Newsletter #1038

Firstly, many thanks to Mads for standing in again last week and taking care of MCIVTA 1037.

Another lacklustre performance on Saturday at Doncaster (fortunate we weren’t playing Doncaster Belles as that could have been an embarrassing result). Plus ça change.

Tonight we have views of the Doncaster and Bury games, opinion on the squad and season ahead, and the usual requests.

Next game: Hull City, away, 7.45pm Wednesday 28 July 2004 (friendly)


Pre-season friendly – you’re having a laugh!

Having spent the season before last (City’s last at Maine Road) travelling from South Yorkshire for home matches, it felt a little odd to be doing the journey in reverse. However, having lived near to Doncaster – the boys had been on their football in the community courses, and still having a number of friends in the area, we were tempted back across the Pennines even after last Wednesday’s lacklustre performance (never take someone to a pre-season friendly as their introduction to football – poor George will probably never sign up as a Junior Blue now!).

The Donny Rovers’ match (or pre-match) started well enough, bumping into some familiar Blue faces, and seeing two of the lads who used to play in Josh’s U6 team as Donny Rovers’ mascots (though last time we saw them they were sporting the sky blue shirts of Manchester City!); then the match started! Mmmmmmm – what can I say? The football again was uninspiring, the home team took the lead, then some minutes later Joey took umbrage at Leo Fortune West lying on the ball and tried to kick it away, several times – leading to involvement from various others including McManaman. The referee then booked Barton, ignoring Fortune West’s rôle in the incident and things got rather bad-tempered, with the Rovers’ player then kicking out at any City player near him and Barton being booed at every touch by the home fans – who also booed Danny Mills’ every touch (I thought it really pathetic that the ball boys refused to throw him the ball whenever it went out!). Finally Dave Penney (Rovers’ manager) subbed Fortune West and things did improve.

However, the referee and linesmen were awful and City looked worryingly out of touch. It would be hard to pick a man of the match as no-one really had a good game. Let’s hope things improve by August 14th.

The only consolation – it didn’t rain and we bumped into another set of friends after the match. Maybe pre-season friendly means the fans!

Sarah Longshaw <sarah(at)>


Went to the Bury game at Gigg Lane. First off, Bury need to get their act together regarding crowd control. Entrance to this fixture was pay on the gate, and all the City fans were herded into the away end. So we sat there for an hour in the away end, which was completely full, staring at the almost empty other three sides of the ground. A quick look outside showed a 5-deep queue snaking round the front of the ground and onto Gigg Lane. An announcement stated that the game would be delayed for 15 minutes because of “congestion” and then the other three sides started to quickly fill up with City fans, who were still streaming into the stands 20 minutes after kick-off. Why Bury had to segregate in the first place is beyond me – it was a friendly, and basically a fund-raising exercise for their benefit. The same thing happened last time we played them two seasons ago.

And so to the match. We played two different sides, one in each half, consisting of first team and reserve players.

First Half:
Geert De Vlieger, Danny Mills, Mikkel Bischoff, Sylvain Distin, Stephen Jordan, Lee Croft, Joey Barton, Antoine Sibierski, Steve McManaman, Paulo Wanchope, Robbie Fowler.

Not a lot happened of note in the first half. The back four looked solid, particularly in the air. Distin and Bischoff very dominant. Mills looked very efficient and Jordan so-so. And onto the midfield – the windmill was ineffective and uncreative apart from his ability to wave his arms about, and if he gets a regular place this season I fear the worst. His partner-in-crime Joey “give the ball away” Barton would have been severely punished had this been a Premiership match. Midfield positives – Lee Croft (who was the only player to come on for the second half) looked very promising. Sibierski looked OK – found space and used the ball well. Paulo looked fit and sharp – he had a couple of half chances but had no real service. And finally, “The Landlord” – this guy is finished at Premiership level. He looked lethargic, overweight and disinterested. I can see this – Kevin, please take note.

Second Half:
Kevin Ellegaard, Nedum Onuoha, David Sommeil, Richard Dunne, Paul Collins, Shaun Wright-Philllips, Willo Flood, Christian Negouai, Lee Croft (Stephen Ireland 77), Bradley Wright-Phillips, Jon Macken.

