Newsletter #987

The reserves got back to winning ways on Tuesday night as the country, and Hyde, was gripped by the big freeze. A 3-0 routing of Sunderland, as Gavin reports here tonight. The first team are apparently taking extra defensive coaching lessons, which should delight all readers, ahead of Sunday’s visit to Highbury.

We have a couple of match reports on the Spurs game, Don’s news contains all the latest transfer rumblings and there are plenty to rumble about, although little concrete as the window draws to a close, and reaction to last week’s game.

We’ve also plenty of opinion on our current plight and the usual requests.

Next game: Arsenal, away, 4.05pm Sunday 1 February 2004 (TV)


General News

Back to the Swamp? Should City somehow repeat their trick of winning an FA Cup replay away from home, they face the prospect of an extra Manc derby. The tie is due to be played on the weekend of February 14th at Old Trafford and will be the second visit of the season for City should they beat Spurs on Wednesday week. “We can’t think too much about it yet as there is a difficult replay at White Hart Lane that demands all our focus,” said KK. “However, it gives both teams a tremendous incentive. The prospect of a local derby with the winners securing a place in the quarter finals of the FA Cup is truly mouth-watering.” If you can’t make the Fourth Round replay, bear in mind that Sky TV are showing the game. The tie kicks-off at 7.45pm on Wednesday February 4.

Categorical Cox: Prior to the Tottenham game, Assistant Manager Arthur Cox defended KK amid yet more speculation over the gaffer’s future. Asked if Keegan might walk away, Cox said: “Absolutely and categorically, definitely not. He has only done that once before when he was with England. Kevin is certainly not hiding and never will do. He will be a better man when he comes out the other side. He is hurt a little bit at the moment as he has never experienced anything like this. But he will overcome this hurdle as he has overcome everything else that has been put before him.”

Reserves Win: Goals from Bradley Wright-Phillips, Willo Flood and Stephen Elliott saw City’s reserves to a comfortable 3-0 victory over Birmingham City this week. The win was at a cost – Danny Tiatto’s comeback suffered another blow when he lasted only 17 minutes. There was better news for the side as Mikkel Bischoff successfully got through seventy minutes on his comeback from an ankle injury. Team: City: Schmeichel, Flood, Jordan, Onouha, McCarthy, Bischoff (Warrender 71), Croft, J D’Laryea, Elliott, B Wright-Phillips, Tiatto (Tandy 17). Subs: Matthewson, Laird, Murphy.

Fowler’s Wage Fowl Up: Robbie Fowler will have to make do with the paltry £35,000 per week salary from City, after Leeds stopped paying the Scouser the extra £12,000 per-week, as agreed when Fowler joined the Blues last season. Leeds, who owe their major creditors £83 million, have been trying desperately to raise a £5 million survival budget and one of chief executive Trevor Birch’s emergency measures has been to stop payments. Some reports suggest that City’s representatives will raise the matters at today’s meeting of Premiership chairmen, although the official line is that: “Any arrangement between Robbie Fowler and Leeds is the responsibility of those two parties and we can’t comment,” according to a club spokesman.

Transfer News and Gossip

Tabloid Titbits: We begin this section with a few of snippets from the UK’s beloved gutter press. Mario Melchiot has been told that his contract with Chelsea won’t be renewed and that he is free to leave the club in the summer. According to the Daily Star Sunday the alleged City target is not part of manager Claudio Ranieri’s future plans and he is set for a free transfer away from Stamford Bridge. Apart from City, Ajax, Tottenham and Middlesbrough have also been linked with Melchiot this season. If it’s a day with an ‘a’ in it, then Nicolas Anelka must be unhappy and wanting to leave City. And would you believe it, Le Elk is keen on a move to Barcelona, according to the People. The Frenchman wants to join Barcelona at the end of the season, and would be available for as little as £6 million. When Anelka joined City from Paris St Germain for £12 million 18 months ago, the deal was set up on annual instalments and they could cash in for around half the price and still not lose money. A more intriguing rumour concerns a possible swap deal. David Sommeil’s sojourn at City could be about to end, if we believe the word in the Sun this week. KK is hoping to push through a deal that will see David Sommeil and £1 million go to Marseille in exchange for 26-year-old Daniel van Buyten. The Belgian international defender, linked with City last summer, is considered an ideal candidate to plug the gaps in City’s porous defence. City would only face competition from the Reds, Liverpool, Newcastle and Arsenal for van Buyten’s signature. So no problems then… The latest reports are not too encouraging either. “Manchester City have made an enquiry along with a number of other clubs,” confirmed Marseille spokeswoman Natalie Paoli today. “We don’t want Daniel to leave and at this stage it doesn’t look like he will, although you can never be absolutely sure.”

Coventry Hope to Make Proffitt: Coventry City boss Eric Black is hoping to sign City youngster Darryl Proffitt on loan, after he impressed during a trial spell at Highfield Road. The 19-year-old striker has only recently broken into the reserve team, but Black believes it is worth taking a longer look at him even if he isn’t yet ready for first-team action. “He is not a player who I am saying is going to pushed straight into the first team, but I would like to take a closer look at him,” he said. “Taking him on loan will allow me to do that and allow him to feel part of the club and show us what he can do.”

