Newsletter #1178

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News tonight on injuries, potential signings, and reaction to the Liverpool game.

Next game: Charlton Athletic, away, 4pm Sunday 4 December 2005 (TV)

NEWS SUMMARY

General News

Not the Best: Stuart Pearce was disappointed that the minute’s silence in honour of George Best prior to the clash with Liverpool was not observed. Referee Alan Wiley followed Premier League instructions in cutting the silence down to barely 20 seconds once it became obvious a minority of the visiting supporters were not going to respect it. “I have no idea which group of supporters it was but the vast majority paid tribute to a legend of the game who gave a lot of pleasure to a lot of people and that is the important thing,” Pearce said. “You have to look at the positives rather than dwell of the actions of a handful of people in a crowd of 47,000.” Meanwhile, Pearce has praised Joey Barton for the way the midfielder has handled himself during his brother’s murder trial. Despite the distraction of the on-going case at Preston Crown Court involving Barton’s brother Michael, Pearce has been impressed at the focus his player has shown in training and has no fears about putting Joey into his line-up. “It is a very testing time for Joey but he has handled himself extremely well,” said SP. “If it was a member of my family, I would not be able to handle it in as focused a fashion as Joey appears to have done this week.”

Bobby’s Bash Brings Bountiful Booty: City held an Annual Sportsman’s Dinner this week, which raised £25,000 for the Youth Academy. Academy Director, Jim Cassell stated: “It’s probably one of the most successful nights we’ve had. Having somebody of the status of Sir Bobby Robson to be our special guest of the night certainly lifted the whole profile.” Dennis Tueart added: “It’s great to have someone like Sir Bobby come here and he was very precise with his reasons for coming. Firstly, to show his support for Stuart, and secondly to support the development of youngsters through our Academy system.” And Stuart showed his support for Sir Bobby: “No matter what club you support, you respect Bobby Robson,” said Psycho. “He’s infectious, he loves football and he wants to get back into it, and why not? He’s respected in Portugal, Spain and Holland, that’s some track record for any manager. Bobby Robson still has so much to give, has been fantastic for the game and is the only manager to take England to a World Cup semi-final apart from Alf Ramsey.”

Winning Again: ‘Twas a return to winning ways for the Second XI, as the Reserves beat Bolton 3-1. The Blues found themselves 2-0 up at half time, thanks to a pair of BWP strikes. Thankfully there was to be no repeat of last week’s slip-up against the Reds, despite Notlob pulling a goal back six minutes after the restart. Fluttering City nerves were eased more than somewhat by Ishmael Miller tucking away a 57th minute penalty. Team: de Vlieger; Collins, Onuoha, Richards, Sommeil; Sun, Laird, Sibierski (Johnson 46), Bermingham (Etuhu 85); Miller, Wright-Phillips (Sturridge 76). Unused subs: Matthewson, Logan.

Mr. James Goes to London: David James has been moving in some high falutin places this week. He dropped into No.10 Downing Street to meet the Prime Minister no less. According to the M.E.N., DJ was there to champion the cause of farmers in the African state of Malawi. Since visiting the country in May, he has set up a charity to offer practical help to the farmers. James said that he was not seeking extra financial aid for the country. “It’s not about money, it is about getting expertise and technical help for the farmers there,” he said. “One of the surprising statistics for Malawi is that the average rainfall is more than in parts of England. It’s how they deal with the rain they get that is the issue. Ninety per cent of the population are subsistence farmers, so for them to be able to farm properly and not need us to give them aid is the most important thing.”

Transfer News and Gossip

Deal Reaching a Finnish? City are edging closer to signing Finnish midfielder Tuomas Haapala. It was the player who first broke the news. “Pearce said he wants to keep me for the rest of the season,” Haapala told Finnish newspaper IS Urheilu. “He saw what I can do on the pitch and that I get along with my team-mates. I don’t even know when I can play. I called my agent straight away and he’s checking when I can play.” Later in the week, SP confirmed that: “He’s finished a two-week trial, he wanted to pop home on Saturday but we have verbally agreed to open contract negotiations with him. If we and his agent can organise a contract, we will take things forward from there. He’s handled the environment quite comfortably, he’s fitted in very well with what we have here and we are so light on squad players that with another injury he’s another who can come in and fight for a place. It’s a big opportunity for him to play in the Premiership,” said Pearce. If he does sign, he may have to wait until the New Year for his contract to be officially registered. His contract with MyPa appears to have officially ended in mid-October with the end of the Finnish season, which means he is ineligible to play for another club until the transfer window re-opens in the New Year.

