Newsletter #1417

A very disappointing game and result on Saturday, with questions raised around the penalty decisions, tactics and not least the strip. The result sees us gain just 5 points from 18 during March, We have match views tonight and some excellent opinion.

Also the usual requests, and news on the FA Youth Cup first leg.

Next Game: Saturday 5 April 2008, 3pm, Chelsea (home)


I was watching Sven’s face during the course of this game and thought I saw a look of desperation in his eyes. I wonder if he was having the same problem as me, which was distinguishing the Manchester players from the Birmingham ones. I mean the choice of the colour purple for the away strip is bad enough, but when it clashes with the colours of the home team, it then becomes just plain stupid. I heard from the commentator that there had been a complaint from the Birmingham bench about it. Clearly someone in the Manchester camp has not thought this through.

The other matter that concerned me was the referee’s penalty decisions. I thought the award of a penalty to Manchester was correct, but the sending off was unjustified. Isn’t a penalty against you sufficient punishment? I do not think the penalty award to Birmingham was justified. It was just a shoulder charge by Sun Jihai, who is only lightweight, and I do not believe that that would have caused the Birmingham player to fall over.

I expected Birmingham to win this one after reading the pre-match comments by the two managers. The Birmingham manager talks like a man who is determined and who knows exactly what is required for his team to stay in the Premier League, and I think they will. Sven, on the other hand, talks like he is describing to a new foreign recruit what it is like to play in the English Premier League. Judging by what we have achieved this season, it’s a far cry from the first divisions of Italy and Spain!

Realistically, on current form, I think City should forget about competing in the UEFA Cup next season. Getting in through the Intertoto backdoor will produce false illusions and probably result in them being knocked out early on. Rather wait until they are finishing higher up, if they ever do.

Phil Van Gass <philipvangass(at)>


Four things spring to mind:

  1. Why do we give the bottom teams a helping hand?
  2. Get rid of that awful purple strip, would love to see the old red and blackback (was there a reason why we didn’t wear the white away shirt or the bluehome shirt the purple certainly clashed with Birmingham’s dark blue).
  3. Why can’t we sign players that actually have the heart to battle instead ofjust getting their pay each week?
  4. Hmmm,beating United twice is not enough. Beating the likes of Birmingham,Fulham, Wigan etc. is, because that’s the bread and butter points of a season.

Forget about Europe Sven, we are simple not good enough.

Well off to play with my granddaughter, she’s always smiling, hope she doesn’t become a City supporter it would scar her for life!

Stay Blue, and play in blue.

Kevin Williamson <scribbs(at)>


I’ve not written in for a long time, but the game against Birmingham just made me sick.

We were awful. It looks like the team is ready for summer. We pass the ball out of defence way too often. We have a big target man up front in Benjani, why don’t we send him some more long balls? Opposing teams have sussed out our passing game, and all too often they intercept our passes and have a good chance with their counter attack. It’s time to forget the beautiful game and get back to route one football. We have the team for this kind of football.

For the first time I am questioning Sven’s tactics. Something I thought I would never do.

Cheers to all from Miami.

Benjamin Bloom <bennyblue25(at)>


Just some thoughts to get off my chest following recent games including t’Internet viewings of the away games vs. Trotters and Brum. After both games finished I have felt pretty disappointed as we were toothless, lacked passion and tempo and had virtually no penetration. Maybe my extreme disappointment is down to my inflated expectations ever since the Summer and Sven’s superb initial impact but really I also feel it’s down to the fact that after a good season (compared to recent ones and a few before that too!) it seems that it’s all petering out and we’ll end up with nothing really tangible at the end.

