Newsletter #1378

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A rather turgid game on Monday night, but we did get the desired result thanks to a goal from self-styled superman Ireland. We have match reports tonight thanks to Sharon and Paul.

Don’s news round up brings us reaction to the recent games, rumours of forthcoming signings, takeoff for Jackett and Elano’s love-in.

We also have October’s round-up, opinion on attacking options and what is required, and news on City’s humble beginnings and the usual requests.

Next Game: Sunday 11 November 2007, 4pm, Portsmouth (Away)

NEWS SUMMARY

General News

Giant Strides: Dr. Thaksin has been giving his thoughts this week on the progress made by the club since his summer takeover. Shinawatra declared himself to be “surprised” at how well the team are doing, and believes Sven has moulded a team capable of qualifying for Europe this season. So no pressure, Sven! The ousted former Thai prime minister said: “When I first started to discuss about buying Manchester City we hoped to be in the top ten. Now I think we can get into the UEFA Cup. We are a sleeping giant. I’m glad to be the one to wake that giant.”

Taking on Tottenham: The draw for the Quarter Finals of the Carling Cup was made on Saturday. City will play Spurs at home which, when you look at the other teams still in the competition, is about the best we could expect. The game will take place on Tuesday December 18, kick-off 7.45pm. The other games are:-
West Ham vs. Everton
Chelsea vs. Liverpool
Blackburn Rovers vs. Arsenal

Take a Break: It must have been a quiet week in the world of football, because Sven was asked to give his opinion on possible changes to the structure of the English season. There were two suggestions on the table: (1) How about a mid-season break in the Premiership, and (2) Increase the number of substitutes on the bench from 5 to 7. These changes would bring the Premier League into line with many other countries in Europe. S-GE is keen on the winter break idea: “It would be good for the national team when they go to big tournaments and good for clubs in Europe,” he told BBC Radio Five Live. “I have been fighting for this for many years. There is too much football and not enough breaks. We are the only country in Europe without a mid-season break. It is important to give players one week off and one week to prepare for the next game. You have time to heal small injuries when you have one week off and can recover much better.” And bearing in mind the fact that Sven once made 11 substitutions in a game when he was England boss, it’ll come as no surprise to learn that he’s all in favour of having more subs to choose from in the Prem. “If we could have seven players on the bench, it would be much better,” he said. “When you have say 23 players who are working hard, it is bad when you have to omit them on match day,” Eriksson continued. “Everyone wants to be on the pitch, but while this is not possible it would help if we could change the rules on substitutes.”

Millwall Take Off Jackett: Kenny Jackett has been named as the new manager of Millwall. Last month, the Lions were unsuccessful in their bid to lure Jackett from the Blues – at the time, he was assisting Sven with the first team, while Hans Backe was away from the club on compassionate leave. Now Backe is back, and it appears that Jackett did not fancy life back as the Reserve team coach. Jackett told Millwall’s official website: “I’m excited to be joining Millwall and to be offered this challenge. This is a club with tremendous potential and a passionate support and I am looking forward to meeting the players and getting under way later this week.” Lions’ chairman John G Berylson said: “Kenny was one of the first names on our list after we had drawn up our criteria for a new manager. Initially we thought we would not get our man, but we remained determined to try, and eventually after meeting with him on Tuesday afternoon, he agreed to join us.” He added: “Whilst still a relatively young man, Kenny has gained tremendous experience as a player, coach and manager. He has helped three teams win promotion as manager or assistant, and while at Swansea also enjoyed some cup success as well. His management skills are first class, and I am confident he will soon have Millwall moving up the league.” Millwall currently sit in twenty first place in League One, and Kenny replaces City legend Willie Donachie, who left the London club in October.

Rovers Return Home Pointless: There was a stirring Reserve game at the Athletics Arena, by all accounts, where City beat Blackburn Rovers in a ding (and indeed) dong battle. Rovers raced to a two goal lead in the first thirty minutes, although that lead was halved almost immediately thanks to an Ashley Grimes strike. Nine minutes into the second half, City equalised. Ched Evans crashed an unstoppable shot past goalie Nielsen via the underside of the bar, and the comeback was completed by Ben Mee who put the Blues ahead on 69 minutes. Team: Mentel, Vidal (Obeng, 80), Williamson, McDonald, Mee, Marshall (Mouritsen,77), Etuhu, Grimes, Evans, Dabo (Laird, 85), Moore. Subs not used: Hartley, Ball.

