Newsletter #1203

The news roundup tonight contains reaction to last Sunday’s efforts, Big Sam doing the business on his international début (and a view from Graham who went to the game), and positive news for the City youngsters.

We have some good opinion on consistency, contracts and the usual requests together with Gary’s latest must-reads for Blues.

Sunderland and Mick McCarthy visit on Sunday, the one team in the bottom 6 I’d rather didn’t get relegated!

Finally, discount deadline for season ticket renewals tomorrow – and yes, I’m still dithering on this one despite umpteen reminders by mail, email and text messages – if only the players could put in the same effort.

Next game: Sunderland, home, 1.30pm Sunday 5 March 2006


General News

They’re in the Money: Who needs to worry about falling crowds and disappearing seasoncard holders? Not our beloved MCFC, that’s for sure. City have announced a pre-tax profit of £16.8 million for the six months to 30 November 2005. The figure incorporates the £21 million received from Chelsea for SWP (Gor’ Bless ya, Mr. Abramovich) and helps to ease the club’s reported £57 million debt. It’s thought City will use around £5 million of the profit to pay off some short-term loans. The accounts also reveal that City made salary cuts of £1 million (that’s before Robbie Fowler departed of course), and increased turnover by 2% to £28.2 million.

No Handcuffs on Psycho: With some weekend papers saying that Martin O’Neill and Stuart Pearce were the top two candidates for the England job, there was a bit of a flurry of speculation when SP revealed that he was working at City without a contract. Some scribes took this to be a “come and get me” signal to the FA, but Pearce seemed to be illustrating his good relationship with John Wardle. It was also a refreshing alternative to some players’ recent perceived lack of loyalty. “There is a contract there, but it’s not signed,” Pearce stated. “Bits of paper don’t really mean a great deal to me. To shake the chairman’s hand and look him in the eye and get an honest answer from him means a hell of a lot more. I feel I’ve got that from John Wardle. To be fair, I’m not overly interested in a new contract. I get paid enough as it is. The chairman has looked after me from day one and a word of agreement with him is fine by me. In some ways a contract wouldn’t be worth the paper it’s written on because of the clauses I have asked to go in there. That’s the way I like to work. I don’t know anyone else who works this way, but it suits me. If at some point in the future this club don’t want me to be their manager, I’m not going to argue with them about giving me a payoff for this or that. I wouldn’t want their money. Likewise, if I am to leave this football club anywhere down the line for whatever reason, I don’t feel that, having walked through the door for nothing five years ago, it should be the case that the club say we want £1 million or £2 million for him and handcuff me.”

Second String Success: There was another successful outing for the Reserves this week, as they travelled to Leyland on Monday to face Bolton Wanderers. On a rainy night, the Blues secured a 2-0 victory thanks to goals from Marc Laird and Ishmael Miller. The game saw Claudio Reyna play for an hour, and Bolton’s experienced defender Nicky Hunt being red carded for some argy-bargy with Shaleum Logan. Despite turning out for the first team 24 previously, Lee Croft and BWP played the whole game. Reyna’s return couldn’t be better timed, as Joey Barton’s enforced absence through suspension means that City are light in the midfield department for the Sunderland game. Team: Weaver; Logan, D’Laryea, Sommeil (Ward 46), M.Mills; Reyna (Johnson 59), Laird, Croft, Grimes (Moore 73); Miller, Wright-Phillips. Unused subs: Matthewson, C.Evans.

Big Geo in Greece Lightning: Georgios Samaras has enjoyed his first taste of international football. He’s played twice for Greece this week, and hit the back of the net in both games. The matches were played in Cyprus as part of the Cypriot FA’s 10th International Tournament. Our new boy scored the only goal against Belarus on his début courtesy of a deflected shot. He was on target in the next game as well, scoring the first goal in Greece’s 2-0 win over Kazakhstan. Meanwhile, there was a pair of City goalkeepers on international substitute duty this week. David James didn’t have long to wait to return to Anfield, as he was part of the England squad that took on Uruguay on Wednesday, while Geert de Vlieger earned a recall to Belgium’s squad that faced Luxembourg – this was the 35-year-old’s first appearance in his nation’s squad since 2004. The Republic of Ireland beat Sweden 3-0 in Dublin, in Steve Staunton’s first since succeeding Brian Kerr as Eire’s manager. And there was a City presence at Lansdowne Road. Richard Dunne played the full 90 minutes, while Stephen Ireland made a welcome full début for his country when he replaced John O’Shea on 48 minutes.

