Newsletter #1254

What a difference Saturday was. An organised team, playing with a plan, and a first win against the Gooners in 15 long years.

We have a match report tonight thanks to Colin, views from here and across the pond, and continued opinion on the snail’s thuggery, together with the way forward, which I’ll grant was submitted before Saturday.

So, we’re gradually seeing the team Pearce has assembled and it’s looking better than the raggedy bunch he inherited. Next stop Reading…

Next game: Reading, away, 8pm 11th September 2006


Looking at our early fixtures and trying to work out how many points we would have after the first three was a depressing experience this season. My guess was one, with a home draw against Portsmouth sandwiched between two losses. I remember thinking that I would be ecstatic if we came out with four points (based on a win against Portsmouth and a point in either of the other games). So far it was the pessimistic option with two out of two correct and our least productive Premiership fixture to come. On top of all that, we had Ben Thatcher’s midweek aberration. They say there’s no such thing as bad publicity – somehow I don’t think he would agree with that. The pressure was only added to by the fact that the teams below us before today had all done enough to go above us and we were, temporarily at least, bottom. However, when it all seems so bleak, isn’t that when we’re at our best?

The first surprise came when we pulled into the car park, which was virtually empty at quarter to five. Clearly it wasn’t going to be anywhere near a full house, which I found amazing. A bit of a swap shop with tickets saw me sat with my brother in the upper tier of the North Stand and explaining to one of his friends about my match reports for MCIVTA. “Easy” he said and scrawled “City 0-2 Arsenal” on my pad, followed by “City were crap”. Well Paul, how wrong could you be? As I suspected from the state of the car park, there were significant gaps in the crowd, particularly in the third tiers. There was general agreement that alarm bells should be ringing in the boardroom at crowd of just over 40,000 for one of our most attractive fixtures. However, if Sky’s price is right, do they care?

There were some changes from Wednesday, with Jordan in for Thatcher, Dabo in for Reyna, and Corradi in for Samaras, with Vassell taking the left-wing misfit rôle this time. Arsenal were without Cole, Reyes (who destroyed us last game), Pires, Ljungberg, Senderos, Lauren and Clichy but were still frightening enough. The first ten minutes was fairly quiet, with the only excitement being a very optimistic penalty shout from Dickov. Then the game sprang into life, with Barton trying to send Corradi away but the pass was over-hit. A poor clearance by Distin required a second go before he got it out of danger. He redeemed himself shortly afterwards when he sheltered the ball out superbly with van Persie snapping at his heels. It was Arsenal who had the first goal attempt minutes later, as a superb ball from the back found Henry. He went round Dunne but couldn’t beat Weaver, who saved with his legs.

The action was then at the other end, with Jens Lehmann unveiling his contribution to this season’s David James Award for Eccentric Goalkeeping by kicking a clearance against Dickov that luckily came back to him. Sinclair, who had blotted his copybook with two poor crosses from good positions, won a header on the touchline and set up Barton, who seemed to be a bit casual as he side-footed it a few inches wide with Lehmann beaten. City had another good chance as Dickov turned in the area and crossed for Corradi. His header was low and accurate but Lehmann did well to get down to save it.

In an end-to-end game it was then Arsenal’s turn to threaten as Henry received the ball in a dangerous position but tried to do too much and Dunne forced him to play it wide. He got the ball back and tried a lob but it was well off target. Rosicky then broke past Distin to be 1-on-1 with Weaver. He pulled the ball back but City got plenty of bodies in the way. We then had another slice of good fortune as Distin made a mistake to let in van Persie, who hit the post. We were lucky not to be at least a couple of goals behind at this point but we then went ahead on 41 minutes. Corradi played a superb crossfield ball to Sinclair, who got in just in front of Hoyte again. This time Hoyte clattered him and Uriah Rennie pointed to the spot. Barton blasted it dead straight and high and it went in off the underside of the bar. The final few minutes were even more frantic with van Persie having a plausible penalty shout turned down when Dunne seemed to push him in the area. However, it was City who nearly went further ahead just before the break as Dickov wriggled and squirmed to create some space and the Arsenal defence only managed to present the ball to Corradi. His shot was accurate but a bit snatched and Lehmann saved easily.

At half-time we had the lead, somewhat fortunately, but we had worked incredibly hard as well as riding our luck. However, we’ve been here before against Arsenal – could we keep it up? The second half carried on where the first ended with action all over the pitch. Barton won the ball well in the Arsenal half and played it across the area to Dickov but his shot was straight at Lehmann.

