Newsletter #1167

Disappointment and bemusement from Highbury at the weekend with City fans, players and pundits still shaking their heads over the “penalty” incident.

We have match views tonight, opinion on the game and current situation at City.

Many thanks to Mads for stepping in and ensuring continuity of service.

Next game: Aston Villa, home, 8pm Monday 31 October 2005


So once again, clean-limbed, hardworking Northern visitors to the nation’s capital are ripped off and mugged without so much as a by-your-leave.

Things had started so well. We got off the “tube” train (basically just the tram jazzed up), and made our way past what looks like a new shopping centre. Now I thought London was supposed to have all the biggest shops but this doesn’t look half as big as the Trafford centre.

Finding a welcoming London pub (the Kebab and Flickknife), I was disappointed to find it full of Mancs who must have been on the same trip as us. I had been led to believe by the telly that it would be packed with ne’r do wells with unconvincing scars, second hand barmaids, brassy eels, jellied car salesmen and people dressed from top to toe in buttons. And they say travel broadens the mind.

We politely passed the time of day, trading partial memories of another daytrip to Lokeren a few years back, then made our way through the spoils of wealth that is Highbury, to what we thought was a gun museum and academy. This was when things began to go wrong.

We split into two groups: One group of 11 odd disappeared and got changed into shorts, while the rest of us must have taken a wrong turning and instead of being shown to our seats, we were herded inside the biggest pillar box in London. This was not mentioned in the information we received from the trip nor is it on the website, because we checked when we got home. The attraction seems to be one of those wonderful piece of cockney irony, whereby you put 35 quid in a box then sit down and watch socks move from side to side. Now the people I was with had had a drink and seemed in good spirits and were standing up to get a better look at the attraction, but as I had had nothing stronger than a sniff of the barmaid’s aftershave I was a bit non-plussed by the whole affair. Even the locals didn’t look that bothered as they paid up and sat in stony silence for 3/4 of an hour (more money than sense some people).

Imagine our surprise when we got up to stretch our legs to find that Manchester City had been playing Arsenal in the Premiership somewhere behind the pillar box and it was their socks we had been able to see. Well, we felt a bit daft by then but hoped to see a bit more of it later on. Turns out the locals were pulling our legs, as the team they were claiming was Arsenal, was like one of those tribute bands that sound a bit like the original artists but just don’t look quite right. They hadn’t done their research either, turning out in old Burnley shirts instead of that nice Rotherham kit Arsenal wear.

Now as we know, Manchester is no stranger to gun crime, but it looks like it has spread to London. From what little we could see, two of the lads in the Burnley tops got picked off by local snipers whenever they got close to some big old clock. They learned their lesson though and didn’t dare go near after that. We think we heard a goal somewhere nearby, but assumed it must have been from one of the bigger teams like Tottenham or Barnet, which are quite near apparently. As a finale, two French clowns turned up, like you get at Covent Garden and tried to do some kind of Monty Python silly walk thing but it didn’t go down too well even with the Londoners to our left. It was getting dark so we decided to head back the way we had come, back to sanity and fairness, where the only bitterness is in the beer and the only French thing on the menu is garlic bread.

P.S. Talking of funny things that happened to the French on Saturday, I overheard someone saying that “Ireland had beaten the best that France could muster”, but I couldn’t find that on the Internet this morning either. As the Interweb is all based in London, perhaps it is suffering from the same strange things that happened to us.

Still, undaunted we thought we would give big London the benefit of the doubt and we have booked a tour of that Mahatma Al-fie Head and his big shop in Fulham followed hopefully by another trip to the Bobby and Jacky Charlton museum, although this trip appears to be heavily overbooked with standing room only!

P.P.S. Worst of all, looks like City were playing and they lost apparently.

Mike Maynard <michael.Maynard(at)>


Pires’ actual words: “The referee thought I had touched the ball twice, but I didn’t. After I had touched it by mistake, I tried to hit it properly – but by then it was too late.”

In other words, “The referee thought I had cheated, but I didn’t. After I had touched it by mistake, I *tried* to cheat, but by then it was too late.”

Apparently, according to Pires, it was all Henry’s idea. And Wenger didn’t criticize them for it afterwards. Hmmm.

I can just imagine the conversation on the pitch.

Henry: ‘Eh Rober’, why we do not play ze ball like ze Johann Cruyff? We will be supersta’ non?
Pires: But Thie’ee, I do not know what you mean. I am not ze exper’ on ze histoire.
Henry: Mon Rober’. It is tres facile! Just tap ze ball to ze right and ah will dribble it pass ze keeper.
Pires: But Thie’ee, we have ze lead of only one goal. It is tres arrogaunt, non?
Henry: It has ex-seet-e-maunt! Let us do eet.
Pires: Oui oui. ‘ow ‘ard I will kick eet?
Henry: Not so ‘ard. But a little ‘ard.
Pires: Oui oui. A little ‘ard. Tres bon.