Transfer News and Gossip

AA Rescue: The reports linking City with a move for Afonso Alves are growing ever stronger. Dutch daily De Telegraaf claims that Sven Goran Eriksson has had a €20 million (£13.9 million) bid accepted by Heerenveen for the Brazil international who made worldwide headlines when scoring seven goals in an Eredivisie game earlier in the season. That stunning return, in a game against Heracles Almelo, was his first appearance of the season after refusing to play for Heerenveen in an attempt to seal an exit from the Dutch side. Alves rose to prominence last season when, after moving from Malmo in the summer of 2006, he scored 34 goals in 31 games in the Dutch top flight. The 26-year-old was linked with Middlesbrough and a number of other sides over the summer but, having failed to secure a move, has returned to action for Heerenveen and boasts 10 goals from four games this season. De Telegraaf also reports that Georgios Samaras could return to Heerenveen, the club he left to join City in January 2006, as part of the Alves deal. The two clubs are saying nowt, however – the M.E.N. says that City are denying any such deal is in place, while Heerenveen director Yme Kuiper refused to comment on the reports, telling the club website: “Obviously the rumour machine concerning Alves has come on at a pace. Our policy is that we do not react to rumours and that will remain this way.” All will be revealed in January, no doubt.

Will Sven Nick Nic? Another temperamental striker who’s still being linked with the Blues is City old boy Nicolas Anelka. I seem to remember that as he reached the end of his stay with City, Anelka hardly played as he suffered from a spate of ‘mysterious’ injuries. He appears to be suffering similar absences for his current team Bolton Wanderers, and one Sunday journal claimed that Anelka’s representatives were touting their boy to many Premiership clubs. City in particular were mentioned this week because Sven sang the praises of the French striker this week. “Anelka is very good,” Eriksson told the Sunday Mirror. “His pace and ability are fantastic. He is a player who I almost bought for Lazio. When he left Arsenal, I was sitting in the home of David Dein with Arsene Wenger for a full day hoping to do a deal. I was also with Lazio’s directors, but in the end it didn’t happen because Real Madrid came in.”

Poulsen Pounce: City have reactivated their interest in Sevilla midfielder Christian Poulsen, according to The Sun. Poulsen was a subject of the club’s interest during the summer. The Danish international has a £7 million release clause written into his contract, and City have already made an offer. The midfielder, however, is waiting to hear from Sevilla before making his decision. “I am happy in Seville but the club has to decide on this issue,” he said in the Sun. The 27-year-old defensive midfielder’s agent has indicated that there is also interest from a “London Club”, allegedly Tottenham. However, Sevilla president Jose Maria del Nido insists the Dane will not be moving. “I understand Poulsen is very happy here,” said del Nido. “He wants to continue in our ranks. We have quality, great footballers and the best fans in the world.”

Getting a Grip on Erik: Newcastle striker Michael Owen has described rumours of a move to City – or any other club – as “pie in the sky”. He said: “I’m still here and still loving my time here. I haven’t been offered or asked for a new contract. Neither has my agent. It’s pie in the sky.” Elsewhere, City are said to be eyeing Dynamo Kiev midfielder Ayila Yussuf. The 22 year-old Nigerian is ready to leave Dynamo in January and is courting interest from England and France. And City are tracking Norwegian starlet Erik Huseklepp, with Tord Grip confirming their interest. The 23-year-old has impressed in recent seasons with his flamboyant and stylish play and he has indicated to Brann that he is unlikely to sign a new deal. “I know about Huseklepp and I know that he is an interesting player,” admitted Grip. “We haven’t contacted SK Brann and we’ll let them finish their season even though they have won it already.” Huseklepp’s advisor admits contact has been made with City, but insists that a bid is not imminent. “It’s a long way from an enquiry to a bid,” said Stein Arve Lone.

Ex-Blues’ News

Taking the Track to the Tykes: I’m grateful for my in-laws’ copy of the Barnsley Chronicle for alerting me to this bijou item. Barnsley have signed striker Jon Macken on loan. The 30-year-old forward has joined the Tykes on loan until the New Year from Premier League side Derby County. The former Blue has failed to make an appearance for the Rams since their promotion to the top-flight in the summer. Macken, who cost City £5 million when he joined them from Preston in 2002, has not played since last season’s play-off semi-final. He played for Barnsley in their 1-0 win over Preston, and guess what? He didn’t score.

After-Match Reactions and Comments

Superman – Super Goal: It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t clever – and that’s just the sight of Stephen Ireland’s underpants. City meanwhile played less than scintillating football against Sunderland on Monday, but still took three points to return to third in the League with a 1-0 win, thanks to Ireland’s cracking volley on 66 minutes. If we’re being objective, the result was a tad unfair on Sunderland, who’d been the better team for long periods of the game. But who needs to be objective? It’s always great to defeat a team managed by United’s former career-ending nutcase Roy Keane, so let’s enjoy the victory. The majority of the after match comment (and pictures for that matter) focussed on the after goal antics of Ireland, who dropped his shorts to reveal a pair of briefs emblazoned with the Superman logo. As our wise- cracking gaffer said afterwards: “Superman – super goal! He has been training very well, I am just a little surprised it has taken him a bit of time to play better. I saw his celebration. Stephen scored a nice goal and I would like to leave it there. Maybe the FA will look at it – but I hope not.” Despite a lot of harrumphing by the press the next day over the brief encounter, the FA decided not to take any action against the latter day Clark Kent. The goal ensured that City have made their best ever home start to a season, winning their first seven games at the COMS. Fortress Eastlands, eh?

