Newsletter #1210

Our visit to Chelsea threw up no great surprises: Drogba was his usual cheating self, admitting it later, and @rseTiles proving once again just what an incompetent referee he is. The authorities have really got to start to act on cheats, and officials who are ruining the game. More disappointing, for me, was Distin’s needless booking.

We have plenty of opinion on the integrity of match officials, the state of the game, and where City go from here.

Finally, a thought to throw in the mix. Given that Pearce has (finally) signed his rolling contract, I’ve been wondering about the situation. Are the board unsure of his credentials, or showing a lack of strategy and forward planning? Remember we had an infamous 5 year plan with Keegan. Or is Pearce not committed to the Club? Either way we’re not tied in to ridiculous compensation deals as with his predecessor, but it looks like a temporary solution to me. I’d appreciate others’ views on that one.

Next game: Middlesbrough, home, 3pm Sunday 2 April 2006


FA Cup 5th Round Replay
Manchester City 2 Aston Villa 1
City of Manchester Stadium
Tuesday March 14th 2006, Kick-off 19:45
Attendance: 33,006.

Team Changes: Riera replaces Reyna in the starting line-up.

Line-up: James, Sun, Dunne, Richards, Jordan, Sinclair, Barton, Musampa, Riera, Samaras (Sibierski, 46), Vassell (B. Wright-Phillips, 89).
Unused subs: Weaver, Sommeil, Reyna.

Goal times: (17) 1-0 Samaras; (48) 2-0 Vassell; (85) 2-1 Davis.

Bookings: Samaras (34), Riera (46), Musampa (74).
Sent off: None.
Referee: P. Dowd.

Stats points: This was only City’s 3rd ever home FA Cup tie on a Tuesday. The others were Jan 12th 1988 (0-0 vs. Huddersfield) and Dec 15th 1998 (1-0 aet vs. Darlington).

FA Premiership
Manchester City 0 Wigan Athletic 1
City of Manchester Stadium
Sat Mar 18th 2006, Kick-off 15:00
Attendance: 42,444.

Team Changes: Eight changes to the starting line-up, with only James, Sun and Sinclair surviving. First League start for Bradley Wright-Phillips.
Line-up: James, Mills, Sommeil, Distin, Thatcher, Sinclair, Ireland, Reyna (Croft, 66), Sun, Sibierski (Samaras, 27 [Miller, 61]), B. Wright-Phillips.
Unused subs: Weaver, Richards.

Goal times: (55) 0-1 McCulloch.
Bookings: B. Wright-Phillips (33), Mills (65).
Sent off: None.
Referee: M. Atkinson.

Stats points: Ishmael Miller becomes the 1053rd City débutant. Bradley Wright-Phillips makes his long-awaited first League start. Danny Mills’ 50th appearance.

FA Cup 6th Round
Manchester City 1 West Ham United 2
City of Manchester Stadium
Mon Mar 20th 2006 Kick-off 20:05
Attendance: 39,357.

Team Changes: Seven changes with James, Distin, Sun and Wright-Phillipsremaining from the Wigan game.

Line-up: James, Richards, Dunne, Distin, Jordan (Sommeil, 25), Sun, Barton (Ireland, 79), Riera, Musampa, B. Wright-Phillips (Croft, 73), Vassell.
Unused subs: Weaver, Miller.

Goal times: (41) 0-1 Ashton; (69) 0-2 Ashton; (85) 1-2 Musampa.
Bookings: Riera (36).
Sent off: Sun (56).
Referee: H. Webb.

Stats points: Only City’s 3rd FA Cup match on a Monday.

FA Premiership
Chelsea 2 Manchester City 0
Stamford Bridge
Sat Mar 25th 2006, Kick-off 15:00
Attendance: 42,321.

Team Changes: Sommeil, Mills, Thatcher, Flood and Ireland replace Jordan,Barton, Sun, Riera and Wright-Phillips. Matthew Mills makes début from thebench.

Line-up: James, D. Mills (M. Mills, 85), Dunne, Distin, Sommeil (Riera, 46), Thatcher, Flood, Richards, Musampa, Ireland (Croft, 74), Vassell.
Unused subs: Weaver, B. Wright-Phillips.

