Newsletter #1146

The season is upon us, and City are hoping for miraculous injury recoveries à la Glen McGrath as Dunne is rumoured to be fit to be to play. Other City news Don brings us include international call ups, transfer speculation and Guardiola here on trial.

The reserves kicked off their season on Tuesday night at West Brom in a 1-1 draw (report to follow), and we have opinion on ex-Blues, Vikings, a MCIVTA prediction league and the usual requests.

Next game: West Bromwich Albion, home, 3pm Saturday 13 August 2005


General News

Suits You, Sir: Is the sight of the flailing track-suited “Boss Man Psycho” a thing of the past? TV coverage of the games in Thailand showed a calm SP sitting in the stand, clutching a nifty clipboard with magnetic discs thereon. And your humble News Editor can testify to witnessing a dapper Stu appearing at Stoke’s Britannia Stadium wearing a very smart suit, collar and tie. Pearce is none too sure how long this cool “managerial” style will last, however. “I have thought about management a great deal, when I was training to be a manager for four or five years,” he told the Sunday Mirror. “I’d like to just sit there like Arsene Wenger. He has got it all in hand, is very calm, and I thought, ‘yeah, I’d like to be like that’. Then when I was put in a hot seat I found it false to sit there. In the first game I didn’t feel comfortable doing that, it didn’t fit me. That’s me. The closer to them I can get, the more comfortable I feel. It suits me, it’s not done to be a spectacle. It fits me and I feel I get that extra one or two percent from my players by being close to them. It’s a case of keeping the confidence up amongst the players. They need to be able to look at me and think ‘hey, this fella is unflappable’. That’s what they expect in a manager.”

Quick Off the Draw: City’s reserves were unlucky by all accounts to only draw their opening league fixture with WBA. Albion took the lead against the run of play on 36 minutes, when Bennett was adjudged to have fouled Richard Chaplow in the area. Diomansy Camara duly despatched the spot-kick. Bennett made amends in the second half as he put away City’s equaliser following good work by Lee Croft. Possibly the best news of the night was that Antoine Sibierski and Nedum Onuoha played for most of the match, and both came through unscathed. Second string supremo Steve Wigley commented later that “I’m a little bit disappointed if I’m honest. I thought we did enough to win the game. We went behind when we’d had most of the possession, which was a dubious penalty. In and around the final third, in the first half, we didn’t get enough balls in the box and we didn’t work the ‘keeper. In the second half that changed and there were some good moves, and it was a great goal.” [Have not had chance to get my report finished of the game, will be done for Monday’s edition – Ed]

International Call-Ups: A trio of City players have been called up by their countries this week (injuries willing, of course). Full back Ben Thatcher has been selected to play in Wales’ game against Slovenia at Swansea on August 17. Then on Monday Richard Dunne was named in the Republic of Ireland squad for their friendly against Italy in Dublin on the same day. Claudio Reyna, meanwhile, has been recalled to the United States squad on Wednesday after a five month absence. Bruce Arena’s side take on Trinidad and Tobago in a World Cup qualifier next week.

Transfer News and Gossip

Galloping After Steed: City began this MCIVTA news cycle by lodging an increased bid for Fulham midfielder Steed Malbranque after an earlier bid was rejected. The Blues had already had one £4 million offer for Malbranque turned down by the Cottagers, but SP went back to the table with one more bid. “We have tabled a substantial offer and we are waiting for an answer,” said Pearce. “If I was Fulham, it is a bid I would accept but clearly the ball is in their court. I would like to see Steed come and join us but I don’t anticipate we will go any higher after this one.” Next we heard that the two clubs had reached a compromise over a proposed £5 million deal but Malbranque has decided to stay in London unless an offer came in from a club in the Champions’ League. The French midfielder told City that the decision was due to the recent birth of his daughter and the fact that his wife still spends much of her time in France and travels regularly on the Channel Tunnel. Disappointing for City, but the reasons of the player seemed genuine enough. It was somewhat galling however to read that Intertoto Cup failures Newcastle had targeted Malbranque as a potential replacement for Jermaine Jenas should he leave the club. Psycho refused to be downhearted though. He said: “I have tried to bring in players every week during the summer so far and next week will be no different. At the moment, we have been unsuccessful in signing Steed Malbranque and we are looking elsewhere, but we might go back to them again. You never know, I have not totally given up on that one yet.”