Patience is a virtue (I don’t have much of!) and I keep telling myself of the long term view, three and five year programmes, development, team building and all that but still I have to admit a bit of anti-climax as the season draws to an end. Six points from the Rags, many plaudits, made many a pundit eat their horrible opinions and some good class passing footy early on in the season and I can’t really complain but…

Guess I’ve just got greedy too soon and will have to wait to see what the next season or two brings. Good things come to he who waits and I’m sure we’ll all be basking in glory before too long. Simply being linked with the likes of Berbatov (rubbish paper gossip or not) shows how far we’ve already come.

Anyway, as far as the t’Internet viewing of Bolton and Brum matches was concerned, generally I thought we were between poor and awful in both. Didn’t keep the ball well at all and were guilty of letting both teams dictate the style and pace of the game. Had we imposed ourselves a bit more then the 3 points were there for the taking and that is very disappointing. Our record against the lower teams (lest we not forget this usually includes us!) is very poor for a team trying to make top 8 and beyond. Big plus was that Ned played well (especially at Bolton) and if he sorts out those niggly fitness issues that constantly interrupt his progress then he showed that he could partner Dunnie in the centre with Richards (when fit) moving to right back. I believe we would get the best from Ned and Micah just by that switch, Richards is better going forward and is the better of the two as far as distribution is concerned. Corluka is the best true footballer of the three considered for right-back and although I have been impressed by him I think his performances as the holding midfield player were his better ones. Despite a truly dreadful decision against him for the penalty by Styles (do I hate a ref more than him?) Sun confirmed that he’s now way off the standards we are trying to achieve. Having said that though I could include at least six or seven others from both games that could fall into that category too.

Shame Sven thought the physical battle of Bolton meant Vassell played instead of Castillo. Castillo had his best game against Spurs and then gets dropped! I was very disappointed to see that as his pace and movement were superb against Spurs and would have put Bolton on the back foot whilst creating openings for Johnson to run into. With the lack of movement in front of him (Petrov only runs when he gets the ball, not too much off it), Johnson had nowhere to go and was quiet. Likewise against Brum we had little movement when we had the ball, hence we were slow, predictable and lacked any sort of penetration at all. We have no one who runs at defences or creates anything and when the odd gap appears we only have one striker to pick out, all very disjointed, uninspired, unimaginative and frankly very boring. Castillo just started to look like the player his hype said he might be and then we don’t use him. Bizarre.

Benjani seems to be getting some stick on some sites with shouts for Mpenza to come in. The biggest difference I can see between the two is that Benjani so far seems to stay fit. Mpenza’s career has been blighted by injury and I don’t think he’s now ever going to be fit enough to play 40 games a season, though there is not much between either of them on the playing front; sadly neither are up to the standard I would expect. Having said that, playing up front on your own is a thankless task and I think both player would look better with a strike partner, which itself would give confidence to players and team alike. On the subject of strikers, I question the decision to gift the young, inexperienced Miller (who had precious little chance to play up front in an awful Pearce side) to WBA. £900,000 plus add ons for someone who could have blossomed ranks up there with the Swales era decisions on Earl Barrett, John Beresford and Paul Warhurst. To then sign Felipe Caicedo for £5.2 million who is virtually the same size, pace and, by what I’ve seen, quality, as Miller is very questionable. Miller should have stayed at WBA until the May then come back to us for pre-season to see if he had progressed enough to be kept on – if not sell at a much bigger fee than the minor figure we did actually get. Seems like an awful lot of money could have been saved or a lot more made with a little more patience (there’s that word again!). Maybe Miller got moved on because of the ‘Roasting’ thing with Richards but it seems like only City are going to be the losers out of these two deals.