Having a Gander at Zander: The Scottish press have reported that City have twice sent a scout to watch Aberdeen’s 18-year-old Zander Diamond. The scout saw Diamond pick up the sponsors’ Man of the Match Award as the Dons beat Dundee 3-2 at Dens Park in the Tennent’s Scottish Cup recently. Aberdeen boss Steve Paterson said there is no way he will sell Diamond, who still has two and a half years left in his contract. “It’s no surprise clubs are starting to watch Zander because he is an outstanding prospect,” said Paterson. “But Zander has a long learning process to go through. I know he is mature enough to realise he would be better off doing that in the Aberdeen first team than maybe being stuck in the reserve side of a Premiership club. He shouldn’t be in too much of a rush to jump up a level before he is ready. I’m not worried that clubs are starting to look at him, but if any did make an approach they would be told Zander will be expected to see out his contract with us.”

What Transfers? You might as well disregard all this speculation, if KK’s latest pronouncement is to be believed. “There is nothing to report at the moment,” he said. “There is always a slight chance that something will happen. I wouldn’t give up hope but there is nothing definite. I believe they are now going to keep the window open until Monday morning as Sunday is the last scheduled day and it is difficult to get people on a Sunday. I think if things get that late and desperate then there is a way round it.” There has been no interest in any of the senior squad. “We have only had one enquiry for a player at this club at the moment and it is not interesting for us. It is one of our younger players. There is no fee involved so I have told the other club no and the player knows about it. It is very quiet for us and I am not surprised, as I have been saying that all along that it would be.”

Ex-Blues’ News

No Go Goat: Joe Royle has failed in his bid to take Shaun Goater back under his wing, on loan to Ipswich. “Shaun will be staying with Reading,” admitted Big Joe. “He’s only just moved to a new house in Reading, and he’s got a young family. He wants to get settled there and fight for his place in the team. It was a bit of shock for him, hearing of our interest. It’s just not the right time for him to be going on a loan move. Steve (Coppell) had wanted to go away and have a talk about it with Shaun. It’s not a case of him snubbing us, but rather that he wants to stay put. That appears to be the end of our interest in him, at least for now,” added JR. The other ex-City manager in this scenario, Steve Coppell, said that he was annoyed that private conversations had found their way into the papers. “I had private conversations with Joe Royle and then Shaun so I was not best pleased when the details of those conversations came out in the press,” said City’s shortest serving manager. “I know where they came from and I don’t want to go into that, but it’s not ideal from my point of view. Shaun has no intention of leaving Reading. He is happy here and wants to complete the job he was brought here to do.”

Howey Trots to the Reebok: Steve Howey was shown the door by Leicester City last week, but it hasn’t taken the 32-year-old long to get fixed up with another Premiership club. Bolton Wanderers’ manager Sam Allardyce has signed the defender on a short term contract until the end of the season, subject to a medical and he could be available for the Trotters’ match with Charlton Athletic at the weekend. Howey spent less than six months with the Foxes.

Paul Who? Former Blue Paul Ritchie could have played himself back into contention with the Scotland squad, after Walsall team-mate Paul Merson recommended him to national coach Berti Vogts. Vogts candidly admitted that he hadn’t realised that Ritchie was qualified to play for the country. He told the Scottish Daily Express: “I have been looking to strengthen my defence but did not know anything about Ritchie’s qualifications or career. No one told me about him and it wasn’t until his name was mentioned a few weeks ago that I even knew he had scored for Scotland against the Czech Republic in 1999. I can’t understand how or why he was forgotten maybe it was because he was out injured for so long. But I immediately arranged to watch him in action against West Brom a fortnight ago and was very impressed. He was up against Scott Dobie and proved to be a good defender. I will be calling him into the squad for the game with Wales and he has a great chance of being involved. He is strong, quick and very passionate and I like that in my players. I agree with everything Paul Merson has said about Ritchie and he will now get his chance to step back onto the international stage.” Scotland play Wales in Cardiff next month.

Reactions and Comments

Caught off Gaard: If City are to ensure a third derby of the season, they are doing it the hard way, as the Blues drew 1-1 with Tottenham in their FA Cup Fourth Round tie at Maine Road (sorry) the City of Manchester Stadium. “I am probably going to say the same things again as I have been saying in the past few weeks,” mused our manager. “It was a little bit different in this game against Spurs. In the first half we played very well and created enough chances to come in with a comfortable lead at half time. The goal that Nicolas got we could have added to as we had one or two chances. Claudio Reyna had a very good chance. In the second half they made a couple of changes and we never got going until the game went to 1-1. In the last ten or fifteen minutes we found something within ourselves to go back and win the tie. But through a combination of poor finishing, wrong choice and a poor final ball into the box we could not convert those opportunities into clear cut chances.” The Spurs equaliser came from an apparent misjudgement of a corner by City’s young ‘keeper Kevin Stuhr Ellegaard. “If a 6ft 4in ‘keeper is going full length upwards and he can’t get the ball, and he is between his goal when Doherty headed it, his positioning is maybe at fault,” said KK. “But I am not going to condemn him for that. He is young and that was only his fifth game and two of those have been as sub. He finds himself in the first team ahead of time. If David James had not been cup-tied and Arni Arason hadn’t had a slight problem with his thigh from Thursday’s training, Kevin would probably not have played. But he has made two good saves, one from a free-kick and one low down. He is inexperienced but the only way to get experience is to go out there. If he has made a mistake – and I am not sure he has – then he has to learn from that. It will make him a better goalkeeper.” With City seeming to struggle at the City of Manchester Stadium, KK said: “We have kept only one clean sheet here in a long, long time. That means we have been forced to try to score twice to win a game. That is something we have to look at but at least we live to fight another day. It’s confidence that suffers,” he added, “and it’s not just inexperienced players that suffer. When you’ve not won for a long time and there’s a shadow hanging over the place, it becomes very difficult, whether you’re experienced or not.” As Spurs threatened to dominate the second half, Keegan swung the game back City’s way by introducing Jon Macken and SWP from the subs’ bench. “I was tempted to put Shaun Wright-Phillips on earlier than I did,” remarked the manager. “There was nothing wrong with the first half performance and I was thinking during the opening ten minutes of the second half that it was so bad we could sort it out. But then I thought that Shaun had to go on to liven us up and that is what he did, liven us up. He was back to his very best running at people. Just once or twice the final ball could have been better. He picked out Trevor Sinclair with one and was unlucky as I think Nicolas Anelka got in the way. I was pleased with Shaun’s contribution and thought the two substitutions gave us a lift.”

