Newsletter #1286

Was normal service resumed on Sunday? City fielded a team who failed to turn out for the first half against Spurs (they have their wages halved this week and given to charity for that), a fightback in the second half but once again more questions than answers.

We have a match report and opinions on the ability of certain players tonight. Ian’s antics with the calendars have also unearthed a few more like minded Blues up and down the country.

Issue 1287 will be delayed by 24 hours due to work (OK, Christmas parties).

Next game: Bolton Wanderers, home, 3pm Saturday 23 December 2006


We hadn’t lost at home and they hadn’t won away so you just knew, being City, how it was going to go. The equivalent game last season was one of the most depressing I saw that season as Spurs and us were supposed to be challenging for European places but they comprehensively out-played us and clearly showed our European ambitions to be hollow. I had expected a decent crowd, as the game wasn’t televised, but it barely seemed much better than the last two games, apart from the fact that Spurs had brought a decent travelling support.

Jordan was in for the suspended Thatcher and, somewhat surprisingly, Dickov partnered Samaras up-front. Having been humiliated by Spurs last season I would have expected City to come out fighting but it was Spurs who nearly drew first blood through Defoe after a few minutes. City couldn’t get in the game at all and the Spurs midfield went unchallenged. After quarter of an hour Berbatov was denied by Distin’s goal-line clearance. The writing was on the wall and it soon said “Goal”. A free kick was floated into the area and it looked like it should have been Weaver’s but Davenport got his head to it to guide it into the net.

City’s heads hadn’t been up that far but they dropped even further and a disaster looked on the cards. A few minutes later it came one step closer when Huddlestone, under no pressure from any City players, struck a superb shot from 20 or so yards out that left Weaver for dead. It was one way traffic, with City unable to get into the game, and it became worse when Richards limped off just after the half hour. Somewhat surprisingly, rather than do a like for like swap and bring on Onuoha, Pearce brought Ireland on and moved Trabelsi to right back. This seemed to affect what little rhythm we had and Spurs had a few more chances to finish the game off. Boos were ringing out around the ground and it wasn’t even half time. The whistle finally went and there was further booing as the teams went off. In the words of the old cliché, we were 2-0 down and lucky to have nil.

Changes were called for either involving attitude or personnel and Pearce took Samaras off at the interval. He had been no worse than Dickov to be fair but he looked completely out of sorts and disinterested. Saint Shaun of Goater said in a recent Q&A that even if things aren’t going for you then at least put some effort in and make a nuisance of yourself as even doing simple things like winning the ball off a defender can help increase your confidence.

Onuoha was the replacement and this allowed Trabelsi to go back to midfield and Vassell to move up front. However, any hopes that City would come out of the traps like men possessed wasn’t immediately realised as Spurs still seemed well on top. Defoe, despite the attentions of two defenders plus the fact that he had stumbled, still managed to get a shot away that should have done better than hit the side netting.

Finally after 55 minutes, City got into the game. A wonderful pass from Reyna set Ireland up just outside the six yard box but he ballooned his shot well over the bar, to his horror and that of the City fans. The assurance and composure that Spurs had showed in the first half melted away like snow in the Sahara as City finally started to get into a game that should have been well beyond them at half-time. Previous history against Spurs gave us some hope as well! Dickov then made his sole meaningful contribution to the game but what a contribution it was. A beautifully flighted ball from the left found Barton stealing in at the far post, behind the Spurs defence. Unlike Ireland’s effort from virtually the same spot this one found the back of the net. Amazingly it was their first goal this season in the North Stand net.

The game came to life although City were never really very fluent. It was more the case that Spurs suddenly found the form that had brought them no away wins before now. Reyna was injured and Dabo came on. City huffed and puffed but didn’t really look like getting the equaliser until the 85th minute. Barton had been by far City’s best player and he took the ball into the area, where he was clearly tripped by Malbranque. It was a certain penalty but Rob Styles didn’t give it (a draw would have been a travesty in my view but who cares how we get the points?).

The ref apparently told Pearce afterwards that he thought it was a penalty but the assistant didn’t signal. Frankly, if that was true, then in an ideal world neither of them would officiate again (however, in an ideal world, Graham Poll would have been sealed in concrete down a disused mine-shaft so that’s probably not going to happen). This seemed to unsettle Styles and he then gave some strange decisions, including seeming to blow for full time but then giving a free-kick to City. Eventually he did blow and our proud, unbeaten home record had gone, although I can’t say that failing to score against Watford, Newcastle, and Sheffield United ever made me that proud. The fight-back in the last half-hour helped to lift the gloom a little but other results now make our situation look somewhat precarious, when a win would have made a huge difference.

