Newsletter #1217

After Monday’s very short edition, tonight’s is pretty lengthy. We start with Don’s News Summary, then we have Heidi’s Youth Cup Semi match report, followed by various opinions ranging from Paul Dickov to Stuart Pearce(!). We finish with the usual requests, and a rather strange one from Arsenal FC regarding ‘memories of Highbury’! Oh, we also have some new information on Ernie Barrow!

Tomorrow the Youth team will try to overturn the 3 goals they conceded at Anfield last week in the second leg of the FA Youth Cup Final. It’s a big ask, so I’m sure the kids would appreciate as many Blues cheering them on as possible!

Next game: Aston Villa, away, 7.45pm Tuesday 25 April 2006


General News

Regrets, I’ve Had a Few: Boss Man Stu has been in reflective mood this week, and he’s been discussing his year in charge with the local evening journal. He reckons that the timing of KK’s departure last year helped his elevation to the manager’s job on a full time basis. Pearce said: “I knew Kevin wasn’t particularly happy from Christmas on. His body language told me that. We only had nine games to go when I took over last season. It enabled the chairman to have a look at me with nothing to lose. The timing was crucial. If Kevin had walked out before Christmas, I don’t think the board would have come to me, they would have gone to a man with more experience.” And Pearce still regrets having to sell Shaun Wright-Phillips last summer because it may have cost City a European spot. “It would have been fantastic to have kept him and added maybe three or four new faces. Taking Shaun out made a difference. His goals could have put us in Europe.”

Transfer News and Gossip

Zuma Dabo Deals? City are one of four Premiership clubs casting an eye on South African midfielder Sibusiso Zuma, who plays his football in Germany with Arminia Bielefeld. Zuma has a get out clause in his contract and this has apparently alerted City, Middlesbrough, Birmingham City and Bolton Wanderers. A fee of £1.5 million was mentioned in some reports. And could we be on the verge of one of those “cute Bosman” deals mentioned by Psycho last week? French international midfielder Ousmane Dabo could be on his way to Eastlands in the summer. The 29-year-old Lazio midfielder is out of contract in the summer and according to reports on Tuesday, talks have already begun over a free transfer move to the Premiership. Dabo has enjoyed a fine season with Lazio but the Italians are still hoping to keep him at the Stadio Olimpico. The 29-year-old has a wealth of experience, having played for some of Europe’s top clubs and he is a contender for France’s World Cup squad this summer. And Dabo’s representative Willie McKay revealed a number of clubs have expressed an interest in the former Internazionale and Monaco ace. “I have spoken to Stuart Pearce about Dabo,” McKay told Sky Sports. “However, there are another six or seven clubs who have expressed an interest in Dabo. He has played for some big clubs and he is one of the best Bosmans available this summer. I know he would be keen on a move to England as he has expressed an interest in playing there before and he would have no problem settling in as he speaks perfect English.”

Back to the Future, and One for the Future: Fancy a City legend returning to the fold? The stories of Paul Dickov’s imminent return to City colours have resurfaced this week. Dickov has forced his way back into Blackburn’s line-up for their last two Premiership games but his chances have been limited this season and he is prepared to move elsewhere to find regular first-team football. The 33-year-old’s price would certainly appeal to City – nothing. At the younger end of the age scale for strikers, Cameron Jerome is reportedly a target for SP. The 19-year-old has scored 20 goals for Cardiff City this season but may be sold in the summer to give manager Dave Jones funds for new signings. Everton and Charlton have shown a strong interest in the player and City are also thought to be in the running to snap up one of the Championship’s hottest young properties. Jerome would cost in excess of £3.5 million, so whether he’s realistically affordable is a moot point.

Top Notch: Mr. Pearce is convinced that Sylvain Distin will agree a new contract. And he dismisses talk of a dissatisfied Distin looking for glory at another club. Pearce said: “He’s been top-notch, I’ve never had a problem with the captain, there has never been a suggestion that he wants to leave this football club, from him or his representatives. The situation with him is going along quite well, we are very optimistic, I chatted with him the other day,” says Pearce. Distin has been quoted as stating that he wants to perform in European football with City, and his Manager concurs with his ambition. “All your good players need to stay at the football club, simple as that. There was a quote going round that I wanted European football here, and that’s true. If my skipper said he wasn’t bothered with playing European football, I’d be disgusted with him. We all want to play European football, but we want to do it with a sky blue shirt. The only people that can give us European football are the players through their performances and results, it’s as simple as that.” Today’s Daily Express won’t make good reading for the Gaffer they call Psycho: apparently Chelsea want our skipper to replace Ricardo Carvalho, and rather chillingly, will make City an “offer they can’t refuse” for Distin. An unfortunate resonance of “The Godfather” in there, perhaps – let’s just hope Mr. Wardle doesn’t own racehorses!

City Plus Four in for Defour: Henk brings us news of a possible City target in the Low Countries: “City are amongst clubs such as Chelski, Arsenal, Real and Ajax that are interested in highly rated 18-year old Belgian midfielder Steven Defour from RC Genk. However, Defour is said to be preferring Ajax as suiting his kind of play. Ajax and RC Genk will continue talks after the Belgian league has finished, May 5th. The transfer fee is rumoured to be 6m euro.”