Bernie Bolts, but Nobby’s Nuts for a Move: The UK press have spent most of the last week saying that City were still on the trail of Valencia striker Bernardo Corradi. This was odd because weekend reports in the Spanish and Italian papers suggested that Serie A’s Parma had secured the loan signing of Corradi. Corradi did not want to play in The Premiership, preferring to go home to Italy. “He only wants a return to Italy and the option of Parma was the best,” said Corradi’s agent Moreno Roggi. “I want to go back to Serie A where I am known and respected,” said the player. Another City target, this time in the Premiership, is rumoured to be Nolberto “Nobby” Solano, Aston Villa’s Peruvian winger. Atletico Madrid and Newcastle United are also said to have expressed an interest.

Adding a Bit of Pep: City have taken former Barcelona legend Pep Guardiola on a week’s trial. Guardiola, an iconic figure in the Spanish game, is currently playing in Qatar after a spell in Italy, but will reportedly undergo a medical on Thursday at The City of Manchester Stadium. The 34-year-old spent 17 years with Barcelona, before eventually leaving Spanish football to play for Brescia. After a superb season, Roma signed the playmaker, but then-Giallorossi coach Fabio Capello did not utilise the player and he was quickly on his way back to Brescia. A shock failure to pass a random drug test hastened the end of Guardiola’s time in Italy and he opted to play in Qatar for Al-Ahli, winning the player of the year award in his first season. Now, however, the midfielder is on his way to England for a swansong to his career.

Ex-Blues’ News

Shaun Swayed: SWP would still be a City player, had he been allowed to make the decision about his future without any outside influences. So says Stuart Pearce, who commented this week: “Every indication Shaun gave us during the summer was that he was happy to stay at Manchester City. I am not having a go at the agents because if I was connected with Shaun I might have advised him the same way, but it would not have hurt him to stay here for another year or two. He loves Manchester City, the people here and the area he lived in. And I am sure if he had been left to his own devices, he would have stayed. I think Shaun would jump at the chance of coming back – if we can scrape together the £21 million!” he added with a smile on his face, before continuing a tad more seriously that “Shaun decided he wanted to leave the club and go elsewhere and that is fine. But for me, you have got to look at positives. The positive is I can put some money on the table and hopefully bring in some other players. That wouldn’t have been the case before Shaun went. In some respects it has opened the door for me if we are going to have a venture into the transfer market.”

Job for Kev: Stoke City have appointed former City and England striker Kevin Reeves as their new chief scout. Reeves, 47, has recently been scouting for Portsmouth since his departure from Swansea City in March 2004. He had been assistant manager to Brian Flynn at Swansea, following a similar 12-year stint with Flynn at Wrexham. Reeves, who won two full England caps, and is best remembered in his time at City for leading the line in both games in the 1981 FA Cup Final. Indeed his penalty put City briefly ahead in the replay, until some Spurs bloke with a beard spoiled it all.

It’s Kinky in Cyprus: Hot on the heels of Heidi’s review of the new tome on Georgi Kinkladze (MCIVTA 1145), comes news of what he’s up to now. On Tuesday he was playing in the Champions’ League no less, for Cypriot side Anorthosis Famagusta. He is enjoying a midfield partnership with fellow Georgian (and a former Newcastle player) Temuri Ketsbaia, who is player-coach. Having caused a major shock in the second qualifying round by beating Turkish side Trabzonspor, Kinky and chums faced a two-legged tie in the next round against Glasgow Rangers – the winners will gain a place in the lucrative group stages. In the first leg this week in Cyprus the Scots secured a narrow 2-1 lead, thanks in no small part to Famagusta hitting the woodwork and to a couple of outstanding saves from Rangers’ former City reserve ‘keeper Ronald Waterreus.