Recovery Continues: S-GE was relieved man at close of play. “We got the three points, we won the game, and of course we are very, very happy. It was not a great game. Sunderland played well and made it difficult for us. They forced us to play a lot of passes, and we could not play our football,” he admitted on Setanta Sports. “We were close to making chances many, many times, but we missed the last pass. Sunderland did well. It was a difficult game and we won it.” Sven was particularly happy by the response shown to the thrashing at Chelsea the week before. “I think it is important after Chelsea away, that we have won 1-0 twice after that game, with a clean sheet. The good football will hopefully come soon,” he continued. Eriksson paid tribute to goalscorer Ireland, and to Darius Vassell, who came off the bench to set up the goal. “Stephen Ireland is a fantastic football player, and particularly second half he played very, very well. It was a great goal, and an important goal. Vassell came on and did very well, and the assist for the goal was fantastic.” Captain Richard Dunne insisted that Eriksson has not given the side any specific targets this season, but admitted that personally he was keen to finish in a European spot. “The manager has not set any targets,” he said. “We are enjoying it at the moment and if we keep working hard we’ll be in the top half, and hopefully challenge for the European places.” He added: “We needed to bounce back after the defeat so it was nice to get the win. It’s been good. We were very disappointed last week and we know if we are strong at the back we have the quality up front to score goals.”

Hail the New Keane: Now on to Keano’s reaction. Something strange has happened to Roy Keane as a manager. Gone are the eye-popping, vein-throbbing rants of his playing persona, and in its place there’s a calm pitch-side presence, and his after match comments are lucid and fair. Sir Alex must be so disappointed in his protégé. At least Steve Bruce has followed in his Master’s footsteps, judging by his recent bleatings after a game at the COMS. So what was Keane’s assessment of the night’s proceedings? “I don’t feel hard done by. We didn’t deserve anything. I don’t feel we did enough to get anything out of the game. I don’t think their ‘eeper had too many saves to make, did he? They produced that one bit of quality and they scored.” Blimey, I can only think that his new, more civilized persona is down to the calming influence of Sunderland Chairman Niall Quinn. This new character didn’t save lovely Roy from the City fans, however – apart from the cheer for the goal, the loudest noise heard at the COMS on Monday was reserved jeering the Black Cats’ manager. Welcome back to Manchester, Roy.

The Groin’s Gone: One fly in the ointment was the injury to Michael Johnson. He has been playing for weeks with a niggling groin problem, but it all got too much for Michael on Monday. S-GE withdrew him at half time, and has agreed to Johnson having corrective surgery on the injury. This will keep Johnson out ofr three weeks. “Michael cannot go on like this,” confirmed the Manager. “He is only a young man but he cannot train the day after a match. He came to me at half-time and said he couldn’t run anymore. We must decide whether to send him for an operation and, with the international break, now would be a good time. I am not sure how long he will be out but I don’t think it will be any more than two or three weeks.”

Squad News

Knee Not Knacked: Last week this Summary brought worrying news of Micah Richards, who’d been carried off in some pain at Bolton. It now appears that the injury is none too serious. “Micah has bruised his medial meniscus cartilage in his right knee but there is no serious or long-term damage,” read a club statement. “His condition will continue to be assessed on a daily basis.” On Friday Sven confirmed that Micah would miss the Sunderland game, but was then expected to be available thereafter. “Richards will probably not play on Monday but hopefully the match afterwards,” Eriksson said. “It is not a ligament problem and that is very good news, of course. It is a relief for him, for us and for England.”

Thanks to Everyone: Elano has paid tribute to City’s fans, saying that it’s their support that’s helped him settle in the Premiership this season. “I know the fans like the way I play and that they appreciate me and I feel the same about them, but it is the team that wins matches, not individuals,” he told the City Mag. “I appreciate that our home supporters pay their money to cheer on the side and when we score it brings them great joy. They want to share in that moment and that is understandable. It is how a bond is formed between themselves and the team and in that moment we are one. I am really happy to be here and my family is happy, too. It has been easy to settle thanks to the manager, my team-mates and the supporters. Even the press have been kind to me. I want to thank everyone.”

Vass the Way He Likes It: Darius Vassell has featured in City’s last two games – as substitutes in both the Carling Cup win at Bolton and versus Sunderland, and set up Stephen Ireland for the winning goal. Vass is determined to fight for his future and prove himself at City, having been linked with moves to Besiktas and Derby in the summer. “I’m coming to the age where you have got to think about your future, but I always said that coming to City was a big decision for me,” Vassell said on the club website. “I really want to make a mark here, I don’t think I’ve done that yet but I still have time. I’m going to fight to do that, it’s a big challenge to get in the team here and stay in it rather than to go somewhere else and play more. I think I’ve got a bigger challenge staying here, but I’m not afraid of that. I feel I have always been given a fair crack of the whip when I’ve been fit and hopefully I can build on that. When the opportunity has arisen, the manager has given everyone a good chance and we are all grateful for that. Everyone is fighting for their places. That is the way it should be in a successful team.”

