Newsletter #1015

Thursday night is News Summary night in MCIVTA-land, so you’ll find my usual ramblings enclosed herein. We also have match reports, one from the Newcastle game and another from a feisty encounter for the reserves, plus lots of views on how the Blues can put things right next year. Feeling poetical? Lance certainly was when he penned his review of the season.

That’s my stint over in the editorial hot seat, you’ll be relieved to know. Next week Chris Cobb does the honours. Please keep sending your contributions to the usual editor’s address.

Next game: Middlesbrough, away, 3pm Saturday 8 May 2004


General News

FA Charge: City and Leicester City have been charged with failing to ensure that their players conduct themselves in an orderly fashion after the melee during the match on April 24. The mass confrontation, which was sparked after the award of a penalty to Leicester, ended with four players being cautioned. The incident spilled off the pitch as well, with KK trying to restore order. Foxes’ midfielder Steffen Freund, who squared up to compatriot Michael Tarnat, has additionally been charged with improper conduct for his actions during the same incident. Both clubs have been given until May 19 to respond to the charges levelled by The FA. The official website said yesterday that the Board would discuss their response to the charge at their meeting scheduled for Friday.

Rumble at the Reserves: It sounds like a fruity old encounter this week between City Reserves and Middlesbrough. The game ended 0-0, which was some achievement by the Blues who played most of the second half with nine men. City had Tiatto and Whelan sent off after a 20-man confrontation. Carlo Nash was in goal for the visitors, having traded City’s Reserves for Boro’s Reserves. Team: Ellegaard, Flood, Jordan (Collins 67), Whelan, McCarthy, Onuoha, Croft (J D’Laryea 67), Negouai, Elliott, B Wright-Phillips (Warrender 67), Tiatto. Subs: Timms, Ireland.

Post Mortem Begins: The management will soon be discussing how to avoid a repeat of this season’s poor showing, according to press reports. KK said, “It has been tiring for the fans, I am sure it has. We have not won two games on the trot for example,” said the boss. “We had a good start to the season with seven points from the first three games and two wins away from home. But from that point in it was start and then stop, so I can understand that it has been a tiring season for the fans. It has been tiring for the players. We have never been able to get that confidence into them that results bring. And it has been tiring for the staff because every day you are analysing things. We have a new stadium and have been through many questions to see how we can improve our home results. Now for the remaining games in the season we have to put all that aside and do better than we have done in many of the other matches.” And Chairman John Wardle has vowed to be fully involved. “It would be totally irresponsible not to analyse what has gone wrong this season,” he told the M.E.N. “Everyone will be involved. Me, the manager, everyone. It is imperative this club is on the right footing. What matters is not Kevin Keegan or John Wardle but the fantastic fans. Those supporters gave the team 10 per cent extra in the second half on Saturday. We sold 32,000 season tickets for next year before the supporters even knew what division we would be in. That’s loyalty.”

New Manager? KK probably could do without reading the speculation in the Sun this week. According to that august organ, City want to replace KK with Gordon Strachan during the summer. Talks have already taken place at a high level about who City should bring in if Keegan leaves, apparently. Strachan has been strongly linked with the manager’s job at Leeds United, however, while coach Stuart Pearce doesn’t believe a word of the “Keegan to quit” rumours. Pearce said: “All this season all I’ve seen is criticism about Kevin, he’ll walk away, he’ll do this, he’ll do that. I’ve been in the same office, the same training ground as him. I’ve seen frustration but I’ve not seen a quitter, a person who will turn around and be hounded out of a job.” Pearce also claims that City’s fight against relegation has been invaluable experience in his managerial education. “From a learning perspective from my point of view, it has been a fantastic season. Sometimes when things go swimmingly you brush over some of your weaker points but this year has been a fantastic learning curve for me,” added Pearce.

Transfer News and Gossip

Who’s First for the Out Door? The speculation continues to grow about who will be leaving the COMS this summer. Shaun Wright-Phillips has been linked yet again with Arsenal and Liverpool, and I’m grateful to “Mad Mitch’s batman” for supplying the latest gloomy news, courtesy of the Daily Express. Joey Barton, the paper reports, will not sign a new contract. He is keen to move to Liverpool, who are said to be interested in the midfielder. Another member of the club’s Liverpudlian faction, namely Robbie Fowler, is thought to be unhappy at his recent rôle as a squad player. Aston Villa and Blackburn Rovers were reported to be interested – both David O’Leary and Graeme Souness have been in charge of Fowler at previous clubs.

KK’s Wish List: It won’t just be outward transfers this summer if KK’s words on the club website are to be believed. The Boss Man would like to obtain a central defender at the very least. “I really don’t know anything about the finances of the club at the moment. There is a board meeting on Friday and that is the time I will find out if there is any money or not,” explained the manager. “Last season at Christmas when David Bernstein was still Chairman here we went out believing that we had a lot of money to spend and then we found out that we hadn’t. We had been looking at one set of players. One of them was Daniel van Buyten who we knew at that time would be a big fee and that was proved when he then moved to Marseille. We had people like Jaap Stam on that initial list and many others who we had been watching with a view to possible transfers. But then there was no money and we had to look for Bosmans. That is what we did with Paul Bosvelt and Antoine Sibierski, although they did cost small fees at the time. So a lot depends on the money for my transfer dealings. But it is not a problem. We have to look where we can afford to look, we can only buy if we have money. I am not too unhappy with the squad that I have here now but we are definitely weak in the area of defending. We have three youngsters, Paddy McCarthy, Stephen Jordan and Mikkel Bischoff but they have not really been tested at this level. If David Sommeil comes back from Marseille then we are down to three centre backs, one right back and one left back. Other dealings for other positions would depend on money but the one place I would not be looking for anyone is in midfield. We are okay there. In the forwards we have four with Stephen Elliott making the fifth one.”

Ex-Blues’ News

Kiddo Has Cancer Op: The Sunday People revealed the news that England assistant coach Brian Kidd has undergone surgery for prostate cancer and could struggle to travel to Euro 2004. The Football Association confirmed Kidd had undergone “a serious operation. Brian is a greatly valued member of our coaching staff and highly respected by all the players and everyone at the FA,” the spokesman said Sunday. “We all look forward to him making a speedy recovery.” Although best known for his connections to the Reds as a player and coach, let’s not forget that Kiddo had 3 seasons with City as a player, between 1976 and 1979. He helped City finish second to Liverpool in 1977, and played 128 games in that time and scored 57 goals. The newspaper said Eriksson had asked Middlesbrough manager Steve McClaren to step in if Kidd is unable to travel to Portugal. Here’s hoping Kiddo makes a full and speedy recovery.

Can You Guess What It Is Yet? Former City player-boss Peter Reid has been unveiled as Coventry City’s new manager. The move comes much to the disgust of the Coventry faithful, who are appalled at the treatment of outgoing boss Eric Black. Black apparently discovered that City had lined up Reid to take over in the summer, and was dismissed after his side beat Gillingham 5-2 at the weekend. One Coventry fan described the move as akin to “replacing Renoir with Rolf Harris”.

Sad Simmo: Carlisle were relegated from the Football League last weekend, but ex-Blue Paul Simpson nearly succeeded in rescuing the Cumbrian side. Carlisle had already looked dead and buried at Christmas as they fell way behind the rest of the league at the foot of the table. However, an incredible turnaround in results, which almost saw them to safety, has given Simpson cause for optimism ahead of next season. He said: “The chairman and directors have stated that everything is in place to come back up. Our run since Christmas has been a superb effort. It’s something to be proud of and we have got to make sure we continue that.”

