Newsletter #1170

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News and reaction to the Villa game, with the usual whinging from O’Leary and praise from Pearce. Don also brings us some good news on contract negotiations as Bradley signs up, and Distin and Barton pledge their allegiances. Injury-wise, Sommeil is out after his clash of heads on Monday night, but good news in Dunne, Thatcher, Sinclair and Fowler all returning to action in the reserves.

We also have match views, a super article on Trautmann and just how good it is to be Blue at the moment.

Next game: Fulham, away, 3pm Saturday 5 November 2005

NEWS SUMMARY

General News

A Profit and a Loss: City have reported a £3.5 million operating profit up to May 2005. The results are £0.5 million down on last year and take into account Kevin Keegan’s pay-off but not the £21 million received for Shaun Wright-Phillips from Chelsea. Turnover was in excess of £60 million and overall debt is down to £57.7 million. The wage bill is the same as last year at £37.7 million. “Our strategy remains to reduce total debt over time whilst balancing the requirements and ambitions of the footballing side of the business,” said Wardle. “Our baseline football objective remains the retention, consolidation and development of our Premiership status and to that end the last year was successful for Manchester City. Our eighth-place finish, missing out on a UEFA Cup place by the narrowest of margins, was beyond our expectations and inconsistent with the indifferent form we displayed over parts of the season. The appointment of Stuart Pearce as manager was the catalyst for a change in our fortunes. His passion and vigour perfectly complements the enthusiasm and ambition of our proud football club. We enter the next phase of our development focused, determined and optimistic.” If you wish to read the full report should visit the club website at http://www.mcfc.co.uk/.

Is Andy Ghana be a Coach? As he ponders his future after his contract ends in the summer, Andy Cole clearly isn’t short of options. Hot on the heels of a possible move to play in the moneybags league in Qatar, comes news of a potential opportunity to get into international management. The nation’s leading intellectual journal, the Sun, reported on Saturday that Cole has been approached by World Cup qualifiers Ghana about a possible coaching rôle ahead of the 2006 finals in Germany. Cole, 34, will hold talks with the African nation on 9 November. “I’m really interested in what Ghana have to say and I am looking forward to meeting them to talk about the job,” Cole says. Ghana also want David Seaman to be their goalkeeping coach but he is expected to turn them down. “We want to give our players the best preparation possible,” said Ghanaian football official Dennis Tawian. “We believe Cole could play a very important part in that.” Ghana, whose star player is Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien, won their qualifying group to secure a place in Germany next summer.

The King Holds Court: Colin Bell’s autobiography was given a big plug by the club this week – the great man was involved in a book signing session at the Souvenir Shop (sorry, I can’t get used to “Reebok City”), and this allowed the club website to record some of the musings of Colin the King. He was asked to compare his playing era with today’s game. “The attitude we had at the time was not just to win, but to do it in style,” Bell said. “It wasn’t just City, there were plenty of other teams with the same philosophy, which was basically don’t worry how many you concede, just score more than the opposition. Sadly, that situation does not exist any more. Apart from the top three or four clubs, everyone starts the season thinking about the amount of points they need to avoid relegation. In my day, no one even began to worry about that until January. But back then, relegation did not have quite the same catastrophic effect on clubs as it does today, so you can understand why they think the way they do.” It was sad to read that Bell and Francis Lee are no longer on speaking terms – the pair fell out after Frank Clark dismissed Bell as youth development officer, and the King felt let down by the failure of Lee to contact him after his sacking, and to attend Bell’s wrongful dismissal claim against the club. “I felt Francis Lee let my family and me down very badly,” states Bell in his book. “I didn’t expect any favours but I feel the manner in which I was treated was wrong. My family and I felt humiliated by what happened. I am reluctant to go into any great detail about what happened during that horrible last year at City. It would serve no purpose now and I care too much about Manchester City to say anything that would cause potential harm. What I will say is that I no longer have any contact with Francis Lee and I have decided I will not attend any function at which Francis Lee is present.” Bell is full of praise for the progress the team are currently making under the Gaffer they call Psycho: “I do not know Stuart Pearce at all but he obviously has something going for him, you only need to look at City’s results to see that,” said Bell. “He has got them playing as a team. They work so hard for each other and he is able to get the best out of every player. He deserves an immense amount of credit for the work he has done so far. I really hope he is successful because those fans deserve some reward after all they have been through. I always refer to them as my second family and throughout my association with the club I have never come across any who are better.”

Captain Fantastic is Top Banana: Sylvain Distin is the club’s Player of the Month for October. SP made the following understated tribute to his skipper, including, if I’m not too mistaken, a call for international honours for Sylvain. “If he is not an international player I am a Dutchman. He has got a bit of everything. He is unbelievable. He’s got pace, he’s got power, he can jump 16 feet. Sylvain captains the club and is a fantastic man to boot.”

Held in Reserve(s): An early goal in each half meant that City were held 1-1 Liverpool at Wrexham’s Racecourse Ground. Micah Richards gave the Blues the lead on 9 minutes, while Florent Sinama-Pongolle capitalised on a Nicky Weaver mistake to level matters (49 minutes). Sinama-Pongolle was later red carded for dissent with 45 minutes to go. From a City perspective, Richard Dunne and Trevor Sinclair made 45-minute appearances, while recent injury sufferers Robbie Fowler, BWP and Ben Thatcher played most if not all of the game. Team: Weaver; Sun, Dunne (Laird 46), Richards, Thatcher (Logan 74); Miller, Bermingham, Hussein, Sinclair (Collins 46); Fowler, Wright-Phillips. Unused subs: Bennett, Schmeichel.