Fifteen minutes in, Arsenal were on the break and Dunne appeared to win the ball well in a tussle with Henry but the referee gave a free kick to Arsenal. It seemed a diabolical decision but fortunately it came to nothing. Barton then took his eye off the ball when Vassell found him in a good position and it rolled away from him. In keeping with the ding-dong nature of the game, Fabregas set up van Persie but his shot across the face of the goal went just wide. Corradi then tried to play the ball across the face of the Arsenal goal but it was just too far ahead of Dickov. There was still no let up as Henry did the same thing at the other end but Dunne cut it out.

Halfway through the second period wonder boy Walcott replaced Rosicky and we had the interesting spectacle of two highly rated youngsters in direct opposition, watched by the England boss. However, it was Hleb who proved the threat as he left a trail of defenders in his wake but his ball across the area was missed by all the attackers. Still the pace and action didn’t let up but Arsenal just weren’t as sharp as they were in the first half and we had more of the game. We looked more comfortable when defending further up the pitch but when we were forced back there were usually plenty of bodies behind the ball to protect the lead. Mills came on for Vassell and did really well down the left side. As the minutes ticked away and Arsenal threw bodies forward, the atmosphere just got better and better and this seemed to inspire the City team.

Sinclair was sent clear down the right but put his cross for Corradi too close to Lehmann, when a pull back to Dickov would have been far better. Henry blasted another free kick well over and the Arsenal defence presented the ball to Dickov, who tried a somewhat hopeful lob. Samaras replaced Dickov and the little man, who had worked his socks off, got a huge ovation. City used their heads in the last few minutes to run the clock down and Miller came on to replace Corradi in injury time. The big Italian had to wait for his home début after his sending off at Chelsea but had made up for it with a sterling display and should have opened his tally. He was given a fully deserved standing ovation.

Seconds later the whistle sounded to a roar of delight and we had our first ever Premiership victory over Arsenal thanks to effort, commitment and sheer guts. And not least a lot of luck as Arsenal hadn’t been at their brilliant best. We had done to them what Bolton did to us last season. But who cares how the points come? We floated out of the stadium to the strains of Blue Moon- what a difference 72 hours and a win can make.

Weaver 8. Two superb saves that kept us in the game and a confident display all round.
Richards 8. Faced with Rosicky then Walcott and saw them both off.
Dunne 9. Outstanding display from the skipper and deservedly Man of the Match. Lucky not to give away a penalty though.
Distin 6. He sometimes looked shaky and made a few potentially disastrous mistakes.
Jordan 8. Combative and determined with a couple of goal-saving tackles.
Vassell 6. Not really in the game enough but kept Eboue quiet.
Dabo 7. A home débutant and gave us solidity in midfield. Grew in authority as the game went on.
Barton 6. Worked tirelessly but passing game still not quite there and played himself into trouble a couple of times.
Sinclair 7. Caused problems for the lightweight Hoyte and won the crucial penalty. Still needs to work on crossing though.
Dickov 8. Found space where he had no right to and chased everything.
Corradi 8. Another home débutant and a fine display, winning balls, holding possession and often making killer passes. Were you watching Georgios?
Mills 7. A great little cameo on the left wing.
Samaras 6. Carried on the good work started by Dickov.
Miller 5. Only on for seconds.

Overall “Out of the Seat” Factor – 8. Apart from the first ten minutes it was an end-to-end, thrill-a-minute, nail biter. Most of the best chances fell to Arsenal (hence the 8) but we hade some of our own. For once the visitors couldn’t make their quality tell.

Colin Savage <colin(at)>


Cunning plan; tell the referee that City are playing in yellow and Arsenal in blue! Well, not quite, but we did get a bit of luck with two decisions (both in our penalty area). Still, considering Graham Poll’s performance last season and the infamous Anelka sending off we were probably due a bit of favour from the referee. If Thierry Henry had come out after those two games and said they had been favoured then his protestations might have been understandable. Even so, the fouls given were 18 against us and 7 against Arsenal so we were hardly favoured overall.

In truth we were outplayed in the first half but went in 1-0 thanks mainly to the efforts of Weaver, Dunne and the woodwork. In the second half, whilst Arsenal were still the better side, their scoring opportunities were much reduced thanks to a spirited, if not always skilled team effort. Highlight for me was the dual between Walcott and Richards, which I think our guy just shaded.

Thatcher of course was absent – in my view he should have been banned sine die for his elbowing of Summerbee, just as Keane should have been for his attack on Haaland. One good thing may come out of it if it opens the door for the FA to move on the stupid ruling that where a referee takes action on the pitch the FA can’t get involved. If you really want to stamp out violent play and cheating then players have to know that the camera will catch them and maybe take away their lucrative occupations.

