Newsletter #1150

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A 2-1 win at Sunderland on Tuesday night saw us briefly go top of the table, and just for posterity we’ve included that table tonight.

John Howes kindly stepped in to produce tonight’s news summary, which brings the latest on those transfer rumours, loans, reserves, and an interesting look at team costs. Thanks John, and thanks to Sarah who will be doing next week’s summary.

There is plenty of continued debate on the state of the game, City and the website, together with the usual requests.

Finally, a tremendous Why (Still) Blue from David – read it and enjoy.

Next game: Portsmouth, home, 3pm Saturday 27 August 2005

NEWS SUMMARY

“If someone had said ‘after you’ve won your third game, you’d go top, would you settle for that?’ Damn right I would!” City have now extended their unbeaten Premiership run to 11 games. True, there has been an easy start to the season, but as Stuart Pearce says: “It’s not easy to stay unbeaten in this league, that’s for sure. The players should take a lot of credit for that.” Yep, but more’s the point, so should he. Early signings Andy Cole and Darius Vassell have both been on the scoresheet and according to SP himself, the team have “got a little hard-to-beat willingness about them now and you only get that by going on a long run like this. Once you get into a run as we have, it becomes habit. You get a bit resilient about it and I’m seeing that in our dressing room now.” Pragmatic as ever, Pearce admitted “We’ve not got the class of a Chelsea or an Arsenal, we know that. What we have got is togetherness, a will to win, and a team ethic.”

Sunderland: Stuart Pearce was swift to stamp out complacency following the 2-1 victory over Sunderland, voicing deep disappointment at the performance. He pointed out that City had few obvious chances and did not show an ability to capitalise on the opportunities that came their way. “Maybe the only things I can take from the game are the way we took our goals, and winning the game,” said Pearce. “It is a very down dressing room after winning the game.” He talked on the City website. “They’ve walked in after winning a game and they are disappointed. I thought we got better in the second half, but credit to Sunderland, I thought they bossed the game. For long periods they were the better side. They deserved a draw and probably deserved to win, if I’m quite honest. I don’t think we’ll play as bad as that again. We wanted to go half measures and do the pretty stuff tonight, when it was a night to do the dirty stuff first. The pretty stuff was the goals, which we did take extremely well, they were two excellent goals. But, we wanted someone else to do all the running for us, someone else to make the tackles.” Scorer Trevor Sinclair agreed. “If their finishing had been as good as ours, we could have been in a bit of trouble,” he confessed. “Tonight I don’t think we clicked too well, obviously the finishing wasn’t too bad and it got us the two goals, but all in all our general play was under par. It’s probably a good sign that the lads are disappointed although we have won the game.”

Distin not Liverpool-bound: With the end of the transfer window looming, rumours have been reported in several newspapers that Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez has bid for the club captain Sylvain Distin. Pearce has been unequivocal however, in refuting such a bid, “He’s not going anywhere, he’s staying here”. Well we all remember the last time he said that, but this time he has money in his own back pocket and looking to bolster his own squad. “We’re still busy making offers for players,” Stuart Pearce told City’s official website. “We’re hoping to get a couple in and we will work right up until the last minute of the deadline. We are going to put offers in today and hopefully they will be good enough to bring players to the club. If they’re not, we’ll move on and look for somebody else.” His hit list is rumoured to contain such notables as Dean Ashton and Crystal Palace forward Andy Johnson. The Eagles have already signed Birmingham striker Clinton Morrison, which could mean that they are preparing to release Johnson.

Uneasy Stalemate: Meanwhile, Pearce is still trying to pour olive oil on troubled waters by insisting there is no bad blood between City and Bolton. As reported last week, a battle of words erupted over the attempt to sign Greek midfielder Stelios Giannakopoulos. However, City’s £1 million bid for the European Championship winner invoked a hissy fit from the Bolton manager Sam Allardyce. Now the dust is settling, City still want the 31-year-old to drift south from the Reebok to CoMS. Diplomatic as ever in the face of the publicity-seeking over-achiever Allardyce, Pearce stressed that he and City have done nothing wrong and is not looking to pick a fight with Bolton over Stelios. “I have spoken with Sam Allardyce and it is very important from my point of view that I don’t go into battle with him over a situation like this,” he said. “All we feel we have done is made an offer for one of their players. Now if that is bang out of order, then I am sorry, but I am sure that somewhere down the line Bolton will make an enquiry about one of my players.” Internally, the reason for Bolton pressing the panic button and demanding £4 million may be to do with reports that Giannakopoulos has a clause in his contract that states he can leave for a £1 million transfer fee. He could also see his salary increased sharply by signing for City. Pearce said he faxed his offer but had not heard a reply. “Last I heard they said they had not received it – so perhaps the fax is broken,” he said. Broken fax or not, Bolton could well have privately capitulated and be looking for a replacement. Completing the signing of Hidetoshi Nakata last week, Sam Allardyce said he will not let the Greek international leave until he has brought in another player. More’s the point – will City be favourites to sign him? The disconcertingly buoyant sinking ship HMS Liverpool has emerged as a potential rival. In the meantime, Giannakopoulos remains with Bolton, and the chant starting “Give us a G” remains unsung. Oh – Anyone seen Tuesday’s Daily Telegraph? Me neither. But columnist Christopher Davies spotted a highly illegal tactic employed by Bolton throughout the match with Everton of trying to impede the goalkeeper. One person was deployed – it seems – to block Nigel Martyn. We’ll have to watch out for that one when they visit Manchester on Sunday, 18 September 2005.