What a transformation. I really enjoyed watching this team play some good football. Lee Croft looked better this half out wide left. I like the look of Willo Flood – a bit lightweight but very creative and rarely gave the ball away. Onuoha – this boy is chunky but wow he is quick, a good passer and very confident. He looks ready for the bench to me as cover at full back. Dunny Monster and Sommeil looked solid. Collins looked pretty secure. “Invisible man” Negouai – every time I’ve seen this lad he looks good. He carries the ball well, passes OK, and has pace and presence. I would like to see him given a chance, I’d certainly prefer to see him rather than the Windmill. The strikers for the second half were Macken and Bradley W-P. Bradley reminds me of his dad, which is no bad thing – quick, confident, and not afraid to miss. He is only a kid but has great potential. Macken worked really hard and looked sharp. Scored a superb goal on the break but was disallowed for offside. And finally, Shaun W-P, I left this guy till the end – he was Man of the Match, no questions. The whole ground lit up when he got going, and only the ‘keeper kept the little guy out. If he ever leaves it will be a sad day.

Phil Handley <mhandley(at)>


Living in Holland I have seen something of Mido when he played for Ajax. He is a reasonable player but they had a lot of problems with him because of his attitude. He was dropped to the reserves twice because he gave interviews telling everyone what a know-nothing the manager was and once because he went home before the end of a match when he was substituted. He turned up late for training and since he went to Marseille he has not set the world on fire or he would not be leaving would he?

Not what we need if we are going to have to work hard at doing better this year.

Ian Nixon <britnix(at)>


Wallace Poulter has got it spot on with his analysis of KK’s attempts to buy a striker rather than a left-sided midfielder. Last term the whole team was completely unbalanced by the lack of a player who could cross from the left and beat a player down the left flank. We were so bad that opposition teams could put two players on SWP from start to finish and still not worry a fig about being outnumbered on the other flank.

So far this pre-season, KK has done nothing to address this team defect. I had brief hopes that KK was going to remedy this with end-of-season speculation that we were going to buy Del Pedro and recent speculation that we were going to by the magnificent Martin Jorgensen from Udinese who played so well for Denmark at Euro 2004. Alas all of these hopes have come to nought and there looks to be no movement on the transfer market to remedy this situation. I have to say that I am totally dumbfounded by this decision. It would appear that KK has put the blame on Tarnat and has dispatched him to the wilderness and has kept the dreadful McManaman and Sinclair on to have another go.

Now I believe, like others on here, that players who were relegated play really badly for the following 6 months if they move on from the relegated team – so I guess Sinclair has an excuse. It’s a mental thing – they either try too hard for their new club or their confidence is simply shot to pieces, whatever, Sinclair had a stinker as an attacking player last season. Defensively he was good, but attacking wise he was cack. He only beat a defender once on the outside – and that was against Newcastle at the end of the season! Still, he did play better towards the end of last season and perhaps he will get his head straight this season.

When he first played for us last season I thought “Wow, he’s not as cr*p as I thought he was”. Alas after the News Of The World revelations he simply stank the place out for the rest of the season. He pointed everywhere to indicate where others should go but when people went there he was to slow to give them the ball. In fact he was just too slow. Many of his passes were of the ‘hospital’ variety and most were far too late (the opportunity had gone). And his tackling (what tackling I hear you say?) made me cringe. I shall conclude by saying that if he was a horse he would be shot.

I have to say I just don’t think both are good enough as left sided midfielders. Though possibly, Sinclair should be given another chance – but as left back, right back (his defending is great) or right midfield (where his obvious right footedness will not be the handicap it is on the left).

Leaving my depression at the left side of the team aside, may I say I am delighted that KK will be playing Sun in the centre of midfield as a holding and/or box-to-box midfielder this term. He was magnificent in this role at the OT Derby 17(ish) months ago, after injury forced KK to use him this way in the 2nd half (to recap: he blocked the channels magnificently and sprayed the ball around to get attacks going down the centre and down the flanks – indeed, for me, he was the reason why Man Ure were toothless in that 2nd half). I waxed lyrically about how good his performance was at the time, but KK never tried it again. Still, better late than never Kev.

Let’s just hope Sinclair gets it right on the left this year to give us a balanced midfield.

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


Have been really negative all summer. The failure to sign DvB greatly concerned me. However, the signings of Mills and Thatcher, whilst not being of the exciting variety may well give us more bite and solidity at the back, something lacking for many years.

Looking back and breaking the team down, I think we are clearly stronger in the goalkeeping department than a year ago, don’t think many would argue there. Similarly, we seem to have more to offer at the back, although I’m very disappointed about the non-signing of DVB.