Goal times: (30) 0-1 Drogba; (33) 0-2 Drogba.
Bookings: D. Mills (24), Distin (35), Musampa (35), Distin (45).
Sent off: Distin (45).
Referee: R. Styles.

Stats points: Matthew Mills becomes the 1054th City débutant. Third League defeat on the trot.

Opinion: When will cheats like Drogba be thrown out of football? More Barton comments make it even more important that we rid ourselves of his type. Why does he not just keep his mouth shut?

Steve Kay <steve(at)>


To Jim Heaviside, I for one am not becoming negative because we lost due to a weakened team. We had enough players out there to have won that game and we actually came pretty close to doing so.

I agree, we can’t blame a weakened team but we weren’t weakened against Portsmouth, or Everton or any other ridiculous defeat this season where with total effort, like we had at the end of last season, we could, and should, have taken points.

When this team plays, it can beat any team in the league. If that’s the case, then I’m sorry, the loss of points and Cup status is not down to strength of team, it down to individuals playing when they feel like it and on Monday we needed the senior players to stand up and be strong, and the replacements to come in and say, I want this shirt, I’m having it.

Our so-called leader, Barton, did what he always does when the job gets a bit hard. He disappears. Not good enough and typifies the attitude throughout the team. The only one who appears to continue giving everything is Musampa. Like him or hate him, he always tries and has some good ability to go with it.

Stuart Pearce has worked miracles to get this team to play the way that they can but when you set a standard, 3-1 against United, then you have to achieve that standard week in and week out. I wonder how United fans feel having been beaten by a team that loses to teams like WBA, Portsmouth, etc, and make hard work of beating the likes of Sunderland.

The team does need strengthening, we know that, but the existing squad is capable of much better than they are delivering. It’s time to start doing it!

If you hide behind the excuse that the team was weakened because of injury, then you have accepted mediocrity and City have had that for many years now. I for one, have had enough. I want some cups to shut those gloating Red b*****ds up. And we ain’t going to get them with the attitude of this bunch of players.

It’s now up to Wardle to provide the funds to give Pearce a chance to be able to say to the squad, do it or you are out. There are replacements.

When an athlete is running to the line and they only have to put that last little bit in to win, go through that pain barrier and sometimes it’s not even pain, it’s psychological, that is what is missing (Middlesbrough at home last season).

John Nisbet <nisbet1957(at)>


The harsh reality is that we cannot afford a big clearout, and we don’t have the depth to release players we cannot replace. At least this what we are told.

We may have weaknesses around the park, but we are generally competitive when the main players are fit. The glaring problem for me is the lack of a truly creative playmaker in the middle of the park. I think Graveson would be excellent, and I hope we land him, but he is not the solution in himself.

I do not want to fly the Kinkladze banner again (although he is my all time favourite), but a player of his ilk would be the answer to a lot of our problems. Someone who can make something out of nothing. They do exist, but they are not cheap. The question is “How much is success a real priority?” The current administration is doing an excellent job with the management of the club, but if we are satisfied with survival, then we can aim for 40 points each year, and kid ourselves about a cup run every 3 or 4 years. Personally, I am fed up with our ‘also-ran’ attitude. Let’s take a risk or two. Success on the field will secure success in the accounts department. Let’s buy ourselves a couple of truly top class players who can turn the club around that last corner – the one with European qualification written on it.

Spurs are a classic example of a club with a similar past to ours. They have taken a few risks, and all of a sudden they look like UEFA Cup prospects. The Academy is responsible for some terrific kids coming through, but they will need some top quality senior players to turn them into what we need in order to be a top club.

Lastly, let’s put this season and SP into perspective. He has done really well, and I am delighted with his whole approach to the job. Now give the tradesman some tools to work with.

P.S. Joey Barton can kiss my a#@*!

Blue to the core, Adrian Kenny <midasb(at)>


It seems to me, looking from afar mind you, that the famous term for Stuart Pearce has left him. Laughing off a handball that led to a goal, I’d be ‘spitting tacks’, and what is this thing about praising managers (usually before they beat us)?

