Newsletter #1086

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The transfer rumour mill continues, but no definite news for City as yet. Sky have kindly changed yet more fixtures (Norwich and Bolton) to Monday evenings and the reserves were in winning form again this week, which puts them top of the table.

All this and plenty of opinion as usual.

Next games: Crystal Palace, home, 3pm Saturday 15 January 2005

NEWS SUMMARY

General News

How Rich is Richardson? The Daily Star on Sunday picked upon an old rumour this week – City were reportedly still waiting for an offer for the club from former Coventry Chairman Bryan Richardson. Back in October, the M.E.N. said that Richardson, who left Highfield Road in January 2002, had attended a couple of games at the COMS and was said to be anxious to get back into football. It remains to be seen whether Richardson could bring much financial relief to our beloved club, still supposedly £60 million in debt.

New Sofa and Pub Dates Announced: Sky Sports have released their latest batch of games to be screened live. A couple of matches involve the Boundary Park vanquished. They are:
Monday February 28 Norwich vs. City, 8pm kick off.
Monday March 7 City vs. Bolton, 8pm kick off.

On Your Marks… Get Set… The massive work that sits outside the COMS, “The B of the Bang” was officially unveiled by Linford Christie on Wednesday. The sculpture, costing £4 million, is made up of 200 solid steel spikes. Last week one of the barbs clattered off the sculpture in the night, but as far as we know there was no such repeat in front of the dignitaries yesterday. The ‘B’ has provoked mixed reactions – personally I think it looks great once you see it in situ (not that you needed to know that, of course). BBC Radio 5 live had a feature on the sculpture, and Stuart Hall was dragged in from his castle in Wilmslow to read his self-penned poem, which had a subject of “Why I hate the COMS and the B of the Bang, and can we go back to Maine Road please?” They also had various comments from numerous locals, some liked it, some didn’t, and my favourite comment was “It luks like a rusty sparkler mistoh!” (OK I added the last word myself).

Goldenballs Calls for SWeeP: Well I never. SWP should be given a chance at international level – so says his rival for the wide-right slot, David Beckham. “It is great Shaun is playing the football he is. He is one of the best young talents in Europe and deserves his chance,” mused the Brain of Leytonstone. “The manager picks the team and if he wants to put me in the middle, or if I stay on the right, or if Shaun plays somewhere else that’s fine. As England captain I’m pleased to see players like him and their great talent. It’s great that we have great young players coming through.”

Transfer News and Gossip

Talking Turkey: This Anelka saga has dragged on longer than the “Lord of the Rings” movie trilogy, but hey, you never know, we might be able to talk about something else next week. Things do seem to be coming to a head since KK announced that Anelka would be leaving for the right price. It’s reported that the club’s patience was finally snapped when the striker refused to take a fitness test before the Arsenal match. The City manager admitted that he was “disappointed” with Anelka’s reaction before the match. KK said: “I don’t think there is any doubt that if anyone put in a really big bid for Nicolas we would sell him and use the money to strengthen the team. He has been our key player and our top goalscorer for the last two seasons so people should not think that they can pinch him out of here or steal him away without paying top value. The point is that we would have to replace him, otherwise he stays and gets on with seeing out his contract, which is another two and a half years.” Last week’s favourite destinations for Nico, namely Liverpool or Barcelona, have diminished somewhat. Liverpool are due to capture Real Madrid’s Fernando Morientes this week in a £6.3 million deal, which may well rule them out of the Nico hunt, while Barça have said that Frederic Kanoute of Tottenham is a preferred target of the La Liga leaders. So whither Nico now? Turkish champions Fenerbahce have emerged as surprise favourites to land him. Although no fee has been discussed, it’s been reported that preliminary talks have taken place between City officials and their Fenerbahce counterparts, who initiated the discussions. Fenerbahce are looking to Anelka to spearhead their UEFA Cup campaign alongside former Celtic front-man Pierre van Hooijdonk. Ousted from the Champions’ League by Lyon and Manchester United, the ambitious Turkish outfit feel Anelka is the man to help them make a big impact in Europe during the second half of the season. It’s not the first time Anelka has been linked with a Turkish team – in May 2004, Besiktas were rumoured to be interested in him (see MCIVTA 1021), although nothing materialised. And if the 25-year-old fancies a return home – today’s Daily Mirror reckons that KK is after a two for one deal and “is trying to set up a swap deal with French giants Marseille in his bid to off-load unhappy striker Nicolas Anelka. Marseille have been chasing Anelka for weeks but do not have the £6 million asking price. Keegan sent his chief scout across the Channel to see Marseille play Lille on Tuesday. He will have been particularly interested in French international strikers Pegguy Luyindula and Steve Marlet, who are both available at the right price… Keegan did a similar deal with Marseille last season when he took centre-half Daniel van Buyten in exchange for David Sommeil. Both went on loan and served their purpose.” Nice idea, but it hardly pays the £5 million still owed to PSG does it?

Get Bent! The press think they know a couple of the names on KK’s list of candidates to replace Anelka. Ipswich’s Darren Bent is one of them, according to a report in a Sunday tabloid. This is the first time City have been linked with the England U21 striker, Charlton having had a £3 million bid turned down in the summer. Everton and Norwich have also been reported to have been amongst his admirers. Now the Daily Mirror says that City have made a £3 million bid for West Ham striker Marlon Harewood. Ouch – hardly like for like, is it?