Transfer News and Gossip

Spend Spend Spend (A Bit): The M.E.N. reports that Mr.P will have funds in his transfer piggy bank come January, as he aims to sign a striker and a midfielder in the new year. He said: “The chairman has made it clear there is finance available, like he has always done before. Whenever I have been to him and told him we need a player, and what price we should pay, he has always agreed. If we have pulled out of a deal it is because I have decided it is too much to pay – not the chairman. I am constantly looking at players and drawing up a shortlist of players I want. But I have not made any phone calls to anyone yet.”

Sunday Titbits: The Sunday tabloids believe SP wants 20-year-old Crystal Palace midfielder Ben Watson. The England U21 international has been winning rave reviews for the Eagles this season. Pearce reportedly watched Watson in Palace’s Carling Cup win against Liverpool and also in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Crewe. Elsewhere, the alarm bells are ringing at Fulham over the future of City’s summer target Steed Malbranque. The French midfielder is said to be in no hurry to sign a new contract, and could be a free agent in 20 months time. They must have extremely sensitive alarms at Craven Cottage, as that sounds like almost two years to me; perish the thought this tale has been inspired by Malbranque’s agent to encourage an offer from Fulham…

Keeping Up with the Joneses: Could Pearce be looking for reinforcements in the Championship? Psycho was said to be at Crewe on Saturday, watching midfielder Billy Jones and Northern Ireland striker Steve Jones. 18-year-old Billy has already made 67 appearances in the Crewe Alexandra first-team, while Steve has scored goals at Championship and international level. Meanwhile, City have been linked with a move for Sheffield United striker Danny Webber. Former Reds’ forward Webber has scored three goals for Championship leaders Blades, and Pearce could be ready to move for the 23-year-old in January, according to The Sun. Leeds and Wolves are also thought to be chasing Webber, who is valued at £1.5 million.

Ex-Blues’ News

Swept Away: John Wardle has claimed that SWP went back on his word when he decided to join Chelsea in the summer. Quoted in numerous articles, Wardle states: “It was with great reluctance that this sale was undertaken. Indeed, the transaction was only sanctioned after, to my great surprise, Shaun contradicted personal assurances that he wanted to remain at Manchester City and dramatically, on the eve of our friendly against Macclesfield, informed me that his perspective had changes and he wished to move to Chelsea.” Still, the fee must have cushioned the blow and pleased the banks, eh John?

It’s That Man Again: Good grief, if the sightings of the Lesser Spotted Keegan carry on at this rate, he’s going to have his own News Summary sub-section! This week’s KK-related item has the former Blues’ Boss being linked with the recently vacated post as manager at Heart of Midlothian. He’s in there with some exalted company as well – I quote from the BBC’s sport website: “Former England manager Kevin Keegan has been approached by Hearts as they continue their search for a new boss, BBC Sport understands. It is believed that Keegan was on Hearts’ shortlist in the summer before the appointment of George Burley. The Edinburgh club now want to talk again to the former Manchester City and Newcastle United boss. Sir Bobby Robson is still in the running, but Claudio Ranieri has priced himself out of the frame. And, despite newspaper speculation linking Ottmar Hitzfeld with the job, it is believed that the former Borussia Dortmund coach is not interested, while former Parma boss Nevio Scala has not been approached.” KK’s chances of securing the post receded even further when Sir Bobby Robson was reported to be on the point of accepting the job – all is confusion at the Edinburgh club now however, as the Chairman and Chief Executive have been shown the door by the autocratic owner of Hearts. Well, the MCIVTA “Kan you Klock Kev” campaign seems to have been a great success. Now it’s time to try to find out where another invisible man might be – “Mayhaps Might Macca be Morosely Mooching,” anyone?

Reactions and Comments

The Joke’s on Villa, C/o ‘Laurel and Hardy’: On Monday, Darius Vassell did the classic old boy routine, hitting a first-half double against his former team Aston Villa. City beat Aston Villa 3-1 to go fourth (I say again) fourth in the Premiership. Villa ‘keeper Stuart Taylor was only in the side because Thomas Sorensen was injured in the warm-up and his début got off to a horrendous start when a mix-up with Jlloyd Samuel saw the defender head the ball over his ‘keeper, allowing Vassell to roll the ball into an empty net. The City ace then fizzed a shot off the outside of the post soon after before his cushioned volley after delightful work from Andy Cole made it 2-0. Villa nearly pulled one back when David James saved brilliantly from Steven Davis but City kept up the pressure after the break and Cole should have extended the lead after a cheeky backheel from Stephen Ireland. Liam Ridgewell gave Villa hope when he bundled home Patrik Berger’s left-wing cross on 65 minutes but Cole sealed the win seven minutes from time when his shot took a huge deflection off Mark Delaney and gave Taylor no chance. “It was a good result for us,” said Stuart Pearce. “In the second half it disappointed me – we didn’t keep it for 90 minutes. We let Villa back into it – teams do get back into the game in the Premier League but we gave the ball away too cheaply. All credit to the boys but we can get better. When we have that interchange of passing we do look a good side but we need to kill teams off. But I can’t fault their effort and there is a great spirit in the camp. If we can string 90 minutes together of some of the football we played in patches we will win more than we will lose.” Psycho was clearly impressed with his goal scoring front duo, although he used as interesting comparison. “They are a Laurel and Hardy partnership – they were made for each other,” Pearce told Sky Sports. “If you look at them individually, Darius gives us pace up front, which we were lacking last season, and Cole is clever in the hole. Darius terrorised the Villa defence. He produced a performance full of pace and passion.”

Lairy O’Leary: Continuing the comedic theme, Villa boss David O’Leary said: “The way we conceded the first two goals was an absolute joke. We have been making life hard for ourselves all season. We are not good enough to give away two goals. We didn’t half make it hard for ourselves. We’ve a few players out but I know what’s right and what’s wrong. We made life very easy for Man City. It was Sod’s Law Darius would score,” he continued. “We didn’t sell Darius because he was a bad player, he felt he wanted a change.”