Goat Grazes for Grass Roots: Shaun Goater was back in Manchester this week, helping to raise funds for the Grass Roots Festival, a project to promote junior football in Bermuda. This year’s festival takes place on the island from May 29 to June 5, and City will be sending an Academy team again. “It’s a lower-key evening compared with the one we had at Eastlands a few weeks back”, said Shaun. “We had a few raffles, auctioned off some items and we had a bit of fun. But the main aim was to raise money for the Grass Roots Festival. This is the last event we have before we go out to Bermuda and I’m really looking forward to it because last year it was a great success. The kids got a lot out of it and it was a great experience for the City Academy boys. They got to play against a different kind of opposition than they are used to in England and in a much hotter climate. Next year I’ll be looking to take a different club with me. The reason I chose City again this year is because Jim Cassell and the rest of the Academy coaches helped me set up a lot of the programmes and worked very closely with me last time. They will help me to establish things so that by the time Grass Roots 2005 is held, it won’t really matter which club comes over. The support City have given me has been fantastic. I could not have asked for more.” The Goat is still proud to be Blue: “I’m just a City fan these days but I’ll always support the club because they are in my blood. I’ll always back the lads and I’m confident we will steer clear of relegation.”

Bye Bye Bish: The Evening News provided a “where are they now” feature this week. It seems that Ian Bishop and his family are about to emigrate to the USA. Bishop will join New Orleans Shellshockers as a player-coach in the Southern Conference, Mid-South Division of the American Professional Development League. He will then coach a team in the American A-League next March before setting up his own soccer camps across Florida. He’s already had one stab at soccer stateside, which ended acrimoniously for Bish when his team Miami Fusion folded. The 39-year-old had some interesting thoughts when asked why City had struggled this year. “I don’t think Ali Benarbia has ever really been replaced,” he said. “Joey Barton is best suited to the midfield holding rôle and needs someone like Benarbia or Eyal Berkovic playing further upfield to supply Nicolas Anelka and Robbie Fowler. But I think the best of Steve McManaman will come out next season. Don’t forget, he has come from a Champions’ League-winning side, full of the world’s best players, to a team that has struggled for most of the season. But there’s a lot more to come from him and I think next season could be his year.”

Reactions and Comments

Safe at Last: Paulo Wanchope scored the precious goal in the defeat of Newcastle United at Eastlands. The Costa Rican striker’s 59th minute header earned a vital victory, one which virtually guarantees City’s Premiership status for next season. Leeds United’s 4-1 defeat at Bolton on Sunday means that City’s nightmare season will not end in relegation. Although Leeds can theoretically catch City’s points total, their vastly inferior goal difference means they are effectively relegated. KK was a relieved man after the game. “I am pleased with the performance, it was a tough game and it was always going to be like that,” he said. “I think the longer it went on we played the better football and I think we deserved to win. It was emotional and now we have got a real chance to stay up, although it is not clear cut, but we have taken a big step. We were tight in the first half, but we found something in the second against a weakened Newcastle side, but still a very good side. I have went through all the emotions as you do, but we have given ourselves a hell of a chance of staying up. I think the atmosphere was great and that’s what we want every week, but I have told the players we have to give them something to shout about. One of the problems we have not got is the crowd as they are fantastic, the problem is getting results for them. There is a lot of things to think about in the summer, but at the minute all we are doing is concentrating on winning matches and staying in the league. There is some soul searching to do as we have got a lot of players better than our league position indicates.” He continued: “Not only did we score a very good goal in the second half but we played some great football again. That’s the first time we have played what I would call ‘Manchester City football’ for probably about a month. We got our rewards for it against Newcastle whereas sometimes in the past we have not. Maybe we could and should have finished off the game. I was sitting during the last ten minutes at just 1-0 thinking what happens if Alan Shearer gets on the end of one. It was nervy but this is Manchester City and we don’t do things very easily at the moment. But we certainly worked as hard as the team could work. The players can be very satisfied with what they have done for the club against Newcastle.”

There’s a Lesson to be Learned Here: Keegan was asked what lessons had been learned from this season. “We have underachieved this season,” he said. “We have to come back next year and do better. There won’t be many changes, because I don’t think there will be much money to spend, but that doesn’t worry me too much. There will be relief if we stay up but there will be a lot of soul-searching, too. That’s the nature of football. Whoever finishes sixth will wonder why they didn’t finish fourth and we’ll wonder why we’ve only just managed to stay up.”

Rueful Robson: Newcastle boss Sir Bobby Robson lamented his side’s poor away form as they dropped further points on their travels. “It was a big win for them, but I am not concerned about them as I am looking to get that fourth place, but we have got to improve our away form,” said Robson. “No team apart from Chelsea has beaten us by more than one goal away from home and I still think we can make fourth place and we will try, but we can’t score away from home. We still have two more away games at Southampton and Liverpool and we don’t want to go to Liverpool on the last day needing to win and that is why today’s game was so vital and the players are aware of it.” Robson was unhappy with his side’s defending in the second half, which allowed City to take control of the game. “In the first half we were on top, but we fizzled out in the second and that is disappointing and seems to happens to us away from home. We seemed to lose power down the flanks, we lost our game plan and Man City got on top while we did not work hard enough to stop crosses getting in. For the goal we should not have let the cross in so easily and the centre half let their man go free and he glanced the header past Shay Given.” Striker Alan Shearer emerged from a crestfallen Newcastle dressing room to say: “We had enough chances in the first half to give ourselves a good lead, but we didn’t put them away and if you don’t do that, then you don’t win games. It was disappointing but our second half performance wasn’t acceptable and once again we’ve come away from home and not performed. We knew a win would lift us back into fourth place with Liverpool and Aston Villa not playing until the next day, but we didn’t take that opportunity. If we’re honest with ourselves and look back at the performance in the second half, I don’t think we deserved to get anything out of the game. Last weekend we were all happy with the win against Chelsea and we’ve followed that up with a disappointing performance on the road. Now we must sort ourselves out in time for Thursday night and the second leg of the UEFA Cup semi-final in Marseille as that is a massive match for us,” he added.

The Beckham of Costa Rica: KK praised the goalscorer Paulo Wanchope. “He’s a handful,” Keegan said. “People have different impressions of him but he has worked so hard to get back to where he is now and that goal was his reward,” said Keegan. “Even now we have to strike a delicate balance between the gym work he needs to ensure his knee is strong enough to play and allowing him to train with the rest of the squad so that he can be part of the team. But when we do get him on the pitch, he is certainly a handful. Defenders don’t like playing against him because they are never quite sure what they are going to get – and we are talking against some of the best in the world. In Costa Rica he is revered as much as David Beckham is here.” Let’s hope the Goldenballs of Central America heeds the advice on training this summer, because Paulo said this week: “There will be more strength work for me,” he admitted. “At the moment I train with my teammates as normal but as soon as that is finished I have to go to the gym and work on specific exercises for my knee.” Wanchope reckons that the close season will be a good time to recharge the mental batteries. “To be fair, we probably all need a rest physically and mentally before we start again. This season has been hard mentally not just for the players but also for the fans,” he said. “You could sense the tension on occasions but we will get it right for them. We will enjoy the Premier League next year and that is the most important thing.”

A Little Pearler: Shaun Wright-Phillips admitted it was a relief to be on the winning side at home for only the fourth time in the Premiership. “It was a relief that we won a game at home. It feels a long time since the derby win and we felt we were due a win on Saturday,” he said. “We have had a few bad results when we felt that we didn’t deserve them but we believe we deserved the points against Newcastle. David James made a couple of early saves and then we kept going. He has made a big difference to the side. It is his presence as well as his saves, the way he is around the dressing room. That helps everyone. We set out from the beginning to get the points. We had talked a lot about our poor results at home and that we needed to turn it around against Newcastle and we did just that. There was a tremendous atmosphere and the crowd was right behind us from the start; they were our twelfth man and it helped everybody’s confidence even if we did make a mistake. We felt that we had been playing as a unit for a while, it was just that we were being punished for our mistakes. We didn’t make too many mistakes against Newcastle but punished them for their mistakes.” And it was good to hear an opposition manager giving Shaunie some praise: “Young Shaun Wright-Phillips had a little pearler on the right hand side,” enthused Bobby Robson. “I had a quiet word with my left-back Olivier Bernard after the game because he gave him too much space at times and you can’t afford to do that. He was getting the ball down whenever he could and was having a run at him. We had to stop the outside right getting the ball but we just couldn’t do that. He kept getting the ball in the box and having a go at us. He proved to be the real thorn in our side. He did play very well and is a capable young player but I was disappointed that we gave him so much room.”

