Newsletter #1006

A hard slog on Sunday to gain a point at Villa, in a game where neither side impressed. Cox had rung the changes in Keegan’s absence, and we have match report and views tonight.

Next game: Wolverhampton Wanderers, home, 3pm Saturday 10 April 2004


I should probably start by saying this was only the second game I’ve been able to get to this season and whilst I know there have been better ones to attend, if this was the average standard of City’s games then I certainly haven’t been missing too much (and therefore fervently hope that this is not the case, no chance of judging these things by ITV’s ‘highlights’ of City games). Frankly both teams were poor – aimless passing, sloppy control and a lack of belief and confidence (which I was more surprised to see in a Villa side supposedly pushing for Europe), although the greasy surface and heavy half time rain couldn’t have helped. A draw was a fair result as neither team created anything much, both goals being near identical back post headers from corners and both poorly marked although, to my eyes anyway, Distin’s was more emphatic.

City had more goalmouth action but both Wanchope and Macken looked frightened of shooting. In fact Wanchope looked very off the pace and Macken always seemed to want another touch rather than hitting it first or even second time. City also seemed to lack a left sided midfielder with Reyna, Bosvelt and McManaman all drifting towards the middle, therefore making most of our attacks more predictable as they came through the right with SWP and the overlapping Sun who did this well (but should give up on the back heel from this performance) but was sometimes caught upfield with SWP sometimes having to hare back to cover for him. Reyna was very anonymous. Dunne and Distin were solid as defenders and mostly untroubled really, especially when Villa at half time seemed to have settled for 1-0. Dunne’s distribution was a textbook definition for aimless and wayward though; whether under pressure or with time he just banged it upfield.

Whilst I can kind of see peoples’ point about Anelka and not winning and changing the way we play he also, IMO, does a lot of work drifting wide and pulling players around and actually scoring (and not just penalties but he takes them damn well as well) and, and I really don’t think this should be underestimated, he scares/worries opposing players and crowds. No disrespect intended as I’d keep both but which makes you think goals, Macken or Anelka? However, I felt it was more to do with players tiring than anything else that with Anelka and Fowler on for Wanchope and Macken City created a few chances at the end and certainly were more likely to snatch all three points than Villa. I thought Anelka should have at least hit the target with a header and Sorensen made a couple of saves. There were also a couple of ‘scrambles’ for City in the first half although no real shots the ‘keeper had to save (McManaman should certainly have done better than put an effort wide and SWP had a shot well blocked by Mellberg), and Vassell totally wasted a very good opportunity and was otherwise made to run down blind alleys by D&D! And that was that apart from some totally pointless look-at-me reffing from Rennie in the second half (having had a very good first where he tried to keep a game flowing that both teams did their best to disrupt).

Other comments: Why is Sinclair worth persevering with and giving an opportunity to rediscover his form and McManaman is not? I’m not claiming to be a big fan of either but why one option for one and not the other? Personally I’d play Sibierski over either. And surely we don’t want to go down the oldies route again with Hasselbaink or whoever? Why not give someone like Elliot a try? I’ve never seen him but he sounds pretty good. And on the same note how about McCarthy or Jordan as defensive cover? Lots of other clubs don’t have cash and need to rely on some good players coming through. I get the impression with City that we have a youth setup but then there’s no way through to the first team? On that point I absolutely agree with the comments in McV re. Flood. Many thanks by the way to Gavin for giving reports on the reserves and therefore people I would otherwise have little clue about. And why complain about all the players all the time like I just have? There’s got to be coaching that could help more than what’s going on at present (this isn’t a sack the manager suggestion, more of an I like the set moves idea – see rugby also – and anything that gave me confidence in attacking and defending set pieces would be appreciated). Ok, that’s all from me, hopefully whether the performances are more inspired or not we’ll get those couple of wins (surely beating Wolves isn’t beyond City?) to distance ourselves from the bottom three. I look at the fixtures and still believe City are capable of winning or losing every one of our remaining games.

Thomas Bodey <psitaccula(at)>


The conditions were not the best as both teams struggled to control the ball on a slippery surface. City made a surprise to the line up, bringing in Wanchope and Macken as the strikers and leaving Anelka and Fowler on the bench. In the first five minutes City showed a lot of promise attacking Villa, but it was Villa who took the lead in the 26th minute when Angel headed home from a corner.