Two’s Company: City’s answer to Stan and Ollie were interviewed after the game. Vassell, City’s £2 million summer capture from Villa said: “The first was a bit of a gift but you still have to take them. Andy set up my second. He was returning the favour after I set him up in our last home game. Now I just hope we can keep it going.” Andy “Call Me Andrew” Cole said there was no secret to their pair’s burgeoning strike partnership. “It is hard work. We work hard as a partnership and work hard as a team,” he told Sky Sports. “I’m really pleased for him to score a couple of goals against his old club. In the second half I thought we knocked off a bit but we turned it around in the end and came away with three points.”

Cry Me a River: Those of us who are Lee Croft fans were rather pleased to see the 20-year-old begin a League match for the first time – he certainly gave a high octane performance, before running out of fuel a tad midway though the second half. Still, Lee feels he’s learned a lot from what was an emotional game for the lad. “I’m obviously delighted, it’s what I’ve been waiting for a long time,” he commented. “I had an inkling during the week that I might get my first start, and then the Manager confirmed it the other day to me personally. The reception I got from the fans was great, and I felt like crying when they read my name out before the game! I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I’ve just got to work at things like pacing myself through the 90 minutes of Premier League games, because it was completely different. You are looking forward to it, but at the same time you are nervous but you have got to try to take your mind off it. I was bombing around at 100mph all the time, which is me anyway! I spoke to a few of the lads and the coaching staff, and they said it was a completely different ball game, you have got pace yourself.”

Or the Cheek of It: At the other end of the age range, David Sommeil endured a less than thrilling evening. Having played with distinction recently as cover for Dunnie, David was injured in a clash of heads. He soldiered on till half time, but was substituted. SP reveals the bad news: “David had surgery yesterday on a depressed fracture of the cheekbone. He will be out for six weeks, which is a shame because he has worked very hard to get back in the team.” As mentioned earlier, SP’s disappointment could be tempered by news that Richard Dunne may well be ready for first team action.

Squad News

Vass Sells Himself to Sven: Darius Vassell featured heavily in the pre-match build up this week – not surprising really, as his past and present clubs squared up at the COMS on Monday night. Villa supremo David O’Leary explained the reasons for City’s newest striker moving up the M6 this summer. “Darius felt like he needed a change and I had to agree with him,” said O’Leary. “I said I thought it would do him the world of good. He’d been coming here for 11 years in the same routine – I think his car knew its way to the training ground. He felt he needed a new environment and when Manchester City came in, Darius wanted to go and it suited us as well. He’s doing well and I’m glad it’s worked out because he’s a lovely boy with a lovely talent. It was a good deal for everybody.” SP meanwhile was urging England boss Sven Goran Eriksson to pick Vassell. “I have been around long enough to realise players who have not even played for England before could be in the squad for next summer” said Pearce. “So to rule Vass out would be absolute folly. He is playing well enough and I have been delighted with him.” The 25-year-old is also optimistic about reclaiming a place in the England squad: “I certainly feel if I am scoring goals and doing well, there is no reason why I shouldn’t get another opportunity with England. Sven knows me really well and knows what I am capable of. We have been through a period where he has looked at a lot of players but apart from Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney, the striking positions are not certain. There are a lot of forwards battling for a place and, as long as I am on form, I would like to think I am one of them.”

Brad Bagged: Mr. Pearce is attempting to secure the City futures of two more of the squad. The Sunday People says that Sylvain Distin is in talks regarding anew contract, which the paper reckons will see his earnings rise to an estimated £35,000 a week bracket [thanks JWB]. And having tied down Stephen Ireland and Nedum Onuoha to new long-term deals, Bradley Wright-Phillips is the next youngster to have a new contract offered to him. Bradley said: “It’s good news all round, I’ve just been trying to get back from fitness and it went well. I knew about the contract, but I didn’t know I would sign it today. I never, ever thought about leaving, I am under their wing and it’s good news for me. The aim now is get a few starts and score a few goals – simple as!” Stuart said: “It’s a case of ticking off the players we need to keep. Everyone I have spoken to so far has been desperate to stay here.”

Loan Stranger: Unlike some of his Reserve team-mates, Ishmael Miller won’t be going out on loan just yet. “I’ve had enquiries about Ishmael, but I think he’s learning too much with Steve Wigley on a daily basis on the training pitch,” says SP. “He’s another where if we build a player to the right age where if it’s a benefit to this football club for them to go out, then they’ll go. He’s a young man who’s learning the profession and learning how to play the rôle within the team. I still think he’s a little bit young to play out on loan. I still think he’s learning, but I’ve seen a maturity in him from pre-season up until now and I think he’s with one of the best teachers that he could be with. To send him out on loan now would be counter-productive for someone of his age and his experience. Different matter with Danny Warrender [currently at Blackpool], because Danny’s been around the place and whilst he’s improving he needed to get out – same with Jon D’Laryea [at Mansfield], he’s 20 years old and he’s got to play first team football somewhere. It would be nice to keep him here in the reserves, but that would not benefit him or the football club.”

That’s my Boy: Speaking after the Arsenal game, Mr.P gave Stephen Ireland the ultimate compliment – he compared the 19-year-old to himself! Of his performance at Highbury, Psycho opined that: “I thought he did very well again. You always worry about how they will handle it, as young players, physically and mentally, and he’s ticked the boxes in both of those in all the games he has played. I think we have given him a platform to express himself as a young player, and in some ways whilst we will keep improving and guiding him, the ball’s dropped squarely in his court now. He realises now there is an opportunity for him, it might be a case of his performances drop a bit and he might have to come out of the team but it didn’t happen with me, why should it happen with him? Credit to him, he’s been extremely good, another smashing kid, a more likable lad you wouldn’t want to meet. It’s fantastic that not just is his football is good, he’s a very pleasant kid as well.” Anyone who saw Stephen’s showing against Villa couldn’t but fail to be impressed. His first involvement was a crunching tackle, while in the second half he played one of the passes of the season with an audacious backheel on the edge of the Villa area.