Squad News

Dan the Van’s Back! Best piece of news off the field this week? I’d say Daniel van Buyten making an early recovery from the ligament damage that was expected to rule him out for the season, and could return for City’s final two games. “He can do some light running now and some ball work. Whether he will be able to come back and play a game or two, we’ll have to wait and see,” said Keegan. “If it’s possible, it would be fantastic. Daniel is a great character, who was a big influence in the dressing-room when he was here. And he was great at the back for us.” Van Buyten rejoined the squad at Carrington today (Thursday) when his fitness was assessed by City’s medical team.

Inactive Macca: KK believes Steve McManaman’s inactivity in Spain over the last two seasons has caused his recent injuries. McManaman is out with a hamstring injury and will again be missing at Middlesbrough on Saturday, although he may be fit to face Everton on the final day of the season. Keegan said: “Steve has been hit by a number of little niggly injuries. That was maybe to be expected when you think he has been in Spain and has not played regularly in a couple of those seasons. Of course he was getting on and playing the odd games but that is not quite the same as playing week in and week out.” Keegan admits he will have to assess McManaman’s host of injury problems during the summer. He added: “He has picked up a hamstring problem mainly from his back we think. In the close season we are going to have a look at his Achilles as well as that is one of his problems. He has to warm up slowly because of it.”

City are United: SWP insists that the squad were never divided as they fought for Premiership survival. He said: “There has been talk of us not being together as a team but I think we have always been united. The problem was that we kept making mistakes that cost us points. On Saturday we eliminated them. We were due a home win and finally we got our reward for persevering. All through the last few weeks we have been concentrating on our own game rather than what others have been doing,” said Wright-Phillips. “We knew we were capable of taking care of our own business and that is what we have done. It’s not so much pressure lifting, as relief that we got a victory. We never really discussed a safety target and we will continue to try and collect as many points as we can.”

Difficult but Enjoyable: Sylvain Distin admits skippering City through a turbulent campaign has been difficult. But the French defender insists he is happy to continue in the role after helping steer the club to Premiership safety. “It has been difficult,” said Distin. “I did not know how to take it at the beginning, but I have enjoyed it. I try to work hard; everyone has different problems, but I have learned from the rôle. We have learned a lot from this season. You learn more from the bad days than the good days. When you are winning, you don’t have to think about a lot of things, you just go with the flow. You don’t think about what you have to do. When you are not playing so well, you have to think about what is going wrong and why results haven’t come. This is the type of season that will help you. You cannot play relaxed football when you are in this position, and of course everyone is nervous because we know what we can lose. We have just tried to work hard and make things better.”

Sib Dibs More City Time: Like his captain, Antoine Sibierski is looking for the positives in the season. “Sometimes, when you have a bad season, the next one is a lot better. I feel next season will be a great one for us. I believe we can achieve big things here. When you have bad results, even players with a lot of experience can struggle because their confidence is not what it could be. To concentrate and relax at the same time is not easy. It is better for everyone that we stay in the Premier League. We know we haven’t played well at some points. But we are all working hard to get the points we need. Everybody thought we would lose against Newcastle but we have always done well against sides towards the top of the league.” Sibierski would love to help City to greater things. “I am here to play in the Premier League with Manchester City and hopefully try and win things with them. I know City is a big club with a lot of fans and a good stadium. We can definitely win trophies here. I came here to win something and I don’t say that just for the sake of it – I feel very strongly about it. We have a great manager and many great players. We should be in the top six every season to qualify for Europe. I would like to play in the Champions’ League with City and win a Cup – why not? I know when you have a bad season, the next one can be great. I want to show more next season, I want to bring more than I have this year for the team, the club and its supporters. We have had bad results so we have not been able to play the way the gaffer would like us to.”

Don Barrie <news(at)>


Yet another must-win game, but fortunately City came up trumps this time and recorded a very timely 1-0 victory. I’m not sure about other City fans but I arrived at this game thinking this was a very winnable game, not only with Newcastle’s poor away record but the news of so many key players out injured (Bellamy, Dyer, Jenas, Woodgate, Bowyer) would imply this was a perfect chance to register 3 points.

A glorious day for football and a superb atmosphere inside the stadium thanks to the flyers being posted around before kick-off urging all and sundry to get behind the team. Remarkable as I felt the crowd were much more optimistic and less critical even though the first half performance was what we have come to expect. The first half was largely dominated by City (possession wise) but by the far better chances were being created by Newcastle; we seemed to get exposed a few times when Newcastle centred on Sun to be the weak link and tried to expose him (not the first team this season to channel a lot of the attention to the right full back). Luckily for us the good crosses from Newcastle were an inch too far for the on-rushing forwards and a couple of route one balls created chances that James was required to keep us in it. City unlocked the Newcastle defence on a couple of occasions: Sinclair, who was playing like the player we thought we signed, was making some excellent runs, only for our final ball to let us down. Towards the close of the first half, Dunne had a thunderous header saved by the impressive Given but you felt had it been either side of the ‘keeper then it would have been 1-0 to City. Two noticeable differences were the work rate the midfielders were putting in (when we did and didn’t have the ball) and the back to basics defending, doing the simple things rather than trying to impress.

The second half kicked off and City raised their game, we dominated midfield (Bosvelt breaking up the play and the very impressive Barton breaking up play and playing some nice passes); it reminded me a lot of the second half performance against United at CofMS. The goal came when Anelka worked some magic on the right wing and laid a lovely cross for Wanchope to strike a superb header home (the goal was similar to Beattie’s against us last week) but Paulo really did add a lot of pace and took it very well. This spurned City into further action and we had further chances to make the game safe (Bosvelt strike brilliantly saved by Given, Barton shot and SWeeP penalty appeal, which I can’t still make up my mind if it was or wasn’t). A very nervous final few minutes followed by joy at the final whistle… I don’t think anyone could realistically see Leeds getting 6 points from 3 games at that point and thanks to Sam Allardyce and Bolton our joy was not unfounded. Only one thing left to do was go home and celebrate the pending safety of what really could have been a disastrous season.

James (7/10) – Made some fine saves at 0-0, which were worth a goal. James is a superb player, make him captain next season. He’s like Schmeichel, commands from the back and in the past few weeks has been worth at least a goal a game.

Sun (6/10) – As ever, fully committed and delivered some excellent balls going forward and linked up with SWeeP well. Exposed again a couple of times in the first half when Newcastle were throwing everything pretty much down his side.

Distin (7/10)- Much better today, no nonsense defending – cleared his lines every time and after a nervous first 20 minutes shackled Amoebi very well.

Dunne (8/10) – Outstanding performance – Man of the Match regardless of Wanchope being awarded it (at the game), and SWeeP getting many of the Sunday papers’ nod (I felt Dunne edged it). Dunne was class, cleared everything and kept Shearer very quiet. Dunne has to be player of the season – he certainly gets my vote.

Tarnat (6/10) – Reasonably solid performance and played with urgency, which he has sometimes lacked this season.

SWeeP (8/10) – Excellent game, ran his heart out, tracked back, never gave up running and his usual inventive self up front. Still can’t decide if the penalty was or wasn’t, even after watching the replay several times.

Bosvelt (6/10) – I felt he provided a great foil to Barton, he was calm, breaking up play and sat in front of the back four, he didn’t do anything creative but simply cut up play and stopped Newcastle’s momentum.

Barton (7/10) – Quality today, criticised in the past for over aggression and giving the ball away too much but today he was superb, as per Bosvelt he broke up play but he linked to the strikers much more and played some fantastic first time balls. Hopefully he’ll provide more consistency to his game next season.

Sinclair (6/10) – Probably the best performance I have seen him play in a City shirt, provided options, width and pace and was also helping out in defence (one excellent header in the first half preventing Shearer from a certain goal).

Anelka (7/10) – Worked tirelessly for the team, chased back and provided pace and a great cross for the Wanchope goal.

