Newsletter #1273

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Don’s round up tonight contains reaction to the finances now that the 2006 figures have been released, and to the win over Middlesbrough. The manager speaks on the recent media circus and (mis)speculation, and news of potential targets come January.

We have a match report on the Boro game thanks to Colin, with opinions on this and previous games (with apologies to those who had submitted articles that got lost in transmission). There are also a hatful of requests.

Charlton up next, not a fixture I have very fond memories of, but a result like last year’s away fixture will do nicely and they are struggling at the moment.

Next game: Charlton Athletic, away, 3pm Saturday 4 November 2006

NEWS SUMMARY

General News

At Least the Conferences and Concerts Are Doing Well… City have reported an increase in turnover and operating profit for the year ending May 2006. Turnover of £61.8 million, up on the previous year’s figure of £60.9 million, was boosted by ticket revenues from the FA Cup run as well as concerts and increased commercial activity – for instance, the COMS saw a 38% increase in income from conference activity in the past financial year. The club also said it had cut player costs and external debts. Net external debt fell to £32.2 million from £38.5 million a year earlier. The club added that total salary costs had fallen to £34.3 million from £37.7 million a year earlier, partly due to the use of performance-related contracts. In the statement accompanying these figures, Chairman John Wardle said that the team needed to improve on its position in the league. He said that the wage bill was that of a team that should finish in the top 10 teams of the English Premiership, and not the 15th place of last year. The lower the team finishes, the less money it gets in television merit payments – and payments from Sky increase significantly next season, as a new TV contract kicks into action. “Our financial position continues to improve,” Wardle said. “Nevertheless the board are aware that we need further investment to maintain our challenge in an increasingly competitive and high finance Premier League. With the new TV deal commencing next season we are all conscious of the importance of the current campaign.”

No Winners in the Sack Race: On Friday, SP was still dealing with press speculation over his future, in the wake of last week’s humbling defeat at Wigan. Pearce was clearly getting bored with the brouhaha, and gave his own forthright thoughts on the treatment of Premiership managers. “I find it quite farcical at the moment in the game, I really do,” he said. “I’ve been around the game so long now that I’ve seen it so many times, the ups and downs, but at the moment it seems to be accelerating out of all control. It’s easy journalism. I think it’s easy to fill a paper with a story saying ‘this manager must go’ or ‘that manager must go’ rather than sitting down and putting some thought into a proper story. It’s just easy to do. It’s Alan Pardew this week, Iain Dowie next week. It’s Stuart Pearce the week before, it’s Gareth Southgate the week before and so on and so it goes. Is it going to be Rafa Benitez next?” [Not a bad call, Psychic Psycho!] “He had designs on the Championship before the season starts, spent a lot of money, and he’s two points ahead of Manchester City. Now it’s a ridiculous trend in my opinion. I know my job and I know exactly what’s needed from the start until the end of the season. That’s why, when I was sat here this time last year and people were telling me how good I was doing, I said, ‘Wait until the end of the season.’ The same story will come out now, wait until the end of the season, then judge me on how I’ve done at the football club.” He proposed a transfer window for managers, just like the one for players. “Maybe somewhere in the future, if you are going to move managers on, you will have to do it during the transfer window,” Pearce said. “Then at least people would have the chance to get on with their job a little bit.”

Held in Reserves: The Reserves took a lead away at Everton, but the home team equalised and the game finished 1-1. It was Ashley Grimes who drilled home a low shot on 58 minutes, but 12 minutes later an Everton header brought he scores level. Team: Hart, D’Laryea, Jordan, Onuoha, Mills, Johnson, Clayton (Marshall 79), Laird, Grimes, Ireland, Moore. Unused subs: Matthewson, Mee, Williamson, Williams.

Transfer News and Gossip

Ambrosia? City are said to be keen on Charlton Athletic’s Darren Ambrose. The attacking midfielder has been linked with a move to City in the January transfer window after finding a first-team place with the Addicks hard to come by this season. The 22-year-old was not in the squad for the weekend clash with Newcastle despite the absence of Jerome Thomas through injury, which fuelled rumours that he will be on his way in a couple of months. Charlton boss Iain Dowie, while admitting that relations between himself and the player are not brilliant, doesn’t forsee a move for Ambrose to a Premiership rival. “I have spoken to Darren and what I said to him will remain between me and Darren,” Dowie said. “However, what we know Darren Ambrose is capable of producing, we have not seen. He knows he just needs to be a bit more reliable in terms of his final ball and his contribution to the team. But he is a talented lad and there should be room in any Premiership team for Darren Ambrose. Hopefully he will show that form sooner rather than later.”