City never looked dangerous in the box, and Sorensen in the Villa goal never had one save to make in the first half. Why don’t City have a policy to shoot on sight? Or shoot from around the penalty area at times to keep the defence off guard. This mystifies me.

McManaman started the game on the left of midfield but kept drifting into the centre and failed to contribute much in this game. After 65 minutes on came Anelka and Fowler for Wanchope and Macken, who had not shown any danger to the Villa goal; in fairness to both though they had not been receiving the service up front either.

Shaun Wright-Phillips was the bright spark with his runs down the right wing; in the stands was Ericsson – I hope he saw enough from SWeep, who was played only 90% fit, to play him in the next England game. In the 73rd minute Reyna, who had not been having the best of games, was replaced by Sinclair, who was put to play wide right and SWeeP was put to play in midfield behind the two strikers. Villa did not look a very good side, which didn’t say much for City.

In the 82nd minute Tarnat sent in a great corner, which was met by Distin to head home the equalizer that City deserved. Clearly Tarnat is trying very hard to stay at City; he played well down the left flank. After Distin’s goal City put on the pressure for the winner, and it nearly came in the last minute of the game as Anelka let fly from the edge of the penalty area a blistering shot that Sorenson did well to save. I hope City show more of this kind of shooting in the rest of the games.

In the end a fair result, and a point well deserved, for we cannot depend on other teams’ results to stay up in the Premier League, we have to do it for ourselves. The City fans gave the team a standing ovation as they left the field.

Kevin Keegan was at home for this game recovering from his back complaint, and must have felt that his assistant Arthur Cox had helped out during his absence. We all hope that KK is better and will return this week.

Ernie Barrow <britcityblue(at)>


Just returned to the west coast (of Ireland, that is) after one of my occasional visits to the COMS. I have seen City live on three occasions this season (Groclin, Leicester and Fulham) and on a few other occasions on the box (Groclin away, the two Lokerens, Villa – the luckiest 4-1 I’ve ever seen, Spurs cup games – only half of the replay, couldn’t bring myself to watch the second half in a pub, and Arsenal away). Friends whose opinions I value tell me that there have been good performances (Chelsea both games, plus, of course, the Reds – but were we flattering to deceive?) but, on the evidence of my eyes, and my past experience, this is a team with relegation written all over it.

Sadly, I am forced to conclude that there is something critically wrong in KK’s judgement. Take the goalkeeping situation: he must have known that Nicky Weaver was unlikely to recover for this season (if ever?) and, surely, as an insider, must have heard the comments that Arsenal really lost the Premier last year partially because of Seaman’s failings. Even if he didn’t, did he not stop to consider that if Wenger, widely accepted as one of the most able and astute coaches in world football, considered that Seaman wasn’t good enough to play behind a defensive formation as effective as Arsenal’s, why should he be good enough to prop up City’s leaking mess? Talking of defences (if, in City’s case, that is what we actually have), why is it that the team with, quote, ‘England’s finest defence coach’, should, at most times, resemble a rusty sieve?

And what team formation? We, the ignorant but money paying public, have known for years that 3-5-2 formations don’t work (name one successful side that uses this method – Real Madrid? but do we have a Ronaldo or a Raul or a Carlos Alberto or Zinedine Zidane, not to mention that geezer from North London?). So, what do we do? Having abandoned this system, we go out and get a top class stopper (DVB) and stick him between Dunney (one of our best players this season) and our missing (for the most part) skipper. In the process, we lose the effectiveness of our two best players (Sun Jihai and SWP). Why on earth didn’t KK have the bottle to drop our worst central defender and stick with a 4-4-2 system? Yet another example of KK’s much vaunted man management?

So we lose our great new centre back and what do we do? Change back to 4-4-2, which I presume was the system being played last Saturday, though most of the time, it was hard to tell. We had one player out wide right (SWP, when he could get the Elk out of the way), one holding player (Bosvelt, a decent steady player), one ‘creative’ player (Reyna, another decent player but looking patently unfit, particularly in the second half), and Sibierski drifting in from the left. This meant that Tarnat, another good pro but right at the end of his career, was left to cover the whole of the left flank – the reason, incidentally, that Distin got in such a mess at the end.