Distin-ctly Different! Newcastle’s interest in Sylvain Distin is either (a) rapidly diminishing, or (b) as strong as ever, depending on which journal you peruse. The majority of the press tend to the former, reporting that City have rejected a £5 million bid, and that the Toon are chasing Bayern Munich defender Sammy Kuffour instead. “I can confirm that Newcastle have made a formal approach for Sylvain Distin with a bid in the region of £5 million,” said Paul Tyrell. “We have rejected the bid as Sylvain is not for sale. He has two and a half years left on his current contract and is staying here.” Seems clear enough, but the Guardian didn’t believe it. They reported this week that Graeme Souness was so desperate to land Distin that he was prepared to offer Laurent Robert plus cash to land our skipper.

Juninho to Jump? Those hankering after a player in the mould of Eyal or Al B might be interested to know that Juninho would welcome a switch to the COMS if Celtic confirm he has no future at Parkhead – or so his agent claims. Brian Hassall said that his client “is a fan of Kevin Keegan’s style of play. It would not be a bad move for him.” Juninho expressed his frustration at sitting on the bench at Celtic, telling the Daily Record: “The manager has had a lot of chances to put me in his team but it hasn’t happened. That’s why I feel out of his plans. If that is the case, then this is the opportunity for me to go. That would be good for the club and good for me because, if I have no part in his plans, there is no point in remaining here waiting for a chance that never comes.” And speaking of South Americans…

“New Vuoso” on Way? Now there’s a headline to make you scream or laugh, depending on your mood! Matt Thomas sends the following item from skysports.com: “Meanwhile, Keegan has been linked with a move for Argentine youth international Marcello Carrusca as he looks to add depth to his squad. The Estudiantes midfielder is rated in the £2 million bracket and Keegan is expected to watch videos of the youngster before making a decision on the player’s ability.” Can’t wait, can you?

News of the World: And finally in this mad miasma of transfer speculation, here’s a couple of snippets from the MCV News tabloid scanning department (thanks dad). The News of the World boldly states this week that Jon Macken and Steve McManaman will be released this summer. And Daniel van Buyten has issued a ‘come and get me’ plea to Trafford United and Arsenal. Now that’s too grisly to contemplate.

Ex-Blues’ News

Reidy Leaves the Other Sky Blues: Coventry have parted company with manager Peter Reid by mutual consent after only eight months. The other Sky Blues have won only 10 out of 31 games under Reid, who took over at the end of last season. Four straight defeats have left the team 20th in the table and chairman Mike McGinnity said: “Peter told me the best thing was to go our separate ways. I brought Peter in because of his experience but we haven’t had luck.” First-team coach, former City forward Adrian Heath, took charge for Saturday’s FA Cup third-round tie with Crewe. The final straw for Reid came when fans chanted for his dismissal following the 2-1 home defeat by Leeds.

Ritchie Rewarded: Dundee United have agreed terms with ex-City defender Paul Ritchie for an extension to his deal at the club. The 29-year-old suffered a broken collar bone on his début for the Tangerines in August but has since returned to full fitness to prove himself at the club. Now the United defender has signed a two-and-a-half-year deal with an option for a further year at Tannadice. United manager Ian McCall commented: “Paul is the type we want here, both in terms of ability and attitude, and I’m pleased to say he’ll be signing his new contract tomorrow. I always thought Paul would stay with us, and although he has now sorted out a contract he is not the type who will now relax and let things slip. He is a real winner and has been an important part of the team since he came back from injury – our goals-against column has improved dramatically since his return.”

Nash will Dash: In the summer of 2003, Carlo Nash moved to Middlesbrough as he was bored of sitting on the substitutes’ bench for KK. What an astute move that proved to be, as it was announced this week that Carlo will leave Boro at the end of this season. He is out of contract at the end of the season, and has only made a total of three appearances for the Teesside club.

Reactions and Comments

Jackpot for Vernon: No surprise any more is it? An inspired display from Oldham goalie Les Pogliacomi helped secure a not-so shock win for League One Oldham at Boundary Park last Saturday. The Latics started brightly and went ahead when Scott Vernon sidefooted the ball in from David Eyres’ cross. And whatever City threw at Oldham in the remainder of the game, they could not breach Pogliacomi’s defence. “I am very disappointed,” lamented KK later. “Credit to them, they battled and scrapped and got the goal they wanted. The conditions kept changing. It was blustery at times, gale-force at others. I don’t question our endeavours today. We tried everything we knew to try and open them up. If you play like we did and can’t get back at a team like Oldham, you create misery for yourself,” he continued. “Their ‘keeper made some good saves but we were sloppy and paid the price. They worked hard for Brian Talbot and one or two of their players performed heroics but if we had applied ourselves that wouldn’t have been enough. Oldham played some quite good football and we did too – but there was no end-product to ours,” he added. “We had enough chances but I’ve said before that with the Cup the winners can laugh and the losers make their own arrangements. We have Crystal Palace in the Premiership next week and will have to put right what went wrong here.” Keegan was asked whether his position as manager might be threatened after such a reverse. His reply makes interesting reading: “I don’t want to fall on a sword or anything, but it goes without saying that when you’re the manager of a Premiership club, you go eight miles down the road and get beat by a team two divisions below you, it’s disappointing. The only thing I can do is keep doing my best. I think I set the team up right today, but it obviously wasn’t, because we lost. But I don’t feel under any more pressure than I have been for a year here. We’re in the top half of the table, we go to Highbury and get a great point on Tuesday and we think: ‘Let’s kick on.’ It’s the inability to kick this club on which has been a problem for me for a year now.”

