Newsletter #1219

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Oh boy! Tom Ritchie really stirred up a hornets’ nest with his comments in the last edition! Tonight has many responses to his article. We also have a match report on the Villa game, a report on a recent trip to Southend, and some information needed regarding Maine Road. We also have the latest City news from Don.

This is my last stint of editing the newsletter. Monday’s edition will be done by Svenn.

Next game: Fulham, home, 3pm Saturday 29 April 2006

NEWS SUMMARY

General News

Testament of Youth: It was a close run thing as City’s lads gave a much better account of themselves in the second leg of the FA Youth Cup final last Friday. Trailing by three goals from the first leg, City put in an impressive performance, but sadly could only manage a 2-0 victory on the night. City’s star man was Daniel Sturridge, who struck both goals. The first was certainly spectacular, as Sturridge smashed home a long range beauty. Academy director Jim Cassell said of the night’s work: “I think that’s one of the best performances I’ve ever been involved in since I’ve been involved with the youth side. Some of our individual play and team play was absolutely outstanding. How we did not score enough goals to win the game I don’t know! Congratulations to Liverpool because they hung on and in the first leg they were superior but I think we showed everyone tonight what a good side we are. With a little bit more luck maybe we’d have had the trophy instead of them.”
Teams: Matthewson; Obeng, Logan, Richards(c), Breen; C.Evans, Marshall, Johnson, Moore; Etuhu, Sturridge. Unused subs: Williams, Vadon, Mouritsen, Daly, S.Evans.

Doggone, Albert! Here’s a peculiar story, c/o the UEFA website, which requires no further comment. “PEDIGREE CHUM – Manchester City FC midfielder Albert Riera had the perfect chance to forget his club’s current slump in form when he turned 24, and a friend flew in from his native Spain to join the celebrations. Off Riera drove to London Stansted Airport and spotted his chum coming through arrivals. Unfortunately, customs staff had other ideas. For in his hand luggage was a small dog. Riera spotted the commotion and entered into an argument with security staff, for which he was arrested and later fined €115. A spokesman for Essex police said: ‘A 24-year-old man from Manchester was arrested on suspicion of assault and causing a public order offence following an incident in the international arrival area of Stansted airport at 10.10 on Friday evening. He was given a fixed penalty notice for disorder and regarding the assault allegation released without charge.'”

Wolves Bitten: The reserves notched another victory, as they defeated Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-1 at Molineux. Goals from Bradley Wright-Phillips and Michael Johnson pushed the Blues in front, before Vio Ganea drilled in a free kick to give Steve Wigley’s side some late jitters.
City: Weaver, Mills, Collins, D’Laryea, Mills, Laird, Croft (Etuhu 67), Ireland (Grimes 45), Wright-Phillips, Miller (Ward 90), Johnson. Unused sub: Matthewson.

Transfer News and Gossip

Oh Danny Boy: Psychic powers were not necessary to predict this – as soon as Daniel Sturridge made headlines with his two goals in the FA Youth Cup final, Chelsea’s interest in signing the sixteen-year-old resurfaced. Andy Cole has urged Sturridge to spurn Chelsea’s overtures: “Daniel is a great raw talent. My advice to Daniel is that if he gets an opportunity to stay at City, his chances of first-team football are far greater.” “He is in the best place,” added Academy chief Jim Cassell. “We got him across to Carrington early to work with Steve Wigley and Stuart Pearce because he has progressed quicker than boys of his age normally do.” The England youth international is due to put pen to paper on his first senior deal when he turns 17 in September.

Is Danish Blue Fin(n)ished? Mikkel Bischoff is ready to consider a return to his native Denmark but does not feel it represents a backwards step in his career. Bischoff, currently out on loan with Sheffield Wednesday, has made just one first-team appearance since arriving at City in July 2002. The 24-year-old has also had two spells with Wolves and it appears he has no future with the Blues and a number of clubs in Denmark have already expressed an injury in the player. “I don’t regard it as a step backwards to return to the Superliga,” said Bischoff. “If you are good enough, you will surely get the chance to go abroad again. I don’t exclude it.” Another player whose City career is seemingly over is Tuomas Haapala. The Finnish International signed from Finnish Champions and Cup winners MY-Pa 47, has gone for a trial session at Leicester City, with the hope of securing a contract once his deal with City runs out in the summer.

Buying Bywater? West Ham’s reserve goalie Stephen Bywater could be on his way to the COMS in the summer according to weekend reports. Twenty four-year-old Bywater began the current season on loan with Coventry City before injuries at Upton Park forced his recall. His chances of first-team football next season though look slim and the Manchester-born player would be keen on a move to City as SP looks for a reliable back-up to David James. One goalie who maybe isn’t that keen is Lens shot stopper Charles Itandje. Having recently been linked with a move to Manchester, he says he’ll snub City to stay in France: “I’m under contract until 2008,” he says.

Leaving on the Left… Psycho is still playing his cards close to his chest regarding the future of his two left-sided loan boys, Albert Riera and Kiki Musampa. “I’ll sit down and have a chat with them,” Pearce said this week. “It’s only fair that the players find out first from me whether we’re going to extend the loan, whether we’re going to make the deals permanent or whether we decide that they’re going back to their clubs. One thing you can say is that, without the pair of them coming here on loan, it would have been very tricky for us. In the year and a half Kiki’s been here, he’s played a lot of matches for us, both out on the left and inside. Albert’s been left out on one or two occasions but in the main he’s been a regular since he came here. I’ve not had the conversation with them as to whether they want to stay, but you can tell by their body language that both individuals enjoy Manchester and enjoy being at the club.” Musampa would like to stay at City beyond the present campaign but concedes he is keeping his options open. “My first thought is to stay in England,” he told Voetbal International. “It wouldn’t be a problem for me (to return to Holland). We are talking about clubs who are playing for silverware and who are every year playing in Europe. I am now playing for some years only normal league football and not for prizes. I miss the fighting for silverware. It’s fantastic to play against Arsenal and Chelsea, but to challenge a top team is even better.”