Same Again, Sylvain? Sylvain Distin was in morose mood after City once again threw away a lead at home. “It is always the same, that’s about all I can say,” he said. “It is like that film, ‘Groundhog Day’ where every day is the same.” Don’t we know it, skipper! “I find myself now having to say the same thing as after every game in the last two months. We dominated the first half and we had some good moments in the second half but when you concede a goal you either draw or lose. At least we have the replay and a chance to put things right. We will be going to White Hart Lane to win. It is important that we are still in the Cup but we know it will be difficult. We have had a lot of games in the last couple of months and now we have another one. We have been working hard and doing extra training as we know we have not been good in defence. I think we have been playing better in defence though I am not going to mention the word, ‘luck’ as it is a bad word. The key is hard work as we know if we don’t work hard then we will not achieve anything. We must defend as a team. When it is a corner it is not only the defenders who must mark the opposition. When I talk about defending now I mean the whole team.”

Pleat Gets Pleasure in Manchester: Meanwhile, Tottenham manager David Pleat was delighted with the Londoners’ fightback. “I was just filled with pleasure by the way were able to come back after such a mediocre first half to play so well,” Pleat said. “Playing with such a young side, that was a vibrant performance in the second period and full of character. We could have had another couple of goals quite easily and we can go back now with hope for the second game.” Manchester City manager Kevin Keegan refused to slate Kevin Ellegaard after the young ‘keeper’s error gifted Tottenham an equaliser in a 1-1 FA Cup fourth round draw. Michael Brown had a fun filled reunion with his old club, as the new Tottenham midfielder appeared to be a one man enforcer in the first half, but objected vociferously when retribution occurred in the second. “I was just running away from Claudio Reyna when I was clogged round the head and went down,” bleated Brown later. “I don’t know why. I never asked him and he never said anything to me. But I cannot believe none of the officials saw it. I even made a point of asking the fourth official, but he said he hadn’t seen it either.” His manager refused to get involved but was fully aware of the incident. Pleat said: “I don’t comment on those things. But Michael was certainly aggrieved.” Goalscorer Gary Doherty commented that “We were poor in the first half. We did not show any fluency. The gaffer gave us a real roasting at half time, which we needed, but we came out and worked hard. The front two did a brilliant job and that gave us a base to get a result. I don’t know why we started so slow. We were sluggish, we did not win anything and did not play anything. It was men against boys in the first half. The manager told us at half time and I think that played a part.” The replay is at White Hart Lane on Wednesday February 4, kick-off 7.45pm.

Squad News

Arni Says: ‘I’ll Be Back’: Arni Gautur Arason does not believe his thigh injury will keep him on the sidelines for long. Arason was a late omission from the squad against Tottenham on Sunday after reporting a muscle strain on the eve of the game. The ‘keeper feels he could have played had there been no other option, but KK did not want to risk his long term fitness. “It doesn’t feel too bad,” Arason told Adresseavisen. “I will be back in two or three days. It’s not a serious injury, but I would have had problems with playing the ball and the injury could have got worse. I totally understand that the manager didn’t want to take the chance.” Richard Dunne has been impressed with the way Arason has adapted to his new surroundings. “He has done very well. It must be difficult for him coming in, not knowing the place. Shot-stopping seems to be his thing and if he gets a game, I am sure he will do well,” said Dunne.

Me and My Mate: Robbie Fowler has dismissed reports of a rift between himself and strike-partner Nicolas Anelka. Coupled with the team’s slide down the League table, rumours have been doing the rounds of a fall-out between the former Liverpool players, but Fowler says that couldn’t be further from the truth. He said: “I have always talked to Nicolas and he has to me. We have always got on. Fans were probably concerned early on that we weren’t feeding off one another but if you look at our performances over the past month or so, it promises a lot for the future. It might not look the most natural partnership in the world but we have both worked hard and it is now starting to pay dividends. It has been a natural progression; we have got better and better.”

Sun Spots Chance to Stay: Sun Jihai has eighteen months left on his contract and would love to spend longer with the Blues. “I certainly would like to stay,” confirmed the defender. “No one can predict what the future holds, a lot of things could determine whether I stay or not but I love this club. City feels like a home. All the fans, officials, the chairman, the manager, the staff and team-mates make this club feel like a big family. That is a great feeling for someone who has come from a different culture. I can appreciate playing for Manchester City and everything about the club now that I have matured. When I was in England first at Crystal Palace I was very young and didn’t have time to think about the club, my future, or my football. It was too early for me then. Now I have grown up so I think about the football more.”