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

OPINION: OCTOBER ROUND UP

Elano again stepped up with a piece of class to begin October as the Blues overcame a struggling Middlesbrough. Having scored that pearl of a free kick against Newcastle only a week before, Boro ‘keeper Mark Schwarzer was more than ready to be tested by another thunderbolt. However, Elano used some wicked deception against the Australian goalie and rather than run and smash the ball, he simply floated a cheeky curling chip into the top corner of the Boro net. This completed his brace and rounded off the Blues’ scoring in the expected 3-1 victory.

Those who had placed Elano into their fantasy football team weeks before would have been chuffed to see the Brazilian playmaker score his fourth in three games as City hosted newly promoted Birmingham. It wasn’t the fast paced, attractive football that we’d come to expect of the Citizens, but all the same they ground out a deserved 1-0 victory that kept them flying high in the top three of the Premier League. They say that those who achieve at the highest level, gain points in games that they have to scrap for and City surely did that against the Brummies.

Having won five from six and drawn the other one, the Blues had been unbeaten for six weeks. Not a feeling that comes along often if you support City and one that we may have been carried away with. We travelled in numbers down to Stamford Bridge expecting to maybe take something, from a team that hadn’t fully got into their stride yet and whose main influence was out injured. However, the crocked John Terry watched on as his boys destroyed the Blues to the tune of 6-0 and left their fans with a sharp feeling of realism. Can the Blues grab a top four spot this year? Maybe not and I for one would be more than happy to settle for a UEFA Cup spot. But I do not believe that the bubble has burst as most of the pessimists are claiming and if they keep up their consistently good performances I wouldn’t be surprised if a trip to Wembley was on the cards.

This would most likely come in the form of the Carling Cup final and the 1-0 victory against Bolton helped us on our way. Four days was a convenient time to wait and take on new opposition in an attempt to recover from ‘Chelsea-gate’. New Bolton manager Gary Megson would have look forward to the prospect of taking on a team who had been demolished the weekend before but the new look City side, led by Sven, came back with a hard fought win to help us progress to a quarter final at home against the slowly imploding Spurs side. I won’t ask you to guess the scorer of the goal at the Reebok but I can very safely say that Sven owes Brazilian Head Coach Dunga for his pre-season recommendations. One penalty was enough and the fans are drooling over the next round.

October Star performer- Although it’s difficult not to say Elano, I have to say that I picked out Vedran Corluka as the outstanding figure during the last month. A superb replacement for Sylvain Distin who will be no doubt devastated that he left when he did. If we ignore the Chelsea game, Corluka has not lacked quality over the first two and a half months and his contribution has been largely overlooked.

October’s Best Moment- I can’t help it, it has to be the Elano free kick against Middlebrough. He should expect to hear the South Stand urging him to shoot every time he touches the ball for the rest of the season.

Alexander Rowen <ajpr2007(at)hotmail.co.uk>

MATCH REPORT ‘LIVE’: MCFC 1 SAFC 0

Now I’ve only recently moved back oop North after many years exiled down south, so evening kick offs are still a bit of a novelty. I had seen both the drab performances against Norwich and Bolton (thank goodness they didn’t go into extra time, couldn’t have stood any more of that…) but this was my first home league match and I was hoping for a much better performance.

The portents were not good. It was cold – I’d had to “borrow” my four year old’s City scarf as I couldn’t find mine (probably still in a box somewhere). The rest of Manchester seemed to be going to the bonfire in Heaton Park so the traffic was awful. My mum had a row with someone who pushed in front of her at the bar in the ground (note to everyone in the East Stand: not a good idea). Then, worst of all, someone knocked my pie out of my hand when I’d eaten less than half of it!

The team had three changes from the one that beat Bolton, with Hart back for Isaksson, Petrov back in and Sun replacing Richards. Corluka moved to partner Dunne in the centre of defence, with Garrido dropping back to his usual spot. The Sunderland team don’t exactly have too many famous names so I won’t bother saying anything about them, other than they had old boy Etuhu playing as well as the fantastically named Nyron Nosworthy, surely one of the best names in the Premier League right now.

So on to the match.

Zzzzzzz.