Barton’s a City Gent: Joey Barton’s dismissed any talk of a move away from the COMS. “I am not interested in the rumours, I love it at City,” Barton said on skysports.com: “I hear talk of clubs being interested in me, but I am happy where I am. I want to help City win some trophies and I believe the club have a big future under Stuart Pearce. Stuart is a great manager and we are making great strides forward. I want to win something for the fans, they have been great to me and they deserve success.”

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

MATCH REPORT: LFC RESERVES 1 MCFC RESERVES 1

We travelled over the border to Wrexham for this week’s game against Liverpool, which saw the welcome return of a number of our first team squad from injury. Line-ups below as usual, with both teams fielding a mixture of youth and experience.

After finally gaining entry to the ground, and thanks to Mr Pearce’s ensuring the Wrexham stewards “sort us out” as we tried in vain to find somebody to open the gates, we had our own private stand from which to watch the action. Fortunately we were on the opposite side and far from the madd(en)ing crowd of kids screaming at high octave level.

In what was to be a classic “game of two halves”, City dominated the first 45 minutes. We began as a well-organised team, with Bermingham and Miller dropping back into midfield leaving two strikers up front and experienced guidance from Dunne and Thatcher at the back. And all credit to D&T who constantly dished out instructions and advice to the younger team members – I wish this happened more often. In the first few minutes an attack by City saw some neat play between Sinclair, Fowler and Sun before Sun’s cross was headed out for a corner. City piled the players into the area and despite a frantic scramble the ball was toe-poked home by Richards to make it 1-0 for the Blues. Poor old Dudek, from European Final to Wrexham in the space of a few months.

Sun was involved in our next attacking move, as he found Bradley who headed wide. Shortly afterwards another attack with a thundering shot from Bradley was parried by Dudek into the path of Fowler, who shot wide. We had some very neat, passing football and the defence easily froze Liverpool out of the game until the last minute of the half when a rogue Liverpool player (Calliste) broke free and sent the ball wide of the left post.

After the break Dunne and Sinclair were replaced by Collins and Laird, with Thatcher moving inside and PC into his place. However, Liverpool came out all guns blazing and took control of this half. Within 5 minutes, Weaver, having had nothing to do in the first 45, found himself under attack as the defence went AWOL and Pongo kicked the ball home (although it looked like a Richards OG from our angle).

With some half-hearted midfield efforts from City, Pongo and Calliste combined to force Weaver into a flying save and keep the points level. Thatcher went off after 75m to be replaced by Logan in his usual left back position.

On 85 minutes the most contentious decision of the game came as Richards caught Pongo inside the area, the referee disagreed with their penalty claim and was treated to a tirade of abuse, which resulted in a red card for the striker.

Despite a few last minute attempts at regaining control of the game, it petered out into a 1-1 draw.

City:
Weaver, Sun, Dunne (Laird), Richards, Thatcher (Logan), Miller, Bermingham, Hussein, Sinclair (Collins), Fowler, Wright-Phillips
Unused subs: Bennett, Schmeichel

Liverpool:
Dudek, Raven, Whitbread (Smith), Antwi, O’Donnell; Hobbs(Idrizaj), Guthrie, Peltier (Mannix), Potter, Calliste, Sinama-Pongolle
Unused subs: Willis, Roque

Heidi <editor(at)mcivta.city-fan.org>

MATCH STATS

Manchester City 2 West Ham United 1

FA Premiership
City of Manchester Stadium
Sun Oct 16th 2005, kick-off 16:00
Attendance: 43,647

Team Changes: Onuoha and Reyna replace Dunne and Sibierski.

Line-up: James, Mills, Onuoha, Distin, Jordan, Barton, Reyna, Ireland (Croft, 81), Musampa (Sun, 87), Cole, Vassell.
Unused subs: De Vlieger, Sommeil, Sibierski.

Goal times: (18) 1-0 Cole; (56) 2-0 Cole; (90) 2-1 Zamora.

Bookings: Musampa (35), Jordan (71).
Sent off: None. Referee: M. Clattenburg.

Arsenal 1 Manchester City 0

FA Premiership
Highbury
Sat Oct 22nd 2005, kick-off 15:00
Attendance: 38,189

Team Changes: Sommeil and Sibierski replace Onuoha and Cole. Micah Richards makes début as substitute.

Line-up: James, Mills (Richards, 85), Sommeil, Distin, Jordan, Barton, Reyna (Croft, 73), Ireland, Musampa (Sun, 85), Sibierski, Vassell.
Unused subs: De Vlieger, Hussein.

Goal times: (61) 0-1 Pires (pen).

Bookings: Barton (24), Vassell (36), Mills (47), Musampa (64), Sommeil (76).
Sent off: None.
Referee: M. Riley.

Stat points: Micah Richards becomes the 1050th City débutant for City.

Manchester City 3 Aston Villa 1

FA Premiership
City of Manchester Stadium
Mon Oct 31st 2005, kick-off 20:00
Attendance: 42,069

Team Changes: Croft makes full début in place of injured Reyna, and Cole returns in place of Sibierski.

Line-up: James, Mills, Sommeil (Sun, 46), Distin, Jordan, Croft (Sibierski, 69), Barton, Ireland, Musampa, Cole (B. Wright-Phillips, 83), Vassell.
Unused subs: De Vlieger, Richards.