Don Barrie <news(at)>


Yet another game and yet another Jeckall and Hyde performance. First half we ruled the roost. Spurs were limited to trying to pass the ball around and trying to look like a side with more class then you’d expect but who they kidding, no options and too many misplaced passes. Actually credit to City’s midfield and Fowler and Anelka harassing, we had limited Spurs to very little, whilst on the break we looked good for goals. At last we broke the deadlock early on (13 minutes) when a corner was cleared, headed back by Distin and Fowler was unlucky not to score with his looping header but it kindly fell to Anelka. 1-0. The luck was turning and we surely now had turned that corner once again; chance after chance after chance came and yet we went in only 1-0 up at half time. At least we were by far the better side.

Now here comes one of my bugbears. How can a team completely dominate a first half and come out for the second and look like utter strangers? Spurs, to their credit, changed their formation. From 4-4-2, they packed the midfield to 3-5-2 which, until that point, Reyna and Sibby were controlling and lo and behold a goal was made out of nothing. 1-1 and we look like we are going to lose this game after all. The goal itself was another comedy of errors, which we have become so accustomed to, mistimed tackle by Dunne (followed by a chase to the byline – where Dunne was pulling on Postiga’s shirt), a cross, a woeful misjudgement by Young Kevin E and then a marker running free for an easy goal. To make things worse, 60 seconds later an identical opportunity and really Spurs should have made it 1-2. Now what is said at half-time to make the team come out like that? It’s happened too many times this season for it to be a coincidence. Also, when Spurs changed their formation, why didn’t we counter? We were getting murdered on the right wing but we waited until the 65th minute to do something about it. SWeeP came on and then Spurs’ right back was more preoccupied with what he was doing so he couldn’t counter as much. Spurs changed back to a 4-4-2, the game changed and we were back in the hunt. It was obvious to everyone in the ground what needed to be done from the kick off but why did we take so long to change it? Sigh!

I’m not going to talk about the sitters that Macken missed; obviously short of match experience but we had enough to win this (like too many games before). We never do things the easy way.

I’m not going to do match ratings as the first half ratings would have been quite high but the second real low. Some pointers though:

Ellegaard – was a fault for the goal but did make 3-4 really good stops; shame, as if he didn’t mess up for the goal he would have gained a lot of credit from that performance. Get him loaned out to a Nationwide side so he can get the experience he needs.

Sun – done well in defence today, is it just me or do teams target his side as a weak point – he sees an awful lot of the ball. As ever he’s great going forward especially when SWeeP comes on.

Reyna and Sibby – excellent first halves but where were they in the second half!?

Bosvelt – not up to the speed of the Premiership and it showed too many times, the game completely passed him by.

Fowler – Good but you could see he was coming back from injury, he didn’t have that spark he’s had the last few weeks.

Anelka – Radio said he was poor and disinterested. I disagree: chased and harried and was looking at trying to create things.

Sinclair – Man of the match again… is it me or am I missing something here? Most disappointing City signing that I can remember (oh besides Buster Phillips!)!

SWeeP – changed the game, every time he got the ball it worried Spurs. Why don’t we play SWeeP on the right and Tiatto on the left? It will worry teams; both players look to take players on and get some urgency in the game.

Roll on Sunday against Arsenal – easy 3 points… 🙂

Rich Fenton <rich(at)>


Spurs Game: A Late Report from California

I haven’t a lot to say and this would go for the two previous games on U.S. TV; Leicester replay and the Blackburn game. I’ve read the other reports and most of us seem to be struggling to come to grips with what is happening. But it is beginning to get old: take the lead and then give it up, make a mistake to give away a goal, miss chances up front and generally fade as a team for periods in each game. We also seem to have lost the knack of playing wide. It has got to the point that when we get the ball I don’t expect much to happen. Isn’t that sad?

I am not even sure, at the moment, what the starting eleven should be. Can we do better than the current back four (I am glad Distin is back in the middle of defence) or the front two of Fowler and Anelka? That leaves midfield, which appears to be a place where Kevin likes to make change after change.

I am not sure about Kevin. Just how long can this run go before those that attend the games begin to show real discontent? My problem has been who the heck would we get. I don’t want to revert to the series of managers like Frank Clark, Joe Royle, Alan Ball that we had in the mid to late 1990s. They always seemed so focussed on the immediate rather than a longer term plan. It is clear that a top flight manager has to be able to deal with players from all over the world and I think Kevin can do that. But we are just not playing well and the games ahead are not easy.

How real is the danger of relegation? I think we have to say it is now real enough. I have this terrible feeling we will have a last day game of massive importance. I hope I am wrong.

Many thanks for all the reports. Even though we get a lot of games on TV, it is not the same and to get all the inside scoop, gossip and conjecture is great.

Best wishes to all.

John Pearson <john.pearson(at)>


City’s good finishing on the break was the difference between the two teams. Where City found the back of the net, Sunderland’s wayward shots and the woodwork prevented them from scoring. The result also ensured that City at least climbed above Sunderland in the table. Two first half goals from Bradley Wright-Phillips and Willo Flood effectively took the sting out of Sunderland. City’s third from young Irish starlet Stephen Elliott in the second half sealed the result for City and allowed our impressive defence to keep another clean sheet.

