midlands CSA (<stuart’kelly(at)coheran.com>)

REQUEST: LOS ANGELES BLUE VIEWING

Does anybody know where the Portsmouth game will be showed in LA (or possibly Anaheim) on the 17th?

Or if any Blues are meeting up, then please let me know where you’re at… Not that I can be bothered really, but if someone’s got to suffer having my season ticket, then I suppose it’s only fair I suffer too.

Ta Very, Joel Perry <joel(at)mancity.net>

REQUEST: BLACKBURN CORPORATES AVAILABLE

Limited availability for MCFC vs. Blackburn Saturday 17th January 2004

Includes:
Match ticket
Match programme
Pre-match 2 course meal in the Sports Diner.

Cost per package is £80.00.

Best regards and Happy New Year!

Bill Simister – Gateway UK Ltd <manchester(at)gatewayukltd.com>

MCIVTA FAQ [v0304.06]

[0] MCIVTA Addresses


Articles (Heidi Pickup) : editor@mcivta.city-fan.org
News/rumour (Don Barrie) : news@mcivta.city-fan.org
Subscriptions (Madeleine Hawkins): subscriptions@mcivta.city-fan.org
Technical problems (Paul) : paul@city-fan.org
FAQ (David Warburton) : faq@mcivta.city-fan.org

[1] What are MCIVTA’s publishing deadlines?

Deadlines for issues are nominally 6pm, Monday and Thursday evenings.

[2] MCIVTA Back Issues and Manchester City Supporters’ home page

http://www.uit.no/mancity/ is the unofficial Manchester City Supporters’ home page. Created in 1994, it is the longest running of the Manchester City related web sites. Back issues of MCIVTA are also hosted on the site.

[3] What is the club’s official web site?

The official club web site can be found at http://www.mcfc.co.uk/

[4] What supporters’ clubs are there?

Manchester City FC recognises three supporters’ clubs: The “Official Supporters Club” (http://www.mancity.net/osc/); the “Centenary Supporters’ Association” (http://www.reddishblues.com/CSAWebsite/CSA.htm) and “The International Supporters’ Club” (http://www.mcfc.co.uk/article.asp?article=111845&Title=International+Supporters+Club&lid=Membership).

[5] Where can I find out about the fans’ committee?

The Fans’ Committee operates as an interface between supporters and the club. It has its own website, http://www.mcfc-fans.com/ containing info about forthcoming meetings as well as minutes from previous gatherings.

[6] What match day broadcasts are available on the web?

The GMR pre and post match phone-in is available on the web at http://www.bbc.co.uk/england/gmr/sport_intro.shtml.

Live match commentaries and archives of games, reports and interviews can be found at http://www.mcfctv.com/, whilst an alternate live commentary service, hosted by Yahoo, is located at http://uk.sports.yahoo.com/foot/englandprem/cal/index.html.

[7] Where can I find out if City are live on satellite TV?

http://www.satfootball.com/pl.html provides a listing of Premiership games being shown on UK domestic and foreign satellite channels. Useful sites for North American viewers are http://canadatvsoccer.tripod.com/Fixtures.htm, http://www.foxsportsworld.com/named/FSW/Index/Soccer, and http://www.soccertv.com/.

http://www.foxsportsworld.com/content/view?contentId=1288602 also provides a guide to pubs in the USA showing football.

[8] What’s the music the teams run out to?

It’s actually a mix of two tracks. It starts with “O Verona” (from the motion picture “William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet”) and leads in to “Barber’s Adagio for Strings (Ferry Corsten remix)” by William Orbit. The first part is available on the movie soundtrack (volume 2) and the second is included on a variety of CDs such as Kiss House Nation 2000, Galaxy Hit Mix, Cream Live, Ibiza Chill and Dance Nation 4.

[9] Do we have a Usenet newsgroup?

Yes we do: uk.sport.football.clubs.man-city is our home on usenet. If you are not familiar with usenet, a basic explanation is available here: http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/0,289893,sid9_gci213262,00.html

[10] Do any squad members have their own web pages?

There are a number available and direct links can be found at http://www.uit.no/mancity/players/

[11] Can I buy shares in the club?

Yes you can: Shares in Manchester City PLC are traded on OFEX. The latest prices can be on found the OFEX web site http://www.ofex.com/ (registration required) or in the business section of the Manchester Evening News.

[12] Where can I find match statistics?

Statistics for the current season are available from the club site, but for a more in-depth analysis try http://www.mcfcstats.com/ or http://www.citystat.net/.

[13] Acknowledgements

Thanks go to Damian Quinn, Stephen Webb, Roger Haigh, Martin Price, and Adrian Howarth for the Satellite TV info.


DISCLAIMER
The views expressed in MCIVTA are entirely those of the subscribersand there is no intention to represent these opinions as being thoseof Manchester City Football Club, nor of any of the companies anduniversities by whom the subscribers are employed. It is not inany way whatsoever connected to the club or any other relatedorganisation and is simply a group of supporters using this mediumas a means of disseminating news and exchanging opinions.


[Valid3.2]Heidi Pickup, editor@mcivta.city-fan.org

Newsletter #981

2004/01/08

Editor:


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