Let’s Turn to Blackburn: There’s speculation that City want not one, but two Blackburn Rovers stalwarts. One (as reported last week) is the callow youth they call Paul Dickov – now the Blues are in the hunt for centre half Andy Todd, apparently. This week Dickov’s agent has played down speculation linking the striker with a return to City. Phil Smith does admit Dickov could leave when his Ewood Park contract expires in the summer. “Paul’s out of contract and that’s well known in football circles,” Smith told Sky Sports. “But Blackburn have carte blanche on Paul until the end of the season and he won’t be talking to anyone until then. Paul is opened-minded about his options but obviously at this stage of his career he needs to be playing regularly.” Next it was Blackburn skipper Todd who was said to be a target for SP following an alleged fall out with Rovers’ boss Mark Hughes. Hughes and Todd were reported to be at loggerheads due to the defender throwing his captain’s armband to the ground after being substituted during a recent defeat at Birmingham. This was all denied by Blackburn: “We haven’t had any contact with Manchester City regarding Andy Todd and we are very keen to keep the players who are under contract for next season,” said chairman John Williams.

File Under ‘Miscellaneous’: City are believed to be lining up a summer swoop for Portsmouth striker Lomana LuaLua, who says he could move on. The Congo star has confirmed he would consider a move if a good offer came in but wants to make sure he will get regular first-team action if he did go. “If any offer comes along I’ll consider it but I have had experience of sitting on benches and I must be sure I am involved,” the 25-year-old revealed. Elsewhere, it was reported that Everton were lining up a move for Sylvain Distin. And Ousmane Dabo must have left a big impression on SP – the gaffer went to watch the French midfielder play for his current side Lazio against Juventus. It was hardly worth the air fare, as Dabo, who is a free agent this summer, got himself sent off with just half an hour played.

Reactions and Comments

It’s Vass-Hell for Villa! With Birmingham City kindly not winning on Saturday, it meant that our City went into Tuesday’s match at Villa knowing that they were safe from relegation. Perhaps this eased the tension on the boys, who finally grabbed a league victory after the six previous failures. David O’Leary proved what a good judge of a player he is, as Villa reject Darius Vassell snatched the only goal of the game in the second half. That’s four goals in as many games against the Villa for “I predict Darius”, so thanks for your cast offs, Dave. Villa thought they had snatched an injury-time equaliser when Kevin Phillips followed up Gareth Barry’s shot – but he was flagged offside. What of the game itself? “I think we deserved to get the three points. The players deserved to win it. They held their nerve a little bit,” SP said on Sky Sports. “Results have not been good but credit to the players. They stuck at it and thoroughly deserved the three points. I’ve no idea what the offside rule is. I tried to explain it last week at West Ham when we had two chalked off for active and inactive, passive, I don’t know,” he remarked. “I’ve not seen it again. If the linesman says it’s offside then, like I said last week, he thought it should have been disallowed. Maybe we did get the rub of the green a bit but that happens in football. I’m pleased we’ve ended up winning the game, keeping a clean sheet and winning away from home, because the squad has been under a bit of pressure,” he explained. “Let’s hope it’s the start of a winning run that sees us get nine points from our last three games, because we need to get back up the league.”

Cheery O’Leary: Now it’s not like David O’Leary to have a moan after a defeat, is it readers? “That just sums up the way things are going for us,” O’Leary said. “Vassell scores against us yet again and we have a perfectly good goal ruled out. I’ve seen the video several times and I can’t believe how onside Kevin was. I’m angry with the result. We should have had a deserved equaliser at the end of the game,”

Reyna Responds: There was another rare event at the game – Claudio Reyna wan’t injured, and played from the start. Indeed, the US international was credited with an ‘assist’, as it was his pass that found Vassell at the crucial moment. “Everyone’s very relieved and delighted with the three points and the victory, but on top of it with the performance,” said Reyna. “We wanted three points in any way, shape or form but to get them, play well and dominate makes us feel that much better. We should have scored more goals because we had control of the game; as a team and a unit we played very well. The first half was a bit stop-start, we did have a few chances but in the second half, from the first minute we dominated and were able to play the ball on the ground. It was nice for Vass to get his goal against his former club, it was thoroughly deserved. I think we are definitely better than where we are on paper, and performances like this show it. We can come away from home and thoroughly deserve a win. We defended well, that’s where we have let ourselves down in giving away cheap goals but getting a clean sheet’s good.”

Squad News

In the Shallows: David James has sounded a warning about the current quality and depth of the first team squad. James said: “We’ve got a good squad when it’s all fit but, with all due respect, it’s shallow. If we are going to lose players, the most important thing is we replace them with at least like-wise ability. We will see what happens in the summer. The Villa win is hopefully the start of a good run and we can finish the season well. Then we’ll be interested to see new acquisitions and hopefully next season we’ll kick on. We looked confident at Villa Park. The frustrating side of things is we are not playing for a lot now unfortunately.”