Reactions and Comments

Brad Glad: Praise be, City retained their prize bauble, the Thomas Cook Trophy, as they beat Olympiacos 3-1 last Saturday. City had to come from behind to beat the Greek double winners, with Bradley Wright-Phillips netting twice. The visitors dominated the opening period, taking a deserved lead through Yaya Toure’s flashing header. Darius Vassell’s lob provided the equaliser after strike partner Andy Cole supplied the killer pass. BWP then replaced Cole, the youngster first glancing home Stephen Ireland’s cross, before he drilled in a neat strike into the bottom corner. After the game Mr. Pearce said “We let them dictate the play in the first half but came stronger as the game went on. I was very pleased with the finishing and by Ireland’s ball in… I reached my peak at 29 and I will be looking at Darius to do the same; we haven’t bought him as the finished article and it is up to our coaches to improve him.” Of the double-goalscorer, Pearce said, “He has kicked on again from what he did last year. He had a quiet period just after Christmas where he tailed off a little bit. Then he kicked on again. This pre-season he has kicked on a bit further. That is a bonus for me.” Home débutant Vassell later revealed that the improved second half show came after the Boss looked for a new approach at half time. “He gave us a few different things to try out in the second half, we were a goal down and we didn’t want to lose here. It worked out for us, we looked stronger in the second half and they faded. They looked good when they first came out, they looked like a good outfit but I think we showed our strength towards the end of the game and fully deserved the victory. It’s a good start for the training for next week, the lads will be buzzing and we’ll pick ourselves up for the first game of the season, we’ll be all guns blazing.”

Scares for Stu: Yet again SP’s build up to the new term has been threatened by further injuries, this time to Sylvain Distin and Ben Thatcher. “Sylvain was picked to play but he felt a groin problem,” admitted Pearce. “We will have to give him a fitness check to see how serious it is.” Reports suggest that City will be without their skipper for up to a month. Pearce confirmed Ben Thatcher also missed the game with a groin strain, but claimed the damage was “only slight” – oh and just for good measure, Stephen Ireland looks set to be on the sidelines next weekend after sustaining a suspected broken wrist during his brief appearance as a second-half substitute.

Squad News

Crisis? What Crisis? “Injury crisis worsens” screamed one of Saturday’s headlines – with Distin seemingly joining his centre-back partner Richard Dunne on the long-term sick list, the Boss confirmed that Robbie Fowler is unlikely to be around at the start of the Premiership season. “Robbie has had an injection and will return to training on Monday,” revealed Pearce. “But it will be a slow process to bring him back, which will take weeks rather than days and there is no chance of him playing against West Brom.” Yet by Wednesday, a little of the injury gloom had shifted – Nedum Onuoha and Antoine Sibierski both made their return to action in the reserves at West Brom on Tuesday, then came the biggest pleasant surprise of the week. Richard Dunne might after all be in line for an unexpected appearance in the opening fixture with WBA on Saturday. It was reported that the damage to Dunnie’s foot was not as bad as was first feared and that SP expected him to train. If Dunne does make Saturday’s side, he’ll be made captain.

Carry On, Joey: Sylvain Distin has revealed that Joey Barton considered his future after being sent home from the club’s tour of Thailand in disgrace. “When something happens like it did to Joey, it is understandable that he was thinking about not carrying on,” said Distin. “But it was too early to start making quick decisions. You need to calm down and think about it and I was there to talk about it with him. As I said, I trust him and I know he’s going to do everything he can to make it up to us. Joey knows he must do something now. I think he is going to take the chance the club has given him and I trust him. The problem was never about his football, it was about his attitude. Now he knows if he wants to succeed, he has to change his attitude.”