In midfield I feel confused, we have no replacement for Ali or Eyal but last season we did create a huge number of chances, whilst Bosvelt got better and Joey B has another year of experience. We need significant improvements from Macca and Trev. I feel SWP may not be as good this time as defenders will be more concerned about his growing reputation although I do expect him to come through this extra attention. Up front is something of a puzzle, Nico at times looking top class but seemingly unable to put away one on ones, Robbie looking that at best he will be a 10 goal a season man, Paulo flattering at times but unlikely to be consistent whilst John Macken something of a steady journeyman.

Coaching-wise I hear criticism of Faz but in reality I don’t think we know enough to judge, I believe Pearce will be better for his experience and bring positive things to the team, whilst KK will hopefully not be diverted as per the Berko scenario.

I think this year we need an impact from young players such as Croft, Flood, McCarthy and BWP. Hopefully the new stadium syndrome will be out of the system, we did win our last 2! All in all I feel more positive now but not expecting any miracles. My best guess this year 12-14th.

Ian Barton <Ian(at)>


The first two friendlies lead me to believe that Kevin Keegan is spot on when he says City need another striker. We all know that Anelka has not played in the first two games, which left Fowler, Macken and Wanchope all failing to find the back of the net against lower division opposition. The strikers lack that killer instinct that I love to see in a striker. Fowler is no longer the fox in the box. He has got to improve, what’s gone wrong with him? Anelka is not going to put things right on his own, he needs help to score the goals. John Wardle and the boardroom will have to find a way to get Mido, who has been named by KK as a gem. If Marseille will not release Mido to City or any other club until they have a replacement for Didier Drogba, maybe City will have to look elsewhere – Wiltord?

Despite all the shots on goal last season, and goals scored, the team still lacks another quality striker! The appearance of Bradley Wright-Phillips has been heart warming for he looks like a good prospect for the future but is not quite ready; we must not rush him.

The defence has shown big improvements, with Ben Thatcher yet to play. When will Joey Barton ever learn to control his temperament? He must learn that uncontrolled aggression is not allowed in football. Joey can cost us some games by being red carded for his stupid mistakes. Against Doncaster he should have had a red card, but he was allowed to continue to play after receiving a yellow card. Joey found out the hard way, the lower division teams come after you with a vengeance. Nasty tackles from Les Fortune-West and Jermaine McSporran could have resulted in a bad injury to Joey Barton. We must remember that two other scousers, Gerrard and Rooney have all been hot headed, but now appear to have that under control; if Barton cannot learn he will not feature in Kevin Keegan’s team.

After only two games it might be too early to say too much, let’s hope that our strikers show their teeth! These pre-season friendlies must never be taken seriously for the results, but by the way our players are performing. The team in general are showing more determination and that’s what Kevin Keegan, Stuart Pearce and the supporters want to see.

Come on you Blues!

Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)>


Just noticed on our website that the Birmingham tickets are now available for the game on 24/07/04. However, à la Chelsea, they are now £40! I therefore refuse to go on principle alone. I’m sure this point has been debated before but the solution, it seems to me, is quite simple – We charge away fans the same amount as they charge us. I’m sure the brummies would soon do a U-turn if their fans had to pay £40 every away game. Any views? I suspect there is a lot of national opinion on this subject.

Mat Howden <matthew.howden(at)>


Something for the pre-season – KK’s wise words from last season.

“Surely he is not going to try it from there,” KK to Arthur Cox, while Tarnat prepared for his 40-yard free-kick against Blackburn.

After thumping Aston Villa: “[Anelka] is enjoying his football. I think all the players are and when you play like that in the second half you want the second half to come very quickly.” Come again?

“I am not trying to make excuses but the lights could have been a problem” – after the narrow win at home to Lokeren. Lights on, anyone at home?

“The only secret to being successful in management is to win. I don’t know anyone who has been sacked for being successful” – KK, on management. Not likely to trouble Peter Drucker then.

On Mikkel Bischoff getting close to the first team: “Mikkel is close and all he needs now is games. But of course to get games he needs to be playing.” The omelette or the fried chicken?

After the Bolton 6-2: “We had only won one out of four matches here up until this game, now we have only lost one in five games.”