Wanchope (6/10) – Scored the all important goal, which he took very very well, had some other nice touches after that but I felt was largely ineffective until that point. Quote in the Telegraph today said give him the space of a telephone box and he’ll work a miracle, give him the whole of your garden and he’ll run into a tree, which for me sums Wanchope up perfectly.

Reyna (6/10) – Replaced Sinclair midway through the second half (Sinclair seemed to get a knock), but did reasonably well.

Macken (?/10) – not fair to score JM as he only came on with minutes to go.

Crowd (9/10) – Great atmosphere, everyone really got behind the team and I felt the usual pessimism and critical shouts just faded away, even during the first half when Newcastle were on top; hopefully we can build on this for all the games – it really made a difference!

I should also mention the referee, Mark Halsey, made one curious decision (City throw in when it was clearly kicked out by SWeeP – which had Robby Bobson up in arms) but generally he was very good. On numerous times he kept the game flowing and played advantage when other refs would have blown; however we’ve always liked Halsey since the play-off final, haven’t we?

So we can reflect on why we have under-achieved this season, KK’s decisions/signing/tactics and whether he is the right man for the job, the dressing room “split”, the debt and the lack of atmosphere in the crowd, all that we can debate over the coming months. I’m just happy to take a deep breath and say thank God we’re finally safe and will be in the Premiership again next season.

Rich <Rich(at)>



City’s last home reserve league of the season turned into a real tempestuous game for both the players and the unusually vociferous home support. The reason for all this commotion is that, two minutes after the interval, the referee rightly reduced City to nine men by giving Danny Tiatto and Glenn Whelan their marching orders for an early bath. What obviously riled the players and fans alike was that the referee did not apply the same standards and interpretation of the laws of Association Football to the two Middlesbrough players who were also heavily involved in the fracas, by only cautioning them.

City started much the brighter of the two sides, by winning a succession of corners but failing to capitalise or put any real pressure on Carlo Nash in the Middlesbrough goal. City had a cause to shout for a penalty on eight minutes when Stephen Elliott was impeded on his run into the box, just before he struck at goal, a shot that Nash comfortably saved.

It was not until the sixteenth minute that Middlesbrough created a meaningful attack, when Craig Dove broke down the right and crossed deep, evading the touch of both Middlesbrough’s Thomas Craddock and Kevin Ellegaard in goal.

As the game passed the half hour mark, we saw two chances fall to City and one to Middlesbrough, all within a ninety second period. The best of the chances came when Elliott turned on a sixpence just outside the area and half volleyed to goal from twenty yards, but the dependable Nash was there again to thwart City from taking the lead.

As the first half drew to a close, Elliot yet again, and then Bradley Wright-Phillips, brought the best out of Nash to keep the scores at stalemate. Little did the players know that they would come out of the tunnel after being refreshed to be a part of a game that would take on a whole new complexion.

Two minutes after the break Danny Tiatto made a bad two footed challenge on Anthony McMahon. Ex-Manchester United player Mark Wilson rushed to the scene and said something that Tiatto reacted to and the pair then tried to strike each other at the start of the cuffufle. The referee then tried to drag the pair away but whilst this was going on, Matthew Bates was getting in on the act by confronting City players and Glenn Whelan. Whelan decided that as the referee was un-sighted he would stupidly run his studs down the back of Bates’ leg, not taking into account that the referee’s assistant was also watching everything.

At that point Danny had already been given his marching orders and as things had calmed down the referee then went over to consult his assistant. He then called over Glenn and brandished his red card again. The crowd went up in arms, obviously having not witnessed Glenn’s blatant aggression and stupidity. They were then angered even more though when both Wilson and Bates only saw a yellow colour on their cards. I’m sure the referee’s assessor would have taken a dim view of the manner in which Mr Hendley, the referee, handled the situation.

City, down to nine men, then had their backs to the wall. Two players shone in this David and Goliath situation, Nedum Onuoha and Stephen Elliott. These two single-handedly stopped Middlesbrough from scoring and put their defence constantly on the back foot. Elliott was constantly fouled to try to hold him at bay, but yet again the referee failed to take the appropriate action.

It was just so unfortunate for Stephen that every time the ball came up front, he was able to hold it up and turn, but was unable to take on their holding defence to ever get a clear shot at goal.

City’s final game of the season sees City travel to Middlesbrough’s training ground and Academy on Saturday lunchtime for an U17’s game that’s classified as the reserve fixture. Let’s hope it’s not as frenetic as this game and that Glenn Whelan and Danny Tiatto both continue to have a good football career as this should obviously be their last appearance in a City shirt. Unless the City management decide to be soft on them and allow them to play in the Senior Cup Final at Old Trafford next Tuesday 11th.

Ellegaard: Did a good job at keeping Boro’s few shots away from goal. 7
Flood: Worked tirelessly in defence and midfield, real heart. 9
Jordan (capt)(67): Not his best game – had to make way for more youthful energy. 6
Whelan: In the words of Capt. Mainwaring – Stupid Boy! 3
McCarthy: Solid as a rock at the back and good organiser. 9
Onuoha: Abolutely nothing got past our young defensive protégé. MoM. 10
Croft (67): As ineffectual as ever. 5
Negouai: Good first half – but not the effort that the rest put in in the second. 7
Elliott: Chased everything, held it up, good strikes – great forward display. MoM. 10
Wright-Phillips (67): Not his best game after playing too many games this season. 6
Tiatto: I’ll be glad to see the back of this jeopardising and reckless player. 3

Warrender (capt)(67): Fought for everything and tackled anything that moved. 8
Collins (67): Tackled well and didn’t give the ball away easily. 7
J D’Laryea (67): Held the midfield together as best he could. 8
Not Used: Timms, Ireland.

Middlesbrough: Nash, McMahon, Liddle, Bates, Gulliver (capt), Cattermole, Morrison, Wilson, Craddock (Kennedy 70), Dove (Reed 80), Johnston.
Not Used: Knight, Johnson.

Att: 448

Gavin Cooper <Blueboy(at)>


Just a little ode to the end of the season. Please forgive the occasional bad grammar and forced rhyme!

The drop has been avoided
But not without some nerves
Some players should have played less games
And more for the reserves

Seaman came and then he went
He didn’t last too long
They used to call him Safe Hands
But that proved sadly wrong

As usual defence was weak
The goals went in too freely
The captain didn’t shout enough
Or did he speak Swahili?

The lack of crowd noise was a factor
In some people’s eyes
Perhaps if they’d have been sat down
Not queueing for their pies

Anelka missed a load of chances
To add to his goal tally
If only he’d have carried on
Like he did at The Valley

A big man came for the defence
His name was Dan van Buyten
It was a shame he tore a groin
Cos he was so excitin’

The little man who played so well
Despite our tragic season
Was Shaun Wright Phillips, superstar
To sell him would be treason!

But in the end ’twas David James
Who stood in our goal
The saves he made from penalties
Proved such a vital rôle

Thank goodness Leeds were worse than us
And Wolves and Leicester too
It doesn’t really matter though
Cos I’m blue, through and through!

Lance Thomson <Lance(at)>


Well, we come to the end of another rollercoaster ride that is being a City fan! I must admit that when one looks at the statistics and remembers the games that were close, we can come up with a reasonable conclusion. We should have been in the top six! We had 13 draws that should have been wins, and a couple of losses that should have been wins (Chelsea comes to mind especially). This would have given us another 46 points by my reckoning (I may be a little biased), OK, maybe 32 points. We had extraordinarily bad luck with injuries. If Wanchope could have partnered Anelka all year, with the occasional run from Fowler after he got fit, instead of getting fit on the field due to circumstances beyond KK’s control. Van Buyten could have been the rock we needed to settle the defence near the end. James could have been there all year.

The alternative is unthinkable! Being a Birmingham fan has to be horrible. They are the most boring team in the world, they will never win anything but won’t lose much either.

Colin Bell was absolutely right! If lady luck would be on our side for one year, who knows what we could achieve? Well, there is always next year! I would like to thank everyone concerned with the newsletters and the Internet broadcasts for letting me and countless others stay connected wherever we are in the world. We really value every piece of news we get, keep it up and thanks again.