England’s Number One? Goalkeeping coach Tim Flowers reckons that David James is ready to reclaim his place in the England team and to play in next summer’s World Cup Finals. “I see the determination in Jamo to get back in the England side,” he said. “I don’t think he has made any secret of the fact that that is his goal. I see no reason why he won’t get back in – and I have said that to him. It is certainly an achievable target for him. His form last season was outstanding. It is the first year I have worked with him. Mistakes were at a premium. He won a number of points for us. A repeat of that form will certainly put the pressure on Paul Robinson. I believe Jamo is England’s No. 1. I played against him when he was younger but as he has got older and more experienced he has become a much more mature professional and person. If that is his target he will work himself to death to achieve it. He doesn’t miss any opportunity to improve himself. He pays for psychologists and fitness trainers. You can’t knock him. He wants to be the best he possibly can. When you look at the way he has improved throughout his career, he is definitely moving in the right direction.”

Don Barrie <news(at)>


I have set up a MCIVTA predictor league for the 2005/6 season at the FA Premiership Website

This is a free fantasy football competition to enter and it would be great if as many MCIVTA readers can enter as possible.

As it’s close to the start, the league does not start scoring until Game Week 2 starting 20th August, so it gives everyone plenty of time to enter.

Once you have selected your team, if you click on the section for leagues and enter the following details:

Code to Join League: 328649-48149
League Name: MCIVTA 2005/6

Thanks and hope as many as possible can join; pass it onto as many friends as you want to.

Scott Thomson <st1967(at)>


I noticed this morning in a local Stavanger newspaper that Stuart Pearce apparently watched Rhyl – Viking Stavanger in the UEFA Cup yesterday. Man of the match was Viking captain and central defender Brede Hangeland, who was linked to Everton last season (David Moyes and Kevin Blackwell also attended the match). In my view he would be an excellent signing for City so I hope Mr. Pearce got impressed.

The link if any of you know any Norwegian!;jsessionid=WZDBCXMCXV5AZQFIMUNSFEQ?articleID=83663

Kjartan Aanestad <kjartan(at)>


Well not really – you wouldn’t be interested would you?

My son (being a Luton fan) took me to Selhurst Park for the opening game of the season on Saturday. Leafing through the programme, I was struck by the strong City connections that Palace have. On the coaching staff is Kit Symons and the playing staff includes Michael Hughes, Danny Granville and of course Jon Macken. Only Granville (injured) didn’t play.

For the record it was a thoroughly entertaining game and I could be persuaded to attend a few more Championship games this season. It is at least a competitive league with some good teams but what you might be interested in is that Jonny Macken was very average, showing neat touches but no pace and never a goal threat. Did Kevin actually watch him play before paying out £5 million?

I wasn’t greatly impressed by Andy Johnson either, though I must admit to being prejudiced against someone wearing red boots! One player who did catch my eye was Luton’s Curtis Davies, a hugely promising defender. He’s very young and a real athlete. Would be well worth a punt now.

Peter Kewley <peterdk(at)>


The former captain of the famous Barcelona team of the early 90’s who played with Barça for 17 years, was Pep Guardiola. Pep then went to Italy, and on to his present team Al Ahli in Qatar. He moved on because he was accused of taking an anabolic steroid named nandrolone. Pep claimed he was only taking vitamins. Guilty or innocent? It’s way in the past and as long as he can pass a test now it should not be held against him.

My concern will be: can he play in a fast paced EPL? He is now 34 years old, which is OK if you are 100% fit.

A week’s trial, with a game with the reserve side versus Boro reserves should be interesting. Pep Guardiola certainly has the pedigree with brilliant qualifications from Barça, but to me Qatar is a place where so many players go to play in a semi-retirement atmosphere.

If he passes his test, I presume that Stuart Pearce will want him as a stop gap player until a player like Stephen Ireland is ready? MCFC need to add to and bolster the squad before the transfer window closes; do MCFC want to get into Europe or just be a team who will not have to fight relegation?