Please Put Your Socks On: Brian Talbot saluted a brave defensive display from his Oldham side. “The players battled their socks off and put their bodies on the line,” he said of the 1-0 third-round victory. “We took the game to them, and got a great goal from a set-piece. They threw everything at us in the second half but couldn’t get past our goalkeeper. He was inspired, the two centre-halves were magnificent and all around them people were diving in making blocks.” Talbot also singled out goalscorer Scott Vernon and 40-year-old winger David Eyres for praise. “Scott went to Blackpool on loan to get some match-practice and has come back more confident,” he added. “He’s a good player and hopefully going to go on from this. David gets plenty of rest to recover. I gave him five days last week and he’ll want a week now after this. He gets better with age!”

Squad News

Doing the Deal With Dunne: Following last week’s glowing tribute from his manager, Richard Dunne has opened talks with City over a new contract. And Dunnie, an early candidate to be City’s player of the season, wants to stay a Blue. “I am really happy here,” he told the M.E.N. “I feel as though I have improved as a player. I am really settled in my home life and in what I am doing, and I would like to sign a new contract. There is no rush. I have 18 months left on my deal, so I have 18 months to sort it out. Talks have only been going for two days and my agent is arranging to meet the manager again in the next week.”

Jordan’s Fitter: There’s good news for Stephen Jordan this week – the full back’s ankle injury is healing quicker than was first thought. “I was told when I first did it that it would be four to six weeks but it now looks as if it could be three to four weeks,” said Jordan. “At first we thought it was just a knock on the ankle. But in fact I twisted it and have snapped the medial ligament on my ankle. After it happened I played on until half time and though I wanted to play on the minute I took my boot off my ankle swelled up really badly. It is the first major injury that I have had though I did break my leg when I was fourteen. It was a shame that it happened as it came in a run of games in the Premiership.”

Thought for the Day

The Wit and Wisdom of the Reds: “The man is United – cut him and he bleeds red” – Alan Brazil’s evaluation of Sir Alex Ferguson (thanks “Babybruv” for that).

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

MATCH REPORT: MCFC RESERVES 2 BCFC RESERVES 1

City climbed their way back to the top of the league thanks to a fantastic late winner from substitute Ishmael Miller. After slipping up to Blackburn pre-Christmas in one of their worst reserve defeats for many years, it was good to see City get back to winning ways in an even and all action encounter. A first half goal from Karl Bermingham was cancelled out in the second minute of the second half from one time City target, Njazi Kuqi, the younger brother of Shefki. Then Miller, after only two minutes from coming on, smashed home City’s winner with an unstoppable left foot drive.

The first half was a very even contest with neither side creating any clear cut openings. This was more probably down to the gale force Arctic winds blowing around the stadium. City only managed to win their first corner on nine minutes with themselves attacking into the wind for that half, making progression up the field that much harder. Our game, interestingly, was marshalled by none other than the same blind linesman that had failed to see the ball cross a yard over the line at Old Trafford last week. So it was no surprise that we saw him give some strange decisions and blowing his whistle needlessly throughout the game.

City took the lead on nineteen minutes when Bermingham was fouled just inside the Birmingham half on the left hand side. Academy left back and Youth Cup rising star Sam Williamson whipped in a tremendous free kick into the wind that landed plum on Paddy McCarthy’s head, to head down and Bermingham pounced from eight yards to drill the ball past Ian Bennett in the Birmingham goal.

This settled City down and having Stephen Ireland back from injury and Ian Bennett driving forward from midfield helped keep Birmingham pressed in their own half for most of the remainder of the first half.

Then our blind official in the middle of the park deemed that Bennett was not bundled over in the box when it was clear to the whole stadium that he was fouled. A minute late saw Bennett make a strong driving run and powerful shot, but it failed to dip in time as it went inches over the bar.

City came out after the break half asleep as they allowed Birmingham to press down their left and deliver a cross, which neither Ronald Waterreus, David Sommeil or Paddy McCarthy dealt with and Kuqi rose unchallenged to head in off McCarthy.

Kuqi then had a good effort a minute later to double his tally and give Birmingham the lead, but his shot was over the bar. It took nearly ten minutes for City to get into their stride again.

The first City chance came when good interplay between Negouai and Danny Warrender allowed Negouai to put the ball across the box and Marc Laird to shoot at goal, but his shot was woefully high over the bar whilst under little pressure.

Negouai then had two good chances within a space of a minute. The first effort, Ireland played him in, one on one with the ‘keeper but he was unfortunate to see his shot rebound out off the inside of the post. His second effort was deflected inches wide and behind for a corner.