Goal times: (4) 1-0 Vassell; (26) 2-0 Vassell; (65) 2-1 Ridgewell; (83) 3-1 Cole.

Bookings: Barton (31).
Sent off: None.
Referee: D. Gallagher.

Stat points: Villa’s goal was the 5999th League goal conceded by City.

Steve Kay <steve(at)mcfcstats.com>http://www.mcfcstats.com/

OPINION: A TRUE SPORTING LEGEND

Thought people may appreciate this, which appeared in The Daily Telegraph today:

Salute to a true Cup final legend

October 1949 and Manchester City chairman Bob Smith has a problem. Goalkeeper Frank Swift has announced his intention to retire. How do you replace the irreplaceable? Captain of England, revered by football fans the length and breadth of the country and a national hero, Swift – who would die in the Munich air disaster while working as a journalist – was a giant in physique and celebrity. Who could possibly fill his woolly polo neck jersey?

Enter Bernd Trautmann, former Luftwaffe paratrooper, awarded the Iron Cross (First Class) for his courage on the Eastern Front and, until recently, a prisoner of war. Tall, blond and blue-eyed – the very image of Hitler’s crazed notion of an Aryan master-race – Trautmann’s arrival at Maine Road caused outrage in parts of the country, until his dignity, charm and skill won over even his most bitter critics.

Fifty-six years on, the man who famously won an FA Cup medal with a broken neck, after being named Footballer of the Year, ‘Bert’ – as he affectionately became known – made a brief return to England from his home in Valencia last week to celebrate his 82nd birthday and to be inducted into English football’s Hall of Fame.

The legend was launched in November 1946, on a makeshift football pitch behind the barbed wire fence of Prison Camp 50 on the outskirts of Manchester, where the German POWs, having set up a thriving private league, were training for their first ‘inter-national’, against local amateur side Haydock Park. After Bert Trautmann, the camp centre-half, suffered a knock, he asked goalkeeper Gunther Luhr if they could swap positions until the injury healed. “And 18 years later, I was still playing in goal,” he smiles proudly. Eighteen years and 545 first-team appearances for Manchester City.

His recent OBE was a nation’s belated thanks for his services to Anglo-German relations, but Trautmann insists: “It’s me who has to thank you, the people of England. Without your help, I would never have achieved the little bit I did achieve. I have to thank my fellow professionals – especially those at Maine Road – for helping me over the first hurdle. I also have to thank the British public in general, the people of Lancashire in particular, and, of course, the people of St Helens Town who were the first to take a chance on me without even thinking about whether I was a German or not. So I thank everyone for their acceptance, for their hospitality and for their friendship. I put this over playing at Wembley, winning a Cup-winner’s medal, Footballer of the Year, my OBE, the Hall of Fame. Being taken POW was the best thing that ever happened to me.”

Trautmann was something of a serial POW, having been captured by the Russian Red Army at Zaporozhye, in what is now Ukraine, the French Resistance at St Valery-sur-Somme, and by the US 94th Infantry Division, near Krefeld, during the Allies’ push for Berlin, only to escape on every occasion. His war finally came to an end in March 1945 when, while fleeing from his American captors, he flung himself over a hedge and landed on top of a pair of British Army boots. “‘Hello Fritz, fancy a cup of tea’?” he recalls, of his introduction to the English way of life.

Even before his contentious signing for City, Trautmann had suffered the loathing of others. Before being transferred to Camp 50, he was held at Northwich where, because he had joined the Hitler Youth – “For the simple reason that, like any seven-year-old, I liked sport and camping” – and had volunteered for the Luftwaffe at 17, instead of waiting six months to be drafted, Trautmann was classified as a Nazi. “The camp was divided in two – east and west – and the supposed Nazis were kept in the west, though separate from the real hard-liners, like the SS. But the football pitch was in the east, so, whenever we played our fellow countrymen would boo and hiss, shouting ‘Nazi murderers’ and that kind of thing.”

“When I volunteered, I had no idea what war was about, what Hitler and the people on top had in mind. After the war, I read many books which started, ‘We knew, when Hitler came to power in 1933, there was going to be a war’. When I started playing for City and was invited to talk to the British Legion, the Round Table, supporters’ clubs and so on, I used to ask, ‘You had the power to stop Hitler, why didn’t you?’ I don’t need to talk about the war, or my experiences, because millions of our boys, your boys, Americans, Australians, New Zealanders, the boys on the Burma rail line, all suffered in different ways.”

“I saw a German television programme once in which they interviewed British pilots talking about the bombing of Dresden. They had tears in their eyes as they admitted how they knew it was useless to bomb Dresden, that the war was nearing an end, that there was no industry, yet 50,000 people burned to death. ‘We had our orders’, they explained. Where have you heard that phrase before?”

The wounds of war were still raw, therefore, when Trautmann left St Helens, of the Liverpool Combination League, to join First Division Manchester City, sparking threats of boycotts and demonstrations should ‘the Kraut ever pull on Frank Swift’s jersey’.

Letters of protest deluged Maine Road. ‘After all the dreadful nights we went through until the dawn came, women and children being dug out dead from under bricks, do City expect supporters to go and watch a German playing football with men the Germans tried to kill? If the players are proper men, they will refuse to turn out with such a man.’

‘As a disabled serviceman from the last war, I am writing with bitterness in my heart. To think that after all we went through, and are still going through, you want to sign a German. I have followed City up and down the country but will cease to follow the club if they sign this man.’

‘When I think of all the millions of Jews who were tortured and murdered, I can only marvel at Manchester City’s crass stupidity.’