No Hassle for Hassan: Elsewhere, midfielder Ahmed Hassan is a target for three Premiership clubs. Thirty-year-old Hassan is out of contract this summer with Turkish side Besiktas and is thought to have been offered a deal already by Blackburn Rovers. City and Newcastle are said to have joined the race for the player, but his agent Alper Gokdemir has said: “No decision will be made until early May.”

Ex-Blues’ News

Speed Freaks Over Robbie: Liverpool beat Blackburn 1-0 over the weekend, and Robbie Fowler scored his fourth goal in five games to extend Liverpool’s winning run to seven matches. In an interesting contrast to City’s misfortunes at Upton Park (of which more later), Fowler slotted into an open net from Fernando Morientes’ pass after the offside Djibril Cisse was adjudged not to have interfered with play. Such a burst of goals must increase Fowler’s chances of extending his stay back at his One True Love, once his contract runs out in the summer. “I’ve had no indication what the decision will be yet,” said Fowler this week. “I’ve known from the start this is just a short-term deal and the decision won’t be taken lightly by the manager. He’s obviously not made up his mind yet, or if he has he hasn’t told me about it. All I can do is sit and wait. If he comes to me and says there is a new contract there, no one will be happier than me. It’s not really for me to say if I’ve done enough. In an ideal world I’d love to have scored more goals, but I don’t think I’ve let anyone down.” Should Liverpool pass on retaining their prodigal son, a couple of Lancastrian teams are said to be interested. Sparky Marky Hughes for instance has expressed an interest. “Robbie’s been a top player for a long time,” said the Blackburn manager. “You don’t lose that overnight. His movement is amazing and he’s looking very good. Robbie has always been a very clever player. His ability to take chances is something he has never lost. If he became available I’m sure a number of clubs would be interested. He’s the type of player I would ask about. We’ll see what the situation is.” Bolton Wanderers have also registered their interest in Fowler, with their veteran midfielder Gary Speed urging the Trotters to make a move. “He’s a fantastic player and a fantastic goalscorer. If the ball falls in the box, there’s one player you want it to fall to, or in our case, wouldn’t want it to fall to, and he stuck it away. Sam Allardyce’s record of getting the best out of his players is second to none. I can personally vouch for that and I’m sure Robbie would be a great addition here, if that was the case. But I’m sure, if you spoke to Robbie about that, he’d be hoping to stay at Liverpool.”

The History Man: For those of you who thought Christian Negouai was as useful as a chocolate fire guard – cop for this tale from the Evening News this week, which I thought deserved being quoted in full. Please note, we are well past April Fool’s Day: “NEGOUAI IN GOAL RUSH – FORMER City man Christian Negouai has just become a Belgium record-breaker. The Martinique-born defender scored the fastest goal in Belgian League history when he struck after just 11 seconds for Standard Liege in their 2-0 win over KVC Westerlo. ‘I will go down in history,’ Negouai said when told of his achievement. And Negouai, who made just four starts in four years for the Blues after joining from Charleroi for £1.5 million in 2001, is on course for a championship medal.”

Reactions and Comments

Newton’s Law Weighs Down City: As Gloucester says in King Lear: “As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods, They kill us for their sport.” The footie gods must still be feeling very mischievous towards City, as another decent performance ended in defeat; this time it was a single goal reverse at West Ham’s Upton Park on Saturday. Shaun Newton’s first goal for West Ham sealed the win and saw City sink to a sixth straight defeat. Newton fired the home side into the lead, drilling Bobby Zamora’s cross past David James into the corner. City had the ball in the back of the net twice but both efforts were agonisingly ruled out for offside. Sinclair’s first-half effort was judged to have touched Micah Richards, who was offside, while Darius Vassell’s late strike was also discounted. “We started tentatively and nervously, but after half time we went out with more tempo, scrapped away, created a host of chances, probably more than we have in the last few weeks and could have won a couple of games with all of them,” was SP’s analysis of the game. “But, we have come away empty-handed and I am disappointed in that but with respect to the players they have got to take heart and confidence from the performance they have put on at Upton Park, where they have been pretty good at home this year. Taken in isolation, to say we deserved something from the game would be a massive understatement, certainly in the second half,” continued Pearce “Tag that on to the run of results and I’m very disappointed for us. I thought in the second half we were more fired up, had a bit more belief, but until we get one of those offside decisions, until someone takes that chance, until we get three points we are just going to have to work extremely hard and try to make sure that three points come very, very quickly.” Speaking about the first offside decision, Pearce stated: “I thought that it was Micah that he flagged, it’s the old situation of are they active or inactive? I don’t know whether Micah got a touch before or after it was over the line, and whilst I questioned it at the time I’ll have another look later and make my own mind up.”

Pardew Thankful: West Ham boss Alan Pardew sounded relieved enough at his team’s victory. “It was a very important win for us, we have answered a few critics who say we are just turning up in the league and concentrating on the FA Cup; that criticism hurts but you couldn’t say that about us today, we were totally committed. We are determined to make a statement as a squad that we are good enough to finish as high as possible in the league and win that game next Sunday, but I didn’t think we played great today, we were loose in possession, which was unusual for us, but the real diligence of the team came through. It was a 1-0 victory today because of the performance of our goalkeeper and back four, we had a few key players missing. James Collins continues to be magnificent for us, Shaun Newton was terrific today and Bobby Zamora was very influential in the first half. Nigel Reo-Coker ran his legs off and Jimmy Walker was brilliant in goal, he is a special player for us.”