JHeavis <JHeavis502(at)>


So, another season in the top flight survived… and some cause for optimism perchance? I realise it’s been a massively disappointing second half to the season, after the proclamations of top 6 finishes and UEFA Cup football, but think of this: before KK had signed a player at the start of 2002-2003, would you have settled for still being in the Premiership in 2004-2005? I know I would have done.

Having said all that, my biggest hope is that KK learns his lesson, having brought in “experience” (Tarnat, Macca, Bosvelt, and especially Sinclair – how can you be a wide player and not be able to consistently either beat a man, cross a ball or beat a ‘keeper?) at the expense of youth and promise (Jensen, and regular starting berths for Barton and Macken). I would argue that our most exciting players are SWP and Joey, the most disappointing are Macca and Sinclair.

I also think this explains some of the indifference shown at times – I’m not a season ticket holder any more, and can’t claim to have seen that many games this season, but I can’t think of too many times when either SWP or Barton went missing in games.

So here’s to next season – give the youngsters a chance, clear out some of the old guard for whatever you can get for them, and for God’s sake, get off Anelka’s back; how many other sets of fans bitch about their top scorer who’s got 23 for the season in the top flight?

CTID, Jon Marshall <jon_g_marshall(at)>


Throughout my turbulent love affair with the Blues, I have never felt so dismayed, confused, and frustrated by our performance this season. Previous relegations and relegation battles have always left me feeling low, but this one has been really depressing. Thank God the season is almost over and we’ve managed to survive. What’s important now is that we have a root and branch investigation into what went wrong this season. This review should be a significant and robust enquiry, and not some superficial gloss-over.

You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that we have been truly woeful in several vital areas, and I personally would like explanations concerning the five main points below – I’m sure regular readers will have their own questions they would like answering.

  1. Why have we been poor all season in defending set pieces?
    Thoughts: has our training been tactical enough? How much time was spent onformation work vis-à-vis open match play? I think this has been our biggestproblem all season and there is something very seriously wrong with City’sdefensive preparation. We need to bring more balance to our style of playi.e. recognition that defence is an integral part of the modern game, and nota necessary evil.
  2. Why has management stuck with the Anelka and Fowler combination whenindividually neither player has been playing consistently well, and togetherour attacking play is predictable and one-dimensional?
    Thoughts: has John Macken been given enough opportunities? Why has RobbieFowler been given so much time to try to prove himself? In my humbleopinion, the Anelka/Fowler combination will never work!
  3. Why have more experienced players failed to make an impact this season?
    Thoughts: did we get our mix of youth and experience right? Do players’contractual conditions provide too much of a comfort zone, rather than act asan incentive? Why have players like McManaman and Bosvelt failed to make anykind of positive impression on the pitch… sorry to be blunt but are theyjust too lazy?
  4. Why has the team collectively failed to display a fighting spirit in themajority of games – notwithstanding more recent games?
    Thoughts: there doesn’t appear to be a leader who can take the game by thescruff of the neck and motivate other players around him. Has our choice ofcaptain been wrong?
  5. What are the factors that have negatively impacted our confidence whenplaying at home?
    Thoughts: do we play enough (if any) practice games at Eastlands? Did wefocus too heavily on the logistical matters of transferring operations fromMaine Road to Eastlands, and not enough on the psychological issues? Forexample, the distribution of seating at Eastlands may have dispersed the nucleusof those fans that created much of the noise/atmosphere at Maine Road.

Let’s hope we get these and other issues, fixed for next season. I don’t think I could take another season like this one.

CTID, James Barber <Barberj(at)>


Relief! That’s the only way I can describe Saturday’s result, followed by Bolton doing us a favour on Sunday. Personally, I think City will always be City, totally unpredictable, one minute brilliant, the next cr*p!

Yet we still look forward to the next instalment of pleasure mixed with pain, and this season has seen more lows than highs. What a great feeling it is to still be in the Premiership.

This is my personal report of the players this season:

Seaman: Sadly was one season too many, but initially thought he would be great for us, similar to what Schmeichel did last season.

James: Still makes the odd howler but has played exceptionally well these last few matches.

Sun: Always appeared to give 100% effort, has made many a mistake in defence but at times also been the provider and scorer of important goals. Our management team need to stress the necessity of his defensive work as a priority, and he has to have a good understanding with the other 2 centre halves (who have to provide cover when he bombs forward). I like his honesty and hard work, and can only see him improving for next season.

Distin: Sadly not Captaincy material, but nevertheless can be a very good centre half, needs to mould himself on the likes of Sol Campbell by being a rock at the back and forget about bombing up in attack. Should only go forward for set plays.

Tarnat: Apart from the odd good free kick, had a disappointing season.

Wright-Phillips: Got better and better as the season progressed and put himself in the England reckoning, plays with confidence and heart. Great season and my player of the season.

Barton: Tremendous desire and heart but still learning his way, plenty of room for improvement, still miles behind Steven Gerrard.

Dunne: Another player who has got better as the season has progressed and has been very good over the last few games. Needs to make his partnership with Distin as commanding as Campbell and Toure.

Sinclair: Not played as well as we all know he is capable of and has been disappointing in many matches. He has the capability of scoring many more goals; I still think he has a lot to offer next season.

Bosvelt: Don’t know what to make of him: tries hard but we need a quality midfielder in the mould of Benarbia for next season.

Reyna: Injury prone and has been good in patches, needs far more consistency, worth another season.

McManaman: Disappointing season, seems happy to be at City with his good mate Fowler rather than show what he really is capable of. He should be running the show in midfield but struggles to make the team due to his inconsistency.

Sibierski: I like the look of him, great in the air, just needs to play more often; winning breeds confidence and then we will see the best of him.

Fowler: Never felt we should have signed him in the first place, and I think the results have proved that. Plays well in patches and misses too many chances. Lacks the pace that is necessary in the Premiership now. If we keep him for next season, is only a sub as far as I am concerned.

Anelka: Our top scorer, but sadly is nowhere near as good as Thierry Henri, misses more one on ones than any other player in the Premiership. Has a lot still to improve on and could do with smiling a bit more often.

Macken: Not sure if he is the right player for us, even though he scored that memorable winner vs. Spurs.

Wanchope: After all his injuries, has the heart and desire to pay back for City standing by him when injured. Is unpredictable but very useful up front and very good in the air.

Van Buyten: Unlikely to be at City next season.

Keegan: Love the guy, his honesty and passion is always there to be seen but I am not sure he will be there next season.

These are the players I think City could afford for next season:

Either: Henri Camara, Louis Boa Morte, or Andy Johnson (every time I watched them play, they were a handful and either scored a lot, or created a lot).

Steed Malbranque: quality midfielder, exactly what we need.

A quality left back – maybe the one who plays for Monaco?

C’mon City!

Glyn Albuquerque <glyn.albuquerque(at)>


Some of the things that City have to do in the off season in preparation for next season:

  • Whatever it takes to sign Daniel van Buyten.
  • Hang on to Shaun Wright-Phillips.
  • Make David James the captain.
  • Players who are not worthy of wearing the City shirt, if contracts are up, goodbye.
  • Players who are not worthy of wearing the City shirt and still have acontract, transfer them out, if any other team will take them.

Some of the older players are almost “injury prone”; time to give our bright young stars a chance in the top flight and see who can play in it. Take a strong look at the coaching staff.I think Kevin Keegan needs a strong assistant manager, just like Joe Mercer had Malcolm Allison. Kevin Keegan at times is too much Mr. Nice Guy; nothing wrong with that, as long as there is a good right hand man with him.

Before City can think of new players it’s obvious some have got to go, so it’s no point in talking too much about who should come in other than the exception of van Buyten.

I stress again Kevin Keegan must stay, he’s had two great years, and this last one was not a good one, but we did beat the Rags 4-1, he did give us something to shout about.

For the David Bernstein fans (and I was one who signed a petition for him to stay): a good chairman would have stayed to try to resolve something that was not right, and if he could not resolve it, “never turn your back on the club and run away”.