It wasn’t great. Sunderland had pretty much all the possession for the first 25 minutes but thankfully weren’t good enough to do anything with it. When we did get the ball our passing was as woeful as it had been against Bolton. Whatever’s been bothering Ireland in the last couple of games had obviously spread to the usually reliable Petrov too. We seemed to be completely unable to move the ball out of midfield – Hamann can only do so much on his own, and with no-one moving into space for him to release the ball to and Petrov’s 50p feet sending the ball in all directions we just couldn’t keep possession. I can only really remember one decent run from City in the first half – the first time Elano managed to get the ball and stick it to his feet, rather than watch it bounce off them. Having beaten the entire Sunderland defence for fun, twice, he could only shoot tamely at their ‘keeper. Luckily for us though, Sunderland were as rubbish in front of goal as we were in midfield. I don’t know how many shots on target they managed, but there weren’t many for Hart to save. The only real entertainment came from all the, ahem, encouragement that Keane received every time he stood up. Elano did have a free kick attempt on goal just before half time but it was more of a Jonny Wilkinson distance than a tricksy little Brazilian one, and sure enough he shot well high and wide.

Half time, and the quiet sweet little granny sitting next to me went to get a coffee. I have no idea what else she took with that coffee, but the little old lady who spent the first half expressing concern by using phrases such as “oh dear”, “what was that”, “it isn’t his best game this evening” and such like turned into a raging demon in the second half. Spitting, swearing, on her feet all the time (or on my feet, she kept jumping up and down and missing the floor), screaming until she was hoarse. Whatever it was, they should bottle it and give it to the players when they’re feeling a bit tired and not really up for it. She scared me though.

The football wasn’t so much better at the start of the second half. Vassell came on for Johnson, who was also well below par, and did add some extra threat as at least he tried hard. It’s difficult to produce much when you can’t get the ball ’cause your midfielders keep giving it away though. At last after about an hour Bianchi finally got his chance as he came on for Mpenza, to a great reception, almost as loud as the boos for Keane. Sadly his first couple of touches clearly showed why he’s been left on the bench. Then, after 66 minutes, there was finally a breakthrough. Some great running by Vassell down the left was followed by a lovely pass across the face of goal, and a cracking finish by Ireland. Phew.

After that City did look pretty solid, although Sunderland tried their best to put us under pressure. Corluka was doing a decent enough job at centre half with Dunnie, and Garrido had a much better game. Elano, who had another quiet game compared to what we’ve come to expect from him, was replaced by Ball on 82 minutes and that pretty much finished the game off. It didn’t feel like it at the time of course, and the three minutes of time added on seemed to take about an hour, but being able to write this the next morning in the safe and sound knowledge that we won, again, kept our incredible home record going and got ourselves back up to third is just great. I don’t think anyone who saw us play at home against Birmingham or last night would have too much hope that we’d finish quite that high at the end of the season, but hey, while it lasts, I’m enjoying it.

Sharon Hargreaves

MATCH REPORT ‘TV’: MCFC 1 SAFC 0

I trundled off to my local to watch this game, full of expectation, looking forward to Elano and the guys running rings around a struggling Sunderland side. This being East Anglia, on Sunday the pub was jam-packed for the Norwich vs. Ipswich game. Tonight there were two punters in the whole place – me and a gobby Sunderland fan who cheered every time a City player got floored and hurled abuse at the ref when it was one of them. The rest of East Anglia must have known something that Gobby and I didn’t because we were treated to a pretty dire game.

With Richards injured and Petrov back in, City lined up with Hart in goal; Sun Jihai, Corluka, Dunne, Garrido at the back; Johnson; Hamann; Ireland, Petrov in midfield; Elano and Mpenza up front. Interesting choice of Sun Jihai at right back. In the main he’s a steady player, never likely to set the world on fire but you can slot him in almost anywhere apart from up front and he’ll do a decent job. He is, however, prone to the odd mistake which means that some of the fans get on his back – more of this later.

The pattern of the first half quickly established itself. Sunderland were playing everyone except Jones behind the ball. He is quick and powerful and the kind of player that can hit teams on the break. Sunderland were quick to every challenge and there was precious little space in midfield. Elano was forced deeper and deeper in order to get space, but whenever he got the ball was quickly closed down. The back four looked comfortable enough and in front of them, Hamann was snuffing out any moves they tried to make through the middle. There were precious few real chances on goal with neither ‘keeper forced to make a proper save. Sunderland probably had the best chance of the half with long looping cross from the right that Stokes rose to head wide. The game was beginning to remind me of the Watford match last season. We like to play a passing game at home but when teams come with the intention of closing us down, we have no answer and it was easy to see this being another 0-0 draw.

The second half began more brightly, but it was Sunderland that looked the most threatening. Sun Jihai collected the ball at the back and tried one of those moves that defenders do to change direction where the ball is brought back with the right foot and then flicked round to the left foot. Unfortunately, he slipped on the pitch and lost possession. All Sunderland had to do was play the ball forward to the on-rushing Jones and it would have been 0-1, but Hamann, who was in the centre circle when we lost the ball, had raced back to cover.