Transfer News and Gossip

Red Mist Won’t Impress Reds: The Sunday Express reported that Liverpool were expected to firm up their interest in Joey Barton after their midfielder Mohamed Sissoko suffered a serious eye injury playing in the Champions’ League last week. Please note that the Express’s story appeared before Mr. Barton was sent off against those self same Anfield Reds, for two unpleasant tackles on his purported new team-mates. Word of advice, Joey; I’m not sure a couple of studs-up bone breaking assaults impresses future employers… Meanwhile, Sven Goran Eriksson’s least favourite newspaper, the News of the World, reckon that West Ham want to sign Danny Mills at the end of the season. It’s unclear whether their interest was heightened by Mills’ performance against Liverpool. In which case… taxi for Mills!

Blues Spanish Eyed: City will have to pay at least £3 million if they want to sign Albert Riera on a permanent basis in the summer. Spanish journalist Ivan Modia said on that there is every chance of a permanent switch – provided the price is right. “Espanyol will not stand in the player’s way but they won’t let him go for £3 million having bought him for £3.5 million from Bordeaux in the summer,” said Modia. “The biggest advantage for Manchester City is that Espanyol need the money because they are in debt and normally Espanyol are a selling club. With Albert Riera they let him go on loan even though he was Espanyol’s star summer signing so they would not stop him leaving in the summer if City pay the money.”

Under the Bridge: The Sun newspaper claimed an exclusive today – apparently, SP wants to sign Chelsea defender Wayne Bridge in the summer, in a £6 million deal. But the Sun manages to virtually discount its own rumour by saying that it’s unlikely City could match his £40,000 per week salary at Chelsea.

Ex-Blues’ News

Martyn Departin’: How do you know when you’re getting old? When players you remember making their débuts as callow youths, announce their retirement having reached the veteran stage. Take Martyn Margetson for instance. Currently at Cardiff City, goalkeeper Margetson is set to call time on his professional career in the summer, having not been offered a new contract by the Bluebirds. The 34-year-old has been at Ninian Park since the summer of 2002, having earlier enjoyed spells with City, Southend United, and Huddersfield Town. However, after sliding out of the first-team reckoning, Margetson is set to drop into the semi-pro ranks. He said: “It’s a shame, particularly as I feel really good at the moment. I had terrible injuries last year, but now my leg and back feel great. I do feel I could go on, so I feel a disappointed. I’ve had a fantastic time at Cardiff and to come back home to South Wales and finish things off has been perfect for me really. I would join a club I could commute to, but that limits me quite a lot down here, so I’ll be looking at the Welsh Premier League next season.” Margetson’s career also included one appearance for the Wales national team, the ‘keeper coming on as a half-time substitute in a 1-0 friendly win over Canada at Wrexham’s Racecourse Ground in May 2004.

Reactions and Comments

Kewell Fools Blues: Harry Kewell grabbed only his second goal of the season to give Liverpool a 1-0 victory against 10-man City at Anfield on Sunday. Kewell struck just before half-time, firing across David James into the corner after a fine through ball from Steven Gerrard. City were reduced to 10 men early in the second half when Joey Barton received a second yellow card for an ugly late challenge on Sami Hyypia. It was at this point that the Blues decided to give it a go, and in a purple patch lasting five minutes, carved out three excellent goalscoring chances. They fell to Beep, Zorro Sinclair and Big George, none of whom could convert. The win took the Reds level on points with second-placed Stretford Red Sox. Stuart Pearce was not that impressed with his team’s performance: “In the first half we did not give a good account of ourselves. It took us too long in the game, and for us to go a goal down and have a player sent off, for us to say ‘we have got nothing to lose, let’s have a go’. We showed a touch too much respect to a very good side. One or two players were too much in awe of the opposition and did not do enough for us. I don’t think we did give them a good game, and too many of us did not do a good shift for me here today. Morally they didn’t want the ball and didn’t hold on to the ball enough. In the main we did not believe enough and we did not get after Liverpool enough, and our best spell was after we went down to 10 men.”