It was the away side that started the brighter, with loanee and ex-Stockport winger, Kevin Cooper, being the main protagonist of their threat. It was his cross across the box that Michael Proctor, the league’s top scorer, failed to connect properly with. Two minutes later, Sunderland won the first corner of the match, and Sean Thornton saw his headed goal disallowed for offside.

City’s early chances were a header by Paddy McCarthy from a corner after Lee Croft should have done better when he ran into the box, but pulled his cross too far back and Elliott’s shot was deflected for the corner. Minutes later, Gary Breen, playing his first competitive game since November, headed the ball across the face of City’s goal instead of heading it goalbound. Straight after that, Danny Tiatto was substituted after limping off the field with an as yet unconfirmed injury.

As the game approached the half hour point, Elliott was able to turn and shoot on the edge of the area and test Michael Ingham in the Sunderland goal for the first time in the match. Sunderland then had two good chances within the space of a minute. First, Proctor hit a twenty-five yard shot on the right hand side against the bar and then Ex-Evertonian John Oster fluffed a simple one on one with the ‘keeper as he watched his tame shot trickle wide of the goal.

They will curse their luck as two minutes later Lee Croft sent a long defence-splitting pass to Wright Phillips, who had been played onside by Breen, and Bradley was able to run on and do what Oster should have done moments earlier by allowing his shot to coolly nestle in the bottom corner of the net.

Sunderland carried on pressing forward in this end to end encounter and it was they who were unlucky once again as City’s defence backed off Oster sufficiently to allow him to curl a shot to the top corner but Kasper Schmeichel’s fingertip save pushed it on to the bar and behind for a corner.

Two minutes later, Willo Flood made a good tackle in his own half and carried the ball to the edge of the box, where he found a willing Lee Croft whose shot was low and, although Ingham got down to it, he could only parry it, and Willo, who had carried his run on, forced the ball into the net and effectively ended Sunderland’s hopes of a victory.

The second half took a while to get going as probably the players were still warming up from having to restart in the freezing conditions. It was City though that created the first chance, when Bradley played a lovely, weighted pass on to Elliott and he shot first time but Ingham saved well. It would be another quarter of an hour before another opening occurred. This time it fell to Bradley after some good, industrious forward play down the left from Willo and substitute Jamie Tandy, but again Ingham saved the shot well.

Stephen Jordan then received his fifth booking of the season for dissent from an incident that was entirely clear; and so he’ll serve a one match ban in a couple of weeks. Straight from that, Ingham took his free kick and Jonathan D’Laryea headed the ball straight back to Bradley who was able to lay the ball off to Elliott on the right who hit a cracking twenty yard shot past Ingham and into the net.

As the game drew to a close, the wintry conditions became worse and the snow started to settle, Sunderland once again pushed forward and Nedum Onuoha cleared a headed attempt only to see the clearance come straight back, but fortunately for his endeavour the shot from substitute Teggart was deflected wide.

Schmeichel: Made some good saves and collected the ball well. 8
Flood: Worked tirelessly in midfield and scored a good goal. MoM 8
Jordan (capt). Will be disappointed in the booking; otherwise quite good. 7
Onuoha: Looked more comfortable once he moved to the centre. 7
McCarthy: Mopped up well from Bischoff at times and came out well. 7
Bischoff (71): Not a bad effort, obviously needs games to get stronger in the tackle. 6
Croft: The enigma that is Croft. No end product all evening. 6
D’Laryea: Got stuck into the midfield and made some good forward runs. 8
Elliott: Not his best game for us, but boy, does he now know where the onion bag is. 7
Wright-Phillips: Worked hard with little service, scored one and set the other up. 8
Tiatto (17): Anonymous until he limped off. 5

Warrender (71): Slotted in well to his usual right back position. 6
Tandy (17): Caused a lot of problems for the Sunderland defence on occasions. 7
Not Used:
Matthewson, Laird, Murphy.

Sunderland: Ingham, Ramsden, James, Dickman, Clarke (capt), Breen (Collins 60), Scott (Huntley 75), Thornton, Oster, Proctor, Cooper (Teggart 75).

Ref: D Storrie: Made some strange decisions, otherwise reasonable. 6

Att: 401.

Gavin Cooper <blueboy(at)>


Look deep into City’s fortunes and ask yourself why we have not turned the proverbial corner, because the reasons are linked together. Since departing with David Bernstein, we have acquired a state of the art new stadium and a new chairman in John Wardle. It would seem that Mr Bernstein was equipped to take the club on and up, due to his experience from the past three seasons. The board deemed this not to be the case, and now we find ourselves in a possible relegation fight, because having a new stadium requires a strong board at the helm. This in turn feeds down to the manager, his coaches, and finally the players.

It is no secret that David Bernstein opposed the signing of Robbie Fowler, due to the fact that the player was way off the mark in fitness, and was a costly liability. His judgement should not have been questioned, because it was his professional attitude that brought City’s finances back into a more manageable order. No disrespect to John Wardle, but he now finds himself treading carefully, in relation to his manager’s failings, as he knows that should he put any pressure on him, the chances are, he will walk. Leaving him with a managerless team of underachievers, and a real possibility that they may be heading back to the First Division, and with a massive debt to boot.

Many opinions have been written on McV either praising or slating Kevin Keegan, but whatever your opinion, the facts are his team are committing far too many basic errors, on a regular basis. Think back to when Joe Royle was in charge, on the occasion he refused to sack his goalkeeping coach Alex Stepney, for allowing Nicky Weaver to balloon his weight, when he was on the fringe of the England set up. All the investment on Nicky was wasted, and the rest is now history, and there are similarities with the abject coaching going on now.