On Anelka after the Bolton 6-2: “I don’t think there will be many Manchester City fans who will remember a better centre-forward than him. They’ll have their favourites from the past but as a thoroughbred athlete in the modern game, if you tried to manufacture one like you’d manufacture a car, he would come out like Nicolas Anelka and Thierry Henry” (We seem to have a thing for this – KK last year “designed” Distin like a car also, and I remember Keith Curle being called the Rolls-Royce of defenders, way back then).

“People think that Steve McManaman and Robbie are jack-the-lad and all that, from years and years ago, and it was probably true when they were younger. He’s a quiet lad, Robbie, he’s not like a lot of people perceive him as being. He has this image but he’s not really like that. He’s a very determined lad, don’t underestimate him, he’s quiet and sometimes people think the game doesn’t matter to him but I don’t think anything could be further from the truth” – KK after Fowler scored at Southampton and before the News of the World broke the story on Robbie being hammered and snorting salt before the match.

“They are a good side. In Poland they are a little bit like Chelsea are here but in a different way” – Keggy does a Keggy on Groclin on the Manchester City official site.

“Life wouldn’t be worth living if you could buy confidence because the rich people would have it all and everybody else would… would have to make their own arrangements” – KK the philosopher.

“We murdered them in the first half but it seems as though we need two goals to kill teams off at the moment” – KK after the 2-2 draw at home to Liverpool.

“If people don’t want to believe in us, it’s because they don’t want to!” – Kevin Keegan on City’s disastrous Nov-Dec run on The Premiership. And if he doesn’t make sense…

“There are a lot of knockers out there for Robbie Fowler, as there are for all of the top players in Europe” – KK, on The Premiership, explaining why we hear so many stories about footballers in bed with young ladies.

“You won’t get away with playing a one armed goalkeeper, not in the Premiership” – Kevin Keegan on Sky Sports. Allegedly.

KK’s comments on why he signed David James instead of some fancy foreigner: “I was determined to get an English speaker because I wanted someone who could communicate with the back four.” City’s back four at Blackburn, where James débuted? Sun Jihai (China), Sylvain Distin (France), Richard Dunne (Ireland), Michael Tarnat (Germany).

“Will we be appealing? No, it’s a waste of time.” On Nicolas Anelka’s red card at Highbury.

“If you want to stay in a cup then you know it is not going to be easy.” Before the FA Cup replay with Spurs. Which makes a bit of sense: if you don’t want to stay in a cup then it’s bloody easy to get out!

“I said to the fans at half-time `where’s the nearest job centre?'” – Kevin Keegan sums up the situation at White Hart Lane at 8.30pm on third-round replay night, with Joey Barton sent off, Anelka off through injury, and losing three-nil.

“When you’re three down at half-time you’re thinking damage limitation – and with 10 men in some ways it’s worse.”

“We had enough chances to have won several games. Our performances have been better than our results, which is a fact. But the table doesn’t lie and we are four points clear of the relegation places.” – After the Brum 0-0. Come again?

“If you try to tell me there are 15 places between us and Liverpool after this performance, I don’t see it,” said Keegan after the loss to Liverpool. We didn’t see it either. For the record, the table then stood at:

                P HW HD HL HF HA AW AD AL AF AA  W  D  L   F   A  GD  Pts
 4 Liverpool   25  6  2  4 18 13  4  6  3 18 14 10  8  7  36  27   9  38
16 Man City    25  2  7  3 17 15  3  2  8 16 22  5  9 11  33  37  -4  24

“We were one down and they went down to ten men for the whole of the second half. I thought that we would create more chances for them than we did… Having said that I don’t think had we played to our very best, which we did not, we would have created as many chances as we did in the game.” -KK after the FA cup derby loss to the scum.

“You have got to look at all those things, like [United] getting knocked out of Europe,” Keegan on the City website, before the 4-1. “It may work in our favour or it may not. If you think it is going to work in your favour when you play Manchester United then it won’t.”

“Winter can come in February in Germany and England as easily as it can come in February.” – KK supporting Sven Goran Eriksson on a winter break. Kevin Keegan can make a case as well as Kevin Keegan can make a case.

Hsien Min <hsienmin(at)>


Following the contributions of Peter Birbeck and Michael Jenkins who have both backed City to win the title this season, I thought I’d shop around various bookmakers to see if could unearth some value on (if they don’t mind me saying) more realistic bets.

Firstly, it must be pointed out that now is a good time for all the optimists to place their faith and finances in City because, while last season was undoubtedly a grave disappointment, I think the bookies have read too much into our final league position and they are over-reacting in their desperation to take our money this time around.