No Killer Touch:

Obviously this was not a spellbinding match for either gaffer. Rafa Benitez,while pleased to win, thought his side hadn’t taken advantage of theirsuperiority. “I am not happy with the final scoreline, it was another 1-0win and another very important three points but I would like to see us scoremore goals,” said Benitez. “We certainly need to be able to finish games offwhen we do go ahead. At the moment when it is only one goal you putyourselves under too much pressure. And when teams go down to 10 men againstus it is always difficult, because they defend in a different way. We becamenervous and they had chances, we were controlling the game better with 11 menthan with 10. We just couldn’t score a second. Crouch, Morientes, Gerrard,Riise, Kromkamp all should have taken chances to finish the game. We reducedCity to a few chances only, but we must start making life easier forourselves in such situations.”

Red Card Rashness: And yet again SP found himself having to discuss the activities of Joey Barton – although at least this time it related to matters on the pitch. The gaffer gave the Scouser one of his laser-like killer looks as his number 8 trotted from the pitch, and afterwards was happy to side with the referee’s decision. “We will go with the referee, if he deemed them as two yellow cards I will have no complaints about that,” said Pearce. “Dermot Gallagher is a good referee, I am not going to stand and argue about it. The individual himself is going to have to learn a bit to win the ball when it is there to be won, and when it is not don’t go and get a silly booking because you are going to miss matches. The two yellows were avoidable. For the second one I do not think that Joey went in to viciously mean to ‘do’ him but the referee is there to do a job. I will back him to the hilt in my rôole as manager. We will play to the rules of the game.”

Happy Harry: Liverpool’s goalscorer Harry Kewell paid tribute to Peter Crouch’s contribution to the win, while giving some credit to City’s obstinate refusal to give in. “It was hard for us. We were ahead but when they had a man sent off it boosted them. City stepped up their game a couple of notches after the sending off. They looked like they had 12 men, not 10,” said Kewell. “They were unlucky not to get something; they had a few good chances. But you must not forget also that Peter Crouch was excellent, he hit the bar and had some good chances of his own. He was terrific out there. He should have had three or four and only David James stopped him by pulling off some great saves. But at least we are making the chances. On another day they would all have gone in.”

Only a Yard? Danny Mills endured a less than thrilling return to first team football, and admitted that he’ll need a few more games to regain his full match fitness. “It was a very difficult game to come in to, but after three months out it’s just nice to be back playing football,” he stated. “At times I felt a yard off the pace but that happens, it’s three months since I last played, which was against Liverpool. Also it was a month before that when I actually did the injury so you’re looking at four months in total. It’s a long time but I’m coming back now and obviously it’s going to take a little bit of time to get that complete match sharpness back.” It’s unclear how being a yard off the pace forced Danny to continuously drift into the centre of the defence, leaving Kewell in acres of free space.

Squad News

More Bucks for Young Bucks: SP thinks that two of his bright young things deserve better deals with the club. “Everything is agreed with Lee Croft financially,” SP said. “I have spoken to him and his agent about football matters. He is quite keen to stay here and hopefully he will be signing within the next day or so.” Pearce also believes that Micah Richards deserves a better contract after breaking into the first team this season. “I want to call him in and offer him a new contract because I believe he is underpaid for what he has achieved in the reserves. He has consistently been one of the best players in the reserves side this season.”

Joe Blow for Blues: Joey Barton dealt City a new blow following his sending off at Liverpool. The midfielder will miss City’s next three matches, starting with Sunderland on Sunday. The Football Association confirmed Barton must serve one match for his dismissal and a further two games as his two yellow cards at Anfield took his tally to the season to 10 cautions, the cut-off point for further punishment. It seems that the club website’s earlier optimism was misplaced, when it claimed that “Strange as it may seem, Joey Barton’s red card yesterday has saved him from an immediate two game ban. The red card itself carries just a one game ban – so Barton will now only miss next Sunday’s home fixture against Sunderland.”