Reserves lose on penalties: Reserve team boss Steve Wigley reflected on the unfortunate end to the penalty shoot-out against the Rags in the Senior Cup. After the game ended 0-0, both sides swapped penalties but the Rags’ goalkeeper Luke Steele managed to save from Kelvin Etuhu. The important thing in penalty shoot-outs (apart from practising them a bit more maybe) is to not let it get out of perspective. Wigley was not disheartened by the overall display of his team. “I thought the first half, we were the better team and they came into it in the final 20 minutes, had two or three chances and I thought Kasper kept us in the game. Over the 90 minutes I thought the draw was a fair reflection of the game and unfortunately we’ve missed one penalty.” Keeping positive, he said that this would have been the first experience of a penalty shoot-out at first hand for many of the City players. He is confident that the likes of the unlucky Etuhu will be able to use it to good effect the next time. He concluded that “It was a good performance, we had a young side out, and I was pleased until about 20 minutes to go.”
City: Schmeichel; Warrender (c), Collins, N. D’Laryea, Richards; J. D’Laryea, Croft, Bennett (Laird 76), Ireland, Hussein; Miller (Etuhu 67).
Unused subs: Matthewson, Johnson, Wallwork.
Manchester United: Steele; Bardsley, Eckersley, Pique, J. Evans; Jones, S. Evans (Simpson 85), Miller (Gibson 76), Martin ; Rossi (Cooper 59), Campbell.
Unused subs: Lee, Shawcross.

No Jo Show: After all the expectation built up in recent weeks, the ex-Spanish international Josep Guardiola will not now be joining the club after all. It seems that the 34-year-old former Barcelona star had been offered a six-month contract but the player was hoping for a longer contract. As a result, by mutual agreement he will begin looking for another club. Stuart Pearce said: “He’s a fantastic professional who showed a great amount of ability. I wanted to take a longer look at him and that’s why we offered him a six-month deal. I fully understand why the player has decided to look for a longer deal elsewhere and he leaves with our best wishes.”

Loan Extended: While City youngsters Willo Flood and Karl Bermingham were originally due to be loaned for a month to Coventry and Burnley respectively, these loan spells could be extended until December if all goes well at their adopted clubs. The idea of loaning younger players to other clubs is essentially a good one, giving them good experience, although we all know that players transferred or loaned have a habit of scoring against us. According to Pearce, “If all goes well, the loan will be until Christmas. I wouldn’t let them go any further than that because I think that’s counter-productive to us. I said to all the younger players at the start of pre-season, that they’d be given the chance to be around and show me what they can do. I’d then make judgments in respect of if I thought one or two of them needed first team experience.” For the record, last Saturday Coventry won 3-0 against QPR, with Willo playing for 73 minutes and the unfortunately-named Dan Shittu being sent off for the West London club. Bermingham played the full 90 minutes for Burnely, but the side went down 3-1 against Watford.

Joey Speaks out:If there is one person in the City side that has reinvented himself, it isJoe Barton. Yes of course Richard Dunne as well but, last Saturday, Joeybegan to repay the debt of loyalty he insists he owes Stuart Pearce and fansalike following the Thailand hotel brawl. Rather than sacking Barton, Pearceelected to offer ‘lifestyle coaching’ at Tony Adams’ Sporting Chance clinic.On the club’s webstie, the star midfielder said: “Stuart Pearce didn’t have todo what he did after Thailand, and I have great admiration for him, not justas a manager but also as a man. Hopefully I can repay him with performancesof a high standard. My release is getting out on the pitch.I am so glad to be part of this club and I’m glad they stuck by me throughbad times. The fans have been different class, and I knew they would be,because they are. I know what they are like when you pull on that shirt.Coley might not have been flavour of the month before he got here, but onceyou pull on that City shirt and have that badge on your chest you are one ofthem, and as long as you perform and give everything that you have got thenthey will accept you. You cannot ask for more than that.To me personally they have been fantastic and they have been like that sinceI got into the first team. I have my own relationship with City fans becauseI know that if it wasn’t for them we would not be where we are now.”

View from the pitch: Ben Thatcher has been praising City’s front pair, Andrew Cole and Darius Vassell. On the City website, he said “The front two’s movement was outstanding. They are very experienced Premiership players, the pair of them, and as a defender you know you will be in for a tough day against either of them, so I was delighted when we signed them in the summer. Andy’s movement, general awareness and level of play is exceptional, and Darius with his pace gives us that option of playing the ball over the top. Coley’s goal was a fantastic strike. I was stood behind it and people may not realise just how good a hit it was. It was a top goal from a top player and hopefully he will go on and get a lot more.” Joey Barton concurred: “The way he put that ball in the net simply spelled class. Not many teams will go to Birmingham and do what we did, especially in the way we did it, because we were shocking for twenty minutes – we didn’t get off the coach. We were still in the hotel!”