Is He Worth £500,000 More? There’s been much speculation in the press this week that Robbie Fowler has played his last first team game for the club. The flames were fanned when Robbie wasn’t included in the squad for the reserve game against Bolton – then the papers twigged that, with his contract expiring at the end of the season, it is thought that City do not want to make a further £500,000 payment to Leeds that would be due if he played another two games for City. Rumours in the Midlands suggest that Aston Villa might be interested in the City striker. Agent George Scott dismissed these reports. “There are no problems,” he insisted. “Robbie has been fighting his way back to fitness after a back injury and I don’t think City would bother to play him in the reserves at this stage.”

City Not Keane: I can’t confirm that 48,000 people cheered when this story hit the streets, but here goes. SP has downplayed any move for his former Nottingham Forest colleague Keano. After last week’s supposed Blue interest in the Cork Crippler, this week Pearce clarified his position. “We have had no contact with Roy Keane,” he said. “I was asked about him and I just said we are always on the lookout for good players. That is as far as it goes at present. I am still thinking about it. Sooner rather than later, Roy will go wherever he has got on his mind to do so. If I was him and he had any desire to come to Manchester City, I thought his agent would be pro-active and ring us.” Good point Stu. Plus, the News of the World reckons that Keane didn’t want to move across to City as he feared the reaction of both sets of fans if he went to City. You don’t say.

Blues Spanish Eyed: City and Everton are thought to be keeping a close eye on Real Betis midfielder Arzu with the view to a January move. The 24-year-old is a product of the Betis’ youth academy and has been eye catching with his displays both in La Liga and in Europe this season. However, he is not an automatic choice in the Betis side although he is regarded as a key part of the squad at the Ruiz de Lopera stadium. Betis are struggling this season by their recent standards, lie in the relegation zone and have crashed out of the Champions League, and Arzu could be one of a number of high profile exits when the transfer window reopens. A fee of £1.5 million has been mentioned. Keeping up the Iberian theme – the Sunday tabloids believes that Richard Dunne is a shock target for Atletico Madrid. The £5 million rated Ireland star has been repeatedly tracked by the Spanish giants, apparently.

Tall Stories: Having watched Liverpool in the Champions’ League tie with Real Betis last week, SP revealed how interested he was in signing the ‘Pool’s goal-shy giant striker Peter Crouch, when the player was available in the summer. “I was interested in him during the summer,” confessed Psycho. “But at the time we had not sold Shaun Wright-Phillips and there was no money available.” Tabloid gossip suggests that City will move for Barnet’s goalkeeper Ross Fleming who was understudy to Edwin van der Saar in his Fulham days. And Chelsea and Arsenal are said to be interested in Micah Richards – is he angling for a new City contract or summat?

Ex-Blues’ News

Grayson Shuts That Door on Hendry: Blackpool have confirmed that manager Colin Hendry has parted company with the League One club. Former Scotland international Hendry took the reins at Bloomfield Road in June 2004, succeeding another ex-Blue, Steve McMahon. But he was removed from his job two weeks ago, with reserve team coach Simon Grayson taking temporary charge. Agreement has been reached for Hendry’s permanent exit and chairman Karl Oyston said: “I would like to thank Colin for all his hard work.” Oyston went on: “I am sure he has taken many positives from his time at the club and I am sure he won’t be out of the game too long.” Hendry said: “It has been a great learning curve, and I would like to thank Blackpool FC for the opportunity it has given me. It certainly has whetted my appetite for management and I would like to wish the players and supporters every success in the future.”

Reactions and Comments

Nous Needed: Last Saturday Liverpool earned their fourth Premiership win in a row in a scrappy 1-0 victory over City, ensuring a second consectuive home game without a win. A poor game at the COMS wasn’t exactly a footie fest, and it was not surprising that the one real moment of quality settled the argument in favour of the visitors. Rafa Benitez’s side bagged the three points courtesy of John Arne Riise’s thumping finish from the edge of the box just after the hour mark, and City rarely looked like clawing their way back into the match. SP naturally focussed on the positives in his team’s performance: “If we had put in the endeavour today last week then I think we would have knocked Blackburn over. I thought the effort was top-notch today, I was pleased with that and they tried to do what we asked them. I think we let ourselves down in that we need to service Vass and Coley a little bit better. I can’t remember Liverpool having too many efforts at our goal, apart from maybe the one that went in so that’s a positive for me. We need to be a little bit more clever breaking teams down, but we’ll work on that. We were playing against the European Champions out there. We matched them in the first-half, but in the second they had more nous. We have to acquire that know-how and learn how to keep possession in certain areas of pitches.”