Form and Tactics: Mr. Pearce gave a fantastic display of the diplomatic arts required of today’s managers. If you or I were asked why Danny Mills was omitted for this game, and why was Ben Thatcher was taken off at half time, we’d be mighty tempted to use a curt “Because they’re c**p.” Let’s enjoy Mr.P’s more measured response. “With Danny, it was purely a lack of form in mind. And it was a tactical decision with Ben at half time. I felt as though moving the skipper out to the left hand side would let him gallop on a little bit. When you look at it, whether it’s right or wrong I make decisions for the betterment of the team, it does not mean anyone’s career has ended or anything, it just means on this one day I decide to pick a team that involves certain individuals or alternatively they get taken off. They take it in good spirit, they understand why I do it, for the betterment of the side and trying to get Manchester City a victory.” I tell you, that man’s destined for great things.

Blah Blah Blah: Despite the dire run of results, SP is refusing to panic. “I’m not going to buckle, I’m not going to go under,” he added. “I don’t enjoy losing, it disappoints me greatly but when things were going well before Christmas, when I was winning manager of the month awards, it was water off a duck’s back. I have the backing of a good dressing room, a good board and good fans. It’s down to me to turn it around. I’m not looking for excuses – I would never do that as a manager or as a man. We just have to work a bit harder. I had a bad run similar to this as a player at Nottingham Forest. It wasn’t when Cloughie was there – he wouldn’t allow it. But how did we get over it? We won a game. That’s the best way. There are no short cuts. All the words I can say to the players about the endeavour they put in, how unfortunate they were blah blah blah – the one thing that changes the mood in any camp is getting that initial result and getting three points. From there, the ghetto blaster gets turned on and the spirits get lifted.”

Sinclair’s Sorrows: City did show some encouraging play, especially in the second half – and Trevor Sinclair seemed to be behind a lot of the good stuff. “It’s tough when you don’t get the rub of the green, and we are certainly not getting that at the moment”, said Trevor afterwards. “The lads put everything into the game and we were unfortunate not to come out with something. We deserved a draw. After giving away that goal early doors I thought we showed a good bit of character. We were courageous on the ball, and we were determined to work hard for each other and create something. I could have had a couple, but Walker made an excellent save after it had opened up for me, and I thought the first one was over the line before Micah touched it so I think that goal definitely should have stood. We put everything into the game, I’m happy with my performance but it’s no good being happy with your performance when you need points on the board.” Sinclair stressed the need to keep a positive attitude for the next game, away to Aston Villa on April 25th. “You have to boost yourself before a game, recall the good times and go into a game confident. You don’t want to think ‘we’ve lost five or six on the trot’, you have to try to take something positive out of a game. I think we did that at West Ham and if we continue to do that, we can get some points against Villa and finish this run, because we are desperate to do so.”

Squad News

Happy to Stay: SP has provided an update on the contract negotiations with Andrew Cole, Nicky Weaver and Richard Dunne. With the first two, offers have been made, while Dunnie’s talks have just begun: “Coley and the Weaver situation will resolve themselves.” Pearce said. “And negotiations have opened with Richard Dunne, and he’s more than happy to stay at this club. I think most of the contract offers have been very good, and I can’t see too many problems. I wouldn’t want to leave this club at the moment if I was a player. One or two will question that because we’ve had some bad results, but there’s not a team that hasn’t had bad results.”

Happy to Stay? Joey Barton failed to get mentioned by SP, and it seems he’s in trouble again for reportedly failing to turn up for treatment on his injured knee over the weekend according to newspaper reports. SP has stated though that Barton will not be punished, and has given an optimistic prognosis for the wayward midfielder’s return to action: “Joey’s fine, he will do some work outside and we are hopeful that he will be back in full training some time next week,” Pearce told the club’s official website. Not such good news for Stephen Ireland, who will miss the rest of the season through injury. The Republic of Ireland international is struggling with a calf injury he picked up in training earlier this month. Ireland has missed his side’s last two games and SP has admitted the injury is worse than first feared. “Stevie’s injury is worse than we first thought,” said Pearce. Ireland joins the likes of Andy Cole, Nedum Onuoha and Stephen Jordan on the sidelines.

Don Barrie <news(at)>


First leg of the FA Youth Cup Final, Anfield and live on Sky. No wonder our lads looked a little nervous about the occasion – how many 17 year olds wouldn’t? Line-ups are below, and for the vast majority this was their first chance of glimpsing Sturridge. The Liverpool team contained some good Merseyside names like Roque and Antwi and of course no Richards for the Blues. Since the game, much complaining and beating of chests has been made about the absence of Richards, his last game at this level having been Forest away. Of course it’s all Pearce’s fault in the eyes of some – he’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t – but given the woes of the first team at the moment, it is understandable that our strongest side be fielded there to try to gain the £500,000 or so per place. Still, this management lark is easy isn’t it, the number of fans who hold their coaching badges and guide teams to success on the playstation!