On Sunday his star striker found himself defending a corner, yet he made no effort to look behind him, or else he might have prevented Doherty from having a free header, but Kevin has allowed him to play with a slack attitude in past games. It’s all well blaming the ‘keeper for not collecting the ball, but he is inexperienced, and it is the duty of other players to give more effort in protecting him. Even if John Macken had scored the winning goal, he would still not be in the starting line up for the next game, so it’s no wonder he was in two minds on either passing to Anelka or staking his own claim.

He has criticised the supporters for booing his team, when he should respect the loyalty shown by those very same fans, and sort out his management team.

His worst decision has to be dumping Shaun Goater, because any player can accept he will be replaced, but with an overweight player who’s best days are behind him, give me a break, because Shaun deserved better than that. The Goat was the genuine article, and is it any wonder that there is a lack of atmosphere, because the supporters have no one to idolise as much as he idolised the fans.

Kevin has continued with Distin as captain, when he obviously can’t lead the team in the right direction, so let’s not be surprised that with all the facts, this team is struggling to gain any momentum.

My guess is, come the end of the season, Anelka will disappear, and Kevin will retire, because there is no way the board can support so much failure, from a season that promised so much. Let’s not forget it was Kevin who stated that this team were potentially a top six side, and in turn building up supporters’ expectations.

On a final note, I sincerely hope that my opinions are shoved back down my throat, but the club has too many weaknesses from top to bottom, and that’s not the recipe for success.

Gary Sullivan <gary(at)>


I know I’m not alone but is anyone else baffled not only by the dropping of SWP but our great and glorious leader’s insistence on playing not so clever Trevor. Even more baffling are the successive man of the match awards he has received. Now the first one he got a bang to the head, a small amount of claret was produced, an appearance on Soccer AM’s Sport Hurts ensued and everyone else was rubbish too so I can almost understand but on Sunday why?

Of all KK’s signing he must be the least effective (at least of the ones still left in the country). How was he ever an England international? I’m sure he won’t be again. Was that someone mentioning the name Steve Daley I just heard?

And then there’s Macca, one great performance and a load of ordinary ones. I can’t see how he has improved the team at all. He should have done, but perhaps he has collected too many splinters in his bum from his time at Real. Bosvelt, he’s great for one half, but he slows down so much in the second it’s untrue, another ex-international I feel. Sibierski looks like he might be the real deal, and then there’s Tarnat. Why sell a 28 year old international for £750,000 and then get a 33 year old for a season? Some mistake surely.

Then of course there is Vuoso, Macken, and Negouai. About £10 million between them. Will any of them ever make it as real Premiership players?

KK has made a mess of the transfer market, that’s why we are struggling, there’s not enough in the tank, our defence is shambolic, how many more match reports can we have that say Dunne was the best player on the park apart from the mistake(s) that led to the goal(s). Distin is no more club captain than I am. Our best midfielder isn’t being picked at the moment, step forward Joey Barton, and we desperately need a good, solid, dependable centre back.

I’m not saying we should get rid of KK, but on paper this is the best side we’ve had for years and years, but somehow it hasn’t gelled. They were doing great until Dunne was brought back, and I don’t think it’s his fault really. I think the blame must be with the coaching staff. How are the team being prepared? Are Mr Fazackerly, Mr Cox and Psycho really the best there is or are we losing out before we get on the park? Osario is supposed to be the best in the business, so how come half of our team can’t last a match through? And how long can we let this go on for? We turn up every match and to be honest I don’t think we are any better than last season, in fact I think we are probably worse. If I could think of a good alternative to KK I would say go for it, but sadly I can’t.

How about a really good coach or putting Pyscho in charge of the first team? A change needs to be made. I am sure that if we carry on in our present vein that we will be lucky to stay up. Look at who we play in the next few matches. Arsenal, Birmingham (look at where some pragmatic buying gets you: Upson or Sun-ji anybody?), Chelsea, Bolton and Man Ure I think. How many points will we get from those? 3 or 4. We are in trouble without a doubt, but we need to act now before it’s too late. Will 47,000 come to see us play in the Nationwide? I don’t think so. Will we bounce back straight away? Again I don’t think so. How many of our players would stick around for that fight? We have to sort it out. KK needs to start sounding like he has passion about City, and then maybe the players would play that way.

Richard Lord <lordsummit(at)>


It has been a long time since I last wrote, unfortunately not so many wins but a long time never the less. Football is a funny game; sometimes all you need to do is make one little change and your fortunes will change too.

I remember when I was 15 years old and playing in the Sunday league in Manchester. When my team went on a run of 14 games without a win, we did not panic, we did not blame the boss, we did not blame our forwards, we didn’t even get rid of one of our most talented creative midfielders nor did we blame our young, inexperienced goalkeeper. We did exactly what Kevin Keegan should do today. We got two centre halves who knew how to defend. We went on to win the league. It has to be done.

Antony <finkcity(at)>


Reading Sam Duxbury’s comments about KK, I can’t help getting the feeling that he (and lots of others) seem to be jumping on any little thing to try and justify their position that he should go. He talks about players who KK has brought now being sold – as I write this, we are three days from the transfer window, and, with the exception of Seaman, none of this year’s signings have left. Two are out on loan admittedly, but there’s only so many places available for players to get regular first team places. I can’t think of a single manager who doesn’t make mistakes in his signings, and keeping them regardless would be a bigger crime in my opinion.