Game by game, month by month, Trautmann gradually won the hearts of all through his daring and decency. “Well, the English are a fair nation. Yes, there was hate mail but many people wrote letters of support. A local rabbi even issued a statement saying, ‘He is a decent fellow, unconnected with any German crimes.’ I don’t pretend to be very special but the situation at the time so soon after the war made it special.” So special, in fact, that by the time the Manchester City bus drove up Wembley Way for the 1956 FA Cup final against Birmingham City, Trautmann had become the first foreigner to be named Football of the Year. What happened next, only furthered the legend.

With City leading 3-1 after 73 minutes, Trautmann averted a near-certain goal when he dived at the feet of Birmingham centre-forward Peter Murphy, and was knocked unconscious even while he held on to the ball in a vice-like grip. It would be three days before an X-ray showed he had played the final 17 minutes with a broken neck and that he was remarkably lucky to be alive.

“When I came to, lying on the pitch with City trainer Laurie Burnett waving smelling salts under my nose, the pain was incredible. I couldn’t see properly, it was as though I was standing in thick fog and remember very little of the rest of the game or receiving my medal from the Queen.” Concussed and reeling like a drunk, Trautmann pulled off three further stunning saves, “none of which I can remember, though I can picture team-mate Bill Leivers helping me up the steps to the Royal Box.”

Trautmann would spend six months in a space helmet-shaped plaster, but a far greater tragedy was to befall him three weeks after the Cup final when his five-year-old son, John, was knocked down by a van and killed, hastening the breakdown of his first marriage. Although he lives in Spain with his second wife, Marlis, Trautmann looks upon Bremen, his birthplace, and Manchester as ‘home’. “I have two families, my English family [children Freida, 57, Steven, 47, and Mark, 45] and my German family. But if I could afford to live in England then I would never have left because the people are so wonderful.”

“Before I made my first trip back to Bremen in 1949, the St Helens supporters, players and officials gave me a hamper packed with tinned food, ham, cakes, butter, sugar and an envelope containing fifty £1 notes. They had used their own food rations to help my family in Germany. Their kindness reduced me to tears.”

The nation bestowed another heartfelt gift on Trautmann last November when he was awarded the OBE at the British Embassy in Berlin. The following night he renewed acquaintance with the Queen at a concert given by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, to raise funds towards the restoration of the Frauenkirche, the Dresden church flattened by the Allies in February 1945, which was finally rededicated this week.

“‘Ah, Herr Trautmann’, Her Majesty said to me, ‘I remember you. Have you still got that pain in the neck’?”

Trautmann: The Biography. By Alan Rowlands, Breedon Books, £12.99.

Philip Lines <philip.lines(at)2ergo.com>

OPINION: A SPORTING CHANCE

Sommeil’s injury could work in our favour. Two half decent games, Villa manager praising him. As soon as Dunney is back Sommeil will be back to reserve life. We have plenty of cover and it would be great to cash in. He’ll be back just in time for desperados in January’s window on the back of glowing reports. £2 million to Villa? Plus Fowler and Sinclair to Wigan for £2-3 million? We can only dream.

United’s true colours are showing now. As Paul Hince correctly puts it, it#s part of the turn of the football cycle’s wheel. The only problem United have, is that when they’ve been top dog they’ve p****d off everyone. Now Taggart is showing his true colours.

Don’t get me started on Domenech. What is this deal with Champions’ League Football? I reckon if SWP and Anelka had signed for Shelbourne or TNS they’d be in the national teams, irrespective of their respective dips in performances. It’s just lazy. Thank goodness we have a manager who appears thorough and honest. We now need to sort out our scouting system to add quality to our team ethic.

£3 million for Quincy in January for me would set us up nicely. Forget Malbranque, we’ve got ‘Irish’ to do the bizz. One more top class forward to complement our two new mainstays and provide teaching to Miller, Sturridge and BWP. Keep it going Stu, I’m right behind you!

Get your money on Ladbrokes whilst we’re still 750-1 for the league. Definitely worth a punt. Everyone else has us at 250.

Bring on Fulham… second at tea time if Wigan don’t win.

Dave Clinton <daveclinton(at)kisit.co.uk>

OPINION: TRAINING ESSENTIALS

In reaction to PB Anderton (MCIVTA 1169), I very much agree with his view that there is a lot to win by sometimes even very little facts in football games. And any team should at least try these hypotheses on the training ground, ’cause that’s (partially) what they’re there for. One of the best side effects of these theories is they make great discussion in the pub (or on e-mail). Let me give you a couple we’ve discussed in Holland over the past few years:

Nottingham’s favourite Pierre van Hooijdonk was once taking a free kick, just outside the penalty area, when he noticed there was no opposing line of defenders. This clearly meant a better view of the ball and its possible curve for the goalkeeper and less chance for deflections. (that’s one to think of). Pierre’s reaction was pretty quick as well, since he put five of his own team mates in front of the ball forming this line, only to block the goalkeeper’s sight. So, nice thought, but easily countered.

Johan Cruijff obviously had a couple as well. One is where he states to always fire the first free kick a team gets as hard as you can right into a blocking defender. The result will be, in his eyes, on any following opportunity the defenders will jump up, be less concentrated on the ball, or too focussed on protecting their own body parts, so that the free kick will have more chance.

A small one from the Maestro as well is the way he used to let throw-ins be taken by his worst player (on that side) of the pitch. For the simple reason that the other ten were more capable of doing good things with the ball, or even keeping it in the team’s possession.

The last one I want to share with you is where he told a kid in the youth team, Richard Witsche, who later in his career played exactly one game for Blackburn Rovers, to speed up the game by simply passing every ball a couple of feed in front of the player instead of playing directly at him. This cost Witsche a lot of stress in the beginning, cause nobody was expecting the ball where he was passing, but after several weeks made his teams play a lot faster and thus better, less predictable and more effective.