Fowler back for training? Robbie Fowler is expected to report for light training this week and hopes to be fit in time for the Manchester derby. He has revealed for the first time, the extent of his summer injury problems. “Through the summer we all had fitness programmes to follow but I kept suffering from cramps in my legs when I was doing my training. I came back a little bit early and got tested out but it was a bit of a puzzle. The physio couldn’t find anything. My lower back started hurting to the point where I had a pain right across it and I had to go for a scan. It turns out that I had tear in one of the discs in my back and I needed injections. Part of the problem might have been simple wear and tear, but some mornings it was so painful, it took an age getting out of bed. I haven’t been able to do much – but I am on the right road now. Since I have had the injections I have upped the training and feel much better. The idea is to pick the work up another level this week with an eye to being back a couple of weeks after that. The derby match might be the one to aim for at Old Trafford.”

Injury Free Reyna: Anyone see Claudio Reyna against West Brom? SP reckons his resurgence is down to an injury-free run. Pearce said: “A lot of people said to me at the end of last season, ‘What have you done with Claudio?’ He’s fully fit, he’s fully focussed. He’s extremely well respected in that dressing room for what he’s achieved and his footballing ability. He needs to be a big player for me this season, he needs to be fully fit and ‘at it’. If he does that and similar to what he did at the end of last season, I’ll be delighted.” Pearce has also been encouraged by Reyna’s partnership with Joey Barton in the centre of midfield. He added on the club’s website: “They are two players in midfield who have been team-mates for a number of months and years, and their understanding is just coming after playing a bit more football together. The same thing will happen for the boys up front as for Joey and Claudio.”

Sub: Not specifically City news, but interesting nonetheless. When SWP swapped first team football at City for the Chelsea substitutes’ bench, even he could not have predicted who he would be sharing it with. Last Saturday, their bench alone cost the Blues nearly £70 million. Interestingly, one of the papers listed how much the other first team starting line-up players cost:

Man U           £88.8 million
Liverpool       £48.9 million
Arsenal         £42.9 million
Newcastle       £42.8 million
Middlesbrough   £23.0 million
Villa           £21.5 million
Spurs           £21.4 million
Everton         £19.1 million
West ham        £13.5 million
Fulham          £13.1 million
Blackburn       £12.5 million
Charlton        £12.2 million
Birmingham      £12.1 million
CITY            £12.1 million
Portsmouth      £7.2 million
Sunderland      £6.2 million
Wigan           £6.0 million
Bolton          £5.5 million
West Brom       £3.8 million

Thanks Don: I have helped the editorial team put together this edition of MCIVTA and I would personally like to thank the entire editorial team, but especially Don Barrie. Having tried to do his job for a week, I can really appreciate how very good he is. Well done Don. You do a fantastic job.

John Howes <news(at)mcivta.city-fan.org>

OPINION: KIWI VIEW

Just finished watching the City vs. Birmingham game on video and it wasn’t a half bad effort. Welcome to Manchester City Andrew Cole! After scoring twice in friendlies and on Saturday, you have made me eat my words, but then what do I know, 12,000 miles away in New Zealand. At first hand I thought what have we signed him for, but SP obviously bought him for goals. I thought the overall performance had a lot of good points, a couple of bad, but that’s City. Nice to see Joey Barton doing the talking with his feet on the pitch, nice to see Trevor Sinclair fit again, and Dunnie’s still a legend. One thing that disappointed me, not about the game, but how in this modern age, can a player not be prepared for an international match?! Although the England defence wasn’t that ‘prepared’ as well. Mind you, being a City fan for forty years (this year), all I’m worried about how he plays for City. Trouble with being a ‘keeper (and I was) – when you make a mistake, it usually costs a goal. A forward can miss chance after chance, score the winner in the 89th minute and be a hero! Well, a good start, four out of six, one or two more players and we’ve at last got a decent team. Isn’t SP great on the sideline? If he could run on and tackle someone, he would.

Kevin Williamson <scribbs(at)slingshot.co.nz>

OPINION: US VIEW

We have seen both the Birmingham and Sunderland games – same day, slightly delayed. This weekend’s game is not on as far as I can tell.

Points are points and even if there were times in both games when we struggled, it is good to be in a run of not losing. There were times when City played really well but then there were times when I had to close my eyes as our defence tried to work its way out of confusion. But as players get healthy we should be solid defensively again.

Can someone please talk with Mr. Mills? What on earth was he doing in the later stages of the Sunderland game?

I still think we need some more new players. Cole is doing better than I expected but seems to run out of gas (though he did play two games in just a few days). Sinclair remains a puzzle, he can get crosses in but he seems to have lost a lot of pace and he seems uncomfortable with the ball. So midfield remains a place where I’d like to see another new player who can play in the first team immediately, but who is out there? Or are there, indeed, young players at the club who can make an impact?

I am delighted for the manager. He’ll hit some rough spots this year (our usual late autumn slump?) but his energy and approach is a pleasure to watch. I wish him all the best.

I appreciated the last edition with the inclusion of the long article from the Guardian. We get a lot of Premiership games on over here and I have noticed large areas of empty seats at a lot of games. I hope City can keep in mind that they are a special club and look carefully at the relationship with the community, young fans and not price tickets out of the reach of the kind of fan that is a lifetime supporter. I’d like City to be able to be different in the way they approach fans and how a club thinks long term. But I guess the need for instant funding and trying to keep up with the big spenders forces clubs to adopt higher prices.

John Pearson <john.pearson(at)stanford.edu>

OPINION: UNCONVINCING

On Tuesday evening City beat a Sunderland team that made City work hard for their win. The difference in the game was that the City players knew how to score. Sunderland had some good chances but failed miserably in front of goal. Elliott (ex-City) had a quiet game, and almost at the end of the game was closer to hitting the corner flag than the goal.