Gaining Control: Rafa Benitez was of course pleased with the hard-fought victory. “It was a difficult game against a good team who is playing well,” he said. “We played well and controlled most of the game. The idea was to control the game in the first half and then later on continue to go forward and make the break. We knew that Harry (Kewell) would be good for us in the second half and we could use him. We are trying to be stronger in defence and after that go forward and score and at the moment we are getting the right balance.” Benitez refuses to give up on Peter Crouch after he again failed to find the target. “We were delighted with Crouch because he played well and contributed to the team. We would like him to score but as long as he plays well I am ok.”

All Change for a Good Aura: Stephen Ireland gave his thoughts on Liverpool’s change in formation, which swung the game in favour of the visitors. “I thought in the first half we held our own very well, but in the second half they changed things to 4-3-3 or 4-5-1 and they gained the upper hand. I was slightly nervous but looking forward to it, but I’m often like that with good teams and good players. Stephen Gerrard’s a hero as well, he has an aura in midfield and he’s a very good player. I’m very disappointed but he’s another great player to have played against experience-wise and for learning the game.”

Squad News

Sun Spots Chance to Stay: Sun Jihai says that he wants to stay with City despite struggling to hold down a first-team place this season. “I have been here nearly four years now and a work permit is no problem for me. The only problem I have is that I want to play games. I want to stay at City and I want to stay in the Premier League,” Sun said on the club website. “I am 28 now and hopefully I can stay three or four years more and then I definitely plan to finish my football career back in China. I would love to remain with City longer if I can. I like the club a lot, my wife and children are settled here. I know Manchester very well now and I have some good friends around me. Hopefully I will be able to stay but to do that I know I have to play well when I get the chance and train hard. After that we will just have to see what happens. Hopefully something will happen in the New Year.”

Not Groin Well for Trev: Trevor Sinclair has suffered a fresh injury setback as he endeavours to return to action. The 32-year-old made a bright start to the season, but was halted in his tracks when damaging knee ligaments in September. He has made two substitute appearances recently, but limped out of training with a fresh injury which is causing concerns for Eastlands chief Stuart Pearce. “Trevor has got a slight tightness in his groin,” said Pearce. There is more positive news on Claudio Reyna, with SP optimistic that the midfielder can return to action against Charlton at the weekend. “We’re hopeful that Claudio will join us this week but it’s a case of a day at a time for him,” added Pearce.

Willo’s Back: Last mentioned in these columns when on loan at Coventry City, Willo Flood is hoping to be back playing again soon after undergoing a double hernia operation. Reserve team Manager, Steve Wigley confirmed on the club website that: “His operation was successful. We’re just waiting for him now and it’s in the hands of the medical people. As is the way with the groin injury it often turns into a hernia and then the double hernia op is needed, but players are normally back very quickly, and we’re hoping that’s the case with Willo.”

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

OPINION: REST OF THE SEASON

We had the Liverpool game on live over here and I can only echo what I think has been clear for a few weeks and what others have said. That is: while the manager has been a real success he has a squad that needs strengthening. I don’t think this is a view brought about by recent results: it has been evident all season. As we enter winter, the current squad seems to have reached a level where the next step up will only be possible with a couple of new players: midfield and forward. This will help the younger players get some breaks.

The downside is that not any old players will do. There is a real need for a strong, creative midfield player, and a proven goalscorer. This will cost money so I see the real challenge as whether the board is ready, willing and able to find the funds.

I want to be clear that I am not being negative to the current squad: it is just very fragile in terms of real depth and one could say real actual quality in midfield and up front. Ireland has real potential but he is young; same with Croft and Wright-Phillips. The balance between experienced players and giving young players a chance is a tough one but Pearce seems very able to handle this challenge. He just needs some money in January.

From 8,000 miles away the discussion about Munich chants saddens me. Such stuff should have no place at all at any City game. Likewise the noise during the minute’s silence for Best (the reports I read suggested the noise came from the Liverpool section). I’m not getting involved in whether a minute’s silence was the right thing to do for Best: he was a heck of a player but that was nearly 40 years ago now. But once it was decided to do it, why do something that only reflects badly on your club?