Weaver 6. Couple of good stops but not sure about first goal plus some poor kicks.
Richards 6. Usual battling performance until injury. Should he have played at all?
Dunne 5. An off day for the skipper. Has looked shaky in the last few games.
Distin 6. Only marginally better than his defensive partner.
Jordan 4. Doesn’t seem to know what to do when an opponent has the ball. Doesn’t seem to know what to do when he has the ball.
Trabelsi 6. Not the same threat he has been recently but puts the effort in.
Reyna 6. Not as bad as some would make out. Killer pass should have been put away by Ireland.
Barton 7. Even he couldn’t do anything in the first half but ran the game in the second and another crucial goal.
Vassell 5. Needs to be up front where he belongs.
Samaras 2. Really, really awful. Needs some good management but not going to get it from SP, it would seem.
Dickov 3. One good ball for the goal. That’s it. Didn’t even make a nuisance of himself.
Ireland 6. Bad miss at a bad time but got involved and did reasonably well.
Onuoha 5. Never really looks comfortable on the ball to me.
Dabo 6. We need him in the side now to protect the back four.

Overall Out-Of-The-Seat Factor 5. Dismal first half for City. Livened up somewhat in the second.

Colin Savage <colin(at)>


Well Mr Inconsistency struck again this weekend failing to caution Benni McCarthy under his anti-diving policy. McCarthy went down as flamboyantly as Corradi and in my view with less cause but Taggart’s favourite referee didn’t react. Had he done so McCarthy might have been in for an early bath, being subsequently booked for sarcastically rolling the ball towards the linesman after he had finally been allowed a goal. Perhaps Poll was using his “red shirted players rule book” or maybe he had been influenced by Mark Hughes having apparently “spoken” to Keith Hackett about Blackburn not getting a fair crack of the whip from English match officials. Hughes’ reaction was to complain against the subsequent booking.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we were again deprived of a possible point by a seemingly poor decision not to award a penalty. Even Pearce thought this one was a penalty, or perhaps he reads MCIVTA. When he said he thought it was a penalty however, a shrug of the shoulders suggested “so what does it matter?” Do these things even themselves out – subjectively I think not. Certainly Watford seem to have suffered more than most this season and I think Birmingham suffered last season and were relegated.

The point is that a lot of games in the Premiership are between fairly equivalent teams and a bad decision or two can decide the result. So does it matter? Well City got 43 points last season and scored 43 goals, their operating costs were about £57 million. So, allowing for cup games and the like we can say that a goal or a point “costs” us about £1 million. Now the vast majority of Premiership referees go out honestly to make the best decisions they can, some seem good at it – some are not so good. However, if I spend a few hundred pounds I try to get the best information I can on what is the best buy. Few people would want make a split second decision costing £1 million if they could make a better decision with more information.

We can see video replays in a few seconds and I noticed in the Everton vs. Chelsea game that David Moyes had pitch side access to a TV replay. Surely the time has come to use video referees? For those who say it will break up play too much, most statistics I see show that the ball is in play for typically 25 to 30 minutes in each 45 minute half; why not play to a “stopped clock” half of 30 minutes where the clock stops every time that the ball is not in play? One day.

David Lewis <dfl(at)>


Thanks City for the inept home performances against Watford and Spurs, thus saving me £40 and convincing me not to bother going to the cup game in Sheffield or any other away games for that matter! I do however; reserve the right though to go to the cup final should we by some miracle get there!

Picking up on comments in the last issue about double standards – I’ve said for some time that it is beginning to occur to me that maybe Stuart Pearce is just too nice to be a successful manager. He is praised for his honest appraisal of a football match but sometimes when decisions go against you I think the last thing fans and particularly players want to hear is SP completely accepting the referee’s decision so graciously. It’s no coincidence that successful managers go entirely the other way when it comes to decisions or matches that go against them. Would Ferguson have criticized Corradi for his dive publicly or would he have said something ridiculous to wind up the waiting press while having a quiet word with the player after the match?