City won the toss and Liverpool were playing towards the Kop. Psychological advantage perhaps? The game started nervously, both sides unable to settle and it was evident that whichever got the early advantage would settle first. We let Liverpool at us, and on 18 minutes on a superbly taken corner by Barnett (out of the Gerrard school), Threlfall hit home to make it 1-0 to the Reds. We couldn’t settle, I was disappointed to see us trying to play the ball through the middle rather than using the usual pace of the left wing with Logan/Moore combining, and about 10 minutes later our ‘keeper pulled off a great save from former City youth player Paul Barrett.

We broke, and within minutes had Liverpool defending. Etuhu first, followed by Breen, forced Roberts into action – their ‘keeper had a superb game overall. Poor finishing (again) and the luck went against us minutes later as Logan headed into the path of Anderson and Flynn scored just after the half hour. Two-nil to the Reds and it just wasn’t looking like our night. Matthewson again had to be on his guard on 40 minutes as Anderson came close, but failed to make it three. We then managed a last minute attack as Sturridge passed to captain Michael Johnson, a deflection and corner, which we couldn’t make anything of.

Into the break and up until now, Sturridge had been pretty low key; I detect a reluctance at times from him and, in my opinion, he doesn’t link up well with Etuhu at all. Strange how he’s such a different player for England! No changes were made for either side, but City had obviously had a good talking to and we came back firing on all cylinders. If we could nick a goal back now it would be game on.

Logan sent through a long shot, which cleared inches over the bar, then a few minutes later Johnson got the ball out to the nippy Karl Moore on the left, who found Sturridge, who turned in the area and his shot bounced off the woodwork. Lady Luck still not with us!

We had a 20 minute spell where we absolutely dominated Liverpool, Etuhu and Sturridge finally linked up down the left hand side but resulting the shot agonisingly went wide. This was it, we were on top and within seconds had three attempts as Liverpool frantically defended: a deflection fell to Marshall, who saw his effort blocked, Etuhu’s shot was nudged out for a corner but again nothing came of it. It certainly gave the game some excitement.

The home side brought on Roque, and we then made a change as Moore came off to make way for Ched Evans (whom personally I’d have brought on a bit earlier for one of the strikers). After such frenetic activity, Liverpool inevitably broke again and Barrett sent in another of his crosses, which hit Matthewson’s crossbar, only minutes later for Barnett to take yet another superb corner, with Roque being gifted a free header. Three-nil to the Reds and game over for us. So it’s into the return leg on Friday night with a not-unassailable deficit. We will have Richards back, and I hope in his usual midfield rôle, which the Liverpool team are nervous about. The lads are well up for the game and with plenty of Blues there shouting them on could just do it…

Liverpool: Roberts, Roberts(c), Threlfall, Hobbs, Antwi, Barnett, Barrett, Flynn (Spearing 87), Lindfield, Anderson, Hammill (Roque 77)
Unused subs: Mimms, Ryan, Nardiello

City: Matthewson, Logan, Williamson, Breen, Obeng Williams, Marshall, Johnson(c), Moore (Evans 80), Etuhu, Sturridge
Unused subs: Daly, Vadon, Mouritsen, Clayton

Heidi <editor(at)>


Somewhere out there is a player in the same mould as Stuart Pearce, and when he finds him and makes him captain, and gets rid of the deadwood, we will grow, because Distin has no idea on leading with authority. That is why we continue to see Psycho prowling the technical area – because his captain does nothing.

So when he talks about not wanting to sign an extension to his contract until he knows what ambition the club have, he is taking the mickey.

Get rid of him and get rid of Barton and trust in players who want to play for Manchester City.

Gary Sullivan <gary(at)>


Well, it had to happen. Across the City websites the criticisms are now coming in about Stuart Pearce.

Of course there are those supporters who defend him but there appear to be many more critics. All this has been occasioned by our awful run of results – which coincidentally has taken place since Joey Barton was injured and has not played for 5 or 6 games – all of which we have lost.

I have to say I was a sceptic about Pearce taking over when Keegan left (I’d have preferred Strachan or Le Guen), but the way the team played under Pearce made me change my mind. There was no doubting the resurgence in form and SP did bring some young players in (who can forget the marvellous goal we scored against Liverpool at the back end of last season – and that goal involved both BWP and Crofty and was beautifully volleyed in by Kiki). I thought SP deserved a contract. Shame about Fowler missing the penalty against Boro – unusual for Robbie to miss, but that’s how it goes.

Then this season – like the old Johnny Cash/June Carter hit Jackson – we started off with form that was hotter ‘than a pepper sprout’. Some critics were even suggesting that we would be the top team in Manchester, and we had that great result against United (Rooney and all), but unfortunately the wheels have fallen off. I don’t think Pearce has a clue about how to correct it. Worse than that though is the fact that he keeps on repeating the same errors.