Don Barrie <news(at)>


It now appears to be conventional wisdom that Stuart Pearce is in the frame for the England job. It’s easy to see how these “stories” get started. The England manager says he’s quitting, a vacuum is created and somebody at a newspaper, radio station or a sports website is obliged to look around for a few likely and unlikely candidates. Without any basis in fact or reality, the names of possible contenders are thrown into the public ring. With the advent of websites, news media have developed voracious appetites for rumour, innuendo and straw men. Put it up, knock it down, pick it up again. play with it some more. Whatever: Keep it going, push the story along a little and fill the space. That’s the rule. Anyone who reads the BBC football website on a regular basis (as I do) can see it every day. Anyone who reads the tabloids can see the same.

Pearce’s initial response to the England rumour was the most truthful, realistic and laudable. His apparent 180 was puzzling but now with news he has no contract, it appears he (and his “advisors”) have decided to use these spurious, nonsensical rumours to lever a deal out of the club. SP has proved his worth and deserves a contract with the club. Fine. But that doesn’t mean the rest of us have to believe for a second that he is likely to become manager of England. He is a lively, likeable character but he is also the rookie manager of an inconsistent, regularly uninspired, often under achieving group of professional footballers. If the FA can’t do better than that, England is in deep trouble indeed. So let’s drop it, guys. He ain’t going to be England manager.

My second point:

Those of us who have followed City for many years have always accused the team of being inconsistent — indeed, it’s the most common complaint on these discussions. Knowing we have at least of couple of smart stats people on our subscriber list, I would be curious to know just how inconsistent City are compared with comparable Premier league teams – the mid-level group. Anecdotally, I would suggest that we are no more inconsistent than most but if someone smarter with stats than me would like to prove it, I think it would be a fascinating study.

Chris Cobb <cobsun(at)>


He can’t keep making mistakes, just because he’s young. We gave him a second chance when nobody else would. And now he won’t even pledge his future to City and sign a contract. In fact he has stated that he won’t sign because he wants to leave without the club being compensated if ever he gets a better offer. Okay, so my cover’s blown, I’m actually referring to SP, not JB – Barton’s never stated outright that he won’t sign so that he can leave free of charge whenever he gets a better offer (though I’m sure his agent has considered it).

Considering the amount of bile spewed over Barton’s contract adventures, I’m surprised there’s only been one letter to MCIVTA questioning SP’s contract stance. I guess there’s just some lingering dislike of JB (and not just amongst the friends and family of Jamie Tandy and the 16 year old Scouse Scamp). Fair enough, I suppose, but let’s put the focus of the debate where it really seems to lie – lots of fans just don’t like Barton. In which case they should be pleased that he wouldn’t sign a contract – it means he’ll be gone sooner rather than later. As for the suggestions that his latest red card shows he’s bad for the team, I’ll happily take one bad performance like that if it’s preceded by 5 or 6 outstanding performances.

Okay, back to my usual subject; what is inconsistency? A good performance at Villa, then a terrible performance at Liverpool? Maybe, but from all reports (I haven’t seen the game yet) we dominated for stretches in the second half at Liverpool, and had a few excellent chances well-saved by their ‘keeper. So let’s say one of those chances (or even two) had gone in, but everything else was exactly the same. Would we be saying “SP has got to sort out our terrible inconsistency. We played well against Villa, and then, apart from two good strikes winning the game for us, we just weren’t good enough at Liverpool”? Or would we be saying “Fantastic win – we’re really getting it together now – Europe here we come”? Now I know that a goal changes a game etc., but my point is that while we certainly do seem to have been performing better at home than we have on the road, the win at home, lose away, win at home, lose away record is a black and white version of the ‘shades of grey’ reality. The discontinuous nature of football results (you can only win, lose, or draw) makes us appear more inconsistent than we actually are (and I do think we are inconsistent, don’t get me wrong – just not as much as the results suggest).

And just to ignite a little controversy (and see who got this far in my posting), would anyone who’s very familiar with both players like to compare and contrast Joey Barton and Colin Bell?

Mike Maddox <mwm2240(at)>


As a follow up to the article in and to show how cosmopolitan the City supporters are, last night I watched Samaras mark his international début in Limassol as Greece played Belarus. What a player! Although the pace of the game was pedestrian, he won everything in the air.