Sven needs to have the courage to do some major re-shaping as we don’t have the players to be top class side playing 4-4-2. I really hate the one striker system as it just doesn’t give us enough bite. Players like Ireland and Vassell though hard workers are just not good enough for top 6 sides. Hope the summer brings permanent pruning of 12 (count ’em) players who are on big wages, contribute little or nothing and will never be good enough for where we want to be or go. The likes of Corradi, Samaras, Bianchi, Dickov, Mills D & M, Vassell, Mpenza, Ireland, Geovanni, Isaksson, Sun Jihai. Twelve players whose loss doesn’t really weaken the team but must have a huge wages impact and they also get in the way of Academy players getting through. A quick sum up and you’re looking at least £16 million raised in transfer fees and even without bonuses the same again in wages giving £32 million additional funds for new player signings and wages. Add that the Frank’s budget for 08/09 and we could be big players in the transfer market whilst clearing the decks of the also-rans. Hopefully Ched Evans, Logan, Sturridge, Etuhu, Schmeichel, and Bojinov will all become first team squad regulars, which by replacing some of the 12 above would make us better in any instance without any other signings straight away. I particularly have high expectations of Logan who looks quick, skilful and versatile. Add 4 or 5 top class players of the likes of Chellini, Diego, Elamnder, plus the drive of say, Sidwell in midfield, creativity and workmanship of Bullard, a cheeky raid on ‘Pool for Alonso and a class right winger like Bentley and I would like to think we would improve considerably as we would have the squad strength to play 4-4-2.

I was not one who jumped up and down at Sven’s appointment as I had grave reservations about his time and some terrible decisions and tactics with England. He has certainly given us a very high profile and I was so pleased that he shoved my doubts and reservations and many peoples’ outright criticisms down my/their throats with our great start to the season and the super signings he made. I was starting to believe, I really was. Sven was the master, a true saviour. Now the gloss has gone and the performances since November have been patchy at best and lousy at worse. The FA Cup this year was sitting there with our name on it. I can see the engraver in my dreams even now and I think we missed a massive opportunity when we feebly went out at Sheffield United. It’s going to be many years until the draw brings that kind of chance around again. Yeah, beating Untied twice was awesome, almost too good to be true and I loved it but I really shake my head every time I think of the FA Cup because it was there for the taking. I feel that bad about it I don’t think I can even watch the semis or Final because the what if is just too hard to take this year.

We’re now losing games we shouldn’t be and playing drab, lacklustre, toothless football at the same time and all my doubts and reservations about him have come screaming back. If Sven thinks we can’t play 4-4-2 because we’re not good enough and we’d lose then who cares, we’re losing now against rubbish sides so why not be a bit more adventurous? The summer should be interesting with a whole host of comings and goings. Maybe we can squeak a way into Europe via the Keeganesque back door of the Fair Play League, which might attract the type of player that Sven thinks can turn us into a top 6 (and better) side. Maybe. One thing’s for sure, we need some serious overhauling if we are to achieve what we all hope for and Sven proves he is the man for the job. I just hope next season Sven can banish my doubts once and for all and prove that he really is the saviour that I was just starting to believe he might be and not the over-rated, overpaid, over hyped ex- England Manager I had doubts about. C’mon Sven, let me believe again.

Neil Higson <neil.higson(at)>


I was chatting with a friend, one who is well connected in football terms, and he said that many people expect City to sign Bentley from Blackburn in the summer.

I honestly didn’t think further on it until this morning (Sunday) when I read the first of a couple of reports about Bentley seeing his future elsewhere, not with Blackburn.

A fantastic talent, Bentley doesn’t seem to fit the profile of a player wanted by the ‘top 4’ so it may well be that we could see Bentley in a sky blue shirt come next season.

Andy Morris <andy(at)>


It’s free to get in at Stamford Bridge for the first leg of the FA Youth Cup Final on Thursday 3 April (kick off 7pm), so there is no excuse for not turning up to support the team.

How great it would be to have a good away support to give them an extra lift in the first leg


Struan Malcolm <struan_Malcolm(at)>


Due to a house move I’m offering my collection of over 700 City programmes from 60s to 90s for free.

The snag is I live near Glasgow so any interested parties would have to pay postage or arrange collection. Alternatively, I will be down for the Fulham game so could arrange handover then.

If you are interested then let me know and I can send you a full list of programmes. If no City wants them then they go to the tip!