I know that you couldn’t to anything about the goal, but at least show some of that passion you show on the sideline. Maybe you need to listen to the Sex Pistols again!

Reading all these comments (whether reported right or not), I wonder at times where that passion has gone, or is it managing Manchester City that does it to you? Show some of that passion (anger?) again, and get the team to do the same, then we may be proud of that famous blue shirt again.

Kevin Williamson <scribbs(at)>


How things have changed in just a few weeks! Not very long ago I can remember looking forward to the last 10 to 12 matches of the season with some enthusiasm, we had just bought a tall, skilful centre forward, were doing reasonably well in the league and still in the FA Cup, with Pearce being touted as the new saviour of the England football team. Then, one after another we have loss after loss, injury after injury and the “true” colours of some of our senior players was emerging. In difficult times, one sees character or perhaps more correctly, lack of character; these last 10 days have highlighted all the inadequacies of the MCFC playing staff.

I had recently penned a few lines in MCIVTA re: my opinions of certain players, and in hindsight, most of these have been pretty correct. The woeful displays vs. Wigan and then more importantly vs. WHUFC, left me in despair, especially with our forthcoming trip away to Chelsea. We just do not have adequate back up, and some of the “big” name players are just not good enough, whilst our attack seems to be woeful to say the least. BWP is just not good enough in the Premiership and has to be sent out on loan to a Coca Cola League side for more experience. Look at WHU, they have at least 5 decent strikers on their books, and all over 6ft, what do we have?

The season cannot come to an end too quickly, because I cannot see us winning any more games with half our best players either injured or suspended.

City have to make big changes for next season, with one more quality striker (rumour has it Baros might be a target – I think he would be very good for us, and hope we sign him), and certainly one or two quality midfielders need to be added, whilst a lot of dead wood needs to be offloaded.

Why did we sign Toumas Haapala and then not use him? What about that other promising defender, Mills from Southampton? If he is anything like Richards, then play him straight away.

Glyn Albuquerque <glynalbuquerque(at)>


I should perhaps just rest my case after my last rant. However, given that writing to MCIVTA is a form of catharsis, here goes.

I’ll restrict myself to two main points.

Assuming that the match officials hadn’t been bribed, threatened or involved in a betting scam where their aunties were staking vast amounts, then we need to look at why not only do they allow such a clear cut handball to go unpunished and then book two City players for a (relatively) mild protest but also compound their sin by sending off Distin for holding onto the ball (on a par with Kevin Horlock’s sending off for walking aggressively – my only consolation being that that referee was demoted at the end of the season).

Was the referee frightened of either the Chelsea players following the incident at Fulham or of Mourinho’s likely tantrum? Face it, if you were a referee and you had a choice between upsetting “I’m not going to criticise referees” Pearce or “I’ll kill him” Mourinho, which would you choose?

In my heart Pearce is right but the reality is that until the FA/PL sort out this intimidation with point deductions and long player suspensions then referees will be influenced by pressure. Will any Chelsea players be suspended for their recent indiscipline? Equally they have to penalise referees for failing to do their job properly.

On a slightly removed point I watched parts of Liverpool and Everton and wonder if anyone can explain the difference between the challenge that got Van der Meyde sent off and the challenge by Dean Ashton on Distin in the West Ham game, which didn’t even warrant a free kick? Was it the threat of the Liverpool players forming a lynch mob whilst City (rightly) got on with the game?

Keep taking the tablets.

David Lewis <dfl(at)>


So. I’m annoyed at Rob Styles. Drogba should have been off. Second goal shouldn’t have stood. Distin should have stayed on. That’s a goal and an effective two-man difference awarded to Chelsea by a cluster of bad decisions from Styles. Could have been a different game.

So I go and look him up, this Styles fellow. After all that’s some pretty awful refereeing. Here’s what I find:

Since you never know how long these things stay up, here’s the relevant parts:

“He has, however, come in for some criticism this season for some of his decisions, including that Mido red card…” (against Chelsea) “… and the non-dismissal of Chelsea’s Essien in the game in which he sent off Gardner for an horrendous challenge. Not to mention his subsequent failure to dismiss the same man when Chelsea visited Highbury…” (elbowed Lauren as he came in for a tackle, knocked out one of his teeth, got a yellow from Styles) “… and not awarding Villa themselves a penalty when they took on, you guessed it, Chelsea, in February.”