The City players looked knackered towards the end of this lively encounter; could it be that City are training too hard between 2 fixtures that are close together? I am not forgetting that Sunderland had a tough game the same day against Liverpool that City beat Birmingham. Sunderland outpaced City on the night, but were goal shy. City have been unlucky in some games in the past, outplaying the opposition only to lose; this game it was City’s turn to be lucky.

Only one week to go before the transfer window closes; can we get Stelios? He looked good Wednesday against Newcastle, he also scored a goal by following up as a good midfield player should, Stuart Pearce better get John Wardle to send Gartside of Bolton a fax quick and up the bid to beat Liverpool. I also heard that Liverpool were only looking for a central defender. Who knows?

I think light training before the Pompey game would be in order so the City players can get some of their energy back to beat the Poms. Did anyone else get a little dizzy being top of the table for a day? Just get into Europe, that will do us.

Come on City!

Ernie Barrow <britcityblue(at)aol.com>

OPINION: POSITIVE SIGNS

I have just read this week’s letter and have a few things to say.

Did everybody see the same match as me? I thought the team played well and it was an exciting match. From the reports that were written I agreed with most of them with a few exceptions. Stephen Jordan is just not ready yet, he is neither fast enough nor strong enough (can you learn to be faster)? Danny Mills was easily beaten by whoever Brum sent down that side, as was Jordan. Thank God for Dunne and James. We have injured players that will fill those spots really well. Sinclair will do quite well when he is fully recovered and Reyna (if he can stay fit) and Barton look pretty good in the middle. What was encouraging was SP’s adjustments at half time actually made a difference; much as I loved KK, he was no tactician. Musampa is working out really well and Vassell will start to improve next to Andrew Cole who was MOTM.

Where is all the negativity coming from? Is it just the frustrated Apple Mac fans who took up way too much room, or can that many people not navigate the website?

The commentary does suck (when they talk about the game) but it does work for those who can get to a TV broadcast so let’s enjoy 2 games, 4 points.

Jim Heaviside <JHeavis502(at)aol.com>

OPINION: WHAT PRICE LOYALTY?

Something is seriously wrong at City. I watched the game with Birmingham and saw a great all-round MCFC team performance. Entertaining, open football, attacking at any opportunity, attacking and defending as a unit, great possession play, neat one-touch passing, class and confidence, and every player giving 100%! Despite the obvious gaps that others have alluded to, we actually ‘appeared’ to have strength-in-depth, simply due to the workrate and co-operation of the players. This is how we will need to play all this season! Let’s face it, for too much of last season SWP was our only threat, and he could turn a game in an instant.

I really relate to the recent note from Mark Burgess (thanks so much for the music Mark – still often listen to The Chameleons)! When SWP did a moonlight I felt much like a girlfriend had left without a word. Yes, pathetic I know, but I am one of those humans that still likes the idea of romance and loyalty in the game, not the reality Nic Ranson correctly alludes to, of big money, agents, and er, big money. The reality is very sad in this respect, but in another way the excitement of watching international elevens play each other in The Premiership is contagious. Any team can win any game.

I am sure many would take the big cash, even just to warm a bench. Who do we get angry at? SWP, his agent, MCFC, all of them? I am still none-the-wiser as to how the whole sorry saga went down.

SWP was a god at City, a legend. Now he is anonymous at Chelsea. And, how must Wigan fans feel about Nathan Ellington leaving? Just gutting.

There is almost no loyalty left, except that shown by the diehard fans. No wonder people just sometimes lose faith. Anyway, ramble nearly over.

Can somebody investigate what SP is up to, bringing us this open, quality, and entertaining football, with a team that works hard together for a full 90 minutes? I don’t know if I can make the huge change required to get used to watching this type of performance from City. Anyway, it made my weekend and we even got the game live here in Canada! Nice one lads. Keep grafting! Consistency is a thing of the future – surely not!?

Adrian Leather – Quesnel, BC, Canada <ade016(at)quesnelbc.com>

OPINION: THE STATE OF THE GAME

What a superb article Sean Ingle produced for the Guardian, which Mike Sayward brought to our attention in MCIVTA 1149.

Too many shrewd observations to comment on individually but overall a true reflection on the modern game. Even our own club are becoming guilty of over commercialisation as a visit to our new official website clearly demonstrates.

There are alternatives out there though: take a trip to Hyde United, Stalybridge Celtic, Altrincham, Droylsden, Ashton to name a few and watch the game like it should be played. £7 to get in and you can stand with your mates or the opposition fans if you like. Fans still change ends at half time (known as the migration), which still amuses me as they pass each other around the halfway line, usually in complete silence. Programmes are cheap and not full of pictures of fans posing in front of the Pyramids, Ayers Rock or some other exotic location in their overpriced club shirt. The pies and refreshments are excellent and good value to boot.

City’s own reserve games are also well worth a watch, probably the best value of all now your CityCard gives you free admission. There’s also the Academy at Platt Lane.

I wonder if the board would take notice if attendances dropped at the CoMStad but the reserves played to packed houses (our first home Premiership game this season was the second lowest Premiership attendance at the CoMStad)? For those fans who are wanting to set up an alternative fans’ team, maybe £20 for your CityCard is great value after all if you just watch the reserves; still supporting our team but not getting involved in the rip-off commercialisation we all suffer from in the CoMStad.