Sylvain to Stay? It’s a Distin-ct Possibility… Stuart Pearce insists City haven’t given up hope of Sylain Distin signing a new deal despite fresh talk of a move to Portsmouth. “I want him to stay at the football club. He is a good man, a good player. He plays all the games and is professional, and is fantastic to have around the place,” Pearce told the Evening News. “It is just us agreeing those financial terms with him. At the moment we have got a bit of a sticking point, but we have had that for a number of months. Hopefully, the main thing that will tilt it in our favour is that he enjoys his football here. Sylvain is a pleasant man who has sets of principles that he works to. That is fine, and I hope that his performances can inspire the team’s performances and make him say to himself: `Hang on a minute, as it goes I enjoy living in Manchester, I enjoy this football club and I enjoy working for Stuart Pearce.'”

Ex-Blues’ News

A Knight’s Tale: It’s All Ball’s: Alan Ball wants to coach the New Zealand Knights in the A-League. City’s former football genius told the Auckland-based Sunday News he would move to New Zealand to manage the A-League’s crisis club who have lost eight games in a row. “The concept of coaching the Knights interests me greatly,” Ball said, before giving us his analysis of the Kiwi Way of Life. “There is a competitiveness about New Zealanders. History tell us that the runners, the golfers and the rugby players have it. I think if someone could get the football side of it by the scruff of the neck the Knights could produce the results. It’s a challenge that I am interested in.”

Be Gone, Beagrie! City’s former winger Peter Beagrie is set to hang up his boots after negotiating his release from League Two side Grimsby. Beagrie, who turns 41 next month, has been struggling with a back injury recently after making his final appearance for the Mariners, his 10th club, against Hartlepool last month. Beagrie is expected to concentrate on a career on Sky TV after Grimsby boss Graham Rodger agreed to release him from his contract after nine appearances. A club statement read: “In the short time Peter has been with the Mariners, he has been nothing less than a model professional on and off the pitch. Everybody at the club wishes Peter well for the future.”

New Start in Newry: Peter Carlisle has found news of a recent City player. “Newry City boss Roy Coyle has signed Karl Bermingham until the end of the season. The 21-year-old striker from Dublin, who is a former Republic of Ireland youth international, was a free agent after spending over four years at City. Coyle has made clear his need for a regular goalscorer and will hope that Bermingham adds potency to his attack.” Peter reminds me that in July 2005 he was in the first team squad Tour of Thailand with the other young boys, Richards, Ireland, BWP, Flood and Croft.

Reactions and Comments

Boro Banished: Apart from the speculation over SP’s future, a goodly chunk of the coverage prior to the Middlesbrough game concerned the return of Ben Thatcher to the first team squad following his eight game ban. Pearce confirmed that the errant left back would play. “I have not seen what happened have any effect on Ben during training and I wouldn’t expect it to do so in games either,” he said. “We are pleased with the way he has coped during his suspension. He has trained every day and worked very hard, so it is good we finally have him available to play.” And so to the game. City ended a run of three winless games with a 1-0 success. Richard Dunne’s first-half header gave City a vital win after a lean spell of results, as a toothless-looking Boro saw their winning run end at two games on Monday evening. City looked comfortable for most of the game, but Boro began to pose a threat in the latter stages – substitute Massimo Maccarone contrived to hit the same post twice in the dying seconds of the game. City’s Man of the Match was clearly the skipper, although Paul Dickov made a significant contribution to the performance – he seemed to unsettle the Boro ‘keeper and back four on a regular basis. The Scot told Sky Sports: “It was a big result for us today after the disappointment of last week. We are all a bit embarrassed, it was so important to bounce back and we showed our pride. Everybody wants to play for the shirt. We should go out and set a tempo in the first 10 or 15 minutes. We’re hard to play against, but it’s no good winning one, drawing one and losing one, we’ve got to get a run together now.”