I find this implausible. You don’t try on malarkey like that when you are one-nil up against stiff opposition unless you have practised it. It needed to be a nod and a wink from Henry, a salute of understanding from Peres, and all set.

And you don’t practise malarkey like that unless you are expecting penalties. And you don’t expect penalties unless you play for them. Which brings me to my point.

Mike Riley was being honest enough, but the truth is that referees these days without video back-up are a hostage to the most fast-acting fast-thinking players who have ever lived, whose rehearsed cheating takes place in a sleight-of-body half-second on some distant part of the pitch, possibly screened-off by other players. After playing the recording back umpteen times, it looked to me like:

There should have been no first penalty. The ball was well within James’ reach when he committed himself, but Henry taps it out of his reach and then tumbles over James’ arms. But for the clever tap from Henry, James would have hit the ball away and then Henry would have tumbled over him – but that would have been no foul. The tap is away from goal, out towards a goal kick, and offers no other advantage to Henry. Henry taps it out of James’ reach just so that it can count for a penalty.

There should have been no second penalty. Bergkamp had nowhere to go, so he kicks it behind and through Musampa and Jordan then falls through them. If you give the penalty then you have to believe in the possibility of fouling a player while standing absolutely still and doing nothing. It can’t even count as deliberate obstruction when the players haven’t even had time to react.

This one I’m not sure about, but it raises a question. For the Vassell disallowed goal, Vassell is a shoulder width offside. It’s easy to see on the replay because he is touching one of the Arsenal defenders. They are right up against one another. There is at least a suggestion that he is being held offside, which would be a penalty. I have never seen that given, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. It’s basically the offside trap with pushing. If anyone got a clearer view I’d be interested.

So would Arsenal fill their training with canny tricks to swing penalties and defences, which involve holding the opposition offside? Well this is the team that brought you Pires punching someone (Mills?) then clutching his hand in pained appeal to the referee (unbelievable!) and Bergkamp hitting (Sommeil? Vassell?) in the throat. So, quite frankly, they are a nasty lot.

Arsenal have been my second team in recent seasons, along with a lot of City fans, simply because they were the best hope for ManU not winning. And I think a lot of people like to see at least a two horse race. But I’m beginning to think the Red-Faced-Knight-who-cried-wolf might actually have been right about Arsenal.

Bernard Molyneux <molyneux(at)>


The Ref: Mike Riley – Arghhhhhhhhh. Enough said.

Just have to love Stuart Pearce’s attitude towards refs, so cool and charming. He is right because once the game is over, there is no point in attacking the refs like many do.

A game we should never have lost, but let’s move on. The Villains are next in line. Great to see Sommeil play so well; we just need a quality striker, with so many chances fluffed.

Come on you Blues!

Ernie Barrow <britcityblue(at)>


I just wanted to say that, I don’t know about everyone else, but I am absolutely loving being a City fan at the moment.

Psycho has managed to rebuild the positivity and momentum that had waned from KK’s stewardship, and I’m back to the point now where I genuinely feel that on our day we can give anyone a fright. Particularly given the current standard throughout the Premiership, SP couldn’t have been appointed at a better time; with the obvious exception, there are a lot of “big” club scalps that are ripe for the taking for us this season.

I was a bit nervous that the Academy system had had a good couple of years and that progress would stall. But our quality young players seem to keep on coming. I think that Ireland, Croft, Jordan and Onuoha have all looked absolutely ready for first team Premiership football in the last couple of months, and the reserve team is as good as any in the country,

And I love the club’s approach to most things at the moment – SP sending emails to fans thanking them for support and emphasising that we’ll be pushing on; his approach with Fowler regarding contracts. The only misjudgement that I’ve seen is the piped chanting. But I’m relieved to hear that the atmosphere was excellent for the Hammers game. I just wish I’d been there.

Happy days. Long may it continue.

CTID, Jon Marshall <Jon_G_Marshall(at)>


Just a few points/questions unrelated to any previous articles I’ve read in MCIVTA.

Firstly, my wife thinks Stuart Pearce’s haircut makes him look like a Roman Emperor. And last night on the “Fanzone” version of the City vs. West Ham game, the “commentators” were discussing Lee Croft’s hair, amongst others. I seem to remember during the David White era that fashionable hairdos became quite the thing at City (the early hair-gel period, I believe) and that some team members even advertised hair-care products. Anyone else recall any of this?

I do have interests other than hair, though, and a comment on TV about the upcoming Sunderland-Newcastle derby got me thinking. I believe it was Mick McCarthy who made the generally accepted observation that anything can happen in a derby game, despite current league positions. But is this really true? Do teams ‘get up’ for local derbies more than any other game? And the more I thought about it, the more I doubted it. Yes, of course there are famous examples (I’m sure the 5-1 comes to everyone’s mind), but don’t surprising results, against current form, happen all the time (take WBA vs. Arsenal last weekend for example)? Could it be that we just remember the amazing derby upsets more than those against other opposition? Yes, we beat United 5-1, but how many other times have we played them when we were supposed to be the underdogs and lost? If you were to compare the stats on upset victories in derby matches with upset victories against other teams, I bet there’d be very little difference.