Sven had substituted Johnson (who now needs an op on a groin strain and will be out for a number of weeks) with Vassell. Vass was his usual nuisance self – running after everything – and on 67 minutes he got free of his marker on the left touch line and sprinted towards the penalty area. His cross looked to be over-hit when you see it on the TV. Only when they change camera do you see Ireland unmarked at the back of the area. He hit it on the volley low into the bottom corner – a very sweet strike indeed. In the celebrations he dropped his shorts to reveal bright blue Superman undies – lots of ammo for today’s sports writers. Sunderland tried to press for an equaliser, with Dunnie clearing off the line from Leadbetter, but we stood firm and held on for the 1-0 win.

All-in-all not the best match to watch. But there have been many games like this in the last few years where teams have come to us and closed down the game and it’s either ended 0-0 like vs. Watford, or worse, we’ve got hit with a sucker punch and lost (e.g. Bolton, Middlesborough, etc.).

Special mention must go to Hamann. He did his normal excellent job of protecting the back four and saved a certain goal when Sun Jihai lost it. More than that though, he got clattered many times by most of the Sunderland midfield but shrugged it off and carried on with the game. I can’t help but contrast him with Barton who would probably have lost it last night, under the same kind of provocation, and got sent off.

So despite the mediocre performance, it’s our best home start since 1902 and we’re back up to 3rd in the table. Long may it continue.

Paul Muschamp <paul.muschamp(at)bt.com>

OPINION: ATTACK, ATTACK, ATTACK

It’ s been a thrill watching City over the past couple of months (Chelsea game aside) and it would be brilliant if we could keep on rolling and knock off Tottenham in the Carling Cup.

One thing continues to bother me though and that is how Sven sets up his attack. There are no options or changes of strategy. It’s just one forward up front with the majority of the goals coming from midfield.

It’s no wonder that Bianchi and Samaras feel hard done by. There is absolutely no way to utilize four strikers when you are only playing one at a time.

Watching the game against Sunderland I was struck by how few attacking options we have. When a team like Sunderland is blocking off the midfield, we have to respond by changing our options. The way Sven sets out his attack, there are few tactical manoeuvres to provide a different shape in attack. Surely he must be creative enough to occasionally use two striking partners and employ traditional wingers?? If we did get SWP back, how would he fit in with the current regime? Say what you want about Chelsea or Arsenal, they are capable of switching tactics midstream if things aren’t going right. Right now there is just too much reliance on Elano, good as he is. I am not convinced that Sven’s set-up is that flexible.

Otherwise, no complaints but it would be great to see a real offensive explosion one of these days. All these 1-0 wins are hard on the ticker.

Keith Sharp – Toronto, Canada <keith(at)accessmag.com>

OPINION: HERE AND NOW

The way I see it…

Well here we are 12 games played and we are lying in 3rd place. How can any City supporter complain? This is more than we could ever have expected after last season’s débâcle. I want to give my personal assessment of the way we play and thoughts on current players and prospects of new recruits.

Having witnessed the Chelsea game, I could not believe that between the management off the pitch and the captain on the pitch, nothing was said or done to stem the “glaringly obvious” channel that was open to all the Chelsea players down their right flank. I play competitive league hockey every Saturday, and it does not take long for the captain to bellow out instructions, if we are coming under constant attack down a certain flank. All Dunne had to do was “order” Garrido to man mark the right winger and that would have made a big difference. Thankfully, Garrido had a much better game on Monday, playing more like a left back should.

Now to my other point, since the start of the season I have been telling by colleagues, “also City followers” that Micah Richards is a long way off, being the finished article. He gets by, largely due to the athleticism and pace that he possesses, but frequently he is out of position or is caught ball watching, and only a last ditch tackle saves the day. I know he is young, but he needs to read the game a hell of a lot better than he does at the moment. His spatial awareness of opposing players needs to be worked on, as that will prevent him being caught out of position. Personally, I feel Richards should only play right back as it suits his psyche, it will allow him to bomb forward down the right flank and get involved in attacks. I think Corluka is a very good centre half (I thought he had a very good game on Monday night vs. Sunderland) who is comfortable on the ball and his height is also an advantage. I do hope Sven thinks about making this change soon.

After watching the rather turgid match last night, it was very apparent to me that Petrov was hardly ever in the game (but still stayed on the pitch), and Mpenza for all his effort does not look like a threat up-front and is a bit short too. Bianchi did not offer much more, but that could be down to how poorly we were playing. Elano was always on the periphery of the action and it was no surprise that he was taken off, a bit like Johnson. We really need a creative attacker or attackers (in the mould of Hleb and Rosicky), guys who can create something from nothing, as we are at times just workman like (thankfully Sunderland were worse – but still gave us problems). I thought Hamann was excellent, but we should have a ready younger replacement for him if he gets injured or needs a break.