The club should now stick with John Wardle (Chairman); he does care about the club and we all know that he is a genuine City fan.

Let’s hope one of one of Abramovich’s friends comes and gives City a boost cash-wise.

Let’s enjoy the last two games now that the pressure is off.

Come on you Blues!

Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)>


I think the Newcastle game showed that all the players really do care for the club and that this will dispel the thoughts of the doubters. There was desire, passion and above all a great amount of raw effort from the players out on that pitch; this along with vociferous fans, who I must say were absolutely fantastic, combined to win this game for us all. Now that we are safe (barring a major disaster), where do we go from here? I (IMHO) don’t think we have to do too much. Here is my very brief run down of the squad:

David James:
We’ve got England’s No 1 and he has been brilliant. A big thank you David, you kept us up with the penalty saves alone. Keep him.

Nicky Weaver:
Love the guy. Get him fit then see if he’s still got it. Test him out.

Arni Gautur Arason:
Came in, did the job asked of him but still needs to learn off our #1. Not quite the finished article. Keep.

Kevin Ellegaard:
Young but with potential; one for the future, I would hope with City. Keep.

Daniel van Buyten:
This guy is a must have, we need to try our very best to secure him. Get him in.

Gerard Wiekens:
Served us well but his time with us is over. Can do a job for another. Transfer out.

Sylvain Distin:
Captain’s armband ruined his great ability as a defender. Get a new captain and let him do what he’s good at. Keep.

Sun Jihai:
Has to learn how to defend but always gives his all to the cause. Keep.

Michael Tarnat:
Does the job asked of him. Has a Howitzer for a left foot. Keep.

Richard Dunne:
The Dunny Monster has become a rock in defence. Deceptively quick. Keep.

Mikkel Bischoff:
Showed great potential but suffered badly with a variety of injuries. Get him fit in the summer. Keep.

Stephen Jordan:
Young, with bags of potential. Let’s hope he stays until he can blossom. Keep.

Claudio Reyna:
Not yet showed his full potential; a summer of training and fitness required. Keep.

Antoine Sibierski:
Brought in a year before we expected but has performed well. Not yet seen his full ability on the pitch I feel. Keep.

Danny Tiatto:
Seems to be on his way out. Always gave his all. Transfer out.

Joey Barton:
Great potential. Lots still to learn. An unpolished diamond. Keep.

Christian Negouai:
Looked like he could be the new Vieira. Let’s get him fit and see if he is. Test.

Steve McManaman:
If he could perform to his best every week he would be a class act but unfortunately he hasn’t. Rumour is he’s following Ali?

Trevor Sinclair:
Not yet seen his best performances. Hopefully we will next season. Keep.

Shaun Wright-Phillips:
The guy is phenomenal. Desire, ability, passion; let’s hope he’s contagious. Keep.

Robbie Fowler:
Took a long time to get his fitness. Let’s hope he keeps it during the summer. He will score goals, hopefully next season. Keep.

Paulo Wanchope:
Long time out injured; if he can stay fit, a good squad member. Test.

Jon Macken:
Whenever I see him he looks like he couldn’t trap a bag of cement for a ‘holds it up’ player. Transfer out.

Matias Vuoso:
Down Mexico way. Can he cut it in the Premiership? Let’s get him back and see shall we children? Test.

Nicolas Anelka:
Fantastic goal machine but needs to be kept motivated. Let’s ‘big him up’ and let him loose. Keep.

Worries – we need to add:

A quality centre-half to play alongside Dunny (who has improved fantastically this season); whether DvanB can be convinced, cajoled or kidnapped into playing for us next season I don’t know but I hope the board do all they can to get him in. If we can’t get him I trust our scouts have someone of the same stature lined up?!

A creative midfielder, one with the vision, passing, and sublime skill of Ali B. I wish I could think of someone (if you can, send it in to McV) but we all know how rare they are (a rocking horse comes to mind! Move on!).

Keegan must stay; I like what he’s trying to do. We have played some of the most attractive football in the Premiership this season; yes we’ve lost games but not through playing badly as a team (Soton excepted!). In fact most were individual errors on the players’ part, which you can’t legislate for. You can through training and coaching reduce these errors to a rare occurrence but not completely.

I hope that we win the last two games and finish higher up the table; this will give us all, players, management and fans alike, the confidence to go into the summer with a bit of confidence and no doubt great expectations for next season but also other teams will not think we are a soft touch and an easy three points. Eastlands must become a fortress next season; if it is as the scientist say “down to familiarity” then we should have a few pre-season friendlies at home to let our players get “familiar”.

Another season in the Premiership awaits us all in August thankfully. We’ve all bought a ticket for it by being Blue so let’s get on board and enjoy the ride… again!

Come on, altogether now: Blue Moon, you saw me standing alone…

Colin B <Batemanc(at)>


Copy of Letter sent to Ticket Office and Board of Directors

Stadium Atmosphere

Dear Sirs,

One of the greatest assets Manchester City have ever obtained is going to waste when it could be used as a fantastic tool, a twelfth man, to help the team win at home.

The City of Manchester Stadium is superb, it’s full and imposing and the only thing that spoils it is the “general” lack of atmosphere.

I think that the only way to improve the singing in the stadium is to get all the “would be singers” all sat together.

Now you know how many seasoncards and Citycards you have and you can track their attendance, you also have their names and addresses.

Why don’t you designate an area and send out a flyer asking who wants to be moved to that area? I would suggest – Levels 1 and 2 from the away fans to the tunnel.

That would help amplify the sound they made to the whole stadium because singing would be directed in different directions.

It would also help to “drown out” the away support, who generally are much louder than the home fans.

Obviously many people will want to stay where they are because of the view etc., but there are far too many small pockets of “singers” who are on their own in different areas of the ground, who could make an enormous noise if they were all brought together.

Just look at wherever we take 3000 away fans – we out-sing everyone.

Can you remember the 9,000 at Old Trafford – we out-sang 58,000 Man Utd fans at a derby match.

We can do it if you let everyone get together!

I think this is so important and other than the cost of a flyer and relocation costs (cheaper if you do it now!), it must be worth it to help the team next year.

You pay millions for players, managers, coaches, facilities etc. to help the team – but the biggest, cheapest asset is the fans – any they pay you!

Please, please, please ask people if they want to be relocated into the singing area.


Richard Stoodley – Season Ticket Holder <Richard(at)>


Both Keegan and Wardle have promised that they’ll sit down and analyse this season. I’ve been a City fan for 31 years and seen some serious underachievement in that time but none more so than this season.

I think we lost the plot in that 3-0 home defeat with Leicester. That game pretty much summed up the season for me. Keegan has invested a lot of transfer fees and wages in attacking midfielders (right footed) and feels obliged to play as many as he can. The problem is then you need the attacking midfielders to play a bit more defensively, which they try to do, but they struggle, lose confidence and aren’t as effective when they go forward. Consistency is all about organisation and balance; I’m afraid our team’s organisation suffered because the team was unbalanced.

McMananman and Sibierski lack defensive skills, yet, fair play to them, they try. I believe that you can only play one of those guys at a time in midfield – though in an away game you could play one up front with a striker.

We suffered too by playing Robbie Fowler so much; he took ages to get match fit and sharp and then he was still a shadow of his former self.

We seriously need a right back (or two) and at least two left footed players, a left back and a left midfielder, plus a commanding centre back – preferably English speaking. Then we could do with losing a few players (strikers and attacking midfielders) to give the young players like Elliott a chance.

I’m a fan of Joey Barton; he started the season off really well, but then his form dipped and his passing became erratic. I’m a big fan of Reyna; he can make the team tick if he’s given a chance (he was injured a lot). I’m well impressed with James, I didn’t realise how good a ‘keeper he is. Shaun Wright-Phillips is an excellent player. So there’s still some optimism for next season.