All successful teams adopt a style and pattern of play and stick with it. A policy that is adopted throughout the club, through reserves, youths, etc. This means that players know what they should be doing and makes it possible to draft in players from the reserves. However, it seems from reports of reserve matches that they are also subject to wilful chopping and changing of formation. Just on this subject, have you noticed how unwilling KK is to bring young players into the first team? It’s taken SWP around 4 seasons, while Joey Barton is experiencing similar difficulties. If a player is good enough, he is old enough. Again from the reports of reserve matches, invariably it is the young players who seem to star (i.e. Flood, Whelan, McCarthy, Jordan) and, yet, when a vacancy occurs in the first team, what happens but one of the old school is somehow fitted in, no matter how inappropriately, or how much the team formation has to change, or how many players suddenly find themselves out of position.

Sadly, I have to agree with the recent comments on the Elk. Yes, he is undoubtedly a talent but, noticeably, one that other managers have also failed to harness. It seems to me that he has fallen under the shadow of Henry and seems determined now to emulate his style. We’ve all seen it, drifting out to the flanks before cutting in and delivering a devastating blow. However, there is a major difference between Henry and Anelka: Henry works his socks off for his team and has enormous imagination and breadth of vision – qualities that Anelka completely lacks. On top of this, I know that we can only see so much from the terraces but anyone who witnessed the Elk’s performance on Saturday must be left wondering at his commitment. OK, the service at times was pathetic but where was any effort to come and get the ball? When was there any movement? Did he once come back to try to help the midfield? Sibierski is a fairly decent attacking player (and one who showed a good degree of commitment), so the logic would have been for some interchange in positions between the two but no, through most of the time that he was on the field, Anelka simply drifted around and contributed nothing.

Which leaves the enigma that is Robbie Fowler. Personally, I think that he is knackered and was knackered before he came to City (which begs the question of why we signed him in the first place). However, there still remains more than a vestige of his talent, if it could be deployed in the right way. What Robbie doesn’t need to be doing is chasing up and down the field. What he needs is a big but mobile partner who can pull defences around, hold balls up for him and provide little knock downs. Where can we get one of those? Well didn’t we see him come on in the second half? I would start with Wanchope and Fowler up front and tell Robbie to run around like a mad thing until he collapses, then I would bring on Macken. If this didn’t work, I’d start with Wanchope and Macken.

If it is true that Anelka’s contract means that he can’t be dropped, what are the consequences? He can only ask for a transfer and as there is no way he will be playing for City next season, whichever division we’re in, so what?

I think that City are possessed with much dross at the moment and expect there to be a big clear out, whichever way it goes this season. From what there is, I would suggest the following (4-4-2, of course): James, Sun Jihai, Dunne, Distin (or McCarthy?), Tarnat; SWP, Reyna (if fit, Whelan if not), Bosvelt or Barton, Sinclair (not too convinced but at least gives some balance on the left); Wanchope and Fowler/Macken, with Sibierksi filling in for Wanchope as either sub or if Wanchope not available. Also, get Willo Flood back from Rochdale to fill in on the right flank in the event of injury to Sun Jihai or SWP.

Finally, a word on KK. I have never met him but, on the evidence of others, he seems a decent man and quite obsessed with the game. However, my feeling is that he is still playing football in the 1970s and 80s and football has undoubtedly moved on (probably the same comment could be made of all of City’s coaching staff). I also can’t see how any manager can reside 150 miles (?) from the club that he is supposed to manage. This means that he must rely almost entirely on the opinion of others for reserve/youth teams, etc. Ok, maybe he attends the odd reserve game, but how many more? It is argued that it is his reputation and personality that has enabled us to sign players who otherwise would not have looked at us. But, with the exception of Anelka, who are these and what have they contributed to the cause? Yes, he has done a good job in taking City to where they are (I do remember the bad old days, all of them) but we have to move on. City need a young coach who is conversant with the modern game and, perhaps, we have to look outside the UK.

In hope.

Barry Taylor <barryriley(at)>


Desperately seeking 2 tickets for Spurs on Easter Monday. Please email or call 07899 998 997.