Pity about Lancashire in the C&G but things look a bit better after Saturday’s points.

David Lewis <dfl(at)>


Well it’s 6.30 am Sunday morning; must have known something would happen, as I woke up two minutes before kick off.

Far better performance than the one against the Russians! Okay, a bit jittery at times, but a real battling performance. Glad to see Nicky Weaver back between the sticks, looked far more comfortable than against Cheslea. The defence did what they were supposed to do, defend, and on the whole with great credit. Micah Richards just gets better. Thought Dabo played well in midfield, but Joey Barton, we play in blue pal!

Say what you like about Paul Dickov, but I for one are glad he’s back. His spirit and will to win can only rub off on the others. May not be the flashiest player about. The battle between the tall Italian and the tall Greek, no comparison. Like the look of the Italian, holds the ball and battles well.

So another season is under way, already there are moans and groans, but for goodness sake get a life, we’re not the worst team in the Premiership, and we can never complete financially with the top four, so what does that leave us? Top ten is realistic, a couple or three higher would great, but the bottom line is this, Premiership football pure and simple.

Kevin Williamson <scribbs(at)>


Congratulations to every City player on a very hard earned victory, I will give every player a 10 for effort and passion.

Weaver in goal was superb, never faltered against the pressure.

Dickov has been known as a “terrier” but today I think more like a “rottweiler”.

Sure, the Gooners had their chances but they failed to score against a stubborn defence.

Joey Barton’s penalty was enough to win the hard-fought game.

Let no one again say that Stuart Pearce has no tactics, he was spot on today.

This is the tonic every supporter of City needed, a game played with team spirit and passion.

Thanks to all the City supporters who were in the stadium and sang Blue Moon in full voice, you all helped the team.

Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)>


The current malaise is not entirely unexpected given the lack of ambition our board has shown over the last three seasons. In failing to back up the big Keegan spend, we have fallen behind Spurs, Everton, Newcastle, and even Bolton. There should be no surprises on the board.

We will turn the current bad form around to finish above relegation, but the turn off is coming. Short term aims will result in long term problems. Back up the Academy with big signings. Lower ticket prices to bring in the fans. Attract three £8 million players: Malbranque and Gravesen would do for now, but bigger, more ambitious buys are needed to help our top end youngsters flourish. You can see Micah has the potential but needs support of someone with far more ability than the anonymous Sinclair. Again, SWP would have been an exciting foil.

I know nothing of Thomert, but we should be bidding for proven quality like Jarosic. Attractive names like Ronaldo (of the teeth variety) with his left back mate Carlos would be a good start. It might also stop the Bartons of the team getting too big for their boots. Jordan is limited, but would learn from Carlos, who has a winner’s mind, even if he is a fading star. It would be a good influence for a season or two. Similarly, Ronaldo with Samaras.

Thatcher can f^&k off. The only time I could justify his challenges from China and on Mendes would be on Keane, Cantona, Savage or Dickov! Ambition and quality required. Dickov for Anelka is a massive step backwards. As too SWP for Sinclair. Massive mistake by our board on both counts. Change is required.

Jordan, Miller, Ireland and Corradi in. Samaras up front. Barton on right, Dabo holding. Sinclair, Reyna and Dickov out. This will happen in 10 games’ time (with Hamman replacing Dabo). Do it sooner rather than later. Bring on Arsenal.

Getting angrier by the minute!

Whatever you do, stay Blue!

Dave Clinton <daveclinton(at)>


Poor Ben Thatcher, IMHO the tackle – though a foul – was not as bad as the subsequent hysterics would have you believe. Mendes was unlucky enough to have his head hit the hoardings at the side of the pitch. If the tackle had been made away from the sidelines, Thatcher would have gotten a yellow card and that would have been the end of it. As it is, all and sundry are outdoing each other in condemning the player and in devising more and more harsh punishments. He will be banned by the FA for a long period, mainly as a result of the hysterical ravings of those who pretend to be horrified that a player would actually tackle another in a soccer game. I’m sorry for Mendes and I hope he recovers fully. I’m sorry for Thatcher, whose tackle was nowhere near as bad as say Roy Keane’s tackle on Alf Inge Haaland.

Sadly, Mike Edwards <cityfan2(at)>


Sheer thuggery that tackle. I don’t think anyone wants this type of madness on the pitch. We all know it should have been red. Get rid of this liability ASAP.

I’m sure we all wish the unfortunate Porsmouth player a full and speedy recovery.