I personally get to most home games still and after fifty one years watching the lads I think maybe the club should be doing more for guys like me. I’d love to bring my grandsons to the home games but to be honest, I just can’t afford it. £80 for me and the boys with programmes, then there’s the refreshments. How the hell do families afford it? Sometimes you see mum, partner and three kids, that’s the price of a cheap holiday to me.

Well, the more I think about it the more I agree with Sean Ingle but all the same it’s “Come on City” on Saturday against Pompey and Hyde vs. Alfreton Town on Monday night.

[A good idea that Citycard holders can now get into the reserve games, interesting that they get loyalty points for both home and away league fixtures, which begs the question why bother shelling out £500 for our season tickets? – Ed]

Malc Hough <Malcinblue(at)aol.com>

OPINION: GETTING IT STRAIGHT

Sometimes I wonder why people like James Gregson bother to post when thy get into such a kerfuffle over what was written. Some facts:

  1. Wardle brought in DB. Wardle sacked DB because he stood-up to KK’s madnessin the transfer market. We presently have a board that is ineffective andlacks leadership. SP’s appointment is a stroke of luck.
  2. I also believe Cole and Vassell will do a job for us. The issue is thatthey are merely replacements for the long-ago departed Anelka and Wanchope.This is not strengthening the squad, merely replacing what’s missing.Furthermore, rumours now persist that Fowler is finished at the COMS. Mypoint is – we don’t have sufficient playing staff.
  3. I don’t believe I made any comment about SP’s leadership.
  4. I think you’ll find that City were announcing the Malbranque deal was adone deal at the time the second bid was submitted. This was widely reportedat the time.
  5. I guess I might have qualified my last posting by suggesting that City’scommunications team are a liability. Living proof of this as previouslymentioned re Malbranque, Stelios, SWP transfers. Quietly concluded businessdealings are always preferable.
  6. Prudence rocks. Under investment does not.
  7. I average 30+ games a season over the last 25 years. I am not about tochange my viewing habits.

Martin Lever <martinlever(at)yahoo.co.uk>

OPINION: TRANSFERS

City and SP seem to be leaving our much-needed transfers to the very last minute. In my opinion, and probably many others’, we need 2 players, a quality midfielder, and a tricky or tall forward. I feel we have enough in our reserves to balance any other positions. A very long time ago I suggested Malbranque as a “would love to have him at City”, but it looks like that might not materialise. What about a season long, loan deal for Joe Cole? I bet he would love to play week in, week out, and with SP as manager he would become much more consistent and be a pivot in the City team.

I know Dean Ashton is being touted, and as good as he is, £7 million is a hell of a lot of dosh (Norwich only paid £2 million for him).

The other possibility is David Bentley or Quincy Owusu-Abeye both at Arsenal, both are tricky midfield/forward players. Just look at the effect Ronaldo has been each time he has come on as a sub for Man U! We need to replace SWP with a like for like player, Kiki does it on the left side, but not with pace.

I just hope City continue to perform well, and that we hold a place in the top 5 or 6 for the rest of the season.

Glyn Albuquerque <glynalbuquerque(at)blueyonder.co.uk>

OPINION: SUPPORTING CITY

Great article passed onto MCIVTA 1149 by Mike Saynard regarding the opinion published in The Guardian but it somehow misses the point and brings me onto the FFCC.

We football supporters follow our club through thick and thin, and for many of us it’s through thin and thin, whether or not that’s on or off the field. For most of us that’s just one team, in our case it’s Manchester City FC. Football changes through the years but true supporters don’t.

After reading and exchanging a few emails on the topic plus a few phone calls, I fail to see where the FFCC is really coming from. Yes, there are a few valid points of issue with the club, e.g. re the seasoncard but not much more and is that really a reason for taking your support elsewhere? I think not. Supporting a club at Premiership level is an expensive business for all of us and MCFC are cheaper than many.

I think it’s great that people can choose to watch non-league football at such places like Maine Road FC and a host of other similar clubs around the Manchester area and elsewhere. But let’s be realistic, it’s not the same as going to a Premiership match or other pro football games, it’s a game of football but the comparison ends there. There’s a reason why many thousands turn up at CoMStad but non-league clubs do well to attract a few hundred. Go to a non-league game and see why; at least they will genuinely enjoy your support.

My main point is if you are a Manchester City supporter, full stop, to go elsewhere instead of watching your beloved Blues is somehow a betrayal of trust. Support the team you support and forget the rest.

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

OPINION: MCFC.CO.UK I

In reply to Simon Wardle, my system must have been lagging because all the fixtures are there now. However, it doesn’t change the fact that the site is one of the worst in football.

I have s sneak look at other clubs’ websites before games to see what they are saying about the build up and get other info and that’s how I came across the Sunderland one.

But even Birmingham’s and Newcastle’s are far superior. Actually, look at any of the other 18 Premiership clubs’ websites (yes, I know that I said 18, guess why) and you’ll see far superior sites. Lots of easy to follow links, and the most relevant sections staring you in the face.

The muppets that run City’s website don’t even want to know when you e-mail them. On more than one occasion I’ve complained about the way they put the scores, which are annoying to glance down. The Birmingham result (I just checked just in case they have changed it but they haven’t) is reported as 1-2. On anyone’s fixtures and results, that looks like a defeat. Look at any fixture list including the official match programme and it will say 2-1. It’s irrelevant who was at home. It should have City’s score first.