No Internal Pressure: Stuart Pearce said later: “I was very pleased with the reaction of the players, the endeavour and the effort, everything that went with it. Maybe in the last 15 minutes we were not clever enough, running with the ball rather than passing it, and a couple of long balls got in behind us. But over 90 minutes I have got to be delighted. Now it’s five home games without conceding a goal, I have never been involved with a team that’s done that before so I’m very pleased from front to back, and from start to finish. Now we have got to build on this. We can’t erase what happened at Wigan but one thing I can do is admire their character,” he continued. “We got five players out of the injury room for this game, I’ve got competition for places, which is always good for the manager. I’ve had no pressure internally – I’ve had no disenchantment from the fans, the chairman or anyone else in the club. We will get judged on how we finish, not where we are at this stage of the season.” And Pearce admits his side need to pick up away from home if they are to have a successful season: “It is frustrating because we do keep putting pressure on ourselves by playing like we did at Wigan,” said the City boss. “We need to start getting some results on the road to make it a little bit more relaxing at home. We showed a lot of character tonight and it wasn’t until the last 15 minutes that Middlesbrough really put us under any pressure.” He also gave a big up to the big man in the defence, skipper Richard Dunne. “I am a great believer in whatever comes down from the manager has to go through the captain,” said Pearce. “I have been really impressed with what Richard has done on and off the pitch this week. He is a big player for this football club and thoroughly deserved his goal.”

Southgate’s Hopes Go South: Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate was understandably glum after the game. “We lost the game in the first half,” Southgate told Sky Sports. “We didn’t do enough in the first half. I thought Manchester City were there to be beaten today and they looked edgy, but we didn’t start the game well enough, simple as that. In the second half, we picked up a bit, and then we had a real go for 10 to 15 minutes at the end. The subs that came on – James (Morrison) and Massimo (Maccarone) – made a difference for us, as they both looked sharp. We might have got something from it, but it’s questionable whether we would have deserved it. I’ve got to go away and have a look at what we’ve done (against City) because we seemed a bit lifeless in the first half. It’s not something I expect from us, so that’s disappointing to say the least. Now we’ve got to go to Watford and get a result on Saturday.”

Beanie Gets the Chop: It looks like the era of Beanie the Horse is over. Miss Pearce’s favourite toy was not seen in the dugout. “Beenie has been gelded,” SP joked. “I did it in frustration after last week’s defeat because a 4-0 defeat is not very lucky. Chelsea is delighted to have him back again.” That’s Chelsea Pearce, not the football club, and no, we didn’t get SWP back in return…

(Thanks to James for all his help gathering the news this week)

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

MATCH REPORT ‘LIVE’: MCFC 1-0 MFC

Two seasons ago we had an important and memorable game against Boro on the last day of the season but rarely can a game have been as important as tonight’s. Lose (and lose badly) and that would be effectively it for Pearce. After the dismal showing against Wigan, nothing less than a performance of total commitment and pride in the shirt would be good enough for the fans. What was entirely predictable was the relatively sparse crowd, later announced as 36,720, given the combination of Monday night, live TV and recent performances.

There were a number of changes for this one. Most notably Thatcher was back, replacing Jordan, and received a warm ovation. Distin returned from injury to face the club he turned down in the summer. The two Americans, Beasley and Reyna, both started, with Dickov and Samaras up front.

Boro kicked off and lined up like a rugby team, with a crowd of players on the left. Not surprisingly the ball was hoofed forward from the kick off for the pack to chase. It seemed to send a message that Boro were up for it but it was City who showed more purpose in a competitive but largely artless first few minutes. On 11 minutes we had a free kick in a good position and Barton lined it up. “Straight into the wall,” I predicted to my son and needless to say I was right.

City then started to look threatening and Beasley won the ball well to set up Samaras but he hit his cross against the defender. Reyna then had the ball in a good position but failed to react to Beasley’s movement quickly enough. Then Dickov found space on the edge of the box and tried to lob Schwarzer as he rushed to cover. They collided heavily as the ball rolled wide and both needed treatment. City continued to find openings and a strong run from Samaras ended with Schwarzer conceding a corner. The ball over was superb and Dunne rose to power home a header into the back of the net. 1-0. The captain was obviously mentally reliving his moment of glory a minute later as he failed to deal with an innocuous ball, nearly giving the visitors a chance they had scarcely deserved.

City had found some belief and the game started to open up. The pressure continued and Beasley did well to force another corner that Schwarzer had to palm away behind under pressure. Dickov chased everything and managed to set up Samaras after winning one long ball but the Greek shot weakly. The corner count continued to increase and a loose ball from another was well kept in by Thatcher, who fed Reyna. He couldn’t make the space for a shot but found Barton, who did, but the shot was just wide. Dickov then won another ball he had no right to and pulled the ball back from the bye-line to tee up Samaras, with Schwarzer badly positioned. He tried an ambitious lob but it was too strong and sailed harmlessly over the bar. At this point I should point out that we know what to expect from Dicky effort-wise but Samaras’ work rate was a revelation. He was also winning headers, which is something else new.