When do we get Shaun back on loan: like others I am very surprised just how little he is playing at Chelsea. But it was his choice to go.

Very best wishes to all.

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

OPINION: OUT OF THE MOUTH OF BABES

Ever since my five year old son, George, was born, if not before, I have been thinking about how to make sure he follows the faith. We live in Wiltshire, so this is not a natural path for him. I’ve been careful not to push it too much, but to encourage him to want to. Anyway, my cunning stratagems worked, and he asked me to take him to a game, to my utter delight. So I took him to the Liverpool game. Ninety minutes of seeing City live threatened to undo my five years of careful planning. In the second half, he pipes up “Daddy, why is this game so rubbish?” I didn’t have a good answer, as everyone around him agreed. It seemed that he was going to become a Liverpool supporter, but he had a strop today that he wasn’t going to the Charlton game, so maybe there’s hope. This is George’s match report, which I transcribed verbatim.

Manchester City 0 Liverpool 1

I went to Manchester. I watched football and I went to the City shop. Barton 8. That’s my new City kit. I saw Danny Mills and Barton. They signed my programme.

There were lots of goals. Liverpool scored and City didn’t score. The first half was rubbish. In the second half Liverpool scored. Barton played well. Danny Mills played well and Kiki Musampa played well. Stephen Gerrard played very well. I like him a lot.

It was a really good game. Liverpool were so good. I love them a lot. David James is a really good goalkeeper. I like him a lot. David James played really really really really well. He was really good at warming up.

Martin Freeman <martin(at)billycat.plus.com>

OPINION: LIVERPOOL GAME

I also watched the Liverpool game and was disappointed with the whole game. When we do not have Reyna we lack creativity but he appears to be perpetually injured. We need a little more creativity in midfield; that’s all that is wrong. The team is good and when the strikers get the ball they do score. This match had a total of 4 shots on goal, 2 each at my count and they scored one. That is simply not enough shots; too much midfield possession with little else happening.

The team I watched outplay Villa for most of the game on my one visit to COMS has not changed that much, they just played better opposition this week. SP was right, they are European champs.

I remember watching George Best play and he was the most talented player I have ever seen, he had it all and wasted it. We should remember his exploits on the field and, if we are honest, we were jealous of most of his exploits off the field. He wasted the most talent any of us will ever see. We all enjoyed watching him and that will be what I remember, even if he was Red. It did not hurt anyone to be quiet for a minute to support Buzzer’s Buddy.

Jim Heaviside <JHeavis502(at)aol.com>

OPINION: ENOUGH ALREADY

Living in OZ and have only managed to see the Blues 3 times in 6 years.

  • Liverpool 0-3 (Owen hat trick)
  • Blackburn last week 0-0 (not one shot on goal)
  • Liverpool 0-1 (had a tenner on Vassell for first goal, how did he miss that header?)

Suffice to say, you’ll all be happy about this, I am not going again for a few years!

Stu Catterson <scatterson.manly(at)harveyworld.com.au>

OPINION: FORM

We repeatedly hear that this is City’s best start to a Premiership season, but is it?

Season 2003/04 start was equally impressive but the slump started about game 11 (we picked up 6 points in the next 14 games) and we ended up battling relegation to finish on 41 points.

We desperately need to pick up some points in the next 2-3 games to stop this current slump we’re in.

City’s Position

       1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 10 11 12 13
05-06  5  4  4  6  9  7  6  7  6  8  8
04-05 18 10 13 11 13 12 11 13 12 13 12
03-04  5  7  5  8  6  6  6  7  5  6  8
02-03 14 14 10 11 12 15 16 17 16 14 12

City’s Points

       1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 10 11 12 13
05-06  7 10 11 11 11 14 17 17 20 20 21
04-05  1  4  4  7  7  8 11 11 12 13 14
03-04  7  7 10 11 12 12 15 15 18 18 18

Peter Carlisle <Carlisle(at)loxinfo.co.th>

OPINION: THE KNOWLEDGE

I am always interested to read of possible ways of improving the performance of players, particularly if they play for City. Each Monday, the Daily Telegraph, in its sports section, publishes a column called, “The Knowledge”, written by Duncan White. Last Monday’s column had a very interesting article on “ProZone” and I reproduce the main points below for those Blues fans who are interested in the technicalities of the wonderful game.

What is ProZone?