This was written in advance of the Toon’s game against ManU, so it’s not as if they’re *trying* to build a case against him.

Gah! I doubt he’s biased. But it just reminds me of the game we played against Arsenal earlier in the season where they cheated all over the shop and the referee was way out of his depth. What we saw today was little Rob Styles being bettered again by a team that seems to have the measure of him. But he doesn’t like his failures being pointed out to him, our Rob, so Distin gets his marching orders.

One other thing – I didn’t know you could get sent off after the whistle. Does Styles really have that option?

Bernard Molyneux <bernardmolyneux(at)>


Well, I held back from writing something scathing straight after the West Ham game but now, having read a bunch of opinions, I thought I’d chuck in some thoughts of my own. I haven’t actually watched an entire Premiership game for most of the season for various reasons, but I watched the FA Cup game against West Ham and frankly, even for a second game in 48 hours, it was rubbish from both sides. I caught the first half of Chelsea vs. Newcastle and a bit of Charlton vs. Boro but they were both rubbish as well. I can’t see the point in, what I view as, wasting my time watching such dire football. Negativity, incompetence in passing, dearth of creativity etc. Does this just mean defences have got so much better and that that’s how football’s going?

Anyhow, why slag all the City players off when they’re clearly playing at much the same level as a bunch of other teams? I see players I don’t rate especially playing for City but we aren’t going to get top class creative midfielders and strikers in the summer unless we happen to find an unpolished gem from the lower divisions ’cause we don’t have the money and there’s this total obsession with Europe to offer the players (why? Have you watched some European games recently, they’re not all that much cop and wonderful either!).

The whole ‘falling out of love with football’ thing seems to have roused everyone recently, which is a good thing but in my view has been happening for quite a while now and not just since the media got hold of it. Most of these reasons aren’t easily fixable as people are, in general, selfish and aren’t going to cooperate for the good of everyone else if not cooperating will get them an edge. This is why I see no way to stop incidents such as Drogba (the fall guy for every other diver in the country) against City yesterday unless suspensions are made draconian and enforced – using TV after the game has finished if necessary.

However, I also thought only allowing the captain to question the ref’s decision (à la rugby) and any other player being automatically booked for doing so would help but then see what Rob Styles did yesterday and Distin was not screaming two centimetres from his face as others are wont to do (I suspect, as human nature would work, Styles thought he’d probably made a mistake and so didn’t want to talk about it and had Distin given him the ball he would have walked off but we’ll never know).

Anyway, lots of cycnicism around everywhere and not too many bright points but City oriented we have: our youth team, some excellent players coming through, a manager who’s learning and (I hope) improving and, I believe, a bright future if we can only get some money together from somewhere because, alas, that’s what it’s all about these days (where do Boro, West Ham, Spurs and so forth get theirs from?) and the youngsters won’t take us anywhere yet by themselves.

Hmm, tried to end positive, didn’t quite succeed, City’s season?

Thomas Bodey <psitaccula(at)>


The matter of Distin’s agent needs clarifying: McKay negotiated his signing for City but Distin is now represented by Dave Lockwood at the Stellar Group.

Richard Featherstone <rick(at)>


I have just read, with interest, all the articles on the West Ham game. I agree with most of the comments in them.

One thing no-one has pointed out is that the scorer of both goals, Dean Ashton, was deemed to be overpriced by our club when we were in with a chance of buying him. Doesn’t look it now does he?

I read today that we are considering bringing back Paul Dickov in the summer. Doh!

Terry Baines <terry.baines(at)>


After almost 10 years in The Netherlands, the ebb and flow of life has washed me back up on the shores of Blighty, or more appropriately, on the banks of the Thames at Henley. It would be great to meet up with fellow Blues in the area who gather to watch midweek games on the box, or ride share up to home games.