Dunnie Flushed with Success: This Thursday was “Player of the Year” night at the COMS. Thanks to the modern miracle of mobile phones, our on-the-spot reporter Heidi was able to send in the first account on the night’s winners. To no one’s great surprise, Micah Richards named as the young player of the season. And in reverse order, third was Sylvain Distin, the runner up was David James, and the winner was Richard Dunne. It was the second year in a row that Dunnie had won the award. He later told the official website that “I’m really proud. It’s a surprise because it’s not been the best season for us, and there’s a couple of other players which have done really well. Andy Cole did well before his injury, David James has been brilliant, Trevor Sinclair has done well also so it’s a really big honour and I’m totally delighted. It was really nice getting it last year and you don’t expect to win it two years in a row. There are other players in the team who deserve it, some of us have all had our moments, so I’m really pleased that I have won it.”

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

MATCH REPORT: ASTON VILLA vs. MANCHESTER CITY

I cannot make a comment on the first half hour of the game due to being sat on the lovely M6 motorway but nonetheless when I did actually get to my seat, the last fifteen minutes were utter, utter rubbish; the motorway seemed bliss in comparison. We do seem to be lacking a player to actually take control of the team and give people a right good b£%%%ing, someone who leads the team.

Looking at the team, my thoughts were:

  • David James seem intent on having near misses with the ball and theopposition centre forwards when the old “ave it” launch is required.
  • The back four I could not criticise at all. Dunney was tremendous, Richardswas strong and athletic, Distin added another dimension at full back bydefending and even Sommeil played well and did his primary work as a defenderwell.
  • The midfield quartet were abysmal in the final fifteen of the first half,Sinclair seems to have run out of ideas against genuine pacy full backs, Reynawas anonymous and Barton was very, very quiet against a poor midfield, Rieradid offer a little but crosses all night seemed to be hitting the first man.He did also have a tremendous run though, which would have been some goal if it hadgone in.
  • Samaras was a complete waste: no energy, no strength, no touch; everything werequire from a target/link man seemed to be missing. Vassell ran his arse offas usual but no actual threat transpired through his endeavours.

I can comment on the second half with a smile on my face as Samaras was replaced by Sibierski, who immediately proved to be the link that allowed the midfield to play football to and from him, and not just pump high balls aimlessly looking for a flick on. This allowed the midfield to get up with the forwards and thus the team upped the tempo as a unit/team by being able to push forward and compress the game in Villa’s half.

This substitution changed the game, so well done Stuart Pearce for making the change and also having the courage to replace his big money signing.

We do have a serious lack of options on the bench and at half time I looked at the substitutes and wondered what Pearce could do to change the game.

My man of the match would have to go to Richard Dunne who was absolutely tremendous on the night and a close second would go to Micah Richards.

From this match I would like to maybe put in a bid for the Villa left back (J-Lloyd Samuel) who is in a contract wrangle and I would consider a good addition to our team.

John Elliott <jelliott(at)stonehouse.oilfield.slb.com>

OPINION: ASTON VILLA vs. MANCHESTER CITY

The game versus Aston Villa was not an exciting game to watch, but a game that City deserved to win.

The City players in general, with the exception of Sylvain Distin and David James, looked either nervous or rusty, in some cases both after having had some injuries.

However, in the second half the players came out with a little more confidence, and players showed some flashes of the way we all know how they can really play.

A big disappointment was our new striker Samaras, who was taken off at half time, though he has shown us all that he is capable of playing better, I think that his injury against Wigan possibly still haunts him; as Stu says a diamond in the rough with more to learn; I expect him to shine next season.

Sibierski came on for Samaras; the player tries hard, you can see that effort, but the end product is just not there. I would have preferred to have seen young Miller given his chance, or BWP.

The City goal came with an assist from Claudio Reyna to Darius Vassell who turned sharply with the ball and beat the ‘keeper with a well taken goal against his old club.

The goal by Vassell left the Villa fFans shouting for O’Dreary’s head for selling the player to City.

MCFC still await the decision of Distin and Barton to sign extended terms. If it happens, it will happen during the summer; in hindsight it would have been better to have done this in the first place as it has disrupted the games during the season.

If only one signs, my first choice will be Sylvain Distin who has shown some real class in some games this season.

Of course I would like Joey Barton to sign as well, I just hope that he is not waiting to see if other clubs come looking for him, and what they have to offer versus the City offer.

Come on you Blues!

P.S. Riera shows a lot of promise and deserves to be signed on as a City player.

Ernie Barrow <britcityblue(at)aol.com>

MATCH REPORT(!) – SOUTHEND AND THE GOAT

I travelled to Southend last Saturday to witness one of the last games that The Goat will play in this country.

We managed to get parked ok and waited with a few Southend fans for the man himself to arrive. What a difference it is; the players park in the far end of the car park and just walk through with family and look very happy to sign anything in sight. I felt quite bad as I didn’t recognise any of the players, but we were surprised by the arrival of Lee Bradbury, who now plays on the right side of midfield, and looked pretty good. He was quite pleased that we were City fans and his dad, who was with him, was very nice and remembered (unlike Lee) his début for City.

Anyway, we were soon rewarded with Shaun’s arrival, along with his wife and kids. I remember his wife on the last day at Maine Road; she was stood on top of their car filming the crowd and the cheers for Shaun. She told me she still has that video. Shaun was his usual self – what a fantastic bloke he is, always time for the fans and signed everything we asked him to. He is so different from some of the Premiership players we see now.