He was then unfortunate to be the striker to be substituted as Bermingham had done precious little in the second half. But, as luck would have it, it was the right decision in the end. This being because Bermingham won the header from Bennett’s goal kick, which Miller chased onto from thirty yards and drove to the by-line and finished in identical style with his left foot to that of the Kanoute goal at the stadium prior to Christmas and nearly broke the back of the net.

City now travel away for the first time to Nottingham next Tuesday with a changed squad due to the Youth Cup game at Sportcity on the Wednesday. So unfortunately we will probably see Negouai dropped back into his unfavoured midfield rôle and Wright-Phillips brought in to partner Bermingham up front as Jonathan D’Laryea still recovers from his hamstring injury.

Waterreus: Did well apart from the goal. 7
Warrender: All action, but a needless booking and usual back chat. 6
Williamson: Great free kick for the goal, got dragged inside a bit in the 2nd half. 7
Ireland (83): Not quite at the same great levels he was prior to his December injury. 7
McCarthy (capt): Has to take some responsibility for the goal. Otherwise very good. 7
Sommeil: Usual below standard performance from the little fat man. 5
Bennett: Never stopped running and was always driving forward. MoM. 8
Richards: A very able replacement for J D’Laryea. Will be missed next week. 8
Negouai (77): Unlucky not to score and to get subbed. 7
Bermingham: Good in the first half, poor second, but set up the goal. 7
Laird (72): Another poor display from our lightweight twiggy. 5
Subs:
Logan (72): Didn’t really add much when he came on. 6
Miller (77): The lad is sensational at times and here he was for us in his brief show. 8
Etuhu (83): Too late to mark.
Not Used: Schmeichel, Johnson.

Birmingham: Bennett, Parratt, Davies, Blake, Taylor (capt.), Howland, Birley, Hall, Kuqi, Till, Motteram.
Subs: Legzdins, Hinks, Hamilton, Price, Reynolds.

Att: 401.

Gavin Cooper <blueboy(at)mancity.net>

OPINION: COMMITMENT

I am a True-Blue Fan and have been for over fifty years.

I love Robbie Savage, Roy Keane, Paul Dickov, Alan Shearer, Thomas Graveson and all the other genuine professionals (of whom there are hundreds) who are patently committed to their current paymasters and demonstrate their commitment week in and week out, on the pitch, or in their efforts to return to it. Do they all fit a comfortable mould? Not have disputes with management? Behave like grown men at all times? Absolutely not! But as a supporter of the game you have to admire them.

We have one or two of the above character. On the evidence from Boundary Park and previous games, you have to give it to Richard Dunne. He’s pulled himself up by the back-balls, and offers a real example to the others. If KK has had anything to do with Richard’s professional metamorphosis then thanks be to him, but why can’t he do similar work with the others?

Whilst watching the depressing débâcle on Saturday, I thought (during the times our charismatic manager was shown) that somebody had entered the room and put a mirror in front of the TV. How dare he show himself in such a manner? I felt like kicking his backside out onto the sidelines to, at least, show some of the agony and shame we were all feeling. I don’t wish to denigrate Oldham, especially Eyres who could have been named in my opening paragraph; but realistically, they shouldn’t have been able to live with us, as a previous 6-0 result proves.

I used to live on Ashton New Road, right across from where Eastlands is located. On the site were, inter alia, two pubs The Church and the Commercial. I don’t think that either of them sponsored a “Sunday league Pub Football” team but I’ll wager that the regulars could have put together a side to give Oldham more of a match last Saturday.

There must be some sort of “airwave translation” that happens to the signals travelling westwards across the Atlantic, as I find myself in complete agreement with Keith Sharpe who lives “just down the road” 300 miles, from me.

Disgusted in Ottawa.

Peter Murphy <pdmurphy(at)sympatico.ca>

OPINION: KEEGAN I

Need any more evidence? Keegan pack your bags and clear off. Take Anelka, Distin and Wardle with you – to name but a few – and try and leave some cash for the next bloke to spend. Right now I’d take Mike or Bertie Bassett.

Kevin, when your team is winning it’s very easy to stand on the touchline and wave your arm forward or backwards. I drive past a bloke that works at one of the city car parks who waves his arm as he tries to usher cars into his lot. We could stick him on the touchline and he’d be just as effective as you.

Thing is Kevin, when your team is losing or conceding c**p goals to West Brom or struggling against Soton in the second half or losing to Oldham with minutes remaining or any time you care to mention really – just pick a game, you are supposed to stand on the touchline and make tactical changes. To encourage, to push them on, to advise and cajole. What do you do? You go and sit on the bench, stick your head into your jacket and hide. You obviously realise that your players know you talk through your a**e so what’s the point in saying anything?

You have not got a bl**dy clue.

Two years of losing one, win one, draw one, lose one, win one, draw one. Oh sorry I forgot the time we went several months without winning – that was pure genius.

There is absolutely no improvement, no ideas, nothing. We don’t even have any free kick, throw in or corner routines. Just hit and hope. The team is a shambles and only gets any success through the hard graft of the players.

When England coach you had the balls to admit that you were found wanting tactically. Well the fact is Kevin you just don’t know what tactics are and let’s face it, you are not going to learn now. Do us all a favour and admit your limitations and leave.