The Greek then showed both skill and effort when he won the ball well in the air and waltzed past a number of defenders with incredible close control to set up Reyna, whose powerful shot was just wide. A few minutes later came, in my opinion, the best move of the match so far when Samaras won a header and directed it well to Dickov. He quickly fed Sinclair on the right and he put in a dangerous cross that Dickov got on the end of, despite pressure from defenders. Then again we did something similar when a Boro attack broke down and Reyna fed Thatcher who put in a cross from the left for Beasley but again he was under too much pressure to make it count.

The half-time whistle brought a roar of approval from the City crowd and they had deserved it, showing tremendous application and some moments of real quality. But was one goal going to be enough?

The second period started where the first had finished with City exerting pressure but Boro had also come out with some more purpose and Dunne had to make a couple of clearances. The visitors were starting to get niggly now and there were a string of fouls and yellow cards. From one of these we had a free kick about 25 yards out and Barton yet again managed to put the ball straight into the defensive wall. City were so dominant at this point that even Dunne managed a run into the box but was body-checked by Pogatetz just outside. Then Dickov fought for a ball down in the right corner and seemed to be fouled but the kick went against him. His predictably voluble protests earned him a silly yellow card. A few minutes later he was hacked down after playing the ball but referee Webb played advantage and waved play on. The move broke down and Dicky mouthed off again. Webb reached for his pocket and for one moment it looked like the little man was going to be walking but he booked the Boro player for the original tackle.

Some of the City players were looking a little tired now and Vassell made an appearance, replacing Beasley on the left. The little American clearly needs more games to settle in but had done well, showing the movement and energy that too many players hadn’t shown in previous games. Vassell seemed pleased to be back and eager to impress as he won the ball well and played the ball to Sinclair, who fed Samaras in a good position but his shot was weak and easily gathered.

City started to drop too deep as the legs tired and invited Boro back into the game. They had a free kick in a dangerous position but the move broke down and City broke. However, they spoiled what could have been a good move with a couple of poor passes that took the sting out of the attack. Trabelsi and Corradi then came on for Reyna and Dickov respectively, with Sinclair moving into central midfield. This seemed to upset City’s rhythm and the right side was more exposed. There were also some idiots booing Corradi but most fans round me angrily gave them short shrift. Richards had completely blotted out Downing and Yakubu had been under Dunne and Distin’s thumb but Maccarone had come on and he exploited the space well. He got one-on-one with Weaver but hit the post.

Boro suddenly remembered why they were there and poured forward. City found gaps and Vassell had the ball on the left with Corradi and Samaras unmarked in the middle. The defender was in no man’s land but instead of playing a simple ball outside him into the middle, Vass took him on, left him for dead and fired a shot off target. He did well again a minute later, this time firing over the bar. Then in a frantic finish the action moved back to the City area and Maccarone was in an acre of space, producing a carbon-copy finish to find the post again. Four long minutes of injury time had us biting our nails but City used the time intelligently with Vassell taking the ball into the corner and keeping it there. The whistle blew and we had finally laid one of our bogeys as well as gaining three much-needed points. Boro had been pretty anonymous apart from the last ten or so minutes but that’s not stopped us screwing up in the past. It hadn’t been a performance of the absolutely highest quality but hard work and commitment often bring their own rewards and tonight was one occasion when they did.

Performances:
Weaver 6. One nervy moment but little to do in truth.
Richards 7. Had far better claim than Downing for England place but was exposed late on without Sinclair in front.
Dunne 9. Played a captain’s rôle in every sense.
Distin 8. Quietly effective. Hopefully realised tonight that he is better off where he is.
Thatcher 6. Some trademark Thatcher moments but generally solid. Clearly tired physically and mentally towards the end but that’s only to be expected.
Sinclair 6. Worked his socks off and doesn’t shirk defensive duties. We were less solid down the right later on when he moved into the middle.
Barton 8. Looks much more effective when Reyna’s there to do some of the dirty work. Set pieces getting better but nowhere near there yet.
Reyna 7. He’s no Berkovic but does the simple things well and keeps it tight. When he plays well, we play well.
Beasley 6. Needs more games but looks quick and lively.
Samaras 7. He did better in the air and work-rate up dramatically. Also showed some tantalising glimpses of his skill.
Dickov 8. He’s not the solution to our goal-scoring problem but his work rate would kill many younger players and doesn’t allow defenders a moment of rest.
Subs:
Vassell 7. Desperate to make his mark and this clouded his judgement a couple of times but you could feel his energy and desire in the stands.
Corradi 5. Hamman might have been better to shore up the midfield.
Trabelsi 5. Moving Sinclair left gaps on the right and nearly cost us dear.

Overall Out-of-the-Seat Factor 7. Skill level could have been higher but no shortage of incident and excitement.