Look at it this way. The team is the same one we were all touting to do big things last summer (with the notable additions of James, Mills and Thatcher), the only thing that’s changed is the expectation level that has long been our biggest opponent and the fact they were put through the mill last season and have probably come out stronger for it.

I’m not saying we will finish top six but I wouldn’t baulk at taking the 20/1 that Coral are offering when the best price you could get last July was 13/2.

Anyone who recalls most of last season’s games will appreciate the standard outside the top three isn’t that great and everyone appears to be much of a muchness from 4th place down to about 17th. What teams occupy which places is largely down to luck and confidence.

Of course, it all depends on how much Keegan has learned from last season and whether his new rules and training routines will pay any dividends. There appears to be little doubt which way the bookies think it will go – Keegan is the 4/1 clear favourite to be first out of a job and 25/1 rank outsider to land the August Manager of the Month award!

Personally, I think the best price of all is the 7/4 that Coral are offering about us finishing in the top ten – but that all depends on whether you’re prepared to tie your money up for nine months on such a short-priced bet.

For those who like their bets to come in odds of three figures, I’d say you’re better off taking the 100/1 that Skybet go on City being top of the league after ten games. It’s not likely to happen but if you want a 100/1 winner, I suggest you ask somebody else!

As for the Premiership Golden Boot, Nicolas Anelka is best-priced at 40/1, Fowler at 125s, with Macken and Wanchope available at 250s.

And the pessimists out there who maybe want to insure the price of their season ticket against us being relegated might be interested to learn that we can be backed for the drop at 8/1 with either Paddy Power or Bet Direct.

Good luck whatever you decide to back and here’s hoping Ladbrokes take more of a hiding at Eastlands than they did last season.

Mike Holden <MikeHoldenMCFC(at)>


Most of the recent gripes over the above service seem to concern Citycard renewals. I have used the service since Jan for seat booking, and would comment that the “popular” games do not appear to be available for on-line booking.

One other thing which really annoys me also is that you still have to pay a £1.25 card fee even when booking via the web. I can understand this for phone bookings as there are staff to pay, and postage to send out the tickets. Surely the whole idea of on-line shopping is that overheads are lower – and they don’t even send out hard copy tickets anyway, so how can the club justify this extra charge?

Citycard renewal on-line would also attract this fee, so I opted instead to write a cheque and do it by post at the cost of a 25p stamp!

John Ramsbottom <john.ramsbottom4(at)>


A clown’s collar and tyre marks, made by Joe Royle’s car as he heads off with his stash of cash, across the midriff? Like the home kit and the training gear.

Simon Moorehead <simonmoorehead(at)>


I’m staying in Spain, Malaga Region, and having some problems with my satellite system. I have the basic BBC/ITV package, which gives me the London channels, all Chelsea and Arsenal news. I seem to remember a while back that someone gave information on how to add regional channels like Granada by changing the polarity and frequency. I don’t have Sky Sports so this is the only way that I will be able to get news about the Blues. Can anybody help?

Dave Sterrett <Blueds(at)>


The AGM for Milton Keynes OSC will be next Thursday, August 5th, starting at 8pm at Great Brickhill Cricket Club. Because of this please note that there is no branch meeting this Thursday. If you need any more information please contact me.

Steve Maclean – MCFC Supporters Club, Milton Keynes <1(at)>,


Could the chap from the Bristol area that responded to a recent request to car share to games with 2 fans from Weston Super Mare/ M5 corridor, please call Garry on 07980780143 or 01934 521092 as I inadvertently deleted your message and phone number.

Many thanks, Garry Smith <garry.smith3156(at)>


Are there any Blues in New Zealand who fancy meeting up for a beer and a footy chat, I am over here for three weeks mainly in the south island.

Chris Chew <chewychris1(at)>


I recently found a really addictive football game on the Internet where you have to score points for your team to try to push them up the league. The aim of the game is simply to try and volley an incoming cross past the ‘keeper (controlled by the computer) into the goal. The more times you score the more points you get. The more points you get the higher your team will finish in the league. Pretty much every team in the football league (and a lot of non-league teams too) is represented. Despite my efforts, City have slipped into the second division. This is not good enough especially as Aldershot are in the Premiership! The league runs every week from Monday to Wednesday so click on the link and help push City up the league! and then click on “Play League”

Rob Springthorpe <robertspringthorpe(at)>

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Newsletter #1038