Marc Starbuck <mstarbuck(at)btinternet.com>

OPINION: REALITY CHECK

In recent weeks I have been much dismayed to read a number of tirades against some of the players, the manager, the board and various other figures in the club. The negativity around our second most successful period in a quarter of a decade is staggering!

It is time we stopped believing our own hype that we are a huge club and that we deserve to be up the top of the Premier League. City are a club who I first saw play live in 1982; in those 23 seasons this is officially our second most successful period with us managing our third consecutive season in the top flight, something we only managed in 89/90-95/96. Not only that but this period follows a period when we had dropped down to the lowest place in our history as we slipped into the bottom half of the third tier. I think we cannot look at where we are today without understanding the immense progress we have made over recent years.

Currently we sit 9th; if we finish there then only one manager in the last 25 years will have got us any higher and that was a team built on a team who had been in the Premiership for a few years. So when I look at City today I look at a team that is actually doing better than nearly every City side I have seen and frankly with the young players coming through, a team that will get better and more consistent.

When Keegan came in he didn’t promise trophies, he promised to get us to the top 6 in a 5 year plan. Currently we sit 9th after 3.5 seasons. To me that shows we are exactly on track with what was promised and yet suddenly the fans are becoming restless and are not satisfied. Not only that but we have had the best season in my lifetime when we won the Nationwide, we have beaten (nay slaughtered) the Rags twice and have had some really great games.

When talking about buying, Negouai and Vuoso always get quoted but Keegan also made some inspired signings: James, Benarbia, Berkovic, Pearce, Schmeichel to name a few. There is not a manager in the country who hasn’t had failures and with the exception of Wenger the hit rate at City has been no better or worse than other decent managers. There have been Grabbis, Maccarones, Ricketts, Marlets and Davies at every single club.

Then we hear all about how Keegan has spent so much and crippled us with debt. Firstly the debt is a mortgage, secondly nearly £35 million related to the new ground and thirdly most other clubs have spent a similar amount of money over the same period. Little Charlton have a first team squad that cost nigh on 40 million pounds and Boro have spent nearly £70 million in the last 4 years.

So let’s give some credit where it is due and admit that, far from being a disaster, we are actually watching one of the best City sides since the 70’s, that whilst Keegan is no Wenger he is certainly no Ball and that things are not disastrous at City. We are in the top half of the top division.

I remember well watching us getting spanked 3-0 at Craven Cottage in Division 1, losing 3-0 to Reading on the way to relegation to Division 2, I remember even more vividly 1-0 defeats at Wycombe and an absolute ‘mare at York. Let’s not forget where we are now and where we have come from.

We love you City and Keegan thank you for changing our expectations so much that the top half of the Premiership is no longer good enough!

Richard Williams <moonchester(at)ozemail.com.au>

OPINION: ANELKA I

We’ve all heard the rumours surrounding Nicolas and his desires to get away, but all has been quiet since Saturday. I have, however, heard today from a very reliable source that the man we know as the Elk is going to be doing one probably by the end of this week. Turkey seeming to be the likely destination. This source has not let me down previously and is someone who associates with the players. More worrying is the assertion my source makes that lots of the players want out, Distin and James included.

Now I can see the point in selling Anelka but I honestly can’t see that we’ll get a good enough price for him. If we were to get £10 million and be able to go out and get someone else, maybe Darren Bent, fine, but knowing how financially astute our board are we’ll probably get £3 million and a 35 year old drag queen.

Now let’s imagine we sell Distin. We can’t replace him, he’s a left footed centre half. He plays really well with Dunney and is quick and mobile. Onuoha is a great prospect but he couldn’t do the job full time yet. Henchoz is past it. How many other past it ex-Liverpool players do we need? There’s the myth that is Robbie Fowler, and of course the great McPointalot. Let’s add the slow and aging centre half with the turning circle of an elephant with a bad case of haemhorroids to the mix shall we, or better still big Sam’s touting a couple of rejects, Laville anyone?

My point is that if Keegan can’t hold on to his players, we’re in trouble. Like it or not, Nicolas Anelka is one of our better players, as is Distin. If KK wants to move us on to where we think we should be, that fabled land of the top six, we are going to have to improve some positions and improve the service to others. It looks though as if at least one very good player is going to be leaving the club, and we are going to be left with two forwards with little recent experience of scoring goals and a kid who needs nurturing. How foolish does the £500,000 we got for the Chop look now?

If KK has lost the plot it’s time for him to go. He has done a good job, we’re ninth, in the top division for the third consecutive season and in no apparent danger this season. On the other hand we seem to be rudderless, all our best players except for the wonderful SWP and Joey seem to want out, and we have a manager who is marking time until he retires. So what to do?

Sell Anelka, but only for a good price. We should be able to get not far short of what we paid for him if we try hard enough. If Beattie’s worth £6.5 million, he must be worth more, just look at the goal scoring tables. Then we have to look very long and hard at KK. I worry about two examples from recent history where a manager’s retiring season has gone bad. Strachan we all know about, but do we all remember Brian Clough? Forest got relegated in his final season. The time seems to be right to make Keegan director of football if he wants to be and then see if Pearce is up to the job this season. We are well on the road to safety so now seems to be a good time. If he doesn’t hack it, we’ll have to look elsewhere. Iain Dowie would be my hope but would he leave Palace for us? Please don’t mention O’Neill et al because why would they come to us at the minute? A good young ‘un is what we need.