But the layout looks as if they’ve got all the ideas onto little bits of paper, thrown them on a desk, and wherever they’ve landed is where they set the site out, which means that the bits of paper that landed under another have to be navigated to, however important they might be.

Oh I’m getting fed up wittering on about it. It’s c**p full stop.

John Nisbet – People’s Republic of Hyde <nisbet1957(at)btinternet.com>

OPINION: MCFC.CO.UK II

I would like to add my twopennorth to the new website debate.

I must be about the only one who quite likes it and this from a woman who doesn’t normally like change! I was never over keen on the old site as I had difficulty finding things there. I find the new one much easier to navigate with through the tabs at the top of the home page, which weren’t there before. I do not have any trouble loading the pages. I don’t know what Gareth Lawrence means about the fixture list “when I finally get it”. It’s one click from the home page, much easier to find than before, although I agree with him that they no longer show which matches are being televised.

Like Steve Bennett, I no longer receive the Blues News either. I realise the links were to the web but they were pages you couldn’t get normally.

By the way, does anyone know where I can get any wallpaper from? That was something else I used to get through the Blues News.

[Blues News will be back soon, I am reliably informed! – Ed]

Dot Keller <dot.keller(at)ntlworld.com>

OPINION: MCFCTV.COM

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

Not any more… at least not for me. When I try to go to MCFCTV I get: “No web site is configured at this address”.

Is this another Mac issue (although I must say, regardless of how much I hate the new design, it seems to work fine with my setup, 10.4.2 with Safari)? Or is it dead? The game against Birmingham was televised over here in Washington (state) on Fox Soccer Channel but I had to suffer the West Brom game as a dodgy text feed. Now, if I remember rightly, MCFCTV was just retransmiting from the local GMR feed – is that true? Is that feed still available outside the UK?

Thanks in advance!

Andrew Cowell <ajcowell(at)gmail.com>

REQUEST: BERLIN BLUES’ VIEWING

Since I am in Berlin on derby day I would like to know is it possible to find a pub/bierstube where they show the game?

It would really upset me to miss it! Please e-mail me if you can help.

CTID, Morten – Danish True Blue! <letholesen(at)city.dk>

REQUEST: PERTH SUPPORTERS

Hi, I am currently residing in Perth WA and I wanted to ask you if the there were any supporters’ clubs in Perth to join to watch City games and discuss City. Could anyone out there please let me know if you are aware of any?

Stephen Phillips <subiaco5(at)ozemail.com.au>

REQUEST: BLUES VIEWING IN FLORIDA

I shall be away on unavoidable hols for this game, namely in the home of Manchester U****d, yes you’ve guessed it – Florida (haha!).

Anyone got any info on where I might catch the game please?

Many thanks, Helen Hardman <hellsbells_mcfc2003(at)yahoo.co.uk>

REQUEST: BATH BLUES VIEWING

Does anyone know if there is a pub in Bath that will be showing the derby on foreign satellite?

I’m visiting for the weekend and assumed it would be on Sky!

Chris Colesell <chris_colesell(at)hotmail.com>

REQUEST: WATCHING FOR FREE

With no Sky but with broadband http://www5.pplive.com/english/help.shtml

Pretty easy to download and setup, need to install the language packs on your PC unless you are able to read Chinese, though I haven’t and just click through the channels till I get a Premiership match.

Watched City muller Sunderland last night and it generally has a choice of 2-3 games, streams at 512kbs so a decent broadband connection is required to get the best out of it.

I have been reliably informed it isn’t illegal so no worries on that score.

Barry Thompson <Barry.Thompson(at)netstore.co.uk>

WHY STILL BLUE?

I first saw City play 60 years ago. Surely that qualifies for a few reminiscences? And if you don’t like reading reminiscences, then all you have to do is scroll down to the next contributor.

None of my record books lists the fixtures for season 1945-46. The War was over, but life in Britain was by no means back to normal – food and clothing were still rationed; the cinema was flourishing and TV was unknown; there hadn’t been enough time to start up the four divisions of the Football League. City (a Second Division outfit) played that season against the other First and Second Division sides in the North of England. I know I saw Everton and Sunderland at Maine Road, but have no idea which of those was my very first game. I’m pretty sure the crowds were big – maybe as many as 60,000 – and on three uncovered sides of the ground all the spectators had to stand. We got wet when it rained, but there were no jokes about the Gene Kelly Stand – “Singing in the Rain” wouldn’t be made for another seven years.

Like most of my contemporaries, I was introduced to City by my dad, who was a loyal supporter all his life. His favourite player had been Peter Doherty, a brilliant Irish inside forward, and arguably the best City player of all time. I have to confess that I don’t even know if Doherty played in those early games I’ve mentioned, but I do know that he’d moved on before the League started up in earnest the next season, and I became a regular supporter.

What we did possess was England’s finest goalkeeper. Big Frank Swift was an entertainer and wasn’t averse to flinging himself dramatically across the goal to catch a ball that could just as easily have been caught by taking a couple of steps to the side. We loved him for his showmanship. I can remember him on more than one occasion running out to take a throw-in and once saw him bounce the ball basketball fashion as far as the centre circle, just to liven up a boring encounter. Like Pat Jennings later, he could hold the ball in one hand, with the palm of his hand facing down, and would sometimes taunt an opposing forward by passing the ball over his head in that fashion. It may seem incomprehensible nowadays, but “Swifty” was just as popular with opposing supporters. I find it hard to take that City have a number of so-called supporters who even today sing songs glorifying the plane crash that killed Frank Swift in 1958.