In the first half he played wide on the left, being the junior in the forward line although this enabled him to come in to the game as Greece broke down the right and naturally the team shifted over to the right of the pitch, at which Samaras was now in the centre. Another reason he took it easy was that he played the whole game. His goal was a bit lucky but it was on target despite the deflection. Later on he had another chance but tried to dribble through the defence and bring it onto his left foot instead of smacking it in from distance (why, when he has not got a left foot?) In the second half he played on the left until the last 20 minutes when he went up top on his own. He wanted to play at a fairly fast tempo but Stelios (BW) preferred to slow things down a little.

Overall a good start for our young Greek forward.

In addition to Samaras, there were a couple of other players there of note. Stelios, who looked very good, pity we did not get him in the summer. Hleb of Arsenal, very good player, fast and posed a problem all the time and the Rangers defender Kyriakos I think, only on late, no big deal.

Graham Lord <gooch(at)>


I am very, very impressed in the clips of Samaras that Stuart Brodkin linked. I can see why SP was so keen to sign him.

However, I remember what a great player Steve Daley was for Wolves in the 70’s and looked what happened to him after he signed for City.

I’m not saying that Samaras will go the same way, I hope he doesn’t, but let’s wait and see.

Thanks for the link. Good to watch.

John Nisbet <nisbet1957(at)>


I wouldn’t think that Stuart Pearce’s contract status (or lack of it) will overly influence the FA in choosing a successor to Eriksson. They can clearly afford whoever they like, irrespective of whether there’s a club to be paid off or not.

I’d be more worried about the attentions of other Premiership clubs.

Jaz Long <jaz(at)>


Can anybody tell me why homepage features only two players and both are City players – a Rag website by any chance?

Just for a laugh see if you can identify the players from the descriptions given:

Player 1: 1980 and rumours abound that once X went under one of those hoods you get in OAP hairdressing salons, he was never the same again. Whatever you believe, the former Manchester City man was blessed with a do likely to turn Vera Duckworth green with envy.

Player 2: Perhaps not short enough on top to be your classic mullet, Lady Penelope of football seemed to have missed the point entirely. I’m sure back in 1973 there was more than one Parker in the crowd chanting “Yes, me lady” whenever Y was on-pitch.

Answer below:

X = Tommy Caton (RIP)
Y = Ian Mellor

Peter Carlisle <Carlisle(at)>


Following my piece in the last issue, for those interested the Southend vs. Bristol game will be on Saturday, 06 May 2006 at 3pm.

The number to get tickets is 01702 304050. Tickets can be bought either online or by ringing up. Just spoke to them and they said that we will just be able to buy tickets without having to be a previous attendee.

I explained that there will be a few of us City fans going, and she said there had already been a few people enquiring about tickets.

Dave Ford <>


Could any Toronto based Blues please get in touch for meet-ups/match viewings etc.

Many thanks, Howard Stacey <hrs77(at)>


The next meeting of the Reddish branch of the Centenary Supporters’ Association will be this coming Wednesday night, 8th March, at The Ash Hotel, Manchester Road, Stockport, at 8.00pm.

Our confirmed guests for the evening are former City favourites Andy Hinchcliffe and David White.

As always everyone is welcome.

Howard Burr <reddishblues(at)>


Recently I’ve been asked about my writing and which books I’m currently finishing off, so I thought it’s about time I let everyone at MCIVTA know.

Basically, the two main books I’m on with are “Manchester City – The Complete Record” and “The History of Football In Manchester”. Both books can be pre-ordered and all pre-orders will allow the buyer to have her/his name (or someone else’s) recorded in the book.

“Manchester City – The Complete Record” is an official MCFC book and can be pre-ordered for £19.99 plus postage from the City Store section of This book is a new version of the work originally written and compiled by Ray Goble & Andy Ward in 1987, and I am highly honoured to have been selected to write this modern day version. I’ve always regarded it as a landmark City publication. The new version will include over 450 pages; a 30,000 word history of the Club; pen pictures of 120 stars (from Dave Weir through to Richard Dunne); the story of City’s grounds; profiles of the managers; great games (from the Manchester Cup in 1891 to this season’s memorable Manchester derby); and a record of every first team game, line up, player, attendance, and goal.