Like Keegan he stays with the same players irrespective of form. I think Pearce has made a number of major errors that make me doubt whether he is suited to be a Premiership manager. Indeed, I have a horrible feeling that he’s going to do to us what he did to Forest – take us down. In my eyes here are some of the errors that he has made:

  1. Just as Keegan insisted on playing Fowler numerous times even though hewas unfit and played badly, so Pearce insists on playing Sibierski weekafter week. Just how badly does this guy have to play before he isdropped forever?
  2. We are short of forwards so Pearce allows Fowler to leave – for no feeat all. Now I wouldn’t mind if this was the Fowler who had originallyjoined us. Nobody can deny though that Fowler put in some superbperformances at the back end of last season (after Keegan sent him awayfor a 6 week training course – presumably boot camp type thing).Further, once he regained fitness this season, he seemed back to thatform – he scored a good hat trick against Scunny and got a good goalagainst United. Further, like Cole, he can put in some lovely flicksto help the likes of Vassell. In other words he’s a subtle player.But no, Pearce lets him go. If Fowler wanted to go to Liverpool hecould have gone at the end of this season. Now I know the excuse givenwas that without Robbie going we could not have gained Samaras. Hmm,I’m not so sure.
  3. I saw City against Wigan – frankly, I felt we should have had a refund.The team selection was poor and the team tactics were awful. Playinghigh balls up to BWP against the Wigan centre backs was just rankstupidity. BWP has pace – use it. Further, this was a game tailormade for Lee Croft. Oh no, we have to have Sinclair playing despitethe upcoming West Ham game and a midfield duo of Ireland and Reyna.Anyone would know that such a midfield duo would be overrun by thelikes of Wigan. I felt sorry for Ireland, Reyna was never up with theplay so he became isolated and eventually his distribution began tosuffer. In the West Ham game we had Sun playing right midfield becauseSinclair picked up an injury. This game I watched on TV and even MarkBright commented on how poor Sun was in that position. We lookedbetter when Crofty came on, indeed he should have been on from thestart – but I don’t think he’s had a chance since then.
  4. Everyone complains that Keegan put players on long, expensive contractsand that Pearce has had his hands tied. Really? Just who is it whohas offered contract extensions to Sibierski, Sun and Reyna (has thisman played more games than McManaman?)? It’s not Keegan. Of courseit’s Stuart Pearce. Now he sees more games than most of us. Just whenis he going to realise that none of these players is up to Premiershipstandard? Reyna is injury prone and has been for some time. Plus hedoes not have the speed anymore to keep up with the young midfielderswho play against him. I’ll give you that Sun can run – but anythingelse? He can’t tackle, unless one counts grabbing the opponent, hecan’t distribute the ball and has poor positional sense. As forSibierski, well if there is any other Premier League club that wouldtake this guy we should pay them to do so. In the meantime our 2 starplayers have not signed up. Now I know that the real money business isdone at boardroom level (see Jason Roberts’ column on the BBC website)but Pearce can influence that. Anyone who thinks we can do without our’Roy Keane’ had better look at our results without Joey. To take thespine out of your team is suicidal – and that is what will happen if welose Joey and Sylvain. The last time we did this was when we wererelegated in the 90s – remember losing Quinney and Keith Curle, not tomention Tony Coton?
  5. To be fair to Pearce, I would say that he has brought some players on -especially Micah Richards. Now he does make occasional errors but fora 17 year old he is some talent. His approach to both BWP and LeeCroft is puzzling though. He prefers Sibierski to both even thoughCrofty has shown he can change games (Liverpool, the Villa andScunthorpe when he replaced a pedestrian Sun). How this has affectedBWP and Croft is not known but it cannot be good. I was also pleasedwhen Pearce brought both Cole and Vassell to City – one has to see Colelive to appreciate how good he is and I’ve always been impressed withVassell.
  6. Last season, Danny Mills and Ben Thatcher looked like two good backs.What on earth has happened to them? I know they have had injuries butthese two internationals don’t just suddenly become poor players. Whatis going on at the training ground? What is Pearce doing to get theseguys back on track?
  7. Overall, I have major fears for next season. I think we’ll come 4th or5th bottom this season. No way can that be seen as an improvement onlast season. If we sell both Distin and Barton during the summer andkeep what I call the ‘terrible trio’ I think we will be fightingrelegation. Of course Pearce may bring in some new players – he’stalking of 4 but in my view he needs many more than that. Optimistswho think he is going to attract class players such as Malbranque willbe disappointed. Why would they want to come to a club that isstruggling? In my view Pearce has to be braver or ‘cuter’ if you like.

Get rid of the dross, sign up our better players and try to attract some better players. Personally, I don’t think he will do this. For the remainder of our games he’ll persist with the likes of Sibierski, Sun and Reyna and will frustrate and anger the fans. And like the song Jackson, the positive relationship/fire between Pearce and the fans will burn out.

Ian Burgess <i.burgess1(at)>


A response to Glyn Albuquerque’s views in MCIVTA 1216:

If you are so good at predicting, what are the 6 numbers for this coming Saturday?

Seriously though, did you really think that your prediction would come so alarmingly true?

There was a survey on either the City website or Manchester online about 2 weeks ago asking how many games would City win before the end of the season. The options were 1-6. No option for none!

I couldn’t see another win in these last 6 games and only a point, scrambled with a late equaliser, if we’re lucky, at home to Fulham.

Tottenham and West Ham did just enough to beat us (just enough seems adequate these days to beat City).