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

OPINION: BORO

After my diatribe following the Wigan débâcle I felt compelled to register my satisfaction at the fight shown against Middlesbrough. Many shortcomings in the team still to be addressed, but I for one am happy that the team put in a performance capable of supporting. Well pleased that we finally beat Middlesbore. Good battling show Blues!

Whatever you do, stay Blue!

Dave Clinton <daveclinton(at)kisit.co.uk>

OPINION: RETURN TO FORM?

The game was on at 9 am on a Tuesday morning here in NZ, now we are 13 hours ahead of UK time. So it was a welcome relief from staying up in the wee hours of the morning finding the enthusiasm to watch previous games that could best be described as dire.

However, this morning City actually turned up and gave 100%. Special mention needs to be made of Dickov who does this week in week out, although he does lack pace now and his finishing needs improvement. I thought the defence were wonderful, especially Dunne and Distin and even Thatcher looked ok, although he tired towards the end of the game. My man of the match was Barton, who ‘ran his socks off’ and created most of the opportunities as well as driving the team forward. We still need more quality in attack, although it was one of Samaras’ best games so far. Vassell did not look too clever when he came on and Corradi did not really have time to get into the game.

It seems at last that Pearce has steered some passion, guts and determination into his team that has been sadly lacking most of the season. City need to adopt the same approach and effort in all the games, if we are to survive.

I am confident, once all injured players return, that we can climb up the table but the mentality and the way in which we approach away games needs to change. Why is our form so different away when compared to home, when we have not conceded in 5 games? Pearce needs to work on this! To me it seems a problem of confidence and having the desire and commitment to work hard and play as a team. Let’s hope we have turned the corner and this can be a platform for a decent run.

It brightens up the day when City win and play well and it’s a positive start to the week. I often wonder if the players fully appreciate how important our team are to us. They need to adopt the same mentality of the fans’ dedication and commitment to the cause.

The world just seems such a better place after our win. Keep up the good work and thanks for putting a smile on my face, albeit temporarily.

Dave Lamb <lambd(at)lincoln.ac.nz>

OPINION: NEXT UP

After a successful win against Boro at home, the next test will be away at the Valley against Charlton.

All the hard work will not get us the win unless our shooting is more on the target. Several chances versus Boro were off the target; we should have scored more, chances were wasted after all the hard work of creating them.

I’m sure that Stuart Pearce and his coaching staff will be addressing this during training sessions before the game. Shoot on sight, and with direction.

We now need an away win, this will give the players more confidence; let’s start against Charlton.

Come on you Blues! Just win.

Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)aol.com>

OPINION: VIEW AFTER SHEFFIELD

I paid my twice yearly visit from the West Coast (of Ireland) to COMS last Saturday. I wouldn’t attempt a match report – basically, anything good would fit onto the back of a very small postage stamp. I thought that Andy May (excellent on Radio Manchester) summed it up when he said that United were a mediocre side but at least had some kind of system that everyone understood, while City just seemed to play it off the cuff and hope that one flash might turn it for them.

I couldn’t believe it when I read the Sunday Mirror match report that made Joey Barton MOM. In the first half, he was noticeable only for his absence from the fray and he only picked up a bit towards the end. And what’s all that waving of arms when one his colleagues doesn’t realise that he shouldn’t be in the spot where he actually is but in some spot where Barton has decided he should be? To be honest, he looks and plays like a petulant schoolkid.

I couldn’t believe it when Pearce substituted Hamman – ok, he’s not Mr Dynamite but he was always there to take a pass and then to find a colleague – good habits he learned from a team that has actually won something (no, I’m not a Liverpool supporter but you have to face facts).

Apart from the defence (including a good performance from Trabelsi when he played in his correct position and not right or left wing), most of the rest looked as if they’d only just met. I can’t see any sense in playing Corradi and Samaras, they just get in each other’s way.

All in all, it was pretty awful and typical of most of the games that I’ve seen in recent years. I don’t want to knock Pearce but he’s not the only manager with limited resources – on paper, City should have been light years ahead of Sheffield United but you’ve got to use your resources to the best advantage and there was little sign of that.

[Apologies Barry, this one got lost in cyberspace for a good fortnight – Ed]

Barry Riley <barryriley(at)eircom.net>

OPINION: VIEW AFTER WIGAN

By ten to five last Saturday the inevitable witch hunt was in full swing. Within minutes of our having thrown in the towel against Wigan, the websites and phone lines were full of fans spouting their invective in the direction of Stuart Pearce. This is the time honoured response of frustrated football supporters, which ultimately leads to yet another sacking as the board looks to appease the supporters and deflect any criticisms that may come their way.