ProZone is a coaching tool to aid coaches and players. Twelve Premiership clubs and seven from the Championship use it. Three clubs use the most comprehensive version. It provides a mass of tactical and physical data – so much that it would take seven to eight hours to get to the bottom of one match. It helps to give coaches some objectivity in their criticisms and to take their temperament out of situations. They are able to base their comments on pure fact, which is indisputable by the player.

How is the Information Assembled?

Clubs are equipped with fixed cameras around their ground. After each game the footage is taken immediately to Leeds, where it is encoded by 150 staff, to enable it to be ready for coaches to use on Monday. Clubs employ a ProZone consultant, who works with the coaches so that they understand the system and are able to obtain the information they need. The information is then shown as an animation, a bit like a Subbuteo board. The animation is accurate to one tenth of a second.

Is There Not a Danger of Being Overloaded with Statistics?

Yes, and this is where ProZone comes into its own. There is no point saying such and such a player covered 11km during a game and therefore played well. Alan Shearer and Thierry Henry, for example, do not cover much ground compared with many other players, but this system can analyse the way that they move around a pitch, not just by themselves, but in relation to the team. At Chelsea, for example, you can see the full-backs are almost always further up the pitch than Claude Makelele.

Which Clubs Make the Best Use of ProZone?

Apparently, Middlesbrough’s Steve McClaren is very comfortable with it and might ask for, say a motivational tape for Stuart Parnaby, comparing his all round performance with the benchmark for a Premiership full back. Bolton have three analysts and they even analyse Academy matches, so allowing comparisons with the first team. Sam Allardyce is a pretty hard headed character, and is not one to waste money on something which is useless!

My Thoughts!

I hope that City have installed this system, although I have not read of its use, and are not one of the eight Premiership clubs without it. Particularly as SP spends nearly all his time during a match on the touch-line, where it is often difficult to get a good overview of the game. If we do have it, I hope that we are one of the three clubs with the most comprehensive system. Who are the eight Premiership clubs without if (possibly MCIVTA can find this out, through a ‘phone call to ProZone’s Leeds HQ?)? If we do not have this system, why not? It is my opinion that the majority of footballers can improve their game by good coaching. The players of great natural talent, like George Best, are few and far between. In addition to individual coaching, there are many aspects of City’s team game that can be improved. We continue to give the ball away too easily, all over the field, but especially from full back. I think that this system would show that and help our players to improve. Our two strikers also get very scant help from overlapping full back runs. If it does happen, crossing is poor. All these aspects can be improved by good coaching.

Many players develop “late”. Lee Trundle of Swansea City is a good example of this. “The Knowledge” this week also has an item on Luca Toni. Now 28 and signed by Fiorentina for 7M last summer from Palermo. He has played for many clubs in Italy. In 1998 he was in Serie C and almost quit. Now he is the most sought-after striker in Italy, with 15 goals in 12 games this season. He now plays for the national side, and has recently earned plaudits from Marco van Basten, that king of strikers who coaches Holland. Luca Toni is a late developer who is still improving at 28. Coaching can help bring out the talent and we should have every modern aid at our club.

Barry Anderton – Hong Kong <PBAnderton(at)aol.com>

OPINION: BEST I

I was beginning to question my own morality about the way I felt about the passing of George Best. How refreshing therefore that I have found other like-minded individuals on your site. If I (or any other man on the street) had carried on the way he did with his selfish, single-minded approach to his social life, choosing to defy or ignore medical advice, then I would expect zero sympathy when I fall off the mortal coil. Instead, we are planning a funeral on the scale of the Queen Mother, with sympathy pouring in from all corners of the world about “a true great, a football genius, will be sorely missed” etc. I was at the academy dinner last night and listened to a true great and a football genius in Sir Bobby Robson. Total integrity and totally respected by the football world for what he has done for football. I’ve nothing against the chap, but let’s put things in perspective please.

That said and done, the commotion during the minute’s silence was appalling.

CTID, Alec Witts <Awitts(at)bartonmeatco.co.uk>

OPINION: BEST II

I read the George Best comments. I hate any City fan who uses the word Munich or abused the George Best silence.

My thoughts were elsewhere that day – I lost a close friend, you may have heard of him, Richard Burns, to a brain tumour – 34 years old. He left a caring beautiful girlfriend, a fantastic father. He had been ill since 2003.

I also lost another friend, Michael “Beef” Park, a rally co-driver in an accident. Two years ago my two bosses at Liverpool Port Auctions were killed in a rally car. It is not funny losing someone.