Tim Starns <tim_starns(at)>


So it looks more than likely that City will stay up (barring any points deducted for the Leicester fracas) so the team need to look to the future. Daniel van Buyten is a must-buy, we need to keep hold of Joey Barton and Nic Anelka, get rid of McManaman. Try to keep Tarnat and Sibierski. Tarnat for his powerful kicks and Siberski for the headers.

Shaun Wright is the one player we need to keep at all costs; why not play him in the middle as the playmaker?

Lastly, this is our first season in the COMS, and like all new moves to a new home, the first year is hard. Hopefully the lads will do us a lot prouder next season.

P.S. Will there be a flag day on the last day?

P.P.S. Are City still in line for a route into the UEFA Cup through the Fair play league?

CTID, Steve <salty12(at)>


Now that we are safe, we can begin to assess the manager’s rôle.

KK has had 3 seasons with us. The last one has not been good, but the previous two were excellent considering where we were when he arrived.

Season 1: Wins Division 1 Championship, playing champagne football with the two B’s in midfield, Pearce’s leadership and scoring a record number of goals.

Season 2: Achieves a respectable top half finish with some top quality players in our side who would not have come to us except for Keegan’s presence at the club.

Season 3: A disappointment, but we must stick with Kevin. If you compare Blackburn and Everton with City, the 3 teams have all had poorer seasons than last year when Blackburn finished 6th, Everton 7th and City 9th. All 3 have been involved in the lower half struggle this season. Souness, Keegan and Moyes have not suddenly become bad managers. Last season, Moyes was being talked about as the best young manager in the Premiership. As Souness said recently, “The margin between success and failure is very narrow”. Outside the top 5 the rest of the Premiership’s teams are all in with a shout for a European spot and also for a lower half struggle. Taken long term KK is doing a good job.

What have been the narrow margins between success and failure for us this season?

  1. If James had arrived pre-season instead of in January.
  2. The acquisitions of Fowler and McManaman have been disastrous, but allmanagers get it wrong in the transfer market from time to time (viz.Forlan, Barthez and Taibi at MU). Fowler and Macca are the two who we mustunload in the summer.
  3. The individual errors and bad luck during our long spell of outplayingsides, but not picking up the wins.

We still have the makings of a very good side. I really hope we can hold onto Anelka and SWP and acquire van Buyten. A sound defence built around James and van Buyten with flair players like Anelka and SWP in the side will still see us on course for a high finish next season.

John Ogden <john(at)>


In response to Richard Stoodley’s comments:

Richard, try not be as silly next time you send something via the Alps eh? The only changes to make are to get rid of Macca, Anelka, Sinclair, Reyna, Sun.


Joel Perry – East Stand <j.perry(at)>


As one of the first MCIVTA subscribers, but a very lazy one at that, I thought it time to share some thoughts on this season, as it now looks like we have been saved by there being three even more inept teams than ours in the Premiership.

Firstly, the players.

Seaman – Was initially keen, but unlike Schmeichel who seemed to giveevery game 100%, Seaman looked like a rather disinterestedjourneyman. Clearly a good bloke, and an England legend, but triedto push a season too far, and KK also knew it. If we had taken onJames in August last year, we would have been mid-table by the close.1/10

James – yes he makes the occasional spectacular mistake, but he looks like he means business and he is wonderfully verbal, bossing the back line around, which we have missed so much under Seaman. 7/10

Sun – Always tries hard, but rather like a toddler with a new ball. Distribution is a lottery, and his positioning can be woeful. A below average Premiership player, but worth having as cover. 3/10

Distin – Sometimes so assured and elegant, and at other times caught napping. Why is he captain? We need a leader out there, and it’s been a major issue this season – give it to James. 4/10

Tarnat – It looked so good at the beginning, his link up play with Sinclair, and his great free kicks. But he is just too old and fades by half time. Would make a reasonable 1st Division defender. 2/10

W-Phillips – The star of the season for me. Commitment, pace, skill and passion. Sometimes can be marked out of a game, but when he has space, he is a delight to watch. Please don’t sell him. 9/10

Barton – I like him. I know he has the temperament of a two year old, but he has passion and character and most importantly enough skill when on form to steady a midfield under attack. Needs a few years to grow, but has the potential to be a great player. 7/10

Dunne – His best season by far, given the rather inauspicious start. Yes he is slow, and sometimes makes horrific almost criminal errors, but he fights and he is learning to win almost everything in the air. If he was surrounded by class he could be even better. 8/10

Sinclair – I never liked him when he played for England, and I just can’t see what he offers. Sometimes he makes a few useful through balls or strong challenges, and his position play is very good, but that’s it. No finish and no great vision. Now he is too old. Surely the 1st Division beckons? 3/10

Sibierski – I remember the goal at Charlton on the first day and then that was more or less it. I suppose he is good to have on the bench given his versatility. But surely we shouldn’t have to rely on one player, who is most often a substitute, for our only limited aerial ability? 4/10

Anelka – Now this is really hard. He must be one of the best strikers in the world, and in a better team could be challenging Henry for the golden boot, so why is he so inconsistent, often missing absolute sitters (like at Leicester)? When he cares and runs he is sublime, but it seems to be getting rarer with each game. Maybe we just haven’t given him the perfect partner yet? Always looks like he is waiting for the first plane to the south of France, and after watching the Goat track back the moment he lost the ball, he looks positively lazy. Impossible to score.

Fowler – Apart from a little run a few months back, we should have left him at Leeds to face the drop. Utter waste of space. 1/10

McManaman – Like Tarnat, great first game, and then he dropped back to count his weekly salary. Macca represents all that went wrong this year and KK’s ultimate weakness as a manager. He has been a total failure and complete disappointment. Apart from the occasional arm flapping, he has added nothing to the game. A total journeyman, who should have the self respect to consign himself to play in the US or Saudi for the last season of his career. Just because he plays golf with KK, Seaman and Robbie doesn’t make him a decent player, but KK seemed to be blinded by some kind of perverted mission to recreate his under achieving England side at Eastlands. 0/10

Reyna – Haven’t really seen him enough to make a judgment call. Looks interesting, but not very sure of his natural position. 5/10

Bosvelt – Now I really didn’t like him at first. He looked slow and uninterested, like any other KK purchase this year; here to spend a year cashing in on his history and get enough to buy that pub in Amsterdam/Liverpool/wherever. But as the season wore on, I grew to like him a little. He looked like he was giving it his all, and when paired with Joey, seemed to complement him well, a wise head to Joey’s toddler one. He also appears to be very technically skilful. But in the final call he is too old and too slow and fades, like Tarnat, by half time. 6/10

Macken – Duff buy or promising genius in need of a fair run? Well, he occasionally looks the part when he gets the chance, and I might have liked to see him given more of a go. He seems to be the right type of partner to Anelka, but hasn’t really been allowed to give it a decent run. I’ll hold off with a mark till next season.

Wanchope – I am firmly in the camp that says that you can’t have one of your primary strikers so prone to injury and so prone to play ridiculous football. Like last Saturday, he can pull it out in times of crisis, but who can make a fair call on a guy that has played so little and so erratically? He is absolutely the wrong player to pair with Anelka, and I wouldn’t be too sad to swap him with Viduka! 4/10

Van Buyten – Without question, with James, KK’s redeeming coup. This guy is simply superb. Mammoth in skill and in stature. Wins everything in the air and makes well-timed and well-executed tackles. What a tragedy that we can’t keep him, as he would give the back line the speed that Dunne hasn’t got. 9/10

Tiatto – How can you not love this guy? He is passion and guts all rolled into one. It was a shame we saw so little of him (if anything at all!), as I would have played him in some of those tough rainy scrappy games, when the likes of Anelka and Macca are thinking about their bank balances rather than the game. But let’s not kid ourselves, he isn’t a Premiership level player, and should be given the chance to go to a good First Division club to play regular football.

And now, to Mr Keegan.

Well, it’s been so very hard. On the one hand, you know he cares. You know he takes a massive personal hit with every defeat and puffs out his little chest with every win. I really do believe that he gives it his all… but, is that enough when two of your greatest abilities seem to have lost their magic; the ability to motivate and the ability to win.