Anyway I hope I’m wrong, and keeping the faith in the only bit of Eastlands that makes a noise.

Richard Lord <lordsummit(at)tiscali.co.uk>

OPINION: ANELKA II

Nico must not go!

Hopefully by the time this is printed in MCIVTA, Nico Anelka will still be a Manchester City player. If not then City have just taken a huge step backwards.

Steve Kay in MCIVTA 1085: well done that man, I was beginning to think no one with any sense was left.

In my view Nico must remain an MCFC player for as long as we can hold on to him. We (the fans) and the club claim to be a football club building for the future. Yet most fans think the next step forward is to sell or quote “cash in” on one of our most skilful players. And revert back to relying on a First Division striker, an inexperienced striker, and let’s face it a nearly past it striker at the tail end of his career.

If we got £9 million for Nico, considering we still owe £5 million, we would only have £4 million to spend to replace him… that wouldn’t even buy you a James Beattie. A better and more forward thinking way to raise cash and improve the team would be to sell, give away or terminate the contracts of the deadwood at the club, McManaman, Negouai, Sinclair, Reyna, Sibierski, Sommeil, Macken. That’s at least £200,000 a week on wages alone.

We desperately want to hold on to Sweep, but what message does it send to him, selling the only other player with a comparable skill level? We need to acquire players that will complement Nico and Sweep, and if they do leave, then take up the mantle of “key players”. MCFC need a creative midfielder, and one or two decent strikers. As Steve pointed out, Nico has never had a decent partner to play alongside, and no longer has the creative players behind him that he once had. Just look at Viduka and Jimmy Floyd at Boro for an example of what two quality strikers can achieve.

Nico is a top striker. He scores goals (not so much in winter), he threatens defences, he is (or was) happy at City, just watch how he celebrates his and others’ goals, understated but more than he celebrated at other clubs. If he has turned into “le sulk” again, then can you blame him, even after he plays well there are fans on the radio post-match saying “sell him”, and fans booing him next match.

The events up in t’hills on Saturday was in my mind a glimpse into the future of City without Anelka, We may appear to play better as a team, but it doesn’t and won’t last. Anyone who has played sport will know that if you lose you best player, you don’t give up, you pull your socks up, dig a little deeper and try to compensate. But it doesn’t last, and on Saturday we also lost our second best striker. The result: three shots on target, against a side 50 places and two divisions below us, and at least one of those was from a midfielder!

Nico is constantly misquoted in the papers, and some stories are just completely untrue; please don’t judge him with opinions derived from the tabloid press.

I realise one man does not make a team, he does have his failings, but we would have gone back to Division 1 last season without his goals. We have a wealth of youth players coming through, we need to build a team, not dismantle it. Quality players attract other quality players. We have to continue to move forward. Nico must not go!

I’ll shut up now before this turns into an uncontrollable rant, or is it too late?

P.S. I’m not even going to start on those saying “cash in on Distin”, why you would even consider breaking up the first defence we have had in a long while that can be regarded as good, is simply beyond me.

Rob Hyslop <Robert.Hyslop(at)BAESYSTEMS.com>

OPINION: ANELKA III

Well guys. I don’t know about you but my views are very clear and it was spurred on by the Anelka debate.

Nico is a fabulous player, talent more than we have ever seen, yes. I have been a fan since I was three and over the thirty-seven years I have seen some fantastic players, Bell, Lee, Francis (that’s Trevor, remember him?), Deyna, Kinki, Goater to name a few. Nico has a record that we should be proud of and will be in my all time team. When I heard we had signed him I was amazed and, well, shouting it all around, which was very strange as I lived in New Zealand at the time, the land of the oval ball and all! KK had done something right, the other mistakes well let’s leave that for another email.

Now the problem is I can understand why Nico is the way he is now; he has been rejected by us the supporters and I don’t blame him why he wants to leave. The management and KK has made it clear that they will not step in the way, clearly says to me you are not wanted lad. Which is typical of KK, and I have to say when he took over I did not cheer. KK’s CV must read a very interesting story. Nico’s whole body language is one of why am I here, what’s the point. I can hear the emails in reply as I wrote that last line. City Pride, etc. Yes I agree it is about pride, and our youngsters show more of it than the ‘journeymen’ (love that saying, thank you whoever it was in the last edition) but we don’t deserve it if we treat our best the way we have been doing.

So there we have it a very sad ending, a player that the fans and management don’t want and it is ‘one’ of our best players (note the term ‘one’)! I will be one that will miss him.

Now I know we are in a bit of a shock about Oldham, but we need to forget and move on, we do have a nucleus of a good team, there are a few that do need to go. If we lose Anelka, so be it but we need to make sure that the money is spent wisely (which is difficult for KK). So we need to get behind them and do what we do best support – that is what supporters do!

If Nico does see this, all the best mate and you made us proud, never forget and learn. If KK sees this, well all the best mate, see you.