The City fans have been restless for many years now, and seeing their best player in many years, SWP, being let go does not help. Many City fans will be upset that MCFC have not signed a player to replace SWP; of course there was an attempt to sign Malbranque, but nothing else that we know of that has been attempted with any seriousness by MCFC.

The bottom line: “I trust Stuart Pearce”, but not sure that both hands are free when it comes to transfers – maybe one of his hands is tied behind his back, and he is very limited to what he can spend, more than what we hear?

Come on you Blues!

Ernie Barrow <britcityblue(at)>


In response to Keith in the last issue: Well done lad, those were my exact thought’s when we sold him and I wonder now how much losing him will hurt us in long term revenue. And while money for me is not the major reason to sell or retain a player, we have to admit that the business that football is today has forced us to play by the rules defined by the Reals and Rags of this world from when mass marketing and subscription TV made this a multi-billion pound industry.

And now we find ourselves without the spark from midfield that can grasp a game by the throat and win it for us at the death, or rescue a point or at the very least give us something to go home with a smile about. I wonder when we are 1-1 with Fulham in the 85th if we can now thrust Croft or Flood into the rôle of stripping defences and grabbing us all three points? I think they are decent players enough, but anyone who thinks they can replicate Sweep’s achievements is probably deluding themselves. Steed would have fit perfectly as a floating midfielder terrorizing defences from all directions, but I fear now we will enter the new season with who is already on the books and nothing more.

BTW Keith, you missed Kinky; I know the list you have is impressive and surely no-one would begrudge Gio a place among them.

Come on you Blues!

CTID, Nic Ranson <bluemanx(at)>


As good as I think SWP was and is, there have been a lot of players that could win a game on their own; let us not over romanticize his skills. But let’s not also denigrate many of the players that graced Maine Road in the sky blue. I remember seeing Glyn Pardoe play in his first match at centre forward against Blackburn reserves.

We may have benefited from the sale of SWP and we can only wait and see with the trepidation reserved for City fans and the feeling of eternal optimism coupled with impending doom. Ours is not the boring existence of constantly striving to avoid relegation or expecting to win every game. We yo-yo from one to t’other and revel in it, if we are honest. We are true fans and will remain CTWD!

Jim Heaviside <JHeavis502(at)>


Just got back from a fortnight’s holiday and have spent some time reading the last four MCIVTAs and other emails I receive. Can I state in no uncertain terms that the Centenary Supporters’ Association has absolutely nothing to do with this group and has far as I am concerned never will do.

Alex Channon – Chair, MCFC Centenary Supporters’ Association <channons(at)>


We are two Norwegian City fans considering a trip to Manchester if we could get hold of two tickets. So if anyone has 2 spare tickets for the Birmingham match we would be very grateful!

Kjartan Aanestad <kjartan(at)>


As a devout Blue living in the midst of the Mackem and Geordie heartland, and a father of a young son (albeit too small to bring to COMS), my chances of attending the shrine of football (no reason to refer to COMS any differently to the way my father taught me to refer to Maine Road) are slim. To this extent, I am seeking assistance to procure away end tickets (preferably two, but one would be fine) to the games at Stadium of Light (23/8?) and St James’ Park (24/9?) which this year appear reasonably early in the calendar and would appreciate any assistance.

Looking forward to this season with a strange combination of apprehension and expectation – mostly driven by a strong desire to see SP succeed, and the way the team will form in balance and shape post-SWP era.

C’mon you Blues…

Ian Pilkington <thepilks(at)>


Just a request, finding myself in Belfast for a large part of the next few years, surely there are fellow Blues over here who watch the matches (either on the screen or going to CoMStad) so where do you meet?

Thomas Bodey <equesecho(at)>


Does anyone know where i could watch Premiership football in the Dunwoody Area of Atlanta, USA?

Thank you, Mark Deary <mark_deary(at)>

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Newsletter #1146