Sam asks what sort of manager lets a coach drive off so he can go back personally – a good man-manager perhaps? One who asks players to be in a place at a particular time and then personally lets them know the error of their ways when they disobey. Far from being a bad point, this was done to teach them a lesson, which presumably they won’t repeat. Perhaps you’d prefer a return to the drinking culture Sam?

Richard Stoodley – if you’d be willing to spend £100 to watch a player who is now struggling to get into a First Division side, then I’ll take your cash every day! Let’s be honest, the Goat was great for us in the lower leagues, he scored three times against the Rags (for which he will always be a hero), but his days with us were in the past – in fact he couldn’t get into the side a lot towards the end in Division 1. There’s a growing trend to go back to the old players – bring back Huckerby, Dickov, Ali, Berko, Richard Edghill, David White, Mike Summerbee; but really are they going to win matches for us if the current crop can’t?

My main criticism of KK is that we don’t have the defence right – Seaman going is a great thing for us as we can get a ‘keeper that has confidence and can organise those in front of him. Distin is half the player he was without Schmeichel bawling at him, Dunne has to cover so much ground to cover for his colleagues that he becomes knackered and error-prone. Tarnat hasn’t proved himself, and should be replaced by Tiatto, and Sun Jihai is great going forward but suffers from being caught out of position – get that sorted, give them confidence in the ‘keeper, and we lose the daft goals…

The rest should sort itself out – Bosvelt and Reyna look good together, with Joey Barton a good deputy for either, SwP or Sinclair on the right (please not Sinclair on the left), with possibly Sib or Macca on the left, and Fowler and Anelka up front – it’s going to come good. OK, we won’t win anything this year, but we’re on the right lines. Just need that second to go in, and we’re on the way.

Glass Half Full.

Jock Blue <jockblue(at)>


Not only was it disappointing to see so many empty seats for the FA Cup match, but still there was the usual exodus from the stands, well before the half-time and final whistles. Who are these people? I hope that it’s not the oh-so-loyal season ticket holders who pride themselves for having been to every match since they were babes-in-arms. Just how loyal is it to turn up late and leave early, missing what could be as much as a third of each match? More to the point, what a waste of ticket money (someone out there can probably be more bothered than me to work out how much match-time and money each ticket holder wastes over the course of a season). If it’s a question of getting to the car before the traffic builds up, it’s now easier to get on the road by waiting to see the players off the pitch before heading home. City are missing a trick here – they could raise loads of cash if they started charging people a couple of quid for leaving early!

Which leads me to spare seats in general. I wonder if there would be any way that season ticket holders could indicate to the ticket office if they knew for definite that their seat would be vacant on a match day. That way, such vacant seats could be sold on as one-offs. I’m thinking of the way that theatres give discounted tickets to people who are willing to queue on the day of a performance, in case of returns. If the theatres can manage it, surely it’s also possible for football clubs to do this, albeit on an ever-so-slightly larger scale (oh, and I’m not intending that season ticket holders get any sort of pro rata refund for the matches they miss – that’s their lookout!)! More money, more stability, less doin’-a-Leeds!

Mel Clegg <mkcfc(at)>


Maybe a new song could go round the terraces:

“One win, all we want is one win
Are you going to win?
We only want one win”

On a sadder note, if we are going to get knocked out of the FA Cup, I have chatted to a few fellow Blues, and I think we are of the opinion that if we are going to get kicked out, would it be better against the Spurs rather than the Rags!

Steve <salty12(at)>


I noticed that we had Fat Boy Slim back against Spurs, didn’t work though! Maybe we should adopt the Frank Spencer theme tune for our boys to come out to, I think that would be fitting the way we are playing at the moment. Mind you, if we continue this way, we will be playing “Another one bites the dust” followed by “Mission Impossible”.

Keep the faith.

Phil <XPHILLEE(at)>


We have Tarnat now so let’s stop looking back and get on with it!

David Kay <david.kay(at)>


This snippet from Football365, taken from Sky Sports’ coverage of the Man City vs. Tottenham game on Sunday:

Richard Keys: “So, one win in sixteen for Manchester City. Should they be worried, Pat?”

Former Manchester United man Pat Crerand: [after tiny, perfectly-timed pause]: “I don’t care.”


Desperately seeking 2 tickets for Spurs next Wednesday – please email or call 07899 998 997.

Many thanks, Simon Hope <simonjhope(at)>


I have two tickets for the Arsenal game available due to last minute emergency change of plan. They are in the City end £31 (West Stand Lower – Block T). I live in South London and need to hand over the tickets by Saturday evening or early Sunday morning.

Mike Carver <m.carver(at)>


Arsenal ticket for sale in City end (can’t go as I am working) – face value at £31. Buyer collects from work (Canary Wharf) or home (St Albans). Call or email 07973 745588.

Martin Reynolds <mart_reynolds(at)>


If there are any Man City supporters living in New Zealand or Australia who would like to see the TV documentary End of an Era about MCFC moving from Maine Road to the new ground, I have a tape you can borrow. Email me off list with your snail mail address and I’ll send it through.