The match wasn’t up to much and Shaun had a ‘mare but it was worth the trip from Bucks and I certainly will remember it for the rest of my life, to meet yet again one of the nicest men in football.

Happy retirement Shaun, you are a City legend.

Anne Parker <annemcfc(at)tesco.net>

OPINION: THE PEOPLE IN CHARGE ARE ALWAYS RIGHT?! (I)

Tom Ritchie (MCIVTA 1218) said:

“Alistair Mackintosh is a qualified accountant, and John Wardle is a self-made millionaire, both with substantial experience of running big businesses”

Francis Lee was also a pretty successful businessman if I remember correctly. Did he also enjoy your blind, unquestioning loyalty?

How about the World Cup-winning Alan Ball? Did you never once suspect that he might just have got the odd thing wrong?

The club would just love it if all fans were like you.

Jaz Long <jaz(at)jazlong.ndo.co.uk>

OPINION: THE PEOPLE IN CHARGE ARE ALWAYS RIGHT?! (II)

Tom Ritchie makes an excellent point about those of us not qualified to be Premier League managers and chairmen, or talented enough to be professional footballers, having the audacity to air our opinions about the game.

In the same vein I am often beside myself with anger when I read film reviews by people who have never directed a Hollywood blockbuster in their lives, restaurant reviews by non-5-star chefs, and political opinion columns critical of the government by journalists who have never competed in an election (never mind served as an MP!).

I hope those MCIVTA subscribers to whom Tom was referring are not deluded enough to feel that they are in any way qualified to criticise his measured and thoughtful contribution.

Martin ‘Chippy’ Price <mprice2(at)lehman.com>

OPINION: THE PEOPLE IN CHARGE ARE ALWAYS RIGHT?! (III)

I have just read the tirade that Tom Ritchie wrote about Ian Burgess’s article.

Having all the coaching badges doesn’t make you a decent coach overnight. Same as getting a decree in accountancy doesn’t make you a good businessman. Just because one doesn’t coach or run a business it doesn’t mean one cannot air one’s views or indeed not know anything about the situation. Often those further afield see something that others close-up do not.

Also, being a great England international doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be a decent coach. There are very few internationals that are actually coaching successfully in the Premiership. Playing is completely different from coaching.

Tom, you probably haven’t played to a high level either.

I was a Stuart Pearce fan, thought if he brought his passion for the game it might rub off on some of the prima donnas this club unfortunately has. At first it did, now Pearcy is looking as interested as Kevin Keegan was before his leaving. All the coaching qualifications in the world can’t change a person’s will to play.

I personally find Stuart Pierce tactically naïve at times, hasn’t got a plan B, C or D, sticking with players that haven’t or won’t perform.

I, for one, thought Ian’s comments were really spot on, no I haven’t played to a high level and no, my only coaching experience is with kids (the best to coach as they want to listen and learn, something City’s first team could learn). Maybe because we haven’t (and I assume Ian hasn’t either) played or coached at a high level, we are better to judge.

But that’s only my opinion, and I live in New Zealand so what do I know!

Kevin Williamson <scribbs(at)slingshot.co.nz>

OPINION: THE PEOPLE IN CHARGE ARE ALWAYS RIGHT?! (IV)

Oh Tom Ritchie! How many ways can we tell you that you are wrong! I agree with almost none of what Ian Burgess has to say but he has the right to say anything he wants, unless Hitler’s side won and we all missed it!

We all like to rant and rave at our disappointments as the season wears on and this is the forum we have chosen to voice those opinions. You must remember that they are only opinions. Obviously Stuart Pearce is more qualified than any of us but that will not stop me or anyone else from voicing our opinions for or against.

As for you being more enlightened than any of the rest of us. Who are you to judge people you don’t know anything about?

J Heavis <jheavis502(at)aol.com>

OPINION: THE PEOPLE IN CHARGE ARE ALWAYS RIGHT?! (V)

I’m flabberghasted. As Jimmy the Westhaughton ‘keeper said to me when he let his seventh goal in of the morning, ‘my flabber has never been so ghasted’. Who does Tom Ritchie think he is, telling us we’re not allowed to have opinions because we aren’t well enough informed? Bang goes Parliament then. 630 people with nothing left to do.

Everyone has the right to have an opinion on everything and to voice it in public. They may be stupid, ill-informed or downright ignorant but even so, they are entitled to be heard.

My question to Ian wouldn’t be: ‘do you have any coaching badges?’ but ‘Do you care enough about your team to have an opinion and to voice it?’ The answer to that one is clearly ‘Yes’ and for that, Good on you, even if I think you’re wrong.

Graeme Nicholson <bensongarth(at)btconnect.com>

OPINION: THE PEOPLE IN CHARGE ARE ALWAYS RIGHT?! (VI)

If anyone has read the book or seen the film of “Remains of the Day”, set in a pre-war grand country house, they will be familiar with the scene where Lord Darlington decides to sack two Jewish servants he had originally employed to help them escape Nazi Germany. He has come under the influence of people with Nazi sympathies who have convinced him he shouldn’t be employing Jews. The other servants are shocked by this action and are on the verge of revolt but the butler tells them that their master, being their better, must be right. In time, his Lordship realises he has acted somewhat stupidly and quietly seeks reassurance that the girls are alright.

Having read Tom Ritchie’s rant in MCIVTA 1218, it’s refreshing to know that, in Lancashire local government at least, the old virtues of cap-doffing, forelock tugging and deferring to one’s betters are still intact. The logical conclusion of his argument is that anyone who is not a local government employee should not be entitled to exercise their vote in the local elections on May 4th as we do not have the experience to be able to make an informed judgement on the issues. In some ways he is right of course; being a chairman/manager/referee is a thankless task, as every armchair fan believes they can do your job better than you can.