How would these scum like it if someone started chanting your dad’s dead at their father’s funeral?

We may all hate Man United – but this was a not about Man United – this was about respect. Same as Munich 1958. Respect.

Do we chant “Hillsborough” at the Liverpool fans – no we don’t – so why bring this sort of behaviour into Manchester City’s stadium?

I was embarrassed, and ashamed – why oh why we didn’t have a minute’s applause to drown out the scum?

Richard Stoodley <Richard(at)3739.co.uk>

OPINION: BEST III

I hope that club officials look into the whole idea of holding a minute’s silence before matches at the CoMS. I can understand why we have them if there is some connection to MCFC but otherwise I cannot see the point.

Where is the line drawn? We could end up holding them every other week. In fact only a couple of years ago the club policy was just to limit a minute’s silence to once a season, where respects could be held for everyone associated with MCFC who passed away in the previous 12 months.

Don Price <cathdon.price(at)virgin.net>

OPINION: BEST IV

Regarding the George Best tribute I have to say I struggled at first to see the relevance of having a minute’s silence at City. What’s more I felt that any attempt at a minute’s silence was doomed to failure because of the fact we were paying respect to a former United player. Couple that with the fact that Liverpool also happened to be the opposition and you have a recipe for disaster. I think a minute’s applause similar to those done at other grounds would have been appropriate in the circumstances.

While I have no sympathy for Best’s plight, there is no doubting from what I have been told by people who saw him play and from what I saw on television he was a fantastic and rare talent in the same bracket as Pele, Maradona, Barry Conlon and any other great player you might care to mention.

It’s a shame that some fans are so blinkered with their hatred for United that they can’t respect (whether they agree to it or not) paying tribute to somebody who in his own words would be preferred to be remembered for his achievements on the football pitch rather than his failure to adjust to life off it.

How would we feel if our own great Colin Bell was disrespected by fans of other clubs in the event of his passing (hopefully not for some years yet)?

Graham Keller <gkmcfc(at)ntlworld.com>

OPINION: BEST IV

I have for several years now been the grateful recipient of this splendid Internet newsletter – but I have never been moved to write until tonight’s total lack of spiritual generosity from a couple of readers. Though I only get to a handful of games each season now, I have loved the Blues since seeing them fight out a 2-2 draw with Wolves early in 1962. I was fortunate enough to see them during their golden age in the late 60’s and nobody will ever be able to take away from me the memory of that wonderful afternoon at St James’s Park in 1968 when they clinched the title for the first time since 1937 – and of course United had chased City until the very end. Back home and watching the highlights that evening, I was moved profoundly by the footage shown of Matt Busby (who of course must have been extremely disappointed) making a congratulatory telephone call to Joe Mercer – Joe’s response was “well you’re going to go and win the European Cup now” – which of course the Reds did just a few days later. Manchester ruled the football world during that short time and George Best was its brightest jewel. I was deeply saddened by his death last Friday – and I think of him not only as an inspiration to so many, but also as a fellow flawed human being. As with so many truly gifted people, his genius and his self destructive trait were perhaps inseparable. Long may a true love of football triumph over tribal parochialism!

John Ward <john.ward800(at)tesco.net>

OPINION: BEST VI

Surely there are three key, and distinct, issues as far as the “enforced” minute’s silence for George Best go.

If someone has died, and someone else in a room, stadium, concert hall or any other place wants to remember them for 1 minute, you should respect that person’s sense of loss. Do you really find it so difficult to stay silent for 60 seconds?

There is no question that the man was a great footballer.

The media’s reaction to his ongoing illness and subsequent death has been quite disgraceful.

I think that to any educated adult, points one and two are irrefutable. In particular, I have no problem with respecting a silence observed by others for someone that I particularly disliked. It’s a mark of respect to others in the society that you live in, and your own sense of morality and decency, as much as it is to the deceased themselves.

As far as the third point goes, my viewpoint is this:

No pack of media bloodhounds waited outside Bobby Moore’s hospital room or home for a week when he was nearing the end. Ditto Sir Alf Ramsay. And a cast of others, that dedicated their lives to the game and those associated with it. Even when those who died were consummate professionals, and extravagantly gifted in their chosen field.

The media’s reaction this week has proved that they are fascinated above all else by excess and glamour.