The teams I grew up with would be listed in a 2-3-5 formation: two full backs (some of whom never crossed the halfway line); three half-backs (the centre half an exclusively defensive player); and five forwards (usually a large bustling centre-forward, supported by two skilful inside forwards and with two out and out wingers, some of whom spent the whole game standing on the wing, waiting for the ball to come to them).

My first City side had two international full backs in Bert Sproston and Sam Barkas, both of them over 30 and both of them having lost the best years of their football lives to the War. Up front was George Smith, a popular goalscorer who would take throws, even though he only had one usable hand.

Old Trafford having been bombed, Maine Road provided top football every week, although it rankled that our temporary guests were in a higher division than we were for that first season after the War. We didn’t really hate United, but it wasn’t easy to admit that they had a stronger team than we did in those early post-war years. For most of the 1930s, City had been top dogs in Manchester. In season 1933-34, United had even finished 20th in the Second Division (unfortunately in those days only two teams were relegated!).

The first real test of my loyalty came in 1948, when United beat Blackpool 4-2 in a thrilling FA Cup Final. My three friends all decided that they now supported United, and I was left a lone Sky Blue in Norfolk Avenue, Denton. I couldn’t understand how fickle they were and didn’t for a moment consider that they might be doing the sensible thing. If I’d weakened then, my life would have been very different – I might even have turned into a smug so-and-so like Eamonn Holmes.

We did have our moments, however. As a student in Durham in 1955, I was listening to the radio (or do I mean wireless?) with a group of like-minded characters, when the familiar strains of “Sports Report” started up. What followed amazed even me. The announcer read “Manchester United 0, Manchester City 5”. We’d gone to Old Trafford and beaten the famous Busby Babes. Our manager, Les McDowell, had been experimenting with a different formation, based on the all-conquering Hungarians. He had eventually managed to buy Don Revie (who had mysteriously turned us down in favour of Hull City two years previously) and persuaded him to play as a deep-lying centre-forward. Backed by Swift’s brilliant successor, the German ex-POW Bert Trautmann, and with an excellent half-back line of Barnes, Ewing and Paul, Revie was freed to supply long, accurate through-balls to little Joe Hayes and the crowd’s favourite “Nobby” Clarke. Bobby Johnstone was bought from Hibs, where he’d been idolised, and he added a further touch of class, although it was rumoured that Revie resented his popularity.

That City team went on to win the FA Cup in 1956 and played some of the most attractive football ever seen in these islands. I managed to get a ticket for the 1955 final and hitchhiked from Durham to Wembley, arriving about 3 in the morning. Our England full back Jimmy Meadows was injured, no substitutes were allowed, and we lost the game.

The atmosphere at these games in the fifties was very different from what one finds today. Singing was unusual – Newcastle were one of the few teams who had a team song. “Blaydon Races” struck fear into the hearts of many an opposing fan. Not only was singing unusual – so was swearing! If anyone came out with foul language, some adult would turn to the offender and say, “Cut it out. There are children present.” It usually worked. By the seventies, the children were leading the swearing! That is not to say that the stadiums were like morgues. There was plenty of noise. A shot hitting the crossbar would bring a collective “Ohhh!” from 60,000 throats. Saves by opposing goalkeepers were actually generously applauded. Skill from an opposing forward would also get the approval of the home supporters. Referees were fair game – some wit would cast doubt on the ref’s eyesight, but hardly ever on his parentage and never on his private habits. Dirty play by an opponent would be roundly booed. Some players would have been disappointed if they’d climbed back on the team bus without having been booed. Alex Forbes of Arsenal; Tommy Docherty of Preston; Jimmy Scoular of Portsmouth and then Newcastle; and in the sixties any number of United players… did anyone mention Leeds?

Another difference from the modern game was the pulling power of certain players. Stanley Matthews was said to add five or six thousand to the gate. When he played for Blackpool, his club would often leave the announcement of their team to the last minute, and on occasions the five or six thousand extra who had come specially to see Matthews would be disappointed and not a little angry to find he wasn’t playing. We would genuinely look forward to seeing Tom Finney in the Preston team; the inimitable Len Shackleton of Newcastle and later Sunderland, who could do anything with the heavy leather ball that modern players do today with the lighter variety; John Charles in the blue and gold strip of Leeds, equally at home at centre-forward or centre-half; the diminutive Billy Steel playing for Derby; the Wolverhampton all-stars half-back line of Slater, Wright and Flowers, not to mention their terrifying wingers Mullen and Hancocks (size 4 boots, but a heck of a shot).

One or two players we would hope might not be playing against us – Charlie Wayman was one of the few centre forwards able to give Big Dave Ewing the runaround; Trevor Ford was a fearsome centre forward of the more traditional type – Duncan Ferguson is the nearest thing to him these days.

I’ve rarely seen City in the flesh since the late seventies. Living a long way from Maine Road and often working on a Saturday, I had little chance to see them play, apart from brief excerpts on TV. Crowd violence was another good reason to stay away. I’m still Blue, though, and the nearest I came to giving up my beloved City was when Malcolm Allison returned and destroyed our team. I was already sore at him for the way he had edged Joe Mercer out, but when he decided that Asa Hartford and Peter Barnes were surplus to requirements I felt the club was going nowhere. Even the trials and tribulations of relegation to the Second (Third) Division were not as hard to stomach as that brief unproductive period under Allison. I hope that our present management structure is sound. I liked the stance taken by Bernstein and was sorry to see him go, but the present board have so far not let us down. Maybe too generous to our previous manager initially, but they appear to have learned their lesson.