According to Tom, managers who have played at the top and have all their coaching qualifications are the experts in their job, will always make the right decisions and should be beyond criticism. Managers like Graham Souness, David O’Leary and Mick McCarthy, for example? Whereas Glenn Roeder, who hasn’t got all his coaching qualifications, has done a fine job with Newcastle. Mourinho, Wenger, Houllier and Benitez – none of them played at the top level whereas Alan Ball did. Enough said. It’s more about aptitude, approach and character than a few certificates or medals. Otherwise everyone with the UEFA coaching badge would manage to the same level and that clearly isn’t the case.

I would heartily recommend Eammon Dunphy’s book “Only A Game?” about his final season at Millwall. In it, a well meaning but weak manager with a qualified but clueless coach fail to make the most of the experienced players they have when they should be challenging for promotion to the top-flight. There is a revealing passage where Dunphy talks about coaching qualifications as being more about how the coach sets up an exercise than whether the players actually get anything out of it. In other words they are more concerned with style rather than substance.

As far as Pearce is concerned, a number of us are convinced that he hasn’t got the aptitude, pure and simple. None of us take any pleasure from that, I’m sure. I am not a football professional but have watched City for forty years, since Stuart Pearce was not long out of nappies. I thought Ian’s analysis was spot-on but we would both be delighted to be proved wrong. As a layman, on what evidence do I come to this conclusion – on the evidence I see on the pitch. Our players still seem to struggle with the basics, both as individuals and as a team. I understand that the game on the pitch is often subtly different to the one we see in the stands but there are some things that stand out. The home game against Spurs offers one example. The players lined up with Ireland on the left wing and Sun Jihai in the centre. Virtually everyone around me was astonished at this and so it proved. They should have been swapped but weren’t. As a consequence Lennon ran riot down the City left. We could all see it in the East Stand but why couldn’t Pearce, with all his experience and qualifications? He has also clearly failed to impress the players as Barton and Distin both clearly feel, despite the noises coming out of the club, that their futures lie elsewhere. They are two examples of players who, with the right backing and support, could be international class. It would seem that they’re not getting that support at City.

Another example was the quarter final against West Ham. Pearce selected Sun Jihai and played him on the right wing in order to keep Etherington quiet. He largely achieved this (and no criticism from me for that) but we had no attacking options on that side. At half-time we were 1-0 down and everyone around me in the ground agreed that Croft should come on to replace Sun, as we had to go for a win. However, Pearce persisted and although no-one could have foreseen that Sun would be sent off and it might have made no difference if he had made the change anyway, he had clearly missed an opportunity.

As for the off-field running of the club, yet again the powers that be are, I accept, an easy target. I agree, Tom, that some of it is unfair but some of it is well justified. Alastair Mackintosh, together with John Wardle, seems to be doing a good job on the finances. It is ludicrous that a club with our income can’t make a decent profit or generate cash and I believe this is what they are working towards. No one in their right mind would invest in a club with few significant tangible assets if it wasn’t in a healthy financial state. This will involve some constraints and pain for a few years and I will support them on that. But to say that all chairmen should be left to get on with the job, as they know best, can be answered in two words – Peter Swales. It is a simple fact of business life that good leaders can stand back and see the wood for the trees but bad ones can’t. Swales, for all his qualities, simply couldn’t see straight when it came to his beloved City.

One example is the ticket sales tie for the West Ham cup tie. Good management involves resources being allocated where they can be most efficiently used. We had six days to sell 40,000 tickets and we have over 30,000 season card holders. Therefore logic dictates that season card holders should have been given three quarters of the available time (around 4 days). Yet we were originally given less than one day and, as a result, the systems crashed.

Similarly, I renewed my two season tickets recently. I went to the ticket office with a cheque as I wasn’t going to pay the additional card or on-line fees. I handed over the cheque and the forms and was given a receipt. A few days later I received four envelopes, two addressed to me and two to my son. All four letters told us that our renewal had been processed. I did wonder why they couldn’t have done it in one letter and they had obviously thought about it themselves as today I received a single envelope with two letters telling me that – yes you’ve guessed it – my season card renewals have been processed.

So that’s four lots of 22p wasted. If we multiply that up by 32,000 that’s nearly £14,000 wasted. That means the revenue from nearly 35 season cards has been lost before we even end the previous season through inefficiency. And don’t tell me I’m not qualified to make these judgements as I worked for one of the top management consultancies and was well paid to point out things like that.

In addition I own Manchester City shares. Not many, in the grand scheme of things, but that still gives me certain rights as a part-owner of the club. I don’t know why the club has taken the decision not to send players to supporters’ clubs anymore. There may well be perfectly understandable reasons for it but, if there are, it would be nice to hear them. A board that acts in an arrogant fashion, as ours is doing increasingly, will create dissent and friction. At the end of the day I am a customer and can choose whether or how to spend my money. A good business will entice me to spend as much as possible as often as possible, rather than forcing people like Don Price and others to make a choice about spending less of his money at the club.

Were you also aware that Alastair Mackintosh, as Chief Executive (and effectively Finance Director) also sits on the Audit Committee that is supposed to act as a check on our financial affairs? This is in breach of the corporate code that states that the members of the Audit Committee should be non-executive directors. Should we not challenge that?