There are times of course when this course of action is entirely justifiable but in my view this is not one of them. Pearce is of course a relative novice to the rôle and has made a number of errors of judgement but to replace him would do little if anything to solve the underlying problems that are present within our Club. For what it’s worth I have banged on about it here and in other forums or is that fori, for a considerable period of time. I hope that the thoughts below will be of interest and will help promote a reasoned debate, which I hope will in turn put pressure to bear where it is most necessary.

I think it is essential to acknowledge the debt of gratitude that the club owes to John Wardle and David Makin, who have bankrolled us for some time now, when other investment has failed to materialise. The purpose of this is in not intended to be critical of their rôle.

I understand that Alistair Mackintosh is largely running the Club and that John Wardle is not involved in the minutiae. I fear that he is not fully up to speed with the feelings of the fans or indeed of the extent of our problems.

I have attempted to identify the major areas that concern me but I would stress that this is only my personal opinion; others may wish to add their own views. I see many of the major problems as listed below.

1. Relationship with Supporters

The first problem is the erosion of the close relationship that the club enjoys with the fans. This is at an all time low; the sound bite “Supporting our Supporters” appears a distant memory. The Club has built its bedrock of support through being accessible to its fans but it appears that over the past 2-3 years the drawbridges have been pulled up. When the Club was at its lowest ebb, the huge support it received was acknowledged as being its saviour. The close affinity with supporters’ groups, which had been fostered for many years, is now weak and the powers that be are resentful of the need to meet with fans. The Club’s head of Media is known to have said that Club employees should not visit branches for instance.

2. Attendances

Many other areas require attention but the evidence of the problem can beseen with the reduction in Season Card sales from 35,500 in our first year atEastlands to around 26,250 now. I don’t know of many businesses that could becomfortable with a 25%+ drop in business in such a short space of time. Inour first season at Eastlands the gates were at 98% of capacity, last seasonthey were down to 89% and the trend seems likely to continue. My fears arefor a long lasting impact on future gates. Scores of fans have been put offattending matches due to the complex ticketing policy and the difficulty inobtaining tickets on a game-by-game basis.The recently announced Live4City scheme is to be applauded but is probablyseveral years too late.

3. Finances / Team Building

We have been told for a few years that our debt is manageable, yet having sold our 2 best players in the last 18 months we have not replaced them with anything approaching comparable quality. If we cannot afford our debt repayment then the situation is more understandable but if we have been told the truth then we cannot afford a policy of debt reduction without investing in team strengthening. It would be a great shame if some of the highly talented youngsters were to fade due to lack of experienced support. They are the bedrock of our future but they need help. The policy of being a selling club will not help attract or even retain talent. We must not become a mere stepping-stone for the best young players in years.

The failure to invest last season cost us several millions in lost prize money, disappointing when we had built such a solid base early in the season. The acquisition of say Didi Hamann or Danny Murphy last winter could have made a significant difference. Going back 3 years, we had a well-balanced midfield of Wright Phillips, Foe, Benarbia and Berkovic, none of whom have been adequately replaced. I recall mentioning the name of Riquelme to a Club official when he was being offered on loan; we failed to get him. How much difference could he have made?

The major question here is what is our policy? Pure debt reduction, or are we to balance that against reasonable investment to improve the team and its performance? Surely a statement of intent would be a huge help to management and supporters alike. What are the Club’s aspirations, where do we want to be? Under David Bernstein there was an avowed intention, now the Club appears to be run by an accountant and we have no idea of its direction.

Colin Savage’s excellent Financial Reviews highlighted the fact that our Chief Executive Alistair Mackintosh is also on the Accounts Committee, which poses major questions about checks and balances. I personally doubt that despite the sale of SWP for £21 million last season that the debt has been significantly reduced, which leads me to suspect that we will be a selling Club for years to come.

4. Back Room Staff

As previously stated, we suffered badly through injuries last season and to date this season the picture is equally bleak, which poses the question: is the Manager happy that his medical staff is of sufficient quality and sufficiently well qualified? Under Rob Harris I cannot recall so many problems.

Is the Manager happy with his coaching team? He has made some changes but is this what he requires?

The Manager has had to work under conditions that no other City boss in recent times has had to tolerate. The Board have not supported him adequately in the market and he has to live on scraps. We cannot compete with the likes of Bolton, Wigan, West Ham, Spurs, Fulham, Newcastle, Portsmouth, Blackburn, Everton, Aston Villa, Birmingham or even Southampton. None of these teams can be seriously considered bigger fish than us. Our gates are well in excess of all of these.