Thanks, Simon Hope <simonjhope(at)>


Just to let you know that there are hundreds of seats to choose from at Maine Road. Connell Bros, the demolition contractor, are selling them for £10.00 each. See the gate man at the compound entrance on Maine Road. Most seats are linked together in rows of at least 4 so some ‘butchering’ is necessary to extract single seats.

A problem is that the gate man has to man the gate at all time and the seats are stacked at the far end of the main stand behind the family stand… but if you have a regulation ‘hard hat’ and yellow safety jacket – you may be allowed to choose.

Graham Aldred <graham(at)>


The next meeting of the Reddish branch of the Centenary Supporters’ Association is on Wednesday 14th April at The Ash Hotel, Manchester Road, Stockport, starting at 8.00pm (doors 7.00pm).

Our confirmed guests for the evening are ex-City player Andy Morrison and James H Reeve.

Admission, which includes a free raffle, is just a £1 for all CSA/OSC Members, £2 others and all kids are free.

As always everyone is welcome.

Howard Burr <reddishblues(at)>


A request was made for a CD that contained all our favourite football anthems; well, there was one that was released for the World Cup 2002.

It was “Jumpers 4 Goalposts”; do a search on Google for places that still sell it.

Steve Cummings <scummin4(at)>


4 April 2004

Aston Villa           1 - 1  Manchester City       37,602
Liverpool             4 - 0  Blackburn Rovers      41,559

3 April 2004

Fulham                0 - 0  Birmingham City       14,667
Middlesbrough         2 - 0  Bolton Wanderers      30,107
Newcastle United      4 - 2  Everton               42,155
Tottenham Hotspur     0 - 1  Chelsea               36,101
Wolverhampton Wndrs   1 - 4  Southampton           29,106

League table to 04 April 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         30 12  3  0 29 11 10  5  0 29  9 22  8  0  58  20  38  74
 2 Chelsea         31 10  2  3 29 13 12  2  2 29 11 22  4  5  58  24  34  70
 3 Manchester Utd  30 10  3  2 33 13  9  2  4 23 17 19  5  6  56  30  26  62
 4 Liverpool       31  9  2  4 26 13  4  8  4 20 18 13 10  8  46  31  15  49
 5 Newcastle Utd   31 10  3  3 30 12  2  9  4 15 21 12 12  7  45  33  12  48
 6 Birmingham City 31  8  4  4 23 17  4  6  5 14 19 12 10  9  37  36   1  46
 7 Aston Villa     31  7  5  3 20 15  5  3  8 19 21 12  8 11  39  36   3  44
 8 Charlton Ath.   30  6  3  6 23 24  6  4  5 18 15 12  7 11  41  39   2  43
 9 Southampton     31  8  4  4 19 11  3  5  7 15 18 11  9 11  34  29   5  42
10 Fulham          31  8  4  4 24 16  3  4  8 18 24 11  8 12  42  40   2  41
11 Middlesbrough   31  6  4  6 19 19  5  4  6 18 20 11  8 12  37  39  -2  41
12 Tottenham H.    31  8  2  6 29 24  3  2 10 11 24 11  4 16  40  48  -8  37
13 Bolton Wndrs    31  4  7  4 16 16  5  3  8 18 32  9 10 12  34  48 -14  37
14 Everton         31  7  5  4 23 16  1  5  9 15 29  8 10 13  38  45  -7  34
15 Manchester City 31  3  8  4 21 17  4  3  9 21 26  7 11 13  42  43  -1  32
16 Blackburn R.    31  3  3  9 21 28  5  4  7 21 24  8  7 16  42  52 -10  31
17 Portsmouth      30  7  2  5 24 15  1  4 11  8 30  8  6 16  32  45 -13  30
18 Leicester City  30  2  9  5 15 24  3  4  7 24 28  5 13 12  39  52 -13  28
19 Leeds United    30  4  5  6 17 23  2  2 11 12 37  6  7 17  29  60 -31  25
20 Wolves          31  5  5  5 18 30  0  4 12  9 36  5  9 17  27  66 -39  24

With thanks to Football 365

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[0] MCIVTA Addresses

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[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?

At the start of the 03/04 season it was actually a mix of two tracks: Starting with “O Verona” (from the film “William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet”) leading 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.

Currently we use a selection of different music, which seems to change each game.

[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

[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.

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Newsletter #1006