With difficult games coming up, we really do need to begin to show some character. At times against Spurs we just didn’t seem to have any game plan. Samaras is proving to be a costly buy for a rough diamond. Why didn’t the club pay Andy Cole the money to keep him at the club? What’s more, why did they buy Samaras in the first place? We have no money but you need a striker so what do you do? Do you buy a striker of proven ability in the Premiership, like say Ashton, Johnson or Bent? Or do you buy or gamble on an unproven player from a small Dutch league club? I know Samaras may yet come good; after all he has shown the odd sign that he can play but how can a club with no money gamble on a player like that?

Am I mad, stupid or missing something? Unless we can somehow get a quality striker in the transfer window our lack of goals could seriously cost us in the second half of the season.

Can the mysterious prospective investor (I have a feeling it’s Bill Gates!) please hurry up and save the club.

Graham Keller <gkmcfc(at)>


My recent thoughts before and after the Tottenham match. Firstly, time has come to drop Samaras, I think the guy needs “educating”. I have been watching him closely during recent matches and can only conclude that he needs a kick up the arse. He is half hearted with his tackles and completely unconvincing with his goal attempts. His movement around the pitch is slow and he seems more concerned with his bl**dy hair than playing football. I think it is time to try Ishmael Miller up front with Mr Corradi.

What about Paul Dickov in midfield with Joey! I am afraid I have lost my patience with Sicknote (Reyna). At least give youth a chance with Stephen Ireland. Speaking of which, can anyone provide a list of names from the youth who are on the verge of a first team breakthrough? I was disappointed to learn that the U-18’s had been knocked out of the FA Youth Cup recently. Whatever happened to Sturridge?

On a brighter note, I have been very impressed with Joey Barton’s performances. He appears to be producing a level of consistency and work rate that should put him in contention for an England place. The media seem to like him at the moment, the article last week in the Times was good publicity and I am sure good news for SP. If Joey does have his head turned by his agent, let us hope that SP will be able to cash in. I hope that option does not arise, because I for one have been won over by his attitude and commitment. Let us hope that Santa arrives in he form a new financial backer in 2007. I have never quite understood why there has not been more interest in the club. West Ham are a tin pot club with poor attendances and yet they have attracted a moneybags character. Newcastle quoted at £120 million during their takeover talks. City makes far more sense. £70 million for the club and the other £50 million for reinforcements. Both teams have proven support and a massive fan base. Can’t help thinking that these stories about mystery backers are a bit of a smoke screen prior to derby matches; it is amazing how a story bubbles up in the news around this time. I will be happy to be proved wrong.

Ian Richardson <kinkladze(at)>


Continuing on the theme of hiding Rag merchandise brought up by Ian Bell in MCIVTA 1285 with the Editor admitting she has done similar: Some pals and I were in Cardiff a few years ago to see the Strokes, had a few hours to kill and ended up in the Poundstretcher-esque megastore that is TK Maxx.

Here is me hoping to find a couple of top banana designer bargains when I walk down an aisle stacked full of all sorts of ManUre themed pap, I’m supposed to be in Wales for crying out loud. There were clocks, bottle openers, watches, wallets, caps, baby bibs, basically any tosh they could stamp with the devil’s mark and slap a price tag on, shelves and shelves of the cheap tat. I spent the next 10 minutes either covering as much as I could of the gear in other non-Rag-related knockdown clobber or turning the pesky items round to hide their evil Medusa-like logos.

I know my actions weren’t particularly big or clever, but it game me a warm glow inside and I feel that I did the Cardiffians a great service.

Dan Bowen <daniel.bowen(at)>


Like Ian Bell, I would like to say that I pride myself on doing something similar as well. I do not recall doing it with calendars but I am a big fan of sticking City shirts over horrible looking red shirts in sports shops up and down the country. I also feel “inner pride” in doing this. Sad? Not one little bit! Come on City!

Angus Furlonger, in München <angus.furlonger(at)>


Ian Bell’s piece on re-arranging the calendars reminds me of the fact that, every time I go into a book shop, I have to arrange the sport books to a more City led theme.

The last time was a couple of months ago in WH Smith, I got all the Colin Bell books out, minus the one I bought, and put them all out front. I also found a Feed the Goat book, which on the face of it must be rare considering I live in the Red south.