Did you know that Richard Burns, the only World Rally Champion that England has ever produced, and one of the sport’s most successful drivers, died at the age of 34, four years after his championship win and after a two year battle with a brain tumour? That battle was fought with humility, a smile on his face and no fanfair or complaint. This was a champion cut down in the prime of his career. You could never hope to meet a nicer man or a more professional ambassador for a sport.

Burns was granted half of a sidebar in The Sunday Times. Best was given six pages, a mention on the front page, and an article by Hugh McIlvanney.

I’d love to say that I understand why this was so, and give an account of what it says about my society, but frankly, words fail me. I’ve been disgusted by the whole circus.

But the point is, you can know that George Best wasn’t as good a man as Richard Burns, or Bert Trautmann, or Colin Bell, without disrespecting either of them.

You should have spent the minute’s silence thinking of your own sporting heroes, and what they mean to you, and why George Best wasn’t one of them. Not respecting someone isn’t the same thing as disrespecting them.

Jon Marshall <Jon_G_Marshall(at)Yahoo.co.uk>

OPINION: BEST VII

Best had everything a good footballer should have. Great balance, quick feet, and mischevious trickery that could turn full backs inside out.

I saw Best play numerous times for United in the late 60’s and early seventies but I’m afraid that I agree with Tony Hulme. Football is nothing. Life and family are everything.

My experiences of George Best:

Idolised by the masses. Hyped up by the press (they needed something to write about after England’s world cup triumph and celebrations had died down).

Broke Glyn Pardoe’s ankle. I was there. It didn’t look that serious but later found out that it was actually life threatening because of the seriousness of the break. Done by a reckless tackle. You know the bearded b*****d never apologised that I am aware of.

I have no memories of Best running rings round City’s full backs. Both Tony Book and Glyn Pardoe knew just exactly how to play him. And you should have heard the cheers when Tony and Glyn tackled him and took the ball off him. A crescendo of boos from all around the ground (Maine Road, of course), would turn to rapturous cheers that were quite deafening.

Best had all the talent that most could only dream about. He could pick and choose any woman that he wanted. There was nothing that wasn’t in his grasp. Money was no object because when he went out, he didn’t have to spend a penny.

Then he decided to become a drunk. I know a lot of United fans who idolised him and were ‘cheated’, as far as I’m concerned, when he decided at 26 to leave United.

Some years later, around 1989, I attended a sportsman’s dinner at a snooker club in Shaw, near Oldham. Best, Bernard Manning, Joe Royle, and another ex-player were on the top table.

After the meal was finished, we got down to business but when it came to Best’s spot, he stood up for less than a minute because he was so drunk; he virtually fell over. If that wasn’t bad enough, he started to answer questions from the floor. What happened next, I still cannot believe that I heard or witnessed what he came out with.

A ‘Punter’, presumably a United fan, asked, “George, who was a better player, you or Pele?” Best replied “Me”. The ‘Punter’ asked “Why?” And Best replied “Because I’m white”.

(if anyone wishes to challenge me on this with slander, I have friends who were there and can confirm)

You should have heard the rumblings. Some got up and walked out and most of the United fans were disgusted, as I was.

But what made it worse was, although I’m a Blue, I could appreciate the United fans there that night who thought he was God. He went down in many of their esteem. Some of them were friends of mine and were totally disgusted.

Best continued to slur and eventually, after about 5 minutes, Bernard grabbed the mike and took over. Everyone felt cheated.

So Best continued his life of drink and ended up needing a liver transplant. He was told not to drink again but relapsed not too long after his life saving operation.

He has cheated on his fans and now he has, possibly, cheated someone out of a life, someone that could have had that liver instead of him. How would you feel if one of your close relatives needed a liver, and he had got it while your relative died?

And I got sick and tired of people this week saying how wonderful a person he was. Well how sociable was he? Maybe some of these idiots bleating about the ‘Sad Loss’ might want to take a look at their consciences. Did any of you buy George a drink so that you could tell your pals?

So to summarise: a drunk, had a second chance with a life-saving operation and a donated liver, a wife beater, and was offered more opportunities because of who he was, despite his track record, than everyone reading this put together, for life.

But I mourn not for George Best. Best was a great footballer but he died many years ago. Best the drunk, died last Friday.

The scales, Tony Hulme, most definitely don’t balance.

John Nisbet <nisbet1957(at)btinternet.com>

OPINION: BEST VIII

Apologies for prolonging the debate, but I do feel that there were some most uncharitable comments in the last edition of MCIVTAa. Despite having Colin Bell as my all time City great, I have to admit that George Best was the greatest talent I ever saw and he did seem like a decent person who really didn’t cope that well in later life (compare to Maradona).