I am sure SGE and his backroom staff have a few possible “quality” players in mind for January, and I personally would not mind having Peter Crouch in our team, as he really does cause a lot of problems with his height up-front and is also not a bad player with the ball at his feet. We really are lacking a regular goal scorer up front and that needs to be addressed soon as we are over reliant on our attacking midfield to get us goals. I can see Afonso Alves being signed up, hopefully with Samaras going in the opposite direction (what a waste of a “rough diamond”) and maybe Bianchi could also be on his way out too. The other guy I would not mind having is Spurs’ Tom Huddlestone, young, big and a presence, would do well for us.

Re Saturday, Portsmouth have a lot of pacey forwards, added to big athletic players all over the pitch and we will need “mobile” grafters to counteract these if we are to get anything from that game. I do hope we play a lot better, because I would just love to beat them at their place just to show we are a genuine contender for a European place.

C’mon City, keep on winning and baffling all our critics…

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

OPINION: HUMBLE BEGINNINGS

Here in Hong Kong, I was surprised to read an article, published in last Saturday’s edition of the South China Morning Post, which described in some detail the founding of Manchester City. It was an article first published in the Independent, but thinking that many City fans might have missed it, I am sending you the whole article.


They lie in overgrown graves, but the Victorians whose brand of “muscular Christianity” founded 12 Premier League clubs are at last being given the credit they deserve.

Liverpool languages teacher Peter Lupson has spent the last eleven years writing a book ‘Thank God for Football’, which offers English football an opportunity to examine its soul. The 61-year-old has established that 12 of the 38 clubs to have played in the Premier League can trace their origin back to churches or chapels. He has also traced the lives of some of those responsible for starting the teams, all the way to their graves, which he has located in various stages of disrepair.

Last month, Tottenham Hotspur, having been alerted to the fact that their originator, John Ripsher, lay in a pauper’s grave in Dover, became the first of those six clubs to honour their beginnings, setting up a smart new headstone which acknowledges the rôle played by this former Bible class teacher. Other clubs mobilising tp spruce up their founders’ resting places include: Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, and Manchester City.

Honouring graves is one thing; honouring ideals another. It is Lupson’s hope that these acts of piety may prompt football figures to reconsider some of the principles that inspired the graves’ inhabitants.

The teams in question were instituted in the spirit of “muscular Christianity,” a concept developed in the latter half of the 19th century, which emphasised the importance of serving others and striving in a physical sense as part of Christian duty.

Fostered in public schools, the ideal was instilled in a generation of clergyman who emerged from universities and took up positions in urban communities, where working men were in danger of being lost in a mire of poverty, drunkenness and gang violence. In Tottenham, in Fulham, in Southampton, in Swindon, in Everton, in Bolton, in Manchester, it was time to “play the game”.

“There were four key ingredients of character which it was believed the games field could develop,” Lupson says. “Courage – which they called ‘pluck’, not ducking the hard challenge; unselfishness – you played for the team; fair play; and, self control. Football was seen as a moral agent.”

Thus when a new Rector arrived at St. Mark’s, in West Gorton, Manchester, in 1879, he encouraged his 27 year old daughter, Anna Connell, to take on her own hard challenge.

“West Gorton was an area of tremendous deprivation,” Lupson says. “There was overcrowding, squalor, poor sanitation and poverty, and the ways in which the men of the community sought refuge from this was drink and gang warfare. We are talking about 500 people at times involved in fighting. The local press reported 250 a-side – we are talking about warfare. Anna was grieved by seeing these men live such wasted lives and wanted to do something for them that could reverse the direction they were going in.”

Miss Connell knocked on every door in the Parish – by Lupson’s estimation, that meant 1,000 doors – to spread the word of the weekly working men’s club she was setting up in the parish hall. The first week, three people turned up. But soon that number became 100.

Playing sport meant, in the first instance, cricket. But the men wanted to keep fit in the winter for their cricket, and decided to do so through football.

“They called themselves St. Mark’s West Gorton FC.” Lupson says. “Anna’s father, Arthur, was the first President, and that club exists today because of Anna Connell knocking on all those doors and not giving up, and it’s called Manchester City.”

Forming a football club to maintain fitness for cricket was a common pattern of the time – the young men Ripsher helped to set up the Hotspur team on Tottenhem Marshes took the same route, as did the forerunners of the club whose background set Lupson off on his original quest, Everton.

Having established a church league on Merseyside, Lupson soon found that many boys were ridiculed for playing in what was viewed as a sissy organisation. The fact that Everton had evolved from a chapel team began to resonate with him. It offered his lads a valuable parallel, but it also got him enmeshed in a wider project. “What I’m trying to do, subconsciously, is to remind the clubs of how it used to be, and I’m therefore warmed at the fact that people I’ve been talking to at the highest levels have genuinely re-engaged with their roots,” Lupson says.

“What do I think the founding fathers would have made of the game today? I think they would be shocked at the obscene amounts of money paid to players, but they would be impressed by some of the marvellous community outreach programmes.”

“Football is a business where the pursuit of profit is a key element. But it’s not the whole story. And whilst it is not the whole story, the game can still be saved from itself. I really hope that by bringing to light the stories of these people, it will inspire those who have influence on football to perhaps rethink some of the more important issues. I’ve found that these clubs really do care about the past.”