As for referees, how many times do they get it wrong? Not just human error, which is understandable, but bottling big decisions or just not applying the rules properly. Yes it is easy to criticise and I wouldn’t like to do the job but, if I did, I would at least ensure I knew the rules and applied them. A great example was in a recent game (the league game against Wigan I think). The opposition goalkeeper threw the ball out but it hit Distin on the back of the head and hit the bar. If it had gone in it should have stood but the referee blew for a free kick, presumably on the grounds that Distin (who was totally unaware of what happened) had interfered with the throw out. This was a poor, totally incorrect decision, not just a mistake.

Opinions are part of the fun of football – we all have our own and voice it passionately. The issue about Pearce is a great one at the moment and I am always keen to stimulate debate and see other people’s point of view. Your opinion, Tom, is just as valid as mine or Ian Burgess’s. I don’t mind anyone telling me that they think my opinion is wrong but I do take issue when they say I shouldn’t express it.

Colin Savage <colin(at)cjsavage.co.uk>

OPINION: THE PEOPLE IN CHARGE ARE ALWAYS RIGHT?! (VII)

I am amazed at the bizarre tirade from Tom Ritchie, which effectively insists that we should not have any opinion as we have not had the same life experience as our heroes.

I have no expertise in music (for example), but I can discerningly compare various genres, bands, musicians, writers and singers without ever feeling I have to be able to emulate them. I know what I like and I have not had the 10 years of operatic training that I am sure Mr Ritchie would urge before I am allowed turn on the radio.

As a paying customer, I can also criticise when service is not up to scratch. That includes the entertainment industry, which I am sure your directors with 10 years qualification in company law would be very quick to assure you is the actual state of Premiership Football. Pure Business. Given that premise, if the customers can’t complain, the business is not worth a damn (cf Gerald Ratner).

The whole thing about fans is passion, caring, and commitment. It is a Love thing. We care. How the hell can that be, if we are not capable of understanding and not worthy to have opinions?

I was a qualified FA referee. I played for many years before injury ended all of that I have both captained and managed football teams. I then followed the Blues, home and away for nearly 20 years, before the obscenity we call “The Premiership” was formed. Does Mr Ritchie therefore allow me to have an opinion (he fails to say what fantastic experiences have made him an authority worthy enough to have an opinion)?

Martin Hunt <martin.hunt(at)wales.gsi.gov.uk>

OPINION: THE PEOPLE IN CHARGE ARE ALWAYS RIGHT?! (VIII)

I don’t normally reply to MCVITA letters but the recent outburst from Tom Ritchie giving Ian Burgess both barrels had me speechless. I think it’s Tom Ritchie who has missed the point.

Tom, this is a fans’ forum, designed for people to vent their anger and express their opinions, whether they’re qualified or not. You say that only qualified accountants can comment on the financial affairs of the club? That only qualified coaches can question Psycho’s team selection and tactics? What a strange world you live in. Whatever happened to free speech? What a servile, conditioned world we’d all live in if no one could speak out, question or (heaven forbid) pass criticism unless they’re ‘properly qualified’.

If the letters section angers you so much then don’t read it. I personally get a lot of enjoyment from reading the letters. What harm does it do?

By the way I am in no way qualified to make these comments.

Michael Owen <mowen(at)adelaidebank.com.au>

OPINION: THE PEOPLE IN CHARGE ARE ALWAYS RIGHT?! (IX)

Tom Ritchie must feel a whole lot better getting that off his chest.

So, City fans can fork out their 25 quid to enjoy the match but woe betide anybody who complains if the fare isn’t all that they hoped, unless of course they’ve either played or managed at Premiership level, or have passed all available coaching badges. What poppycock! Isn’t everyone entitled to an opinion?

What a dull game it would be and what a dreary newsletter this would be if we all subscribed to that opinion.

Lighten up Tom, it’s only a game.

Rob Finch <robfinch1952(at)hotmail.com>

OPINION: THE PEOPLE IN CHARGE ARE ALWAYS RIGHT?! (X)

I was staggered to note how annoyed Mr Tom Ritchie was re: Ian Burgess’ view on Stuart Pearce.

Tom, please cool down and think for a second, what is MCIVTA all about? It’s a Man City group e-mail, that delivers a mixture of news, reports and more importantly “Fans’ views” on everything related to the Club that we follow through thick and thin.

It does not matter that most of us are un-qualified to coach or manage or financially qualified on football related matters, all that matters is that we are passionate about Man City, and from time to time we will have a moan, and if it is via a medium such as this, than so be it.

It’s good to have healthy debate, it’s one of the fundamental rights in the U.K., freedom of speech, and we all have our own views, and as long as we don’t come to blows, what’s the harm?

Fair enough you took umbrage to what Ian had written, but I think you went a bit over the top.

Remember we are all City fans, who at times want to pull our hair out and have the odd rant and rave, why? Because we want to see instant success – we are starved off it following City, it’s only human nature. Irrespective of what Ian wrote, he wants City to win every match, whether under the helm of SP or anyone else. We might not agree with him, but at least he takes time to put his feelings on to paper.

Believe it or not, even highly qualified people get it wrong from time to time, look at the ex-finance director of Leeds, Peter Ridsdale (and he is millionaire), how could such a successful and highly qualified man, make such a pig’s ear of things at Leeds!

I will end by saying, us fans, we are all armchair experts and we all think we know best, even if we don’t!