Sadly, I don’t have the time to undertake such a task (any takers?), but I do recall a statistical analysis from basketball that illustrates the same effect (some events are more memorable and our brain skews the real stats). It concerned what’s known as the “hot hand” – when a certain player seems to score with every shot. The ball is constantly fed to such a player and everyone marvels at the highlight reel showing shot after shot going in. However, when someone carefully analysed the stats, it turned out that a “hot hand” had exactly the same chance of scoring as it did when it was “cold”. We just remember the odd time that a player has a run of luck. This is like throwing a coin ten times and getting ten heads – the next coin flip still has only a 50/50 chance of being a head (although you might start to wonder if the coin is fair at this point, but that’s a different question entirely…).

I think I’m done now.

Mike Maddox <mwm2240(at)>


Interesting article regarding attendance patterns over the years from Gary James in the last issue.

I wonder if it would be possible to take such information and create a comparison with performance? Our claim has often been that we are the most loyal supporters in the country. Could some statistician work out a ratio for cups won (or not in our case), place in the Premier League, Championship and Division 2 and devise a formula for “most loyal” supporters?

I am sure we would put the barcodes, scousers and trafford rangers to shame!

John Jepson – VancouverIslandBlue <john.Jepson(at)>


Been a while since I wrote to MCIVTA, but I just had to comment on Renato Tubére’s contributions these last few issues.

Renato you are star mate. Welcome to the family and long may you enjoy following the lads.

CTID, Jack Millington <jack.Millington(at)>


Would anyone have 2 tickets for the Liverpool game, 25th November? Travelling from Ireland and rang the ticket office, they say that tickets will only be sold to Citycard holders with 900 points plus initially.

Please email or call 00353 8683 58362.

Thanks, John Hetherton <jhetherton(at)>


23 October 2005

Newcastle United      3 - 2  Sunderland            52,302
Bolton Wanderers      2 - 0  West Bromwich Albion  24,151
West Ham United       2 - 1  Middlesbrough         34,612
Everton               1 - 1  Chelsea               36,042

22 October 2005

Arsenal               1 - 0  Manchester City       38,189
Aston Villa           0 - 2  Wigan Athletic        32,294
Blackburn Rovers      2 - 0  Birmingham City       18,341
Fulham                2 - 0  Liverpool             22,480
Manchester United     1 - 1  Tottenham Hotspur     67,856
Portsmouth            1 - 2  Charlton Athletic     19,030

League table to 23 October 2005 inclusive

                             HOME          AWAY        OVERALL
                    P  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F   A   GD Pts
 1 Chelsea         10  5  0  0 14  2  4  1  0 10  2  9  1  0  24   4  20  28
 2 Charlton Ath.    9  1  1  2  4  6  5  0  0 11  3  6  1  2  15   9   6  19
 3 Tottenham H.    10  3  1  1  5  2  2  3  0  7  4  5  4  1  12   6   6  19
 4 Wigan Athletic   9  3  1  1  5  3  3  0  1  5  2  6  1  2  10   5   5  19
 5 Manchester Utd   9  1  2  1  4  4  4  1  0 10  3  5  3  1  14   7   7  18
 6 Manchester City 10  3  1  1  6  3  2  1  2  5  5  5  2  3  11   8   3  17
 7 Bolton Wndrs    10  3  1  1  5  1  2  1  2  7 10  5  2  3  12  11   1  17
 8 Arsenal          9  5  0  0 10  1  0  1  3  2  5  5  1  3  12   6   6  16
 9 West Ham United  9  3  1  1 10  4  1  2  1  4  4  4  3  2  14   8   6  15
10 Blackburn R.    11  3  2  1  6  4  1  1  3  3  6  4  3  4   9  10  -1  15
11 Newcastle Utd   10  2  2  1  5  5  1  1  3  3  5  3  3  4   8  10  -2  12
12 Middlesbrough   10  1  2  2  3  7  2  1  2  8  7  3  3  4  11  14  -3  12
13 Liverpool        8  2  1  1  3  4  0  3  1  2  4  2  4  2   5   8  -3  10
14 Fulham          10  2  1  2  6  5  0  2  3  4  9  2  3  5  10  14  -4   9
15 Aston Villa     10  1  2  2  6  8  1  1  3  3  8  2  3  5   9  16  -7   9
16 West Brom A.    10  2  0  3  8  9  0  2  3  1  9  2  2  6   9  18  -9   8
17 Portsmouth      10  0  3  2  3  6  1  1  3  4  6  1  4  5   7  12  -5   7
18 Birmingham City 10  0  1  4  3  9  1  2  2  4  6  1  3  6   7  15  -8   6
19 Sunderland      10  0  2  3  5 10  1  0  4  4  7  1  2  7   9  17  -8   5
20 Everton          9  0  1  3  1  5  1  0  4  1  7  1  1  7   2  12 -10   4

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1167