5. Inwards Investment

The question of investors in the Club is vital. It is understood that Abramovichs are thin on the ground but what leads have there been in that field, how has Mr Mackintosh fared? It is understood that Guydamak looked at City before going to Portsmouth, what went wrong there?

Why are Ray Ranson and Niall Quinn looking elsewhere with their consortia?

Have the likes of Trevor Birch who lined up the Chelsea deal been contacted?

What value has the work in China yielded?

It would appear that there is a change in the air with regards to football investment given what has happened at such clubs as Aston Villa and the rumoured moves at Liverpool. It is essential that City respond quickly.

5. Perceptions

The image that a Club projects can make a huge difference to the public’s perceived view. This can mean the difference between the average supporter believing his Club is going places and a feeling of hopelessness, which is our current mode. Furthermore, it can influence players and staff in terms of joining a club or even re signing for the club. In the Bernstein era there was a great feel good factor engendered by everyone from the Chairman and Chris Bird to Kevin Keegan, which permeated to the supporters and then to the media. At present we have no perceivable feel good factor, one wonders what the PR department is doing, are the Board addressing this problem? I fear not. Where is the leadership? Where are the statements from the top? Where is the excitement?

As an example, a friend of mine recently bought his son the new shirt and asked him whose name he would like on the back. His reply was that he would leave it blank, a sure fire indication that this 12 year old could see no star quality in the team. Gone are the exciting times of Anelka, Wright-Phillips, Benarbia and Berkovic. Who is exciting the youngsters now?

In essence I am concerned on many levels but I earnestly believe that at the present time we are a Club that has turned its back on the supporters, has no direction let alone strategy, no media savvy and is looking increasingly in free fall. Please note that this is not a reaction to our desperate start to the season as the basis of my comments was prepared in early summer. I could probably write a huge volume on this subject but have tried to be brief and to the point, the issues that I have highlighted can be supported by hard facts. I know many die hard fans who have made supporting City their life’s love but are now turning away; that is a huge indictment of the current Board.

It is vital that strong action is taken immediately to arrest the situation by those in charge, making sweeping changes to the policy within the Club. The first fundamental change would be to become more open and supporter-friendly. Only by fostering the goodwill of the fans can we hope to move forward, a policy that past regimes embraced to good effect. The fans should be kept aware of the strategy of the Club; if it is debt repayment then be honest, if it is to be a balanced plan then it would not be giving away trade secrets. I do not kid myself that I know the answers to high finance but I do know that if your product deteriorates and your customers/ clients become dissatisfied then you are on a slippery slope.

I hope that many others will add to the debate and that serious questions will be asked at the AGM by the likes of Colin Savage (great articles BTW Colin many thanks!). I for one don’t want to see a Swales Out scenario but I believe that pressure must be brought to bear in the right places to either change the Club’s policies or encourage new blood.

[Apologies Ian, this one got lost too but only for a week – Ed]

Ian Barton <ian(at)blpsurveyors.co.uk>

OPINION: WHICH DENIS LAW?

In response to Phil Jones’ great comment about the final home game of the season against United (and the one I am planning on getting back for), we have to ask which Denis Law? The one from May 1963 or the one from April 1974!

We have a run of 3 City games on US TV/Satellite. The Boro game last night (3 points but dreadful game), Charlton and Newcastle. I am reduced to keeping fingers crossed these days.

Best wishes to all.

John Pearson <john.pearson(at)stanford.edu>

REQUEST: CHARLTON TICKET AVAILABLE

I have a spare ticket for the City end vs. Charlton on Saturday. Can meet outside the ground or nearby pub on the day Please contact Chris on 07789 435999.

Chris Pilkington <chris(at)leeming-pilkington.co.uk>

REQUEST: SWINTON BLUES

The next meeting of the Swinton branch is on Tuesday 7th November, KO 8-00pm. The venue is Swinton Conservative Club, Swinton Shopping Precinct. Star guest is former City captain and Academy stalwart Paul Power. All Blues are invited and welcome including children. Just turn up but if you want further details please contact me on 0161-281-7517.

Alex Channon <alex.channon(at)hotmail.com>

REQUEST: MID-SUSSEX BLUES

We have now set up a website http://www.midsussexblues.co.uk/ and welcome new members, and Blues travelling through. Please get in touch if you are in the area and would like to join us.

John Joyce <John.Joyce(at)homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk>

REQUEST: BLUES VIEWING IN NEWMARKET

I’m spending quite a bit of time in Cheveley/Newmarket these days and wondered if any fellow Blues watch away games in local pubs (I only go to home games nowadays)?