Ralph Sheppard <ralph(at)>


The replay at Spurs will be shown on the big screen at our new venue, the Red Lion on Bleecker St and Thomson in Greenwich Village, New York. The game is on live at 2:30 pm EST on Wednesday Feb 4th. The landlord has offered to serve us Stella at $3.50 a pint (bargain!) if we get a few people together so prepare your excuses and get out of work for the afternoon.

If any Blues in the area do not receive my regular emails, drop me a note and I’ll add you to the mailing list.

Martin (Chippy) Price <mprice2(at)>


Four true Blues, an ex-United fan, a Bolton fan and somebody who likes rugby are in Lisbon on 1st Feb for a stag do. Does anybody know of any bars which may be showing the Arsenal-City game? We’re not happy with the best man for choosing this w/e so it might prevent him getting a right royal pasting.

Thanks, Matthew Chaffinch <mrc(at)>


With all your honour and dignity what would you do? This test only has one question, but it’s a very important one. Please don’t answer it without giving it some serious thought. By giving an honest answer you will be able to test where you stand morally. The test features an unlikely, completely fictional situation, where you will have to make a decision one way or the other. Remember that your answer needs to be honest. Please scroll down slowly and consider each line – this is important for the test to work accurately.

You’re in Manchester. There is great chaos going on around you, caused by a hurricane and severe floods. There are huge masses of water all over you. You are a photographer and you are in the middle of this great disaster. The situation is nearly hopeless. You’re trying to shoot very impressive photos. There are houses and people floating around you, disappearing into the water. Nature is showing all its destructive power and is ripping everything away with it.

Suddenly you see a man in the water, he is fighting for his life, trying not to be taken away by the masses of water and mud. You move closer. Somehow the man looks familiar. Suddenly you know who it is – it’s Alex Ferguson! At the same time you notice that the raging waters are about to take him away, forever. You have two options. You can save him or you can take the best photo of your life.

So you can save the life of Alex Ferguson or you can shoot a Pulitzer prize winning photo, a unique photo displaying the death of Britain’s most successful football manger.

And here’s the question (please give an honest answer):

Would you select colour film, or rather go with the simplicity of classic black and white?

Simon G Curtis <scurtis4(at)>


League table to 28 January 2004 inclusive

                             HOME          AWAY        OVERALL
                    P  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F   A   GD Pts
 1 Arsenal         22  8  2  0 20  7  7  5  0 22  7 15  7  0  42  14  28  52
 2 Manchester Utd  22  8  2  1 24  7  8  0  3 16  8 16  2  4  40  15  25  50
 3 Chelsea         22  7  2  2 20  8  7  2  2 20  9 14  4  4  40  17  23  46
 4 Charlton Ath.   22  4  3  3 15 14  6  4  2 16  9 10  7  5  31  23   8  37
 5 Liverpool       22  5  1  4 16 12  4  5  3 16 12  9  6  7  32  24   8  33
 6 Newcastle Utd   22  6  3  3 18  7  2  6  2 12 16  8  9  5  30  23   7  33
 7 Fulham          22  6  2  3 18 12  3  2  6 16 20  9  4  9  34  32   2  31
 8 Southampton     22  6  2  4 13  8  2  4  4  8 10  8  6  8  21  18   3  30
 9 Birmingham City 21  4  3  3 10 13  4  3  4  9 12  8  6  7  19  25  -6  30
10 Bolton Wndrs    22  3  6  2 12  9  4  2  5 14 24  7  8  7  26  33  -7  29
11 Tottenham H.    22  6  1  5 20 16  2  2  6  6 15  8  3 11  26  31  -5  27
12 Aston Villa     22  6  3  2 15 10  1  3  7  6 17  7  6  9  21  27  -6  27
13 Middlesbrough   21  3  4  5 11 15  3  3  3  9 11  6  7  8  20  26  -6  25
14 Everton         22  5  4  3 16 11  1  2  7  9 18  6  6 10  25  29  -4  24
15 Manchester City 22  2  6  3 17 15  3  2  6 14 18  5  8  9  31  33  -2  23
16 Blackburn R.    22  3  1  6 16 19  3  4  5 16 17  6  5 11  32  36  -4  23
17 Portsmouth      22  6  0  4 22 12  0  4  8  3 21  6  4 12  25  33  -8  22
18 Leicester City  22  2  5  4 13 17  2  3  6 18 21  4  8 10  31  38  -7  20
19 Wolves          22  4  5  2 14 18  0  2  9  6 26  4  7 11  20  44 -24  19
20 Leeds United    22  2  4  5  9 16  2  1  8 10 28  4  5 13  19  44 -25  17

With thanks to Football 365

MCIVTA FAQ [v0304.06]

[0] MCIVTA Addresses

Articles (Heidi Pickup) :
News/rumour (Don Barrie) :
Subscriptions (Madeleine Hawkins):
Technical problems (Paul) :
FAQ (David Warburton) :

[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 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

[4] What supporters’ clubs are there?

Manchester City FC recognises three supporters’ clubs: The “Official Supporters Club” (; the “Centenary Supporters’ Association” ( and “The International Supporters’ Club” (

[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, 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

Live match commentaries and archives of games, reports and interviews can be found at, whilst an alternate live commentary service, hosted by Yahoo, is located at

[7] Where can I find out if City are live on satellite TV? provides a listing of Premiership games being shown on UK domestic and foreign satellite channels. Useful sites for North American viewers are,, and 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: is our home on usenet. If you are not familiar with usenet, a basic explanation is available here:,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

[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 (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 or

[13] Acknowledgements

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

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,

Newsletter #987