As I said, the very least is a great discussion about the great game of football.

Frank Heukels <frank.heukels(at)ns.nl>

OPINION: THE HOARY CHESTNUT

I enjoyed the match immensely on Monday night, as I have all our games this season; we really seem to have found a great mixture of youth, committed senior players and of course management.

However, there is one aspect of life at Eastlands and Maine Road previously, which absolutely appals and embarrasses me as a City fan. I’m talking about the singing of the “Munich” song!

Does anyone in their right mind really think that the glorification of death is something that is witty? Do they think that Andy Cole or Peter Schmeichel get a warm feeling when they pronounce that “He isn’t a Munich any more”?

I’m not going to go down the route of labouring the point that City personnel, as well as many other people died in that aircrash, because it just doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the morons who sing this song are celebrating people’s deaths.

Would they like it if I came to the funeral of maybe one of their parents, and started chanting “you’re not singing any more”?

There are big campaigns in football at the moment that aim to stamp out racism. To me, this song is as obscene as making monkey noises or throwing bananas at black players.

Before anyone accuses me of being a United infiltrater or sympathiser, let me say that I stood on the Terrace at St James Park when City last won the championship and the Newcastle fans all stayed behind to applaud our team. And I stood on my seat at Wembley with my head in my hands when we were 2-0 down with 10 minutes to play. At both those times, and in all the years in-between, good or bad, I have been proud to support City, but these people embarrass me.

There are many ways to irk United supporters, let’s face it, they’re c**p at the moment, but for God’s sake, singing that song just brings shame on the people who sing it and the club that they say they support.

I’m sure that lots of other City fans are of the same mind. I would like to start a campaign through this journal to try to stamp out this song. Shout it down, boo it, do anything to stop these idiots bringing shame on our club.

Please think about this!

[Spot on Phil, the majority of idiots singing this song were not even born when the Munich Air disaster happened. If they stopped to think (difficult for some of them, granted} then they may realise that young players and an ex City player amongst others lost their lives. It’s not big, it’s not clever and I agree that they are a disgrace. This topic raises its head every few years, it’s a sad indictment of some sections of our “support” that they continue with it – Ed]

Keep the faith, Phil <XPHILLEE(at)aol.com>

OPINION: JAMES

As a long-suffering Blues fan, it’s a treat to watch City on the box here in Toronto.

I was proud of their performance against Arsenal and their win against Aston Villa with what, five Academy graduates in the line-up.

The one aspect of the team that does concern me is David James’ inability to deal with crosses. He’s a great shot-stopper but he gets consistently caught out on free kicks and crosses. They way he flapped at Villa’s goal was a prime example. His kicking could improve also.

I’d still take him over most of the Premiership goalies but he needs to tighten up his aerial skills if he wants to get back in the England team. The way Paul Robinson has been playing of late, the job is open for him if he can show a little more consistncy.

True Blue, Keith Sharp – Toronto, Canada <keith(at)accessmag.com>

OPINION: THE END? IT’S JUST THE BEGINNING I

Things are just getting better and better aren’t they? Youngsters coming through just like we all wanted last season, and proving themselves worthy of the shirt. A team ethic with core values of teamwork, hard work and skill. A growing strike partnership that shows real understanding and sharing. I just can’t wait for the next match, not like last season when I dreaded the prospect.

Just some thoughts about one or two things. Firstly, the piped music. I heard it for the first time last night as the team was announced and it wasn’t bad – quite built up the atmosphere, like that organ music at baseball matches. But why has the announcement of the away team been stopped? It seems a bit churlish to me.

And when are we going to get some new songs to sing? ‘We’re not really here’ was alright for a season or two, but it’s lost its relevance now, don’t you think? Perhaps an update? ‘We’re all at home, watching this on Sky TV’ or something. And an opportunity missed last night, I thought, for a quick round of ‘Gone trick or treating, you should’ve gone trick or treating’ – who knows when the chance for that one will ever come again!

Last point, as a follow-up to Barry Anderton’s post about corners and set pieces. When are the throw-ins going to get sorted out? I could count on the fingers of one foot the number of times we kept possession from a throw-in last night. Just keep them simple, get the ball back into play and keep hold of the ball.

That’s all, folks.

Graeme Nicholson <bensongarth(at)btconnect.com>

OPINION: THE END? IT’S JUST THE BEGINNING II

Regarding Don Price’s comments in MCIVTA 1169. I for one have thoroughly enjoyed this season so far. We finally seem to be making the ground our own now with both the results and overall atmosphere improving considerably on previous seasons.

For once we seem to have a team that collectively wants to work hard to achieve its goals. Even David Sommeil has come in and looked the part and looks a useful member of the squad when I would have said let him go during the summer.

Personally I think it’s a shame that we haven’t yet had a 45,000+ crowd this season. The quality far outweighs what we’ve had to endure at times since moving to Eastlands and I’m sure some of the “part-time” supporters could make more effort.

Yes, the club could do more, particularly in cup games (if only we were in a cup comp!) and nothing grates me more than the stewards who constantly peck at our heads to sit down when we’re trying to get behind the team.

But let’s be happy at being where we are and more importantly fill the ground each week to encourage what is the most promising team and manager for some time.

Graham Keller <gkmcfc(at)ntlworld.com>

OPINION: DIFFERENT GAME?

John Nisbet’s comments in MCIVTA 1169, were you and I watching the same game?

Musampa was godawful again and he left Jordan alone too often as he drifted all over the park. He hasn’t the pace to skin anyone and thinks he is about ten times cleverer than his feet can deliver. Cole was friggin dynamic last night and all strikers in the league could benefit from watching how to play as a part of a team and not some overpaid, overpriced, over-inflated glory hound. And as for no disruption, when did Villa get back into the game? After the change, right? The goal was a bit lucky but it came in the middle of a good fifteen minutes of pressure, Mills in the centre really disrupted our balance and the lack of a proper centre back was painfully obvious. And as happy as I am to see five academy players getting a game, this was a game of two players: Distin and Vassell.