This book will be published in August, but pre-orders must be made before end of June 2006, and must be made via MCFC.

“The History of Football In Manchester” is my attempt at writing the true story of football’s rôle in Mancunian life. It’s a real labour of love as for years I’ve wanted to ensure the history of Manchester’s League teams is properly and accurately recorded. This book focuses on the development of the game from the middle ages through to modern day in Manchester with particular attention given to City, United, and the League teams from Manchester’s neighbouring boroughs, particularly Bury, Oldham, Rochdale, Stockport, and former League side Stalybridge Celtic.

I’ll be including maps showing where Manchester’s fans are from and which districts primarily support which clubs, plus I’ll be telling the story of Manchester football truthfully and accurately for what I believe is the first time. This book will be published in October 2006.

As with the Complete Record copies can be pre-ordered. The pre-order price is £14.99 (plus £3 UK postage; £5 EU; and £8 world) and copies can be ordered before end of July to ensure names are recorded in the Manchester Roll Of Honour. In addition I will personally sign every pre-ordered copy of “The History Of Football In Manchester” if ordered before July. To order this book send Chq for £14.99 plus appropriate postage to: Breedon Books, 3 The Parker Centre, Mansfield Rd, Derby, DE21 4SZ, giving details of the name you’d like enclosing in the book. Further information or details of credit card payments can be made by emailing <sales(at)>.

I am also compiling an official pictorial book, but that cannot be pre-ordered. Details to follow in May.

Gary James <garyjames(at)>


Re. “Careless Contracts” in MCIVTA 1202. You wrongly attributed Graham “Keller” to this piece – it was written by myself.

[Apologies Graham, it helps if people indicate their full name when submitting the articles so we can correctly attribute them – Ed]

Graham Mills <ride4311(at)>


League table to 28 February 2006 inclusive

                             HOME          AWAY        OVERALL
                    P  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F   A   GD Pts
 1 Chelsea         27 13  1  0 33  7  9  2  2 21  9 22  3  2  54  16  38  69
 2 Manchester Utd  26  8  3  1 25  8  8  3  3 27 19 16  6  4  52  27  25  54
 3 Liverpool       27 11  2  1 20  5  5  4  4 13 12 16  6  5  33  17  16  54
 4 Tottenham H.    27  8  5  1 22 10  4  5  4 15 14 12 10  5  37  24  13  46
 5 Blackburn R.    27  9  2  2 22 13  4  2  8 12 18 13  4 10  34  31   3  43
 6 Bolton Wndrs    25  7  4  1 16  6  4  5  4 16 18 11  9  5  32  24   8  42
 7 Arsenal         27  9  2  2 30  8  3  3  8  9 14 12  5 10  39  22  17  41
 8 West Ham United 26  7  1  5 22 16  5  4  4 17 18 12  5  9  39  34   5  41
 9 Wigan Athletic  27  6  2  6 17 17  6  2  5 15 17 12  4 11  32  34  -2  40
10 Manchester City 27  8  2  4 22 12  3  2  8 14 19 11  4 12  36  31   5  37
11 Newcastle Utd   27  6  5  2 14  9  4  1  9 12 20 10  6 11  26  29  -3  36
12 Everton         27  6  1  6 11 15  5  2  7  8 19 11  3 13  19  34 -15  36
13 Charlton Ath.   27  5  3  6 15 16  5  2  6 17 21 10  5 12  32  37  -5  35
14 Fulham          27  9  2  2 25 13  0  3 11 12 26  9  5 13  37  39  -2  32
15 Aston Villa     27  3  4  6 14 17  4  6  4 18 18  7 10 10  32  35  -3  31
16 Middlesbrough   26  4  5  5 20 24  4  2  6 15 20  8  7 11  35  44  -9  31
17 West Brom A.    27  6  1  7 19 17  1  4  8  5 23  7  5 15  24  40 -16  26
18 Birmingham City 26  4  2  7 15 16  2  3  8  7 21  6  5 15  22  37 -15  23
19 Portsmouth      27  2  5  6  8 16  2  1 11 10 31  4  6 17  18  47 -29  18
20 Sunderland      27  0  4 10  9 27  2  0 11  9 22  2  4 21  18  49 -31  10

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1203