CTID, Alan Fox <alan(at)>


Like Ian Bell I’m also a calendar junkie. I’m addicted to putting Man City calendars to the front. I get great pleasure from doing this and also do it every month with the City magazine. It’s a job well done.

Up the Blues and a Merry Christmas and; a Happy New Year to City fans everywhere.

Norma <Normamcfc(at)>


For those of you (like me) missing Maine Road, you can still see an aerial view of it and the surrounding area on ‘Google Earth’. The footings for the new stadium are also visible at the COMS site.

Paul Marshall <marshallwaa(at)>


Manchester City really seem to have scored a massive own goal in their quest to flog a few more tickets. Two weeks before Christmas they have launched a “Super 7” scheme, where you are guaranteed tickets for the final 7 matches of the season.

The cost is about £218, which works out at about £31 per match. Bearing in mind that you are guaranteed a ticket for all the games anyway (OK maybe not that easy for the Rags but last year they were on sale till the day before kick off) and that tickets for the Spurs game are £26, who are they trying to target? Fans that didn’t buy a season ticket for a variety of reasons such as cost, easy to get one-off tickets, times of kick-off etc. are hardly going to leg it to the ticket office now to snap up “this great offer”; surely it can’t be City fans who think of these hare brain schemes, can it?

If City are serious about trying to win back fans, a more modest scheme which is easier on the purse, especially just before Christmas, would be buy one get one free, but I assume that is a little too easy and simple. It would fill many of those embarrassing empty seats though.

Happy Christmas everyone.

Don Price <cathdon.price(at)>


17 December 2006

Everton               2 - 3  Chelsea               33,970
West Ham United       1 - 0  Manchester United     34,966
Manchester City       1 - 2  Tottenham Hotspur     39,825

16 December 2006

Charlton Athletic     0 - 3  Liverpool             27,111
Arsenal               2 - 2  Portsmouth            60,037
Aston Villa           0 - 1  Bolton Wanderers      27,450
Newcastle United      2 - 1  Watford               49,231
Reading               1 - 2  Blackburn Rovers      23,074
Wigan Athletic        0 - 1  Sheffield United      16,322

League table to 17 December 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  18  7  1  1 20  4  7  1  1 18  6 14  2  2  38  10  28  44
 2 Chelsea         18  7  2  0 16  4  6  1  2 14  7 13  3  2  30  11  19  42
 3 Liverpool       18  7  2  0 18  3  2  2  5  8 12  9  4  5  26  15  11  31
 4 Arsenal         18  4  5  0 18  6  4  1  4 11  9  8  6  4  29  15  14  30
 5 Bolton Wndrs    18  5  1  3 12  7  4  2  3  8  8  9  3  6  20  15   5  30
 6 Portsmouth      18  6  2  1 16  6  2  3  4  9 10  8  5  5  25  16   9  29
 7 Tottenham H.    18  7  1  1 17  7  1  3  5  5 15  8  4  6  22  22   0  28
 8 Reading         18  5  1  3 12 11  3  1  5  8 12  8  2  8  20  23  -3  26
 9 Aston Villa     18  4  3  2 12  8  1  7  1  9 10  5 10  3  21  18   3  25
10 Everton         18  5  2  2 15  8  1  4  4  7 12  6  6  6  22  20   2  24
11 Wigan Athletic  18  3  2  4 10 12  3  2  4 10 11  6  4  8  20  23  -3  22
12 Newcastle Utd   18  4  2  3 11 10  2  2  5  6 10  6  4  8  17  20  -3  22
13 Manchester City 18  4  4  1  8  3  1  1  7  7 19  5  5  8  15  22  -7  20
14 Sheff. United   18  2  4  3 11 13  3  1  5  3  9  5  5  8  14  22  -8  20
15 Fulham          17  4  1  3  7  7  1  4  4  9 20  5  5  7  16  27 -11  20
16 Blackburn R.    17  3  2  4 11 12  2  2  4  5 10  5  4  8  16  22  -6  19
17 Middlesbrough   17  4  2  3  8 10  0  3  5  6 12  4  5  8  14  22  -8  17
18 West Ham United 18  5  1  3  9  8  0  1  8  2 16  5  2 11  11  24 -13  17
19 Charlton Ath.   18  3  2  4  6 10  0  1  8  7 21  3  3 12  13  31 -18  12
20 Watford         17  1  5  2  7  7  0  3  6  4 15  1  8  8  11  22 -11  11

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1286