Anyway, it was a good win and while far from our best, it should give SP a good deal of heart to know that City can play even better still.

Nic Ranson <bluemanx(at)dodo.com.au>

OPINION: STEWARDING

Atmosphere much better and more relaxed in the South/Key 103 stand last night (Villa). Stewards only coming in to unblock aisles. Much nicer and enjoyed the game without 90 minutes of hassle from SHOWSEC stewards as per normal games, which was ruining it for me and everyone who sits near me. Lots of talk about not renewing season tickets because of this, especially with 4 or 5 thousand empty seats at every game, a season ticket is now not a necessity: club take note! The demand has gone, so has the stranglehold over season ticket holders and maybe we will become top priority once again and not be taken for granted. I will be renewing as usual but seems that lots won’t be. The fans in the South stand create a lot of the atmosphere; make us sit and God only knows how quiet it will get. Keep the stewards away, we stand safe. Move anyone who wants to sit to the empty seats! The opportunity is there now.

Mark Redgrave <leaguecup1976(at)aol.com>

OPINION: “OUR CITY” CAMPAIGN

I’ve seen it noted in quite a few places that the ASA received 5 complaints about the Our City campaign, but none of them note what the complaints actually were.

Does anyone know what the complaints were, or what they are likely to have been. I can’t imagine that the ASA would even acknowledge complaints along the lines of “I don’t like it ’cause it’s mean to ManU fans”, but I can’t imagine what sort of substantial complaint could have been made – obscene use of the colour blue? Offensive font?

Alastair Rainsbury <news(at)rainsbury.com>

REQUEST: FULHAM TICKETS

Desperately seeking 2 tickets for Fulham. If you can help please call 020 7483 4413 (h) or 0790 873 8897 (m) or email.

Thanks, Simon Hope <simonjhope(at)hotmail.com>

REQUEST: SINGAPORE BLUES

Any Singapore Blues fancy meeting up for a beer and a chat next week?

I am working in Singapore next week, arriving Tuesday and leave on Sunday evening, although somewhere during those five nights I have to fit in an overnight trip out of town.

It would be good to meet up if it could be fixed, drop me an e-mail if it could be possible.

Brian Coll <bc.coll(at)virgin.net>

REQUEST: DENTON BLUES

The next meeting for Denton OSC will be on Monday 14th November, 8pm at Denton Con Club, when our very special guests are Colin Bell and Ian Cheeseman. They will be doing a Q&A session, and you will also have the opportunity to get hold of Colin’s recently released autobiography “Reluctant Hero”.

Please contact me for further details.

Heidi <editor(at)mcivta.city-fan.org>

REQUEST: VILLA RECORDING

I would be really grateful if anyone is able to supply me with a tape/DVD of the Villa game. After all, how long is it since we’ve been able to relax and be confident about City winning home games?

Peter Kewley <peterdk(at)email.com>

RESULTS

31 October 2005

Manchester City       3 - 1  Aston Villa           42,069

League table to 02 November 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         11  6  0  0 18  4  4  1  0 10  2 10  1  0  28   6  22  31
 2 Wigan Athletic  10  4  1  1  6  3  3  0  1  5  2  7  1  2  11   5   6  22
 3 Tottenham H.    11  3  2  1  6  3  2  3  0  7  4  5  5  1  13   7   6  20
 4 Manchester City 11  4  1  1  9  4  2  1  2  5  5  6  2  3  14   9   5  20
 5 Bolton Wndrs    11  3  1  1  5  1  3  1  2  8 10  6  2  3  13  11   2  20
 6 Charlton Ath.   10  1  1  3  4  7  5  0  0 11  3  6  1  3  15  10   5  19
 7 Manchester Utd  10  1  2  1  4  4  4  1  1 11  7  5  3  2  15  11   4  18
 8 Arsenal         10  5  0  0 10  1  0  2  3  3  6  5  2  3  13   7   6  17
 9 West Ham United 10  3  1  1 10  4  1  2  2  4  6  4  3  3  14  10   4  15
10 Newcastle Utd   11  2  2  1  5  5  2  1  3  6  5  4  3  4  11  10   1  15
11 Middlesbrough   11  2  2  2  7  8  2  1  2  8  7  4  3  4  15  15   0  15
12 Blackburn R.    11  3  1  1  6  4  1  1  4  5 10  4  2  5  11  14  -3  14
13 Liverpool        9  3  1  1  5  4  0  3  1  2  4  3  4  2   7   8  -1  13
14 Portsmouth      11  0  3  2  3  6  2  1  3  8  7  2  4  5  11  13  -2  10
15 Fulham          11  2  1  2  6  5  0  2  4  4 10  2  3  6  10  15  -5   9
16 Aston Villa     11  1  2  2  6  8  1  1  4  4 11  2  3  6  10  19  -9   9
17 West Brom A.    11  2  0  4  8 12  0  2  3  1  9  2  2  7   9  21 -12   8
18 Everton         10  0  1  3  1  5  2  0  4  2  7  2  1  7   3  12  -9   7
19 Birmingham City 11  0  1  5  3 10  1  2  2  4  6  1  3  7   7  16  -9   6
20 Sunderland      11  0  2  4  6 14  1  0  4  4  7  1  2  8  10  21 -11   5

With thanks to Football 365

MCIVTA FAQ [v0506.02]

[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://mcfc.videoloungetv.com/do/preLogin?clubSiteCode=MCFC&CMP=AFC-003.

[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 #1170

2005/11/03

Editor:


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