I’m also think he deserves to explain why he thought Macca or Fowler or Tarnat or Sinclair or Seaman (not to mention Vuoso, et al) would be great City players.

Why does he have a capacity to isolate and then fall out with so many players?

Why did he engineer the Bernstein exit?

Why did he think spending £50 million on his golfing buddies would put us into Europe?

Why did he remain faithful to Seaman when he was so obviously hopeless?

Why did he allow the dressing room to become driven by schism for most of the season?

Does he really think he deserves another season?

That decision appears to be with the board. And it’s to them that I now turn.

It is very clear to me that there is only one Chairman that this club needs. A Chairman that lived for the club, who helped us out of Division 2 and back into the Premiership with one of the best stadiums in Europe. Bernstein’s exit was a disgrace and all because KK wasn’t allowed to waste even more money on Fowler.

Wardle is clearly a passionate Blue, but appears to allow himself to be the front puppet for other interests within the major shareholders who seem happy to hide behind him.

It seems that our club has always been hostage to the egos of our board. Under Bernie, this didn’t seem to be the case, but clearly agendas were growing in the dark, and it also appears that these were fed and watered by a frustrated KK.

Given the blank cheque Wardle (and his cohorts) gave KK, having ousted Bernie, it’s time he admits his mistake, steps down from a job he claimed he never wanted and hand control back to Bernie to steer us back up the table.

I’m sure that Bernie is big enough to bury his differences with KK, and if KK still wants to be a football manager, then he would need to accept the new world order.

Whilst I’m at it, a few more ravings and rantings:

The ground. Let’s stop mucking around and call it Eastlands. It works and I like it. It’s a wonderful thing to behold, and I still ask myself if it’s ours (I know it’s not yet!). But the atmosphere is still crap. Even the amazing derby was lame when compared to the 3-1 at Maine Road. Maybe it will take time, decent games, etc. I really hope so, and I think the idea about having a singing section is a very good one.

The PA is still too loud and there needs to be more toilets. I also think we need to sort why we give the away fans a great slice of the ground behind the goal. Let’s move them into a corner like every other club seems to do to us.

The shirts. Utter rubbish this season. They fall apart, and I hate the home kit. If it isn’t embarrassing enough to walk around with a bankrupt sponsor, to have the thing fall apart is a disgrace. Although I do like the away top, better material and I like the design. A little concerned on the rather washed out look for next season.

Finally, my high and lows for this year.

My high is without question the 4-1. It was just sublime. It was so ‘City’. How a club that can lose to Groclin can kill the Rags with such skill and panache, is what makes being a City fan so special.

My low (and there were a few to pick from) was going to Lokeren, and I am not talking about the comic performance on the pitch. I had the great displeasure of observing close-up some of the revolting sickness that emerges when a club gets into Europe. Vile racist little thugs. They were much in evidence that night, and I had the particular misfortune of having to walk to the ground behind a pack of them singing ‘There ain’t no Black in the Union Jack’.

They are human plankton, and like every club we have our share. They tried to cause trouble and with their pathetic little Burberry baseball caps and hooded sweatshirts.

But from this low is also another type of high; the real City fan.

As these vermin were trying to goad the Belgium riot police, the wonderful fans from across the City terrace started shouting at them to sit down and started a chorus of ‘you’re not fit to the wear the shirt’. Given the overwhelming sentiment and utter lack of tolerance for these scumbags from the City fans they soon melted away, caps off, hoods down, pretending to be football fans.

You see, we really do have the best fans in the world.

Miles Webber <miles.webber(at)>


Have to say that the pre-launch pics of new home kit left me a little disappointed. Ordered it for smartarse 15 year old son ’cause old habits die hard 🙂 Have to confess I baulked at Premiership badges but then I’ve supported City for a lot longer than he has 🙂

Have to say that it is better in the flesh than in the pics. Material feels amazing but I suppose there is no excuse these days for having a kit that can’t move moisture. Will know if it’s a success if the nipple plasters stop disappearing <oops

Blerk at work is a Blades fan and predicted we’d only get a maximum 2 points from the last three games. Must admit that before the Toon game I thought he was being optimistic but then I suppose he’s used to even less optimism than I have been able to muster latterly.

So, unless there is a Sky Rags plot for Leeds to win 19-nil twice, I expect the magnificent Boys in Blue (never give in) to batter ‘Boro on Saturday then length Everton on last day and lay the ghost of COMStad. I’m sure the stadium knows that it is kind of nameless and grey. It is crying out for an identity that is not the camel-like City of Manchester Stadium, which only furthers the Rags’ connection IMHO. I know the name thing has been done to death but I still believe that the lack of identity is hurting us… my ha’pennyworth, It won’t be ours until we name it. I’ll get me coat.

TTFN, Garry Higgins <Balrog(at)>


I was wondering if anyone out there could help me (you have in the past). I require 2 tickets together for the Everton game; my friend is coming over from Holland for the weekend and would like to attend the game. I have tried to get tickets but I have been struggling to find 2 tickets together, so if any of you good people out there can help me, could you please contact me? I would be most grateful.

Mark Pipping <mark.pipping(at)> or <mark.pipping(at)>


I have 2 Boro tickets for sale. Family illness means I can’t go to the game. They are £22:00 each.

I am based in Chorley so you can either collect or meet my mate outside the ground if interested.

Contact me on 07739844873

Paul <Pk(at)>


Many thanks to Rich who came up trumps with a pair of tickets for the Boro game – cheers mate!

On the subject of Boro – anyone know of any decent pubs in the land of the chimney (preferably ones that will be full of Blues)?

Andrew Keller <Akcity(at)>


4 May 2004

Portsmouth            1 - 1  Arsenal               20,140

League table to 06 May 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         36 14  4  0 38 13 10  8  0 32 12 24 12  0  70  25  45  84
 2 Chelsea         36 11  4  3 33 13 12  2  4 32 16 23  6  7  65  29  36  75
 3 Manchester Utd  36 12  3  3 36 14 10  2  6 25 20 22  5  9  61  34  27  71
 4 Liverpool       36 10  3  5 28 14  5  8  5 23 22 15 11 10  51  36  15  56
 5 Aston Villa     36  9  6  3 24 17  6  4  8 23 24 15 10 11  47  41   6  55
 6 Newcastle Utd   35 11  4  3 32 13  2 10  5 15 22 13 14  8  47  35  12  53
 7 Bolton Wndrs    36  6  8  4 24 19  7  3  8 22 34 13 11 12  46  53  -7  50
 8 Fulham          36  9  4  5 29 20  4  6  8 21 25 13 10 13  50  45   5  49
 9 Charlton Ath.   36  6  6  6 27 28  7  4  7 19 19 13 10 13  46  47  -1  49
10 Birmingham City 36  8  5  5 26 21  4  8  6 16 23 12 13 11  42  44  -2  49
11 Southampton     35  8  4  5 20 13  4  5  9 19 26 12  9 14  39  39   0  45
12 Middlesbrough   36  7  4  7 23 22  5  5  8 18 24 12  9 15  41  46  -5  45
13 Blackburn R.    36  5  3 10 24 30  7  4  7 26 27 12  7 17  50  57  -7  43
14 Portsmouth      36  9  4  5 30 18  2  5 11 11 32 11  9 16  41  50  -9  42
15 Everton         36  8  5  5 26 18  1  7 10 17 32  9 12 15  43  50  -7  39
16 Tottenham H.    36  8  4  6 32 27  3  2 13 12 30 11  6 19  44  57 -13  39
17 Manchester City 36  4  9  5 26 23  4  5  9 23 28  8 14 14  49  51  -2  38
18 Wolves          36  7  5  6 23 33  0  6 12 14 41  7 11 18  37  74 -37  32
19 Leeds United    36  5  6  7 22 28  3  2 13 15 47  8  8 20  37  75 -38  32
20 Leicester City  36  2 10  6 16 27  3  5 10 28 35  5 15 16  44  62 -18  30


With thanks to Football 365

MCIVTA FAQ [v0304.07]

[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?

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.

[Valid3.2]Don Barrie,

Newsletter #1015