Glyn Albuquerque <glynalbuquerque(at)blueyonder.co.uk>

OPINION: THE PEOPLE IN CHARGE ARE ALWAYS RIGHT?! (XI)

In response to MCIVTA 1218, I feel I have to challenge Tom Ritchie’s response to Ian Burgess’s comments in MCIVTA 1217, as I think that Tom is totally missing the point.

Surely the argument about the ability of any manager, player, chairman, referee or whatever is compared to other similarly qualified people. Ian Burgess is surely putting forward the argument that there are better managers around than Stuart Pearce, rather than saying that he would be a better manager himself!

I am a PhD qualified chemist, but there are plenty of other PhD qualified chemists around who are better at the job than me.

And surely Ian his entitled to his opinion on certain players, whether you or Stuart Pearce agree with them. In fact, to extend your argument further, we can’t talk about anything anymore. What about the tax on petrol? It was decided by the government, who are surely more qualified to make decisions than us, so we can’t comment on that. Ever seen a poor doctor? Or lawyer? These are qualified people and we are not, but that does not mean that we can’t hold them accountable or question their decisions.

For the record, I am totally behind Stuart Pearce and want him to stay, but I think that everyone is entitled to their view and certainly as paying customers, why should Manchester City fans be denied this privilege?

Steve Smith <steve.smith(at)sseas.com>

OPINION: THE PEOPLE IN CHARGE ARE ALWAYS RIGHT?! (XII)

I had just had to respond to Tom Ritchie’s attack on Ian Burgess for an article in MCIVTA 1217. While I do not agree with what what Ian Burgess had to say, Tom Ritchie’s response was a load of drivel, utter tripe. While I like Stuart Pearce as a manager, all the badges, certificates in the world will not make him a better manager. Just because he is well qualified, it does not mean that he was correct in extending the contracts of Sibierski, Reyna, etc. The same goes with the board; just because Wardle and Mackintosh are experienced Businessmen/Accountants means Jack Sh*t. If I made millions from running a chain of brothels, does that mean I could successfully run a football club. Of course not.

Andrew Ranson, Perth, Australia <tingarrah(at)hotmail.com>

OPINION: ARE WE UP OR ARE WE DOWN? (I)

John Nisbet, have you not noticed, we can’t go down! Don’t be such a doom sayer!

Here’s to at least one more year in the Premiership.

Keep the faith, Mark Jones <mark.jones(at)sheffield.ac.uk>

OPINION: ARE WE UP OR ARE WE DOWN? (II)

Well, before anyone points out that my last posting, suggesting that the chasing pack are 7 points behind, had a chance of catching City, when in actual fact, the two clubs concerned only have 2 games to play, hands up, guilty, your honour, deliberate mistake (just to see if anyone was paying attention)!

Tonight, I managed to watch the second half live in one of a choice of pubs in Hyde, showing, as usual, live Premiership action from Saudi Arabia (it happens and they ignore it whilst the game crumbles). It’s so much more comfortable watching in a Pub with a decent atmosphere created by like minded blues, fed up with paying extortionate entry fees to prima donnas, over rated, so called superstars.

This second half performance was in line with the performances that were concurrent with early season performances that threatened to achieve a European place.

So, as I have been saying, where was this type of performance for the last six or seven games?

OK, as I have said, Villa, really are the second worst team in the Premiership. I don’t care what the table says. Anyone beaten by O’Dreary’s team really are the ‘Pits’.

So what happens next season? I really do love City but I suspect, more of the same.

No criticism for SP, he’s learning his trade and doing OK but, I hope that he has learned most from this season and applies it next year.

John Nisbet <nisbet1957(at)btinternet.com>

DILEMMA: BORO OR GETTING HITCHED?

I attended a wedding recently that involved a number of keen City fans on both sides. They checked the fixtures and decided that one game that definitely wouldn’t be moved would be the game against Middlesbore so scheduled the wedding for Sunday April 2nd. Of course we all know what happened and there were a number of cheesed-off City fans for a while – at least until we heard the result and realised we had missed a truly dreadful game!

Colin Savage <colin(at)cjsavage.co.uk>

REQUEST: TESTIMONIAL HELP

I believe I attended my first game at Maine Road just 40 years ago, towards or at the end of the 1965/66 season. The match was a testimonial for someone and was against Manchester United. Does anyone know by any chance whose testimonial it was and the exact date?

Colin Savage <colin(at)cjsavage.co.uk>

REQUEST: MAINE ROAD

This might be a rather sad request and I’m sorry if this might bring some of those with a nervous disposition to tears, but a mate of mine was asking what’s happened to our old faithful stomping ground of Maine Road in ye olde Moss Side. The only pics I can find on t’Internet are a very small aerial photograph, which bizarrely enough is on The Toon website. So after wiping away the tears does anyone have any idea what’s happening there at the moment and what exactly is going to be built there?

I’m blubbing myself at the thought.

Gareth Croke <garethcroke(at)gmail.com>

AND FINALLY..

.

Ernie is back!
Ernie is back!
Allo, allo!