Jerry Miles <jemmiles(at)hotmail.com>

OPINION: ANELKA IV

Thank goodness for Steve Kay (MCIVTA 1085)! I thought I was the only man defending our only world class striker. I have tried to put across a case for Anelka in several MCIVTA postings, but not as succinctly as you managed to Steve. Good work.

Unfortunately I think Nico is on his way simply because of how he has featured in the 2005 Man City calendars (doesn’t appear on free calendar with programme, appears in January only in official calendar). If Anelka leaves, we will have precisely zero goal-scoring strikers in the squad (unless BWP comes good) and zero pace. Who on earth is available at next-to-nothing with as much pace and finishing ability as Anelka? I was hoping we were going to get a striker to play alongside Anelka and actually score some goals – there’s a Costa Rican guy at Malaga who looks quite decent.

The thing that disappointed me recently was when Anelka last scored at COMS, he didn’t even get his name chanted by the fans. Whereas SWP got a chant for running down the wing and winning a corner. If I was Anelka, I’d leave.

I completely agree with all your points. I have never booed a player on or off the pitch – however, that would change if we ever signed Robbie Savage as some crazy fool suggested recently. I have even heard City fans say they were booing Keegan’s tactical decision and not the player. How, pray tell, do you convey this to the footballer that is leaving/joining the pitch? In my opinion, booing should be reserved for the referees who clearly enjoy being booed on occasion!

While I’m writing in, I may as well mention Sibierski. A few of my friends who support other clubs – Liverpool, Arsenal, Everton have all said that they think Sibierski is a good player. This is interesting as I rarely hear a City fan say so. I am a big fan of Sibierski and would love to see him played in his favoured position – just behind one or two strikers in the centre. He is great at “flick ons” and, once the strikers get used to where he flicks the ball to, he could create many goals. There is a guy who sits behind me at the COMS who complains every time Sibierski cuts inside from the left instead of taking on his man down the wing. I don’t understand this. If you ask a right footed player to play on the left, he will always opt to go inside and distribute the ball with his right foot. There is no point in Sibs attempting a left-footed cross from the by-line. Keegan has asked Sibierski to play there as he has problems with both Sinclair and McManaman. The only other option I can think of is to play Jordan further up and Thatcher at left back. Jordan seems to have a decent left footed cross and could be useful.

A possible formation would be 4-4-1-1 as follows:

            James
Distin   Dunne   Mills   Thatcher
SWP     Barton   Bosvelt Jordan
           Sibierski
             Anelka  (or one of our lesser strikers in his absence)

But back to the league situation. We are a very respectable 9th in the league. We have some players returning to fitness. We are playing a Palace side who are about to lose their 2 main men (Johnson and Routledge). All we have to do is concede the inevitable goal from Danny Granville, and score plenty at the other end. Three points and West Brom to follow.

Andrew Ogden <Andrew.Ogden(at)bss.org>

OPINION: OLDHAM I

Well said Steve Kay – fully agree with everything you wrote.

Oldham – Why was Onohua who had a fantastic game at Arsenal both defensively and supporting SWP in attack dropped for Mills? I don’t actually mind defenders who aren’t too strong going forward so long as they can defend – Mills can’t even do that! His positional play is absolutely pathetic.

Macca on for BWP? Give me strength.

SWP is at his best on the right wing so stop moving him up front or into the centre of midfield when things aren’t going well.

Sibierski – it just isn’t working on the left is it? How long will it take KK to realise?

Season over in January. Give Pearce the job now.

Disgruntled in Prague – Iain Sellers <iain_sellers1(at)cz.tesco-europe.com>

OPINION: OLDHAM II

I am not sure we all watched the same game after reading these reports. I thought that apart from the first twenty minutes we could have easily won this game. We had the chances and were extremely unlucky for them not to go in until the last 10 minutes. Why does everybody think we should keep changing everything whenever we have a loss? We all know that we need a creative midfielder and Reyna has not stayed healthy enough to fulfil that rôle. Macken is and always has been a cart horse, he gets the occasional goal but misses a lot more than he hits. He has very little skill and no pace, he does not belong in the Premiership. KK tried to change things with the subs but took off the wrong players. Willo Flood is not yet strong enough and McManaman is either not yet fit enough (why is that?) or is always out of position and can not seem to look up when he has the ball. Was Danny Mills trying to play centre forward because nobody else did?

The one thing that successful clubs have is consistency in management and on the field, due to injuries, we have not had the latter and if everybody keeps moaning we will not have the former. KK is going to go but I believe he is trying to arrange a smooth transition. I wish him well, he has tried and changed to build a better defence, if we can keep Fowler in the form he has attained and Anelka we will score some goals. If we can also develop the midfield we may do something next year. There are no quick fixes unless an enormously wealthy person buys the team, and I do not see any on the horizon.

Keep the faith and do not boo our own players, it won’t make them perform better.

J Heavis <JHeavis502(at)aol.com>

OPINION: DEBT

Dario Gigante asked about the meaning of “long term secured debt”, and Brian Leigh explained that “secured” means that the lender has security over assets of the company, usually book debts, stock or property. If the debtor doesn’t meet their repayments, the lender can claim ownership of the assets. However, Brian wasn’t sure what assets the loans were secured on.