He had his problems later in life, but if genius and madness are near neighbours, maybe that explains it.

And as for the minute’s silence, it says volumes for the behaviour of those who cannot be quiet respectfully for a minute, rather than anything about the person whose memory they are trying to insult.

Brian Leigh <B.Leigh(at)mmu.ac.uk>

OPINION: BEST IX

Sorry to see some spiteful notes about George Best. Firstly – alcoholism is a disease. It blighted the latter years of both my parents’ lives, and I would not wish it on anyone.

Secondly – I met George Best briefly a couple of times; he lived down the road from us in Woodford. He was a shy but approachable young man; as a footballer, again, I saw him on a number of occasions. He was a delight to watch, regardless of the shirt. Remember him for that. He was an adornment to football, and it was a shame that Matt Busby didn’t have the heart to discipline him when it might have made a difference.

De mortuis nil nisi bonum.

Jeremy Poynton <j.poynton(at)Blueyonder.co.uk>

OPINION: BEST X

I am quite disgusted at the reaction of some of the City “fans” to the passing of George Best. I don’t care whether he was a Rag (and maybe that’s my problem). During my early schooldays George Best was easily the greatest player in the country and I’d place him 3rd greatest of all time – after ironically another Rag, Duncan Edwards, and Pele. I despise Manchester United but I refuse to not appreciate footballing genius.

I will always follow City and look for their result first but as of today I consider myself an ex-supporter. I have always judged myself on the company I keep and I can’t stomach the idea of being part of the same group that has members that would make such asinine comments.

With regret, Wallace Poulter <Wpoulter(at)aol.com>

REQUEST: NET STAND-IN

Quick question. As we seem to go in to home games without a sub goalie, who is the designated replacement should the unthinkable ever happen to David James?

Peter Carlisle <Carlisle(at)loxinfo.co.th>

RESULTS

30 November 2005

Sunderland            0 - 2  Liverpool             32,697

League table to 30 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         14  7  0  0 21  4  5  1  1 12  3 12  1  1  33   7  26  37
 2 Manchester Utd  13  2  2  1  5  4  6  1  1 16  9  8  3  2  21  13   8  27
 3 Arsenal         13  7  0  0 16  2  1  2  3  6  8  8  2  3  22  10  12  26
 4 Liverpool       13  4  1  1  8  4  3  3  1  7  4  7  4  2  15   8   7  25
 5 Wigan Athletic  13  4  1  3  9  8  4  0  1  7  2  8  1  4  16  10   6  25
 6 Tottenham H.    14  3  3  1  7  4  3  3  1  9  6  6  6  2  16  10   6  24
 7 Bolton Wndrs    13  4  1  1  6  1  3  1  3  9 12  7  2  4  15  13   2  23
 8 Manchester City 14  4  2  2  9  5  2  1  3  6  7  6  3  5  15  12   3  21
 9 West Ham United 13  4  1  2 12  6  1  3  2  5  7  5  4  4  17  13   4  19
10 Middlesbrough   14  3  3  2 12 12  2  1  3  8  8  5  4  5  20  20   0  19
11 Charlton Ath.   13  1  1  4  5 10  5  0  2 12  8  6  1  6  17  18  -1  19
12 Newcastle Utd   14  3  2  1  6  5  2  1  5  6  9  5  3  6  12  14  -2  18
13 Blackburn R.    14  4  1  1 10  5  1  2  5  5 13  5  3  6  15  18  -3  18
14 Fulham          14  4  1  2 10  7  0  2  5  6 13  4  3  7  16  20  -4  15
15 Aston Villa     14  2  2  3  7 10  2  1  4  7 12  4  3  7  14  22  -8  15
16 Everton         13  2  1  3  3  5  2  0  5  2 11  4  1  8   5  16 -11  13
17 West Brom A.    14  3  0  4 12 12  0  3  4  3 12  3  3  8  15  24  -9  12
18 Portsmouth      14  0  3  4  3 10  2  1  4  8 10  2  4  8  11  20  -9  10
19 Birmingham City 13  0  1  5  3 10  2  2  3  5  7  2  3  8   8  17  -9   9
20 Sunderland      15  0  2  7  7 20  1  0  5  5 10  1  2 12  12  30 -18   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 #1178

2005/12/01

Editor:


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