Next up is Aston Villa. Near cert win? Forget it. These overpaid, over self opinionated ‘superstars’ will just go through the motions, as they have done since the Villa replay. Villa will get their much-needed win and O’Dreary will survive another game.

Then it’s our point against Fulham. We hope.

Next up it’s Arsenal. Well we can forget anything against Arsenal. Not because Arsenal are now playing very well and look set to challenge for the Premiership again next season, not because City are in a poor run of form, not because there is nothing to play for, in fact not for any other reason other than it is Arsenal. Arsenal only have to take to the field and City have lost. It’s in their head, not on the field. Arsenal are beatable by anybody who is prepared to go out on the field, roll their sleeves up, and battle to the end. But it won’t be City. Oh no. Not us. We can’t do that. We won’t. You’ll see. Same hard luck story. Bad turn of the ball, wind in wrong direction, sun in eyes, a defender slipped at the wrong moment or more to the point, one of our ‘solid’ centre halves will do their all too familiar ‘schoolboy error’ like against Tottenham (Distin) or Dunne giving needless free kicks away near our penalty area.

And finally, Blackburn. Say no more.

So, an optimistic view to the end of our season then (1 point), and we’ll be lucky to get that.

John Nisbet <nisbet1957(at)>


We’re all very sad/disillusioned/angry* (delete as applicable) at the recent run of form and also glad/relieved/amazed* (ditto) that we’ve got 40 points in the bag already.

However, it is true that all teams suffer this sort of run at some point in the season, Bolton are in a similar run at the moment, Blackburn, Everton and Newcastle had lousy starts to the season and so on.

Looking at the league table prior to this weekend’s results brings me to my point – it’s incredible how fine the line between success and failure is.

Leaving aside the big four and the bottom four, check out the following stats:

Home Form
Only two wins separate us from Blackburn, Fulham below us have won two more than us. Only four less goals than Blackburn, two less conceded, our goal difference is third in this middle group.

Away Form
Only two less away wins than Blackburn. Only one less than Bolton. Only one less goal scored than Blackburn. Only three more conceded.

Looking at these stats, it seems that our defence is not much worse than any other and our attack not much better, or it could be the other way around!

Where is the difference then? It’s in midfield I guess! If we had a stronger midfield, we would create more chances that our forwards would potentially put away, and they would give greater protection to the defence, who, in turn, would make fewer mistakes and concede fewer goals? In previous seasons I think that we have let ourselves down against the teams in the bottom six, and held our own against teams at the top – we seemed to be able to raise our game to play the big teams and relaxed against the bottom teams – that seems to have been changed this season. Apart from WBA we have done well against the lower teams, but we have only really performed against the Rags this season – thank goodness!

I think a stronger midfield is required for the local derbies where we have also failed this season, Wigan, Bolton and Liverpool, where we have done nothing this season.

So come on SP, let’s get some steel, graft and design in the midfield for next year!

Geoff Blake <blakes(at)>


Don Price, I can say you were not alone. Myself and my better half have done the same.

The feeling of guilt (letting down my mother, RIP, who brought me up to be a Blue) was not a feeling I took lightly. Watching the Blues, I have also suffered highs and lows and very eventful times, but always felt we were part of something bigger, we never felt taken for granted. In fact, over the years it has been something that I have used to great effect against the ‘followers of the dark side’.

The fact they were always seen as ‘wallets on legs’, but we were part of a club/family. You wrote “there are many reasons for my decision not to renew, but the main reason is that I no longer get the buzz like I used to; another reason is that at long last it has dawned on me that the club officials are not at all interested in the views and opinions of the ordinary fan.” Well, I could not have put it better.

Helen and myself have felt more and more like outsiders each season we have been at the new ground. Now I know Maine Road had a lot of faults, but feeling that we were not wanted wasn’t one of them! This came to a head the other home game when Helen and myself were subjected to several instances that made us both walk out of the ground and throw our season tickets in the car park (if you have found them I hope you will get more fun out of them than we have).

You also said “as I had money to spare for not renewing my ticket I wrote to Alastair Mackintosh and Paul Tyrell and said if they sent me a signed Richard Dunne shirt, I would send a £250 cheque to the youth academy; guess what, I didn’t even get a reply”. Well, I’m not surprised, (a) because I don’t even think they would have seen the letter, as we have both written to SP only to get a curt letter and email telling us not to bother him and (b) if they did get it you are the wrong type of fan. City now only seem to want kids who will buy everything Blue, eat the pies and crisps, drink the coke and dance to the canned fans, or older ones who want to watch the game over the chicken in a basket (sound like somewhere not so far away).

You say that “kick off times also played a part, as did the lack of atmosphere”. Well kick off times will stay this way and get worse until fans, en bloc, vote with their feet and stay away. Sky don’t want half full games, they are selling the product of football to the world and it will not look good if no one can get to the games due to 11.30am kick-off times. The lack of atmosphere has been covered from many different angles, but the fact that anyone showing any form of passion is singled out and ‘dealt with’ by the goons in dayglow coats does not help.

We too will ‘always support MCFC and continue to go to the games that suit us’, just as the team has done over the last 6 games! You also say “crowds continuing to dwindle and many fans not renewing maybe, just maybe, the club will start listening to the fans, but don’t hold your breath”. If we did, Don, we would end up bluer in the face than we already are!