Can anybody add to this marvellous story by finding out what City are doing about the graves of their founders? I did not know that our great Club was founded by a woman. A lady to whom all Blues owe a debt.

Barry Anderton – Hong Kong <pbanderton(at)aol.com>

OPINION: PROPAGANDA

Just catching up on some issues, and couldn’t agree more with Phil Gatenby about the scoreboard messages for the Thai King. What a load of guff that is – I’m surprised the PR muppets surrounding Mr Shinawatra haven’t told him that such nonsense has absolutely nothing to do with a Premier League football club. I’ve heard so many people moaning and commenting (negatively) on this and am glad Phil has mentioned it.

Do we see Villa, Liverpool or the Rags putting up messages wishing Happy Birthday to Bush, Schwarzenegger et al? Do we see Chelsea having congratulatory messages for Putin? No, and we shouldn’t be seeing such political PR propaganda at Manchester City.

Unsurprising then to read that the elections in Thailand have been announced. Perhaps Mr Shinawatra is angling for a return to his faithful, fulfilling his ambitions and ego.

Grateful for your timely investment in City, but just leave us out of your politics, please.

George E <george.city(at)hotmail.co.uk>

OPINION: THE ROOF

Excellent (MCIVTA 1377), I did not know this but I drive past the field on a regular basis and something has always attracted me to look at the sections of roof. When I pass this week I will take a photo.

Sam Duxbury <SamDuxbury(at)orange.co.uk>

REQUEST: PORTSMOUTH TICKET

Looking for a ticket for the Portsmouth game this Sunday, if anybody can help please call on 07707 296 346 or email.

Many thanks, Kevin Hogan <kevin.x1(at)btinternet.com>

REQUEST: LIVERPOOL TICKET

Living in western Australia,. exiled for the last four years but coming home for a visit in December and look forward to my first match at the new stadium.

A big ask I know, but does anybody have a ticket for the home game against Liverpool? Or know how easy it is to get one?

Thanks, Tony Higginson <anthonyhigginson(at)excite.com>

RESULTS

5 November 2007

Manchester City       1 - 0  Sunderland            40,038

League table to 07 November 2007 inclusive

                             HOME          AWAY        OVERALL
                    P  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F   A   GD  Pts
 1 Arsenal         11  6  1  0 18  6  2  2  0  6  3  8  3  0  24   9  15  27
 2 Manchester Utd  12  5  1  0 12  1  3  2  1  9  5  8  3  1  21   6  15  27
 3 Manchester City 12  7  0  0 11  2  1  1  3  5 11  8  1  3  16  13   3  25
 4 Chelsea         12  3  2  0 10  2  4  1  2  8  6  7  3  2  18   8  10  24
 5 Portsmouth      12  2  3  0 11  6  4  1  2 12  7  6  4  2  23  13  10  22
 6 Blackburn R.    11  3  2  1  8  5  3  2  0  7  4  6  4  1  15   9   6  22
 7 Liverpool       11  1  4  0 10  4  4  2  0  7  2  5  6  0  17   6  11  21
 8 Everton         12  3  1  2  9  6  3  0  3  9  8  6  1  5  18  14   4  19
 9 Aston Villa     11  5  0  2 11  7  0  3  1  5  6  5  3  3  16  13   3  18
10 Newcastle Utd   11  4  1  1 11  8  1  1  3  7  9  5  2  4  18  17   1  17
11 West Ham United 11  2  2  2  8  6  2  1  2  5  4  4  3  4  13  10   3  15
12 Reading         12  4  0  2  7  7  0  1  5  8 19  4  1  7  15  26 -11  13
13 Fulham          12  2  3  2 12 12  0  3  2  4  6  2  6  4  16  18  -2  12
14 Birmingham City 12  2  1  2  6  6  1  1  5  6 12  3  2  7  12  18  -6  11
15 Sunderland      12  2  1  2  5  6  0  2  5  7 15  2  3  7  12  21  -9   9
16 Middlesbrough   12  1  3  2  8  9  1  0  5  4 14  2  3  7  12  23 -11   9
17 Tottenham H.    12  1  1  3 11 12  0  4  3  8 12  1  5  6  19  24  -5   8
18 Wigan Athletic  12  2  1  3  5  6  0  1  5  5 13  2  2  8  10  19  -9   8
19 Bolton Wndrs    12  1  2  3  7  8  0  2  4  4 10  1  4  7  11  18  -7   7
20 Derby County    12  1  2  2  5  7  0  1  6  0 19  1  3  8   5  26 -21   6

With thanks to Football 365

MCIVTA FAQ [v0708.01]

[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 Points of Blue (formerly the Fans’ Committee)?

The committee operates as an interface between supporters and the club. Points of Blue appears 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] 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/.


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 #1378

2007/11/08

Editor:


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