Mark Redgrave <leaguecup1976(at)aol.com>

REQUEST: BLUES VIEWING IN SYDNEY

I’ve just moved out to Sydney and am in dire need of assistance after wandering aimlessly around at 7am trying to find a pub with the Boro game on.

I can’t seem to find a supporters’ club over here so does anybody know any pubs that will show the game but won’t be full of Rags?

Max Paterson <max.paterson(at)au.ey.com>

REQUEST: BLUES VIEWING IN CHRISTCHURCH, NZ

I am forming a City Supporters’ Club branch here in Christchurch, NZ and for Blues travelling through; for further info please email me.

Dave Lamb <lambd(at)lincoln.ac.nz>

REQUEST: MAINE ROAD BODY ART

I have been contemplating getting a tattoo for a long time and after seeing a very upsetting picture in 442 magazine with a before and after of Maine Road, I have decided to get the road sign tattoo.

Problem is I have searched the world for an old type Maine Rd sign with M14 in it, not the cheap council offering that was on the corner of Claremont Road.

Do you have any ideas where I can possibly get a picture of one from?

As you can guess I am an exiled Blue here in Australia. Any help would be much appreciated.

Forever Blue, Graham George-Davidson <ggdavidson(at)nordson.com>

RESULTS

30 October 2006

Manchester City       1 - 0  Middlesbrough         36,720

League table to 01 November 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  10  4  0  1 10  2  4  1  0 13  3  8  1  1  23   5  18  25
 2 Chelsea         10  4  1  0  9  3  4  0  1  8  2  8  1  1  17   5  12  25
 3 Bolton Wndrs    10  3  1  1  5  4  3  1  1  5  4  6  2  2  10   8   2  20
 4 Portsmouth      10  4  0  1  9  2  2  1  2  7  4  6  1  3  16   6  10  19
 5 Arsenal          9  2  3  0  9  3  3  0  1  7  2  5  3  1  16   5  11  18
 6 Everton         10  3  2  0 10  4  1  3  1  6  5  4  5  1  16   9   7  17
 7 Aston Villa     10  3  2  0  8  3  0  4  1  4  6  3  6  1  12   9   3  15
 8 Liverpool       10  4  1  0 11  3  0  1  4  1  9  4  2  4  12  12   0  14
 9 Fulham          10  2  1  2  4  5  1  3  1  7 10  3  4  3  11  15  -4  13
10 Reading         10  2  1  2  5  8  2  0  3  5  7  4  1  5  10  15  -5  13
11 Blackburn R.    10  2  1  2  7  7  1  2  2  3  6  3  3  4  10  13  -3  12
12 Tottenham H.    10  3  1  1  5  3  0  2  3  1  7  3  3  4   6  10  -4  12
13 Manchester City 10  3  2  0  4  0  0  1  4  3 13  3  3  4   7  13  -6  12
14 Wigan Athletic   9  2  1  1  7  4  1  1  3  5  7  3  2  4  12  11   1  11
15 Middlesbrough   10  3  0  2  5  7  0  2  3  4  7  3  2  5   9  14  -5  11
16 West Ham United 10  2  1  2  6  6  0  1  4  2  8  2  2  6   8  14  -6   8
17 Newcastle Utd   10  1  2  2  5  6  1  0  4  2  7  2  2  6   7  13  -6   8
18 Watford         10  0  4  1  5  6  0  2  3  2  7  0  6  4   7  13  -6   6
19 Sheff. United   10  1  2  2  4  6  0  1  4  0  8  1  3  6   4  14 -10   6
20 Charlton Ath.   10  1  1  3  3  6  0  1  4  3  9  1  2  7   6  15  -9   5

With thanks to Football 365

MCIVTA FAQ [v0607.01]

[1] MCIVTA Addresses

Articles (Heidi Pickup)          : 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 Radio Manchester (née GMR) pre and post match phone-in is available on the web at http://www.bbc.co.uk/manchester/sport/manchester_city/index.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://msn.foxsports.com/foxsoccer, 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 Plus Markets Group web site http://www.plusmarketsgroup.com/ 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] I hear there is a TV programme specifically about City?

InsideMCFC is broadcasted by ChannelM. It is available on the SkyDigital (ch.203) and NTL (ch.26) platforms as well as being transmittedtraditionally within the Manchester area (ch.39). In addition, theprogramme is available to watch via the web. More details and schedule:http://www.channelm.co.uk/features/city.html


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]Heidi Pickup, editor@mcivta.city-fan.org

Newsletter #1273

2006/11/02

Editor:


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