My understanding is that the club’s debt isn’t technically secured, it’s securitized. It can’t be secured on the stadium, because the club doesn’t own it. No lender would take players as security – although it would be quite enjoyable if the bailiffs turned up one day and tried to repossess Robbie Fowler. And the club doesn’t have any other saleable assets apart from the training ground, twenty-odd footballs and Bert Trautmann’s proverbial. Instead, I think that Bernstein agreed a deal whereby the loans were “securitized” based on future ticket sales. Roughly, he convinced the banks that 30,000 idiots would turn up no matter how badly the team played or which division we were in. Therefore we were good for the repayments come what may.

This would have been a smart piece of business if we had spent the money wisely and lived within our means. What’s shocking about the post-Bernstein era is not that some of Keegan’s expensive signings haven’t worked out, but that the current situation must have been completely predictable 18 months ago. When KK went on his big spree at the start of last season, the Board should have known exactly what our expected revenues were and what we were going to pay for the players. Clubs have get into difficulty for lots of reasons: ITV Digital, unplanned relegation, fans stop coming. But none of these things have happened to us. How is it that, with the increased income from the new stadium, and with a league and cup performance as good as any City fan would expect, we’ve managed to run out of money?

I can see four possibilities:

  1. Like Leeds, we planned on the basis that we would get straight into theChampions’ League and maybe win an FA Cup or two. Or perhaps do the treble.
  2. We thought we’d be able to sell Seaman, Sinclair and McManaman at aprofit once they had a bit more experience.
  3. Nobody in management was familiar with the concept of “budgeting”, atechnique whereby you put your planned income and expense into aspreadsheet to see which is bigger, or
  4. They crossed their fingers and hoped for another Abramovich.

As far as I can see, the kindest words to describe any of these possibilities are “speculative” and “optimistic”. I would prefer the words “bl**dy stupid”. Any views on which actually happened?

Dorien James <dorien.james(at)btinternet.com>

OPINION: FANS’ COMMITTEE

The clear favourite for the new name for the Committee was “Points of Blue” (no-one against it, and no great lobbying for anything else).

Notice of the next meeting will be given by email to those on this list, and should be in the programme for the Newcastle game, the City magazine and the official website; the next meeting should be sometime in mid-Feb.

Steve Parish <bloovee(at)ntlworld.com>

OPINION: BOOING

Got to agree with the fan who wrote about booing players, especially Anelka and Macca. I found the booing terrible and shaming, it depressed me to be a Blue. Although not a fan of Macca, when he steps out onto the pitch he plays for City and for that reason deserves our support. If he goes in the summer, good luck to him, I don’t think personally he is good enough for the Premiership, but I will not boo him every time he steps out for us in the short term.

Anelka – the man is class. Booing fans now have made his stay at City an unhappy one – well done you load of nutjobs. Tell me, where are we going to get a forward with the know how and skill to turn games from? I don’t know, but I for one will miss seeing him play for us.

Again, I am sad and disappointed with the current state of affairs, but as we all say ‘City til I die’, we should say it in unity with all the representatives of City. Booing our own players is in no way showing that spirit.

Steve Cooper <Stephen(at)sjcooperltd.fsbusiness.co.uk>

REQUEST: SPURS TICKETS

Since I’m from Sweden, my ability to get tickets to away games are quite limited. Anyway, I’m going to be in London the weekend we play Spurs. (March 19).

Is there anyone who knows if and how I could get hold of 2-4 tickets (even though I have neither season ticket nor smartcard) for the game?

Please email me if you could be of any help.

CTID, Markus Larsson <markus.larsson(at)pwc.se>

REQUEST: PERTH BLUES

Are there any Perth Blues out there who know if the Bolton game will be shown in Oz on 28th Feb.?

I will be in Perth on holiday and would love to meet up for a beer or two and watch the game!

Daz Law <Darren.Law(at)sainsburys.co.uk>

BLUE HUMOUR

I have seen the future of the Premiership… and it’s beautiful. If you want to share my vision, click here: http://footballonsunday.net/headlines/?id=731

‘Football on Sunday’ is the new football magazine in The Mail on Sunday.

Every Premiership Match in Full
Every Championship Match in Full
Every League Match in Full

Check it out this week for all Saturday matches covered by the best sports journalists in the game.

This email does not represent the opinion of The Mail on Sunday and/or Associated Newspapers Limited.

Joel Perry <j.perry(at)mondiale.co.uk>

MCIVTA FAQ [v0405.01]

[1] MCIVTA Addresses

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

[2] What are MCIVTA’s publishing deadlines?

Deadlines for issues are nominally 6pm, Monday and Thursday evenings bu email. Unfortunately we cannot accept email attachments.

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

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

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

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

[5] What supporters’ clubs are there?

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

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

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

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

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

Live match commentaries and archives of games, reports and interviews can be found at http://www.mcfctv.com/.

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

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

[9] Do we have a Usenet newsgroup?

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

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

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

[11] Can I buy shares in the club?

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

[12] Where can I find match statistics?

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

[13] Where can I find a list of City-related websites?

Try Wookie’s Lair: http://www.wookieslair.com/modules.php?name=Web_Links


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


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

Newsletter #1086

2004/01/13

Editor:


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