Alistair Wade <alistairgrahamwade(at)>


Following the enquiry from David Ford may I repeat the following.

The Annual 5-a-side competition organised by the Centenary Supporters’ Association (CSA) will be held on Saturday 14 June at the Platt Lane Complex. The football is 10am to 2pm followed by buffet and presentation of trophies in the Oasis Suite. Invitations are invited and welcome from any group of City Supporters wishing to take part.

Entrance fee is £10 for CSA teams and £20 for non-CSA teams. Cheques must be made payable to MCCSA and forwarded to myself, details on application.

All enquiries regarding the 5-a-side should be directed to myself either by email below or give me a bell on 0161 281 7517.

I’m always on the look out for referees of the Blue persuasion for this competition. Referees must be qualified at some level but do not need to be currently active. Referees fee is £25.

Alex Channon – Chair, MCFC Centenary Supporters’ Association <alexchannon81(at)>


30 March 2008

Chelsea               1 - 0  Middlesbrough         39,993
Tottenham Hotspur     1 - 4  Newcastle United      36,067
Liverpool             1 - 0  Everton               44,295

29 March 2008

Birmingham City       3 - 1  Manchester City       22,962
Bolton Wanderers      2 - 3  Arsenal               22,431
Derby County          2 - 2  Fulham                33,034
Portsmouth            2 - 0  Wigan Athletic        18,623
Reading               0 - 0  Blackburn Rovers      24,374
Sunderland            2 - 1  West Ham United       45,690
Manchester United     4 - 0  Aston Villa           75,932

League table to 30 March 2008 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  32 15  1  1 41  5  9  3  3 27 10 24  4  4  68  15  53  76
 2 Chelsea         32 11  5  0 32 10 10  3  3 24 13 21  8  3  56  23  33  71
 3 Arsenal         32 12  4  0 33 10  8  6  2 29 16 20 10  2  62  26  36  70
 4 Liverpool       32 10  6  1 39 12  7  5  3 17 12 17 11  4  56  24  32  62
 5 Everton         32  9  3  3 28 13  8  3  6 20 14 17  6  9  48  27  21  57
 6 Portsmouth      32  7  7  2 24 12  8  1  7 22 21 15  8  9  46  33  13  53
 7 Blackburn R.    32  7  5  4 21 16  6  6  4 21 22 13 11  8  42  38   4  50
 8 Aston Villa     32  8  3  5 25 19  5  7  4 27 25 13 10  9  52  44   8  49
 9 Manchester City 32 10  4  2 23 14  3  6  7 14 23 13 10  9  37  37   0  49
10 West Ham United 32  6  5  4 18 18  6  3  8 17 21 12  8 12  35  39  -4  44
11 Tottenham H.    32  8  3  5 44 30  2  6  8 17 25 10  9 13  61  55   6  39
12 Newcastle Utd   32  6  5  5 20 24  3  3 10 17 34  9  8 15  37  58 -21  35
13 Middlesbrough   32  5  4  6 15 19  3  6  8 13 26  8 10 14  28  45 -17  34
14 Sunderland      32  8  3  5 19 16  1  3 12 10 33  9  6 17  29  49 -20  33
15 Reading         32  8  2  7 19 22  1  3 11 18 36  9  5 18  37  58 -21  32
16 Wigan Athletic  32  7  3  5 18 14  1  4 12 10 33  8  7 17  28  47 -19  31
17 Birmingham City 32  5  6  5 23 19  2  3 11 15 30  7  9 16  38  49 -11  30
18 Bolton Wndrs    32  5  5  7 20 18  1  3 11 10 30  6  8 18  30  48 -18  26
19 Fulham          32  4  5  7 19 26  0  7  9 10 27  4 12 16  29  53 -24  24
20 Derby County    32  1  5 10 10 27  0  3 13  6 40  1  8 23  16  67 -51  11

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1417