Rob Fielding <rob.fielding(at)>


Stuart Pearce and MCFC did the right thing in not defending Ben Thatcher. With the FA still to come out with the result of their investigation, there could be more punishment to come. Pedro Mendes has already stated that he does not want any civil action against Ben, but whatever the FA does and punishment is correct then that’s OK by Pedro.

As to the Greater Manchester Police being called in by someone, that I feel was going too far. Can you just imagine how contact sports could end up, a boxer arrested for punching another boxer, a rugby player for a flying tackle, a jockey ’cause he had a whip out, a cricket player because he bowled a ball that hit another player, and as for Ice Hockey, the whole team would be arrested.

I can imagine now it now, if it was allowed to call in the Police during a game: Sir Fergie on the phone to the Met Police – “Ronaldo has just been tackled hard by a defender, come and arrest the player, I’m sure he kicked my player’s ankle”.

Let sports deal with anything that is bad in its games and not involve police. I’m not saying police should not be involved in extreme cases, and I mean extreme.

Of course we do not want anything like what Ben Thatcher did, but let him be punished by the sport he plays in and let’s move on.

Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)>


When will our club stop embarrassing us? We are about to become the laughing stock of football. Please read this article from the Guardian:

I’ve already had emails and phone calls from my United mates taking the pee and fear the worst from other opposition fans when it gets round.

What next, an MCFC float in the Marde Gras Parade or a This is Our City banner on Canal Street?

[I think it’s good to see a club speaking out and being proactive on this issue. Football and football fans are stuck in the past with their homophobic attitude – Ed]

Malc Hough <malcolm.hough(at)>


27 August 2006

Aston Villa           2 - 0  Newcastle United      35,141
Blackburn Rovers      0 - 2  Chelsea               19,398

26 August 2006

Liverpool             2 - 1  West Ham United       43,965
Charlton Athletic     2 - 0  Bolton Wanderers
Fulham                1 - 0  Sheffield United      18,362
Tottenham Hotspur     0 - 2  Everton
Watford               1 - 2  Manchester United     19,453
Wigan Athletic        1 - 0  Reading               14,636
Manchester City       1 - 0  Arsenal               40,699

League table to 27 August 2006 inclusive

                             HOME          AWAY        OVERALL
                    P  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F   A   GD Pts
 1 Manchester Utd   3  1  0  0  5  1  2  0  0  5  1  3  0  0  10   2   8   9
 2 Aston Villa      3  2  0  0  4  1  0  1  0  1  1  2  1  0   5   2   3   7
 3 Everton          3  1  0  0  2  1  1  1  0  3  1  2  1  0   5   2   3   7
 4 Chelsea          3  1  0  0  3  0  1  0  1  3  2  2  0  1   6   2   4   6
 5 Portsmouth       2  1  0  0  3  0  0  1  0  0  0  1  1  0   3   0   3   4
 6 West Ham United  3  1  0  0  3  1  0  1  1  2  3  1  1  1   5   4   1   4
 7 Liverpool        2  1  0  0  2  1  0  1  0  1  1  1  1  0   3   2   1   4
 8 Bolton Wndrs     3  1  0  0  2  0  0  1  1  1  3  1  1  1   3   3   0   4
 9 Manchester City  3  1  1  0  1  0  0  0  1  0  3  1  1  1   1   3  -2   4
10 Fulham           3  1  1  0  2  1  0  0  1  1  5  1  1  1   3   6  -3   4
11 Middlesbrough    2  1  0  0  2  1  0  0  1  2  3  1  0  1   4   4   0   3
12 Wigan Athletic   2  1  0  0  1  0  0  0  1  1  2  1  0  1   2   2   0   3
13 Reading          3  1  0  0  3  2  0  0  2  1  3  1  0  2   4   5  -1   3
14 Newcastle Utd    2  1  0  0  2  1  0  0  1  0  2  1  0  1   2   3  -1   3
15 Tottenham H.     3  1  0  1  2  2  0  0  1  0  2  1  0  2   2   4  -2   3
16 Charlton Ath.    3  1  0  1  2  3  0  0  1  1  3  1  0  2   3   6  -3   3
17 Arsenal          2  0  1  0  1  1  0  0  1  0  1  0  1  1   1   2  -1   1
18 Watford          3  0  1  1  2  3  0  0  1  1  2  0  1  2   3   5  -2   1
19 Sheff. United    3  0  1  0  1  1  0  0  2  0  3  0  1  2   1   4  -3   1
20 Blackburn R.     3  0  1  1  1  3  0  0  1  0  3  0  1  2   1   6  -5   1

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1254