You will have gathered that my fondest memories are of the City team of the fifties – I’d moved away from Manchester by the time the next great City team arrived, but saw them about half a dozen times each season and was there when they won the league at Newcastle. One of the most satisfying games I’ve seen. Believe it or not, I had also been there when they played Swindon Town and City fans booed the opposing centre-forward throughout. Not long afterwards we bought him, and I’m pretty sure those fans didn’t boo Mike Summerbee again. Colin Bell proved to be an inspired signing, and I would place him alongside Swift and Trautmann as my three all-time favourites. Denis Law would have been up there if he’d stayed a bit longer; Kinkladze almost made it, but didn’t quite live up to initial expectations (not entirely his fault, as his manager didn’t seem to know how to get the best out of him); SWP looked like completing the quartet, but sadly didn’t stay long enough. I hope for his sake that he fulfils his promise, but I have to agree with Martin Samuels who wrote recently that “Wright-Phillips is a wonderful young player and should be on public display, not gathering dust on a shelf.” Will SWP look back in a few years’ time and think of his peak years, when he played 10 or 12 full games a season? I hope not.

When I started watching, the footballers didn’t earn much more than the majority of spectators and there was a genuine empathy between the man on the terraces and the player on the pitch. It wasn’t unknown for the players to travel to the match on the same public service bus as the fans. It isn’t as easy to forgive a player his mistakes or apparent lack of enthusiasm when you realise he is “earning” about fifty times a much as a nurse. Most of us, though, try to put aside envy and give our full support to a player who is obviously doing his best for the team. I believe that our present City side has a good few such players. I’m optimistic and look forward to the next 30 years or so as a Blue. Who knows? There might even be the odd trophy in store. As I write, City are top of the Premiership!

David Buxton <dbbuxton(at)totalise.co.uk>

RESULTS

23 August 2005

Birmingham City       0 - 3  Middlesbrough         27,998
Portsmouth            1 - 1  Aston Villa           19,778
Sunderland            1 - 2  Manchester City       33,357

League table to 23 August 2005 inclusive

                             HOME          AWAY        OVERALL
                    P  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F   A   GD Pts
 1 Manchester City  3  0  1  0  0  0  2  0  0  4  2  2  1  0   4   2   2   7
 2 Tottenham H.     2  1  0  0  2  0  1  0  0  2  0  2  0  0   4   0   4   6
 3 Charlton Ath.    2  1  0  0  1  0  1  0  0  3  1  2  0  0   4   1   3   6
 4 Manchester Utd   2  1  0  0  1  0  1  0  0  2  0  2  0  0   3   0   3   6
 5 Chelsea          2  1  0  0  1  0  1  0  0  1  0  2  0  0   2   0   2   6
 6 West Ham United  2  1  0  0  3  1  0  1  0  0  0  1  1  0   3   1   2   4
 7 West Brom A.     2  1  0  0  2  0  0  1  0  0  0  1  1  0   2   0   2   4
 8 Middlesbrough    3  0  1  0  0  0  1  0  1  3  2  1  1  1   3   2   1   4
 9 Liverpool        2  1  0  0  1  0  0  1  0  0  0  1  1  0   1   0   1   4
10 Arsenal          2  1  0  0  2  0  0  0  1  0  1  1  0  1   2   1   1   3
11 Blackburn R.     2  1  0  0  2  1  0  0  1  1  3  1  0  1   3   4  -1   3
12 Everton          2  0  0  1  0  2  1  0  0  1  0  1  0  1   1   2  -1   3
13 Aston Villa      3  0  1  0  2  2  0  1  1  1  2  0  2  1   3   4  -1   2
14 Bolton Wndrs     2  0  0  1  0  1  0  1  0  2  2  0  1  1   2   3  -1   1
15 Fulham           2  0  1  0  0  0  0  0  1  1  2  0  1  1   1   2  -1   1
16 Newcastle Utd    2  0  1  0  0  0  0  0  1  0  2  0  1  1   0   2  -2   1
17 Birmingham City  3  0  0  2  1  5  0  1  0  0  0  0  1  2   1   5  -4   1
18 Portsmouth       3  0  1  1  1  3  0  0  1  0  2  0  1  2   1   5  -4   1
19 Wigan Athletic   2  0  0  1  0  1  0  0  1  0  1  0  0  2   0   2  -2   0
20 Sunderland       3  0  0  2  2  5  0  0  1  0  1  0  0  3   2   6  -4   0

With thanks to Football 365

MCIVTA FAQ [v0506.01]

[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.mcfcosc.com/); the “Centenary Supporters’ Association” (http://www.reddishblues.com/CSAWebsite/CSA.htm) and “The International Supporters’ Club”.

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

The Fans’ Committee operates as an interface between supporters and the club. The Fans’ Committee has been relaunched as “Points of Blue”. It has appeared on the club website as a minor entry under “Fans Zone”.

[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://www.foxsportsworld.com/named/FSW/Index/Soccer, http://www.soccertv.com/, and http://www.livesoccertv.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 #1150

2005/08/25

Editor:


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