Graham Keller – Chairman of the “Bring Ernie back to McVittee Campaign” <gkmcfc(at)ntlworld.com>

RESULTS

26 April 2006

West Ham United       1 - 2  Liverpool             34,852

25 April 2006

Aston Villa           0 - 1  Manchester City       26,422

24 April 2006

Fulham                1 - 0  Wigan Athletic        17,149

League table to 26 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       36 14  3  1 29  7  9  4  5 22 16 23  7  6  51  23  28  76
 4 Tottenham H.    36 11  5  2 30 16  6  6  6 21 20 17 11  8  51  36  15  62
 5 Arsenal         35 13  3  2 44 11  4  4  9 14 17 17  7 11  58  28  30  58
 6 Blackburn R.    35 11  3  3 28 17  5  3 10 18 25 16  6 13  46  42   4  54
 7 Newcastle Utd   36 10  5  3 27 15  6  1 11 19 27 16  6 14  46  42   4  54
 8 Bolton Wndrs    35 10  4  3 27 12  4  6  8 20 27 14 10 11  47  39   8  52
 9 Wigan Athletic  36  7  3  8 23 24  8  3  7 19 22 15  6 15  42  46  -4  51
10 West Ham United 36  8  3  7 28 24  6  4  8 21 30 14  7 15  49  54  -5  49
11 Charlton Ath.   36  8  4  6 22 19  5  4  9 19 30 13  8 15  41  49  -8  47
12 Everton         36  8  3  7 20 20  5  4  9 11 27 13  7 16  31  47 -16  46
13 Manchester City 35  9  2  6 24 15  4  2 12 17 26 13  4 18  41  41   0  43
14 Middlesbrough   34  7  5  6 28 29  5  2  9 19 26 12  7 15  47  55  -8  43
15 Fulham          35 12  2  4 30 21  0  4 13 14 34 12  6 17  44  55 -11  42
16 Aston Villa     36  5  6  7 18 19  4  6  8 21 32  9 12 15  39  51 -12  39
17 Portsmouth      36  5  7  6 16 21  4  1 13 18 37  9  8 19  34  58 -24  35
18 Birmingham City 36  6  4  8 19 20  2  5 11  9 29  8  9 19  28  49 -21  33
19 West Brom A.    36  6  2 10 21 23  1  6 11  8 32  7  8 21  29  55 -26  29
20 Sunderland      35  0  4 13 10 33  2  2 14 13 30  2  6 27  23  63 -40  12

With thanks to Football 365

MCIVTA FAQ [v0506.02]

[1] MCIVTA Addresses

Articles (Svenn Hanssen)         : editor@mcivta.city-fan.org
News/rumour (Don Barrie)         : news@mcivta.city-fan.org
Subscriptions (Madeleine Hawkins): subscriptions@mcivta.city-fan.org
Technical problems (Paul)        : paul@city-fan.org
FAQ (David Warburton)            : faq@mcivta.city-fan.org

[2] What are MCIVTA’s publishing deadlines?

Deadlines for issues are nominally 6pm, Monday and Thursday evenings bu email. Unfortunately we cannot accept email attachments.

[3] MCIVTA Back Issues and Manchester City Supporters’ home page

http://www.uit.no/mancity/ is the unofficial Manchester City Supporters’ home page. Created in 1994, it is the longest running of the Manchester City related web sites. Back issues of MCIVTA are also hosted on the site.

[4] What is the club’s official web site?

The official club web site can be found at http://www.mcfc.co.uk/

[5] What supporters’ clubs are there?

Manchester City FC recognises three supporters’ clubs: The “Official Supporters Club” (http://www.mcfcosc.com/); the “Centenary Supporters’ Association” (http://www.reddishblues.com/CSAWebsite/CSA.htm) and “The International Supporters’ Club”.

[6] Where can I find out about the fans’ committee?

The Fans’ Committee operates as an interface between supporters and the club. The Fans’ Committee has been relaunched as “Points of Blue”. It has appeared on the club website as a minor entry under “Fans Zone”.

[7] What match day broadcasts are available on the web?

The GMR pre and post match phone-in is available on the web at http://www.bbc.co.uk/england/gmr/sport_intro.shtml.

Live match commentaries and archives of games, reports and interviews can be found at http://mcfc.videoloungetv.com/do/preLogin?clubSiteCode=MCFC&CMP=AFC-003.

[8] Where can I find out if City are live on satellite TV?

http://www.satfootball.com/pl.html provides a listing of Premiership games being shown on UK domestic and foreign satellite channels. Useful sites for North American viewers are http://www.foxsportsworld.com/named/FSW/Index/Soccer, http://www.soccertv.com/, and http://www.livesoccertv.com/.

[9] Do we have a Usenet newsgroup?

Yes we do: uk.sport.football.clubs.man-city is our home on usenet. If you are not familiar with usenet, a basic explanation is available here: http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/0,289893,sid9_gci213262,00.html

[10] Do any squad members have their own web pages?

There are a number available and direct links can be found at http://www.uit.no/mancity/players/

[11] Can I buy shares in the club?

Yes you can: Shares in Manchester City PLC are traded on OFEX. The latest prices can be on found the OFEX web site http://www.ofex.com/ (registration required) or in the business section of the Manchester Evening News.

[12] Where can I find match statistics?

Statistics for the current season are available from the club site, but for a more in-depth analysis try http://www.mcfcstats.com/.

[13] Where can I find a list of City-related websites?

Try Wookie’s Lair: http://www.wookieslair.com/modules.php?name=Web_Links


DISCLAIMER
The views expressed in MCIVTA are entirely those of the subscribersand there is no intention to represent these opinions as being thoseof Manchester City Football Club, nor of any of the companies anduniversities by whom the subscribers are employed. It is not inany way whatsoever connected to the club or any other relatedorganisation and is simply a group of supporters using this mediumas a means of disseminating news and exchanging opinions.


[Valid3.2]Madeline Hawkins, editor@mcivta.city-fan.org

Newsletter #1219

2006/04/27

Editor:


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