It may take a few more years, okay a lot more years, but if fans of long standing from all clubs start to wake up and say ‘enough is enough’ and do the hardest thing a fan can ever do, walk away, don’t turn up like blind sheep, collectively stick two fingers up to the clubs who have taken our loyalty for granted for far too long and say ‘we want our game back’. If all you want is ‘customers’ and not fans you can have them! We will never be anything but Blue. I have two City tattoos (the old round badge and the new crest) and will always wear them with pride, but we will no longer be treated like undesirables in our own ground.

Before you all jump on us and say we are not real fans, that real fans could not turn their backs on a club that they say they love; I say this to you, you haven’t read this posting properly. We have not said we are turning our backs on the club, just the ‘match day non-experience’.

Thanks for reading this, and thanks for the posting Don.

Tony Hulme and Helen Murtagh <t.hulme(at)>


Ouch! I hope newspaper reports linking us with Paul are wide of the mark. He is not and never has been a prolific scorer; even in the old Third Division he found it hard to hit the net. He is aged about 33 and if he ain’t good enough for Blackburn, that should tell its own story.

Surely we aren’t in such dire straits we have to keep looking for players who are well past their sell by date? Just because he scored a goal in the play-off final doesn’t mean we owe him any favours now. Whilst I will be forever grateful for him scoring at Wembley, I can’t help thinking that if he had scored a few more during that season we wouldn’t have had to endure the play-offs in the first place. Let’s not forget that he nearly blew it for us by missing in the penalty shoot-out.

Let us not live in the past but in the future and I am sorry, but Paul is not part of City’s future.

Don Price <cathdon.price(at)>


It seems we haven’t learned anything from our recent past. Rumours circulating in today’s newspapers are suggesting that Paul Dickov is about to return to City.

Whilst I will never forget Dickov’s contribution (and fighting spirit) to the cause during the dark years, this is hardly a progressive move for club or player. Dickov’s goal tally (mostly out of the top flight) was 40 in 180 games. He is a squad player at Blackburn. One minute we’re spending £6 million on Samaras, now it’s the bargain basement again. It makes me question the ambition of the club. Signing Dickov sends a strong signal that we’re happy being a mid-table side with no ambition. How can a club with the 17th highest turnover in world football set its sights so low? I have no problem with Dickov as a man or as a Blue, but he isn’t the type of player to elevate us further up the table. Our Board of Directors seems to have run out of ideas about generating capital in order that SP can add to the squad. If we don’t add quality, we run the risk of losing our better players. They need a signal that the club has ambition and is moving forward.

I often wonder if SWP might have stayed at City if we’d added quality players to the squad last summer. Of course, we’ll never know the answer to this question. I can understand SP wanting to add some spine to the squad, why not, therefore, go and get a proven player in the mould of Hartson from Celtic?

I feel this summer is a critical one for our football club, but I have no confidence that the club’s directors will give Pearce the level of financial support he needs. We’ve been here before, and it ended in free fall. Please don’t take us there again.

Martin Lever <martinlever(at)>


A couple of weeks ago this subject was discussed on Talksport and I would just like to put my idea forward on the matter as there weren’t many realistic suggestions.

My solution would be for the FA to set up their own sort of fair play league, similar to the UEFA one, with the emphasis more on punishing the teams that cheat, i.e. diving players, elbows, time wasting, manhandling the ref, play acting, etc.

The final placings would award or deduct points depending on which zone your team finishes in the FA Fair Play League.

For instance, I would go with the following:

  • Teams placed 1-5 would be awarded an extra 3 points
  • Teams placed 6-10 would be awarded an extra 1 point
  • Teams placed 11-15 would stay on the same points total
  • Teams 16-18 would be deducted 3 points
  • Teams 18-20 would be deducted 5 points

The Fair Play League would run from April (the previous season) through until the end of March so that you still get the end of season excitement with regards to relegaton/European placings, etc.

Has anyone else noticed that when SWP played for City, he had an amazing sense of balance and would do his utmost to stay on his feet even after numerous bad tackles? Hope he gets his chance for England in the summer and plays the City way and not the Chelsea way, if you know what I mean.

Ok, I await your responses to shoot my idea down.

Ian Hawthorne, The Netherlands <kippaxian(at)>


I have about 70 copies of King of the Kippax (from number 31) plus a few odd ones and a couple of Maine Stand View, Electric Blue, Blue Print and BTH that have to go.

A good home wanted. Sydney readers only, who can come around and collect them.

Bill Chapman <bill.c(at)>


Does anyone know anywhere in Budapest that might show the City vs. Fulham game on Saturday 29th April? Will be the 1st home game I’ve missed in a long while, I can’t say I’m that gutted though, which is sad!

Dan Bowen <vespa(at)>


Dear FSF contact,

Arsenal Supporters’ Gala Dinner

I am writing to you regarding the AISA Gala Dinner taking place in the Mezzanine Suite at Highbury on Saturday 20 May. The evening will celebrate 93 years of football at Highbury, and with it being the last visit to Highbury for supporters it is bound to be an emotional and memorable occasion.