Steve Gerrard <steve.gerrard(at)>


I have 2 West Ham tickets (away section) for sale. Please contact me on 07944 775022 or email.

Andrew Jackson <ajackson32(at)>


On Friday’s edition of Sky Sports News there was a bit about a newspaper interview with JB. Unfortunately I missed which newspaper it was in. Could anyone steer me in the right direction?

Stay Blue – the good times will come again, Bob Simnor <bobs5455(at)>


So, for the first time since the initial week of the current season, City slip into the wrong half of the Premiership table, and their recent run of home success becomes a memory.

You can track City’s progression from possible European contenders to mid-table certainties with my spreadsheet.

An up-to-date version of my “Excel” spreadsheet file, “The-Bigger-One” has just been uploaded, with results (up to and including the 19 March) and with re-arranged fixture dates.

The all Premiership team progress file is now ready and available as a free download at:

Please visit the website to read the full list of the file’s features; but, basically, all you need to do is type in the scores (or your predictions) and all the statistical tables and graphs are instantly revised. It is already filled in with all the provisional dates for every Premiership fixture for the season. Also available are completed statistical versions for the last two seasons.

If you like the sheets – please tell your mates, and I appreciate all feedback.

All the best, Mark Vincent <Vincent(at)>


26 March 2006

Middlesbrough         4 - 3  Bolton Wanderers      25,971
Charlton Athletic     3 - 1  Newcastle United
Manchester United     3 - 0  Birmingham City       69,070

25 March 2006

Liverpool             3 - 1  Everton               44,923
Aston Villa           0 - 0  Fulham                32,605
Chelsea               2 - 0  Manchester City       42,321
Sunderland            0 - 1  Blackburn Rovers      29,593
Wigan Athletic        1 - 2  West Ham United       18,736

League table to 26 March 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         31 15  1  0 37  8 10  2  3 23 11 25  3  3  60  19  41  78
 2 Manchester Utd  30 10  3  1 30  8 10  3  3 31 21 20  6  4  61  29  32  66
 3 Liverpool       32 13  3  1 28  7  6  4  5 17 15 19  7  6  45  22  23  64
 4 Tottenham H.    30  9  5  1 25 12  5  5  5 18 16 14 10  6  43  28  15  52
 5 Blackburn R.    31 11  2  2 27 15  5  2  9 15 21 16  4 11  42  36   6  52
 6 Arsenal         30 11  2  2 35  9  4  3  8 13 14 15  5 10  48  23  25  50
 7 Bolton Wndrs    29  9  4  1 22  7  4  5  6 20 25 13  9  7  42  32  10  48
 8 Wigan Athletic  31  6  2  8 19 21  8  2  5 17 17 14  4 13  36  38  -2  46
 9 West Ham United 30  7  2  6 26 22  6  4  5 20 23 13  6 11  46  45   1  45
10 Everton         31  8  1  6 18 17  5  3  8 11 24 13  4 14  29  41 -12  43
11 Charlton Ath.   31  7  3  6 20 18  5  3  7 17 24 12  6 13  37  42  -5  42
12 Manchester City 31  9  2  5 24 14  3  2 10 15 23 12  4 15  39  37   2  40
13 Newcastle Utd   31  7  5  3 18 13  4  1 11 13 25 11  6 14  31  38  -7  39
14 Middlesbrough   30  6  5  5 25 27  4  2  8 18 25 10  7 13  43  52  -9  37
15 Fulham          32 10  2  3 26 17  0  4 13 14 34 10  6 16  40  51 -11  36
16 Aston Villa     31  4  5  6 15 17  4  6  6 19 24  8 11 12  34  41  -7  35
17 West Brom A.    30  6  1  9 21 21  1  5  8  6 24  7  6 17  27  45 -18  27
18 Birmingham City 30  4  3  8 16 19  2  3 10  7 25  6  6 18  23  44 -21  24
19 Portsmouth      30  3  5  6 10 17  3  1 12 14 34  6  6 18  24  51 -27  24
20 Sunderland      31  0  4 12  9 29  2  0 13 10 26  2  4 25  19  55 -36  10

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1210