The Gala Dinner is the third such event we have organised. The first was to raise funds to enable us to effectively campaign for planning permission for the new stadium; our second celebrated that achievement and the record-breaking success on the pitch. The Gala Dinner is being organised in co-operation with Arsenal FC, and is devoted to two charities: The David Rocastle Trust and The Willow Foundation, with whom all profits will be shared.

We would be very grateful if you could assist us with the evening by sending a message, either from yourself personally or from your supporters’ association/club that can be read out during the evening. Memories of Highbury are ideally what we are looking for.

Secondly, can you support the fundraising for the charities, by contributing something that can be included in either the raffle or the auction? This could be from yourself, your supporters organisation or your football club.

This can be sent to me at AISA Gala Dinner, Freepost LON 18942, London N5 1BR, or alternatively we can make arrangements to collect.

I look forward to hearing from you: if you would like to know any more about the Dinner please don’t hesitate to email me at <paul(at)> or ‘phone me on 07850 920899.

Best wishes

Paul Matz,
AISA Chairman

Paul Howarth <paul(at)>


In response to Graham Keller’s enquiry re Ernie Barrow’s whereabouts, if Ernie’s unsubscribed to MCIVTA, I’ve no idea why, but he contributes quite regularly to Manchester Online’s Manchester City articles/fan forum under the pseudonym Blue Tiger, Virginia.

[Ernie’s ears must have been burning, because I received a request to re-subscribe from him on Tuesday! – Mads]

Donny Schreier <donny(at)>


The Manchester City Centenary Supporters’ Association are proud to announce that Stuart Pearce will be their Guest of Honour at the CSA Gala Dinner in the Citizens Suite, City of Manchester Stadium on Saturday 6th May 2006.

Proceeds raised are in aid of City in The Community (CITC).

Guest speaker will be John Gwynn, MC James H. Reeve, Comedian Wayne “Check” Allen and former players will also be attending.

Tickets are priced at just £30.00 and are available from branch secretaries or via Howard Burr on 0161 292 2525 e-mail <reddishblues(at)>.

Howard Burr <reddishblues(at)>


I made a request in one of the last editions to borrow some City baby tops for my twins, and I must pass on my thanks to two very kind offers that came through from Roger Clarke and Dave Giblin. Many thanks, guys! Two True Blue dads!

I must also add as comment in reply to John Nisbet, you’re obviously not a dad. Never mind.

Kind regards, Andy Bird <abird(at)>


19 April 2006

Birmingham City       2 - 1  Blackburn Rovers      25,287

18 April 2006

Wigan Athletic        3 - 2  Aston Villa           17,330

17 April 2006

Tottenham Hotspur     1 - 2  Manchester United     36,141
Charlton Athletic     2 - 1  Portsmouth            25,419
Chelsea               3 - 0  Everton               41,765
Middlesbrough         2 - 0  West Ham United       27,658
Sunderland            1 - 4  Newcastle United      40,032
West Bromwich Albion  0 - 0  Bolton Wanderers      23,181

League table to 19 April 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         35 17  1  0 44  9 11  3  3 25 11 28  4  3  69  20  49 88
 2 Manchester Utd  35 12  4  1 33  8 12  3  3 35 23 24  7  4  68  31  37 79
 3 Liverpool       35 14  3  1 29  7  8  4  5 20 15 22  7  6  49  22  27 73
 4 Tottenham H.    35 11  5  2 30 16  6  5  6 20 19 17 10  8  50  35  15 61
 5 Arsenal         34 13  2  2 43 10  4  4  9 14 17 17  6 11  57  27  30 57
 6 Blackburn R.    35 11  3  3 28 17  5  3 10 18 25 16  6 13  46  42   4 54
 7 Newcastle Utd   35  9  5  3 24 15  6  1 11 19 27 15  6 14  43  42   1 51
 8 Wigan Athletic  35  7  3  8 23 24  8  3  6 19 21 15  6 14  42  45  -3 51
 9 Bolton Wndrs    34  9  4  3 23 11  4  6  8 20 27 13 10 11  43  38   5 49
10 West Ham United 35  8  3  6 27 22  6  4  8 21 30 14  7 14  48  52  -4 49
11 Charlton Ath.   35  8  4  6 22 19  5  4  8 18 26 13  8 14  40  45  -5 47
12 Everton         35  8  2  7 20 20  5  4  9 11 27 13  6 16  31  47 -16 45
13 Middlesbrough   34  7  5  6 28 29  5  2  9 19 26 12  7 15  47  55  -8 43
14 Manchester City 34  9  2  6 24 15  3  2 12 16 26 12  4 18  40  41  -1 40
15 Aston Villa     35  5  6  6 18 18  4  6  8 21 32  9 12 14  39  50 -11 39
16 Fulham          34 11  2  4 29 21  0  4 13 14 34 11  6 17  43  55 -12 39
17 Birmingham City 35  6  4  8 19 20  2  4 11  9 29  8  8 19  28  49 -21 32
18 Portsmouth      35  4  7  6 14 20  4  1 13 18 37  8  8 19  32  57 -25 32
19 West Brom A.    35  6  2 10 21 23  1  6 10  8 29  7  8 20  29  52 -23 29
20 Sunderland      34  0  4 13 10 33  2  2 13 12 28  2  6 26  22  61 -39 12

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1217